Sunday, December 31, 2006

2006 in Review

So we have come to the last day of 2006!

In just a few hours time, we will enter into 2007.. where had all the time gone.. it seemed to have flown by in just a wink...

Anyway, before I post my new year resolutions - or maybe I should have a different term to descirbe the list of `things' I HOPE to accomplish at the beginning of each year but usually fail - I decide to look back at 2006 and its highlights, which really is quite a year to me personally..

By `highlights' I don't mean to do a newspaper type of reports of the significant events that had occured in the country and around the world.. as my blog is a personal journal, i would just look back at some of the more memorable moments that happened to me this year..

  • I've quit my job after 12 years! It wasn't an easy decision but I was really getting unhappy with the direcitons and the management of the paper after its restructuring. I left at the end of October and am still enjoying my jobless life!
  • In March, I visited my sponsored child in Yongsheng, on a trip with World Vision Malaysia. It was like a dream come true as I have always wondered whether I have a chance to meet my `child' whom I've sponsored for more than six years.
  • After exercising rather irregularly and aimlessly for more than two years at gym, I signed up for personal training in October since I would have more time to workout as I was quitting my job. So far, I have gone through about 10 sessions of it and although it's hard work, it feels good to really work out! And then in November, I upgraded my gym membership to life membership - with an aim to make fitness a long-term routine.
  • I participated in the E.E. (Evangelism Explosion) training at my church from March to June this year, to learn the skills of evangelism including going out for On-the-job training. It was a commitment and a rewarding experience.
  • Having booked our flight in late 2005, I went on a trip to Siem Reap, Cambodia in July with a friend and visited the ruins of the Angkor temples. The ancient temples were magnificent and in a way I felt as if I've been to another world in another time..
  • Since I was free from work towards end of the year, I planned two holidays back-to-back (well sort of). In December, I went to Taipei and Hong Kong for a total of 10 days and in January, I will be going to Bali - a place I've wanted to go for ages!
  • My sis and the kids came home for a week in April and early Nov and I got to spend time with them - going out everyday mainly to the malls, as well as for an outing to see the animals!
  • I MISSED the World Cup 2006 Final! I was so excited and looking forward to the one-in-four-year game and had been following quite a lot of the matches. However, I forgot to turn on my alarm clock and slept through the final between Italy and France and the nerve-wrackling penalty shootout! I felt like killing myself although i did catch the repeat in the morning.
  • It's also a year I've tested my culinary skills - turned chef for a few occasions and cooked some Western meals for the family. Some pix of my cooking here and here.
  • (On a more frivolous note) 2006 is a year which I have inadvertantly changed four different hair styles! not to mention how many visits to my hair dresser! I've straightened my hair a couple of time, cut it shorter in occasions.. and here are some pix - CNY and in Aug.

And what about Jojo and Jelly - the two Js that inspired this blog?

I must say that 2006 is year that marked their coming of age. Both of them, especially Jojo, are so much more better behaved although there are still moments when they are such a pain. Jojo was neutered (thus became an eunuch) in early September and since then had put on some weight, as well as having improved behaviour. Jelly is still fat and fesity, but ever so cute and is my little shadow..

I'm pleased and proud that they are now so much more obedient and for so many months, Jojo has not dashed out of the gate when my car comes in!

Here is the two Js saying: `Goodbye 2006 and Hello 2007! Woof! Woof!"

Thursday, December 28, 2006

New is NOT always better


This sleek-looking Motorola Ming A1200 has been mine for two weeks. It's no longer.

You see, earlier this month, I wanted a phone-cum-PDA but yet I didn't want a bulky one. So when I was at a reputable phone shop in Hong Kong and a sales assistant highly recommended this phone that also has the `looks' to boost, it seemed just `perfect'! It has a sleek design and a touch-screen, with sufficient PDA features. So I bought it there and then for HK$2880 (around RM1,400)

But alas, I have learned my lesson as a impulsive shopper! I should have done my research when it comes to products like phones.. but instead, I just bought into what the salesman told me.. and of course, he elaborated on all its attractive functions only.

And when I started using the phone, I realised it is so user-UNFREINDLY! Especially when sms-ing.. Gosh, because I can only do it through keypad or handwriting, it is so SUPER SLOW!! I earlier thought since I could write quite fast on my PDA, I could do the same here.. but NO, it is just so slow and there is always a gap between writing each letter!

Argh! Writing and replying SMS became a real pain when using this phone :(

A few days after using it, I was already quite unhappy and wanted to sell it off. But when I inquired at a phone shop near my place, I was told it would fetch RM1K the most.. which would be more than RM400 lost for me!

Five days earlier, I placed an auction ad over Lelong. But I guess my asking price was a bit high I didn't get any bidder at all till now.

Well, I did think of sticking with it (at least it looks and feels pretty) , and also tried to get used to its inadequecy. BUT, the more I used it, the more frustrated I became!

Yesterday, after lamenting about it to a friend who told me I should just sell it off even if the price was lower than I wished. I agreed with her and have made up my mind to just do it!
Late last night, I spent hours transferring all my contacts back to my old phone and deleting all the data in the new phone, packed up all the cables and accessories back to the box.

Today, I went back to the phone shop which offered to buy my phone earlier and sold my Motorola Ming for RM1,000.

So, i lost RM400 for two weeks of using the phone AND for a leasson learned. Now I am back to using my trusted Nokia which is so so convenient to use especiallyt to sms!

To be honest, I am now thinking why would I need a new phone in the first place?

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Christmas Round-Up

After several busy days leading up to Christmas, I spent Boxing Day at home the whole day - doing some works.

Sigh, so it's not a work-free Christmas/New Year as I hoped earlier. Have a couple of freelance stories to finish - feel that i'm a bit stale at writing! :( - and also am preparing for worship in Church this Sunday.

So what did I do over Christmas?

On Christmas eve, slept in a bit and then went food shopping for dinner. Yep, I cooked. ;p The menu were tomanto and onion soup, roast salad with balsamic dressing, buttered boiled potatoes and marinated ribeye steak. Managed to cooked all that within two hours as we were having an early dinner...

At about 9pm, I went for Justin's concert at Mines after that. Partly because I wanted to watch it anyway and then was going to write about it for a magazine.. The hall was packed! And since everyone was given a whistle, the noise was totall deafening! It's pretty amazing response for someone who had just started out for a year..

Justin may not have the stereo-typical good looks but his vocals and his talents more than made up for it. Yes, I just loved his voice and also his songs which he composed..

Although he still has rooms for improvement when it comes to showmanship and rapport with the crowds, the fans just loved him.. and he seemed to be getting over-excited himself till the extend of forgetting quite a bit of the lyrics!

I was doing the work of both reporter and photographer - but not all the pictures turned out well. Here are a few better ones..

Yep, so the Christmas countdown was during the concert! It culminated with confettis and tonnes of balloons released from the ceiling.. and followed by Justin and his dancers decked in all sorts of rojak costumes and the appearance of a Santa-Claus prancing on stage. Alas, Justin was pretty hopeless singing some Christmas medleys but yeah, it was quite a fun-filled atmosphere.

Earlier, he played cupid by helping a guy to propose to his girlfriend - such a cute gesture.. of course he also sang many love songs himself and his voice was almost impeccable..

I enjoyed most of the songs a lot.. although I wasn't really 100 percent engrossed in the `atmosphere'.. The concert ended at about half-past- midnite..

I started Christmas day by going to church with dad.. It was packed as expected and the speaker delivered a passionate sermon. It was good to catch up with friends exchanging greetings.. a group of us went for lunch at TGI Friday.

Went to visit my friend in hospital.. and learned more about the accident. Poor girl suffered from so much fractures but at the same time, it can't be denied that she was `lucky' enough to have cheated death.. Her car was totally smashed up! Am glad to see her still in good spirit and her chatty self.. though she has a long way to go before full recovery..

It was the annual Christmas party at a friend's house where the highlight, besides the good food, was the exchanging of presents.. There were just so many presents that they filled half the living room! Even us non-family members also joined in the `tradition' and I got a few lovely gifts too.

Another of the `highlight' was the fireworks! However, the first firework display went haywire as my friend's brother had placed the stick upside down! What happened was instead of shooting up, it was going side way and everywhere. Everyone ran back into the house!

Being quite a coward, I remained in the house when they put up the second firework, which went on fine.. too bad I missed it.. :p

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Yuletide Greetings...

Here's wishing you love, joy and peace this Christmas season..:)

p.s. just a week left to end of the year.. will have to start reflecting on 2006 and make (realistic) resolutions for 2007!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Christmas Pondering

It's only 2 more days to Christmas and it doesn't feel quite like it...

Christmas is supposed to be a time of joy and peace.. but just in the last three days I've encountered a couple of bad news from friends..

A good friend had a bad car accident and is still undergoing a series of operations for her fractured bones in various parts of the body. Her passenger who I also know is in a more critical condition..

Then last night, another friend just told us that they just found out her husband has got end-stage cancer..

All these happened so suddenly and in a way I don't really know how to respond.. Have been feeling quite heavy-hearted over these news.. And at the same time, it made me realised that life is indeed so fragile and precious..

Knowing that these friends are going through so much challenges, it has put a damper in the Christmas celebration mood.. All that comes to mind is, maybe it's time that we slow down our pace of life and spend more time with our loved ones..

On a separate note, priase God that the Christmas party went well last night at church. Coordinating an event like this wasn't an easy task but I really thank God for a few friends who really put in lots of efforts.. Perhaps the only `regret' was that I've been so caught up with the organising and that it didn't allow me much time to mingle much nor speak to new friends.

Will be having a dinner at home tomorrow night with family before going for a concert - to review for freelance work..

So it's just a day away from Christmas. And somehow it didn't feel like it.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Disneyland Delight

On a warm and sunny early December day, our (not-so-young) party of four set off for a day of relieving our childhood in Hong Kong Disneyland!

The train that takes passengers right into Disneyland has cute Mickey-head-shaped windows!

Posing by the train...

We took more photo at the Disneyland station that was quite nicely designed

The entrance to the resort...

In front of the hallmark Cinderella castle

As it was Christmas season, there was a huge Christmas tree at the entrance!

We just couldn't resist taking a ride in a stationary Dumbo - so cute! ;)

Marie and I with our 3-D glasses on while queuing to watch a 3-D Mickey show which turned out to be one of our favourites! It was really cool - featuring smells as well as real effects!

The queues to take photos with cartoon characters were just too long so we settled for this huge mini soft toy..

The four of us by the `river' after taking a boat ride at Adventure land...

Pat and I joining in some `natives' to play the drums..

More pix at `Adventure Land'

With Tessa in front of `Tomorrow Land' which has some cool rides and shows!

Even the ice-cream came in Mickey-head shape!


We went on quite a number of rides and shows as well but somehow didn't take many photos.. And yes, we stayed back for the beautiful fireworks display that was truly in fairy-tale style..

The parting shot..

Yes, we had a wonderful fantasy-like experience where for a few hours, we had a lot of fun in a make-believe land.. but finally, we had say good-bye to Disneyland and come back to the real world..

Monday, December 18, 2006

Taipei in 3 days

Taipei - a place I haven't visited in more than 20 years is a modern metropolis still steep in traditions and culture.

MON - Slumbering Taipei (or was she?)
After hours of flight and transit.. we finally arrived in Taipei at the unearthy hour of around 1am on Dec 5th morning.. part of the city was asleep but part was still quite happening. Our hotel was located just minutes walk from the bustling Ximenting area - the hip and happening place for the young..

UES - Yangminshan wash-out and Ximenting thrills
The next morning, we slept in a bit and only began our
own tour after brunch. We wanted to visit the scenic Yangmingshan - quite an exclusive suburb with rich residences and a university. Normally, we can have a paranomic view of Taipei from the mountain top but alas, the weather was undesirable.. After a winding way up on a public bus where we had to stand and squeeze among the students, we reached the top when the sky began to turn grey.. and soon it started raining!

went on this tour bus but saw absolutely NOTHING! And even felt nausea due to the twists and turn.. So after that, we gave up `sightseeing' and plunked ourselves in a Starbucks to enjoy a hot cup of coffee and tea..

ur next stop in the itinaray was the Hot Spring. But because of the delay.. it got a bit late and we had to change plans. So I suggested we visit a place called `Taipei Story' - housed in a colonial style bungalow. Although there wasn't much to see really but at least it was quite a relaxing place to unwind..

After it got dark, we came back to Ximenting for dinner followed by SHOPPING! Well, just to walk around and check out the place. There were some interesting stuff we don't find at home and some of the products are quite reasonably priced. And so yeah, we bought something along the way..

Considering it was a weekday nite, the place was still quite happening. Finally we went to a cafe which has swings as seats!

WED - Boring tour - Shilin Night Market
Got up early to join the half-day city tour which was part of our package.. but the tour turned out to be quite disappointing. Our of the 5 stops - two were meant for us to buy stuff! Together with us in the van were three couples from Malaysia and Singapore.
nyway, the first stop was CKS Memorial and the weather then was gloomy and drizzly. Just snapped a few photos and then we were taken to the grand National Palace Museum which we were told, was among the world's top four musuems! And there, I had the FASTEST ever museum visit in my whole life! Because we only had about an hour or so in total, our tour guide just picked up a few highlights of the exhibits and rushed us from one spot to another.. totally ignoring the other exhibits..

Calling it a whirlwind tour would be an understatement! What a shame, as both me and my friend thought it would be worth it to take more time in the museum.. especially after experiencing the next stop! We were wondering what was this `Mao House' and it turned out to be a shop introducing traditional tribal medicines! Hmmm.. foetus of a deer? no thanks! so we just had to sit through the demonstration part and then one couple actually ended up buying a few thousand ringgit!

The change of guard at Matry's Shrine was next. We were told to feast our eyes on the tall and handsome guards but both my friend and I were disappointed. They are quite tall alright but skinny and wimpy looking - and not even cute at all! Finally we were brought to another shop supposedly selling jades and tallisman stuff.. well, me and even my friend are not a believer in such things and not really interested as well.

For the second part of the day, we met up with my former French classmate who is now based in Taiwan with
her husband. We had a walk at the non-tourisy part of Taipei and went over to her place to chit chat for a while before we departed for the famous Shilin Night Market.

We browsed and walked around the place - it was huge! Then we settled for a hot and spicy steamboat which was really filling and then spent the rest of the night shopping around. And yes, the place was very happening and bustling indeed. Among the things I bought was a new handbag which ornaments fell off the moment I used it!!
We ended the night visiting a `pets mall' which had many many individual pet shops with many many cute doggies!! I missed my two Js.. :(

Speaking of dogs - Taipei dogs are indeed lucky pets - they often accompany their owners on the streets and some even unleashed. I didn't even spot one stray!

THURS - The inner city and the coutry charm

Met up with my friend again near the Taipei 101 - the tallest building in the world. It was situated at the most modern and advanced part of the city and there were footways linking the buildings together - a bit like Central in HK.

We explored the building and had coffee at the `hedge' cafe area, as I called it.. Speaking of coffee, Taipei is definitely dominated by coffee culture, even more so than here or HK.

After that, we went for an outskirt tour to Jiufen, which is about an hour drive north of Taipei. Our tour guide first brought us to the Nanya caost area where they have some patterned rocks by the sea. Fortunately the weather was pretty good that afternoon.

Then we walked the interesting hilly Jishan Street at Jiufen village. More than three quarter of the shops were eateries of all kinds! Here you can scout for the most traditional and exotic Taiwanese delicacies as well as the more well known food stuff including pastries, cookies, meatfloss and Chinese teas just to name a few..

I spotted this interesting pancake ice-cream with peanuts and coliander, and each of us had one. Yep, it was yummy and refreshing indeed

When we returned to the city, it was dark already and that's when we saw the night view of Taipei 101.

And of course, like all tourists will do, we went up the tallest building in the world to the observatory deck. And experienced the fastest elevator in the world which pressure caused my ears to be blocked! We spent quite a long time up there and even paid extra to go outside.. the wind was sooo strong that even I felt like tumbling over.

On the way out..I made my friends to pose for photo on a sleigh!! :p As time was getting late, ironically we had our last meal in Taipei at a food court! But it wasn't that bad.. we then adjourned to a coffee place just to chill out before calling it a night..

FRI - Bye-bye Taipei

My friend left for airport earlier to catch her flight back to KL while I had a couple more hours.. but alas, it was still too early and none of the shops in Ximenting was open. Ended up having coffee and breakfast at a cafe near the hotel and just loiter in the room to pack up before leaving for the airport.

I had so much time to `kill' at Taipei airport that I ended up being online for the first time.. (thus the post somewhere below) So yes, Taipei was fun.. despite some boos boos (in finding roads and such here and there) But it would have been nice to have at least one more day in Taipei so we could cover the Hotspring and maybe do more shopping.. :p