Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Dad's birthday dinner at `Bali'

Last year we were in Bali for dad's birthday and he loves the place we stayed in Ubud so much.

And this year we went to a psuedo-Bali - in the form of a very unique restaurant called `Tamarind Springs' in the far off side of Ampang.

Dad and I went to visit it one afternoon a few weeks ago and fell in love with the Balinese architecture and ambiance. The restaurant uses lots of wood and the decoration was totally Balinese, but what's more impressive was that it's built amidst nature and green forest. Dad was joking that we're in Bali and so I suggested we should celebrate his 68th birthday by having dinner there!

Just a day before yesterday, I was getting worried because it has been raining like EVERY day especially in the evening! So plan B was go out to a restaurant in a mall - likely The Gardens at Mid Valley - if it rains. But voila, the Lord was good to us all, especially dad, as the sky was really clear yesterday evening having already had a downpour earlier in the day. So we set off as we planned.
At the main entrance into Tamarind Springs

The place looked quite different - in fact, the atmosphere was even better - at night. Mom was very impressed. We had to walk through an open walkway to the restaurant building (which consisted of three different restaurants - Indochinese, Italian, Malay/Thai). Since dad hasn't tried Indochinese cuisine, we went for that.

Well, just say the food - saved for the spring roll starter - was really very mediocre. So ordinary looking too that i didn't bother with photos! We were quite disappointed but at least the ambience was great.. I was a bit surprised why the place had so many people - but mainly are expatriots and foreigners. But dad said maybe that kind of cooking suit their palatte!

Look at how lovingly they looked into each others' eyes while toasting the wine! ;)

There was a small `hiccup' and I actually wonder why I'm still giving publicity to them - but again, my blog has such low hits so it doesn't make much of a difference I guess. You see, we were taken to a corner table which was actually very nice - only problem was the next table was a huge party of about 20 `Matsalleh' men - and they were having a merry time laughing and chatting very loudly. It really spoilt the atmosphere!! The waitor said they would leave soon but no, they didn't. we took our time to order food and wine and already completed our starter but they looked no where near leaving the place.

As I went to the washroom, I realised the other side (which was smoking area) was very empty saved for a few tables. So I requested us to be moved there. The waiters or captains were not very obliging but nevertheless said they would check it out and let us know. So we waited. And waited. Till I had to walk out to speak to them. I asked one of them (not the one I asked but he was just next to him) and he was so unfriendly and bothering rude to me - saying things like well, you have to wait because you gave us such short notice, bla bla.. and then he pointed to one table saying it was being set up - but it was not in that area I asked.

And when I asked him why, he said ALL the tables in the smoking area were reserved! Then I asked `at this time?' as it was well past 9:30pm and there were like at least 10 tables there! And he said: `yes, we must honour our reserved guests by keeping the tables till they come!' I sorta rolled my eyes and didn't want to argue on as I needed to tell my parents about the change of table..

But the more I thought it, the more unhappy I was. As we were finally led to our new table which was not that great cos near the stairs but not noisy any more, I told that particular waiter sternly and sarcastically that I would sit around till closing time and see whether ALL the tables were occupied. And if not, i will write to the management about this incident.

He kept quiet. of course, what else can he say!

Anyways, not letting this small hiccup ruin the night, we finished our food and wine and then proceeded to the Italian restaurant downstairs for dessert and coffee. The atmosphere was actually even nicer downstairs and mom said we should have eaten here! Well, maybe next time?

our `four variations of chocolate' dessert which dad and mom enjoyed very much.

Then, dad `perform' candles blowing - only it's not a cake but the candle-holder! ;)

The set up, decoration and ambience of Tamarind Springs is really quite out-of-the-world, a beautiful haven to enjoy the nature in a luxurious environment.. however, the food and the service (of some particular waitor) at the Indochine restaurant - needs to be improved. FYI, when we left at 11-ish, still no one came later into that section where I requested to be re-seated!

Ahh.. nothing is perfect, aint it?

funny how...

Funny how sometimes something that at first pisses you off can turn into something `enjoyable' and positive.. in the way I see it.

After writing the post last week about me going on my first short-term missions trip, I got a `rude surprise' in the form of a comment from someone I know pretty well - (i shall not go into our `relationship' - no NOT that kind of relationship la) I felt it was quite uncalled for the way he seemed to `attack' my faith. Of course i replied to retort and even told a friend online about it so she also wanted to share her piece.. which was quite long

And then all was quiet. The first commenter didn't comment anymore. I thought he just couldn't be bothered - not that he was scared or ran out of words - but maybe also busy and think it's not worth pursuing.

And there weren't anymore comments. I guess most of my Christian (or even non-Christian) readers are all peace-loving people who dislike religious debate.

Then today, I found out he actually commented but Blogger didn't register his comment. So I personally invited him to comment again.. and he did.

This time, I was much less annoyed as he also toned down his words .. and as I began to reply him, I realised, hey, he is actually giving me a good opportunity to share my faith and belief - or in Christian jargon - doing apologetics (ie defending your faith) Ya, I realise I'm pretty long winded though I hope to make it readable for him as well as others.

So, I must say thank you to Douglas Yau - an aetheist/Buddhist whose starting point I was told was to `help and save' us Christians from our belief, for giving me the chance to say so much about my faith!

Read this post and comments if you haven't already, and feel free to add on your thoughts - I welcome all sorts of views as long as you're reasonable and do not use profinities!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Word Up's 8th Birthday Party on 18-8-08

It has been one week since the event but it's something I have wanted to post.. but I forgot my camera so I had to rely on the unofficial photographer of the night..

I've only been to Word Up! gathering once many years ago. And I became its yahoo_group online member only later when I went freelance, as I was told that I may get work opportunities from the postings there!

Although I am not a very `active' member, but the group has been useful for me to ask for interviewees for articles I was writing.. and I have even made a few friends and acquaintances from it..

So when I heard from Word Up founder See Ming that she is having a birthday gathering for Word Up - it has been 8 years! I thought it's time to make an appearance again.. but also, I wanted to meet up with See Ming who I have not seen for quite some time, and who has been ever so helpful in recommending her friends for me to interview for many articles!

Why, she is the only person I know of that has the widest network of friends - it seems everyone in the media, PR and arts field knows this amazing lady! And she's great at keeping in touch too..

The venue was Santini at Jaya One - a cosy Italian restaurant with dim lighting. I was one of the earlier to arrive. I was sharing car with dad actually..and couldn't stay long.

The food was pretty good - had various types of pizzas courtesy of See Ming and ordered a vegetable starter which name I forgot :p

Makan aside, it was interesting and fun meeting new faces and some familiar ones... one thing I have observed, most of those who came were the sociable and ready to mingle type - could it be due to the nature of our media-related job?

I had some good conversations but unfortunately, had to leave around 9pm as dad was waiting.. See Ming was nice to get the cake out early so that I could have a piece! I saw from photos later that some people came late, including some of my friends from the media..too bad i missed them.

Although I had to leave early.. I was glad to have been there. And I did have a good time.. and I left having to `accumulate' more friends to add on my Facebook!! :D

With the `host' See Ming

Was pleasantly surprised to see Claire aka Minishorts there - I always thought she is a very interesting blogger!

Janet the singer and Han the editor/writer

Dinner time around the long table at about 8:40pm

See Ming blowing the candle on Word Up! cake - simple cake but delicious!

The youngest `Word Upper' was Max - See Ming and Sim's cute son! :)

p.s. thanks See Ming for organising and making all of us feel at home - and Sim for being the photographer! More pix on their blog here

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Alan's birthday concert!


Can you believe this man turns 58 years-old today?
And he is still as young as ever - albeit a few more lines of wisdom on his face..
I've lost count of the number of time I've seen my `idol' Alan Tam in concert - either a solo performance or with other artistes together.. but I remember I've liked him since I was in form 4 - that's a long, long time ago.. and although today I'm less fanatical, he is still the ONLY artiste who I would not miss any opportunity to meet and watch his shows..

Just got back from his concert at Genting Highland.. it ended at 12:15am so basically the audience got to celebrate his birthday with him!

I just couldn't wait to blog about it.. and started this post at an unearthly hour as we got baack pretty late!!

I found another Alan Tam fan in Evonne so we both were really looking forward to this concert - although for her it was her first while for me, the anticipation still beat going for concerts of any other Cantopop artiste!

I secured pretty good seats almost a month earlier. And for the first time in a long long time, I actually bought a concert ticket - though we got at special price due to my past working relationship with the organiser.

Due to the heavy rain and the jam in town - ya, went there to buy something for my computer - I thought we were quite lucky to make it in good time. We entered the Arena of Stars at 8pm on the dot. But on the way walking there I found it was quite quiet.. and then when we entered the stadium, I was shocked!

The stadium was empty!

how could it be.. was the response that bad? was all the audience that late? And then I quickly took out my ticket and look again.. and here it says:

Stupid me - I actually snapped this pix of my ticket during dinner but DIDN'T notice the time! (btw, I didn't go free cos my friend's tix is full-price and we sorta share the cost..)

Ahh...! the concert was to start at 9pm, not 8pm like always!! And then later i know why because Alan wants his Friday night audience to celebrate his birthday for him too!

So we killed time by first by posing by his concert poster/bunting and then had a drink at Coffee Bean at Themepark Hotel..

When we re-entered the stadium near 9pm, it was pretty full. We were seated right in the centre - ninth row from the front. The first five rows were reserved for VVIPs. It was a good from where we sit though my compact digital cam (with no power zoom) can't get very good pix.. In fact, after the first three songs, we were barred from taking photos.. until the very end part when `all hell broke loose'!!

But from these not so good pix you can see the many expressive and animated sides of Alan!

The only Malaysian in his band is my friend Joanne Yeoh - and as usual, she did a great job with her violin. She also has a more important role to play than the Chinese instrumentalists being involved in most of the repertoire. And I could see she really enjoyed herself - and has this radiant smile throughout.. :)

Towards the end of the concert, Evonne `abandoned' me by going right to the front and stayed there for like the rest of the concert and encore!! Don't blame her, she went forward to pass her idol a card she made herself but she had squart there to wait for opportunity.. and finally when it's encore time, more people rushed to the front and she was stuck there I guess..

The two girls seated in front of us were real fan of Alan.. came armed with placards, presents and all..though they're barely in their mid 20s! That shows how universally Alan's appeal is.. but the audience in the packed stadium was also more towards the mature age.. around 30 and above.. The most funny thing was seeing an uncle (about 50s and looking much older than Alan himself) dancing and prancing and screaming away near me!! Well, I also found myself standing on my chair singing and waving away.. :p

At the stroke of midnight, his crew came out and we all sang Happy Birthday song to Alan and the stadium was in a carnival and party mood.. and then he sang two more songs, including `Friends' and one that expressed his love to sing..

Throughout the concert, Alan did not disappoint and sang many of his golden hits from the 1980s.. as well as a number of Mandarin songs - alas, his mandarin diction is still out! Oh, he also sang a few English numbers which he did pretty well..

His critics (like my sis!) thinks his vocal isn't very nice - well, he is not really the mellow or very soothing type. BUT no one can doubt that he CAN sing - he has superb vocal technique and skill.. Even my vocal teacher said he is one of the very few Hong Kong singers who know how to sing!

But the fact that he still commands such a wide fan base has a lot to do with his personality.. charismatic, genuine and unpretentious.

I must be honest and say that last night's concert wasn't the best that I had seen.. I really enjoyed his Hong Kong 30th anniversary concert in 2005 (despite ended up watching alone) and another very high and memorable one was in 1999 in Genting (where I had a personal encounter with him - no that wasn't THE reason..) Still, I think his fans would be more than happy as he has indeed sang his heart out.. and covered a vast repertoire..

Moreover, it was the first time, I (and thousands of his fans) ushered in his birthday with him during his concert!

So on the drive back to Kuala Lumpur, Evonne and I had only one topic to talk about..sharing our views and adulations on our idol, while listening to the new Alan Tam CD she bought earlier...

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Taking the plunge into my first missions trip!

Procrastination is bad - and I know I have to conquer it, even if it's just blogging!

In the last three weeks or so.. the daily hits of my blog have reduced by almost half - not that there're many to start with! Well, no, that's not the `motivation' for me to blog.. but the fact is, I do have things to share.. I could easily blog another six posts at one go but no, I really don't have the time.

I will start by sharing on this: I'll be going on my first short-term mission trip next month - to Kunming, China! :)

Missions and evangelism have always been close to my heart.. In fact from a Spiritual gift `test/questionnaire' that we did in a camp in 1995, I actually scored quite highly in this area. And I have tried to be involved in missions related ministry in church or out from time to time and these few years, even took up the role as `missions coordinator' for my peer group.. But to be honest, I have not been doing much.. such a far cry from others who really are devoted their time and effort in investing in sharing the gospel to others..

About 3 years back, I have this thought to join a short-term missions trip and my church does organise such trips a few times a year to various places - such as Nepal, Cambodia, China and other parts of SEAsia. All these places have great needs but somehow I feel more burden to want to reach to the poor and lost souls of my ancestor's lands - maybe because we share the same heritage and culture, and on top of that, I am Chinese literate so communication will be easy.

I have missed at least two short-term missions trips to China in the last few years (esp that time when I was still employed) as well as other opportunities to to other places. There were usually many excuses in my head - including that whether I could cope in the environment!!

Then, as I was almost crying out to God for my stale spiritual life these days, one Sunday I read in the bulletin that pastor is organising a short-term missions trip to Kunming next month. Of course I didn't just sign up immediately but ponder on it for a week or so. I really wanted to go - I mean I had told myself and God that I wanted to go to China for short-term mission trip.

But now while time is now not a main factor, the cost is a factor.. (I can't afford to go on a long-haul trip anymore this year!) But guess what - my dad came with me to church the following Sunday and although he is not a Christian yet, he was so touched and challenge by the missionary speakers and when I told him about the missions trip, he was ready to sponsor me!

We spoke to Pastor who said they were just looking for one more female - it's a small group - and even encouraged us further so I think my dad was sold! To him this experience will be good for me.

So to cut a longish story short! I am going for the one-week trip. The flight has been booked! I still do not know the full itinerary but pastor said basically we will be working in partnership with the local church there and will be spreading the Gospel to the minority tribes there..

The last time I visited the minority tribes in that same province of Yunnan (but different areas), I was there for a child-sponsor visit with World Vision. It was an unforgettable trip but we weren't spreading the Gospel. In fact, as a matter of policy, WV - tho a Christian NGO - disallow sponsors to talk to the children about Christianity at all..

Well, physical needs are vital but our spiritual side can't be neglected. Only some people need help physically BUT we ALL need God in our lives.. it reminds me one of my favourite verse in the Bible: "What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?" (Mark 8:36)

True, doing mission work is not just about missions trips to foreign countries, we also have to start with people around us, in our own land.. Having said that, I think God has called me to take a step of faith, to open up my eyes to the world around and to use me and train me up for His kingdom.

And yes, I'm thankful and excited! :)

Ta Da! But You're at the Right Place!

Hope this new look to my blog will inject some inspirations for me to blog now!

But it's really late now so I will just do a short one to announce the `birth' of another phase of Jess' two Js!

For the first time, this I.T. idiot of me tried out other templates on the world wide web, instead of limiting to the default Blogger templates on I have always wondered why other ppl have unique layout on Bloggers.. yeah, i know i'm slow..

Anyways, since this blog is indeed inspired by my two Js.. what more fitting to get a layout with dog in it! I thought this is quite cute.. not sure whether it is easy to read :p

But in changing to this new look, I had lost all my `widgets' or whatever on the sidebar. Sigh.. all my blog links are gone - so are some items and my pathetic blog advertisements which are just useless anyway..

Oh, I welcome feedback (if any) of this new look..

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

This blogger's block lingers...

I am mourning for the sad state of this blog at the moment.

The truth is I hadn't been doing much of what I vouched to do in the last post. But just that suddenly I lost all the inspirations and motivations to blog! No, things have been happening - there was a nice wedding, the passing and funeral of a dear friend's mom, a new rather `impulsive' purchase of a new notebook, going to be 3rd-time bridesmaid, some interesting work and social related stuff etc..etc... but yet, I didn't feel like blogging about anything!!

So ya, i've broken my record of not blogging for the longest period in my 3-years-3-months..

Now, I just want to say I'm still alive.. and that this blog isn't dead.

Just be patient (if anyone is still coming here!) and hopefully my blogger's block will be over soon!