Thursday, December 31, 2009

My year in review..

TIME FLIES..!! I mean, 2009 really really has flown by in a wink!

I just can't believe we're now in the last day of of the year.. Tomorrow it's a brand new year - and a brand new decade - if you have celebrated year 2000 as the turn of the millenium!

As with the custom since I started blogging in mid 2005 (gosh, has it been more than 4 1/2 years already?), albeit having really slowed down in the last few months, I don't want to miss out writing this `momentus' year-end post that includes both reflection of the year that has been, as well as setting `resolutions' for the coming year..

Ahh... resolutions! The big `R' word which many has a love-hate relationship with - and yours truly is one who believes in setting resolutions yet always almost never achieve most of them! Having said that, it is important I feel to have new goals for the new year, and also re-examine old ones that one has not realised - and try to make them work again!

Ok.. besides turning the Big 4-0 in the middle of this month, I shall recap of the significant events and things that have happened in 2009 - not a top 10 news of the world thing, but what has happened in my life - of course, this is my personal blog! ;)

1. Grandma passes away at 90, just after CNY after deteriorating condition of suffering a stroke for 10 years. We were sad but of course her death was not unpredicted. In fact, it was a relief for her as well as for us.. she was already in semi-conscious state and before that totally bedridden for a year plus.. She could even hardly spoke for some time already. There was no quality of life. The extended family, relatives and close friends turned out in full to pay her last respect. RIP Ah Nei - I still miss you..

2. The set-up of my SoHo/ home office - complete with new furniture and paint, and got my first iMac! That idea has been brewing in dad's mind for some time but due to lack of proper room space it was not done. But since grandma's passing, the room downstairs has been vacant so it seems a good idea to turn it into my `home office' - since I mostly work from home as a freelance writer, and working from my bedroom was not really conducive. That explained why I frequented Starbucks for a while! The conversion was an easy process and not expensive too - and by August, I had a proper SoHo to work in - and even got a new iMac which I heart!! Ya, now I always work (and play) in my private SoHo :p

3. I sat for my first vocal examination in June. After taking up personal vocal lesson proper (the ones I took in the past were infrequent and group classes) since November 07, I took the plunge and sat for the First Concert Certificate exam which required me to sing 4 songs by heart! It was a pretty nerve-wracking experience as my legs actually trembled singing in front of the examiner! Being pushed by my teacher, I was aiming high - but was quite relief to get a Merit and not less.. (Distinction would be great but oh well..) And with the exam preparation, I felt my singing has improved quite a lot this year!

4. I took up Italian lesson since beginning of this year.. but progress has been slow. Found my tutor Giovanna online and enjoyed learning.. however, the language is so tough and my brain matter (ie memory) is getting so much weaker these days.. I won't say it's a waste of money although I can hardly master much of the language after a year.. and she's leaving for Rome so I am not sure of the continuation.. :(

5. I was blessed to be able to travel to a few interesting places this year - some of which I didn't even blog about like my Shanghai trip in October - which I really had fun! We went on a family holiday to the scenic Wuyishan in Fujian, China - my parents, my sis and me like old time :). The following month, we did our annual `pilgrimage' to Hong Kong to visit sis family - particularly the three kids! It also turned out to be a shopping spree for I had lost some weight then (read more about my weight-loss achievement below) In July, I had my first World Rianforest Festival experience in the cultural village of Sarawak - which turned out to be pretty `memorable' for some wrong reasons! And then finally in mid October, I went to Shanghai by myself and was the guest of my Malaysian friend who lives temporarily. She drew up a concise itinerary for me and we did so much in a week - food and shopping being the highlight. I LOVE the cosmopolitan of Shanghai and want to go back again.. But alas, my blogging momentum took a dip after that so I didn't blog at all - it would have been a super-long post! However, photos that speak a thousand words can be seen in my Facebook album.

6. Ok, regarding my work.. hmmm.. what can I say? It has been VERY different from the last two years of being a freelancer. Oh ya, as of November this year I have been on my own for THREE whole years already and with God's blessing, i'm still at it. But now I'm doing only half editorial work and the rest is corporate/other forms of writing and translations. But for the first 2 1/2 months of this year, I was attached to GardnerAndWife Theatre and was helping them to write press releases and publicity materials that led up to their first production of the year - Wicked Wizard. That was quite an interesting jobe experience. But even if translation work pay prompt and copywriting pay more, my first love is still writing feature articles for papers and magazines and I pray I can still be doing that in 2010!

7. Some of my church friends had been battling the `big C' this year. An dear faithful servant, an auntie from church at just 60, has passed away in November while there were many new cases - including a close friend who was detected with stage 4 lung cancer which doctor and was only gave her months to live. However, her strong faith in God had seen her battling with medical means and prayers, and we were so glad that God had worked a miracle in her body and life - that her tumour has reduced and all cancerous spots were cleared from other parts of her body! It also spurred her to become an avid blogger who regularly updates her spiritual blog here. Now we are praying and ministering to another brother whose condition has worsened lately..

8. Farewell CCF. Ironically just 3 months after the nostalgic and wonderful CCF Alumni camp, the church's peer group fellowship that I've been a part of since 1994 has disbanded after being there since 1991. It has seen the coming and going and of course staying-on of many young adults over the years and has built up strong friendship as well as Christian foundations in many lives.. It was kinda sad but from its condition in the last two years, we know we need to move on. So since middle of this year, I have joined a home/cell group and also enjoying new fellowship with more mature friends and studying the Word together..

9. Woe to the Net addict. Sigh.. although I posted that in February, my addiction on the Internet had gone from bad to worse.. i think! Ok, maybe it had `maintained' since I also spend some time watching HK drama series on Astro. My work also demands the heavy usage of email and google and other Internet tools, and on top of that, I have somehow succumbed to the temptations of the many Facebook games - the ones I'm current playing actively are (ok, hold your breath!) Sorority Life, Cafe World, Petville, Pet Society, Word Twist and Restaurant City (RC not so frequent). This is on top of managing and sending messages, checking friends messages and status and all other 1001 things Facebook offers!! I'm a real Junkie but on the plus side, FB has helped me in my work too!

10. Last but not least.. if I have only been given one thing that is significant to review this year, it would be this: Since February till September - I have successfully shed off 15kg of weight - that's like 5 1/2 inches off my waist (no need to go into details of the other vital statistics). And the good news is, I have maintained that weight in the last three months - without having to go on a diet anymore.. It has been so obvious that so many people whom knew me before had commented - and then it has come to this stage that I had to get rid of almost all my old clothes! Especially jeans and pants.. and also most dresses, shirts and blouses!! No wonder I have been spending a lot - cos I had been shopping locally, in Hong Kong and also Shanghai for new clothes and now I decided also to alter some of the old ones that I like.. So how did I do this? Of course some of my friends would have known already.. but since there are lots to tell, I shall follow by another post soon in the future - dedicated to this `Big Loser' lol - and also with photos of `before and after' to show!

So you had my top 10 list of 2009. My next post that hopefully I would write later today.. or on Jan 1, will be my aspirations and plans. I shall not use the word resolutions anymore - for the year 2010.

Ya, it has been an eventful and unforgettable year.. And it's kinda hard to say goodbye.. to 2009..! :(

Thursday, December 17, 2009

My Memorable Birthday of `Adventures'

So finally.. I've entered into the milestone I've always dreaded in the last few years... :S

But guess what, just like how I entered the last year of my 30s last December.. turning 40 wasn't a big deal anymore!

I mean, it's kinda `big deal' in the sense I did plan something to treat myself.. and ended up having a birthday celebration that I've never experienced before!!

But first was a surprise birthday treat by some of my good friends from church, which involved a big cover-up story and then I was blindfolded in the car all the way to the restaurant! Imagine on a busy Sunday evening, I was made to walk from the carpark into a shopping complex and then all the way into the restaurant and to our table blindfolded - and of course holding on to my two friends. And on top of that, since I thought we were going to play games in my friend's house, I was in my casual wear with slippers!! And then, they even fed me with some `samples' of food and made me guess what I tasted.. before all was revealed when I was allowed to see again..

It's near Christmas and some of my group of friends who turned up for my last birthday do could not make it.. so it was just five gal-friends and me but it's really nice cos it's cosy and I know they actually took the pain and trouble to plan for it.. so that I didn't even suspect. Well, I did suspect in a way since it was just three days away from my actual birthday, but my guess was they may just bring out a cake when we play games.. the mastermind and the main partner-in-crime were just so clever and `crafty' at this `game' that I actually fell for it..!

So yes, for the first time in my life, I had a surprise and blindfolded birthday treat!! And on top of that, I was treated to a sumptuous Japanese meal, birthday cake and pressies.. but most important was their company.. So thank you gals, you know who you are.. don't want to name names to embarrass you although I just had to post a few photos here for memory sake! ;)

After that part was over... came the part which I have looked forward since months ago when I decided to treat myself to spend my birthday in a five-star hotel!

I'm not so rich after all.. it's because of the Starwood Privilege membership that I've joined a few months earlier (where I also got to treat dad to a discounted birthday dinner at Prime) that had a coupon that offered me a free night stay in one of its five-star hotels in KL. Out of the three hotels - Le Meridien, Sheraton Imperial and Westin, I chose Westin due to the great location. I just thought of having an escapade in the city and pamper myself by sleeping in a five-star hotel room that is famous for its `heavenly bed'! For dinner, my parents would join me to dine in Prego - which also entitled to 33 per cent off for three diners.

The icing to the cake however, would be a two-hour luxurious spa treatment at the famous and very pricey Spa Village. Since I couldn't afford to experience the famed Spa Village at Pangkor Laut, the KL one is good enough. And surely after checking it out two weeks ago when I had an assignment in Ritz Carlton, I fell in love with it.. just look at the photos on its website here. hmm.. heavenly!!
I was almost all packed by the time I went to bed on Tues night (or rather Wed morning) and was really happy and touched to receive a meaningful Hallmark birthday card from dad and mom, with an `angpow' enclosed! ;)

After doing some renovation shopping with dad for the condo and a yummy `ipoh hor fun' lunch in PJ, I checked into Westin KL around 3:30pm (postponed my spa treatment to 4pm). While the room wasn't super luxurious for 5-star standard, it was nice and roomy and comfy.. and the bathroom was quite impressive - can't get the shower and the WC areas inside the photo!

And the bed.. ahhh.. it's definitely one of the most `heavenly' beds I've lied on.. it was soft yet firm and the pillows were so comfortable too.. words can't really describe. Couldn't help but lied on it and took a photo myself (not very flattering angle but who cares :p)

After refreshing and unpacking a bit, I headed for the spa. Conveniently, Ritz Carlton is just at the back of Westin. The YTL flagship hotel is another class altogether.. but no, I don't have free room for this one..

I chose the 60/60 package - an hour of body scrub treatment and an hour of Balinese massage.. Each treatment room is like a luxurious hotel room and best of all, open up to a private garden that has a open roof shower and a bath.. all built for privacy of course. And each room has attached bathroom and some with steam room.

My therapist was a local lady, and one of the better masseurs I have come across.. the service of course was superb. I felt so relaxed during the massage that actually managed to not think of the many things in my mind.. and almost drifted into sleep.. I shan't go into the details of the treatments.. :p Suffice to say, I have been to a few spas locally and more overseas but this must be the most luxurious ever, and probably the best experience.. How I wish my spa treatments could last longer!

I know I was on `holiday' so to speak but I still needed to be connected! And so went online a while and saw a flood of birthday greetings on FB! :D Dad and mom arrived soon and we dined at Prego. The food was not great but not bad either and the ambience was nice.. cosy, warm and relaxed.. Got a free bottle of red wine with my coupon, and a cake as well from the hotel.
We shared our food as usual and my main courses - shared with dad - were spaghetti Arabiata and a pizza which I forgot its name, recommended by the captain.

Uncle's family came to join us after dinner and we went up to my room to chit-chat, had the cake and some drinks.. before they left around 11pm. They bought me a bottle of wine.. and we opened it!

While continuing my Internet-ing - but I had to go to the lobby lounge as Internet access costs a bomb in room! And then I found out that there was free drinks for ladies at Q-bar, and just couldn't help it to help myself to a Sangria. On top of the many glasses of wine, and a frozen magaritta I ordered at the lobby lounge! I over-estimated myself.. my head got pretty heavy by the end of the night and finally after a hot bath, I tugged myself into my heavenly bed..

It would have been a PERFECT escapade if not of the terrible incident early in the morning!! At 7:30am - while I was still in dreamland, I was rudely awaken by a loud drums playing! It sounded like a band of drums and indeed it was! They were practising in front of Pavillion which was where my room was facing. I couldn't ignore it so I called the hotel reception to complain. I was assured that they would ask the drums to stop. But no, the drumming continued, sometimes intermittently but it got worse and I had to call again, this time the manager on duty actually went over to try to solve the problem.. However, he didn't succeed.. and finally.. he apologetically offered me to change room that's on the other side. That was the only solution so I took it, groggy already being awaken for about an hour. So, in my bathrobe and slipper and only with my glasses and handphone, I followed him to another part of the hotel which was the apartment residence.. and he gave me a studio - which also had a king-size heavenly bed.

Due to the disturbances, and with a headache from hangover, I had difficulty falling asleep immediately again.. and finally when I did it was probably 10am.. and then I had to miss the movie preview I planned to go at Pavillion GSC! Sigh..

(I went back later to the studio residence and snapped some photos for blogging sake!)

Finally I woke up around noon, still groggy but at least had some sleep.. joined my media friends for lunch at Pavillion food court before going to Ritz Carlton for my work assignment. Actually I am thankful that the assignment location was just perfect for me.

Since it's entertainment assignment, it was also more fun.. and this time to interview Tony Leung Ka Fai and Fan Bing Bing who came to promote the new movie `Bodyguards and Assassins', which according to those who watched, was a great movie! (and i will get to watch only later.. at least the distributor promised me free tix)

I have requested for late check-out. I planned to leave around 5pm when my work finished, but by then, I was really too tired from alcohol effect and lack of sleep so I got my room extended again.. and the kind manager, who already wrote me an apology card and gave me a small box of chocolate, agreed.

So I rested for an hour or so as I was totally exhausted but had some coffee so I couldn't really sleep. Then I went to the poolside for a while and then had nice long shower before I packed up and left the hotel.. concluding my 30-hours escapade at Westin KL...

Whatever way you look at it, my milestone was certainly some kind of adventures and experiences that's worth me blogging all in a breath till 1am!

Time to hit the sack now, on my own familiar `heavenly' bed.. ;)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The long day closes...

This was the last song we sang.

It felt kinda surreal and sad that it has come to an end.. when I know many of us still have so much passion and devotion to continue to sing in this choir.

I have joined Cantus Musicus for exactly two years now.. although it's only short two years, I have really enjoyed singing every Wednesday evening with a group of fellow singers and music lovers of diverse background; and also performing in the ambassadors' home and functions, and of course the parties and feasts that were part of them all.. And over time, I have also made many friends from the choir, some of whom I've grown quite close to..

What made Cantus Musicus different from other local choirs is the types of music we sing. From school days to university and church choirs, I have never been acquainted with such rare, beautiful and challenging repertoires - we sing much of the music in a capella, always in SATB parts, and I have never sung in so many different languages in my life!! Just at the top of my head, I've sung in German, Latin, French, Italian, Spanish, Dutch, Swedish, Russian, Irish... etc.. At first it was quite daunting but soon, I found it very interesting and refreshing and happily welcomed them!

We may not be the most `hardworking' choir.. for I know certain choirs have many rehearsals prior to performances.. we are after all an amateur choir but we always rose to the occasion and have done our best in each of the performances - and they have always been well received by the host and the audience.. and I, daring to speak on behalf of my fellow choir mates, there's this indescribable feeling of satisfaction and fulfillment having been able to belt out melodies from our hearts for our audience and ourselves.

(recap: these posts were just some of the concerts last year that I blogged about.. )

Besides feeling sentimental about the ending.. for I know I will miss singing with the choir every Wednesday.. some of us also feel it's a pity and a `waste'.. for I know there are many gifted singers and musicians among us who are passionate and committed in singing in this choir - many can be rightful soloists. Yes, of course we could join other choirs, but it won't be the same. There is only one Cantus Musicus which is totally unique.. not in a boastful way but we all know that.

I know we all shared the feeling of melancholy last night despite putting on a brave and cheerful front. Although we already were expecting it as there had been hints and warnings, I guess we were just hoping that this would be a temporary break.. that this current choir - which has grown to be very big - will need some form of `revamp' or `reformation'.

But from what we were told, it really seemed like a proper closure. `Cantus Musicus' is official no more.

As a fellow choir mate said: `Que sara sara, whatever will be, will be..' I guess that's part of life.. we know our choir director, who has invested so much of her time, energy and blood, sweat and tears into this choir, needs a break. And she has her reasons and we all respect that. But somehow I and many of us in the choir still harbouring the hope that this is not a permanent end.. perhaps some time later, a choir will be reformed in the same spirit of that of Cantus Musicus, and all the true Cantus Musicusians will gather together again to do what we love to do - crooning unique and beautiful music again..

We sang the rather depressing `The Long Day Closes' while we were having our last `Room 5 party' (yes, it was a wonderful feast again and I shall miss that too! :( )

No star is o'er the lake,
Its pale watch keeping,
The moon is half awake,
Through gray mists creeping,
The last red leaves fall round
The porch of roses,
The clock hath ceased to sound,
The long day closes.

Sit by the silent hearth
In calm endeavour,
To count the sounds of mirth,
Now dumb for ever.
Heed not how hope believes
And fate disposes:
Shadow is round the eaves,
The long day closes.

The lighted windows dim
Are fading slowly.
The fire that was so trim
Now quivers lowly.
Go to the dreamless bed
Where grief reposes;
Thy book of toil is read,
The long day closes.

Guess it's like what they say, all good things will come to an end.. Just that I feel this `end' has come too soon.

And I will always cherish the experience, the fun time and the memories of my two years with this wonderful choir...

Saturday, November 14, 2009

ALL GONE!!!! :((

Can't believe I've wiped out all my old datas in my old Palm - and I have no back-up!!!

Yes, they're ALL GONE!! Addresses and phone numbers of old friends and contacts - especially those overseas.. old sermon notes.. and other (not so important) things and memories..

Gosh, I'm so upset and I feel I'm crying inside though I can't physically cry.. sigh..

I haven't been using my Palm for the longest time.. reason being the contacts I use often are already in my handphone (only phone nos) I'm not worried about those contacts - friends and work-related - locally. But what I have lost are the addresses and phone nos of friends living overseas - U.K., Australia, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore.. etc..

Thankfully for some of them I am still able to get in touch with.. via Facebook and common friends. But I know there are some whom I have lost contacts altogether.. unless they get in touch with me first..

So you're probably wondering how I could just lose everything.. I think I've just been taking my good old Palm for granted all these years.. It was actually sold to me second hand by my brother-in-law. At that time, Palm was the thing and I was quite impressed by the colour screen..and the simple but functional features.. I have painstakingly input many contacts - including work and general ones.. I used it as a diary until I swapped over to my phone.. and I have input sermon notes and other important stuff and details in it.. There were to-do-notes, even my `feminine cycle' record and others.. Basically it served me well..

A few years back with the change of hard disk, I was unable to SYNC it anymore to the PC (even my technician could not help). I know I was taking a huge risk but somehow naively I still went ahead using the Palm, updating stuff. Then in the last couple of years, I have used it much much less, and almost only when I needed to look up friends contacts overseas (like when I go overseas..)

Since I am going to Singapore tomorrow and I have many friends there, and it seems we will have some spare time besides my cousin's wedding solemnisation and banquet, so I thought of contacting some friends. Even if I could not meet up at least just chat with them.. But when I tried to turn on my Palm (which has not been touched by many months) I could not at all, nothing came on, it was like totally dead..

So finally I did something I really regret now.. but I had done it before last time. Which was to RESET it. When I did this last time when it hanged, all my data was in tact.. But this time..... when it worked again, it was like a brand new Palm - with nothing in it.. :((

I guess maybe it was already dead for too long - I had not charged it for the longest time. The data was probably already gone!!

Sigh.. no use crying over spilt milk now I know. But I felt like screaming out loud..and I just had to let it out..

Yes, it feels so painful to have lost for good memories and contacts from the past that I have cherished all this while..


Friday, October 02, 2009

Maybe it's about time.. for now..

Somehow I just don't have the inspirations to blog anymore..

No, life is not uninteresting.. in fact, many things are happening this month. Singing, travelling, family time, more singing.. and my `social calender' (no not that type of social but..) looks pretty packed till end of the year too..

And then there's the dreaded milestone to come.. trying not to think about it.

Fact is, less and less people are reading this blog.. some read cos i link it to Facebook and I happen to have many friends there.. to think of it, has FB killed my blog? :S

Maybe I should go back to doing a private diary of sort.. only between myself and God so I can be free to write whatever I feel like it and not to worry what people think of me.

It's kinda pathetic. I have started writing at least three posts and feel there's no steam to continue..

Well.. just see how long this `hiatus' will last.. maybe my Shanghai trip will be exciting enough to spur me to do a proper post.. else I'm just ranting and blabbering again.. and I call myself a writer.. sigh.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Taking the `Mac' plunge and loving it!

On Monday night, I bid farewell to my PC of six years and spent a couple of hours tidying the quite messy contents in the hard disk.. ready for the `big change'!

The thing is, it was getting very slow, always hanged and worse of all,because of piracy reason (ahem, i didn't have an original Windows software as it was a clone), I couldn't even access some of the programs anymore!

And Since I `shifted' to my new SoHo, even dad has commented that perhaps it's time to upgrade my desktop computer.. The monitor looked quite dwarf on the large table.. but of course the main reason I decided to change was that I felt it has served its due.

So for the last week or two, I was scouting around and researching for a new desktop. To be honest, I had not thought of switching from Microsoft to Mac as I've been using MS Windows since the day I owned a PC - and although I had tried a Mac before it appeared a bit too `complicated' to me.. Though I must admit I think it's pretty cool.

Then early last week, I stepped foot into Machines - a store that carries only Apple products - and fell in love instantly with the iMac!

Yes, its appearance and design is simply genius and beautiful - like all Apple products. But after speaking to the staff there, I realised the advantages of using a Mac (no worries about virus, almost crash-proof..) basically a more superior technology than Windows. Well, I didn't just take his words for it and proceeded to read up on the Net from reputable tech sites. Reviews of similar all-in-one desktop all point to the fact that the best IS the iMac.

Still not convinced because I was just afraid of taking the `big plunge' switching over, I posted a question on my Facebook status and was a bit surprised by the response! EVERYONE - and there were quite a lot who replied (save one person) asked me to get the iMac. And many of them were happy `converts'.

So by end of last week, I made up my mind that yes, I am gonna get the iMac! To save my worry, Machine's technician agreed to help me transfer my datas from my old PC hard disk to my new Mac! I went to purchase on Monday and left my pc there for the transfer.

Yesterday afternoon, my brand new iMac 20 inch arrived on my doorstep!

I then unpacked the contents and placed the iMac and all the rest on my table.
As I started to use it, I immediately knew I definitely made the right choice! Of course I only know how to do the basics as there're so many applications/programs I've yet to learn.. but whatever I tried out, I found everything to be so cool, and better still,very user-friendly! For a Net freak like me, I was instantly able to be connected to the Net! :))

And of course, the images are so sharp and powerful and the interface is just so slick and I love even working on a document as I could view all the pages together!! (Errr..I don't think i need to elaborate as any Mac user would know and testify to it!)

Am so excited.. there are still much more to explore for it's only the 2nd day... :)

In short, I just HEART my new iMac - never before I was so in love with a `machine' hehe.. and then I was wondering to myself - why did I wait so long before using a Mac? (I guess I was mainly concern with it being the more `niche' with less compatible software.. but as far as I know, Mac has evolved with times and with new MS compatible softwares, that's not even a problem)

Oh well, better late than never.

The only problem now is.. gosh, I will become addicted to my new iMac!!

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Once-in-a-thousand years


Ya, it's that kind of a date. Remember last year - 08-08-08 - had illicit quite a bit of excitement and buzz esp. among the Chinese? (coz 8 in Chinese sounds like a very auspicious no.)

This year when it comes to the turn of the 09, it also signifies something very special. Because in Mandarin - 9 is pronounced as jiu, and that's the sound-alike of another word meaning `lasting'. Thus, we can imagine the nos of Chinese couples tying the knot today - ie their marriage is `chang chang jiu jiu' (long and lasting)

Actually I was only reminded of this `special' day when I interviewed the people from the KL&Selangor Assembly Hall for a story I'm writing. I was told that they're organising a mass wedding on this date! Originally they aimed to get 99 couples (again, playing the auspicious no.) but due to overwhelming response, they now have close to 110 couples or so! And mind you, this is just ONE of many venues / organiser that's conducting such mass wedding in the Klang Valley or nation wide!

I'm not a stickler for nos and the sound-alike. I am perfectly at peace and happy to stay in hotel room that's no. 444 (4 sounds alike to death in Cantonese). But since I'm just running out of things to blog about besides telling people of what I do, buy, work etc.. (how boring!) Might as well just commemmorate this day since after all, it does ONLY happen ONCE in a life-time. ie. The next 09-09-09 would be in the year 3009!!

So may we all have a happy `lasting day' today.. ;)

Monday, August 31, 2009

My 3rd junk sale and the biggest!

Today I'll be taking part at The No Plastic Bag Bazaar as a vendor - sharing a stall with my friend Hazlin.

Organised by The Recyclists and with a little help from the expert of junk sale Threadszoo, it's a pretty big event that includes the participation of many local celebs (performing, auctioning) as well as a huge area for vendors. Mind you, most of them I can see are in the businesses..

So I really hope among all the `competition', some people will be buying our preloved junks! :p Anyhow I'm glad to be part of it as the event is for a good cause - to remind people to go green and to raise funds for Furry Friends Farm and Malaysian Nature Society.

This time round, I'm still selling things like clothings (ya.. there're loads I don't want anymore and also many that're now way too big for me!) , handbags and accessories - the latter took quite a lot of time to sort out! On top of that, I'm also selling books - mainly novels, and thanks to the contribution by my Italian teacher.. she had read so many books esp chick lits (in English, not Italian :p). And then I'm also selling some unsued knick knacks like handphone pouches, key rings etc...

Here's just a brief summary of my products for sale:
  • Close to 30 or so dresses/blouses with hangers (to be hung on my friend's cloth rack)
  • A small suitcase full of tank tops, t-shirts, shirts and blouses
  • A large box full of handbags of various sizes
  • A large box full of skirts and a few pants
  • A huge basket containing accessories in various boxes - earrings, necklaces, bracelets, hair clips etc etc.. pouches to give away
  • Two boxes full of books - chick lits and others
  • Another bag containing the knick knacks
  • Not for sale: a huge bag with money box, stationary box, cardboard, small plastic bags and pouches, mirror etc..
Ya, as you can see.. that's quite a lot to bring! Quite relieved that my parents were so sweet to want to company me and help me to transport the stuff and to set up the stall! In fact my maid will be coming too.. hehe, at least there's something for them to do on Merdeka Holiday!

Actually packing the things weren't so bad thought it took up quite a lot of time.. the worse was when I had to take out old books or other stuff, the dirt made me sneeze so badly the whole evening.. used up so many tissues!! :( Thank goodness, I'm done and just had a cup of hot honey lemon plus a Clarinese pill.. so finally the runny nose has improved a bit..

So hope to it will be a fruitful and fun day.. more updates later!!

Monday, August 17, 2009

My Four `Entertaining' Weekends..

It's been a month of Chinese entertainment overload..!! Ya, I think I've had enough of Chinese live-shows and concerts for a while - for the last four weekends, I've attended four shows! Half of them for work and half for leisure.

This should be the record since I left my life as a entertainment (read: Chinese entertainment) journalist with the paper almost three years ago..

No, i'm not complaining - it can be tiring but I thoroughly enjoyed almost all of them.. and would have wanted to watch it anyway and ended up I didn't pay a cent for it.. :p

The first one - Astro Star Quest Finals - would not be something I would have watched live - maybe on television. And this year I didn't even follow the competition at all... Then just a day before the finals in Putra Stadium, Bukit Jalil, an ed called me up and since I do need jobs and money, of course I made myself available..

I was seated in the comfort of Putra Stadium press seat with a table.. and it was actually quite entertaining and enjoyable despite I had no knowledge of these up-and-coming youngsters were. Must say I was quite impressed in particular by two of them - Kah Fai and Min - who eventually emerged as first runner-up and the winner!! The only grouses was the whole thing was pretty long as there were many rounds of contests - and all those commerical breaks in between since it was aired live on Astro.. And as the responsible (ahem) writer that I am, I also stayed back to interview the winners although I had not much space for the write-up anyway..

Then the following weekend.. was a show I really wanted to watch. Although no one asked me to review it, I was fortunate to obtain two comp tickets from the organiser of SuperBand - that's made up of four unique and talented musicians/singers from Taiwan - Lo Ta-yu, Jonathan Lee, Wakin Chau and Chang Chen-yue.

My sis in HK has watched this concert and told me it was really good (and she is the picky type when it comes to concerts) and so I was really looking forward to it and definitely I was not disappointed. In fact, I rated it as the best concert I've been to this year and maybe even in recent years!! Their repertoire was splended and nostalgic (ok, I'm from some their eras) and they really showcased what they could do with their voices and instruments individually and as a band. And boy, just loved the way they jammed together.. Their combined age was 190! But to me, they beat any young hot boyband hands down. :) And so ya, myself and my friend really enjoyed it.. the bonus was I daringly mingled myself into the press seats (which were better than my ticket seats) after there were extra seats there!

I attended the Michael Hui's press conference a few weeks earlier and was quite keen to catch his talk show in Genting Highland. Unfortunately, the editor I was contributing to did not want a review but fortunately I know the organiser's boss whom I've covered quite a no. of his shows and he has asked me to just go. But because it was a hot sold-out show - Michael Hui's first ever show in Malaysia or outside HK for that matter - I was told in the last minute that I could get into the stadium but there were no seats allocated for me!!

But again, my lucky (entertainment) star was shining and my friend and I who specially drove up to Genting were `rewarded' with seats - quite good ones too - among the photographers. And we had such a good time laughing our heads off with his jokes. Michael Hui has many interesting stories and anacdotes to tell.. The audience loved it so much that he obliged by even singing a song at the end.. And like I put on my FB, it is a refreshing change from the usual concerts! Great show :)

Finally.. (I really hope I don't have any concert next week.. :S) I thought I would have given Eason Chan a miss this time as I mistakenly thought the concert was on Saturday and I was on worship duty on early Sunday morning. But turn out I was asked to do a review and the concert was Sunday evening.. at Sunway Lagoon Surf Pool - the same stage of MTV World Stage Live the night before.

For once, I was shocked to find out that they did not allocate any areas, let alone, any seats for the press! I was ushered to this `red zone area' - already jam packed with people right in front of the stage.. I squeezed myself through but guess what, I was blocked by a few tall guys and hardly had space to move let alone jot down notes for my review! The speakers were blaring and made my heart thump. Seriously, I'm not fit nor young enough to stand in such condition for 3 hours!!

To cut a long story short, I squeezed my way out of that crazy zone and stood at the side where some reporters were.. but 20 mins later, I already felt tired and spotted some chairs by some food stalls so there was where I sat by myself the whole night..

Fortunately, Eason's wonderful performance and music redeemed that earlier terrible experience.. Although i could only see the screen from side way and hardly the stage.. I still enjoyed the concert. He even did a medley of the 80s classics including Alan Tam's Love Trap and his own beautiful numbers.. It was even better than his first concert I watched I felt.. so much so I stayed till last song and as I walked out, fireworks broke into the sky.. a very long and elaborate one.

I guess Eason's concert - plus all the three previous ones had inspired me to blog despite my tiredness.. (got up at 6:50am this morning!)

What a crazy life for a aging freelance (entertaiment) writer who should actually settle for less `exciting' jobs :p But no, I'm not complaining.. :)

Thursday, August 06, 2009

What a `Tit Tar' experience!

Usually my dad has pretty good recommendations - especially when it comes to food. But this time, I hoped I hadn't taken his advice..

You see, because of my sprained foot that was getting move painful overnight, i was planning to go to a professional tit tar place which i went before in Sea Park, PJ when i sprained my foot/ankle two years back.

But then my dad said I should go to the one `near' our place. They are very good and professional and always have lots of customers (or patients?)

So I took his advise, thinking that PJ is a bit far to drive all the way.. but.. the whole tit tar experience turned out to be quite an ordeal..

First, it wasn't exactly near.. it's almost 20 mins drive (just 5 more I would reach that tit tar place in PJ! ) Can you imagine just to see a tit tar, I waited a whole TWO hours before getting treatment. When you enter the place, you feel you're in a time warp - that you've entered a 1950s Chinese shoplot. Maybe it was older even. And ya, the whole place was quite dingy andd run down.. they even boil their medicine (i guess its for application) in the toilet!

(I wished i had taken some photos!)

I know what made my dad think they're so good. Cos the place is always full with people. It's extremely popular among the local folks - especially middle age and elderly men and I guess for that reason I thought i was in the right place..

When we reached, we had to pick a card with a no. and then just wait for your turn. My no. was `26' and after quite a long while, someone came out from one of the rooms and a woman shouted `10'. I knew I was in for a loooong wait... and true enough..

After making some important calls, poured all through the Chinese papers my mom brought (good thing I have her company) and doing some sms, went to toilet twice, I began to feel impatient.. It was nearly 1pm and we had been there for almost 2 hours!!

FINALLY, my turn came.. I was greeted by a grouchy-looking man whom I figured out was the sifu going to treat me.. After taking my seat and as I began to relate what happened to me (I fell, and hurt my left foot etc) he just didn't seem interested but started doing some `massage checks' on both my feet, calves and even body.

Being the outspoken person I am, I just asked why was he checking other parts of my body but instead of replying he snapped at me and ordered me to turn around and even checked my back. To be honest, my intention wasn't to question what he did (he surely has a reason) but just want to know more. But instead, he just snubbed at me saying that I had no idea of what he does so there is no point he wants to answer me.. Now I can't remember exactly our conversation but some ppl may think we were arguing.. But I just wanted to clarify my point..

And when I said why was he so grouchy, he admitted it and said how could he be in a good mood just after a fight with someone. And I was unlucky to be treated next!!

Inside I was rolling my eyes big time. Ok, now I guess I know whey he was in a foul mood was pretty rude. Anyways, although we didn't get off in a good start, at least he took quite a long time to massage my left foot and leg.

However, as I tried to seek his advise, he wasn't being helpful and gave ambiguous answers. He didn't tell me what was wrong with my foot.. I said some ppl think it's better to go for x-ray then he would ask why I decided to see them. And whether I think I should need X-ray?

You can tell he was not professionally trained.. and he never admitted he was. In fact, he later disclosed he learned `tit ta' from his father-in-law and brother-in-law, who were the founders of this tit ta place. He also said their tit tar style is unique in that no one else in KL do it this way.. And that the amount of people who come to them is already a testimony..

Anyways, at least the `urut' part wasn't that painful. And after asking him again, he just said it wasn't that serious and I just should walk fast. But when I asked him whether he thinks I should go to Genting this Saturday (going for Michael Hui's talk show), he said just try to `adjust'.. he was saying I can walk and function normallly, but later he sorta contradicted himself and said I better rest my foot more..

At one point, another man (he said was the sifu of this place) came in and just touched my legs/feet and stepped on my left foot (where the swell was but surprising, it wasn't that painful)

He did spend quite a lot of time massaging my foot and leg. In the last part, I was asked to lie on my tummy on a bed - for him to urut the foot and leg form another angle. And there was a pillow there and I couldn't help wondering how clean it was but too late I was lying on it!!

I was given the `tit tar jau' and also some `tit tar pills' (even my dad said he was sceptical and didn't take those last time). And before I could say anything he said it's up to me as many of his patients couldn't be bother to put on/ eat medication at home. I said i wanted to heal fast so I will but he still said the same thing..

But finally, after paying (it was a reasonable RM35) the man suddenly softened and said he felt he was a bit in the wrong in the beginning.. To which I said no worries..

When we got home, it was 2pm. We left house before 11am. I could have done or rested with all those waiting time wasted!!

Ok, I know I should give them the benefit of the doubt.. maybe the urut and the medication really work.. But, even so, I doubt very much I would ever go back there shall I need a tit tar agan!

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

another foot disaster...

Just as I am getting busy with quite a few things going on - work and others - this has to happen..!!

Sigh. I think I've sprained my left foot. And it's quite painful now.

I fell down.

I was going to my vocal class this afternoon and spotted a empty parking space by the roadside (normally I would park inside but sometimes hard to find parking and is charged) Thinking that roadside parking was free so I was quite happy.. and then as I walked on, I saw parking meter on the roadside and I was thinking and contemplating whether I should pay. And also when did they put up the meters? So as my mind was focused on the meter, I didn't pay attention to my feet.. I didn't know that was the end of the pavement and I stepped onto the uneven and muddy ground and fell, landing on my butt!!

I immediately got up (kinda embarrassing) and in a way relief there was no one near by.. My peddle-pusher got muddy and i felt some sharp pain on my left foot. Nevertheless I could still walk..

As i needed to climb two flights of stairs to my class and was running late, I sat down at the mamak stall nearby and called my teacher. He was kind enough to come down and see me.. And since I seemed ok, shortly after, we walked up and proceeded for class.. but i felt the left foot a bit strained and sometimes sang sitting down!

I know I should have gone home and attend to the foot after class.. but then I didn't think it was serious.. and I had a prior appointment at the centre for my final rounds of (slimming) treatment. If I didn't go today, I won't have time to go this week again.. So I thought never mind, I just needed to lie down most of the time anyway..

But, when I finished about two hours later, I realised I was already limping. The pain on my left foot was more.

After reached home and showered, I rubbed on some `Zhen gu shui' (famous Chinese ointment for sprains) and even bandaged up my left foot. I also skipped my choir practice.. in a way I'm glad I did.. Coz from then onwards, the foot just got more and more painful.. so much so that i find it hard to walk even.. I had to walk really slowly and quite awkwardly. But thankfully when the foot is still, there isn't too much pain.

I got advise on Facebook that I need to see a `Tit Ta' sifu as soon as possible.

But what bothers me is not so much the pain.. yes that too, but this stupid sprained foot would probably jeapodise my tomorrow's schedule! I have quite a busy day coming. I don't think my interviewee (who seems so busy and impulsive) is happy that i have to reschedule the appointment tomorrow. And then I have my Italian class which I always look forward to.

And then, in the evening, I have booked to watch KakiBlue musical with my friend! We already paid for it... and if I really can't go, it's a bit hard for my friend to find someone else to go with her. And on top of it, while collecting the tickets, I need to produce my credit card (which I used to book over the phone!) How..?

So now I just hope and pray that tomorrow it will not be worse..

All because of that stupid meter.. (ok, and I was careless myself) :(

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Finally, the paint is on!

My SoHo has been set up for quite a while now. But it's not until today that we finally had the walls painted!

Of course the whole thing is not quite completed. We still have to do up the window blinds and most likely take away the grills of the doors so that what is left is just plain glass door that open up to the garden outside. :) I also have a beautiful red oil painting to put up in place of the poster on the olive wall.

But in the meantime, I'm pretty happy with the warm olive green and silver mist shade. It surely makes working more cosy and pleasurable.. ;)

Spot the dog!
The wall at the entrance has also been painted.. spot the dog!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Festival of Incidents

What a trip!

It was a truly unforgettable first `Rainforest World Music Festival' for me - well, not for all the right reasons unfortunately. And some of the incidents would probably be stuck in my mind..

Maybe because I've heard such raves about it and had conjured some kind of expectation.. Or maybe I'm not a true lover of world/ethnic music after all.. But what really put a damper on it was our choice of accommodation..

Living in the long house was a terrible experience for me. So I ended up forgoing the second and third night stay (which was paid) and checked into Tune Hotel in Kuching instead.

To post the whole account of the three days would probably end up like a loooong article that no one will read.. So I shall just share some highlights here:

The Dampers:
  • The shuttle from Kuching to Sarawak Cultural Village (where the RWMF was held) was pretty badly organised - the staff could not speak English and worse, gave different instructions everyday making things so complicated and frustrating! Sometimes we were told to book beforehand while other time just buy tickets at the bus.
  • Since my friend and I are virgins at Kuching, we did a boo-boo ended up taking a cab from a hotel to another that is just opposite side of the road!! And the sly cab driver charged us RM8 for that ride!
  • It started pouring just before the shows began on the first night - we ended up watching more than half of it on the screen at a sheltered place. The ground in front of the stage was so muddy and hadn't dried up by the 3rd day!
  • This would take the icing of the cake - the deplorable condition of the Iban longhouse! - we're charged RM120 a night for a double room - and what we got were
  1. really basic (read: primitive) room with just two beds - a hard pillow and thin dirty-looking blanket, a cupboard and a wall fan that could not even rotate..
  2. a wet, dirty-looking toilet downstairs to be shared by four rooms. Cold-water shower, tiny basin and a WC. what's worse was there was NO water during `peak periods'! The first night, most of us bathed by scooping water from a a big pail - while the second night there was no water from 9pm to 3am - but by then I was gone.
  • There was an opening that overlooked the common area and a large group of people were chatting and laughing away till about 4am! Sleepless first night for me..
  • Staying in three different rooms for the three nights! Well, at least the second and third nights were in the same hotel though different rooms.
  • Not used to oily food, I suffered stomach ache on the first night - causing me to miss the finale which is one of the best bands!
  • My friends' room next door was `broken into'. Thankfully they didn't lose anything - we still unsure if it was a drunkard guest from outside or the longhouse who claimed to see that who was the culprit. They lodged a report and since I was the witness - who saw the worker coming out of their room - I went with them and also missed a good band playing.
  • There were more incidents but better not rant on...

The Delights

  • The Cultural Village was pretty - with a lake, mountain and forest, and the two concert stages had tall trees of rainforest as back drops. In the night with lighting, it looked romantic and surreal in a way.
  • The atmosphere was quite vibrant - it had a multi-national, multi-racial crowd, there were craft bazaars and various activities and festivities going on. Managed to buy something for mom and my nephews and niece, and even had henna done too!
  • Got some time to explore Kuching but just around the Waterfront touristy area and ate some local food (but suffered stomach problem :(

The photos by themselves are pretty interesting and `exotic' though..

Outside our Iban longhouse
The pathetic toiletMy room for the 2nd and 3rd night at Tune Hotel

Finally, if the music had been awesome, I think that would have cheered us up a bit.

Unfortunately most of the music, especially by Malaysian and Asian bands, were so monotonous - perhaps something you see in a cultural show! But there were some pretty good ones too - like the French, the NewZealand and Hungary were some of my favourites. The Tanzania group's bongo dance was a riot though music there was hardly any.

Overall I think I only enjoyed less than 30 per cent of all performances.. the final night was the best of all and our Malaysian band from KL - Akasha - was great and most enjoyable! :)

nb. wanted to upload more concert pix but Blogger fails me!! maybe later..