Jul 14, 2015

22 Bookfest Malaysia 2015


Me At The Entrance Holding My Pass
The internet age has often left me wondering if books, I mean the printed ones, will go the way of radio cassettes or VHS tapes.

But every time I go to a book fair, I am consoled by the crowded scene that shows 'maybe not in my lifetime'. It's amazing to see people dragging huge travel bags into the hall intending to bring home a good haul of books.

BookFest Malaysia by Popular Book Store is on from July 11 to 19 at KLCC. There's an entry fee of RM2.50. We paid for a pair of tickets and were given additional ones which can be used from the 14th onwards. This means that we can go again coming weekend, for free!

However, I think I've gotten enough books to last me until the next book fair. All of it, unashamedly, cookbooks. There's something about propping myself up on a bed of pillows and pouring through a ton of food pictures - akin to a day at a book spa. If there is such a spa.

Upon paying the tickets, we (I was here with the family) received a catalogue along with a discount voucher.

Receipt For Our Purchases and BookFest Catalogue

This is the scene at the English books corner (picture below). What attracted me was the offer to Buy 2 books for RM10 and the Buy 3 books at RM10 each! It's a great bargain even if there weren't many titles to choose from.

The great thing about this fest is really the huge collection of Chinese books that are on sale. I was impressed. If you love Chinese books, then this is one exhibition you wouldn't want to miss! 

BookFest Malaysia 2015

These are books my aunt and I got for ourselves. The hardcover copies of Rachel's Everyday only cost me RM5 each. I'm saving these for a giveaway.

The Books We Got!

I find Herbs and Pork Appetit to be a rather engaging read, having flipped through the books more than a couple of times now.

If you're into books, then make your way to this exhibition which is happening right now. There's a chance you may even meet your favourite author. Yup, there are workshops and forums. Plus a little something for stationery lovers.


Jul 7, 2015

20 Please Make Up My Room ... and nothing else!

My jaw dropped, and then I laughed! This Make-Up-My-Room hanging sign had me in stitches.

"Gosh, what was she doing down there?" It looked like a person on the bed was cringing in fear.

Please make up my room and nothing else!


I count this as one of the little things that made my stay at Prescott Hotel Kajang interesting and memorable.

Have you seen any cringe-worthy hanging door signs like these?

Jul 4, 2015

18 KL Big Kitchen Festival 2015 - Loved it, but GrRrr!



The KL Big Kitchen Festival, an initiative under the Kuala Lumpur tourism master plan, was launched in May at Dataran Merdeka. The event lasted three days. I was thrilled to know that it will be an annual affair, and am so excited that I cannot wait to see what they have in store next year!

The sun was bright and punishing on the Sunday morning I was there.

"Phew! Boy, I wished there were drink stalls scattered across the field," as I imagined sipping on a a cold Teh O drink. 

I loved the whole festival set-up. It was neat, dreamy with large white tents, and a lot of details going into the design of the area, both indoors and outdoors. There is an air of good clean fun.

Entrance to KL Big Kitchen and Entry Tickets

The activities they have planned will excite anyone who loves food. Cooking demos by celebrity chefs and workshops for those preferring a hands-on experience. Check out the programme below.

Cooking Demo

My favourite corner is the heritage corner. I marveled at the many traditional dishes that are losing presence to the convenience of modern cooking. It made me admire our ancestors - how they toiled to cook a delicious meal for the family. Here I am, armed with electrical appliances that does the work with one press of a button and yet you will still hear me grumble about how much work cooking involves!

I headed to the tent where there seemed to be more life. Yes, it was a surprisingly quiet food festival. Was I 10am too early?  It's quite unlike food-loving Malaysians not to flock here at all hours considering the full crowd we had at Floria Putrajaya. Maybe we are more the avid gardener than we thought.

KL Big Kitchen Festival - Tents and Outdoor Seating Areas

KL Big Kitchen Festival - From another angle

When I realised that the big open tent housed stalls that feature food from each state in Malaysia, I strode to the Sabah stall with pride. Pride which soon deflated at seeing two bleary eyed food assistants slouched on chairs.

My eyes skipped over the plate of 'Hinava', I raised my eyebrows and cursed inwardly at the organisers for appointing people who had no idea how spirited Sabahans were, to man the stall.

A "Bah, try this lah! YeeeEEee..eh!" would have been a great reflection. I'm just being funny!

State Specialties

Whilst I enjoyed my walkabout tremendously, I felt there was room for improvement in the following areas as well - from promoting the event, staffing and food variety.

Promotional efforts. With so many celebrity chefs on board, it seemed ridiculous (to me at least) that the crowd was not on record breaking levels. It was too low key. I cannot help but feel that more should have been done to advertise the festival.

Festival guides. There is a need for festival guides to make the place inviting. They could provide visitors with information on what's happening there and then. I had no idea what was going on in the heritage corner. It was quiet except for a few people. The food trucks were tucked away in mystery land. I felt like I was a spy stepping into a hush secret meeting every time I opened the door to the covered tent.

Food Variety. I shed tears at seeing the fruit stall. Really. I say bring the pasar malam fruit vendors in! And local delicacies? Nothing compared to our vibrant Ramadhan Bazaars.

The Manisan tent had so much possibilities.
Other than the putu bambu stall, I wish I had seen local treats like puteri mandi, badak berendam, kuih dangai, kuih akok and kuih jelurut, just to name a few. Perhaps I was early and the stalls have yet to roar. That said, should they not be ready by opening time? We have so much to offer when it comes to sweet snacks. 

KL Big Kitchen Festival - Inside the Tents

KL Big Kitchen Festival - Inside Another Tent

For me, the best part of the food festival was the cooking demos and workshops. It was well organised and most vibrant. Although I wasn't one of the participants, I felt the energy from their laughter and the chefs' genuine desire to share their knowledge with us. I may have missed the boat this year, but I'll be sure to sign up for the next one!


Jun 16, 2015

20 An Evening At Merdekarya

My cousin, Genie Wong (whom I call Gen), was here for an open mic session at Merdekarya. I whooped in joy when she asked to stay over at my place for several nights. With my aunt now staying with me, you can imagine how lively it was in my home! 

Here's a little about what an open mic session is. 

Wikipedia:
An open mic or open mike (derived from open microphone) is a live show where audience members may perform at the microphone. Usually, the performers sign up in advance for a time slot with the host or master of ceremonies.These events are typically focused on performance arts like poetry and the spoken word, music, and comedy.


Merdekarya , I gather, is a place that promotes independent Malaysian music and books.

It was our first time here. A dim lit hangout with artsy decor which I will describe as grunge. We arrived at 7.30pm.

As we enter (ground floor)

Up the staircase

The ambiance

The wall decor

Tipping is 'encouraged'

This place is a beacon of creativity. I adore the light covers at the balcony (pictured below) and I bet you can guess why! The crescent and the star makes it significantly Malaysian. Those are the symbols on our flag.   

Lights

The show started an hour-plus late. This didn't sit well with me, but I relaxed as soon as the first performer, Kee Vern Lai, went on stage. Then, Genie was up. She wooed us with her sultry voice and a few of her original songs. We clapped very loudly of course, with wide smiles on our faces. Family, you know.

The crowd started coming in at 10pm-ish. It's a great place but idle chatter and drinking just wasn't our thing so we left after the second act. Our late-night days are over. Between me and my bed, there is beauty sleep and that's hard to beat!

I'm leaving you with this video of my cousin's performance that night. Enjoy!



May 30, 2015

30 Updating My Garden With Colours

Phew! What an amazing couple of weeks. Lots of quality time spent with relatives who popped into the big city for various reasons from a shopping holiday to seeking medical treatment. Since they were staying over at my place, I was automatically assigned the role of guide and chauffeur.

In between hectic days, I squeezed in some me-time which involved redecorating a part of the apartment. I felt that the garden needed a pick-me-up. The purple mona lavender that used to move me seemed tired against the pale grey walls.

So, off I went to nursery Lot 61, Kota Damansara - aimed for three plants, drove home with six! Haha, I have to say. I dug out my cute Daiso pink hand trowel from the cabinet. With it and gloved hands, the garden was fixed up to accommodate the plants I just got. Although I rolled my eyes over the extra purchase, I was feeling very, very pleased! 

My Haul Of Plants From The Nursery - Chrysanthemums and Begonias

A number of my neighbours use the balcony as their laundry area. For me, it is a place of relaxation. No drying our clothes here!

The day we (hubby and I) signed the papers for this apartment, we had fantastic ideas about what we could do to decorate our new home. My guy was adamant that we should have a water fountain in the balcony. He built a low wall to create a pond. Things didn't quite work out and it became home for my flowers instead (picture below).
 
Re-potted (This was where the water feature was supposed to be.)

Blue Pea Flower (Green)

We have a rocking bench squeezed in the center of the area. It was an impromptu buy that happened years ago when we were getting a new dining table. After testing out several chairs and sofas for fun, we sat on this bench and fell in love with this comforting feeling of swinging back and forth. That's what curiosity got us - a new bench! 

Chili Plants, Spring Onion, Parsley, Ginger, Pak Choy, Fern

My money plant had to be trimmed off because it was crawling up too high. The leaves were so vibrant that I knew it'd be ridiculous to discard it. It sits on my table today in a blue smiling cup. Hah! What do you think of my leafy table arrangement?

Money Plant

Well, that ends my gardening adventure. A body, mind and soul revitalising activity. ♥ ♥

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

If you're into gardening, then you'll love Floria Putrajaya. The annual flower and garden festival begins today, until 7 June 2015. For details, visit their website or Facebook page : https://www.facebook.com/FloriaPutrajaya

I had an amazing time last year : Flower Power at Floria Putrajaya 2014


May 11, 2015

12 Hospital Kuala Lumpur

The story is ...that my aunt had run away. She did, really. She packed her bags, left home without telling a soul (except me) and flew to Kuala Lumpur to check into the hospital for surgery. This was March 15th. She has been staying with me ever since. By now, everyone knows.

I found it hilarious but understood the drastic move. She doesn't enjoy the dramatic less-than-comforting expressions that follow when it is known that someone is unwell. No one does. This happens a lot in our small town. You could say that it's a small community thing and word spreads fast, especially unfavourable ones.

"I heard you're in big trouble! " sobs one with deep downturned lips.

"The nurse leaked that you're in critical condition.. " cried another whilst wrinkling the forehead.

Here, on the other hand, there is less of this feeling of doom and gloom for my aunt! I take her out for little adventures every other day. So much to explore, so much to do!

She has been in and out of the hospital to prepare for the big day. Scans and tests have been done. The op is weeks away. It's the final leg. Are we excited? ...No. My aunt's having the jitters. I try not to let her focus on it too much. That's where crochet comes in - a project to occupy her thoughts, and mine.

During our period in the hospital, I took the time to roam the halls that has been a blessing to many.

This is a picture taken just outside the gynae ward on the 4th floor. The Popular Choice? I would think so. It's always full and the wait is long.

The Quiet Corridor of Hospital Kuala Lumpur

Before heading to the ward, we had to fill out some papers downstairs. As a retired government servant, my aunt was entitled to room and treatment for free. How lucky!

Registration

This hospital has seen better days, but the good news is that there are major upgrading works in progress and also new buildings being constructed. It's about time, I say!

Hospital Kuala Lumpur

I especially love the new carpark building. No steep drive up, airy with lots of parking space.

Hospital Kuala Lumpur Carpark

This is the 'first class, 2-bed' room that my aunt stayed in for a couple of days. It comes with an attached bathroom. There is an open shared sink with mirror in one corner. There is also a tall cabinet where patients can hang their clothes.

First class ward with 2 beds

First class ward with 2 beds plus 1 sink and two tall cabinets

The food is good and healthy. It's all about natural flavours and pretty much no seasoning. They did leave a sachet of salt, in case some find it too tasteless. I had to giggle at that.

Hospital Food

Visiting hours are from 12.30PM to 2PM and 4.30PM to 7.30PM. For weekends and public holidays, it's 12.30Pm to 7.30PM. A warning - security is strict about it !

Well, that's that on my visit to the general hospital. Just one of the many I have explored.     


May 4, 2015

12 Teacher of Kindness

Sprightly old man, he is. In a weathered ill fitting black business jacket and long pants, he approached the group of us sitting in the outdoor waiting area of the Hospital's gynecology wing, and asked in a booming voice, where the Outpatient Ward was. A bit of a Santa Claus, but much slimmer in build.

He held a large plastic container of Cadbury Choclairs in one arm and a suitcase ..or was it two, in the other.

My aunt pointed out where he should go. He sighed at the distance. Then headed towards me, announced to all of us that he was a teacher, and handed out a sweet. I was hesitant at first, but took it in faith that it was all good. He proceeded to give it to each and everyone else who was there. Then, he strode purposefully and cheerfully towards the building across the road.

Cadbury Choclairs from a Teacher

"What teacher could he be? " I pondered. "Teacher of kindness and optimism...? " my thoughts offered.

Perhaps.

Apr 27, 2015

16 IKEA : Cheras

The buzz? IKEA will be opening it's second outlet in Malaysia end of 2015. We know it'll be located at Jalan Cochrane, Cheras. We know it'll be bigger than the one in Mutiara Damansara.

Busybody that we (husband included!) were, we drove to the construction site for a visit ...because why not. Do I hear - "Nothing better to do, arh?"

I know it doesn't seem like there's anything to see, but still, I felt excited.

IKEA Cheras

Kids need to play - it's how they grow into well-rounded adults ..... (Source: 2015 Catalogue - Page 206).
We're BIG kids. IKEA is our playground.

Apr 23, 2015

12 At The Launch Of The Resort Café, Sunway Resort Hotel & Spa

It's not very often that I am awed by buffet spreads that make me wish I had the appetite of a professional wrestler who can gulp down copious amounts of food in one sitting. I spent thirty minutes deciding what to put on my plate. This predicament, in light that I can only eat so much.

Lucky me won invites to the launch of The Resort Café from a Facebook contest organised by Sunway Resort Hotel & Spa recently. The café is located near the entrance of the hotel so it was an easy find.

My first impression of the place was of wonderment. There were chefs and smiling assistants greeting us along the way. It was bustling with activity - on-the-spot cooking, food being served, photo-taking. We were well attended to. Kudos to the team!

Me, my Aunt and close Friend at The Resort Café

I would describe the ambiance as full of good vibes.

The Quieter Corner Of The Resort Café

'Wow!' is what I have to say about the food.

A tissue in hand would be handy right about now, because these are dishes that will make you salivate...lots. And the effort they had put into pulling off such a great feast to please us is cause for teary eyes.

The buffet offers a wide selection of cuisine to choose from - there's Malaysian, Indian, Chinese, Thai, Japanese, Middle Eastern and more. Click here to see the full list. Fresh fruits, salads and desserts were aplenty. I was told that the Nyonya kuih was flown in direct from Penang that morning. We were getting the best there is out there!

Here are some of my favourites.

DELICIOUS,I SAY
First, the Salmon Wellington. The meat was pleasantly tender. This was tops in my opinion. It was so heavenly to tuck into that the experience remains in my mind until today.

Salmon Wellington

Then, there's the creamy Blue Pumpkin Curry Soup which had me swooning for more that I tried to savour every slurp as long as I could. I can be really dramatic about yummy food.

Blue Pumpkin Curry Soup

Next, the Braised Soy Sauce Platter. As you can probably guess, this is rich in the flavour department. I had a little of everything. As a fan of soy-anything, this calls out to me for seconds.

Briased Soy-Sauce Platter

See Singapore Chilli Crab? Think rich, thick, spicy gravy. This is paired with fried mantao. I believe we shouldn't be shy to go all out at buffets because the Chefs have toiled many days to give us the tastiest food - planning, purchasing, preparing, cooking, taste-testing ..what they do is too vast for me to mention in detail. The best compliment you can give a Chef is to clean the plate out and lick the bowl clean. 

Singapore Chilli Crab

Desserts that make you wish they had a buffet just for d-e-s-s-e-r-t-s.

Imagine if, just for a day, the people at The Resort Café told me this - "Okay, Sharon. We heard ya. RM40nett eat-all-you-want from the dessert corner. You have two hours." ...... JOY!!

Notice that I didn't take anything anything from the salad or the fruit tower? I honestly didn't have space for that, not with desserts that looked this sexy.

Desserts
The ones I would have more than one serving of - Cendol Panna Cotta (dessert cup 2nd from left) and Coconut Pudding (dessert cup far-left)! Silky smooth is how I would describe the texture. The sauce has natural light flavours that's not overpoweringly sweet.

I also adore the Passionfruit treat that is adorned with a roll of Chocolate Strings on top (dessert cup far-right).

I would round up the dessert corner as a very romantic adventure. Can I say that my experience was orgasmic?

Desserts

INTERESTING DISHES
I found these dishes fascinating because it's not something that I regularly see or have tasted.

Luuk Chuup - A Thai mun bean marzipan.
 
Luuk Chuup

Chicken with bulgur in a cob loaf.

Chicken with bulgur in a cob loaf.

Pan Fried Chicken Patties with Espresso Sauce. The espresso is a nice touch to the sauce. The picture below shows some of the other dishes that we tried too. 

Top, from left: Fresh Oysters, Chicken Patties with Espresso Sauce
Bottom, from left: Glazed BBQ Beef Ribs, Winter Melon with Scallop and Fish Maw Soup

THE FRESH STUFF
There is a decent variety of raw and fresh food.

Top, from left: Fresh Salmon, Salad Sauces.
Bottom, from left: Fresh Fruits, Fresh Vegetables.

Finally, the surprise! We were halfway through our meal when we heard ringing from a hand bell. "Could it be?"  Our excitement began to rise. Yes, it was the ice cream man! An ice cream cart was rolled into the dining area with much fanfare. We were each blessed with 'roti ais krim' (ice-cream with bread). Bliss. 

Ice Cream with Bread!

That ends my very exciting afternoon at The Resort Café, now etched in memory as a beautiful moment in my life - all thanks to the amazing team that had played a role in making things happen for us, the diners.

Apr 13, 2015

16 Boom, Clap ....Flash!

When I googled for images of lightning, the first thing I noticed was that my shots didn't have 'roots'. I learned of a better word to describe it as I delved deeper into the topic of lightning. The shots I took were clean of 'branching'.

From this website , I was able to identify the ones that I took were type 'Cloud-to-Ground Lightning - Positive (+CG) ' .

This first shot was taken behind a glass door. In all my years of living in a highrise, I've never really looked outside to see the flashes of light that so regularly sneak through my blinds, sometimes with the clap of thunder and pouring rain and sometimes without.

In all honesty, I find it a frightening affair and at times, I'm left wondering if my heart is doing somersaults within me!

On this particular day however, my aunt was around. We were talking about nothing in particular. I don't even remember why we decided to do this, but we had both edged to the sliding door like two scaredy-cats, just to snap a photo of the lightning that had been flashing every few minutes.

My unconfident finger stayed on the button of the camera ... boom! I got the shot. So this is it, my maiden attempt at photographing lightning. Proud laughing moment.

30th March 2015, 4.31PM - Kuala Lumpur

And below, my second try. A little braver, since I slid the door slightly open for this one.

9th April 2015, 8.14PM - Kuala Lumpur

No special gadget  - just my trusty old digital camera, one press of the button plus a bit of luck!

.... I am kind of looking forward to seeing the next one. Grin.

Apr 8, 2015

26 Kajang : Things To See and Do

Kajang town is lined with the quintessential row of shophouses of a past era. The skies remain clear of skyscrapers, but it is in no way quiet.

The town bustles with activity from small businesses and during weekends, there is the familiar traffic jam surrounding larger malls. Cars inch the area for parking lots.


With the construction of a MRT station in the heart of the area, it is a matter of time before Kajang catches up with its more modern neighbours. The idea that I can soon skip the 40-minute drive from Kuala Lumpur to Kajang for a taste of its famous satay excites me. How convenient to just hop on a train!

This brings me to the main purpose of this post - things to do in Kajang.

1) Tuck into a plate of delicious Satay Kajang, a dish of skewered charcoal-grilled meat that is eaten with a dip of rich peanut sauce. It is the pride of the town. The first thing that comes to mind about Kajang is its satay, and some say, nothing else.

These are the two most popular outlets.

- Sate Kajang Hj. Samuri is said to be key behind the rise of popularity for Satay Kajang. The main outlet is located in Bangunan Dato' Nazir which is adjacent to Stadium Kajang.



- Nyok Lan Satay (Restoran Malaysia) boasts of lean meat satay and a creamier sauce.

Satay Kajang Hj Samuri
Satay Kajang Nyok Lan

2) The history of Satay Kajang is preserved in Galeri Sate (Satay Gallery), which was officially opened in 2009. It is located near the MRT construction site. However, its doors are closed on weekends. I therefore did not make any attempt to visit the gallery since those were the days I was there. 

3) The Manju-Suddhi Buddhist Association at Kampung Baru Sungai Chua is a great place to go for some sightseeing. There are a couple of large beautiful statues of deities within the compound and one just outside.

Manju-Suddhi Buddhist Association

The Goddess Kuan Yin

Manju-Suddhi Buddhist Association
Facebook page: www.facebook.com/pbms.bo

4) Mewah Club, which has a restaurant and a swimming pool, offers a great view of Kajang town as it sits by the side of hill at Taman Bukit Mewah. It is a short drive up. Imagine romantic meals and a place to chill.

Staying at Prescott Hotel Kajang would be a plus because shuttle services can be arranged for guests who wish to go there.

5) Deeper into Bukit Mewah (after Mewah Club), is Loong Tien Koong Temple (龙天宫). Other than its name, Google led me to very little information about it. It was a place I spotted from the main road and it took me awhile to locate it!

The temple is currently undergoing beautification works and is expanding to include a large hall. I had asked for permission from the caretaker to take a look-see. 

Loong Tien Koong Temple

A good view of Kajang from this spot.

The view at Loong Tien Koong Temple

Located metres away from the temple, is a shrine with a lovely garden.

A Shrine Near Loong Tien Koong Temple

And that ends my little adventure in Kajang.

Are there any other places that you think I should add to the list?


 

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