May 11, 2015

9 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

9 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

24 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?


Apr 2, 2015

20 A Stay At Prescott Hotel Kajang

When I told everyone that I was heading to Kajang  for a holiday, I was met with quizzical looks of "Errrrr.... why Kajang? " I laughed at that.

Although the town isn't a major tourist haunt, I believe that it has potential to become a decent holiday destination. I'll elaborate on my sightseeing adventure in my next post. For now, a little about the hotel I spent my days in.

Corporate bluish grey covered the facade of Prescott Hotel Kajang. It was an aged design that had flourished decades ago in the construction of office buildings, in Kuala Lumpur. These days, the city is lined with high-rise architecture that has an edgier and trendier feel.

Kajang, however, is a small town that has yet to catch up with the status of a modern city. Hence, this sense of nostalgia as my eyes roamed the rows of old two-storey shophouses, reminiscing about the small island I had come from which has a similar setting.

Prescott Hotel Kajang

I felt only the warmth of friendly people as I stepped into Prescott Hotel Kajang. It was as though I had just walked into my own home!

The receptionist checked my details, briefed me about the room access cards and provided me with login details to free wifi (I am so impressed with the internet speed!).

"Hello, makcik! " I cheerfully greeted the cleaning lady, whom I would be seeing for the next couple of days, as I walked towards door number 3503. She always had a smile for me.

This is it - the Executive Room. Cosy and spacious comes to mind. The dim yellow lights added a romantic feel. The matt gold wallpaper is a classy touch that I thought made the room a little more breathtaking. I knew I was going to get a good night's sleep and I did!

I was most excited with the six sleeping pillows that came along with the room. One of the things I love doing, when I'm on the bed, is to prop a lot of pillows around me. Getting comfy, I call it! Then, I'll be flipping TV channels to search for a movie. It's a habit I caught from the husband, this pillow piling thing.

Prescott Hotel Kajang

This is a shot of another corner of the room. There's a hair dryer in the drawer, an ironing board, bath robes and a safe deposit box in the cupboard. There's also a mini fridge beside the bed. How thoughtful! Chilled drinks are always a welcome refreshment after long hours of being out in the sun exploring a new town.

Prescott Hotel Kajang

I headed to the bathroom and was really pleased to see this bath collection. I just couldn't bring myself to remove the items from the pretty packaging. So I brought it home instead, unused. It's my way of prolonging the inevitable. I'm going to have to use it one day! Sob.

The Bath Collection

Outside my room, it is bright and airy. I have always preferred rooms facing out in the open, like this one. I'm rarely enthusiastic about walking along a dim corridor.

The Staircase At Prescott Hotel Kajang

We were blessed with complimentary buffet breakfast at Blenders Cafe. The food selection was small, but more than sufficient in my opinion. I'm more of a light breakfast person.

Blenders Cafe is right below!

Breakfast at Blenders Cafe

Finally, this is the lobby area. It has a couple of massage chairs in the corner. That's me holding a printout of the room reservation. The receptionist who attended to me was courteous and helpful. Don't hesitate to ask her where the best satay spots are!

Me checking in!

The hotel is located smack in the middle of town. I would say that this is one of the biggest advantage about staying here! It is within walking distance of two large shopping malls. Around the corner are street eats such as the legendary Hj Samuri Kajang Satay, chilli popiah, Indian snacks and Roti John.

I got a glimpse of local life right where I was. Imagine my excitement when a religious procession passed below my window one night. It was the sound of the tabla that drew me to the sight of devotees carrying  their deity in a carriage with blinking lights.

All in, I had many wonderful moments in Kajang. Perhaps it was because I had already set my heart and mind to find beauty in little happenings that surround me.

Standard rooms can go as low as a hundred ringgit during promotion periods. For Corporate Rates, contact the lovely Ms Afida Mosir at [afida.mosir @ theeverylygroup.com] .

Website: http://prescotthotels.asia/Kajang

Mar 23, 2015

18 The Lost Windscreen Squeegee

A weathered bronze or copper coloured sedan drove close to my side. The male driver signaled to me with a wave. I slowed my little black car and moved to the left to allow him to overtake. At the same time, I grumbled under my breath, "No patience, mehh." My aunt, who was beside me, agreed.

I had just gotten my car washed and had the petrol tank filled at a BP petrol station nearby. It was one of my most pleasant experience. A friendly petrol attendant had readily placed the pump into my car. He then proceeded to clean my windscreen. The enthusiastic guy even waved us goodbye. We responded in kind. I left impressed.

I slowly eased my car out onto the busy junction, and had just turned onto the main road when I realised that the man in the bronze car had stopped by the roadside, and was still signaling to me, now with more frantic waving as I looked at him via my rear-view mirror.

"Uh-oh ", my heart raced and I thought to myself, "Was something wrong with my car? " I swerved onto the emergency lane and got out.

Someone lost his windscreen squeegee!

NoooOoo... the petrol attendant had left his windscreen squeegee on the roof of my car! I threw it into the back seat and sped off as a honking truck drove up behind us...on the emergency lane, I add! GRrrr!

We laughed after that but it bugged me that I didn't have the opportunity to thank the Good Samaritan in person. I hope he knows that I am grateful for his concern. I could  have been driving at a faster speed and it could  have hit the car behind. I could  have inadvertently caused an accident. The could-s!

Well, what's next? To return the lost windscreen squeegee to the rightful owner, of course. I'm pretty sure he's worried about it since it may be deducted off his next paycheck.


Mar 7, 2015

34 Sau Tao Scallop Noodles - I say Yum!

March 5 marked the 15th night of Chinese New Year, famously referred to as Chap Goh Meh  over at our corner of the world. For us, this occasion is usually celebrated with prayers and an elaborate meal with the family.

I settled for a simple dinner instead. Something out of a hamper, after being drawn to Google's feature story on instant noodle inventor, Momofuku Ando, who was also key in introducing cup noodles to the market.

I have always considered instant noodles one of the seven wonders of the food world considering its importance to disaster relief efforts and the lift it has given to broke college students. I remember the moments I have hallelujah-ed over finding a packet of noodles in my kitchen cabinet after a long day at work, followed by the long commute home.

This is what I made for dinner that evening ~ Instant scallop noodles topped with fish maw and pacific clams. All three items, from a hamper I received.

Scallop Noodles and Pacific Clams

A little about what Sau Tao Scallop instant noodles look like before I sent it to the stove.

Sau Tao Scallop Noodle

It comes with a sachet of sauce with olive oil. Righttt... 'sauce' can mean anything. The back of the box states - ginger, oyster sauce, soy sauce, fish powder, scallop powder, sugar, salt. That's the essence of it.

Scallop noodles and a sachet of sauce.

Boil the noodles for two minutes. Drain the water away. Toss the noodles in a strainer for good measure. Put the noodles into a deep bowl, pour the sauce in and using chopsticks, give it a mad stir!

Cooked scallop noodles with sauce.

I wasn't expecting this one to taste amazing so I had prepared my own pumpkin sauce (with pacific clams and fish maw) in advance. So much for being positive ...that, or I'm just being greedy. I think I was greedy. The noodles would have looked too plain.

My honest opinion? It was yum on its own! A springy noodle with robust flavours. They've got the seasoning down to a pat.

Sau Tao Scallop Instant Noodles

Where have you been all my life... I have to go thank the person who gave me this! Not that I haven't, but this requires a second thank-you.

Feb 27, 2015

16 Kid At Heart, Watching The Lion Dance

Tak Tung Chiang is here!!!

That's how we alerted the elders that the Lion Dance troupe had arrived when we were little. Tak Tuk Chiang, being the sound of the beating drum that accompanies the lion dance.

Chinese New Year is a happening affair back in my kampung. We would all hang red lanterns and prosperity symbols on the door. This also makes it easy for the lion dance troupe to identify which houses to visit. The lion would stop by and bless homes with good luck and fortune.

Dad would prepare several red packets (ang pao) with money for the lion. Several, because the number of lions that visit us can be as many as seven or eight in the first two days of the New Year! Some lions are from temples and some are from Chinese schools. Dad gives more to the temple that 'takes care of me' - although we're church-going people, I was also a devotee of the Goddess Kuan Yin. Ah, but this is another story altogether.

My corner of the kampung is predominantly Chinese so it made more sense for the lion to walk from house to house than get on and off the slow-moving truck that transports the whole troupe. It's always an exciting time for adults and kids alike, one filled with vibrant chatter, GongXi wishes and occasional mimicking of lion dance movements, as we followed the lion to far as five houses!

Fast forward now and in my middle age, I still make an effort to catch the lion dance every year. I have this feeling that if I were to stop, my life would be a lot less colourful and festive gatherings would slowly fade away to routine table get-togethers that are less memorable ...not less enjoyable ..just less memorable.

These photos were taken on the first day, after having our annual mee sua (longevity noodles) breakfast.  I apologise for the blurry pics!

A little bit about what's going on. The lion first pays respect to the deity and ancestors. Drums and cymbals slow to a uniform beat at this point. It picks up dramatically when the lion starts bowing.

And then, it gets exciting with fancy footwork and the lion agilely jumping about and raising its head.

Lion paying respect.

This is a short video of the lion giving out mandarin oranges to onlookers, including me. 





My share of the lion loot. They say these bring good luck.

Mandarin Oranges

Lions taking more oranges to give out.

Hanging from the ceiling of the entrance of this building is a bundle of fresh lettuce with a red packet tied to it. Lettuce carries the symbol of wealth. One lion lifts the other to reach it. It eats the lettuce and spits it out to the crowd, symbolic of spreading wealth to all of us who were there. That's the gist of it.

Now you know how I spend my New Year mornings. I'd be looking out for the lion!

With that, I wish everyone "Gong Xi Fa Cai!" (I wish you prosperity).

 

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