Apr 13, 2015

13 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

19 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).

Feb 14, 2015

10 CNY Decor At 1Utama

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone!

I've just finished preparing the home for Chinese New Year. On Valentine's Day? I know...but I'm feeling really accomplished.

The decor is up. The prosperity symbol, a red papercut piece, hangs outside my door upside down. I welcome spring with a thin cardboard sign with the Chinese character emblazoned on it.

1Utama CNY Decor

Festive cookies, ang pao packets, lively songs I don't understand a word of and oh, as I type this, someone's lighted the  firecracker! I've heard drum beats from a couple of trucks ferrying the lion dance troupe passing by my home.

It's hard to not feel overly excited.

These are photos I took the other day of the decor at 1Utama Shopping Mall.

Theme : Bloom of Opulence (Left, Spring. Center, God of Prosperity)

Summer (Back), Autumn (Front)

It reminds me of the old Chinese opera performers. So lovely to look at. If these came in small sized dolls, I would definitely buy some to decorate my home.

Winter

Oh my, it's almost 6PM. I have to go get ready. ..for dinner, of course.

Feb 7, 2015

16 The Endgame is REAL ~ Meet & Greet : James Frey

It all started with a regular visit to Popular Bookstore to get the Endgame book. While browsing the magazines corner, I noticed a huge banner promoting a 'Meet and Greet' with American writer, James Frey.

"Heyyyyy ... that's a coincidence! " I thought to myself. I snapped a photo of the details.

Five days later, I was back at the store, waiting excitedly.

Who is James Frey exactly? Well, I can't tell you that of course but I do know that besides Endgame: The Calling, he was also one of the authors for I Am Number Four, a book which has already been made into a movie. Have you watched it? I did, and enjoyed the fight scene between Number Six and the Mogadorians very much.

Anyway, back to the story. It was a relaxing session. James sat down and chatted with us for awhile. He shared how the book Endgame came about and also some amazing bits about the world and aliens.

James Frey in Kuala Lumpur

In between, there was a quiz to win Endgame merchandise. Some lucky people walked away with tees. After that, we got our books autographed. This is me.

James signing Sharon's Endgame book!
Nice, right?

Tadaaa...so cool!

I could not miss a photo opportunity!

Sharon meets James Frey

Endgame is basically a science fiction story where 12 chosen young people from different communities are taken away to fight for their survival, and the fate of the human race, in an endgame designed by Aliens. Hunger Games much? Not really!

There is a twist to this book which makes it unique. It was written with a real adventure slipped in. Yup, in its pages, is a mystery to solve. Think intricate puzzles and codes. Anyone who figures it out will win a prize of US$500,000 in gold!

The concept was inspired by Masquerade, a 1979 book which was written to include clues to the location of real hidden treasure.

More about Endgame, the game, here: www.endgamegold.com

But if you're not into that, you can just read the book for its amazing story.

Book and tee, Endgame: The Calling


Jan 29, 2015

16 The Birthday ..and a little about Elvis Presley

I have the same Birthday ....I never fail to brag, as Elvis Presley! It doesn't matter that he wasn't a celebrity of my era. I became a fan after watching one of his movies.

I was an impressionable 10-year-old who'd swoon in adoration when he appeared on our TV screen. Elvis movies were usually aired late nights on weekends, which suited me well because everyone in the family would have retired into their rooms by then. And I had free reign over the TV remote.

One fine day, curious me pulled out my old folk's record player. It had been left unused for sometime. FuhhH! A dusty affair. I wiped it clean, flipped through stacks of records and discovered a piece by Elvis. There was no turning back. I had to try!

While kids in my class were on the Sony Walkman cassette player with Michael Jackson's Thriller on play, I enjoyed getting home to my record player with songs from the old days. I don't know if I was more excited about the discovery of an old gadget or the cool idea that I listen to The Beach Boys and I was different. 

Well, just look at me! I've gotten carried away. This post was supposed to be about how I spent my Birthday. How embarrassing. Aah..but I cannot not share a quote and a couple of my favourite song scenes from these Elvis movies before I end my nostalgic meanderings down memory lane.

When things go wrong, don't go with them. ~ Elvis Presley






I pretty much glided into my 41st Birthday with several dates out in mall/s with friends. We chatted, ate and laughed over the silliest things.

The night before was spent with family members who dropped by for a visit. Chocolates and Jacob's Creek Sparkling Rose was my present.

Friends and family, nothing more perfect than that.

Early that morning, I had also received a call about a flower delivery. Roses are red ..they truly are. Deep red. Well, these are and they're from my parents.

Red Roses

The roses were so beautiful that I felt my home had been blessed with something magical. With that, I bid adieu to forty.

Are you planning anything special for your Birthday this year?

Jan 20, 2015

16 Saying Goodbye To The Deer Park In Perdana Botanical Garden

In the news ~ DBKL To Close Down Deer Park At Perdana Botanical Garden In Stages.

The largest green lung within the bustling city of Kuala Lumpur is the well-known Perdana Botanical Garden. It's a place that holds many tourist attractions. I've been here many times but have visited the deer park only once. That was last year, to warm up my leg muscles for a walkathon. The deer park has been around for close to thirty years!

This is the main entrance. It's free to enter. There were flags hung up because I was here during the month of Malaysia Day celebrations.

Deer Park Entrance, Kuala Lumpur

Visiting on a gloomy Sunday afternoon has its perks. The park was quiet of people who had stayed away in anticipation of rain.  I'm not afraid of rain. I would, however, hide under my blanket if it was accompanied by thunder and lightning.

Housed in the enclosures (pictured below), are small shy mousedeers.

Home to a few mousedeers

At the end of the path was a man-made waterfall. The sound of flowing water lent a moment of spiritual enlightenment. It was relaxing and I felt like I was in a state of meditation.

Waterfall at Deer Park, Kuala Lumpur

Then, a climb up several stairs. Phew! Luckily, it wasn't a steep one. The scenery was beautiful. 

Huffed and puffed up the stairs

I got a good view of the deers, mostly resting in a large fenced area. The stairway bridge where I stood to admire them, was nestled in the center. This was the view on my left (below).

Deers resting in the shade

On my right, and further up, I was able to get a closer view of the deers. They were munching on some leaves.

Eat!

Can you tell if this is a Fallow or Axis deer? I'm clueless in this department, even after googling.

Deer at Deer Park, Kuala Lumpur

The deer park will be closed in stages to make way for a Center of Rare Plant Species. That sounds pretty exciting too, doesn't it ..even if The Little Shop of Horrors  flashed across my mind for a moment. Pardon my imagination!

Hello there!

I'm not sure how far they are with works on the new center, but if you're keen to check the place out, it's now or never as it has been reported in the papers that the park will close soon.

Jan 4, 2015

16 A Quiet New Year

All good for the soul, but not good at all .. because I spent my New Year gorging on the most addictive chocolate chip cookies. Now I feel like a well nourished potato, rolling her wobbly way around the house. I knew I was asking for trouble when I made the decision to bake the legendary Nestle Toll House cookie but my regrets aren't real. It brought me immense satisfaction. 

Chocolate Chip Cookie with Pumpkin Seeds and Almonds

Aah..2015. "Happy New Year! Happy New Year!", we cheered to each other. Some with renewed hope, others a little superficially.

You see, it's been a tough year for Malaysians in general. A year of sorts. It was a year for the extremists. We were torn apart by racial barbs. It was the year of kidnappings for ransom. That put a dent on the tourism industry. It was the year of aviation disasters. Flight MH370 remains missing, MH17 was shot down and QZ8501 had, it seemed, succumbed to bad weather. QZ8501, although an Indonesian plane, flies under the banner of Air Asia, a Malaysian low-cost airline.

To top it off, several states are facing the worst floods. The rain has been relentless. More than a hundred thousand people have been displaced. Homes have been washed away. Many of us have risen to donate and help in any way we can.

All this, as we try to usher the year in with positive thoughts. The skies remained grey and it was chilly throughout. I didn't stay up to catch the fireworks on the eve. That doesn't mean that I didn't have a good day. I did.

I snuggled up in bed with chocolate chip cookies and three movies. No whoops of joy with friends or running off to start on my resolutions. It was just a day to appreciate the little things more and to be grateful for what I have.

Happy New Year, everyone.

 

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