Friday, December 31, 2010

Hotel: PNB Darby Park, KL, Malaysia

Date: 29 December 2010

Imagining a whole day tomorrow of full relaxation in the heart of KL while Hasben is off to work in KLCC!! Is planning to have a warm bubble bath, self-facial, and just plain time-wasting!

Date: 30 December 2010

No bubble bath, no self-facial and limited time-wasting! Hasben's meeting was only for half a day. Had to pack hurriedly by 2.30 for late check-out. All imagination thrown out the window... Quoted from Julie Zac: From poshy wife, to runaway guest!

Enough about my crushed dream... moving on to the hotel review:...

PNB Darby Park provides executive suites at reasonable rates, between RM250-RM350 per night... okay, maybe I won't call it reasonable if I have to withdraw my own money to pay the bills... but the suite is nice and clean... quite homey and spacious. Very close to KLCC, just a walking distance. The breakfast is okay, not so much variety. The good thing is that the room is provided with a praying mat, I don't think other hotels in this area have this.

In one word, I would describe it as "Simple" - in a good way of course!

The comfy sofa!

The fluffy bed!

Wow! Home theatre!

Cozy kitchen! Obviously I am not going to cook!

Simple bathroom, not so impressive...

The View: Tabung Haji and Jalan Ampang at night! Spectacular!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Me & Back 2 School Charity Event!

Happy Kids With New School Uniforms!

Date: 29 December 2010


As part of my department's Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) efforts, we organized a Back 2 School Charity Event. 19 underprivillaged students from Paka and Kerteh, Terengganu were brought to Mesra Mall for school uniform shopping! The Malaysian new school semester starts next week so the children were super excited to start off their new semester with brand new clothes.

Choosing the right size

Waiting patiently for their turns

"Yeah! My new white shoes!"

We helped them choose the right size of shirts, pants, baju kurungs, scarves, socks and shoes. The boys were quiet and did not say much on the items chosen for them. The girls, being girls, were quite picky and knew exactly what they wanted. The difference between the male and female reactions towards shopping is very obvious... even on young kids!

A prayer before lunch.. So cute!

After 2 hours of shopping, we treated them to Chicken Rice and Syrup drinks. Also, each of them got POP-CORNS!

Group photo with heavy shopping bags!

"Adik, show me your new school bags...~!"

Next, they were given new school bags and stationaries - a cherry on top of the cake!

Home sweet home!

At last, it's time to say good bye. We sent the kids home and it was a satisfaction to see them excitedly opening their shopping bags to show the catch-of-the-day to their families.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Book: Sushi for Beginners

Date: 24 December 2010

Author: Marian Keyes

She is definitely one of my favourite authors ever. The first book from her that I read was Under the Duvet, and the second was The Other Side of The Story - both I borrowed from UTM's library. She writes about characters with real life issues and manage to make the situation light although it's actually a dark topic. At the end of the day, readers will learn about complicated issues without feeling depressed. She delivers the message and adds humor to it - just brilliant! Plus, I learned a few Irish words!


Sushi for Beginners is about the lives of 3 different ladies, all facing depressions. Different characters have a different coping mechanism.

Synopsis:
Lisa, a beautiful, career oriented lady is the b*tch boss from hell. She'll do whatever it takes to be the best at what she does, even if it means having no friends and family. The thing that drives her over the wall was when she actually sacrificed her marriage to her true love.

Ashling, an ordinary looking lady, with an ordinary life had grown up too soon too fast. When she was younger, her mother faced with depression and caused her to act as an adult to her 2 younger siblings. The habit stayed with her even though she's all grown up and people tend to take advantage of her.

Clodagh, a beautiful stay at home mom of 2 toddlers, had the perfect husband and the perfect house. She is Ashling's best friend and seem to be bored with her current life. She yearns for her single life when she could have anything she wanted. Some may see her as selfish, some may see her as desperate, but in the end, her choices will change her life, and there is no turning back for her.

Lesson Learnt:
1) It is not worth sacrificing your realationship with your loved one for your job. In the end, true happiness is not something you gained when you're all alone.
2) Depression can be inherited?? Maybe

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Movie: Hantu Kak Limah Balik Rumah

Date: 22 December 2010


I am not much of a fan of Malay comedy movies... but from the positive reactions of my friends, who mostly quote "Best Giler, Lawak Betol!" in Facebook, I decided to try my luck. Julie Zac bought the tickets at Mesra Mall during her lunch hour. We got the first row seats, closest to the screen - oh lucky us!~ *sarcastic* The cinema was packed, which was a good sign that the movie had encouraging reviews.

The movie was about a group of villagers in Perak who suspected that one of their neighbours, Kak Limah, was dead and is now a ghost, haunting the village. So through out the movie, they tried to uncover the mistery of the spooky Kak Limah.

All in all, I had a few laughs and found a few scenes quite entertaining. Typical Malay comedy will include *farting* and *poo-ing* - which is so gross - and it was also included in this movie... bummer! The other thing that failed for me was the actors' attempts to speak in Perak dialect. My father, a Perakian will surely be disapointed.

Final rating: 6/10 - Funny enough to be recommended to others.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Cherating, Pahang

Department Team Building - Hooray! Hooray!

The main road of Cherating - Palm trees, kampung houses~

Cherating is well-known in Malaysia for its long beaches. It is not a town - no tall concrete buildings, no shopping malls, just local village houses, restaurants, and plenty of resorts - both cheap and expensive. There is 1 main road across Cherating, connecting Kuantan and the state of Terengganu. Along this road, there are many choices of resorts and quite a few times, tourists can be spotted biking or waiting for busses. These tourists are usually the adventurous type - based on their clothing.

Date: 3-4 December 2010


Lodging: Suria Cherating Beach Resort
A simple resort with clean rooms and delicious food. Facilities include swimming pool, volleyball courts, and paintball!

Day 1: Paintball-ing!


As a committee member, I did not get the chance to be in a group and make flags, scream war cries and such. But we, the committee members were allowed to join the paintball games. I was very excited but a bit worried on the possibility of getting shot in the head. It was fun to see my fellow officemates and bosses rolling around and acting as if they were Saving Private Ryan. To the amusement of everyone, our head of department was shot right in the face.. SPLAT! The shooter must be so proud of himself. As for myself, I was paint free throughout the game and managed to cause some pain to friends - haha!

No hard feelings boss!

Counter Strikers! Me in green.

For dinner, we had BBQ... yummy! And surprisingly, I won a lucky draw! All my life, this must be my first time. If you put 10 people in a room, draw 9 names for Ferraris, guess who will be the one without a car? ME! Not anymore! Oh yeah~

Day 2: Indoor activities

Wish we could have played =(

The plan for today was beach volleyball. I was eager to show off my 2% volleyball skill I gained from my first ever game in Lang Tengah Island - out of 100 serve tries, only 3 pass the net... so statistically speaking, I suck! However, December in Malaysia means Monsoon Season... a tropical version of winter! It rained and rained. Too bad... skill bragging must be postponed.

Rough sea - no wind surfing here...

To substitute volleyball, everyone stayed indoors for ping-pong pyramid game... each group must build a pyramid using the ping-pong balls provided... brain-using games - I suck at this too! Hopefully I don't sound like a Bimbo... The event went well and we ended with the theme song, Faizal Tahir - 1 Malaysia... it sounds nice when Faizal sings it, but for sing-a-long, with 50 people... it didn't sound so good!

Before...

After! - No help from me of course!

Interesting to Note: Avoid coming here during monsoon season, end of the year. You'll miss the chance to swim in the sea or in my case, show-off my agility in volleyball... crap~

1 Malaysia - Faizal Tahir

Ku teguh berdiri
Tiada lagi ragu atau gentar
Ku terus berani
Melangkah maju terus ke hadapan
Satu impian nyawaku pertaruhkan
CHORUS
Genggaman tanganmu
Semangatku oh terus membara
Janjiku pada mu
Harapanmu inginku laksanakan
Kau adalah ilham
Pada mereka yang ingin berjaya
Kau terus berjuang
Demi  membawa perubahan
Satu impian oh berjuta harapan
(Chorus)
Satu Malaysia
Kita inspirasi pada dunia
Nama kan dijulang
Kita menjadi kebanggaan
Satu wawasan bersama bergandingan
(Chorus X2)

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Me & Squash!

Dream Becomes Reality - Not Your Typical Happy Ending!

In our university years, Julie Zac and I had promised many times to play squash together. During our evening jogs, or some atheletes would say, walks, we talked about borrowing squash rackets and hitting the court... the bad news was, there was no one to borrow them from. Buying the rackets would be just impossible back then. It will cost us 2/5 of our monthly allowance! So the dream of becoming Nicole David got wiped away by financial inadequacy, ahaks!

During our evening jog - UTP Sports Complex

Ting tong ting tong... 1 year after graduation...

Both of us started working in Kerteh where there's a company squash court we could use. Now, with rackets of our own, hers being the more expensive one (just can't resist to write, haha!), we fulfilled our university-days promise.

The Battle Begins!

The expensive racket, Nike shoes and nearly out of frame - Adidas sports watch~

We tried our best to make it a weekly event and instead, end up being a monthly one! Before Nicol David tries to recruit us for the next Asian Games, it's my duty to admit that we play really bad. Our bodies are challenged and sweating mostly from picking up the ball and laughing at each other... we are the opposite of graceful, as long as the ball hits the wall, then we're good~

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Hot-Dip Galvanising Process

Date: 6 December 2010

Location: Malaysian Mega Galvaniser Sdn Bhd, Klang, Selangor


Went for a factory visit with my site supervisors to witness hot-dip galvanising process for our Monsoon Drain Re-Construction Project.

Introduction:

Hot-dip galvanizing is the process of coating iron, steel, or aluminum with a thin layer of zinc. This process results in a metallurgical bond between zinc and steel with a series of distinct iron-zinc alloys.The zinc carbonate formed is fairly strong and protects the steel layer below from further corrosion. Steel will not rust due to the cathodic protection offered by zinc coating, that will be oxidized before steel.

Source: Wikipedia

Process:

Source: MMG SB

1) Degreasing


Surface of material must be properly cleaned before galvanising. The expected lives of hot-dip galvanised products are mainly affected by this process. The material is immersed in a degreaser tank containing detergent additives to remove any substance (oil, greese, soil, soluble paint, etc) and to ensure a perfectly cleaned surface.

2) Rinsing

Water used to remove residues or deposits from the degreasing process.

3) Pickling


Hydrochloric acid solution is used to remove rust or scale from the steel material.

4) Rinsing


One more round! To remove residues or deposits from the pickling process.

5) Fluxing


Zinc ammonium chloride solution used for final cleaning of steel material to prevent it from oxidation. It also conditionds the steel to prepare it for bonding.

6) Drying

Drying process carried out to prevent splashing during the dipping process.

7) Zinc Bath

Before dip


After dip

Steel is immersed into molten zinc at temperature of 450 deg C.

8) Cooling


Steel is immersed in water to cool down.

9) Quenching


Finishing using sodium dichromat wax to allow for longer lasting corrosion-resistance.

10) Inspection


After the process is completed, the newly hot-dip galvanized steel will undergo quality control checks as well as laboratory tests on its coating thickness, adherence or uniformity of the coating and the physical appearance of the end product.

Steel before hot-dip galvanising process:

Our trash racks and monkey ladders after the process:


Monday, December 20, 2010

New Delhi & Agra, India

A Country Rich in Both History and Population!

Date: 7-11 December 2010


There are sooo many things to share on my first trip to India. So here goes:

Day 1: Landed in New Delhi at 7.30 PM local time.

Indira Gandhi International Airport, New Delhi

Upon arrival, I was impressed with the modern airport, constructed in conjunction with the 2010 Commenwealth Games. The temperature outside was cool, 22 deg C but... the air was smoggy. So no deep breaths for me... Then, literally, I couldn't breath at all once I experienced the car ride, Indian style! It was a scene from a car chase in a Bollywood movie, without an actual car chase! The hotel driver was driving as if the car was a motorbike! In the traffic jam, he squeezed between the smallest of space, triumphly without a scratch. The 3-lane road became 4-laned. Most cars removed their side mirrors intentionally, or may in some cases be removed for them by other vehicles. So how do they drive safely without side mirrors you would ask... well, they honked aaallll the time and gave highlights at night to inform others on their presence... a creative way to replace the use of side mirrors... creative indeed...

You are very much welcomed to honk and flash!

A human traffic light!

Lodging: Delhi City Center Hotel
Room condition OK with a flat screen TV. Toilet is a bit dirty but tolerable.

Day 2: Off to Agra for the Monument of Love, Taj Mahal!

Me in Taj Mahal!!!!

6 hours ride from New Delhi to Agra for a distance of about 300km... the traffic jam was the cause of this long journey. However, it was worth it, for the sight of the Taj Mahal - one of the seven wonders of the world - was superb! A building that old can still maintain its white marble colour confirms the quality of the material. My friends and I were so busy taking pictures that the guide was a bit pissed since no one was listening to his story on the history of Taj Mahal.

Lodging: Goverdhan Hotel


1 hour ride from Agra. A homey motel with very friendly staff. We ate vegetarian for dinner in the garden while the owner of the motel sang songs especially for us. Some of my travel mates suspected that he was drunk... but I'd pitty him if he wasn't because he was trying very hard to entertain us. Cleanliness - acceptable!

Day 3: Fatihpur Sikri - a UNESCO World Heritage Center

The main gate

The interior

Fatihpur Sikri was a royal city built by the Mughal Emperor Akhbar during the 14th century. The buildings were built using red sandstone and the architecture was amazing, a blend of Hindu and Islamic elements. This place reminded me of Forbidden City in Beijing, China. Again, the guide (a different one) was annoyed that we were delaying the tour with excessive picture taking.

Tour Guide: For the sake of lord, pleaseeee hurry up!
Julie Zac: Sorryyy...
Tour Guide: No, no, don't say sorry. In our culture, guests are like gods.
Me monolog: He scolded gods??


There is a ritual here where they pay respect to a Sufi saint and make a wish at his tomb. Not an Islamic practice - may be influenced by local tradition.

Although the tourist sites were amazing, we were warned on the pick-pockets, beggers, and street salesmen overcrowding the streets. There were many poor and homeless people trying to make ends meet and they will aim for tourists, who in their perceptions means cash!

Ganpati Resort

Before another 6 hours ride back to Delhi, we stopped for lunch at Ganpati Resort. Eating naan and other indian food under a canopy in a garden was so delightful... We can't experience this in the steaming hot weather in Malaysia, no, no! But I have to admit, my taste bud is already used to Malaysian Indian delicacies, altered Malaysian style... so I much prefer our curries and dals.

Lodging: Sita Hotel
A very old hotel with quite a few cleanliness issues. The towels, bed sheets, and pillow cases were no longer white in colour. We requested the staff to change these items and at 1 point, my father actually mopped the floor himself. Julie Zac was utterly depressed once she entered the room. However, I am not planning to b*tch about this hotel because the staff was very humble and tried hard to accomodate our requests.

Day 4: New Delhi Historical Sites

Bangles for sale!

The historical mosque

Our first visit of the day is Jama Masjid Delhi, built by Shah Jahan, the builder of the Taj Mahal, and is the largest and best-known mosque in India. There were many merchants selling all kinds of things in front of the mosque. The open air praying area was so vast, and there were quite a few bird droppings. People always remind to control what you say especially in holly places, but silly me, blurted out what ever comes to my mind.

Do not look if you are eating!!

Me: How do they pray with these bird droppings all over the place? Why is nobody washing the floor?

A few minutes later, a bird decided to teach me a lesson and pooed right on top of my head!! Splat!! As the Malays would say, "Jaga mulut" - Take care of your mouth. Gross-ness aside, we had to leave quickly before the many Muslims men arrive for the Friday prayers.

Red Fort - Dad & Bal

Close by is The Red Fort, another UNESCO World Heritage Site, also built by Shah Jahan and served as the capital of the Mughals until 1857. Here, we only took photos from the outside.

Lotus Temple

Next stop, Lotus Temple, Bahai House of Worship. A place where they introduce a new religion or spiritual idea... I think...

The Qutub Mina and ruins

An incomplete twin of Qutub Mina

Julie Zac and the Moghul Mosque

Last but most impressive of the day is Qutub Minar, yet another UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is the world's tallest brick minaret with a height of 72.5 meters and is the highest tower in India. It is surrounded by several other ancient and medieval structures and ruins, collectively known as Qutub complex. This was the place I enjoyed the most!

Gate of India

At night, we visited the India Gate and went shopping for saris and punjabi suits.

We are in Sari Haven!

Lodging: Pearl Hotel


A few blocks away from Sita Hotel, modern and new so no hygiene issues. However, they have managment problems, promising us many things and not fulfilling most of it. Poor service as compared to the old Sita Hotel. You gain some, you loose some!

Day 5: Shopping Until Take-Off!

Free and easy on our last day in India so we decided to go shopping! I am not so interested with Levis and Adidas, and is so itching to search for Hard Rock Cafe New Delhi. So me, Hasben, and Shamin left the rest of the group for our HR adventure. We took the Metro - it's not as easy as it sounds. There were soooo many people and majority were men... pushing and shoving to get into the Metro.

We traveled from Rajiv Chowk to Malviyar Nagar

In the Metro, we met with Khabir Khan, who offered me his sit. We chatted with him and he told us the way to DLF Mall, where Hard Rock is located. We had no idea how far the mall is from the Metro station so we decided to walk. Big mistake! There were a few points where there were no proper pavements to walk on, just piles of rubbish! It was quite gross but it made me realized, that is how the poor people here survive every single day. So I didn't complain and kept on walking. After shopping at HR, we got back to the station by Tuk-Tuki... one-way adventure is enough for me!

The view from my morning walk in South Delhi

Found it!!

At Palika Bazar, before returning to the hotel:

Me to Shamen: If we had no money, what do you think we will do? I'd probably dance around and generous people will throw coins at me.
Unknown man with a cotton bud on his forehead: Hello, want me to clean your ears?
Me: It's OK, no thank you. Shukria!
Ear Cleaner: It's very good!

At 4pm, we were off to the airport. My Malaysia, here I come!!
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