Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Kanna Curry House

Biggest portions of veg I've ever seen from them.

I think Kanna Curry House gets unfair flak just because they don't use banana leaves. True, the leaves give the food a distinct aroma. But I imagine sourcing good leaves at a good price might be lower-priority given the number of outlets they have and their daily turnover. The Jalan Gasing and Section 17 outlets are always packed at lunch time, so you could say they've found their niche.

Purists tend to scoff at the crowd, sniffing that the patrons are always Chinese who have more money than sense, but I think THAT depends on the restaurant location. Come to think of it, of the KCH locations that I know of, 3 are in what are considered predominantly Chinese areas (Section 17, Puchong, Kepong).

Also, NO ONE returns to an eatery (or brings friends/clients) if they think the food and service is shit. So maybe KCH isn't authentic enough for some, but it's good enough for others. And yes, there are better places, but there's room for all punters when banana leaf rice costs RM5.50-8.00++ nowadays (those unlimited refills tho...)

I might be biased though, as Enfant Terrible and I are regulars, so the staff are friendly with us and we tend to get served faster.

Recommended: Fried ikan merah/kerisi, fried squid (sometimes).
Notes: They have crab curry on Fridays.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Death and other certainties

Amid the remonstration and analysis that followed the Haj stampede in Mecca, I read that it is a blessing if death comes to you during prayer because you're with god when it happens. I don't see how that is supposed to console those left behind.

When I was in college, Fred, who was always smiling, was informed that his mother had become ill and passed away in Mecca. If I remember correctly, he told us at dinner that evening. He said, "Guys, my mum dah meninggal." And there was nothing we could do but keep him company until he could go home for the funeral.

Until we can actually reach inside a person and make them feel better (though bystanders would feel less helpless if that were possible, would/should we?), "death during prayer is a blessing", hollow as it sounds, will just have to suffice.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Eating in Kota Kinabalu

Sun setting on Kota Kinabalu

These are the (fantastic and mediocre places) Enfant Terrible and I ate at when we were in KK in August. All places are on Gaya Street unless specified otherwise. All meals were paid in cash.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

People at airports

(I should be hustling but this is way more fun.)

Though I should know better than that, a comment I read on facebook pissed me off. The original post involved photos of Syed Azmi, Malaysia’s best known do-gooder (I mean that as a compliment), making the rounds at an airport in the wee hours of the night (morning?) and leaving snacks and drinks beside everyone who was asleep there.

The commenter asked why he would do that when surely there were poor people in the city who were more deserving of his charity than the “rich people” at the airport.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Nostalgia Part X

When I was still in school, which is like 16 (!!!) years ago,* there would be annual end-year athletic training camps. They would span a weekend and were a sort of introductory elimination session for the new athletes our coach had spotted throughout the year. Those who made it would join the “high-altitude” training camp in Cameron Highlands, which spanned 10 days.**

The school camp would start on Friday evening, and we’d sleep in the gym and use the school’s toilets. Us girls usually snuck into the teachers’ toilets because they were cleaner. One time, we snuck in too early and were caught by the science teacher.

Looking back, it was kind of a strange, in-between experience. We slept in school but didn’t camp on the field or sleep in the classrooms as the Scouts and Girl Guides did, respectively. We didn’t even have to cook, because the canteen staff took care of that. (They lived there anyway, so why not?)

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Setia Alam Community Trail: A jaunt

Addresses are a funny thing in the Klang Valley. A new housing development might be nowhere near Kuala Lumpur, but the spin doctors will tell you that it's only 20 minutes away from KLCC (at 5 AM on a weekend maybe).

This is the case for mine and Enfant Terrible's neighborhood-to-be, where the developer is actually still building the roads (!) that lead in to it. Not that we're complaining, because we fancy that it'll be a nice, quiet place that attracts hobbit types like ourselves.

(One possible inconvenience is that no one seems to be able to agree on what district we're in. The land assessment fee is imposed by Kuala Selangor but the developer says our postcode will be that of Sungei Buloh, Shah Alam is just a turn-off away, and the ad promos say that it's a part of Greater KL, which is a whole other postcode. I think I'll hold off on the online shopping for the moment.)

Monday, September 21, 2015

Haze running: A training report

Against all good sense, Enfant Terrible and I went for a run last week. The API was a little over 100. The flat gray nothingness in the distance had lightened, but the hills we intended to run were still obscured by the haze.

Anyhoo, we figured that it would be as good a time as any to try the wet rag face mask idea, plus we were getting v v v v restless.

So, you get a multifunctional tubular headwear wrap thing like a Buff, wet it, slip one open end down over your head until the wrap is gathered around your neck, then pull the uppermost end of the tube over your mouth and nose. Don't use a soaking wet wrap because that's DIY waterboarding.

How was it? Well, it's more comfortable and snug than an N95 mask. But it can be uncomfortable for some, it can get quite warm, and you have to keep it damp (easy if you sweat like I do).

On the bright side, it keeps out the smell of smoky air, which was the whole point of the exercise.

One thing to note though, is that we went trail running, and I dare say the air is clearer amid the trees. If you intend to wear a wrap like this and go road running, then be prepared for many sideways looks and possibly the police coming up for a chat. Because who else but psychos and criminals would be out in such weather?

Friday, September 18, 2015

A Southeast Asian (and n00b) camping guide to the Greenman Festival

Enfant Terrible had gotten Settlers' Passes to the 2015 Greenman Festival. Meaning we'd camp at the Glanusk Estate, Wales, for SEVEN days. We watched as the vast, peaceful, green fields of the estate filled up over the week and were eventually overrun on day 3, when the General Camping horde arrived and put down stakes (hehe).

Bring all the food!
Festival food is always expensive, more so given the exchange rate when we were there (RM6.70 = £1.00... ouch), and the portions are always tiny. So, buy foods you can cook/heat quickly and that ideally don't require slicing/much seasoning.

We had baked beans, canned soup, powdered mash potatoes (which needed more salt), fruit, local bread, and ROBERTSON'S GOLDEN SHRED MARMALADE :3

Beauty. Image from here.

One of the best things about the Glanusk Estate Greenman Festival site (in addition to being astoundingly beautiful) is that it is a brisk 40-minute walk to Crickhowell town. The town has at least 2 grocers and excellent cafés (Courthouse Café, burger at eighteen). It is a very nice town with very nice people. Wales is full of nice people who call you "love" or "darlin'" if they don't know your name.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Ais krim potong Sin Wah: A review

Air krim potong is currently my favorite dessert. I'd only had a casual interest in it until I went to Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, this year. Then, I fell head over heels for the stuff.

(It used to be I couldn't get enough of mochi donuts from Mr. Donuts, but that's how things change.)

Literally translated, ais krim potong is sliced ice cream, but of course there's more to it than that. First, it's made with coconut milk instead of milk and cream; second, you don't need an ice cream maker. Also, ais krim potong bars (?) are traditionally skewered, though in the interests of public safety, the skewers of yore have been replaced with non-pointy rods.

For my sake, here is a recipe for red bean ais krim potong (my favorite flavor is cempedak though).

Anyway, no kiosk on Gaya Street, KK, was spared a look-in. More often than not, I'd come away with an ais krim potong (RM2.10-2.60, depending on where you went), and it was WORTH IT.

I'm trying to be consistent back in Kuala Lumpur, but you're likelier to find Paddle Pops than ais krim potong here.

Nevertheless, 99 Speedmart sells single ais krim potong as opposed to the boxes of 6 or 10 you find at Tesco.

Sadly, the brand they carry (Sin Wah, durian flavor, 95 sen) isn't worth the effort. It had a watery texture, more like a frozen slushy (or ais kacang?) than ice cream, and tasted sad and thin and not the slightest bit creamy.

Have I told you that my goal now when traveling to a new place is to eat all the sweets?

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Extenuating circumstances

Enfant Terrible and I haven't gone running since last Thursday because of the haze. This year's might be the worst I've ever seen since 1996. I was still in secondary school then, and I remember how dim and smoky the field looked from my classroom.

So, we've been watching The Strain and Fear of the Walking Dead. What I've seen so far of FotWD is good. It's intense but less nerve-shredding than The Walking Dead, if that makes sense.

As I've read The Strain trilogy (the quality of which sadly declined from book 2 onwards), I have mixed feelings about the TV series. Sometimes it feels like the only things they kept from the books are the character names. Everyone, including The Master, looks different from how I imagined them (doesn't that always happen), and don't get me started on the new characters.

On the other hand, the series should be judged on its own merits because you don't compare apples to oranges. So, as a TV series, it's quite good, though some of the medical talk, which was probably expositioned for the benefit of a layman audience, did make me twitch.

Anyway, watching monster apocalypse productions during this weather is probably not the best idea. In both FotWD and The Strain, the powers-that-be are either hiding information from the public, or are somehow responsible for the events and are hiding information from the public.

If you've read The Strain trilogy, it's not difficult to imagine that our current (real-life) weather conditions are a literal smokescreen for something more ominous.

Maybe there's some serious terraforming shit happening at ground level. Maybe law enforcement outposts are quietly being put into place under the cover of smog for nefarious purposes. MAYBE the vampires ARE involved in this and are enjoying free rein right now in the diminished sunlight (we know that the older the bloodsucker, the more tolerant it is of sunlight... or is it the other way round?).

Maybe I have cabin fever.

Or MAYBE that is what they want me to think.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Trying to compute

I've been holiday-sick since I got back from Kota Kinabalu. It's like being homesick, but you yearn for the holiday place instead of home. Of course, I got a little homesick when I was in Europe, so you can't really win that game.

I've also been thinking of getting another laptop. The idea came about when ET and I were discussing quite seriously the idea of being traveling freelancers. From what I've read, it seems to be mainly a white people thing at the moment.

(When I was in school, I imagined I would be a vagabond, living in a van and washing up at petrol stations and cooking over a camp stove. All my belongings would fit into a rucksack. I have a rucksack. I have a camp stove. I have a... sedan. The idea still intrigues me.)

All I really need to work is a computer, electricity, and an internet connection (doesn't almost everyone?), and it's possible for ET to conduct music lessons over Skype, though that isn't really a thing in Malaysia yet. Maybe we can make it a thing elsewhere.

The thing is, the working holiday I took in KK made me realize that my current laptop is uncomfortably heavy (almost 2 kg, maybe more because it's got so many files stored on it, har har) and too big to just shove into any old laptop sleeve. It also has a shit battery, so it's on DC power all the time.

I don't actually need another laptop, or so I thought, but my current one switched off on its own a few days ago. I lost an entire manuscript! And yet, right now, I wonder if it had overheated and whether an overhaul might refresh things somewhat. There's nothing particularly wrong with it, it's just old. (One day someone will say that of me too, I think.)

A new laptop would be nice though. It would be smaller, lighter, and more portable. It would run faster, until it doesn't. And then I'll get another one. And so on. We'll see.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

TMBT 2015: A race report of sorts

Technically, only participants write a race report. Still, "race widow report" doesn't have the same ring to it, you know?

(I know "[hobby] widow(er)" sounds morbid, but it just indicates you've "lost" your spouse to their interest. You don't even need to be married; you qualify if you have a significant other!)

So, first: TMBT = The Most Beautiful Thing, referring to the Sabah landscape. TMBT can also stand for That Murderous Bloody Trail, or Terrible Muddy Ratched Trap, or Treacherously Mindbending Running Torture, and other more descriptive terms. I could go on.

TMBT distances this year were 12, 28, 50, and 100 km. The last 2 are ultra-marathon distances, which I'm sure need not be explained (they exceed marathon distances).

As you know, trail races are more difficult than road races because the terrain is uneven, and you might run into trees, get stung by bees, and/or fall into a river (I have not experienced the last). You'll definitely get dirty, especially if it rains/has rained.

Every year, it's as if TMBT organizers ask themselves what the most difficult route could be, and map that out. Naturally, hundreds of runners, if not a thousand or so (this year), sign up for it. Some even pay for a hotel package. All this for a route that can involve uphills of ~15k or more.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Trail running and haze

Today's haze was especially bad. We decided not to go for our run as a result.

The usual advice applies: Stay indoors when possible, keep doors and windows closed, and stay hydrated.

I was curious about it, so I looked up "running in hazy conditions". All I found was a Singaporean running site. There was also a 2012 run report from the USA, where the writer and other like-minded psychos ran during smoky conditions that had reduced visibility to fog-like conditions and necessitated the use of headlamps.

However, I found nothing on being in the trees during a haze. I'm not sure I want to report on that first-hand, even though we're virtually haze ground zero. So far, my throat is a bit sore and I'm sniffly and bleary in the morning. Lethargy holds sway in the day, and not even cold showers relieve the lassitude.

Running these past few days has been very warm, humid, and generally uncomfortable. Even the energizing effects of exercise are dampened by the haze, where your skin feels sticky and dirty all the time. I can almost feel the dirt landing on me. Ironically, the post-run endorphins are superseded by the tendency toward crankiness.

Ice cream only fixes it for 5 minutes!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Right in front of me

This is what most people do when they start an exercise regimen: buy exercise gear they don't really need eat. It's natural, because you feel good about your effort and exercise makes you hungry. It's also silly to starve yourself when you want to lose weight, as that is counterproductive in the long-term.

Anyway, when we took up trail running, I was 100% unprepared for how much more I had to eat. Eating 6 small meals a day? A recipe for sadness. The same went for eating more protein/less carbs. I had to accept that you need the calories when you do 10-12 km trail runs a day. Enfant Terrible took to the idea with frenzied joy, though he usually eats more than I do anyway.

So, I've been eating almost triple (!) my usual servings of rice, and I'm still hungry between meals, but manageably so. I snack on fried dal and raisins and dried pineapple (I also eat these things while running). The only problem is breakfast. The hunger is actually painful after breakfast, come to think of it.

I've tried white bread and brown bread spread with peanut butter and topped with bananas, oatmeal, eggs, rice, noodles, and all that, and am ravenous and sad an hour later.

A few days ago, I finally realized what I'd been doing wrong. I'm still kicking myself for not thinking of it sooner. I should have doubled my breakfast servings. OBVIOUSLY.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

People on trains: A comparison

Biggest pizza I ever saw in my life (VivoCity, Singapore)

EVERYONE is watching some serial or playing a game on their phone. Candy Crush appear to be the top game, followed by Jewel Saga (looks like), Fruit Ninja, et al. Others FaceBook, Instagram, or er, look up sex advice (as seen over someone's shoulder). Outfits run the gamut from pasar sloppy and laborer dusty to high-end night out (because Singapore public transport is just so damn good).

L'Institut du Monde Arabe (Paris)

People read stuff like Balzac and Voltaire. French men actually wear those boat hats. No berets in the summer (obviously). Clothing tends to be various shades of white and brown (white people), and brighter colors (other ethnic groups). But everyone looks effortlessly light and chic and ready for summer. Unlike the tourists, who just look frazzled.

Concorde Metro stop, obviously (Paris)

Every stop we went to just served to demonstrate why London is considered one of the most fashionable cities in the world. Immaculate style and incredible range (corporate, corporate casual, smart, smart casual, street, smart street, and other looks whose names I don't know). All ladies had their warpaint on. Cat eye makeup is still in. People read (book or e-book), work, or stare into space. You need wellies (rain boots) even in the summer.

ArcelorMittal Orbit sculpture by Ashish Kapoor (Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London)

This one was too purple to leave out (Covent Garden, London)

Friday, September 4, 2015

Strangers you meet

[A bus stand in Abergavenny, Wales]

The bus we want is scheduled to arrive in 40 minutes. We wait right at the bay, seated on the pavement. A pudgy guy in a tracksuit joins us. He has an Aldi's plastic bag.

Pudgy pulls his phone out and checks his messages and social media, then plugs in his earbuds. The he rummages through his bag, and winds up emptying it. I can see a 1.5-L bottle of Coca Cola, more bags of crisps/potato chips than he needs, and some household miscellany.

Pudgy puts the bigger, heavier items back in the bag first, then the smaller, lighter ones. He pulls them out again. He repacks the bag. And again. I guess he's trying to pack it efficiently, but you can only do so much with a 5-L plastic bag.

Suddenly, one the two old ladies who had been sitting on a low wall across the street from us strides over. Pudgy doesn't even notice her, only looking up when she says:

"I've come to save the day, love!"

She hands him another plastic bag! A bigger and sturdier-looking one!

Pudgy looks up, and a big, happy smile spreads across his goofy face.

"Aw, thank you, darlin'!" he says. His heroine smiles back and rejoins her friend.

*Pronounced "abergavoni".

Thursday, September 3, 2015

How to do nothing in Kota Kinabalu: A 6-day account

Day 1
- Arrive from KL; register at TMBT counter; check-in to downtown hotel; chill until it's time for early dinner (Mad Ben: mussels in white wine with spaghetti [fab], lamb burrito + fries [best ever], thin-crust lamb pizza [excellent though small]); sleep.

Waiting to cross the bridge to the start point. Only 10 people per crossing!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

A minute of silence and self-loathing

I really really really really really liked the Constantine series. No one was as highly strung, self-loathing, and sour as Matt Ryan's rendition. (Although the only other screen version I know of is the Keanu Reeves version, so...) He was all sharp edges and tics (and tic-inducing).

Of course it was cancelled about 2 months ago. After 1 measly season, or series, if you're from the UK. There had been 13 episodes.*

ONE season. But what a season it was. I barely remember any filler episodes. It seemed like the tension was turned to 10 all the time, even when apparently nothing was happening.

The last episode was a cliffhanger. And hearing that it'd been cancelled left me on the precipice of despair.**

The network said the show didn't garner the eyeballs to justify renewing its contract. Fair enough, but also unfair when you think of how series such as Arrow and The Flash are still filming. (But I also see their appeal.)

On the other hand, we downloaded the episodes we watched, so I guess we were responsible for the insufficient eyeballs too. It's hard not to take it personally when you think about it like that.

Now that's it's apparently going to be screened on the FOX channel here, it just feels like a cruel joke.

*A bad luck number if there ever was one.
**It's funny because John Constantine featured in at least one episode in The Sandman series, and one of The Sandman's sisters is named Despair, and, er. Yes. Well.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

BioZ vs. Mosi-Guard mosquito repellent

If you spend any amount of time (like 30 minutes or so) in the Malaysian outdoors, and I'm not talking about sprinting across the carpark through the pouring rain and inside the mall, you will usually need insect repellent.

Specifically, "outdoors" refers to any setting where there are trees, grass, shrubs, whatnot, i.e., flora, which is accompanied by the according fauna, i.e., flies, gnats, ants, MOSQUITOES. I have a (sensible) horror of getting bitten by mosquitoes because I could contract dengue. And I would probably need hospitalization. And I would shrink from the illness. As I weigh 50 kg (half of which is probably teeth and hair) and stand at 5 feet 4-ish inches in my bare feet, that would be a bad development.

Staying indoors isn't even a surefire way to avoid getting bitten.

Tip (if you didn't already know it): Mosquitoes will attack when you slow down/stop while running/exercising. Therefore, keep moving!

But people get tired, and have to stop anyway. Which is where roll-on mosquito repellent becomes a godsend. Apply it on all exposed skin, even your ears if you need to (I need to, but I don't!), and reapply when you stop. This has 2 benefits: it keeps you moving a bit so that mosquitoes don't land on you, and you refresh your anti-mosquito layer.

I stopped using the spray-on repellent because it stings like a fucker if it gets in your eyes. I also feel that with sprays, most of it gets in the air rather than on your skin, which is stupid.

Compared to its spray-on version, you have more control of where you apply the roll-on Mosi-guard to, but it's so thick and you have to reapply anyway if you sweat a lot (like me), so you don't feel like you're getting your money's worth.

Enfant Terrible says "you get what you pay for", but he also gobbled down the cheap Malay snacks we got a few weeks ago, so forget him. This is my idea of a lead up to saying that we tried the Bio Z mosquito repellent, and we're going to stick with it for the near future.

For one, it passed the taste test (er, heheh), and you'll never get any in your eyes (unless you're extraordinarily stupid) because it's solid. I like that it's in a pushup tube like a deodorant, so you can gauge the remaining amount. I'll probably have to get a new tube next month, which is reasonable, considering how much it costs.

If you must, it probably also emits less carbon emissions as it's from (gasp!) Singapore, whereas MosiGuard is made in the UK.


Safety: Both are DEET-free, therefore kid-safe.
Active ingredient(s): Mosi-guard, Citrodiol/lemon eucalyptus oil; Bio Z, lemongrass oil and citronella oil.
Taste: Mosi-guard tastes bad (Bio Z does not) and you (I) always accidentally smear some on your (my) drinking hose (but I don't with Bio Z).
Price: Mosi-guard, ~RM28; Bio Z, ~RM7.90.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Kuih muih Rambo

Starting with an idle thought, I wound up learning exactly how new traders "break in" to the night markets/Ramadan bazaars.

Theoretically, you're supposed to have a trader's license and stall permit (1 permit per intended trading lot) before you're allowed to start operating.

The reality is, though, permits are apparently scarce, and approved location even more so.

So, what new traders learn to do is scope out the market premises to find unoccupied lots and enquire delicately with the neighboring traders whether that particular trader will be late or absent. If it's the latter, the newbie pitches their stall there and hopes for the best. This is apparently known as "Rambo-ing", where you do the thing you want to do but where you might not be supposed to be at.

It appears that you pay some sort of appearance fee if the market is run by a neighborhood or local organization. However, you risk being fined and having your goods confiscated if caught trading illegally at municipal council-organized markets.

Nevertheless, it can be quite lucrative if you sell the right thing (usually food, especially during Ramadan).

I thought of all this when Enfant Terrible and I came across a dessert stall set up away from the main Ramadan bazaar area this evening. There were 2 folding tables holding trays of traditional Malay kuih. A family of three was running it (mum sliced and scooped, son packed, dad was the cashier), and a line quickly formed behind us.

Our spoils were seri muka and kuih talam gula merah/melaka, which were perfectly lovely even if you didn't fast. The kuih were sticky and sweet but not cloyingly so, and the aroma of pandan wafted down the line. Plus, each piece cost 50 SEN, which makes me want to cry with disbelief and happiness.

From what I could see, they were down to the last 3 trays, and there were 5-6 empty trays stacked at the side. At my question, the dad said they'd started operating only an hour ago!

Though they obviously had no permits or licenses,* theirs wasn't a "true" Rambo operation, as there were no other stalls around. 10/10 for canny business acumen though: they're visible from the main road, and the Ramadan bazaar is not. Duh!

*That has never stopped anyone from buying street food, of course.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Not chickening out

I recall saying something about blotting meats with a kitchen towel made from fabric, not paper, before frying to prevent splattering. That still works, but counter space is at a premium in MIL's kitchen, and I don't think she'd take it very well if she discovered blood stains on her kitchen towels.

Aside from the minimal kitchen space, MIL has a large range of cooking pans. Most have a nice heft to them (bringing 2010's Tangled to mind, eheheh) and probably cost a lot. Anyway, one of these pans has a deep bowl shape and a lip for pouring, and it's nonstick, which was perfect for this Jacque Pepin recipe. (Pepin is probably the only chef in the world whose instructions I'd follow to the letter.)

The skin is virtually paper-thin after all that rendering.
The meat is moist and juicy.
Enfant Terrible went back for seconds. I caught him staring hungrily at my share. Maybe he was very hungry.

I used 2 chicken thighs and drumsticks, bone in.
As for salting and peppering, I'd put that in the dry pan first, press the chicken pieces, skin side up, on them lightly to coat, and then place them skin side down on the remaining seasoning, and begin cooking.
I turned them over after 7 minutes (they can probably go another 1-2 minutes if your flame is low enough).
I cooked them for closer to 20 minutes in total.
Altogether, it produced a little less than a 1/4 measuring cup of rendered chicken fat (!), which can be used in place of cooking oil.

Sunday, June 14, 2015


Say you want a snack but not chocolate, and you can't be arsed to walk out to get bread for a sandwich, and you've had enough fruit for the day.

You spy a box of leftover lemang in the fridge, the individual pieces still wrapped in their banana leaves. Alas, you've run out of chicken curry.

Casting a disconsolate eye on the paltry contents of your fridge (because who's been putting off the grocery run, eh?), you see the remaining processed cheese slices from a long-ago sandwich-loving phase.

Naturally, you microwave the unwrapped lemang until slightly too warm for your fingers, then carefully wrap a slice of cheese around it, folding and molding the plasticky layer around the rice. The heat from the rice melts the cheese slightly, allowing it to stick and complete your sad reverse parody of an onigiri.

You can wrap it in a piece of dried seaweed if you're feeling fancy, because this is your life now.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Bubur nasi Pak Su @ UMMC

It was a drizzly and windy morning when we brought mum to the Universiti Malaya Medical Center for a checkup. Enfant Terrible and I hadn't had breakfast because we're terrible at getting up early.

While mum waited for her queue number to be called, we bumbled over to the mezzanine-level food court outside the main building (Menara Utama, I think). ET had a plain nasi lemak (RM3)* and I had plain (rice) porridge (RM3.50) from Pak Su's stall.**

ET's nasi lemak was average, but my porridge was surprisingly tasty. "Plain", as translated from the menu, is inaccurate, as it just means it's served without beef or chicken. It's actually accompanied by peanuts, salted cabbage, minced ginger, shredded coriander, chopped spring onions, and a splash of sesame oil. And they have sambal for the oddballs who want spicy porridge, though it's likelier that it's for the noodles they also serve.

The guy who served me looked grumpy, but I guess that's the face you wear when it's too early in the morning to be awake and working when you could be snuggled up sleeping in a warm bed.

I quite like food courts, though I wouldn't go as far as to say the dingier the better. In fact, I think hospital food courts owe it to visitors to be a calm refuge that serves decent food. The UMMC food court is well-ventilated and bright, and the cleaners were clearing tables pretty quickly when we were there. There's a lot of variety in terms of the types of food available, and I imagine there's something to suit all price points, if it comes to that. Also, it has a display board for the queue numbers at all clinics in the main building.

Epilog: Mum had to reschedule her appointment, so that means we'll get the chance to find out what nasi campur mat salleh*** is soon enough!

*You could get the same amount for half that price (or less!) elsewhere.
**Uncle Su's food stall.
***Western mixed rice...?

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Not impastable: N00b home economics

I'm thoroughly enamored by that thing where you switch off the heat after stirring for 2 minutes when cooking pasta (you leave it in the water for the remaining cooking time). Of course, I started wondering what other irregular thing you can do regarding pasta that doesn't necessitate reading a Serious Eats article.*

My pasta bugbear is cream sauces. Doing a cream pasta sauce is rarely my thing because I'm a cheapskate. A 200 ml container of cream costs about RM8.50 and the resulting sauce is always too thin for my taste, so why bother?

I guessed coconut milk could be used in place of cream, and some half-hearted Googling confirmed this, so I borrowed a pack of coconut milk from MIL's fridge and went about making a creamy beef sauce.

The pack said to shake throughly before using, so I did. I should've seen it coming when I felt only the barest movement inside. Upon cutting it open to stir in to the cooked sauce, snowy white blobs of coconut cream came oozing out.

It did the job though, thickening and enriching the sauce. It also lent the sauce a refreshing coconut aftertaste, which was not a bad thing, though unexpected.

I used about a quarter of the 200-ml pack, which Tesco tells me costs about RM3 (depends on the brand and whether you get liquid or powdered [!?]), so the entire batch of sauce (about 5 servings) cost about RM3.50 per serving. The pasta cost RM4 (I think), and is about 9 servings, which is pretty great if you don't eat a lot.

Seriously though, when you call something "milk", I expect it to be liquid and pourable.

*I love reading them, but they're so long.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Lose-lose cycle

When it's dry out, we complain about the heat. Staying in the air-conditioned indoors is more attractive. So we drive to the mall or the cafe, or stay home. A haze results from vehicle exhaust, dust, and other assorted air-borne particles present in the Klang Valley, which seems to be under perpetual construction and/or upgrading. It gets hotter (from various emissions) and dryer. Tons of laundry is done amid the complaining.

As the vehement grumbling reaches a fever pitch, it rains. Then, it's too wet to go out. Water and other disgusting dirt on the Malaysian pavement render flip-flops untenable. Also, it's cold. It's better to stay indoors or drive to an al fresco cafe for a piping hot cuppa and watch the world go by. Except there's no one on the streets because everyone is staying indoors and wishing that the rain would just stop already.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Appetite for weddings

Practically every vendor (every person, even) we spoke to before the wedding was 100% certain Enfant Terrible and I wouldn't be able to eat on the day.

My fifth cousin said he barely ate anything on his night because he was walking around so much but made up for it by practically inhaling the cake when he got home after.

Our caker told me that the couple never gets to eat because they have to visit all the tables.

The seamstress said I wouldn't have to worry about eating too much on the night and busting out of my dress because because no one who gets married actually eats on their night.

NO ONE mentioned the nerves though, except our venue coordinators, who laughed at my worried face 3 days before the wedding and assured me they had my back. (This is the most unbelievably important thing you can tell someone who's about to get married and I urge you to say it if you can back it up.)

Anyway, nerves. We drifted through the day in a haze of anxiety and couldn't taste anything we had at breakfast and lunch. At dinner, I made it through half my appetizer (2 bites of salad and 2 pieces of pandan chicken) before feeling I'd puke if I ate any more. It was a shame because the Burmese laksa was fantastic (also 2 bites), as was everything else. But I gave up and just sipped my liquids (water, wine, lemongrass tea) after that. I also had a bite of cake after the cake cutting when ET fed each other the obligatory slices, and that was pretty much it for me that night.

Also, muruku crackers during the cocktail hour when I could pause from talking to guests.

ET fretted about the DJ throughout and only relaxed after he gave his speech (even the photographer said he looked stressed). He actually ate after all the guests had left. The food had gone cold by then but it didn't matter.

Me, I think I got my appetite back on Tuesday. We'd packed our extras (woohoo!) so at least I got to enjoy that, albeit belatedly. We're also trying to make the cake last as long as we can, but we're fighting over who will get the last bite of chocolate, so this might not end well.

Your wedding nerves will probably be different (I am a terribly anxious person as a rule), but it will be a robot couple that doesn't feel even the slightest flutter of butterfly wings on their day.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Wedding vendors

Not that anyone asked, but:

Venue/decor/catering: Passion Road
A lifestyle cafe/event venue that opens for lunch on weekdays and hosts events in the evening and weekends. We picked their Asian buffet; virtually every guest we had complimented the food.

The amount of greenery present (there is a giant beringin tree in the front) is the perfect lurking place for mosquitoes, but they fog the day before and set out mosquito repellent on the evening, so no one was bitten. As far as I know.

We didn't have to add anything to the setting because the decor is always stunning by default. Probably the most major decision you'd have to make is the tablecloth/table runner color combo.

Alcohol: Wine Talk
Based in Phileo Damansara, this was actually the only vendor we tasted with, which goes against wisdom. We liked their stuff right off, which meant we didn't have to drive to Puchong or PJ Old Town, where the other prospective alcohol vendors are located, after that.

Perhaps unusually, we had more red than white wine left over, which is also the opposite of conventional wedding/Chinese wedding wisdom. It was quite a warm night, so that might have been why the white was more popular, bearing out the advice of Sulo, our Wine Talk ambassador. Or maybe my younger cousins found it more quaffable. It might have been a bit of both. All I know is, one of the adult wine enthusiasts was on the verge of bringing her glass home.

And though I seriously wanted to do so initially, I'm glad I didn't get RM37 wines.* Given I didn't like the blended wines from the pricier Wine Talk, and I don't drink usually, it's possible our guests might have rioted over the cheaper blended wine from the other vendor.

Photography/videography: PassionArtz Photography
We got a range of figures when getting photog quotes. I understand we pay for their expertise, time, manpower, equipment, and experience in capturing one of the biggest days of a person's life. But I also think our party was too small to warrant a RM6k per gig (!) shooter.**

Anyway, I was surfing FaceBook desultorily after failing to find a photographer I was 100% happy with. There's only so many portfolios you can screen before it all melds together into a luminous white blur of swirly cursive "Sweet Day" and "Forever Memory" and foreheads touching together shots.

I wanted to see what Passion Road had been up to lately but FB autocomplete had other ideas. Just in time too, because I'd been on the verge of contacting another photog who took reasonably decent photos and who wasn't too expensive. Jake's fee is higher but his photos are way different in that they don't look edited to death (really hope I won't have to eat those words when we get the photos back). He and videographer Soo were great to work with, and I'm glad they didn't have to wrestle past too many of our relatives for their shots.

Cake: Jenni's Cake Studio
As with Wine Talk, this was our first and only cake testing stop. At that point, we (I, actually) was sick of looking at cake quotes. Two of the recommended cakers took ages to respond. The quotes for a 3-tier cake were either in the 4 figures, which worked out to an exorbitant price per small slice wtf, or or cost less but with less pretty cakes.

Jenni's fee was intermediate, and her cake studio has history on its side. Given the nigh-on impossibility of finding a parking spot in Kota Damansara, she made the cake testing a dream for us, preparing a standby takeaway for the cakes.

One of the best things was that I only had to Whatsapp my Mondrian-inspired design to her and she was all set. The next time we communicated was actually the day before the wedding, when I called to arrange the delivery, only to be told the delivery guy was off that day...! But the person I spoke to assured me she'd get the message to him, and that they were working on the cake at that very moment.

The cake turned up as agreed on when this tattooed, coolly dressed fellow strolled into Passion Road on the day and asked who was in charge. The cake was exactly how we imagined it would look, though I didn't expect the piping around the sides (to hide the fondant seams, I guess). Most importantly, it tasted fantastic, both butter and chocolate mud versions (we ordered chocolate though...?). I liked the chocolate cake most.

Hair and makeup: Snips
I get my hair cut at Snips because they're fast and I look less shit when they're done with me, and I vaguely remembered seeing a banner advertising their makeup service once. In retrospect, it could all have gone horribly wrong.

We booked a makeup session with them without a trial (I don't know if we do makeup trials in Malaysia, which is another aspect that could have gone terribly awry), and were told that "upstyling" is part of the deal, though charged separately (?!).

Andrew the artistic team ("a-team!") professional stylist did my hair, looking only slightly miffed when we insisted we didn't want an up-do. We agreed on a half-up with no accessories. He called for the big tongs and cooked my hair into big waves, then twisted sections into mini buns or something, and pinned everything together before sending me off to Miu for makeup.

When we spoke 2 days earlier, Miu said she'd do a "natural" look for me. She put 2 layers of something all over my face, which looked chalky under her bright makeup lights but was fine in the sun and later in the evening. Then she gave me modest little cat eyes and a scary pair of false eyelashes, which Enfant Terrible made her take off. Then I got some blusher and a horrible thick layer of peach lipstick, which flavored everything for half the evening after that. I looked like a brighter, princessy version of myself, which was perfect.

Dress: eBay
A few weeks before the day, wary of bridal boutique prices and weary of all the dress links I'd been sending him, ET said he'd get a dress from eBay. And he did! We had to alter it a bit. What made this secondhand find sweeter was that it looked amazing and miles better than the bespoke couture dress Mrs. Cumberbatch wore for her wedding (ahem).

Dress (runner-up): Emerald Brilliant
They specialize in cheongsam, and I tried on a gorgeous white one with a princess collar, but it wasn't The Dress. That's the last thing I ever expected to say, but stranger things have happened, I guess. I mention them because Christine the manager is fantastic, and Anuar the seamster is a sewing genius who took in the 2 inches from the sides of my eBay dress.

Shoes: BeMe at Isetan
They were shiny platform mules with 3-inch heels and I was still able to walk at the end of the night. My toes are still a bit numb though.

That's all; thanks for listening!

*I was freaking out over our budget until Enfant Terrible reminded me of his credit card limit, and even then I was worried.
**We're all in the wrong job.

Monday, May 11, 2015


I've just deleted about 50 wedding-related bookmarks here, which included tutorials on paper flowers,  short party dresses, makeup (mineral/conventional/how to), shoes, MC-ing, and alcohol. The to do/to get lists have been removed from my phone. The vendor quotes and receipts in my wedding folder (everyone has one, right?) will be the next thing to be tackled.

I still can't believe it was just 1 night ago that a hundred-something people attended the party of my year. I'm still getting my appetite back and my stress dermatitis is subsiding. Also still picking hairpins out of my hair every now and then. A pretty good Monday so far.

Sunday, May 3, 2015


Due to my nomadic circumstances,* I spent the past 2 days without my iPad. The first 24 hours were spent glued to my phone, refreshing my mobile socmed** apps and cursing the small screen. After that, I read a magazine and didn't miss my iPad anymore.

Today, I retrieved it, but the anticipated heroin rush of relief didn't materialize.

I think I'm going to start removing some of my feeds.

*I left it at home when I went to the apartment.
**Social media, of course.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Catching up

I'm spending the weekend at home as the MIL is accommodating house guests from out of town. Not much has changed in TTDI, except the glass in the fish tank has turned a vivid disgusting green due to algae growth.

It can't be good for the fish, you say, and you're right. The corydoras, one of the hardier fish species around, are dead. They're lying bleached and still on the bottom of the tank, and even the scavenging ravenous shrimp are done with the remains.

The 4 glass catfish appear to be present, but I feel it's only a matter of time before they're found motionless. They usually huddle under a plant near the bottom of the tank, but right now, they're circling under the surface of the water, apparently hopefully. I don't know where the tetras are.

Elsewhere, the wee skinny white kitten my 2 neighbours co-adopted (one feeds her, the other houses her) has waxed incredibly plump and sleek. She spends her days lounging in my overgrown garden, eyeing the neighbour's other cat warily.

Monday, April 27, 2015

On local happenings

As you might have read, 12 would-be terrorists were arrested yesterday (?) before they could test their bomb-making skills. The initial news reports only stated the district in which they had been apprehended. Among the hiking/outdoor community though, the news was already circulating shortly after their arrest that they had been about to scale Gunung Nuang.

I haven't been there myself, but if you've been on any hike, you'd know there's nothing casual about climbing Nuang. It's not a nice little hill like Broga, where ~2 hours of steady climbing will get you to the peak in time for the sunrise, and there are hordes of other hikers along the way.

Whichever side you start on, Gunung Nuang is forested, steep, and a very long and arduous trip both ways. It's no coincidence you have events like the Trans-Nuang, where dedicated psychopaths run up and down the mountain without the luxury of sleep.

People have died attempting Nuang, presumably the way people have died when attempting hikes too much for their hearts to handle. In fact, a hiker did not survive his health emergency yesterday. Like the would-be terrorists, he was on the "lower" part of Gunung Nuang.

It's sad that this individual tragedy was overshadowed by the actions of 12 idiots. It's  clear that hikers need to know the following at least:

Mountain climbing for first-timers, or nubis kubis (cute slang for "newbies").
The intended hiking route.
What to do when a fellow hiker appears suspicious.
What to do when a fellow hiker requires emergency first aid.
How to administer emergency first aid.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

The accidental minimalist

I'm staying with Enfant Terrible (AND HIS MOTHER)* while waiting for the construction of our house to be completed.

I miss my home, mainly because at home, I just need to unlock the front door and step outside the gate to get out, whereas here, I have to walk down the corridor, get in the lift, and go down 5 floors and past the guard house before I trip over a pothole. This disconnect makes it hard to remember that I'm still in the Klang Valley sometimes. (This might be why people are depicted in lacking in empathy and compassion in dystopian future settings.)

But my point actually is: space is a premium in this apartment. So, when I moved in, I decided to bring only the essentials. As it is, my belongings, including my laptop, clothes, toiletries, bags, footwear, occupy 2 drawers.

To be specific, I have about 5 shirts (for going out and exercising), 3 pairs of trousers, 3 sets of "house clothes" and pajamas,** and a week's worth of underwear.

More variety would be nice, of course, but I don't miss the stuff I left at home. I can't imagine going back to the old ways once the house is ready. Maybe I'll have a main wardrobe and rotate things from the auxiliary wardrobe. Who knows?

*This was to be ET's parents's retirement apartment, while his sister and her family moved into the family house.
**I could pare this down, but I really like my joke boxers and cheeky tank tops.

Friday, April 24, 2015

The anti-minimalist

It was cloudy this morning, the kind of weather that encourages and facilitates morbid thoughts. Enfant Terrible's laundry was drying on the balcony, moving slightly with the gentle breeze.

In the middle of my yoga warmup, I found myself thinking of how my mother-in-law wears my late father-in-law's* clothes sometimes, like when she goes for walks. I guess that's how she consoles herself.

I don't think I could do that if it were me and ET had died. Honestly, I think I'd probably give all his clothes away, save a few pieces. I wouldn't want any reminders of the yawning hole in my life.

*He died from lung cancer last year. It still feels unreal.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Personal hygiene update: Part 2

Personally, "no poo" sounds ridiculous. Just say you're not using shampoo already! Honestly, saying you're "no poo" implies you have digestion problems*, and it too cutesy by half.

Anyway, as the price of my favorite "natural" shampoo has gone up AGAIN, I decided to go back to baking soda shampoo. One small container  of baking soda is enough to make a few batches of  shampoo hair wash, and costs about 7% of the price of "proper" shampoo.

I guess part of the fun is working out the baking soda to water ratio that works best for you. I thought I could get away with using way less than the half tablespoon I used previously, but 1.5 teaspoons is too little. And so on.

*If you have digestive problems, you should eat fewer of those lovely little biscuits, geddit?!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Personal hygiene update: Part 1

I don't care for the term "crunchy", which Google says means "politically and environmentally liberal" (whatever THAT is supposed to mean), but is usually used when referring to any alternative approach or thing involving personal hygiene.

Maybe it's because my recent reading experience has been saturated with crunchy blogger this and crunchy mama that. Seriously, there are hundreds of those, if not thousands, all professing to lead the crunchy life. Which is actually well and good as long as you don't brag about it. I guess coming across all of them at one go overwhelmed me.

Anyway, I've been using the DIY deodorant I described previously, and I actually managed to get Enfant Terrible to try it too! (He's actually game for anything as long as it's not eggy.) It has been demonstrated in our sample size of 2 that the deodorant is 100% effective.

One limitation to this study is the size of the tubes used, which are actually lip balm tubes. I haven't found suppliers nearer to Malaysia who stock deo tubes, and shipping them from the US would cost more than the tubes themselves. Unless I buy more tubes, but then I'd be spending close to RM400 on plastic?!

The second limitation is that the powder portion of the formulation renders the mini deo stick slightly crumbly, so it doesn't glide on smoothly. Come to think of it, this is true of Nivea stick deodorant, but nevermind. ET manages to break off bits when he applies it, and just smoothes it in before dressing.

A third possible limitation is that people who don't like the smell of coconut might dislike it, which makes them monsters in my book. (There are also people who say sandalwood and coconut are "Indian" smells. Ya rly.)

Nevertheless, this deodorant is highly effective and efficacious (works when you apply it after sweating as well), is cost-effective to produce, and has its own pleasant smell.

*A portion of this work was styled as a scientific research manuscript. Because day job bleeds into nightmares sometimes.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Moment of self-aggrandization

At the risk of jinxing things, I actually quite like planning shit.

I like contacting people (though most times I actually loathe talking to people...) and asking them to come to a party. I like contacting vendors, getting quotes, and finding out how they run their shit and what they can do for me. I like thinking of details like the pattern on the dress and the complementing footwear. I even like entering the numbers into the spreadsheet so I know how deep a financial hole we're digging.

I guess I like assembling things, and a wedding is pretty much one of the biggest things you could ever put together.

So yeah. Colonel Fury, drop me a line the next time you're in town. I could give you a hand.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Making Emily Post proud

Mum received a wedding invite from her colleague yesterday to the colleague's child's wedding. The envelope was small (tiny) and flimsy, possibly made of paper under 60 gsm. The address lines were pre-printed and narrow. The couple had stamped their name on the top third of the front using what looked like a standard issue rubber stamp font.

The invite it held (I held it up against the light, ok) was just as basic. It would have melted in the rain. I'd had stared at the envelope for a few seconds, wearing a half-sneer before I realized what I was doing.

And for all that, they had to use an 80 sen stamp because of the envelope's non-standard size. The same postage I'd used, only my invites had been in "proper" envelopes on which addresses had been written freehand. I'd spent about 3 weeks getting my design to print properly on my 200 gsm card stock using a proper printer and not the xerox machine at the nearby stationery shop, where, no doubt using the on-site paper cutter, they had cut their B6-size invites from a larger sheet.


Both invitations are for a happy occasion that people will show up for,* eat till they're comatose, drink till they're unruly (maybe), cake till they're ill, catch up with each other and bitch about the idiots at the other table, and then leave, hopefully commenting about how happy and well-matched the couple looked.

Maybe this couple decided to apportion more of their budget for food and drink (always a good idea). Most invitations are discarded the instant an event is over anyway, so all the cutting and folding and gluing I see going into a wedding invite suite (I think that's what they're called) are pretty much a waste of time and resources.


If it makes you happy, why the hell not? It's your wedding. If some snooty fucker thinks your invites aren't "weddingy" enough, or overdone, fuck them. Seat them in the hottest area of the tent or beside the toilets. If they even show up.

For the record, I will use Whatsapp to announce my next wedding.**

*For fuck's sake, honor the fucking RSVP date. If you can't find it, just respond as soon as you receive it. It's only polite.
**Maybe for my anniversary.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Red carpet Z-lister

A photographer showed up at yoga class yesterday. She had been assigned to take pictures of activities to commemorate the club's 125th anniversary. She was loaded with camera gear and the accompanying saddlebags. She walked all her sneakers over the floor!!!

(I just realized this is what it must be like for anime characters when an interloper disrespects the dōjō by treading on the tatami/wood floor with their dress shoes. For a while, I did want to flip her out of the room.)

Sadly for her, attendance was kind of poor (about 7 students in a hall that can accommodate about 20). But yours truly* suggested that the beginner and intermediate students do the warm-up sun salutations together so that she'd have a decent-sized group in her shots, and everyone agreed!

Two guys weren't interested in having their mugshots in the club magazine though. So, one did his sun salutations away from the photographer, and the other... left the room after asking the photographer to  inform him when she'd finished.

Our instructor said, "Ignore the camera." Easy to say when you're not in the front row and facing a flash that's going off every minute. No wonder people get angry with the paparazzi.

*It's not as if I ordered her to photograph only my good side.

Monday, April 13, 2015

End of one thing

Guys, I finished that online course. It was supposed to span 4 weeks anyway. The assessment closes in 2 days but I did that last night. Needless to say, I passed

I'm still not sure how basic bacteriology and virology segued into an introduction to forensic science and methods in molecular biology, but eh, it was free. And I got a bunch of badges. And a statement of completion for display.

Obvious as it sounds, listening to a lecture is entirely different from reading a textbook.

PS I have signed up for an introductory course in psychology. Because while I can spot nutty people, I don't know what to do with them. Maybe I should stop looking in the mirror.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

DIY: Intentional deodoration

Leaving aside the idea that "commercial" deodorants contain harmful and potentially carcinogenic chemicals,* making your own deodorant is cost-effective and, it must be admitted, self-pleasing.

The active ingredient is baking soda,** as it absorbs odors. In excess amounts, it can also cause skin irritation. Fortunately, you can use reduce the amount stated most recipes without adverse effects.

The moisture absorber is cornstarch (or cornflour) or arrowroot powder. The latter is more popular because it's "non-GMO", but what else do you really know about the arrowroot or its cultivation processes? If you can only find cornstarch, use it. Maybe try and support a local producer if you can.

The third ingredient is coconut oil, touted for its antibacterial properties. You can buy it in bulk and not feel the pinch so much as compared to, say, jojoba oil, and it smells nice. No, it won't go rancid in the deodorant. I used Country Farm Organics coconut oil because that was all I found in the supermarket.

You don't need that much of everything, and given the price, I don't see the point of getting 1 kg of "true" organic coconut oil from the health food shop.

Anyway, beeswax (from Beauty360degrees) is what gives you a solid deo stick. I read an evaluation of oil to beeswax ratios that concluded that the best ratio is 3 parts oil to 1 part beeswax. This is actually too soft for our weather and this purpose (and including the powdery components), so I'm going to remelt the original batch and increase the beeswax to a 2:1 ratio.

This is the recipe I used: Homemade Summer Deodorant. The weather described seems closest to ours, but as with all experiments, optimization must take place before you obtain the desired results. I actually halved the amounts, and I still have a lot of the first batch waiting for its day in the sun (so to speak) in a reused mustard jar!

Speaking of desired results, this stuff works. In detail, I used less than the stated amount of baking soda, and preliminary tests indicate this can be increased somewhat. Pouring it into the twistup containers was fiddly (pipettes needed), but given the small amounts of everything used, the batch I made cost about RM2.50. So yes, it's worth the effort and time (which wasn't a lot anyway), and it's a keeper.

*There are chemicals in everything! Why target just deodorant?
**A chemical.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Aging gracefully

A sure sign of maturity is when you're just quietly unpleasant during PMS week, and not a raging scream monster.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Food tasting tips

Short story: Enfant Terrible and I had a food tasting at out wedding venue. I had a nice time, ET less so. Here's why! /terrible clickbait lede.

1. Have a copy of the agreed-upon menu with you so you can make notes and check discrepancies. Ingredients might get substituted without prior notice, or a dish is entirely different from expectations although all components are present.

2. Don't starve yourself beforehand.* You'll just show up famished and gobble the first thing you're   served without tasting it, defeating the purpose of attending a food tasting and leading to the next point:

3. Don't clean your plate. Seems counterintuitive for most guys, but I promise you won't feel hungry after a food tasting even if you have just a few bites/one serving from each dish.

To illustrate my point, you have a 10-item menu (appetizer, starter, and dessert included) and the food is served shared platter style at the tasting. Each platter is as big as your face.** Are you really going to eat every last bite of it? If you're 15 years old, feel free to try, but I guarantee you'll feel ill by the end of it all.

4. Be direct with the food coordinator. You won't love everything, which is why food tastings are held in the first place. At the same time, don't be rude (or "straightforward" or "direct", as some people like to say). Insulting the food, the chef, the coordinator, or the venue is unhelpful. While it's not as if you'll have your event cancelled, you might miss out on other value-added benefits due to the loss of goodwill.***

We had the extra food packed, and I swear it all weighed 2 kg. I thought it would last at least 2 days, but we're down to our last box (containing the salad) already. Also, we got a parking ticket, without which the experience of dining in downtown Kuala Lumpur would be incomplete.

*Also if you're a guest, because you'll probably wind up legless after the cocktail hour.
**They served the two of us enough food for 6 (six) people. Our venue coordinator claims his chef just can't get to grips with the concept of cooking smaller portions.
***We didn't do this, but having seen how some Malaysians "bargain", I wouldn't put it past them!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Inadvertent deodoration

Guys, I did a salt and honey scrub yesterday morning. It still feels subversive taking kitchen ingredients into the bathroom, even though I've been using grapeseed oil for about 2 (?) years now.

Anyway, it's a 1:1 combination of salt and honey, and you can add a bit of oil* to make it more spreadable. Oil makes the floor slippery though. The salt can be coarse or fine, sea or table, and the honey can be raw, organic, organic and raw, or pasteurized.

I doubt most people care about these details though. I think it's entirely up to you if you're fine with having premium ingredients wash down the drain instead of, I don't know, eating them.** But you know, you're washing it off pretty quickly, so it doesn't make sense (to me anyway) to use the fancy stuff.

For me, a finer salt + runnier honey = nicer scrub.

Besides the exfoliation, the scrub actually left a faint honey scent after being washed off! Other than that, the major, unexpected, effect appears to be this: complete absence of sweaty smells for about 24 hours on a warm and humid day.

Lesson: Salt-honey scrubs dull your sense of smell. Probably. Or it has something to do with the anti-bacterial activity of honey. Maybe both!

*You probably won't need to moisturize if you do this.
**Salt and honey is actually a good marinade/basting solution for roasts and whatnot. But you knew that.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Short one

I forgive myself for not writing on Friday. No wait, life is too short to beat yourself up over missing a post, although continuity is always nice.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Allow me this

Neil Gaiman likes to present himself as a quiet, slightly awkward and sometimes self-effacing writer. Amanda Palmer's occasional comment on how he's grumpy when writing/waking up/sleepy/cold/trying to write adds to the image of a man just trying to do what he's decent at, dammit, and just write.

At least, that's what I always thought until I saw a post on Facebook announcing the redesign of his site and a request for visitors to report anything broken. The webgoblin* (formerly elf, I think) is answering queries through Gaiman's account, so it looks as if the man himself is checking replies just like one of us thirsty mortals. (Webgoblin signs off as webgoblin, though, so you can't claim they're fooling you there!)

If that isn't dashedly clever way of getting many more site visits and increasing web visibility even more, I don't know what is. Amanda Palmer should take notes here, because the King of the Internet is in town.

*The least known member of the Osborn family.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Minding others's business

I wonder how Victor Chia's wedding planning is going. I heard about him on radio about 2 weeks ago: he won a contest to plan his own wedding with a budget of RM30k.

The catch is, the wedding is in 9 days from today?! So it's less of a wedding planning thing and more of a get as much done as you bloody well can or so help you, everyone will be deeply unhappy. No pressure.

There was some piss-taking when he announced the theme (Pokémon-Gundam). The radio announcers wondered whether it'd be considered a lame idea. Not that it's anyone else's business, and it's not as if the radio station gets to make any planning calls in this regard. After all, they gave him the money. They helped create the monster!

I think it will probably be cute. The bride and groom parties will have killer anime hairstyles. Sharp dressing will abound. If all goes according to plan, Victor will have the head of a mecha on the stage!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Another one down!

I've been anxious about the cake. The quotes I've received have been from both ends of the cost spectrum (per slice, according to size, etc.), and most of these bakers work from home; some quite far from where we are, so flavor testing would have been an adventure. We might have had the chance to meet some hobbits along the way, but eh.

Except, we tested some flavors today, and booked a baker!

It went so smoothly I'm actually a bit suspicious, but everything is to be paid on the day, so the worst thing that can happen is that they don't show up. Though she did say she'd send us a picture the day before.

Suddenly I'm terrified.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Quick exercise move

I realized yesterday I hadn't done butt clenches in a while. As the name suggests, you clench your butt to the count of 5, release, and repeat. The article I picked it up from suggested doing it every hour when you're in the office (10 reps, then 20 quick clenches) or when your car comes to a halt when you're stuck in traffic. Either way, it makes you feel worked out, so thumbs up from me!

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Cuba try test

Posting this today but dating it to yesterday. I never thought of doing that. Unlike scheduling future posts, backdating seems more like cheating with regards to the idea of writing every day. Like, are you doing it for the sake of actually writing, or just to fill each day on the calendar?

Monday, March 30, 2015

On planning

We have arranged a food tasting! Based on our number of guests, our venue coordinator suggested a buffet instead of our originally intended served (table d'hôte?) dinner, which would give our guests something to do throughout the evening.

Things just become more real the more deposits you put down.

I'm looking at clothing now. Those who've met me will twist their brains into knots trying to picture me in a sweet feminine dress. I know that because my head still hurts. I looked at (in no particular order), Zalora, Twenty3, Femme-Elegante, and Lazada (a navigational PAIN IN THE ASS) last night, and nothing in particular caught my eye. There's the gorgeous stuff at RAD, but none of it looks like it's my size.*

I can see how planning can be fun, and I also see why bridal support forums are so popular.

*I have supermodel limbs and a regular-sized butt, also: short...

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Minor miracle

I've caught on all my work and have completed this week's modular assessment re: short online course. I have nothing scheduled today. I'm sure I've forgotten something major...*

What did you do during Earth Hour last night? I and everyone else at the mall forgot about it.

That said, service at Chili's 1 Utama was stellar, and so was the food. We had the Texas Cheese Fries with Beef Chili and Jalapeño Quesadillas with Guacamole, which were tasty and filling and non-bank breaking.

I like it when food descriptions are accurate. Both items came with jalapeño chilies, which are the big green fat spicy ones, and not the longer narrower ones you find in yong tau foo. They didn't skimp on the beef in the beef chili, and it was a joy to actually be able to see the spicy beef slices in the quesadillas. You know how it is at some places: you get a mere whiff of bovine goodness and that's all.

Maybe we were seated in a good corner, but our server and the section manager seemed especially attentive despite the weekend crowd.

*We have not arranged a food tasting.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Different wavelengths

I heard a radio ad the other day. It was something about a contest and having the guy plan the wedding with a budget of RM30k.

I could totally work with that sum. Of course, mine is a small do, so maybe some of the contestants will have to do a catered thing under a canopy-type event if they have a longer guest list.

Anyway, my point is, after the ad was played, they played a clip where they'd asked a girl something or other (I don't know what her profession was) what she thought of the guys' ideas. And she basically called them idiots for thinking they could plan a wedding in that short a time and with that budget and have fun doing so. I think she also said "nightmare", which is kind of giving too much weight to a wedding.

I mean, it's just one day (or so, depending on your budget). Unless you engage Ron Ben-Israel to do the cake (which averages out to US$15 per slice), Maroon5 to perform, and Trappist monks to brew bespoke booze, it's just 1 day out of the year. Your special day, of course, but still a speck in the grand scheme of things.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Player maker

Enfant Terrible and I decided against a band or singer at our reception. The obvious reasons are that it would cost more, take up space that could be used for guest tables, and we've not heard anything that impressive. Also, we probably wouldn't be able to afford anything that impressive, and we'd run the risk of an awesome band stealing our limelight, haha.

I actually looked at wedding DJs, but the scene here is nothing like what it is in the US, where options abound. Here, your options are masters of ceremonies (who may or may not sing or be outright terrible and out of place) who work with the sound engineer, who may or may not come up with their own playlist. You might find the two separately, one party might suggest the other, or your wedding planner might suggest them to you.

In our case, we're going to engage a sound engineer, who comes with an assistant and requisite sound and sight equipment. He has a playlist (nice) though we haven't heard it yet, but so does ET.

In fact, ET has vetoed all of my song suggestions unless they're the same as his. You should have seen his grimace when I brought up Pharrell Williams's Happy. I'm not sure I want to spend the rest of my life with a person who looked at me sideways when I said I wanted some Jamiroquai either...

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Sweating the small stuff

Contrary to my own expectations, I'm still pursuing this online course! Module 1 was a snooze fest because it was so basic.

However, Module 2 is about viruses, my favorite aspect of microbiology I love to hate because I can't wrap my head around the idea that something that isn't "alive" as we understand it can exist and cause illness and/or death.

Each "class" is a bit longer compared to that in Module 1 too, though the material is still virology 101 stuff. Again, it's a good refresher. I've collected more badges as well. I'm not sure what my motivation is right now.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Just shoot me

It's nice to feel wanted once in a while. Like when half a dozen guys are jockeying for position, gunning to be the service shooting your wedding party.

Of course the price is a big deal to me. It's for one dinner, so I can't even begin to imagine how some photogs charge up to RM8k for it. Unless they come equipped with a mobile studio/lab, in which case more power to them.

(It seems like Malay photographers charge less than Chinese, and I found only one Indian photographer. I'm not vetting by race, obviously, but it's interesting to see the racial breakdown and whether styles are similar in one race of photographer.)

If you look at enough portfolios, you come to realize that wedding photos have a distinct style. I don't know what they looked like, say, 10 years ago, but right now it's #filter #grainy #washout. When one photographer does it, it's unique. But practically everyone I've looked at applies the same approach, so you have to wonder about the disparity in prices.

PS I'm tired of shots of the shoes and the clothes hanging out waiting to be worn. Maybe the photo should suggest something more salacious for me to be interested, heheh.

At the moment, I'm getting good feeling about this one service based nearby. Their photos are more about capturing the moment (er...) and they're not edit- and filter- crazy like the others seem to be. One niggle is that one of the photographers contacted me on his own after I'd made enquiries through the main channel, so it looks like he's trying to undercut the others. I suppose it won't matter if the photos turn out great, but it still feels odd.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

On invitations

(Of course I intended to type "invitations", but with the letters being right beside each other, I spelled out "incitations" first, which is actually a good word for the feeling you get when sorting out your wedding invitations.)

I've heard of dashedly cavalier couples (in Malaysia) who photocopied their wedding invites. As you (now) know, copying paper weighs 60 grams per square meter (gsm), sometimes less. It's more suitable as flyers because it's flimsy.

Lest you think I'm an invitation snob, I would rather have Whatsapped/texted everyone I invited. Unless you got the wrong phone number, the message would go directly to the recipient instead of potentially getting lost in transit or having the ink smeared following exposure to bad weather.

Imagine if I had gotten a wrong number though. That might actually liven up things on that day...

My friend did a Facebook wedding page, which is great in theory, but I don't want Zuckerberg and minions tracking my business. Also, not all of my guests are on Facebook, so that kind of defeats the purpose.

So yes, we have hardcopy invitations. We did them ourselves. As in, I drafted the text,* edited it to fit the intended card size, and found and applied a free card template. Enfant Terrible the dictator director signed off on it. Then, we went to Art Friend and looked at their 200 gsm cardstock (perfect weight), and squabbled over the color. I concede that he has a better eye for pretty things (heheh) than I do.

We got a few pieces and burned through them in virtually 2 hours doing the test prints. We learnt that borderless vs. bordered printed can differ vastly. Always ensure that your ink cartridges are filled, as this affects the result when you do high vs. standard-quality and borderless vs. bordered prints. Do nozzle print checks before anything else. You will save time and parking fees and cardstock expenses.

Then, print all the copies you think you need, address the matching envelopes, and get sending. We bought the entire pack of cardstock, which is just as well, because I've had to print a few more pieces since the first run.

Cost-wise, the price per invite is lower than if we'd gone to a purpose-specific card supplier,** envelopes included. But then, ours is a no-frills, double-sided invite (the material is gorgeous). Personally, I couldn't care less about cards with gems and ribbons and other embellishments. I imagine that one of my favorite fiction characters would say they're "too fiddly", because that's exactly what I think. I do like a nice print as much as the next girl though, so that's what we did. I hope damask borders aren't overdone, because that's what we used.

*There really should be a typeface called Swirly Wedding to make everything easier. I used Vivaldi and Candara inWord, FYI. So budget.
**Some will charge for every single piece. They might offer a bulk discount, but still charge for every single piece.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Food post

Enfant Terrible has complained that I'm all up in his face over this wedding. Hey, I suggested that we do it next year but noooo, and I'm the one stressing him out? I just want to get the details and vendors down at least month before the event, is that too much to ask?

Anyway, imaginary comfort eating has been the order of the day this weekend because I'm fascinated by Mr. Donut at Aeon 1Utama. I know, the booth has been there for years, but I only visited it last week and you know how people like me obsess with new things to the point of hypersaturation.

If you don't already know, they sell 2 types of donuts. As in, one is made with regular wheat flour or whatever, and the other is made with mochi flour and is called "pon de ring". I can't even begin to imagine what that means. Why didn't anyone tell me about mochi donuts earlier?!

Just so you know, a pon de ring donut is shaped like a baby chew toy or a closed chain of cocci bacteria. Round segments in a ring. They're chewy and not at all fluffy, and stick to your teeth. They give your jaw a good workout. I think I'm fascinated with them because the first ever one I had was something divine with a white glaze topped with candied orange and almonds. So Japanese it hurts.

Naturally, ET doesn't share my interest, so I will just have to ignore him rolling his eyes and sighing heavily the next time I'm deciding between the green tea and strawberry glaze pon de rings (pons des rings?).

Sunday, March 22, 2015

On spirits

I'm figuring out how much wine I should buy for my wedding. "Enough" is a really poor answer, by the way. First thing is, the vendor should accept returns of unopened bottles though, right? On the other hand, the extras make good gifts a few years later.

[ETA] The new term I've learnt is "NV", or "non-vintage", meaning it's ready to drink immediately (hurrah) it's from a non-vintage year (how do you decide that?) and is blended. The Kitchn said so.

If you browse "western" wedding advice, it says to estimate 0.5-0.75 bottles per guest for a 2 hour dinner or something like that, assuming each bottle holds 750 ml.

Or, you divide the number of guests by 2.15. I guest guess that assumes your guests don't drink all that much.

On the other hand, a local wine supplier advises 1.5-2 (750 ml) bottles per 10 guests. I suppose this is based on the number of people you'd have per table at a traditional Chinese banquet, and that the servers do the pouring. This one actually provides the lowest estimated bottles needed.

Also, not everyone will be drinking, though I assume those who are cabbing it to the venue will request refills more frequently.

I have to arrange tasting sessions too. If only we could just go with the nicest estate/varietal names and be done with it.

I can see why people elope.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

No shampoo: Day 3 and 4 (belated)

Day 3: Three days into just rinsing sweaty hair and scalp with cold water and I still look like a sane human being. I've only told the internet as yet, because Enfant Terrible will look askance at me if I did, I think. Or maybe not, as he has his own eccentricities. It's been almost a week since my last shampoo though, so I should probably suds up soon.

Day 4: I have shampooed my hair! It smells of my shampoo (Tropical Rain by Indochine Natural, of course). I didn't oil it. It doesn't feel different compared to Days 1-3. HOWEVER, we must remember that when I started this no-shampoo lark, I had already gone 2 or 3 days without washing my hair. I think that means plain water makes that much of a difference.


Friday, March 20, 2015

All creatures great and small

As you may not have known, I signed up for an online course. It's an entry-level type of thing to get my feet wet. I'm not a good independent learner. Left to seek study resources on my own, I'd likely wind up browsing sites entirely unrelated to the course at hand. AND I'd tell myself that following links is a form of education, i.e., I'd learn something new (but it'd be unfocused and unrelated, duh).

Anyway, the course involves a series of video lectures accompanied by interactive transcripts (you can scroll to specific time points by clicking on the corresponding line in the transcript). The topic is microbiology. I feel a kinship of sorts with microbes, seeing as how we're both small and kind of fiddly at times.

... Moving on.

There are 4 modules to the course, and if I'm brutally honest, Module 1 is a snooze because I learnt the stuff as an undergrad. However, the refresher is good. There are 1-question multiple choice (whee!) pop quizzes after each lecture, and there will be an assessment after you've watched all the videos in the module.

The fun bit is that you receive badges every time you answer a quiz or forum question. I dropped out of the Girl Guides in primary school, so this is a nice activity.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Cool bananas

This is the best news I've heard all week, considering what we woke up to exactly a week ago (Sir Terry Pratchett had died):


(Amanda Palmer and Neil Gaiman are going to have a baby!!!!!)

(The child will have the most incredible godparents and a worldwide army of fans ready and willing to do its bidding. Take that, Hiddles.)

Wednesday, March 18, 2015


Any article will tell you that other than the venue, the guest list determines a lot of what you do for your wedding. Mostly how much food to order, because that's why anyone ever shows up at these things. It's not as if we have a long tradition of lonely strangers hitting it off at weddings in Malaysia anyway.

... Or do we?

In my opinion, you should have the guest list ready first before picking the venue, though Enfant Terrible and I did that backwards. Still, it's a small venue and we have a short guest list, so that works out for us.

If I had to advise anyone planning their wedding in this regard, I'd tell them to hunt down the principals as early as possible to finalize guest numbers and names. "Principals" refers to the parents of the couple, because they're your source of old people names and contact details.

It's easy for this task to become a "my side/your side" thing, as parents are individuals who will answer the same question ("May I have [Relative's] contact please?") differently.

My mum said she'd list her siblings' names, phone numbers, and addresses. Two weeks later, I asked if the list was ready and she wrote it down there and then. And the phone numbers or addresses were missing for half of it.

Enfant Terrible's mum wouldn't hand over her phone, saying she'd tell us who we should invite, and then listed a bunch of names when we had no recording instruments on hand, not even pen and paper. Eventually, I cornered her one morning, and she produced an address book (that she's had the whole time!!!) she'd compiled when Enfant Terrible's sister got married a few years ago.

As I'm superstitious, I only feel comfortable recounting this because we've pinned down our relatives already. Coming up next will be the rigmarole of deciding which of Enfant Terrible's father's friends we will invite.*

/prickly thoughts

*We're inviting them in honor of his father, who passed away last year, so "why his friends only and not other friends?" is not up for discussion.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

No shampoo: Day 2

Yes, this is really happening. I did the same thing in the shower yesterday (rinsed hair with cold water only, quick scalp massage, applied no oil or conditioner, air-dried hair). My hair still feels clean. TMI My scalp doesn't itch at all, which tends to happen during warm weather (but no longer, right now).

It's still only Day 2 though. We'll see what it's like next Monday! I haven't seen anyone else documenting this, so this could be very good or very bad.

PS. Caffeine is a stimulant. I ran out of coffee one morning and forgot about it. I spent the rest of the day in a sluggish haze, wondering why I couldn't get started.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Plain and simple

Guys, baking soda shampoo and vinegar rinse worked great for me, but I was bad at keeping it up. So yes, I use commercial shampoo now BUT they don't contain sodium lauryl/laureth/laureate (?) sulfate. Not that I'm plugging them, but I've used The Mane Event shampoo bar from Kinder Soaps* (RM22) and the shampoos from Indochine Natural (RM40... YA RLY).

Caveat #1: I tended to shampoo the same spot with the Kinder Soap bar because it's in bar form and doesn't glide over hair as it would on skin. You can use it as soap too, by the way. And I'm wild about how spicy it smells; I think it's the tea tree oil.

Caveat #2: Yes, RM40 for 250 ml, i.e., 1 measuring cup, is fucking costly for a low-budget person like me (and low-budget people everywhere).

I feel a bit regretful over my "lapse", although going back to ultra-basics was the last thing on my mind when I was browsing a gossip blog. I came across an article about Shailene Woodley of The Fault In Our Stars fame. She seems to be part of the Gen Z (or whatever millenials are supposed to be labeled) new hippie tribe and once said something about sunning her vagina to obtain vitamin D.** (Which opens her up the floor to all sorts of terrible jokes about what she does to get the D.)

Anyway, she claims to wash her hair once a month. It works in the winter I guess, so I'd like to see her do that in the (Western) summer. She didn't elaborate on her efficient haircare approach, but it reminded me of a "tip" I read when I was teen. The premise was that as most of the dirt in our hair is water-soluble hair product (this was the 1990's, mind), it would be enough to just clean your hair with plain water. I tried it then, and the grease was horrific.

As all things are with time, my hair is different now. It was also due for a wash, being about 3 days since the last shampoo. I decided to rinse again. Using cold water instead of warm though. No conditioner, not even a light oiling after. It's been 24 hours and my hair is actually (still?) unoily and actually feels washed. My scalp feels fine. I will rinse again today and see how that works out. If it does, this could be the money-saving tip of the year!

*Enfant Terrible and I still argue whether it's pronounced "kainder" or "keender".
**If you don't already know, the skin is the largest organ (heheh) we have, and the UV it absorbs from mere minutes of exposure to sunlight is enough to activate your vitamin D, so you don't need to go to any extremes, and guys need vitamin D too. #health

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Click-through rates

Following links tends to lead you down corridors of the internet you'd never have dreamed of. Like this website; I'd started out looking for a recipe for durian paste and discovered that there's an expat couple conducting durian tours here!

By the way, I'm neutral on durian. Anyone who tells you it's purely a love or hate thing is probably white full of it.

That's for "leisure" or "lifestyle" topics though. Looking up things related to freelancing will net you several variations on a theme: why you should freelance, who should freelance, when should you freelance, and whether you should freelance at all. A perennial (aren't they all?) topic is the pros and cons of freelancing. If you ask me, you might as well call it "the pros and cons of having a job".

I'm sure freelancers in every country have niche information, such as what tax entity you are (self-employed, not running a business, make deductions for office equipment and private retirement fund), whether your income is taxable (if your earnings exceed the stated threshold, yes), and what you can do when a client doesn't pay (depending on the amount, debt collectors might be a good idea).

As for me, I'm still working on an easily customizable template pitch. I'm quite sure there isn't such a thing though, but one can try.

PS If you don't already know, click through rates refer to the number of people that click the link(s) embedded in an article, which is usually written for marketing purposes. What do I get out of telling you this? NOTHING. Most marketing articles are crap though. I should know; I used to be a broker for them. Ugh.

Friday, March 13, 2015


Writing is enjoyable when you're not worried about the result. (Please don't use "end result" because that's redundant, and I hate redudancies.)

(I like writing sentences in parentheses too. It's something I picked up from my friend Neil. As in Gaiman. I don't know him of course, but I like to think that we could probably have a chat over a nice cup of tea. After I've finished vomiting from nervousness, naturally.)

Also, don't worry about commas. Conventional wisdom says you use them where you would pause while talking. But guess what: everyone talks differently so comma* a sentence the way you see fit and your copy editor (me) will sort it out. No, seriously.

I have to say though, browsing Tumb1r for an extended stretch is quite wearying. It's like people there are over-caffeinated and/or on sugar highs all day every day. Or at least whatever gets the most notes and reblogs.

*I like verbing nouns. Verbing in general.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

A whole new world

We went to Low Yat Plaza yesterday. Enfant Terrible wanted a new gaming setup and I was reminded why I coined his nickname in the first place. We actually spent the entire day there. Indoors under the fluorescent lighting amid 6 floors of computers, mobile phones, and their respective components and add-ons. Maybe that's why you don't see anyone aged over 30 years working there, unless they're   management or security.

The place is like the United Nations of technology. Some kiosks are staffed by south Asians, others have what look like Indonesian or Myanmar kids asking what mobile phones you want, and there are Malays assembling computer systems in the back while Chinese sales personnel put together quotes for the rainbow of people out front, including 2 big black guys looking for surveillance cameras (!). Everything is still made in China.

There are still very few females though, both buyers and staff. Imagine an outlet catering to women exclusively that goes beyond stocking items in shades of pink?! Anyhoo, they all want to sell you stuff and nobody gets cussed out for not buying anything (anymore).

There's a food court on the lower ground floor; unlike the grimy greasy nightmares of yore, it's well-lit and looks inviting. Caveat: I haven't been to downtown KL in a long while, so anything that doesn't look like something out of a Hong Kong crime drama set looks like a nice place to me. But seriously, they have J.Co whatever donuts there!

Being provincials, we opted for the ever-reliable chicken rice. (Like other local foods, versions can be excellent, good, average, bad, and mediocre.) The curvy 2 ladies working there were clearly the main attraction, being dressed in form-fitting baju kebaya and gauzy headscarves and wearing trowels of makeup.

If you've been there, you'd have recognized my description of Noor Chicken Rice in an instant. The Quran verses are still on the walls, but otherwise, based on earlier pictures taken by other writers, the place looks very different from its initial warung style. In fact, I braced myself for a mighty hit to the wallet: they have a mini chandelier and the chairs are the heavy, gilded "French" type so beloved of aspirational homeowners with more money than taste.

To be fair, not all of the furniture was like that, but the theme was white and gold (reminiscent of a recent dress debate), and there were rolls of damask wallpaper in a corner waiting to be hung.

The most important thing though, was that the food was (still) very good. I've read some comments that "Chinese" chicken rice is better than halal chicken rice but come on, apples and oranges! The Hainanese chicken I ordered was as close to the textbook description imaginable (dip-cooked 7 times each in boiling and cold spiced water; sometimes a clear gelid substance remains from the chicken fat or collagen; the skin is thin, spiced, and tanned, like the skin of a mummy but tastier and more tender... Er). The rice too is different from other chicken rice places, Chinese or otherwise. The menu said it's cooked with lemongrass, ginger, some other spice, and schmaltz. SCHMALTZ. AKA rendered chicken fat.*

The accompanying soup was run-of-the-mill (biasa), but the fresh-cut spring onion made all the difference. Perhaps best of all, their chili sauce is the type that can burn a hole in your tongue if you eat too much of it at once. Too many places use a heavy hand when sweetening their chili sauce** and these are places I would not deign to mention.

Also, we got the rig. We'd arrived at 11 and left at 5. FIVE PM.

*You can cook the rice in chicken broth too, but toasting it in fat is key.
**What's the point of making something that's supposed to be spicy if all you taste is sugar, eh?