25 April 2008


It's that time of the year again. Have you filed your taxes? If you haven't, do so now as if you missed the 30 April deadline, you'll be fined RM100, which is better spent on other things.

Anyway, in addition to being timely, I hope you fill your tax forms correctly. Taxpayers are required to keep their records for seven long years and may subject to a tax audit, or worse, tax investigation. So, do ensure that all your tax documents are kept safely.

I know it's a bit late but I just want to share with you one strategy to reduce your taxes. Maybe you can apply this for this year's tax. Its based on my experience as a taxpayer and common sense.

As a taxpayer, we should aim to have a low chargeable income (item E1 in the BE2007 form). You can't lie or cheat on the amount of income because that's illegal and I don't think you'd want to end up in jail. So, the next best thing is to maximise, where possible, all the reliefs (items D1-D13) and rebates (items E4-E7) available to you.

Two things I usually do are buy books and magazines (item D8 - maximum relief RM1,000) and get an annual medical check-up (item D7 - maximum relief RM500). Besides the amount limits, you should also know the conditions for the reliefs and rebates. For further reference, buy a Malaysian tax guidebook and don't forget to claim relief for it.
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23 April 2008

Eat in KK

I really don't want to turn my blog into a food heavy blog but as a food lover, I just can't help it. I guess I live to eat, not the other way around.

I'd like to review in detail places I go to eat in KK but it's impossible. I can't differentiate between something succulent and delectable or how to express the texture of the food I eat. It'll probably do no justice to the places I reviewed. Usually, for me, it's good on one end and yucky on the other.

Anyway, what I'll do is list out all the places which I think are okay for everyone. Not the greatest places, just acceptable places, according to me at least. Here goes (in alphabetical order):

• Gayang Seafood, Kampung Gayang. What else? Seafood.
• Grace Point/Garden, Sembulan. All kinds Of food, but stay away from the Nyonya food, its got lousy service.
• Jati Tom Yam, Taman Indah Permai. Tom Yam Malaysian style.
• Kak Nong's, Beverly Hills. Asam Fish Head
• Nasi Padang Ibu, Jesselton Point. Padang food.
• Pete's corner, Asia City. Western food.
• Seri Keningau, Taman Indah Permai. Malaysian food.
• Sri Melaka, Kampung Air. Asam Fish Head & Butter Prawn.
• Sri Melati, Jalan Gaya. Asam Fish Head.
• Taman Selera, Beach No 2, Tanjung Aru. Rojak Buah, Sotong Kangkung & Kitchai Peng
• Tam Nak Thai, Api-api Centre. Tom Yam Plachon & Green Curry.
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No, it's not one of the Scorpion's songs. Last night, there was no electricity in the area where I stay. It's been happening all to frequent. I don't mind the darkness but in the hot and humid climate of Malaysia, the heat can become a big problem, day or night.

Maybe it's just another excavation taking the wrong hole. Maybe it's just someone caught dead trying to steal metal parts from the electrical substations. Maybe it's just some drunk driver rammed into one of those power lines. Maybe it's just someone who's trying to make illegal electrical connections to the main electrical lines. Maybe it's just that the surrounding customers haven't been paying their bills on time and the electricity company trying to get even. Maybe.

Whatever the excuse is, the electricity company must do something to improve the service or at least, the turnaround time with blackouts. Not a month goes by without a blackout lasting 3 to 6 hours.

It's just unbelievable. Many years back, someone, refering to the frequent power outages in Sabah, coined the words, "Malaysia Boleh, Sabah Boleh, SESB Tidak Boleh" (Malaysia Can, Sabah Can, SESB Cannot) from the battle cry "Malaysia Boleh". I guess, you now can add "SESB Masih Tidak Boleh" (SESB Still Cannot).
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Idiot in the plane

If you are taking a flight, never ever say the B word, as in "bomb". That's what a stupid passenger, who I shall call Idiot, said on the flight I took back from Penang to Kota Kinabalu recently.

This is what happenned. Idiot refused to place his carry-on luggage in the overhead compartment despite being told by the flight attendant as Idiot was sitting the row where the safety exits were and no luggage are allowed on the floor or under the seat.

Apparently, in his protestations, Idiot mentioned that there was a bomb in his hand luggage. This is a big no-no for airlines, so the flight attendents took action. Idiot got booted out, a report was made with the airport's authorities and the officer came on board to check the crime scene. All this took about an hour and of course, delayed the flight.

Later, I learnt Idiot was remanded for a day to facilitate investigations and the aircraft was towed to the hangar to be securely inspected. The process took six hours, which must cost the airline loss of revenue. So, sue the Idiot already.

We were lucky that the inspection was done in Kota Kinabalu, not in Penang. If it was done in Penang, we'd have to wait another six hours. Then again, think again how much fabulous Penang food could be had in that span of time. You win some, you loose some.
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Fabulous Penang

Or should I say fabulous Penang food. If you hadn't guess, I went to Penang for my short vacation. My friends and I paid for taxes and charges only, about RM143 each.

We stayed in a hotel on Penang Road and had only two items on the our itinerary, shopping and eating. Actually, it was more eating than shopping. For example, I only bought two pairs of pants for myself and some clothes (t-shirt, etc) for the people back home. Other than that, it was food and more food.

On the inbound flight, there was no heavy food sold onboard, so upon arrival in Penang, the first thing to do was to have some Penang food.

During the trip, we had nasi kandar at various places including Nasi Kandar Sharif Glugor and super soup at Sup Hameed nearby the hotel. We also had teochew chendol and char kuew tiao at Prangin Mall and chendol pulut at Chowrasta Bazaar. We also had buffet lunch at the hotel, which featured Penang delicacies such as pasembur, rojak, prawn mee as well as various other dishes. Our hotel room didn't include, so we had more excuse to eat out. Breakfast was usually nasi lemak, thosai, roti canai or fried noodles.

In general, Penang food is fabulous. I'll be back for more. Now, if only I had eaten that extra plate of laksa or even nasi kandar before the flight home. You see, heavy food was sold out again.
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15 April 2008

Food and I

I like all kinds of food. It doesn't matter where really. It could be a posh restaurant or just a stall under a tree. As long as the food is good, I'm a happy person.

In the past when I lived in other countries, I even had to learn to cook. It was more of a necessity. In the places I've lived, if you wanted to eat Malaysian food, you had to cook it yourself.

I've forgotten the more complicated recipes but I can probably still dish out Nasi Lemak and a simple curry. Since the original ingredients were not available, we just improvised with the best thing. For example, its milk for santan (coconut milk) and a few small chunks of ginger for pandanus leaves.

Come to think of it, cooking's actually not that hard. First, get the recipe which I usually do by asking around or looking up a recipe book. Then, try it. If you cook something often enough, you'll probably remember the recipe. That's where the problem lies, I hardly cook in Malaysia. So, don't start inviting yourself to my place to have me cook. I'll probably suggest the next best restaurant or tree for that.
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Food blog not

Someone remarked that my blog is becoming a food review blog especially with the last few posts. Well, I don't think there's a need for another one of this or this. Three's a crowd, they say.

Seriously, I didn't have any intention to write a lot about food. But then again, it's one of the things I enjoy. So, it's only fair that I write about it. By the way, what I write is based on my own taste and I hereby solemnly declare that I didn't receive any inducement to feature any of the food establishments written in my blog.

If you tried the places I mentioned and liked it, good for you. Maybe we'll bump into each other there in the future. On the other, if you tried and didn't like it, please don't sue me. Worst still, if you tried, didn't like it and got diarrhoea, please sue the owner(s) of the establishment.

With that out the way, I will continue writing about food I had. But if you need more advice on food, you'll need to read the sites linked in the first paragraph. They are superb materials there and good food there. Bon appetite.

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14 April 2008

Seri 3 Rasa Seafood

It's one of the evening foodstalls in Kompleks Karamunsing. Its located outside the shopping complex on street level, behind the foodcourt and McDonald's.

I am usually here for one thing only. Butter Prawn with steamed or fried rice. From my observation, it's the only foodstall that stays in operations for sometime. Others have come and gone.
I've never asked but I think it's family run, that's why it stays where it is for quite sometime. There's probably no problem with cook running away. Waiting time for your order to arrive could be a problem especially during busy times, around 6.30 to 8 PM. The foodstalls are popular with shop and office workers in the complex. Meanwhile, there would only be two or three persons in the very small kitchen.
I usually don't order food other than my favorite, Butter Prawn. Yes, even the person running the place knows I'll order this dish. However, I've eaten with friends who ordered other dishes and liked them (their food). Their other customers also seemed to enjoy their orders. Maybe the next time I go there, I'll order something. Then again, maybe not.
Here's a photo of the butter prawn I'm talking about.
Location: Kompleks Karamunsing Evening Foodstall. Middle stall.
Opening Hours: 5PM-9/10PM
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Breakfast binge

Yesterday, Sunday, was a free day for me. Finally. I didn't have much plan so I decided to go down to the weekly Gaya Street Fair in downtown Kota Kinabalu.

It was early and I was hungry, so I decided to have breakfast here.
This was breakfast no. 1 and it was their nasi lemak and iced Milo.
After walking around and getting what I wanted at the weekly fair, it was time for the next stop for breakfast no. 2 here.

I had two toasts with butter and kaya, with iced Milo again. I like the Ice Kacang or Ais Batu Campur too. Satay (available evenings) is also good.

Then, I went off to do one last thing for the morning. I walked around in one of the older shophouses in town and when I couldn't find a suitable shop (maybe because it's Sunday and it's early), I decided to stop by for a drink here.

My stomach got the better of me and I ordered soto to go with my kalamansi juice with dried plum. The menu here is mind boggling. I'll probably need two months to try everything.

Don't worry, after all the eating I didn't have to run to the bathroom very frequently.
Kentucky Fried Chicken
Location: Block A, Segama
Opening hours: 24 hours

Fortune Coffee Shop
Location: Jalan Pantai
Opening hours: early morning - 6/7PM
Restoran Seri Rahmat
Location: Block A, Segama
Opening hours: early morning - 9/10PM
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12 April 2008

Restoran Taufik

During the day especially around lunchtime, you'll be lucky to get seated immediately as it's usually packed with customers. Even at night during dinnertime, it can be quite full as well.

The word is Restoran Taufik serves the best soto in town. There's a branch, Restoran Taufik 2, in the city centre but the real thing is the one in Inanam. It's a bit out of the way but worth a visit. Despite the name though, it's more like a local coffee shop.

Prices are reasonable. For example, a meal for two and drinks will probably cost around RM10 or less. Service is ok, but at peak time, you'll have to attract the attention of the waiters/waitresses. If you are after soto or rojak, you should get your food in no time. Cleanliness is not something to write home about but it's definitely not dirty or rat infested like some other places. Anyway, the food is worth it. Besides, you can always order takeaway.

Other than the usual, you can also order nasi campur or economy rice (rice with two or three side dishes) or fried noodles or rice. But I don't see the point. It's the place for soto. You don't go KFC for burgers right?

Location: Block E, Inanam New Township Phase II (in the same block with RHB Bank, but on the other end). It’s nearby the Inanam post office and Milimewa Supermarket.
Opening hours: early morning till 10/11pm.
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Packing for a vacation

It said that when going for a vacation, the rule of thumb is half the stuff you are packing and double the money you are bringing. That's a probably true.

I consider myself a season traveler, so I've a list of stuff which I will bring with me, particularly when traveling to unfamiliar places like Africa or somewhere in Central Asia.

Here's the list:
1) Toiletries - Toothbrush and toothpaste, perfume, deodorant, facewash and especially for hot places, talcum powder.
2) Medicine - headaches (e.g. Panadol, Ponstan), flu (e.g. Panadol C&F and Vicks Vaporub), cough (e.g. Strepsils), diarrhea (e.g. Pil chi kit teck aun) and some plasters or band-aids;
3) If I'm going overseas, a copy of my passport and IC, extra passport sized photos and the address and contact numbers of the nearest Malaysian embassy (if none, a British one or that of another Commonwealth country will also be useful);
4) An extra foldable bag for all the shopping;
5) Camera & MP3 player; and lastly
6) A good book or two.

Other than these, I usually pack my favorite sleepwear for a good night's rest. For the remainder of my clothes, especially for short trips (a week or less), I will pack enough to see me through the trip without having to launder my clothes. On the other hand, if the trip involves shopping for clothes, I'll just bring a change of clothes or a bit more with me.
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Going away for a vacation

I'm going away for a short vacation next week. Well, it's always nice to get away from the office. It's even nicer to spend it with your friends. I hope to get some rest but with all the itinerary planned, I'm not sure this will be the case, though. For that kind of rest, I'll probably need to check in a nice hotel, or a resort all the better. For this trip, my friends and I are planning to go here and there and do stuff like shopping, sightseeing and eating.

I haven't been to the place for sometime now. The last time was in 2003. I can't wait to see what's new, especially with the changes in government recently. Anyway, I hope the food there is still fabulous. Here I come, dot dot dot dot dot dot. Hint: it's an island.
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08 April 2008

A kitchen story

This is a story of the kettle calling the pot black. The kettle had been on the stove for 22 days before. Imagine what the kettle did for such a long period. The pot, on the other hand, has been on the stove for 5 days only. Both are black from being on the stove but the kettle is now loudly calling the pot black. The pot, which is now on the stove, is more on a defensive mode, answering back only once in a while.

The problem is both the kettle and the pot are in danger if the pot is removed from the stove by the wok, which is eyeing to be on the stove. For the kettle, it is better if the pot is gone and replaced something other than the wok. The wok will surely take revenge on the kettle for what the kettle did when the kettle was on the stove. The wok is said to be gathering support from all the other equipment in the kitchen.

Now the kettle, not the pot, is very worried. The kettle has got more to lose if the wok is on the stove. The kettle, afterall, was responsible to put the wok in the cupboard. While the pot took the wok out of there.

We'll see what happens next to the kettle, pot and wok.
(232 words)

07 April 2008

What will they charge next?

According to the Star:

AirAsia to have check-in baggage fee

KUALA LUMPUR: Budget airline AirAsia will introduce check-in baggage fees from April 21.

The move is to defray rising fuel costs, said group chief executive officer Datuk Tony Fernandes.

The baggage fees are RM3 per bag (for online check-in) and RM5 per bag (for airport check-in).”

What will they charge next? Fee for bringing a hand baggage to the aircraft? Fee to use the scanner to scan your baggage? They might as well ask the passenger to carry their own baggage to the baggage hold on the aircraft before boarding. This will get rid of the costs to bring the baggage from the check-in counter to the aircraft.

Or maybe they will charge passengers with extra baggage on their body. Who knows what they’ll think of next?
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Now, I know what I have. I'm one of those people suffering from No Mobile Phobia or Nomophobia. I don't use my mobile all the time but I'm insecure if I don't have my mobile with me.

Now, back to my nomophobia. I usually have my mobile switched on the whole day, even while I'm asleep for the sole reason that there is no landline in my home.

I rarely get calls or messages past midnight but when this happens, I'll wake up unless I'm very tired or sick. I'm fine when it is something important. What I don't understand is that sometimes I get messages which are not very important, i.e. messages like jokes and chain messages that can wait until at least its daytime.

Well, my problem is that once I wake up in the middle of the night, it'll be very difficult for me to go to sleep again. Sometimes, I'll be awake until dawn and then I'll feel like a zombie the rest of the day.

I just wish people are more considerate before sending messages or calling people at ungodly hours. If the message can wait or does not have life and death implications, don't send it to me at 3am in the morning. Please. And, I promise I’ll do the same for you.
(223 words)

A long day

Last week, I went Kuala Lumpur and back in a little over half a day! I left Kota Kinabalu at 1050am and then arrived back at 1250am the next day.

The meeting I attended took only about two hours but it was an important one. So, it was worthwhile to spend the resources to attend it - flight tickets, travel allowances and my time.

Anyway, the best thing that happened during any of my trips to Kuala Lumpur is to get to meet my friends there. That I got to do this time too. Thank you for coming all the way to KLIA to see me.

It was a tiring day indeed but I was glad to see people who make me smile.
(128 words)
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