25 December 2009
26 November 2009
Anyhow, I left school and went to university in a country which still uses (even now) the imperial system. When I got back home, I got my first job and I remember one occasion when I got the two systems mixed up. On of my colleagues asked me how much I weight. I answered wrongly, saying “65 pounds”. Another colleague quipped, “That must be the weight of one of your legs.” Everyone laughed. After that, I never used pound or feet, any more.
Anyway, sometime during the flight, one of the female flight attendants took a stack of newspapers from under the aisle seat and placed them on the seat.
Apparently someone must've asked for a newspaper as I saw her loooking through the stack. She must've noticed me for stopped in the middle of the stack, which happened to be on a newspaper in the Arabic script, probably the Utusan Melayu, the only paper printed in that script. Back to the flight attendant, when she stopped, she first looked at the paper and then at me, mouthing a question in Malay, asking me if I could read it. Caught off guard, I sheepishly answered that I could but a little slow.
The flight attendant continued looking through the stack of newspapers. I was still watching her and I supposed she noticed it as she stopped looking and looked at me again instead. This time, I had a question for her. I nonchalantly asked in Malay too, "Looking for the Tamil one, is it?"
I had the last laugh this time because she was probably too dumbstruck to answer. Instead, she just returned the whole stack to under the seat. From then on, I hardly notice her smiling when she passed by. Well, you started it.
At the appointed time, I came but had to wait for a little bit for those applicants who came in before me to be interviewed first. There seemed to be a prepared set of questions asked by the Embassy’s staff.
I wasn't so concerned about getting the visa because the organization I worked for then had dealings with organizations in that country. What concerned me was what would be my answer for a particular question I overheard, which was, "Do you speak English?". I could've answer with a simple, "Yes" or with a triumphant and thumping "Yes indeed, I do". I even thought of answering it with a question, "American or British?" in my best accent of both, of course.
Anyway, when my turn came, the staff enquired about my English as expected. But he asked me, "How's your English" instead of the question I thought about. Unexpectedly and too bad, all I could muster for an answer was an uninspiring "Uhm, okay."
22 November 2009
I've asked a friend who works with the service provider about this and one of the possible causes I was told is that much of the bandwidth was being used up by the students at a nearby university. I can see that but I know that the students have completed their final exams and most would be on their way back to their hometown. I expected the service to improve when the students are gone. Sadly, its still the same now.
21 November 2009
P/S: I'm still thinking of what to buy for myself. I'm thinking of getting accessories for my digital camera - maybe, a lens or two and a flash.
19 November 2009
I was born today many years ago. Sometime ago, I got around asking my mother about the time I was born. Well for starters, I was born in the local hospital of my mother's hometown. She said labor wasn't very difficult. My mother came to the hospital around 8am and voila, 2 hours later, I was born. If you check here, you'll know I was born on a Tuesday.
My mother said I wasn't a particularly difficult baby to take care of. Even later, as a young boy, I wasn't a difficult child. According to her, I usually followed what I was told, like to stay in one place or to behave. (Wow, I'm amazed of myself, really.) Anyway, I still could recall being mischievous at times, but there were not so many of these. Kids being kids, I guess.
I usually try to take leave on my birthday. That's not possible today as I've a lot of things to do at work. If I'd taken leave, I'll probably do them at home, anyway. So, what's the point of taking leave, right? It's too bad that I'd to work on my birthday but I'll get through it.
15 November 2009
For a change, I was in Jakarta for a proper vacation for the very first time last December.
Here's the list:
- Visit Monas, the National monument and have a picnic on the grounds. Don't forget nearby buildings, like the Istiklal Mosque and the Roman Catholic church.
- Visit Jakarta old quarter and see old buildings from past centuries.
- See the ships at Sunda Kelapa port and if you are lucky, you'll see a nice sunset too.
- Visit Ancol area. Taman Mini Indonesian and the Underwater World are perennial attractions.
- Eat somewhere along Jalan Jaksa. A backpackers haunt, the road is lined by many food outlets.
- Shop at Mangga Dua area for affordable stuff and souvenirs.
- Shop at Plaza Indonesia or Senayan Mall for more upmarket goods.
- Stock up on local Indonesian music CD's and Indonesian movies DVD's. The prices will blow you away.
- Get lost for books at Taman Gunung Agung Kwitang or at any Gramedia outlets.
- Take a train and get away to Bandung and Bogor, 3 hours and 1 hour away respectively. Enjoy the cooler climate in both places and in Bandung, some more shopping.
14 November 2009
Actually, ten nights ago. There was a full moon, so I decided to take my camera out and take a photo of the moon.
Reminds of Az Yet’s song “Last Night”. Last night, while making love to you. I saw the sun, the moon, the mountains and the rivers…
Photo was taken from outside my home, Kota Kinabalu on Wednesday 4 November at 10.15PM
10 November 2009
- Intramuros, in particular Fort Santiago.
- Manila Cathedral & UNESCO World Heritage Site Saint Agustin Church. Both are located in Intramuros.
- Have a picnic at Rizal Park/Luneta Park.
- Look at the excellent permanent and rotating exhibits at the Ayala Museum.
- National Museum of Filipino People.
- Roxas Boulevard. Take a walk in the morning or late afternoon along Manila Bay.
- Shopping at SM Mall of Asia (MoA). I prefer Robinson Place in Malate or Greenbelt/Glorietta in Makati but MoA is huge.
- Clubbing in J Nakpil street, Malate.
- Shop for trinkets, souvenirs or gifts, what the Filipinos call 'pasalubong' at Greenhills.
- Visit the still active Taal volcano.
I have been to Manila only twice, so that doesn't make me an expert. My first time here was a surprise for me. Generally I found people were warm, friendly and helpful.
Another thing that really struck me is that there are so many beautiful and handsome people in this city. It was impossible not to notice. I even remarked to a travel mate that may be there's a law keeping the not so beautiful and not so handsome people, or most of them at least, locked at home.P/S I might visit again in early December.
04 November 2009
03 November 2009
Marking examination scripts is the thing I like least in my job. Ask any academic, they'll probably say the same. I'll probably spend the whole of the next week or so marking. But, if you are reading this my students, don't worry, though I may take time marking, I don't take shortcuts in doing it. Be rest assured that scripts are duly checked from front to back.
01 November 2009
20 October 2009
Ingredients (for four to five people):
1. Prawn - 500 grams - Keep shell intact but slit the back and remove the black thread
2. Cooking Oil - 1/2 cup
3. Egg Yolk - 4 to 5 eggs - Beaten (Hint: you can use the egg white to stir fry vegetables with)
4. Butter - 2 to 3 tablespoons
5. Fresh Curry Leaves - 2 to 3 sprigs - Chopped
6. Bird's Eye Chillies - 5 to 6 pieces - Chopped and if you prefer, deseeded
7. Sugar - 1 tablespoon
8. Salt - to taste (I usually use minimally)
1. Heat cooking oil
2. Half-fry prawn, remove and dry
3. Remove used cooking oil
3. Heat butter
4. Pour egg yolk slowly from a high position and keep stirring (Hint: This is the hardest part.)
5. Add in curry leaves, chillies, sugar and salt
6. Add in half-fried prawn and mix with the rest of the ingredients
It's that easy. By the way, the prawn is the key to the dish. So the fresher the prawn, the better. And one more thing, don't ask me for any other dishes because my favorite dishes are simple fried fish and stir-fried vegetables, which anyone can cook.
19 October 2009
Photo was taken at Tanjung Aru Beach, Kota Kinabalu on Sunday 18 October 2009 at 5.51PM.
Photo was taken at Tanjung Aru Beach, Kota Kinabalu on Sunday 18 October 2009 at 5.53PM.
16 September 2009
Anyway, happy Malaysia day, Malaysians.
This happened when I went on to study for my whole secondary and part of my tertiary education in Peninsular Malaysia and then went on to work in Sarawak and here in Sabah. It still happens today. The sad thing is that the very people who asked me are generally educated fellow Malaysians, who I believe should have better general knowledge, if not historical knowledge, than your average Malaysians.
For the record, 46 years ago today, a country by name of Malaysia came into being by the federation of British North Borneo (as Sabah was known then), Malaya, Sarawak and Singapore. If this didn't happen, there wouldn't be Malaysia as we know it today.
There's an interesting report by the Malay Mail about Hari Malaysia. Check it out.
09 September 2009
- One is the only distinction I got for my last examination in secondary school. Anyway, I impressed the panel of a scholarship interview because it was conducted in English. One remarked (loudly, because I heard it), “He can speak English.”
- Two is the number of girls I’ve fallen head over heels over. Too bad, we didn’t work out.
- Three is the number of cars I had over the years. All cute small cars.
- Four is the number of years I took to complete my bachelor’s degree after finishing my school. That meant I got at 21 years old.
- Five is the number of close friends I have since leaving secondary school (you know who you are). One friends even had a name for our group – NTL.
- Six inches above five feet is my height. I’m short but still managed to be a starter on my school’s basketball team.
- Seven years is the length of time I spent living out of the country.
- Eight is the number of siblings in my family, five boys and three girls. Sadly, two are no longer with us today.
- Nine months is the time I took to complete my master’s degree.
Today’s post was brought to you by the number Nine and letter Jae.
04 September 2009
As an example, the latest row is about the song Terang Bulan. If the journalist had bothered to google or do some Internet search, he/she would have read that the song was composed by a Frenchman in the late 19th century and in early 20th was adapted as its national by the state of Perak, a state in Malaysia today. This was a long time before it was recorded by Indonesia artists and adapted as the national anthem of Malaysia. Go ahead look it up yourself.
Well, I guess these kinds will write and air anything to sell their newspapers and make more watch their television programs. The kind of reporting they are practicing is sickening and must be stopped. There is no need to make a wedge between us as there are so many things where Indonesians and Malaysians can co-operate for the betterment of the two countries. Like it or not, we are stuck as neighbors until kingdom come.
01 September 2009
Well, I don't have all the answers but I believe the key in solving the problem of poverty lies in education. If you educate the children of the poor well, these children then can help their families. Hopefully, the cycle of poverty will stop.
But when I mean education, its not just sending them to the nearest school. If you are a poor child and have to help in the family to get food on the table, which would you choose? Going to school or going without food?
What is needed is a comprehensive program where the children of the poor are given all, yes ALL, that they need to get educated well. Put them in hostels during primary and secondary schools. Provide them food, clothes, books and some pocket money. Give them a break for entry to institutions of higher learning. As long as they meet the minimum entry requirement, let them in. Give them scholarships to study. I know its cliché but remember the saying about teaching a man to fish? Here, we are teaching the poor children to fish. Where there is a will, there is a way.
I know that studies after studies have been done to study poverty in the country. But, even now, where are we? Back at square one. Why are there still poor people in our country?
31 August 2009
If I'm free, I'd usually try to be one of the spectators lining up the parade way. I guess, I'm patriotic this way. Well, since there is no parade this year for me to take photos of, I leave you with some photos I took from the last year's parade.
1. Visit the PETRONAS Twin Towers, go for the free skybridge tour. I worked here before and for the record, the highest floor I’ve been was Level 81.
2. Visit KL's old and new train stations, which are one stop from each other. Experience the old and new KL.
3. Stand in Masjid Jamek, the muddy confluence of Klang and Gombak Rivers, where KL began figuratively and literally.
4. Visit the Islamic Arts Museum.
5. Shop in Bukit Bintang, from venerable Sungai Wang and Bukit Bintang Plazas to new Pavillion and Berjaya Times Square.
6. Shop for handicrafts and gifts at Central Market.
7. Have a picnic at the Lake Gardens and visit the surrounding attractions like the Malaysian National Monument, Deer Park, KL Bird Park, Butterfly Park, Hibiscus Garden and Orchid Garden.
8. Dinner at Seri Angkasa (revolving) Restaurant, KL Tower. Superb views especially when there’s rain, thunder and lightning.
9. Breakfast, brunch, lunch, tea, dinner, supper at the many food outlets around the city, some are even open 24/7.
10. Catch a performance at Istana Budaya and/or PETRONAS Philharmonic Hall.
30 August 2009
29 August 2009
My hope is that the "10 Things to Do" lists will help you start the ball rolling in visiting a particular place. You don't have to follow my list. Well, that's why we call it my list in the first place. Mine would most likely include places like a museum or two, historical related, nature related and most importantly, food related.
Go ahead and make up your own based on your likes and interest. If you can, don't forget to share them with fellow travellers. You can read my earlier list for Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia and Bangkok, Thailand.
28 August 2009
The list with some remarks is below. My own comments, only applicable to cities I’ve been to, are in brackets.
- National Museum of Cambodia, Phnom Penh - completes knowledge of Angkor Wat. (No comment).
- National Museum of Singapore - fresh modern approach and history back to 14th century. (Hah, I beg to differ. When I last visited about 10 years ago, the period between 14th century and 1824 was a blank. Anyway, the Asian Civilizations Museum at Empress Place is a much better choice).
- Sarawak Museum, Kuching - arguably Malaysia's best museum. (I don't want to argue but it's a good museum).
- Vietnam Museum of Ethnology, Hanoi - most comprehensive museum. (No comment).
- Islamic Arts Museum, KL - works from Persia & Middle East to China and India. (I enjoyed visiting this museum very much).
- Royal Palace Museum, Luang Prabang, Laos - formerly a royal residence. (No comment).
- Sono-Budoyo Museum, Yogyakarta - country's most complete museum. (I also enjoyed visiting this museum very much).
- Natural History Museum, London - botany to zoology. (I've never been here but I enjoyed my visit to the British Museum. I practically spent a whole day there).
- Hall of Opium, Chiang Saen, Thailand. (No comment).
- National Palace Museum, Taipei - on par with Lourve & MOMA and features Chinese architects. (No comment).
This is a follow-up to my previous post. The more I look, the more depressing the figures become. The table below shows the operating revenue and operating expense of Malaysia Airlines from 2005 to Quarter 2 2009.
It seems that out of 18 quarters, operating revenue exceeded operating expense only 5 times. How do your sustain your core activity if no profits are derived from your core business activities? I think the airline should look into more efforts in reducing its costs.
I read somewhere once that Tony Fernandes the CEO of Airasia once said that costs is Airasia’s enemy and not other airlines or other modes of transportation. Perhaps, Malaysia Airlines should take heed of this statement.
When I look at companies, one of the things that I like to know is its operating results. In the airline industry, among other things, you’ll look at revenues, passenger/cargo load factors and yields. Other than revenue, profit or loss from operations figures would indicate how a company is doing financially in its core business activity.
Based on data from Malaysia Airlines website, here are the profit or loss from operations figures in (RM’000) from 2005 to Quarter 2, 2009 (figures in brackets indicate loss):
Total (558,730) (Q1-Q2)
For 2009, here’s what the airline has to say:
- The Group's targets are: RM499 million loss - RM50 million net income (on target), RM51 million - RM500 million (exceeding) and RM501 million - RM 1 billion (outstanding).
- In July 2009, Aviation Week announced Malaysia Airlines as one of the top 3 airlines in the world (together with Singapore Airlines and Lufthansa) capable of weathering the current crisis.
27 August 2009
Frankly, I've nothing against Indonesians. I've a number, not many I admit, of Indonesian friends. I enjoy Indonesian music (all bought legally in Indonesia or here). I like Indonesia food - Nasi Padang, Pecal, Gado-gado, Gudeg, anytime. In fact, I've lost count of the number of times I've been to that country, either for business or leisure. What I don't understand is why are some people are like hell breaking loose on issues like Pendet, Reog, Rasa Sayange and so on. We are from the same archipelago and as our people move from one place to another, we are bound to share a lot of things, culture included. Having said that, however, I'm seriously thinking of not going to Indonesia anytime soon or even anytime at all.
26 August 2009
About a couple of weeks ago, I was at the weekly Gaya Street Fair and was pleasantly surprised to see local dance performances by a young dance troupe from a local primary school and gamelan performances by a gamelan group from a local secondary school. It's heartening to see their performances being showcased to local and foreign tourists at the street fair.
This is all part of the Pusat Seni Setempat or Culture Hotspot organised jointly by the Kota Kinabalu City Hall and the Sabah National Culture and Arts Department. There were also performances by local singers and the department's cultural troupe. One improvement the organisers should consider is a proper stage for the performances. If you are interested, you can catch the next one on Sunday in the third week of October.
Here are some photos of our young dancers.
Another traditional dance
24 July 2009
Now that you know, reserve the seat when you buy the ticket or do an early check-in through the web or by arriving early at the airport. Another thing is I suppose it's also be best if you could take the early morning flight (as of now, around 730am from Kota Kinabalu) rather than the afternoon flight. You can see that there's a lot of cloud surrounding the mountain. Have a good view.
I am into the airline industry. When I was doing my Masters degree, my research papers for my coursework were mostly on or related to this industry. One of my papers got the highest score in my class and another is published in an academic journal.
I guess you know which aircraft I like. Well, my first flight was on a Boeing 737 many years ago and then I went on business trips on Boeing 747s and 777s. Besides, the Dreamliner looks way too cool for an aircraft.
Little did I know that there's a story behind the hotel. I'm not going to name the hotel here. If you're familiar with Sandakan, it's enough for me to say that the hotel is on a hill and surrounded by the jungle. Yes, jungles, I should've known.
I checked in around 5PM and when I got to my room on the 4th floor, I can tell the hotel was quiet and looked deserted. After dinner, I got back to the room to rest. Usually when I go to sleep I will have one light on.
Anyway, while lying in bed, I suddenly heard a woman's voice screaming for maybe less than a minute. I thought maybe someone was having too much fun. But then, immediately the room's window curtains rustled for no reason. Well, after that, I switched on all the lights in the room and tried very hard to get to sleep.
Later in the office, a colleague told me her experience in the same hotel. She stayed there once. But at least she was luckier, she was with her husband. I'm definitely staying in another hotel the next time.
Photo of a hotel in a jungle: illustration only (taken from internet)