19 December 2011

Old Andersonian Club Cafeteria

We, or rather I've, been meaning to eat here. Hubby beat me to it and sampled lunch here 2 weeks ago. So the whole family went there for lunch last Thursday, I think it was.

It's of course next to the Anderson school and very close to the D. R. Park roundabout. On a tangent, I only recently learned some history about D. R. Seenivasagam, after whom the park is named, from a book entitled "The Chinese Schools of Malaysia". He was a political activist and among those who championed the cause of preserving the teaching of the mother tongue of the ethnic minorities that make up the colourful fabric of Malaysia.

Back to food.............the cafe serves Indian banana leaf rice, altho blogger Motormouth said that it is Moghul food and banana leaf rice. He is probably more discerning than I.

It is a small little building located on a small little road that turns off from the not-so-small D.R. roundabout. There is ample parking space for about 20 cars, and grand old majestic rain trees provide wonderful shade. The ambience inside the cafeteria is relaxed and quiet. I like it! No fighting for car parking space, no fighting for tables, and it isn't hot and crowded. You can tell that the clientele here are the regulars.

We ordered 5 sets of banana leaf rice. Their dal (lentil) curry was a hit with my kids, their fish curry was alright but not sour enough for me. Their rasam (sourish soup) was nice and warm, and also slightly less sour than what I am used to (see, I love sour). Perhaps it's because it's Moghul?

They served an interesting tomoto vege dish that was tangy and sweet at the same time, a raw cucumber and onion salad, and fried cabbage. For the meats, we had their mutton, fried chicken, fish patty and sambal prawns. All went down well. I always have the cold yoghurt (tairu) to go with my rice and my kids have learned to eat it too. The tairu here is fantastic! Cold, thick, sour and rich - yummmeeee!

(picture courtesy from http://www.j2kfm.com/banana-leaf-rice-old-andersonian-cafeteria-ipoh/)

Kellie's Castle

We finally brought the kids to visit Kellie's Castle this school holidays.

It was also somewhere to bring our Singaporean friends who had made the drive up to see and stay with us.

It's real easy to get to Kellie's Castle from Ipoh. We took Jalan Gopeng heading out towards KL/ Simpang Pulai and just keep going. Well, I was driving behind my hubby's car so I didn't really take that much notice of the way, to be honest....

It was a nice sunny day, so we had our umbrellas and hats. We paid for the tickets (RM4 for adults, RM3 for kids) and made our way across the bridge towards the castle. The castle looks suitably old and crumbly so it makes for an impressive background shot. As we crossed the brown swift flowing river, my hubby told the group about his days as a scout when he and his scout mates had to wade across the river! The bigger and stronger scouts would be the first ones to cross and bring a rope along with them. Once safely across, they would hold out the life-line for the rest of the "tender-foots" to cross. Wow! My hubby did that? Sounds like fun. I wouldn't mind doing that too. But the water does seem rather fast flowing.

Not much by way of restoration or conservation really. The castle is empty, not many signs around, just a few hand rails at certain staircases. The Perak State government should allocate some $$$ to conserve Kellie's Castle and provide more supporting facilities if it is serious in making it a tourist attraction. The singular cafe in the grounds has been abandoned and is an eyesore.

The greenery around the castle is pleasant but again more could be done.

Despite all that, the kids still had a good time walking around the castle and reading some ghostly stories on the wall, and some history here and there. We went down into the wine cellar, which was only scary at the top because it looked so dark, but it wasn't very deep. The many rooms are large, airy with high ceilings. We spied a bat sleeping hanging from the ceiling in one of the rooms. I guess because the castle was never completed, it is not as impressive a structure as castles you might find in Europe. Nevertheless, it's not a bad short sight seeing trip.

25 November 2011

Under Zambry, Perak’s debt hits record billion-ringgit high

(Reproduced from http://www.malaysia-chronicle.com/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=23452%3Aunder-zambry-perak%E2%80%99s-debt-hits-record-billion-ringgit-high&Itemid=2&fb_source=message )

Perak’s state debt has sky-rocketed some 535 percent from RM182 million in 2000 to RM975 million currently, with a RM72 million increase in the past 12 months.

Reacting to this, Taiping member of parliament Nga Kor Ming said the state’s debt for last year was greater than the budget for all state projects such as the micro scheme credit, housing aid, food aid, festival aid, Tabaruk scheme and family economic cluster scheme.

“All those programmes for the people only amount to RM19 million,” he was quoted as saying by DAP's Malay language website Roketkini, at the state’s Budget 2012 debate yesterday.

On the recently tabled RM50.14 million deficit budget, the Pantai Remis state assemblyman questioned the allocation of RM915 million for expenditure.

“The amount is just too huge for Perak," he said, adding that the Economic Planning Unit of the Prime Minister’s Department reported that Perak has the highest number of families in the poverty brackets.

Nga said some 192,000 families in the state earned less than RM2,300 a month, representing 12.2 percent of all families in the country under the poverty group.

“This clearly proves that after 54 years under BN, not only has the coalition failed to bring up the state to a respectable income earning status, many of our people still live in poverty, especially the Malays,” he added.

Nga described the state budget as wasteful and aimed to enrich the cronies while using debts to fish for votes by giving out goodies.

"This is just an election budget. But the people see through all this. It may just help PR to win,” he quipped.


Perak is one of the largest states in Malaysia with vast tracts of land and natural resources, yet the statistics for poverty in the state are appalling.

Where are the logistics (port related) and manufacturing sectors to drive growth and generate jobs? One can see those "jaga kereta" boys aplenty in the town area, a sight long since missing from PJ and KL.

Even with Ipoh's well known food, agri produce and cave systems, the State Govt cannot be said to be doing a stellar job in promoting tourism. It is very much left to the private sector. Development and redevelopment in the town areas are haphazard and look largely unplanned. (see comments and views in the Ipoh Echo http://ipohecho.com.my/v2/)

The Star newspaper reported on 22 Nov 2011 that "Perak Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir tabled a RM50.14mil deficit budget for next year." How does a leader table a budget with such a deficit with a smile??


17 November 2011

RM100 handout from the government

I guess I really shouldn't be complaining, not that I am complaining. After all, when the government gives monetary handouts to the people, hey, who should complain?

In fact, we should be whooping for joy and say, "What a great government we have!"

Of course, all the above is written tongue in cheek.

It's very hard not to be cynical about this whole "the government is cognizant of the people's burden at the time when a new school year begins, therefore, being sensitive to the people's needs, we the ruling government have in our grand Budget 2012, allocated RM100 for each schoolgoing child from Standard 1 to Form 5. And all hail the government." (this statement is of course fictional, and not attributed to anyone or anything)

Why distribute money now? With EVERY schoolgoing child being eligible?

Elections are definitely around the corner, and the people are being prepped for it through such historic generosity of the government. Is Budget 2012 sustainable? How healthy and wealthy are our country's finances? Will Malaysia's economy be affected in 2012 in light of all the woes assailing Europe and USA?

Well, thank you for the RM100, Prime Minister. I have NEVER received any such benefit from the government before and it is indeed historic, for better or for worse.

04 November 2011

MACC's quick peep into RM56,000 binoculars finds 'nothing wrong'

Nov 3 2011 - Would you pay RM56,350 for a product which costs only 3% of that price, RM1,940 to be exact?

And would anyone accept without fuss a product of lower quality, which would have actually cost 50 percent less?

While the answer to both is not in the affirmative, these questions are far from hypothetical. They are being raised following revelations in the Auditor-General's latest report about purchases made by the Marine Park Department.

Yet, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission's deputy chief Shukri Abdul said that the commission had found nothing wrong in the purchase.

At the centre of the issue are two pairs of night vision binoculars bought at RM56,350 each. A check by the Auditor General found that they could have been purchased at only RM1,940 each.

As if that is not enough, it was also found that the supplied binoculars - no, they are not plated with gold - were not the ones ordered, but are non-night vision binoculars that are worth only RM1,069 each in the market.

MACC is known to be a tough graft-fighting department. Critics have even questioned its no-nonsense approach, particularly in the manner it handled the late DAP officer Teoh Beng Hock, who according to a Royal Commission of Inquiry into his mysterious death, could have been forced to commit suicide due to the interrogation tactics.

However, a case as clear as the one pointed out in the Audit report involving the Marine Park Department needs no further investigation nor tough interrogation, only action. So what is the graft-busting body's next course of action?

"We have suggested that the department take strict disciplinary action against the officer involved," said Shukri.

Not surprising. After all, the MACC itself has been named by the Auditor General as one of the nine government departments which overspent by a total of RM3.73 billion.

- Harakah Daily
(Reproduced from the Malaysia Chronicle at http://www.malaysia-chronicle.com/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=22339:maccs-quick-peep-into-rm56000-binoculars-finds-nothing-wrong&Itemid=2)


Well, well, with the next General Elections clearly on the way real soon and PM Najib having annnounced a seemingly election-and-rakyat-friendly Budget 2012 (whether it is financially sound for the nation has been questioned) the shortcomings of the BN Coalition and dire need for them to clean up their act on many fronts are painfully obvious.

Going down to the ground, dressing young, having teh tarik with your constituents do not substitute the need for a strong leader with integrity and one who truly has the interest of the nation and all its rakyat at heart. No selective prosecution, no selective handouts, no selective scholarships please.......free. fair, transparent and accountable are the pillars of government today, as Queen E said, govts must  move forward to meet the challenges and needs of the future.

23 October 2011

Hard Rock Hotel, Penang

We spent a lovely weekend in Penang, the Pearl of the Orient, and indeed an insland Malaysia is very lucky indeed to have.

(and word on the street is that the Federal Govt under the ruling BN coalition should treat Penang with more respect/ wisdom and give them a larger funding allocation, and not penalise them financially just because they are presently under Opposition rule!)
Anyway, back to happier non-political topics (ie. hopeless despairing topics).

We stayed at the Hard Rock Hotel this trip, our first time there. It doesn't disappoint. HRH rocks with lively music, serves good food, lots of activities, comfortable rooms, friendly and energetic hotel staffers. There are lots of music memorabilia everywhere.The kids enjoyed the hotel pool with its 3 slides, and made lots of sand castles. We had a faulty basin plug which needed to be fixed and we found the maintenance staff to be efficient and pleasant.

In my mind, one outstanding encounter was with a HRH staffer who came to deliver the keys to our 2 other rooms. After I took the key cards from him and thanked him, he looked me straight in the eye and with a very straight face uttered these very memorable words (well to me, at least, they were memorable!), "Have a rocking day!" Is that Hard Rock or what?!?

The rooms are comfortable and clean with cosy lighting that isn't too dim. Some hotels are hell-bent on not wanting you to see very well at night in your room, but the lighting in HRH was just right.

Of course there were the foam parties that are on every weekend. We didn't join in the foaming fun. I told hubby that it was free for ladies, as one staffer approached me at the pool, urging me to join the foam party. Hubby didn't think it was free as it was not stated anywhere in the hotel. "Maybe HRH lets the nice-looking women into the foam party for free to drum up attendance," hubs said. That's the kind of understated compliment one gets from the husband after 12 years of marriage!

Of couse we ate and ate! A Leng Char Koay Teow (not very nice I thought), assam laksa and char kwoay teow (Gurney Drive and Joo Hooi Cafe), chee cheong fun with prawn paste and koay teow theng (Gurney  Drive, no 88 for koay teow theng which had excellent soup), chendol (lane outside Joo Hooi Cafe), O-chien and wan tan mee (Yi Garden), nyonya food at Mama's (Lorong Abu Siti), Hokkien Food at Ang Hoay Lor (Jalan Perak). Buuurrpp!

Banned or Restricted Breeds of Dogs - Perak

We have read of tragic incidents where people have been injured or killed in dog attacks. 2 prominent incidents come to mind this year: a pitbull attack in Penang and a Rottweiler attack in Selangor. Fortunately, the latter incident was not fatal.

My family recently acquired a Rottweiler, and father-in-law was the one who gave it to us. The pup is lovely so far, just like any other pup, she is playful and cute. But of course, there is some concern regarding our safety vis-a-vis the Rottweiler. The latest Rottweiler incident does not help.

I have never owned a Rottweiler before, or any other (reputedly) ferocious breeds, and I am no dog expert. So I am not prepared to pass judgment on any breed of dog. Still, one must always be careful when dealing with animals, after all, they are animals - with their own quirks and moods, which they cannot always communicate to us, the owners.

Out of curiosity, I did a quick search on the net and found that Rotties are a breed that does cause some concern. As always, Wikipedia supplies a quick snapshot of information and Rottweilers are either outright banned or listed as a controlled type of dog in places such as Ecuador, Republic of Ireland, Portugal, Romania, Singapore and the US. Perhaps Malaysia may follow suit in banning or restricting the ownership of Rottweilers in the country.

The Perak Veterinary Services Department has the following listing:
Breeds of Dogs banned from importation
  • Pit Bull Terrier/Pit Bull (also known as American Pit Bull, American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier and Staffordshire Bull Terrier)
  • American Bulldog

  • Neapolitan Mastiff

  • Japanese Tosa
  • Akita
  • Dogo Argentino

  • Fila Braziliero

Restricted Breeds of Dogs (Importation subject to special conditions) 
  • Doberman
  • German Shepard/Alsatian
  • including Belgian Shepard and East European Shepard
  • Bull Mastiff
  • Bull Terrier
  • Perro de Presa Canario (also known as Canary Dog)

22 September 2011

The new "cool" Najib is not what matters

So our PM has engaged a team of new media makeover artists to refresh and repair his image, and transform him into Mr. COOL, the moderate reformer.

The Star in its 22 Sep 2011 article wrote that our PM Najib wants "to project a cool or sempoi image of himself and the Barisan Nasional coalition he heads. The battle to win the hearts and minds of the young voters has started in earnest and Najib aims to win over a big slice with his young and cool campaign."

So our PM has appeared over our radio stations, showing off that he has some general knowledge about singers, football and music. But then of course! Which VIP goes on air without first having the list of questions given to his personal aides so that the correct answers can be prepared in advance? It's a no-brainer. I've prepared enough information briefs, summary responses, fact sheets, whatever you wanna call it, for bosses who go for such interviews.

So, please, don't be too impressed with  Najib or any of our government leaders when they seem so intelligent and savvy and give the right answers in live interviews. They have been prepped and double prepped before hand.

I don't believe there are many Malaysian leaders who can handle a live interview without loads of coaching before hand. Do you think our PM candidates can handle a live debate like the US Presidential debates? That would be a day to wait for! (if you would like to see how our leaders handle questions under pressure without preparation, you should watch the recording of our Foreign Minister responding to a foreign journalist's questions regarding the BERSIH walk)

That aside, one certainly hopes that swapping a casual T-Shirt for his usual shirt and tie, cracking a few jokes over a radio interview and attending concerts, are not ploys that could so easily cause a significant voter swing.

The fundamental issues crucial to the rakyat remains, and the leader and party that best addresses these issues should be the ones voted into power:
  • free and fair elections
  • eradication of corruption
  • a mature democracy
  • freedom of the media
  • freedom of expression
  • a transparent and accountable government
  • independent judiciary
  • an efficient civil service

23 August 2011

Combination Skin care

I'm always lamenting about my sensitive combination skin-type.

And I haven't been able to go for my usual facial as I have been troubled by a nagging cough this whole month, since coming back from vacation. It won't do to have my beautician applying mask on me or massaging my face when I am suddenly seized by a violent fit of coughing!

So I have had to do home facial therapy. I recently started using Pangea Organic's Japanese Matcha Tea Facial Mask and I like it. Before applying the mask I cleanse twice, once with BWC Vitamin C facial cleansing gel and then with Earth Science's Apricot Facial Scrub.
I am also happier because I may have finally found a suitable night cream for my combination skin, from a German brand, Anne Marie Borlind. No breakouts, no oily bumps, and enough pampering to moisturise the skin. I initially tried Anne Marie Borlind's LL Regeneration range for age 30+, but found the cream to be too rich. Ahhh....so my skin acts younger than it is!

I think I'll try the combination skin day essence next.

Nyonya Kueh

Mmmmm, I love nyonya kueh - delicious tasting ang koo, kuih ketayap, 9-layer kueh, rice with coconut sambal, mua chee, kueh ko chee .... and so many more.

My brother-in-law's wife mentioned over dinner one night that there is a shop selling nyonya kueh in Pasir Pinji. Apparently most of the other vendors get their supply from this shop.

I managed to locate it. It's called Pusat Kueh & Kek Khoo Eng Chee, diagonally opposite the sundry shop Ee Chan. The shop makes a large variety of nyonya pastry, and they sell out very quickly. By 1030 in the morning, most stuff are gone. But, not too worry, they make more! So you are assured that their wares are fresh indeed.

I bought the pastries in the picture last Saturday:
  • ang koo - 70 sen
  • egg custard - 90sen
  • kueh ketayap - 50 sen
  • rice with coconut sambal - 60 sen

21 August 2011

Working Lives: Malaysia - from BBC

Working Lives Malaysia will be shown in full on BBC World News on Saturday 27th August 2011 at 0030, 0730, 1930 GMT and on Sunday 28th August at 1230 GMT. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-radio-and-tv-14576686

Six very different characters talk to BBC about their working lives in Malaysia.
1. Mohd Nasir Isa, 54, has been driving a taxi for the last four years.

He counts himself as part of the "urban poor" because he makes about $500 (£307) a month. Mr Nasir says it is not enough to survive on in Kuala Lumpur as a single parent, especially with the price of food going up.

As a Malay, Mr Nasir is entitled to benefits like cheaper housing, and priority in scholarships and government jobs over ethnic Chinese and Indians. This is part of an affirmative action policy to redistribute wealth to the Malay majority but Mr Nasir says he has not benefited from this plan.

After four decades of affirmative action Malay families like Mr Nasir's still earn less than the average Chinese household.

The government acknowledges that some people have manipulated the policy but they have pledged to revamp the system to target the Malays who need it most.

2. Ravindran Devagunam has worked for multinational companies in Singapore and India for 16 years.

He had worked in Malaysia as an aerospace engineer, but felt his opportunities there were limited and left.

This is a pattern that hundreds of thousands educated ethnic Chinese and Indians follow. The World Bank says many of them are being driven away because of an affirmative action policy favouring the Malay-majority.

Without this talent, analysts warn that Malaysia may not reach its goal of becoming a developed nation by 2020, which is why the government is trying to attract them back.

Mr Ravindran is one of the few who have returned. He has been recruited to ensure Prime Minister Najib Razak's economic reforms are carried out, focussing on anti-corruption and the retail sector.

Mr Ravindran says he never dreamed he would return to Malaysia, much less work for the government, but says his new job feels rewarding because he is helping to change the country for the better.

3. Santhosam Palanisamy runs a small shop with his wife in an urban slum just a 30-minute drive from Kuala Lumpur.

Together they make $765 (£470) a month - not enough to live on with three children to raise.
Mr Santhosam says he lives in a rough neighbourhood where young people do not hold steady jobs and fights break out at Hindu temples.

He is working hard to send his eldest daughter to university so she can live a better life, but is struggling to save up $50,000 (£30,700) for the tuition. In the last few months Mr Santhosam has kept his shop open until three in the morning so he can earn more money.

It is a sacrifice he is willing to make, as Mr Santhosam says the opportunities in Malaysia are limited for Indians.

Despite being the third largest ethnic group in Malaysia, Indians make up less than 10 per cent of the population. Many say their concerns are often ignored by the government and they are paid less than the Malays or Chinese.

4. Wardina Safiyyah is a TV host, actress and model.

She used to sashay down the runways across Asia in short skirts and revealing tops.
Then 15 years ago she decided to 'cover up' and expose only her wrists and face as a way to profess her Islamic faith. She, like many Muslim women in Malaysia, began to wear the headscarf or 'tudong' as it is called it in Malay.

The headscarf is the most visible sign of the islamisation of Malaysia, which has been gathering pace since the Iranian revolution of 1979. While some non-Muslims are concerned about this trend, Ms Wardina says her ability to choose what she wants to wear is proof that Malaysia is still a moderate Islamic nation.

Today, Ms Wardina has become a fashion icon for Muslim women in the country and she hopes to redefine the concept of beauty. Ms Wardina feels empowered by her new Islamic attire - forcing people to judge her on her talent rather than her cleavage, she says.

5. Hannah Yeoh, 32, is a first-time politician with the Democratic Action Party (DAP) in Selangor state.

Before she was elected into office Ms Yeoh says she was the typical working Malaysian, disillusioned with the country's politics and griping about wages not keeping up with inflation.

A friend encouraged Ms Yeoh to stop complaining and register to vote. A few months later she was asked to run for a seat in the General Elections of 2008.

Ms Yeoh's first election turned out to be a historic one. The opposition coalition of which the DAP is a member ended up taking power in a few states and denied the governing party its two-thirds majority in Parliament for the first time in nearly four decades.

Suddenly change was in the air. As an ethnic Chinese, Ms Yeoh says she wants to work against race-based politics that she says is entrenched in the national psyche.

This affects even civic basics like birth certificates, which now require the race of a child to be declared. Ms Yeoh and her husband, an ethnic Indian, are trying to challenge that by registering their newborn baby's race as "Malaysian."

Their application was rejected but Ms Yeoh says she will continue to appeal.

6. Hafizal Islam, 22, is one of millions of migrant workers who come to Malaysia in search of a better-paying job.

He earns $470 (£285) a month - three times more than he would earn working as an electrician in his village in Bangladesh, he says - doing odd jobs on a construction site outside of Kuala Lumpur.

Migrant workers like Mr Islam form the backbone of the construction and plantation industries. The government says this reliance on cheap labour has delayed investment from these industries in creating more knowledge-based jobs.

The migrant population has also become the scapegoat for the country's crime rate and other social problems, which is why authorities are restricting the number of foreign workers allowed into the country.

Mr Islam says it is unfair since they are only taking up jobs that Malaysians are not willing to do anymore.

He sends over half of his income back home to help pay for his mother's diabetes medicine and to build a house for his parents.

In an effort to save more money Mr Islam lives on the construction site and rarely leaves it. Not much of a life for a young man - but Mr Islam says it is the only way to save up enough to have a family of his own in Bangladesh.


I am sure many Malaysians can identify with what is being said by these people interviewed by BBC. And a lot more could be said, could be expressed, could be shared - if we have a truly caring and honest government, who puts the people first.

20 August 2011

Breakfast at Jen Jen coffee shop.....second time

This time round, the second time at Jen Jen, everything tasted better!

When we arrived at about 930 this morning, we managed to get the last available table. It was that packed on a Saturday morning.

My daughter likes Kai See Hor Fun, so I ordered that for her. The first time we tried Jen Jen, I wrote that I found the Kai See Hor Fun here not as nice as that in Kong Heng and that I thought the soup here had a rather strong sweet hint to it, perhaps too much MSG. Today's soup was much better, so perhaps I might grow to like the Kai See Hor Fun here after all.

The last time we were here, we forgot to order the blanched jellyfish that is also sold by the Kai See Hor Fun stall. I ordered it this morning, and the stall owner asked if I wanted it mixed with baby octopus too since they had it in stock today. Why not? My hubby loves octopus and squid. The dish of blanced jellyfish and baby octopus on a bed of bean sprouts, with a light soya and chilly sauce, was appealing to the eye, and super crunchy. It costs RM8, and was very enjoyable.

My hubby and I had the char kuey teow, fried hot with chilly. Ermmmm......yeah, it was nice. And the lady who takes the order for char kuey teow is pleasant and polite.

Actually, I found all the vendors in Jen Jen very pleasant and polite this morning!

I didn't realize the price of drinks has gone up so much!

We ordered one iced Milo, one hot Milo and one hot coffee. Total price for that was RM5.50. I thought I heard wrongly. I was so surprised that I had to check the price with the old uncle in charge of drinks. He is a pleasant old fellow and willingly explained the price breakdown to us: RM1.50 for the hot coffee, RM2.10 for the iced Milo and RM1.90 for the hot Milo. "No mistake", he said. Wow! Is that steep or what, for drinks!

19 August 2011

Pangea Organics Japanese Matcha Tea Face Mask

That elusive facial product that is just right for my skin is still elusive.

I so envy women who have normal skin that can cope with almost any brand of cosmetics, that does not break out if a new or wrong facial product is used, that can recover quickly from too much sun exposure.

I guess to each its own....my combination skin is sensitive and picky. If the moisturizer is too rich, my skin breaks out. If it is too light, my skin dries out. Too much sun, and the freckles pop out.

Right now, I am using Pangea Organics' Italian Red Mandarin Facial Cream, which seems to be getting along with my skin. Enough moisture and not too rich, doesn't aggravate my skin. I took it with me to Scotland and it still provided my skin with enough moisture.

Hubby then showed me this video that heaps lavish praise on Pangea Organics Japanese Matcha Tea Facial Mask. I know, when you watch it, the presenter really does seem too OTT. But.......I asked hubby to buy the mask anyway.

The mask is really quite pleasant to use. It smells very natural and your skin instantly feels cool when you apply the mask on. You have to slap it on quite thick, as demonstrated in the video. Although I don't slap it on as thick as what the model does. I think the model in the video has got fantastic skin to begin with.

Well, after using this mask for about 4 times, I find that it does cleanse quite well, and gives your face a matte and an even glowing appearance.


It's been 2 years since we began our new life here in Ipoh.

When we first arrived in Ipoh, my daughter was only 4, not yet attending kindergarten. So along with all the other settling in issues, I did the rounds to find a suitable kindy for her.

These days parents agonise over which kindergarten, which primary school, which secondary school. Back when I was a child, the search for the suitable school was not such an intense, research-based and discussed topic! Sure, my parents sent my brother and me to the reputable schools of the day, but as for kindergarten, the one closest to home was the priority.

I finally decided on Kinderland behind Heritage Hotel for my daughter, not too far from home. And some good feedback I obtained from a past student's mother. Of course, I did get a very negative feedback from someone else too. There is always the dark side to the "force"!

My review of Kinderland?

Now in her second year in Kinderland, my daughter is happy there. She did not have an easy settling-in time. Many children begin their kindy years from the age of 4 or younger. My girl joined when she was 5, so she was the new kid on the block. You remember how hard it is to break into established social circles, don't you?

Kinderland runs 2 streams - English (for those going to Kebangsaan or private schools with no Mandarin component) and Chinese (gearing for the Chinese medium schools). I enrolled her into the Chinese stream, and she did not speak Mandarin when she started. So it was a double whammy for her. She cried for 3 months! And I had to be there. I almost broke and considered changing her kindergarten. But there is no guarantee she would be happier some place else. So I hung on.

Today, my girl converses easily in Mandarin, English and a smattering of Bahasa Malaysia. She has built her social confidence and her own circle of friends. Some of the children who did not accept her into their circle at first, still do not do so today, but she doesn't mind as she has other friends. And I tell my daughter that you can't be friends with everyone, and indeed, some people are not worth the effort. I noticed that my girl is rather popular with the boys, and it is cute to see the boys bringing her shoes and water tumbler to her at dismissal time!

Kinderland gives the children homework everyday, with spelling tests of 5 words and one sentence for each of the 3 languages weekly. And of course, the term assessments. Academically, I hear that Kinderland is not as tough as, say, Mariaville off Jalan Tambun or "Wai Lei" near Jalan Yang Kalsom in town. Apparently those 2 kindies give tons of homework, and teach Standard 1 material, with 20 words for spelling each time! 20 words? Phew!

If you are the sort of parent who wants your child to super excel academically and shine in Standard 1, you might want to go for Mariaville or "Wai Lei". You will find Kinderland too laid back, as Kinderland strives to provide a balanced and rounded education experience. Kinderland arranges excursions each term to, for example, the pet shop, stud farm, parks and the state library. There is also plenty of arts and crafts. And their annual concert is a really big deal. The principal and teachers put in a tremendous amount of effort into the concert, and the kids get to sing, dance, deliver speeches, play instruments. Quite good fun, as is their annual sports day.

My daughter is not overly burdened with homework until she detests doing it, and she is happy to practise for her spelling tests. I find the teachers at Kinderland caring, contrary to the negative remark I heard early on. If your child is absent for more than 2 days, Kinderland will give you a call to find out if everything is ok.

I believe Kinderland receives more children under its daycare wing rather than its kindergarten arm. The sleeping facility in Kinderland is excellent, with each child provided with his/ her own sleeping cot in a large dorm-like room (not sleeping on the floor like some kindies or daycare I have seen). Kinderland provides breakfast, morning snack, lunch and afternoon snack for those under daycare. Their young charges range in age from infants to primary school children.

Overall, I am quite happy with Kinderland.

12 August 2011

Nyonya Laksa at Yum Yum, Ipoh

There are 2 Yum Yum restaurants that I know of in Ipoh.

One is in Ipoh Garden South, which is styled as a coffee shop without air conditioning. It serves up rice and dishes, and is well known for its crab and other seafood preparations.

This Yum Yum we went to today is in town, a comfortable air conditioned restaurant that has been around for many years. A family-run place, it is very popular and well patronised.

I didn't feel like lunching at home today, so after picking up my son and daughter, we went to get Daddy from the office and together we went off to Yum Yum. He said Yum Yum has a special Nyonya Laksa set for lunch on Fridays which is very popular.

And indeed it is. When we got there the place was full and we had to wait, fortunately not for long.

While waiting, the children had fun with the little poodle who sits obediently behind its owner who mans the reception/ cashier table at the front of the restaurant.

The Nyonya Laksa is very rich, really lemak with lots of coconut milk and heaped with crushed fish pieces. It isn't very chilly-hot so most people would be able to enjoy it. My girl just wanted the noodles, which is the slippery white lai fun. Our Nyonya Laksa set also comes with water and a bowl of cold leong fun/cincau (Chinese black jelly). The set only costs RM6 per person - very very reasonable! My girl and her brother shared the Yeong Chow Fried Rice, which was also very delicious and fragrant - not many places can make their Yeong Chow Fried Rice with that unmistakable fragrance these days.

Well, looks like Fridays will see us at Yum Yum more often.

El Cerdo Restaurant, KL

Went for a romantic dinner with hubby last weekend to El Cerdo. We had the whole evening to ourselves, with the children entertained and looked after by their grandparents and uncle and aunt and cousins. It's been a long, long time since we did this.

So, naturally I looked forward to the evening.
And El Cerdo did not disappoint.

The restaurant has a cozy and romantic ambience, with soft lighting (perhaps too soft. One elderly patron used his flashlight to read the menu!). The waiting staff are pleasant and well-trained.

The skewered chicken meat balls were tasty, well marinated, soft but not spectacular. The squid with parsley sauce was nicely chewy and tangy to the palate. We also had grilled prawns that were twisted and wrapped around in bacon, which is a nice twist. Our last tapas dish was the roasted vegetables, which was a delicious and healthy conclusion to the start of our dinner.

Perhaps best known for their roasted suckling pig (which the Chinese love), this specialty dish of theirs, as you might know from reading other food reviews, involves the wait staff "cutting" the meat with a plate, to prove how crispy the skin of the pig is and how tender the meat under the skin is. Then there is the rather loud and frightening ritual of breaking the plates, which the diner is invited to do. A rather noisy dish. Interesting.

The pork spare ribs were cooked drier than I am used to, but not overly so. As the wait staff gave us 2 bowls of water with a slice of lemon inside to wash our hands, we abandoned fork and knife and enjoyed the ribs with our fingers. Finger licking good (no infringement intended to KFC's slogan!)

As we intended to while away the night along the extremely active Changkat Bukit Bintang and Jalan Alor, sampling the various bars and hawker stalls, we decided to skip dessert. It was an enjoyable and delicious dinner at "the pig".

11 August 2011

Your right to vote

It is the basic right of every citizen in a democratic country.

Your right to vote.

Your right to choose the party whose representatives will form the ruling government of the day. The ruling government that will pass laws, make policies which will affect the progress of your country and the way you live your lives.

Therefore, it is surprising to me that so many Malaysians have never voted in their lives. Never even thought to register to vote. But yet these same people complain about the way things are done, about the way the country is run, about this politician and that, about the unfairness and stupidity of certain government policies.

And the reasons given for not voting:

- I never thought about it
- It's too much trouble to register and to go to the polling station
- What difference does one vote make?
- All political parties are equally bad

Have you heard that one vote makes all the difference? Just like one mark in your school exam makes the difference between a pass and a fail.

I just found a blog recounting the general election of 2008, written by a blogger who decided to be a polling and counting agent on 8 March 2008 (http://johnny-ong.blogspot.com/2008/03/my-experience-being-polling-counting.html). He wrote that on that day at his polling station, there was a bride who came in her bridal gown, together with all her bridesmaids to vote! Imagine that. Now that is one responsible Malaysian who understands the importance of the one vote. So, please, no more excuses not to vote.

If you care about Malaysia, care about the future direction of Malaysia, care to be part of the free democratic process that will gradually shape a more mature and responsbile political landscape in Malaysia, then I hope all Malaysians of the age of majority will exercise their constitutional right as a citizen of Malaysia to vote in the next general election and every election thereafter.

Undi itu adalah rahsia - Your vote is confidential

Election can happen at any time.
It is your responsibility to vote
The website of the Election Commission Malaysia/ Suruhanjaya Pilihanraya can be found at http://www.spr.gov.my/

(Picture courtesy of http://capricornsoapco.blogspot.com/2010/11/exercise-your-right-to-vote-election.html)

09 August 2011

A pet owner's worry

I have had dogs since I was a child, with a break of about 20 years in between without.
A wife and a mother now, I am blessed with the opportunity to once again have dogs as part of our lives. I see it as an enriching experience - my children learn to respect and love animals, be loved in return by their dogs, and our family gains the benefit of our dogs' companionship and protection.

I have never had any of my dogs fall ill. That's because most of my dogs are of mixed breeds, the typical Malaysian dogs, which are extremely hardy yet wonderful. Even my 3 adult dogs who have some Labrador blood in them, are as tough as the mixed breeds.

Along comes our 9 week old Rottweiler, a bundle of fun and cuteness. Hardly 2 weeks with us, and having had her 1st vaccination, and she is ill! Quite ill at that, most probably with parvovirus, the vet says. Any responsible pet owner would be worried, as a pup with this virus could easily die as the illness causes severe vomiting and diarrhea and therefore, rapid dehydration.

Our pup has been put on the drip twice, and that has helped tremendously. We also withdrew her water intake, limiting her to 2 spoonfuls of water if she eats at least 1 spoon of food, every 2 hours. No food, no water. It seems cruel and it is hard to do, but allowing her to drink more than that contributes to more vomiting which can be fatal.

I have also been feeding her, on the vet's prescription, antibiotics and anti-vomit and anti-diarrhea pills. It is a struggle! She pushes all the pills out with her tongue. She has completely lost her appetite and now resembles a scraggly little stray with her ribs sticking out! Poor poor puppy.

But there looks to be light at the end of the tunnel. Her energy level is better today, and she won the tug of war with my daughter, refusing to give up her raw hide-treats-bone.

My first pure bred Rottweiler - it has been tiring and a steep learning curve. I certainly hope our pup makes a full recovery. Thank you to Dr Ranjit, our vet from JR Veterinary Centre.

06 August 2011

Holiday in KL - stay in Swiss Garden Residences

This weekend, we spent it in KL. Usually we stay at my parents' place but this time we decided to stay in the city centre at Swiss Garden Residences, a newly built twin block of serviced apartments attached to Swiss Garden Hotel on Jalan Pudu.

Having a young family, we found that serviced apartments, rather than hotel rooms, provide us with more entertainment space for the children. And the kitchenette always comes in handy. We got a 2-bedroom unit at a rate of RM539++ per night.

Clean, comfortable and modern, Swiss Garden Residences comes with the usual facilities one would expect these days such as wifi, pool, sauna and gym. The restaurants and bars are located in the main Swiss Garden Hotel block which is conveniently connected by a sky bridge to the Residences.

Location-wise, it's not bad as it is merely a 10-minute walk to Lot 10 and Pavillion. Although in our weather, my son and daughter were complaining that they were tired!

I found the unit to my liking but hubby didn't like the bed, too hard! But he is becoming very finicky with the quality of beds these days. Only thing is, Swiss Garden didn't provide any cutlery or crockery for the kitchenette. I shall put that in my comments to them. So, if you'd like to try out a nice convenient place to stay in KL, why not Swiss Garden Residences?

04 August 2011

Me - You = Blue

Strangers + Physical Attraction = Relationship = Love = Marriage

Friends + Physical Attraction = Relationship = Love = Marriage

Friends + Personality Attraction - Physical Attraction = ?


If only life were that simple, huh?

I happened to catch Zak and Sara's program on Lite FM where they invite listeners to call in with their problems, and together with other callers' input, they would try to impart some helpful advice to the caller with the problem.

Zak and Sara are a funny, energetic and entertaining duo. I quite enjoy their programs, and yes I like Lite FM too!

Well, this week a gentleman called in. His problem in a nutshell: he has a really great lady friend, they get along famously and he thinks she is a wonderful person. He has known her for 5 years and one thing led to another, and they started dating. Then his parents ask him when he's getting married. With things getting serious, he says he is not sure he wants to marry this great gal he is dating because she is beautiful on the inside but doesn't have great looks on the outside.

Hmmmm....tough one huh?

We would all love to say, beauty is only skin deep and what matters is the person on the inside because that remains for always. At one time or another, I (maybe you too?) thought that too, and I also thought that once you fall in love, that's it. You never fall out of love. Then came life and its lessons. Ohhhh.......people do fall out of love, that's why couples (married or dating) break up, and uh, a great friend sometimes just can't be your romantic other half.

Back to the caller's issue.

Zak says: If you don't find her attractive, you can't marry her because sooner or later, you will resent her, or worse, cheat on her. Be fair to both you and her, and walk away.
Sara says: If you really like her for who she is, it doesn't matter that she's not gorgeous because who she is, how you get along and how she treats you are more important.

I have 2 real life examples that I think come pretty close to this situation.

Example 1:
A close guy friend once confided that he didn't find his wife attractive. I asked him if this was a new development. He must have found his wife attractive to have dated and then married her. He replied that when he was dating his wife, he knew she was no beauty, even in his eyes, but at that time, with age catching up and the pressure to settle down building, he settled for his wife. After marriage, the lack of physical attraction proved to be a real problem. Ultimately, they divorced.

Example 2:
Another guy friend has only ever had one girlfriend whom he married. They carried on a long distance relationship for some 5 years during their courtship before getting married. He is friendly, sociable, well-mannered and good-looking. His wife is reserved to the point of being unfriendly if you don't know her, heavy-set and plain. Yet this friend has only eyes for her.

So, is there really a solution for this caller? Could example 1 be an indicator of a doomed marriage if the caller is already now expressing reservations about the looks of his girlfriend? Or will he learn to accept her as she is and love her inner qualities?

(images courtesy of layoutsforlove.com and wallpapersonweb.com)

Respect and Sensibility during Ramadan and Beyond

I am a Malaysian Chinese. Fact is, Malaysia is my home. I have no other. I was born and raised here. So were my parents. So if I am told I am a pendatang, and that I should go home, where would I go?

I have a blue IC, a Malaysian passport and I am a registered voter. I just changed my address and am STILL waiting for my voting constituency to be updated. It has been more than 2 weeks now and a check on the Election Commission's website indicates that my change of voting constituency sedang diproses (being processed). I think I read somewhere that someone was granted voter status and then a Malaysian citizenship in a matter of hours. Perhaps I am mistaken?

Anyway, I ramble. I meant to write about sense and sensibility during this holy fasting month of Ramadan. It's a hot topic, what with 8TV making fools of themselves and Malaysians with their crass community message ads teaching people to behave appropriately during Ramadan. Perhaps the COO of 8TV himself needs some personal coaching on behaviour.

I think on the whole non-Muslims are very respectful and sensitive towards our fellow Malaysian Muslims who choose to fast during this time of the year. It has been drilled into us. How can we not be? Our parents remind us about it, we learn about it in school, we learn about it from our Muslim friends, and oh yes, we learn about it from community ads by 8TV.

I remember back when I was a wee primary school student, I studied in a kampung school and was the only Chinese girl in my class (the other 2 Chinese students were boys). There were a few Indians. So, most of my friends were Malays and we spoke BM in school. There were no Chinese teachers in my school at that time. During the fasting month, the non-Muslim students had to eat our food during recess in an inconspicous manner and place. I can't remember how we did it, but we did it.

When I grew up and started work, I continued to be mindful not to eat in front of my Muslim colleagues. During regular days, I might snack at my working area, but I didn't do so during the fasting month.

Moving on, I changed jobs and served my country by working for a government agency. During regular days, bottled water is provided during meetings that are anticipated to stretch for a long while. During the fasting month, no water is provided regardless of the length of the meeting. So the non-Muslims too learn to empathise with our fellow Malaysian Muslims as our throats burn dry. Nary a word of complaint.

And when we happen to be eating in the pantry/ rest & refresh area, and a Muslim colleague walks in to sit a while for a break, the non-Muslim staff usually quickly say something along the lines of, "Hope you don't mind us eating/ drinking." Never mind that the pantry IS supposed to be the place to eat, but we were nevertheless polite and respectful to the Muslim colleague who entered. Overly so, I might add.

Therefore, I really don't think there is a need for such insulting ads such as that run by 8TV. And Malaysian Muslims who have encountered such polite and respectful treatment from their fellow non-Muslim Malaysians, should really spread the good word around.

(picture courtesy of nutcrakerz.blogspot.com)

The Ugly Muslim: Racist ads dishonour Ramadan, not just the Chinese

Wednesday, 03 August 2011 08:46
Written by Iskandar Dzulkarnain, Malaysia Chronicle

Media Prima Bhd was forced to axe a controversial series of Ramadan commercials on its 8TV channel following heavy public criticism and claims that the advertisements were racist in nature.
Media Prima chief operating officer Ahmad Izham Omar announced the decision after coming under heavy fire from the public. He also tried to deflect criticism by asking people to “chill” and not to “overanalyse” the commercial, which advises non-Muslims how to behave during Ramadan.

Released as a public service announcement on 8TV, the three commercials depict a socially-inept “Chinese” girl eating in public, wearing revealing clothing and being loud and obnoxious during the Muslim fasting month.

The advertisements then suggest that non-Muslims refrain from such behaviour while in public, urging them to “please understand and respect the significance of Ramadan”.

What went through the head of Media Prima when they decided to produce and air the Ramadan ads is beyond everyone’s imagination. Criticized for being totally tasteless and insulting, the public looked on in disbelief at such an insensitive piece of advertising. And then to ask the public to "chill" and not overanalyze", Ahmad shows he is not a fit corporate captain, he should be sacked immediately.

One wonders how such a piece of crap could escape the censors of Media Prima’s editorial team? The question begs, were they playing the role of someone's political poodle? Media Prima should be more sensitive and do their homework before considering airing such a controversial ad. Not only is it a gross insult to the Chinese but it is also a gross disservice to Muslims in this country.

Weak Muslim community unable to resist temptation
Such tasteless ads seek to portray a weak Muslim community unable to resist temptation, and resorting to implore others to respect their sensitivities during the Holy Month. Ramadan is our holy month, not theirs. Asking them to observe our fasting tradition and be sensitive is not going to work. They will not comprehend and we have no right to impose on them.

Just like us, non-Muslims will not understand and do not have to try to understand. Muslims too will not try to understand why the non-Muslims believe in what they believe. If anything, we should chide our fellow Muslims instead to observe our own sensitivities, as they should as good and sincere Muslims who gain God's favour on their own merit. But please leave the innocent non-Muslims alone.

We must take into consideration that the Chinese Buddhists, the Indian Hinduists and the Christians fast as well, during their holy days or special occasions, but not once have they asked us to be considerate for their sake. They set up their own chain of vegetarian eateries, they make do and often go hungry when they attend functions organised by Muslims who think nothing of serving huge chunky beef curry to the Hindus and the Buddghists. How sensitive is this?

So, eating a cheese burger with beef maybe an insult to the Hindus, but they show fortitude. What if the Chinese or Indians start to air such tasteless ads asking the Muslims to be sensitive towards their religious ceremonies and beliefs? I am deeply shocked that some Muslims are prepared to start World War 3 over such a silly issue that only shows up their own weaknesses.

True Muslims don't need others to practise their faith for them
Malaysians live in a great country, multicultural and multiracial and all of us have to learn to live together in peace and harmony, and not try to infringe on basic human rights. For that matter Muslims should not demand that others must honour their beliefs. For sure the true Muslims are not petty about such displays of insensitivity during the Holy Month, but then there are clowns everywhere and ever ready to impose their warped beliefs on others.

If Muslims want their non-Muslim brethren to respect them, they should first give the other faiths their respect. There are no two ways about it.

But then 8TV is not immune to such controversies as prior to that, 8TV was fined RM50,000 by the Malaysia Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) for airing an advertisement by Danish beer-maker Carlsberg during the Euro 3 Comments.

The outpouring of criticism by the public has been tremendous with some calling us small-minded and holier-than-thou hypocrites and deflecting attention to other sins affecting Muslims in this country. Can we really blame them for their outburst if we continue to be insensitive to them?

Others call the Ramadan Ads stupid and inappropriate for insulting their intelligence, as being inconsiderate and an embarrassment to the Malay Muslims. They also directed their anger at Media Prima calling them shameless and brainless, retards and imbeciles for coming up with such a silly concept.

Election ploy or not, it dishonours Ramadan
Some even think its a BN election ploy to create disharmony. Media Prima’s stereotyping of Chinese women is also in bad taste with some questioning whether the actress was a Chinese or a lookalike. The advert also portrayed the Chinese as greedy, uncouth, insensitive, rude and inflexible.

While others have questioned whether Muslims were fasting or feasting with the lavish spreads offered by the hotels and fine restaurants, when Ramadan is actually a time to reflect on the less fortunate? Some have even asked for a boycott of TV8.

One Muslim felt that it was deeply unjustified and irrational to send such a message to our fellow citizens of other ethnicities and creeds. How can we persistently ill-treat others and expect to have their affections or respect in return? Media Prima owes all Malaysians an unreserved public apology for belittling the Chinese and for offending Muslim sensitivities.


-no copyright infringement intended-


It is refreshing, comforting and encouraging to read this article written by a Malaysian Muslim.

There is no denying that Malaysia is truly a multi-racial and multi-religious country, drawing its strength and uniqueness from this heritage. It is critical that today, with Malaysia turning 54 this year, all Malaysians learn to respect each other and live together in harmony. Does any Malaysian not wish for peace in our daily lives, and economic prosperity where each one of us can honestly earn our living without fear of oppression or corruption?

Let us have our nasi lemak for breakfast, banana leaf rice with myriad curries for lunch and chicken rice for dinner. Then let's sup together with ABC, chendol, nyonya kueh, ice creams and kopi-o.

03 August 2011

Media Prima pulls out ‘racist’ Ramadan ads

UPDATED @ 08:24:51 PM 02-08-2011

August 02, 2011

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 2 — Media Prima Bhd was forced today to axe a controversial series of Ramadan commercials on its 8TV channel after heavy public criticism and claims that the advertisements were racist in nature.

Media Prima chief operating officer Ahmad Izham Omar announced the decision on micro-blogging site Twitter after coming under fire for the allegedly condescending tone of the public service announcements.

“Ok guys. We’re pulling out the ads. Thank you very much for your concern,” he wrote at 3.40pm today.

Ahmad Izham then appeared to make light of the matter by changing the topic just seven minutes later.

“And now to more important things... Does a horn section sound better with 4 trombones? Or would just 3 trombones be enough?” he wrote.

The former 8TV chief executive had earlier tried to deflect growing criticism by asking people to “chill” and not to “overanalyse” the commercial, which advises non-Muslims how to behave during Ramadan.

Released as a public service announcement on 8TV, the three commercials depict a socially-inept “Chinese” girl eating in public, wearing revealing clothing and being loud and obnoxious during the Muslim fasting month.

The advertisements then suggest that non-Muslims refrain from such behaviour while in public, urging them to “please understand and respect the significance of Ramadan”.

Media Prima previously attracted flak from Muslims last year for airing a Hari Raya commercial with alleged Christmas overtones on TV3, another channel in its stable which also includes ntv7 and TV9.

Like 8TV’s Ramadan commercials, the Hari Raya advertisement was taken off the air after it stirred a storm of protests online.

Prior to that, 8TV was fined RM50,000 by the Malaysia Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) for airing an advertisement by Danish beermaker Carlsberg during the Euro 2004 championships.


Reproduced from The Malaysian Insider http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/media-prima-pulls-out-racist-ramadan-ads/ - no copyright infringement intended


8TV, does ANYONE behave like this in Malaysia or anywhere else in the world? Your ad is unbelievably ill conceived, tasteless, humourless, insulting and obviously made with ill intent.

Encik Ahmad Izham Omar, an official and very public apology is due from your office.

Looking for a good GP doctor in Ipoh

A reliable and friendly clinic is vey important for a young family such as mine.

I had posted in a previous article that I have now settled for Tang Children's Clinic for my children. The children take to him, and he is willing to answer questions and discuss my concerns. Not all doctors are willing to do that. Some doctors won't even give you the name of the medication they are prescribing.

But as for GP doctors for adults, I have only just recently found an acceptable clinic, Poliklinik Keluarga. It is near Ipoh Garden East at Taman Ipoh Permai. I have been there twice and was seen to by one Dr Ng. I found Dr Ng to be friendly to questions. His examination is also more thorough than some doctors. He takes your temperature, looks at your throat and takes his time to listen with his stethoscope (very slowly, in fact), and measures your blood pressure. The clinic is clean and neat, the receptionist alert. This clinic opens in the mornings and nights, which makes it very convenient for night time visits.

I have tried the Kilink Keluarga in Fair Park. I will not go there again, if I can help it. The doctors there look bored, examine you in less than 3 minutes, speak to you for about 3 minutes too and you are out of there! One particular lady doctor at this clinic should retire. She is doing a disservice to her profession. On one occasion when I was there, she actually had the nerve to ask me to move closer to her and then she asked me to lean forward toward her so that she could place her stethoscope on my chest without her having to budge an inch from her own chair! Suffice to say, she isn't the sort you imagine would break a sweat in the gym or even take a brisk walk.

I have also seen Dr Su near Jalan Kampar (same row as JJ's swiss rolls). He is an elderly doctor who is kindly, but he is prone to closing his clinic without notice as he takes frequent holidays.

Of course there is Dr. Esther Kong in town. I think most Ipohans would know her. She is elderly now, and her hours are shortened to 9am to 2pm. From her years of experience, her diagnosis is usually spot on. Only drawback is, you better be the first patient to see her, because if there is even just one person ahead of you, be prepared to wait and wait. Dr. Kong likes to take her time.

01 August 2011

Ding Fung Shabu Shabu

One of the newer eating-cum-shopping places in Ipoh is De Gardens, opposite Kinta City.

Its design and decor are modern, spacious and airy. The owner of De Gardens did not cramp up the place with shops and restaurants, instead allowing for more open passageways, walkways and some fountain areas. The result is something quite pleasant and breezy.

Our children particularly like Tutti Frutti there, which is tucked away in a little open-air corner. We tried the steam boat fare at Ding Fung Shabu Shabu last night. The children were attracted to its individual-pots-style of steam boat, just like another steam boat restaurant in KL, Uncle Duck.

Ding Fung offers all you-can-eat steam boat. Plenty of greens to choose from, seaweed, clams, mussels, mushrooms, all manner of fish cakes and fish balls, fish and chicken slices, as well as slices of pork, beef and lamb.

You have a choice of clear soup or spicy soup. A word of caution on the spicy soup - hubby said apart from the chilly-hot taste of the soup, it is pretty tasteless. And too oily, to the point of making one gag when you drink too much of it. Ding Fung needs to improve on its spicy soup stock.

Free-flow drinks are provided from a dispenser, and there' s a fridge filled with ice cream and jellies for the kiddies to raid. I had red bean soup for dessert, which wasn't half bad.

Dinner is priced at RM30.90 for adults and RM15.90 for kids. Overall, food quality was average, nothing outstanding.

(picture from http://forum.lowyat.net/topic/1506961)

Snakes and snails and puppy dog tails

The newest addition to our family is a female rottweiler pup. A bundle of black and tan, energy and cuteness rolled into one. Well, cute for now. I hope as she grows she will remain playful and loving.

I've always had misgivings about large aggressive dogs such as rotties, alsations and dobermans. But a friend who has 2 rotties says they are fine with the family, even as grown dogs. So along came our pup, originally bought by a relative whose wife then said she didn't want it on account of it being a rottie, and her fear that it would be difficult to control.

Her first visit to the vet in Ipoh Garden South for her vaccination, was quite eventful. For us, not for her. It was our first time at the vet's too, JR Veterinary Center.

It was very crowded, with canine and feline and winged animal patients. Our little pup was not scared, not one bit. She bounded in on her leash and eagerly surveyed the place, sniffing away. There was an old and sick dachshund, who looked tiredly at her. Then there was a very beautiful, large but cowardly labrador who was trembling and shivering - she had obviously had an unpleasant run in with the vet! The cats were safely in their cages.

Our pup's vaccination went smoothly, and she dutifully swallowed her deworming tablet. Then the excitement started.

The old dachshund just collapsed with a thud onto the floor right next to her elderly female owner as she was paying for her treatment. The poor lady let out a terrified shriek. The vet came to examine the poor dog, who appeared lifeless. The vet lifted the dog slightly from the floor and released her, the dog fell limply. The lady owner was almost hysterical. The vet carried the dog into the examination room, and according to my son and maid who peeked in (I was too distressed to watch), the vet administered CPR. Miraculously the dog came back to life! The old dachshund had to stay in the clinic and its owner left, sniffling and red-eyed. Throughout, the vet was extremely calm and comforted the lady owner.

Next came an elderly lady with a bird cage, holding a little bird (black and white) that appeared to me, dead. It was lying slumped against the side of the cage with its wings spread open, its eyes closed. The owner was obviously in a panic, and ignored the queue of patients, walking into the examination room, saying "Doctor, my bird is very weak. She hasn't eaten in days. Please, look at her!" The vet very calmly told the lady she would examine the bird but she would have to wait her turn. My kids whispered to me, "Mommy, that bird looks dead!"

I don't know what happened to the bird. We left after our pup's vaccination was done, and as we were getting into our car, I saw the lady leaving with her bird. Phew! Dead dog, revived. Status of dead-looking bird, unknown.

Now with 3 dogs and 1 pup, we visit our pet store more frequently for dog biscuits, deworming tablets, treats, leashes, bowls and dog shampoo. We patronise Hup Fatt, which is on Jalan Raja Musa Aziz. It is a family-run store and the family is very friendly and helpful. My girl loves going there to check out the pups they have on sale. Their supplies are generally cheaper than what you would get at the supermarket, but I have not compared their prices to other pet stores. I am quite happy with Hup Fatt.

28 July 2011

Revisiting Chee Wah

Time really flies!

We had just moved to Ipoh when I ate in Chee Wah in 2009. And tonight's dinner is only my second time here!

But glad to say that the food in this very non-descript restaurant/ coffee shop is still very good.

We got there around 7.30pm and had to wait for our table to be unfolded and placed outside the shop at the side of the road. It was cool and breezy tonight, so sitting out is much better than sitting in the very cramped and not-very-clean-looking shop! Business was brisk and tonight Chee Wah was shorthanded.

Still, the wait for the food was not too long. Their signature dish of claypot loh shu fun (white and short slippery rice noodles aka rat tail noodles) cooked in tasty soup came piping hot. The server cracks the eggs into the bubbling clay pot at your table. Brother in law said he ate here 2 weeks ago and that time, the cook was not in top form as the loh shu fun's soup was not what it should be. Luckily, tonight, it was back in good form. My girl gobbled 3 bowls!

Their fried kuew teow/ hor fun (another form of rice noodles, this one is flat) deserves only a pass. Chee Wah does its fried mee hoon much better.
The last dish to arrive was the fried chicken wings, which was just off the fryer, nicely marinated and great as a finger food.

As we finished up, more customers arrived. Obviously, people don't mind the lack of presentation of the shop, having to sit outside on plastic stools with old cracked wooden tables. And to top it off, the food here doesn't come cheap!

The bill for tonight's meal for 4 adults and 2 children came up to about RM85! The large clay pot loh shu fun is estimated at about RM18, while the chicken wings come at RM2.40 a piece (estimated price because we didn't ask how much each item costs and of course, these Chinese shops never give you an itemised bill!). Wow, for that price, one could dine in comfort in a nice air-cond restaurant.

But, the food is really quite good.

(picture courtesy of motormouth http://www.j2kfm.com/tag/chee-wah/)

26 July 2011

Looking for "Yau Char Kwai" in Ipoh

"Mommy, we are the yau char kwai hunters!" my boy said to me in the car.

There we were, myself, my son, my daughter and my maid, driving around Ipoh at about 1730, looking for yau char kwai. We had prepared bak kut teh (pork ribs in herbal soup) for dinner, and as you might know, it goes great with yau char kwai (yiu char kwei, or yau tiu, depending on your dialect - deep fried pieces of bread-like sticks).

But alas, we found nothing in Ipoh Garden, Canning Garden or Ipoh Garden South. I remember well how easy it was to get freshly fried yau char kwai, hum chin peng, chin-dui etc in PJ in the evenings - there is a stall selling it in the Sentosa town centre of Section 17, PJ.

After a fruitless search, we ended up buying keropok lekor from one of the multitude of hawkers at the Polo Grounds (Taman Rekreasi Sultan Abdul Aziz). Not quite the right accompaniment for bak kut teh, but at least we enjoyed it!

Now I really need to find a yau char kwai vendor in Ipoh who sells fresh yau char kwai in the evenings.

Picture courtesy of http://www.mykitchensnippets.com/2010/07/chinese-crullersyau-char-kwai.html

Rule of law, rule by law — Ambiga Sreenevasan

July 23, 2011

Good Morning! Chancellor, vice chancellor and graduating students.

It is so good to be back!

I am deeply moved by the conferment of this honour upon me. That it comes from my alma mater is especially significant for me. That it comes at this time is almost providential, for it allows me and all lawyers to reflect on our roles in the societies we live in.

For this honour and this moment of reflection, I extend my grateful thanks to the Council and Senate of the University of Exeter.

Tired of injustice and oppression, people the world over are crying out for truth, goodness, justice and universal love and understanding.

The events in Malaysia over the past six weeks culminating in the rally for free and fair elections on the 9th of July, has taught me so much more than I could have ever learned in the last 30 years as a practising lawyer.

My team and I faced first-hand the full force of the unleashed power of the state, and I realised then the importance of the independence of the Institutions of government, particularly the judiciary, to check such abuses of power.

I also realised how real and present the absence of the Rule of Law can be.

In countries where the Rule of Law reigns strong and true one probably does not even talk about it. But in countries that veer towards Rule by Law, talking about getting back to the basics is crucial.

In many countries, Rule by Law is reflected in the existence of repressive laws that violate the fundamental rights of its citizens. One example of this is preventive detention laws that lock people away without affording them the basic right to a trial. There are many examples of such oppressive laws worldwide and they are not confined to underdeveloped or developing countries.

As lawyers, we are in a unique position. Our years of legal study and practice teach us to see and appreciate the fundamental role that the Rule of Law plays in guaranteeing that the state governs its citizens in a just and democratic manner.

Who better to remind those in power of their responsibilities to their citizens than lawyers trained in understanding the difference between “Rule of Law” and “Rule by Law”?

Our role as lawyers must therefore extend far beyond traditional legal practice.

Here, I make no reference to rules, guidelines, documents, or declarations. My only reference point is our conscience. Can we as lawyers, ever sit back and watch the erosion of fundamental liberties of the people around us and do nothing? Clearly, silence in these circumstances, is not an option.

When I graduated from this university about 30 years ago, things were of course very different. Today the Internet and social media has empowered people with a continual flow of unfiltered and up-to-date information. No longer can the manipulation and control of information be effectively used by those in power to suppress either thought or action.

You are in a world where you know instantly of injustices taking place in any part of it. In this global village drawn together by so many factors, we are one. We can reach out to each other using these new means of communication and we owe it to each other to stand together for what is right.

You may say, “But I studied law to be a solicitor or barrister and to earn money for a decent standard of living”. There is nothing wrong with that, I assure you. I run a commercial litigation practice in a partnership of four where we also do public interest litigation. The two can co-exist quite comfortably.

The point I make is this.

You are graduating from one of the best universities in the country if not on the planet! You are special. And you are now a proud member of an army of people that is equipped with all that is necessary to both practise law and to fight injustice.

I urge you to use this arsenal of knowledge and your passion for justice to fight for those who are downtrodden.

You have already heard of the events of July 9th in Malaysia. Whilst it brought out the worst in some, it brought out the best in others and this is where our hope lies.

There were some in government who opposed the methods used to shut us down. Even doctors left their comfort zones to speak up against injustices. And of course there were the lawyers and the independent media who stood on the side of truth and justice.

However, the real heroes of that day are our friend and supporter Allahyarham Baharuddin Ahmad who paid the ultimate price in fighting a noble cause, the six members of the Socialist Party of Malaysia who, as we speak, sit in solitary confinement under preventive detention laws and finally the brave people of Malaysia who overcame their fear of intimidation and harassment to uphold their fundamental rights.

With all my heart I dedicate this honour you have bestowed upon me to them.

* This was the acceptance speech delivered by Datuk Dr Ambiga Sreenevasan upon her conferment with the Honorary Doctorate Of Laws, University of Exeter.
* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication. The Malaysian Insider does not endorse the view unless specified.
(reproduced from the Malaysian Insider http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/sideviews/article/rule-of-law-rule-by-law-ambiga-sreenevasan)