Saturday, January 10, 2009

NST - "Take a course to be an actor"

Only the second week into the New Year and I can't believe where we're already headed towards. I find some of the quotes here pretty amusing -

"Currently, anybody with the looks and the right connection can become an actor."Some don't even have any basic skills in acting." Fernandez said all actors had to undergo a one-week training to be accredited.

So, one week of acting training is really all one needs these days? Interesting...

Read the full article:

Monday, January 05, 2009

The Little Sister Is Engaged

Ann at 4 - Devilishly mischievious and relied totally on her cute looks to get away with murder.
24 years later, a certain courageous Mr. Truong has finally claimed her from the Teoh Family.
Congratulations Ann and Kent.
(looking forward to the wedding planning extravaganza)

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Christmas in Camerons...almost

It's time to get back to regular blogging and while I'm at it, perhaps pictorial posts will be much more interesting.

After 20 years of whining about not having been to Cameron Highlands, one of Malaysia's more well known tourist site which houses the infamous BOH tea plantation, strawberry farms and fresh local produce outlets, I finally made a trip there with Joe and a group of our students. It was an enjoyable 2n-3d trip, though I strongly suggest a longer stay if you can afford the time. Before our departure, I had envisioned myself in the cottage-like Bala's Chalet, devouring in their famous homemade scones served with fresh cream and strawberry jam and sipping tea while enjoying a good book. Needless to say, I came home not having even opened the cover of my book.

We found that with a day of jungle trekking (more like 1.5 hours), visiting the tea plantation and farms, night market and playing Pictionary, charades and card games, our schedule was already full to the brim. One thing's for sure, we planned to be healthy this trip. Long walks, hiking, steam boat dinners (nothing fried), lots of veges, you get the idea.

Day 1
Our first stop on Monday Dec 22nd at 11:00am - Burger King for breakfast.

Bala's Chalet
1:00pm: Arrived at Bala's Chalet. Love the atmosphere. Lots of greens; warm and cosy. Price: reasonble. Cons: limited parking - beware during the holidays and weekends; amenities not so great - passable. We were assigned the "Tinkerbell" and "Robin's Nest" rooms. The weather was lovely, comfortably cool so you can walk around in shorts and a tee in the afternoons.

Strawberry Farm
Trotted down to The Big Red Strawberry Farm after lunch. There is quite a selection of strawberry farms to choose from - we just picked the one with the biggest ad on the map (guess the marketing investment paid off). Rumour has it that the pick-your-own-strawberries farms aren't as great, but I guess it would be a fun experience if you're travelling with children.

The thing about being on a holiday is that you find everything so interesting, didn't matter if it was some kind of flower you see everyday wilting along the curb, or some kind of pastry that could have had better crusts. The holiday bug has bitten and you respond with 'ooohs' and 'aaaahs' at every little thing.

Snapping away at flowers; one must always have time for blackmail pics such as this


Rows of fresh vegetables...puts you in the mood for a salad, doesn't it?


We took the opportunity to indulge in some strawberry delicacies. Here you have the fried strawberry ice cream and pancakes with strawberries. Very yummy.

The kids reverted back to the good ol' days when they could comfortably fit into these kiddy rides.

After the farm, we went back to Bala's and had a few games of Pictionary. Joe must have been a Pictionary Guru in his past life. Dinner: steamboat at OK Tuck, Tanah Rata. Perfect meal for cold weather.

We went to the night market after dinner, hoping to burn some of the calories we put on today. What we really ended up doing was devouring more strawberries (this time coated with chocolate), fried mushrooms, corn (very very good), fried sweet potatoes and honey.

Raw honey

Day 2
Robinson's Waterfall & Jungle Trekking
We found a short jungle trek (or rather, it only appeared to look short) on the map which would lead us to the Boh Tea Plantation and thought it was about time we embarked on an adventurous journey. We saw a glimpse of the waterfall 10 minutes into the jungle and was determined to find our way to the bottom of it. 45 minutes into the walk with the path getting muddier and narrower and the waterfall being out of sight; and finally witnessing a tree falling from 50 feet above us, we decided we were not going to find the way to the bottom. We turned back, stopped at the first spot where we saw the waterfall, and decided to enjoy the cool water for a couple of minutes.

You know when it's a tourist spot when there's a souvenir hut 3 minutes into the trek. This place sells very good raw honey (I used some of it to make honey clasps treats for New Year's and they were absolutely delicious!). Their homemade marmalade and blackberry jams are good too.

The owner tossed a homegrown lemon to Howard.

Boh Tea Plantation
2:00pm: After our brief jungle trekking experience, we drove off to Boh Tea Plantation. Caution - if you are prone to car sickness, bring some sour plums. The road is awfully windy, but the sight is worth the trip.

Don't be fooled by this picture - this is not what you see the minute you step out of the car. For breathtaking views of the plantation, it's another 15 minute hike up the hills. We were practically panting when we got up there...not because it was undoable...I guess we were just lacking in daily exercise. It was a little cloudy that day, hence the dark skies.

Path to the top of the hill - Roger and June

We made it!; Howard's handstand

Pretty hibiscus

Scones and tea at the cafe (June). The scones were really tasty - smooth, buttery texture and melts in the mouth. I haven't had such good scones in a long time.

Went back to Bala's for a rest. While resting, we had more scones. Apparently their scones are the best in town - hence, how can one not try them? (sorry, no picture - was too busy eating and making comparisons). The scones and tea set was quite pricey at RM 22.50 per set (compared to RM 12 for both at Boh Cafe). It was good, but the texture was slightly different. Bala's had flaky layers at the top, making it a little rough (still melts in the mouth), where as the other one felt richer and smoother.
We repeated our dinner menu tonight, with the addition of 2 meaty dishes at OK Tuck; did the night market again (with double the food quantity we got yesterday); bought some beers and headed back to the Chalet for an early night of fun and games...or so we thought.

Pictionary...charades style

Day 3
The Smoke House & Market
After a hefty breakfast, we headed to The Smoke House for some photos. The Smoke House is a pretty Victorian-style chalet with lots of scenic photography opportunities. You can walk around the surrounding areas and are only allowed inside if you are a guest. Our last stop was at the produce markets. We ended up with bags of fresh vegetables, flowers, strawberries and corn (look for the ready-to-eat ones that is white and yellow in the inside - these are the BEST!)

All good trips must end with a decent family picture
(Roger in the front; Olivia, Howard, Joyce, June at the back)

Got back to KL around 4pm. It's Christmas Eve and traffic was already starting to get heavy, the air warmer and then thoughts of unwrapped gifts and gifts still to be bought occurred...back to reality.

Here is a link to a useful website if you're planning a trip to Camerons. My recommendations: strawberry farm, tea plantation, hiking, steamboat dinner; must buy raw honey, corn and fresh jams; must try: scones and tea.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008, where art thou?

Where did all the time go? I just realized that my last post was on Nov 17 2007, a little over a year ago. Perhaps instead of gracing the city packed with thousands of people drinking champagne and toasting to the New Year, the next 3 hours could be spent on reflecting upon 2008...wishful thinking. Hah.

Somehow everything seems like a blur. I see lights flashing by, coupled with framed moments from 2008. Dates and days don't seem to be making much sense - chronologically I can't seem to recall at the top of my head right this second what I have done in the past 12 months.

Nevertheless, it's been an exceedingly good year in many ways, and not so good in some ways. The not-so-good I intend to put aside and the good I intend to maintain, if not increase in 2009. Ah, optimism.

2008 has been a blessing in many ways - set designing with ICT in the local theatre scene, being back at Furious again in April re-designing the revival of Saturday Night At The Palace; new-found friends and re-connecting with childhood buddies, time spent with the family and ocassionally too much time spent with students. :) What I've missed is really time spent alone. I no longer believe in making New Year resolutions, though I've promised myself more time next year for travels, self development and healthy living.

Here's wishing YOU a wonderful New Year, filled with joy, laughter, good health and success.
CHEERS to 2009!

Monday, November 12, 2007

My new permanent resident status...

Sorry for the long absence peeps. Been wanting to post pics from the Perth trip, which got delayed for a few months...and then the L.A. trip happened, and pics and updates from that were also postponed for a couple of weeks...

So...I have decided to start with the easiest update of the lot - my recent trip to Melbourne.

I was granted an Australian PR a week before I left for L.A. in September. To complete the process, I had to make an initial entry into Australia by Dec 12th to “activate” my PR status. Hence, the mini-break. I hate to use the word “uneventful” to describe any kind of holiday, but this almost felt just like that. Perhaps it’s the first non-work related trip of the year, so it felt odd not having to be at a certain place at a certain time and having x amount of minutes for a quick bite in a new found café or browsing through the endless shelves at a bookstore.

What did I do then, you ask?
Indulged myself in devilishly delicious desserts whenever we got a chance. Ann and Kent took us (mum went with me) to a string of very nice cafés. And thanks to my sis, I am now proud to say that I have finally watched a production of The Phantom of The Opera onstage. I will no longer have to live that embarassment of not having seen it all these years.

Note: This is not by all means your guide to visiting Melbourne. I kind of did all that touristy stuff a few years ago when I was there to visit Ann - the penguin watch at Phillip Island, tea at Mount Dandenong, National Gallery of Victoria, etc. And there are lots more to explore! I was very laid back this time around about taking pictures during the trip. But here are some for your enjoyment - take note of the foodie comments!

Day 1: Arrived in Melbourne
Breakfast at Madame Sou Sou's, Brunswick Street

Ann took us to Madame Sou Sou's for breakfast. It's a small, cozy french café located on Brunswick Street. As we got closer to the area, Ann turned to mum and I and said, "I know this area looks really dodgy, but it isn't! It's safe" Think Santa Monica - 2nd and 4th Street...just quieter. I had a yummy eggs benedict and mum had that pizza looking egg thing above. It was tasty, just that the portion was too huge.

Crate&Barrel vs Wheel&Barrow
I couldn't have left without taking a picture of this. Specially for my American friends and Crate&Barrel fans (like moi). What in the freaking world is WHEEL&BARROW??? Check out the typeface. Lets not get started on the products (I had a peek through the window on Sunday before leaving Melbourne) - they resemble what you might find in C&B, just that C&B's got more varieties. I asked Ann if she's been in there, and she said yes. On top of that, she also asked on of the employees about the resemblance to C&B and the answer was, "Well, we were inspired by Crate&Barrel."


Day 2
Lunch @ BECCO
Do you like Italian food? Do you like fresh seafood? Are you game for something new?
This is a place you ought to visit even if you're on a 3-day trip to Melbourne. I came across BECCO in the lonelyplanet guide book and decided to give it a try, especially since it's a 3-minute walk to The Princess Theatre where we were headed to after lunch.

This chic and trendy restaurant/bar is located on Crossley Street (a block away from Chinatown and His Majesty's Theatre) - a small lane on the side of Crossley Hotel. Being the fish lover I am, I ordered the grilled King Whiting. It was super yummy - seafood at its freshest, grilled to perfection, and with each bite the juiciness and tenderness of the flesh will keep you craving for more!

Pictures from and

The Phantom of the Opera
@ The Princess Theatre
Caught the matinee performance of Cameron MacKintosh's touring production of Phantom directed by Harold Prince with Anthony Warlow playing the lead. Fantastic performances by the cast.

We passed His Majesty's Theatre on our way to lunch.

One of the many artsy installations at Southbank; Shoppers' paradise along Elizabeth, Bourke, Little Bourke and Swanston Streets (we stayed in a service apartment property called Somerset at Elizabeth - great location, everything's within walking distance; tram stop just outside)

Desserts @ Bernetti's
After bowls of hot and tasty Vietnamese noodles for dinner, we headed off to Bernetti's for a cup of java and something sweet. After what it felt like 15 minutes of trying to decide what to get, I ended up with a chocolate-raspberry cake.

Yum...; Like Mother Like Daughter? - any resemblance?

Day 3
Queen Victoria's Market
I have a thing for markets. Flea markets, outdoor markets, night markets, whatever market...and on some ocassions - even our Malaysian wet markets (and by this I only mean if they have stalls of yummy nasi lemak, chee cheong fun and yau char kuai).

I fell in love with the QV indoor market. This is your everyday pasar in an air conditioned building. Very European looking with rows and rows of little shops selling a variety of cheese, meats, breads, ingredients, antipasto, you name it, they've got it. I think I'm in love with the aesthetics of this place more than anything else. It makes an instant noodle chef champion feel like a sous chef. You want to cook up a storm just because you feel like buying stuff.

There is a second and third section to this market - this is where you'd find fresh seafood, poultry, meats, fruits and such. Miraculously it doesn't smell one bit (with the exception of the goat meat area). Mum and I were salivating over the scallops and oysters.

"Low fat" minced meat??? (click on the picture for a bigger version)

The outdoor market where there are hundreds and hundreds of stalls selling Aussie souvenirs, arts and crafts, clothing and accessories, homewares, etc. resembled most of the other markets (hence I didn't take any pictures). If you're looking for souvenir tees, you can be sure to find something here at bargain prices. We bought 2 paintings from a local artist - will post a picture another time.

Here are some pics of an Australian specialty store selling rock candy. These rock candies make great gifts for anyone with a sweet tooth. They're tasty and very pretty to look at.

Federation Square - Melbourne's Meeting Place
We trotted off to Federation Square, Melbourne's "public hub, imbued with a healthy cultural heart" (lonelyplanet). There is a variety of cultural activities one can be engaged in in this one-block square in the city centre. The building facade is made out of 3 different materials: sandstone, zinc - perforated and solid, and glass. Some of the highlights aside from the architecture of the buildings themselves are ACMI (Australian Centre for the Moving Image) where interesting screenings of shorts, films, etc. from all over the world are screened from time to time; National Design Centre that showcases Australian designs; Australian Racing Museum & Hall of Fame and The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia.


Courtyard performances are a hit!

Lunch at Chocolate Buddha @ Fed Square
This place serves organic Japanese cuisine. Didn't venture into anything exciting here. Probably too tired after all that walking in the morning. Nice atmosphere though.

Fresh sashimi

Passed Flinders Street Station on our way to Fed Square

Max Brenner's Chocolate
HEAVEN ON EARTH. Becareful not to start drooling at the sight of the desserts when placing orders. Apparently there's an outlet in for those of you cocoa fans out there, hunt that place down next time you're there. I love how they serve the hot beverages in these "Hug Mugs" which are cacao bean shaped mugs (see picture below).

Clockwise from top: Strawberry waffle; chocolate souffle - you literally feel the thick creamy milky chocolate melting in your mouth; this little chocolate number was delivered by mistake to our table..I have no idea what it is or how it's meant to be eaten but it sure looks good; my special hot chocolate with a hint of toffee flavour.

If you're looking for interesting gifts for a chocolate lover, check out their online store (products also available at outlets). Pics from

Dinner @ Ragazzi Italian Restaurant
Tiny place filled with tables slightly more than a couple of feet apart. Reservations recommended. Great pasta selection.
I can't remember what the first one's called - got to check - it was very good; Tiramisu

Day 4 was spent shopping.

Day 5
Breakfast @ Gingerlee
Click on Gingerlee for a review of it in The Age newspaper, Australia.

I was adventurous and decided to go with something I've never had before:
Syrian style french toast with orange blossom syrup, honey labne, stewed rhubard and pistachios. Definitely an interesting mix of sweet and sour.
The toast was yummy with the syrup and pistachios.

New home
And introducing the new home of Ann and Kent. Interesting layout with little nooks here and there, very cosy. Especially loved the "family room" with the piano and a single arm chair in the corner...and not forgetting the peanut seat as well. They're still in the midst of decorating and's a never ending process when it comes to a new home.

Living room, dining & kitchen, family room

Backyard - think they may need a bbq set to complete the picture

Domesticated. (She's going to kill me for posting this pic - but I like it. hah)

Thanks for the great hospitality, guys!
And that concludes my 5-day trip to Melbourne. I was updating dad about our daily activities via sms while we were there. On the 3rd day, he sent me a msg that read "You are a PR now but act like a tourist", to which I replied, "It will take me years to feel like a PR in here, so therefore I am still a tourist."

No, I am not moving to Australia anytime soon in case you are wondering. :)

More soon, promise!