About Me

I have done a lot of things in my life and have also worked in many different jobs to make a living and to experience life. This blog is just some of my musings, sometimes funny, sometimes inspirational, sometimes sad, sometimes angry, sometimes simple but all the time, it's just me.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

KL vs Miri

Okay okay, it may not be a fair comparison one would think. I would maybe get many people disagreeing with me, but before you jump to conclusions, please note that this is just my opinion alone. You may or may not agree with me but this is what I feel and I may not have covered everything, nobody can. So here goes, big city vs small city.

Round 1 - Shopping
KL. No contest, KL being the bigger city has more shopping and better shopping.

Round 2 - Cinemas and Theater
KL. Again, after being to the wonderful Miri cineplex - enough said.

Round 3 - Traffic
Miri. A 15 minute jam in Miri is a major traffic jam. In KL, 15 minutes would not be mentioned as a jam as your friends will whack you.

Round 4 - Work Life balance
Miri. Many people can come home for lunch and have a lot of time after work and weekends to spend with loved ones and friends.

Round 5 - Theft
Draw. In KL, snatch theft is rampant. In Miri, it is house theft. So a draw here.

Round 6- Fly kites
Miri. I would not be able to find a place in KL to fly either a small kite or a power kite.

Round 7 - Dance
KL. KL has more qualified dance instructors and many dance studios creating a healthy competition. In Miri .... well....

Round 8 - Gyms
KL. The Gyms in KL are better equipped with latest equipment.

Round 9 - Sports Clubs
Miri - cheaper and easier access. In KL, I can only think a few clubs like Selangor Club but they are more expensive and offer not much more that Gymkhana or KRP.

Round 10 - Food
KL. Again, more varieties, better quality and overall better price.

Round 11 - Beach
Miri. Well, of course the closest beach to KL is Morib or Port Dickson and both are worse than Miri.

Round 12 - Health care
KL. In Miri, you have specialist coming once a week. In KL, there are many clinics and specialist available at all times.

Okay, so in a 12 round boxing match, KL pips Miri slightly. It is not a knock-out and as mentioned, there may be other criteria that have not been considered.

There are also other better cities in the world that would beat out both KL and Miri flat, so, maybe, just maybe, it is time to move sometime to better things.

Take care and be well.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Of last days and new beginnings - Mack




Today, Mack bids her good bye to her work in Miri. Soon, she will welcome her new role in Kay El.

Of last days and new beginnings.
Of goodbye's and hello's.

One last farewell dinner tonight - I think she mentioned 3 others.

Will miss your physical presence nearby and outings for dinner and coffee or coconuts with Al E.

Nevertheless, we will continue to chat, talk and visit - while I am in KL and while you visit Miri.

Like I have said before, look up, walk tall and proud, and wear shades ... cause your future is so bright.

Take care and be well.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

My goal in life is to be a person as good as my dog already thinks I am

This was forwarded to me by a friend and I liked it so much that I decided to just put the whole thing in my blog.

The reason a dog has so many friends is that he wags his tail instead of his tongue.

Don't accept your dog's admiration as conclusive evidence that you are wonderful.

If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went.

A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.

A dog teaches a boy fidelity, perseverance, and to turn around three times before lying down.

We give dogs time we can spare, space we can spare and love we can spare. And in return, dogs give us their all. It's the best deal man has ever made.

Dogs love their friends and bite their enemies, quite unlike people who are incapable of pure love and always have to mix love and hate.

There is no psychiatrist in the world like a dog licking your face.

The average dog is a nicer person than the average person.

I wonder if other dogs think poodles are members of a weird religious cult.

Dogs need to sniff the ground; it's how they keep abreast of current events. The ground is a giant dog newspaper, containing all kinds of late-breaking dog news items, which, if they are especially urgent, are often continued in the next yard.

If I have any beliefs about immortality, it is that certain dogs I have known will go to heaven, and very, very few persons.

Anybody who doesn't know what soap tastes like never washed a dog.

If your dog is fat, you aren't getting enough exercise.

My dog is worried about the economy because Pal is up to $3.00 a can. That's almost $21.00 in dog money.

Ever consider what our dogs must think of us? I mean, here we come back from a grocery store with the most amazing haul -- chicken, pork, half a cow. They must think we're the greatest hunters on earth!

Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.

If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you; that is the principal difference between a dog and a man.

If you think dogs can't count, try putting three dog biscuits in your pocket and then giving Fido only two of them.

You can say any foolish thing to a dog, and the dog will give you a look that says, 'Wow, you're right! I never would've thought of that!'

Women and cats will do as they please, and men and dogs should relax and get used to the idea.

My goal in life is to be a person as good as my dog already thinks I am.

Take care and be well.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Parking in Bintang Mall

On Sunday evening, wifey and I decided to go to the Bintang Mall around 8pm to catch a movie in the wonderful Miri Cineplex.

4 wonderful ultra modern movie theater's that would live you with the greatest of satisfactions because of the wonderful sound system, the comfortable seats, the good air-conditioning, a wonderful concessions stand and last but not least, the polite patrons who never talk on their phones during a movie.

(If you do not know, I am being sarcastic.)

Anyway, today, I would like to write about yet another wonderful thing of the Bintang Mall, it's new car park.

The mall has now 2 car parks.

The old one which is now extended and is in the basement. It is often crowded and flooded and not entirely well lit.

The new one which is upstairs seemed a little more spacious, about 3 or 4 floors of parking, not flooded but still seemed under construction but now open.

The thing is the lifts do not work yet, so apologies to those who are disabled.

Also, there are no clear signs and only one of the 3 or 4 stairwells is lit. However, the lights seem to be on a timer that switch off the lights at 10pm.

And finally, the car park itself. While it was spacious, half the car park was not lit, it was dark. So, it took me sometime to find a spot that was bright enough for me to park the car.

At the end of the movie, the whole car park, every floor, and all the stairwells were dark - totally pitch dark.

There were security folk around but they looked more dodgy that it was difficult to get them to do anything plus they were utterly rude and not bothered with the situation.

The floor that I had parked the car was totally dark and scary and I had to rely on my basic and natural instinct to find my car, which I did.

After a quick walk to my car and a quick lock of the car doors, we had to navigate down the narrow ramps in darkness and just relying on the car light.

Ah, this is the wonders of Miri sometimes - new malls and new parking but the same old wonderful mentality.

My advice to all is not to park in the above ground car park for now, although it is open. And if you have, please do be careful, watch out, be on alert and like Theodore Roosevelt said, "walk softly but carry a big stick."

Take care and be well.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

A succesful dinner; a failed attempt at kite flying

Had a small get together at home, just some friends, a small farewell sort of simple dinner. All in all, just seven of us.

Wifey cooked a really really nice laksa, this time Johor style - which means the noodles are spaghetti instead of local noodles. And this time, not as spicy as other times and with santan (coconut milk). And this time, totally wiped out, empty pot at the end of the night.

The broth for the laksa was really good, if I have not mentioned it already.

We finished 2 bottles of sparkling wine, 2 boxes of juices, 1 small bottle of Polish cherry vodka, 1 tub of ice cream, 1 pot of tea, 2 packets of spaghetti and the whole pot of laksa broth.

Wifey also made some baked green banana dish that was supposed to be appetizer but ended up being a post dinner snack and was also wiped out.

We started early and tried to go out to fly my kite. However, the wind was not that strong and I sort of knew we would not have the lift off we really needed.

And we did not. So it was a failed attempt at flying my power kite.

The weather has been unbelievably hot and humid. 32 degrees Celsius that feels like 38 to 40 degrees.

So, another weekend has passed. Sunday was generally uneventful, went for a facial and then in the evening went to see a movie at the wonderful cineplex in Miri.

I will need to write about the car park in my next blog. Until then...

Take care and be well.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Iconic Photo



By DAVID BAUDER

NEW YORK (AP) — An Associated Press picture of a soldier in his pink boxers has become an iconic image of the war in Afghanistan, but at the moment it was taken, wardrobe was the last thing on the minds of the fighter and photographer.

"Like them, I was thinking about the situation — where was it safe and where was it safe to work," said David Guttenfelder, photographer for the AP, who was embedded with a U.S. Army unit in the Korengal Valley when a firefight broke out on May 11.

U.S. Army Specialist Zachary Boyd leapt from his sleeping quarters and grabbed his helmet, vest and rifle — but not his pants — and took his station behind sandbags.

Guttenfelder's photo made newspaper front pages the next day, including The New York Times and Boyd's hometown Star-Telegram in Fort Worth, Texas. It elicited an immediate smile, but also symbolized the dedication of those fighting in Afghanistan. It put a human face, or backside, on what can seem an anonymous conflict.

At least initially, the soldiers were worried the photo would make them look bad, Guttenfelder said. But Firebase Restrepo, on a steep mountainside where soldiers are on constant lookout for Taliban fighters, isn't a place for formality: Uniforms have holes in them, and some men wear flea collars because of bugs in their beds, he said.

Boyd called his parents at 12:30 a.m., Fort Worth time, to warn them about the photo. He was legitimately worried about losing his job, said his mother, Sheree Boyd.

Her husband, Tommy, immediately got on the computer to find the photo and roared with laughter, she said. The boxers were emblazoned with "I Love NY."

"We thought it was such a funny picture but so typical of him," Sheree Boyd said of her son, who turned 20 on Sunday. "He's always liked boxers, the wilder the better. But we'd never seen him wear pink before."

The photo drew a wide response on the Internet. A handful of commentators found it an undignified representation of America's fighting forces but most supported Boyd. "I think this is great," a woman named Melissa wrote on a TV station message board. "I wish I had an address for him. I'd send him some that say `Don't mess with Texas.'"

At the Times Web site earlier this week, a technology officer was surprised to find that one of the top 10 search items was "pink boxers." It was people looking for the photograph.

Boyd doesn't have to worry about his job. U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, speaking in New York on Thursday, said he wanted to meet Boyd and shake his hand the next time he's in Afghanistan. He lauded Boyd for having "a special kind of courage."

Guttenfelder said Boyd was one of the bravest soldiers he'd seen in Afghanistan. Guttenfelder also said he was surprised by the amount of attention the photo received.

"It doesn't really belong to me anymore," he said. "You put it out there and it takes on a life of its own."

He believes that most people recognize what he saw in the situation. "When the Taliban starts shooting, whatever you're doing, whatever you're wearing, you run to your station," he said.

Sheree Boyd said she and her husband had heard from many people expressing admiration for their son. She's eating that up, as any mom would, but said she appreciates how the photo reminds Americans that it's the "kid next door" fighting the war.

She said she hopes to see her son back home by the Fourth of July. Would he be wearing pink boxers in any Independence Day parades?

"Don't challenge him," she said, laughing. "He just may do it."

Copyright © 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Take care and be well.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Measure of a Man

There are three books with exactly the same title, and all three seem interesting.

Why am I looking at books with this title?

Well, I went about looking for a book that was written by Sidney Poitier because wifey suggested it. She said she saw the interview on Oprah and wanted to get the book for me as well as read it herself because of what Sidney has gone through in his life.

However, my search for the book on Amazon ended up with 3 books and all 3 that I would like to read.

Oh boy, when will I ever stop buying books. The thing with me and books is that I like reading and have a lot of books and I truly hate lending out my books because I never get them back.

I have often thought what would happen to all my books once I am no longer in the world. Maybe I should set up a library - but people can come and read the books, just never take them out - because even in my death, I will never get these books back.

Anyways, as I mentioned, there are at least 3 "The Measure of a Man" that I would like to read.

The first is by Gene Getz. In this book, Getz delivers the newly enhanced message of what it takes to be a man of God. Men will gain encouragement for what they can be in Christ-as fathers, husbands, and mentors to other men. Since 1974, The Measure of a Man has taught hundreds of thousands of men around the world how to live according to God's direction-faithfully, lovingly and spiritually. True masculinity is not measured by a man's strength, but by these 20 biblical guidelines. With life applications and words of inspiration, here is Gene's greatest work-fully rewritten and updated to reach the new generation of modern men.

I have never heard of this author or book but as I am now looking more into my spirituality, this would be a good book to read.

The second book is by Martin Luther King Jr. is an eloquent and passionate, reasoned and sensitive, pair of meditations by the revered civil-rights leader contains the theological roots of his political and social philosophy of nonviolent activism. Martin Luther King Jr. was President of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and co-pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church, Atlanta, Georgia. He received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964.

He wrote many famous speeches namely "I have a Dream" and "Let Freedom Ring" and was the main guy during the civil rights movement. I have read various books by Martin Luther King Jr and would love to read this book as well.

The third book which I am definitely getting and was looking for in the first place is by Sidney Poitier. In his second memoir Poitier talks about his childhood in the Caribbean, where he was terribly poor by American standards, but quite happy, swimming and climbing all he could. One of eight kids, Poitier was sent to live with an older brother in Miami when he started to get into difficulties as a teen. But frustrated by his inability to earn a living and by the disparaging way whites treated him, Poitier left Miami for New York. There he worked as a dishwasher, started a drama class and launched a celebrated acting career that led to starring roles in such classics as To Sir, with Love and Raisin in the Sun.

Sidney Poitier and I have something in common - we both worked as dishwasher's sometime in our lives. Also, he is the first black actor to win an Oscar for best actor. I have always admired him as a person and as a man and as an actor.

I always enjoy reading biographies and especially autobiographies. What a better way to learn then to learn from others.

Anyway, a bunch of books will be making their way from whichever warehouse from Amazon to my address and I will have a bunch of things to read while chillin' down with some nice music and a bottle of wine.

Take care and be well.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Snatched

Snatched.

My dad was snatched theft today.

The incident happened near our home in Bangsar. He was walking back from the post office on Jalan Telawi after paying bills.

As he was walking around Jalan Terasek 4, a person on a motorcycle snatched his gold chain around his neck and rode off.

The thief is suspected to be of Indian origin.

My dad is 75 years old and has some heart problems, so naturally in an incident like this, there is some impact.

Thankfully the impact was minor and he only had some palpitations for a while and some scratches around his neck from the chain being pulled.

Apart from that he seems to be okay when I spoke to him and a friend.

I got the news from wifey whom Pappa had called. Wifey immediately called me and I immediately called a friend of ours living nearby to go check on Pappa. He was on his way back home and quickly diverted to go check on Pappa and spend some time with him.

I also received a call from this friend JJ who said that Pappa was not hurt severely and was feeling okay.

Nevertheless, the snatch theft thing in KL is getting to a ridiculous level. Wifey has been snatched twice in the city area and in front of witnesses who would not even bother to go help.

Pappa was snatched in a housing area.

A year or so back, on Jalan Telawi itself, another person had robbed my friend's wife of her vehicle at knife point just across their house.

There are times when I am in KL and am even afraid or extra careful when I am in a shopping mall like Suria KLCC.

There seems to be little or no effort from the enforcement to curb these activities and as the economy becomes worse and more people find it difficult to find jobs, I see the trend of thefts increasing.

I am sick and tired of living in a constant lookout and in fear. When I was in Europe, while you are street smart and careful, the level of petty theft if generally lower. Then again, you keep hearing of people getting laptops stolen and purses stolen in pretty much every city in the world.

In crime in KL higher than other cities?

The cops in Malaysia say that it is not and we have a safer city compared to Tokyo and Hong Kong etc. I do not know what comparisons are used for this checks not do I know whether the facts are right.

What I do know is that things have definitely become a lot worse from the time I was growing up, and every year it has been getting worse at a larger proportion than the year before.

What I also know is a lot of petty crime and snatch theft goes unreported and as such does not become part of the statistics. For example, my dad is not going to make a report.

Do I blame him for not making a report. Of course I do not. Blaming him would be blaming the victim, no different from how some countries blame a rape victim for being raped and punish them with being gang raped.

Maybe that is what we have become, a snatch theft victim deserves to be snatched - it seems like that is how our law enforcement thinks.

I hope for a safe and brighter future for my loved ones - family, friends and pretty much everyone.

May the thieves burn and rot in hell, but that is not for me to determine - a supreme being will determine their fate.

Take care and be well.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Back to work

First day back to work. 200 emails to clear - this from 30 April to 17 May.

By the end of the day, maybe about 50% have been cleared.

Not much of an eventful day, just getting back into the grind of working in Miri and getting back to the pace of life here after having been out of work the last 3 weeks or so.

Not much has changed yet a lot has changed. Over the past weeks, some office renovation and shifting has been taking place and most of my colleagues around me have moved out to their new places.

My new cubicle is only ready in the 1st week of June, so, after Gawai holidays, I will have a new cubicle - a slightly larger cubicle with a new cubicle mate. Coincidentally, with the same person "Uncle" that joined Shell with me on the same date. Time sure passes by, just a while ago I was surrounded by Bu Bu, then left for Rijswijk and settled there and now a shift again.

The new cubicle's are quite interesting and I would have a larger table. My colleagues have packed my stuff and I am somewhat lazy to unpack them although I am only moving a few weeks later. But maybe I should unpack my docking station and monitor, it would be better for me to do so.

Had a team meeting in the morning in one of those new conference rooms, then had lunch with the usual gang. I guess despite changes, some things will remain the same.

Change is always inevitable, something I actually enjoy and look forward to. Hold my head up high, stand and walk proudly and as I said before, wear shades, cause my future is so bright.

Take care and be well.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

So long, farewell ...

Yet another time to say so long, farewell...

This time to my old man, Pappa. He has been here for about a month or so, taking care of my boy.

I think he has grown accustomed to being in Miri with Al E. Although a little bored but still I think getting used to life here.

It was also good that I had taken a few days off after returning to Miri so that I could spend sometime with him as well as Al E before I get back to work.

The few days off has been good for me as well as I am able to relax and get over my jet lag.

So, another weekend gone by, it is already middle of May, nearly half the year has past by.

I also say so long to my vacation. Tomorrow it will be back to work in a new environment, new seat, new atmosphere, new cubicle mate.

Oh well, change is inevitable, just stand tall and walk forward, wear sunglasses and look out for a brighter future.

Take care and be well.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Making of a politician

The following joke was taken from a popular blog on the internet. Author is unknown.

An old kampung imam had a teenage son, and it was getting time the boy should give some thought to choosing a profession.

Like many young men his age, the boy didn't really know what he wanted to do, and he didn't seem too concerned about it.

One day, while the boy was away at school, his father decided to try an experiment. He went into the boy's room and placed on his study table four objects.

1. The Holy Quran.
2. A fifty ringgit note.
3. A bottle of whiskey.
4. And a Playboy magazine.

'I'll just hide behind the door," the old imam said to himself. "When he comes home from school today, I'll see which object he picks up."

"If it's the holy book, he's going to be an imam like me, and what a blessing that would be!"

"If he picks up the fifty ringgit note, he's going to be a businessman, and that would be okay, too."

"But if he picks up the bottle, he's going to be a no-good drunken bum, and God, what a shame that would be."

"And worst of all if he picks up that magazine he's going to be a skirt-chasing womaniser."

The old man waited anxiously, and soon heard his son's footsteps as he entered the house whistling and heading for his room.

The boy tossed his books on the bed, and as he turned to leave the room he spotted the objects on the table. With curiosity in his eye, he walked over to inspect them. Finally, he picked up the Holy Book and placed it under his arm. He picked up the fifty ringgit note and dropped into his pocket. He uncorked the bottle and took a big drink, while he admired the magazine's centerfold.

"God have mercy," the old imam disgustedly whispered. "He's going to be an Umno politician!"

Take care and be well.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Happy Birthday Kupps (Rochelle)

3 days, 3 birthdays.

Today is Kupps birthday. Kupps is short for Kuppusamy, and he is a Chinese friend with an Indian nickname :P

Anyway, Kupps, apparently is now also donning a female name of Rochelle which I need to ask him about.

He is a quarter century old, I guess that's quite a milestone huh?

I do not exactly remember what I did on my 25 birthday but that is me, I don't even remember what I did on my birthday last year.

Anyway, here's wishing you a happy and prosperous long live.

Take care and be well.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Happy Birthday Al E Baba

On July 6 last year, I decided to take a dog out of a impulse. There were 3 dogs, 2 were German Shepard puppies and I was familiar with the breed.

The 3rd dog was smaller and 7 week old at that time. He was black and cute and was an English Cocker Spaniel.

He was just adorable although at that time I was not familiar with the breed.

Anyways, most of you have seen that little dog, which I named Al E Baba and call Al E for short, grow up and although I have missed about 3.5 months of his life, I am pretty much still his master and he is my boy.

He has been following me around like a shadow and sleeping by my feet. He will get up from his sleep and follow me even when I move. He will plop by my feet wherever I go.

So, today is Al E's birthday. He was born on May 14 2007 and he is 1 year old today. He will get his rare treat of a cake and some biscuits which I bought specially for him from the Pet Kingdom in Harrods at the pet bakery.

Al E has been such a joy in our lives, both mine, wifey and Pappa's, and we hope that he will be with us for a good long life.

We love him to bits and glad that we are able to celebrate his 1st birthday with him.

Having spent my birthday alone, I would not have wished that any family birthdays are spent alone. I was glad for a nice birthday dinner with wifey and glad for a nice birthday with Al E.

Take care and be well.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Happy Birthday Wifey

Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday to wifey
Happy Birthday to you.

Wifey turns xx - can't tell the age after a certain age for women ;)

I am happy that she spent a good holidays in Europe with me, as part of her birthday present, as well as some for the shopping as more gifts.

I am happy that we are back to spend her birthday with loved ones, like Pappa and Al E, although her mom and sister's cannot be with us.

Still planning to have some small gathering/party at home maybe on Friday or Saturday.

Al E turns 1 tomorrow, what a coincidence that I bought Al E and did not know his birth date was just 1 day apart from wifey. Everything happens for a reason, life is faithed, in God we trust.

Take care and be well.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Back to Miri

Arrived back in Miri today after a long flight from Amsterdam which actually arrived 20 minutes earlier and then another wait for the 1st flight from Kuala Lumpur to Miri at 8:30am.

Having travelled Business Class on the international portion of my travel, I also had a business class seat on the domestic section. The service in Malaysian Airlines is amazing.

On the international flight, I did not get much sleep, so watched like 5 movies. The Reader, Paul Blart: Mall Cop, Inkheart, Bride Wars, Grand Torino and parts of Hello Goodbye.

The food was exceptionally good. And since I was not sleepy, I got enough exercise of walking around and up and down. I could not bump Sarah up from economy class because the Dutch ground crew were just so being "Dutch" - enough said. But Sarah had 3 seats, a row all to herself in economy class, so not too bad. I too had a row in Business Class.

I was hungry late in night, so ask the flight crew what I could eat and they made for me some Maggi Mee with tofu, celery, carrots etc. Ahhhhhh, nice to have the service.

Then when landed in KLIA, I convinced the lounge to allow Sarah in the lounge which the guy was nice enough. We had a quick Nasi Lemak breakfast, read the papers and used the "facilities".

Then went to our gate for the domestic flight. There was quite a bit of checking in KLIA on the swine flu but we were not suspects, so we were let go.

Then in the flight to Miri, which was also rather empty in economy (70 passengers only of total available 120 odd).

The business class on the other hand was unbelievable. I was the one and only passenger.

There was a more stringent swine flu check in Sarawak despite having been checked in KLIA already.

We got out quite fast as my bags were first out (being the only passenger on Business Class) and then Sarah's bags came soon after.

Pappa came a few minutes later with Al E Baba who was so surprised and excited to see both of us and especially me.

After an hour or so at home, I made my way to the office to open my lockers as there is an office move this weekend. Went lunchtime intentionally to avoid bumping into too many people but did meet boss.

Then a few hours of sleep, a few messages from friends and then a home cooked meal by dad and a few hours of the idiot box.

Tomorrow is wifey's birthday, then day after Al E turns 1.

Take care and be well.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Last Day in The Netherlands

Arrived in The Netherlands this afternoon and decided to return the rental car 1 day early and use other transportation to the airport tomorrow morning.

So, went to Schipol to return the Avis car, a Hyundai I30 which is been our faithful companion for the last 2 weeks or so.

Then we had our friends pick us up and we went for a nice dinner by the Amstel river somewhere in a nice area of Amstelwein.

The restaurant is in one of these old farmhouses by the river which dates back 450 years or so. During those days, as the boats laden with supplies were too heavy to row, they were pulled by horses on the banks.

The restaurant was really nice and we started with a Kir Royale and then had a good white wine and lots of water with our meal.

After the meal, we went to their home nearby to say our bye to their lovely dog Caya who was so happy to see us again.

Then had to return my Shell phone card as well as send some books over, so got a colleague who lives nearby to drop by and collect stuff from us.

Our room in The American Hotel, an old hotel near the museums in The Netherlands was on the 1st floor by a tram lines and I think every tram or at least 5 different tramlines passed by every few seconds.

Got up early enough the next day, said our good bye's to Amsterdam and then took our ride to the airport rather early around 8:15am.

Will take sometime to get back to Kuala Lumpur and then to Miri, but home sweet home in a day or so.

Take care and be well.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Cologne - a breath of freshness like a good men's cologne

Cologne is a really wonderful city, we have thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of it, truly like a good men's cologne.

We arrived on Thursday afternoon after the creepy castle and duly rested ourselves after a sleepless night in the castle.

The NH Hotel in Mediapark (used to be Jolly) is really nice and not too far from main attractions in the city and surrounded by a nice park.

After a rest, we went to a nice restaurant under the Cologne HbF (main train station) called Albert Wartesaal. Really nice service and good food. And the waitress was friendly and pretty too. Wifey could not pry her eyes away from all the handsome German guys either.

After dinner, we walked a little and went up to Hard Rock Cafe and as per modus operandi SOP, we bought some T-Shirts.

After this, we were rather tired and took a taxi back which did not cost us an arm and a leg like it does in The Netherlands.

The next day, we got up early enough to have a nice breakfast at the hotel and then walked to the big cathedral called The Dom. Of course on the way, we stopped at a smaller cathedral. And after the magnificent cathedrals, we went to Ludwig museum.

After Ludwig Museum, we took a tourist train around the city passing by the Rhine River and the Chocolate Museum.

After the bumpy ride, we then walked to yet another old cathedral and then off to the shopping street. I actually bought purple colored jeans.

We had some decent meals and then got back to the hotel for some rest.

At around 10pm, we went to Kokett, which is a classy exotic bar. It was very interesting, I personally have not been to a classy strip joint but this was a class of its own.

After spending about 2 hours in this club, we went to a Depeche Mode party at the train station area again and were out partying till about 3am before buying some pizza's and making out way back to our hotel.

The next day, surprisingly we get up early enough to still have breakfast. However, this is the day we decide to take it easy in the day and pack our bags. I have got slightly more than 3 months worth of memories and memorabilia that I need to pack up before our trip back home in a couple of days.

In the evening, we went to the best Italian restaurant I have been to outside of Italy called Etrusca. The ambiance, the service and the food is to die for. Papa Carlo is the chef who hails from Sardinia and Mama Filippa from Sicily who greets and serves the diners. Of course there is Bambino Gianluca who also serves and greets the guest with other well trained and friendly waitresses.

The restaurant ambiance is like a nice Tuscan home and the food is just the right flavour and quantity.

We had quite a bit to drink, starting with Proseco (Italian sparkling white), followed by white wine, then a Macchiato and then a nice Sardinian Grappa. Lucky we are not driving, not that I would want to anyways.

It is close to 2 am as I complete this entry and I need to be up early for breakfast, to check out and leave for Amsterdam tomorrow morning. The trip to Amsterdam will likely take about 4 hours for me, just because I drive a little slower than most people on these roads - still getting used to driving on the wrong side of the road.

Cologne had been great and a nice ending to our wonderful vacation this year. In a couple of days, I will be back to my beach pad in Miri with my boy and wifey in tow in the warm sunny days. A few more days of leave before I am back to work the following week.

I have made friends, had a great work and personal experience in the last few months and am ever grateful for this.

Arreverdeci, Good bye for now Europe, thanks for the hospitality.

Take care and be well.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Creepy Castle's

The night in the castle was a little creepy to say the least.

I am not a big fan of castles but wifey has always wanted to have the experience of staying in one, so we did.

Some of the creepiness listed in the blog here.

1. There is a medieval metal armour of a knight in the castle in the corner. This castle was an abbey, as such, where priests lived. I guess the knight uniform/armour was someone within them or their protectors. The armour was creepy and when we took some photo's, we could have sworn that it moved, especially the head.

2. Sarah lost a beloved ring of hers. She searched everywhere, over and over in the same places, including her bags, purse etc. Basically everywhere. I checked as well but could not find it. The ring just disappeared. After leaving the castle and reaching Cologne, the ring was found in a bag which Sarah had searched 5 times and I had searched 3 times over in detail.

3. I lost 1 sock. My sock just disappeared. Maybe the knight needed a sock for his feet, or one of his was torn. I don;t know, but 1 sock disappeared.

4. The whole place was crawling with creepiness like antiques and sad and scary looking portraits of people long dead. Some pictures reminded me of the movie with Nicole Kidman called Hours where photo's or portraits of the dead were taken like as if they were seated.

5. There were 2 windows in our room, one facing the Bonn town and the ugly DHL building adorning the skies and one facing the forest which surrounds the castle. The one facing Bonn seemed fine but the one facing the forest was a little creepy. Like the window was for "people or things" to watch us, especially while we were asleep.

6. The room we slept in was technically not the main castle building but a side extension - could this have been the servant quarters or the prison of the abbey? Why are there no rooms in the castle? Is it hunted?

I do not know if all castles are hunted or not but I have experienced enough creepiness that I think I would be avoiding castles in the future.

Sorry Queen Beatrix and Queen Liz, I will visit you and come have a cuppa tea with you sometime but I will not stay over in any of your castles.

Take care and be well.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Living in a castle

Always wondered how living in a castle would be like.

Also, wifey has always wanted to spend a night in a castle.

So, we crossed the Luxembourg border - it is a small country, did not take too long to do that.

We came into Germany this morning and there were a lot of highway construction works going on the autobahn. So, did not get to be Schumie and drive really fast in a place where there is no max speed limits on the autobahns but did get to a max of 150kilometers per hour on my little Hyundai I30.

There were also some road closures, so had to divert and take smaller roads and ended up on the road that drives by the Rhine river. It was quite a pretty site to drive by the river for 40 or so kilometers before reaching our abode for the night which is Schlosshotel Kommende Ramesdorf, just about 5 kilometers outside of Bonn and 35 kilometers out of Cologne.

The place is quite beautiful but extremely quiet. I guess it gets busy in the summer and the current spring days have been too cold for any outdoor activities.

We do not intend to go to Bonn city center - not that there is much of it - but I can see my ex-employers headquarters from my window, it is the only tall ugly building adorning the skies of Bonn.

Tomorrow, we will be off to another destination, another place, but in Germany before we make our way back to Amsterdam and then back to Miri.

My fever is reduced but still not entirely well, should be more careful with the colder weather.

In retrospect, I like the castle but would not want to live in one, it is usually too huge, too old and too creepy. I would like a big modern house but not something with 50 rooms or so. 10 or so rooms would be nice ;)

Luxembourg has been wonderful and I am sure the country where my boss comes from would not disappoint.

Take care and be well.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Luxembourg - The true garden city

Luxembourg has been a very very interesting small place to visit. It is a very small place but really lovely.

The weather was unfortunate but the place is magical, it is surrounded by parks and gardens everywhere, there is so much of greenery.

Wifey and I have truly enjoyed ourselves in this magical place and would love to come back here sometime especially with Al E boy.

We even saw a black cocker spaniel while on our walk around.

The place is a little expensive but the food has been great so far. Wifey also managed to buy me another birthday present and I also bought wifey some stuff here.

Apart from shopping, the architecture of the buildings is just amazing.

And the parks surrounding the city is also very wonderful and well comparable to Central Park in NYC and Hyde Park in motherland.

Wifey and I also managed to get into a church service - I think people pray in church here a lot. I could swear there were services throughout the day and each time it had more than 100 people in the service.

Whilst walking to another part of town, went into this interesting natural cosmetic and tea sort of place and low and behold, I met a Guju bhai here in Luxembourg.

Had some cha (tea) and khakra (traditional Gujerati snack) which buying some stuff in the lovely Day Spa. Totally un-Guju place.

Tomorrow we are off to another destination, moving to a castle.

I have been sick and been on medications and the sudden colder weather does not help much but I am getting better.

Take care and be well.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Jingle Bells - The Punjabi "Bai" version

Thanks B for sharing this, it was just hilarious and I had to post it here.

It is far from Christmas but it is never too far to have a great laugh. Wifey and I really enjoyed watching and having a laugh over this in Brugge.

video

Take care and be well.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

May 1 to May 3 - Drive, cycle, drive, walk, get sick

Checked out of the Grand Winston Hotel on 1st May, my "home" for the last 3 months and 1 week.

Drove off to Sassenheim to stay in a hotel to go see the tulip fields. As I was tired of driving and loading the car, we decided to rent a bicycle to go to Kuikenhof - the tulip garden.

It was so busy, there must have been more than a million visitors to the gardens, nevertheless it was very beautiful.

After the 10 km ride and 10 km ride back, I suggested the stupidest thing and we took our bicycles all the way to Nordwijk an Zee, that nearly killed both of us. It was really far and it was really late and dark when we got back.

Nevertheless, we did still go out with a colleague of mine to Amsterdam in one of the famous pubs there called Three Sisters. We reached there around midnight and stayed there till the place closed down some three hours later.

Then a quick Subway sandwich and a very very expensive taxi ride back to Sassenheim. I could swear that the taxi driver from Turkey (they are all from Turkey or Iran) took us on a ride but we were too tired to argue and about 85 euros later, we were back in our hotel.

The next day on 2nd May, we checked out around noon and the long long drive to Brugge, Belgium. After a few stops and a few scenic adventures, we finally arrived in Brugge around 6pm. The Google map said 3.5 hours of driving, what a bunch of BS. I have to add at least 50% to the Google map time.

Anyway, Brugge is a nice beautiful town. Unfortunately, I fell sick, having a sore throat and a fever - likely from the crazy bike ride the evening before and the late night in Amsterdam.

Nevertheless, after a quick nap, we did go to the square for a meal and had an early night.

On 3rd May, we took a nice walk around Brugge, it is really a pretty little town. I believe it is one of the UN Heritage sites.

We also took a small bus tour around the city which was alright but not great. Wanted to climb up the tower, all 365 steps but I was just not feeling too well and the lines were just too long.

After some shopping by wifey, we made our way back to our nice little hotel which is just about 15 minute walk from the center. I was really under the weather and took a nap and asked Sarah to arrange for dinner in a nice restaurant.

We had the best Italian food in Carlito's - highly recommended.

Tomorrow, we are off to another destination, another 2 days there, another 5 hour drive from Brugge and supposedly one of the richest countries in the EU.

Until then, we will have a good night sleep with the birds walking us up in the morning. The windmills, the tulips and Brugge has been fun so far.

Take care and be well.