Friday, 30 January 2015

Bonsai shaping: Before and after

This afternoon, getting tired of reading and working on the laptop, I decided to take a break. Instead of just taking a stroll in the garden as planned, I ended up with pruning and reshaping two honeycombs suckle trees and upon finishing them, mom asked me based on what styles that I am trying to achieve. What a good question; for I didn’t think of a shape before I started which is a cardinal sin when shaping the bonsai trees. After giving them some thoughts, I tweaked the trunks again to make a cascade (kengai) and the other one a literati (bunjin).

The bunjin tree: 
Before: An unshaped honeycombs suckes harvested from the backyard. 
After: Double and triple wiring techniques used.
The kengai tree:
Before: A matured tree without a distinctive style. 
The  final shape after removing the excess growth and re bending of the trunk. 





Wednesday, 28 January 2015

An interesting encounter with a QC

Last evening, I’ve had the opportunity to bump into a QC at Isetan KLCC. You might be thinking what is so surprising for me to meet Queen’s Counsels (QC) due to the nature of my profession. After all, they could be some visiting senior lawyers in town for some very important cases.  

Though our legal system do not confer the title of Queen’s Counsel to senior lawyers or members of the judiciary, however, we do have plenty of QCs in town. The QC that I mean here are the queue cutters, those with very creative ideas to cut the queue as if they are rushing to tend to something very important or as if an extra minute spent on the queue will make them a bad loser in time management.

More often than not, we are so used to these QCs that we couldn’t be bothered about them. However, this interesting encounter is worth a mention.

As I only have one item with me, I made my way to the express cashier with a big sign stating that it is only for customers with less than ten items. Then, something interesting happened! A customer with a trolley was in the queue too. It is very obvious that she has more than ten items in the trolley. As she approached the cashier, a foreigner sprang out nowhere to say that she is a cheat and she should be going to the non-express lane.  

However, this QC, without losing any composure, replied in a laconic tone that she have 20 cups in Nissin instant noodles, 2 packets of 3 in 1 Nescafe, 3 packets of White Coffee, 2 bottles of dish washer and 4 bottles of wine, and in total, she only have 5 items, thus she have not exceeded ten items. After reading her list, she told the foreigner that this is Malaysia and this is how we count items!  Duh! Watching the drama, I wonder if this lady is in the legal profession too, for if she is, she definitely qualified as a very distinguished lawyer who knows how to turn the facts to advantages and if she is practicing in the United Kingdom, she deserves to be a QC.  

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Visa free, free visa and true value of Sino-Malaysia friendship

I applaud the decision made by the Cabinet recently to waive the visa application fee for Chinese tourists visiting Malaysia but at the same breath, I am wondering, why can’t our government just go a bit further by making it visa free to enter Malaysia?

Will free visa make a whole lot of difference to encourage more Chinese tourist to visit Malaysia as expected by our policy makers? I beg to differ. Tourists who have the intention to visit Malaysia will visit no matter it is free visa or visa free. Through my travel and stay in China over the years, the common complain that I get from my China friends about why they aren’t visiting Malaysia is that they find it a hassle to apply for the visa to visit Malaysia and it isn’t about the amount of money they have to spend. With or without application fee for the visa to enter Malaysia, Chinese tourists will still have to pay the middleman, tour agency or making the trip themselves to our consulate offices to get the visa. Therefore, the new ruling makes no difference at all and the common reactions I get from my friends are that the Malaysia government’s decision is akin to making no decision at all.

While I hope that the Malaysian government will do away with visa requirements for Chinese tourists visiting Malaysia, I wish of the same reciprocal treatment by the Chinese government. China often describes Malaysia as China’s best friend and the friendships between these two countries are the warmest in this region. And so often we are reminded that Malaysia is the first ASEAN country to establish diplomatic relationship with the Communist China. However, all the talk of so call best friend, old friend, trusted friend and whatever friend you may name it looks more like diplomatic icing on the cake if you know that China’s so call “enemy”, the Japanese do not need visa to travel to China if they intend to stay for not more than 15 days.

Aside from Japan, the passport holder of Singapore and Brunei gets the same “preferred” treatment.  Best friend, good friend, trusted friend, old friend, the enemy, the troublemaker, the challenger….and the list can go on and on…..but I only have one question, how can both countries let action speaks louder than accolades or condemnations can describe? The “enemy” doesn’t need visa to travel to China but the “old friend” still needs to apply visa. What say you?

P/S: Regardless, China still holds a special place in my heart and I certainly wish for a visa free travel to China. 

Saturday, 17 January 2015

I used to wear baju kurung to school & proud of it

With my best friends, Gaik Lan and Siaw Wei on this pic taken for a school publication. 
What started as a baju kurung without a button suddenly became sensational news across the country. The school insists that there is no such ruling to stop non-Malay student from wearing baju kurung, the uncle and guardian of the student involved insists that such ruling exists since 2009 as told to the media, politicians and NGOs jumped into the fray and worse of all, the ugly side of human character emerged when the senior assistant of the school, Sekolah Menengah Seri Mutiara told the student’s uncle to seek BRIM assistance when he said he did not have the ready cash to buy the pinafore uniform the school insisted his niece wear to school.

Which is the correct version of the whole incident? Whatever it may be, the school owes it to all Malaysians to come clean and the senior assistant (penolong kanan) of the school must apologize for the insult done to the family of Britney Nicole over his or her remarks regarding BRIM assistance. If the incident is just as simple as a missing button, why there is no one coming forward to offer a temporary pin until the button can be sewn?

Throughout my secondary school years, I wore baju kurung instead of the pinafore. There were quite a lot of non-Malay students who wore the baju kurung and we were proud of it. We wore it with great honor because it is one of our national attire. Never for once it ever came across our mind that baju kurung is only for the Malays or Muslims. Race and religion before the days of lunatics from Perkasa, Isma and the likes of Ridzuan Tee Abdullah were simple and straight forward.

Nobody will associate non-Malay wearing the baju kurung with having the intention to convert to  be a Muslim or tarnishing the good name of Islam, nor will the parents or the elders of our Muslim friends mention that it is against the practice of their religion when they wear the cheongsam or the traditional costumes of our Iban or Kadazan brothers and sisters on certain occasions. We celebrate our diversity, we embrace each other, we tolerate each other and we respect each other’s religion practices. We were taught of the good values of each race and religion. Those were the good old days of Malaysia during what I call our golden era of the 90s.

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Chinese New Year Preview Dinner by Shanghai Restaurant and Li Yen

Toasting for a great year ahead! 
With a blink, Chinese New Year is around the corner again. Decorations are starting to appear at shopping malls and invitations for Chinese New Year dinners starts to come one after another. However, nothing is closer to my heart than the invitation by the Shanghai Restaurant of J.W. Marriott Hotel and Ritz Carlton’s Li Yen.

With Chef Wong, Chef Leong and Mr Wilfred. 
It was just like last month when I attended their very first Guest Appreciation Night exactly a year ago. How fast time flies! Last night’s dinner was even grander and merrier than the previous years with more guests in attendance. I am glad and happy that mom accepted the invitation to be there with me. Her attendance made the dinner even more meaningful to me. We were treated for a six course dinner which, as with all customary Chinese New Year, a start with the tossing of the “yee sang” and a sweet ending with sweet glutinous rice cake (年糕).

The customary "yee sang". 
Mummy and I 
Once again, I have to thank the management and staffs of both restaurants for inviting me and mom to their Chinese New Year preview dinner yesterday night. I know I am long winded to say this over and over again, but I must still say thank you to everyone at Shanghai Restaurant and Li Yen for the great care and service rendered throughout my eleven years of patronizing these two establishments. These are the only two fine dining establishments in Kuala Lumpur where I can remember everyone’s name, where the executive chefs, Chef Wong and Chef Leong treats me as their daughter, where the staff are my brothers and sisters and where every visits are akin to having lunches or dinners at home.

With Alice, Denise,Yen and Ben from Shanghai Restaurant. 
With U Keong, the restaurant manager of Li Yen.
11 years is a long period of time and it is rare for restaurants to maintain the same standard of service and the excellent quality plus deliciousness of the cuisine for such a long time but I have to say, Shanghai Restaurant and Li Yen made it! Well done and I look forward for many more years of lunches and dinners with them.

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

What I will do before using a new purple clay teapot (开紫砂壶步骤)

This is a long overdue blog which was supposed to be written and published last December upon my return from Shanghai as promised to my friend, James Wong. However, it is better late than never. The idea of this blog came after James bought his very first Yixing purple clay teapot. To my bewilderment (and actually horror), he spent couple of days to go through the steps that is a must before one can start using the pot.

I told James that I will only spend the maximum time of 30 min to get a pot ready which I think is more the sufficient. Nevertheless, throughout my years of collecting purple clay teapots, I do hear different views with regards to the procedure to get a pot ready. Some opines certain steps must be done over and over again for days before a pot can be used and to ensure that the pot shines or for the smell of raw clay to go off. The process of shining up your purple clay teapot takes time and a whole different method should be applied.

Some people do ask, can this so call “开壶仪式” be skipped and the pot be used by just rinsing it with water. Well, the answer is no. I’ve experimented with this for many times and all I found was either my tea stale or my tea have a strange clay smell, or sometimes, the taste of wax. For the benefit of new collectors and for James, hereby is the pictorial guide on the steps that one must follow before a new purple clay teapot can be used.

Step one:

Rinse the pot with water to clear out the tiny fragments of purple clay or dirt. 

Step two:

Prepare a clean cooking wok or pot for water boiling, and don’t forget to put some tea leaves along. Why tea leaves is needed? Can it be done without the leave? Will a better quality tea leave produce better result? No, any type of tea is acceptable, expensive or cheap tea does not make a difference and the main purpose of this is for the tea to absorb any unpleasant smell of clay away.

Step three:

Put the pot(s) in while the water is still at low temperature and let it boil. Make sure that the water level remains the same throughout by adding in more water as it evaporates.
Step four:


After about 20 minutes, use a chopstick or anything that is comfortable to pick the pot and its cover out.

Final step:

Rinse the teapots again with water till nothing, especially tea leaves, remains in it and the tea stains are off from the surface of the pot. With this done,  your pot is ready for its first brew of tea! 

Monday, 12 January 2015

I Fail to Achieve Last Year’s New Year Resolution

It is fine to celebrate success but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure. - Bill Gates
It was exactly one year ago on this date that I made my first ever new year resolution in life. As I’ve mentioned before, I do not belong to the category of people that will make resolutions after resolutions each year or keep a bucket list of things to do but rather the type that will want an immediate execution (and result) of something that crosses my mind. However, I made a resolution last year, that is to lose at least 15kg from my weight back then but I failed.
Failing the cut down my weight only made the horror of my wardrobe getting bigger and the difficulties of getting office wear from Brook’s Brothers continue to haunt me. Besides that, another nightmare starts with mom’s constant nagging about my waistline, and worse, her attempt to make me consume slimming products that some of her friends are selling. No matter how desperate I am to shed off a few kilos, I never believe in the short cut via consuming slimming products that are mostly from direct sales companies.
There may be a lot of excuses as to why I am still maintaining my excess weight but I rather admit that I fail than giving 1001 excuses about how tragic was 2014. I know that I fail for lack of discipline, persistence and hard work. I did not have the discipline and persistence to follow up with the exercise regime that I set for myself. I was supposed to get back to the squash court but for whole year, my squash racquet was left untouched. I was supposed to pick up golf again and return to the greens but I was busier with the miniature greens at home. The only exercise that I did was a walk at the park after dinner.
Above all, I succumbed to the temptations of all the delicious food that are aplenty whenever I visit a place. In 11 Signs that You Were Born and Raised in Malaysia, Nadia Yap is so right to note that a two hour drive to eat your favorite food is not a problem and meals were planned during different meals. Yes, it is in me that I will never mind to drive a long distance and even to a remote place for food and while still having lunch, a question that will never miss to pop up will be: “where should we head for dinner?”
Adhering to Bill Gates’s maxim that it is more important to heed the lesson of failure, I think I know what I should do and how to do it. Thus, my 2015 New Year resolution is still the same as that of the previous year – to shed 15kg off my current weight. To make it easier to achieve as recommended in an article published by Time, I should break it down to losing about 1.5kg each month.

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Happy New Year 2015!!

Welcoming 2015 at Marina Bay, Singapore. 
Wishes all a happy and great year ahead after a turbulent 2014. May 2015 be a year that bring happiness, success , new hope, joy and fulfillment.