Snail mail from Nicole Tan

nicole mail

I just came back from a really enlightening conversation about life and relationships in general to a dark house and picked up two pieces of mail – one was for my car insurance premium for RM 1,704.60 (=_=!!!) which I have to pay before next month and the other was a padded largish envelope.

star metro

The writing at the back says “Sorry it took so long, but here you are”. It’s the autographed copy of The Star from two months back with a feature of me by Nicole on sixthseal.com.

star leaf

I have read the article in the online version of The Star and was surprised at the more positive key in the actual paper.

sixthseal

The front page Saturday Metro text has Drug blogger turns over a new leaf” which is a much better angle than the “Former drug blogger comes clean about his past” headline that the online version features.

star metro kissed

I asked Nicole for an autographed copy of the paper and she finally got around to sending it to me. ;) The article is an interview about sixthseal.com and my experience as a drug blogger in the past and how I’ve turned my life around.

nicole auto

Nicole wrote “To Huai Bin, Hope you continue to thrive in life, be happy in whatever you do” on the top of the article…

nicolekissed

…and autographed the bottom with “You’ve been Nicolekiss-ed!!” :)

Thanks for sending me the papers Nicole, much appreciated! I like the article in the off-line version, it’s much more positive.

Harian Metro

Well, at least it can’t get any worse than this. ;)

Tiger FC Fantasy League 2009

tiger fc

I would imagine that any red-blooded male would have played fantasy football at some point in their lives. It’s practically a religion over here with the Premier League, UEFA Cup, and World Cup as the Holy Trinity of sports. ;)

I’ve seen the banner ads for Tiger FC Fantasy League for this season and signed up subversively at work. I have been nefariously building my team during office hours and it’s doing relatively well for this season.

Anyway, for people unfamiliar with the concept of fantasy football, it’s a game where you assemble a team based on real life players. The fun in this is that the scores you get are actually based on the real life performance of the players during that season. This is like building your dream team and watching how it plays out during the league. :)

players

You can start playing anytime during the season and get ranked with other player’s teams. It’s quite fun and addictive even if you’re not a football fan since it’s like managing a football team. I’m sure some management skills can be gleaned from the game. ;)

My current best player is Emmanuel Adebayor. My team (Team SixthSeal.com) has scored 7 goals and conceded 6 goals thus far. You get to transfer players at scheduled times and the first one that’s getting the boot (pun intended) from my team is John Terry. He’s not carrying his weight in the defender position. :(

team

The Tiger FC Fantasy League also allows you to create a mini-league(s) to challenge other players. The Nuffnang bloggers are joining a league together – you can challenge our player lineup if you think you’re better than us. The login details are:

League Name: nuffleague
Password: tigerfc

The Tiger FC Fantasy League is surprisingly addictive. I’ve found myself checking the papers in the morning to see the scores and then logging on at work to see how my team is doing.

tiger

I’ve even taken to logging on with a Pocket PC while dining out just to check on how my team is doing.

You can get some of the action too by signing up. You think you’re better than Team SixthSeal.com? Prove it! ;)

Pasar Ramadan

pasar ramadan

Ramadan is the holy Muslim month of fasting, where practitioners of the faith abstain from food and water from dawn until sunset. Malaysia has a sizable Malay population and the best part about Pasar Ramadan (Ramadan Bazaar) is the sheer amount of food available. The Pasar Ramadan is a setup consisting of independent stalls selling food, and most of the consumables are excellent.

pasar ramadan stalls

I always make it a point to visit the Pasar Ramadan every year. It’s held annually during the puasa (fasting) month and a lot of good eats can be found concentrated in the bazaar. All cities and towns in Malaysia have a Pasar Ramadan setup a month before Hari Raya Aidilfitri, which is the most important celebration on the Muslim calendar.

pasar ramadan girls

I went to the Pasar Ramadan with a couple of buddies yesterday evening to check out the place. Pasar Ramadan is only open for several hours in the evening and I figured I should go this week since Hari Raya Puasa falls on next Wednesday. Thus, it’s just about a week left before the annual Pasar Ramadan shuts down for the year.

pasar ramadan camwhore

The people manning the stalls are generally a friendly lot and being the quintessential blogger that I am, camwhoring is a must on the To Do List. I can’t help it – I’ve been blogging for six years! ;)

pasar ramadan drinks

The Pasar Ramadan sells food and drinks of all sorts. I have noticed a trend this year where the local shaved ice drinks like ABC Special, Chendol, etc are all sold in huge packs. It’s at least 1.5 liters of fluid in there! I guess it’ll look appealing after not drinking the entire day, but still, that’s a lot of liquid!

pasar ramadan otak

The sheer variety of food at the stalls is amazing. There is everything from otak-otak

pasar ramadan lekor

…to keropok lekor, a fish cracker originating from Terengganu.

pasar ramadan noodles

There are also more conventional fare like fried noodles and nasi campur cooked on the spot.

pasar ramadan cake

One other trend I spotted this year is that the cakes sold at the Pasar Ramadan has been given the Premium Treatment (TM). Gone were the days of kueh lapis (layered cakes) and other delicious but aesthetically lacking cakes. The cakes sold are now topped with cheese or encapsulated in pudding.

pasar ramadan roti john stall

I also managed to find a Roti John stall. I haven’t seen Roti John in Sibu ever! It’s RM 2.50 each and comes with either a chicken or beef filling. The etymology of Roti John is quite interesting – it was created for Caucasian tastes during the British Colonial rule and the name came about from the colloquialism for Westerners at that time.

pasar ramadan roti john

Caucasians were referred to as “John”, a very common English name and thus Roti John was born. It’s literally translated as John’s Bread. :)

pasar ramadan me 

I love Roti John and have only seen it in KL, so it’s nice to eat it again. It’s basically a sandwich with a minced meat patty inside. Sarawak has a version of Roti John, which we call kebab. It was fun to walk through the Pasar Ramadan again, since I missed it last year. It’s just so chill and relaxed, and I like the throng of crowds buying food during the two or three hours it’s open.

pasar ramadan koran

You Don’t Mess with the Koran, er…I mean, Zohan. ;)

My best fiend

sms text

I’ve had a best fiend since high school. I did not make a typo, fiend as defined by Merriam-Webster dictionary is:

Fiend
(noun)
Devil, demon, a person of great wickedness or maliciousness

I have in fact dedicated two entries in the annals of sixthseal.com about my best fiend. The one post I remember back in 2004 was about schadenfreude – the German word for gaining pleasure out of other people’s misfortune, which he personifies.

Anyway, my fiend has been talking behind my back and generally spreading rumors about me. I was amused for a second this morning when someone related to me a really funny rumor that was so untrue (since the time line does not compute) but the bulk of what he said really annoyed me.

I called him this morning but he didn’t pick up so I texted him:

You have nothing better to do than to backstab me, spread lies about me and create false stories about me izzit? Is your self esteem so low or are you so jealous of me that you feel the urge to talk shit about other people? I’m not pissed off at you. I pity you.

It’s a bit harsh, granted, but friends, I mean, fiends, should be able to give honest opinions about each other right? ;)

…and I really do feel a little bit of pity for him. He doesn’t just do it to me, he does it to all his friends. He would talk about other friends behind their back, putting them down derogatorily, usually with other people who doesn’t know the person around. He never does it in front of the person, he pretends to be nice to everyone but he’s well known amongst our group of friends as being a backstabber.

I used to accumulate an excess of temperature beneath a circular, tight fitting clothing component (Get hot under the collar in unpretentious terms ;)) by his behavior but I’ve come to terms with it and not be bothered by it, since most people who have known him long enough knows what he’s like.

My friend (this is a real friend, not fiend, and different from the person mentioned in this entry) told me never to text or write or react when I’m angry, which is good advice. However, I look at things in the Drawing of the Three.

The Drawing of the Three by sixthseal.com
1. Is the relationship worth it?
2. Can the person help you in the future?
3. Will the person help you in the future?

If it’s no on all three counts, then by all means, flame away. ;)

The most important aspect of it is #1 and #3. #3 is more important in a business oriented sense. Just because someone can help you in the future doesn’t mean that he will. My fiend is definitely not someone who is willing to help any friends, since all he cares about is putting them down.

It’s like he’s trying so hard to be the good little boy that he doesn’t even realize the social skills and PR required in the real world. Well, it’s not my problem anyway, and it’s not my job to tell him, since I’ve tried that before and he never changes.

It’s like sending dense shelly concretions through the air to fall in front of stout-bodied, artiodactyl creatures. ;)

Pat yourself on the back if you can decipher that last bit. Heh!

Do you have a fiend in your life?

Give me Libertas, or give me Death!

liberty or death

Libertas is a South African Cabernet Sauvignon bottled at the West
Cape. I have been taking advantage of the new 5-day work week
implemented by our company to chill out on a Saturday afternoon after
sleeping in late.

libertas kfc

Melody brought some KFC over to my house and we ate the
X-Meals (is is just me, or has KFC burgers shrunk over the past
decade?) while I opened up the bottle of wine. I have now acquired the
discipline of keeping liquor around the house without the temptation of
consuming it immediately, which my addiction counselor would term as Progress (TM). ;)

libertas

Libertas is Latin for liberty, and the title of the post is made popular by Patrick Henry. Anyway, a 5-day work week may be the norm in KL and other parts of the country, but over here in Sarawak, it’s cause for celebration! =D

David Bak Kut Teh Cafe

david bak kut teh

David Bak Kut Teh is a coffee shop specializing in bak kut teh (pork rib tea). There are a lot of bak kut teh establishments springing up over here now, but David is the oldest and most recognized of them all. It’s located at the traffic cop magnet beside the fire station in town so be prepared to move your car frequently if you park at the yellow line right in front, since parking is scarce at that area.

david david

David is the proprietor of the place, the waiter and the cook all rolled into one. The man is a very friendly person with an amicable personality. He’s not actually a cook by profession, he came over from JB eons ago and worked in a department store as a salesman. Story goes, he tried his hand at cooking bak kut teh and spent four years perfecting his recipe.

david stall

His first operation was in a stall at the coffee shop beside his current premises. His bak kut teh was so popular that he finally expanded to his very own place…right next door. :) He runs the entire place with the help of his wife, and despite all the work, he’s a very jovial man. I’m quite impressed by his tenacity when he moved over to Sibu and the hardships he went through.

david signature

Anyway, enough about him. I had lunch with Autumn there and had their signature dish – bak kut teh. I like my bak kut teh with everything inside it, so there’s pork ribs, pork intestines, pork belly etc. Basically everything in the oink oink is inside the bowl of soup (tea).

david bkt dish

It’s pretty good, the bak kut teh is done well, and I remember the distinctive taste from my childhood as how “bak kut teh” should taste like. It’s hearty soup with pork, served with a kickass combination of soy sauce and chilies.

david chicken

Autumn opted for the ma yu chi lou (Sesame Oil Chicken) which is another one of David Bak Kut Teh’s specialties. She’s not a big fan of pork, beef or lamb so chicken is just about the only option she has. It’s served with rice and is surprisingly good. The only beef I have with the dish (haha) is that she requested for lean meat (breast meat) while I prefer thighs. No innuendo intended.

david us

David Bak Kut Teh
is a nice place to have lunch if you don’t mind dining al fresco in Malaysian weather at 12 noon. Autumn had to take off her sweater and was even considering going further if not in public. ;)

Ode to the Stickman

WORK_productivity

The key to juggling things in life
Being able to be happy and shine
To not get bogged down by strife
And be in a positive frame of mind

The art of balancing work and play
Or just to be happy in school today
Is to not let your thoughts stray
And take what life offers day by day

WORK_sleepy

I wake up early every morning
Just to shower and get ready for work
It all seems a little bit boring
Especially with my manager being a jerk

When I’m feeling especially down
I take a break and log on to Compaq City
And in doing this I’ve found
Makes everything a little more pretty

screenshot

I walk down Play Avenue
Just to meet up with the Compaq Stickman
Who’s always there for me in his red hue
I think I’m getting to be his biggest fan

A game or two on Work Street
Gets me through the dreary day
I think it’s my biggest treat
When I get high scores, hey!

wallpaperLEARN3

I take a virtual stroll down Learn Boulevard
To answer the questions before time runs out
Being a graduate, I didn’t think it was that hard
But the questions sometimes make me pout

I like the Compaq range of product
And in fact I own one myself too
My Presario notebook is on till it gets dark
I only shut it down when it’s one or two

wallpaperWORK4

It has never given me a problem
And I don’t think it will give you any too
Compaq is much more than an emblem
And I’m not just saying that coz they told me to

My Compaq and me are pretty tight
It’s affordable and it looks mighty fine
Check it out on their website
The Presario starts at just RM 999

Enjoy Cafe & Restaurant

enjoy cafe

Enjoy Cafe & Restaurant is a relatively new eating establishment that has been doing an advertising blitz at my workplace, with flyers on the windscreen wipers of all the cars parked around here. I’ve been there once but never got around to reviewing it. I went again last night to check out the place, since the first impression wasn’t strong enough to warrant a review.

enjoy ambience

Enjoy Cafe & Restaurant has a nice ambiance with mood lighting (which makes it a nightmare for photography). The place has a fixation with blue diffused down lights, which I kinda like. It somehow makes the place more calming.

enjoy booths

There are also silk screens to act as a privacy buffer in between the booth type seating arrangements. The place is pretty empty due to hefty competition from Sushi Tie, Mitsu Tea House and other popular eating establishments within the same commercial complex. There were only two other tables of diners besides us.

enjoy juice

I like the classic juicer and fruits on display at the bar counter. Enjoy Café & Restaurant serves a wide variety of fruit juices. I went with a group of friends the first time and we ordered:

enjoy first

Enjoy Cocktail, Egg Drop Noodles, Beef Noodle Soup, Hot & Spicy Beef

enjoy second

Hot Lemon, Stir-fried Mixed Vegetable, Mince Meat Rice, Hot & Spicy Squid

enjoy waitress

It didn’t particularly make a good impression on all of us, but I went again last night with Mary to do a second review. The service was great this time, perhaps due to the aesthetically pleasing waitress designated to our table…

enjoy me waitress

…which inevitably led to an XX Chromosome post. I passed her my blogger name card to boot. I can’t resist! ;)

enjoy double dragon

I asked the waitress for their flagship dish and she recommended Tie Ban Shuang Long (Steel Plate Double Dragon). It’s calamari and pork ribs mixed in a delicious sauce with an egg cracked into the hot plate. It’s priced at RM 20 and comes with a bowl of steamed rice. It’s delicious!

enjoy forever happiness

Mary recommended the Tien Chang Di Jiu (Forever and Ever – though it’s translated as Forever Happiness in the menu) dessert, which is priced at a very reasonable RM 4. It’s a sticky mass of extremely hot yam and sweet potato in starch. The dessert is served with a bowl of iced water filled with ice cubes and it’s supposed to be eaten like this:

enjoy dessert

You’re supposed to spear a piece of the sticky and piping hot pieces and then dip it into the bowl of ice water. This immediately cools down the dessert and “solidifies” it and it’s ready for consumption. I found it to be an interesting ritual, and quite a lot of fun too.

enjoy us

Enjoy Café & Restaurant is actually a pretty nice place to be chilling out at with a relaxing atmosphere and a laid back ambiance. The food is great too – it has improved by leaps and bounds since my first foray there. The place is lacking in the clientèle department though, due to the stiff competition from the other major eating establishments in that area, but it’s definitely worth a visit. Cheers!

Chinese wedding ceremony from a best buddy perspective

marriage

My friend of over 20 years just got married on Sunday and I was slated to be one of the “best buddy” for the groom entourage. It’s a HK tradition where the bride is barricaded (willingly, of course) inside her house along with her group of (all female) friends. This group is known as the zhi mui (sisters) while the groom team, consisting of me and a couple of others are known as the heng tai (brothers).

wedding car

The mission is to get into the bride’s bedroom in her house from the groom’s house. We started arriving early in the morning to Ting Chuan’s house where the wedding preparations has already been set up the night before. The groom team is meeting up at the groom’s house before the fleet of cars led by the wedding car drives to the bride’s house.

My first question upon seeing this old friend of mine:
ting chuan
HB: Eh, bro, it’s your big day. Why haven’t you shaved?
TC: I did! I shaved at 12 am last night so there’ll be a stubble. It looks more manly.

celeste

Naturally, being the opportunistic person that I am, I talked to Celeste who works at Ta Ann. She was the only female in our entourage.

me celeste

I got an XX Chromosome post out of it too, it’s a bit out of place in this post, but hey, someone told me weddings are the best place to meet new people. :p

arrive

Anyway, we departed for the bride’s house in several cars and arrived without the customary mass honking (which I was told was only done after the bride has been secured and transported back to the groom’s house).

cloth

There are a lot of traditions to be followed in a Chinese wedding ceremony – a piece of cloth is laid upon the wedding car and the car is reversed so it’s facing out. Lanterns (representing the future offspring) are also tied to both of the side mirrors.

longevity

The groom’s entourage (us) sat down for a meal of longevity noodles with chicken soup.

tc egg

My friend (the groom) was presented with an egg each by the father and mother of the bride.

same table

We ate at the table together – this is the meal to energize us for the task up ahead…securing the bride.

Our heng tai (brothers) entourage is expected to pass three stages before getting to the bride’s bedroom. The bottleneck is the staircase up, which is manned (womanned?) by a representative from the zhi mui (sisters), the friends of the bride.

ang pow

Ang pow (red packets containing money) are expected to be given out at every stage and one of the sisters has even prepared some in advance just in case the groom didn’t have enough. Heh!

stages drink

I kinda like how this one was done – the representative said that there are four stages in a married couple’s life and the groom is expected to “go through” each one metaphorically and literally in advance. The sour stage represents the arguments that will inevitably occur in every relationship and the groom has to drink a bottle of calamansi lime juice to pass that.

stages

There are also questions posed at every stage, with “punishments” rendered out if the groom can’t answer the questions. Ting Chuan couldn’t remember the exact day, month, and year he met his bride-to-be and had to eat a wasabi spiked kampua. The groom has the option of asking his buddies to take the punishment for him, since there’s a lot meted out.

wasabi

He passed the wasabi noodles to me and as the brother (“best buddy”), I took one for the team. It tasted quite delicious actually, but the first bite made my eyes water. They were really serious in putting the wasabi (horse radish) into the noodles. The sisters took pity on me and told me I didn’t actually have to finish it, but I did and it tasted delicious. I even asked for the recipe from them after the event. ;)

final stage

The salty stage involves the groom drinking salt water and the bitter stage is represented by bitter gourd extract. There were a lot of questions during the various stages, which he luckily got right, since they had an arsenal of wasabi laced kampua noodles up there. Thus, after the mass handing out of ang pows (red packets) to the sisters, we finally got to the final stage.

This is the sweet stage – it’s orange juice that the groom has to drink. Sour, salty, bitter, sweet. I love the imagery behind this custom. The last gauntlet was to call out for the bride and asking her for permission to enter.

access

The sisters finally granted access, and the door was opened.

the bride

I present – Siew Ling, the bride! :)

propose

Ting Chuan has to propose formally to her and the fun isn’t quite over yet as the sisters made them kiss for 10 minutes.

It was finally negotiated down to 10 seconds, but unfortunately, I didn’t get the footage coz I was changing memory cards. It was very sweet actually, and that was the catalyst that made me want to get married.

father bride

The father of the bride escorted her down the stairs…

handover

…and officially “handed over” his daughter.

ancestral

Chinese custom has a form of ancestral worship that is widely practiced over here and the newlyweds have to bow three times to the late grandparents of the bride for blessings.

parents bow

Respect is also rendered to the parents of the bride by bowing three times, upon which the mother of the bride clasps a gold necklace around the groom’s neck. This is foreign to me and I don’t know what it symbolizes.

proceed

The newlyweds proceeded out of the bride’s house…

pose group

…to pose for a group photo with relatives of the bride.

umbrella

Thus, our entourage escorted the bride with a red umbrella into the car for the return trip to the groom’s house.

depart

The wedding car drove out and reversed three (3) times before stopping for the mother of the bride to present a key to the bride. I don’t know what the accelerating and backing up of the wedding car symbolizes but the key to the bride is a token reminder for her to return home every Chinese New Year on the second day, and also taken to mean that she is welcome home at any time, even though she’s now “married out” and part of the groom’s family.

firecrackers

Our entourage arrived back to the groom’s residence where firecrackers were lit for the celebration.

The bride and groom have to wait until the firecrackers end before alighting from the car.

ti gong

The newlyweds are the first to step into the house with their shoes on (while everyone else takes off their shoes) and bow three times into thin air. This was related to me as a request for the blessing of their matrimony by “ti gong” (a saint/god of sorts).

wedding bed

That being done, the bride and groom goes into their room and sits down on the marriage bed. I think this is to represent the consummating of the marriage. ;)

rings

The exchanging of rings is done at the groom’s house…

tea

…and the newlyweds kneel down on cushions to serve tea to the parents of the groom as a token of respect and to seek their blessing on the marriage.

soup

The bride and groom are given a sweet soup (tong sui) to drink to mark their new journey in life together.

wedding group photo

It was a fun experience and it really made me want to settle down and get married too. Congratulations to Siaw Ting Chuan and Wong Siew Ling on their union. Cheers bro! :)

My best friend's wedding

wedding reception

My best friend just got hitched yesterday with a fellow coworker. I’m really happy for him, and I have to admit, a little bit envious coz I’ve been trying so hard to find The One and not really succeeding. Ting Chuan has been my friend ever since time immemorial – we have been buddies since we were in Primary 1 (7 years old).

sheraton

The wedding banquet was held at Sheraton but I’ve been the “best buddy” since early morning. The writeup for that will be up tomorrow – it’s much more interesting. The “best buddy” system is a HK custom where the groom with an entourage of friends goes through obstacles created by the bride and her friends to gain access to her room and bring her back home.

sheraton decor

It was a lot of fun since it was the first time I’ve ever been involved in such an event. The custom isn’t Malaysian, it has just gained popularity recently due to the influx of HK and Taiwan serials. ;) There are a lot of interesting Chinese customs that I was exposed to and I will be writing about that with videos tomorrow.

sheraton table

I found the couple to be really sweet, they’re very nicely matched. Ting Chuan and Siew Ling just look so happy together that I couldn’t help but be happy for them. It’s nice to be married and settled and having kids and all that. It’s the life I want – that’s the purpose of my life, to leave behind my life of excess and find a soul mate who can tame me and domesticate me.

appetizer

The lunch reception started out at 12 noon and the first dish is the obligatory Chinese appetizer/sampler dish. It has prawns, abalone, fish and other dishes on a huge platter divided physically into sections.

black chicken soup

The second dish is “black chicken” soup – which is a kind of free range chicken that is renowned in Chinese cuisine as being more nutritious than regular chickens.

black chicken

I’m not sure if it’s the same thing as kampung chicken but it’s usually served during celebrations such as birthdays, weddings and festive seasons.

fish

The third dish is fish – a staple of all Chinese banquets. It’s a mixture of pan fried salmon and deep fried breaded fish. It’s surprisingly delicious, but then again I was famished from waking up in the morning for the entourage to the bride’s house. :)

peking duck

The next dish is a Peking duck type affair with the waitress taking rolls of soft, warm and fluffy bread (called man tou) and filling it with a piece of duck, spring onions, and then drizzling it with sauce before serving it individually.

duck bun

I liked this dish. It’s the sauce that makes or breaks the duck and the sauce at Sheraton is really good.

yin yang

The fifth dish was a combination of two items – there’s sweet and sour pork on one side of the dish and sea cucumber served in half a pineapple on the other side. It’s supposed to represent the yin and yang.

prawns abalone

The next dish also follows the yin yang concept with deep fried prawns on one side and abalone in a ring of broccoli on the other side.

dessert

The lunch wedding reception ended with a fruit platter and a mooncake and yam dish. They got married during the Mid Autumn Festival so the mooncakes were there as a nod to the occasion.

congrats

Congratulations Siaw Ting Chuan and Wong Siew Ling!

I will post the pre-wedding customs that started in the morning tomorrow – I found that experience to be much more interesting, as the “best buddy”. There are heaps of photos and lots of videos to upload, so I did the reverse chronological thing and posted up the lunch reception first. :)

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