Cold feet

packing

I’m writing this before I board the plane back to KL. I’m hauling back several boxes of my girlfriend’s belongings with me. She’s coming over in a couple of days to work in KL and she’ll be living with me.

I’ll be honest here. I’m feeling more than a little trepidation at the idea. I don’t know how it’s going to turn out. There is a grand total of three (3) serious relationships I’ve been in where the other half moves in with me. The first one happened when I was just in my teenage years – it also happened to be my first real relationship.

Her name was Wendy and it lasted all of six months.

It was all fine and dandy until we moved in together. The relationship lasted longer than that, of course – prior to that, we were practically inseparable. I don’t know why seeing each other day in and day out became so taxing on the relationship.

Familiarity breeds contempt?

It always starts with the little things – small issues that becomes the flash point of every argument. The same old problems brought up again and again. It’s something akin to cabin fever…I’ll even go so far to say it’s like prison, being cooped up in a small place with the same bunch of people 24/7.

It never ends well.

The second relationship (Louisa – the very same person that still resides as a tattoo on my left forearm) also went that way. We were together for YEARS. I graduated from Australia, came back to KL and moved in with her.

BAM! The relationship went downhill almost immediately.

However, we tried to work things out as adults – giving each other space, making concessions and compromises but in the end it still didn’t work out. We made a last ditch attempt to save the relationship by me moving to Kuching (it was just as well that I got a really good job offer there) and it was all good for a while…and then we broke up.

The third and last serious relationship where my girlfriend moved in was when I came to KL again. I came with Doris in tow and maybe it’s the nostalgic rose tinted glasses but I felt that I could have done things better and maybe it could have worked out if I had not turned into a complete asshole.

I’ll admit that much. I was a total asshole to her. I was an ungrateful son of a bitch who didn’t care about someone that loved me that much. I loved her too but I got too caught up with myself to realize that I’ve been taking her for granted. She’s a very nice girl and perhaps things would have been different if I had been the person I am now.

…or perhaps not.

The thing is, I’ve learned a lot from all these experiences. It made me take a good, hard look at myself and I didn’t like what I was seeing. I have been making amends since then.

I’m no saint, I’m not saying that I became the poster boy for abstinence after that. Hell, no.

…but I never did get into another serious relationship after Doris until now.

It’s funny isn’t it? When you’re single, all you want to do is get in a relationship. When you’re actually in one, the idea of being alone and free to do anything you want sounds pretty appealing.

The grass is always greener on the other side and all that.

However, I really want to make this work. I don’t think I’ll make the same mistakes again and I’ll try very hard to keep the relationship alive. I know my own weaknesses and I hope I am more patient and understanding now. I’ll give it my all.

I hope that the fourth time’s the charm.

I hope.

200 chicken wings

200 chicken wings

There is an old man that sets up his humble grill in the afternoons at a coffee shop called Chatterbox Dessert and Cafe. It doesn’t even have a name. I first thought he was a customer, since he was just sitting at a table chilling there with a cold beer. Joanna ordered some chicken wings and the person told us it’s going to take 30 minutes.

joanna me

I finally met up with Joanna just now for a very late lunch. It turns out that she lives just one street across from where I’m staying in Miri. We’re practically neighbours and never realized it. Heh! She brought me to this legendary place which is supposed to have excellent chicken wings.

bbq chicken wings

I hear he only prepares 200 chicken wings every day. He doesn’t do more even though the demand is there. I’ve only seen ONE (1) customer in addition to us who managed to order his acclaimed chicken wings. The next one that came along was turned away coz he told them that he’s out of chicken wings.

Now, this is quite puzzling since we’ve only been there an hour and to the best of my knowledge, only two people ordered the chicken wings. It turns out that the rest were “reserved” – it has been pre-booked by another customer so he’s not even selling a single chicken wing to anyone else.

chicken wings

This is one of the rare instances where a stall successfully manipulates the supply and demand of his wares well. I think manipulate might be the wrong word to use here since the man doesn’t seem to be interested in mass producing inferior quality BBQ chicken wings. He displays passion – watching over the BBQ grill with a determined and almost ferocious intensity.

joanna ask

He’s a man that won’t be rushed too. He refuses to serve the chicken wings until it’s properly done according to his standards. Joanna went over after a while and said it’s okay, we’ll just take it as it is. However, the man politely declined with a smile and said it’s not done yet. It looks done and it smells done but he won’t serve it until HE DECREES THAT IT’S DONE.

You just gotta admire that. Heh!

The chicken wings costs RM 2 each. Joanna paid so I can’t be sure but 5 chicken wings at RM 10 comes up to RM 2 each, unless my math is way off the mark.

We also had chicken rice while waiting for the BBQ chicken wings to be done. I remember the last time I met up with Joanna in Sibu during Chinese New Year, we had chicken rice too. Or at least, I had chicken rice…she didn’t eat.

famous chicken wings

Back to the BBQ chicken wings, it’s every bit as good as I expected. It goes very well with the chilli sauce that came with it but I suggest you eat it au natural. It’s juicy and tender and the marinade he uses is sweet, producing a set of chicken wings that transcends into sublime culinary bliss. :)

BARcelona Spanish food and SOHO Irish bistro

barcelona soho

It was a lazy Friday night and we got a call from Wendy asking us if we would like to join her for dinner. She’s buying and we headed down to BARcelona for food and drinks. BARcelona is a place that serves Spanish food and the best thing about the place is that you can order stuff from SOHO (which is next door) too!

barcelona us

BARcelona and SOHO are located in adjacent lots and belongs to the same owner – you can sit at either one and order food from the other. SOHO specializes in Irish food and I’m pretty sure both establishments share the same bar.

There’s an outdoor patio type canopy that allows you to chill al fresco style. It’s Miri so there’s always a nice sea breeze going on at night. ;)

barcelona facebook

I am intrigued by BARcelona’s concept – they have different seating arrangements to suit everyone. You can have a private dining area or sit in one of the side booths where there’s a computer screen on the table. I saw a lot of people logging on to Facebook and showing their friends photos.

I facebook-like the idea. :) It brings social media back to the real world.

Anyway, the photos I took are really horrible coz I didn’t bring my dSLR here so I’ll use a thousand words instead. Heh!

Jeanie had the broccoli soup from SOHO. I like it – it’s very creamy and rich. I’m not a big fan of soups in general so that’s saying a lot.

barcelona salad

The other thing that surprised my friends was the large Cobb Salad (RM 15) which we ordered for starters. This also came from SOHO and contains organic mixed greens, honey roasted chicken, tomatoes, onions, bacon with blue cheese crumbles and hard boiled eggs. I don’t eat a lot of veggies but the salad uses a balsamic vinegar dressing which hits the spot and the bits of bacon inside helped a lot too. I ate quite a bit of the leafy greens – enough to hit my usual monthly quota. smirk

The chef also recommended several tapas dishes that we had. The most memorable one is Albondigas Picante (which will hereby be referred to as the meatball tapas). This is quite surprising since it looks rather plain at first glance. However, when the Taste Test (TM) is applied, it turned me into a believer. The meatball is firm but literally bursts with juicy goodness when you bite down into it. Nice!

barcelona tapas

There’s also the Patatas con Alioli Picante which all the others liked but I didn’t care much for. It does have very nice dressing but eating potatoes just doesn’t do it for me. To each his/her own!

The Baranjas con Salsa de Pimentas (eggplant with Spanish sauce) was good though. I love eggplant. It’s one of the few vegetables I like, mostly due to it’s creamy and rich texture. The tapas dishes all come with slices of bread to soak up the gravy.

barcelona paella

I love the Paella Marisco (seafood paella) too – it came with huge prawns, mussels and squid. You can request for them to use the more authentic Spanish rice instead of the regular rice tailored to local tastes – it tastes much better this way.

The rice is firm and each grain is distinctive. It’s flavorful and goes very well with the seafood. Trust me on this – ask for Spanish rice. :D

barcelona pizza

Next came another one of their specialties – the Valencia Pizza (RM 19). It’s 10 inches, made with a topping of onion, chilli, pepper, bacon and minced beef and comes in a proper thin crust. I had my doubts initially upon setting my eyes on it. Chilli slices on a pizza? It looks like the product of an overzealous fusion chef but when I bit into the thin crust and tasted the pizza, I fell in love with it immediately. I eat a lot of pizza and I usually forgo it when I’m eating out but this one tastes exquisite!

barcelona pizza closeup

It’s one of those rare moments when fusion cuisine works very well. I can see why it’s on the recommended list in the menu. I would recommend it too. :)

barcelona maghrita

Down to the cocktails, I had three – this is the Ultimate Margarita (RM 20). It’s done well and I love the sea salt lining the rim of the glass. It’s a small thing but you’ll be surprised at the number of places that don’t do it, especially in smaller cities. It’s not a proper margarita unless there’s sea salt on the rim. I like the attention to detail in BARcelona.

barcelona tea party

I also had their signature BARcelona Tea Party (RM 25). It’s listed on the alcohol menu as “Star & Strong Alcohol”. It’s true, the alcohol content is rather high in this long island tea variant. I love it! :D

barcelona wings

The best dish that we had that night was hands down the humble chicken wings. It’s oven baked and marinated with juices which complement the chicken very well. The skin is crispy but the meat tender – a wonderful experience. Do not miss this one if you’re ever in BARcelona. It’s perfect as finger food or a main course. Succulent.

barcelona neon

BARcelona and SOHO is located diagonally from Mega Hotel in Miri. It’s outside of the main clubbing distinct and as such, provides a nice change of scenery. The bill is affordable too – the tapas ranges from RM 5 – RM 10 and the mains are reasonably priced. It’s a great place to have dinner or drinks with a couple of friends.

barcelona me wendy

Thanks for picking up the bill Siaw Yin! You’re too kind. Next meal is on me. :)

Kratom (ketum) experience report

kratom smartshop

This should probably go into castitas.com but I feel like writing on my main blog. Kratom (known as ketum in Malaysia) is a leaf with psychoactive properties. I have been searching for it for quite some time – it’s sold in certain parts of Malaysia (especially in the rural cultivation community) in bags of homemade prepared liquid kratom.

Unfortunately, the Malaysian government decided to ban ketum a few years back and the only ones available are highly dubious and sans quality control. Kratom is illegal in Malaysia.

It is rather ironic that I have to travel all the way to Amsterdam to experience a psychoactive plant that is indigenous to MY OWN COUNTRY.

kratom extract

Kratom (ketum) is available in most smartshops in Amsterdam for about Euro 15. This is not your garden variety kratom – much like salvia divinorum, it has been enhanced – this is a 5x extract of kratom. This means that the liquid concentrate is 5x more potent than what is naturally available.

kratom drink

I have to be honest here…I’m rather disappointed with the kratom/ketum experience. I had expected too much of an opiate high due to its properties. I was told to take half a bottle by the smartshops but I ingested the entire bottle on an empty stomach. I was expecting something like DHC (dihydrocodiene) or at least plain old codeine. Kratom is not like that at all.

kratom amsterdam

I started feeling the effects at T +0:30 (30 minutes after dosing for those unfamiliar with the nomenclature of trip reports) – a general feeling of well being and (surprisingly) serotonin release. It doesn’t feel like traditional opiates (e.g. the nodding off, itchiness and other miscellaneous properties) but more like certain opioid analogues.

It should be noted that the effects of kratom is VERY MILD. I shouldn’t have written that in caps (and bolded it to boot, FML) lest people get the wrong impression and think that it’s strong. It’s not. Go in without expectations, consume with an open mind and let the ketum experience wash over you.

…just don’t expect too much.

ketum extract

I can describe the feeling further to those who are familiar with recreational pharmaceuticals. It feels like 200 mg of tramadol. Tramadol is another substance in the happy opiate family but it produces none of the classic recreational opiate subjective feelings. It’s a bit of a stimulant combined with a general sense of well being.

…and that is essentially what kratom (ketum) gives you. It releases serotonin (which won’t go down well with fundamentalist opiate users) and gives you a happy sense of well being for about 4 hours. You’ll feel a significant bit of nausea while coming up and crashing but it’s nothing a bit of cannabis won’t fix.

ketum drink

I truthfully am more than a little disappointed with the kratom experience. What irks me the most is that I had to travel thousands of miles to consume a psychoactive plant that is native to my country. -_-

Additional info site:
The problem with getting used to taking opiates is that you will eventually experience opiate withdrawal symptoms once you stop abruptly.

Pulling my dermal anchor piercing out myself

dermal anchor reject

I had a dermal anchor piercing (also called a microdermal implant) done last year and it healed pretty well without much care on my part. However, the skin around it started getting inflamed and I knew that my body was going to reject the piercing.

The microdermal implant started growing out when my niece pulled at it during Chinese New Year and it has caught several times against my clothing ever since. I got really tired of it and decided to pull it out just now.

dermal anchor remove

I’ve heard a lot of people say that it’s a painful process that must be done in a proper setting but I just grabbed the loose part and pulled it out with my fingers. It didn’t hurt at all. I think it was about to fall out by itself sooner or later anyway. *shrugs

pulling out microdermal

Microdermals are foreign objects and your body will reject it given time so I figured I might as well expedite the process. There’s minimal bleeding and at least I won’t have to feel uncomfortable with it snagging against my clothes anymore. smirk

Latak Waterfall @ Lambir Hills National Park

latak panorama

It was a boring Sunday and we decided to get ourselves acquainted with nature by heading down to Lambir Hills National Park. Lambir is a 31 km drive from Miri (according to the roadsigns) and is said to be one of the most bio-diverse parks in Malaysia.

lambir hills national park

We departed a little bit late due to some domestic issues but managed to reach the park at about 12 pm.

tickets

We were a bit apprehensive about getting down with nature at that hour, considering its fiery temper – namely, the sun, but surprisingly the sheer amount of trees in Lambir Hills National Park totally negated any heat from the sun.

trail

Lambir Hills National Park is home to a few waterfalls, but the most popular one is Latak Waterfall. There’s a good reason why Latak Waterfall is so popular – it’s neither the highest nor the most tranquil waterfall in Lambir but it is the nearest. smirk

main trail

It only takes a leisurely 20 minute stroll to reach Latak Waterfall in Lambir Hills National Park. You’ll pass by two smaller waterfalls on the way but it’s not accessible unless you’re willing to scale over untamed forest brush to get to what amounts to a glorified puddle with a trickle of water from above.

smaller falls

Latak Waterfall on the other hand is a comparatively majestic 25 meter wall of water rushing down from a cliff above. You can hear the roar of the waterfall before you even see it…which is true of most waterfalls anyway so I don’t know why I’m mentioning this.

latak waterfalls

It is however quite grand, better than my expectations. The pool of water created by the waterfall cascade starts out shallow and quite suddenly drops down in depth.

latak falls

I guess a trained eye could see it from above based on the color of the water but it surprised me when I stepped from waist deep water into what seemed like an abyss.

frolicking

I think the buoy line warning swimmers not to frolic beyond a certain point is there for a good reason. smirk

latak falls pool

I would guess that it’s about 5 meters deep just before the buoy, it’s bound to be deeper at the base of the waterfall but unfortunately there was a guard on duty that day so I couldn’t venture there.

bbq

The place seems rather lively even for a Sunday – there’s family bringing their kids swimming, a couple of giggling college girls (and one shemale) plus your regular assortment of the dredges of humanity making a ruckus.

jeanie latak

This is Jeanie doing some sort of yoga pose in the water and failing badly.

falls closeup

Latak Waterfall has BBQ pits for your use and changing rooms are within walking distance from the falls. The water is VERY COLD and that’s a great thing. The only downside is that there’s a lot of stones which can cut your feet and random flotsam drifting around the outer fringes of the pool.

trees

I don’t think the water is the type you bottle and ship too coz we both got very itchy soon after coming out of the pool.

Nevertheless, it’s a nice diversion on a weekend and well worth the RM 10 entrance fee. There are better and more private waterfalls in Lambir Hills National Park but you’ll have to be prepared to walk 3 hours to get there.

feet

Take only photographs, leave only footprints. smirk

latak us

It was a well spent Sunday – relaxing by the waterfalls with an occasional dip into the cold natural pool, looking up at the foliage above.

Nasi Lalapan

nasi lalapan

Nasi Lalapan is an Indonesian dish that’s very popular in Miri. I went to Muara Restaurant just now based on Jeanie’s recommendation to check out this unique incarnation of Indonesian cuisine. Muara Restaurant is self-dubbed “The Founder of Lalapan” – very lofty claims indeed. smirk

muara restauran nasi lalapan

This is the original restaurant at Miri Waterfront Commercial Centre. There’s another newer establishment in Miri but the first Muara Restaurant is located at a much more appealing location – it’s right beside the river!

nasi lalapan river

There is a very nice breeze and you can see the bustling activity of the river right from the vantage of your dining table.

muara restaurant

Muara Restaurant is supposed to serve the best nasi lalapan in Miri and coming from Jeanie (who doesn’t like spicy food) it was intriguing enough for me to check it out.

nasi lalapan crowd

We went there well past lunch hour (it was around 3 pm) and there were still heaps of diners eating nasi lalapan – a great testament to its popularity.

nasi lalapan tofu

Nasi Lalapan is basically a dish of vegetables, tofu and meat arranged around a unique sambal based sauce. You can choose the meat that goes with your nasi lalapan – there’s everything from chicken to prawn. The rice is served separately on a plate and there’s also a bowl of soup to go with your meal.

nasi lalapan stuff

Jeanie had the Nasi Lalapan Empal (beef) which costs RM 8. Here’s a top view of what nasi lalapan is all about – starting from the 12′ o clock position, there’s tempeh (a soy product which tastes like nuts), a piece of deep fried tofu, the meat (in this case, beef), some greens (spinach if I’m not mistaken), cucumber slices, uncooked long beans (called ulam in Malay), a lime, and some cabbage.

lime

You start eating nasi lalapan by squeezing the lime into the sambal based sauce and mixing it up. The sauce is the cornerstone of lalapan and it tastes great – spicy, with visible flakes of chilli and a tangy finish.

dip vegetables

The vegetables can be picked apart using your fingers and dipped into the sauce. I saw people eating it this way so I emulated them.

eat veggies

It tastes much better when you use your hands to eat. Primal. :D

nasi lalapan beef

I really liked the beef in Jeanie’s Nasi Lalapan Empal – it’s smoked beef and tastes delicious, with a lingering sweet aftertaste.

huge catfish

I chose Nasi Lalapan Keli (RM 10) for my late lunch. Ikan keli is catfish and I was surprised when the plate of nasi lalapan came out – the fish is humongous! I forgot to use something as a reference point so you can’t appreciate the sheer size of it, but trust me, it’s gigantic!

nasi lalapan catfish head

It’s deep fried to perfection. The skin is crunchy and the flesh is tasty – delectable! The presentation is awesome too! They must have a really huge wok to be able to fry that mutant catfish wholesale. I particularly liked the precision in which they sliced the fish so that you can easily use a fork to spear a segment of the fish.

nasi lalapan chicken

We also ordered a chicken drumstick – you can order the meat in the nasi lalapan variants separately. I saw a lot of people eating the chicken nasi lalapan and wanted to try it. Unfortunately, it’s nothing to write home about – I preferred my catfish and Jeanie’s smoked beef tastes much better.

nasi lalapan meal

Muara Restaurant has really good nasi lalapan. You can determine the authenticity of the food based on how many Indonesians visit the joint and the spicy tang of the sambal goes very well with the vegetables and meat. The dishes range from RM 8 – RM 15 depending on what you choose as your meat and the entire meal just set us back RM 21.80.

nasi lalapan us

I only realized that they forgot to charge us for the chicken when I looked at the receipt. :x

6 Corner, Senibong Seafood

senibong

Senibong is a seafood haven located at Permas Jaya in Johor. I was very keen to try out this place since it has a reputation for having the freshest seafood in town. The restaurant we went to has been featured in Jalan Jalan Cari Makan, a local food TV feature. It turned out to be a truly extraordinary dinner!

jetty

Kampung Senibong is situated right by the sea and and boasts a long row of restaurants serving a wide range of various aquatic creatures.

catch

Senibong itself is a village of seafood restaurants and all of them display the catch of the day – everything ranging from the relatively mundane fish to exotic stingrays.

dining

I could be mistaken but I believe most, if not all, of the restaurants are halal. This is also another attraction since my experiences with halal seafood is limited, to say the least. The seafood I’ve eaten is usually cooked Chinese style and I thought it’ll be awesome to sample Malay style seafood. :D

sea

Senibong seafood is really just a long alley inter-spaced with private jetties owned by the restaurants. I imagine that’s where the fishermen unload their catch to be sold to the eateries. It manages to balance the fine line between commercialism and a quaint village like ambiance. I found the place very warm and inviting.

senibong seafood

The lot of us descended to 6 Corner, one of the restaurants in Senibong. Dusk was just setting in and you can see the sea stretching out from the dining area.

6 corner

I was told you can even glimpse Singapore from that vantage point.

bulb

Regardless, there’s just something about the sea breeze that whets your appetite like nothing else. :)

mussels

The first dish that came out was mussels cooked in a sweet and spicy sauce. The gravy was delectable! I nearly finished my plate of rice just from eating the mussels and the gravy inside.

fish

I thought nothing could surpass that but then came the fish. It’s deep fried and cooked with Thai chilli sauce and pineapples. I’m not sure what type of fish they used but it didn’t come with a lot of bones, which is always a good thing. I sat on a table that has the fewest people, just so I could eat more of the food. smirk

fish sauce

It turns out that the fish wasn’t sufficient so I was thick skinned enough to “borrow” the adjoining table’s dish. Heh! It really is that good. Who would have thought Thai chilli sauce and pineapples would make such a mouth-watering gravy?

vegetable

This is the obligatory vegetable dish. I’m not keen on vegetables, especially when there are other more delicious fare on the table so I can’t comment on this. I ate some anyway.

egg

This is just a plain egg omelet but 6 Corner somehow manages to elevate this simple dish into something extraordinary. The seasoning goes very well with the egg and the omelet neutralizes the stronger taste of the seafood dishes.

prawns

The deep fried whole prawns with chilli dipping sauce is awesome. I don’t know what they put into the batter but it tastes great and it’s crunchy enough to eat the entire thing whole – head and all. I also like the boat dish that it was served in.

calamari

I’m more blasé about the deep fried calamari. There’s nothing wrong with it per se, but the other dishes were so divine that this feels bland in comparison.

tomyam

The tom yam soup is one of 6 Corner’s specialties as well. It’s very appetizing and spicy but it came rather late in the game so everyone was pretty full by then.

crabs

Just as we though the parade of dishes was ending, there was one last encore – black pepper crabs. I loved the sauce but I was too stuffed to eat more than a token claw.

dinner

It feels like I’m heaping lavish praises on the seafood here but I can honestly say that this is one of the best seafood dinners I’ve ever had in ages. It was truly an extraordinary feast. I ate so much I think my companions were taken aback. smirk

I am balding!

balding me

I have come to expect it but I never realized the extent of the damage until I was shown the crater sized bald patch on the dome of my head. I can’t exactly see the top of my skull myself so I’ve always assumed it was of little significance, until I started getting more and more comments about it. -_-

steamer

This is compounded by the fact that I’m a typical male – using soap for everything. Yes, I use soap to wash my hair too. I don’t have shampoo or other hair care products coz I’m lazy to go through the laborious steps in the shower.

direct

I had all the signs – dandruff, oily scalp and visible balding. I am balding from the top and front so I figured there’s nothing much I can do anyway. In fact, I think I’ve come to accept that I’m balding and would go for hair implants when it shows too much.

However, I was galvanized into action when I heard the balding process CAN be reversible, if treated early.

massage hand

I have to admit, I have my doubts about baldness prevention treatments due to the plethora of offerings out there claiming to be able to give you a robust mane of hair – the fountain of youth for follicles, if you will.

svenson

I was introduced to Svenson (which started out in London) and decided to give their hair treatments a go, to see how well it performs. I reckon I didn’t have anything to lose anyway (no pun intended) so I made an appointment and headed over to their center opposite Boulevard Hotel in MidValley.

magnify

Mary was the consultant that I encountered during my first visit there. I was impressed that she gave me all the facts and made no extravagant claims or promises. She did a scan of my scalp using this magnifier which enlarges everything to 200x magnification.

My scalp really looks horrible – it’s clogged with sediments and the new hair follicles are getting thinner and thinner – a sure sign of unhealthy hair and impending baldness.

before
Before

She was very straight with me – she told me the treatments can save the hair that’s still alive and healthy but they’re not miracle workers.

balding

The bits where the follicles have totally closed off is un-salvagable. I really appreciate the honesty of Svenson – they don’t make ridiculous promises they can’t keep, unlike other hair treatments I’ve heard about.

svenson products

The first session involved an intensive therapy to get my hair back in order.

shampoo

The nice lady attending to me first shampooed me twice before applying conditioner.

steaming

My head was put under a steamer to open up the hair follicles.

pen

I was then treated with cooling saline solution – this was done via a pen like contraption ejecting a fine stream of mist.

This procedure is to wash away and clean the gunk off my scalp.

serum

Svenson then applied their serum using the OxyDH machine after all the washing for better absorption. The precision of the pen allows them to go through my hair and scalp inch by inch.

corrective fluid

Corrective fluid was then applied using a brush without washing off the serum…

…and massaged into the open and inviting hair follicles.

massage

A machine vibrator (get your mind out of the gutter) is then used to massage in all the goods. You’re supposed to leave the treatment in for 8 hours before washing.

shampoo conditioner

I was given shampoo and conditioner by Svenson (which costs RM 80 each) to use in an effort to salvage what’s left of my hair and return it to it’s former crowning glory. :D

after
After

There was a post-treatment scan and the difference, as they say, is crystal clear. You can’t even see my scalp from the scan before the procedure and now you can see the natural pink scalp vividly like a raunchy cabaret show. ;)

svenson after

I am pretty impressed with what I’ve seen so far. I am scheduled for 10 treatment sessions and I’ll write a review about it when I’m done with it to see how it goes in the end. It’s all about constant maintenance though, as Mary reminds me, so I’ll have to do my part in shampooing twice a day and applying conditioner properly as well.

oxydh

The treatment sessions takes an hour each and there’s consultation before that so it doesn’t take up a lot of time but it’ll require commitment. I’m going twice a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I’ll be honest with you guys – I am worried about going bald despite the stanch don’t-give-a-shit attitude that I exude.

I think it does subconsciously affect my self confidence since I’ve long thought about hair implants when I started balding started during my university days. I’m glad to report that there is a way to stop baldness but you’ll have to go before it’s too late.

treatment

…and with that, I have a bit of good news to share. Svenson is having a Save My Hair contest on their Facebook page – drop by and see if you can if can win the full hair care treatment prize. There are 10 to be given out and if you’re ever curious about the state of your hair, just join their Facebook page and vote for one of the contestants to get a complimentary hair and scalp analysis.

I’ve always distrusted “Before” and “After” photos coz they tend to be Photoshopped and/or taken with bad angles/lighting/dressing. However, considering the fact that you all know my Photoshop skillz is practically nonexistent – I present to you:

before-after

Word.

Pasir Gudang World Kite Festival 2011

bukit layang layang

I went on this trip to Pasir Gudang in Johor to catch the World Kite Festival 2011 a few weeks ago. It’s called Festival Layang-Layang Sedunia 2011 in Malay and I was surprised to see a lot of international participants. I also witnessed an awesome 400 meter long kite being deployed (that’s almost half a kilometer) which is pretty impressive.

kite fest

It seems that the Pasir Gudang World Kite Festival is a big thing amongst kite enthusiasts around the world. I’m amazed that people actually travel to Johor just to fly kites for a couple of days. I used to play with kites as a kid too but never really got into it.

kite assembly

These people however are serious kite enthusiasts. I saw gravity defying contraptions being flown over the weekend and got a lesson on kites around the world while at it.

Here’s a video of the action at Bukit Layang-Layang.

flying kites

The passion of the international teams is infectious. I ended up talking to some of them, trying to understand their love for the sport. These are people who lug their kites from various countries to Malaysia just for a few days of fraternizing with like minded people and showing off their carefully made kites.

japanese

The Pasir Gudang World Kite Festival is held at the appropriately named Bukit Layang-Layang (Kite Hill) and it’s a tourist attraction which the government has capitalized on. A lot of hotels have promotions for this and there’s even a kite museum at the venue.

kite array

The kites come in every shape and size. I saw everything from giant alligators to statue sized clowns being flown.

german

The larger kites require a small “pilot kite” to be raised before the actual kite can fly.

The pilot kite is a small parachute that gives enough lift to enable the main kite – in this case a gigantic squid by the team from Germany – to fly. It takes a lot of skill and effort to get this one afloat.

line kite

I found this one particularly impressive too – it’s a dragon kite that measures over 250 meters (!!!). This is from a team in Taiwan and there was a bit of controversy over which category in the competition it can go into.

I don’t know enough about the technicalities of kite classifications to comment, but based on the video, the organizers put them in the “line kite” instead of the “dragon kite” category due to some small design feature which violates the dragon kite specifications.

dragon kite

These type of kites takes a long time to setup and fly – it needs to be packed in a box and guided slowly out before the entire kite is sky bound. The longest one measures over 400 meters (!!!). That’s almost ½ a kilometer and it’s a wonder how they managed to get it up. It must be quite a task to retrieve it in one piece too.

flying kite

Here are some of the other kites that I liked:

box kite

This is a box kite from Australia.

box

It’s hexagonal shape seem to go against every law of aerodynamics but they actually flew it quite easily.

starfruit

Our very own country also came out with a starfruit shaped kite.

spinner

This is called a spinner – it doesn’t fly per se but floats and spins clockwise, thus the name.

eagle kite

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No, it’s…well, it’s not Superman, but an eagle kite that flies like a real bird.

jump

I saw this YouTube video of a dog totally owning a cat and now I can’t get that image out of my head. I had originally thought of this as a tiger pouncing on a shark but now it looks more like the large cat is about to forcibly initiate some inter-species coitus with the shark. It doesn’t help that the shark kite has a shocked expression on its face too. smirk

guitar

Look! A flying acoustic guitar shaped kite!

cupid

An anatomically correct Cupid kite. ;)

rose

One of the girls in the China team has a rather improbable kite – it’s the tiniest one in the festival and it really flies. Yes, it’s the rose she’s holding in her hand. That’s actually a very small flower kite. Nifty! A rose by any other name is a kite. :D

museum

I went with Khairie and Mohd Zaid and got really sunburned over the weekend, but it was fun experiencing something I normally wouldn’t and talking to the kite enthusiasts around the world. It’s an insightful look into the kite flying subculture, one where even 86-year-old grandmothers fly all the way from Japan to participate in.

kites

The Pasir Gudang World Kite Festival is an annual affair in Johor. They have a website with more information here. This is the 16th incarnation of the festival-cum-competition and it’s interesting to see people who are really serious about it gather from all over the world to indulge in their mutual passion.

Here’s another video of the scene at Bukit Layang-Layang during the event.

me

It has a very vibrant ambience and everyone was friendly and eager to help each other out. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and the nature of the activity practically begs for a quote from the bestselling book by Khaled Hosseini:

…for you, a thousand times over. smirk

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