Skydiving and sea kayaking at Byron Bay & Beyond

skydive byron bay

Well, there’s something to be said about starting your day by leaping off a plane 14,000 feet in the air.

Skydiving first thing in the morning followed by some sea kayaking action. I have to admit, I was probably the first one up and went knocking to wake some others that day. We were certainly the first boots on ground at the meeting point at the hotel lobby. Heh!

I was still half asleep when I signed the indemnity form.

byron bay skydive

The Tourism NSW and AirAsia X people were kind enough to see if they can get me into a custom solo AFF since I’ve been through the course before but unfortunately, it was too late. They only have tandem packages on the regular menu, so we all got into the tandem skydive at 14,000 feet (highest you can go in Australia) courtesy of Skydive Byron Bay.

harness

I didn’t film myself coz I had gone through all these before but Alycia did so look at her video to see what it’s like! She also wrote about her experience here.

It was a lot of fun for me since I haven’t skydived in Byron Bay before (and certainly not in autumn) but it gave me this idea about jumping out of a plane without a parachute.

Have you seen the video?

There’s actually two people who has done it before and contrary to popular belief, you don’t just need to have balls of (forged) steel to do it. You’ll need some training as well, so you can maneuver and not slam into the other person in midair.

That would probably involve a lot of dying since most people pass out when they crash into each other in midair at terminal velocity and thus would be unable to deploy their chute, much less do a tandem harness in the sky.

This is the second person to do it, I thought it was technically more difficult than Travis’ first attempt.

Terminal velocity is around 195 km/hour (it changes depending on how you shape your body and other variables – you can go faster, that’s how a person who exits the plane after you can catch up) and we got to experience that for about 60 seconds but I was talking to our driver and she happens to be getting her license so I told her I wouldn’t mind jumping out of a plane without a chute when she’s gotten her license.

skydiving student

I was being totally serious btw.

Won’t it be the ultimate rush? You’re just depending on someone else’s chute and there’s so many things that can go wrong before you hook up and do the harness. It’s mind-blowing.

The mere fact that it’s mind-blowing means I have to try it. :)

buttermilk pancakes salmon

Anyway, we headed out for lunch after that in a bright and sunny cafe (with one opt out from being sick from skydiving) – there’s nothing like having buttermilk pancakes with fresh strawberries and bananas doused with honey with a side of smoked salmon that’s equivalent to an entire family packet to get some energy for sea kayaking…

sea kayaking

…which is exactly what we did that same afternoon, to spot dolphins and whales in the sea. I was supposed to pair up with Ringo but she can’t swim and I’m not a good kayaker so I teamed up with Alycia (who could swim) instead. I reckon it’s a great thing coz me and Alycia never overturned our sea kayak (everyone else did).

sea kayaking alycia

#winning

sea kayak

Sea kayaking requires you to power over the surf (this is the most difficult part) as you head out to sea – aligning your sea kayak in a directional wedge against the incoming tide so you can go over the waves and into the calmer seas after the break.

sea kayaking group

It was a lot of fun, just rowing in tandem with Alycia and getting past the rather large incoming waves and then paddling out to sea. I never did quite figure out how to make an emergency turn in the strong tides and I nearly had a hernia pulling the sea kayak back to shore after all that but it was more fun than a barrel of monkeys and Alycia turned out to be an excellent partner. :)

I didn’t remember to bring my waterproof digicam so all the photos are from the Cape Byron Kayaks Facebook page.

…so if you’re wondering just how fun a barrel of monkeys is, AirAsia X is having their Byron Bay & Beyond promotion for just RM 599 all in to Gold Coast now.

lycra

Just remind me never to wear Lycra.

Plan B with Christy

christy

Christy is back for winter break! I met up with her for lunch at Plan B to catch up on things. I haven’t seen her since the last time she went back to Aussie so it was great to hook up again. I had a customized pasta last time I went to Plan B with Lainey bff so I decided on something a little easier on the stomach this time.

Ox tongue sandwich (RM 20)

ox tongue sandwich

This is a generous helping of ox tongue on an equally thick slice of bread.

ox tongue

The ox tongue is really good though and I love the mustard that came with it and the pickle on the side. I ate all the tongue in the sandwich, but I’m not a big fan of fries so I pretty much left it alone.

Eggs Royale (RM 16)

eggs royale

These are two poached eggs on muffins with slices of smoked salmon. I’m all for Plan B’s “all day breakfast” (there’s breakfast most of the day). I prefer the poached eggs on avocado and feta but Christy found this really good.

plan b telawi bangsar

Plan B has pretty decent food but the service can be hit and miss – I mean, if you’re going to open an establishment in Bangsar Telawi, staff that speaks good English is a bit of a prerequisite, I reckon.

Anyway, Christy shared this idea about life that has really piqued my interest. I shall try and implement it to the best of my capacity too. Heh! It would sure be fun.

social

We headed down for drinks at The Social after that. There was a rather interesting encounter with this Indian fortune teller who read Christy’s palm and did some parlor tricks. Anyway, the dude was doing his scam, noticed him when I got out of the loo and asked Christy if she was okay. After a bit, I decided to tell him to leave and after trading a few expletives, he finally did.

It’s strange though, there seem to be more and more interesting characters turning up in the Telawi area. I love the place though, it’s close to where I stay and you can just hang around and drink in the afternoon. I only like it on weekdays though, it’s a bit too packed during the weekends.

keyfob

Oh, and look what Christy got me from Melbourne! :)

She has convinced me that I need to go to Melbourne this year too. I haven’t been back in a long time and I do miss it. I suspect I’ll have to head to NZ before that though…family obligations.

lunch

Well, let’s cross that bridge when we come to it – July is coming up and it’s going to be a fun month for me! Let’s see how many trips I can squeeze into it. :D

Geylang Lor 9 Fresh Frog Porridge in SS2, Petaling Jaya

kung pow frog leg

Yes, this is a branch of the renowned Singaporean frog leg porridge located in the more dubious part of the island. I’ve had the pleasure of eating at the original Geylang Lorong 9 frog leg porridge in Singapore and have been known to drop by their branch in Petaling Jaya a couple of times and I’ve always found that they cook up a consistently good frog leg dish.

geylang lor 9 frog leg

I went there for a late lunch yesterday and ordered the medium kung pow frog leg claypot (RM 24). You don’t have to eat porridge if you don’t want to – there’s an option for rice as well, which we both went for. However, it should be noted that the awesome kung pow sauce goes better with porridge.

malaysia frog leg porridge

Anyway, I was telling Bonnie about how producers sell food at a higher price to supermarkets compared to restaurants coz the former needs to display their goods while the latter don’t. I remember watching a documentary where a restaurant owner was interviewed saying how supermarkets require better looking food items coz for display while restaurants can get away with the odd ones, since most of the cooking is done without the customer seeing it, but for the life of me I can’t remember exactly where I saw that show.

She sat there listening patiently until it dawned on me…it was actually her reporting assignment that I was watching a couple of days ago and that’s where I heard that fact. -_-

frog leg claypot

The Geylang Lor 9 Fresh Frog Porridge name is a bit of a misnomer since they don’t just serve the frog legs but the entire frog. It tastes really good though – frog meat is exquisitely tender and juicy – it’s like a cross between a fish and a chicken thigh.

geylang lor 9 frog leg us

I still prefer the original Singapore one though. I know they import their frog meat from Malaysia but it still tastes better to me. I suspect it’s the way they cook it – the flagship Singaporean Geylang Lorong 9 porridge place just has better claypot kung fu.

frog leg rice

Order the fresh barley if you can’t take spicy food – their kung pow frog leg can be pretty intense.

…to be 22 again

assignments

A friend of mine has been staying over my place and I have watched with great interest as she works on her assignments. Well, it’s not her assignments per se but rather the energy that she has. I have almost forgotten what it’s like to be 22 again.

I remember having heaps of energy when I was in my early 20′s – would be partying and staying out most of the day.

belly piercing

Bonnie has just got this awesome belly piercing too. I was supposed to go with her but I was busy on that day so I didn’t. That’s one part I miss a lot too – just being impulsive and doing whatever I like.

Growing old is all part of life but all too often, I find myself tiring easily. I can’t kick it like I could when I was 8 years younger. I like the progression that being in my 30′s affords but hey, won’t you love it to be young again? :)

Won’t it be great to be #foreveryoung?

Bak kut teh fortified with pig’s heart

Bah Kut Teh Recipe #3: Bak kut teh soup with pig’s heart

pig heart

A proper bak kut teh dish MUST have pork in it. It doesn’t matter what cut of pork (or offal) but the oink must be in the soup at some point.

pigs heart

This is the third and final installment of a three-step cooking process with my bak kut teh recipe. The first one is Chik kut teh with oily chicken rice and the second is the simple Bak kut teh ramen with drumstick and egg.

pig heart blood

Here comes the final dish of the series (sorry for the delay) where the bak kut teh soup has been stewed through all those two recipes, absorbing all the tastes and flavors in the process. The soup is delicious. It’s orgasmic. It just needs:

pig heart vein

A bleeding heart! *cue “We have a bleeder!”

pig heart prep

Well, a pig’s heart anyway. These things are pretty cheap, you can get a whole pig’s heart for about RM 4. I’ve cooked with pig’s heart before and can attest to the taste and texture of this wonderful organ in the portfolio of porcine delights.

pig heart slices

Start by slicing the pig heart into manageable pieces…

bkt pig heart

…before dumping it into the soup. There’s a lot of clotted blood inside the poor pink animal’s heart and you might want to remove that or just cook it as clotted blood. It really doesn’t make much of a difference as long as you wash it first. :)

bak kut teh pig heart

Let the pig’s heart simmer for about 30 minutes and you’ll end your bak kut teh adventures on a high note. The broth is hearty and the pig’s heart is chewy and absorbs all the flavors, producing a delectable slice of <3.

Royal Flush for Sixth Seal

Okay, check this out! I was pretty impressed by this music video made by The Promise. They based it on this post of mine. It’s basically a satire/parody thing that they’re doing for bloggers. I like how they customize each of their videos to the personalities of the blogger.

The Promise is a band that’s trying to raise awareness of the safety of online shopping. Surf over to the We Promise You site for more details.

I have to say, it’s a great initiative by both The Promise and Text100 Malaysia. I’ve always thought Text100 was one of the best PR companies I’ve ever seen and here’s an example of it – they actually make the video before contacting you and asking you for permission to post on the site. Now that’s initiative – actually doing stuff instead of calculating ROIs and all that. It’s the only way to go for the digital front. :)

The video is hilarious, check it out! Heh!

WAKE UP AND SMELL THE COFFEE!

orang utan

Heh! I’ve always wanted to title a blog post like that. In this case, there is at least some semblance of logical justification for it. I was in Singapore a few weeks ago and one of the things that we did was have breakfast with orang utans. There were also pythons for you to hold, it was a great start to the morning, truth to be told.

python

However, the highlights of my trip there were mostly towards the arts and theater scene that Singapore has to offer. I bugged Kristine to organize my itinerary around this show by Yukichi Matsumoto which I have been itching to catch. It showed at the Singapore Arts Festival 2011 and this is the first time the Ishinha theater group has done a performance outside of Japan.

entrance

Ishinha has very high standards for their stages and choreography. They build the set and props themselves and they’re quite partial about how it turns out. It was one of the most amazing shows I’ve ever seen. It’s held outdoors and I love the passion they put into their work – “This is a rain or shine event”.

rain shine

I expected this to be a niche show but I was surprised to see the packed. There were two Japanese men seated to my right and a bunch of Caucasians on holiday on my left. The seats are stadium type wooden boards – no frills but we managed to sit very comfortably by NOT sitting on the seats itself but on the one below you and using your seat as a backrest.

seating

I can’t credit myself for that though – the bunch of Caucasian ladies started sliding down and I thought that looked like a mighty fine position to be sitting in. You’re not disturbing anyone and your chiropractor would thank you for it. It’s all about the back support. Thus, I slid down as well and the woman grinned at me and said “It’s much more comfortable this way, eh?”

Yes, it is ma’am. Yes indeed. :)

programme

When A Grey Taiwanese Cow Stretched is a 120 minute performance with no intervals. You have to come in before it starts or the doors close. That’s the way to go about it. No disturbances from late arrivals.

I was actually very surprised by the performance. I expected it to be good but it just went and blew my mind.

ishinha

The stage structure is built in front of a city landscape which is integral to the story as a juxtaposition. When A Grey Taiwanese Cow Stretched explores a lot of themes from migrants, to the war and occupation of Japanese troops and how it affects their people. It’s all in Japanese and there’s subtitles to the side but what I really enjoyed was they way it was performed.

In lieu of dialogue, they use a form of rap to communicate. Known as Jan Jan Opera language, it’s a kind of Osakan street rap – it goes from a rapid staccato to a slow, ponderous chant. It’s quite unique and a very effective way to get the narrative across.

when a grey taiwanese cow stretched

It’s a very intense performance, especially if you have good seats (Thanks Kristine!). Don’t be surprised to see a troop of performers staring you down and intensely shouting about the pain they feel. One particular bit of dialogue that I found very well executed and poignant is:

You had affairs!
South American women.
With big bottoms!
Did you notice their breasts?
Shangri-la.
Paradise, isn’t it?
*sarcastic

I just wish I had enough money leftover to buy the soundtrack, it’s definitely worth it.

artscience museum

I also visited the ArtScience Museum for Salvador Dali’s work. The museum is shaped like a lotus (though some say it looks like a baseball mitt, including myself) and it’s actually quite vast inside.

I don’t think captions would do the great man’s work justice so I’m just going to post up the photos:

dali

melting clock

statue

The other thing that I really enjoyed was The Lion King at Marina Bay Sands Singapore.

pride rock

I’ve seen the West End production but the Singapore one was even better. The acoustics and the seating arrangements beats the one in Lyceum Theater near Convent Garden.

It’s just progress – the Marina Bay Sands theater is just more modern.

I also loved how they localized The Lion King Musical with a sprinkling of Mandarin and references to the Merlion. Don’t expect them to break into a refrain of “The (Mer)lion sleeps tonight” but there’s enough little touches that differentiates it and it’s an awesome performance by a new cast assembled from around the world.

pumba

Now, why don’t we get all this stuff in Malaysia? Oh well, at least I can visit Singapore instead of flying all the way to London next time I want to see a good theater performance.

lion king cast

Oh, by the way these are some of the upcoming performances in Singapore:

Cirque Éloize iD – Now until 26 June 2011
Kylie Minogue – Aphrodite Live -29 June 2011
The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber – 7 to 17 July 2011
Korean Music Wave 2011 – 15 July 2011
Paramore Live in Concert – 21 Aug 2011

If you’re interested in all that Singapore has to offer, hop on over to YourSingapore.com where there’s something for everyone!

Broken egg yolks

this has so many meanings its mindblowing

Why do I keep on breaking eggs? It seems that the shell crack sometime during transport and I don’t get a full dozen when I get home.

I don’t know.

Psychologists may say it has something to do with my “crucial formative years” and throw around prescriptions (yes, there is a medication for everything – all diseases real and imagined – better living through chemistry, ya know, they can even treat previously non-existent mental conditions nowadays too) and I totally forgot where I was going with this paragraph.

I shouldn’t have made that aside, that one really made me lose track and go into another line of thought, chasing it through the neural pathways, perusing the synapses okay I’m going to stop with stupid oh-i-forgot-what-the-blasted-word-is-suppposed-to-be-called now).

Anyway, you probably may (or may not I don’t really care which) have probably heard that I have broken up with my ex-girlfriend. She’s leaving today and going back to Sarawak.

Goodbye and all the best! Take care! :)

I was about to end this with something related to egg yolks but I totally forgot what I wanted to say. No matter.

Creative camwhoring 101

rubbernecking

I read something in a book about practical jokes when I was a kid. I didn’t know it at the time but it was actually a psychology experiment. Basically what the book tells you to do is to stand in the middle of a crowded place and start looking up – at nothing in particular. It goes on to postulate that people would either pass by and take furtive glances at what you’re looking at or plain stop and stare with you.

It’s universal and also called “rubbernecking”. You’re basically inciting curiosity just by actively participating in something.

sandboarding

Anyway, the reason I suddenly remember that good ol’ book of mine was coz I was at Sunway Pyramid with Bonnie last weekend. There was this installation with boards, a dune of molded sand and a letterbox with a background vista. It was an ambient structure and no one even paused to glance at it…

classic

…until we started to fool around and camwhore with it. It’s quite interesting to see how people stop, gape and start to want to participate. It went from a stone cold installation when we first got there to a hot one where we even had to queue to take more shots with it. Funny how it just takes one to get the ball rolling eh?

kids

This is an AirAsiaX Perth contest where you take a photo with the installation in the most creative way possible to stand a chance to win a trip to Perth for two. The theme at Sunway Pyramid is sandboarding in Kalbarri and there is a picture of two girls in a default pose, which most people (that came after us) emulated. I reckon we could do much better (or at least Bonnie could, with her flexibility).

boarding

1. De facto pose

default

2. Cheesy dual camwhore

headstand

3. My #fail handstand. Sorry AirAsiaX, I nearly destroyed your structure when I fell down. ;)

us

4. Bonnie does a headstand – she’s into capoeira which comes in very handy for this. I, on the other hand, is very good in looking nonchalant. Heh.

scorpion

5. Our piece de resistance! This is the one I’m going to submit. Bonnie is doing the Escorpio (Scorpion in Brazilian Portuguese) in the foreground to enhance the ambient installation – she is in fact, a prop in this pose. She’s the scorpion in the sand dunes in Kalbarri, Perth while I am dusting imaginary sand off my flip flops while sitting on a sand board.

There are installations in 1 Utama, Pavilion KL and Sunway Pyramid and all you need to do is to pose with the installation and email it to get a chance to win a trip for two to Perth. If you have terrible bearings, the first thing you should do is to approach the information counter and have them point you in the right direction. If you’re not comfortable with posing in public spaces, hey, be like Nike and Just Do It. I guarantee you there will be people looking and wanting a piece of the action once you get started.

people

Who did you think took our pictures? Random strangers posing with the structure who helped us with our photos once they were done. smirk

sandboard

I think our submission is pretty good. I really hope we win this contest. I swear, we spent almost an hour there doing various poses. We even came in the appropriate attire. I didn’t destroy the structure from a bad fall and Bonnie emerged intact without having to put on a neck brace. ;)

Try and beat our awesome poses by going to one of the installations. Check out the Perth contest post on the AirAsia blog for more details! We really want to win the contest but we’re confident our submission will be a pretty formidable one anyway. action #winning

Epic weekend: An impromptu trip to Ipoh, dodgy hotels, losing my wallet and my car bumper

brussels

The Friday night out

It all started on Friday night at Brussels Beer Cafe. It was during this inspiring round of drinks that the impromptu trip hatched. I was supposed to meet Bonnie there and truth to be told I don’t even remember how I got to know her and inquiring minds want to know. I also had half a mind to FFK the drinks on Friday thing coz I was really sick but I’m glad I didn’t coz it turned out to be one of the best weekends I’ve ever had. :)

We were having drinks in Jaya One when I finally got around to around to asking her how we know each other. It turns out that we don’t. She reads my blog, added me on Facebook and it was a random and casual “Okay, let’s have drinks sometime” that led to this particular day. Bonnie turns out to be 22 (!!!) and she’s a student at Monash. She also acts part time in local productions.

Anyway, it seems that we have something in common so we were just talking and suddenly I thought about going on a road trip. It was 12 am at the time and the plan was to head down to Ipoh for the dim sum.

house

I’ll follow her car back, pick her up, and then head down to Ipoh and stay the night at a hotel before waking up for breakfast.

Losing my wallet

The first thing that went wrong was losing my wallet. I think what happened is that I took it out and used my credit card to pump gas. I remember leaving the wallet on the boot of the car and taking the receipt but I did not remember taking the wallet back into the car. I suspect my wallet was still on the boot when I drove off. FML.

I had about 1-2k inside but what’s worse is the MyKad, driver’s license (!!!) and credit cards which I have to replace.

I only realized it when I got to Ipoh coz when it came to the toll, Bonnie paid for it but I was puzzled as to where my wallet was – it was supposed to be on the dashboard. However, after a prolonged search when we arrived there, it was nowhere to be found. My car can be a black hole sometimes, but it’s still a confined space so after looking into every nook and cranny, the most plausible explaination is that I left it on the boot and drove off.

Naturally, without any money, Bonnie had to withdraw from an ATM and we went in search of a hotel.

drive

She also took over the driving.

Dodgy hotels

room

I think we went to 5-6 hotels but all of them were full. It was insane! There’s apparently some kind of military function going on there and it was about 5 am when we finally drove up to this dodgy looking place called Shanghai Hotel.

bath

They had one room left and it was RM 40. I guess some would call it rustic and charming and maybe even full of character but it’s the kind of place where you’re afraid you’ll get syphilis, gonorrhea AND herpes just from sleeping on the sheets. >.<

This is what the hotel room looks like.

Anyway, my pillow had this really weird smell to it so I shared Bonnie’s pillow and we slept, fulling intending to wake up at 8 am in the morning.

dodgy

It was 11 am when I woke up.

Foh San dim sum

foh san

This is what we were down in Ipoh for. Bonnie swears by the lam mei pau. It’s a bun that’s filled with fatty pork and it’s absolutely fabulous. It was well worth the drive down.

foh san dim sum

We also had some other stuff – my usual har kao (prawn dumplings) and a memorable dim sum made with juicy succulent prawns and salted egg yolk.

lam mei

However, the lam mei pau was every bit as good as Bonnie said it was. We were afraid we’ve missed it but apparently even though the dim sim place tells you it’s no longer available, you can get it by going to the take away counter and ordering it.

ipoh white coffee

Try it, and thank Bonnie (or rather, her mom) if it works. We even got a box to tapau back home.

Caption: Why drink canned Ipoh white coffee in Ipoh?

Anyway, since I didn’t have a license and Bonnie was rushing for her class, she drove down instead. It was an interesting experience to have someone else drive you car at 160 km/h and swerving through lanes to avoid traffic. It’s like a roller-coaster, without the safety features. ;)

bonnie

Oh, and I also lost my rear bumper somewhere during the drive to Ipoh.

shanghai

It’s not an epic weekend unless you’ve lost a car bumper, your wallet and all the identification in it, slept in a dodgy hotel and sped back to KL…and the weekend is still not over. Bonnie crashed at my place last night and helped me out with something I had to get done during the weekend.

I know it sounds like a tragic weekend, but it’s really an awesome one. Seriously, it’s not a havoc weekend unless you’ve lost something and now I’m driving with no driver’s license, MyKad and with a missing bumper.

bumper

Cop magnet much? This illegal PRC immigrant says yes. I’ve been diligently avoiding roadblocks so let’s hope I can keep up with that until Monday.

I had a great weekend. How’s yours? ;)

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