My mom’s battle with lung cancer

mom cancer

It has been three months since I last saw my mom. She picked me up from the airport this morning and I noticed some physical changes – particularly a really aggressive acne-like rash all over her face and upper body. It’s more visible in real life, but my mom’s a fighter.

She was diagnosed about two years ago and opted for lung surgery in New Zealand. However, that didn’t really work out and she went on chemotherapy and then radiotherapy (which explains the hair loss, it’s more noticeable around the eyebrows) which forced it into remission for a bit before it the cancer returned again.

My mom switched her medication recently and she told me she’s not particularly curious about how it works. I know it’s a TKI and it costs an insane amount of money. The side effects are really intense – the skin condition being the most dangerous since it can be fatal if not monitored properly. Yes, this drug can kill you in rare cases, but the same is true for all medication.

However, the FDA has approved it for certain types of advanced lung cancer where chemotherapy alone has failed. It improves the overall survival rate by 19% when used together with chemotherapy and the manufacturer claims it extends life by 3.3 months when the end game comes. It is rather expensive though – the single dose per day tablet costs RM 300.

It’s a patented drug that will only expire in 2020 although there is another pharmaceutical company embroiled in a lawsuit for producing generics for the Indian market (who won’t be able to afford the patented drug anyway).

This means the medication alone will cost RM 9,000 per month. The other ancillary costs like PET scans, tumor marker tests, hospital bills etc hasn’t been factored in yet and I’ve been meaning to contribute more to help defray the costs.

bandaged fingertips

My mom has bandages on most of her fingertips due to the rash (it looks like acne – raised pimples and patches) so I’ve been helping around the house. I just realized that our kitchen sink is built really low – got a backache just from washing all the dishes inside.

mom rash

However, I’m glad I came home. I’ll be here for a week, all the better to spend some time with my mom and dad. :)

3 interesting things I saw while grocery shopping in Jakarta

1. Two feet long aloe vera

huge aloe vera

It’s called lidah buaya in the local parlance, except these monstrosities grow up to 2 feet long (!). The shortest one is easily 1 1/2 foot and the girth is pretty impressive too.

2. Sukkari dates

sukkari dates

The appearance of dates means the fasting month of Ramadan for Muslims is around the corner. Sukkari dates hails all the way from Medina in Saudi Arabia and it’s hard, dry and intensely sweet. The appearance is conical and Sukkari dates are considered a delicacy – premium items that’s very much in demand according to the people at Hero (a grocery store chain in Jakarta). It retails for IDR 35,000 (RM 12) for 100 grams and I ate a couple thanks to the person manning the place.

They also sell Anbara dates – the largest date species in the world, and the polar opposite to Sukkari dates texture-wise. I had Anbara dates a couple of years ago and it’s soft and chewy unlike the “grainy” mouthfeel of Sukkari dates.

3. Short bean sprouts

short bean sprouts

This is something I’ve never seen before despite trawling the specialty grocery stores back home. It’s simply called “short taugeh” and you can see the bean with just a hint of sprout. The unusual retarded sprouting process is pictured next to regular bean sprouts for comparison. It looks like an adolescent trying to grow facial hair. smirk

Posted: 1:55 am Jakarta time (GMT +7)

Couchsurfing in Jakarta – don’t forget your towel

couchsurfing

I’m currently staying in Taman Anggerek after one night at a hotel in Kota Tua which cost us IDR 420,000 (about RM 140). It was a really last minute decision, we headed out to Pantai Indah Kapuk (PIK) to meet with friends and it was suddenly decided that we’ll just crash at their place.

taman anggerek jakarta

It was about 12:30 pm (!) at that time. We rushed back to the hotel and checked out just in time before heading back to Condominium Taman Anggerek. I grabbed the toothbrush and shaver from the hotel before checking out and went to Matahari – a departmental store here – to get a towel for IDR 37,000 (RM 12).

taman anggerek

Here’s the view from the 26th floor – the view of Jakarta Barat (West Jakarta) is quite polluted but it looks like it’s going to be an awesome place to stay. I haven’t couch surfed in a while.

couchsurfing jakarta

Thanks for having us Eric + wife and Yong Ming! :)

Posted: 9:40 pm Jakarta time (GMT +7)

A private dinner at the penthouse of KEN Bangsar

private dinner

KEN Bangsar has exactly four penthouse units with an amazing view of the Klang Valley. It is also the highest residential building in the entire Klang Valley. This one spans three (3) storeys and has it’s own swimming pool and lounge area complete with a wet bar and a steam room. KEN Bangsar also has 76 apartments for a total of 80 units with 4 design styles and layouts and incredibly good security. The basement car park is rather unique too – it has perforated walls to allow better wind flow so you won’t get the stuffy “ambiance” common in traditional car parks.

dinner

This is where we had our private dinner of various savory and sweet canapes cooked right in the kitchen of the penthouse.

canapes

I particularly liked the Green Vegetables Risotto with Herbs Emulsion

king prawn ravioli

…and the King Prawn Ravioli with Melted Leeks and Cardamom Sauce. Sorry for making you hold the platter so long, anonymous server.

lap pool

This is the private lap pool at the penthouse. I would love to stay here. Your very own pool, imagine the legendary parties you can throw.

Here’s a video tour of the penthouse to coax the good ol’ green eyed monster out of its lair.

pool

Okay, starting from the beginning, KEN Bangsar is built as an ecologically friendly green residential unit. I love how their swimming pool has in-pool lounges. I was staying at this resort once and fell asleep in one. Very comfortable, if you like the water. The premium KEN Bangsar also has 18 carat gold mosaic pieces embedded in the bottom of the pool!

lobby

There are boring looking corridors that actually provides an important function – it’s a wind tunnel to displace the hot air and provide cooler air into the lobby lounge area. There are no fans in the lobby, the use of natural wind is used so the result is a staggeringly low condo maintenance electricity bill of just RM 2,000 per month (!!!).

living room

This is made possible by the complementary system that conditions and recycles condensate water into an evaporation feature wall. I don’t know what exactly this means except that it reduces the temperature using technologically advanced systems.

This acronym explains it pretty well:

THE CHEEL SYSTEM
Condensate water harvested from the management office air conditioner, a
Heat pump drawing heat from the air-conditioner compressor and providing
Energy for hot water to the common toilets and cool air piped into the
Evaporative waterfall at lift lobby to
Lower the temperature of the double volume lounge and lift lobby for additional indoor thermal comfort for the residents

water feature

This means the water feature isn’t for show either, like most of the things here. The interesting textured facade inside the building is made of excess recycled tiles – note the uneven surface, it’s an aesthetic consideration that took place before KEN Bangsar was built so they can have enough excess tiles (these are the odd sized ones you cut off at the end of the unit – look at the corner of your floor) to use as a decorative feature.

ken bangsar

The windows are tinted with a special coating that makes it invisible (so there’s no dimness associated with traditional car tinting – all light is preserved) while providing 100% UV protection. You won’t have to worry about someone running into the glass and breaking it too coz it’s strengthened laminated glass.

view

This is the very same KEN Holdings who built Ken I and II beside Tropicana City Mall – I thought the name sounded familiar. KEN Bangsar is their first foray into green and ecologically friendly developments and they also have another one in Shah Alam called KEN Rimba.

ken rimba

This time KEN Holdings used their experience constructing a green building (KEN Bangsar) to develop an entire green townshipKEN Rimba! It’s the first one in Malaysia and the guarded community has ecologically friendly features which includes:

  • Breathable roofs to keep the interior cool and lower energy costs
  • Rainwater harvesting for reuse in lawn irrigation, car washing or janitorial purposes
  • Extensive landscaping with lush gardens surrounding a pool for the corner units
  • North-south orientation and louver windows angled to admit light and air but to keep out rain, direct sunshine and noise

ken rimba legian residences

KEN Rimba is a two-phase development with the first (Legian) due to be handed over next month. Legian Residences has 328 terrace homes and with all the ecological features, it’s set to be the new gold standard for true green living! They’re preparing to launch the next phase of houses – Jimbaran Residences (love the Bali vibe) – it’s open for registration so contact them if you want to embrace a green lifestyle!

Website: http://kenholdings.com.my/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KEN.Greenbook
Twitter: http://twitter.com/samCS10

penthouse

It’s interesting to see that more development companies are going the green route with technological implementations that makes it ecologically friendly without sacrificing functionality and comfort. I personally wouldn’t mind living in KEN Bangsar – the units are beautifully designed and if it contributes to the environment, then all the better.

me

…now if only I don’t have a really bad habit of draining my condo fund consistently at the most random moments when the urge strikes me.

White water rafting in Gopeng

white water rafting

I had dinner with Jazz just now and recalled our white water rafting experience in Gopeng, Perak. The stretch of Kampar River that we went on is rated as Grade 2, which is very basic compared to the Class 4 in Pelagus Rapids, Kapit (about an hour from my hometown) and sea kayaking in Australia that I experienced last year.

talk to my paddle

However, it’s always fun to go white water rafting regardless of the skill level. I’ve even gone tandem white water rafting with no raft, Jackass style. Heh. I’m amazed at how skinny I was back then.

safety briefing

The white water rafting experience in Gopeng started with a safety briefing which goes through all the basics for beginners…

white water rafting training

…an introduction to the feeling of being swept away by the rapids – all of us went off the first churning stretch feet first without a raft.

You basically let the current take you down for about 100 meters while a guy at the end throws you a line with a flotation device to rope you back in. I thought that was a great idea to introduce new people to how being in the rapids feel like.

white water rafts

I was sitting in front and it’s a rush to go over the rapids by not holding on to the side raft rope (not recommended for beginners – look ma, no hands) while swinging the paddle ala Darth Maul in Star Wars – learned this trick from one of the instructors. ;)

white water rafting us

I fell out of the raft once but managed to get back in without any help. It’s a fun experience for all ages – you don’t even need to know how to swim (although that would be a plus) and if you go during the evening, I hear the rapids gets more intense.

instructor

Anyway, halfway through the course, me and the instructor got out heads together to throw Jazz into the water coz she was holding on to the rope the entire time. This effort was the reason I fell out of the raft myself as mentioned above – the plan called for him to signal me and we’ll both lean right to shift the center of gravity and flip the boat.

white water rafting capsize

Unfortunately, I confused right with left. I leaned left while the weight was to the right and promptly fell into the water. Haha!

white water rafting safe

We did save someone who fell in and got swept away, but we did not get Jazz into the water except during two planned capsizes in totally calm waters so we can learn to set the raft upright and get back in.

white water rafting team

Lina of Kosmo interviewed me about the experience so if you can read BM, here’s the link – it translates to Challenging the Rapids at Kampar River. I think. My BM is quite rusty.

bath

I love white water rafting in Kampar River, Gopeng. It was fun for me since I didn’t hunker down or hold on to the rope when we went over the rapids. Instead, I swung the paddle overhead while making appropriate whooping noises. smirk

Achievement unlocked: Yin/Yang

klcc

You have managed to snap a photo of the KL Petronas Twin Towers with one tower powered off and the other on. This happens when the synchronization is wonky and usually lasts a few seconds. You either got a lucky shot or have too much time on your hands.

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