Sarawak State Elections 2016: Voting at N54 Pelawan, Sibu

Sibu Voting

I don’t know what you’re saying but I agree with everything.

I’m back in Sibu for the Sarawak state elections! I just bought my ticket a couple of days ago. To be honest, I didn’t feel like flying back to vote. There’s been a lot of talk of “political fatigue” and I think that’s the general feeling among the masses. The people aren’t swarming the polling centers like the “Chinese tsunami” last election to protest against the government and the love affair with the Opposition might have plateaued.

Sibu Elections 2016

Whatever the reason, a lot of people aren’t making the effort and spending the money to come back to vote. I felt the same but at the last minute decided to shell out the cash for a plane ticket to exercise my right to vote.

Sibu Kampua

I am privy to a rather interesting political Whatsapp group and despite not contributing much, I read every single post. These are a bunch of diverse people from traditional media journalists to ex-political party members from SUPP, a BN offshoot in Sarawak.

I heard someone mention that this Sarawak state election is a referendum for Najib. I was quite surprised since I have never thought of it that way. I think a lot of people like me don’t see it that way. Instead, we see it as a referendum for Chief Minister Adenan. These are two very different people.

Sarawak State Elections 2016

I’m an Opposition supporter. I vote DAP (Democratic Action Party) every single time. I come from a middle class Christian Chinese family in Sibu, Sarawak. To make parallels with the political scene in the United States, I would be considered as a WASP – a rather conservative voting bloc. I go to the BERSIH rallies. I told my better half that I come from a Chinese majority town and even she was surprised when I showed her the official government census data from my area.

I vote in a constituency known as N54 Pelawan and out of the eligible voters, a staggering 91.2% is Chinese. The distant second is Malay AND Melanau combined for just 4.9%. This is often refered to as the “Muslim” voting bloc but that isn’t entirely correct coz a lot of Melanaus are Christian. Ibans constitute another 3.1% and the dreaded term Others come in at 0.8%. These figures aren’t representative of Malaysia as a whole but it’s fairly accurate for Sibu.

Sibu Church

What surprises a lot of first time visitors is how many churches we have here. We don’t have a lot of mosques – they’re all tucked away in kampungs and such, but there are many churches in town. Sibu is an overwhelming Chinese majority town and a sizable portion of the Chinese are Christians. This unusual quirk is due to the person who first came to Sarawak (he was a Christian evangelical) but that’s history, what is interesting is our demographics now.

Anyway, as I was saying, I (and I bet a lot of others) see this election as a referendum for CM Adenan and to be fair, he seems like a great guy. I can’t deny that he has done a lot for Sarawakians. He has also stemmed the worrying trend of Islamic extremism by keeping a ban list of extremist preachers and passed a controversial law which allows Muslim converts to revert back to Christianity (in the landmark case of Roneey Anak Rebit).

This has endeared him to the local Christian Chinese community and he was also the first to open the civil service to UEC holders (a Chinese examination). The latter doesn’t really affect me since I’ve studied in New Zealand ever since I was 15 and graduated from Australia (this blog started in Melbourne), but it’s nice to know he’s looking out for everyone. He has also pushed for greater Sarawak autonomy and rights. By most accounts, he’s doing a stellar job.

I certainly think so.

(Please don’t lynch me, fellow Opposition supporters)

Sibu Voting Center

However, I was also talking to some older people today and they all saw it as a referendum for not Adenan but for Najib. That makes it an entirely different issue altogether but the problem is, not many people see it that way. I certainly didn’t, and I think that’s one of the greatest successes of the PBB political machine. They have pushed the man Adenan so much that a lot of people (myself included) have divorced the national issues with Najib from the Sarawak state election.

…and that’s dangerous coz if BN does well here, they’ll have the confidence to call the general elections sooner.

Vote

Despite what I personally think about CM Adenan, I feel like it’s healthy to have a strong Opposition and that’s why I will always vote for DAP. It’s not coz they have a realistic chance of winning – it’s about not giving the current government such free and unchecked reign.

DAP

I voted for David Wong Kee Woan (DAP).

My Partner’s Birthday: Hakuto Jelly, Japanese Snacks and Valrhona Feuilletine Cake!

Happy Birthday

My better half just celebrated her birthday yesterday on the 13th of April. I got her a huge box of presents and we had sushi and birthday cake before going out shopping for Japanese snacks. She told me she wanted to get Japan imports for her birthday and we spent a few hundred dollars on that alone. However, I also packed her a gift using back the box she gave me on my birthday (which I originally gave to her).

Birthday Yee Ling

Happy birthday dear!

Birthday Card

I found a hilarious birthday card that goes “Old Already Lor“. smirk

Typo

It was from Typo in KLCC. I always get her serious cards so I thought I’ll go the funny route this time.

Liquid Soap

I also got her liquid hand soap since she has been using the same one for over a year.

Bath Body Works

I got two different ones from Bath & Body Works.

Handmade Soap

There was a booth outside selling fancy handmade soap and I thought they smelled really nice. The promoter told me you can also hang the soap-on-a-rope in a car so it acts like an air freshener so I got one sliced like a mango for her. She likes things like these.

Hakuto Jelly Shop

I also went to Isetan to get Hakuto jelly (白桃ゼリー). This is a dessert they make with hakuto peaches from Okayama and the mineral rich spring water there. We’ve seen this before but my better half didn’t want to get it coz it was quite expensive. Hakuto jelly is costly due to the price of the peaches which are used to make it.

Hakuto Peach Jelly

The smallest box of two goes for RM 85 while a box of 4 goes for RM 170. You can also get a 3 piece box for RM 127.50.

Sakura Mochi

I also managed to get sakura mocha. Haha! We ate this exact same thing in Hokkaido and it was very good. The ones here are imported from Japan and made using sakura cherry blossom flowers and leaves too but my dear didn’t like them as much. She much preferred the ones we had in Sapporo.

Shopping Basket

Oh, I got so many things that I took the shopping basket from Isetan to my car. I didn’t even realize I inadvertently took it out until I almost got to my car. Oops!

Birthday Present

I got home and packed all the birthday gifts into the box – the mason jar she likes, a jar of Reese’s peanut butter and chocolate spread, matcha chooclates etc.

Birthday Gift

The box!

Birthday Candles

I had gotten a row of candles that goes “Happy Birthday” for RM 13 too. I thought it’ll go well with the cake.

Bisque Cake

The cake is from Bisque. I had ordered it a week before and this one is called The Michelangelo. The base price is RM 218 but you can customize it as you wish and the final bill will be sent to you. I added a lot of fondant writing.

Valrhona Birthday Cake

The cake is really good! It’s made with feuilletine, Valrhona Jivara chocolate and hazelnut paste as the base so there’s a crunchy textural element. The top is vanilla bean cake with chocolate pearls and there’s also Valrhona Dulcey blonde mousse mixed into the layers. I like how they put gold leaf together with the chocolate pearls.

Feuilletine Cake

It tastes like Ferrero Rocher as the base, with the same texture sensation. The fluffy and light vanilla bean cake is a nice pairing since the base is really sweet. The blonde chocolate mousse makes it very rich and easy to eat. It’s one of the nicest birthday cakes I’ve had and we all enjoyed it, including the kids. I even had some for supper.

Hakuto Jelly

She unwrapped the presents (the Shimizu Hakuto Jelly was wrapped really nicely) and we headed out to Okashi World with the kids to buy Japanese snacks. They have a promotion where you can buy up to RM 200 on your birthday and get 50% discount so we took advantage of that. I ended up spending RM 380+ there but it was worth it coz she really liked the Japanese imports and the kids loved the candy too.

Japanese Snacks

It was a great birthday that we spent together with the kids at home. Happy birthday dear! I look forward to making more great memories with you. Love you always! <3

Horlicks NutriQuest Roadshow @ Orange Concourse, Sunway Pyramid

Horlicks NutriQuest Game

I was at the Horlicks NutriQuest event over the weekend. It took up one of the concourses of Sunway Pyramid and the Horlicks NutriQuest roadshow is open to the public. However, on the event day, media and bloggers were invited to join the exclusive campaign launch session. The roadshow was meant to introduce a new game for iOS and Android which is incorporated with the story elements of being Tall, Strong and Sharp in the mobile game play. The story elements are coincidentally also what Horlicks is all about. Horlicks wants to engage kids of all ages through fun adventures available online and on ground by being Tall, Strong and Sharp!

Horlicks MidValley

Dr Greedy is the key character in the game. He is an evil scientist and the mastermind of the robbery in the Horlicks Factory because he does not want our kids to benefit from the nutrition provided by Horlicks. I also met him in person over the weekend. Haha. He (and his Metaloids) destroyed all Horlicks caches to prevent kids from growing Tall, Strong and Sharp. You’re one of the adventurers that steps up to stop him. This was reflected in the booths too – in addition to the one which had demos of the game running, there were three (3) activity booths.

Horlicks Tall

Tall is a Horlicks NutriQuest booth set up according to your height. Thus, this goes up if you’re higher and down if you’re lower. It’s all about giving a fair chance to kids, so it’s set to your relative height. You’re supposed to catch the Horlicks star. Are you tall enough to defeat Dr Greedy?

Horlicks Strong

Strong is where they set up a Bop Bag. This is a HUGE plastic Dr Greedy which has been bottom stabilized so it never topples over. You try and punch it as hard as you can to earn a stamp on your card. This is meant for kids but I tried punching the Bop Bag as hard as I could. It actually went over but didn’t topple, just as it was designed to do. Nifty.

Horlicks Sharp

Sharp is where they had a wild west rogue’s gallery of Dr Greedy and his henchmen. You’re armed with a semi-automatic Nerf gun full of foam darts. Your aim is to take out the entire board with just one bullet each. It was quite a challenge since Nerf guns don’t always shoot straight. I had fun at this booth, as did most older kids.

Nerf Gun

Stacy Wallace, the General Manager of GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) Consumer Healthcare Malaysia launched the Horlicks NutriQuest Campaign and the mobile game app with the media after that. We also had lunch at Delicious courtesy of GSK. I have two kids and there was one (1) watch in the media kit so I asked her if it was possible to get another one. Thanks to her, I managed to get another one so the kids won’t fight. :)

Horlicks NutriQuest

Plus, she’s a mom too so she knows how it’s like having two kids. You either don’t give it to them at all (since you only have one) or you get another one and she was kind enough to procure another watch for me. What’s this watch, you say? Well, it’s an item from Horlicks which you can redeem too!

Horlicks Fun

Each Horlicks pack will have Horlicks NutriCoins inside within the duration of this campaign and the Horlicks NutriCoins can be redeemed for both in-game levels *and* exclusive prizes through online redemption.

Horlicks Event

I’ll showcase more about the Horlicks NutriQuest interactive adventure game in a separate post. Horlicks also offers 23 vital nutrients which are essential for growth and children development and I though it’s a great idea for the NutriCoins to be redeemable for awesome merchandise like watches in addition to in-game levels such as to unlock exclusive levels in the 4th Dimension world.

Dr Greedy

No, I’m not acting cool. I’m defeating Dr Greedy in-game and IRL at the same time! The game is very we-well-polished and fun, go download it for either iOS or Android now!

My before and after photos!

Before After

I’m sure a lot of people are curious to see photos like these. There has to be a reason why these Before and After photos are popular in all aesthetics related field. Here’s mine!

Warning: Some photos might be a little graphic since they show my insides in great detail.

Now, with that slightly clickbait sounding introduction (smirk) let me introduce you to some of the photos Imperial Dental Bangsar has been kind enough to share with me. These are taken by a professional photographer (they have one in-house) that takes snaps of you before procedures. I have had photos taken several times during the course of my Invisalign treatment (and once when I had a saliva duct infection).

Teeth

This is a shot of my front teeth.

Upper Jaw

Here’s one of the upper jaw…

Lower Jaw

…and a photo of my lower jaw.

The leftmost/upper pictures are all Before and the rightmost/lower ones are the After shots…or should I say “During”? I’m still in the midst of my Invisalign treatment – in fact, my awesome orthodontist Dr Salima made new Invisalign molds coz one of my lower left back teeth isn’t coming out as fast. There’s still a long journey ahead but you can see the positive changes already. There’s an inward growing teeth which has been removed in the picture above so everything looks nicer.

Before

My teeth are also a lot straighter now, even though it’s barely halfway through my treatment. I also realized I’ve grown A LOT fatter over the past year. T_T

Haha! I’ll post up more of these photos again soon!

BTW, I get a lot of comments asking about the cost of the procedure, and I’m not qualified to answer that since it differs for each individual. Try surfing over to Imperial Dental Bangsar and message them on Facebook for a proper quote if you’re interested. Cheers!

Driving with Shell V-Power Racing!

Racing

The first time I experienced Shell V-Power Racing was earlier this year. I liked how it works for me, so I did a bit of reading up. To my surprise, I found out that it’s the first performance fuel in Malaysia, which has been around for 10 years! Can’t believe that it’s been around for a decade and I only got to know about in it 2016!

Station

Anyway, I tested it out recently and was pleasantly surprised, which was when I started using Shell V-Power Racing. I’ve been using it for 2 weeks since and it’s been very beneficial to me, as someone who drives a lot every day, a road warrior if you will (though not the Mad Max kind). You can really feel the performance when accelerating from a dead stop.

V-Power Racing

Shell V-Power Racing is formulated by 120 scientists and specialists around the world dedicated to the research and development of fuel. When you start accelerating from traffic lights (for example), you can really feel the fuel unlock a lot more power from the engine and better yet, it’s now Euro 4M compliant, so the emission standards are better for modern Euro 4-compliant cars too.

Shell develops the fuel by leveraging its Technical Partnership with Ferrari. Shell V-Power Racing contains a unique double action formulation, which is designed to unlock the potential of your car and actively clean your engine, in addition to reducing friction to produce more power. Awesome stuff!

Shell V-Power Racing uses the same Friction Modification Technology (FMT) used in Shell V-Power race fuel by Ferrari Formula 1 cars. It’s designed to reduce friction by introducing a surface coating component, which protects critical engine parts. I really like how Shell V-Power Racing cleans my engine while I’m driving and I’m sure that will have a lot of benefits down the road.

Shell V-Power Racing also helps unlock valuable energy by enabling a more efficient energy transfer from the fuel to the wheels. The way Shell V-Power Racing removes existing deposits can also enhance the responsiveness of your engine and with regular usage, Shell V-Power Racing can even help maintain a new car’s performance and in some cases, even recapture an engine’s performance!

Interesting fact: Shell V-Power race fuel supplied to Scuderia Ferrari’s Formula 1 team contains at least 99% of the same types of compounds normally found in the Shell V-Power Racing road fuel we get in Shell stations in Malaysia!

It’s nice to finally have a performance fuel, which not only actively cleans your engine, but is also formulated to reduce friction in critical engine areas and deliver high performance. These benefits are designed to give you an edge throughout the day, whether you are making short or long trips.

Shell Euro4M

Shell V-Power Racing is now available in over 45 stations around Malaysia. Drive into your nearest Shell station now or check out the list of stations where Shell V-Power Racing is available.

Omakase birthday dinner @ Nobu Kuala Lumpur

Nobu Kuala Lumpur

My better half made reservations at Nobu KL for my birthday dinner. Nobu Kuala Lumpur is located at the 56th floor of Petronas Twin Towers (Tower 3) so it has an amazing view of the city. We managed to get a table for two by the window and the panoramic view of the sun setting over KL made for a very nice and memorable dinner.

Nobu

There are two types of omakase at Nobu KL – Nobu Signature Omakase (RM 385) is a selection of their most popular dishes and the Special Omakase (RM 455) is the “real” omakase, which consists of specially made dishes by the chef which you can’t find in the regular menu. The latter changes daily and contains off-menu items so I went with that.

Nobu Waitress

They also have a 5-Course Omakase (RM 280) which is only available from 6-8 pm on Sunday and Monday. The regular omakase menu has 7 courses. My better half opted for this coz she thought she wouldn’t be able to finish a full omakase. The friendly waitress served us with a bottle of Tau Sparkling Water (RM 38) as soon as we were seated and service was attentive without being intrusive.

Special Omakase (RM 455 per pax)

Nobu Appetizer

Cold Appetizers
The omakase follows the format of 2 cold entrées, followed by 2 hot entrées, with 2 mains and a dessert to end everything. This is the first course with four (4) separate bite-sized or larger dishes. I’ll write about them individually, from left.

Tomato Chawanmushi

Chilled Tomato Chawanmushi with Fresh Truffle
I really enjoyed this one. The waitress helpfully suggested the eating order so the flavors would go from mild to moderate and this is meant to be the first appetizer. It was super refreshing – the chilled chawanmushi and the acidity from the tomatoes was perfect for the hot nights we’ve been getting. There was a fair bit too, so it’s not just minute portions.

Tiradito

Whole Fish Tiradito with Yuzu, Rocoto and Coriander
Tiradito is a Peruvian raw fish dish which is somewhat similar to ceviche but with a more Japanese influence. It’s quite unusual since the acid marinate is not overwhelming so you can still taste the rawness of the fish. There’s also a hit of spiciness from the rocoto at the end. I liked it.

Seared Scallop Caviar

Pan Seared Scallop with Jalapeno Dressing and Caviar
This beautifully cooked scallop had a small helping of caviar on top. The salty sturgeon roe elevates the scallop and the edible flower provides a textural crunch to the dish (as did the sliver of carrot).

Salmon Kelp Roll

Salmon Kelp Roll
The simple sounding name is deceptive – this is a really complex dish! The raw salmon is rolled up into a sausage-like tubular package, with bits of kelp stuffed inside. I thought to myself, okay a salmon roll then, popped it into my mouth and nearly gagged from surprise. The combined textures and flavors are amazing! It’s my favorite appetizer.

Nobu Sushi

Assorted Sushi Chef’s Selection
The second course! We have (top to bottom) engawa (inside of flounder fin) sushi with miso salt, otoro (fatty tuna belly) sushi with wasabi salsa, hirame (fluke) sushi, and aji (horse mackerel) sushi topped with scallions and grated ginger.

Aji Sushi

I liked how some of the sushi had unusual toppings like wasabi salsa on top. That’s a very Nobu-style dish, with influences from Latin America.

Otoro Sushi

The otoro and engawa can’t compare to the superb sushi we had at One Star Michelin Isezushi in Otaru a few weeks ago, but this isn’t Hokkaido, so I can’t expect the freshness and quality to be the same. I wish the otoro was fattier though. It can’t hold a candle to the stuff in Sapporo but then this is Malaysia.

Beetroot Dry Miso Salad

Baby Spinach Salad and Beetroot Dry Miso with Konbu and White Fish
I just realized the skinny mumbling Malay waiter mixed up our dishes! He gave this to my dear and gave my better half’s dish to me. Ish! What an nincompoop. Our regular waitress was more on point. I only discovered as I was writing, in the video I took I remembered asking him which was which and he *still* messed up the order. How incompetent, I’ll write an email to them later.

Umami Chilean Seabass

Chilean Seabass (Umami)
This is a nice charred piece of Chilean seabass. The fish flakes beautifully and tastes fresh and light. It’s cooked to perfection too, it’s quite remarkable that they managed to produce a bitter tasting char on the outside while still retaining the moist tenderness on the inside. I like the tsukemono (pickles) that came with the dish – it really cuts through the richness and provides a burst of much-needed acidity.

Nobu Waygu Beef

Smoked Waygu Beef with Grilled Shimeji Mushroom and Truffle Teriyaki Sauce
I love Waygu beef and we ate quite a lot of it during the kaiseki-ryori dinner at our ryokan in Hokkaido. This is a different implementation, the flavor is quite heavy-handed but in a good way. I like the grilled Shimeji mushrooms too – they’re superbly umami and savory tasting. The Waygu beef was decently marbled too.

Lobster Miso Soup

Lobster Miso Soup
This came out as an apt course to wash away the heaviness of the beef course before dessert. It’s a miso soup with lots of lobster flesh inside. I suppose this is what the RM 70 supplement you pay extra for the Special Omakase is for. The dashi-based broth was hearty and I enjoyed drinking it. I like how they put in a generous amount of lobster too.

Green Tea Parmesan Cheesecake with Truffle Meringue

Green Tea Parmesan Cheesecake with Truffle Meringue and Yuzu Sorbet
This is a deconstructed dessert with the matcha cheesecake topping on one side, the base as a slice and the meringue as little dots scattered around the plate. It sounds modernist but it works very well. I enjoyed the rich matcha flavor and the dessert works beautifully when eaten together. The yuzu sorbet was very refreshing. It’s a wonderful end to my omakase dinner.

5-Course Omakase (RM 280 per pax)

Nobu Salmon Tartare

Salmon Tartare in Wasabi Soy Sauce topped with Caviar with a side of Fresh Apricot
The presentation of my dear’s first dish was impressive. It came in a double bowl filled with ice! The inner bowl contains the salmon tartare mixed with onion and garlic in wasabi soy sauce. There’s a caviar topping too and the combination works well together. Very appetizing. You’re supposed to finish it first before starting on the apricot, which is served right on top of the ice cubes.

Tuna Sashimi Salad Matsuhisa Dressing

Tuna Sashimi Salad with Matsuhisa Dressing
I know exactly how this tastes like coz it was sent to me in error! It’s not the fault of our original waitress but a bumbling Malay local who confused our order. However, our waitress should have ensured this did not happen in the first place. Oh well. Matsuhisa is the name of the owner e.g. Nobu Matsuhisa, the Japanese style dressing is his trademark.

Nobu Tempura

Chilean Seabass Tempura with Amazu Ponzu
My better half popped one of the tempura pieces into my mouth and I thought it was fried well but wasn’t particularly spectacular. I then noticed the ponzu sauce and dipped into it, it went famously well together! I was sorely tempted to have another but I thought I shouldn’t be eating so much of my dear’s courses. It was very nice together, the amazu ponzu sauce was brilliant and the tempura is unfaultable – perfectly done.

Nobu Quail

Pan Seared Quail with Wasabi Salsa and Tomato Ceviche
I tried really hard to like this dish and to be fair, the quail was cooked perfectly. It was still tender and moist in the middle while crispy on the outside. It’s cooked karaage (Japanese fried chicken) style. However, I felt like this was severely underwhelming though. It could have been a very nice dish but ultimately fails in taste.

Natsu No Fruit Pearls

Natsu No Fruit Pearls
This is a brilliant dessert that (somewhat) saved the meal. It’s the last course of my dear’s omakase menu and consists of lychee, guava, mandarin orange, and rock melon “pearls” on top of mango shaved ice and a “rice soup” that’s poured over the dessert. The pearls actually contain pure, concentrated fruit juice inside – it POPS as you bite it, and *bursts* spectacularly in your mouth, filling it with liquid. It’s very novel and the entire dessert was well conceptualized and refreshing.

Nobu View

Dinner at Nobu Kuala Lumpur cost RM 889.70 for the two of us. I have to say that after going to Nobu in Melbourne and having dined at Michelin star restaurants in France and elsewhere in the world, Nobu KL was a disappointment. The food was subpar and while the service from our waitress was awesome, the other staff were very mediocre, especially the Malay guy who mixed up our orders.

Nobu Malaysia

I did enjoy the meal coz I was with my loved one and the ambience is unbeatable! However, I really felt like the food could be better for the price. It’s not fair to compare Nobu KL with the great Japanese food we had in Japan, but I thought it would be better than this. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. I feel like the people who talked up Nobu haven’t really been to truly great restaurants around the world.

Nobu KL

However, it was a good experience and I wanted to see how Nobu KL was like. Thanks dear for the expensive dinner and wonderful night! <3

Happy Birthday: Realistic durian cake, Nobu KL omakaze dinner, and presents!

Birthday 2016

It’s my birthday today! I turn 35, and it’s been an awesome day so far. My better half surprised me with dinner reservations at Nobu KL. I didn’t know she had already planned this and was about to tell her I was feeling like Japanese food. She sounded a bit reluctant (which was strange) and I found out that she had *already* booked a table for us.

Nobu KL Dinner

Dinner was great! I had the Special Omakase (RM 455 per pax) which is the most expensive item on the menu. I felt a little bad about how costly dinner was (the bill came up to almost RM 1,000) but my dear asked me to go for the most premium omakase since I didn’t want a smartphone. Yup, she originally planned to buy me a smartphone.

Dinner Nobu

I’m more of an experience person than a material goods person. I’ll rather have awesome trips and meals than phones, clothes, etc. It just makes me happier and I value the experiences more…and recent research suggests that I’m right! The happiness you feel from experiences lasts longer and is more fulfilling than material goods.

Kids

The kids made me something for my birthday too! I got a hand-painted picture and a card! :)

Birthday Present 2016

My better half also got me a birthday present, despite me telling her not to. She packed a big box full of Japanese candy. It’s the perfect gift for me coz I love Japanese stuff. It contains:

Baskin-Robbins Popping Shower Very Berry Chocolate

Baskin-Robbins Popping Shower + Very Berry Chocolate
This is a nod to one of the first times we met. Baskin-Robbins is very popular in Japan and these two flavors are awesome. I like the Very Berry Chocolate which also has bits of real strawberry inside, as well as a thin layer of crunchy cone. However, the Popping Shower one took the cake – it’s an intense popping candy that’s so energetic, I thought it was going to come out of my mouth.

Baskin-Robbins Japan

Explosive stuff! These are only supposed to be sold in Japan (due to licensing issues) but she managed to get one for me.

Pocky midi Gudetama

Pocky midi x Gudetama
Haha! I love Gudetama. He’s a humanized lazy egg with bacon for a blanket. The theme song keeps repeating in my brain when I see it. This is Pocky’s collaboration with Sanrio (who created Gudetama). Pocky midi Caramel Latte Gudetama is the result and it’s too cute to eat.

Pocky Strawberry Latte

Pocky midi Strawberry Latte
This is another one in the Coffee series that’s exclusive to Japan. The Gudetama one is Caramel Latte and this version is Strawberry Latte. I haven’t opened it yet, I’ll eat this with my dear.

Pocky Winter Melty Chocolate

Winter Melty Cocoa Pocky
This is a rare seasonal limited edition Pocky that comes out only in winter. It’s thicker than a regular Pocky and has rich chocolate dust that melts in your mouth into a beautiful creamy goo. Unfortunately, the low melting temperature means that there’s a reason this is a winter-only special – the chocolate dissolves in our temperature.

AEON TopValue CalorieMate

AEON Japan’s CalorieMate
Yup, this is AEON Japan’s attempt to create a Calorie Mate like energy bar. I had the original in Japan (was looking specifically for it) and I quite liked it. This tastes different from the original Calorie Mate (Cheese) though. AEON’s store brand is a lot sweeter while CalorieMate is a lot more savory. They’re both good, in different ways. This is more of a meal replacement than an energy bar, they’re the pioneers in Japan.

Oreo Rum Raisin Chocolate

Rum Raisin Chocolate Oreo (0.4% alcohol)
These are made with 70% cocoa! Just like Kit Kats, Oreo has a lot of different flavors and types in Japan. And just like the recently released Sake Kit Kats, the Oreos also contain alcohol inside. They put powdered alcohol (yes, it’s a thing) that boosts the adult treats to a 0.4% alcohol content. These are definitely not halal Oreos (would be funny if people couldn’t read or if there wasn’t a “Contains Alcohol” sticker on them).

Gudetama Chocolates

Gudetama chocolates
I also got a few Gudetama chocolate treats (shaped like an egg) and a Japanese amulet she got for me at a Shinto temple in Hokkaido.

Moonlight Cake House

My dear bought me a birthday cake at Moonlight Cake House. She had ordered this way in advance and it was a beautiful durian cake.

Birthday Cake 2016

It was in the freezer waiting for us and we picked it up to eat together with the kids. The wonderful smell of durian wafted out as soon as I took off the Saran wrap.

Durian Cake

Holy shit, this looks like a real durian!

Real Durian Cake

The durian cake is made up of a wonderfully fluffy and light Angel food cake and has bits of real durian flesh inside. The outside is made with whipped cream spikes so it looks like a real durian. I think they added gelatin or another stabilizer so it can stand but it’s just cream so it’s not sweet. The best part is that the two sides of the durian are not symmetrical (like real life) so one side is bigger than the other. The hand piping is beautiful too – it’s not just one shade of green, there are brown accents so it looks authentic. There’s even a stem made of chewy marzipan to complete the look.

Blowing Candles

I ate the durian birthday cake with my dear and the kids. It was a wonderful birthday! Thanks for all the treats, dinner and gifts dear. I appreciate all that you’ve done for me and for being with me. <3 I'll write about the Nobu KL dinner tomorrow! (╭☞ ͡ ͡° ͜ ʖ ͡ ͡°)╭☞

The best money exchange app!

Convocation

I always have one eye on the currency exchange rates. It’s become a bit of a habit for me, since I left Malaysia to study in New Zealand when I was just 15 years old. I spent over 4 years in Australia for my university and spent a lot of time traveling around the world after that. I’ve been to multiple destinations in Europe (Germany, France, London, Amsterdam and Georgia) as well as Sri Lanka, Taiwan and China and Hong Kong.

Champs Elysees

I have travelled to Korea on a business trip and made my way to Philippines, Thailand and Indonesia on work related trips too. I’m both a leisure traveler and a business traveler so I can see things from both sides. It’s important to be able to check the money exchange rates quickly, especially if a trip is short-notice. I’ve known about the eforex.com.my website but now they have a mobile app!

eForex

I went to download the eForex app to review it and I’ve kept it since it’s so useful! You have to register to use all the features and it can be a bit of a hassle. However, it’s an important step since you need to provide your personal details anyway when you exchange money in person. This way, you only have to do it once!

I felt better with that knowledge and entered all my details, which allowed me to create my own profile.

eForex App

The eForex app basically allows you to check live rates and buy foreign currency anytime anywhere from the app. They do it well with a minimalistic and easy to understand interface. You’re shown the few major options where you can instantly purchase currency or check your favorite currency rates live.

Today Exchange Rates

I really like the one-click instant update feature. You just need to click on “Today’s Rate” on the main landing screen in order to see all the major world currencies on one page from USD, Euro, GBP, etc. These are today’s live exchange rates and I’ve been clicking on it several times a day to monitor USD and the Japanese Yen since I will be travelling again in a couple of months.

Add Favorites

You can also set your favorite currencies here. Just click on the “…” options on the right and “Add to Favorite”. This will remember the currencies you exchange the most and put it in the Favorites List.

Favorite Currencies

There is also a wonderful feature where you can just input a single number in Malaysian Ringgit (MYR) and it shows you the equivalent rates today on ALL your favorite currencies. This allows me to type in 10000 and instantly see how much RM 10,000 would get me in JPY, SGD (my sister and dad lives there), NZD, USD and Euro. Very nifty!

Pick Up

There is also a sidebar where you can see where the nearest Pick-up Points are. You can browse through the list or enter in your current location to see if they have a branch nearby. eForex app is made by Merchantrade so they have a lot of outlets.

Kota Damansara

You can also see exactly where the outlet is (and use it to open Google Maps) or click to call the place directly. This allows you to easily purchase foreign currency and go and pick it up at a location. You just need to bring along your MyKad/IC (for Malaysians) or your passport (for non-Malaysians) along with your Transaction Confirmation Slip or eForex Pin Number (which is shown in the eForex app).

eForex Purchace

The online payment system is secure and you don’t need to carry huge amounts of cash to money changers anymore since you’ve already paid via the app. You can even purchase now and collect the foreign currency at today’s rate up to 6 months down the road – a great feature that is usually reserved for large companies! This is the first app in Malaysia which allows you to buy currency directly from the app.

Travel Reminder

There are also other awesome features like Rate Alerts (so you can know when your favorite currency hits a certain point) and Travel Reminder (which prompts you to buy currency when you’re about to fly off). It’s a simple app to navigate, yet with lots of important features which makes eForex an awesome app for frequent flyers, whether you’re traveling for business or pleasure.

Australia

Check it out by typing eForex in Google Play or App Store and you can download the free app and see how it works out for you. I’m quite fond of it, instead of having to type in “100 USD to MYR” in Google (which is a shortcut to see today’s rate, albeit from a US perspective so it’s not accurate) I can just click on the app to see a host of my favorite currencies rates updated live. I can now get the current confirmed exchange rate instead of an estimate to see if it’s a good day to exchange money. Lovely!

The Machine

Guess what this is? :)

X Ray

If you said X-Ray Machine you’re right! It’s an X-Ray machine for your teeth. I just went to Imperial Dental Bangsar coz I had a swollen jaw (!!!). This mysteriously manifested yesterday afternoon while I was eating. It turned out to be an infected saliva duct (seems to happen fairly often to people) and I was put on a course of antibiotics before I’m flying off to Japan. I didn’t get my Invisalign stuff done though, I’m supposed to be on a temporary rubber band therapy to see if the obstinate left backmost molar can be pushed in or I’ll have to do it all over again.

Bad news is I’ve been on Invisalign for over a year and I’ll hate for the time to be for naught. Good news is I won’t have to pay for the new Invisalign moulds as Dr Stephanie kindly told me it’ll be waived in this case.

We’ll see how it goes. I’ll update again at the end of the month when I’m due to go in. Cheers!

The 2016 Chinese New Year Fireworks and Firecrackers Roundup!

Chinese New Year Fireworks

It’s Chap Goh Meh today! As per sixthseal.com’s custom, we’ll be doing a roundup of the wonderful fireworks and firecrackers we’ve bought this year. There were no firecrackers last year due to my mom’s passing so this year sees the return of firecrackers. I got a huge fireworks cake, it’s larger than the 2015 flagship fireworks cake in some ways.

Fireworks

I also ordered two large 2″ fireworks cakes. These large bore shells make the cake taller than they are wide, producing a unique and beautiful format. I got this a month ahead and it was delivered to my place for safekeeping until Chinese New Year. I have 9 fireworks cakes and 3 firecrackers this year, mostly 100 shots and up.

530-shot VIP display-in-a-box 22 kg fireworks cake

530 Shot Fireworks Cake

Behold! This huge fireworks cake produces a staggering 530 shots and lasts almost 5 minutes!

Biggest Fireworks

It measures a very respectable 73 cm x 52 cm x 17 cm. Here’s an iPhone for comparison. smirk

Yup, there are 530 individual mortars arranged together in this 22 kg cake that requires two people to carry. It’s made by VIP Fireworks and is the most expensive individual cake I’ve ever purchased. It just came out this year in their 2016 fireworks lineup. I’ve never even heard of a 530 shot fireworks cake before this. These things are marketed as “5-minute display-in-a-box” fireworks in the US for professionals.

530 Shot Fireworks

I waited until my sister and her family came back before I let this one off. This is my centrepiece for this year.

I have another video recorded in 1080p in 60 fps which makes for a more beautiful (and smooth) viewing experience here! This large fireworks cake has an INSANE start – full sky saturation and mine effects to kick it off in intense style before the pace picks up into wonderful segues and loops till a shattering finale. Awesome stuff!

2″ 25-shot fireworks mine cake

25 Shot 2 Inch Fireworks

I’ve always loved these large bore formats. 2″-4″ fireworks cakes tend to be taller than they are wide. This is coz the larger shells require a longer mortar in order to fire the aerial bursts, comparatively the normal 0.8″-1.2″ fireworks cakes are quite short/shallow. These large shells produce a large burst in the sky too, which tend to be more beautiful breaks.

I should note that this fireworks cake is actually a mine! Mines are ground level effects, meaning the pyrotechnics start from the ground. You can see the glitter charge shooting up from the tubes before the main break in the video. Mines are starting to be less common nowadays, I have no idea why but it seems that demand has largely ceased.

2 Inch Mortars

It’s nice to be able to purchase a nice mine fireworks cake again…and in large format breaks too! Check out the 2″ mortar tubes. These come packed 2/1 – this means there are two fireworks cakes in one box/carton. I let one off during Chinese New Year eve and the other when my niece and nephew were back.

You can view the 60 fps vertical oriented video here. I feel this is the best way to view a mine fireworks cake. It’s 25 shots, which may sound unimpressive at first, but each shot is more than 4x the size of regular 0.8″ fireworks cake in power and effect!

258-shot Saturn Missile Battery

Saturn Missile Battery

This is a 258 shot Saturn Missile Battery. Saturn Missiles are smaller rockets which whistles up and usually comes in 50/100-shot cakes (most common format). This larger format is round and cost RM 35. The interesting thing is that you can let this off in the day or night – it doesn’t make much of a difference.

I quite like this red, green, yellow and white Saturn Missile Battery which finishes with a report. It’s not very fast, unlike some batteries, so some people may like the duration. This clocked in at almost 3 minutes from the time I lit the fuse to the end of the cake.

39,999 Chinese firecrackers

Firecrackers

This is the largest commercial Chinese firecrackers for sale. Of course, there are larger counts e.g. 188,888 fireworks, which requires a lorry to transport and a crane to lift up before it can be lit but those are so expensive it’s usually only set off by companies, not private individuals. Keep in mind that these class of firecrackers are almost like salutes and are rated 1.1G – they’re very illegal!

Longest Firecrackers

This is coz the firecrackers are very large and contains a chalk plug (which essentially makes it a salute).

Huge Firecrackers

There are 39,999 individual firecrackers in this string but it’s not very long compared to the 3,000 string firecrackers coz the single firecrackers are larger and it’s stacked on top of one another for a 3-layered firecracker, making a very intense and loud burn compared to the “regular” 3,000 count firecrackers.

Biggest Firecrackers

You can see the difference here. I had to light this directly coz I lost the Visco fuse. Haha! I pulled my hand away as soon as the firecracker caught (this is more from experience than reaction, as you can see).

I really like this video, give it a spin to see what the firecrackers we get in Sibu look like.

3,000 Chinese firecrackers

Firecracker

These are the “common” firecrackers which you can get in KL and even the US. These firecrackers are a lot smaller than the previous one – they don’t break the skin if you light one in your palm/hand so they’re very safe. The “ending” is just a bunch of the same instead of the salute-like power you get in the 39,999 traditional Chinese firecrackers.

I see a lot of places like KL are starting to switch to this coz they’re not as harmful (you can hold them in the hand, not to say that you should coz it’ll still burn you, but it won’t break the skin) compared to the traditional kind (as per above, the 39,999 Chinese firecrackers) which won’t be so kind to your hands and fingers. Unfortunately, they’re also not as loud or powerful so generally most people in Sibu don’t favor this kind. It’s very cheap though at RM 12.50. The 39,999 roll is more than 10x the price of these kid-friendly crackers.

36-shot Chai Yuan Guan

Classic Fireworks

This is a classic fireworks cake with 36 shots. It’s been around for a while – I actually got this from a friend’s house. She had heaps of these lying around and I let it off during Chinese New Year.

Unfortunately, I think it’s starting to show its age – most of the tubes didn’t go off. There were 8-9 mortars which didn’t fire.

This is the 60 frames per second version. It’s really a nice old fireworks cake, this was the epitome of greatness back in the late 90’s.

25-shot vintage fireworks cake

Vintage Fireworks

This is another beautiful classic fireworks cake. It’s not as impressive as the newer firework cakes with fancy breaks and effects but it’s a nice reminder of how the fireworks cakes looked 10 years ago.

It’s a trip down memory lane.

This is the vertical view with 60 frames per second (you can really see the difference). This slow tempo fireworks cake is characteristic of an older design which is less favored now. It’s still lovely to watch for sentimental reasons though.

100-shot classic fireworks cake

Fireworks Cake

This is also a more traditional 100 shot fireworks cake. It unfortunately exploded while the last row was firing so there was a bit of a fireworks malfunction but it’s still quite beautiful to watch.

It’s a classical fireworks cake that’ll give you a nice dose of nostalgia.

This is the 60 fps vertical version.

100-shot New Wild Billy

Italian Fireworks

This is a cake by Morena Fireworks. Yup, that’s an Italian fireworks brand, much like the Jupiter Fireworks horseshoe fountain fireworks I got in KL last year. Morena Fireworks makes a lot of 100 Shot Assortments and New Wild Billy is one of them.

It’s a nice example of their 100 shot fireworks shows.

111-shot 2016 fireworks cake

New Fireworks Cakes

This is a new 2016 fireworks cake. The new cakes all have two fuses – the primary fuse and the secondary fuse. This is to make it easier to link up fireworks cakes for a show e.g. you can just use Visco fuse to run a line from the secondary fuse of a cake into the primary fuse of the second. What happens is that the primary fuse burns, the cake goes off, and the secondary fuse burns last after the cake is done so this in effect makes a cascading effect where each cake goes off in sequence. You can also run them into the primary fuse if you want them to go off together. There’s a lot of flexibility built into the new cakes and the quick match fuses (blue and red) already have a Visco end so you can just cable tie two (or more) together. Also, the effects are quite varied in one cake.

There is an initial array of 8 x 8 tubes going straight up for 64 shots of effects after the primary fuse. This is followed by 3 x 5 angled tubes. The 15 fanned shots following the first set of effects are angled for complete sky coverage and it’s of a larger size than the first. This is followed by a 8 x 4 tube array for the finale which produces a 32 shot finish for a nice 111 shot cake.

That’s all I have for this year! Here’s a video I made of all the bigger fireworks cakes I let off this year in Full HD 1080p 60 frames per second smooth viewing glory. Click on this one if you’re just going to watch one video, you won’t regret it. Hope you all enjoyed the fireworks and firecrackers videos and the explanations I wrote to give non-fireworks enthusiasts a glimpse into the world of pyrotechnics.

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Fireworks 2016

I had a lot of fun letting this batch off. Rest assured, I’ll be saving up for a better display next year – I’ll keep an eye out for even larger cakes! Gong Xi Fatt Chai everyone and have a happy Chap Goh Meh! :)

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