funny fireworks

I know, the title sounds like it’s straight out of “Spambots for Dummies”. Haha! I couldn’t think of a better description though. I’ve been going through my fireworks videos recently – uploading, tagging and sorting them so I’ll actually get my annual fireworks and firecrackers roundup done in time this year when I saw this gem.

firecracker sweep

It happened a couple of nights ago when we strung up 3 strings of long firecrackers and set them off *at once*. Of course, by ‘we’ I meant the spryer young men. smirk

lighting firecrackers

One long 39,0000 firecracker string was pulled up alongside 2 x 3,000 firecracker strings and all of them were lit at once with a sparkler. It’s something we’ve done more recently since it puts up quite a nice show.

However, this time the guy who went to light the fuse did so rather slowly and was jumping around while trying to avoid the firecrackers, which were popping all around him, yet *determined* to finish his mission of lighting every string before he ran away.

I hope that makes your Monday morning as much as it did mine! :D

eddy house

It’s customary to go to the houses of friends and family during Chinese New Year.

cny open house

I didn’t do a whole lot of Chinese New Year visiting this year. My family is back home so mostly I just went to a couple of good friend’s houses.

visiting cny

I went to Arthur’s house and had some of his home-made cookies. I also met a new friend and reader there – that’s part of the fun of it, you get to meet visitors who are already there and make new connections. I was also hoping to eat some of the durian tempoyak dishes that I missed last CNY when he cooked a buffet at his open house. Haha!

arthur hb

He was kind enough to give me a (very generous) ang pow despite my age. I was a little shocked when I opened it and saw the amount. I must buy him lunch before I go back.

ang pow

I also went to my mate Eddy’s house – haven’t seen him in quite a while and he just got married!

white rabbit candy

There were rabbit candy there! It was a trip down memory lane for the snacks in his house. I also found out that these White Rabbit candy (the ones with edible paper) is only sold in pharmacies in the Philippines while the other type with glossy wrap is sold in supermarkets!

cny visiting

A couple from the Philippines also came over to see how CNY is done in Sibu. Cain is originally from Florida and migrated to a lot of different places (and even did an Amazon cruise the local way last year) before settling in Cebu.

cain hb eddy

I’m glad I had my phone with me so I could take all these memorable photos while visiting and meeting old (and new) friends on Chinese New Year – after all, it only happens once a year!

wine collection

There’s a large liquor selection at Eddy’s place and I noticed I can do something very nifty on my smartphone!

Short Mention:

info eye wine

There’s a function called Info-eyeTM on my Sony Xperia Z1. It activates your camera and can show you all sorts of information about the places and objects around you. It’s the best and most practical feature of AR (Augmented Reality) that I’ve ever seen and it’s propriety to Sony so you can only get it on this phone.

info eye google maps

You can scan everything from buildings to barcodes and even text! Info-eyeTM allows you to *share* the results (where you are, bottles of wine you like etc) right from the camera app so I thought that was really cool! I found a nice bottle of wine which I’m not familiar with at Eddy’s place and we decided to use Info-eyeTM to see what goes well with it.

info eye images

The results are simply amazing! It shows you everything from the location of the vineyard on Google Maps to search results and there’s also relevant information on wine pairing when you take a photo. The helpful wine bottle overlay guides you when you take your photo. We were all very amazed by this feature – I think I might have sold the Xperia Z1 to a lot of people just on this demonstration/experiment alone. :D

waterproof firecrackers

It’s the firecrackers de jour for these two years (at least for experiential or cost conscious buyers) due to the fact that it’s very cheap. It’s the exact opposite of the 39,000 head firecrackers which cost upwards of RM 150 – this is a short, semi-traditional string of firecrackers that everyone can afford.

ssb888 firecrackers

These are RM 10 each and it’s marketed as waterproof firecrackers. That’s due to the *wax red paper* wrapped around the entire length of the string of firecrackers, protecting it from the elements.

888 firecrackers

It’s perfect for lion dance performances since it can still be lit if it rains and it’s not as explosive as the 39,000 head firecrackers, which have been known to injure performers.

wax paper

These waterproof firecrackers are 8 feet long and as a bonus, the red wax paper also tears up as the firecrackers go off, adding to the festive and auspicious red paper mess. It’s unusual to have firecrackers being sold by length (8 ft) instead of “number of firecrackers” format e.g. 3,000 firecrackers, 39,000 firecrackers etc.

8 feet firecrackers

I noticed that there are a lot of unexploded ordnance when compared to other firecrackers. There’s bound to be some but this is a bit excessive. I took a video and thought that this happened coz I forgot to remove the cardboard backing, but that’s not the case.

firecrackers waterproof

I somehow lost the long Visco fuse (long green fuse) and had to light this with the fast fuse but it turned out alright. The wax paper doesn’t tear consistently when the firecrackers explode – this is the fourth string that I’ve let off and all turned out this way – but you really can’t complain for the price.

These “waterproof firecrackers” also lasts a very long time (almost 30 seconds) since it burns slower, despite being only 8 feet long, in contrast to the fast burning 39,000 head firecrackers – it’s a selling point for some people, but not for me. I like my firecrackers to go fast and furious!

firecrackers banner

However, you really can’t argue with the RM 10 price tag and it also has a small explosive finish with an auspicious couplet bearing banner inside (which is unusual at this price point) and I let it off just before it rained twice – it really can be lit even in mild showers! smirk

Here’s what my hometown looked like during CNY. It’s the stroke of midnight during Chinese New Year 2014. The symphony of noise and light has been going on for the entire night…and now reached it’s *peak*!

Short Mention:

Warning: Pyrotechnics galore! :D

I always have problems videoing the CNY fireworks coz it’s very hard to get the auto-focus done right through all the sudden flashes of light and the blinding clouds of smoke. I used my Sony Xperia Z1 to do it and I was extremely pleased by the results! It does a wonderful job at focusing quickly when I pan the smartphone around and the audio is awesome too!

I couldn’t believe my Xperia Z1 records better fireworks videos than most of the cameras I’ve had in the past. The video is a bit long but I provided two (2) coz I know there are people who love seeing the annual fireworks show the people here put out. It’s absolutely superb this year, you’ll see everything from 388-shot fireworks cakes to 12” aerial fireworks shells with new breaks!

P/S – Remember to switch to Full 1080 HD when you record the videos – that’s how I recorded it. :)

drying out fireworks

My partial fireworks and firecrackers drying out. It helps with moisture absorbed during transport and storage. This is going to be set off at night!

reunion dinner

The reunion dinner! That’s my grandma in the middle and my aunties flanking her. The food is home-cooked, some of the items e.g. the yam balls are made from plants she grows herself!

longevity noodles

We Henghuas eat longevity noodles tossed in lard instead of rice. She also told me a funny story about her raising pigs when she was in her teens (some 70 odd years ago) and giving the pigs a *bath every single day*. Haha!

isabella fortuna scotch

I broke open a new bottle of single malt Scotch whisky – this is a traveler’s exclusive by Old Pulteney – the second release of Isabella Fortuna WK 499 edition.

gambling

The obligatory gambling session with my cousins where I lost about RM 100. I always lose every year, I don’t particularly mind since all of them are younger than me. I have a limit since I’m always the banker and we have rules like triple payouts for Blackjack that favors the players.

mom josiah

My mom, sister and nephew (he was soooo sleepy when this was taken) is back home! She’s been having a real hard time with late stage lung cancer and have been battling it for years so it’s good to have her here and smiling.

cny eve fireworks

The good people of Sibu always puts out a good fireworks show during Chinese New Year Eve!

Here’s a video of what it looks like 10 minutes before midnight! I also let off a string of firecrackers midway into the clip. I’ll upload the full midnight scene later. Happy Chinese New Year 2014 everyone! I’ll share a good wish I got this year. You need to understand Hokkien though. :)

May everything you do be Horsay, everything you eat be Horjiak, every friend you have and make be Horpengyou, everyday you live like a Horliday, and let 2014 be a year of Hormia in this Year of the Horse!smirk

cny 2014

Chinese New Year is coming up! Here’s 8 things (a very auspicious number) I bought for Chinese New Year:

1. CNY Hamper – Majestic Spring

hamper cny

I got this hamper for my dear’s family. There are heaps of hampers at BIG in Publika and I wanted to get one that doesn’t contain a lot of cookies (coz she already makes them). This hamper is called Majestic Spring.

cny hamper

I like how the hampers nowadays are packaged with this wrap – it makes it look nicer than the old “pyramid” style hampers. Her parents have been absolutely bang on awesome to me and I thought that the least I can do is send a hamper their way as a token of my appreciation.

2. Pineapple Tarts from Maxim, Hong Kong

maxim cny cakes

This is a wonderful CNY metal gift set from the famous Maxim bakery in HK. They have two versions – one contains biscuits and cookies (sold out) and the other is pineapple tarts (there’s only a couple left and I got one). It’s mahjong themed so each pineapple tart is shaped like a mahjong tile and *individually wrapped* with the tile picture! It’s RM 88 per box though.

cny cookies

My dear also baked my family some awesome Chinese New Year cookies! Thanks for that! <3

3. Jeep Trainers

jeep shoes

No, I didn’t get myself a Jeep! Haha! These are their footware apparel. Jeeps were used during World War II – it played the role that Humvees are playing in theatres of war today. That’s the interesting fact of the day, if you didn’t know it already.

jeep

I got myself a pair of trainers at just RM 149. It’s 50% off from it’s original RM 300 price tag. I reckon it’s a good buy, it’s my footware for CNY!

4. Sanbanto Pork Jerky

sanbanto bakua

I nearly didn’t manage to get the coveted organic Sanbanto pork jerky made from free-range pigs with no added preservatives. It’s RM 48 for the minced ba kua and RM 49.50 for the sliced pork jerky. It sold out real quick!

sanbanto pork jerky

Luckily, I managed to secure myself six (6) packs – 3 of each type. You just can’t get it now, they sell out really fast! The individually wrapped packages you see are already booked and ready for collection. I told my dear I’ll get her these last year and I gave her some this year! :)

5. Arrowhead Chips

arrowroot-= chips

Yup, this is the famous ngaku chips. It’s made from arrowroot. I can never figure out why these are so popular. My dad even got some from Kuching at RM 19. Mine was cheaper at RM 11.

6. Dorothy Perkins

dorothy perkins cny

I *didn’t* suddenly decide that I’m a female trapped inside a male’s body. I’m *not* saving up for gender reassignment surgery. I just wanted to get my dear some CNY clothes! smirk

dorothy perkins

She had bought me my Chinese New Year shirts and I wanted to buy her some too! I wanted to get her shoes as well but she didn’t see anything she liked.

7. Oink Floss

oink floss

Pork floss! It’s a must for CNY! I got three flavors – pork, chilli pork and seaweed pork. It’s RM 16 per can but I got it for RM 45 for 3.

8. Empurau Fish

ikan empurau

This is the (in)famous empurau fish from Sarawak! I saw it on sale while driving my dad and aunties out for a spot of CNY shopping just now. It’s *notorious* for being expensive, the prices are driven up by consumer demand over here since rich tycoons snap them up as if they’re going out of style.

empurau fish

This empurau fish is slightly longer than 1 meter and costs thousands. It’s the most expensive fish here, much more expensive than white cod, due to the unique qualities of the flesh – it doesn’t degrade much after chucking it into the freezer.

I’m neither rich nor a tycoon so unfortunately I didn’t get it. I was sorely tempted to but we don’t even have a steamer big enough to cook it. Happy Chinese New Year everyone! :D

vday pandora

I know, some of you might be wondering why we have so many anniversaries. Haha! It’s coz we do the monthsary (monthly anniversary) thing that I think is a great way to show love, affection and keep the relationship exciting! I love the homemade crafts that my better half usually comes up with. I like to cook something special for her too!

ipad mini

Our actual anniversary is coming up though and my dear already gave me a wonderful present – it’s an iPad mini! I had an iPad 2 and was constantly gaming and reading ebooks on it until one day it *stopped working* and my loss didn’t escape the notice of my better half.

ipad 16gb

It’s one of my greatest pleasures to read ebooks on my iPad and I have been missing that coz I don’t like reading on dedicated ebook readers like Kindle, nook etc – I own one and hardly use it – the lack of back-light just didn’t do it for me since I mostly read in low-light conditions.

engraved ipad

She even got it engraved! <3

body shop cny special

I got her something from Body Shop. I saw the Chinese New Year special gift bags, and one was called Oriental Deluxe (RM 128) and featured all sorts of Japanese themed body shampoo and lotions – the cherry blossom (sakura). I thought that it would be nicer than the RM 88 one since we’re planning a trip to Japan!

ling poh

It also comes with a red loofah and it’s more meaningful to us coz of our upcoming Japan trip so I got that for her. I do think that the stuff there is slightly overpriced though – RM 20 for a hotel sized body shampoo bottle! It’s all good though! :)

pandora heart locket charm

Of course, tradition dictates that I give her a Pandora charm. It has become one of our anniversary staples and I want to keep it going since every charm tells a story of our relationship. She had made me this sweet vow exchange in a Pandora box during the previous anniversary – it’s two hearts, she wrote in one, telling me that she loves me and the other is empty for me to write.

pandora ang pow

The Valentine’s Day collection for Pandora is out and there’s a charm in there that’s shaped like two hearts! It’s actually a locket – it’s magnetic and opens up to show a red interior – one says Me and the other You. I thought it was like bringing the wonderful vow she gave me to life, and on a charm!

pandora valentines bag

I also know she’s a big fan of collecting nice ang pows and Pandora has a promotion where they gave out one pack of ang pows for a purchase of RM 888 on a single receipt. I didn’t qualify since the charm I got was RM 295 so I asked the nice staff at Pandora at TCM if they could make an exception.

pandora red packet

They had to call the Pandora Marketing Manager (Mandy? Wendy?) of Malaysia to get her approval and I explained over the phone how my girlfriend was a big fan (maybe it helped that I have a consistent purchase history too – at least once a month) and it would be much appreciated if she can make an exception and release one of coveted the Pandora ang pow packs.

pandora story

She was really nice about it and so was the staff at Pandora in TCM – cheers for that! I reckon this was the best “gift” of all, although I didn’t purchase it coz I had to do so much to get it. Pandora is quite strict about giving them out since it’s tied to the RM 888 promotion so thanks for giving a regular customer one! It totally made my better half’s day!

butter poached shark

I also cooked butter poached shark for breakfast! BTW, these are not the endangered species (contrary to popular belief, 70% of shark species are non-endangered, even according to the most conservative Sea Shepard type estimates and lots of people eat them nowadays in an effort to eliminate by-catch waste). I didn’t think it would be good but the shark surprised me! The meat was surprisingly tender and delicious and it was totally different from the shark meat that I’ve eaten before (either sandy or fermented like hakarl in Iceland).

pandora me you charm

I’ll post up my recipe tomorrow! I’ve got lots to write now that CNY is nearly here, just had my first pun choi session last night too! :D

cny decorations

It’s Chinese New Year soon! There’s less than a week till my favorite holiday and here’s the little preparations that we’ve done. Yup, the title is a HIMYM reference. :)

two charms

I bought the Christmas tree Pandora charm for my dear – there’s a gold star one without glitter and a silver one with glitter and I asked her to choose which one she wanted, which turned out to be the second one.

pandora wrap

We went for lunch at Goku Raku Ramen and while waiting for our food, she opened the small pouch wrapper and I put it onto her Pandora charms bracelet.

pandora christmas

It’s another new charm to add to our story! I missed both the RM 50 voucher *and* the 40% discount promo but it’s all good.

hot katsu curry

I had the Hot Katsu Curry Rice (RM 25.90) which was a 20 minute wait. It didn’t taste all that good – the creamy Japanese style curry is overpowering but the fried chicken itself it alright. I didn’t manage to finish it though.

ultimate tonkotsu

She had the Ultimate Tonkotsu (RM 23.90) and the Yuzu Honey (RM 6.90) drink.

2tb

I had to get another external HDD on account of the massive amounts of stuff I’m collecting so I found a 2 TB one for sale at Harvey Norman’s (which is actually an Australian company, I still remember their radio jingle from 3AW when I was studying in Melbourne) for RM 459.

sous vide supreme

We also saw a line of Sous Vide Supreme appliances for sale with the MasterChef US Season 1 winner being the product ambassador! I thought she did Southern cooking and don’t remember seeing her even touch the sous vide water bath in any of the episodes but it’s not as expensive as I thought – 3k for the water bath and vacuum sealer.

corduroy shirt

My dear was kind enough to buy me some CNY clothes! I now have two new shirts courtesy of her. <3

vitamin gummy bears

I got some interesting vitamin gummy bears for the kids…

ang pows

…and we saw that the mall has a free exclusive cushion and ang pow packets when you spend RM 188 in a maximum of 2 receipts. We were thinking to get something to add to the clothes when I suddenly remembered that I *already* have spent that much on the external HDD (RM 459)!

new shirts

My dear also thought of the Pandora charm, which I totally forgot about (RM 211) so we managed to get two sets of the cushions and the ang pows (red packets). I thought that was quite funny, how to add on to the stuff we’ve spent when we already have bought more than that earlier.

namechoco sand

Gotta do some last minute CNY shopping for snacks this weekend before I go back to Sibu! :)

jewel of the nile

This is the first fireworks post of Chinese New Year! Well, it’s close to CNY anyway. I found this fountain / cake hybrid at the local market at a list price of RM 28 each. It’s called Niilin Jalokivet (Jewel of the Nile) and the quality of the packaging is like none I’ve seen before!

finland fireworks

The wrap details the optimal viewing distance (30 meters), minimum viewing distance (10 meters) and even how long it lasts! It says to *expect 20 seconds* of fireworks from this tall fountain and aerial repeater from Finland. I found the amount of information very impressive.

finnish fireworks detail

I got this at the local market. I’ve always found KL to be a bit dry in terms of fireworks and firecrackers compared to my hometown of Sibu. I managed to get 2 of this for RM 30, making it RM 15 each. There are firework cakes (multi-shot aerial barrages) listed for RM 780 (!!!) which I can get for RM 250 in Sibu.

fireworks in kl

I also saw the cheap generic 8888 Chinese firecrackers (usually RM 8 – got some during CNY eve) which doesn’t have the finish and sheer girth of the RM 200+ premium Chinese firecrackers selling for RM 25 here. The stuff here is 3x the price of what we pay in Sibu retail stalls (comparing apples to apples).

niilin jalokivet fireworks

I just wanted to let it off for my better half though, since CNY is coming soon, so I lit one across the road and another one closer to the house, which toppled. Luckily the Niilin Jalokivet doesn’t shoot up very high – 12 feet at it’s max.

There’s a center tube acting as a fountain and 8 + 2 tubes surrounding it which shoots up balls of flaming fire and whistling sparks respectively. It reminds me of the smaller version of the popular old perennial Desert at Night.

fireworks tubes

It’s not too bad, but we’re used to paying much lower prices. It was still a good find though, the fireworks display was pretty awesome, especially the first one I let off, which didn’t topple over halfway. Haha!

niilin jalokivet

I just let it off last night after dinner. I always feel like Chinese New Year is around the corner when I start playing with fireworks. :)

riding bicycles

Greetings everyone! I am back after a short hiatus – major stuff to sort out and everything is peachy now. In fact, I just had one of the best days of my life with my dear and the kids. It was actually quite a simple thing, I wonder why we didn’t do it earlier.

bicycles

We got a bicycle for the little one (second hand, person is moving out of the country) for just RM 40 and the big one got a new (and larger) bike for RM 200. There’s one bicycle at home, which is for adults and one day after work we just took the kids to the park!

happy us

It actually started out with me trying to ride the new bicycle with the little one while the big one is finishing her school. She had a quick dinner after that and we all cycled to the park. The kids kept wanting rides so it was the most exercise I did for to date! I also had to cycle with my dear at the back – we tried it the other way round, but she couldn’t even start cycling coz I was too heavy. smirk

setting sun

I gave so much rides and raced with the big one so much that I felt like puking. It didn’t help that I was still wearing my work clothes so I overheated and was nauseous for a good hour! I had fun though, and so did my dear and the kids. It’s the wholesome family fun that I’ve always wanted to have and I’m glad we did that!

elise dustbin

The funniest thing was watching the little one run with her short legs chasing after her sister. Haha! Too cute. The simple pleasures in life are the best.

It was nice that I could take a lot of awesome photos with just my phone too, which reminds me…

Short mention:

tranfering smartphone data

I’m using my Sony Xperia Z1 [link to my review] now and I’m constantly amazed at the new things that it can do. My previous phone is a Sony Xperia S and I used the Xperia Transfer app to sync everything on my old phone to the new one so it’s up and running.

xperia transfer app

The Xperia Transfer app can be downloaded from Google Play and it works for *all* Android devices. What if you have a Windows or iOS phone? Sony PC Companion and Sony Bridge for Mac (it’s an executable on your new Sony Zperia Z1 smartphone – just connect the microUSB) performs the same function.

how to use xperia transfer

Thus, whatever platform you’re using right now, you can do a direct transfer of your data, contacts, photos etc into your new Sony Xperia Z1 so you’ll be ready to go! :)

godiva craft apartment

My dear gave me a really *wonderful* present during our anniversary. It so happens that our anniversary also falls on Christmas so I had two gifts! She made this apartment out of craft paper and cardboard on a Godiva chocolate box base I had given her.

vows exchange

The entire creation is very intricate – there’s a lot of detail to everything, including a vow exchange, appropriately put inside a recycled Pandora charm box. <3

mailbox

It’s very beautiful and creative, and the Godiva box used as a base is a bit of an inside thing. She had given me the *cover* the previous month and now it’s a set with the *base*. I had originally given it to her as a trilogy of premium chocolates. Haha!

cardboard apartment

The gift is actually a MasterChef Australia dinner @ the apartment. Geddit? She got 4 x RM 50 worth of vouchers from winning a contest – thus, the apartment inside a cardboard apartment. :D The questionable thing about the vouchers it that they state that each one can be used on a per table, per meal basis. I thought that was a bit dodgy – this was the first prize of the contest!

christmas present

She had already known about the set dinner, it’s something we both like since we watched Season 5 together. She was prepared to pay the rest of the balance and use just a RM 50 voucher due to the rules but it turns out that the supervisor accepted all the vouchers, so that’s good.

chocolate covered pretzels

I also got a box of chocolate pretzels as a Christmas gift! :D

secret candy surprise

This is something that stems out of when she always used to cook for me. I’ll eat from her Tupperware boxes, wash them, and fill them with “secret candy surprises” so when she opens them, she’ll see her favorite candy as a gesture of thanks.

murano charm

I got her something that had always been missing from her Pandora bracelet, which is a Murano glass bead charm! She had originally mentioned that it seems a bit uncomfortable and clunky but I had seen her looking at it in the brochures so I got her a nice pink and purple one!

christmas anniversary

I also got a cute, red box to keep the charm inside. I found it while browsing through the Christmas stuff aisles and thought it would be nice to hide the charm in since I always seem to give her the same thing each anniversary. Heh. I also bought a tiny card to write a message to her.

christmas mini pudding

Pandora also sent me a RM 50 voucher for being a Pandora Club Member. Unfortunately, I had listed that I wanted to cash it in at Paradigm Mall instead of TCM and it expired on the 31st December 2013 so I didn’t get to use it at all!

pandora murano charm

I also got her another charm as a Christmas present – thus, this is the anniversary where she got two charms instead of one! I got her a Christmas tree charm so she’ll remember that this is our anniversary which coincided with Christmas! smirk

boiling christmas pudding

It was quite late when we did our gift exchange and I had bought a small Christmas pudding just for this dual-celebration.

christmas pudding

The mini pudding is quite nifty, you just need to dump the entire packaging into boiling water for 20 minutes! The wrapper is heatproof and it warms up the Christmas pudding nicely. It tastes good – there’s lots of brandy inside (thus the Tidak Halal sticker) and just the right portion for two.

loving

We had it with a scoop of ice cream to end the night with. I’m lucky to have you dear! Thanks for the thoughtful and loving MasterChef dinner anniversary gift and the house which you built. *hugs*

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