cornflakes milo

Growing up as a kid in Malaysia in the 80′s was a very interesting experience which I’m sure a lot of us share. I drank a lot of Milo growing up but one of the quirks that us 80′s babies did was pour Milo over our cornflakes. It was the original power breakfast! smirk

I haven’t had cornflakes in a while since I switched to granola / muesli and raw milk but back then such things were scarce, especially in a relatively remote rural area. I tried it again this morning and I have to say, the way the hot Milo makes the cornflakes soggy really brings me back to my childhood.

milo

There’s also another “secret” recipe me and my sister did when we were kids – she likes to mix pure Milo powder and sugar and eat it *JUST LIKE THAT*. I prefered to pour sweetened condensed milk over Milo powder and slowly lick the spoon while watching cartoons – it was the chocolate of our day.

I’m sure everyone in Malaysia grew up with Milo, and now that we’re all adults we’re also incorporating it into our diets. After all, the 3 most common office-sponsored drinks are coffee, tea and Milo.

All nostalgia aside though, the importance of breakfast is something a lot of us don’t really think about in our busy lifestyles nowadays. How many people do you know skip breakfast altogether?

malaysia breakfast day

It’s quite common in every single company I’ve worked in. Start your day by eating right, get positive energy with Milo. Milo is here to set you right with Malaysia Breakfast Day 2014!

milo breakfast day

There’s a lot of healthy recipes on their website (remember to click on the Like button – half a million people can’t be wrong)…

positive energy

…as well as interesting facts about positive energy and breakfast. It’s really important to get that good kickstart to your day and a cup of Milo can provide your with a lot of the major requirements for you to start your day with a smile instead of slogging through until lunch (upon which you go into a food coma).

milo instagram

Milo is also out to spread the #MILOPositiveEnergy with a Twitter and Instagram initiative (OMG, that bowl of soggy cornflakes with MILO is sooo goood :D) which you can participate in. I just said that coz I’m taking bites/slurps in between writing – I’ve forgotten how much I loved this as a kid!

milo tarik

There will also be a celebration of breakfast at the 2014 Malaysia Breakfast Day Run. There will be performances, games, a fun run which you can start registering for right now, and the deliciously good MILO van!

Venue: Perbadanan Putrajaya
Date: 20th April 2014

There will be an 7 km competitive run and a 3 km family fun run – get details on how to register, and the prizes, race bibs, finishing medals and goodie bags at the Malaysia Breakfast Day page. There’s also a lot of information on what Positive Energy is all about!

Imagine the good feeling of having a deliciously cold cup of Milo from the truck on a hot day! I can never get my Milo as good as the ones from the van so I always look forward to it! :)

Interesting taboo: Females celebrate their birthdays by the decade e.g. 70th, 80th while males do it one year beforehand since the numbers “sounds” better. 9 in Chinese has various positive associations, since it also sounds like “long”.

79 birthday

He’s probably older than that – they didn’t have documentation like birth certificates back then and birthdays are largely chosen and might be off by years. The birthday banquet was held at Sheraton. This was a very popular place back in the days – there were only a few “opulent” restaurants at the time, and Sheraton was one of them.

steamed peanuts

Deep Fried Boiled Eggs with Longevity Noodles

deep fried egg

This is a classic birthday dish in my hometown. It’s of Foochow origin, I believe. The boiled eggs are slightly coated with batter and then deep fried before being served with fried longevity noodles. It’s supposed to bring good luck, but this dish that’s becoming a little old-fashioned and I only see it during banquets thrown by the older generation now.

It’s good when done well and I ate 4 eggs myself since a lot of people at the table passed up on it.

4 Seasons Hot Platter

four seasons platter

This is supposed to be the first dish in every banquet but since it’s a birthday, the longevity noodles come out first. There’s fish maw, shrimp, mushrooms, chicken, sliced abalone and other goodies piled into sectors on the platter.

fish maw shrimp

There’s something for everybody and that’s why it’s a very popular dish in restaurants. It’s a little like poon choy in some ways, except this is the appetizer portion. smirk

Shark’s Fin Soup

You have to see this from the perspective of someone born in the old country (that’s China) and went through WWII with Japan and the resulting famine, uprooting and all that comes with war. They had little and food was important to them. “Luxury items” like shark’s fin isn’t something immoral (only first world countries and the newer generation of people now have that mentality – you can only afford to think about environmental issues when you are living in relative comfort).

sharks fin

It’s just another must-have (to them) on the menu coz old habits die hard and they don’t see the plight of the sharks and probably won’t care even if they did. This is the generation that was born into war, and any food is good food and “status items” like shark’s fin is just another dish to them.

I just wanted to stave off the debate about this coz it seems that everyone needs to have a disclaimer and a stance nowadays. Honestly, as a traveler, I am of course for conversation but then again I don’t believe it’s an issue about education, at least not with the older generation so naturally consumption will die off as the new environmentally conscious generation comes of age.

Deep Fried Breaded Cod

breaded cod

Sheraton is well known for it’s fish – you can get your empurau fish steamed here and they do a mean curry fish head as well. I thought this would be mediocre since I prefer my fish any other way except fried (which ruins most of the taste, IMHO).

fried cod

However, my cousin politely served me some so I had to politely eat some and I was amazed and went back for second helpings…except there was none left! This is easily the best dish I had in the banquet – the fish is battered and dropped into the deep fryer for only a few seconds, leaving a crisp exterior but and extremely moist interior with the cod flaking off with the natural juices still inside.

I’m getting hungry just thinking of this surprisingly well executed deep fried cod with the spicy dip. The plating is not much to look at, but trust me, it tastes spot on!

Paper Wrapped Chicken with Deep Fried Buns

paper wrapped chicken

This is one of my favorite dishes in Sheraton coz they do it so well. Paper wrapped chicken is a cooking technique that has the chicken and herbs wrapped in foil (and sometimes another layer of paper) so the entire bird’s juices is sealed inside, making it extremely tender and tasty.

fried bread

However, the coup de grace is the deep fried bun. It’s a large, round piece of bread that’s the size of an Arab bread but this is baked in-house with chicken flavors infused into the loaf, which is then deep fried and served warm. It’s the contrasting textures that makes this work so well – the crunchy exterior with the soft, warm flavored bread that goes well with the herbal chicken.

Sea Cucumber with Sliced Abalone on top of Enoki Mushrooms

abalone sea cucumber

This is another classic Chinese dish – the sliced abalone comes out of a can, and the sea cucumbers are re-hydrated so the starchy sauce has to carry everything. It’s often said that Chinese cuisine is more about contrasting textures vs the balanced flavors (base and acidity pairing) and plating of “classic cuisine” e.g. French cuisine and I have to agree.

The soft and juicy Enoki mushrooms contrasts well with the chewy abalone slices and the slightly crunchy sea cucumber.

Asian Surf and Turf

asian surf turf

I just made that up. Haha! There’s no seafood here, the two ingredients are pork and chicken done two ways. This is a very Taoist concept symbolizing yin and yang – the pork is good but the chicken is bad.

Geddit? ;)

ang pow wet tissue

The banquet finished up with the classic fruit platter and I even got an RM 10 ang pow since I wasn’t married and it’s still Chinese New Year (and will be until the 14th of February). I think it’s a great idea that people do their birthdays on CNY since everyone is back in town and it was good to sit down with my uncles and cousins and for a relatives birthday banquet.

birthday banquet

P/S – No, it’s not his actual birthday, I don’t think he even remembers the exact date – this wasn’t uncommon, my mom doesn’t either since my grandma didn’t register her birth until she was a few years old so we celebrate it on a fixed date every year that’s easy to remember.

turkey trimmings

This is our first time cooking a turkey together for the parents and kids! I wanted to purchase one but I was told that turkeys were all sold out. Thus, I bought the sides so we can concentrate on roasting the turkey! I got Brussels Sprouts and Chestnuts (RM 50) and a Strawberry & Peach Trifle (RM 100).

stuffing turkey

It came in two huge boxes (think that the bigger box originally was supposed to have a turkey inside but they ran out) that delighted the kids – especially the trifle.

plan b

I had slated it for pickup at 6 pm so we can have it just as our turkey has finished cooking, but it turned out that the process took longer than that. Haha!

The story of how we got the turkey:

box

It’s a rather funny anecdote that we’ll look back and laugh at. My dear bought me a MasterChef dinner as a Christmas present and I thought I’ll call ahead and book a turkey. I know it’s sold out, I had already gotten the sides, but I had a sneaky feeling that frozen turkeys are in short supply too.

turkey discussion

I was right.

chestnuts

I called BIG and asked if they had frozen turkeys and the guy said he’ll go and check. He said there’s one left and it’s about 3 kg. I told him I’ll take it and I’ll pick it up in about 2 hours time. He got my name and number and we went to Publika after dinner to get the elusive turkey.

fresh herbs

However, when I got there, I was told that the frozen turkeys were all sold out!

stuffing

I think the dude was kinda sick of answering questions like these, there are signs saying so all over the place. Haha! I told him that I had called ahead just now and there was a definite thawing as he asked for my name…

turkey booking

…and sure enough, there’s a turkey booked under my name!

frozen turkey

I was quite pleased that they really did hold the turkey for me instead of putting it outside where anyone who’s faster can grab it. We’re both happy with the service (but not with the guy – you should always be jovial when asked a question, regardless of whether it’s the 1,000th time someone asked the very same question smirk).

turkey stuffing

I also bought the stuffing for the turkey and some other miscellaneous stuff. The turkey was RM 88.72 for a 3.18 kg bird and the total grocery bill came close to RM 300!

preparing turkey

It was just one day till dinner with the in-laws and the kids and the turkey was *still* frozen so we couldn’t brine the turkey. This is the most basic recipe but it turned out delicious! I just thawed the frozen turkey overnight and then put it in the fridge when it was fully thawed.

turkey oven

I chucked it into the oven at 220 degrees Celsius for 40 minutes before turning it around. It’s supposed to be a self-basting turkey but you do need to baste it every now and then. I used the simplest recipe to cook the turkey (from theKitchn.com).

basting turkey

I rubbed butter all over the turkey and stuffed two halved lemons into the cavity.

stuffing turkey last

I didn’t truss or stuff the turkey, just wrapped some bacon around the breast and put it in 2 cups of water and left it in the oven for as hot as it would go. It took us 3 ½ hours to cook the turkey!

carving turkey

Before the last 40 minutes, I prepared the stuffing using a gourmet stuffing blend hand packed from the Shropshire Spice Co in the UK. It’s an apple with cranberry and roast chestnut stuffing and I just needed to add 700 ml of water (for the 2 packs) and a huge pat of butter before, well, stuffing this Pink Lady apple based mix into the cavity.

inspecting trifle

It was a bit too much stuffing so I left some out so it looks like the turkey has laid some stuffing. Haha!

peach trifle

The turkey was rested for 20 minutes before serving.

roasted turkey

We had spaghetti with bacon (cooked by my dear) with the turkey and it tasted quite good! I still have leftover turkey, the kids loved it and the in-laws ate quite a fair bit too, so I reckon we did well with our turkey!

brussels sprouts

The Brussels Sprouts with Chestnuts wasn’t that big of a hit but I thought it improved my view of Brussels sprouts. I didn’t really like it when I was in NZ and Australia due to the bitterness but it seems like the new genetically modified ones in the last decade are less bitter. It tastes quite good in fact!

trifle

The Strawberry & Peach Trifle was the true hero though – it tasted wonderful! I like the jelly-like cake bottom, and the peaches and cream in the middle and the strawberry topping cuts down on the sheer sweetness with some acidity. We finished that 1 kg trifle on the night itself!

turkey dinner

It was a good Christmas / New Year turkey dinner though – we had it on the weekend, which is neither Christmas or New Year but our own family get-together. We all had fun, the only thing that was missing was some Christmas crackers! :D

il panettoncino

(and we couldn’t even start eating the panettone or mince pies that we had so we saved it for this weekend)

volkswagen us

I caught up with the inaugural ‘Volkswagen On Tour‘ brand showcase that took place in Penang last week. We actually went twice coz it was so much fun! Admittedly, the first time was a bit of a short session coz I had to sort out my hotel and other things after I got stuck on the Penang Bridge after running out of gas. Haha!

bicycle popcorn

There is popcorn, test drives, and a play pen for the kids. This all comes at a rather reasonable admission fee – it’s free! Yup, it’s the classic Volkswagen hospitality in action here, which I’ve experienced to my delight on a trip to Germany last year.

polo r wrc
The Polo R WRC that just won the FIA World Rally Championships 2013

Volkswagen On Tour‘ will literally tour the entire nation – there are 13 stops all over Malaysia, so it’ll be coming to a place near you soon! It’s an invitation to everyone for an exclusive brand experience right at your doorstep.

volkswagen tour penang

It’s a lot of fun, I managed to catch the press conference where Ms Petra Schreiber (Director of Marketing & Communications, Volkswagen Malaysia) was holding court and fielding questions from the media.

driving gti simulator

I went back again the next day. I wanted to collect all the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle that forms a coaster. There are a lot of activities you can do at the ‘Volkswagen On Tour’ roadshow – my favorite being the Golf GTI simulator.

gti simulator

This isn’t something that you can get to see in arcades – the setup is so realistic that your *entire bucket seat* moves and you really get thrown around a bit if you drive into gravel beside the virtual track at high speeds. I know people who set up expensive steering wheel and pedal combos to play racing simulation games at home.

driving simulator

Prepared to be blown away! You’ve never seen anything like this. There are even pistons to move your seat around the 3-screen immersion Golf GTI simulator – you really get the exhilaration of driving on track that I actually flinched when I made a fast and tight corner. :)

gti puzzle

You get a piece of the puzzle that forms a coaster after you experience each station.

popcorn challenge

There is another interesting one called Popcorn Challenge which uses a clean source of energy (namely, you) to power a popcorn machine. A stationary bicycle is hooked up and your kinetic energy from pedaling the bike makes the corn pop.

popcorn

You can have the satisfaction of eating the popcorn that you’ve just made with your own energy after that too!

shout out loud

There is also an interactive station called Shout Out Loud where you can rally four (4) people to speak into each of the microphones at each corner of a model city to light it up. The louder you are, the more intense the blue light becomes.

think blue wall

It’s a brilliant way to showcase their ‘Think Blue.’ philosophy which is all about fuel efficiency and educating the public on carbon emissions for a sustainable future, as well as how Volkswagen is applying it to their award-winning automotive technology for a better tomorrow. Guess which one is the message we wrote?

ISOFIX

There are exhibits where you can familiarize yourself with Volkswagen’s advanced safety technology like their range of child safety seats and ISOFIX (child seat anchor). This would be of interest to parents with small children or people who’re planning to have kids!

kids station

There is a place for kids to learn and play too, which is great for parents with small children. The kids can have age-appropriate fun and learning while you get your own fun and learning in…test driving the latest Volkswagen models!

test drive

It’s the most popular station so remember to sign up early while you wait your turn.

volkswagen test drive

There’s also a ‘Volkswagen On Tour’ photo contest where you can snap a photo of yourself with a complete coaster puzzle.

interactive stations

You can get each piece of the puzzle by going to each of the stations (Popcorn Challenge, Test Drive etc) and after you’ve completed it, the redemption counter will give you a free gift for completing all the stations.

Volkswagen On Tour

You just need to post a photo of yourself with the complete coaster with the #VolkswagenOnTour hastag on either Instagram or Facebook and tag @VolkswagenOnTour or the Volkswagen Malaysia Facebook page respectively (remember to follow the accounts first) and stand a chance to win one of nine prizes, including an extended two week test drive with any of your favorite Volkswagen models!

coaster puzzle

It’s really a lot of fun for the whole family and you get to experience the latest (and eat some popcorn you made with your own energy while you’re at it).

volkswagen tour schedule

We had a blast and we’re looking forward to the Selangor stop of the tour! ‘Volkswagen On Tour‘ will be heading to 13 locations nationwide between now till March 2014. Get more details about the stop nearest to you at www.volkswagenontour.com.my.

Step 1: Entertainment

garden party people

Upstage all the parties going on at the end of the year by adding in some drama (okay, I’ll stop with the wordplay haha) by setting up your very own mini-theater. It’s really not hard to do – I go to the Singapore Arts Festival every year (my mom and sister lives there) and they have al fresco performances in the middle of the park. You just need some scaffolding and plywood for seats, that adds to the artsy feel too.

mini theatre

I’ll do a smaller scale one in the middle of a large enough private garden that I’ll rent for the day and fly in some entertainment that people would love to see. I’m thinking of the Ishinha group with their signature Jan Jan Opera, they’re really good and offer something MORE.

Step 2: Decorations

You can’t have a garden party without decorations. It’ll be like having a wedding without the bride.

flowers

I’ll pick up some nice flowers from Cameron Highlands and arrange it around the garden so there’s not just lush green grass but a lot of color.

wanaka party
(Image source: Wanaka The Bungalow)

I’ll be nice to have some fairy lights to get things going too!

elephant

…and maybe even an elephant! :D

Step 3: Snacks

You’ll also need some festive themed candy for people to snack on while they’re standing around and chatting.

christmas candy

I’ll go for chocolates instead of hors d’oeuvre coz I want everyone into a festive mood. Otherwise, it’ll just be another generic garden gala. This is my little twist – I love candy and I bought a lot of the Xmas themed ones.

snickers nutcrackers

The manufacturers actually come out with a lot of interesting limited editions during the end of the year! I spent over 4 years in Melbourne where there was a lot of limited edition runs of flavors e.g. White Chocolate Twix for Christmas.

twix tin box

Interesting side fact: There are places like Melbourne where snack manufacturers do their test marketing before deciding to launch a new product. I don’t know how they decide the criteria for a city/town – several places in the US are test beds too but it’s not the ones you think e.g. Los Angeles. It’s the slightly smaller cities with a more cosmopolitan make-up. Neither Singapore nor New York is a test bed. Apparently, you can’t be too big, or too small.

I’ll also have some Christmas crackers for people to pull just coz it’s fun!

Step 4: Dinner

It’ll be nice to cook for all your guests but the logistics behind it would make it too much of a hassle.

christmas turkey

There are plenty of caterers who can do the job just as well at the end of the year. I’m thinking of having a party for 30 so that would be too many to cook for. It’s not like an 8 person dinner party, so I’ll just order some Christmas dinner staples!

Turkey with stuffing is a must, as well as a plethora of side-dishes to make everyone happy and full.

Step 5: Drinks

You need to add something more to get people sociable and in the mood for celebrating the festive season at your garden gala.

made for more

I’ll want people to stay and talk, laugh and bond, after all the entertainment, snacks and dinner. I’ll want something more so here’s to bottles and bottles of Guinness to finish the end of the year with more!

wanaka

The reason behind this guide is because I’m interested in the above contest – Guinness is actually giving away the prize of a Garden Gala for end of the year! It’s a Celebration of More and it’s bound to be the best way to end the year!

garden gala

Yup, you get to win a private party for yourself and 29 of your friends too! This is something you really don’t want to miss. I hate to bandy around the term “once in a lifetime” but this comes really close. I’m going to join but in the spirit of giving, I’m going to invite all my readers if I win! :)

Garden Gala
Start: 12th December (Thursday) 10 am
End: 14th December (Saturday) 10 am

Go join the contest too but remember to invite me and my plus one if *you* win. Haha. The contest ends 14th December so head on over to the Guinness Malaysia Facebook page for more details now!

sony xperia z1 waterproof

You might have heard about this new wonder device. It’s not just a phone, but a high quality digital camera! It has everything except the kitchen sink…which leads us to the next point. Xperia™ Z1 is not just water resistant, it’s waterproof! To illustrate that point, I have submerged it in 6 inches of running water in my (you guessed it) kitchen sink.

xperia z1 waterproof

It still works perfectly and I have sent a joke text to my better half asking her where my phone is. Haha! It’s actually waterproof up to 1.5 meters for 30 minutes. This is achieved by flaps covering the microSIM, microUSB port, microSD card slot. In a smart move by Sony, the headphones jack in the Z1 doesn’t have a flap you need to keep closed. It’s rated at IP 55 and IP58 which means it’s not just waterproof, it’s also dust resistant!

sony xperia z1

Yup, this beautiful smartphone has been called “an almost perfect balance of form and function” by Forbes Magazine. The Xperia Z1 has it all:

20.7 MP camera with BIONZ™ for mobile

xperia z1 camera

The Xperia Z1 is powered by a large 1/2.3” 20.7 MP Exmor RS™ mobile image sensor, Sony’s award winning G Lens (the same kind you’ll find in their conventional compact digicams) and their tried-and-true BIONZ™ for mobile image processing engine.

I bought the Sony Xperia S when it first came out and one of the things I noticed is that the night mode takes a huge toll on the processor, which causes the screen to lag. This doesn’t happen anymore – the Xperia Z1 has its own dedicated processor!

The Xperia Z1 takes awesome photos, and handles the tricky light-and-dark situations well with the HDR mode. It also has four major Social Camera Applications to deliver new experiences and there’s a widget which allows you to put that right on the screen by default.

info eye

Info-Eye™
This is a “visual search” feature that provides related information on landmarks and other items such as books, wine or even groceries simply by capturing them with the camera. It’s like Google and Wikipedia combined, except you don’t type in your search string but take a photo instead!

info eye search results
Info Eye search results using bar code…

info eye search
…and the Image results! It works perfectly!

Social Live
This broadcasts the shots that you take to Facebook and the best thing about it is that you’ll get your friend’s comments right on your camera screen! This is the best in-house app I’ve had the pleasure of using and I’ll write about this in more detail soon – you need to be at an awesome event like a concert or while traveling to get the full impact of what this can do and what it means! :)

Timeshift Burst
My favorite feature by far – the Xperia Z1 takes 61 images in 2 seconds – a second before and after pressing the shutter – so you can scroll back and forth to find the perfect image. This is for all those times you “missed a shot” coz you took out your smartphone too late, it’ll never happen again.

AR Effect
There’s also a range of overlays that automatically detects faces and people and creates pictures using augmented reality app. I’ll dedicate a post to the camera and video features of the device – there’s just too many awesome features to describe in a general review.

ar effect

The Xperia Z1 also can shoot full 1080p HD video with stereo sound!

(and you can take a still image while the video is recording too)

5” Full HD screen

The Xperia Z1 has the latest Sony BRAVIA™ technology optimized for mobile. The beautiful and rich 5” screen uses a Full HD TRILUMINOS™ display which results in vibrant and incredible viewing experience. It’s the best screen I’ve ever seen on a smartphone!

sony xperia z1 screen

You can try it out at any Sony Center and be blown away at the crisp text and wide palate of natural colors. The Z1 also includes X-Reality™ for mobile and ClearAudio+™ for optimized video viewing. These are technologies usually found in their high range LCD TVs!

Software and performance

The Xperia Z1 is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor with 2.2 Ghz quad-core CPU and 4G LTE. It’s the first consumer smartphone to come up with this latest and super fast quad-core processor. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 features a GPU and dual ISP for incredible graphics and 3D performance – you’ll notice this if you play Unreal Engine based games on Android.

xperia z1 screen

Sony has also made changes to the stock version of Android and there’s four toggles in the notifications drop down that’s set to sound, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, brightness and settings by default. Swiping to the right in the app drawer brings up a menu that allows you to sort apps and also uninstall apps – you no longer have to go to the exact page in Google Play to do that anymore.

The Xperia Z1 also has 4 shortcuts at the main phone screen to reflect Sony’s concept for this phone- WALKMAN™, Album, Movies and PlayStation® Mobile. Yup, it’s an MP3 player, camera, video recorder and gaming device all rolled into one portable smartphone!

It does all those tasks very well too – there is no lag or slowdown of any kind even with intensive widgets on the screen that pulls Facebook and other social media feeds, multiple tabs open on the default browser (Chrome) and it tackles the most graphically intense Unreal Engine games with ease.

The 3000mAh battery performs well too – I can easily use the Xperia Z1 for a full day without having to recharge. That’s largely due to the highly effective Battery STAMINA Mode which uses a lot of useful tricks to preserve battery life. It shuts off certain apps when you’re not actively using them (you can customize this so that your favorite apps will run all the time) and turns off functions you don’t need until you wake up your screen again.

Design and other features

The entire phone has a premium feel to it from the single piece of aluminium (which also acts as an antenna) surrounding the front and back tempered sheet glass. The Sony Xperia Z1 is a long rectangle shape with an impressive build quality.

xperia z1

The On/Off button is now located on the right hand side in the middle instead of top right. All the buttons are placed right and the headphone jack is the lone item on the top which is perfectly situated to prevent snagging or accidental pressing of buttons while listening to an audio book in MP3 (which is what I do more than listen to music).

The speakers produces surprisingly well-defined sound too.

The Xperia Z1 weighs 170 grams which might seem a tad on the heavy side for people not used to it but I’m loving mine – it’s a high quality digital camera, gaming device, and smartphone in a sleek package that gets double takes. It not only looks good, it feels good too – and the fact that it’s also waterproof and shock and dust resistant is just icing on the cake.

xperia z1 unboxing

The Sony Xperia Z1 retails for RM 2,399 and if you purchase it now, you’ll get three months of free unlimited music streaming from Akazoo, a preloaded social media music app. This is valid from October till December 2013. You can also download six (6) movies (offer valid till 31st December) via Xperia Privilege app, which is also preloaded into the device.

There’s a lot more to talk about but this is already way over 1,000 words so I’ll write more on the awesome 20.7 MP digital camera, 1080p Full HD video recording, nifty apps like Social Live and other apps. I’ll also do a special on underwater photography and my annual Chinese New Year fireworks and firecrackers roundup. I also have the SmartWatch 2, which is a NFC/Bluetooth watch that can sync via NFC to get Facebook updates and allows you to control your phone remotely from your wrist.

smartwatch2

I love my new toy(s)! :D

Check out the Sony Xperia Z1 experience!

water for life

I went to Kampung Jemeri last weekend for the Water For Life CSR (Community Social Responsibility) program, which provides Orang Asli with access to uninterrupted water supply. Kampung Jemeri in Kuala Rompin, Pahang is about a 6 hour drive from KL and does not have one of the basic necessities of life – clean water.

kampung jemeri rompin

The entire Orang Asli village has to draw water from a very old pump and when it runs dry, they have to walk half a kilometer to draw water from the well and on days when the water supply was low, they had to make an incredible 5 km trek to reach the nearest river!

community service

Water For Life is a venture of PETRONAS Dagangan Berhad (PDB) and Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) to ensure that the 131 families in Kampung Jemeri has a clean and safe water supply. The second phase involves 40 of us from PDB to help them install a rainwater harvesting system.

rompin pahang

I’ve been to quite a few kampungs in my time but never to one where water is such a scarce resource! Long houses for Ibans in Sarawak is usually built close to rivers to that isn’t a problem. However, the Orang Asli here doesn’t even have a steady supply of that!

water tanks

It was quite a pleasure to help them in this – we were all issued heavy duty gloves and a wristband to indicate which of the 4 large 400 liter water tanks we will be assigned to.

water

The large tanks are installed in sections throughout the main dirt road of the 131 Orang Asli families in Kampung Jemeri to provide easy access to water for all.

rainwater collection

The first one was built at the start of the sprawling village and it takes in water from…

rainwater filtration

….two large rainwater harvesting ponds.

cutting pvc pipe

It is then sent up through a system of 100 meter pipes to the other tanks to allow everyone in the village easy access to water – right at their doorsteps.

task station

I was assigned to the very last water tank and we hefted it all the way to the rear of the village and did all the installation to accept the sequential water from Tank 1-3.

blue team

Blue Team!

water harvesting tanks

Hauling the water tanks into the village.

100m pvc

Since we’re at the last station, we had to first run the PVC pipe to the third water tank to hook up with them. I was surprised to find out that behind the dirt road is primary jungle!

primary jungle

I got quite a few mosquito bites from that but it’s all good fun.

toolbox

We also had a toolbox which contains cutters and all the piping necessities to build the rainwater harvesting system. I assigned myself to hook up the piping to the tank itself…

pipe installation

…and also the last mile where I joined the PVC piping to a steed rod and a pipe with a lot of help.

last mile piping

The box of tools has somehow been taken back to base camp, which is at least 500 meters away, and none of us wanted to make the trek back (which would tell you how far the villagers have to go for water every single time they wanted it – and get it back) so I used a huge stone to bang the steel pipe into the hard packed earth.

zip tie pipe

It worked even better than a hammer! The principle is much like that of piling in construction. I hefted the rock and let it go while another guy from PDB held it steady. In a minute or so, we managed to drive the entire steel rod in to hold the rest of the PVC and pipe!

orang asli hut

Orang Asli hut! It’s barely 1 meter tall.

orang asli family

There’s actually people inside, preparing for lunch. They’re peeling bamboo shoots, which grows in the wild here.

rompin water for life

Managing Director and CEO of Petronas DAGANGAN Berhad, Aminul Rashid Mohd Zamzam with Malaysian Nature Society and the village head of Kampung Jemeri in Kuala Rompin.

candy kids

Handing candy out to the local kids.

kampung jemeri

The entire rainwater system with proper filtering was tested and water flowed smoothly…

petronas water for life

…so all that was needed is to wait for the 4 tanks to fill up.

orang asli feast

The Orang Asli villagers at Kampung Jemeri held a veritable feast for us, with local delicacies like ikan tenggiri masak tempoyak. There’s also a fiery sambal that Dina asked me to try and I immediately got hooked on. I ate a lot of that homemade sambal with ulam (raw vegetables).

group photo

However, the best part of the day was getting dirty and sweaty in helping these less fortunate folks get one of the basic necessities of life – water.

orang asli kids

I’ve gotten a glimpse of how the Orang Asli in Kampung Jemeri lived and I’m glad I was part of the Water For Life initiative to help then get clean access to water.

water for life rompin

It’s a very good feeling, doing community work like this.

slide out

I literally *slid* out feet first, like a baseball player sliding into the home plate. I wanted to get out of the obstacle house within 5 seconds so that I could win an instant RM 50 note and an adult ticket to Sunway Lagoon. I was at the Nestle Drumstick Most Adventurous Challenge at Sunway Pyramid and I really wanted to win!

rm50

I had analyzed how the previous people who attempted the challenge did on the LCD video screen outside. There’s a camera attached to the helmet of every person who went into the wet adventure tent and live footage was beamed to the TV.

drumstick extreme challenge

The rules are simple – get out within 5 seconds or less.

gearing up

I geared out in safety knee and elbow pads, donned a helmet with a small camera attached and got ready to dash into the tent. I had only seen one guy who managed to get out within the allocated 5 seconds…all the others took slightly longer.

safety gear

It was really dark inside – I had to take a second to orient myself but I knew the countdown wouldn’t start until I actually picked up the Nestle DRUMSTICK EKSTREM CHOC.

I saw the “treasure chest” (which is actually an ice cream freezer) in front of me and rummaged around for the single drumstick inside. I looked back at the exit to plan a speedy exfil.

helmet

That was my mistake. The countdown started and I frantically swiped around, got the Nestle DRUMSTICK EKSTREM CHOC and ran hellbent for leather.

run in

5 seconds….

I had planned to just muscle through all the obstacles – after all, I had enough safety gear on to push through the padded obstructions.

4 seconds…

That plan went south however, since I tripped on a wet patch. I had been warned that I’ll need a change of clothes since the theme of the challenge will involve water.

3 seconds…

I tried to get up quickly and was slimed with starch and powdered with several handfuls of flour.

2 seconds…

I managed to get up on one knee, with a slightly mashed Nestle DRUMSTICK EKSTREM CHOC clutched tightly in my hand – the exit was in sight!

1 second…

…and flew through the exit feet first!

slimed

It turned out that I had clocked 6 seconds so I didn’t qualify for the RM 50 note. However, everyone who attempted the Nestle Drumstick Most Adventurous Challenge got an adult ticket to Sunway Lagoon and the new Nestle DRUMSTICK EKSTREM CHOC – that’s a great consolation prize. :)

win

This challenge was held on a Sunday at Sunway Pyramid and there are still heaps of prizes to be won! There’s mini tablets and Sunway Lagoon Entrance Passes up for grabs each week in addition to the RM 30,000 cash grand prize with RM 10,000 and RM 3,000 for the first and second runner ups and RM 300 consolation prizes for 97 people! You just need to text:

DRUMSTICK ADVENTURE CODE POP CODE MyKad

contest

to 36300 the first time to register yourself. After that just send:

DRUMSTICK ADVENTURE CODE for the Grand Prize and
DRUMSTICK POP CODE for the Weekly Prizes.

rules

The Adventure Code is the alphanumeric code that can be found on Nestle Drumstick Ice Cream Freezer in various stores. The POP Code is the code you find under the top cover of your Nestle Drumstick. The campaign period for the contest ends at 10 November 2013 so submit your entries now! I have eaten quite a lot and submitted all the entries.

extrem choc drumstick

The new Nestle DRUMSTICK EKSTREM CHOC is sinfully delicious too! There’s lots of chocolatey goodness inside that ice cream plus you’ll get a chance to win those nifty prizes while you enjoy the latest offering from Nestle Drumstick! Get more details at the Nestle Drumstick Facebook and the Nestle Drumstick Most Adventurous Challenge Website.

This is a paid advertorial by Nestle.

1. Taking it in stride

smart ass car

We both laughed out of surprise when we saw this. I was driving to breakfast and asked my better half for my camera so I could take a photo. It’s the most innovative way to display your car licence plate after being rear-ended in an accident.

Why, you just put it inside and life goes on. smirk

2. Confused car

confused car

This car has the symbols for:

  • No Food and Drinks
  • No Smoking
  • Photography Allowed
  • Headphones Only
  • Instant Messenger
  • WiFi Hotspot
  • Facebook Like
  • Playboy Bunny

I don’t know what kind of statement the driver is trying to make but it doesn’t make any sense to me. Heh.

3. Hard candy

mm snack mix salty

I always head to Ta Kiong when I’m home. It’s an import specialty supermarket that has things you wouldn’t think Sibu would have. They even stock stuff I haven’t seen in KL coz they import it themselves. I like the Pretzel M&M’s – the newer ones are crunchier, saltier and sweeter with “more pretzel taste”.

pretzel mm

I’ve never seen Pretzel M&M’s in KL before (this is imported directly from the US) so I got some and the new formula tastes good.

I also got a pack of M&M Snack Mix – it has Salty & Sweet contents like roasted peanuts, crunchy pretzels, chocolate chip cookies. Now, the biggest question is whether the stuff is inside the M&M’s or outside i.e. are they fillings or separate snacks. I know M&M has peanuts, pretzels, peanut butter etc as fillings but I didn’t know they make them in Chocolate Chip Cookie.

raspberry mint mm

I wouldn’t be surprised though as M&M’s have Raspberry and Mint fillings covered in dark chocolate.

We haven’t opened the bag yet, so it’ll be interesting to find out.

snickers 3x

I also got us some Snickers from the US…

twix pb snickers squared

…and my favorite Twix PB! This is Twix chocolate cookie bars with peanut butter milk chocolate! Twix was what I reached for when I had the munchies back when I was studying in Melbourne and it’s still one of my favorite candy bars. I like peanut butter in candy bars, there’s also Snickers peanut butter Squared at the bottom (but we got that in KL) which basically contains 2 squares instead of a bar in a package you can twist to close and save one for later!

Short mention:


How to Golf in One Night

Haha! The short film above shows the antics of a guy who has never golfed in his life trying to impress his girlfriend’s dad. His friends gave him some well-intended but ultimately disastrous advice for “The Judgement Day” (as it’s hilariously called). His first swing made the golf club fly from his grip and hit someone, much to the disapproval of his future father-in-law.

It has a truly heart-warming ending after he and his girlfriend’s father have “the perfect round”.

I’ve seen Heineken and CIMB Classic posters around town and it’s no surprise that the long term sponsor of premier sporting events in the global arena like the UEFA Champions League for football, the Heineken Cup for rugby, and the US Open for tennis is finally going into the golfing arena – by being the official beverage partner of the CIMB Classic 2013 at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club (GLGCC) from 24-27th October.

heineken cimb classic

The prestigious CIMB Classic is the first PGA tour in Asia and golf enthusiasts can finally get Heineken style premier hospitality from their public hospitality marquee at the CIMB Classic. Located above the food village, Heineken’s The Green Experience will be a place for fans to lounge in style as they enjoy a grandstand view of golf’s greatest in full swing while cooling down with a refreshing Heineken brew in hand.

That’s what I read and it really made me want to go and experience the exclusivity that describes! You also get to pour the perfect pint of ice cold Heineken and give your best shot at the various games while watching the world-class action on screens. It’s the ultimate in Heineken hospitality!

Find out more about Heineken’s exciting calendar of events at their Facebook page or Twitter.

think blue championships

3.48 liters of fuel per 100 kilometers! That’s how much the winners of this year’s Think Blue. World Championship 2013 managed in Germany for the finals! The father and son duo drove down the designated 592 kilometer route from Berlin via Wolfsburg and Weimar to Frankfurt am Main. I’ve been to most of the cities in the route during my trip to Germany last year with Volkswagen and it’s hard to imagine such fuel efficiency but they did it!

think blue malaysia

This is the culmination of the Think Blue. regional preliminaries which our own country participated in. I wrote about the first Think Blue. – National Challenge 2013 held in Philea Resort, Malacca in Malaysia earlier this month which saw Mr Ong Ling Kern coming up top and going to Germany on an all-expenses paid trip to participate in the Think Blue. World Championship.

think blue dresden

The regional competition in Germany were different – in addition to quiz questions and fuel efficient driving challenges (which were the tasks in Malaysia too), they had challenges like building miniature energy plans for renewable energy and cooking regional dishes with locally-sourced ingredients.

mavis kitchen

I thought the last one was quite interesting! It’s a concept that’s taking hold in a lots of places, like Byron Bay in Australia. In addition to the surfer culture there, there’s a lot of emphasis on low-food-miles and locally-sourced produce. The menus at the best restaurants like Mavis’ Kitchen (gotta remember to write about that) has large gardens and only cooks with ingredients that are in season and from surrounding orchards and farms!

think blue world championships

I thought that was a really good concept for the environment – very in line with Volkswagen’s Think Blue. philosophy which is a holistic approach to foster environmentally compatible mobility and sustainable individual action by raising awareness about sustainability and eco-conscious behavior.

think blue contestants

Back to the Think Blue. World Championship 2013 in Germany, the results on 12th September goes to Volker Muller-Tonnissen (52) and his co-driver Jorn-Luca Muller-Tonnissen (16) who is also his son! They averaged a mere 3.48 litres per 100 kilometres on the 592 kilometre route using the new Golf TDI BlueMotion. What’s more impressive was the set-up – each car competed with three occupants plus balance weight so it’s a full load! Each vehicle has a load of exactly 294.4 kilos so no one has an unfair advantage from size and built over distance (due to the balance weight).

winners tb

The most efficient performance driving father-son duo were also the winners of the German national preliminary contest. There were also 16 other national winners competing (including our very own Mr. Ong Lin Kern from Malaysia) and the second place went to the team from the Canary Islands (3.63 liters) and third was snagged by Russia (3.67 liters).

malaysia results

Mr Ong’s team representing Malaysia came in at 13th for an average consumption of 4.08 liters per 100 kilometers.

united states team

That’s not too bad considering they came in ahead of teams from Argentina and the United States (which came in at last at 17th with 4.57 liters/100 km).

think blue volkswagen

All the participants visited the International Motor Show in Frankfurt am Main after the event, where Volkswagen had a stand showcasing several efficiency models. They also got a very unique experience at the Volkswagen test centre in Ehra-Lessien where cars like the diesel-powered Golf TDI BlueMotion, the natural gas powered eco-up! and full hybrids like the Touareg Hybrid were shown. To cap it all off, they are among the first ever drivers to get the opportunity to test drive the Volkswagen XL1 (the highly anticipated most efficient series vehicle in the world) as well as the first purely electric high volume production Volkswagen – the new e-up!

e up

This is the third year of the Think Blue. World Championship and Head of Marketing at the Volkswagen Group quoted that they almost doubled the number of participating countries and motivated several thousand people from around the world to find out about driving efficiently. It’s the perfect embodiment of the Think Blue. philosophy which aims to inspire people and contribute to significantly reducing fuel consumption and emissions by adopting a more intelligent driving style.

malaysian team

Find out more about Think Blue.

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