How I came back from Frankfurt with more Euros than I went with

euro 700

This is a funny (and true) story which I haven’t written about. I’ve been recovering my crashed HDD photos and came across this bunch. This is from my third Europe trip in 2012 and I actually didn’t bring much Euros there coz the hotel and food was paid for. Thus, I went to Germany with a total of 400 Euros in my wallet.

I travelled the country from Dresden to Berlin and when it was time to come back home, I took a flight from Berlin to Frankfurt. Yes, this was the ill-fated flight that delayed me for almost 2 days. Thank God I was flying Business Class so I had a hotel room and food comped at Sheraton (heard the Economy passengers had to choose between either a shower or a meal).

frankfurt casino

Long story short, I was stuck at Fraport for a long time so I thought I might go to the Frankfurt Airport Casino to see how my luck holds up. The good thing about casinos in airports in Europe is that they actually allow cameras – as long as you don’t take photos of other patrons (croupiers and tables are okay). I did the same at Holland Casino in Amsterdam.

Anyway, I tried putting 100 Euros on Player. They only had a Baccarat table open at the time but that’s my game of choice anyway so it’s all good. I ended up losing all my 400 Euros *and* an additional 1,000 Euros to the house! A friend of mine had joined me at this point and was playing at the Blackjack table. I told him I’m out to withdraw more money and I’ll join him in a bit.

frankfurt casino 500 chip

He later told me he was quite worried about me. I had withdrawn 2,000 Euros at this point and it was all from my credit card! My ATM card had not worked the entire trip. He was there on business so he had a bit of petty cash to play around with but I was using my own money and I was losing lots of it. I decided that the last 1,000 Euros be dedicated to the Blackjack table – a game I do not play much.

frankfurt casino chips

However, as soon as I sat down, I kept winning. I lost count of how many times I got a natural 21, which pays 3-2. I was so caught up with the game that I didn’t even realize I had gotten my bankroll back until my friend nudged me and asked me (he knew I was down 2,400 Euros at this point). I just wish I’ll be somewhere close to this lucky as well when I go play on www.ipadcasino.com.au later! I was actually hovering around the Euro 2,200 point so I took the 2,000 Euros and cashed out, with only 200 Euros to win back the remaining 400 Euros I’ve lost.

fraport casino win

I did have a nasty thought run through my mind at this point – I had tipped the croupier almost 500 Euros at this point (!!!) and would have won if I hadn’t tipped him (tipping the dealer is not allowed in most Asian casinos and will likely get you kicked out). I didn’t realize it, I subconsciously threw a Euro 20 chip his way every time I got Blackjack (that was the second reason my friend nudged me). It almost caused an argument with the dealers when it was time for a change in croupiers. smirk

However, I still believe to this very day that I wouldn’t have won if I had not tipped the croupier so much. I had uncontested wins (where the dealer doesn’t hit to try and better you) a lot of times when I was the only person who didn’t go bust and I think a lot of that had to do with my generosity.

frankfurt casino blackjack

…and with that last 200 Euro in chips I managed to win 700 Euros. I had already cashed out the 2,000 Euros I won prior to this to avoid the temptation to hit the reserves, and that was the story of how I managed to come back from Germany with more money than I went with. :)

Our (potentially) free anniversary, trips and presents!

Pandora Essence Bracelet

It’s our anniversary last week and I bought a new charm for my better half to add to her new Pandora Essence bracelet. This bracelet is a new one that I bought for her last month, the previous Pandora bracelet is full to capacity!

Pandora Essence Charms 2014

I chose the Intuition charm coz I like the backstory and text – it says “The wisdom of the soul/Follow its guide” and it’s priced at RM 633. It’s a little more expensive than regular Pandora Essence charms coz it’s made with 14k gold.

Pandora Intuition

I went very early in the morning and bought it with my credit card, hoping to get RM 300 off (more about that later) but unfortunately I was too late. Not to worry though, I use my Maybank credit card quite often so it’s just a matter of time!

Pandora Essence Intuition

I actually learned of the Maybank I <3 100% Cashback Every Day promotion when I bought a LEGO Movie set for my dear. I was surprised to see the promotional banner for it just inside the store. The kids are really into Lego nowadays and we just bought another LEGO CITY box originally priced at RM 179.90 for the kids when we went back to Sibu during the weekend.

Lego Cashback

The kids love exercising their creativity with LEGO and we have happily indulged them in this mind building investment – it’s better for them to build something than to be stuck to the iPad playing games the whole day and we are collecting the LEGO CITY series for them to create their very own city!

LEGO Maybank

I bought them three sets of LEGO since they’re so into it now. Yup, we got them all in Sibu as a present for them and we plan to give them one when I come back and leave the other two for Christmas.

KitKat Oreo

It’s always fun to spend with my Maybank credit card since there’s a chance I would get the item for FREE with the 100% cashback promotion. I also bought our flight tickets back to Sibu during the weekend and the return trip to KL using my credit card.

Krave Cereal

We went to Hat Yai last weekend and I used it to purchase some candy for ourselves and the kids at the grocery stores over there. It’s cheaper in Thailand and there’s no minimum spend! I travel so much that my credit card is authorized to go around the world anyway.

Panettone Cookies

Christmas and the festive season is coming very soon and it’s always good to get presents for friends and loved ones. We bought two boxes of panettone (an Italian sweet bread loaf eaten during Christmas and New Year) and a pack of holiday cookies made in Germany as gifts for my dad and our friend Arthur before we flew back to Sibu for the weekend.

Hokey Pokey Squiggles

You might want to begin using your Maybank credit card for the festive season for everything from presents to trips to dining, depending on your inclination coz there’s a chance you’ll get a 100% cashback – making your purchase free! There’s no minimum spend required and the campaign lasts until 31st January 2015.

Sarawak Sambal Laksa Paste

I even used it to buy Sarawak sambal laksa paste from Sibu to bring back to KL. :)

Flight Sibu

Don’t have a Maybank credit card? No worries, just apply for one and you just might get a free trip with the I <3 25,000 Bonus Air Miles campaign! Get more details about how to apply for the premium credit cards and the promotion at the I LOVE 25,000 Bonus Air Miles site.

DQ Blizzard Thailand

You can also win yourself a Polo Sedan with the I <3 5 Polo Sedan by just applying and spending with your new Maybank credit or charge cards! You will also get complimentary gifts from spending certain amounts and this campaign period is from now till 28th February 2015.

LEGO City

There’s just plenty of love to go around this festive season, whether you’re an existing or new premium or regular Maybank credit card owner. I’ve been with them exclusively since 2008 and I’ll be using my Maybank credit card for *everything* daily from petrol to dining to take advantage of the I LOVE 100% Cashback Every Day campaign!

My experience with dengue fever

dengue antibodies test igm

I woke up early Sunday morning with a burning fever that came on suddenly. I had a pounding headache and worse still, there was an intense pain behind my eyeballs. I couldn’t even blink without substantial pain.

I was also burning up. You can reach over 40 degrees Celsius in the first few days of dengue infection and the heat was baking off me – so much so that my better half couldn’t stand the heat when she was beside me.

I went to the doctor the next day and she didn’t even know I had dengue fever or diagnose me as such. I was just given a 30 second consultation, given paracetamol and was out the door.

test for dengue

Day 1
High fever, chills, pain at the back of the eyes

I was really, really sick. I couldn’t eat anything and I didn’t want to move at all. When I went to the doctor again, I was bent over from fatigue. It was worse than any flu that I’ve ever had. I slept.

Day 2
High fever, fatigue, stabbing pain behind my eyes, aching joints and muscles

It didn’t get better the next day. The fever had gotten worse and I was waiting my IgM and IgG dengue antibodies results so I could confirm that this is a case of dengue. I slept most of the day.

dengue blood test

Day 3
Fever, fatigue, aching joints, muscle pain, stabbing pain behind my eyes

I would say that the most characteristic feature of dengue fever is the stabbing pain behind your eyes. It’s unlike anything else I’ve ever experienced. I got my results and it was dengue!

rash dengue

Day 4
Diarrhoea, fatigue, nausea, aching muscles and joints

The fever had broke but I was still too tired to get up from bed. I can honestly say that I was bedridden for a full week! I also threw up anything that I tried to eat and couldn’t keep down any fluids.

dengue fever rash

Day 5
Nausea, fatigue, itching all over, rashes

This was when I got a mysterious rash all over my body. It’s very itchy and I couldn’t stop scratching myself. It’s on my feet, my hands, my body and it kept me scratching the entire time I was awake. The only respite is sleep.

Day 6
Itches all over, hives, rashes, nausea, fatigue

It got better on the sixth day and I had daily blood tests to monitor my platelets count. It had dropped really low and I couldn’t seem to heal from the smallest lacerations.

second blood test

Day 7
Lacerations from scratching, itching all over, fatigue

It’s the seventh day now and I’m mostly feeling better, although I can’t get up for long periods of time. It’s very tiring to do even minor chores and I’ve been sleeping 12 hour days without any fluids – a bad thing to do which probably made my recovery slower but I had lots of isotonic drinks courtesy of my dear.

dengue hospital referral

Dengue fever isn’t as bad as some people report. You won’t die if you’re a relatively healthy adult. I got a letter for admission to the hospital but I didn’t go – that is if your platelets count is dropping and doesn’t rally for some reason and it’s a precaution. They really can’t do anything for you – your immune system just has to get rid of the dengue fever virus by itself.

I’ve been through a few (mis)adventures in my life and out of them I’ll rate this as a 4 from a scale of 1-10, 10 being the most painful. 10 would be withdrawing from benzodiazepines without a taper plan at a shitty government rehab centre – you’re shackled and handcuffed and you’re seizing every hour and trying not to bite your tongue and you’re peeing blood from the exertion and your brain feels damaged from all the minor and grand mal seizures and you’re just begging for a higher power to not let you die.

(and you can very well die from cold turkey benzo withdrawal after 14 years of heavy usage)

I’ve also done cold turkey withdrawal from opiates (heroin, oxycodone and methadone) and I’ll rate that a 7 – nowhere near the death experience of benzo withdrawal but still painful. I’ve also had an emergency dialysis done on my neck and that discomfort is probably around 5 so my rating of 4 for dengue fever is just according to my personal experiences – your mileage will vary depending on what you’ve been through. smirk

dengue rash

There’s a positive thing that came out of all this though – I’m immune from this strain of dengue fever forever! You can only get dengue once, you’ll have immunity after that, and considering there’s four (4) known strains out there – that means you’ll get dengue a maximum of four times and you’re set after that. :)

3 images from the sick bed

sick bed

I have been down with terrible headaches, chills, rashes, a stabbing pain behind my eyes and high fever since Sunday. That’s all symptoms of dengue fever, and there’s nothing which can actually cure it – you just need your body to fight it off by itself. I’ve been bedridden since I went to the doctor, not having the energy (or rather having too much pains and aches) to get up.

sick food

I’ve been having trouble keeping food down too, so my better half cooked soup for me. It was a challenge to just eat – I did not have appetite at all, which is very unusual. I hardly ever get so sick (my dad also got dengue a couple of years back and fought it off at home) and my high fever makes it very hard to think and write.

sick pack

I haven’t been able to update the blog, could hardly get out of bed for meals! I felt a little better now so I quickly typed a short post before the nightly fever and chills come. I’ll reply all comments later, for now I need to recover! The hardest part is the fatigue and high fever and stabbing pain in the eyes but my dear has been taking care of me very well, much love. <3

Another bumpy road, there’s so much wasted booze

drive shaft

I sent my car to the workshop over the weekend coz it was behaving rather strangely – it kept making quick and sudden swerves to the right on it’s own (!!!). Either the car was possessed by a vengeful and malicious spirit intent on causing me grievous bodily harm or there was something very wrong with the car.

Being a relatively pragmatic person, I thought the latter was more likely. smirk

My initial suspicion was that my right front tyre is running flat and so I leaned out for a quick peek during a traffic light stop (and nearly got my head taken off by a speeding bike). It looked nice and inflated.

Puzzled, I drove on, hoping that the problem would resolve itself when the next uninitiated swerve took me by surprise and I went *entirely* into next lane. I could see the steering wheel move. After my heart resumed beating again I decided to ground the car and send it off to get checked.

fixed car

I knew what happened too – a long time ago, when I was a functioning alcoholic, I decided to impulsively drift through a wet corner on my way home. It’s just one of the things you do when you’re shit faced drunk and it seemed like a good idea at the time. I ended up in the storm drain, with the rear of the car stuck inside the crevice. I gave permission to the tow truck to attach itself to the drive shaft (or suspension, I can’t remember) so I could get home quicker and without a trip to the workshop.

workshop bill

It turned out that the drive shafts were worn and the suspension was pretty much gone in the following 8 years, so the repairs on that alone cost me RM 3,043. I also fixed my long-running problems with the car air conditioning, which set me back a further RM 1,280 for a total of RM 4,323.

energy sandwich

I know, I’m still recovering from the price too. I guess I’ll have to eat bread for the time being while I save up to go to Japan next year. I’m glad I was alone when the problem manifested though, and I managed to fix it, coz that was very dangerous indeed and I have people I love and commitments in my life now.

A very LEGO x Pandora Essence anniversary

Emmet

We just had our latest anniversary and I surprised my better half by going to the official LEGO shop in Malaysia and getting something for her. I wanted to get the Emmet figure from The LEGO Movie but you can’t get it now. You have to get it in one of the official LEGO movie sets.

lord business evil lair

I got the Lord Business Evil Lair (RM 349.90) from the end scene in the movie coz it has all the LEGO characters that she likes. We plan to build it together with the kids…and GLUE IT ALL UP WHEN IT’S DONE!

That’s a joke from the movie, BTW. Haha.

LEGO Minifigures Pack

I also got the collectible LEGO Minifigures (RM 14.90 each) which are all the rage now. I picked three – one for my dear and one each for the kids and let them choose. The big one managed to get the one that she wanted (a spaceman with spacesuit) and the little one got a cowboy. My better half got a princess with a dog frog.

I didn’t get one for myself since the big one has two Player 1 LEGO minifigures (you don’t know what is inside until you open it) so I’ll select one as my own avatar. smirk

LEGO Store Malaysia

I also got an official LEGO ice cube maker (RM 30) which makes the red brick sized LEGO ice cubes. I thought my dear would appreciate it in her overnight oats endeavours – I suggested freezing bricks of LEGO milk or using it as a mould to make see-through raspberries suspended in clear gelatin LEGO bricks as a food decoration.

Lego Shop

My better half has always been very thoughtful with her gifts and I love that she keeps me in her heart and always thinks of me in everything she does. She got me a very nice pair of flip flops coz my favorite pair I bought from Club Med Bali has literally been worn to rags. She also got me lots of imported chocolates!

ling food

She always keeps me fed with her delicious home cooked food and writes thoughtful and loving cards for me too.

one i love

I’ve been keeping our story with Pandora charms and the last one I got her was a Princess heart with zirconium and gold crown. I also wanted to get her a new Pandora bangle style bracelet last month since her bracelet is so full now that it’s impossible to fit any more charms!

pandora princess charm

I had casually asked her what she thought about the Pandora Essence line (which is a new line meant for a more mature audience) and I remember her telling me that it’s nice but it’s a bit unfortunate that it’s not compatible with the regular line.

pandora essence collection

Well, since her Pandora bracelet has already been filled to capacity (we’ve been together for almost two years) I thought I’ll bring her out and surprise her with a visit to Pandora to get her fitted with the new Pandora Essence bracelet!

love essence charm

I also got one Pandora Essence charm to go with the bracelet – these charms are not interchangeable with the regular line but it’s nice coz it won’t move around – there’s an inner coating of some kind which prevents it from shifting. The first charm I got to start is aptly called Love.

pandora essence

Pandora Essence has many different charms named after characteristics e.g. Caring, Determination etc and I thought it’ll be nice for her to wear a new bracelet while I get her old one cleaned since I can get that done free of charge (due to my almost monthly patronage of Pandora). I plan to build our stories on Pandora Essence for the time being and get *another* regular Pandora bracelet for her after it’s filled…

LEGO purchases

…so we can continue creating more new stories in the future on a brand new bracelet! <3

The Curious Case of the “Half Price” Bakery

half price bakery

I was getting a loaf of bread from my usual bakery when I overheard a couple of students whispering and gesturing excitedly beside me. The bakery is open 24 hours and thus attracts a huge clientèle of mostly college kids who hang out there to “study”. It was about 2 am in the morning and I was just about to go to the cashier when one of the students leaned in consiprationally and murmured:

The butter milk buns are “half price” today, if you want to get them.

half price buns

Puzzled, I looked up and saw it was RM 5.20 for a small bundle of five buns – there was no mention of there being a 50% discount. This bakery doesn’t do discounts since it’s open 24 hours and they just cycle out their products instead.

What do you mean?”, I enquired, slightly baffled.
There’s a new guy behind the counter and he’s ringing up the buns as RM 2.50 for a pack”, the student breathlessly told me.

I’m not as excited as the college kids about potential savings by shafting it to a faceless corporate entity, but it did seem funny to me. I know that there’s a single bun version for RM 2.50 – the lowest price point of anything in the bakery. I’ve also had the 5-pack bundle before and thought they were quite good – especially if they’re just 50 cents per small bun instead of the RM 1+ it usually costs. smirk

I grabbed the pack and went to the cashier, and sure enough, the new guy rang it up as RM 2.50 when it came to the students turn. He also rang it up as RM 2.50 for me. I saw the supervisor beside him and was about to tell him about the mistake when I thought, why ruin the students fun?

half price bill

Let’s see how long they can keep this up.

I went there again the next night, and lo and behold, there was only a single pack left! There’s usually about 6 packs stocked on the shelves, it’s not a very popular item, but word seems to have gotten around and it’s *open season* on the “half price” butter milk buns.

I glanced outside and saw that the new guy was still on duty, and added it to my purchases to see if he’ll still do the same. Surely, he must have learnt of his mistake! How can a bag of 5 buns be as cheap as RM 2.50? Doesn’t he know better? Has he never looked at the bakery’s offerings? Most items are around the RM 6-10 price point!

buttermilk buns

Nope, it turns out that he was totally unaware of his mistake, and rang it up as RM 2.50 again.

I went again earlier today and saw that the new guy has left. I had a bag of the butter milk buns with me and it was finally tabulated at the correct RM 5.20 price. It was the supervisor behind the counter and I finally got the chance to ask him – “Did you know the new guy was scanning the bag of 5 buttermilk buns as RM 2.50 for a couple of days?”.

full price

He replied in the affirmative and said he’s been let go as a result of that. It turns out that they were selling out of the bags every single day, so they made more as a result but the books at the end of the day didn’t add up. They just realized what he had done after 4 days!

Oh well, I was sick of eating buttermilk buns every day anyway. :)

Angry Birds Board Game Review: Playing real life Angry Birds with the kids over the weekend!

playing angry birds board game

We brought the kids to Kidzania over the long weekend and after that we went to Borders to get some stationary for them. The big one needed some color pencils for school and while we were browsing, I saw an Angry Birds board game for RM 99.90 and thought it would be fun to play with the kids.

angry birds the board game

I was actually quite curious and looking forward to playing the game too. smirk

angry birds board game

This is called Angry Birds: On Thin Ice. There’s also Angry Birds: Birds in Space and Angry Birds Happy Holidays Edition. We brought it back and opened it up – there’s two Angry Birds inside, the most recognizable big red one and the more streamlined yellow one. I know they have names, the kids told me but I totally forgot what the names of the birds are.

angry birds card game

It’s a lot of fun! There’s 3 levels of difficulty represented by 3 different stacks of cards and a “free building” deck of cards. Your mission is the same as the game – to knock down the green pigs!

game of angry birds

There are three (3) pigs included with the game and each stage will incorporate them. The level is built according to the card you draw and it also states which Angry Bird you can use, the order you use them, and how many times e.g. Yellow Bird, Yellow Bird, Red Bird. You need to knock down all the pigs to clear the stage and you get 100 points for each pig, plus 100 bonus points if the pig is wearing a helmet (*and* you manage to bump it off their porcine heads).

You also get extra points if you’re the one to clear the stage e.g. “kill” the last green pig. It’s 100-300 points, depending on the level. The fourth card deck is a method to keep track of scores – each card is 100 points and the first person to reach 1,000 points wins!

building angry birds

It turns out that building the set is the hardest part – the blocks are all very wobbly and prone to falling down if you even breath hard on them. It’s designed that way so that you can easily break the tiles and destroy the level, just like the game, when the bird launches.

angry birds board game card

I thought it was quite ingenious! It’s also very realistic and faithful to the original game – the “ice blocks” can be *cracked* and split in half, since it’s actually two pieces fitted together. The most interesting block is the TNT crate – it functions in the same way as the game!

angry birds launcher

The TNT crate actually has strong springs inside so when you close it up, there’s tension and potential energy. This energy is released when you either:

1. Hit the TNT crate with a bird
2. Make the TNT crate fall down

angry birds board game complete

When one of the above two criteria is met, the TNT crate will actually “explode” and send pigs and blocks flying around. Haha!

Here’s how the TNT crate looks like when it went off. This is a video I took of me and the kids playing the Angry Birds: On Thin Ice board game.

angry birds on thin ice

Board games nowadays are so canggih and innovative – I’ve never seen stuff like this as a kid. It really jacks up the kids imagination and they all had a lot of fun launching the Angry Birds at the “levels” (which are sets that you build according to the cards).

angry birds launching

It made for a fun Sunday afternoon playing together with my better half and the kids! :D

Your body is your amusement park temple

dialysis

I have treated my body (and mind) as more of a amusement park instead of a temple. I have done that for almost half my life, searching for the next hedonistic experience and by the time I realized that you can’t just do that and expect to live forever, it was too late.

kidney damage

You see, I used to have nothing to live for (or thought I didn’t). In my short sightedness, I have taken various interesting pharmacological agents to excess, damaging my kidneys in the process. I even needed an emergency dialysis and nearly didn’t make it – the doctor fully expected me to die and I was obstinate enough to recover.

home funeral

I have so much to live for now. My mom has passed but my dad is still around and I want to take care of him. I also have the best partner ever, which I’m very lucky to have. My better half is the best thing that has happened to me and she really set my life on the straight and narrow. I have two kids that I love to bits and I like to be there for them too!

jacuzzi

I am starting to live a very healthy lifestyle now and part of that includes exercise. You really can’t have a healthy lifestyle without exercise. I run, swim and play badminton with the kids (and sometimes my better half, who is, naturally, better than me).

family dinner

We Malaysians like to eat (a lot) and most of the time, the food that we eat is superbly unhealthy. That’s all fine and good but it needs to be balanced out by having an active lifestyle.

mooncake family 2013

The 1 thing that matters to me is being healthy enough to take care of all my dependants and to give them a happy life.

happy us

#matterstomeMY

kids

I can’t very well do that if I die of obesity related complications like heart disease or diabetes and I don’t want to give up eating well so I have to exercise a lot. It’s the best way to have a healthy lifestyle.

morib goldcoast us

I swim…

riding bicycles

I cycle…

run

I run…

bicycles

It doesn’t really matter what kind of exercise you do as long as you do it – but if you run, you might want to download the Allianz Pacer app from Google Play or iTunes.

setting sun

Allianz’s priority is to help Malaysians to start taking care of what matters to them most, with a special focus on your health. They’ve set up Allianz Pacer – which is a social running community. It’s really quite interesting.

swimming with kids

Go and Like the Allianz Malaysia Facebook and participate in the sharing now!

family trip morib

#matters2meMY

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