31 December 2007

Hello 2008

28 December 2007

26 December 2007

I am in love again!!

Help me!!! I am in love again!!! No not with another woman.. I am in love with the new Honda Accord 2008.

While on my way to Hua Hin, I managed to see a magazine which featured the new Honda Accord. I could see that it is a new model but I do not understand what was written in Thai. I managed to pass by a Honda showroom where there was a unit being displayed but it was too bad that I could not stop to see the car itself. I was also not able to see the car being display in any of the malls that I went to in Bangkok.

So I have to resort to view the website of Honda Thailand at http://www.honda.co.th/accord
I love the car!! It look sleeks and nice and I am awaiting for its arrival in Malaysia, I think would be middle of next year before I decide to... huh? WAKE UP!!!

Ok ok, here are some wallpaper of the car and a YouTube clip of the advertisement:

25 December 2007

Swadee Bangkok

The children have completed their examinations (STP and SPM) and they were all rally to go for a vacation. This time around it would be Bangkok. Why Bangkok? Because my wife's uncle and cousin are Thais and they are staying in Bangkok. They were here in KL during Chinese New Year and we thought that it would be nice to reciprocate their visit to foster the relationship. At the same time, my wife's uncle, aunt and cousins have always be requesting to visit them in Bangkok. My daughters were excited because they can shop for their clothings there. So we made arrangement to fly there and join a tour for 3 days and extend our stay in Bangkok for a total of a week. All arrangements for the tickets, tour and accommodation were done on own on. The worse part was the accommodation, it seems that every hotel in Bangkok is full! We hesitated to go to Bangkok when I was informed that the General Election is scheduled on 23 December when were are in Bangkok. Fearing that there my be unrest after the ousted Thaksin Shinawatra, we fear that the party of the former PM would create some problems during the election. My wife made some calls to some friends in Bangkok and got the assurance that the King has requested for a peaceful election and that Bangkok would be safe during the elections.

We took off from Kl on 18th December, taking the ERL from Tasek Selatan to KLIA. We landed at the new (one year old) Suvarnabhumi Airport and it is very obvious that the traffic (passengers and planes) at the Bangkok airport is very much more that our KLIA.

We were greeted by our tour guide, a short guy call Pradit but he prefer to be called by his nickname Noome who speaks so-so English. The van was also waiting for us and we were taken to check-in to our hotel, The First Hotel which is located the center of the busy Pra Tu Nam area of Bangkok. We choose this hotel because it is very near shopping area and walking distance from the Skytrain.

We only had time to freshen up before my wife's aunt and cousin arrived at the hotel to greet us. Our next stop was the famous four face Buddha located in the Erawan Hotel. The San Phra Phrom or Erawan Shrine was created as a spirit house connected to the Erawan Hotel, which has now made way for the Grand Hyatt Erawan Hotel. There were so many people there both locals and tourist performing their offering and prays there. We bought colourful flower garlands, gold leaves, incense, and candles. We then performed our prayers at the shrine. I managed to made offering twice on all the four faces of Buddha.

Then off we go for our dinner. Dinner was at a local Chinese restaurant but with the added Tomyam to act as the appetizer for the dinner. I am able to take the spicy and sour soup while my children find it hard to take it.

After dinner, we were taken to the famous night bazaar, Suan Num Night Bazaar. I find it hard to do my shopping there because the place is stuffy and hot. Then we need to bargain to buy the goods there. My wife's aunt and cousin came along with us and they managed to bargain much better than us (since they are local there). There was an item were we bought for Baht160 and for the same price, they were about to bargain to buy two items for the same price.

After a tiring day, we went back to the hotel and rested for our long journey for the next day to Pattaya.

Arrival at the Suvarnabhumi airport
One of the many "guardian" gods at the airport
The emblem for the 80th birthday celebration of theKing. The devotion and respect of the King is very obvious in Thailand.
The four-face Buddha shrine
A closer view of the four-faced Buddha
You know that you are in Thailand when you see this sign!!

Merry Christmas greetings

Ho! Ho! Ho!, it is the time of the year to say Merry Christmas to all my readers.
I have been away from home for the past week and was on vacation on Bangkok with the family. We arrived back late last night on Christmas eve and I need to re-adjust myself before I can put up this post. There are stories to be told during my stay in Bangkok and many photos to show. Please come back to view my stories and photos here and also at my Flickr album.

In the meantime, the picture of the Christmas tree was captured at the Twin Tower Hotel in Bangkok.

16 December 2007

New malls around KL

As the festive season is in and bonus time is also in, a few malls have pop up within KL and PJ areas. Well only one is new while two others are extension of the existing malls. The new mall is The Pavilion (where I shot some fashion photos) while the Garden is the extension at Mid Valley and Sunway Pyramid had a new extension wing.

Today I have the chance to visit the Garden, the new extension of Mid Valley. There two new anchor tenants which are Isetan and Robinson. The place was nice and with good architecture and interior design. I managed to snap some scenes the place before I was informed by a "security" girl who politely informed me that I am not suppose to take pictures in the premise.

Here are some photos taken during my trip to the Garden and Mid Valley today.

The "security" lady who advise me to stop shotting!!

A view of my son and I through the Christmas tree crystal ball

10 December 2007

Rainy days and Monday

Monday.. rainy day.. it is now 9.00 p.m. and it has not stopped raining since 10.00 a.m. this morning. The rainy season is here in Kuala Lumpur.

Yes.. I am back in Kuala Lumpur, my hometown, my city after being away for almost a month in Manila.. I am finally back home!!!

Well actually I left Manila on 1 December. I rushed back to office the following Monday to prepare for my next project.. organising the Team Building event for my group. I volunteered to organise the first team building event for my group after being persuaded by some of my close friend. Most of the work organising the event was done remotely from Manila with the help of my colleagues who are in office. It was not an easy task since rounding up all the staff to participate in the event. Some of them were away from office on assignment overseas, some cannot come because they have to look after their children, the was one who was had tendered his resignation and there a few who said that they could not join the whole event because they need to attend to meetings and other work. Come on!! Where is the team spirit for a TEAM BUILDING event???

Ok ok.. I can bear with them. The event was held at Genting View Resort and the staff were saying why go there where it so near to KL. Why could not they go to the beach or mountain or water rafting?? WHY??? Because we are sort of the budget and there is a direction to have it for a 2 days maximum course!!

How many more obstacle that this event has to go through before we proceed??? Then came the T-shirt issue.. some of those who could not make it to the event wanted the T-shirt. The decision given was that those who are not attending the event are not entitled for the T-shirt. Then there were complains.. in the end, we were given the OK to provide also T-shirts for those who did not attend the event.

On the big day, Friday, 7th December, we were off to Genting View Resort. It rained!!! Wet wet wet and cold. But the event still need to go on and it did. Everyone enjoyed it!! See the pictures.. I don't want to say more.

30 November 2007

Deja Vu

After the curfew imposed on Manila from 12.00 a.m. to 5.00 a.m., I am finally arrived safely in my apartment. The newspaper was filled with articles talking about the filed coup that happened yesterday. I found this article in The Philippines Star papers which I find very interesting. It was the Editorial in the paper and was titled Deja Vu.

This one ended even quicker than its precedent four years ago. Saying they wanted to avoid bloodshed, detainees accused of plotting a coup led by Senator Antonio Trillanes IV and Army Brig. Gen. Danilo Lim surrendered and were re-arrested early last night. Hours earlier, the two men had walked out of their court in Makati and then marched in the rain to the five-star Manila Peninsula Hotel in the heart of the nation's financial district, where they demanded the resignation of President Arroyo and called on other members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines to join them.

Both men are not new to trying to topple the government from posh accommodations. Lim led the takeover of hotels in Makati in December 1989, in the bloodiest attempt to topple the administration of Corazon Aquino. How the government dealt with him has to have a bearing on his action yesterday and on those of Trillanes and their supporters. After getting a slap on the wrist for the 1989 coup, Lim was eventually reinstated. Under Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who rose to power on the wings of a military-backed popular revolt, Lim was even appointed to head the elite Army Scout Ranger Regiment.

Trillanes was a junior officer when he joined several others and staged a mutiny in July 2003. That time, they picked the posh Oakwood serviced apartments, also in the heart of Makati, to stage their mutiny. From detention, Trillanes managed to win a seat in the Senate last May. when adventurism is rewarded, it is bound to be repeated. Thus we had the hotel siege yesterday staged by individuals already facing charges of plotting a coup last year.

29 November 2007

An attempted coup and curfew in Manila

I woke up at noon today (after performing my night shift) and was watching CNN over the TV when it was reported that there was a coup going on in a hotel in Makati. I switched over to the local TV channel where there was live coverage of the coup going on at the Peninsula Hotel. The hotel is located about 800 meters away from my apartment.

It seems that a Senator who lead a failed mutiny against the President in 2003 and a General who were in trial, walked out of the trial and took over the hotel. There were also about 30 soldiers who have joined in the coup. The hotel was surrounded by army personnels, police and SWAT team. They were given up to 3.00 p.m. to give up. When 3.00 p.m. arrived, nothing was done.

At about 4.30 p.m. an army armoured vehicle knocked down the main entrance of the hotel. The Senator and the General finally gave up citing that they do not want anyone to get killed in the crossfire. All the people involved were arrested which include the people from the media. The people from the media were also rounded up because the authorities was afraid that the soilders might disguise themselves to escape the arrest. So the tension has ended.

While I was having my dinner with my "Angel", they received text messages that the President has impose curfew from 12.00 a.m. to 5.00 a.m. in Metro Manila and Luzon area. The curfew was imposed to facilitate the arrest for other personalities behind the standoff today.

Whew.. this is the first time that I have encounter such a turmoil and being in a place where curfew is imposed. Luckily, there was no serious incidents that have happened.

For duration of my stay in Manila, I have experienced two explosion incidents, an earthquake tremor, a near typoon, a near coup and a curfew. My stay in Manila will be a memorable one!!!

28 November 2007

I feel the earth under my feet!!!

I was alone in my apartment on 27 November. I was on the night shift where I only go to the office later in the day. I sat on the couch to access the net using my notebook. Suddenly, the couch being pushed from the back. I was surprise and wondered whether it was someone playing a trick on me by pushing the couch. However, I knew that there was no one around. I also saw the curtains moving and I realised that I was shocked by an earthquake.

Wow, this is the first time that I have encountered an earthquake!! Later I overheard the radio announcement that a tremor of 6 on the Ricther scale has hit the Luzon island about 100km away from Manila. The earthquake has sent tremor to the Manila area including Makati area where I am staying.

For the past week, tropical storm around the Philippines has turned into typoon. I was waiting for one to hit Manila so that I can witness how strong the wind will blow. The typoon did not arrive at Manila but has lashed out on the northern part of the island. The typoon has created flood and have cause the death to at least 10 people who drown during the storm.

24 November 2007

Fun in Manila

After a long six months, my project in Manila is coming to an end. The project has been very successful. To celebrate the success of the project, a party was organised by the office staff.

In the project there were some colleagues who were from Indian, food for the party was a bit of problem becuase some of them are vegetgerian and strictly no meat for their meals. To make every one happy, the party was held at an Indian restaurant called Prince of Jaipur which was located in Fort Bonafacio. The restaurant was decorated with many Indian paintings of Maharaja and Maharanis.

Almost every one who were involved in the project attended the party. Food was a mix of vegeterian and also non vegeterian consisting of mutton and fish. The Indians were the most happy seeing the food which they are familiar to. Whilst the Filipinos and others.. well they are accomodate to have Indian food which is treated as a different cusines from their routine food.

After the food, time for some fun. There was a lovely belly dancer who serene us with the lovely smile and twisting hips and belly. The guys' eye were all on her. There was also free flow of drinks from the bar, tequila, rum and volka. Everyone were having fun drinking. Some went too fast and too furious on the drinks that they were drunk before 11.00 p.m.

By 11.00 p.m. the Indian restaurant was turned into a disco. Music machine was placed on the stage and there was a female DJ spinning dance songs. By 12.00 p.m. I need to leave the restaurant because I still need to go back to the office to continue my work.

I had fun during the party and here are some of the photos taken with the people at the party.

My project team in Manila, From left, Selvi from Chennai and Rika who is working with me from KL.
The lovely Yahoo
The belly dancer
Happy people

I will leave my heart in Manila.. see these lovely and beautiful ladies with me!!!

14 November 2007

Another bomb blast in Manila

When I arrived back at my apartment last night at about 10 p.m., we were watching BBC where the news report that there was a bomb blast at the House of Representative, in Quezon City. The bomb blast killed 3 people including one of the local Congressman Wahad Akbar and also injured 7 people.

This is the second bomb blast since I was here in Manila. Luckily I am still fine. Quezon City is located about half and hours taxi drive from Makati. The tension of the bomb blast last night can be seen when we reached the office where our bags are throughly checked by the security guard for any conceal weapons of destrution.

Here is a news clipping of the news in the local news site:

A bomb explosion at an entrance of the House of Representatives in Quezon City on Tuesday evening killed three people, including Basilan Rep. Wahab Akbar, and injured at least seven others.

The National Police and the Armed Forces immediately went on full alert.

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo ordered Director General Avelino Razon, National Police chief, to personally lead the investigation of the explosion. The President said Razon should "submit periodic reports as warranted."

In a nationwide telecast late Tuesday evening, the President called for sobriety.

Director Geary Barias, chief of the National Capital Region Police Office, said the driver of Gabriela party-list Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan was also killed in the explosion. The driver was identified as Marcial Talbo.

Maan Bustalino, a staff member of Negros Oriental Rep. Pryde Henry Teves, who was also injured in the explosion, expired while being transfered from Malvar General Hospital on Commonwealth Avenue to the St. Luke's Medical Center on E. Rodriguez Sr. boulevard. She was rerouted to the Capitol Medical Center on Quezon Avenue instead where she was pronounced dead.

Teves, 34, is a nephew of Finance Secretary Margarito Teves and a grandson of his predecessor, Rep. Herminio G. Teves.

Bustalino, who is from Dipolog City, is in her early-30's. She is taking up law at the University of the Philippines - Diliman.

She has worked at Congress since the time of the finance secretary when he was still a congressman. She is a relative of the Teveses.

The explosion went off as the House ended its session at past 8 p.m.

"At this point in time I'm saying it's a bomb, but I can't say what type of bomb," said Razon.

Police investigators suspect the bomb might have been placed on one of two parked motorcycles then remotely detonated as Akbar approached his car, fatally wounding him and ripping the motorcycles apart, Barias said.

"It looks like Congressman Akbar was the target," Barias said.

Akbar, a former governor of Basilan province and reportedly a former member of the Abu Sayyaf group, had claimed he was a target of his former comrades.

Some security officials have suspected that Akbar knew the leaders of the Abu Sayyaf, a Muslim radical group that has its roots on Basilan island. But they said he later had a falling out with Abu Sayyaf commanders and started fighting them.

Akbar also had political opponents, including those that ran against one of his wives who succeeded him as governor of Basilan.

The bomb went off as drivers were picking up lawmakers and their staff and damaged a number of cars outside the south wing entrance to the Batasan Pambansa building.

"I felt the blast although I was on the other side of the building. The ceiling of the canopy near the south wing entrance came down," Rep. Teodoro Casino told The Associated Press.

Rep. Joel Villanueva of the party-list Citizen's Battle Against Corruption said he was at the south wing of the building when he heard a "very loud explosion."

Witnesses said they saw a van and one or two vehicles burning after the explosion.

Razon said a destroyed motorcycle was found and experts were conducting chemical swabs on it to find out if it was used to carry the bomb.

Police cordoned off the massive House complex in suburban Quezon City shortly after the explosion.

"If this is terrorist action or work of an anarchist I'm sure it was deliberately done to cow us," House Speaker Jose de Venecia told reporters at the site.

Political tensions are high in the country. President Arroyo is facing a third impeachment complaint in as many years.

"We cannot rule out anything until the investigation is completed," De Venecia said. "There are many threats to us personally and officially. We will have to decide whether we have to augment security."

He said he will speak with the President "to inform her tonight that we will not be cowed by terrorists."

The Philippine capital has been jittery since last month, when an explosion damaged a shopping mall in the financial district of Makati, killing 11 people and injuring more than 100 others. A preliminary police report said it was an accident, although the owners of the mall disputed the finding.

Militants have bombed targets in the capital in the past.

08 November 2007

02 November 2007

Staying in an apartment

For a change, I moved into a service apartment during my stay in Manila. There were three of us in my assignment team and we managed to secure a 3-room apartment at Fraser's Place in Makati which is about 15 minutes walking distant from my office.

Fraser's Place, Makati

The 3 rooms apartment is more than 2,00 sq. ft. with a large living room, a large dinning room, a large kitchen, a washing area and a servant room. Staying in an apartment take the loneliness I have when staying alone in a hotel room. We get to cook ... instant noodles (or if we have the chance and skills we can cook up something more decent), have a big 2 door fridge to keep our stuff and a washing machine and dryer to do our own laundry. Even though there is laundry service, the three of us took turn to do out own laundry.. the only thing we did not like is the ironing of the cloths.

The very large living room
The dinning room is at the end of the living room

The washing machine and dryer side by side

The very large kitchen with a 2 door fridge

The apartment has to be rented on a monthly basis to get the full worth of it. It is cheaper to stay in the apartment than a hotel room taking the cost of three rooms in an apartment against three rooms in a hotel.

The only draw back is the lousy breakfast they serve. Breakfast is just normal omelette, bread and some other stuff unlike the various varieties of food to choose from in the restaurant of the hotel. The other thing is housekeeping is not available on Sundays and public holidays so we better keep the apartment clean to cover the days when housekeeping is not available.

Overall, I am beginning to enjoy my stay in the apartment more than my stay in the hotel room.

22 October 2007

Kimi Raikkonen is F1 World Champion

The showdown of this year's Formula 1 was decided in a three cornered fight between Hamilton, Alonso and Raikkonen in the final race of the year at Interlagos, Brazil.

The race was the best race I have seen so far and Ferrari took 1-2 position with Raikkonen winning the race and the World Championship my a mere 1 point from Alonso. Hamilton had some bad luck at the start of the race and also missed a gear shift. Hamilton ended in 7th position.

But 4 hours later, the race steward were checking on the fuel samples of BMW (Heifield and Kubica) and Williams (Rosberg). If they are penalised for the fuel used Hamilton will move from 7th to 4th position which would make Hamilton the champion.

Luckily, the steward choose not to penalised the teams even though there was discrepancy in the fuel sample.

In my opinion, Raikkonen should be the world champion taking into consideration that he has the most number of wins for the year. Hamilton is still young and still have opportunity to have a shot at the championship in the coming season.

Explosion in Makati - I am safe

Last Friday at 1.30 p.m. there was an explosion at Glorietta, a popular shopping mall in Makati. The place is located about 500 meters from the hotel that I am staying.

I just want to inform that I am safe in Manila. At the time of the explosion was I came back from lunch from other place, Greenbelt 1 which about 1 kilometers from the place of incident.

The explosion caused the death of 8 people and injuries to more than 100 people. Initially, it was reported that the cause of if the fire was due to explosion of LPG tanks, a few hours later, it was reported that the explosion was caused by a bomb. The police found traces of chemical used to make C4 explosive.

Today's paper reported that the total death now stand at 9 and the explosion may not be cause by a bomb.. I will wait and see the final report.

14 October 2007

My first teddy bear

The time of the year is drawing near, and I would not be at home on that day. So I decide to celebrate the day earlier with my family. What am I taking about? Well my birthday is coming soon but I will be in Manila on my birthday. So I decided to celebrate the date with my family before flying off.

I booked a table at Souled Out to have dinner there with my family on 13th October. Luckily I did the reservation early because all the table were packed because it was a holiday.. Hari Raya Adil Fitri.

I was caught by surprise when my children presented me with a brown box with Cool Bear Workshop written on it. They told me that it is my birthday present. I opened it and was surprised that it turned out to be a cool teddy bear dressed up in a cool outfit. They told me that they have commissioned the making of the teddy bear at a shop where you can customised the bear by choosing whether it is a male or female and at the same time choose the outfit for it too. But the best thing was when they told me to press the centre of the bear.. a recorded greeting of the sound of my three children saying "Happy birthday Papa". I was very touched by the gift because it has been chosen by my children and at the same time, this is the first teddy bear that have been presented to me. I love the gift very much especially it was given to me by my children who have taken the trouble and effort to give it to me on my birthday.

I told them that I will bring the bear along when I travel so that I can hear their voices when I am away fr0m home and it will not not make me home sick.

To celebrate my birthday, my wife presented me with a lovely and costly belt. I presented myself with a PSP. Well yeah.. finally I got myself a PSP. This was after consideration of whether to get myself an Apple iPod or not. The PSP is a better choice since I can play games, listen to music, view videos and do much more things than an iPod. At the same time, I also another unit of PSP for my son.. that makes 2 PSPs.. one for me and one for my son. He too was yearning to have a PSP and he was also the one who has influenced me to get one.

Now going to Manila for a long duration of time would not be bored since I will have my teddy bear and my PSP by my side.

29 September 2007

A day at Pavilion KL

While browsing through the Flickr album of Soo HK, I happened to see some photos of models on the runway of a fashion show at Pavilion. I asked Soo whether there will be any more fashion show at Pavilion. He mentioned that the even will be still be on for this weekend. I told him that I wanted to go for a photo shoot of the fashion show at this new shopping mall which just opened on 20 September 2007. He said that he would be there too to practice shooting with his new Canon 40D camera. That's great and it would be the first time that we will be meeting face to face after being virtual friends for the past 2 years.

Pavilion is the newest mall to be opened in the city and it is located where the former Bukit Bintang Girl School was located. The school has since been moved to Shamelin area to allow the building of this massive project. The fashion show was the attraction to lure visitors to this new mall.

My children came along with me to Pavilion. They were strolling around the mall while I waited for the fashion show events to start and to shoot the models on the runway. I managed to meet up with Soo and he was not alone too, his wife from Bangkok was with him too. We had our chat and it was great to met up with him.

Lunch time, my children and I went down to the Level 1 where are many restaurants but there are still many undergoing renovation. We finally ended up at aIchiban Boshi. This restaurant has the longest sushi conveyor belt in the city. The sushi was fresh and terrific but cost a bit more than Genki Sushi. We were all full after having 14 plates of sushi and a bowl of ramen.

Here are some photos of the sushi:

After shooting 4 session of fashion shows (G2000, Focus Point, MNG and Topshop), I ran out of storage. I finished 2 CF cars totaling 3GB because I shot all in RAW format. We decided to make a move home and I got a surprise. The parking fee from 11.00 a.m. to 3.00 p.m. cost me RM11-50... very expensive lor!!!

See the photos of the fashion show at my Flickr Album.