Saturday, August 30, 2008

Thai Takes - Bangkok

Finally ... could find some time to ramble about my recent Bangkok trip. Although I didn't get to explore the city much coz we were there for just 3 days, I managed to snap everything there was to snap (Blogger's Syndrome! Ha! Ha!)

Day 1
Arrived at 5.30 p.m. and checked-in the hotel.

Day 2
Basically it's checking out the hotel and the surrounding areas (Sukhumvit Road) during the day and a visit to the Suan Lum Night Bazaar in the evening.

Day 3
Took the BTS skytrain to explore the Sukhumvit-Ploenchit-Siam roads.

Unlike the city which was so like KL, the hotel was a different experience altogether. The stay at the JW Marriott was a truly Thai experience. Picture this. The moment we set foot at the hotel, we were greeted by the smiling staff in their traditional Thai attire. Once inside, some exotic aromatherapic fragrance immediately calmed our nerves. In a corner, there's a PYT playing a soothing tune on her Thai lute. While waiting for the hotel keycards, there're the clay Thai Goddess sculpture near the lift and the wood carvings on the walls to admire. As for soft scape, orchids, lotus, torch ginger, chinese bamboo decorated every nook and crany.

In the room, the fruit basket was replenished every day with the local rambutans and bananas. The soap and shampoo were also of Thai "flavour" - they were based on local herbs such as ginger, jasmine, mint, etc. The housekeeping team - with their dazzling smiles and Sawadees - showed us the best of Thai hospitality. But my favourite would have to be their fresh orange juice with a local twist. Mula-mula minum terkezut because it's not made of sunkist orange but limau hijau. Lama-lama, kinda get the hang of it - manis-manis pahit. Cuma there's one Thai experience that I can do without - their "pork" culture. Nak makan kat hotel pun was-was. Nak tak nak kenalah jadi vegetarian...

Anyway, we later discovered the many halal restaurants (serving middle-eastern, Malay and Thai fares) along the Nana Nua (Soi 3) road and back alleys. Jgn tersilap pegi Soi 4 sudah le ... I do think the Sukhumvit area is a good place to stay if you are not on a shoe-string budget. The BTS skytrain also plies this route. If you are into middle to high-end shopping, just hop into the skytrain and it will take you to places like the MBK (which is akin to Bukit Bintang Plaza), Siam Paragon (Bangkok's version of KLCC), etc. If you're into flea-market thingy like me, the Suan Lum Night Bazaar is just 10 minutes away via taxi or tuk-tuk.

Overall, I would say that my Bangkok trip was worthwhile although I didn't get to bring back any imitation branded bags! Hu! Hu! I read in the papers that the Thai government had this massive raid in December last year. Really hard to find those good quality imitation Coaches and LVs. Rasanya kat Petaling Street lagi senang jumpa ... Besides that, I also didn't get to visit the floating market, the Chatuchak Weekend Market, The Grand Palace, The Temple of the Reclining Buddha, Jim Thompson's House, etc. Maybe next time (entah bilalah tu ...).

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Shopping vs Photography in Bangkok

I count shopping and photography among my interests. But I didn't know which one I loved more. My recent trip to Bangkok, however, gave me the answer. Before coming to Bangkok, I promised myself that I would take loads of pictures to be uploaded to my blog. Everything went on smoothly at first - tonnes of pictures of the airport, the skyscrappers, the hotel, people, paraphernalia even, that prompted hubby to perli: "Nak buat magazine ke?" He! He!
Then, came the Suan Lum Night Bazaar trip. At first I was happily capturing everything with my Coolpix, but as we advanced further into the shopper's jungle, it was not the shutter clicking away but my tongue wagging (er... haggling), instead! Really, they didn't call this place a shopper's haven for nothing! Even hubby's friend got bitten by the shopping bug. Yang tak kena gigit was hubby (impenetrable!) and he soon got bored and complained of aching feet. So I suggested that he go for a foot massage ... so that I can buy more time to shop! Ngeh! Ngeh! Ngeh! (keluar tanduk!).

Hubby would rather show his butt than his face!

When we finally got back to the hotel after 5 hours, it was then that I discovered that I had gotten more things (unplanned) compared to pictures of the place (the original plan)! I could have kicked myself! Therefore, I pledged to try harder when we go to MBK Centre this evening ...

Greetings from Bangkok

Yes folks! I'm in the Land of Smiles. Been here since Wednesday. It's really unplanned. Hubby had to attend a conference in Bangkok, so I decided to melukut di tepi gantang! Ha! Ha! Anyway, not melukut all the way lah. Hubby flew on MAS while this truly VFM freak, on AirAsia. So far, I'm enjoying every minute of my stay here though I can't say the same applies to my son Jon, who misses me very much back home (Bad Mommy!). Anyway, I will be back by tomorrow. Will definitely blog on my so-called Bangkok trip. Till then, laa gaawn na!

in front of the entrance to Suan Lum Night Bazaar in Bangkok

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Masakan Melayu Kampung at Aunty Aini's

Eating out at Subang Jaya has never been a problem. Fast food, Mamak, Thai, Chinese and Western eateries can be found in abundance. There're also Mexican, Moghul, Japanese and Vietnamese restaurants. Places offering Malay food, especially Masakan Melayu Kampung, however, are not that many.

Where can we find Masakan Melayu Kampung in Subang Jaya?
Well, there's Kak Ina's stall in SS 19, Salero Negori in SS16 and Opah in Sunway Pyramid. But if you are willing to venture a little further down to Nilai, Aunty Aini's is the place to go. I was first introduced to this place a couple of years ago by my MIL (who's related to Aunty Aini, the owner).

The humble entrance of Aunty Aini's
The place is easy to find. It's just along the Nilai-Salak road. Besides the fantastic food, the ambience is sure to please the Yuppies as the restaurant is nestled amids tropical flora and fauna. So like Naili's Place - minus the loud music. Here you'll hear the splashing sound of water coming from the mini fountains / water features, instead.

You can eat under the nipah shade or opt for open-air dining under the rambutan tree! He! He!

There're even two wakafs (Malay gazebo), so patrons can eat the traditional way: cross-legged.

The wakaf where Bourdain sat crossed-legged ...
Besides Masakan Melayu Kampung, Aunty Aini's also offers Western Cuisine. I guess that's why it's a hit among all the races. I have seen foreigners, too. Of course, it's most famous "foreigner" of all time would be Anthony Bourdain ... Kenape? Tak percaya? Go to this youtube link.
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My favourite dishes are the Ikan Jenahak Masak Tempoyak (which comes with a generous amount of gravy) and the Kerabu Pucuk Paku. Hubby likes the sambal sotong which is really hot! You really have to have lots of water and rice to down the sambal. Talking about rice ... the portion is pretty midget. You might need to order two bowls of nasi tambah ... seriously! As for the price, being a VFM (Value-for-money) freak, the price of the dishes gets my two thumbs! No service tax means you pay less for what you eat ...

So, if you are in the vicinity (lepas tengok F1 di Litar Sepang, atau hantar relatives ke LCCT/ KLIA), do drop by at Aunty Aini's. You won't be disappointed.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Hibiscus Leaf Cool Compress to treat fever

The past week saw me in yet another role: a nurse. With two sick children, my home was instantly transformed into a sick ward. Besides giving my sons their fever medicine, I also relied on my trusted kitchen remedy - hibiscus leaf cool compress. The hibiscus flower, scientifically known as hibiscus rosa-sinensis, is also known as Bunga Raya in Malay . Before I discovered this effective kitchen remedy, I used to sponge my child who has fever with a wet handkerchief to lower his soaring temperature. It was my MIL who told me about the cooling and soothing effects of squeezed hibiscus leaf juice. Though skeptical, I tried this traditional remedy and found that the hibiscus leaf cool compress cools the body faster and longer compared to plain water compress.
Below are some FAQs about the Hibiscus Leaf Cool Compress
1. How to prepare the compress?
Senang je. Pluck some leaves from the hibiscus plant. Put them in a bowl of water. Kemudian ramas daun hingga keluar lendir.

Next, soak an absorbent handkerchief in the 'slimey' water. Squeeze excess water out of the handkerchief.

Put the damp handkerchief on the poor-young-thing's head. Avoid rubbing the cool compress on the child's skin.

According to my BIL who's a doctor, rubbing creates heat, which in turn increases temperature. Just pat the compress on the forehead or other parts of the body to lower the temperature. Refreshen the compress now and then by soaking the handkerchief in the concoction.
2. Is the concoction smelly?
It has this 'leafy' 'pandany' smell which is not quite smelly. To improve the smell, add a pandan leaf.
3. Which species of hibiscus plant is to be used?

Good question. There are many types of hibiscus species and hybrids. The plant in question is the bright red Bunga Kebangsaan species.
4. Is it easy to find the bunga raya?
Kalau susah nak jumpa, tanam aje belakang rumah (tiru macam saya...). It can be propagated by stem-cuttings. Just plant a stem-cutting into the soil. With adequate water and sunlight, this hardy plant will thrive in no time.
Try this remedy to lower children's fever.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Ladies' Nite Out - Italiannies

Friday night: had a ladies' nite out at the Italiannies Restaurant, The Curve. It was to actually raikan my boss who has been promoted (as the Director of KKSB) and will be leaving soon. Except for Cokena, everybody was there - even Huda, Zie, Aliza (with Amin in tow), Elane & Praba. The jam however, kept most of the gals on the road and the rest of us (the early birdies) hungry! Hu! Hu!
The restaurant was literally bursting at its seams - rightfully so because it was Friday night and people were also crowding the bar to watch the opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. BTW no words can describe the grand opening ceremony (even "spectacular" would be an understatement). The formations were so artistic, colourful, elaborate, detailed, precise - trademark of the opening ceremony director who happens to be acclaimed Chinese film director, Zhang Yimou.
As for us, we finally ate at 9.30 p.m. The food was aplenty (Thanks Cokena!). I loved my strawberry colada. The pasta, pizza and soup were just O.K but the salad was surprisingly delicious. The clams, I tak rasa but must be delicious because they disappeared (save for the shells) in seconds. The cinnamon bread pudding was not really a hit with the ladies except for yours truly! Anyway, I memang hantu bread pudding...
In between meals, boss got to open some presents. Judging from what she got, she's gonna be one stylish Pengarah! He! He! Here are some of the snap shots:

Me with the bosses, Pn. Su (out-going) and Pn. Susi (in-coming)

Elane and Praba never looked better! Keep in touch!

One for the album. From left (Back row): Hani (nampak mata aje), Pn. Susi, Mehraj. Front: Zie, Huda, Ayu, Tini, Pn. Su, Mar, E, Saras (partly hidden) and Chris.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

From Langkawi to Tanjung Malim

July was quite a month. First it was my birthday. Then, the new semester. Next it was the SIRIM audit. Amidst all these, I had to attend a meeting in Langkawi and a course in Tanjung Malim. Read on...
21 - 23 July 2008
When I was told that I had to attend a meeting in Langkawi, I had mixed feelings. The last time I visited Langkawi was 10 years ago. Therefore, I was really looking forward to see the place again. On the other hand, the prospect of having to put up at one Institut Pengurusan Peladang (IPP) made me less enthusiastic. I assumed that it was a hostel. I hated the idea that I would have to bring my own towel, toiletries, prayer mat, iron and the likes (I like to travel light, see?). But what to do? These are trying times for government servants ... He! He!
I flew on AirAsia. The service was as usual ... excellent. Cuma I noticed the passengers were getting kiasu by the day - e.g.: queuing even before the plane arrives, queue-jumping, shoving other passengers ... The experience was macam naik bas mini in the 90s! But then again, AirAsia is the air "bus" (Now everyone can fly, remember?) For the elderly and those with small children, I would recommend that they pay a little bit more for express boarding.
Anyway, IPP turned out to be a comfy lodge indeed! Ada air-con, hot water, coffee-making facilities, TV, phone, toiletries and towels ... (what was I thinking?!!). The food was OK. I shared a room with Gan who was a delight to be with. The rest of the cuorom were pretty much the same people who attended the first Pembangunan Instrumen meeting in Kajang. The meetings were long - biasalah ESP practitioners. On the last day, went shopping. What to buy in Langkawi? Chocolates, minyak gamat, cigarettes, kain batik Indon and of course, the "wares" (Visions, Pyrex, Correlle, Corningware). Some things never change...
View from the plane: Awana Porto Malai and Pelangi Beach Resort
The islands off-Langkawi

Pulau Dayang Bunting & Tasik Dayang Bunting

29 July - 1 August 2008
This may sound cliched, but the last time I set foot in Tanjung Malim was 14 years ago! The Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) course which I was asked to attend also gave me the chance to see Gan again as it was held at Tanjung Inn, PSAS. Gan the gracious "host", drove me around the serene PSAS hilly campus.

How was the course? Suffice to say I learnt new things and plenty of acronyms - DOSH, HSE, PPE, MCDC, HIRAC, etc. Bolehlah tukar-tukar fikiran 'ngan si Mary Jane the almost environmentalist tu! Ha! Ha! Sightseeing in Tanjung Malim? Ada la, keluar malam, makan durian kampung. Very delicious and cheap - selonggok RM 10.

Clothes were pretty cheap, too. After all, Tanjung Malim is known as the "Education Town" (UPSI, being the anchor institution of higher learning). Before I left, I bought a few of the famous Tanjung Malim pau, Yik Mun Pau (certified halal by the Jabatan Agama Islam Perak). How was the paus? Soft and yummy. But then again, I have always loved pau (even Kart's Instant Pau)! However, it must have been good because Amani who never liked pau, happily ate them.

Yik Mun Hainan Kaya Pau