Friday, April 21, 2006

d-days

2 days to MMDS round one.

4 days to Explorace.

butterflies in the tummy?

nope, it's the whole big foot inside there now.

Monday, April 17, 2006

IndoMie Showdown

Remember i said i bought back 12 packs of IndoMie from Bali. It's 11 now. Eating them like it's some fine dining food.

Was sorta bored on friday night and this was what happened.

It's me, IndoMie and IndoMee.

call me a loser. But i was darn hungry after 2 hours in the gym!!!

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indon cover - looks good

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Malaysian cover - notice the differences in language style?

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Mee having sex - Malaysian lighter by 5 grams

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Indon's version comes with more goodies, inclusive of FRIED SMALL ONION...yummy!

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Even the oil has fried onion inside in the Indon's version

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Malaysian version - short of fried onion - Malaysia Tak Boleh???

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Side by side...ready to be cooked

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Malaysian's version of cooking IndoMie

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Indon Version comes with direction to do it in Mircowave! They are more geared towards cooking them instantly! Another breakthrough in the life of instant noodle!

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Indon ready for the hot water

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Malaysian can't lose out, join Indon friend in mug. Malaysian are darker compared to Indons.

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In goes the boiling water. No turning back!

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almost midnight...hungry..this is my dinner actually

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Getting hot, the mee decided to melt into each other, but Indon's fairness still looked more appetising

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Get a big bowl. There need to be room for two

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First in, Indon's flavour

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Next in, Malaysian style, Malaysian still darker!

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Malaysian Sweet Soy Sauce

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INdon's sweet soy sauce - same darkness, but the indon's a bit bitter in taste

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Indon's chilli are real chilli paste

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Malaysian gave powder form...aiya....

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In goes the indon oil with fried onion

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and the boring looking malaysian oil

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Hurry hurry...3 minutes UP!

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at the right hardness and softness which would tingle my senses...can't wait...

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Drain water and scoop me into bowl using chopstick

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Don't waste even one single milimeter strand of the mee....

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mix mix mix and in my rush to eat, i forgotten totally about the fried onion...i threw the thingy out...damn it!

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Decided to substitute the frustration with some chicken floss....

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Ta-Da!!! now go and eat Stupe!

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Sorry if there was saliva dripping...i was hungry... :Þ~~~

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over in less than 3 minutes....damn it

The noodle were great ok. Nevermind the whole purpose to compare how different the two of them are. I gobble both of them down and regretted i threw the fried onion out. That was the highlight of the whole meal...darn...

after eating it all down and washing it with a cup of ice cold water and burping 3 times...here is the nutrition info of both the noodle...

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Malaysian Per 80gram serving has has 15.59gram of fat...with 369.73kcal energy value - could burn it off with 5km of run at 6:00 pace

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At 85 gram, it has more fat at 18gram with higher energy value of 460kcal - need to run 7km at 6:00 pace for this!!!!


But both mixed togehter...they are one hell of a good shit!

Friday, April 14, 2006

Back from hiatus

Been missing for a good 14 days.
After Murphy went missing, i sorta lost some mood to write. It's not easy losing someone dear. He is like a family, the last time i saw him was still fresh in my mind. Pets are like family; you don't lose your pets. it's like losing your own child.
Apart from that, me and wife took a much needed break from the hustle and bustle of the rat chase. Been a relaxing 8 days out of the country to our neighbour's place known as Bali. My first time there and it's a mixture of feeling of between ok and not ok (the place).
Booked the rooms online and was surprised that they offer pretty good rates, between paying USD16 per person at homestay, paying USD30 plus for a room isn't bad at all. Considering you don't need to run to the nearest common toilet should Bali Belly or bad food cirit attacks in the middle of the night.
Thank god i had neither.
Bali has pretty much recovered. Business as usual at most places. Since the two bombing at Poppy Bar at Legian and Rajah's next to Matahari and the the tsunami, things seems to be moving as it should.
Scams are everywhere ranging from those hoaxes about tear-your-coupons-to-reveal-free-accomodation-but pay-a-premium-to-claim-it kinda things to taxi sapu which could put KLIA tontos to shame.
They are everywhere.
Heck, after seeing so many tourists, the traders could even speak in japanese, mandarin, spanish, italian...enough language to shame our bangla-ran business in Petaling Street.
for some local flavour at Bali, forget Lonely Planet. It's just a guide for Mat Salleh, which ultimately pay 10x the prices the local pays for food and 5 times the difference that we, malaysian, pays for the same thing.
A simple bowl of Bakso Jawa at the beach cost no more than Rp2000 for local. Malaysian and Bahasa Indonesia/Malaysia speaking tourist pays Rp5000. Mat Salleh pays nothing less than RP12,000.
Considering the exchange rate is about 42sen for Rp1000, it's already a bargain for me to eat a bowl of Bakso at Rm2 plus plus. (Bakso is actually noodle with assortments of meat ball in clear broth, where you had a choice of putting in sweet or salty soy sauce, cili or tomato).
Communication isn't much of a problem, Bahasa Malaysia and Indonesia are pretty much the same. We say Boleh, they say Bisa. We say Sedap, they say Enak. We say Sejuk, they Say Dingin. We say Seronok, they say Dingin. We say Pakcik, they say Paman. for a change, Gua, Lu all could be used without sounding too mat rock in this part of the world.
Most uttered word is Bisa Kurang? Don't pay more than Rp20,000 for a t-shirt with Bintang Beer printing. Pay Rp50,000 for 3 instead.
We spent 2 nights in Kuta, staying at Oasis Kuta at Jalan Bakungsari. They call this a designer's hotel. with 3 star rating and USD 32 per night, it's a-ok. Impressive were the 50meter pool running along side the hotel balcony/terrace. Each room has a view of the pool. The sweltering heat has both of us getting into the pool for a dip every evening before dinner. Room was decently sized but the bathroom and the toilet was a seperate entity. It's clean though, so, that's as important.
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oasis kuta at jalan bakungsari
The walk from Oasis to the Kuta square will takes you about 10minutes passing by stalls that sell all things Bali (and not, like made in China stuff!!!) and also passing Ramayana Hotel, a more expensive joint. From there, it is a 5 minutes walk to the beach where javanese peddling temporary tattoos at USD1 per piece will come hounding you for a quick fix. Beware though, as some do not use henna as the dye but some caustic chemical which burns the skin and causes alergic reaction. Also around were the braiding ladies, the self proclaimed manicurist and pedicurist which charges a bomb just to paint your nails (better get these fix back in malaysia, at least you get a proper treatment). Also the every touchy massage ladies, which offer you pseudo-bali spa style on their sand covered mat. They are out to make an honest living, no doubt, which is why it still baffles me why there is still people begging on the darker lanes of Kuta.
We also found Bemo Corner, not very far from where Jalan Kuta and Jalan Legian meet. The owner, Anam, claimed to be a japanese graduate and his menu were laden with japanese words.
Only reason why we ate here was the very cheap prices, compared to the other tourist or tamu places. Even Warun Made (pronounced Mar-dey...) and Poppy Restaurant featured in Lonely Planet are expensive at Rp20k per nasi goreng.
Oh ya, by the way, in Bali, the native's name are either Wayan or Made. Made meant eldest. Wayan is the second son. So, go figure.
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Bemo Corner's Menu...i can read Japanese dude!
There is a sate shop outside Bemo as well, that sell 10 sticks of sate for Rp5000. You get to choose either chicken, pork, beef or even mutton. I went for mutton as not often you get to eat sate kambing in KL, right? The sauce is uniquely Indonesia. Gone are the overrated peanut sauce and in are the sweet soy sauce mixed with some chilli and peanut paste...so, you get a thick savoury a lil spicy dark peanuty sauce that is very appetising. The sate is good to eat as it is as the marinades goes deep into the meat. Not an ounce of fat eaten, compared to our usual sate which the middle portions are fat...fat and more fat. Yuck.
After 2 nights and loads of mee goreng and nasi goreng and local delicies...we headed for Ubud. The so called centre of all things art and culture in Bali.
If you plan to go to Ubud, beware though, don't settle for the local transport ala taxi sapu, they will charge you exhorbitant prices if you aren't careful. Settle for the slightly more expensive hotel's vehicle (in Bali, cars are called Mobil....) We paid Rp150,000 for the transfer to Ubud in full aircond comfort inside a Kia Pregio. So, technically, this van like multipurpose vehicle that seats 11 only took the 2 of us to Ubud. No complain. Can't imagine sitting inside the Vios (which the local uses as taxi) or some old beat up suzuki jimny or even the Toyota Kijang (Our unser, even the old version rocks better) for 90minutes thorough the small rural road which threaten plunge into the big monsoon drain whenever 2 vehicle met head to head.
Passing by Denpasar and the junction to the more expensive Nusa Dua, we headed towards Sanur and Batuan. Denpasar has more furniture industry going on, you know, those so called *antique* teak/mahogany furniture you see in those so called teak furniture shop? well, they are mostly made in Indonesia and mostly are actually brand new...ever seen ppl hitting the table with chain and then using Kiwi (yes, the shoe polish) to blacken it to give it the *used* look? well...it's here, and everywhere!
We stopped at a painter's cooperative and bought 2 paintings. Watercolour and Pen on paper, Typical balinese style. Painter says it shows his mother and father and sister going to work in the paddy field. Was skeptical until i saw him starting to draw anohter one of a different composition. They are talented, no doubt. Parted with Rp300k for 2 paintings with wooden carving frames, which were then wrapped properly to resemble a briefcase, we left the cooperative to Bali.
Passing Batuan, which, well, filled with people doing masonry work. Stone carvings, yes, the same one you see in KL of the frogs, Buddha head which some stupid buggers buy for RM1000 at bangsar Shopping centre, cost nothing more than Rp150,000, which is actually somewhere RM60 at it's best. yes, you sucker...
We reached Ubud, passing by a lot of homestay and hotels. The moment you enters Jalan Monkey Forest, loads of art shop selling carvings of wood, stones and art pieces were everywhere. I told myself that i could spent 3 nights here, wife agreed.
We reached Graha, another so called 3 star hotel/resort in Ubud. Costing us USD34 per night, we found ourselves walking thourgh a small lane big enough for a car to goes into, one way. Nestled at the end of the lane was the so called resort. Guessed what, it's now only known as Graha Ubud, and not Graha Resort and Spa. There goes the hope to taste my first spa experience....
The room was huge. it was a room with a living room and a bedroom. The bathroom was bigger than my own bedroom in PJ. Though a bit old. The hot water only comes in after 3 minutes of letting the tap run. The place looked cosy, but a bit old. The bed comes with the mosquito net, making it felt romantic...nah...after having to sleep inside mosquito net for 2 years in RMC...it's anything but romantic...if not because of the air cond, i would rahter sleep with my body covered in insect repellent...but luckily, there isn't much mosquito around ;-)
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Graha Ubud - Our room was the one right behind the tall tree.

Ubud is expensive. Food is expensive. But we found a decently priced Nasi Padang called Puteri Minang (yes, as in Minangkabau...now i felt at home). A meal for the both of us, rice, fried chicken, rendang, vegetables and mroe vegetables with 2 bottle of coke cost us Rp26000. One local came and ate and he paid about Rp8000 for his food of rice and vegetable. So, i know we were not overcharged.
We also found an original painter in the town of all things replicated in Monkey Forest. Trust me, the painting you just saw in this shop will appear in the next shop. Price different will be in the hundred thousands rupiah.
Wayan Lemon. We chanced upon his shop by, well, chance. It was pouring in the evening and we sorta took shelter in this art shop, thinking that it won't be of any different from the others. We were wrong. Housed inside this place was painting original only to him, and he admitted that he does buy some of them abstract painting and put in his own expression of the abstract painting. Yeap, we saw similiar stuff, but never one is the same here. The buddha painting here is not scary and fake. You know how it is when you see some buddha painting in KL which cost you rm300 for a 2 feet by 2 feet painting which the nose are either crooked, the eyes are too slanted or the lips too thin and the ears looked as if buddha himself had some major ear piercing which causes his earlobes to be hanging on his shoulder. Then again, art is relative...what pleases me doens't pleases others, i supposed, but you get my drift.
We paid in USD and also Rupiah as our rupiah was running low. We bought two huge 2 meter by 1 meter painting at a price not available in Malaysia, Not even if we bought it at 70% off at Jaya Jusco for that sized painting.
For that, we were treated to a Kecak Dance practice by Wayan Lemon (pronounced Le-MUN) 5 years old son. Apaprently, Lemon himself is very steeped in tradition and does kecak and fire dance for religious ceremony and claim not to do that for tourist viewing. He trained his son and he say this is his debut performance after taking 4 lessons and watching his dad's dance....

or click Here
The next day, we went bargain hunting for things Bali. Silver was cheap as well but beware as some are only 60% silver and some are just silver plated...and again, the same so called silver thingy anyone will buy at bangsar shopping centre or at any other so called teak furniture shop cost nothing more than RM15. The are mostly plated with silver and will turn green if the plating gets chipped as the base metal are usually well, steel or some is nickel!
We didn't get much things as we found out that the traders are mostly not very sincere in selling. For example, we loved one of the long painting, the opening price was Rp700k. We say we won't pay anything more than Rp200k for the painting and just like petaling street, as we walked away, they offered us Rp150k, which they never honoured when we turned back. So...bad business etique, no sale! sorry Pak!
The second night, we had dinner at this place called Warung Kacu at Jalan Dewi Siswata. Cheap, cheap cheap. Meal for two for less than Rp24,000. 1 mee goreng, one nasi goreng, one vegetable with loads of meat, 3 drinks and one pancake. Lonely Planet suggest some other places, which cost Rp18,000 for a mee goreng...thumbs down Lonely Planet!
It rained and poured for hours in Ubud. We sat at Warung Kacu for a good 3 hours before walking back in the rain....
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Warung Kacu's View of the rain
The third day at Ubud, we went painting hunting again...we saw something similiar to what we bought the first day but at half the size...asked for the price and was qouted a hefty Rp1.2million...i didn't even pay half that price for double that painting size! More insincere traders out to make a quick buck from the tourist.
Also, beads in Ubud were not cheaper, it cost twice as much in Ubud compared to Kuta.
We went back to Wayan again. And this time, saw things we liked. We ended up buying smaller sized paintingswith minimum size of 1meter by 1 meter from him. We ended up getting 6 or 7 paintings from him that morning. Paid in USD and rupiah again and he didn't even check the exchange rate as he say that prices are relative, if we like the drawing, at least he knows a piece of him is with us. hahaha, sounded corny, but we enjoyed dealing with him.
He rolled up all the paintings and packed it nicely for us in a tube. Tied a string onto it and we have anohter longish briefcase to carry. ;-)
As we were browsing through the paintings, a group of expat came. Obviously they were regulars and they did not bargain with him for the paintings, paying a minimal of Rp150k for a 1 feet by 1 feet painting and from there on, i feel that he made his business selling to these expats. The same sized painting at other places we checked will cost the expat at least Rp250k. We've checked. And at the same time, we did feel err...guilty for pressing the prices so low. LOL.
Wife and me decided to spent a bit more to eat at this place called Dirty Duck. It's an establishment that started in 1990 and has been, by word of mouth, a MUST GO if you are in Ubud.
So, we decided to pamper ourselves and see if this place lived up to it's hype.
it rained again that evening, and we braved the rain without umbrella (yeah, graha has no brollies for tourists) to eat at Bebek Bengil.
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Dirty Duck History
We reached there, the place looked expensive. We were ushered into the restaurant and noticed the place opened up to even bigger space overlooking the Ubud's paddy field. Ah...so, this is the hype la, the location and the scenery. As it was getting dark, there wasn't anything much to see, apart from the lights being shone onto the table.
Imagine when we wanted to order the famous steamed duck fried until crispy and golden yellow and was told that they ran out of DUCK?
Come'on...this is DIRTY DUCK and you ran out of DUCK???
So, we ordered chicken instead.....
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The Dirty Slut, i meant Chicken
It's actually spring chicken fried to perfection crisp served with yellow rice, a spicy achar and a spicy tomato sauce with a bowl of vegetable in kerabu style. Cost us Rp48k.
Disappointed? You bet. I want my DUCK.
And so, we did the next best thing. It was still raining after sitting at the japanese style table for 3 hours and we decided to borrow an umbrella from Dirty Duck..which well...came home with us via Air Asia. :P
Last day, we left Ubud. Sayign goodbye to Graha. Don't get me wrong, the location of this place and the price we paid were cheap. We are in the middle of the Monkey Forest Road, with the art market like 10 minutes away...others paid a minimum of USD40 per night and some even paid USD80 to be staying out of Monkey Forest and need a transfer that takes them 20 minutes on wheels...so, it was sheer luck we gotten this place, despite it's shortcoming of the room's condition with roof that leaks on both nights it rained heavily.
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Goodbye Ubud
We made our way back to Kuta via the same transport that we took from Kuta. I do not trust the local taxi/taxi sapu as they all looked suspiciously, suspicious. Also, the plan to take the local bus, which is essentially a converted van with cut out windows and welded on seat for Rp35,000 per person was duly scraped as we do not want to be on some roller coaster ride. Travel in luxury? in many ways, yes. Do not compromise on safety, especially when you are with your loved ones.
We checked into White Rose. The priciest hotel so far i've booked at USD 38 per night. This place is right behind Poppy Bar and at the junction where the first bomb blew off, which now has a monument build to remember those that perished.
White Rose is smack in the midle of Jalan Legian, right infront of Poppy Lane 2, otherwise known as the new poppy lane. Since the bombing, Poppy 2 has ceased to be popular and the crowd went back to Poppy 1.
We went to the beach and Poppy 1 to check out some final gifts for family and ended up seeing a full cultural/religious proceeding.
In the world where modernism and religion meet, you get to see ang moh surfer walking to the sea to surf the waves while the locals religiously sat at the beach praying and offer offerings to the Almighty.
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West meet East
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Sunset praying
We then went to Warung Bambo and again, this place wasn't listed in Lonely Planet, it's is right in the middle of Poppy 1 and the food was served in big portion and the price was afforable without making you feel very tourist-sy. For a sweet sour chicken with rice and a plate of nasi goreng and 10 stick of sate plus 3 drinks, it cost us Rp40,000. Not too bad.
We manage to eat the local dishes again, each time at Rp5000. This time it was twice Bakso and once a sweet dessert which consist of coconut milk, tapioca, black glutonious rice...something like our local bubur cha-cha. I tried to pay Rp2000 as the local does, but was told off sayign that i'm a Tamu and should pay Rp5000. Not one to argue...i paid the price, for trying to be smart. :P
The last day in Bali was spent walking around saying goodbye to the place. It was a Full RnR day in White Rose where we enjoy the place as it should.

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Panorama shot of the place
It was goodbye Bali, till we meet again.
Later that night, armed with the balance of rrupiah i has which totalled Rp49,000. Me and wife headed to airport to board our plane back. The airport was a major ripoff, if you think KLIA or LCC-T is bad, then be prepared for Nguh Gah Rai Airport. One Ol' McD Big Mac cost us Rp16,000. Enough to buy 2 for dinner with spare change of Rp7,000. The balance, for all it's worth, could only exchange for two pathetic ice lolly known as Paddle Pop. That one also i had to bargain (yes, bargain!) with the sales person for the release of the 2 popsicles.
Oh well, i still have Rp400 left...
The flight via AirAsia was bad on the return journey. You see Malaysian rearing their ugly head again, flight wasn't due until 2 hours later but people are already lining up to enter the departure gate.
And when the gate opened, hordes of people, sorry, MALAYSIANs, rushed to the front, giving excuses like "My wife's pregnant" or "i got an infant/child with me" or "my old man is boarding with me". In actualy fact, the woman that claimed to be pregnant are nothing more than just fat. The Infant/child are most probably some underbuilt kids after SPM and the old man in question haven't even qualified to be called a senior citizen.
Oh well...
Malaysia...i welcome you back to your mother land!

:D
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