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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

On the last day of the year and Sibu 2008

Where will you be on the last day of 2009 to countdown to the new year?

I know what I will be doing on the last day of 2009 - a half day of work in the morning and a flight to catch in the evening to countdown to 2010 in KK.

I flew in on an evening flight from Kuching to Sibu, Sarawak on the last day of 2008 to countdown to 2009. After checking in to Kingwood hotel, we went straight to the city center where the fireworks would be. It was really crowded and this was the closest I could get to the big screen with the words of the new year 2009.

The fireworks went off at midnight for about 5-10mins.

After the fireworks display at the city center, we went off to enjoy some "private" fireworks which are very common in Sibu apparently, especially during the Chinese New Year. Private fireworks are banned in Singapore and I have heard that they are banned in Sibu too but enforcement and the penalty in Sibu for breaking such laws are far less severe

I took a quick city tour of Sibu later on in the night. There wasn't very much to see in the night except, perhaps for this statue of a large swan in the city center. The word "Sibu" apparently translates to Swan. In the background, you can see pics of the shophouses in Sibu - most of the older buildings are that height as land is plenty there.

The next morning, I got a view of their famous Rejang River and the hotel's swimming pool from my hotel's room window. Now a word about Kingwood Hotel in Sibu which was during that time, the only 4 star hotel in Sibu and probably still is. The Slog Reviews: 7.5/10. The rooms are spacious and clean but very far from luxurious. Only the bare essentials are provided in the toilet. However, the alternatives out there are far worse so if you ever go to Sibu, do book a room at Kingwood Hotel.

Rejang River in Sibu is the largest river in land-locked Sibu. I went to the pier for a look-about and was impressed by the level of activity around the pier which operates as a ferry terminal for the nearby islands. The "ferries" are very long, made of wood and not air-conditioned as seen from the picture below. However, these are the only means of reaching some places in Sarawak.

I also visited one of the more popular roman catholic churches in Sibu - the Sacred Heart Cathedral. There was a huge statue of the Jesus in the garden - it was taller than the buildings around even.

Within walking distance to the pier is the central market. It is very much like any other wet market in Singapore, except forthe sight of these live chickens wrapped in newspaper. No chicken can hop or fly away when it is trussled up like this. Managed to get a picture of one of the stalls with rows of newspaper wrapped chickens .

I also went to a farm in the nearby town of Bintangor and saw a black pig for the first and last time. I learnt that this particular noisy old hairy beast would have only have 2 more months to live. Its date of death: Chinese New Year. The purpose of its death: For a family feast. So this probably is the last pic of it alive.

The farm had rows of pepper plants. Each plant grows up to 2m in height. Here is a close up picture of the pepper fruit/seed which I took. Sarawak is famous for its pepper and these are sold everywhere, even at Sibu's and Kuching's airports.

I left Sibu for Kuching the following day as my flight back to Singapore was from Kuching. I'll write about Kuching in another post. In the meantime, here's wishing all of you A Happy 2010!

Ikea Restaurant and its famous meatballs

I was on leave today and decided to go to Ikea after sending my car for some minor repair and a polish-and-wax for the new year. I went to the Tampines outlet as parking is free the entire day and there is a giant Courts store next to Ikea and a giant Giant (pardon the pun) just opposite.

After wandering around the very decently priced home furnishing items (they sell potted plants, candle light holders, photo-frames, assorted lamps, posters, cushions, beds, tables, mirrors - truely worth a visit), I ended up at the Ikea Restaurant. I have the OCBC-Ikea credit card so I used the card at the yellow machine on the third floor to redeem a discounted meal and free drink coupon for 2 pax. They really should put the machine nearer the restaurant though.

No one goes to Ikea and not eat their famous swedish meatballs at least once. I ordered a plate of 15 meatballs for SGD8. It came with potatoes, gravy (I asked for an extra helping FOC) and jam at the side.

The Slog Reviews: 8/10. Worth a try at least once. However, do not that at the shop outside the checkout counters in Ikea, the same meatballs are sold in a frozen packet for less than SGD20 at 1kg.

I also had their fresh water prawns at SGD4.20. I had to ask the staff to prepare the dish as there were none left from the self-help refrigerator. I'm glad I did because it tasted so incredibly sweet. If you love eggs, prawn eggs. you will find that these shrimps are choked full of orange-colored eyes between their many legs. U can suck on these as well as the shrimp's head (after plucking the head off and sucking at the end opposite the eyes ie the opening).

The Slog Reviews: 9/10. This sweet and light-tasting seafood can only be found at Ikea restaurant and nowhere else in Singapore to the best of my knowledge so seafood lovers, do give this a go! If you like it, you can go to the shop which sells the frozen meatballs and buy 1 kg of the fresh water prawns at SGD 12.90 only.

Pepper Lunch in Singapore

I LOVE Pepper Lunch. Nevermind if the smell of cooking food gets into your hair and clothes after a meal there (yes, it really does and it can be awful!). The food is simply delicious and I would eat it every single day if I could. In fact I can because there is a Pepper Lunch Express opposite my office building.

My favourite dish is the Curry Beef Pepper Rice with Cheese (and lots of pepper which I added to the mix) at SGD9.50. For SGD2 more, I got a diet coke and the black sesame (Goma) ice cream as well.

The Slog Reviews: 9/10. More beef would be preferred but overall, it's still delectable grub...the cheese just melts into the beef and rice, and I assure you, adding more pepper in instead of honey sauce will cause a nice pleasant fire in your tummy. Do check out the video on how to sizzle the mix at Pepper Lunch's website, it's really simple though - just flip the meat about and make sure it gets cooked well - and no, u can't just leave it as it is to cook without flipping it because one side of the meat will get quite burnt.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Chaw (2009) Movie

Unlike my mother and many females I know, watching Korean dramas and Korean movies to me have been nothing more than a grand waste of time which could have been put to far better use. To use the kindest words possible, most of the movies are just plain nonsense and over-drama IMHO. And I have noticed that the Korean film-makers like to inject some slapstick humor and a "village idiot" character even in a grandscale(Tsunami) or horror movie. Chaw, falling in the latter category was not spared.

Chaw is the story of a monstrous savage boar who together with its mate, starts praying on hapless humans in a village. The village hires a group of bear-hunters who kill the boar's mate and the authorities assume wrongly that there is only one killer. They roast the boar's mate and the smell of the meat attracts the boar who attacks the town hall where the villagers are celebrating. The boar escapes of course unscathed and a strange assortment of pp, a detective, a policeman with a mother who is the village idiot in this show, a wanna-be lady associate professor, an old hunter whose granddaughter was 1 of the 2 hapless humans killed and his ex-student, a famous bear-hunter. They manage to find the boar's cave and 3 little pigs in it. They decide to kill all but one pig. The boar comes back as they are exiting the cave and chases them. They get away - and the famous bear-hunter is injured when he subsequently tries to kill the beast. The party then splits into 2 groups and one group kills the beast by using an elevator (the boar is trapped in the elevator shaft) and dynamite (the boar gets blown up). After the credits are shown, the famour bear-hunter is shown to be hung up by his hands wearing a diaper and the white-faced creepy woman who appears occasionally for fright effects during the movie is seen to be sharpening a knife and making him call her mommy.

The Slog Reviews: 6.5/10. A show that could be watched on DVD instead of the cinema. There is nothing memorable about the show except that the 120mins used watching it could have been better spent. It isnt a proper horror movie that leaves you spooked and disturbed but more a movie filled with ridiculous characters who say and do the most silly things.

2010 Resolutions

Where did 2009 go?

In a couple of days it will be the start of a brand new year - 2010.

I read in a Jodi Picoult fiction novel that there is a mathematical formula for happiness.

Happiness = Reality divided by Expectations.

Therefore, to be even happier, it's either you improve your reality or lower your expectations. This formula seems extremely logical to me.

I have therefore decided to improve my reality and I set forth my four simple resolutions for 2010 and the action plan for each.

As everyone knows, KEEP IT SIMPLE TO SUCCEED!

(1) A new body

- Go the gym at least three times a week. Run 2.4km min, do 50 situps min and ride 5km on the stationary bike.
- Cut out soft drinks altogether. Water or juices.
- No carbohydrates (eg rice, noodles, pasta, bread) after 6pm.
- At least 7 cups of water a day.
- Go for a quarterly health screening
- Step on the weighing machine every single morning.
- Get at least 8 hours of sleep
- Wake up at 7am!

(2) Take up a masters

- Check out courses
- Prepare for SATS and GMAT
- Take the SATS and GMAT and apply for course of interest.

(3) Improve my finances

- Buy 1 more insurance policy (investment)
- Pay myself more every month (savings)
- Go to bloomberg, fundsupermart and yahoo finance every morning
- Go to my trading program every night
- Trade!!!!
- Buy 1 lot of my esteemed company's shares when the price level retreats (no, I am not kidding).
- Do not give anyone any loans or credits, not worth the risk or stress.

(4) Improve my EQ and IQ

- Read widely, including non-fiction books. For every 1 fiction book read, I must read a non-fiction book (IQ)
- Eat more fish (IQ)
- Update this blog frequently (EQ)
- Update my private diary to be in tune with my feelings (EQ)
- Talk to strangers, esp those in the office lift (EQ)

(5) Mastering various fishing techniques

- Read (books, internet)
- Practice - put in the 10,000 hours
- Find fishing kakis.

Most importantly, it is to bear the lyrics of this song in mind: Each day's a gift, not a given right. Leave no stone unturned. Leave your fears behind. And try to take the path least travelled. The first step you take is the longest stride.

Wang Jia Sha Restaurant at Elements Mall Hong Kong

When in Shenzhen for work, I would often go to Hong Kong over the weekend or for a day. I would buy their Tourist Day Pass (HKD 55) which entitles the holder to an unlimited number of rides on their MTR line (except for Luohu Station which connects to the Shenzhen border) for a 24hr period. The Tourist Day Pass came with two slips of paper entitling the holder too to a HKD50 Voucher which can be used at certain shops at Elements Mall and a HKD20 Voucher which can be used at certain shops at Telford Plaza or Maritime Square upon production of the tourist's passports at the respective customer centers.

One weekend in October 2009, I was wondering what to do with my HKD50 Elements Mall Voucher (the shops at Elements Mall are pretty high-end - Ferragamo, Coach, Gucci and the like so the HKD50 wouldn't go very far there) and decided on impulse to have a meal at one of their restaurants.

Wang Jia Sha, a Shanghai fusion restaurant had a hairy-crab set meal promotion (HKD 228)which caught my eye while I was walking by in search of food. On top of 1 hairy crab, one would get a bowl of soup (I chose sweet&sour spicy soup, middle right pic), daam daam min (noodles in savoury sauce, top right pic), two delectable siú lùng bàau (steamed pork dumplings, middle left pic), very tiny cup of Chinese wine and a choice of dessert (I chose the glutinous rice balls with seasame in ginger soup, bottom pics). However, as I was pretty hungry, I also ordered an appetiser - cold sliced toufu with century egg and pork floss (top left pic).

The Slog Reviews: 10/10. The appetiser is seriously orgasmic and tantalises your taste-buds with the richness of its flavours. Do not miss trying. The noodles were tasty and filling and so was the soup. However, these are not a must-try . The skin of the pork buns were so delicately and exquistely thin that when I put them in my mouth and bit down, my mouth was flooded with the sweetness of the liquid in the buns. Shanghai dumplings are famous for that. As for the dessert, as I don't like eating ginger I removed the glutimous rice balls from the soup and I could find no fault with the glutinous rice balls which were filled with green colored sesame.

The hairy crab (which they provided scissors to open it) deserves pictures on its own so here goes. The crab when it was served.

And here's a picture of the hairy crab which I asked the waitress to assist me in opening with the scissors.

The Slog Reviews: 10/10. Crab-lovers, if you haven't tasted hairy crabs, you are missing out on one of the greatest delicacies ever. Yes, this crab isn't fleshy, there is hardly enough meat. But it isn't the meat that we are interested in, are we? It's the cholestrol-laden egg in the crab and Wang Jia Sha's chef did a damn fine job of cooking the crab just right so that the yellowish roe was not overcooked (too hard, rubbery and tasteless) or undercooked (which would mean many trips to the washroom for you). Instead, it was a sensory delight on its own. The price of the hairy crab meal is also cheaper compared to eating it in Singapore.

I have to confess that I was so impressed with Wang Jia Sha and its menu that the very next week when I flew to Shenzhen again, I made it a special point to go to Hong Kong and to this restaurant again (of course I bought the tourist pass) to try out the other items on its menu. However, being just one person, I couldn't order too many dishes and in the end, I settled for the appetiser I had the last time and this glorious bowl of boiled shark fins, crab meat and rice.

The Slog Reviews: 10/10 - see the thick slices of sharks-fins in the bowl? Enough said. Be warned that the portion is rather small and the cost may thus be considered steep at HKD 55. Still, to a foodie, that is worth every single cent.

Address: Shop 1068-1070, Elements, 1 Austin Road West, Tsim Sha Tsui
Tel: 852-2382 0101
Nearest MTR: Kowloon MTR Station

Alaska King Crab at Ah Yat Seafood Restaurant

Early this month, I got to enjoy the mother of all crabs, the Alaska King Crab.

There are only two restaurants in Singapore which serves this dish apparently, one of them being Ah Yat Restaurant at Turf City. With the 40-50% discount on seafood items (even for dinner) which the restaurant had, the Alaskan King Crab (Red) cost SGD6 / 100gm. As you would know, the Alaska King Crab is a large species and the one that was brought for our inspection was 2300gm. We had wanted the more lively of the two in the tanks but both crabs were reserved in advance so the restaurant had to specially order this one for us. It was either this or no king crab. It is therefore advisable to make reservations in advance. Here's a picture of our dinner crawling on the mat before the seafood tanks before being taken to the kitchen.

The Slog Reviews: 10/10 for the Alaska King Crab. Such mind-blowing tender sweet meat - and so much of that (meat), especially the legs. Ah Yat does a fine job of cooking and presenting the crab so I would suggest heading there to treat yourself and your loved ones to something really good if you have SGD 150 burning a hole in your pocket.

Ah Yat Seafood Restaurant
Address: Turf City 200 Turf Club Road #03-01/02 Main Grandstand
Singapore 287994 (65) 6883 2112
Daily 5:30pm – 10:30pm

Shokudo Japanese Food Bazaar

I had dinner with friends from overseas at Shokudo Japanese Food Bazaar this evening. It's the third time I've eaten at this restaurant which has borrowed the "card" concept from Marche. If I recall rightly, Marche was the first restaurant in SG to issue a card to each diner and have the purchases made by the diner at the various food stations recorded in the diner's card. The diner has to give the cashier the card at the exit point and pay for the items consumed and if the card is lost, the diner has to pay a penalty of SGD 200. I read somewhere that this concept encourages spending by diners because they do not feel the pinch when ordering dishes unlike in the foodcourt where one has to pay for each dish ordered right away.

Shokudo has at least ten food stations and various types of Japanese food ranging from ramen/soba/udon to teppenkayi to porridge with unagi/crab meat etc to various types of dons to jap omelettes at the various food stations. However, I elected to have rosti with sausage (is that even a Jap dish?) at Shukodo because that's what I usually have at Marche and I wanted to compare the two. For my drink, I decided to try something different - ice yozhu honey tea.

The Slog Reviews: 6.5/10 for the rosti dish (SGD 10+) and tea (SGD 3.50). Definitely not worth the price - marche's rosti and suasage is far tastier. And, the sausage at Marche's doesn't crumble under the pressure of the knife - it was almost impossible to slice this sausage neatly because it kept giving way. This rosti is also far too dry and tasteless, even with the sauce at the side mixed in. And no, don't get me started on the tea which was supposed to be pomelo mixed with honey in tea but tasted so sour I left most of the drink untouched. My friends who had ordered Japanese food did not have much to say about their dishes either. I guess it's true that a Jap restaurant that isn't patronised by Japanese isn't a "must-try"

Monday, December 28, 2009

Fish & Co

Came to the office this morning and found a Xmas gift on my table from a colleague. This is the second Christmas gift I have received this year that has/is dark chocolate. Everyone knows that it is rude to look a gift house in the mouth but...I feel compelled to say that I do not like dark chocolate. Milk chocolate, white chocolate, chocolate with hazelnuts, macademia nuts...these I love, these I use to regulate my moods, especially when I'm feeling just that bit down. However, there are greater health benefits eating dark chocolate - it helps to lower your cholestrol and blood pressure and it has far more antioxidants than the other types of chocolate. That being said, chocolate remains a high-calorie and high-fat food so one should always watch one's intake of chocolates.

I met a friend for lunch this afternoon. Both of us were feeling the effects of feasting at Christmas and decided to eat healthily. She was going to have just a salad at TCC which was about SGD 10 (excluding 7% GST and 10% svc charge) and I was deliberating over the options in the menu which appeared to be rather pricy for a quick lunch (the cheapest pasta on the menu is SGD 15 excluding GST and svc charge) but in the end, we both decided it might be wiser to eat elsewhere and we ended up at Fish&Co.

Fish&Co currently has a "Eat more for Less" promotion from 11am to 5pm Mon - Fri. We both had the Value Treat #1 which is priced at SGD 12++. This includes a main dish (choice of 1 of the following: Peri Peri Catch, Peri Peri Prawns, Wrasse Picatta, Coriander Catch, Black Pepper Stingray and Sweet&Sour Fish which are priced at SGD15.90++ on the normal menu), garden salad and a drink (choice of spite, coke, iced tea etc). We both opted for the Coriander Catch (she would have chosen the Wrasse Picatta but the restaurant didn't have that).

The Slog Reviews: 7.5/10. The portion of grilled fish was decent, the fish meat was fresh and soft but the sauce for the salad and fish were quite unremarkable. The main dish didn't have any fries or rice so I was left feeling rather hungry by 4pm.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

War (2007),Traitor (2008) and Management (2009) movie

We watched three movies on DVD this lazy hot Sunday afternoon.

The first was "War" starring Jet Li and Jason Strathan. A synopsis of the movie can be found here. The Slog Reviews: 6.5/10. I'm glad I didn't waste $ watching this at the cinema. Given, the title, one would have thought that the movie was something epic but nah, it was just about one man playing two rival fractions (Chinese clan and the Yakuza) in the name of revenge. There was quite a bit of action but these were mostly gunfire scenes - the fight scenes without guns were few (2?) and short.

The second was "Traitor" which I felt, was one of the better movies I've seen. A great summary of the movie can be found here. But be warned that if you click this link, forget about watching the movie altogether unless you like eye candy like Guy Pearce or Don Cheadle's sad hound-dog look. The Slog Reviews: 8/10. This movie is all about suspense - not knowing if Don is going to get caught for being a double agent - reading the summary would spoil it all. I particularly liked the quotes by Cheadle in the movie "If a man hasn't found something he's willing to die for, he isn't fit to live." and "War is the lesser Jihad. To overcome temptation, to live rightly, that is the great Jihad. " The acting in this movie was also terrific, in my opinion.

The third was "Management". Again, a movie which I was glad I didn't waste $ watching in the cinema. I was surprised that Jennifer Aniston would agree to accept such a unremarkable role at all. I spent a good part of the movie sitting up close to the TV and trying to make out wrinkles around her eye area but there were none at all. Her eyes are a lovely color though. Although the lead actor, Steve, has wrinkles around his eyes, he still looks younger than her. I am not sure if that's supposed to be intended - young man falling for older woman. Maybe so, given his character's absurd actions in the show. This would include, confessing that he wants to touch her butt (that should have earned him a slap, not a grope), buying a one way airplane ticket to look for her at her company, skydiving into her ex-boyfriend's pool, falling in love with her just after two encounters. I love romantic shows, not absurd ones. The Slog Reviews: 3/10. Don't waste two hours of your life watching this show.

Nothing but the truth (2008) movie

While doing my nails at the nail parlor yesterday, I watched Nothing but the truth playing on the salon's lcd tv.

The plot summary and comments on the movie can be found here.

I didn't recognise the lead actress as Kate Becksingale though - I thought it might be Jennifer Garner - both actresses are dark-haired, dark-eyed and are equally thin.

The Slog Reviews: 7.5/10. The main theme of the movie appears to be whether national security is a good enough reason for the justice system to imprison journalists who refuse to reveal their sources. Other themes explored include how far a person would go to uphold his/her principles, especially a mother who would have to go to jail and be seperated from her child. The CIA agent whose identity the journalist revealed was killed and I think that was the reason the journalist continued to refuse to reveal the source - the source was the CIA's agent own child. Being a mother herself, she would not want the CIA's agent child to live with the guilt that she caused her own mother's death. Other themes explored were sacrifice and the consequences of choices. While she was in jail for almost a year, the journalists's husband had another woman. When the journalist begged him to tell her that the woman was nothing more than just an affair, that he didn't love the other woman, he remained silent. The ending of the movie? The journalist had to go to prison for 2 years for obstruction of justice.

An interesting fact that I learnt from the movie is the difference between jail and prison. Jail is where you go to await your sentence and prison is where you are sent to after the sentence is passed.

The Manhattan Fish Market, A Lam Seafood Restaurant and Durians

I had lunch at The Manhattan Fish Market today at Jusco Tebrau City, JB. I had my favourite course - The Flaming Platter for one which consists of one piece of grilled fish, rice, chips and three "flaming" prawns. The cream on the prawns is simply delicious, I must say. However, the prawns were quite soggy and tasteless, as were the fries. Still, the cost of this course at RM 27.90 is a steal (compared to SG). The Slog Reviews: 7.5/10.

For the flaming platters courses, the waitress/waiter will bring the dish to your table and use a device which emits blue flames to cook the prawns before you for about 1 min. It's quite a sight to watch and how burnt your prawns end up depend on the skill or mood of the waitress/waiter.

I did my nails (classic manicure and pedicure) at the nail salon (De Unique) on the second floor of the mall. The nail salon is nicely decorated (recently renovated) with proper nail salon chairs (comfy with pull-out sinks), good service and the girl who did my nails was well-trained and professional. However, I didn't like that they didn't have any machines for blowing dry my toe nails, and only for the fingernails. The cost of the classic mani and pedi was RM 82 which I felt was on the high side (compared to the usual one I go to at Nusa Bestari) but then again, this is one of the more popular malls amongst Singaporeans.

After shopping at Jusco, I used my handy compasseo GPS (purchased from Carrefour last year at SGD 235) to locate the famous Orang Asli Seafood restaurant at Tmn Perling.

It was about 9pm by the time I reached there. The street lamps along the main road leading to the restaurant were not switched on and the minor road leading to the restaurant was more like a dirt track without clear road markings, very narrow and mostly unlit. The place still had quite a number of large families at that hour having dinner - most of the tables had crabs and cereal prawns. Like Sedco Square in KK, the fishes, clams, prawns, lobsters, crayfish and crabs were kept live in tanks for customers to pick and choose. We had five dishes in all - kailan veg, small clams (commonly known as lala, see top right pic), lemon chicken (top left pic), steamed prawns and 2 steamed crabs. The cost of the meal was RM 150. The 2 crabs cost RM74 and the prawns, RM 20. The Slog Reviews: 7/10. Nothing special about any of the dishes which though fresh, did not thrill the imagination or taste-buds. The restaurant is also quite a drive away from the city but makes a refreshing change for dining as it is situated facing the Johor Straits. Note the dangers of driving there though because of the road conditions

After I got home about 12 midnight (there was a slight jam across the causeway due to the Xmas weekend), I opened these two durians which I bought from a illegal durian "stall" . An oldish Chinese couple were selling durians from Yong Peng out of their van which was parked in a semi-unlit area along a double-yellow line. This mode of selling durians/other fruits out of a van along a roadside is quite common in Malaysia. The XO durians were selling at RM18/kg and the ordinary ones at RM13/kg and I got one of each for supper.

This is the pic of the non-XO durian which I opened at home. It was about 2.5KG and a tad over-riped.

This is the XO durian - it was very over-riped but oh so bitter which is exactly what I asked for. The bitter bit, that is. The Slog Reviews: 7.5/10. The cost of the durians are on the high-side but then again, it isn't exactly durian season now (that's during June - early Aug).

I also got to try for the first time in my life, this unique fruit found only in East Malaysia. I am not sure what it is called but it tastes rather sweet and very much like our smooth-skined longan. While the skin of the fruit is a strange color (greenish-black) which is rather unappealing, the meat inside makes up for it. The skin is quite thin - if one's nails are long enough, one can use it to pierce the skin. The Slog Reviews: 8/10.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Kota Kinabalu (16-19 Nov 09)

I will be ushering in the New Year in Kota Kinabalu (31 Dec 2009 to 4 Jan 2010).

I was in KK for a short holiday about a month ago with my family. Airasia had a free-seats promotion in February 2009 and I booked us return tickets at SGD 70 per person (airport taxes, admin fees etc) from 16 to 19 November 2009. 9 whole months away but I figured that if anything came up and we or any one of us couldn't go, the loss wouldn't be that much anyway. We were supposed to depart about 9+pm and reach KK about 11.50pm and return about 6.45pm and reach SG about 9pm but closer to the date, Airasia informed us that the flight timings would be changed to 5pm and 2.45pm instead. I ended up having to take half a day leave extra on Friday. That's the risk one runs when one books with a budget airline, I suppose.

Airasia operates out of Changi Airport's Terminal 1 but the gates assigned to Airasia are usually at the furthest end of the terminal. I'm not complaining because it beats the budget terminal where Tiger Airways operates out of - at the budget terminal, there aren't any trolleys after clearing customs (which means one has to carry or lug one's cabin bag around) and one has to walk out from the gate across the tarmac to the aircraft (which can be a hassle if it rains). The shopping at the Budget Terminal is also quite dismal compared to Terminal 1 - there aren't any branded goods shops at all like Ferragamo or Coach.

Still, our Budget Terminal is heaven compared to KK's budget terminal. The shopping there consisted of 2 shops selling local products at marked-up prices and 1 shop selling seafood products outside the customs area. It was raining when we arrived so we took out our umbrellas from our cabin bags to walk across the tarmac to the terminal. We bought coupons from the taxi counter at the airport (the cost from KK airport to the city center is RM30) and got into a rather decent-looking cab. However, as we didn't have dinner onboard the Airasia flight because of the prices of the meals (it just wasn't worth paying so much for ordinary fare one could eat in SG) and because we wanted to save our stomachs for KK's local fare, I asked the cab driver to take us straight to New Gaya Seafood Restaurant instead of the hotel. He didn't know where it was so I had to call the restaurant and pass the phone to the driver to get directions. The driver told me that as the restaurant was out of the city center area, the cost would be RM40 instead.

When we got finally got there (yes, it was way out), we had lots of stares as we were carrying our big luggage bags and cabin bags with us. New Gaya Seafood Restaurant has many tables with outdoor and indoor sitting and looks more like a coffeeshop with an air-conditioned section. We ordered fishmaw soup, fried beancurd, kangkong, butter prawns (RM 28) and the restaurant's signature dish - deep fried crab with egg yolk. There was an extra RM 10 charge for the egg yolk for the deep fried crab but it was worth every cent.

I wouldn't recommend the fried beancurd but the butter prawns and crabs...they are a must-try. Not only fresh, but tasty and cooked very well. The crabs are on the smallish side though. The total cost for this meal (and 3 bowls of rice) was only RM90+. The Slog Reviews: 8/10 for the food and service - Really cheap prices for delicious food. The portions are sufficient and the service is good (the Captain speaks fluent English, major credit cards are accepted and they change your plates for clean ones every half hour). The only drawback is the location of the restaurant and its appearance for those used to finer dining.

When we wanted to get to the hotel after dinner, we were faced with a huge problem. No cabs at all. This place isn't anything like Singapore where one can just call a cab company for a cab if there aren't any plying the roads. KK in this sense is more like its sister state, Terengganu which I visited in August 2009 (I'll leave that for another entry). Quite desperate, we asked if any of the employees could send us to the hotel for a fee - it was almost 10pm anyway and the restaurant was closing. In the end, we paid RM30 for one of those "moonlight cab drivers" for a ride to our hotel next to 1Borneo Hypermall.

The next morning, we checked out of the hotel at 9am and shopped at 1Borneo which was linked to our hotel until about 2pm. The Mango outlet there is rather small and the prices aren't cheaper than Singapore's Mango stores. There aren't any high-end branded good shops like LV, Prada and the like at 1Borneo. However, there are lots of restaurants and other shops (Watsons, Sasa, Crocs, Giant, cinema etc) in the mall. We had a light breakfast at Old Town White Coffee Cafe before setting off for The Hyatt Regency where I had booked us a sea-facing room for the next 2 nights. There is a free shuttle bus service running from 1Borneo to Warisan Square at the City Center every half hour and after some consideration (my mother wanted to take a taxi which would have cost RM25), we lugged our bags up the shuttle bus leaving at 2.30pm (do note that one has to take a queue number for each person taking the shuttle at 1Borneo's information center first before one is allowed to board the bus).

The journey from 1Borneo to Warisan Square took 20mins by the shuttle bus. There is a bus stop opposite Warisan Square and we waited 15 mins for a local bus there to take us 2 stops to The Hyatt. The bus was packed when it arrived but we were determined to get up with our big luggage bags and the people on board shuffled around until there was space for all 3 of us. I asked the driver how much the fare was and to let us know which stop to get off at but as my command of the Malay Language was terrible (despite having obtained a certificate for Elementary Malay at the NUS language center this year), he barely understood me and gestured for us to get off at the next stop which was in front of the Central Market. We didn't have to pay anything but the fare would have been about RM1 per person at most. From the Central Market, we asked around for directions some more and lugged our big luggage bags along The Waterfront to The Hyatt which was about a 10mins slow walk away.

The receptionist (a plump Chinese male) spoke fluent English and checked us into a room at level 5 which faced the Tungku Abdul Rahman Marine Park. I have to say that the room at The Hyatt wasn't quite what I expected - while spacious, it was in serious need of renovation (there was renovation going on in the hotel when we checked in). However, the view from the room (the hotel's pool was right beneath our window), was spectacular. I took this picture from the room.

Here are some other photos taken from and in the room.

The service at this Hyatt hotel (unlike the one at London where we stayed in May 2009) was surprisingly slow - there were 3 of us and they took forever to get the make-up bed and other essentials(bathroom, bottled water, towels etc) for the third person. We gave up waiting in the room and went to have lunch at the Tanjung Rias Cafe located at the lobby of the hotel. We had the hotel's signature dish - the oxtail assam pedas and also, a bowl of curry chicken. The cost of lunch was about RM70+ if I remember rightly. The oxtail stew's gravy was very thick and delicious, as was the curry chicken. The rest of my family were squirmish about eating the oxtail so I had most of the soft tender meat to myself. The Slog Reviews: 9/10. The quality of the oxtail soup is superb. If you love thick stews and curries, this is a must-try.

We had learnt from the receptionist when checking-in, that durians would be sold under the bridge at the Segamat area till 5pm so right after lunch, we decided to head there for durians. There was a KFC, Burger King and some kind of western pub just opposite the left side of The Hyatt. After a slow 6mins walk and asking around (in my broken Malay), we managed to find the durian stall which was indeed under the bridge next to KK Plaza. We had 3 different types of durians, 1 of which I've never seen before in West Malaysia or SG - a rambutan-look-alike durian (see the picture below of it on the weighing machine and of the meat in it). The meat of this durian smelt and tasted strongly of bananas but was creamy and delicious like the rest of the other durians. The cost for the durians - RM 20 only!

We were too stuffed to eat dinner that night so we headed back to the hotel about 7pm after shopping at KK Plaza and Wisma Merdeka whch was next to our hotel. The bakery at The Hyatt had a 50% sale on its cakes and pastries and 30% sale on its bread (but not cookies) from 7pm so we bought a few slices of cakes and pastries for breakfast the next day.

The next day was a Sunday and we went to the Gaya Street Sunday Market which opens from 7am to 12noon every Sunday only. The weather was scorching hot but thankfully, the place was only about a 6mins walk from our hotel. There were all sorts of stuff sold there but most stalls sold T-shirts with pics of KK/Sabah on them. Bargaining is a must and so is comparing prices. A white t-shirt with some simple print below should cost only RM10. My sis bought one at RM15 from a stall and found it selling at RM10 a few stores down. Some of the other stuff sold here include seashells, conchs, sarongs, wrap-around batik wear, sunglasses, keychain souvenirs, local foodstuff, wooden carvings, fruits and even rabbits.

Near the Jesselton Hotel on Gaya Street, which I must say, looks to me and has been reviewed by many as a pretty good hotel to stay in, massage services are offered by the visually handicapped. I had a nice big strong man called Des (he is seated at the end of the line and is easily the biggest-sized man there) who spoke broken English and between my broken Malay and that, I learnt that the cost of seafood at KK is expensive and that I should go to Sandakan instead for cheap and fresh seafood. The massage which he gave was excellent and I gave him RM 30 instead of RM 20. I have utmost respect for the disabled members of our society who make their living the honest way.

After the massage, we walked back to the hotel to leave our purchases in the room. From there, we hailed a cab to take us to Sedco Square. The cost of the cab was RM 10 for a 6 mins journey which was terribly expensive - we could have walked there ourselves but the weather was boiling hot. There was only 1 restaurant opened for lunch at Sedco Square - Twinsky Seafood Restaurant. They had a wide enough selection of seafood, all of which were displayed in neat rows (in tanks of course). Crabs, fish, clams but unfortunately for us, no prawns in the afternoon. We selected what we wanted from the tanks (2 crabs and a 800gm lobster), which were fished right out for us before our eyes,weighed and sent to the kitchen. The lobster cost about RM 160 alone and when the manager (who spoke Chinese) sensed my hesitation, he offered to waive the 10% service charge on our meal.
The food didn't take long to come but probably it was because we were one of three families having lunch there. Most people have seafood dinners, not lunches. The reason why we were having this lunch was because my mum wanted to have the famous Yu Kee Bak Kut Teh for dinner and that stall is only opened in the night. Anyway, we had the seafood beehoon which had some prawns in it, the lobster (which was the first dish served), black pepper crab, steamed crab and kangkong for lunch.

The lobster which was done in the restaurant's special style was exquisitely sweet and succulent. The sauce (wet butter, milk?) and the lobster's meat were individually sweet and when put in one's mouth together, ahhhh, I think my taste buds went crazy tasting 2 kinds of sweetness together. I remember clearly the thought that went through my head "THIS makes life worth living." and it is worth a picture on its own (this is how the dish looked)

The Slog Reviews: 10/10. The cost of the meal was fairly decent - about RM 400-500. I think each crab cost about RM 50 - RM 80. The service was good too - the manager waived the 10% service charge and the plates were changed more than twice. There may be better seafood restaurants out there in KK but The Slog thinks you won't have any complaints with this one.

We ended lunch about 3pm and decided to walk it off at the Centerpoint shopping mall. That mall looks a lot like our Lucky Plaza and absolutely nothing like Singapore's Centerpoint. The largest shop there was The Reject Shop on the 4th floor (top floor of shopping) and there were many handphone shops around on the ground floor. Mostly local shops. We were done in half an hour and because of the heavy lunch and dark clouds gathering, we decided to go to The Coffee Bean along the Waterfront to take a rest. At about 6pm when the rain had almost stopped, we made our way back to Gaya Street which we were at in the morning to have the Yu Kee Bak Kut Teh. The restaurant was crowded with a capital C. And I mean, really crowded. Not an empty table in sight and many pp milling around waiting for seats.

I used my broken Malay to ask a helper there for a table and was told to wait. As I was tired (not hungry), I wanted to just forget about eating there altogether but my mother was insistent. How often does she get to go to KK anyway? So I found another helper and in my best possible Malay, asked for a table. There were some folded up tables along the wall which I gestured to and he opened them for us. Phew. We got glares from the pp around who had been waiting. We placed our orders but after 20 mins and not being served despite having asked twice, we just took the food which was brought to our table wrongly - the young Malay chap seemed unsure if he had the right table and my sister and I just lifted the bowls of bak kut teh off his tray onto our table and helped ourselves to it. He got a scolding because he was meant to bring it to the next table. Again, I couldn't care less. The cost of the meal below was RM 26. The Slog Reviews: 6.5/10 - Not worth the queue. Nothing special about the soup, much less the small portions. Then again, The Slog has never been a bak kut teh fan and may be totally wrong given the number of pp who flock there to eat.

For one more day - Mitch Albom

I borrowed this book after reading the books "The Five People You Meet In Heaven" and "Tuesdays wtih Morrie" by the same author. I tend to read fiction books by authors - if I pick up a book I like, I tend to go back and borrow all the books by the same author.

This book is about a character, Charley Benetto who returns to his hometown to kill himself after his life is ruined by alcohol and regret. He finds his mother who died 8 years ago still living in the old house and she welcomes him back as if nothing had ever happened. What follows is the one ordinary day so many of us yearn for, a chance to make good with a lost parent, to explain family secrets and to seek forgiveness.

Some bits from the book which The Slog would like to record down

1) About the bit about wanting to kill oneself "There's only your life, how you mess it up, and who is there to save you. Or who isn't."

2) "Why do kids assume so much from one parent and hold the other to a lower looser standard. Maybe it's like my old man said: U can be a mama's boy or a daddy's boy but you can't be both. So you cling to the one you think you might lose."

3) "The word "divorce" comes from "divertere" which means "to divert". I believe that. All divorce does is divert you, taking you away from everything you thought you knew and everything you thought you wanted..."

4) "Going back to something is harder than you think"

5) "Here is what you are going to find out about marriage: you have to work at it together. And you have to love three things. (1) Each other (2) Your Children (3) Your marriage. What I meant by that last one is there may be times that you fight and sometimes you won't even like each other. But those are the times you have to love your marriage. It's like a third party. Look at your wedding photos. Look at any memories you have made. And if you believe in those memories, they will pull you back together."

6) "I met a man once who did a lot of mountain climbing. I asked him which was harder? Ascending or descending? He said without a doubt descending, because ascending you were so focused on reaching the top you avoided mistakes. THe backside of a mountain is a fight against human nature. U have to care as much about youself on the way down as you did on the way up."

7) "When someone is in your heart, they're never truly gone. They can come back to you, even at unlikely times."

8) "Belief, hard work and love - you have those things, you can do anything"

The Slog Reviews: A good read. Mothers will like reading this book and hope that their children do too.

Who moved by Cheese by Spencer Johnson

I procrastinated reading this book to the point I had to renew it. It was a pleasant surprise to find out that The National Library Board no longer charges a SGD 0.50 fee for renewals. I wonder if NLB will ever remove the SGD 1.55 handling fee it presently imposes for reservation of books though. It will be great if it does because I have been doing a lot of that but even if it doesn't, reserving your books online means that you will get get that book you have been meaning to read and you have a choice of collecting it at any library branch of your choice.

I finished this #1 best seller in all of half an hour and wondered at the end of reading it, why the hell I had procrastinated reading such a fabulous book which was not only life-changing but a short simple easy-read.

In a snapshot, the book is about 4 different characters who live in a Maze and look for Cheese to nourish them and keep them happy. Two are mice named Sniff and Scurry and two are human-like creatures named Hem and Haw. Cheese is the metaphor for what one wants out of life, whether it is a good job, money, loving relationship or even an activity like fishing. Each of us has our own idea of what Cheese is and we pursue it because we believe it makes us happy. If we get it we often become attached to it and if we lose it, it can be traumatic. Maze is where you look for what you want - your family, the organisation you work for. In the story, the 4 characters are hit with unexpected change. The Cheese Station (Station C) which they found cheese at no longer had any cheese.

In his foreword, the author tells us that the two mice do better when they are faced with change because they keep things simple while the two human-like creatures' complex brains and human emotions complicate things. In the story of the 4 characters, he repeats this again "Sometimes they did well but at other times, their powerful human beliefs and emotions took over and clouded the way they looked at things. It made life in the Maze more complicated and challenging."

The lessons that The Slog takes away from the books are:

1) SMELL THE CHEESE OFTEN SO U KNOW WHEN IT IS GETTING OLD - Always be prepared that the Cheese may be taken away ie be alert and expect that change will happen and look for it Hem and Haw became complacent after finding Cheese Station C and they lost their sense of urgency. In fact, as the author said "Their success grew into the arrogance of success. Soon they became so comfortable until they didn't even notice what was happening." Be like Sniff and Scurry who would inspect for any changes to the Cheese before enjoying it. NOTICING SMALL CHANGES EARLY HELP YOU TO ADAPT TO THE BIGGER CHANGES THAT ARE TO COME.

2) THE QUICKER YOU LET GO OF OLD CHEESE, THE SOONER YOU FIND NEW CHEESE - Do not over-analyze change. Sniff and Scurry decided to change because the situation at Cheese Station C had changed. Unlike Hem and Haw who raved at the injustice because there was no longer any cheese, who pointed fingers and spent time wondering why this happened to them, Sniff and Scurry moved on straight away to find New Cheese. In fact, when Hew found a new station with some cheese, he realised he would have found a great deal more cheese if he had moved sooner. He would also have found New Cheese earlier if he had expected change instead of wasting time denying that the change had already taken place.

3) IT IS SAFER TO SEARCH IN THE MAZE THAN REMAIN IN A CHEESELESS SITUATION - Do not let fear of the uncertainty hold you back. Ask yourself what you would do if you weren't afraid? Instead paint a positive picture of yourself venturing out with a smile on your face and then paint the most believeable picture you can - with the most realistic details of you finding and enjoying the New Cheese. When you stop being afraid, you feel good!

4) IMAGINING YOURSELF ENJOYING YOUR NEW CHEESE LEADS YOU TO IT - Along the way, if you are wondering if you have bitten off more than you can chew, remind yourself that whatever you are doing, no matter how uncomfortable it is at the moment, is in reality much better than staying in the Cheeseless situation. U are taking control rather than letting things happen to you.

5) MOVEMENT IN A NEW DIRECTION HELPS YOU FIND NEW CHEESE - The times you feel best are when you are moving along moving for new cheese. Let go and trust what lies ahead of you even though you do not know what it is.

6) OLD BELIFES DOES NOT LEAD U TO NEW CHEESE - When you change what you belief, you change what you do. When you see you can find and enjoy New Cheese, you change course. Haw realised he had started to change when he had learned to laugh at himself and at what he had been doing wrong. The fastest way to change is to laugh at your own folly - then you can let go and quickly move on.

7) The biggest inhibitor to change lies within yourself and until you change, nothing gets better.

8) Most importantly, THERE IS ALWAYS NEW CHEESE OUT THERE, WHETHER U RECOGNISE IT AT THE TIME OR NOT. And that you are rewarded with it when you go past your fear and enjoy the adventure.

9)The "Old Cheese" may be just old behavior and isntead of letting go of the relationship, what we really need to let go of is the behavior that is the cause of our bad relationships. And then move on to a better way of thinking anda cting. The New Cheese is a new relationship with the same person.

The Slog Reviews: 10/10 and well-deserved.

Durian Cake from Hotel Rendezvous and Sherlock Holmes (2009) movie

My sister and I decided to buy my mother a durian cake for Christmas this year. We had planned to get it from Goodwood Park Hotel which is famous for its durian cakes but while walking to Cathay Cineleisure today from my office this afternoon, my friend and I passed by Hotel Rendezvous and we saw this near the entrance of their cafe (Straits Cafe).

He waited patiently while I excitedly dashed in to query about the availablity and price of the hotel's award-winning durian fudge cake. The cost for the 1/2 kg was SGD 26 while the cost for the 1 kg was SGD 46. Terrified that the cake would be sold out, I paid for the 1 kg cake and asked the hotel to keep it refrigerated for me until the movie was over. My mother was pleased enough with the cake and immediately sliced and served the same.

The Slog Reviews: 6/10. The durian in the cake was pasty and flat. The durian smell wasn't very strong and the rest of the cake was more creamy than "duriany". Maybe it was because of the fresh milk and coconut milk mixed in with it. This ranks way behind the durian cakes from Goodwood Park. Emicakes still makes the best durian cakes in Singapore in my humble opinion - afterall, I had such a cake for my 29th birthday last year.

Moving onto the movie which took up the better part of the afternoon (most companies in Singapore let their employees have the afternoon off on Christmas eve) Sherlock Holmes was an entertaining enough movie packed with lots of action during its 120mins. Robert Downey Jr reminded me of a really old Johnny Depp (when Johnny acted in Pirates of the Caribbean) - both of them do the glazed crazy-eye stare really well. Jude Law looked older in the movie and his fiancee in the movie reminded me of Paris Hilton. Rachel McAdams was as lovely as ever with one of the sweetest smiles I have seen. It is likely that there will be a sequel to this movie where Holmes will face off against his nemesis Professor Moriarty. The plot for this movie though is simple and appears to be more of an introduction to each of their characters. Holmes is protrayed as a detective having superior martial arts and lock-picking skills and a penchant for annoying Watson but he is also shown to have a soft spot beneath. Holmes hides the photos of Irene Adler he still keeps in his room when she visits unexpectedly and when Watson is hurt in the explosion, Holmes impersonates a doctor to visit Watson. Watson is also shown to have an unbreakable bond with Holmes - he puts his life on the line to rescue Holmes from Dredger at the shipyard and despite his resolution not to follow Holmes any longer because of his fiancee, his responsibility to Holmes dissolve that resolution time and again.

The Slog Reviews: 8/10. The movie holds true to the original stories of Sherlock Holmes where the explanations for the "unexplainable" are given at the end and there is invariably a lot of chemistry and biology involved. This movie is worth watching for the action and great acting by the cast. The English accent may be a tad hard to follow though.

Fried Wanton at Parklane Mall

My friend and I had about 3 hours to kill before watching Avatar and I was itching to improve my pool skills so we went to Parklane Mall to have dinner and play a couple of games.

I haven't been to the video games arcade at the basement level for almost 3 years but the uncle behind the counter then was there yesterday. Instead of changing the usual S$2 for 50 cent coins to play my usual arcade game, this time I paid S$8.40 for an hour of pool. I used to play the game Zombie Revenge on the arcade machine obsessively then with my ex-boyfriend. That was how we spent 3-4 hours almost every Saturday afternoon - playing that game at Parklane Mall or at Marina Square. We got so good that we almost always got to the end of the game on just one credit each - I would choose Stick and he, Rikiya and with perfect co-ordination, we would defeat each monster and zombie that came at us. People often stood by just to watch us play - we could see their reflections in the screen. Of course, when he and I went separate ways, it was no longer possible for me to play that game, much less complete it.

Forgive my digression. This post is supposed to be about the fried wanton sold on the first level of Parklane Mall at the stall with its red signboard that sells wanton mee, chicken mee, curry chicken mee, fried beancurd etc. It was there in 2003 when I first got addicted to that arcade game but I've never tried the fried wanton, as I have always preferred to eat at the MacDonald's at the basement level of the mall instead. My friend had a craving for wanton mee so we had dinner at that stall. Just to be clear - this stall I am talking about is NOT the famous Parklane Wanton Mee stall which is located at Sunshine Plaza (very near to Parklane Mall)

The Slog Reviews: For the fried wanton: 8/10 - The fried wanton is worth a try if you happen to be around that area - crispy, yummy and bite-sized. I can't say the same though for the wanton mee or fried beancurd which we also had. Be warned of the attitude of the staff which my friend warned me about, as well as the length of time it takes for the food to be served. I've heard that the place can get very crowded during lunch time so it might be better to swing by on a weekday night about 8pm.

Avatar (2009) movie

Yesterday was my second time watching the movie "Avatar". My sister gave me a couple of tickets for the 9.55pm show at The Grand Cathay which would have otherwise gone to waste because she had caught the movie the day before. The first time I watched the movie was in 3D but I felt that the non-3d version this time was equally good.

A very good synopsis of the movie can be found at this website:

Avatar is one of those movies that you can watch twice and not feel that the 150mins watching it the second time had gone to waste. In fact, I felt that the 150mins doesn't feel like 150mins - the plot while straight-forward and predictable, was unveiled in a very engaging manner and if anything else, the graphics alone makes the movie worth watching - the hanging mountains, the Mountain Banshee, the eyes of the Omaticaya, the AMP suits. A particularly well-done nerve-wrecking scene is Jake being chased by the Thanador - although you know he IS going to be alright (because this scene happens near the start of the film), you still will flinch and gasp as the maws of the Thanador gnash away and barely miss him. I was also taken by Trudy's courage to obey her conscience and risk everything to do the right thing - a great pity that she lost her life in the bargain. The Col wasn't really the typical baddie - it seems to me that his only failing was his inability to seperate his emotions from his job. And that was enough to cost him his life. He took Jakes' defection to the Omaticaya personally - maybe it's because he had invested in and trusted Jake so much - Jake had willingly reported to the Col personally and provided invaluable
intel on the Omaticaya. Being betrayed usually brings out the worst in people and causes them to act in a totally irrational manner.

The Slog Reviews: 8/10. Great Visuals. No memorable quotes.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Singapore Women's Weekly January 2010

My sister lent me this last night.

Things worth noting in The Slog's opinion:

1) Pages 65 to 116: 2010 Best Beauty Buys (these are voted by readers of the mag)

For Cleansers

Most luxurious facial cleanser - Shisedo Future Solution LX Extra Rich Cleansing Foam SGD 83 (best used with a sponge for spreme lathering effects)

Do-it-all cleansers - (a) Eucerin Gentle Cleansing Milk SGD 20.50 (b) Keraskin Esthetics Lait N27 Daily Residues Cleanser SGD 120.

For sensitve skin - (a) Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser SGD 18.50 (b) Clearins Gentle Foaming Cleanser for Dry or Sensitive Skin SGD 40

For normal/combination skin (a) Himalaya Purifying Neem Face Wash SGD 9.90 (b) Biotherm Aquasource Biosource Hydra-Mineral Cleansing Toning Mousse SGD 42

For oily/acne skin - (a) Dr Wu Acnecur Gel Celanser with Niacinamide SGD 39.90 (b) Peter Thomas Roth Beta Hydroxy Acide Acne Wash SGD 71.70

For dry skin - (a) Olay Regenerist Cream Cleanser SGD 7.50 (b) Shumera Skin Purifier High Performance Balancing Cleansing Oil Enriched SGD 135

Exfoliator - (a) Cure Natural Aqua Gel SGD 38 (b) Cosmedicine Medi-morphosis Self-adjusting exfoliator SGD 66

Most luxurious exfoliator- (a) La Mer The Refining Facial SGD 153

Eye makeup removal - (a) Loreal Paris Gentle Lips and Eye Make up removal SGD 13.90 (b) Chanel Precision Gentle BiPhase Eye Make-up Remover SGD 38


For normal/combination skin - (a) Bio-essence 24K Bio-Gold Age Reverse Clear Cream SGD 48 (b) Dior Hydra Life Youth Essential Hydrating Essence-in-gel SGD 110

For sensitive skin - (a) Clinelle Moisture Booster SGD 45.95 (b) Laneige Sensitive Dual Enhancing Cream SGD 50

For dry skin - (a) Ginvera Nutri White 24hr Radiance Nourishing Cream SGD 12.90 (b)Clinque Superdefense SPF 25 Age Defense Moisturizer

For oily/acne skin - (a) The Body Shop Tea Tree Skin Clearing Lotion SGD 26.90 (b) Clarins Hydra Quench Colling Cream-Gel

Night moisturiser - (a) (a) Vichy Bi-white Reval Double Corrective Whitening Night Cream SGD 69 (b) Murad Age Reform Sleep Reform Serum SGD 209

Most restorative skin treatment - (a) cle de Peau Beaute La Creme SGD 878

Eye Treatment (anti-aging) - (a) Lierac Dioptilisse SGD 58 (b) Elizabeth Arden Ceramide Gold Ultra Lift and Strengthening Eye Capsules SGD 93

Eye Treatment (dark cicles and puffiness) - (a) Vichy Aqualia Thermal Eye Roll-on SGD 49 (b) Lancome Blanc Expert Ultimate Whitening Anti-spot Anti-Dark Circles Eye Serum SGD 95

Most restorative eye cream - La Mer Eye Conetrate SGD 295


Anti-ageing mask - (a) Olay Total Effects 7 in 1 facial stretch mask SGD 32 (b) Demalogica Age Smart Multivitamin power recovery masque SGD 115

Hydrating mask - (a) skinvitals H-Revive Cloth Facial Treatment Mask, SGD 13.95 (pack of 3) (b) Laneige Hydra Solution Mask SGD 58

Clarifying mask - (a) The FAce Shop Pore Minimiser Controlling Clay Mask SGD 19.90 (b) Loccitane Clarifying Rice Mask SGD 51

Whitening mask - (a) Neutrogena Fine Fairness Complete Whitening Mask SGD 45 (b) Biotherm White D-Tox Cellular Detoxifying 5 min clear White Mask SGD 100

Eye mask - (a) The Face Shop Raspberry Roots Collagen Eye Patch SGD 9.90 (for 2 sheets) (b) Laneige White Plus Renew Eye Treatment SGD 88

Targeted care

Anti-wrinkle treatment - (a) ROC Retin OX Wrinkle Filler SGD 79 (b) Dr Brandt Crease Release Cream SGD 216

Neck Treatment - (a) Loreal Paris Dermo-expertise Revitalift Face, Contours and neck cream SGD 34.90 (b) Shiseido White Lucent Brightening Serum for Neck and Decollete SGD 110

Anti-oxidant treatment - (a) Nuxe Phytochoc Lifting Serum SGD 69.90 (b) Bulgari Source Defence Emulsion SGD 240

Intense Moisture Fix - (a) Laneige Hydra Solutoin Essence SGD 83 (b) Chanel Hydramax + Active Serum SGD 158

Whitening serum - (a) Olay White Radiance Intensive Brightening Serum SGD 29.90 (b) Dermalogica Chromawhite TRxC-12 Concentrate SGD 205

Whitening spot eraser - (a) Loreal Paris Revitalift White Advanced Whitening Spot and Wrinkle Corrector SGD 34.90 (b) Lancome Blanc Expert GN- White Generating New Whiteness Spot Eraser SGD 175

Acne-control treatment - (a) La Roche-Posay Effaclar A.I. Targeted Breakout Corrector SGD 29.90 (b) Dermalogica Clearing Mattifier SGD 103

Most restorative skin performance - (a) Shiseido Bio-performance Intensive Skin Corrective Program SGD 450

Anti-ageing treatment - (a) RoC Multi Correxion Anti-Age Intensive Serum SGD 88 (b) Lancome Sercret de Vie ultimate Cellular Reviving Life Source Serum SGD 520

Pore refiner - (a) Vichy Normaderm REfine Total Pore Resurfacing Essence SGD 49 (b) Dr Brandt Pores No More Vacuum Cleaner SGD 70

Whitening programme - (a) Lierac Anti-Taches Correction Active Program SGD 120 (b) Sk II Whitening Source Derm-Revival Program SGD 160

Facial sunscreen - (a) Laneige Sunblock High Lasting SPF 50+ SGD 38 (b) SK II whitening Source DermDefinition UV Lotion SPF 50 SGD 102


Body sunscreen - (a) Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Body Mist Sunblock SPF 45 SGD 24.50 (b) Fancl Sungard 30 (Face and Body) SGD 45.50

Foot cream - (a) Scholl Cracked Heel Repair Cream SGD 7.20 (b) Kenzoki Barefeet Fantasy SGD 50

Body shaping care (cellulite cream) - (a) Bio-essence Celbrity's choice cellulite treatment SGD 19.90 (b) Lierac Morpho Slim Anti-Cellulite Concentrate SGD 79.90

Body shaping care (bust care) - (a) Bio-essence bus firming boosting cream SGD 45 (b) Talika Bust Serum SGD 109

Body moisturiser - (a) Palmer's Cocoa Butter Formula Lotion SGD 9.90 (b) Clarins Satin smooth body lotion SGD 60

Most restorative body moisturiser - (a) Rosken Skikn Repair Dry Skin Cream SGd 7.10 (75ml)

Body scrub - (a) Loreal Exfotonic Exfoliating and revitalising gel SGD 20.95 (b) Biuotherm Lait de Gommage Gentle Exfoliating milk SGD 52

Daily body wash - (a) Shokubutsu Firming Body Foam SGD 6.63 (b) Olay Total Effects Shower Cream and Body Butter Extra moisturising SGD 10.90

Luxurious body wash - (a) Ahava Mineral Botanic Velvet Cream Wash SGD 28 (b) Molton Brown Nurture Desert Bloom Shower Cream SGD 60

Hand cream - (a) The Face Shop Fruit Garden Hand Lotion Peach and Promegranate SGD 12.90 (b) Secrets de Sothys Age-defying hand treatment SGD 139


Topcoat - (a) Sally Hansen Mega Shine Extended Wear Top Coat SGD 13.50 (b) OPI top coat SGd 22.50

Basecoat - (a) Sally Hansen Hard As nails (tinted) SGD 6.90 (b) Poshe Treatment Base Coat SGD 38

Nail Color 2009 - (a) Bourjois Paris Efft Faux Ongles False Nail Effect SGD 9.70 (b) OPI Nail Lacquer in Done out in Deco SGD 22


Chemically treated shampoo - (a) Sunsilk damaged hair reconstruction shampoo SGD 10.50 (b) Kiehl's Olive Fruit Oil Nourishing Shampoo SGD 41

Anti-hair loss shampoo - (a) Grorich Hair Follicles Treatment Shampoo SGD 14.90 (b) Kerastase Specifique Bain Prevention GL Shampoo SGD 38

Anti-fizz/hydrating shampoo - (a) Charles Worthington Results Takeaway Frizz Smoothing shampoo SGD 14.95 (b) Loccitane Shampooing Quotidien Daily Shampoo SGD 32

Dry scalp/anti-dandruff shampoo - (a) The Body Shop Ginger Anti-dandruff shampoo SGD 16.90 (b)Phytheol intense anti-dandruff treatment shampoo SGD 44

Scalp clarifying shampoo - (a) Silkpro Hairgro Shampoo SGD 14.90 (b)Phytocedrat Sebo-Regulating Shampoo SGD 32

Color-preserving shampoo - (a) Clairol Herbal Essences Colour Me Shiny Shine Enhancing Shampoo SGD 7.65 (b) Rene Furterer Okara Protect Color Protective Radiance Shampoo SGD 39.80

Rinse-off conditioner - (a) Dove daily treatment conditioner - intense damage therapy SGD 10.90 (b) Frederic Fekkai Protein Rx Reparative Conditioner SGD 34

Restorative hair mask - (a) Sunsilk damaged hair reconstruction 3 min intensive treatment SGD 6.95 (b) Phytodensium Anti-aging mmsk SGD 58

Styling product (hairspray) - (a) Loreal Paris Studioline indestructible creation spray SGD 14.90 (b) Kiehl's stylist series climate-proof shine enhancing non-aersol spray SGD 43

Styling product (heat protection treatment) - (a) Loreal Paris Studio Line Hot Straight Thermo-STraightening Spray SGD 12.90 (b) Kerastase Nectar Thermique SGD 48

Styling product (shine serum) - (a) Loreal Paris Elseve Smooth Intense Anti-Frizz Serum SGD 16.90 (b) System Professional Diamond Reflect Shine Finish SGD 44.95

Styling product (volumiser) - (a) Lucido-L Designing Whip Hair Cream SGD 9.60 (b) Redken Aerate 08 Bodifying Cream-Mousse SGD 37

Hairdryer - Panasonic Ionity EH Ne 70 SGD 75

Flat Iron - Philips Salonstraight precision HP 8331 SGD 54.90

Home hair colour kit - Liese Bubble Hair Colour SGD 19.90


Fragrance of the year (men) - Allure Homme Edition Blanche by Chanel SGD 129 (100ml)

Fragrance of the year (women)- Sensuous by Estee Lauder SGD 138 (100ml)

Best new fragrance - Gwen Stefani Harajuku Lovers SGD 67 (30ml)

Most sophisticated fragrance - Look by Vera Wang SGD 168 (100ml)

Sexiest fragrance - Secret Obsession by Calvin Klein SGD 138 (100ml)

Most refreshing fragrance - A Scent by Issey Miyake SGD 160 (100ml)

Most romantic fragrance - Romance Always Yours by Ralph Lauren SGD 129 (75ml)

Best celebrity Frangrance - Searh Jessica Parker The Lovely Collection SGD 95 (75ml)


Anti-ageing powder foundation - SKII Skin Signature Cream in Faoundation SGD 127

Anti-ageing liquid foundation - Estee Lauder Re-Nutriv ultimate Radiance Makeup SPF 15 SGD 125

Concealer - (a) ZA Concealer Perfection SGD 13.90 (b) Bobbi Brown Creamy Concealer Kit SGD 57

Foundation (oil-free)- (a) Maybelline New York Clear Smooth Aqua Gel Foundation SGD 19.90 (b) Diorskin Nude Natural Glow hydrating Make up SPF 10 SGD 65

Foundation (liquid) - (a) Revlon Colorstay Foundation SGD 27.90 (b) Anna Sui Moisture Rich Fluid Foundation SGD 61

All-time favourite powder foundation - MAC Studio Fix Powder Plus Foundation SGD 47

Loose powder - (a) Ettusais Medicated Acne Sheer Matte Powder SGD 64 (b) Chanel Poudre Universelle Libre Natural Finish loose powder SGD 70

Pressed powder - (a) Majolica Majorca Pressed Pore cover SGD 33.90 (b) Shiseido Maquillage PRessed Powder SGD 40

Foundation Compact - (a) Loreal Paris White Perfect Pearl Duo Powder Foundation SGD 32.90 (b) Clinique Perfectly Real Radiant Skin Compact Makeup SGD 79

Powder Blush - (a) Loreal Paris BLush Delice SGD 18.90 (b) Clinqiue Quick Blush SGD 49

Makeup primer - (a) Maybelline New York Angel Fit Pore Zero Base SGD 19.90 (b) Shiseido Maquillage Styling Keep Base UV SGD 62

Treatment concealer - (a) Clinelle Blemish Conceal and Clear Stick SGD 16.95 (b) Murad Blemish Treatment Conealer SGD 42


Lip treatment - (a) Vaseline Lip Therapy Advanced Formula SGD 3.25 (b) Kiehl's lip balm with SPF 15 SGD 21

Red Lipstick - (a) Maybelline New York Moisture Extreme in #820 Loving Red SGD 15.90 (b) Lancome L'Absolue Rouge in #190 SGD 43

Nude Lipstick - (a) Shiseido Maquillage Moisture rouge (sheer type) in #BE712 SGD 49

Coral Lipstick - (a) Maybelline New York Watershine Pure Lipstick in #C22 SGD 13.90 (b) Coffret D'or JM Rouge lipstick by Kanebo in #OR103 SGD 46

Pink Lipstick - (a) ZA Pure shine Lips in Pretty Pink SGD 17.50 (b) Dior Addict High Shine Lipstick in #364 SGD 40

Berry Lipstick - (a) Rimmel Moisture Renew Lipstick in #260 SGD 17.90 (b) IPSA Essence Lipstick in #E641 SGD 48


Eyeshadow (staying power) - (a) Too Faced Eye Shadow Duo SGD 34 (b) Esprique Precious True Impact Eyes SGD 54

Eyeshadow (texture) - (a) Loreal Paris Color Appeal Shimmering Eyeshadow palette SGD 23.90 (b) Dior 5-colours eyeshadow palette SGD 89

Gel/cream eyeliner - (a) Maybelline New York Eyestuodio Creamy Gel Eyeliner SGD 19.90
(b) Clinique Brush-on cream liner SGD 34

Mascara (length) - (a) Maybelline New York Long Extreme Double Stretch Mascara SGD 18.90 (b) Anna Sui Super Black Long Lash Mascara SGD 41

Mascara (volume) - (a) Fasio Hyper stay mascara deep trick curl volume SGD 21.90 (b) Shiseido Perfect mascara SGD 46

Mascara (All rounder) - (a) Majolica Majorca Lash Beautifying Mascara Frame Plus SGD 25.90 (b) Lancome Oscillation Mascara SGD 68

Best party eye make-up tool - (a) make up store glitter eyeliner SGD 33

Eyelash curler - Shiseido Maquillage eyelash curler SGD 19

Brow Filler (brow pencil) - (a) Za Ever Brows SGd 11.90 (b) Shiseido Natural Eyebrow Pencil SGD 32

Liquid Eyeliner - (a) K-Palette Real Lasting Eyeliner SGD 18.90 (b) Chanel Automatic Liquid Eyeliner SGD 47

Pencil Eyeliner - (a) Revlon Colorstay Liner in Black SGD 14.90 (b) Make up for Ever Aqua Eyes SGD 32

Pages 119 - 122 on New Year Makeover

Make hair modern -
(1) Check your hair type - for fine hair, try and keep the length shorter. Thick hair benefits from long layers.
(2) Go a bit messy - move your parting a fraction to instantly get more volume Avoid one straight line. keep your parting relaxed. It looks younger.
(c) Try a new salon to get a fresh view of your looks and new ieas on what might suit you.

6 hair mistakes that age you -
(1)Longer hair can look great in your 30s, 40s and 50s of yuou maintain it well.
(2) Long hair parted down the middle can drag your face down, especially if youhave fine hair. Try a choppy bob that sits just below the collarbone.
(3) Jet black can be ageing and it makes thin hair more obvious as your scalp shines through. Try 2 or 3 shades lighted like chocolate.
(4) Use conditioner every time you wash. Finish with shine hair sprays with color protecting UV filters
(5) Use thickening shampoos with ingredients like panthenol. Don't skip conditioner as without it, hair becomes dry and more likely to break. Instead apply it before your shampoo (hair is less greasy). Use a lighted forumula, just on the ends. If you use heat style tools often, always use a heat protective primer first.

Tips for a flawless face
(1) Prep your skin. The right moisturiser smoothens skin texture so make-up application is smooth and even.
(2) Before foundation, you can even out your skin with a make up base. Le Blanc de Chanel SGD 58 is a sheer illuminating base that not only helps hold make up it also minimises imperfections and creates a halo of light around the skin
(3) Don't forget concealer. Apply not only under eyes but also at the inner and outer corners.
(4) As a finishing touch, it's nice to brush on a highlighting powder.

Page 127 - Perfect second skin

(1) Prep your skin. Loreal Paris Dermo Expertise Derma Genesis Pore Minimising Smoother Scrub SGD 14.90 not onluy removes oil and dirt but also helps regnerate the skins's cell renewal rate.
(2) Create a smooth base. Massage in a nourishing moisturiser like the Loreal Paris Dermo Expertise Revitalift SPF 18 Day Cream SGD 27.80 so skin is plumped up.
(3) Use a skin-loving foundation. Foundation helps minimise problem areas and lightens dark circles. Dab it on areas that need it, you do not need to cover your entire face. Try LOreal Paris True Match Super-Blendable foudnation SGD 30.90
(4) LLook wide awake with a sweep of blusher. Fairer skin tones hsould opt for more vibrant shades on the cheeks while darker skin tones look best with blushers that contain hints of coral and brown.

The L'oreal Paris Signature Experience counter at OG Orchard point carries all the brand's skincare, haircare, makeup , hair styling ahnd hair colour kits.

Page 178 - 30 days to a healthier you

1) Move for 30 mins each day (to avoid sedentary death syndrome)
2) Spend SGD 5 on your partner, best buddy or a charity (bigger mood boost than spending on yourself)
3) Lie down to solve a problem (our brain releases less noradrenalin which inhibits creative thought)
4) Make tonight's dinner fish - fish once a week slows age-related memory decline by 10-13%
5) Add speed bursts to your workout ( A 30s fast burst every 4 mins of workout doubles endurance in 2 weeks. Allow at least 24hrs between interval training sessions to allow your body recovery)
6) Clean your window panes once a week. They are the most common places where mould grows and mould toxins slow the part of the brain which deals wtih emotions which could cause depression.
7) Buy a proper water glass. Drinking plenty of water throughout the day helps fight fatigue and revs up our metabolism.
8) Get a mantra. Regularly repeating a claming word or comforting phrrase reduces stress levels and helps you sleep better.
9) Put a plant on your desk. By doing so you will cut your risk of headache, fatigue and sore throat
10) Snack on a vegetable. EAt some of your five portions of vegetables a day as snacks.
11) Stretch your ginergs
12) Add 3 prebiotic foods to your diet . These enhance healthy digestion as well as immunity boosting bugs. These include bananas, garlic and onions.
13) Eat less processed food.
14) Do only must do tasks this week
15) Try a food you don't think you like.
16) Try lupin brad. The fibre swells in the sotmach, increasing fullness
17) Wash your hands. Wash them at elast 4 times a day
18) Check your reflection. Spend 5 mins looking in the mirror daily. Ignore what you don't like and focus on those you do.
20) Find your wak up song. Waking up to peppy music can totally transorm your mornings
21) Tests your weights.
22) Trade your wine for beer tonight. Beer contains B vitamins which protect against brain damage.
23) Buy a pack of sugar-free gum.
24) Stretch your neck. Pull your chin in towards your neck and hold it there for aroudn 10 seconds will stop any end of the day aches and pains
25) Get a few mins of sunshine today (outside the peak UV period). Jsut remebmer to apply sunblock when heading out
26) Throw out your old make up. Using old make up increases the risk of sin breakouts and eye infections.
27) Try 3 mins of medidation.
28) Eat only when you're hungry. An easy signal to look out for that indicates your stomach is full is when food starts to taste dull in your mouth
29) Get your shoes stretched.
30) Drink 3 cups of tea a day.

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