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Thursday, February 25, 2010

It's Complicated (2009) movie

After yesterday's lunch with a certain someone, I was quite in the mood for a romantic comedy movie in the evening so I ended up watching this movie. The title reminds me of one of the options for one's current status (single, married, in a r/s etc) that one can have on FB - so far, most pp using that status are those who have or are undergoing a seperation/divorce.

Anyway, you can read the plot summary here but I'll say this summary misses the only truely funny bit of the movie which is where the ex-husband Jacob/Jake lies in front of the laptop which his ex-wife, Jane, played by Meryl Streep (which my movie companion said is rather beautiful) was using to have a web cam chat with the architect that she was starting to see.

The Slog Reviews: 6.5/10. Realistic enough movie with an appropriate predictable ending which seems targeted at those in their 40s - 50s. Alec Baldwin has grown large and pudgy though with his head and hair, he still looks like a fine dignified large lion. I wasn't too comfortable with the movie plot though - the "juggling" of two men, an affair with the same man who cheated on you, nah, I don't like stuff like that. Acting by Meryl and Alec superb, plot too realistic and therefore unenjoyable.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Yoshinoya in Singapore and its beef bowls.

Despite the rather negative reviews on the web, I for one, love the fast food chain, Yoshinoya's beef bowls.

According to the Yoshinoya Hong Kong website, "Yoshinoya, founded in 1899, is a famous Japanese beef bowl (Gyudon) specialist with a well-established history of over a century. Its first store opened in Nihohbashi Fish Market in Japan. The market moved to Tsukiji due to an earthquake and Yoshinoya followed. After over a hundred years' continuous development, Yoshinoya now has over 1100 branches around the globe, spanning from Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Singapore to California, US and Malaysia etc., and continues to provide Japanese style quality food and services to customers around the world. "

The website further goes on to state that "Gyudon (beef bowls) are Yoshinoya's speciality. Prepared with premium beef and our special stock, over a steamy bowl of pearl rice."

While I wouldn't go far as to agree 100% with the above, I don't agree with the negative reviews either. It really depends on which outlet and chef you have a bowl of beef bowl at. And, one negative experience, while a turn-off, doesn't mean that the brand and all the food is bad. I did have some beef bowls which had meat that was tasteless and even rubbery and yet I had some beef bowls where I let the beef sit in my mouth while slowly munching at the tender meat and letting the juice just ooze out. So. I guess it boils down to the law of randomness and luck where you have your beef bowl at.

I had mine at Marina Sq for one of my lunches last week. This is a pic of the spicy beef bowl meal consisting of a bowl with rice, beef, onions and some chilli flakes sprinkled on top as well as a bowl of miso soup. Total cost: SGD 6.30. The Slog Reviews: 7.5/10. Here's a tip: Ask for more gravy for the rice which can get rather dry beneath the top layer (of rice) that the beef is on. Decent enough both price-wise and quality for Japanese fast food.

Yoshinoya is apparently one of Wing Tai's holdings. Click here for a list of the outlets in Singapore and their latest promotions.

Wimbledon (2004) Movie

A friend borrowed the dvd from the national library and invited me to watch it.

A decent plot summary can be found here.

The Slog Reviews: 6/10. A predictable and highly improbable movie (yeah, I know, that's the stuff movies are made of and yeah, I am reading fooled by randomness too). All I can say is that Paul Bettany is/was such eye candy 6 years ago! Talk about hot body, hot smile, hot everything! :D And the sense of humor that his character had added to the light-hearted fluff of the movie. I had been pretty tired after running 3km in the gym after work but after watching the movie, I'm inspired to go run another 3km today!

Restoran / Restaurant Pekin @ Sutera Utama

Last week, I had dinner at the famous restoran / restaurant Pekin located at Sutera Mall. We didn't make reservations of course, given that it was an impromptu decision to drive to the Tmn Sutera area, but the restaurant was a really large one (much like the banquet halls of our hotels) and we had no problem being shown to a table and served very promptly and politely by the Chinese speaking staff. This is afterall, a Chinese restaurant and a higher-end one at that.

The menus and even the wet towels looked pretty classy (hard-cover menus and towel packets imprinted with the name of the restaurant) and the servers were able to recommend several dishes to us. Of course, the prices there are double the normal prices of similar items served at coffee shops in JB. The restaurant also sells Sharkfin and Abalone dishes which are priced in the hundreds.

We ordered from the chef's recommendation list on the first page of the menu:

(1) Goose Liver Scallops Fried Rice (RM 18 per pax) [ Top left pic]
(2) Veg with Home-made Beancurd (RM 7.50 per pax) [Bottom left pic]
(3) Twin Combinations Beancurd (RM 5 per pax) [Bottom right pic]

We also had the BBQ pork which was priced at RM 15 for a medium-sized portion [top right pic]. The Slog Reviews: 7.5/10 for (1) because while we could find bits of scallops, we didn't find any goose liver at all in the rice (probably all mashed up). The dish however is rather filling as it should be since it is about SGD 8 for one portion. AS for items (2) and (3), I would give them 5.5/10. (3) is slightly worse than (2) which is at least unique, having bits of veg blended with the toufu. (3) is just a really normal toufu dish which doesn't taste the least bit special.

What however, made up for the lacklustre dishes above was the egg dish we ordered on impulse. I can't remember the exact name of the dish which is found under the "egg" section of the menu but it consists of 3 types of eggs. The medium portion which we shared cost RM 15. The Slog Reviews: 8.5/10. For the price (SGD 7), this dish is quite filling and very tasty and full of ingredients like mushrooms etc other than the eggs. A should-try really.

Total cost of the meal above consisting of the goose liver scallops rice and 4 side dishes was just RM 87 which is less than SGD 40! With that kind of price, service and environment, I would say that Restoran Pekin at Sutera Mall is a place to go if one has a craving for Chinese food if one is in JB. The Contact Number of the restaurant is: :607-557 3899, 607-5561768, 551818 and the address is , No 1 Jalan Sutera Tanjung 8/4, Sutera Utamabiz Centre, Taman Sutera Utama 81300 Skudai.

Monday, February 22, 2010

500 Days of Summer (2009) Movie

Upfront, I'll say that I LOVED this show. So, upfront, The Slog Reviews: 10/10. A must-watch movie! I'd heard so much positive stuff about this movie (it came up some time after The Ugly Truth) and I'd missed it in the theatres. So, when the DVD came out, I got it right away. If you haven't watched it and aren't too old at heart for a movie that hypes itself as"Not a love story but a story about love", you just have to watch this!

I've found a plot summary of the movie here but it doesn't do justice to the movie. AND, I know I've had a few stabs at plot summaries before, but I really can't do one for this movie - primarily because the 500 days of Tom and Summer's romance is told in a non-linear sequence. Of course, there are the scenes where she catches his eyes, how they first go out, the warning signs that she isn't into him as much as he is into her (she tells him she is not ready for a relationship, she refuses to be labelled as his gf although they are intimate), and of his ectasy of falling in love and then his despair when he breaks up with her the first time. Of course, the despair cannot be matched by his depression when he "finds" her again after the break-up when they both end up on the same train to a co-worker's wedding only to be invited by her to a party where a friend is shown admiring her engagement ring. The movie shows her marrying someone else while he goes into a tailspin, quits his job and pursues his ambition (he wanted to be an architect but worked as a greeting card writer). About the 498 day (I can't rem the exact date), he goes to the place where he brought her before and she is there. He is still obviously pained from the answer he gives when she asks him how he is - and she explains to him that she married someone who asked her about a book she was reading at a cafe, and ponders what if she had chosen not to go to the cafe that day, or if she was just 10 mins late. She tells him that she hadn't expected to marry but her husband gave her the feeling that she never had with Tom. She said with Tom, she wasn't sure while Tom had always believed she was The One. Tom manages to find the heart to wish her all the best as she is leaving. The narrator of the movie states in a solemn tone something along the line about how life is just about co-incidences, not so much fate. The movie ends with Tom going for an interview for a job and meeting someone co-incidentally named, Autumn, which is the season after Summer has passed.

I think those who are or have been in or are between relationships would be able to relate to this movie. And those who like me, find the likes of Zooey Deschanel lovely would find the movie all the more entertaining. I've loved Zooey since her acting in Yes Man (which incidentally is one of my top ten favourite movies too) from her deep husky voice to her wide unique-colored eyes. I also love her sister, Emily Deschanel incidentally and the show she stares in, Bones.

Imagine That (2009) Movie

I had no idea whatsoever that Eddie Murphy was so slim. My impression of the actor was that he was a rather well-built chap in The Nutty Professor movies but he seems to have lost more weight in Imagine That.

Here's my attempt at a plot summary/ plot synopsis of the show: The show opens with Eddie's character, Evan Danielson acting all crazy about wanting his "goo-gaa" while being turned out of a house. It turns out the "goo-gaa" is the blanket which his daughter had used to transport them to an imaginary land where 3 princesses and a their queen, Qwali (note that throughout the movie we never see these characters and only his daughter is able to "hear" them) answer Evan's questions about what shares to buy or sell. Evan who works as a fund manager/analyst/banker for an investment co investing client's monies has grown dependent on imaginary world for providing him the answers for his work and when his boss pits him against his upcoming colleague/competitor Whitefeather, (the reward is the boss's position as the boss intends to retire) giving him 17 hours to come up with a proposal, Evan goes nearly crazy trying to get hold of the goo-gaa which will transport him to the imaginary land - he shows up at his daughter's friend's house where she is having her sleepover, creeps into the room with the sleeping little girls and steal their blankets which are knotted together. He also, prior to that, sneaks into his daughter's friend's birthday party and tries to bribe a little boy to get his daughter to come out of the kids-only room so he can take her blanket. Anyway, his daughter gives him the blanket in the end but he does not use it. Instead he depends on his pure hard work and skills to come up with the proposal working through the night. His competitor, Whitefeather on the other hand, eaten by jealousy at Evan's past successes which he attributes to the blanket after spying on Evan, goes to an Indian Shaman to buy a blanket for 6000 dollars, wraps it around his son and forces his son to dance around a fire and tell him whether to buy or sell each company. The day of the assessment by the Big Boss who flies in from China, the big boss tells Whitefeather that all Whitefeather has said is just a pile of poop. Before Evan presents though, he sees the goo-gaa at the bottom of his briefcase and remembering that his daughter has a singing concert, walks out of the meeting and rushes to go the concert. His daugther who appears to be having stage-fright and unable to sing, manages to sing after Evan bursts into the hall wearing a ridiculous costume. They then use the blanket and say good bye to the imaginary kingdom. The Big Boss goes looking for Evan at the school and offers him the coveted post, remarking sadly that he hadn't seen his own daughter for years. He wants to discuss the proposal with Evan but Evan tells him that it is Saturday and they agree to do it on Monday.

The Slog Reviews: 8.5/10. There was great acting from Eddie but I'll be amazed if he doesn't have a million facial wrinkles from all the facial contortions he did during the movie. It got tiring at some stage though having to watch him distort his natural good looks into some grosteque parody. I didn't find the movie funny as in haha-funny (unlike the movie which I watched before it which I fell off my seat laughing) the way it was advertised to be. The movie reminds one of the importance of family (spending time with family) over money (earning money) and because I'm reading the book "Fooled by Randomness" now, I could relate to the unpredictablity and randomness of stock-picking and money making in the stock market.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown

It was a bad idea picking up this book to read at 12 midnight after a long day and two seafood meals at JB. What made it worse was that I had to get up at 8.30am today for church. Guess what, I ended up sleeping close to 4am because I just could not put down the book.

One thing about Dan Brown's books - never ever read any of his books backwards ie don't flip to the back few chapters and read the ending. The whole idea is to read the book from the front, or else, all the impact, the journey the book takes you on, the suspense it puts you through and the many false surprises.premises that the writer has planted along the way will be for naught.

The Slog Reviews: 8/10. Brilliantly researched and written and the reader will find interesting nuggets of information (history, religion, language). The storyline remains much the same as Dan Brown's other books with the hero Langdon sent on a chase (around the world or country) and emerging victorious and unmaimed at all in the end.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Little Big Soldier (2009) Movie

Yes, another Chinese movie. As I said earlier, there are quite a number of these in the cinemas because of the festive season. Again, it wasn't my intention to catch this show but by a twist of fate, I ended up spending two hours in a darkened cinema watching it. It wasn't as half bad as I feared it would be despite its flimsy story plot which I can most easily summarise.

Show opens with an explanation how China was divided into different territories such as Qin, Liang, Wei etc. Next, the scene of a battlefield where about at least 2000 soldiers from Liang lie dead, the result of an ambush. Jackie Chan plays a farmer turned soldier who pretended to be shot (fake arrow) and he captures a "general" from Wei. They are pursued by the prince of wei and his bald bodyguard. Turns out the "general" is the crown prince. The prince of wei who is shown to be sadistic (shooting pp with a little hand bow) ends up killing himself. A group of savages/tribal people are involved too somehow when their paths and the two soldiers meet. Anyway, Jackie Chan's character manages to get the crown prince to Liang but decides to let him go in the end. Jackie Chan's character is killed thereafter by Qin soldiers who have invaded Liang. The story ends with a post note that the crown prince surrendered to Qin which succeeded in unifying China.

The Slog Reviews: 6/10. Good for laughs at some parts if one appreciates slap stick comedy but there are far better shows out there to be occupying one's time with.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

True Legend (2009) Movie

Never a fan of Chinese movies, and I usually refuse to pay good money to watch such movies in the theatres but at the persuasion of a friend who bought the tickets and the influx of Chinese movies in our theatres given the festive season, I ended up watching True Legend.

There is a review of the movie here on Wiki, but it isn't very good. I've just watched another movie today and a DVD over the weekend so I don't think I can do a really good plot review/synopsis of a thoroughly unmemorable movie but I'll try.

The movie starts off with a great fighting scene. 2 soldiers lead the charge to free a general. 1 of them is Su Can and the other Yuen Lie. The general offers to give the post of governor to Su but Su wants to marry Yuen Lie's little sister, Xiao Ying and offers the post to Yuen Lie instead. Yuen Lie appears bitter to always have what Su doesn't want. The show cuts to 5 years later showing Su happily married to Xiao Ying. They have a son called Feng Er. Su's father visits them and lets Su know that his brother, Yuen Lie is coming back. He ponders if Yuen Lie has forgiven him for killing his father. Yuen Lie obviously hasn't because the moment he is back he makes a beeline for Su's father and uses the venemous palms method to kill him and then behead him. He then captures Feng and Xiao Ying. Su who is opening his martial arts school is informed of the news and rushes back to find his father's headless body. He is attacked by the iron twins and chases them where they retreat to where Yuen Lie is with Su's father's head, XiaoYing and Feng Er. Su attacks Yuen Lie for revenge and Yuen Lie bears his chest to reveal that he has iron metal plates sewn into his skin. He also uses the venomous palms method to poison Su and then cast Su into the rapids after Xiao Ying begs for Su's life. XiaoYing jumps in after Su and is washed away. Yuen Lie howls in grief, orders his men to save her and when they decline because the river is too fast, he kills them all. Amazingly neither Su nor XiaoYing is killed but are washed up on the bank. XiaoYing constructs a litter and drags Su who is unconscious from the venom towards civilisation. However, at one point her strength fails, and her bloodied palms let go of the wooden handles of the litter and Su starts to slide to his death off the cliff. Sister Yu saves Su and XiaoYing who passes out after seeing Su saved. Su is revived and purged off the toxin by Sister Yu. His right hand however, is maimed and he despairs. After encouragement by XiaoYing, he trains to recover the use of his hand (over a year or so) and then one day he meets the God of Wushu and the Drunkard Immortal. He tries to beat them at wushu and therefore with practice and all, becomes more proficient at the art of wushu. XiaoYing is told by Sister Yu that there is no one else where they are at so she begins to doubt Su and follows him one day to where he says the God and Drunk are. She sees Su fighting with on one and hitting himself with stones. She confronts Su when he gets back and he denies that he fabricated the God and Drunk, pointing to the wounds on his body. One day he gets back from training and finds Xiao Ying gone. There is a note on the table saying she has gone to rescue Feng Er. Of course, he makes his way after her to where Yuen Lie is. Yuen Lie on the other hand is training with snakes and spiders (for vemon) and keeps Feng Er in ankle shackles to prevent him from escaping. When Xiao Ying goes there, she is reunited with Feng Er and although she asks to leave, Yuen Lie tells his little sister and Feng Er that they can never leave. Su bursts in, killing all the guards and after a hard fight, the Iron Twins. At that point, Yuen Lie orders his guards to bury Xiao Ying alive where no one can find her so that if he is killed by Su, Su will never have Xiao Ying still. As Xiao Ying is dragged off, she makes Feng Er promise never to leave his father. She is put in a casket and buried alive. The guards report to Yuen Lie the deed is done and he slaughters them so no one can reveal where she is. Yuen Lie and Su fight, a terrible fight where Su peals the metal sewn to Yuen Lie's skin away. If you like shows where blood is seen pouring from the mouth, this, THIS is the show to watch. Anyway, Feng Er begs Su not to deliver the killing blow to Yuen Lie who lies mortally injured but Su does not listen and kill Yuen Lie. Feng Er tells Su this is a mistake as they will never find XiaoYing then. Both stumble out and come across one of the almost dead guards who buried her. He tells them she is buried at the forest. They walk around in the rain calling out her name and by pure chance, they come across the hard cover of the chest (the rain must have washed away some of the mud). They dig with their hands to get the chest out and open it but alas, Xiao Ying is quite dead from the lack of air. Later on in the film, Su appears to deteriorate into a drunk, poor beggar with his son leading him about and feeding him. They come across a former general called Ma who served under Su and Su begs Ma to take his son away and take care of him. Ma agrees and Su pushes his son away, putting up a good show of not wanting him. Feng Er however insists on returning to his father while walking away with Ma. Su then cuddles Feng Er from the cold. Later on, Ma brings them to a tournament where Ma is to take part as head of the wushu federation. If he wins, this arena will be closed. The arena is run by Russians and along the Russia-Chinese border. The match starts and Ma is beaten bloody. Su in his drunken haze intervenes and subsequently defeats all the opponents even despite the dirty tricks the Russians engage in. Lots more blood pouring from the mouth scenes. Su rises up and walks away victorious with his son at the end.

The Slog Reviews: 7/10. A rather lengthy drawn out movie filled with the usual tragedy and quest for retribution. The fighting scenes though are worth the watch.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Day 4 in Langkawi on 8 Feb 2010 (Part 1) (Cement Factory and Taman Buaya Langkawi)

After checking out of the hotel, the plan was to go straight to Langkawi Cable Car before heading for The Loaf for lunch, then the airport. However, along the winding road (we took the route north from Kuah Town towards Tanjung Rhu) to the Cable Car, the signs on the Crocodile Farm caught our eye and we decided that as it was still early, we could spare an hour or so there.

We also stopped for a shot of the Cement Factory which was along the way. The Cement Factory is apparently the only factory on the island of Langkawi. I'd seen smoke rising from the factory's chimmeys and the barges carrying sand and cement when our fishing boat was at Datai Bay and was curious how old and large this factory was. However, for security reasons, we decided to just take a picture from the main road rather than turn in the small lane leading to the factory.

I also took this picture of the sky when we stopped for the shot above, because I thought it was beautiful. I hardly ever get to see scenes like this given my sleeping and work habits hah.

It took us quite a while to find the crocodile farm even though we had a map provided by the car rental company. We took the right road - which is the road leading towards Datai Bay, however, contrary to what was shown on the map, the distance to the farm is rather far and we started to doubt if we were on the right road or if there was such a farm even. Seriously, the maps of the island are not drawn to scale and one should think long and hard before trying to walk/cycle to the attractions shown on the map. Anyhow, we finally came across a sign board which assured us that we were on the right track and we continued until we came to the lane leading to the crocodile farm. I didn't pay for the tickets so I can't remember the entrance fee but I think it is relatively cheap - about RM 15 max if I am not wrong.

You have to ASK the two folks at the gate for a map of the farm (which they provided after we asked) if you want to know what the attractions are instead of blindly walking in circles. And, I really doubt that there are a thousand crocodiles there as the farm claims, probably in the low hundreds but then again, they may have be counting those baby crocs/crocs in eggs/crocs hidden elsewhere. Anyway, using the map provided, we started off at the Breeding Pond which consisted of pens laid side by side with one or two crocs in each pen. The crocs are apparently at different stages of development. Like this fellow below which I took a shot off because it was missing a tail.

Not too sure why there is a monkey in a pen in the middle of the farm. I don't think it's bred to be fed to the crocs or there would be more monkeys in the pen. This doesn't appear to be a very friendly, attractive or special monkey so not much time was wasted on the creature haha :D

Then there are the large ponds which thankfully do not smell too awful. Crocs sunbathing, crocs in the water, crocs with their mouths open, crocs with their mouths close...u get the idea!

The star attraction of the Crocodile Farm is a deformed crocodile known as the Bujang Kawi and is said to weigh about 1000 lbs. I am not too sure what 500kg looks like but this croc doesn't look that heavy. Maybe crco meat is dense - I'm not sure, but maybe it's the same way this place is said to have 1000 crocs.

A close-up of the deformed crocodile, Bujang Kawi. Even with a snout like that (which I read, contains no teeth), I've never seen eyes as mean as that of a croc save on a snake's and have no wish to get close to this...thing.

The croc below looked particularly frightening so I took a close-up pic of it. I'm not sure if crocs sleep with their eyes wide open and their mouths too - the mouth was open for quite some time and the weather was turning warm which had me wondering how crocs don't get hang jaw or require saliva in the mouth. Reptilian creatures!

Of course, we crossed the bridge over the pond where crocs of all sizes lay around and in the waters. I prayed of course that an earthquake wouldn't hit langkawi when I was crossing the bridge - falling into the water with lots of crocs is low on my list of fun things to do before I die.

We went over to the feeding pond at 10.30am which was the scheduled time for the feeding session ( a different time from that stated on the map!). Using a pulley-like devise, the staff strings bunches of fish down the line to a level slightly higher than the pond (see the pic I took below) and the hungry crocs make the way to where the fish dangle above their heads. At first, the crocs didn't even seem to notice there was food so the staff shook the pulley and made some whistling noises. And then the crocs came. No hurry. No fighting. No pushing. Out of the about thirty crocs in the pond, only about 4 came for the food. Each croc circled in the water near the food before rising up magnificantly (do they stand on tails? How do they get the leverage in the water to rise their immense bulk up at such close range) to seize the food. Some of them actually chomped the food with their jaws above the water while others sank back into the water before beginning their feast.

We left after that so we didn't see any man-put-head-in-croc or man-wrestle-with-croc stunts, if these stunts were even performed given the rather dismal state of things at the croc farm, on a weekday at least.

The Slog Reviews: 5/10. This attraction definitely should not be rated high on a must-do or must-see list unless one hasn't seen crocs before (there IS a croc farm in Singapore afterall!). However, the fee for entry is reasonable enough and one can buy croc leather goods at the souvenir shops - be warned though that the prices of the leather products aren't cheap or at least, cheaper than at other places or even in Singapore.

The address of the Crocodile Farm is : Jalan Datai, Kubang Badak Mukim Air Hangat Langkawi 07000 Malaysia and the telephone number: 604 955 2559
Tel: 604 955 2559

Day 4 in Langkawi on 8 Feb 2010 (The Loaf Bakery & Bistro and Field of Burnt Rice)

The last place we had a meal at for this Langkawi trip was The Loaf Bakery & Bistro located at Lot 9C, Perdana Quay, Telagar Harbour Park, Pantai Kok, 07000 Langkawi, Kedah Darul Aman, Malaysia. The restaurant number in case you need to call for directions or make reservations is 04-9594866 and they have a website at www.theloaflangkawi.com. Do note that the shop is opened every day of the week from 8am to 11pm except Thursdays.

I had read about this place on the web and was most adamant that we had to go to this place for lunch after the cable car ride and before we left for the airport. Luckily, the restaurant was only about 10-15mins drive away from the cable car station (both are on the west side of the island and near enough (about 20mins drive) to the airport which is also on the west side).

This is a picture of the bakery portion of The Loaf.

And a close up of the delicious but very pricy (expensive for Malaysia standards) pastries on the table. I bought about RM 25 worth of pastries - they only cost so little because they were new creations (cranberry loaf etc) going at half price! 1 of the pastries was this nut creation thingy at RM 5 (no discount) from the tray behind the table and that was extremely good! However, my mum said "Aiyah, why you support that man when he always attack us (Singapore and its ministers)?" after she learnt that the Loaf was owned by Malaysia's former Prime Minister, Dr M.

I wanted to buy a loaf of the award-winning fragrant raisin loaf (there were only 3 loafs there) but deliberated because of the price (Rm 18). I remember finally making up my mind to buy one loaf just before our meal was served but by the time we were done eating, I had clean forgotten about it (maybe cos of the huge bill I was presented with - RM 147 including the RM 25 worth of pastries). What a pity! However there is a branch at The Pavilion in KL and I may just fly to KL one of these weekends so all is not lost.

It was broiling hot that day (as are most days in Langkawi) so I started off with a chilled "Luxurious Chocolate" cheesecake which I picked from the refrigerated counter near the cashier. The cheesecake was a tiny thing no bigger than the size of my palm. There are other types of similarly-shaped cheesecakes in the refrigerated counter too which aren't listed on the menu such as "Tangy Lemon" so one should walk over to the counter to check these out.

The first course which we shared was an appetiser - the garden salad with cheddar cheese and field mushrooms. While the dish was delicious with the vegetable being fresh and crisp and the cheese adding a tang to the mushroomy taste, I thought this dish was extremely pricy at RM 24 (SGD 10 for a salad!). We finished the dish in about 4 mouthfuls each - don't be fooled by the picture I took below - the veg is all spread out and the plate is flat.

The menu for the main courses are divided in 3 main sections - one for sandwiches, one for pasta and one for meat dishes. After much deliberation (given the no of oppties I would have to eat here), I settled for the Smoked Salmon Twist which is a pasta dish described as norweigian smoked salmon with sauteed broccoli, asparagus, and mushroom in light soy sauce. The Slog Reviews: 9.5/10. The presentation of the dish (see the pic below) was most asthetically pleasant to the eye as was the case for ALL the dishes we had at The Loaf. The smoked salmon wasn't the least bit fishy and melted in my mouth. It went very well with the light soy sauce and pasta. Well worth the price of about RM 34

The other main course was the Southern Cajun Chicken Sandwich (RM 24) which is described as crispy chicken drumstick marinated with cajun spices and oriental bulb mix. And was it good as it looks in the picture? The Slog Reviews: 10/10. A resounding yes! I'm not a fan of sandwiches or chicken for that matter but this dish totally rocked my socks! The spices which the chicken was marinated in lent the chicken such a richness of flavor that the chicken didn't taste of chicken chicken. An absolutely yummy dish!

We shared the Black and White Lava cake for dessert. Described as rich classic and decadent chocolate cake with premium vanilla ice-cream, the dessert below cost RM 18. Again as you will note from the picture I took of the dish, much thought has gone into its presentation. The Slog Reviews: 6.5/10. I don't recommend this dessert as it didn't taste very good - the chocolate cake was too heavy and moist instead of being rich and I didn't finish most of it. The ice-cream doesn't taste anything anything so I'm not sure what is meant by premium ice cream.

Here is a picture of (me at) the dining area of The Loaf. Each table has a bottle of red wine (which isn't complimentary) as part of its set-up, and with the white crisp linen cloth on each table, this bistro is definitely a restaurant in the sense of the word and a place you could go to dressed up or to bring a date. There aren't that many tables (but then again, there wasn't much of a crowd on a swelteringly hot Monday afternoon) at the dining area so one should make reservations.

The Loaf is located on the ground level floor of a two storey building and the outer walls of the restaurant are painted yellow. As you can also see from the picture below, there is outdoor and indoor dining. Even if one chooses indoor dining (blessed aircon!), some of the tables still have a view of the harbor and the expensive boats docked there.

There are quite a number of other restaurants such as the USSR restaurant which are located along the quay and facing the harbor too. Therefore, if one chooses not to eat at The Loaf, one still has other food choices without having to leave the quay area.

After our lunch, we made our way to the airport following the signboards along the roads. We happened to pass by the Field of Burnt Rice (we only knew it was the field because of a signboard in English that said so) and although we didn't stop for photos because we were worried we would be late for the flight, I snapped a picture of the rice fields from the car. If the rice really was burnt, I wouldn't be surprised given how merciless the sun is in Langkawi. To all who plan to go, do bring a hat, clothes with spf protection and plenty of sunblock - you wouldn't want to be the Person with Burnt Face/Hair....

Day 4 in Langkawi on 8 Feb 2010 (Langkawi Cable Car and Langkawi Sky Bridge)

Going to Langkawi Cable Car is a MUST-GO attraction for those visiting Langkawi. This attraction is located at Oriental Village which is on the west side of the island pretty near the airport, Pantai Cenang, Pantai Kok and Burau Bay. The entrance to the Oriental Village looks very plain (we almost could not believe that this was the place) with just a simple signboard and a wooden bridge leading to the village. There is no sheltered parking either for cars or taxis so we had to leave our rental car under the broiling sun.

One has to buy tickets for this attaction. For Malaysians, upon production of MyKad, one is entitled to purchase one ticket for oneself at RM 15. All other nationalities have to pay double that price which is RM 30. One should also keep the ticket (which takes the form of a card and is the size of a credit card) safe because losing/failing to return the same after the ride would result in a penalty being imposed. Other than the base station (first station) from which one departs, (6 people to each cable car following the queue system of numbers on the floor from 1 to 6), there are two other stations. While it is possible to take photos from the cable car, I wouldn't recommend doing so because one is able to take far nicer photos from the other stations. This is a picture I took from the second station showing the way up by cable car and the oriental village below. Beautiful but not breathtakingly so.

From the second station, one would be able to see the third and final station (Top Station) in the distance as well as the Langkawi skybridge as per the picture I took below.

It is most advisable to continue the ride from the second station (after getting down for a short look-see and a few photos, there isn't very much) all the way up to the top station. Here is a picture I took of the second station from the top station which gives you an idea how much further up the top station is.

According to this signboard, the top station is 652.5 meter above sea level, as is the skybridge. Now, a word about getting to the skybridge. It is quite a distance away and quite a climb up and down. Along the narrow winding way down to the bridge through the threes, we saw lots of overweight and elderly people sitting on tree stumps, panting and gasping for breath. Therefore, be warned that you need to be in reasonably good condition to climb down and up from the bridge in good time.

For those wondering whether the trek there is worth the effort, I would say most definitely! The sky bridge is indeed a magnificient steel structure with a paranomic and astoundingly breath-taking view of the ocean.

I'm talking about having a view of a huge expanse of the picture below where the sea is so blindingly pure blue that it appears to blend seamlessly with the sky in a picture perfect haze-like fog of different shades of blue and white. THIS, this is what makes every cent paid for the trip worth it, to be able to stand and marvel at the beauty of our planet Earth.

After about a million photos of the scene above, we made the journey back up to the top station. Unfortunately, my travel companion was overweight and therefore was too winded to take another step after the trek up. Hence, I went alone to one of the two observation decks which are a couple of long flight of stairs up from the top station. There is a sign on the deck which says 703metres above sea level and it was pretty empty up there. The view from the deck is pretty much the same as that from the sky bridge except that one can take a shot of the other observation deck as I did. The wind up here is pretty strong though so secure your hats.

I also took a picture of the Langkawi skybridge from the observation deck. Quite a marvellous structure it is.

The Slog Reviews: 10/10. Do not miss going to this attraction if one is at Langkawi and one should bring a really good camera too!

Day 3 in Langkawi on 7 Feb 2010 (Fishing for trevally, first time catching a fish on lure and dinner again at GLK restaurant)

Due to our feasting the night before, my friend Z could barely get out of bed and we ended up going fishing at 10am instead of 8am. We had the same deckie and the same boat as the day before but this time, we headed for Datai Bay instead to target Trevallys, usually called GTs or "Airbags" because of the wheezing sound they make when they are caught. Datai Bay is beautiful and dotted with these low clifflike structures which provide shade and shelter for the fishes.

This time, we did not use any live baits at all (in fact, the day before only the deckie used live bait for the handline which yield just one coral trout) but concentrated on pure luring - Casting and retrieving artificial baits. Now, a lot of people think fishing is a passive boring hobby (at least that is the feedback I get) but it isn't. I will write an entry later about why I love fishing but suffice it to say for now that fishing can be very physically and mentally stimulating and tiring. Imagine having to cast (arm power!) your line and fake bait as far as possible to the exact spot you are aiming for. As far as possible so that when you retrieve back the artifical bait by winding the spool (as if you caught a fish), you are able to cover as much ground as possible and increase the possibility of a fish taking your lure. And when I say exact spot, it's no use at all casting to areas where the isn't likely any to be any fishes - it is a fine technique I tell you - having to cast near the rocks and NOT get your lure stuck on the branches or rocks.

That aside, imagine having to do all the above many times repeatedly without stopping under the broiling hot sun standing up on a rocking boat. Cast, retrieve, cast, retrieve. And knowing that during and after more than 100 casts, one is guaranteed of nothing. I have been luring since June last year (will write about my first offshore luring trip) about once a month with two months break...total less than ten times and each time I have ended up empty handed. While I have caught fishes, I hadn't caught anything from the sea before on lure until this trip.

So, given the extremely dismal performance yesterday and past few months where I was "fishless"fishing in the wild using lures, I wasn't expecting very much out of today either but I still go up and did my thing. It's sheer madness I tell you, caking on the sunblock, donning the UV protection shirt, the fishing hat and mask, and then casting the line out and retrieving the lure again and again and again and again. Anyway, after my 20-30th cast, I felt a take, a pull on my line while I was retrieving the lure, and I waited a bit and then struck. The fish at the end didn't put up too much of a fight ( I had a 30lb leader) but hey who cares! I got my FIRST FISH ON LURE after all those fishless luring expeditions! And my first fish on lure was a Garfish. Now, I don't care if Garfishes eat anything, but the point is, it decided to take my lure! And I managed to hook it up!

I almost wept with joy when I finally caught the garfish and no, I'm not kidding. Imagine the money I've spent on fishing trips, tackle and lures, driving 3-6 hours through rocky roads, the knots I've had to practice, squatting in the hot sun untangling the "beehoon"/"bird nest" from using my baitcasting reel, and having my faith in myself and my ability thoroughly shaken at some times. There were times when I was tempted to give up this whole business of luring and just bait where I almost always never end up "fisheless". And not having anyone who was supportive of my hobby made it all the more harder. My friends don't fish and are not keen to. So when I decided to take up this hobby, it meant having to make new friends again. What gets me most frustrated though is the absolutely discouraging remarks that I have to listen and endure from the people around me such as "Face it, you have no luck. Face it, you have not enough skill. Give up lar. You are not going to catch any fish". It got to a point where I just simply decided I wouldn't be around these ignorant fools anymore, especially not for fishing trips. I say ignorant because they aren't anglers and therefore have no right to criticize or make disparaging remarks of the aforementioned kind. Throughout all my fishing in Thailand, Malaysia and SG, I have found one thing in common - fellow anglers NEVER criticize or tell you to give up on fishing even if you end up fishless at the end of the day. Never ever. For any angler would have had a bad day fishing and knows that "fishless" days are part of the parcel. And they know how awful it feels to be "fishless", or how you could get a fish at the very last minute, so they never make such comments at all.

After getting the garfish and unhooking it from the lure, flush with success and glee, I decided to change lure and go for groupers. The first time I went luring with my shifu in Singapore, I almost got a grouper from the wild, it snapped at my lure but missed. Since then, I've been determined to get a grouper on lure by hook or by crook. So, I went back to casting and retrieving over this spot in Datai Bay. Groupers are always hiding in holes in and under rocks like the kind you see in the picture which I took below, as are green-eyed squids.

After about another 20 casts or so, and when I was quite resigned to the gar fish being my only fish for the day, as I was retrieving the lure slowly, I felt the lure getting "stuck". I thought that it was "sungkot" which is the malay term for the lure being stuck at the bottom between rocks. That happens very often when using diving lures because you need the lures to bump the rocks where the groupers are (no point having the lures above the groupers' heads) . Anyway, I gave a little jerk, and the "stuck" feeling went aware and I found I had a fish on my line. Again, because it was a 30pnd leader I was using, and the fish was not very large, there wasn't much of a fight if any and I brought in my first grouper on lure! I would have released it, given its size but as it was my long-awaited fish, I'm sorry to say that I thought it should be eaten.

Into the icebox that grouper above went, and I went back to luring over the same spot. We didn't get any more bites after that so I switched to eging/squiding by using an artificial prawn lure to get some sotongs but there were no takers. So, we switched spots and casted along the sides of each mossy island/rock thingy in the sea. And that is where I got my third fish on another lure (that lure was meant to target GTs) which was yet another grouper and an even smaller one than the first so I released it.

While we were circling about the fishing spots, we came across this scene. 4 women engaging in extremely dangerous work. According to Z, they were lookning for oysters/clams which are stuck at the side of each mossy island. A wrong slip and they would end up in the waters below and lord knows what lies under the waters - rocks with sharp ages? Jellyfishes (we saw a few in the bay)? Predator fishes (we saw a baby shark at one of the fishing spots!)? It's amazing how some of us have it so comfortable in life, while there are others eking out a living like this.

In the afternoon about 2pm, Z, who hadn't caught anything until now, and was luring for GTs, caught a barracuda. It was a larger barracuda than yesterday's. Apparently, barras are attracted to fast moving lures too like GT, but that shouldn't be a surprise since both are predator fishes.

From 2 to about 6pm when the waters started to get so choppy that we could barely stand up on deck (the waves made the boat go up and down like a rocking horse), much less lure (need both hands - one to hold the rod, the other to wind the reel), Z managed to get 3 GTs! 1 of them was about 2kilos (the top one in the pic below) while the other two were about 1.1kg each. The size 11 sandal is placed there to give one an idea of how large the fishes are. For myself, despite changing lures thrice and retrieving at a fast speed with Z (which was extra tiring cos it meant that I had to cast more often given how fast the lures came back), I didn't manage to any GTs! BUT...BUT, I had a GT chase my lure all the way up to the boat! Z and I could see the flash of silver and the fish itself as it followed my lure all the way to the surface but unfortunately, it didn't take the lure. I cast out again but the GT apparently had lost interest and I didn't get any strikes or chasers. Ah well. Now with the grouper under my belt, guess what fish I'm going to go for next....the GT! I know, I know, I keep thinking if only too...if only that GT had taken the lure

As the sea was far too choppy, we went back to the mangrove/estuary area after 6pm and did some light trolling and casting. However, it was all quiet and there were no takers at all. This is a picture of the sunset over the mangrove area which I took from the boat.

I asked Z to join us for dinner about 8pm when we finally got back but he declined because he had other commitments. So we went back to GLK restaurant again where they cooked the fishes for us. Z offered me his barra to eat but I wasn't too keen on eating a barra because I wanted to eat the fishes I had caught - the garfish and the grouper. However, as from the pictures above, they were tiny things so I took one of Z's GTs too (the medium-sized one although he wanted us to have the largest one).

This is a picture of the Garfish I caught chopped and fried. Without its long mouth, the portions look rather pathetic. Heh. But guess what, I'm not complaining. The meat (yeah, there was meat to the fish) was white, soft and delicious. If you had clicked the abovelink to read about garfish (click here if you haven't), it is known to be a delicious-tasting fish! No wonder Z was trying to get some garfishes for himself too! The Slog Reviews: 10/10. Hey, I caught it - of course it's a perfect 10! :D

The picture below is of the GT steamed in sauce WITH the grouper I caught next to it. Without the head ( I wonder what happens to the heads of all the fishes - the threadfin we ate last night was missing its head too), the grouper looks even smaller. Well, still, I ate whatever meat there was on my grouper - a good thing there wasn't too much meat anyway because I was grinning with my mouth fit to split that I'd broken my "dry" spell and finally landed fishes on lures. :D I now believe more firmly than ever in the 10-000 hour theory. Go read Outliers if you haven't a clue what that is about. The premise behind the theory is that no one who is good at what he does spends less than 10000hours prefecting his craft while those who suck at what they do are shown to spend less than 10000hours on it. This, and only this thought is what keeps me going when I feel like giving up on something.

We also ordered butter prawns from the restaurant. The Slog Reviews: 7.5/10. The prawns weren't live prawns but from the freezer. The restaurant doesn't do a bad job of cooking the prawns this style but it isn't anything to rave about either. The cost of this dish was really cheap about RM 20+ if I remember rightly.

What was expensive however was the mantis shrimp which I had steamed. THIS, was caught live from the restaurant's tanks. It was such an hideous color of purple (from its original grey shade) after being steamed with the eyes being cooked white. Yikes, truely a nightmarish creature. The Slog Reviews: 7/10. Although I am of the opinion that fresh live seafood should always be steamed, I think that for the mantis shrimp, it would be wise to have it fried like I had the same done in KK (click here) or whatever other way as suggested by the restaurant. The cost of the mantis shrimp is RM 12/100gm.

The cost of the meal above was about RM70...I think the boss forgot to charge us for the cost of cooking the three fishes. While GLK restaurant was relatively empty while Wonderland next door was packed, I would recommend GLK restaurant still for its excellent service. Maybe the food at Wonderland is really much nicer (given the crowd) but if one cannot wait to try out the food there, GLK is just 4 steps away.