Sunday, August 28, 2011

Dinner @ Sri Thai

The final Saturday of Ramadhan this year, and we will be heading to our hometown on Sunday. So since both me and Mr D were too busy throughout Ramadhan and didn't have time to have our iftar together most of the time, we thought of having our iftar together on Saturday. We initially thought of buffet iftar at Grand Dorsett Subang Jaya, but was told that it is already fully booked till Sunday. Same thing with Sari Ratu Subang Parade. That's the price we have to pay for arranging things last minute. It was too late to cook at home since we've just came back from our shopping, so Mr D suggested to have our dinner at his favourite Thai restaurant, Sri Thai.

Sri Thai is located just across PJ Hilton, on the same row with Victoria Station. As this is Mr D's favorite, it is always the choice once we run out of idea of where to eat. One thing good is, Sri Thai's pricing is very reasonable, as compared to many upper class Thai restaurants. My favorite Thai restaurant is Sri Ayyuthaya Damansara Heights [I specifically mention Damansara Heights because other Sri Ayyuthaya branches are damn lousy], but Sri Ayyuthaya is too pricey. The price can easily double what is charged by Sri Thai [while the food quality and quantity is not doubled haha]. And we don't normally find any problem to park at Sri Thai, except yesterday the place was super duper busy we can't even find a parking place! We thought everybody gone back to kampung already for eid!

We've decided to break our fast at Mr D's office first, and only going off to Sri Thai after our maghrib prayer. So we booked the place at 8p.m. We went overboard yesterday, ordering 5 dishes for the two of us, really against the spirit of Ramadhan. But thought it is OK once a while, since we have been controlling our food since the beginning of Ramadhan so we just wanted to pamper ourselves today. A must in Thai restaurant is of course tom yam. We ordered seafood tom yam, which contains squid, prawn and crabs. Taste wise it is nice, but it has a lot more cili padi than the seafood itself. We practically have to scan the tom yam to avoid biting too much cili padi and eating too many coriander leaves.

I am the type who will choose seafood over chicken or beef when it comes to Thai food, so our main dish is of course fish. We chose siamese style steamed seabass, a sweet and sour version of their steamed selection. They have another steamed selection, that is Bangkok style which I don't really favor. Siamese style has very clear gravy which I love - and to couple it with seabass it is just perfect! It is not easy to 'overcook' seabass so we will always have tender fish meat even if it is put on fire a little bit too long. Like this one, it was boiling like mad half of the way while we were eating, but it still tasted right.

See.. I told you we really pampered ourselves this time. The third dish is a must dish whenever we are in Sri Thai, none other than butter prawnnnnnn!! Mr D's all time favorite, and Sri Thai never fails us, it tasted good each time. Sri Thai's butter prawn has superior quality compared to Sri Ayyuthaya. I have tasted Sri Ayyuthaya's butter prawn, it can sometimes be a little bit too soggy. The art of eating butter prawn is when you can enjoy the egg coating, but when you have soggy egg coating, the fun is gone. Sri Thai has among the best egg coating I've ever tasted - crispy, tasty and not too oily.

One thing about Mr D is he loves kerabu mango very much to the point of madness. I noticed he will order kerabu mango every time he sees kerabu mango listed on the menu. It doesn't matter whether it matches the other food selection, he still goes for kerabu mango. As expected, he ordered it this time - again. Kerabu mango in Sri Thai is OK, though it is not the best kerabu mango I've ever tasted.

And since I have to have my greens every time I eat, then we MUST go for another vegetable selection. I love broccoli as much as Mr D loves his kerabu mango, so broccoli it is. It is stir fried with black mushroom, a little bit of a disappointment I would say.The gravy was too oily, it was to the point of tasteless. But since I do sometimes take my steamed broccoli just like that, it didn't matter to me much.

So what was the verdict? See the picture below... gemuk eaters are happy eaters! Yeah..

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Supper @ Pak Li Kopitiam

I started to know about Pak Li Kopitiam early this year after Mr D was brought to here by one of his staffs. He came back telling me that the food in Pak Li Kopitiam is acceptable and we can mark this as one of our supper places - see that? Supper. What a bad habit, but that's what you can do when you go back from office in the middle of the night every night kan?

Pak Li Kopitiam actually located in several places, but the one we often visited is at Sek 7 Shah Alam. The port for UiTM students, so when you are there you will be surrounded by youngsters [and that can make you feel young perhaps?]. We even buy the privilege card as we go there quite often, so might as well. I have certain things I like and dislike in Pak Li Kopitiam, so I wouldn't say the food is all that great. But for certain things like Nasi Goreng Kampung, yeah.. I like it. And sometimes we are just searching for places to sit down, eat simple food and see other people's behavior.

And perhaps because it is quite easy to order there that's why we come quite often. My problem with many Malay restaurants is the waiters can sometimes be a bit deaf. Ordering can be a bit of hassle sometimes. In Pak Li however, they provide menu at the table complete with order paper and pencil, so we can just state what food we want by writing in the food code as stated in the menu. Then we can call the waiter to pick up the order, and they will repeat back what we order by saying the food name, I think that is a measure to ensure we are writing the correct code.

Since I was quite hungry that night, Nasi Lemak Special was my choice. Pak Li Kopitiam serves 3 types of Nasi Lemak, that is Nasi Lemak Special, Nasi Lemak Kari Ayam and Nasi Lemak Rendang Ayam. I love Nasi Lemak Special because of the prawn sambal and the fish floss [I think it is fish floss], but I hate the chicken curry. There's a strange thing in its taste I can't explain why. I've tried to ask them whether I can change the chicken curry to chicken rendang when I order Nasi Lemak Special, but they said it is not allowed. Wish they can be more flexible like Madam Kwan where changes are allowed to suit our own taste bud.

And Mr D opted for Lemon Chicken Rice. The first time we ordered this, it was too dry. But this time they are quite generous with the gravy so Mr D loves that.

Pricing wise, it is quite cheap. Lemon chicken rice only cost RM5++, and nasi lemak special is about RM8.. so all in all there's nothing much we can complaint about.. you get what you pay lah kan hahaha.

Iftar @ Decanter

It was a last minute decision to have our iftar (me and my office mates) together today. Since 90% of them are chinese (me and only me is a Muslim) then we perhaps should call it 'dinner' instead. Since it was a last minute decision, so most places are fully booked during iftar time. We finally decided to go for Decanter which is very near to my office, was told there's buffet for RM55/pax.

Reached Decanter at about 7:15pm, but it wasn't full yet. They've just opened the buffet section. I've never tried buffet in Decanter, it has always been the a-la carte version. So I didn't know what to expect for their ramadhan buffet.

Turn out I think their specialization is probably their BBQ section. We have to choose the fresh seafood, put it in plate with cloth peg stating our table number on its side and let the crew do the grilling before sending it to our table. The selection of fresh seafood was not wide enough, they just have some squids, prawns, mussels, stingray, baby pomfret, and perhaps the highlight of it all - baby scallops. Nothing to be bragged about, quite plain I would say.

Other than the BBQ, the spread is pretty dull I would say. If you want to eat rice, there's rice, but accompanied by limited number of dishes. The cold selection is really 'cold' and not tempting. There's some pasta as well but again, pretty dull. I ended up going round and round finding what to eat but found nothing to match my appetite, I ended up settling for BBQ as the main.

So basically, if you are looking for a well wide buffet spread, this is not the place. It is OK, but it is not great, and certainly not value for money. We perhaps will find better spread in some hotels at that price, or just add another RM10 perhaps to get a much wider with better quality buffet spread. I certainly will think twice before booking their buffet again next time.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Chicken Kurma @ Secret Recipe

Since I normally go back late from office everyday,I have this habit to go and have my dinner at Secret Recipe Pusat Bandar Damansara. The food is not that great, frankly, but I just love the ambience. It gives me time to be alone.

But I haven't visited Secret Recipe since early Ramadhan, and when I insisted to have my dinner tonight at Secret Recipe, I noticed a new menu, just specifically for Ramadhan. Chicken kurma served with white rice and acar. The verdict? Not bad lah, though perhaps mamak's one nicer hahaha..

The chicken is accompanied by the normal diced potato and tomato. The acar is the normal Secret Recipe's acar, which has quite a clear and strong vinegar's taste [I like it but it is a big no no for Mr D]. The portion is quite big though, just like the portion for their green curry and asam chicken, which I think is enough for 2 pax.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Jiwa Merdeka!

Poyo okey title post.. hahaha. What's the relation between my darling pinky and jiwa merdeka? Okey.. okey.. this is not because of 'Bulan Kemerdekaan', I just thought of typing this entry after a conversation with somebody I haven't met for ages.

Let us refer to this person as Ms A for simplicity.

Ms A : Ni yang kaler merah jambu ni keter ko ke ni?
Mrs D : Ha'ah... my car. Kenapa?
Ms A : Ooi.. gaji belas-belas ribu pakai MyVi je? Budak baru graduate pun mampu pakai keter ni, tukar lah wei. Pakai keter yang sesuai sikit.
Mrs D : *Gulp!* Awat, keter ni takleh jalan ka?

I don't know whether to laugh or feel insulted by the remark, laugh probably is hahaha. That's part of the thing that makes me think. How people see things and how people perceive things. I was like thinking to myself, then, what kind of car she expects me to drive? A Smart for 4? A BMW? What kind of car is suitable for people who earns 'gaji belas-belas ribu'?

Seriously, I never bother what kind of car I am driving, and I never thought that people will judge me by what type of car I am driving, or what kind of mobile phone I am using or bla bla bla. I am happy to know that I am able to differentiate my needs from my wants, such that I don't go and buy luxury things just because I earn 'belas-belas ribu'. Not that I am against people who choose to buy more expensive items etc, to me that's personal choice. But be a little bit more considerate lah, don't go and judge people and expect people to value things the way we do.

At the very least, I spent within my ability to spend. I don't go and ikat my perut just because I have to pay expensive car installments. I bought that cheap little pinky car of mine for cash using my bonus and that saves me from having to think of the installments for years to come.

And if it is not us who wants to support Malaysian product, who else? Merdeka!!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

I will hunt for one!

Just realized there will be a MATTA fair next week. Am not sure yet whether I can go, but if I can go, there will be one thing I'll be hunting for. That is a cheap ticket to UK. I planned to go to UK autumn next year, not for a tour, but just to go down memory lane. It will be great if I can find a cheap ticket.

It has been 10 years since I came back to Malaysia after completing my degree, but I always have this wish to revisit the place where I studied for years, to see what is it like now. Miss those days.

Songkhla / Hat Yai Part 4 : My Unfulfilled Wish

There's this one thing I really wanted to do in Songkhla, but didn't managed to do it. And it is now become my unfulfilled wish which will insyaallah be fulfilled in the future when I get to visit Songkhla again (or any other places with floating market like Bangkok).

On the way back from Samila beach, we stopped by for a while at Khlong Hae to see the floating market. It was still too early, it was just after 1 pm, so it was still empty.

I was told that the floating will be opened around 3 or 4 pm, so we've decided to come again in the evening by tuk tuk. We went back to the hotel and slept after our Zuhr jama' prayer, and woke up quite late after maghrib. By the time we went out of the hotel it was already late, so instead of experiencing the floating market, we shop around Hat Yai instead. What a waste!

Songkhla / Hat Yai Part 3 : Samila Beach

Our next destination was Samila Beach. As I said earlier, the purpose for us to come to Hat Yai this round was only to run away from the hectic Kuala Lumpur. Therefore though we stayed in a hotel in the middle of Hat Yai city, our highlight for this trip this time around was outside the city itself. We didn't do much shopping in Hat Yai, that was not the purpose why we came. We just wanted to relax.

On the way to Samila beach, we crossed over using a ferry which was so crowded we might had difficulty to breath. There were so many cars that day, it was a very very long queue to get the tickets and then we saw a girl selling quails' egg from one car to another. It was so hot in the middle of the day, I wonder what's the feeling like walking from one car to another, it must be damn hot. That's the lesson I got that day, that there are so many children around the world who have to do all sort of jobs to overcome poverty. It was a sad view, but nonetheless that's part and parcel of life. When a boy approached our car to ask as to whether we need help to buy the ticket, we immediately agreed so we gave him the money and he walked to the counter (mind you the queue was long) with fiery sun on top of his head, and came back to give us the ticket and we tipped him something. No matter how sad I was seeing all these, I hope what they went through is a way for God to shape them to be a tough, stronger person, and that will benefit them in the future. Many of us do not have that experience, that's why we sometimes are so lembik.

Basically nothing much to brag about Samila Beach. It was beautiful, it was serene, but that's it. I mean the beaches around East Coast of Malaysia have that quality as well. But there's no harm going there just to relax. Oh by the way, there's also resorts near Samila Beach, like BP Samila Beach, so basically people can stay near to the beach if they want to.

There's also a statue of cat and mouse by the beach, which was inspired by the local legend. I am lazy to type what the legend is all about, but I captured the explanation in the below picture.

Songkhla / Hat Yai Part 2 : Tone Nga Chang

The next morning we started the day early. I was still hungry despite the fact that I've eaten a number of prawns the night before. We stopped at a hawker's stall not far from Hat Yai, can't remember where exactly that is. I thought of ordering roti telur. I really thought I would get the roti telur similar to what we have in mamak restaurants here in Malaysia. And was really disappointed when I was given the above - roti telur, with sugar and condensed milk as a dipping sauce. Where's my curry? I don't even drink fresh milk, let alone condensed milk as a dipping sauce! But I ate the roti telur anyway, just the roti.
We later continued our journey to Tone Nga Chang waterfall, located some 30km from Hat Yai within the Tone Nga Chang wildlife sanctuary. Said to be the most beautiful waterfall, Tone Nga Chang means 'waterfall like an elephant tusks' simply because the third out of its seven cascades resembles elephant's tusks.

It basically has seven tiers, and in order to see all the 7 waterfalls we have to go deeper and deeper into the sanctuary. I can't remember how deep I went, but basically not that deep hahaha. Two reasons for that, one was because I didn't wear proper shoes to go through the track (I didn't thought of the climbing part when we decided to visit that place), and second was because we didn't really have much time. If ever we can spare a little bit more time to go through the track and do some camping there, that should be fun.

It isn't Niagara falls, but basically OK to spend time here to run away from the hectic city life. I love that place, I love any place surrounded by nature like this. Too bad we can't spend more time here. The water was clear enough, the color is not crystal blue of course, but we can basically see what is inside. Can clearly see the fish swimming here and there.. I think if it is not within the wildlife sanctuary, there would probably be many people fishing at the river. Fishing is basically prohibited.

Look at the above signboard, I was told that if we want to just enjoy the water, we are not allowed use any soap or shampoo. I think that's because they want to preserve fish in the water.

There's a restaurant and plenty of shops at the base, selling various items. I also saw there's sign to guest house within the sanctuary, so I guess there is a guest house there for people who want to enjoy the place a little bit longer. It was there that I first saw that 'roasted egg' whatever that is, though I didn't try it then. Regret .. I should have tried it then.

Hat Yai / Songkhla Part 1

I was browsing through old pictures just now and found some pictures during our visit to Hat Yai in October 2010. It was a very short visit, and it was my second visit to Songkhla province. We just wanted to run away from Kuala Lumpur to somewhere near, so off we went to Hat Yai. I cant really remember what we exactly did during the few days visit, it has been 10 months already. So before I forget all about it, I better write it down in this blog so at least I have bit and pieces here and there about the trip.

It was really a last minute arrangement. Within few days, I bought Air Asia ticket from LCCT to Hat Yai. Our previous trip was through Bukit Kayu Hitam to Sadao, but this time I thought we better fly direct to Hat Yai. Hat Yai airport wasn't big, the city itself is not big anyway. The first thing that caught my attention while queuing at the immigration was the above signboard. "Fill information in TM.6 already, please". Sounds like somebody is talking to us isn't it? It took me perhaps 20 seconds to figure out what that really means haha. Oh OK... they asked us to fill in the TM 6 form before going through the immigration. The immigration process was simple, they really took a minute or less as per their terms of service, at least in my case.

There's a minivan service from Hat Yai airport to the city, so Mr D told me perhaps we can just use that service. It was cheap, I think it was around 80 baht at that time. But you really get what you pay - that is waiting and waiting for the minivan to come! I was complaining to Mr D and insisted to get a cab instead, but Mr D keeps on asking me to be patient and wait as we've already paid for the ticket, and 'enjoy' our view at the airport. View? What view?

The minivan arrived finally, after waiting for about two hours [and of course tons of me complaining]. There and then I made a vow, that should I ever visit Hat Yai through Hat Yai airport again, I will just take a cab to the city. It is not expensive anyway, if I am not mistaken it was only around 300 baht. That would save me from nagging and complaining.

I've already made a booking via internet few days before our trip at Regency Hotel. And so that was our destination. At the reception, I showed them my booking receipt, only to be told that they don't accept internet booking? Aiyooo... luckily there's plenty of room available. I was told by the receptionist that the hotel currently undergo some renovation process, so we got an old standard room costing less than 900 baht per night. Isn't that cheap? It is, but the room is basic lah... just a normal standard hotel room.

I was quite hungry later in the afternoon, so I thought we should go and find for food. But the first food we saw when we came out from the hotel was those roasted pigs, or should I say roasted baby pigs. I don't know whether these pigs are coming from a smaller species of pig, or these are really baby pigs. They look so small, so cute, and look so yummy... opps! But they do look yummy don't they? I bet the skin is kind of crispy hahaha!

Though predominantly NOT a Muslim area, we know that there are a lot of Muslim around, so hunting for halal food was not a problem. There are a lot of Muslim hawkers selling various things around the hotel we stayed, from nasi lemak to fried chicken to fruits to fried seafood items bla bla bla. And most of them speak Malay, with either Kelantanese accent or Kedah / Penang accent. So communication was not a problem at all. Even if hawkers food is not what we are looking for, there are a number of restaurants serving halal food around, the southern Thai type of food. We did go to a restaurant nearby for our second night dinner, I can't remember what was the restaurant's name, was it Hamid? But basically even the menu was written in both Thai and Malay, so choosing from the menu was very- very easy (though the waiter who took our order that night didn't seem to be able to speak Malay).

But the highlight of my makan session in Hat Yai was the prawn. I love prawn, that is. And there are a lot of hawkers selling fried prawn in that area, from the tiny little minny prawns, to the giant version. I bought the giant version at the price of 300 baht for 4 giant prawns, am not sure whether that's considered expensive, but I did eat the same size of prawn in Muadzam Shah once and it costs us RM18 per prawn! but overheard the hawker telling 2 Malaysian chinese girls that the price was 500 baht for 3 prawns of the same size? Heh.. I knew then that the price is not fixed. I suspected for local people, the price will be even lower than what I got. Clever aren't they? The prawn was not that nice though.. I think because they use the same cooking oil over and over again, it wasn't that sweet. But okeylah....

Life is not a bed of roses

What I chose as the title for this post is what a friend wrote when I published this picture in my Facebook. I took this picture in one of the markets, after I almost accidentally hit the baby while searching for things. If I don't look at it properly, I might mistakenly thought that this is one of items to be sold. On one side, I pity this baby for having to go through this while he / she is still small. But on the other hand, he / she might be lucky for having this experience, which will prepare him / her early to face the difficulty in life. Hopefully he / she will grow up to be a tough and strong person in the future. That's my du'a for you, little baby.

Friday, August 5, 2011

NZD going cuckoo! - Part 2

Finally, I managed to drag myself to the money changer and changed some more New Zealand dollars for my next trip. As mentioned in my earlier post, the exchange rate has gone up significantly since the last time I changed it in February, thus, I 'managed' to lose quite a bit *sigh*. All because at that time I was thinking "yeah.. yeah.. it will go up, but how high can it be?" yadda.. yadda.. yadda.. Nah! Ambik kau.. 30sen terus dia naik! Now I am thinking whether I should change some more, because initially I planned to just swipe my credit card for accommodation and rental of car, since I don't want to bring that much cash [the risk and stuffs]. But what if the exchange rate goes up a lot more then, I'll definitely lose something since the rate they will charge will be the current rate while I swipe my credit card. Imagine if I spend NZD3,000 on accommodation and car rental, even if the exchange rate goes up by just another RM0.10, I would easily lose another RM300. Should I just bring cash then?

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Travel with peace of mind.

I think it is a known fact that the insurance and takaful penetration among Malays is still very-very low. Insurance is generally a taboo among Malays, perhaps people will distance themselves as far as possible from the insurance agents, for fear that they will be persuaded to buy insurance.

I think if we ask 10 Malays, 7-8 perhaps will say they have no life insurance protection. Many do not even have medical coverage. And I am not surprise if somebody present me with a fact showing the tendency for Malays to face difficulty with regards to medical bills.

In Malaysia, generally insurance agents will hunt for clients, unlike in developed countries like Japan where the awareness is high and people will generally have insurance protection.

OK.. OK... this has gone way too far. I mean, my nagging about life insurance has gone too far. I actually just wanted to write about travel insurance, just a simple travel insurance. This is a must if I want to go to travel, because we never know what will happen along the way, especially if we want to go to foreign country. Either I take it direct from the airline, or I''ll buy it at any insurance or takaful company. I have an annual policy with HSBC, which covers life, personal accident, medical expenses, baggage, personal belongings, flight delay, personal liabilities etc etc. That will give me peace of mind while traveling, I don't have to think of the 'if's basically.

Basically, if we can't afford travel insurance, we actually can't afford to travel. But all travel insurance is cheap anyway, so better don't try to save that little bit of money and take the risk to face difficulties in the future.

*Motif tayang HSBC travel policy? Harus HSBC Takaful kena bagi marketing allowance ni :)

NZD going cuckoo!

New Zealand's economy is strengthening, and the rugby world cup is just around the corner. What the hell am I thinking - waiting till the last minute to buy New Zealand dollars? I did change about NZD1.5k somewhere around February at a much cheaper rate, but waited till now to change another few thousands NZD - knowing very well the rate will go up. But I didn't expect it will go up this much!

And now I would have to pay the price for procrastinating - and that will be quite a considerable amount of money. Serve me right - so much of being an accountant serving financial industry my entire life, when I can't even plan my financial properly - heh!