Thursday, January 31, 2008

Bye Bye Gay Layout

No, you didn't click into the wrong blog.
front copy
It's red, but nothing to do with red-light-district.
I just changed the colour scheme today, from the rather gayish looking purple to this energetic red since Chinese New Year is just exactly one week from now. I don't plan to touch anything related to the New Year in this short entry as I will be doing those later on, provided if I can find the time to do it. My finals is just less than three days away, which is the whole of next week. Anyway, just drops your comments on this new colour scheme. Like it or dislike it, feel free to let me know. There is no such thing called "comments moderation" here.
Anyway, I hope that this time I won't get people commenting on this colour scheme like the previous one, when people told me "purple is gay" and "purple is spoiling their eyes". I am very sure that will not happen again. Why?
You will never hear people say "Red is lesbian", would you?
P/S: The centre picture of lanterns in Jonker Walk was stolen from her. See, I credited you already. So, don't come and claim your royalty from me anymore, okay? *bluek*

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Six Months

"What one month already?"
how I was asked by a friend
about a MSN personal message
The MSN message I put there six months ago was "1 month :)".

DSC018882 copy
The first of the many cards I got from her every month.
Time really flies. It felt as if both of us had just started being together yesterday. Before we could even realised it, it has been half a year, or exactly 184 days since the day she gave me the all-important word of "yes" to me.

There have been ups and downs throughout this period, but there wasn't a time either one of us gave up. We had plenty of choices then; we can just end everything and move on with our lives. But we didn't and never wanted to take that option. Instead, we worked together mutually to solve whatever misunderstandings between the two.

I don't want to make this entry sound as if our relationship is only full of sadness and emo-ing session. We have had our fair share of happy times together as well. The only down point to that is, it didn't last that long, as some of you may suggest. However, those sweet moments don't necessarily have to be spent only when both of us are together physically. I sensed that the three days we spent together last month somehow have made us much closer and have since, moved on to the next level.

Yes, I know three days is really a short period.

This is the price you have to pay when dealing with long-distance relationships. More often than not, we will not be able to provide both physical and emotional supports when one of us need it at most since we are not together. On the contrary, both of us have came this far and it would be a silly idea to throw it away just like that. There is nothing else that I would trade this with, and confident with her and myself that this will work out eventually.

"Happy 6 months, baby"


The Art Of Fighting

"Some relationships start with fights...
But, usually only in romantic comedies.
Life's not the movies"
Takayuki Ikkaku, Arisa Hosaka and Toshihiro Kawabata,
Animal Crossing: Wild World, 2005
I personally find that couples breaking up is something too common to happen among secondary school students, when the transition process from a child to an adult is at the highest point. That is the time when all the hormones hit the peak and they will usually find themselves mixed up between love and lust. Some may have a crush on someone else at a moment, but the feeling is gone the next day. They call it monkey puppy love, but that is the time when some of them try themselves on different partners and see which one suits them best. They take it just like shopping for clothes in the malls. If the size doesn't fit, then just get a new one. It makes sense to a certain extend, but certainly they will find themselves having some hard time to maintain a long term relationship in the long run.
It is amusing each time I hear how easily my friends break up with their partners. In some cases, the relationship lasted no more than a week. You call that a relationship? But I admit, I almost screwed up mine as early as the first month of our relationship as well. It was for some silly misunderstanding and we ended up not talking to each other for a couple of days. However, having occasional fights in any relationship is not totally a bad thing. It is a good way for both parties to get to know and understand and appreciate each other much better. The fights we have don't get to the extend where we throw mugs while yelling at each other. How would that happen, when both of us are seperated thousand of miles apart. Judging from the fact that we are not staying together, we don't get to do that; we will just ignore each other and not in talking terms for some while, waiting for the other half to come back to do the reconciling job. It doesn't matter who is the first one to apologise, but the important thing here is that there must be one person bold enough to admit the mistake made and reconcile the other half.
Most often than not, I will be the one who will get to her after our disagreements or fights, saying sweet stuff like "awww baby, come here...". At the end of the day, it will usually end up with both of us reflecting about our silliness for behaving like a two-year old kid. I have know idea how the mechanism in our brain works, but our mood can just turned the opposite in one split second. I have my own fair share of being the first one to get to her to settle whatever misunderstandings we had and fortunately for me, she is understanding enough to forget about it most of the time. It doesn't get any thougher than being in a long-distance relationship like us, because we couldn't be there for each other physically all the time, especially when we pick up a fight.
P1000314 copy
Airport seems to be a familiar place to both of us.
Nevertheless, for all the fights we have had so far, we managed to settle them in a good way. Like I have mentioned earlier, occasional fight between couple is common. When you hear a relationship which is free from fights, then that relationship will be something weird. It is after every fights that you will learn more about your other half, what they are comfortable with, what are their likes and dislikes, and try to figure out what is bothering them deep in their minds. I am not a type who will give everything to her. I don't want to spoil her by agreeing everything according to go her way as she can be irrational at times. In the early stage of our relationship, our conversations were only filled with sweet talks, and not once that we mention anything to the other half whenever there is something we were uncomfortable with. It's like sweeping all the not-so-nice stuffs we have under the carpet and only look at the good sides, without working to perfect those flaws. However, no one is perfect. These days, we can just talk about anything we like, and that has really make us closer. Much closer than before.
On the other hand, it is never a nice thing whenever we picked up any fights. Why would you want to be fighting away, when couples should be loving and caring for each other all the time, isn't it? But sometimes, fights are inevitable. We will be moody throughout the day and again, that is a silly thing to do. As far as I could recall, the last time we got ourselves in this situation was last month, just before I return to Malaysia. It was due to my attempt of finding excuses for not being able to online for several days with her, which made her felt left out. Apparently, telling her that I would be away for a ski trip has sounded almost convincing enough. I made her to believe that there will be no internet lines, as well as telephone signal from the ski resort. She believed my word in the first couple of days, but later she began to suspect something fishy was going on. That is why the surprise I planned initially didn't work out as much as I would like it to be.
I call it, one missed surprise.

DSC08516 copy

As cliché as it may look like, nevertheless I left something in the beach in Hokkaido last summer.
Back to this break up thing, I still could not comprehend it as for now. Some people find that saying out the phrase "LETS-BREAK-UP-THEN!" is just as simple as uttering the three words of "I-LOVE-YOU". Only say it, if you really mean it. If you are not committed enough into the relationship, then ask yourself why you indulge yourself in the relationship in the first place. That is why I had doubts whether our relationship will work out well before this. I never believe in long-distance relationships, not until I got to know her. I always wondered how will two person in love will be able to withstand the emotional breakdowns when the fact is that both of them are seperated miles apart and not able to be there to support the other half. My last attempt failed, was because the girl I was going for wasn't ready to commit herself in such relationship.
She once told me that she read an article discussing about this topic in some magazines that being in a long-distance relationship is one of the toughest test in any kind of relationships. So far, both of us have deal with it well (excluding those childish moments in the early stage of our relationship), and it has worked out much better than I had expected. Perhaps, it is because we are committed and whenever one of us is having one of those bad days, then the other half will always be there to show nothing but unwavering support to the other.
Our time spent together chatting has dramatically lessen since she went to Christchurch a week ago, due to the time zone difference of both places. Soon enough, she will be starting her classes and will be much busier than now; something we know will happen at some point. It will be at least a few years to go from now on, but I believe as long as both of us are committed into this relationship, it is not the hardest hurdle to go through. And I am very sure that she thinks the same way as well.
Right, baby?
P/S: This post is dedicated to her, and tomorrow will be half a year since we have been together ^.^

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Horny Impersonater

"i think someone is trying to impersonte u,
posting sexual links..."
MSN message that I got
out of the blue yesterday
The full conversation went something like this:
Untitled copy
❤ 慧仪 @ says (3:58 PM):
i think someone is trying to impersonte u on my blog cbox, not the other calvin, but there A NEW ONE, posting sexual links saying its ur new website etc etc
calvin says (3:58 PM):
wat link?
u got a secret admirer d la

❤ 慧仪 @ says (4:02 PM):
I check the ip address, its from china sia
u go cbox n see

calvin says (4:03 PM):
hold on
wats the ip

❤ 慧仪 @ says (4:03 PM):
calvin says (4:04 PM):
sure its from china?
❤ 慧仪 @ says (4:06 PM):
thats wat the ip adress thingy gave me

calvin says (4:06 PM):
yea, its frm beijing

❤ 慧仪 @ says (4:06 PM):
tho dono if its reliable
so many calvin posers now lol
Bearing in mind that my finals is just barely less than a week away, I don't go chatting online with anyone nowadays, unless there is anything important. However, the moment my ka ch'ng MSN-ed me with that message, I know something must be wrong, somewhere. As far as my memory serves me correctly, I didn't simply post up any links related to pornography in anyone's blog before, until yesterday. So, I went into her blog to check out what she was referring to and immediately, it came to my surprise that there was a link, with my name posting a message in the chatbox which goes like this:
Untitled2 copy
calvin: here is the latest link to my blog --->
Someone with the nickname "calvin" doesn't necessarily must be me, isn't it? Luckily she was smart enough to locate the person who was responsible for sending such sexual explicit message, by checking the IP address for that message before firing me without a concrete prove that it was one of my mischief again. The IP address locator indicated that it came from somewhere in Beijing.
ip copy
I was relieved, but at the same time felt weird, because I was wondering how on earth that the site showed that that IP address is from Beijing, when I was online-ing and sending that horny message in her chatbox from Nagaoka, Japan. That is 2,055 kilometers apart. Now, have you figured out who that impersonater was actually?
Yes, it was me who did it =D
*runs away to escape from ka ch'ng*

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Emoticons Craziness

I was having a usual chat with my mum last night and just like any other time, the topic will be mostly about doing catching ups between people at home, besides her usual school-related talk with me, which will be mentioned at least once whenever I call or chat with her. Since she looked quite bored after some time, I tried doing some silly stuff with her instead of just talking through skype.
Initially, I didn't try making those silly stuff deliberately. I was just typing some emoticons on the skype windows while skyping with her and that was the time that she began asking me why there are pictures of people smiling. Sometimes, you have to spare them from their ignorance. I understand that very well because I used to hear many of my friends who tell me that some of their parents don't even know how to turn on a computer. At least, from a person who didn't even dare to touch a mouse, my mum have since learned how to turn a computer on and skype with me now. I always reassure her than there won't be a huge dinosaur jumping out from the monitor if she happen to click on the wrong button. I guess now, she is no longer afraid of dealing with a mouse. Back to the smiley thing, I told her that they are called emoticons. So, I typed out a few more emoticons for her and she appeared to be getting more and more excited.
"What la them, all this while never teach me about this thing also".
2 copy
It appeared as if we were communicating through emoticon language.
Well, she was referring to my three younger sisters of not showing her the excitement of playing with emoticons. So, the chat box eventually turned into a place for both of us trying out on the emoticons available. When she was asking me how we can remember so many of them, I told her that she can actually choose them from the list, in case she don't know the shortcut key for some emoticons. Soon enough, I got an emoticon with an evil grin from her. I asked her whether that emoticon she sent has any significance in it, or it was just a random pick from the list.
"Eh, it's an evil grin la". And she continued laughing away.
In the end, I got what she was trying to tell me. Earlier in our conversation, she was wondering why I was skyping with her longer than usual that night. I just smiled and said that there was no particular reason for that. That prompted her to make her own reasoning, telling me that I was skyping with her so long all because she was not around.
Now, I know what that evil grin is all about -.-ll

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Bear Bear Tagged Me

I don't really fancy myself doing memes, but this one sounds interesting to me. Got tagged on this topic recently by Gunma Bear.
[Rule] Pass this baton on the title. Write down the name of 5 people whose views on love you would like to know and surprise them.

1. Tell us the type you like in matters of outer appearance.
Well, someone who have a decent look and know how to dress accordingly to the situation. But definitely not those who dress like lalas. Generally, I don't totally just go for outer appearance. My girlfriend doesn't have to be a Miss Universe or Miss World. There are other aspects that are as equally as important as outer appearance. I know most guys will always tell the girls that "guys do not bother much about outer appearance", and girls tend to disagree and doubt this statement, but I guess now she has known that I really mean my words.

2. Tell us the type you like in matters of character and personality.
Generally, someone who is independent, good in decision making, who has a certain level of maturity, knows how to bring herself well. One more thing would be someone who understands me well and ready to give and take. I guess being understanding to each other and tolerance is the two most important aspects in a relationship. A girl who likes to act cute with their so-called kawaii voice like those Japanese girl is definetely not my type and will never come into my consideration. That is why I said I will never get a Japanese girlfriend.

3. Within what age range do you search for a lover.
Age used to be one of the thing I will consider before getting a girlfriend previously, but I find that as long as the two of us can get along well enough, it doesn't really matter much. I know some traditionalist may take it as going against the norm, but it is quite common for younger guys to get a girlfriend who is elder than him nowadays.

4. Do you like a silent or talkative lover?
Previously, I am quite shy with girls. I guess studying in an all-boys school for more than 10 years have played some part in that. But not anymore now I think. Anyway, I would say I can be a silent or a talkative lover, and that depends on the situation. When she is talking, I listen; and vice-versa. Communication plays an important role in a relationship.

5. Which part of the opposite sex are you weak (most attracted) to?
If I mention it out here, then she will be taking advantage of my weakness. So, I will keep my lips tightly closed here =P As for the part I'm attracted to, I would say her concern and caring attitude towards myself. She will notice and pay attention to the smallest details around in my life. And most importantly, she accepts me for who I am =)
DSC01878 copy
My drawing will look like a kindergarten kid's artwork when I compared mine to her artwork. Got this from her before I return to Japan early this year.
6. What do you dislike being done upon you, or said to you by the opposite sex?
Being taken for granted and misusing the trust I had given. These things happen due to misunderstandings and miscommunications and are quite common in any relationship. But I prefer them to happen that often.
7. When you like someone, what type of action or behaviour do you take upon?
Well, try to get along well with her, while dropping hints along the way. Find out about herself, like whether she is still single, what are her interests, stuff like that. If she is showing signs that she likes you too, then you know you are on your right path and it will just be a matter of time before both of you get together.
8. Are you an active or passive lover?
Both. Mostly active nowdays =P
9. Are you the type who prefers to confess or to be confessed?
Well, as a gentlemen, I think it's better for a guy to confess first. The risk of being rejected is always there, but from the information that you have gathered and by the way the two of you are getting along, it won't take a genius to roughly guess whether she is interested in you. If she rejects you, you just either try asking her again after some period of time, or just move on. However, if you get that "yes", then you will be having sleepless nights from that moment onwards.

10. What image do you have of the five person whose views on love you would like to know, whom you will pass this baton?

  • Her ^.^
  • Kok Hong: Gay partner
  • Shi Han: The nicest Ah Long I have ever came across, but I doubt he will have time doing this.
  • Reena: My crazy ka ch'ng
  • You: Whoever who feels like doing this tag. (Please leave a note to me if you are doing it. Thanks)

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

"Tidak Apa" Attitude

Before I was back home end of last year, I used to have a perception that I will experience an opposite culture shock the moment I step onto our Bolehland. Having grown up in a country like Malaysia for more than two decades had certainly made myself accustomed to the Malaysian lifestyle. Taking that into consideration, coming to a new country, where the traditional values are still very much preserved to some extend, especially in villages and official ceremonies, I expect myself to have difficulties coping with this sudden change in environment.
In spite of those worries, I didn't really have much problems adapting to the Japanese lifestyle since I got here early last year. Some will take as fast as just a few days but for some, they still couldn't get themselves conformed to the way people in their surroundings live their life even after several years staying in Japan. As for me, it was near to one month I guess. As time pass by, differences will definitely crop up when you got yourself to an unknown land like Japan. Unknown land may make it sound an understatement, but what I am trying to imply are the unknowns cultures, which you can only experience them when you got to the place itself.
DSC00833 copy
"Ulat" is too common to be spotted around Pudu bus terminal.
I don't think I have to go any further about the punctuality among the Japanese. Whenever there is an appointment, they expect you to be there at least five minutes before the scheduled time. Public transportation like buses and trains here are so punctual up to the minute. Whenever there is a delay, mainly caused by heavy snow during the winter, or an accident, they will apologise for the delay which is sometimes just a mere two-minute delay. Nothing surprising that I experienced the "tidak apa" attitude on my very first day of my return. The bus I was supposed to take to return to my hometown was delayed more than half an hour but this incident is too common to all of us already, I think. The cost of transportation in Malaysia is way cheaper compared to those in Japan but having said that, it doesn't mean that they can just ignore the quality of the service provided. Something is wrong here and action needs to be taken quickly to improve this matter.
However, I personally doubt that this going to happen in such a short term.
DSC00890 copy
The foreigners in Kuala Lumpur is close to out-numbering the locals nowadays. No wonder rape and murder cases don't seem to get any lesser.
When I first went for shopping in the early days in Japan, I felt as if the cashier tend to talk too much from what that is necessary. They will start with a greeting, totalling up the goods you are purchasing, receive and tell you the amount of money you are handing to them, and return the balance and again, tell you the amount they are returning it to you. That is not the end, as they will finish the transaction with a "thank you". I am not sure about other places, but when it comes to customer service, I can bet with you that Japan is among the top ones. Customers will always come first. That is how things should be like, unlike what we face at home. That is why I was quite amused with the way a particular girl served me when I was getting my phone prepaid card the other day. Perhaps you could say that it is because of how I take the importance of customer service seriously, after getting used to the near to perfect customer service in Japan for almost a year.
At the time I was at that shop, there were quite a number of customers which made her taking some time before noticing my presence there, only to ask me "Yes, want what?". I told her the specific card I would like to have and handed her the cash. This is the part that I was unsatisfied with. She practically took the ten ringgit note away from my hands without even looking at me. When she handed the prepaid card to me, it was the same thing. Worse still, it was without a simple gesture of "thank you". I wonder, is it very hard to utter those two words.
DSC01436 copy
Bunny smile by my lil cousin.
Worst comes to worst, a smile is better than none.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

An Evening With The Kids

One of the thing that kept me occupied when I was back to Malaysia, was having fun and playing around with my little cousins.
She was wondering when I will be arriving...
I didn't got to wait that long before I met with the first group of them. Yes, there are actually a few groups of cousin that I have, due to the fact that my aunts are staying at different parts of the country. When I touched down at Kuala Lumpur, it was already quite late and I decided to spend a night at my third aunt's place in USJ before I return to my hometown the next day.
The so-called kawaii "peace" sign - the remaining of the Japanese mind-colonisation on some of us.
Despite the journey back took me more than 20 hours before I finally reached home, the tiredness didn't stop me from spending some time to catch up with them about their latest developments. Well, it didn't get to the stage that we talk about of our life really. Just some simple questions like what standard they are studying right now, how school life feels like and stuff like that. Afterall, how could you expect me to talk to small kids about the birds and the bees, couldn't you? In the end, I am quite sure that they will only tell me that both the birds and the bees have wings and they are flying creatures.
Not exactly what I wanted to talk about though.
The little girl likes to try the "peace" sign as well, but always end up by sticking out three fingers.
The two elder brothers are still studying in primary school, while the youngest little girl is only 2-years-old. The last time I saw her, which was before I left for Japan, she didn't even dare to come near to me. Whenever I tried approaching her, she will run for her lives to her mum, as if I am a Godzilla attempting to make her as my dinner.
But now, everything is different. She is no longer afraid of my presence. I can just walk to her and carry her up like that. And she already start calling my name while smiling with her sweet smile and showing off her bunny teeth.
I just managed to spend a night with them, as I already left for Taiping the next day.
She wore a pink T-shirt.
My fourth aunt actually took the hassle to come back to Taiping all the way from Penang, all because I was back then. So, the whole gang of us joined the rest and had the curry mee party at my second aunt's place on new year's eve.
Same with her as well. Was it a pre-planned thing?
My grandma was there with us as well.
My fourth aunt has a little daughter Sonia, who took along her teddy bear which was way bigger than herself all the way from Penang. She loves that huge soft toy so much that she will not even allow me to get hold on her teddy; not even a second.
After we were done with the curry mee feast, we set off to the lake gardens for some recreational activities. The first thing that they got themselves equipped was a few badminton rackets, besides a ball and also a Frisbees.
I didn't play much with them as it would look awkward for a grown-up guy like me to play badminton with small kids. Anyway, they got bored pretty quick as their shuttle cock kept on dropping to the ground so often that it didn't go more that two exchanges between themselves. So, we played something different - a chasing game, like eagle-chasing-chicks game. But this time, it was the chicks who chased for the eagle and it was the whole group of small kids who tried to catch me. You can say I sound childish that time, but I only get to play with them like once a year the most. You don't lose anything to be childish once in a while, do you?
Anyway, after we were tired chasing around, we stopped and decided to take a group photo.
I thought one shot would be sufficient enough. But they asked to have another shot and I agreed, only to find out later that my little cousins can be really good as well when it comes to camwhoring.
On the other hand, while I was having fun with the kids, the mothers gathered among themselves and had their very own gathering as well.
Apparently, it was more like a meeting to me. But I have no idea what was the agenda of the meeting. The meeting seemed to be a serious one, until one of the committee member noticed that I was paparazzing them.

That member furthest in the background seems to be so indulged to looking at something interesting.
We didn't get to spend too long there, as it has started to get rain sooner than we would have hope for.

I will laugh everytime I look at my cousin's (foreground) face expression.
However, there were still people who could stop and ask me to take a shot at them, even the rain was getting heavier.
I wonder what would happen if I had rejected the request.

Sunday, January 20, 2008


"Which one do you prefer?
Japanese banana or Malaysian banana?"
My friend in Malaysia,
who once asked me this question
But I still prefer Malaysian banana very much. How about you?
For all my time in Japan, I have yet to come across fruits like papaya, rambutan, langsat, mata kucing in the supermarkets. To them, these kind of fruits are considered imported fruits as the climate here is unsuitable for growing these kinds of crops. That is why sometimes, I crave for these fruits, besides the normal ones like nasi lemak and roti canai. I might have gone back during the last winter break, but it wasn't the season where all those fruits I mentioned above were at their peak. Nevertheless, I didn't purposely go through the hassels of looking for these fruits, knowing the fact that the effort made would most probably come to nothing.
I guess my grandma must have known about how hard it is for me to get these kind of local fruits in Japan, that when I went to her house one day, she took out a big plastic bag containing yellow hairy rambutans. That very moment, I felt my visit to her place was worthy as I got something to eat, besides going to see her.
DSC00863 copy
That is the scientific name for rambutan. You've learned a new word today.
I can almost assure you that you will NEVER find rambutans in Japan. Even if you get to find it, they will be sold at a incredibly expensive price, just like how much durians and mangosteens cost here. A durian in Japan could fetch up as much as RM100; but still there are people who are ready to fork out such amount just for the sake of a durian. I saw that when I was in a Thai restaurant in Tokyo not very long ago, when a group of Thai ordered three durians to go with their meals. Talking about fruitsick, it can make people go for the unthinkable.
Anyway, I was out for some shopping yesterday and I got myself some fruits. I normally will only get myself some bananas but this time, I tried something different. I got a pack of strawberries but it wasn't as sweet as I would have like it to be. Strawberry Law states that the size of the strawberry is proportional to its sweetness. I guess I have forgotten about that law when I was picking my strawberries that time. Anyway, it was not that bad - mostly taste okay, just some of them have a sourly sweet taste.
DSC01856 copy
I never expect that strawberries will have such kind of scientific name.
Winter is often associated with mikan. Mikan is a seedless and easy-peeling citrus mutant of Chinese origin and it is known as unshu mikan in Japan. I decided to give it a try because I have not get to try it at all so far, excluding the ones I get sometimes from the canteen.
DSC01863 copy
Perhaps a Frenchmen with the name Marc gave mikan such name.
The only difference I notice between the normal Mandarin oranges we normally have during Chinese New Year is that the mikan here are more flat. Talking about Chinese New Year, it will be the first time that I am not really looking forward to it. I will tell the reason behind it when it gets nearer soon. By one thing for sure is that this time, I will only be getting to have mikans alone the most, without any ang pau from anyone.
I know it is near impossible for this to happen, but if my sensei reads this, he might decide to give me an ang pau this year afterall.
DSC01866 copy
This picture doesn't really suggest how flat the mikan is.
Even an ang pau containing 10 yen would really make my day. Yoroshiku ne ^.-

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Snowy Days

It is another weekends.
DSC01828 copy
In spite of still having quite a number of stuff to update from my trip home, this will just be a filler post as I will make it just a short update. The hostel here is having another hostel festival over this weekends. Unlike the previous one held during the summer, it will be the winter version of hostel festival this time. Having experienced the summer version when they have sumo wresting on slippery stage and drag queen contest among others, which I would say not as interesting as its name suggests, I didn't really bother much about the festival this time.
DSC01830 copy
They rear a baby alligator in the pond.
They were planning to organise a on-the-ice-sumo-wrestling tournament. If that had happened, I would be really looking forward to it. However weather forecast a week ago indicated that it won't be snowing this weekend, which made the plan has been cancelled.
DSC01829 copy
Vegetable's farms being covered with snow behind my hostel. Note that the canteen in at the bottom left.
To make up for that sumo tournament, they only went ahead with karaoke competition and midnight theater. Despite calling it midnight theater, the shows are shown during the afternoon. The only reason they call it a midnight theater is because they will switch off all the lights, fix thick curtains to the window to make the canteen into total darkness when the show starts.
DSC01825 copy
The bicycle shade is not being spared by the snow either.
The only bright side of this festival is I got to eat mochi again. Mochi is a Japanese rice cake made of glutinous rice pounded into paste and molded into shape. There are three types of mochi, eaten with red bean paste (angko), covered with grounded peanuts (kinoko) and wrapped with nori inside soybean sauce (syoyu mochi). I only took the first two, and the third one doesn't really fits my taste bud.
DSC01849 copy
I ta pao-ed some mochi back to my room as well.
It has been snowing throughout the past week. The snow is getting thicker and thicker and it seems that it will not be getting any better as in for now. The temperature also has been around two or three below zero degree, to one or three degree Celsius. I am no longer touched by the snow like the first time I saw snow months ago. Nevertheless, I have a new found game with the rest of us.
Snowball war.

DSC01835 copy

Just a few months ago, those trees are in green and yellow, but now not anymore.
It looks like it has become a must for us to play this game after our Japanese language class everytime. Just yesterday, I teamed up with my roommate against three other students and battled along the way back to our hostel. It is really fun - as much as the fun I had during the ski trip. We even made some of Japanese students had some heart attack when they saw us holding two large snowballs.

DSC01838 copy

The story was like this. Apparently, we had agree to end the game and walk back to the hostel with the three guys. However, the two of us felt that we haven't had enough of snowball war. So, both of us hid and waited behind the walls for the three guys to appear later on. However, instead of the three of them, a couple of Japanese student appeared and I was so closed to throwing the snowballs I was holding at them. It gave them a big shock, but in the end, they helped us to indicate the moment the three of our earlier opponents was coming out from the building. When we got the cue, we straight away attacked them and without any snowballs, they couldn't make any counter attack on both of us. We didn't look back after attacking them, as we ran immediately into the hostel.
DSC01837 copy
We enjoyed the fun, but eventually, all of us found ourselves with red numb palms.

Friday, January 18, 2008

New Tesco In Town

"put la 1 BBIIIGGGG picture of tesco..."
A request made last night by
my ex-boyfriend/ex-roommate/ex-classmate Zhen Hui
Here you are, a picture of the newly opened Tesco in Taiping.
DSC01445 copy
Sorry for the poor angle as I took the picture while I was waiting for the red traffic light inside the car.
This entry is specially dedicated to the other ekor of anak sejati Taiping (the first ekor is me, by the way), Chan Zhen Hui after he read my entry of the food I had when I was back in Malaysia last month. You may find yourself lost in between the lines at most of the parts of this entry as only the true anak sejati Taiping will know where are those places mentioned. You can still continue reading it, if you think my writing is worth reading. Afterall, you could improved your geography knowledge of Taiping at the end of this entry.
I never felt embarrassed to admit that I come from a small town of Taiping in the northern region of Malaysia. People may labelled it as some ulu place, undeveloped and still don't have Borders or MPH bookstores in the town. Nevertheless, we have Popular bookstore though; although the 24-hour mamak nasi kandar restaurant outside the bookstore is far more popular than the Popular bookstore itself.
Back to Zhen Hui's request, it made me recalled that there have been quite some changes when I was back home. Shopping wise, there have been a few newly opened shopping malls hypermarkets as in Tesco and Giant. Small supermarkets have since lost its popularity in favour of these bigger hypermarkets. That is why Fajar has decided to merge with The Store under the latter’s name. Anyway, Tesco is located at the old site of the demolished istana for the Raja Dihilir of Perak (I think) along Jalan Istana. So, it is neither at Kamunting nor behind you house, Zhen Hui. On the other hand, the boss of Giant must have something wrong with his mind, as they pick an area deep inside Aulong. That is why when I was there, I realized that the workers outnumbered the customers there. To make matter worse, it is just like any Giant outlets, having narrow lanes at every sections which make it really unconvenient when we shop there.
Tesco is definitely much better than Giant. It looks just like any other Tesco outlets elsewhere; the only difference is the word TAIPING printed on its huge signboard. I got to know that both Tesco and Giant opened its business at almost the same time, which clearly indicates that they were just trying to compete against each other. In return, this would be good news to us, the consumers. I was at The Store one day and there was a big cardboard at the entrance stating the price of some goods, along with the word Pesaing 1 and Pesaing 2 next to the prices. You should be able to guess easily who they were refering to those two Pesaing, right? It gave me a good laugh when I saw it.
I am not going to answer each and every question being thrown to me by anak sejati Taiping, but I think this entry has more or less given him a better view and what he should expect when he is back to Taiping. Anyway, I got the kueh bahulu the other day at some stalls set up within the compound of Tesco. There are other outlets in that area, including Secret Recipe. So, I don't think that this little town is that ulu anymore today. I just feel like quoting him another time before I end this rather boring entry.
"apa kesan ekonomi terhadap kedai kedai runcit yang hanya bermodalkan kepercayaan dan layanan ramah tamah terhadap pelanggan pelanggan setia???"

My answer would be:

"saya akan tetap melanggani kedai-kedai runcit tersebut sebab semasa membeli pisang, saya dapat tawar-tawar harga macam ini: "kasi kurang 20sen la, uncle. Boleh kah?" dekat tesco, ini tawar-tawar benda tarak ada punya..."
P/S: @ Zhen Hui: Saya berharap saya telah menjawab segala persoalan yang menyelubungi awak selama ini melalui pos ini =D

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Japanese Jakun

"Where is the tool which I was so touched by it..."
my Japanese classmate,
when looking for his pliers
For all the advanced technology they have today, I still notice that some of the Japanese can be more jakun than us at times. One example happened when we were on the process of finishing up our robots in the lab. One of my Japanese friend was looking for a pliers to cut off the plastic layer of the wires, until he made his discovery of the millennium. He found an automatic wire stripping pliers, which is specially made for cutting off those plastic layers from the wires. He kept on going from one person to another, telling each of them about how convenient it is to use that pliers to cut off the plastic layer.
"Wei, wei, see this thing! Damn cool la. Come, I cut and show you"
Amazed by what that pliers could do, he seemed like he would never stop using that tool, as he was cutting unused wires for countless times for fun. He even went around and asking us if we need his help to cut any wires from the components of our robots.
"This fella who create this pliers must be a real genius la. Damn cool can..."
Not enough with with that, whenever there is someone who enter the room, he would immediately approach that person and tell him about that pliers. He kept on telling everyone that he was so touched with that tool. It common for someone to be touched with someone's deed or an incident, but touched by a pliers? That must be something unusual. Perhaps by the way I describe what really happened in the room above didn't really reflect the real situation. But I can safely say here that their reaction was really over exaggerating with those "yabai" and "sugeehhh" words all around. I guess it was worse when I compare it with my reaction when I got to know that the taxis here in Japan open its door automatically when I first came here.
All these astonished and amazed reactions with just a simple pliers came from the Japanese, who some of them still have a perception that Malaysians stay on tree today.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Home Cooked Meals

Those of you who have been overseas for over a period of time will definitely agree that the tendency to crave for local food will crop up after some time. Same thing happened to myself when I was back last month.
Roti canai is usually consumed during breakfast, but there was one night when I was on my way back after some outing when I suddenly thought of having a bite at a soft and hot piece of roti canai. The last piece of roti canai I had was almost nine months ago as all the ones I had so far in Japan, including during the Hari Raya celebrations at the end of last year was just instant frozen ones. It was quite late already and the first place that came to my mind was the stalls opposite of the railway station. There are many other mamak restaurants elsewhere, but I don't really fancy going to those eateries for just a piece of roti canai.
DSC00882 copy
The row of stalls there weren't the best place to get the best roti canai in town, as the ones I usually frequent is only open in the morning. Nevertheless, at least I got to have a taste on a hand-made roti fresh from the pan. I got to know the price of a piece of roti canai had gone up to 80 cents, but when I got mine that night, it stayed at 60 cents still.
Roti canai alone will never complete the combination if there is no capati and tosai to go along with. That is why I asked my mum to buy for me some of those for my breakfast. This time the chutney, a type of gravy for tosai made of coconut meat looked rather different than usual. Chilly was not used this time which made it looked greenish, like some baby food.

DSC01540 copy

On the other hand, the gravy of the capati was quite okay. The most common type of gravy to go along with capati would be the one made of green beans, which looked more like baby faeces to me.
DSC01541 copy
This entry is looking as if I am introducing nothing but only Indian food, isn't it? But to be honest, whenever I am eating, I never thought about the association of that particular food with the specific race. I have my fair share of nasi lemak, yew char kuay, and roti canai for my breakfast most of the time.
Another random one would be kueh bahulu where I got at the newly opened Tesco outlet in my hometown. Since it was freshly baked from the oven, I already started having a bite on them while I was walking to the car park area after doing some shopping there. At least there were still a few pieces left when I reached home.
DSC00847 copy
When I was at my grandma's house at one time, she passed me a piece of kueh which I must admit, is one of my favourites; but is not that common. It is called tepung bungkus and is made from rice flour, salt and santan or coconut milk. The filling inside is made from coconut cooked with brown sugar and the taste is savoury and rich in coconut milk.
DSC01443 copy
I tried my best to have hawker food when I was back during the 2-week break. However, my mum had already drawn up her own personal list on what to cook on each day, which eventually left me with no choice but to eat whatever she cook for me. But of course, I am not saying that it was a bad thing as I got to taste common foods like noodle soup;
DSC00855 copy
to Nyonya curry mee. The curry mee actually does not look like what is being portrayed in the picture, as most of the ingredients which are NOT usually used were added in by myself, like pickled chillies and kantan flower.
DSC00848 copy
When my fourth aunt came down from Penang (just because to I was back from Japan), my second aunt invited all of us to her house as she was trying to make curry mee for the first time. When we were there, everything was already done and just waiting the moment for all of us to whack the food. There were two types of noodles available, one is the normal yellow mee usually used for mamak's mee goreng, and also meehoon.
DSC01448 copy
As for the ingredients, it was curry prawns, cockles cooked in spicy gravy and mint leaves.
DSC01450 copy
However, the thing that impressed me the most was the gravy. It looked just like the ones from hawker stalls.
DSC01451 copy
For a first timer like my aunt, the curry mee was not bad.
DSC01454 copy
When there is a feast like this, it is not a surprise to see people making a few rounds of curry mee.
DSC01455 copy
All was so busy eating until didn't bother to pose for the camera also.
As for me, after I finished my bowl of curry mee, I was offered a glass of fruit juice. It looked pinkish red. I know it was not watermelon juice.
DSC01458 copy
I wonder what my little cousin was thinking.
I was later told that it was a carrot and tomato juice. No wonder it tasted like I was going through a Fear Factor challange!