Sunday, December 09, 2012

Reflection on 2012

The year is drawing to a close, so it is about time to reflect on what 2012 has delivered for me.

  • I got a pretty good offer from this company in Singapore doing SAP Business One which I almost took up. Thanks to my ex-manager and especially my ex-boss who talked to me and retained me. So, for some personal reasons, I have decided to stay. I sometimes wonder what could have happened if I really did go to Singapore. Will I still be seeing Ryan? Am I gonna be the Joyce today? Like all settled down and moving on to the next chapter in life, etc. It's hard to say. Anything could happen.

  • I got a raise.

  • I was assigned on an upgrade project in Johor Bahru for 3 days 2 nights with a junior. It was a memorable trip because I got a really bad cold and fever the night before (ugh! talk about bad timing to fall sick!) but I had no choice but to go ahead. I took off at 6am and drove all the way down to JB with my nose running a marathon and feeling like zombie. I was really in bad shape but I still did a good job. Thankfully, my client the lady boss, was really kind and gave me herbal tea and medicines and it did help me a little. She's such a kind lady. She threw me an appreciation glance when she knew that I drove all the way from KL and also made sure that I was okay to drive back to KL on my last day. Oh well, I'm a soldier! I'm strong! LOL.

  • I made a tough decision to resign from my previous company to take up MDEC SAP FI Functional Training. It was something that I wanted to do long ago but I never got to do it because of all the uncertainties. I didn't regret that decision though. Thanks to Ryan who gave me his full support. I love you baby!

  • I got certified and found a job that I really wanted although it was tough and stressful. Well, I'm still learning but I think you can never stop learning if you are in this industry. We must continually sharpen our skills, or risk trailing behind the pack.

  • My maternal grandmother passed away because of cancer. It was really sad because I think she suffered and she was in so much pain. Looking at the bright side, at least she didn't have to go through the pain anymore and it wasn't for long.

  • I got engaged. Ryan proposed to me in Koh Samui and so many things happened the night before the proposal. Seeing so much blood gushing out and him saying that he was feeling dizzy made my heart stopped beating right there. I just can't describe how I felt. It was a horrible feeling.

  • Threw a birthday party for my best friend at Somerset. Gotta thank Sean for doing all the work though...Lol!

  • I've traveled quite a bit this year. I went to Tokyo, Koh Samui, road trip to Penang Island, Ho Chi Minh City and went for a Mekong Delta day trip, Hong Kong, Krabi-Phi Phi Island and this month alone I'm going to Vientiane-Vang Vieng and Macau. I'm so looking forward to it!

  • Read my reflection on 2011 here.

    Sunday, November 18, 2012

    Ryan's Birthday and Mike's Visit to KL

    I know I've been slowing down with my blogging. Well, that's because I don't have much life now. My new job is wearing me out. Lol!

    So one weekend in September, my crazy and super-fun and smart BLCU classmate from Germany, Mike, who is now studying in Singapore via a student exchange program visited KL. It was his 2nd time here and I played host to him again. This time, he came with a female friend who is also from Germany called Anne. :)

    Coincidentally, it was Ryan's birthday. So, I took the opportunity to celebrate his birthday and also to take my guests to this pretty bar with amazing KL view at Marini's on 57. Yay, killed two birds with one stone!

    The view of Petronas Twin Towers from Marini's on 57

    With Anne, Mike and Ryan

    With the Birthday Boy

    All of us at Marini's on 57

    The next day, we took them on a one-day KL tour. Boy, we were so tired by the end of the day!

    We woke up early in the morning and took them out for a dim sum breakfast at Kuchai Entrepreneur's Park. I briefly read Anne's Lonely Planet on KL to see what she highlighted and planned our itinerary for the day.

    1. Thean Hou Buddhist Temple - Located at Robson Heights along Lorong Bellamy, off Jalan Syed Putra (Federal Highway). That was actually my second time there. The first time was because of a friend's ROM. Well, this time I did some exploring with the tourists. I was telling Mike that it feels like Beijing again in there and he totally agreed with me. Lol. I guess it was because of the architecture of the temple.

    Thean Hou Buddhist Temple

    2. Batu Caves - We went for a 45-minutes educational tour to the Dark Cave. The rates are RM35 each for adults or RM28 for children below 10 years old. You'll get some discounts if you're Malaysian but you have to show them your MyKad.

    Batu Caves

    3. Little India - It was around 1 or 2pm by the time we were done with Batu Caves, so it was time for lunch. Mike said something about Little India and so we went to Little India in Brickfields for lunch. We went to one of the restaurant for Banana Leaf rice. Mike ate so much but Anne couldn't take the spiciness. Well, there wasn't much to see in Little India. I think that place only come to life at night?

    4. KL Tower - I have to say that KL Tower is a tourist MUST visit in KL. We spent quite some time here.

    The view from KL Tower's observation deck

    5. Petaling Street (Chinatown) - This place is famous for pirated products and remember you have to haggle if you are buying something. We had our dinner here at this famous stall selling Portuguese grilled fish.

    Petaling Street (Chinatown)

    6. Central Market (Pasar Seni) - We walked from Chinatown to Central Market. It is a cultural shopping centre where you'll find local art and craft items. Chinese Lantern Festival was around the corner, so there was a display of lanterns there which was pretty cool.

    Central Market

    7. i-Darts at Setiawalk Puchong - Lol. We initially planned to take them out for a clubbing night in KL but all of us were dead tired. So, we ended up taking them somewhere nearby just to chill. We still had fun though.

    The next day, we took them to KLCC for breakfast at Ben's and then we said our goodbyes. I think they went to explore the park at KLCC and then took the LRT to Sentral, then a bus to LCCT for their flight to Miri. In conclusion, it was an awesome weekend with Mike and Anne.

    Friday, October 19, 2012

    Fry the Dog

    Bailey, my brother's dog, is staying with us temporarily because my brother's house is under renovation.

    So every evening when I come home from work, Bailey would run out of the house when the autogate is open. I was told to call when I'm about to reach home so that my dad can leash Bailey.

    So one evening I called my dad...

    "Dad, can you tie the dog?"
    "Fry the dog? Ok. Fry the dog."
    "...."

    Lol!

    Sunday, September 30, 2012

    Weekend Trip to Hong Kong

    So it was a long weekend again. Three days to be exact. I wanted to go somewhere. It wasn't planned. I booked the flight and hotel like 3 days before departure. At first, I wanted to go to Bangkok on my own but my mom said she will go with me if it's Hong Kong. She didn't think it was worth the money to go Bangkok. She was right.

    It was a great trip but I came back with tired and aching feet.

    Day 1 - Arrival, Tai-O Fishing Village, Citygate Outlets, Temple Street
    We arrived Hong Kong around noon. We didn't go straight to the hotel to check-in but instead, we left our baggage at the airport's baggage storage service and headed to Tai O which is in Lantau Island. The airport is adjacent to Lantau Island so, it won't be so smart if we went all the way to our hotel in Kowloon and back to Lantau Island.


    The baggage storage counter is at Level 3 in Terminal 2. If you're not in Terminal 2, you just have to follow the signboard to Terminal 2 and then you will see a signboard stating "Left Baggage" (LOL!). There are 2 types of baggage storage rate. You either pay HK$10/hour/piece (approx. MYR4) or HK$120/day/piece (approx. MYR48).

    Before leaving the airport, one important thing that we had to do was to buy Octopus Card at the Airport Express Customer Service Centre. It's also in Terminal 2. It's better to buy the card if you are going to travel around by public bus or the MTR. When first purchasing the Octopus Card, HK$50 is included as refundable deposit, and the remaining value will be stored in the card for normal payments.


    To get to Tai O fishing village, we took the bus (either S1 or S64) from the airport to Citygate Outlets and then we took the Bus 11 from Citygate Outlets to Tai O. Total journey took us about an hour plus.

    The first thing we did in Tai O was to look for this restaurant called Tai-O Crossing Boat Restaurant (橫水渡小廚) for lunch because it was highly recommended on the internet when I browsed for places to eat in Tai O.


    Steamed bean curd with preserved vegetable - HK$68 (MYR27)


    Pan-fried cuttlefish ball - HK$88 (MYR36)


    Steamed rice with dried prawns in lotus leaves on a bamboo steamer - HK$88 (MYR36)


    A kind of melon in fish soup - HK$68 (MYR27)


    This restaurant is located at Kat Hing Street

    The food was just average and I think the steamed rice was over-rated. I liked the cuttlefish ball though.

    After lunch, we walked along Market Street and Wing On Street where you will see people selling dried seafood and some really interesting street food.


    Street food at Tai-O


    Street food at Tai-O


    Dried seafood stalls at Wing On Street

    We also went on a boat ride that took us around the village for HK$20 (MYR8).


    View from the boat ride

    Around evening, we headed back to Citygate Outlets to shop. It is the first outlet mall in Hong Kong offering discount of at least 30% to 70% of designer fashion, etc.


    Eaton Hotel

    After much walking around the mall, we headed back to the airport by bus to claim our baggage. Then, we took a taxi to our hotel. The taxi fare from the airport to Eaton Hotel was HK$280 (MYR113). If you are traveling alone and staying in Eaton Hotel, I would recommend you to take the airport express and that will only cost you HK$90 (MYR36) to Kowloon Station and then an additional HK$30 (MYR12) for the taxi to the hotel. I quite like this hotel because it's nice and clean and the nearest MTR station (which is Jordan Station) is just a 5 minutes walk away.


    Temple Street

    Opposite of our hotel across the street, is Temple Street which is something like our Petaling Street. It was past dinner time and we were hungry, so we went around to look for food and went to this noodle shop on Woosung Street.


    Beef Noodle Soup - HK$24 (MYR10)


    Beef Ball and Wonton Noodle Soup


    We saw a lot of seafood restaurants on Temple Street


    Jordan part of Nathan Road

    Day 2 - Victoria Peak, Central, Tsim Sha Tsui, Mongkok
    We went to Victoria Peak. Paid HK$30 (MYR12) per person to get to the observation deck. It was worth it. There's a shopping mall there as well and mom bought a pair of shoes.


    Victoria Peak - That's the observation deck behind me


    View from Victoria Peak

    We chilled at Starbucks for a bit before we head on to Central for some shopping. I like the Starbucks in Hong Kong because the decaf cappuccino didn't make me nauseous whereas the decaf cappuccino at the Starbucks here make me nauseous.


    Somewhere in Central

    I bought some designer dresses for cheap but labels off at this shop in Central which was previously in Pedder Building. Ooh, me likey! I don't care that they cut off the labels, I love the fashion.

    After that, we went to Tsim Sha Tsui to explore further and for dinner.


    Buildings at Tsim Sha Tsui

    After Tsim Sha Tsui, we went to Mong Kok.


    Somewhere in Mong Kok

    We didn't find anything interesting in Mong Kok so we went back to the hotel and called it a night. Our feet was super tired anyway.

    Day 3 - Citygate Outlets, Departure
    Flight was at 11:45am. We went back to Citygate Outlets before our flight because I wanted to get this Stuart Weitzman heels from Pedder. I didn't get it the first time because I was undecided. Mom thought that I should get it for my wedding and it was half the normal price. To my disappointment, the other side of the shoe for my size was MISSING! ~!@#$%^&*() :( We then headed back to the airport and said goodbye to Hong Kong.


    The Stuart Weitzman heels that I didn't get to buy :(

    Monday, September 24, 2012

    Ho Chi Minh City and Mekong Delta Trip (My Tho & Ben Tre)

    It was a public holiday on Friday, so the four of us (Ryan, Jess, Sean and myself) planned for a short weekend getaway trip to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam. It was also a good timing for me as I wanted to travel before I start my new job.

    View of HCMC from the plane

    Sean's friend, Peng, who'd been working in HCMC for many years was such a good host to us and brought us around HCMC. He really made our trip more interesting. Maybe because it was nice for once that I didn't have to plan everything.

    Peng arranged for our accommodation at Gia Huy Hotel for USD35 per night. It's not some 5 star hotel but it's okay because the room condition is pretty much up to standard and I quite like the location of the hotel.

    Peng brought us to this shop called Pho Le for beef noodle soup. It's called Pho Bo in Vietnamese. Pho Bo is a nourishing soup made with beef and flat rice noodles. It's delicious and the beef is so tender and easy to chew. Price: VND 60K per bowl (approx. MYR8.60).

    The beef noodle soup restaurant
    Beef Noodle Soup
    Price: VND60K (approx. MYR 8.60)

    We walked along fashion street in District 1. I saw many boutiques and also road side stalls selling clothes, accessories and shoes.

    Fashion street

    We went to this restaurant and bar called Beer Tươi Tiệp 107 Pasteur for some light food and beer.

    Menu

    The food and drinks we ordered


    We wanted to chill somewhere on our first night but we ended up in New World Slot Casino. I won a little. That casino is only open for foreigners. If you gamble, all the food and drinks you order is free of charge. Vietnamese are not allowed to enter the casino though.

    At about midnight, we had Wanton Noodle for supper at Tan Hai Van or CNSG Restaurant. Noodle was good! Price: VND54K for a bowl of charsiew+wanton noodle (approx. MYR7.80) and VND48K for a bowl of only wanton noodle (approx. MYR6.90).

    Charsiew + Wanton Noodle
    Price: VND54K (aprox. MYR7.80)

    Address:
    Tan Hai Van - 158-164 Nguyen Trai Str.,
    Ward Ben Thanh, Dist. 1, HCMC
    Tel: 38399617

    We had to wake up early the next day because we booked ourselves a Mekong Delta day trip to My Tho and Ben Tre. The bus departed at 8:30am and came back to Saigon at 5:30pm. Price: VND400K per person (approx. MYR57.50) inclusive of bus, tour guide, boat trip and Vietnamese lunch.

    We crossed the Mekong River by motorized boat

    This is where we had our lunch (left); How they make rice paper (right)

    You wrap the fish with the rice paper and it'll look like the picture on the bottom right

    Handicrafts made from coconut trees

    Mekong floating house

    Bee farm

    Vietnamese traditional music performance while we savour our honey tea and fruits from the orchard

    Pony ride

    Row-boat ride along small creeks to Mekong River Estuary

    We got back to the city and Peng brought us to this place to have seafood. It's a refreshing experience to eat sitting on small chairs on the sidewalk by the road. I tried "balut" for the first time too and I can tell you it wasn't as nasty as seen on TV.

    Seafood restaurant

    It wasn't as nasty as seen on TV

    The food we ordered

    Fried corns from the street hawker
    Total bill came up to VND900K (approx. MYR129.30). So cheap!

    After dinner, we went to Chill Skybar for some drinks and dance. It's a sleek bar on the rooftop of Ho Chi Minh City's AB Tower. It was raining, so the outdoor section of the bar which was supposed to be really nice was closed. There wasn't any good view due to bad weather so we did not take any pictures.

    After that, we went to New World Casino again but this time I wasn't so lucky. I lost my winnings from the day before and more. :P

    The next day, we shopped a little at Ben Thanh Market. Jess wanted to get coffee beans and I wanted to get some Cambodian garlic but I only found Hanoi garlic. We headed somewhere for breakfast before our flight back to KL.

    Some colourful drinks from a stall in the market

    Special crispy broken rice was yummy

    We had tea and coffee at a shop before we left

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