Monday, March 20, 2017

Saturday Outing

Early that morning, I picked up my colleague CM and we headed to Pustaka Negeri for our cross-country event. There was a track around the lake where our students would run. My duty was easy. I was to keep an eye on the runners to ensure that they did not stray from the path. Our station was at the halfway point along the route .... it would have been fun. Only that it was raining and I stood in the rain, holding my umbrella; my feet were drenched .... and I felt rainwater trickling on to my arms .... it was rather annoying. We were so glad that it was over 2 hours later! 

It was quite early still, and my colleagues W and S and CM and I decided to go visit the Orchid Garden which was just nearby. It was but 9.15 a.m. .... and the garden only admitted guests from 9.30 a.m. onwards. So we hung around the foyer till 9.30 a.m. and then went inside to look at the beautiful blooms ... 

Pretty landscape at the garden .... 

Some beautiful blooms ..

Lovely colours ... 

We spent about 30 minutes here. There weren't many flowers blooming at this time. The staff told us to come again in July / August, when the flowers would be in abundance.

Next we drove to Bako .... 

Loving the scenery ....

View from Bako Seafood Restaurant ...

We headed to Bako Seafood Restaurant for a simple meal .... 

Fresh coconut 

Seafood Beehoon
This was what we came for .... 

Another shot
This was nice while eaten hot; while the seafood was fresh and the broth was tasty, it wasn't really the BEST seafood beehoon that I've ever eaten; I do find it lacking in terms of sweetness and richness.

Midin with red rice wine
Passable ... I liked the flavour of the sweet rice wine ... 

Signature tofu
This dish was rather yum; the tofu was very flavourful and I liked the thin, crispy coating .... 

Deep-fried oysters balls ...

My favourite dish that day ... 

A cross section of the oyster balls ... 

So each oyster was encased in a batter and then deep-fried. I liked the juicy and creamy oysters which melted in the mouth, and the flavour together with the oily exterior .... was really tasty. Yummy. Recommended. This meal cost us only RM100. 

After lunch, we enjoyed shopping at the market - my friends bought fresh fish ... I bought pineapples and fresh corn (very sweet!) and also crabs. The crabs were RM35 a kg .... very hard shell and firm flesh. I bought 3 pieces for RM30. Back home, we stir-fried the crabs with curry powder .... very yum. Wish I had bought more. :)) 

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Musings About KRW

I love Kim Rae Won (KRW). Prior to this, however, I've never watched his works - I think I've briefly watched A Thousand Day's Promise, Love Story in Harvard and My Love Patzzi on tv .... but I've never watched the dramas in their entirety. I knew who he was and I liked him as he had looked like a really nice person. It was after I watched Doctors last year, that I rekindled my interest in him. So much so that I wanted to attend his meet and greet session in KL last year! Lol! But I bet it wasn't only me. Doctors made KRW famous with fans, young and old.

Well, KRW's quite reserved, in that there's hardly any news of him. There's not much publicity, interviews, variety shows and for a long time, he kept his personal Instagram account private.

Lately, however, he can be actively seen, starting with a fan meeting in Taiwan in mid-February, and these past 2 weeks, he had been busy promoting his new movie,  The Prison; and thus almost everyday, I got to see new photographs of him and every few days, there would be new interviews. He was even on Guerilla Date at a university recently, and it was fun to watch fans reacting to his presence.

Looking at news of KRW daily, I, of course, anticipate his new movie, The Prison (KRW himself said it was good and I BUY HIS WORD TOTALLY!) which would be screened beginning 22 March 2017. Of course, I would have no hope of watching it then ... I'll probably have to wait at least another 2 months before I can watch in subbed online. Well, I really, really wouldn't mind watching it in the cinema if they would screen it here. According to Yonhap news on 13 March 2017....
The distribution rights for the movie were sold to such territories as North America, Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Taiwan, China, Japan and the Philippines during the European Film Market at the Berlin International Film Festival in February, according to Showbox"
Malaysia was not mention .... so ..... not sure. Sad.

Watching his publicity events made me miss his acting ... and I went back to watch Doctors. My Korean drama of 2016 was definitely Doctors. What excited me initially, was the pairing of the lead actors. I've always liked KRW. And I liked his co-star, Park Shin Hye (PSH) too. 2 actors I liked coming together in a drama ... it was like a dream come true!

I thought PSH has never been so beautiful than in Doctors! She looked really mature - I think it was because of her hairstyle and make-up .. and she looked stick thin, so she must have lost a lot of weight to portray the role of Hye Jung. Likewise, KRW has never looked so handsome. Well, don't get me wrong, KRW had a very sharp image during Gangnam 1970 and Punch days; but in Doctors, his stylish haircut and his make-up and his clothes made him look really youthful.

(Source :
My favourite photo. Swoon .... 

To me, PSH and KRW really look good together despite the 9 year age gap between them. And when I scrutinised photos of them together, I thought they looked really alike. The bonus was that their chemistry sizzled on screen ....

(Source :
Don't you think they share some resemblance? They could pass off for siblings .... but I'd rather they be lovers. Lol. 

Many reviews of Doctors mentioned the lack of a real conflict in the drama. Well, I agree. There lacked a convincing antogonist and a tight plot. But it did not bother me because Doctors was essentially a love story, set in a hospital. So when one watched it, one should focus on the relationship between the main actors - the development of their love story, and not really on the fluff surrounding their relationship at the hospital. What I found different from other drama was the fast-paced development in their love story. Attraction between the couple was felt as early as Episode 2. And by Episode 4, he was expressing his interest in her all over again. By Episode 5, he had confessed his love for her. By Episode 13, there were officially a couple. Heh.

I think KRW portrayed Dr. Hong Ji Hong brilliantly. KRW is Hong Ji Hong. Hong Ji Hong is KRW. I can't imagine another actor for the role. The character was smart and humble. Cheerful and funny. Confident and capable. And he was a great boyfriend material - he was so TOLERANT of Hye Jung who proved to be stubborn and unreasonable at times. He was so accepting of her flaws ... and I think that was what made so many fall in love with him.

My favourite scene in the entire drama was when he was trying to resuscitate his Dad. Kim Rae Won's acting was so real and so convincing that I felt for him and cried buckets. This, to me, was Daesang-worthy acting. Another scene which I found was swoon-worthy was the helicopter scene .... whereby he'd seen her for the first time after 13 years ... and the first thing he asked was whether she was married or had a boyfriend. The lines were so subtle, and yet, carried so much meaning. It surely pumped up my excitement of what was to come and I could not wait to see this couple fall in love with each other all over again!

I also went back to watch Punch, the drama KRW filmed in 2014-2015; This drama wasn't as popular as Doctors, because the content was rather heavy, dealing with corruption in the judiciary system and death. Here, KRW played the role of Park Jung Hwan, a prosecutor with a terminal illness, setting out to right what he had done wrong. Many reviewers thought the story was well-written, its many twists and turns which caught people by surprise.

For me, KRW delivered the role of Park Jung Hwan in a very compelling manner. His character was often seen brooding, but he, being an experienced actor was able to bring a lot of depth and charisma to his character. He was hardly boring and I thought his critically-acclaimed performance deserved a Daesang as well.

Today is KRW's birthday and while waiting for the first pictures of his fan meeting in Seoul today, I looked for his old movie to watch, Sunflower, filmed in 2006; it was a good movie, made so because of his solid acting. I felt for his character - a gangster who was trying to turn over a new leaf and yet because of the tragic circumstances he was in, he had to get involved with them once again. The movie was notable for its final scene, where it was KRW against the whole gang of thugs.

Well, I certainly look forward to his new projects. I do wish he will take part in many this year. :P Happy Birthday, KRW.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Of Exam and Stress and Sugar Bun ....

"Why did they make you the Chief?" Mom asked. "You are so careless .... "

Duh. Mom did not think I was good enough to lead a team of teachers to invigilate the public exam. Hmn ... it involved some clerical work, for which I was good at. But yeah, I do admit that I can be pretty careless at times ...

So exam came and went .... and I did the job ok;  I was thankful for S and T from the institution - they were on standby, ready to help me just in case; I was thankful for C who accompanied me to sign out the question papers. She was punctual and helpful and really dependable. I was also thankful that the candidates were really co-operative and did not cause any trouble .... so that when everything was over, I could wrap everything up and leave the premises within 20 minutes.

Well, it wasn't difficult at all a job to do, but I did feel stressful because there was a huge burden on my shoulders to ensure that everything went smoothly. I could feel the stress when I experienced terrible backache for days .... the treatment? A 2-hour massage. It's been nearly 2 years since I went for a massage .... and I headed for Borneo 101 Reflexology at Premier 101 .... a 2 hour Thai massage cost me RM95 ... but the Thai lady's firm strokes loosened the tense muscles on my back and made me feel so much better after that. Post-exam, I was lethargic for days! It's been 2 days now, and I still feel tired .... sigh ....

My cousin G came back from Singapore over the weekend ... and too bad for her, I was too busy to bring her out shopping as I would normally do; this time, I only brought her out for a short while to Vivacity Mega Mall where she bought 2 pairs of white gold earrings.

Now I realised that Kuchingites who come back from abroad (or even from West Malaysia) often want to eat at Sugar Bun ... lol. They have missed the flavours of childhood while they were away ... so my cousin G walked past Sugar Bun and decided that she wanted to eat something ...

2 pieces of chicken, savoury rice and pickles
RM14.30, inclusive of a soft drink 

G went for 2 pieces of chicken to eat with her rice and pickles .... "Haven't eaten this for a long time!" she exclaimed happily as she dug in .... I really hope that Sugar Bun would be able to maintain the quality of this food so that people could still reminisce the flavours they have so enjoyed in the past. But hmn .... is it just me or do you also think that the chicken pieces look smaller now? Heh ....

Chicken Burger, RM8.40 inclusive of a soft drink 

I had the chicken burger .... hmn ... I don't remember ever eating this before as I usually go for the fish burger; unfortunately, I did not quite like the chicken burger ... as I did not like the gritty minced chicken texture encased within the deep-fried crust; I think I prefer McChicken :))

So my colleagues and I were talking about fried chicken this morning, and I shared about my horrifying powdery chicken experience at one KFC outlet one time ..... and of course, Sugar Bun inevitably came up in the conversation ... many of my colleagues still think that Sugar Bun's broasted chicken is as good as or even better than KFC's. For this reason, I do think that Sugar Bun has a place in the fried chicken market in Kuching and other parts of Sarawak. So I do sincerely hope that they would ensure the quality of their products across all outlets .... and of course to ensure that the price matches the quality of the products sold. :))

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Coconut Agar-agar

I've been wanting to make coconut agar-agar as I was inspired by this recipe from Hot Thai Kitchen. However, I did not exactly follow her recipe ....

Coconut agar-agar looking kinda pretty .... 

So I was just thankful of the fact that it turned out alright. I used about 30 grammes of agar-agar strips with 1.5 litres of coconut water - I used the pre-packaged ones; luckily they were not too sweet. So, I added some rock sugar to the mixture, and these I cooked with pandan leaves till the agar-agar strips melted and boiled. 

I used cooked 200ml of pre-packaged coconut cream and pandan leaves and 3 scoops of the agar-agar  mixture into a separate pot, and stirred till it boiled. 

What I did was to layer the agar-agar; I poured in the clear coconut water and agar mixture into the mould first ... and I waited till it became slightly solidified - think it took about 10 minutes and then quickly poured a thin layer of the coconut cream and agar mixture over it.

I made about 30 pieces, or rather, I only had enough coconut cream for 30 pieces; the leftover coconut agar-agar filled a tray. Hmn ... the pre-packaged coconut water tasted artificial (like I was afraid that it would!) .... so the agar-agar did not turn out so nice ...

I should try to make some with fresh coconuts; only they are so hard to come by ....  sigh. 

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

My Superhero

In my school, our turns to invigilate public exams are by rotation basis. Our turns come after every 3 years. I last invigilated in 2014 ... and this year, I was due to be nominated. True enough, my Boss Lady approached me a couple of weeks back. There was no escaping. So I relented. In the nomination form, the Boss Lady suggested that I be the "Ketua" - that meant that I would be heading a team if the nomination went through. How dreadful. I wouldn't mind being an ordinary invigilator ... being the team leader came with much administrative work ... and it also meant bigger responsibilities. But I had no say in the matter. Boss Lady could not take no for an answer.

So finally, the day came when I had to attend the meeting as a team leader. We were briefed about what to do - the briefing took 4.5 hours. There was just a lot of information to digest ... and I believed that after I reviewed all the information, I could do the job well. I also knew I could seek clarification from my colleagues who were experienced team leaders before. So no worries there.

The true headache came from the software we would be using for our claims. It used MS Access - albeit an old version of it - so when I installed it in my computer, the software did not work. I tried so many times and it just did not work. I wasn't too familiar with MS Access .... and I did not know how to troubleshoot the problem. I was feeling exasperated all night! Not good for the blood pressure, really!

The next morning, I went back to school and installed the software in my Eee PC - I'd left this at school because I was too lazy to carry my computers to and from school, and carrying a heavy load left me with back pain, and because the netbook was already 8 years old and wasn't functioning properly and yet could handle simple word processing tasks and I figured it would not be such a coveted item to steal if I left it locked in my drawer at school - only to find that it did not have MS Access installed. So, another closed door. Sigh.

The next thing I did was to go to the library and loan a 10-inch netbook from the school. I had the software installed. It did not work. Darn. But after a few tweaks by the IT expert at my school, the software loaded. The problem was that the screen was too small and I could not scroll the page up or down. I tried changing the display settings but it did not work. Therefore, I could not use the software properly because part of the information I needed was beyond what was displayed on my screen. Darn. Yet another setback.

I was getting very worried by now because if I could not get the software to work properly, I would not be able to do the claims for my team members afterwards. It did not work on my computer. It did not work on the netbook on loan. So what do I do? I contemplated a few options :

1) Go to the exams office and have them look at my computer - my colleagues thought this wasn't a good idea as the clerks at the exams office wouldn't have the technical know-how

2) Buy a new computer? Nah .... new computers would not be able to operate that ancient software; plus I'd be crazy to spend a thousand or two thousand ringgit on a computer just to do this job which would pay me less than RM200.

3) Borrow my colleague W's laptop as he had the software up and running - he was one of those experienced few whom I consulted, my mentor. Earlier, he said that he would help me to do the claims ... heh ... how sweet, but I knew he was only joking.

4) Call our resident IT guy, Mr. T to come take a look at all the computers - this seemed like a good idea; Mr. T would be my final resort.

Back at home, I thought of one possible idea which would work - I would hook up the netbook to my laptop with a VGA cable, so that I would be able to see the display on my laptop which had a normal 14-inch screen; So I could work from the netbook while looking at the 14-inch laptop screen .. so I searched high and low for a VGA cable but could not find one at home. I was wondering whether I should go out to the store to buy one, or if I should just borrow one from the school - any projector sets would have one of these VGA cables.

Actually, besides the current 14-inch laptop that I was currently using and my Eee PC which I left in my drawer at school, I had an ancient Dell Inspiron circa 2006 - it's been retired ever since I bought the newer laptops. Let's see - I've bought 3 other laptops after the Dell Inspiron. Dell was 15-inch, super heavy laptop. It served me well in its time. So well used it was that its hinges were already broken. Did it still work? When was the last time I had it turned on? I had even wanted to send it for e-waste recycling this year.

There it sat at the corner of the spare room ... and so I took it out and fired it up. It still worked. It was covered in a layer of dust, so I wiped it with a piece of wet cloth. I scrolled through the programmes and uninstalled many which I would not be using anymore ... and that improved the speed. Then I plugged in my pen drive and copied the troublesome claims software to the C drive .... and there .... it worked perfectly. Heh! Ancient software for an ancient laptop!

I finished doing my own claims in 20 minutes and had them printed out soon after that. So much for the 20 hours wasted trying to install the unfriendly-high-blood-pressure-inducing software! I wondered if I were the only one facing this problem or whether it is just customary for the people in the public service to be perpetually using unfriendly software which never improved with time and technological advancement .... sigh .... it was just plain inefficient to me.

My superhero!
I nearly burst with exasperation and it saved me .... 

So ... my Dell saved the day. It would not be sent for e-waste recycling ever .... it would be kept at the corner of the spare room till I would need it again for the next outdated software which I would be forced to use. So the saying goes, OLD IS GOLD.


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