Thursday, October 30, 2008

Claypot Rice

claypot rice
Following up from our walk to find a decent meal in Chinatown Singapore, we eneded up going for the rather popular claypot chicken rice in Singapore.

claypot rice stall, chinatown

I remember this place, as a few years back, a Singaporean friend once brought me here for dinner. She claimed it is one of the best claypot rice in town!

chinatown claypot rice
And since my friend came from Malaysia this time round, I thought, I'll introduce him to what's popular here.

*Actually, I'm very afraid to introduce Singapore food to Malaysians - especially hawker's food, because I don't really know the best around. Besides, there is this perception that food across the crossway is more 'shiok'!

But, well, this friend is not so fussy, and so, I thought, introduce only lah.

chinatown claypot rice
Well, I'm right to say that it is popular alright. In this hawker's centre, there are so many tables waiting to be served.

And when we ordered, auntie says that we have to wait for 30 minutes... Usually I don't wait, but we were tired from walking and we could do with some rest in between.

baked fish, chinatown food
But thinking it would be quite a while, we ordered the baked fish from the stall beside. Which was covered with a lil too much chilli (friend already noticed that - how to compare with KL food huh haha).

Time flew pretty fast, as we had this fish to chomp down. In fact, luckily we ordered the fish, as even after 30 minutes, the claypot rice still haven't arrived.

claypot rice, soup
But finally, after a 40 minutes wait, the claypot rice was served! Yes, that is how popular this place is - with so many stoves cooking, yet it takes a good 40 minutes.

And despite the build up anticipation, however, the claypot chicken rice is somehow not so much something to wait so long for. Both friend and myself felt it was just ordinary - and this is the same feeling I had last time.

It could be a bit of a dissapointment in a way, especially if you are from Malaysia. But maybe because claypot rice is not that common here in Singapore, so it could be rather popular.

In any case, if you are a tourist, you can still give this Singapore's claypot rice a try - that is if you have the time (& patience)... and even for the Malaysians, you can still try if you want to know what the buzz about this claypot rice is all about! (I'm sure some of the claypot rice fans will love it, the rest, don't throw em chopsticks at me! haha) :)

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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Chinatown Singapore

chinatown singapore

Have recently been to Chinatown Singapore a few times - but this one is at night.

Despite many complaining that the Chinatown Singapore is a bit modern and rather touristy at some parts, but the place still do give that Chinese atmosphere.

chinatown singapore, traffic, cars
And it's very crowded, even (or should it be especially) at night! There are so many cars on the road and people everywhere.

chinatown singapore, restaurant
Well this is because Chinatown is famous for its food - one of them this eatery above. We had wanted to try it, but friend's not into frogs. But just see how packed it is!

And like I mentioned, Chinatown Singapore is really a mix of old and new. Our walk to find a place to eat, showed up these Chinatown pics.

chinatown singapore old bicycle
The old style bicycle parked in the middle of the pedestrian walkway. It does add to the feel of the place.

And look at that - durians! With the lanterns at the back! :)

chinatown singapore durians
Nearby, the fruit sellers with their stall in the pedestrian walkways - just in front of shopping centres.

It may seem rather common to some, but I think it gives a rather 'pasar malam' like feel to the place.

And though in rather systematic Singapore, it is here where one can feel a lil bit of 'chaos'.

chinatown singapore chinese medicine grocery
And there is also these Chinese medicine shops. I'm sure to some foreigners, they'll be surprised to see such shops around.

That is why I find Singapore unique - there are lot of old methods/ style/ heritage that are still running till today. Some have hardly changed, while others have changed to suite modern times (and yet remain rather traditional).

Though this is not the image one gets when they first hear the name Singapore... but look deeper, and walk beyond the main city hub, and one will find more things than the usual tall buildings of the modern city image.

And walk enough, and you'll find...
chinatown singapore kuaci

The kuaci! haha :)

Coming up, the food that we had to wait for 40mins!

*The Chinatown Singapore may feel a lil structured and neat comparatively to other Chinatowns, and one may like/ dislike it for that. But to me, if you are in Singapore, then check it out with an open mind :)

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Learning Is Scary

The past few weeks, I've been doing lots of research for our new project. There seems to be a fair bit of info finding this time round prior to the project.

'Thrown Into A Pool'
This approach is a little bit different from my previous works. First, take the 'dream book', Batik Inspirations - where I had near zero knowledge in publishing and marketing a book, but yet going straight into the game.

Till today, I believe if I had researched on the ASEAN book industry prior to the 1st project, I may not even have had published any book - seriously. Book industry players will most likely agree 101% to that!

More Learning
Then came the second project - the 50+1 Malaysia book. Though it still falls in the book category, but actually there were new things to learn. And again, much of the learning came while actually doing it, and not prior to it.

The reason is mainly because there were not much past similar works that I could research on for methodology and even concept.

Still Learning - But More Info Prior
And now comes my 3rd project, which is not with regards to the book industry at all. But instead, it has to do with productions.

But unlike the previous 2 works, this time round, I'm doing my research on the industry - from methodology to marketing, much prior before the actual productions.

Mind Blowing
And this weekend, I'm actually in a short course to learn about this whole new industry. And after the first day, my mind goes 'Wow, this sounds scary'. (this is the same thing I think would have happened to me if I asked about the book industry prior).

It's a whole new ball game for me, and so there's so much to learn (again it starts with near zero knowledge). Add that with the tons of things to research on.

Honestly, I didn't know it's that difficult. Already, the knowledge is scary, what more the actual work huh?

But like many entrepreneurs, I guess, it's an approach I have to take to see this long time dream fulfilled... and it's something I wouldn't want to say no to, no matter how
'scary' it is.

So, these few days, there will be much learning and conceptualising. And you'll be tuned to the updates very soon.

*Though I still think that knowledge about any industry we are venturing is important, but an entrepreneur should not be bounded just by industry past practices and standards. I've heard that sometimes CEOs from different industries are hired for the same reason - to not be bounded but to think of new ideas, and raise the bar.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

More Singlish

These are some daily conversations in Singapore, which I think relates closely to Singlish:

Singlish Scenario 1
Cashier: Do you need a carrier?
Cashier is asking if need a plastic bag for the goods/ groceries. Was a lil bit lost when I heard it for the first time.

Singlish Scenario 2

Grocery lady: It's 3 pieces... ok?
Me: Can...
One ang moh friend pointed how we use the word 'can' so freely. I guess I'm also into Singlish lah... haha.

Singlish Scenario 3
But at times, I do answer with:
"Yeah, that will be great" or "Yeah, that will be cool".
And I've heard some friends (from Malaysia) telling huh - What is great? Or what is so cool? What talking you?

More Than Language
At other times, it's not so much the language, but the things conveyed.

Me: What time does it close?
Counter lady: At 10pm... SHARP.

Wow, I was a lil taken aback by the 'sharp-ness' of the customer service. And I replied "I'll be out by then!", which she laughed (good thing she did).

There are other Singlish encounters which I find rather interesting, and many times, I think I speak it as well unknowingly. But well, in Singapore, let's do what the Singaporeans do... which btw, I think is not too bad lah :)

*Interestingly the 'need a carrier question' happens more so in Singapore and less in Malaysia, for its green campaign. In fact many times, they don't even give you a carrier/ plastic bag if for only 1 small item, which I think is good for earth :)

Read More On Singlish.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Multi Talented Ken Lyen

ken lyen
"I don't know where to start," that is my perception when doing this feature interview for Ken Lyen. That is because Ken is multi talented, and has a superb and impressive biography in the arts and entertainment field, and even in his own non related job in the medical field.

A consultant pediatrician, he has a clinic and at the same time holds many positions in regards to the medical field. And add a record of 12 related medical books and numerous papers to that.

But 'official work' aside, Ken has many other hobbies and passion - which is what drew me to know more about him.

The Author
With 12 rather serious books under his belt, that can be quite something for someone who doesn't proclaim to be a full time author. But more interestingly, he says that his 'serious' works are not all that serious as he 'injects humour into his writing'.

ken lyen, comic book
The Less Serious Ken
In fact, there is this lighter side of him as well, where he actually co-wrote a cartoon book with a Vietnamese cartoonist, Bao Dat in Dat's My Baby. Despite the comic book falling within the scope of his job/ work, but the book is readable by any. I actually read it as well, and find it amusing too - a somewhat comical take on children and the young.

The Composer
The one thing I'm most impressed with Ken is his ability to actually 'indulge' in his passion and hobby in the music and theatre industry.

Off work, Ken has since composed hundreds of songs, mainly of which are suited for theatre musicals. It won't be surprising actually, as Ken has played the piano since 3 years old, took up the violin at the age of 9, and have been singing in a choir and playing in the orchestra at 11.

With so many songs composed, it would be hard to point his favourite. However, with the guidelines of 'the melodies, the originality of the lyrics, and their life-affirming ethos', he mentions these 3 songs as his favourite:
1. It Seems a Little Strange
2. Reaching for a Shining Star
3. Life!

I particularly like Reaching for a Shinning Star, which stays true to his style of melodious music and meaningful lyrics.

Beyond Theatre
Ken's impressive record goes beyond theatre, and amongst the other highlights are writing music for the Singapore's National Day Parade 1997 and composing for MediaCorp TV 6-part TV Musical called School House Rockz (April 2008).

And he is now embarking on an animation project where he is developing the characters.

The Ever Supporter Of The Arts
Apart from his very own works, Ken is actually very much involved in supporting new local talents, especially in the composition, theatre works and even filmmakers.

He is so supportive in the theatre works that he is actually part of the Musical Theatre Limited where he helps nurture new talents - from identifying, developing and also giving them opportunities to stage their own musicals in the Esplanade Singapore!

The Love For His Nation
Being somewhat a patriot, Ken aims to help find the artistic soul of Singapore. Especially with the current initiatives by the Government, Ken sees that Singapore's art scene will continue to grow, and will someday lead it to be recognised internationally.

And how he plans to be part of this? The humble Ken replies - a modest one, where he would like to be a catalyst in the process.

ken lyen cd, magic paintbrush
CD Giveaway
To those of you who love theatre music, Ken is giving 3 of his Magic Paintbrush CDs away. All you need to do is to feedback to Ken on anything under the sun - either on his works or on the arts scene in Singapore, or for that matter even Malaysia (or any part in the world).

Contest ends: 4 November 2008.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Beyond Jonker Walk

jonker walk, signboard
I've been seeing lots of people reviewing about my hometown in Malacca. Many come down to Malacca for the weekend, some for a day trip, and there are also some who just drive down from KL or Singapore for a meal!

But I also know foreigners living in Malacca - either for work, or through the Malaysia MY Second Home program. All these just go to show that Malacca do have something to offer-lah :)

However, being local, we are usually 'blinded'. We do not really see the tourists attractions as unique, despite it drawing the crowd from all over.

But recently, having been back home for a bit, I took this opportunity to visit the historical area of Malacca's past. I did not walk at the rather popular Jonker Street/ Jonker Walk (aka Jalan Hang Jebat), but the streets around it. And these are what I saw...

jonker walk,, 2nd corss street
One of the many corner houses turned art souvenir shops along the Jalan Hang Kasturi (2nd Cross Street). One thing to notice is that despite it being 'transformed' into selling souvenirs, but the shop and its neighbours still retains its old charm.

jonker walk,, 3rd cross street
Parallel to that road is 3rd cross street. This graffiti has been around for a while now, and most of the times, we just zoom by. But this time, I took time to appreciate this 'art'.

I wonder was it a commissioned work? Maybe the work is rather interesting, and hence left there? :)

jonker walk, orang utan house
If paintings on the wall excite one, then this is one of the more prominent ones... located at Jalan Tukang Besi (Blacksmith Street). Yes, this is a picture of an orang utan by the Orang Utan house brand (famous for its local t-shirts).

jonker walk, orang utan house
I'm sure lots of work is done to paint this. What a huge orang utan - double storey!

jonker walk, orang utan house
And look at that - a peeking doll through the window!

jonker walk, old house
In fact, Malacca has many artists... one artist mentioned to me that towns like this give many artists inspiration, hence the many artists making Malacca their home... many born here, but also many others having migrated and now live here. Of course, there are also those traveler artists.

jonker walk, guest house
This road is quite quaint. And it's a nice walk compared to the much busier Jonker Street. You can literally dance on the road...!

jonker walk, tea house
Further down, a tea house with a temple like facet. Actually I was surprised to see this - didn't know it existed!

jonker walk, jalan tukang besi
Many shops continue with the local business over here... making this a good place to just soak in old Malacca. I hope some of these remains, though it's hard to say with the recent developments happening in the town.

jonker walk, lorong hang jebat
One more interesting find - this foreign lookalike cafe at Lorong Hang Jebat (1st Cross Street).

jonker walk, cafe
They really take effort with the plants and all.

jonker walk, baba museum
And one rather 'hidden gem' is the Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock (Hereen Street), homes of the many rich Peranakans (Baba Nyonya Melaka). The houses here are much more well decorated from the front, and even the inside.

I actually have done a shoot in one of the house turn restaurant here for Batik Inspirations. And till today, that segment is the most liked.

jonker walk, malacca river
And finally, I arrived at the Malacca River (Sungai Melaka) which was once the international port. Some complain that we don't see fishermen boats here anymore, but well, the consolation is a much cleaner river.

For those interested, there is a boat ride for tourists to view this 'Venice of the East'.

Well, that's my journey round the streets of Malacca - I believe the reason why many people come to Malacca for. I would if I'm not from Malacca too.

View Larger Map

*I did a more comprehensive write up on the Hereen Street & Jonker Street in the 50+1 Malaysia book :)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Honda Element Review Site

Talk about Honda, and one thing comes to mind – sleek and impressive design. This Japanese brand has been making waves in the automobile industry, and I believe many agree that it is quite a class of its own.

Well, now, it has a new offering – the 2008 Honda Element, which is like a crossover SUV and 4WD (apparently this model is already in the USA for a while now).

Review Site
Anyway, today is not about just the review of this new car model, but more so a place where car enthusiast can actually get quality reviews of their dream cars.

Under this site, one gets to know the car in a few formats better. First, there is a thorough review by the Editor. For example, his experience of the honda element car - he likes the style, huge commanding view, flexible rear seats and kid-proof interior. However he mentions that the car is rather noisy as well.

If like me, you don’t like a review without a conclusion, then you need not worry here. For at the end of it, this reviewer will tell you who the car he reviews is suitable for.

Like for the 2008 Honda Element, he says that it is “a great choice for drivers who need lots of storage room and a spill-proof interior”.

In fact, this car did not too bad with a 7.8 (out of 10) rating - based on styling, performance, comfort & quality, safety and features.

More Than Just Editor's Views
And interestingly, if you don’t like to just hear from the Editor’s opinions/ reviews, one can also seek other opinions. There are reviews from fellow car experts to even the very people who purchased the cars themselves – the consumers.

There is also a segment on related news about the car brand - though I find this not too necessary. But then again, it helps for those who are not familiar with the brand.

The Best Part Of The Site
But most of all, what I like about this review site is the rather huge gallery/ photo segment for the car, showing the exterior and also the interior. This I believe is the utmost importance for any car consumer - to see the visual of the car. In fact, through the pictures, one can roughly gauge the ‘feel’ of the car and see if the car is suitable.

For all car enthusiasts, you can consider this site when purchasing your next dream car... Or when you have the itch to get images for your next car dream goal :)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Jay Chou: Fragrant Rice

capricorn, jay chou
I thought that while I'm reviewing some songs, I might as well share this as well... yes, one of the most anticipated Chinese album in 2008!

Have heard about Jay since his first few songs, especially the likes of 周杰倫 (Simple Love - Jian Dan Ai) and 听妈妈的话 (Ting Mama De Hua - Listen to Mama's Words), but never really took much notice of him till recently.

The Cowboy Is Busy
caught my attention to actually do more research on this pop prince, arguably the most popular popstar and idol in the Chinese music industry today.

I was impressed with his songwriting, blending western music with his style, and come out truly a Chinese song.

Jay's style of singing & music is rather interesting, and I'm sure inspiring to many of his fans. Despite some saying it's hard to hear how he sing, or that he seems to mumble, but I think his music has got style, with a known trademark (you'll know that his songs are composed by him just by the tune).

And so it brings us to 魔杰座 (Capricorn - Mo Jie Zuo), Jay's newest album offering.

And the first single from the album is a more mellow song, especially when compared with his more recent hits which seems to be more fast paced.

However he stays true to his style & trademark here. 稻香 (Fragrant Rice - Dao Xiang) lyrics are meaningful, has a soothing melody and is rather inspiring. So is the rather sad but beautfiul mv/ music video.

You really have to listen to it :)

Monday, October 13, 2008

Wonder Girls Nobody

Girl groups seems to always have a good start. And this all Korean girl group, Wonder Girls, dressed in the 60s is no different.

One of their newest single, Nobody, is making waves (yes, big time) throughout Korea and I believe in Asia & maybe some ripple in the USA too.

This mv/ music video of theirs is quite eye catching combining the old fashion style with a rather catchy melody, plus some dance moves. And there is a rather hilarious storyline to it as well.

If previously, the Wonder Girls are more known locally in Korea, but I'm sure this song will make them reach beyond, and maybe take the world by quite a storm.

One more thumbs up for K-pop!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Nasi Kandar And More

nasi kandar, ayam goreng (fried chicken)
One of the Malaysia food I look forward to when back is the nasi kandar.

I still remember that I was first introduced to nasi kandar long long ago in Penang. Now it has become so popular that nearly everywhere else also has the nasi kandar, some calling it the nasi kandar Penang.

nasi kandar, curry
The variety of the curries are so tempting. Add that with the delicious fried chicken plus the local teh tarik brew ('pulled' tea).

Sometimes, the curry gravy seem to 'drown' the meat inside, and I have to ask to see what is the meat to know if its curry fish, chicken or mutton.

More Than Nasi Kandar
Anyway, this time round, its not really about the nasi kandar food, as I believe nasi kandar is about the same nearly everywhere. This stall's nasi kandar was pretty good. Of course, the extra sedap (delicious) ones with many varieties are really in Penang and KL.

nasi kandar, counter
What caught my eye is actually while making payment. Yes, again, it may seem ordinary. But it reminded me of childhood days when I would go up and buy the chewing & bubble gums from the kopititams... and they were stored in these very same containers.

(You know those bubble gums which has a tatoo thing in their folder?)

I had to reach up to open the rather highly placed containers, sometimes asking the auntie of the shop for help. But usually, the auntie will help even before asking, and with a smile.

If not wrong, it was really cheap - bout RM0.05 or was it RM0.10 only.

Such fond memories - makes me sound old haha.

nasi kandar, malaysia flag
Another thing that caught my eye is this Malaysian flag at the counter. Ah, so patriotic heh. Strange for the flag to end up there, but anyway, it was nice seeing the flag at the counter.

Cyberjaya Nasi Kandar
While at this, I think I'll also share another nasi kandar outlet I visited recently. Again, its really not about the nasi kandar, but some other things that caught my attention.

nasi kandar food
Was there recently and the meeting ended rather late in the afternoon. So I stopped at the first restaurant I saw.

You can say I was hungry as it was not after I ate my lunch that I saw these on my table. They were right in front of me - bananas & eggs.

nasi kandar, banana and egg
Well I've seen bananas, but eggs? And bananas with eggs? Some kuihs would havbe been good.

Anyway, thought it was rather unusual - again, at least for me. It was hard boiled eggs some more (did I hear right?).

It made good photography experience, though I guess some may say I've been 'away' rather too long haha! :)

*I visited the Malacca nasi kandar outlet after the kampung. The Malacca one is on the way to Alor Gajah (from town). I can't remember where is the Cyberjaya one, as I reached there by coincidence.

Friday, October 10, 2008

More Kampung

kampung food, donut

Guess where is this? This will give you a clue.

kampung food, donut

If like me, you think donuts are confined to big brand names in upmarket malls, you'll be in for a pleasant surprise.

Well, that's what happened to me the other day. I was once again in a kampung after an appointment not too far away (really). But this time round in another kampung - Kampung Baru Lendu in Malacca (Malaysia).

I've passed this road before, but has never really took time to appreciate the surroundings. However, having a lil bit of extra time that day, I took a slower drive and had a rather good experience.

First, as I was driving, I suddenly saw this display of donuts in a shop. Had thought of trying some, and of course to take some photos as well. But they are not ready. Maybe a next time (wonder when I'll be back).

chinese kampung

Just a little bit further, I saw this... to some, this maybe usual. But for me, I find it unique firstly maybe because I don't see much of this in town (even if there are, a lot are plastic ones put up for Chinese New Year).

Actually, I'm more impressed because in this rather Malay kampung lies a Chinese kampung. This makes it unique to us in Malaysia.

Think about it for a while - where rather huge contrasts live side by side in such distinct styles (and harmoniously, I believe very much so).

kampung, rubber estate

And just a little bit further down the same kampung road (maybe about 50 - 100m away) is the rubber estate.

It reminds me of a friend whose house is also near a rubber estate. And once I visited and had this picture image of the place when it was foggy - what a beautiful scene, captured with memory only.

So now, I'm again near the rubber estate. Well it was not foggy, but the sun is out. Nevertheless, I wanted to capture this image on camera this time round.

The 'atmosphere' is somewhat different if compared to taking on a foggy day. However, I still find it quite interesting, and still very much a unique Malaysian image.

kampung, rubber tree

Just stopping by for a while and capturing these images of the rubber trees gives a very different feel from us zooming by on the highways with the trees on our sides. Here, there is the whole kampung atmosphere.

Well, the not too long road eventually leads to a 'highway'. And the more familiar images are back in view.

*Of those who would like to know more about this kampung area, it's at Lendu, Malacca. Try the donuts!

View Larger Map

Wednesday, October 08, 2008


jewellery, necklace
On this second part of introducing the region's entrepreneurs, I had a good opportunity meeting a jeweller.

I've known Joe as a business associate - more so as a cafe owner. But recently, I met him again, and I had a pleasant surprised to see an extension in his business.

jewellery, shop
A few doors away from his cafe, he has just recently set up his first jewellery store/ outlet, selling non other than his very own handmade accessories.

The atmosphere in the shop feels good and one can feel very at home with the well layout. His items are very nicely displayed and has already been seeing brisk business.

jewellery, pendant
Located in the old Hereen Street of Malacca (Malaysia), this guy is the brains behind his designs up to the workmanship. He has quite a complete array of jewellery items for the ladies - from the popular necklaces, pendants, rings... and even lamps (an accessory for the home).

jewellery, beads
These items are made using beautiful & colourful beads, rubber and glass together with copper wire. This is no easy task - sourcing for materials that are unique, eye catching and yet affordable.

He draws his inspirations a lot from his mum. In fact, Joe is someone who is rather creative all along - as actually, this whole shop's interior is also created by him (he even sources for the old furniture & beautify them himself!).

jewellery, light
I guess what makes Joe's items stand out is his combination of things being handmade (which some are really painstakingly time consuming) plus having an eye for design.

Joe showing how he makes a necklace using raw beads.

And I agree with his concept that local products can go far, if given the right design and instruments... giving it an international flavour, yet very much retaining its local touch.

jewellery, jeweller
This jewellery business of his is still new (about 1.5 months old), but I believe has a huge potential to grow big. Especially so with his ever willing attitude to learn... plus his humbleness (yes, Joe is really one of the most humble entrepreneurs I've met - he can make you feel like an old friend in just the first meet).

Adjustable Rings For The Ladies
jewellery, ring
Well, there's good news. Joe is giving out 3 handmade rings (like these ones) to the ladies (for the guys, you can also participate to give it to your spouse/ girlfriend).

All you have to do is simply tell Joe what you like about his items and/ or anything else you hope to see in his outlet (yes, help him expand :) ). The 3 most constructive answers will be picked by Joe himself.

Contest ends: 22 October 2008.

*To Joe, continue that humbleness and the entrepreneurial spirit! :)

*To those of you from Malacca, or would be visiting Malacca, you can drop by at Joe's outlet: 6, Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock, 75200 Melaka. (this is the parallel road to Jonker's Street).