Tuesday, September 28, 2010

I Ate The Balut (Again!)

Last year, I tried the balut/ balot... yes, the duck embryo (read my post on: Filipino food).

This time, I was back - for more! Yes, it was that.... gooooood!

It happened when staff & myself was at one of the restaurants around Market Market. The restaurant was packed - even though it's already 10 plus. Thought of some good local food - and this restaurant looks promising. So, in we went.

The menu was placed.. and I ordered the crispy patta first (one of the 'must try there) & the yummy chili cheese sticks - which was super delicious, btw.

And while I was looking in the menu, I saw the balut. Without hesitation, I said... "we gotta try this.. after all we are in the Philippines!".

I know many who wouldn't try it. But my last experience eating it last year was good. I guess the fact that the egg last year was more like a normal cooked egg rather than an embryo - and that made the difference.

But whatever is, I was game - for more. So, bit by bit the food came.. and so did the balut.

Looks not bad, right? Just like eggs & toufu...

So, on we started our meal... and slowly, it was time for the eggs.. ah, the epitome of the dinner... something you can't find it back home.. yes, it has got to be non other than the prized, Filipino good food.. of the balut!

And in true essence, it was for real. This time, it wasn't like what I had tried it last year. This was the real balut - where the embryo is clearly seen.

Though usually am quite a adventurous guy when it comes to food, but no, not this time... I passed this. I couldn't eat the embryo... though I ate the egg white & toufu around it.

Of course, the main reason is that I (and I think many of the rest will agree) is that we are just unaccustomed to it. Some of us eat piglets served on the table with its head & tail. Or eat the fish when it's served as a whole and not in pieces. Some also eat turtle eggs. And frogs - yeah, they are nice with porridge. And durians for that sake (don't some of us just love the smell of durians!).. and how about blue cheese too.

But balut? Well, that's a different story - at least for that trip.

But will I try one someday again? You never know. Really (and especially if there's some Pinoy to cheer on "Die die must try!").

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Manila... Ooh La La!

Being in Manila the past trip, all I can say is.. this place is cool! There's many things to like about this place.. and here are the many that I like..

Pinoy cartoon. There's just something very distinctive about their drawings.. which at one glance, u can tell if a cartoon is 'made in the Philippines'!

USA influenced. I may not have been to the USA yet, but well, I believe that Manila is closest we can get to it in this region here. The USA culture is quite heavily seen here, either brought in directly or inspired by USA... and can be seen especially in the food & fashion brands (eg Krispy Kreme is super big here & so is this Yellow Cab pizza with cool bikes to boot!).

Open Minded Culture. Being in a more closed culture like in Malaysia & Singapore, Manila breathes one big fresh air... things are open here (or seems, at least).

Just take their T shirts as a good example! There's nothing pretentious, shy or hush hush about!

Happy & Free! Close to being open is being free.. seeing Pinoys dancing & singing openly is normal. You won't get stares or weird looks, or worse scolded. Now, this is the real open life that is not bounded & restricted... but just live freely instead! (yea, forget the 'dont dos' but instead 'do as long as its okay').

*This dance in the restaurant is apparently done every 15 minutes!

Cool Designs & Creativity. Just like Thailand or even Indonesia, I'm impressed with the flow of creativity here. This bookstore design may look simple, but just a bit of creativity & arrangement (& willingness to spend some $), and it makes this bookstore all good & different!

Delicious Pinoy Food. The food is not spicy, but still, it has this closeness to the food in our country, in some or many ways. While I may miss the sambal/ chili at times, but eating local food here daily is really okay with me too!

And for someone who do like pork, Philippines serves just well. Pork comes in all types of cooking, with one of the most famous of them all - the crispy patta (crispy pork knuckle)! Now, u don't need to go to the German restaurants only to eat this.. instead, just to any food court or restaurants in the city!

Celebrity City/ Nation. Turn every corner, and pics of celebrities are everywhere. They are ambassadors for nearly everything... even coconut stalls! This goes to show the star power of them, I'm sure (and the size of the media industry... hooray to Pinoy power!)

Franchise & Booth Culture. Walking into the malls, I see so many booths selling all types of products. Interestingly, most of these are all franchised. The thing is - the stuff they sell, are not complicated - like fresh juice, hot dog, ice cream, and loads of other food.. now that's a biz idea?

Friendly with a cute English Twist. Not as gracious as the Thais with their soft spoken Thai, but still, their oh-so-cute English, and ever willingness to assist is what makes the Pinoy stands out. Talking to them is easy - language wise.. and is nice for the fact that they wouldn't mind starting a conversation.

I can't say more.. this city is cool. But be informed, you can only enjoy this if - first you are open minded enough, and secondly, it would help with some good Pinoy friends to show u around. Then you can join me and say "Manila.. Ooh La La!"

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Inspiring Lessons From A Forwarded Email

How often do u still read forwarded emails? I still receive a lot of them, though I must admit I don't read all of them.. unless I think it's interesting enough.

And today, I read one which I thought I'd like to share with all. It's not totally new as I've read some of the stories before.. and some of them seem like some cliche story, but still, on the whole, this is quite an inspiring email... so here it is.

Five (5) lessons to make us think about the way we treat people.

1 - First Important Lesson - Cleaning Lady.

During my second month of college, our professor gave us a pop quiz. I was a conscientious student and had breezed through the questions until I read the last one:

'What is the first name of the woman who cleans the school?'

Surely this was some kind of joke. I had seen the cleaning woman several times. She was tall, dark-haired and in her 50s, but how would I know her name?

I handed in my paper, leaving the last question blank. Just before class ended, one student asked if the last question would count toward our quiz grade.

'Absolutely, ' said the professor. 'In your careers, you will meet many people. All are significant. They deserve your attention and care, even if all you do is smile and say 'hello.'

I've never forgotten that lesson. I also learned her name was Dorothy.

2. - Second Important Lesson - Pickup in the Rain

One night, at
11:30 p.m. , an elderly African-American woman was standing on the side of an Alabama highway trying to endure a lashing rainstorm. Her car had
broken down and she desperately needed a ride. Soaking wet, she decided to flag down the next car. A young white man stopped to help her, generally unheard of in those conflict-filled 60s... The man took her to safety, helped her get assistance and put her into a taxicab.

She seemed to be in a big hurry, but wrote down his address and thanked him. Seven days went by and a knock came on the man's door. To his surprise, a giant console color TV was delivered to his home. A special note was attached...

It read:
'Thank you so much for assisting me on the highway the other night. The rain drenched not only my clothes, but also my spirits. Then you came along. Because of you, I was able to make it to my dying husband's bedside just before he passed away... God bless you for helping me and unselfishly serving others.'

Sincerely, Mrs. Nat King Cole.

3 - Third Important Lesson - Always remember those who serve.

In the days when an ice cream sundae cost much less, a 10-year-old boy entered a hotel coffee shop and sat at a table. A waitress put a glass of water in front of him.

'How much is an ice cream sundae?' he asked.

'Fifty cents,' replied the waitress.

The little boy pulled is hand out of his pocket and studied the coins in it.

'Well, how much is a plain dish of ice cream?' he inquired.

By now more people were waiting for a table and the waitress was growing impatient.

'Thirty-five cents,' she brusquely replied.

The little boy again counted his coins.

'I'll have the plain ice cream,' he said.

The waitress brought the ice cream, put the bill on the table and walked away. The boy finished the ice cream, paid the cashier and left. When the waitress
came back, she began to cry as she wiped down the
table. There, placed neatly beside the empty dish, were two nickels and five pennies...

You see, he couldn't have the sundae, because he had to have enough left to leave her a tip.

4 - Fourth Important Lesson. - The obstacle in Our Path.

In ancient times, a king had a boulder placed on a roadway. Then he hid himself and watched to see if anyone would remove the huge rock. Some of the king's wealthiest merchants and courtiers came by and simply walked around it. Many loudly blamed the king for not keeping the roads clear, but none did anything about getting the stone out of the way.

Then a peasant came along carrying a load of vegetables. Upon approaching the boulder, the peasant laid down his burden and tried to move the stone to the s ide of the road. After much pushing and straining, he finally succeeded. After the peasant picked up his load of vegetables, he noticed a purse lying in the road where the boulder had been. The purse contained many gold coins and a note from the king indicating that the gold was for the person who removed the boulder from the roadway. The peasant learned what many of us never understand!

Every obstacle presents an opportunity to improve our condition.

5 - Fifth Important Lesson - Giving When it Counts...

Many years ago, when I worked as a volunteer at a hospital, I got to know a little girl named Liz who was suffering from a rare & serious disease. Her only chance of recovery appeared to be a blood transfusion from her 5-year old brother, who had miraculously survived the same disease and had developed the antibodies needed to combat the illness. The doctor explained the situation to her little brother, and asked the little boy if he would be willing to give his blood to his sister.

I saw him hesitate for only a moment before taking a deep breath and saying, 'Yes I'll do it if it will save her.' As the transfusion progressed, he lay in bed next to his sister and smiled, as we all did, seeing the color returning to her cheek. Then his face grew pale and his smile faded.

He looked up at the doctor and asked with a trembling voice, 'Will I start to die right away'.

Being young, the little boy had misunderstood the
doctor; he thought he was going to have to give his sister all of his blood in order to save her.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Manila International Book Fair

Was at Manila for the Manila International Book Fair just last week...

Was a very short business trip - 4 days & 3 nights, but it was really one good trip. We managed to meet the bookstores there - and brought along the Singapore's & Malaysia's authors & publishers books we represent.

Plus we managed to meet up with some good publishers from the Philippines who are keen to explore further on exporting their books out of the market. This spells good news for Booqc.com :)

Btw the book fair really impress me. First its held at SMX - where the gigantic Mall Of Asia is. So location is SUPER!

But more so, the fair was very well planned & easy to navigate for visitors.

As me and staff were there on the 1st & 2nd day, the crowd was manageable (we were told that it would be superly packed - back to back, on the weekends!).

The booths may not be as pow wow as say some of the stands at Thailand's or even some in Malaysia's bookfairs, but on the whole, it is much more consistent.

And though the fair may seem small compared to that of Thailand's or Malaysia's but its good enough. There were enough business contacts to make from - bookstores, distributors, publishers and even book representatives.

Oh and did I mention - generally, they are all so friendly... that to me is the plus point too - not just the bookfair, but the city & country as a whole! Talking business was very welcomed and that is a good start to a good biz relationship :)

*Okay, maybe if they want to improve further, there can be more Pinoy publishers represented on their own (and not just via bookstores) - eg for their top authors :)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Harapanku (My Hope)

Recently when I felt the world was grey, I took out as many cool songs I think that would uplift my spirit... from Mando to English but non of them could..

However, this one song by Malaysia's very own Vince Chong somehow managed to do so albeit very slowly.

Actually this is the 2nd time I felt the world kinda grey - and again, its the 2nd time that this song has uplifted my mood (the last time was bout 3 years back).

Anyway, why or how can this song change the world from grey to colourful? Well, I think the lyrics speak to me..

For those of u who understands Bahasa Malaysia, here it is. May you enjoy & be inspired by it too.

harapanku | Musicians Available

*These are part of the lyrics that touch me:
"Sorakan menanti aku pasti... aku janji...

Halangan, rintangan cuba mematahkanku
Namun, ku mara ke depan
Ke arah itu tuju
Tentangan, rintangan biarpun beribu ribu
Tidak akan dapat memadamkan.. harapanku.."

Cheers await me, I promise..
Though there are obstacle, I'm still moving fwd for it cant diminish my hope..

"Akan aku buktikan
Pada mata semua
Berkatnya keyakinan & juga cita cita
Andai dikau percaya
Pasti ada jalan-nya
Kuncinya ada di taganmu
Dikau tahu, dikau mahu..."

I will prove that with hope & dreams, there is a way. The key lies within us - and whether we want to achieve it.

How powerful is that?! :)

*This song is a Malay version of a very popular Chinese love song - lao shu ai da mi. But the lyrics are different.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

When The World Was Grey

Just before a few days back, I felt the world turn grey. Yes, that's how I'd roughly describe about 10 days of the beginning of September.

I had no appetite to eat - food had no taste and nothing excited me. No movies, DVDs, music or even sceneries made my eyes sparkle or glow. Business ideas were stagnant and life-less too. It was that bad that even the oh so yummy mooncakes were kept in the fridge untouched.. I was also gone from Twitterjaya & Facebookjaya.

It was really a weird period. Started off with me falling rather ill and very sick - high fever on my birthday. And then I read one book - which till now, I don't know if it's good or bad (don't ask me what book is it - don't feel too comfortable to mention it now). I'm not sure which made me feel bad though I think it's both..

Some friends teased and say its 'mid life crisis', but huh?

I talked to a few close friends and they could sense a very different QuaChee..

Anyway, I tried all ways to find Mr Inspiration & Miss Motivation back - through any means I could, despite feeling the world being so grey. But nothing really worked.. for a good 10 days.

And it was just hard to get out of it (though I knew at the back of my mind that that would be a phase - but I kept thinking "when?").

Anyway, somehow, like a miracle (and some inner motivation of wanting the usual life back), things began to change back to the positive-outlook life I usually have..

Food became tasty once again (I started eating the mooncakes!), music is now back to being inspiring.. and I can now watch DVDs once again (have yet to go to the cinemas though). My outlook on life is back to where it is - and maybe better.

Whatever it is, I'm glad that the world is now back to its colourful self and gone is the greyness.

For now, I am looking forward to happy sunny & bright days ahead, and wish for you too! :)

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Oh Mooncake, I've Got You!

It's that time of the year.. when the round lil cakes make their way into shopping malls... and into my fridge haha! Yeah, mooncake season is back, and I can't be happier!

mooncakeSome of you will remember my love for mooncakes especially this Raffles champagne mooncake from Singapore! The champagne mooncake is just... ah, what shall I say... yummiliciouslyfantastic! Haha! The first time I tried it a few years back, I so fell in love with it...

Anyway, 2 weekends back was a long holiday in Selangor and I took the opportunity to cuti cuti 1Singapura... hehe. Been a while since I've been there, and was a good time to catch up with some friends.. And while there, I made full use of the mooncake season.... getting myself the epitome of mooncakes... from non other than Raffles!

quachee mooncake
Btw apart from the ones from Raffles, I also got myself the durian mooncake from Marriott (though I know Goodwood Hotel is famed for that too, but somehow I prefer Marriotts).

So that weekend, Singapore has gotten a different tourist... I wasn't there for the integrated resorts, the casinos, the big Singapore flyer or anything else.. but simply, just them mooncakes! Yeah, nothing else matters when it comes to the mooncakes... and that's something I'll continue to visit Singapore for haha!

*I shared some of these mooncakes with a few bloggers friends, and I think they quite like it ar - from their blog postings! :)

Monday, September 06, 2010

TM iTalk Raya Goodie!

What is Raya without the 'green packet' heh? Dare say it's a lil like Christmas without Santa & the gift wrapped presents heh?

italk raya

Well, TM iTalk takes note of this.. and is offering 20% additional talk time for those who reload the italk card from now to 31st October 2010! Well no monies there, but rebate is not too bad too, ya? That is if ur a customer of course!

Well since my company uses their services and yes we are their customer, this do sound like a good offer - at least something we can use. So hooray to the festive cheer! :)

italk rates

*We use TM iTalk in our office to make overseas calls and so far, its still the best service in Malaysia (the clearest tho not the cheapest).

*TM credits can also be used to purchase for their other services (just look at the list!) - though we've yet to try those :)