Review: The Valley of Amazement

It's a bad idea to visit a bookshop at promotion period, you'll get more than what you want.

I've read quite some Amy Tan's books in the past and it seems like she has stopped writing for a while, and I've completely forgotten about her. Until I saw her new release in Kinokuniya.

First and foremost, this is an R-rated book, only for adults, really.

Violet grew up in a courtesan house, which was owned by her mother. She grew up living with the most popular courtesans in Shanghai, observing them playing the courting games with suitors. Violet grew up with knowledge that she's an American but not knowing her father was a Chinese. By learning the truth, Violet started her adventure to learn about her past. To learn the history of her family and to understand how she had developed the angers in her.

It's cleverly written in such a way, both mother and daughter, Violet and Lulu found their way to discover their past. And how they finally understood each other and forgive. The fates of two different generations inter-wined, and it's not surprising towards the end, how much the daughter was a mirror of the mother.

There are some touching moments that gets you teary. It's not enough for me to cry like a river, like when I read Jodi Picoult. When it comes to emotions, Jodi still captured them more precisely. Subtle words, but powerful expressions.

Having said that, the story is still catching enough to get me going throughout the 500++ pages. It's not as good as whatever Jodi's titles I've read, but it's not something I will put down without knowing the end.


Review: The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared

First of all, let me admit that I have habit of impulse buying when it comes to interesting book titles.

I read a guide on how to write descriptions on five senses before I read this adventurous book. It makes me more critical than ever. And as a noob, I can tell you straight this book doesn't hit "show but not tell" rule. The author tell you right in your face like I do.

But this sounds like someone familiar, ah, 卫斯理! I've read 卫斯理 since primary under my sister's influence. But before I started, I remember her commenting about his series of sci-fi, he's not good in his writing style, never even try to copy that, but imagination can go wild! That is what keeps readers coming back for more.

So that's what happened to Jonas Jonasson too, not very good in writing style, but way better than 卫斯理, even comparing two different genres. I do not know how does the original looks like, maybe it wasn't that bad. I can't discredit everything from Jonas Jonasson, it may just be the fault of the translator. I will never find this out until I learn Swedish. (I wonder if I would)

The title has said it all, this 100 year old man climbed out from his window from a Home on his 100th birthday and wind up with a series of unexpected adventures with idiotic gangsters, professional thief & con man, hotdog stand owner, angry red headed woman, lonely inspector and an elephant. The author had put intervals of the current and the past of the old man to explain the old man's exotic characters.

The humour was brilliant when the author carefully placed the old man in all the important events in the history in the past 100 years and how he made the important decision that changed our world to where we are today.

This is a book to pick up purely for entertainment, to pass time. If you were to learn English writing, please pick up the books beside this on the book shelf, chances are they're better.

However, I think this could make very interesting comedy on screen. And I can picture Tom Hanks to be the best person for it :)

(When I was googling it as I wrote, I found out it has already been made into a movie! Maybe I should look for it!)


Ah Ma's Fried Egg

There were always a pile of stools at the corner of the dining room, to cater for the 10 noisy chatter grandchildren in the house. Especially during the weekends.

The radio at the corner was playing my grandmother's favourite radio station. She's always on Chinese station listened to the old tunes while cooking in the kitchen.

My uncle came into the dining room so frequently as if he's restless waiting for the food in the making. Most of the time, just to open the fridge, checked out if there's food, then closed again. A habit he never got off until today.

My grandfather, always occupied a corner of the long dining table with a deck of cards, playing to himself. Sometimes, my cousin, his favourite grandson kept him company. They played something I never thought I would understand. Not because it's complicated, it simply seems lull to me.

I remember there's always a piece of salted fish in the upper deck of the cabinet in dining room. Had my grandmother hid that away on purpose? I've never asked. But I always tried to reach the top with help of stool and stole a few bites.

As dinner time approached, the dining and kitchen got more crowded. The aunts and my mom helped my Ah Ma out in the kitchen. While us, the chatty little ones chased and teased each other in the crowded dining room. We always ended up shouting.

We're a bunch of easily pleased grandchildren back then. A plate of fried eggs will do. But only Ah Ma's fried egg. It's the best fried egg I've ever tried in my 30 years. None of my mom or aunts managed to duplicate it. But Ah Ma said, it's simply oil, egg and salt, and fried them in wok. She never saw why was it so difficult for them.

I don't understand that either. The golden fried egg, with just so enough oil and salt to keep it fragrant and delicious. 

Simple dish is always the most difficult to cook.

So many years have passed, and we're all grown up, we still talked about the fried egg.

My grandmother is old now, she no longer can make us the fried egg. But I think, that plate of fried egg is always the best collective memory we have all had.

Reimagining the layout of the house, the kitchen, the dining room, and the plate of fried eggs for each of us, had made me feel blessed for a wonderful childhood.

A childhood that filled with a plate of fried eggs :)


An Average Person

From source
A friend had recently posted this on Facebook. Many responded on the post because it was a true reflection on the life of 95% of the populations (or maybe more?!). But did we do anything about it? Most of us don't. Sadly.

My company tirelessly conducts a survey every year, to understand the satisfactory level of employees to the company. The questions every year were mostly repeated. And one of them, always made me puzzle on is "Does working in XXX help you to achieve your career goal?"

I remember in a forum few years ago, one respectful manager had given some talk on this particular question. He's one of the better ones in our department, I respect him but he left the company, again, sadly.

He said he discussed this question with his engineers every year during the performance review meeting. Nobody had really given him a good answer because most of them have no goals in mind. If one has no goals, no matter what company you work in, it will not help you. Because to do that, you have to have at least a goal to start with.

This forum had struck me. The speech he gave was powerful enough to stay with me for a few years. I was new back then, and I am glad I heard it when I was still new. I said to myself, I must have a goal.

Over the years my goals changed a few times. But never mind that, as the life changed course, we steer towards the change. Nothing went to waste because I believe everything happened for a reason. And be always prepared to receive the luck because you never know when it will happen!

This comic comes in a right time when I needed the most. I'm currently working towards my new goal (which was left around for some time). I am a lazy person, so it serves me well as a good reminder.

How about you?




我习惯孤单上路。有时候,这是一种选择。可是路程的尽头,我知道,总有人在等我 :)





6 years

Simply want to write something down, it's the 6th year of my working life, in the same company. It's weird because my company had just held a celebration, company wide for those who have hit milestone 5 years and above. I was in part of it. But one week later, it's my 6th.

I'm not going to say it's been a journey with ups and downs anymore, since nobody's journey is without. My 5th going to 6th has taken its toll on me. There was one particular issue that has taken and eaten into me, quite badly compared to whatever I've faced before. I ended up emotionally disturbed, easily got mad and fell sick too. My neighbor was the victim.

Of course after that I told myself to let go. I think I did pretty well, at least I thought.

It's my 6th year today, and I decided to change the habit a little. I hit the gym during lunch hour. Everybody asked me why? I have almost never missed lunch for the past 6 years, because I'm always hungry.

Well, I have tonnes of reasons... I have fats to shed off, It's my 6th year anniversary I can chose to do whatever I want to, I feel like having a change, I am not very hungry... But one reason that I didn't mention publicly was, I want to be alone.

Simply, alone.

It felt pretty good after that. And I'm actually considering changing my habits into lunch time exercise. It's refreshing after the afternoon shower. With that I can have more time for myself in the evening.

Not a bad idea! *wink*

People said you should not settle for good. Great is not good enough, go for the best. It's tough. I would say my work place is not the best. But really, I really love the people I work with. We fight along issues together, we laugh, we share personal problems, we talk crap etc. We're one big family that spend 8 hours together everyday. We're not always happy of course, but we fight, then we forgive. We cried (well... I cried), then we forget.

My boss is not a perfect boss too. But she's so understanding sometimes it caught me by surprise! I can tell her honestly how I feel about my job without worrying that she'll penalize me. Obviously we had disagreements too, but she tolerated my temper. That makes me learn how to control mine, so that I won't hurt her. It's not fair I keep giving out my temper.

My lab, laughed at how silly I was when I joined. Now, I've changed over the years. But still, we laugh together everyday.

There's so much to think every time I hit the anniversary. 11th June.

So much to think.


What Can We Do?

I've given a lot of thoughts ever since "the day will be long remembered". I think I have to make some note here because I need a reminder to myself.

Before the election, a lot of us were saying if we can achieve the true democracy, a two party system, we can plan to go home for good. We, as in some Malaysians who currently reside in Singapore.

We are a group of fortunate people who enjoy the best of both worlds. I do not and will not deny this fact. We work in Singapore, earning the stronger currency. At the same time we are not very far from home, with the grown of budget airlines, we get to go home more often than the Malaysians in other countries.

But come to think of it. How selfish are we? We are only planning to go home when things are better? And what are we doing to make it better? Click some 'like' and 'share' in Facebook? Are these actions sufficient to justify the fact that we simply move back to enjoy the fruits from the trees which were not even planted by us?

Every single action, no matter how small it is, plays a part in contributing in a larger outcome. For example, first you have to start with register as a voter. Then, make an effort to cast your vote. If every eligible citizen plays the role, we are one step closer to democracy.

The reason why we never achieved a true democracy, is the people. People who do not think that it matters whoever is the government. People who do not think that one vote in their hand will affect anything. People who do not believe that change can happen as long as we put effort in it. People who do not care, but continue to complain. And mind you, these people can be anybody. From old aunties uncles to executives in big companies. Senses and awareness are not proportionate to your education level. Never.

However, things have really changed. Myself as an example. My political awareness had slowly increased since 308. And exponentially increased when the parliament wasn't dismissed in 2013 until April. I believe there are many whom are like me. Thanks to the social media and independent media.

But we had fallen into some of our own delusions that democracy can be created overnight. Hence, after the defeat, we mourned, we grieved, we felt despair. We were blurred by the things being shared in social media and confused between truth and rumours.

But come to think about it, whose fault is it, of the defeat? Us. Because we took too long to come to the realization that we can change. Because we were so blind by our own delusion, we have forgotten about precautions to take against the tricks. Because we were so confident, we forgot there were still groups of people that have different level of awareness from us.

Maybe it's purposely planned this way, by The Authority Up There. So that we have time to reflect ourselves. If The Authority thinks that we're mature enough after 21days, The Authority may give the fairness back to us. If we're not, if we're still stupid, The Authority may give us another 5 years.

So no matter it's a 21 days or 5 years of wait, the Rakyat have to work together to boost the awareness level, nation wide. If you do not know how to spread to others, at least read more and analyze more on your own. Self awareness and self help is a great help too.

I apologize that my awareness came really late, I'm almost 30 years old this year. That to me, is really late. I have to call myself stupid. But it's better late than never.

Let's work hard together, for democracy!


Of My Skin Colour

I do not know about you, but I have had several occasions where I had to explain to the foreigners about myself. Because, there are always some confusions.

Foreigner:"Hi, where are you from?"
Me:"Hi, I'm Malaysian."
Foreigner:"I thought you're Chinese."
Me:"I'm a Malaysian Chinese."
Foreigner:"..." (blank face)
Me:"Malaysia is a multiracial country. We have Malays, Chinese, Indians, Iban, Kadazan, and many other ethnics. But we are all Malaysians, we can all speak Malay and English. And on top of that, we speak our mother tongue."
Foreigner:"Whoa! That are a lot of languages to learn!"

That's a typical conversation when I encounter foreigners who know little about Malaysia. 

I was born in Malaysia, I grew up in Malaysia, I was educated in Malaysia. I am a Malaysian. 

I do not introduce myself as Chinese when I meet foreigner, because I'm not from China.

So, please allow me to introduce myself again.

Hi, I'm a Malaysian. 
Aku anak Malaysia.


We are proud to be Malaysians

Tears shed, heart broken. But we are Malaysians, we are strong, we are resilience, we will stand up! We are even nearer to the road of true democracy.

We have achieved a lot we could never have done before 505. We have the highest turn out rate ever in General Election in Malaysia history. We have the highest political awareness ever! (including myself) We have proved we are one united nation, all the different races come together to share the same vision for our beloved country. We have proved that we can face the defeat, maturely.

We will show them, the-forever-racist-comments that they made will not affect us. We will show them we learned our lessons from this defeat. We will show them who we are in five years to come.

There are a lot people to thank in this PRU13.

Thank you to all the PACABA! You have done a great job, helping to educate the voters, especially the first timers like me. Specially to my friend, Ching Siang, who flew home from Abu Dhabi, not just to cast his vote, but to be a PACA himself. To spread more awareness, to help junior to raise fund for air ticket to fly home, to give hope.

Thank you to all the Malaysians who have voted. Thank you to all the Malaysians who have tried their very best to spread awareness.

Thank you to Dato Sri Anwar Ibrahim, Lim Kit Siang, Lim Guan Eng, Karpal Singh, and all the other opposition leaders! You have given us hope and strength to fight. You have united the people. You have given us a vision.

Thank you to all the Penangites! I'm proud to be one! We have shown them money can't buy our votes (I was worried but results proved that I was thinking too much). We have shown them who we want for our state government again and again! We have shown them Penang boleh! Penang has given me hope!

Last but not least, thank you to our PM! Because of you we are even more determined to stay strong and united. Because of you, Chinese society learned that PAS is peaceful and nothing to be afraid of, the thoughts and fear about PAS in the past was so idiotic. True racial harmony is looking good and bright in Malaysia!

I've seen a lot of kindness in this PRU13. People helping each other at the polling center. People handing out donations to the party in need. Police at the polling center helping out in taking care of young children when the parents were voting in the classroom. People clearing out their own rubbish after ceramah. People leaving ceramah quietly and orderly.

I am moved. Truly.

I think it's time to stop mourning. Yes, we are defeated this time. But like my sister said, Lim Kit Siang can fight for this for 47 years, went into jail for two times, who are we to give up hope?

Never give up. Stay strong. Stay mature and peaceful. Stop posting insensitive comments on social media. Do not go on street and riot.

And also, do not forget today. Remember this very heart-aching feeling you are having, right here right now. Remember how you were defeated, so that you can stand up from where you fall.

Remember, do not lose hope, continue to believe because

Quote from Star Wars
Luke: "I can't believe it."
Yoda: "That is why you fail."

Malaysia boleh!




排名分先后 :)

排名第七、Joshua Bell
室友是Joshua Bell的小粉丝,再加上Joshua Bell是少数音乐家里长相英俊的小提琴家,我也很想看看他,所以我们出席了在Esplanade的音乐会。他的小提琴技术好是没话说,可是他就是少了一点点。少了让我全神贯注的那一点。听完他的音乐会,我会说真的好听,但就是没有让我忘记呼吸的感觉。













Sick, for the longest time

I fell sick after CNY holiday.

It all started with a weekend with fever. On Friday, I thought I felt feverish, no fever yet but I thought I'll be fine so I continued to stay at work until 4pm. When I finally got home, I was having fever already. Continuing that weekend, I had runny nose and cough.

I thought with enough rest I'll be all fine. But no, on the next Wednesday, my voice decided to went out totally with sore throat. I was given two days MC but it wasn't sufficient to bring back my voice. I went to work on Friday, without voice.

Then, it went on to another weekend, I was still pretty much hoarse voice. I forgot when was the second time I went to see the doctor, but second time I was given a stronger medicine. It got improved, but not a lot.

You can imagine during these times, I was eating and drinking almost everything that people can suggest to me, that is good for the throat. Honey lemon, vitamin C, herbal tea, the egg with rock sugar tea etc. Plus, avoiding everything "dangerous" too, like coffee and tea.

It didn't work very well. I improved, but not a lot. So I went for the third consultant, by this time I was given a referral letter to specialist. My appointment was last Saturday. After a scan, (that costs me a bomb!), the specialist told me it's acid reflux!

So! No wonder I've not been recovering because I was treating the wrong symptoms. Why was it wrong? I wasn't supposed to take Vitamin C, lemon, and tomato, because all these food cause acid reflux. And i wasn't supposed to take water before sleep. Because, it causes acid reflux too!

I guessed it did start with throat inflammation. But as I kept doing the wrong steps, it slowly causes acid reflux and worsen the throat condition.


This is the first time I learn that what happened in my stomach could cause me a loss of voice. That's why I am sharing it here. You may have already know about it, but I didn't, at least before the visit to specialist.

So now, I'm doing everything I can. Take ginger tea, take honey (no more lemon!), sleep early, no eating or drinking 3 hours before sleep, sleep elevated, take medicine accordingly, and massage my 照海穴as per instructed by my sister.

The heartburn is reduced now. So I believe my voice will get better in no time! IT HAS TO BE! I'm going for a trip next Monday!

Believe, and it will happen :)


Trying to Cultivate a Good Habit

I've been trying to cultivate good habits in myself, well, for a lot of things. Unfortunately I'm never persistent enough to cultivate them as a long term habit. Now, I'm trying even harder.

Before my Chinese New Year home trip, I bought a book by Deepak Chopra at the airport, titled "Grow Younger Live Longer". Ya, who doesn't wanna look younger? I want, I admit! I'm stepping into 30 this year,  and I'm not going to deny it, 30 sounds kinda scary to me.

But reading this book is not about just how you look, is how your body feels. How to cultivate good habits in your life, some very simple habits, may just take 15 minutes of your daily life. It says, it takes 10 weeks of practice to have a habit cultivated! I'm in two weeks now. Eight more weeks to go!

What have I been trying:
1. Wake up earlier to practice sun salutations and short meditation. Before this, I wake up at 7.45am-ish, rushed to brush my teeth and shower. Change in a hurry and go to work. Results, sometimes I doze off in my shuttle bus, which results in even more tiredness at work in the morning. Now, I wake up earlier, 7.15am-ish for sun salutation and short meditation. If I'm early enough, I even get to eat a bowl of cereal before going to work. I'm more refreshed, I read on the train (when it's not too crowded) and I don't doze off in the bus anymore. In fact, I practice breathing on shuttle bus to office. Some day I wake up before the alarm. But confession here, I missed the routine for two Sundays! Once was when I was in KL with the Man. Second time was yesterday, I was wide awake up too engrossed with researching Amsterdam for my coming trip.

2. Yogurt facial. The books recommends go natural and organic for everything. As much as I like to follow this, I have to find a balance of what I can afford to go organic. Facial with yogurt, honey, and lemon is an easy way out for me. I've been doing this, alternate or once in 3 days. Face is less oily recently. But as indicated by the sharing on FB, about yogurt reducing blackheads, I have to tell you, it's not true. I still got blackheads when I peel with the Biore blackheads peeler.

3. Stretch before sleep and do massage on the reflection points that my sister taught me. Especially 三阴交for my period problem. It works for me, for two months now. Period comes more on time, and no more cramps. 

4. Eat more vegetables. Confession I have made on my photoblog, I didn't have enough intake on fibers. The book promotes take in all the six taste: sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter and astringent. I have to admit I don't follow all of them, but I commit to eat more vegetables!
  • Sweet: Favor whole grains, breads, fruits, starchy vegetables, low-fat organic diary; Reduce: refined sugar, animal fat
  • Sour: Favor citrus fruits, berries, tomatoes; Reduce: pickled and fermented food, alcohol
  • Salty: Reduce highly salted food like chips, pretzels, processed tomato juice
  • Pungent: Favor all spicy food in small amount-ginger, pepper, onions, peppermint, cinnamon
  • Bitter: Favor all green and yellow vegetables
  • Astringent: Favor: beans, peas, lentils, apples, berries, figs, green tea; Reduce: excessive coffee
These are what I commit to myself to cultivate in myself. Please remind me if you found I'm not doing any of them.


Something About Getting Married

I've wanted to write something about getting married for some time, but I hadn't got a chance. I was either too busy, or getting myself too addicted to novels that I didn't even switch on my laptop for days.

After three wedding dinners (with the same person, pheww!~), I've learned a lot. 

Yes, yes, we knew all along getting married is not just a matter of two persons. There are just so many external factors to take care of. First of all, of course the parents, whether or not we met their expectations and at the same time satisfied ourselves. Then, how do/should we treat our friends and relatives who helped out, who flew all the way, even half the globe just to see you on your big day. Also, guests that attended the dinner. Did they enjoy the food and the live performance? Did they enjoy having the gathering with long lost friends and relatives? Bumping into some familiar faces and picked up from the last time they met?

All these factors have affected us in chosing whether or not to follow the local Chinese customary wedding, venue for wedding dinner, song list of live band (you can't have the band to sing Jay Chou when 80% of your guests are your parents' friends), table arrangements etc. 

I would say our wedding dinners were not perfect, all three of them. I don't believe in perfect wedding even though we've worked hard in planning for almost a year. I don't know about all of you out there but my wedding ceremony and dinner were both a little chaos. We're all new in this wedding thingy, things got complicated when we did not know what's next. When you finally have experience, you don't need them anymore. That's the tricky part of getting married =p

Only on the morning I got married, I realized my house was not big enough to house all the important friends and relatives, all at once. And we have problems walking around, and I'm glad I wasn't wearing a ball gown. During dinners, more things can get wrong. The projector, the speaker, the slanted screen, the lights, the decoration etc. But we couldn't care less. I don't think majority of the guests would notice that anyway.

My favorite moment of my entire wedding(s) was after the wedding dinner. My cousins and aunts stayed back. We were trying to arrange logistics but we all got distracted and started to sing, dance, drink and take photos, while the curious waiters and waitresses cleaned up the place. Just the thought of it made me smile to myself. This was really the best part of my wedding =)

Trust me when I tell you most couples don't get their dream wedding. There were tonnes of factors that hindered you from getting one. Monetary is always one of the biggest factor unless you're freaking rich.

But it's up to the couple whether or not they're bitter about the unperfectness of the wedding. Some people get down to the tiniest detail of the wedding ceremony, but I personally don't think it's worth the effort because most guests don't remember a single detail from your wedding. 

I don't believe in being the prince and princess on the wedding either. Yes, you might be the main actor and actress of the day but doesn't mean all you do is just about you. Having your guests leaving the dinner happily is important too.  

All in all, no matter how things turned out, I guess all the couples feel the same after everthing.