If only Proton had this…

[Things did not look too well during my trip to Taiping last week. It was pretty much “eventful” this time around – I will blog about it soon]

Anyway, I returned from Taiping yesterday – opting to return on a working day has always been a good idea, less traffic on the road and rest areas. Just after leaving Tapah, I saw spotted a bright red colored car on the road.

From far, it looked like a Singaporean car – you know lah how they have all the new models around whilst many of us are still using Iswaras and Wiras. The Thais also have new models but you hardly see them on Malaysian roads

The car was doing 120 km/h when I managed to close on the car. The back looked impressive. So, I thought it must be one of the Japanese made sports cars and some lucky bugger managed to afford it. Curious to know what type of “Japanese Racing” car it was, I overtook the car (no prize for guessing my overtaking speed).

The side (especially the front) looks very familiar! Yes, it is a “remodeled” Proton Waja with a Johore plate number. The side skirting was well done and it was a beauty!

I completed the overtaking and damn, the front looks even more menacing and with an ala-Evo look. The skirtings and the other body panel did not look out of place – that’s right, it did not have any of the Ah-Beng’s unwanted accessories. It looked like it was manufactured by Proton.

The car maintained its 120 km/h speed and so I had to slow down and let the remodeled Proton Waja to overtake. Within minutes, it was gone from my sight.

As I was cruising down the highway, I was thinking why Proton with its R3 can’t come up with something like this – a road sport car or better still, provide JPJ approved body kit. Sigh, and they still unable to understand why their sales are down.

Del.icio.us Tag: Car

No rise in price and wastages

I wonder where the "leak" in the cost of generating electricity is (picture source: http://www.pcec.coop)

It’s funny I talked about the art of lying days before this post. So, when you read headers like the above in the newspapers these days, you know that 1. Someone is taking you for a ride and 2. This is just another cheap talk – the price goes up anyway. It seems like there are other masters out there

Year in and year out, the price of goods and services goes up, no matter what is mentioned by trading associations and politicians. When the price of raw materials or processing cost (induced by an increase in electricity, water or human resources) goes up, the cost of the finished good would have gone up as well. It is the fact of life and is inevitable. People with common sense understand that.

What we rather not see in the aftermath is statements like “there is no rise in price this year” and “despite the increase, our rate is still one of the cheapest in the region”. Sometimes, to the man in the street, such statement is an insult to his intelligence. That’s because whilst the rate might be the cheapest in the region, the level of service & quality may not be. To rub salt on the injury, some sector of the government would embark on some money wasting projects, all in the name of wanting to get things “done”. In the end of the day, the math does not add up – people tightening their belt to reduce wastage and save money and the government continues on a shopping spree and wastage activities.

Kuala Lumpur Vegetable Wholesalers Association chairman Soo Cheng Kee said the tariff increase would not have a major effect on the prices of vegetables. “Planting vegetables does not require electricity, thus consumers do not need to worry.”

Ya, true enough but then again, consumers don’t eat raw vegetables for lunch and dinner, they eat cooked vegetables and unless you have the benefit of having your meals at home, you are going to eat it in a restaurant. This is where you know you are going to get screwed. The indications are there already. Words like “yet to increase their prices but a price hike was unavoidable” and “we cannot hold out any longer, especially with the latest electricity tariff hike” should bring back some reality to the newspaper headers. It has happened before when the fuel price went up.

So prepared to fork out an extra 20 cents for roti canai and teh tarik at the local mamak joint – the increase is inevitable.

Talking about wastage activities, in case you did not know, it is in the newpapers today that ACA is venturing into production of dramas. You read the papers right – as part of its anti-corruption education plan, the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) plans to set up a drama production unit to produce advertising materials and docudramas.

If you don’t believe what you read in the papers, it gets better. Just have a look at the reasoning for this move –

ACA director-general Datuk Seri Zulkipli Mat Noor said with its in-house production unit, the ACA will be able to produce more educational programs towards the prevention of corruption.

I know I know, some of you might be asking “what the f@ck?” I thought the same this morning. Shouldn’t ACA leave the “drama producing” to FINAS and concentrate of reducing corruption in the country? Do you really need to waste time, money and resources on dramas? The corruption will continue to exist as long the guilty ones thinks that they can get away with it. Focus more on investigations, forensic science and training and any cost on that will be rightfully justified. Book down some high profile cases and the guilty ones will think twice of committing corruption.

Because at end of the day, if you know you will be caught ANYWAY, the chance of you committing crime is slim. No matter how good is a documentary can be (with all due respect to local drama producers, I had never found the quality or the effect of most of the local dramas up to mark for real changes), if there is plenty of cash in front of you and you know you will get away with it, producing such drama is just money down the drain.

Think about it.

Read also Jeff Ooi’s take on the IPPs

Del.icio.us Tag: Money

The fine art of lying

In case you have misinterpreted the heading, read again – it is fine art of lying, not fine art of flying

I blame it on my previous company for “sharpening” my skills of telling lies through my teeth. My first lies was when I was in the marketing department, lying to the customers saying that the management is still considering their applications even though I knew that it has been rejected outright. I felt bad and I had not heart to tell it to them on the face. I told lies to “soften” the impact. What started as a good intention slowly turned into a daily routine.

It got worse when my good friend, his name was “B”, joined the company 2 years later. He is the master of lies and he was really good at it. So much so that some of the bosses knew that he was lying but somehow accepted it.

He could write a book on the fine art of lying – he was doing it almost every moment. But don’t mistaken my friend here – he does not have any bad intention and he does his work to ensure things get down so his lies are just temporary. He spoke the truth when and where it was required. He does not mislead people and for those who know him, it can be hilarious to see him in “action”

I still remember this incident couple of years ago. We were at Maybank sports complex for a football tournament. It was very early in the morning and we had our breakfast before coming to the field. Another of our friend was flying in from Kuantan to see the game and I clearly recalled “B” the night before informing him that the boys will be up early at the airport to pick him up. The problem is my friend, “B” had completely forgotten about this trip after the call.

So, there were we, getting ready for the game when “B” handphone rung. It was the friend from Kuantan. He had arrived at the airport and called to say that he is unable to locate the boys who suppose to pick him. “B”, without missing a beat and hesitation quickly said that the boys had left the place almost an hour ago and called to say that they were reaching the airport. Once he had put down the phone, he told me that he had completely forgotten about this. Just then, the boys were arrived at the field – “B” ran to them to tell about the task of picking someone from the airport and had bluffed to say that the boys were already on their way. The boys of course, shouted at “B” and ran to their car to dash to the airport. Everyone who was there at the field was laughing when the friend from Kuantan finally showed after an hour waiting for the boys. His face was red with anger.

“B” just smiled and apologized but that did not stop him from lying in the future. Even today, he will try to trap me with some of his lies (especially of stories with some big bosses or friends). I would laugh and ask whether that is the truth or not. “B” as usual in his classical way and without any hesitation would say “yes”.

You ask what about me? 

Well, these days, lying is only done in good faith and I don’t even consider lying as a routine. Trust me, I am not lying. I am not!

Del.icio.us Tag: Opinion

Jelly Fish & Livers

Somehow I had to post the picture of the noodles that I had for lunch last week…it had fish balls, liver and jelly fish. It was a bit sweet despite looking spicy. Don’t forget to try them the next you are around in Bangkok.

How many items you can identify from the photo?

Del.icio.us Tag: Food

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Roaming Bangkok

[Warning: picture intense post]

The question on Friday night was “how to spend the weekend”. Good thing about Bangkok is that the local newspaper has some pointers for us to consider

We were working on Saturday so we had the Sunday free for roaming around town. Chatuchak was already in our itinerary for Sunday but we wanted to see other things too. One suggestion was for us to visit the mall in Siam Paragon (similar to our own KLCC).

Siam Paragon signboard at the BTS station exit

This is my third time to the BTS station, so I knew my way around. The trip from Sale Deng to Siam station cost only 15 Baht (about RM1.50). From the Siam station, the staircase leads directly to Siam Paragon’s main entrance. The majority of the passengers dropping off at the Siam station were walking towards Siam Paragon. So, we took the easy way – we just followed the crowd into Siam Paragon, which is reputed to be the largest shopping complex in South East Asia. The atmosphere looks the same as our KLCC. At the entrance was list of movies being screened at the Cineplex at 5th floor. Almost everyone was pointing at the screen time for The Da Vinci Code. A look at the crowd at the Cineplex dashed the hopes of watching the movie at the earliest time. It looks like it will be better to watch it at IOI when I return home this week.

The thing that will make my son to enjoy himself – the place for the kiddies to jump and run

Things were too expensive for us to purchase. It was no difference from “shopping” in KLCC. But then there were rows and rows of shops including several shops selling exotic cars (now I know how low a Lamborghini car can be). So, I did what I would do when I am in KLCC – window-shopping. Every floor is divided into various zones – food, electric, household, etc. There were also shops specializing in cooking and antiques. McDonalds looked like 5 star restaurant. Right at the ground floor was the Siam Ocean World – a 2 storey of aquatic exhibition. The entrance fees were about 400 Bath but we did not go down. We did not have the time as it seems like it will take us the whole day to see the exhibitions. Yes, I am exaggerating this but given that it was a 2 storey exhibition area, we would have rushed through if we had gone in to see.

With such big wordings, it is difficult to miss the Siam Ocean World

We walked around and after walking several floors up and down and checking out some of the electrical & camera shops, we were tired – it was time to move on. We had the time though. So, we walked out from Siam Paragon and headed to Ma Bor Krong aka MBK via adjoining pedestrian bridge. The atmosphere in MBK was the opposite of Siam Paragon. It was like the difference between KLCC and Low Yat Plaza. There were plenty of shops selling cheap items. I tried to shop for some clothes for the family but nothing suited my expectation. Fashion has certainly moved a lot since my last trip to Bangkok.

The MBK building as we were walking from Siam Paragon. It is well connected by pedestrian bridges and walkway

Unable to purchase worthwhile anything in MBK and to kill some time, we decided to have an early dinner. There were plenty of fast food restaurants around and an unusual high number of Japanese restaurants. Since we have not tasted the real Tom Yam since we arrived in Bangkok, we opted for a Thai restaurant serving tom yams. The thing about tom yams in Bangkok is that it does not taste like “tom yams” back in Malaysia. So, the next time you are in, don’t forget to try the Thai tom yam.

The tom yam in MBK – hot, spicy and full of seafood variety

It was an exhaustive day – we reached the hotel late, took quick shower and were knocked off

Del.icio.us Tag: Other Trips

Movie Review: The Exorcist: The Beginning

The room was dark and cold…I could almost feel that there is someone else in the room

I was watching a movie where a church is discovered in the middle of the desert somewhere in Africa. A church that was built before Christianity came to that part of the continent. Inside the church, archeologist find images of Lucifer and a statue of Jesus that is hanging upside down. The earlier archeologist has gone mad and was sent to an asylum. In the town nearby, strange things started to happen – a young boy seemed to be possessed, people falling out sick without any symptoms and a boy is brutally killed by hyenas that appears from nowhere.

Welcome to the world of the Exorcist: The Beginning (read the plot summary here)

I first watched the movie couple days ago but at the moment when the boy was brutally being attacked by hyenas, the TV lost signal. I left watching other shows wondering what will happen in the end. Luckily for me, there was a re-run of the movie yesterday. So, I managed to reach the hotel early, took my shower and tucked in for the movie. Timing could not been more perfect, the movie started at about 11.00 at night. So, imagine the atmosphere watching a horror movie in a dark cold room. Just perfect!

I had watched the original Exorcist movie a long time ago and had expected some “horror” moments with this one. I was not disappointed. It has been sometime since I watched a really good horror movie.

Stellan Skarsgard plays Father Merlin, a fallout priest turned archeologist who was paid to assist in an excavation of an artifact from a church discovered in an African desert. He was no Indiana Jones but he keeps his cool despite the strange things that is happening around him. The setting of the story was slow and steady. Passing of graves of people who have died of some mysterious plague, the natives who are suspicious of the dig and strange things happening in the town was a good way to built up the suspense.

The best part was this – 2 boys (brothers) arguing among themselves over a piece of digging tool. The older brother being the bigger in size would grab hold on the tool and would start teasing the younger brother. Their pet monkey would be screaming near them. All the sudden the pet monkey will turn into hyena and would start attacking the older brother. The attack is brutal and it looks real (the blood, the screams and the horror look on the faces). Other hyenas join the attack and it completely ignores the younger brother who is standing close. He looks possessed. The father of the boys would come in with a rifle and despite the best efforts by him and the priest to shoot down the hyenas, the hyenas manages to drag the body of the older brother into the night. The body would never be found. Sound creepy doesn’t it?

The director, Renny Harlin (director of Die Hard 2 & Cliffhanger) was wise enough not to overdo the story – just the right amount of suspense, little bit of paranormal activities and finally a more logical showdown with the demon itself. The finally setting of the “fight” is also done in the right place – in a cave just below the church. The shadows created by the lamp carried by the priest leave you wondering whether the demon is hiding in the shadows. You just will not know what is creeping in the dark corners of the cave (those who have been to the Batu Caves will know what I mean). Can you imagine this – you are crawling in one of the smaller tunnels with a lamp, the vision is not that good – you can’t see far and the way ahead is dark and to make it worse, you have to struggle to push your way through the small tunnel. Then when you put the lamp in front to see, you find the demon staring back at you in the tunnel. There is no way to run. You are trapped! That what happens in the movie – the priest gets badly hit.

In the end, although the outcome was predictable – good wins over the evil, not everyone was going back happily ever after. The lady who the demon possessed lies dead, so does the soldiers sent to protect the digging site and rest of the people who was helping the priest.

Scary indeed…

(Note: all pictures are copyright to Warner Bros)

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Heavy Rain and Irish Bar

If you were asking what is the connection here, I would say “cold weather”.

The rain came early and left early yesterday much to our relief, so our walk back to the hotel was a “dry” one. The atmosphere was quite cold though. So, with the air-conditioner in the office set to the max, it was like working in the Arctics. Luckily me and another colleague of mine had enough work to distract our mind from the cold (well almost).

The line of colorful umbrellas at the office – photographed just after lunch and it continued to rained another 2 hours after

So, when we got off work at about 8.00 pm, we wanted to stop by an Irish pub named the Irish Xchange for a drink and food (more for drink really – we were feeling so cold). We have read from the net that exparties and travelers frequent this and the choice of food is good. Since it is also on the way to the hotel, it made more sense to make a “pit stop” before closing for the night.

As we walked into the bar, we were greeted by a full house of westerners having their drink among friends and colleagues. It was a full house indeed at the ground floor. Luckily for us, Irish Xchange had another floor up and we quickly made our way up. I would say that atmosphere as “cozy” – dim lights, pool table at one corner, a big screen in the middle and a group of westerners laughing and drinking at another corner.

The cozy Irish Xchange bar – it seems to be best place to be around without going far in the rain

The menu at the bar was “comprehensive” but rather was expensive. I opted for Thai dish – fried rice and chicken (125 Baht), the original Irish dishes were way too expensive, going as high as 495 Baht. We ordered our drinks – 90 Baht per bottle for a San Miguel beer. We were chatting and drinking whilst waiting for the food – there was no live band but there were some background music (cannot beat the pubs back home – with lively Bhangra music & youngsters heavy with "tanni"). We were starving by then. Given the atmosphere and the prices of the food & drink, I had expected my meal portion to be small. I was surprised when the waiter bought my food, the portions were big – hmmm, well worth the money I paid.

After couple of drinks, we left the bar – it was only Thursday night and nothing much was happening then. Probably we will check out the place again on Saturday night.

Del.icio.us Tag: Other Trips

It’s Rainy Season!

It’s been raining cats and dogs here in Bangkok for the last 2 days.

The rain showed it’s "light side" on the day I arrived in Bangkok couple days ago but yesterday it showed the darker side of it. It started raining from 5.00 pm and it continued by the time we "ran" to the hotel at 9.00 pm. That is 4 hours of heavy downpour! It continued to rain even after that.

The view of the rain from my office – some part of the road have started to flood

Predictably it started to flood in some part of the area where the office was located. Luckily for us, the road from the office to the hotel was not flooded. So, we managed tiptoe to the hotel – little bit wet on the shoes but otherwise was dry on the other part of the body.

I was watching CNN where it was mentioned that Hong Kong and China were braving themselves on the onslaught of the Chanchu typhoon. The unusual heavy rain in Bangkok could be the side effect from that. Then again it may not be. This morning’s newspaper ran a column, which mentioned that there would be more rain in the next few days due to the El Nina effect.

Rain that is longer and heavier, sigh. It’s time to keep an umbrella on stand by

Del.icio.us Tag: Other Trips

Happy Birthday BJ Thoughts

Gosh, time sure fly fast and I have completely forgotten about this until someone highlighted to me.

My complimentary drink upon my arrival in the hotel in Bangkok – a celebration sort of

BJ Thoughts have turned 1 last week (ya, I missed it by a big margin) and what a year it has been. Totaling 249-posts to date, I dare say that it has been a very productive 1st year for the blog. Starting from Blogger on 12th May 2005 to now current home at WordPress, the blogging has been a learning path for me – both in improving writing and html coding.

It’s funny how things have turned since the 1st post. This is what I said in my first blog post, a year ago:-

It has been some time since I wanted to do this…start a blog of my own and here am I doing just that.

I know I am getting into a very big trouble with my wife when I signed on for my own blog. This means more time to write and sit in front on my home PC and less time to baby-sit my 1 year old son. It is even lesser time for my wife.

I always been fascinated on how technology is changing our environment and I are even more fascinated of the some of the blog-loggers who can update their blog almost everyday. Damn, where do these people get the funny, witty and interesting contents for the blog? A scarier thought, now that I have heroically signed on a blog, what I am doing to do next? What will I write? I know that soon I will overcome my writer’s mental block to start blogging.

I know I love to write which unfortunately leads to my colleague complaining that my “short” emails to them looks like the 19th Century Study of World History Thesis (here I go again). It supposes to be short and sweet but always ends up “long, winded and trip to Siberia and back”. I hope it won’t happen on this project!

After a year of blogging, I dare say that blogging did not get me in trouble with my wife but somehow helped us to communicate whenever I am posted overseas. I did have the normal mental block sometimes but it has not discouraged me from continuing to blog. After all, there is always something that Malaysian politics can give for a topic for the blog

So, here’s to another year for BJ Thoughts!

Del.icio.us Tag: Blogsphere

Cracked Laptop Casing

There is nothing more distressing than having a crack on the laptop casing in a land far, far away from office.

I was at customer site when I realized there was a crack at the joint – something I did not noticed earlier when I picked up the laptop from the office couple days ago. I did not drop it or accidentally hit the laptop against hard surface. It is an old laptop and it was probably showing it’s age. I was worried though, that this crack will get bigger and damage the circuits inside it (ya, I could see it through the crack).

So, I tried to patch it up temporarily using scotch tape but it was not successful. The crack was not properly sealed. The only solution then (other than going to a computer shop for casing replacement) was to glue it up using superglue. Tricky, dangerous and definitely risky – one accidental drop of the glue into the sensitive circuits and I can kiss the laptop goodbye.

The patch that did not work but it gave some cover against the elements

So, when I got off work yesterday, I rush to the hotel, had a quick shower and then made to the nearest supermarket. There was only one left on the shelf and the big elephant image on the cover was more than enough to convince me that it should work (of course I also read the tiny prints at the back to ensure that it was safe enough to use on a laptop casing).

The crack that needed to be sealed tight

The “surgery” was critical – so, I took my time to glue back the cracked joints. Taking several deep breaths, I started the operation. I was careful because 1. The laptop does not belong to me 2. I needed for work whilst I am in Bangkok. The crack was wide when I close the laptop, so I carefully added the glue to the joint and inside of the crack. Once I had it fully covered with strong sticky glue, I carefully held the screen so that it joins back and it did. After several minutes, the crack had completely sealed but I did not want to take any chance, so I added several layer of glue on the top and added a thick plastic to make sure that the two ends of the crack do not break.

The “patient” after the “surgery” – cracked sealed and kicking

I was happy that I managed to seal the crack with superglue that actually works. However, it was not over yet – I still need to find out whether the laptop works or not. After almost 2 hours (I wanted to make sure that glue has really harden), I switched the laptop and closed my eyes for the worse case scenario. Nothing bad happened. The screen came to live and it was working perfectly. The crack was sealed tight and after several tries of “open-close-open” the casing, the glue held on the crack and the laptop was working perfectly.

The day was saved…

Del.icio.us Tag: Other Trips

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