Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Pursuit of Happiness

And happiness comes in the form of discounts, they say. Before that, let me tell a story:

"Once upon a time, there were two friends. Let's call them I and H. They went to an orientation program organised by a central bank of a Southeast Asian country. To cut a long story short, H had no shoes with him, and out of desperation borrowed I's leather shoes, a size 9 which was probably too big for H. Out of the question.

To cut this short story shorter, the program ended, and I unfortunately forgot all about the shoes. Unfortunately for him, H forgot too, and left the shoes in a comfortable hotel room. Oops. And when I phoned the hotel they had the nerve to not call back. There goes the shoes. Double oops. Luckily H is a decent young fellow who promised to reimburse whatever amount is needed to buy new shoes (with an upper limit of RM 130). Hooray! The End."

And so we go back to the story of discounts. Like a miracle, a flyer dropped into my postbox yesterday:

80% discount? Now that's happiness :) So this morning i went with my dearest mom to the coveted warehouse sale, to provide relief for H's pocket in these trying times. And i found what I came for: affordable yet comfortable shoes. They range from RM60 to 130, and i'm talking about brands like Hush Puppies. I'm surprised at how uncrowded it was at the sale.

After a little bit of looking around, i settled on a pair that would bring a smile to my face (it was worth the price) and a smile on H's face (it was well below his price range). I love win-win situations. =) And besides shoes, there are a number of other clothing items on sale. But no, you can't haggle for lower prices, they're already cheap compared to boutique prices.

The sale will be held until 4th of January. Calling all bargain hunters! The warehouse sale is located at 2nd floor, Dataran Hamodal, Jalan 13/4 Petaling Jaya (behind the Colgate-Palmolive building). Happy hunting ;)

Monday, December 29, 2008

A Time for Change

First and foremost, a joyous Awal Muharram to all Muslims =) It's not just a public holiday for extra sleeping uses, but a time for us to reflect on how we have behaved all this while, and move on to become better people. That is the spirit of hijrah.

We need to also reflect on the state of things in the world today. Hijrah is not bound for Muslims only. The world is dynamic. Every wrong thing needs to be fixed. Not necessarily a sudden, complete change. Sometimes, one small step at a time. But the essence is still the same: Change. 'The only constant is change', quotes Isaac Asimov.

Speaking of world affairs, i happened to glance upon an article in, 'On the Gaza Border:Israelis Cheering On the Attacks', a report on Israel's attack on Gaza. is the website of the prestigious news magazine (US-owned). A cut-out of the article:

"Later on, the spectators listened to radio reports that Israeli helicopters had attacked Qassam launchers, the weapons that Hamas militants have been using to terrorizing Israeli towns along the Gaza strip. The choppers attacked immediately militants had fired a Qassam towards the town of Netivot, six miles east of the Gaza strip. Hamas claims that the attacks have killed nearly 300 people over the course of two days."

Their way of reporting is, to me, one-sided. When Israel attacks Palestinians, it sounds like a strategic move to defend their hometown. But how do they portray Palestinians, particularly Hamas? As 'militants' who are 'terrorizing' Israeli towns. Such negativity and biasness, when the reasons for Palestinian attacks are also to defend their homeland, which had been taken away forcefully by Israelis. But the US is controlled by Israel, so of course they wont say anything bad.

And what does the US do to stop the attacks? Nothing. Like they always do, just put pressure on Israel to stop the attacks. And maybe a peace treaty or two, or more.

Saturday, December 27, 2008


I never thought the day would come when i'd reach the home of the Crocodile Hunter. But on 16th December 2008, that day came. Crikey!!!!

Australia Zoo is located in Beerwah, Queensland, nearly 2 hours north of Gold Coast. But first, we had to endure a traffic jam on the highway (luckily they don't have tolls) :

The zoo is ingeniously located in a rather secluded part of Queensland, perfect for peaceful wildlife enclosures. The scenery was a welcome change after enduring the jam:

At last, we reached Australia Zoo. Steve Irwin may be gone, but his legacy is still strong and always present:

He was, and still is, an international icon for wildlife conservation, and his passion shows through in every aspect of the zoo he helped build from scratch:

1. For starters, unlike other zoos i've been to, there was no smell of animal faeces or urine. Everything was overwhelmingly clean and comfortable.

2. The animal shows are truly aimed at inspiring wildlife conservation, and feeling love for the animals. (nobody's putting their heads in the crocodile's mouth..what does that aim to prove anyway? That crocodiles are harmless predators?)

The huge, $8 million Crocoseum, venue for wildlife shows

3. The animals are so damn happy (well-fed, well cared for, etc.) I assume they're happy, because they respond actively. The snakes look like they're ready to strike..amazing =)

I love this zoo because its the first time i saw real live native Australian animals. Like cute, cuddly koalas and cute, cuddly kangaroos.

Yep, they're sleeping. Koalas sleep for 20 hours a day. Much like yours truly during the holidays.

And the object of Steve Irwin's passion: crocodiles.

Since i couldnt catch a photo with a croc without being lunch, i settled on a croc statue instead.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Theme Park Fever (continued)

My initial feeling upon reaching Movieworld is one of unabashed excitement. There was a big Movieworld gateway before entering the carpark,and i could see all the tempting rides inside. =)

There were a few flags hoisted in front of the park, and one of them was:

Yes, our Jalur Gemilang. And rightly so, because the place was full with Malaysian tourists, getting a piece of Hollywood on the gold coast.

Let's take a peek inside =)

Once you enter, the first thing that greets you is a towering menace, the Batwing Spaceshot. I looked at it and thought 'Hey, this seems harmless..i can't hear screams' and gave it a try. I guessed wrongly. The ride propels you upward at 4.5 G,followed by a freefall, and people can't hear the screams because you're so high up. It's an amazing ride.

Walking around in Movieworld feels like being in a movie set (what else?) There are movie characters taking a stroll on the streets, shops styled after movies (there's a Harry Potter shop and a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory store..that sells Cadbury instead of Willy Wonka chocs)

And of course, there are shows all day long, where you can watch, among other things, a Looney Tunes dance-off. (amazing how these places make you feel unashamed to be a kid again) But for me, the real attractions of the park are the awesome thrill rides, again inspired by movies. One of the best roller coasters i've ever rode on is this:

The Superman Escape. From a stop, 'superman' pushes you upward at a speed of..well, it made me scream my pants off, followed by a nearly vertical drop. Another scream-filled ride is the Lethal Weapon, a hanging coaster that has non-stop loops, dives, and every other imaginable twist on the track. Non-stop screams. Crazy.

A totally different kind of ride is the Shrek 4D adventure, kind of 3D with added effects (water, moving seats, etc) Everything in this theme park is so fun! So if you get the opportunity, do come here =)

And i give the same advice here. You wont want to miss any of the rides, so come as soon as the park opens at 10. And the park also has a small surau (in the middle of a bazaar-themed set)

Monday, December 22, 2008

Scenes from a seemingly mundane life

We humans find reason to celebrate over every little achievement. The first child, the time we successfully tied up a friend on his birthday, etc. And this picture explains my reason for celebrating today:

I am officially number 1 on 'Who Has the Biggest Brain?' =)

I'm not bragging or anything. I'm just celebrating a tiny achievement. It's a human thing. =)

Theme Park Fever

There are a number of themed parks in the Gold Coast, but i went to only 3: Sea World, Movieworld and Wet n Wild Waterworld (because there are discounted prices if you buy the tickets together). I took the Fun Pass: visit 3 parks over 5 days. Price? $149 for adults, which is cheaper than buying individual tickets for all 3 parks.

2nd day-Seaworld
Unfortunately, on the day we went to Seaworld it was raining heavily.

But of course, it was the 1st outing, so a teeny bit of rain won't dampen our high spirits :)

Seaworld showcases, well, sealife, but if i was to compare, the aquarium at Aquaria KLCC provides a larger variety of marine life. Seaworld has two aquarium exhibits: a small one for reef fishes, and a HUGE tank for open ocean animals.

The author, staring out into the open ocean

But it's the shows that set Seaworld apart from other ocean theme parks. There are 2 main wildlife shows: a sealion show and a dolphin show.

This is part of the dolphin show. Believe it or not, that guy is actually riding on two dolphins. Simply breathtaking. :) And the shows aren't just about the animals and the tricks that they can do. They emphasize on the message of conservation, which is what wildlife parks are supposed to do.

And that's not all. There's a super-cool waterskiing show and a Sesame Street stage show (obviously intended for little kids). But i somehow found myself enjoying the show by familiar Sesame Street characters. I grew up watching Sesame Street, and it was exhilirating to find that i remembered every single one of them. Ahhh..wish i was a kid again.

If watching fishes, sharks and sea mammals (or watching kiddie shows) aren't for you, Seaworld also has some thrill rides. The one i like best is the Bermuda Triangle, where you ride in a 12-man boat and supposedly unlock the secret of the bermuda triangle. With state-of-the-art special effects, its not so adrenaline-pumping, but it sure is thrilling :)

My brother and i wanted to take a ride on the corkscrew roller coaster, but unfortunately the theme park closes fairly early, at 5 pm. (it opens late, at 10 am) That is about the only downside to all theme parks in the gold coast. My advice? Come as early as possible, if possible as soon as the park opens. Believe me, you'll be hard-pushed to find time to see all the shows and experience all the rides at the same time.

P/s: amazingly, even though this is a country governed by non-muslims there are halal food outlets and even a surau, complete with praying mats. Thats one good thing about westerners. They are sensitive to other religions' needs.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Destination: Gold Coast

The Gold Coast. Picture miles of white sandy beaches. Sunshine beating down on a brilliantly bright day. Friendly aussie blokes and hot aussie babes. Ok, delete that last part.

A view of gold coast at sunset..notice the blue sea in the background

It has always been a favourite among Malaysians looking for an overseas escapade. And now, with AirAsia X, 'everyone can fly Xtra long' to Australia, including myself. :)

Our journey began at the crowded Low Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT). It beats me why they have to have a separate terminal for budget airlines, right next door to the main KLIA building. They could always re-use the old Subang airport, which is less half an hour away from my house, saving lots of travel time.

I love Air Asia. It makes air travel affordable for almost anybody. However, that low-price comes with a cost. Absolutely no frills. No food. No in-flight entertainment. You have to pay for everything else. Even the pilots have to buy their own tickets, cause air asia doesnt give free tickets to its crew. Considering the fact that you get cheap tickets, that's a small price to pay i guess.

The international departure terminal was, in a way, similar to a bus station. Why? Because of the huge crowd:

It reminded me of the crowd at Jalan Duta.

Excited faces..=D in the background: flight D7 2702

At 10.30, we took off on an agonisingly long 8-hour flight to Coolangatta airport, gold coast. As promised, unlike Malaysia Airlines there was no food included. It had to be purchased on board or pre-booked online. A box of food (nasi lemak or bbq chicken) = RM15. Comfort kit (neck pillow, blanket, eyeshades)=RM 35. Entertainment set=RM30. Expensive, yes, but thats the price you pay for getting cheaper overseas travel. :)

I met and chatted with an interesting passenger on the plane. He is an ex-australian army who's currently working as security in Iraq. Dangerous job. Some of his friends lost their lives working in Iraq. From what he said, Iraqis regard whites as 'infidels', while Asians are 'savages'.

A few points to note from our conversation:

On Americans : An arrogant people who think they are the best.

On Iraq muslims : Their love for Allah is beautiful, but their disunity and squabbling makes them less intelligent.

On Saddam Hussein : Even Westerners realise (in hindsight) that he was a good and necessary leader.

After a long talk, touching areas like Arab behaviour and failure of the UN, i slept very unsoundly, with all the turbulence.

And woke up to a beautiful sight. :)

Notice that on one side, it was subuh and on another, the sun had already risen

It was an inspiring sight to behold. And since its cold up there, frost formed on the windows:

Isn't Allah's creation just wonderful?

And finally after 8 hours of flying, we could see the Australian coastline:

Gold Coast, meet Ikmal. Ikmal, meet Gold Coast.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

My Soon-to-be Aussie Adventure

After months of planning, tomorrow my whole family is going to take a much-needed and long awaited vacation. Location? Gold Coast, Australia. :D

This blog will remain dormant until some time, but after that, (hopefully) it will be filled with a vibrant travelogue. and pictures.

Till then, cya. :)

Monday, December 8, 2008

On This Day..

I would like to wish my Muslim readers..


These are some things you should remember to do on this day of barakah and sacrifice:

- Sacrifice your after-subuh sleep, take a shower and go for solat sunat aidiladha
- Ask for forgiveness from your loved ones
- Dont eat too much until you end up in hospital

For those not going back to kampung (like me), dont feel is hari raya qurban after all,and we can surely withstand that little sacrifice :)

p/s: at my house there's rendang, lemang, nasi impit and bihun sup tulang..and other lovely dishes..tell me first if u wnt 2 come alrite ;)

Friday, December 5, 2008

Fluffy Goodness

I ate something so good today, i felt compelled to share it with all of you. :)

Figure 1

Cupcakes! :D

As you can see from Figure 1, the smile on my little brother's face shows how good those cupcakes are..*licking lips* They come in two flavors. Vanilla with a topping of coloured-chocolate rice, and chocolate with whipped cream topping.

Figure 2: chocolatey goodness

The fluffy and light chocolate dough, added with a creamy topping, creates a perfect balance. Exquisite.

The best thing is, they're homemade. :)

Thursday, December 4, 2008

There's a Barber and a Butcher

Not wanting to look like a Beatles' band member, i decided to get a haircut. Not far, just walking distance.

The guy cutting my hair wore a mask. U know, the ones they wear in a haze or a SARS attack. Before me, there was 1 more customer. So i waited and read some newspapers, namely Kosmo!. I rarely read tabloids, cause its not what i'd consider real news. Its all just sensational. On the front cover: The Norman Hakim-Abby Abadi showdown. Some new artiste couple on the verge of breaking up. See? No news.

Then it was my turn. The masked man first lifted his mask and spit into the rubbish bin.*urghh* I pretended i didnt see.

'Belakang, tepi slope, atas potong pendek sikit je'

And he started work on my hopeless, unorganised hair. You know, sometimes it feels so good, you just wanna doze off. I think i dozed off a few times. It must have felt like forever for the guy after me(there was only one hair-cutter in the shop).

Then i woke up and looked at the mirror.

There's a barber and a butcher.

I went to the wrong shop.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Waiting is Agony

Have you ever waited for something? Im sure you have. Its not the nicest feeling in the world, this feeling of waiting, but it sometimes is a necessary evil.

Like waiting for university offers.

Trust me, its nerve-wrecking. Going on UCAS everyday, checking for replies from any of the 5 universities...hearing your friends get more offers than you have to have absolute willpower to stop from glaring at (or slapping) your smiley-faced friend..(i wouldnt ever slap a friend..*twinkling eyes*)


i got a conditional offer from Man U(manchester university) last week..good luck fellow friends :)
dont glare at me or slap me..

Monday, December 1, 2008

The Day I..Arrrghhhhh

Driving test. 2 words that could induce panic and nervousness among the unlicensed masses. Just hearing it makes my palms sweat. Darn it.

Woke up at 6.20. Showered. Went to the pick-up point at 7. Here's a conversation snippet between Abang Mat, the driver of the van and Mr.X, a repeat candidate.

Abang Mat: tengok flyover ni. Panjang sangat. Patut boleh potong separuh, jimat berpuluh juta.
Mr.X : tula. jimat berpuluh juta blh bagi saya.
Abg Mat: Berjuta-juta tu, x hbs makan. Ni semua salah *an ex-JKR minister*, bazir duit rakyat.

And that was a snippet of grassroots opinion on politicians who lack planning and integrity. Yes, its not totally the politicians' fault, but since they are the public face of the Government, the public's blame is on them. With great power, comes great responsibility.

Ok, moving on to my driving test. Reached the test venue at 8 something. Waited. And more waiting. Looked at my watch:
An hour later, i still havent registered. The wait was agonising.

After more waiting, it was finally my turn :) Got into the car and grabbed the wheel with sweat-filled hands. Prayed that my hands wouldnt slip.

JPJ Test, Bahagian 2

Hill : Went smoother than i expected. :D

Parking and 3-point turn: I think i hit the divider 2 times,and i was thinking 'there goes my 14-hours of lessons', but the officer either didnt see or had a lot of sympathy in him. Lucky me :)

JPJ Test, Bahagian 3

After the road original L license..

Remained an L license..because i failed miserably. The JPJ officer was an iron faced woman who could have been in a Terminator movie (exaggeration intended). She gave me chills, and i couldnt think that properly. I failed to brake when the car slid downhill, and the officer-without hesitation-gave me a telling off, and a big tick in the 'Kandas' box. Wasnt even on the real road yet. Frustration mounted to a climactic level..arghhhhh

But the timing was in a way perfect. The BNM program taught me, among other things, to 'learn from mistakes'.

I dont want to be a sore loser. So there's nothing else to do except being optimistic. ;))