Thursday, November 29, 2007

See No Evil

You've probably seen this along the sidewalk before. Ever wonder what it is? Do you know what is it for?

It's actually for guiding the blind walking along the sidewalk. A friend of mine enlightened me on this some time ago. This morning while I was out running an errand, I noticed one on the sidewalk as I was stepping out of the building across from my office. It's absolute fantastic that we are more conscious and sensitive to the need of the disabled community.

But a few more steps along, I was halted in utter shock and disbelief. I saw this. Big ass flower pots place right on top of the guide. What the hell?

I don't think these people are blind, they are most likely just ignorant and stupid.

Open your eyes people!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

First Impression

I worked and lived in Miri for three and a half years but I never once set foot in Brunei, even though it is merely an hour drive away. I had heard so much about it, some good, some bad, ok, mostly bad. Until last week, I was there attending training for a week. Finally I’ve got a glimpse of Brunei.

I flew into Miri on Sunday and drove across the border on Monday morning. First impression: it’s flat and deserted. This pancake flatness extended to the horizon, as far as the eyes could see. There is nothing but secondary bush. For a small yet rich country, the road is surprisingly bad: narrow, patchy and bumpy. Indeed, first impression is the most powerful and lasting; especially if it’s a bad one.

The first day of class finished around 4 pm. After class I checked into the apartment accommodation pre-arranged by the course organizer. I inquired at the front desk on where I could change some Bruneian currency, the lady replied that I could do that at a mall nearby, but the shop was most likely closed. Goodness, it’s not even dark out yet!

The next morning another attendee told me that he went into the town for dinner. He took a bus there, which took no more than 15 minutes. After dinner and a bit of walk about, he had to take a cab back into the hotel because the bus service stops running at 7pm!

Well, all are not bleak and bad in this country. Most of the daily needs and necessities such as education, housing, healthcare are free, if not heavily subsidized. In these USD100 per barrel crude price days, petrol is terribly cheap, 33 cents/liter. Cheap dirt! It’s almost a crime not to drive.

Local folks and foreigners alike, they told me that this place grows on you. As much as you despise it initially, and can hardly wait to get out, however as you stick around for a bit, you can’t help but love the peace and quiet of the land. Laid back lifestyle, friendly folks and safe society, it’s one of the best places to raise a family.

Unfortunately I was not here to raise a family. I checked out on Tuesday and commuted daily from Miri everyday.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

4 O'clock Lunch

It was 3:45 in the afternoon when I walked through the door from my swim. I was so hungry that I could eat a cow. I realized I did not have lunch.

Quickly, shell pasta and broccoli into the boiling water and a link of Italian sausage into the oven. In the meantime, chopped some mushrooms into quarter and crushed a few cloves of garlic. Browned the garlic in olive oil (Oh, I love aroma of garlic!), then sauted the mushroom. Added in ground black pepper, sausage fat, Worchester sauce and generous splashing of white wine (leftovers from Friday night). Paused to take a sniff at fragrance and imagine the mushrooms and garlic soaking up all the flavors. Put in couple spoonfuls of ready-made alfredo sauce (I’m lazy) to reduce the sauce and dumped the pasta and broccoli back in for a quick toss. Finally topped it up with the sliced sausage and Parmesan cheese.

My 4 o’clock pasta lunch, whipped up in 15 minutes, gorged down in 15 seconds.

Saturday, November 10, 2007


I woke up this morning to a gloomy sky so I ditched my plan of heading out for a hike.

After brewing the whole morning the rain finally came in the afternoon. The clouds rolled in as the wind picking up. The sky turned blackish grey. I was expecting it'd be pouring by the buckets. It did not. It was more of a fine drizzles, misting up from the horizon afar, moving in gently, almost like a ballerina gracefully dancing en pointe.

I made myself a cup of coffee and lazed on the couch reading. The aroma of the coffee lingered in the air, along with the jazzy tunes I put on. It was truly relaxing. Here I was physically confined in the living room but my mind was out there at a happy place far far away. One minute I was gliding freely in the sky and the next I was floating in the blue ocean under the warm sun.

The next minute I found myself waking up from a slumber, crumpling the megazine pages on my chest.

I love these rainy weekend afternoons. I hope there are more to come.

It is strange if not ironic that for an self-proclaimed outdoorsman, like yours truly, to enjoy a rainy afternoon cooping up at home.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Operation No Stain

According to my ever so reliable informant, aka my sister, words have it on the street that my landlord, aka my brother will be back in town tomorrow night. This heads-up was later confirmed by my domestic intelligence services, aka my mother. This valuable intel set off a frenzy of cover up and clean up activities at the operation base, aka my pig stile, aka my brother's condo.

Operation No Stain was covertly kicked off at 1000 hours (when I woke up) with more intel gathering and a sit-rep, followed by drawing up an air-tight strategic plan to combat the surprise assault. It was finally set in motion full steam ahead at 1200 hours. Classified documents, aka old newspapers and flyers were destroyed in the incinerator. DNA, aka hair, skin and nails (no bodily fluid!) were carefully lifted and collected. Physical evidence, aka the trash were bagged and binned. Impression evidence, aka the water marks on the windows and finger prints on the mirror were wiped clean. Traces of incriminating substances, aka oily residues on the stove and gravy stains on the dinning table were swabed spotless. The crime scene, aka the condo, was washed and scrubbed with copious amount of industrial cleaning fluids.

Finally, Operation No Stain successfully completed at 1500 hours.

Good thing I got the scoop early. Good thing today is a holiday so I have time to tidy up the place. Good thing I'm all prepared. The best thing: I spoil the landlord's element of surprise.


OK, that's my best impression of an evil laugh when I'm all beat, from the whole day labor of mopping and washing.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Seafood Madness

For two consecutive evening, I had a seafood feast for dinner.

On Friday night I headed out with a friend for Thai seafood dinner after hitting the gym. The place came highly recommended. It's a place where the Thai community in town flock to for a taste of their home. All the cooks are Thais and hence it's as authentically Thai as you can get. The rest the Thai restaurants are merely posers. The two of us gorged on three dishes: barbeque squid with a spicy chili dip and sweet peanut dip, steamed fish in spicy lemony soup and stir fried vegetable with bean paste. The food was simple, nothing fancy but homey. The spiciness and the herb infused fragrant of the dishes were unmistakeably Thai. Indeed the food was great.

On Saturday night, after getting our adrenaline fix from white water rafting, my friends and I went to get our crab fix. The selection of crab dishes was dizzying to say the least, over thirty ways of cooking. The nine of us narrowed them down to three: fried crab with vercimmilli, crab with salted egg sauce and butter crab, along with the trimmings. The food was good but fall short of amazing. We cleaned them up pretty good nonetheless, probably all the paddling and sloshing in the water worked up our apetite.

For the two following consecutive morning, I woke up feeling so full.

My cholesterol level must be off the chart now!

Friday, November 02, 2007


Kicking it up a notch this evening for my Friday-run -in-the-park, which I normally do about 6k, I ran 10k.


I clocked 53.53:34, crappy time, a whopping drop from my personal best of 45++. But that was like years ago, 7 to be exact. That was the last time I did a full on 10k-ler.

Now it's more like 10-killer.

Nonetheless, I felt like a million bucks. I was elated and hopeful and optimistic. Perhaps a marathon next? Let's not get ahead of myself now. A couple more 10-killers, then 10-milers, then half marathons, then we THINK about a marathon. Let do it before I turn 40.

Anyway, for the feat this evening, I deserve a pat on my back again.

Rounds of applause for me please.