Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Google doodle for Halloween 2012

Google is at it again with yet another of their fun Google doodles.

This year's Halloween doodle depicts the facade of a row of houses where each door opens (at the click of the mouse) to reveal a house-occupant. Click on the doors to find out who or what lurks behind each one of them.

Shucks, I've given it away, haven't I with the bottom image. Still, go see for yourself.

Happy Halloween!

By the way, here is an interesting read about ghouls, goblins and ghosts from The Hot Word!.. What is the precise difference between ghouls, goblins, and ghosts? Which one is truly disgusting?

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Malaysia among Top 10 Friendliest Countries in the World

If you are a foreigner assessing on the merits of Malaysia being a place to live or stay for a while as an expatriate, you may be interested to know that Forbes Online has rated Malaysia as among the 10 friendliest countries in the world, based on HSBC's recent Expat Explorer Survey.

To determine which were the friendliest, Forbes isolated the results in four categories: ability to befriend locals, success in learning the local language, capacity for integrating themselves into the community, and ease in which they fit into the new culture. All these four factors play into the ability of expats to create a new support structure, which Dallas-based expat coach Doris Fuellgrabe says is among the most important steps one can take to ease the trepidation and loneliness that often come with relocating.

Better quality of life, a satisfying social life, easy local travel and better housing than in their home country helped put Malaysia in fifth place overall—though many reported difficulty integrating into the local community (often because of a language barrier).

Topping the list is Cayman Islands followed by Australia and Britain according to the survey. HSBC surveyed 5,339 expatriates in nearly 100 countries between May and July 2012.

These are the three nations where it’s easiest to befriend locals, learn the local language, integrate into the community and fit into the new culture, according to the results of HSBC’s Expat Explorer Survey, released earlier this month.

On Cayman Islands, a happy Scottish expat noted, “There’s no income or payroll tax, summer all-year-round, hardly any crime, and no pollution. Grand Cayman has all the amenities of a city with the close-knit community of a town. That’s why most people who come here for a short assignment end up staying long term.”

In fourth place ahead of Malaysia's fifth in Forbes Online's World's Friendliest Countries 2012, is Canada, followed by New Zealand, Spain, United States, Bermuda, and South Africa.

In Pictures: The World’s Friendliest Countries 2012

Source: Forbes.. The World's Friendliest Countries

Hardware stores are here to stay

Besides a sundry shop, one other shop that fascinates me is the hardware shop. I have always wondered how do the people who man such shops find what they are looking for. I mean, look at the amount of things they have all crammed up in that limited space.

I happened to pass by one such hardware shop the other day and this man reading a newspaper on a makeshift table while taking a ciggie break caught my attention. There is even a Chinese tea-set closeby for a quick thirst-quencher. How cool!

Hardware shops, like this one, are still thriving here in Kuala Lumpur (and throughout the country) despite bigstore names like ACE Harwdware making a presence in the city. Housing contractors frequent these one-shoplot "often-owned by a Chinaman" hardware stores for their better prices and their personal attention.

These hardware stores have everything you will need either to build a house or just a screw and nut for a minor repair. Looking for a Polyurethane Air Hose? I'm sure they have that too and more, many more.

Hurricane Sandy, a rare hybrid super-storm

It's hot today. Humid too. Outside there is not even a hint of a gentle breeze as there is no movement in the trees. It would feel like a pressure cooker outside but thanks to the aircond, indoors is a much-preferred space to be.

Still, the heat and humidity is nothing compared to what New Yorkers or residents of the U.S. east coast regions are going through at this moment.

A rare, hybrid "super storm", Sandy, as it is called has hurled a record-breaking 13-foot (43-feet) surge of seawater at New York City on Monday, roaring ashore after washing away part of the Atlantic City boardwalk. On CNN last night, the camera showed New York City was deserted as people have been asked to stay safe.

U.S. stock markets were closed for the first time since the attacks of September 11, 2001, and will remain shut on Tuesday. The government in Washington was closed and school was cancelled up and down the East Coast.

This image from The Star shows Hurricane Sandy, one of the biggest storms ever to hit the United States, battered the densely populated East Coast on Monday, shutting down transportation, forcing evacuations in flood-prone areas and interrupting the presidential election campaign.

Meteorologists say Sandy is a rare, hybrid "super storm" created by an Arctic jet stream wrapping itself around a tropical storm.

Related article:
CNN - 'Post-tropical' Sandy hits New Jersey coast

More pictures on CNN.

Related article:
Monster storm Sandy leaves New York, eastern U.S. crippled

Monday, October 29, 2012

KL ranked No. 2 in shopping

Amazing! I read yesterday that KL is ranked No. 2 as the best shopping city in Asia Pacific behind Hong Kong. This is according to the latest Globe Shopper Index, cementing KL's position as a shopping paradise. The city is especially crowded during the summer months.

The Star reported that:

Twenty-five cities in the region were assessed under five categories shops; culture and climate; hotels and transport; affordability; and convenience.

Kuala Lumpur achieved the second highest overall score of 65 out of 100.

Only Hong Kong scored higher 68.5 edging other cities for its safety, dependable city transport and variety of shops and brands. Shanghai was third with a 63.1 score with Beijing placed fourth at 60.7.

Singapore (60.2) and Bangkok (57.1) were ranked fifth and seventh respectively. The other big cities ranked included Sydney (58.4), Tokyo (56.4) and Seoul (54.8).

“Kuala Lumpur's specific strength is its ability to combine low prices with a good range of products in a large number of stores, including three of the world's 10 biggest shopping malls,” the index report stated.

The report predicted that Kuala Lumpur had the potential to perform better in future indexes due to the Government's efforts to promote retail tourism.

It also took note of the Government's mammoth investments in developing KLCC and Bukit Bintang as a “premier shopping precinct in Malaysia”.

Bukit Bintang-KLCC Tourism Association chairman Joyce Yap welcomed the report, saying the Government's decision to make shopping a focus in the Economic Transformation Plan was a key factor.

The Globe Shopper Index was created by the Economist Intelligence Unit, which is part of the Economist Group and founded as an in-house research unit for The Economist newspaper and commissioned by Switzerland-based shopping tourism company Global Blue.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Buying gold online is convenient and safe

For thousands of years, gold remains a popular commodity, both as an ornament as well as an investment to hedge against inflation and to preserve the purchasing power. Hence, over the years, we have seen the price of gold appreciating vis-a-vis the once-popular US dollar.

Here in this country, it is not easy to buy gold in actual form - ingot or gold coins but thanks to the Internet, an interested gold investor is able to purchase gold ingots and US mint coins easily and all that can be done from the comfort of the home. Hope this answers the much-asked question, Where to buy gold online?

The Best Credit Card?

Is there such a thing as "the best credit card"?

I think not because there is no one single credit card that has everything a prospective cardholder is looking for in a credit card. Some credit cards offer rebate for petrol, some for shopping, others enable cardholder to accumulate points in exchange for products, yet some give discounts for movie tickets and the list of features go on.

If you are in the market for your first credit card or are still wondering about the "best" credit card or whether you have the credit card that meets your needs, or whether you are taking full advantage of the features of your credit card(s), here's a thread from the Lowyat forum that has some good information on Credit Cards. Posters on the thread offer some good tips and insights on the various credit cards and debit cards available in Malaysia.

In this day and age, owning a credit card is no longer a luxury. It is now more of a necessity in the way we conduct our day-to-day living. You wouldn't want to be carrying thousands of Ringgit to a travel agency to buy an air-ticket to London, for instance.

One wise poster on the Lowyat forum offers this list of Pros and Cons of having a credit card:

He/She said:

many people still don't understand benefits of credit card if used in the correct manner.

a) Bang for your buck - promotions/Discounts specific to issuing bank and also specific to Mastercard/Visa itself

b) Loyalty programs - earn points or rebates

c) Convenience & Safety - Don't need to carry cash around

d) Money management - you can automatically analyze where your money is going as everything is statemented.

e) Leverage on no interests period - which facility borrows you money without any interest for a month? Technically you can leverage on that cash to earn interest in a saving account first or for other investments

f) Fraud protection - For suspected fraud unauthorized transactions or even goods not received related claims, you can raise a dispute without having to pay first. Furthermore the bank is in the power to recall back the payment from the merchant, so it's much easier to "get" your money back instead of giving the merchant hard cold cash in the first place.

a) causes those with bad money management to overspend

b) Bad forex rates if swiping overseas (Foreign currency to US$ to Local currency billed to you)

And someone else offered:

you miss one important point, INSURANCE on the item you bought.

More info...

One poster said:

I use:

HSBC Visa-shopping discounts/rebates/special promotions

Alliance Visa-Local bank easier to get 0% installment plans with longer period. Eg. got 18 months installment instead of 12 months if use HSBC

CIMB Master-shopping discounts/rebates/special promotions

Must be good at handling finances, I pay promptly every month, credit card interest can kill ur finances if not managed properly.

Another says:

I have used many credit cards over the years.

Here is my experiences.

HSBC Gold credit cards: Very good in term of Travelling Overseas. Cheaper Forex exchange. Many good promotions on discounts. Especially Armani Exchange outlet.. 15% discount. hehe

Citibank Credit Cards:

Gold: Very good. with 30 minutes you charge oversea, they will call you.

Platinum: Very good. with 30 minutes you charge oversea, they will call you. Access to Premium Lounge in KLIA, LCCT for free. Extra benefits. Free stay in YTL hotels. especially for PremierMiles (Platinum Class 1 Credit Credit Card)

Standard Chartered Credit Cards: Very limited and not good points and promotion.

CIMB Credit Cards:

** Free for life platinum:

Visa : Transfer Points very good. Many good promotions on discounts.

Petronas Mastercard: 5% on Petronas. 0.5% for others retails.

RHB Platinum:

Very bad. Difficult to terminate. Lots of hassle.

** If you manage your financial properly, CC is the way to go.. Use 20 days free loan. Pay full every month.

Yet another:

i vote for CItibank Cash Back Platinum
5% on all petrol
2% on telecommunication
and etc

And another:

Think OCBC titanium and Maybank 2 Amex are superior, although the max cashback is 50 per month.

OCBC has 5% on:
1. petrol
2. groceries
3. dining
4. bills

Maybank 2 Amex has 5% on everything on weekends and 5X points and comes up to around 7.5% total discounts.

OCBC doesn't require you to reach blocks of RM50 before they credit you with the cash back, unlike Citibank. Not sure about Maybank.


I have 2 cards. The main one I am using is Citibank Air Asia. They have promotions on flights every week, and I have priority booking. Which is good for my company staff who wants to book tickets earlier.

Furthermore there is TGV promotion - weekdays each ticket is only RM 10 (ended already sad.gif) and weekend it's buy 1 free 1. biggrin.gif

The other card... HLBB. It's a spare card (just sign up so I can get free items), but now I use the card for online purchases (Paypal).

allow me enter premier lounge whenever i travel, hongkong, usa, tokyo, korea, singapore everywhere. worth every dollar..
although their annual fees is nasty but worth it. can have 5 supplement and all my family member can enter premier lounge and buying business class ticket cathay next one one free one.

Should you wish to check out more info, visit Lowyat forum..

Nowadays, banks have converted bankcards to also act as debit cards. It may be good to note that should your bankcard go missing (or due to fraud), all you have in your bank account (your savings, monthly salary, etc.,) may be lost/withdrawn. On the other hand, a standalone debit card has the advantage of you losing just the amount you have moved to your debit card account, not your entire savings sum. Does that make sense?

In the case of credit card, in the event of a fraud and you have reported it, you may not need to pay anything.

A suggestion on the forum:
The advantage of having debit card is you can leave it with no credit in it. When need to purchase something, only use your online banking to transfer the exact amount of money to it, then only use the debit card to buy. That is the safest online purchase you can do with a debit card.

My personal take is, whatever credit card you opt for, the key is to be able to manage your finances/expenditure. Not spending unnecessarily and spending within ones means is a good practice.

Chinese medical halls and their lower prices

That popular shopping reality show, Extreme Couponing, is back on Astro again fter a hiatus of several months. It is slated to be shown on Tuesdays at 10pm, beginning next week.

This morning, the girls at tea-break were talking excitedly about it. On the subject of cost-savings, someone shared that for milk powder, Milo and stuff like that, you can get better prices at those Chinese medical shops vis-a-vis supermarkets or hypermarkets.

Chinese medical shops have been around for decades stocking up on herbs and ointments besides some sundries. Unlike pharmacies, these medical shops or (used to be called medical halls) do not have western medicine beyond the normal painkillers, cough mixtures and plasters. If you are looking for bedpans, wheelchairs, crutches or med cart, you will have to check elsewhere.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

47 years of artworks on show in Penang

If you are interested in art and happen to be in Penang, here is one art exhibition to visit.

THE Penang State Art Gallery (PSAG) is showcasing a full collection of paintings from its cache of 578 artworks acquired over a span of 47 years from 1965 to 2011.The month-long exhibition titled the "PSAG Permanent Collection Exhibition" includes artworks by pioneer, second and third generation artists who have regarded Penang as home.

The works include paintings, sculptures, printed art and installations.

Hurry! The exhibition ends on Sunday and is being held at three venues -- the ground and third floor of the PSAG, the Penang State Museum in Lebuh Farquhar and at 57, Jalan Macalister.

Admission is free. For details, call 04-226 1462.
More..47 years of artworks on show

A Lesson on Hats

Fedoras are gaining in popularity here. In our tropical climate, any hat is a good bet when outdoors.

Wikipedia says: A fedora is a felt hat most commonly worn by men (but women wear it too nowadays).

The hat is typically creased lengthwise down the crown and "pinched" in the front on both sides. Fedoras can also be creased with teardrop crowns, diamond crowns, center dents, and others, and the positioning of pinches can vary. The typical crown height is 4.5 inches (11.4 centimeters).

The brim is usually approximately 2.5 inches (6.3 centimeters) wide, but may be wider, can be left "raw edged" (left as cut), finished with a sewn overwelt or underwelt, or bound with a trim-ribbon.

The term fedora was in use as early as 1891. Its popularity soared, and eventually it eclipsed the similar-looking Homburg (explanation on this to follow).

Fedoras can be found in nearly any color, but black, grey, tan ("fawn"), and dark brown are the most popular. The fedora as a personal statement has made impacts on American and global culture: Indiana Jones popularized his fedora in the Indiana Jones franchise. In music, Michael Jackson frequently wore a fedora in public appearances, concerts and video clips.

A Homburg is a formal felt hat characterized by a single dent running down the center of the crown (called a "gutter crown"), a stiff brim shaped in a "kettle curl" and a bound edge trim.

The Homburg is made from stiff felt and has a grosgrain hatband and brim trim. The original Homburg was of slightly more generous proportions than the modern version.

Here's an image of Hugo Resinger holding a fashionable grey Homburg hat, 1907. Painting by Anders Zorn.

And now we come to Kangol Caps.

Kangol is a clothing company famous for its headwear. Founded by Jaques Spreiregen in 1938 in Cleator, Cumbria, England, Kangol produced hats for workers, golfers, and especially soldiers. They were the major beret suppliers to the armed forces during World War II. The name Kangol is derived from the K from silk, the ANG from angora, the OL from wool. Kangol products have graced the heads of the rich and famous, including the Beatles and Arnold Palmer, and later Princess Diana.

Here's a picture of Samuel L. Jackson wearing a Kangol cap/beret at the San Diego ComicCon 2008. As Jules Winnfield, he wore a Kangol upside down in the movie Pulp Fiction.

Source: Wikipedia

Friday, October 26, 2012

Hari Raya Aidiladha 2012 - Pictures

Came across these pictures from The Star about Hari Raya Haji and a little peek into Mecca, where non-Muslims are officially not allowed in. Here are some answers to Can I as a Non-Muslim visit Mecca?

The pictures..

Muslim pilgrims walk next to the Namirah Mosque as they leave the Mount of Mercy (also called Mount Arafat) during the Muslim's Hajj 2012 pilgrimage, in Arafat, Saudi Arabia, 25 October 2012. Millions of Muslim pilgrims left Arafat to Mozdalefa after performing one of the main rituals of their pilgrimage. - EPA - 26 October, 2012

Sweets are put on display outside a pastry shop in the southern Lebanese port of Sidon on the occasion of the Muslim holiday of Aidiladha or the "Feast of Sacrifice" on October 25, 2012. Millions of Muslims around the world celebrate Aidiladha, which marks the end of the annual hajj or pilgrimage to Mecca this weekend. AFP - 26 October, 2012

Muslim pilgrims perform the noon prayer outside the Namera mosque (background) in the plain of Arafat on the outskirts of the holy city of Mecca on October 25, 2012. Vast crowds of Muslim pilgrims, all dressed in white, flocked from early in the morning to Mount Arafat in Saudi Arabia's west to take part in the main rituals of the annual hajj. AFP - 26 October, 2012

Source: The Star

If I were looking for Briefcases for Men..

When I was at a bank card Rewards Fiesta the other day, I was very attracted to the stalls that were selling bags and they sure came in all brands, types and sizes. Interesting colour range too. No shocking pink for me, thank you very much.

If I were in the market for briefcases for men, I would be one happy shopper there at the Fiesta. But what did I buy in the end? You'll have to stay tuned to find out.

Malaysian badminton icons in the making

From one sporting activity in the previous post to another..

Badminton is one game that Malaysia excels in or rather a force to be reckoned with on the world stage. The other is squash and Nicol David is the undisputed queen of all.

When it comes to badminton, Lee Chong Wei comes to mind. A contributing factor to Malaysia's badminton success is having a well-formulated programme where young talents are identified and nurtured.

SS Junior Badminton is one such platform that nurtures young talents in order to find Malaysia's next Badminton Superstar. This programme is a collaboration between Senheng Electric and Samsung Malaysia, thus the SS in the programme name.

The SS Junior Badminton project has brought young talents a step closer to achieving their own dreams of excelling in the game and becoming the next Malaysian badminton icon. With proper guidance, nurturing and motivation, it can be achieved.

16-year-old Bong Guang Yik is one such young talent who is in this programme. Watch him play against Indonesia's Taufik Hidayat in a friendly match recently. A must-watch..

Images from video grab

Where to buy horse riding apparel

Malaysia is not a horse riding nation per se. Riding clubs, though available in the country, are only limited to the bigger cities. I haven't been to any riding club or school but I should think horse ware is available at these clubs just like you would find bowling balls and bowling paraphernalia in the pro shop at the bowling alley.

If you are looking for horse riding apparel in Malaysia, the riding clubs or riding schools would be a good place to go to. For a wider range, online sites could be a better choice for horse riding apparel or any riding paraphernalia you need.

Happy riding!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Selamat Hari Raya Haji & 2013 Public and School Holidays

The weekend comes early this week as today is the last day of work for the week. Tomorrow is a national public holiday as Muslims celebrate Eid ul-Adha or Aidil Adha or commonly-known here in Malaysia as Hari Raya Haji.

Hari Raya Haji is the second most important festival in the Muslim calendar. It marks the end of the annual hajj or pilgrimage to Mecca.

Let me take this opportunity to wish everyone celebrating this happy occasion Selamat Hari Raya Haji..

And to you who are along for the ride, Happy Holiday..

From now until the end of the year, we will get to enjoy four more national public holidays. The next national holiday is on Nov 13 (a Tuesday) in which Hindus will be celebrating a religious festival, Deepavali or Diwali, the Festival of Lights.

Planning for next year's vacation? The 2013 Malaysia National Public Holidays and School Holidays schedule may be what you need. Happy planning!

Year-end shopping (for Medical Scrubs?)

Coming to the end of the year, people look to buy certain items that they don't normally need other times. For instance, year-end is when parents go hunting for school uniforms for their school-going children.
I was wondering if it is time for people in the medical profession to be out looking to buy scrubs? I'm just guessing because of late, scrubs or medical scrubs have been one of the regular keywords on the blog.

I know that clothes, shoes, bags, accessories and such are my all-year-round purchases. Oops! Do you have anything you purchase specific times of the year? Christmas-shopping is one. What others?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Wonderful Tonight in reggae

All these years, reggae remains one of my few favorite music genres. Man, was I glad to stumble upon this reggae version of Wonderful Tonight by Eric Clapton with Wyclef Jean. Give it a listen. Here's the regular version of Wonderful Tonight if you are interested.

This is a favourite number at Karaoke sessions, at least a colleague never fails to sing it every time. Do you have a favourite song you would sing Karaoke?

Enjoy this one..

Watches from Petaling Street, KL Chinatown

Over the years, visiting colleagues from overseas have often requested for a visit to Petaling Street, i.e., KL Chinatown, to be included in their visit agenda. The main attraction there being football jerseys and watches - original duplicates, that is. These time-pieces, albeit not original, do make great take-home gifts for friends and family.

I remember one time, a colleague from the US bought more than ten watches. He even got them for such a good price - a number of the watches for as low as USD10 each! A point to note if you are shopping in Petaling Street is that you are allowed to bargain. Getting the price down to 60 or 70% of the asking price is a fair deal.

On the other hand, many visitors to this country do buy authentic watches from reputable watch shops. If you are from the West and the foreign exchange rate is to your advantage, you would be able to buy a Mens Diamond Watch, for instance, for less than what you would have to pay back home. Me thinks.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Stolen Porsche Panamera recovered

Car thefts are pretty common in Malaysia, especially in the bigger cities especially in Kuala Lumpur. This is embarrassing but sadly it is true.

How many of us know someone who has been a victim of a car theft? I know someone who lost his Pajero from inside his home compound behind a high locked gate. Car was parked in front of the house at the car-porch. One morning, he found his car missing and it was just a few-month old vehicle. Another lost his Honda at a parking area near the LRT. I have no doubt you have your own car theft story.

The car in the picture is a Porsche Panamera, Porche's first luxury saloon car and is marketed as a higher performing alternative to other executive saloon cars.. It is a four-door saloon which was unveiled at the Shanghai Automobile Show in China in 2009.

This RM900,000 Porsche Panamera that was driven out of a showroom in Jalan Bukit Bintang on Oct 11 has been recovered.

Luxury recovery: Police forensics team and officers dusting the Porsche for fingerprints at city police headquarters.

Police believe there was a link to another theft of a luxury car in Cheras. In that incident, an Audi R8, worth around RM560,000, was stolen from a showroom there on Sept 6, using the same modus operandi.

The 31-year-old man who stole the car said he was paid RM30,000. He is still in remand.

Image source: The Star

Fresh new carpet in the office

I was looking at men at work in the office the other day and was surprised at how easy they were able to cut the carpet to fit the desired space.

Did you notice that gadgets are usually designed for the right-handed by default? However, there are gadgets that are designed for both left- and right-handed users.

Take the carpet cutter from for instance. This carpet cutter is not only ergonomically-designed for heavy duty work, it also comes with a safety feature, the Maxtor's "Smart Knife technology". It allows the blade to automatically retract when the blade loses contact with the material being cut. The blade will still retract EVEN IF the user tries to override the safety system by leaving the slider in the forward position. How cool and safe is that!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Kuching's Cat Museum - one of the Most Bizarre Museums in the World

The City of Kuching in Sarawak, East Malaysia, (on the island of Borneo), translates to City of Cats or Cat City, in English. Many would think that it's because of the cats in the city that it is named after. Not in this case, however, though there is a Cat Museum that surprisingly makes it to Tripadvisor's list of the most bizzare museums in the world.

Before we get to that list of world's most bizarre museums, let's take a moment to find out how Kuching got her name, and we turn to Wikipedia:

Kuching was named after a tidal stream called Kuching River (Sungai Kuching) that ran between the present-day Tua Pek Kong Temple, and Chinese History Museum. The stream originated from Cat's Eye Hill (Bukit Mata Kuching) where there was an abundance of a local fruit called Green Longan (Isau, Dimocarpus longan ssp malesianus), vernacularly known as Cat's Eye (Mata Kuching). In 1928, the stream was filled up to make way for the construction of Temple Street (Lebuh Temple), and thus the city's expansion eastwards.

Here it is, the list of Most Bizarre Museums in the World. The list is based on feedback from TripAdvisor travellers and as chosen by TripAdvisor editors.

1 Bata Shoe Museum, Toronto, Canada − The Bata Shoe Museum houses a collection of more than 10,000 items of footwear with over 4,500 years of history - from 15th century Peruvian ceremonial aladeros and 19th century French chestnut-crushing clogs and ancient Egyptian sandals to 20th-century celebrity shoes.

2 Paris Sewer Museum, Paris, France − First opened to the public in 1867, the sewer tunnels running underneath Paris are where visitors can gain first-hand knowledge of the history and inner workings of the city’s sewer system.

3 Museum of Witchcraft, Cornwall, England − Opened in 1951 by Cecil Williamson, the museum exhibits the largest witchcraft collection in the world. Artifacts include a witch’s altar and a magician’s sword. The museum also houses a library of more than 3,000 books.

4 British Lawnmower Museum, Merseyside, England − The fastest lawnmowers, lawnmowers of the rich and famous, and some of the most expensive lawnmowers in the world. This museum is a tribute to the garden machine invented by Edwin Beard Budding in 1830.

5 Toilet Seat Museum, Alamo Heights, Texas, the United States − Barney Smith, a retired plumber, has been creating toilet seat art for over 30 years. More than 1,000 of his decorated commode covers are on display in the Toilet Seat Museum (Barney’s garage) in Alamo Heights, Texas. Since Barney is the only person who operates the museum, travellers should call first, so he knows to open his doors.

6 Instant Ramen Museum, Osaka, Japan − Dedicated to ramen noodle cups and creator Momofuko Ando, the museum showcases the many ramen flavours made through the years. The museum also has a reproduction of the hut where the first noodles were first produced. It also has a kitchen facility where visitors can make fresh noodles, as well as a factory where visitors can assemble their own cup noodles.

7 Salt & Pepper Shakers Museum, Gatlinburg, Tennessee, the United States − Here you will find a collection of over 20,000 sets of salt and pepper shakers from around the world, some dating back to the 1500s. The museum also displays the largest collection of pepper mills in the world!

8 Spam Museum, Austin, Minnesota, the United States − A museum dedicated to Spam, the mystery meat, it features a wall of Spam, interactive displays, a video, and historical exhibits of the Spam brand and Hormel Foods Company.

Visitors can learn how the “mystery meat” is produced. After touring the museum, you can browse Spam novelties in the gift shop and snack on Spam cuisine in the dining area.

9 Cumberland Pencil Museum
, Keswick, England − According to legend, a huge storm in the 1500s uprooted trees in Cumberland, and graphite was discovered. Shepherds used the graphite to mark their sheep, and thus began the area’s pencil industry.

The Cumberland Pencil Museum takes visitors through the history of the pencil and pencil-making. The museum also houses the biggest pencil in the world measuring 26 feet and weighing 446kg (984 pounds)!

10 Cat Museum, Kuching, Malaysia − Cat lovers can enjoy 2,000 exhibits, artifacts, and statues from around the world, from an Egyptian mummified cat to Hello Kitty items. The museum is also a research and information centre that concentrates on the history and cultural beliefs surrounding cats.

On my visit to Kuching a couple of years ago, the entourage decided to skip the Cat Museum as some of us were not too keen about cats. Besides, the rain did not help. Also, the bus didn't get close enough, so the building or facade didn't look compelling enough to warrant a visit from where we were in the bus. After reading this article, Most bizzare Cat Museum, which is the source of this post, I think I would make it a point to visit this tourist attraction on my next visit to Kuching.

Kuchingites, would you give this Cat Museum a thumbs-up?

Friday, October 19, 2012

Friday Frolics - The Mountain Test + Alvin Tan & Vivian Lee

Hey, it's their bodies, flaunt if they want to, flaunt if they want to.. Just taking a cue from this old number, It's My Party. (Isn't You Tube amazing?)

Are we making a mountain out of a molehill in the Alvin Tan and Vivian Lee episode? In case you have no idea what I'm talking about, this pair of lovebirds have been sharing their normally-behind-closed-doors sexcapades online. They first shared pictures on their Facebook pages and last month set up and uploaded photos and videos onto their blog. The blog, Sumptuous Erotica, is no longer public. however. You'll need to register to get on it now - a small price to pay if you're interested, I'd say.
Both of these individuals are adults, and educated. Alvin is an Asean scholar, final year in law at the National University of Singapore (NUS) and has a business going in Malaysia, while Vivian graduated in business studies, and now job-hunting. So, leave them be, people! They know what they want.

Talk about mountain, this week's frolicking is The Mountain Test. No, nothing close to what Alvin and Vivian are doing. Just a good old-fashioned personality quiz to tell you something more about yourself. Enjoy!

Happy Friday, everyone!

You Are an Optimist

You are thoughtful and responsible. It's rare that you find yourself in a bind.

You are good at finding balance in your life. You rest when you need to, but you also know that too much rest is dangerous.

When you get tired, you slow down at first... but then you usually get a second wind!

You are happiest when you reflect on what you have to be thankful for in your life. Happiness is a choice.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Moby Dick is honoured with a Google Doodle

Google honours Moby Dick today with a Google doodle celebrating its 161st anniversary of the publication of one of the greatest classics of American literature. Written by Herman Melville, Moby Dick was first published in Britain in 1851.

The doodle depicts a scene from the book in which Captain Ahab commandeers a boat to strike at the huge white sperm whale.

An extract from Wikipedia..
Moby-Dick; or, The Whale is a novel by Herman Melville, first published in 1851. It is considered to be one of the Great American Novels and a treasure of world literature. The story tells the adventures of wandering sailor Ishmael, and his voyage on the whaleship Pequod, commanded by Captain Ahab. Ishmael soon learns that Ahab has one purpose on this voyage: to seek out Moby Dick, a ferocious, enigmatic white sperm whale. In a previous encounter, the whale destroyed Ahab's boat and bit off his leg, which now drives Ahab to take revenge. -

Haven't read the book? Watch the movie then, albeit one from 1956!

Or if you prefer the cartoon version..

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Victoria Beckham shows her humorous side in cheeky Facebook photo

Have you ever experimented with taking fun or cheeky photographs? No? Here's an inspiration from Victoria Beckham, wife of famous footballer, David Beckham.

She posed for this cheeky photo which husband David posted on his Facebook page.

The fashion designer stands on a New York street - strategically distancing herself so she appears to cup David's nether regions in a huge advertisement on the side of a building behind her. Read more about She's got her hands on David's Goldenballs!

Image source: Dailymail

Monday, October 15, 2012

Is GST the way forward?

Are Malaysians ready for the Goods and Services Tax - the GST? Many are apprehensive about it's implementation but is there reason to be so? If so, it just shows how little we know of it and its benefits. If the GST has been successful1y implemented in 146 countries (a source quotes 150), Malaysians should have nothing to worry about its implementation in the country.

France is the first country to implement GST from between 1948-1959), then came Brazil, Ivory Coast, Denmark, Germany, Netherlands, Sweden, and Uruguay between 1960-1969. On this side of the world, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore, Taiwan, Japan have GST in place and farther afield Australia, New Zealand, India, Sri Lanka, and China. Source.. - where you can also find percentage of GST per country.

Currently, we are paying a sales tax of 5% to 10% and service tax of 6% on goods and services on top of the total bill. Malaysia is looking at a GST rate of 4% which actually means we will be paying less than what we are currently paying with the GST system.

Additionally, with the sales tax removed for essential items, food prices can even come down. The thing to remember is that GST will not apply to essentials like our daily staples of rice, cooking oil, meat (beef, mutton, pork, chicken for instance) and so forth. For seafood lovers, lobsters, crabs, oysters and scallops are also exempted.

Malaysia, which has a population of 28 million, approximately 12 million people are in the workforce but only 1.7 million pay taxes. GST could be a major source of indirect tax revenue for the country. As for the consumer, as GST is basically a consumption tax, the more you spend, the more you pay. Likewise, if you spend less, you pay less GST.

GST exemption also extends to critical services such as public transport, toll, taxis, hospital and healthcare, schools, residential property, land for agriculture use, and financial services. In other words, the lower income group will not be burdened by the GST.

Many of us are unaware that we are already paying taxes on items like clothes, shoes, non-essential food items and furniture and sometimes as high as 10%. These taxes have been included in the price of goods. Under the GST system, the sales and service taxes we have been paying all this while, will be replaced with a one-time consumption tax, the GST.

So what's in it for the manufacturer, supplier and wholesaler? They get a refund from the Government on the GST as they have already paid a tax to buy raw materials, parts and utilities used, to produce their goods. Thus, it is the end user or customer who pays the 4% GST.

With 146/150 countries already implementing the GST, it is perhaps only a matter of time before Malaysia follows suit. To allay fears and address concerns, the government would need to go down to the people on why GST is the way to go.

More information on GST from the Royal Malaysian Customs website.

- Is GST the way to go?
- Consumers assured of a fairer tax system

More on GST:
Breaking the tax taboo

Saturday, October 13, 2012

No blue skies over Kuala Lumpur today

The weather is not pretty here in Kuala Lumpur today. It wasn't either yesterday when a heavy downpour at around 4pm caused flash floods which in turn led to massive traffic congestion in many parts of the city.

In the east coast of the peninsula, preparations are underway in anticipation of the monsoon. Relief centres have been set up and people are moving their belongings to higher ground.

Just as we speak, across the Pacific Ocean, the US space shuttle Endeavour is making its final journey, at the less than rocket-propelled speed of two miles an hour, in a meticulously planned and stately trip through the streets of Los Angeles.

Some 400 trees have had to be cut down - provoking initial protests from locals - and power lines turned off to make way for the 78-ton vehicle on the two-day, 12-mile (19-kilometer) journey to the California Science Center.

The enormous white spacecraft, which reached 17,500 miles per hour when in Earth's orbit, began moving Friday afternoon, looking like a giant ocean liner cruising surreally across LA's mostly low-level cityscape. More..Space shuttle makes stately last journey to LA home

Back to KL. If you are into music, you may want to check out the local music scene. KL has a lot to offer whether it's dub, reggae, rock or jazz - clubs or concerts. Hey, it's Saturday! This weekend's music spread..

Friday, October 12, 2012

Friday Frolics - The Sandwich Test

Ahh.. it's Friday again! I had toasted sandwich for breakfast today. I chose to have it filled with a combination of sardines and egg. Yes, we are even allowed the luxury of choosing a combo like that. How pampered!

This week's personality quiz is simple. One of those that requires practically no thinking - but does tell some things right about you. Don't believe me? Take the quiz to find out.

Happy Friday!

You Are Innovative

You're the type of person who is always putting a new spin on things. You are very creative.

You sometimes feel like you are a square peg trying to fit into a round hole, but that's okay! You'll build your own square hole.

You are cutting edge to the point of being avant-garde. You are extremely inventive.

You can't help but be original. You love to experiment and try new things.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

CIMB Smart Rewards Fiesta 2012 - Mid Valley

CIMB Smart Rewards Fiesta 2012 promises to be bigger and better.

It is open to CIMB Bank and Direct Access credit cards as well as CIMB Bank Debit MasterCards.

The three-day event will be from 12-14 October 2012 (this weekend) at the Mid Valley Exhibition Centre from 10am – 9pm (Friday and Saturday) or 10am – 8pm (Sunday).

This Rewards Fiesta is good for cardholders to quickly use up their points before they expire. Redemption can be done online but by this time of the year, most good items would have been snapped up.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Are there Fake gold bars in Malaysia?

One has to be careful these days with the number of counterfeit products out there in the market. Fake eggs, fake milk powder, among others, and now even fake gold bars. Last month, fake gold bars were discovered in Manhattan, New York, and it has been reported that they have even made their way to England.

A customer in New York bought some gold bars and heard that counterfeit gold bars have been going around so he drilled into several only to find tungsten in them. The procedure was so professionally done that it is believed that an international ring could be involved.

Here, a 10-ounce gold bar costing nearly $18,000 turned out to be a counterfeit valued at just $3,600. It's filled with tungsten which weighs nearly the same as gold but costs just over a dollar an ounce.
From Yahoo..

"I really got sick. It's a big amount of money and I could not believe that somebody was so professional and clever, it's perfect," Fadl, the customer said.

Here's why even the reputable merchant got fooled, as explained by Fox:

What makes it so devious is a real gold bar is purchased with the serial numbers and papers, then it is hollowed out, the gold is sold, the tungsten is put in, then the bar is closed up. That is a sophisticated operation.

The sophisticated operation may be global in scope: Gold bars filled with tungsten showed up in England earlier this year. The Secret Service is investigating the counterfeits in New York.

So the next time you go to pick up some gold bars, you may want to bring along your drill.

Makes you wonder whether these fake gold bars have come to Malaysian shores, doesn't it?

Image source: Video grab from Yahoo!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Shopping for a TV stand

Buying a tv stand can be quite a challenging affair for the first-timer as you don't have a previous experience to benchmark.

For starters, you would need to consider the style you are looking for in addition to the size that is ideal for your tv and the material you would prefer.

It you prefer a modern design, a flat screen stand made of metal and glass would be up your alley. Glass TV stands add functionality to a stand yet take up very little visual space. If it's a traditional look is what you are after, a wood TV stand might be just the right stand for your setting. There is a wide range of TV stands available online. Nowadays, shopping is never easier. It can be done right in the comfort of your home and at your convenience.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Dog hair styling

Everyone has a bad-hair day. (Funny I should be posting this on a Monday!) What do some of us do? A colleague once wore a bandana (yes, a bandana not a scarf) to cover her 'dirty and oil hair' as she called it. That was the one time she had everyone in the office wondering if she was alright.

Do dogs have bad-hair days too? Not if they are as well-groomed as the ones below:

A cocker spanial being groomed by his owner during the international dog hair styling competition in Stadtroda, Germany. Source

Here's another pretty pet, a large poodle being groomed at the same dog grooming competition in Germany. Aww... Too cute!

I read the other day that the Chinese in China have now taken to keeping dogs (as opposed to eating them). I was tickled at pictures of how the dogs were being groomed and dressed up.

Looking at the poodle, topiary comes to mind, doesn't it? But that's for another post.

Have a wonderful Monday and the rest of the week, everyone!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

KL cabbies Worst in the World & Go-KL FREE bus service

This is embarrassing. The frontpage of The Star today is about taxi rip-off, i.e., KL taxis, and that KL cabbies have an international reputation for ripping off passengers, especially foreigners.

Is there any truth in it? A reporter from the newspaper posed as a foreign tourist from England to find out if KL cabbies are indeed living up to the ‘worst taxi drivers in the world’ reputation as bestowed upon by through a poll. For KL cabbies and the local tourism industry, it is certainly not a favourable thing to top the list for.

There's more.

Popular website Tripadvisor also warns travellers about KL's errant taxi drivers who “refuse to use the meter, quoting a fare often with the view of ripping you off”.

“This quoted' fare is generally akin to daylight robbery, and sometimes when haggling takes place, it is reciprocated with rude gestures or abusive language ...” adds Tripadvisor.

On, a visitor posted: “I have travelled the world and from Bombay to Boston I can tell you the taxi drivers in KL are the biggest pack of thieving lying dirtbags you will ever come across.”

The above is from the article from the reporter who posed as the foreigner tourist. She found out that out of 11 taxis, only ONE fare almost match Malaysia Taxi Auto Fare's calculations. The asking price was RM10 for a trip from Jalan Tun H S Lee to Pavilion in Bukit Bintang.

If you'd like to know what she found out posing as a foreign tourist, read her article, KL cabbies living up to ‘worst taxi drivers in the world’ reputation.

Recently, some 200 cabbies went on strike at Bukit Bintang outside the Fahrenheit shopping complex during the evening rush hour. Their vehicles were parked right in the middle of the road as they staged their noisy protest. They told reporters that their livelihood was being affected because the Go-KL bus service passed through the most popular destinations. They also complained about alleged harassment by the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD).

What is the Go-KL bus service? On August 31, a new bus service was introduced in Kuala Lumpur specifically in the city centre. The best part of this service is, it is FREE. Anyone, local or tourist, can get on it to take him or her to any destination within the bus route.

A reader who wrote in to The Star said,

Providing free bus services in city centres is a feature that has helped Australia reduce inner city private traffic.

KL is moving its public transportation up a notch and is joining a number of other cities that provide free bus services in the city centres. They include Manchester, Auckland, Melbourne and Sydney. These services make travel in the city convenient for city folks as well as for tourists. The free service also helps reduce transportation expenses subsequently reducing financial burden.

Of course not every taxi driver is in on the ripoff act but enough of them are drawing unwanted international attention that is not helping their profession, neither helping tourism in the country.

It's about time something is done. Go-KL deserves our support.

Information about the Go-KL free bus service:

At present, there are about 15 of the purple buses, equipped with WiFi, serving two routes.

From KLCC, the Green Line follows Jalan Ampang, Jalan Sultan Ismail and Jalan Raja Chulan, and into the Golden Triangle.

The Purple Line services the Central Market hub including Bangkok Bank, Masjid Jamek, Ceylon Hill's Junction and Kota Raya.

Both routes overlap at Pavilion, Starhill Gallery, Bukit Bintang, Wisma Boustead and Wisma MPL so passengers can transit.

The frequency of the buses is every five minutes during peak hours and every 15 minutes during non-peak hours.

Operating hours are 6am to 11pm.

For more information, visit the service's Facebook page ( or Twitter #GOKL or call the hotline at 1-800-88-7723.


Additionally, all 15 vehicles are disabled-friendly. Besides WiFi-enabled, they are also equipped with security cameras to ensure safety of passengers. GPS is also available onboard and enforcement officers often travel incognito with the passengers.

That's not all. The bus service is also eco-friendly as, according to a report, a sapling will be planted for every cumulative 1,000km travelled to offset the estimated carbon emission of 0.11 metric tonnes. Thinking ahead, the worn-out tyres will be used to create artificial reefs to help restore damaged coral reefs. Source

THE Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) has no plans to cease the free GO-KL bus service, following protests from taxi drivers here, NST reported.

Go-KL city bus routes: (Source: NST)

I blew up the earlier image on purpose so that the text could be easily read. Here's the uncluttered version..

When you visit KL next, do try out the Go-KL free bus service. You may be pleasantly surprised at how easy it is to get from one shopping mall or tourist destination to another.

Image source: The Star

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Three more gold firms raided

Oh gosh, following the raid on the gold trading firm, Genneva, a few days ago, three similar gold trading companies have also been raided by the authorities.

Worldwide Far East Bhd, Pageantry Gold Bhd and Caesar Gold Sdn Bhd have been raided for suspected illegal deposit-taking. Among others, they are being investigated for money laundering, tax evasion, false description and appointment of unlicensed agents, according to Bank Negara, the national bank.

Investors have cause for worry as investing in gold is not like buying a pentair pool cleaner or some less pricey item. Interests derived from gold investments are usually used to fund children's education and/or medical bills.

All the three companies are located in the Klang Valley, i.e., Kuala Lumpur area.

Related article:
Bank Negara: FAQs on gold firm raids

UFO over Muar

What a sight! Four days ago on Tuesday, a UFO was spotted over Muar, a coastal town just after Malacca in the southern state of Johore. It kind of reminds me of the "Eye of God" image that was going around some years ago. Take a look at the UFO.

Cool, huh? Image was captured on a handphone.

Muar residents spotted a reddish object near the sun at about noon on Tuesday. Many thought it was an unidentified flying object.

“The object looked static, it didn't move.

“It looked like an orb with a planet inside it,” said Muar marine police chief, Asst Supt Nordin Osman.

Source: The Star..Shutterbugs rush to capture giant halo and ‘UFO’

Friday, October 5, 2012

The Beatles "Love Me Do" turns 50 today

I need to check my dad's vinyl collection to see if there is The Beatles' "Love Me Do" record. I hear it fetches between 150 - 200 British pounds if it's still in reasonably good condition. But then again, it would make one great collectible.

The Beatles' "Love Me Do", their first hit turns 50 today, Friday. 50 years seem so long ago but The Beatles is one of the bands that have stood the test of time whose songs are still being played even to this day. The Beatles, comprising John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, remain one of my favourite pop groups from a past era. Those must have been happy times. They don't make music like they used to, I hear older folks say.

Here's the foot-tapping, bubbly "Love Me Do" for your listening pleasure. Fun to watch too..

Friday Frolics - What Do You Need Most?

We think we know what we need most, but do we? Take this week's personality quiz to find out whether what you think you need is actually your real need subconsciously. Interesting set of questionnaire to start with.

I'd give this a 4 rating..

Rating Guide
1 = Absolutely not true
2 = Some truth
3 = 50% true
4 = Mostly true
5 = Close to 100% true

Happy Friday, everyone!

You Need Freedom

You need to have full control of your life. You must make your own choices and decisions.

Your confidence and self-esteem comes from being independent. It's very important that no one tells you what to do.

You don't do well with rules, responsibilities, or commitment. You're not flaky, but you do need flexibility.

You may not always exercise your freedom, but you need to know it's there. Just feeling constrained constrains you.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Psy giving free Gangnam concert in Seoul

Source: The Star

Whoa, how nice! South Korean rapper Psy will perform his global hit "Gangnam Style" at a free concert in Seoul on Thursday (today?) that is expected to draw 50,000 fans, with millions more watching live on YouTube.

During a hugely successful US promotional tour last month, Psy made a guest appearance at the MTV awards in Los Angeles, taught his signature dance to Britney Spears, and was given a cameo role on NBC's "Saturday Night Live."

His horse-riding moves have been imitated, parodied and referenced in pretty much every conceivable context.

The free concert is being co-organised by the Seoul municipal authorities, who have promised to extend subway services and block off traffic from the area around the city-centre venue.

The free concert is in appreciations of his fans' support back home.

Source: The Star..Psy brings 'Gangnam Style' home with free show

What's the Colour of Your Sofa?

Recently, a girlfriend got tired of her sofa set and decided to make a change. She gave away her peach-colored sofa set (which I thought was rather pretty and bright) and replaced it with a darkish green almost black set. Colourful cushions provide the pleasant contrast.

Imagine if we are still in the dark ages where dye leather hasn't been created yet, our living rooms would all be so brown and drab in natural leather, don't you think? Thanks to coloured dyes, we can now choose a settee or couch of any shade that takes our fancy. Choice of colour is such an individual thing. Another girlfriend has a teal sofa set in her new apartment while a colleague has a bright red set. What's the colour of your sofa?

Gold trading in Malaysia with Genneva

With low bank interest rate and market volatility, many investors in Malaysia are turning to investing in gold for faster and better returns on their investment. Gold is a recommended hedge against inflation protecting the purchasing power going forward.

Two days ago, a gold trading firm Genneva's offices and its affiliates in the country were raided by a joint-team from four NGOs - the police, Bank Negara, the Companies Commission of Malaysia and the Ministry of Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism - for various suspected offences.

Genneva’s Singapore subsidiary was also raided.

Anxious Genneva Malaysia investors and trading agents thronged the company's headquarters in Jalan Kuchai Maju 6 and its Penang hub to find out if their savings are safe in the wake of the raid. Many of them had invested large sums of money in the company's gold trading scheme. More..

Worried investors hope Genneva will be allowed to resume business soon.

A doctor has invested RM400,000 a year ago and has received an average return of RM8,000 monthly. The money is used to fund his son's tertiary education in London. Another daughter has just enrolled in a college in Kuala Lumpur.

Another investor said she depends on the returns on this gold investment for her family needs as she does not have any other income.

Yet another needs the monthly return to fund medical bills.

This is how it works at Genneva Malaysia S/B: (Click to enlarge image)

Background of Genneva Malaysia Sdn Bhd

According to the Gold Bullion Entrepreneurs Association of (GBEAM), there are no clear guidelines regulating any aspect of gold trading in the country and that the trade has been unregulated since the 1980s.

The association believes in the business model by Genneva Malaysia Sdn Bhd as it was based on a genuine platform.

“The action taken by Bank Negara could be based on a misunderstanding. GBEAM hopes that the Government will provide clearer guidelines to gold traders in the future,” the association said in a statement yesterday.

Image source: The Star

Related articles:
- Three Genneva directors, ex-director ordered to defend money-laundering charges
- Six Genneva personnel slapped with over 900 money laundering charges
- Genneva sets ‘gold medal’ record