Friday, October 31, 2008

Grand Kampar Hotel and my birthday celebration

Who would have thought that in the midst of the small Kampar town, there is a hotel that stands tall (literally), with a 3-star rating to boot? Called the Grand Kampar Hotel (lame, I know), it was completed early of last year and is now a grand landmark in Kampar new town, also known as Taman Bandar Baru. The hotel has 9 storeys, with a swimming pool at the roof top, and a total of 155 rooms. According to the website, the design is Spanish-inspired, I don't know, I haven't been to Spain before. :P

The room rates are pretty reasonable considering the 3-star rank and the facilities provided. It has a newly renovated gymnasium as well!

Room Rate

Room Categories Single / King Double / Twin

Standard Deluxe RM110.00 ++ RM110.00 ++

Executive Deluxe RM140.00 ++ RM140.00 ++

Family Suite RM180.00 ++ RM180.00 ++

Executive Suite RM250.00 ++ RM250.00 ++

Rates are inclusive Breakfast

Now the question is, what is there to do in Kampar that requires you to stay overnight? In my opinion, the hotel was built mainly to cater to the family members of the nearby UTAR (University Tunku Abdul Rahman) and TARC (Tunku Abdul Rahman College) during occassions such as orientation, graduation or holidays. The hotel looks impressive and grand from the outside, because it is still brand new!

Grand Kampar hotel

We went to visit the place early this month, since I was back in my hometown and we were deciding where to go for my birthday dinner celebration. The Grand Kampar Cafe seemed like a nice place to go for a quiet dinner with family members.

Outside the hotel

The hotel lobby was deserted during the time of visit. I liked the shining marble floors though!

Hotel lobby

This was the restaurant in the late morning. On a weekday, there were no patrons at all.

Grand Kampar Cafe

Anyway, after looking at the menu, we decided to give this place a try. After all, we're bored of always going to the same few Chinese restaurants in Kampar. Those places are always noisy with the local crowds, and worst of all, there's always someone singing off-tune karaoke in the background. That is a total earsore!

It's tasty?

We were there at half past 7pm, and there were only 2 tables filled with customers. Coupled with soft music in the background, the ambiance was just perfect for a night out with family members, up for a lively chat.

Celebratory white wine

One of the must-try in the Grand Kampar Cafe is their freshly squeezed fruit juices. At RM4 a glass, the juices are made by order and you could even ask for a combination of fruits. The best part of all? They don't add any water to it! So the juice is purely from the fruits themselves. Isn't that amazing? Very reasonably priced too. The star attraction of this place, I'd say. :)

Orange & carrot juice

A picture with my dear parents.

witch with parents

And we move on to the food! Our party consisted of 9 persons, so it was quite a chaos while we made our orders. :) The first dish that arrived was the chicken wings. The chicken wings came with french fries as well, good combination. My grandma loved the chicken wings which were not done too oily.

Chicken wings

Next up was the spaghetti carbonara with turkey ham, as recommended by the waiter. Do not order this next time! The picture from the menu certainly looked different from the one we saw. The taste was very normal and you couldn't really see much fillings inside. Turkey ham was miniscule!

Carbonara with turkey ham

On the other hand, the spaghetti bolognese with grilled chicken was the total opposite! The sauce was just nice without making the pasta soggy, and the grilled chicken was definitely better than the non-existent turkey ham. If you fancy pasta, this is the dish for you.

Spaghetti bolognese with grilled chicken

My mom ordered the grilled fish, which looked like frozen fish fillet to me. Not a good choice again.

Grilled fish

My brother ordered the lamb chop. Presentation could be a little better eh? But for the price of less than RM15 in a hotel, I guess we really can't ask for more. The lamb was juicy and well-marinated. I wouldn't mind eating this again next time.

Lamb chop

My father and aunty ordered the chicken chop and both gave different reviews. My aunty said it was pretty good and she was impressed. My father, on the other hand, didn't really like it. He said it was sub-standard even. *LOL* I don't know who to trust. Both have different taste buds I guess.

Chicken chop

This was what my grandfather ordered: Chicken chop with sweet and sour sauce. In other words, it's oriental style chicken chop, which is more suitable for more conventional people. He told me it's not bad, and judging from the way he finished the whole thing within minutes, I guess it's either very good or he's just very hungry. :P

Oriental style chicken chop

As for myself, I didn't know what to order, so I chose the mixed grill! It was a combination of everything: sausage, chicken chop, lamb chop, steak and an egg! I liked everything except the lamb, which was a little too fatty.

Mixed grill

Besides Western food, the cafe prepares local delicacy as well, like the fried noodles that my grandmother ordered. She gave two thumbs-up for this and I don't disagree. She just sat opposite me during dinner and her plate of noodles emitted a very aromatic smell the whole time! Definitely a must-try dish.

Oriental fried noodles

Finally, my uncle ordered the mee mamak, and he was impressed! I didn't get the chance to try it out but my uncle was giving really good comments on this dish. I guess for those who love spicy dishes, this would be perfect for you.

Mee mamak

After dinner, it was time for birthday cake cutting. The ice-cream cake was bought from this shop in Kampar, called Justoeat. It was freshly baked and full of ice-cream goodness within, I love!

Birthday cake

Happy birthday to me!

The hotel entrance at night.

Grand Kampar hotel at night

Overall, it was a pretty relaxing and comfortable dinner. It is difficult to find a place with good environment and reasonable food in Kampar, where you could just sit down and talk to each other without shouting. I will definitely go to this restaurant again in the future, if not for the environment, then it would be for the fried noodles. :)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Petrol price has a minimum!

I read The Star news today to find out whether there was going to be any reduction on petrol prices, seeing that it's almost the end of the month now. What I was greeted with, was a moron by the name of Shahrir Abdul Samad saying that the petrol price will have a minimum of RM1.92/litre, regardless of global oil price. According to him, this would bring some stability to the retail price of petrol. I do not understand what he meant by this? Is there anyone complaining on the recent reduction in oil prices? If anything, we as the consumers don't mind this kind of instability at all, if the prices keep plummeting.

Also, on the point of petrol station owners' losses, I think this is just an excuse. Really, if proper planning is being done, I'm sure this could be very well-managed. There was this petrol dealer quoting in the same article:

Ahmad Sarpur, a dealer in Johor, said dealers could lose between RM13,000 and RM25,000 each time petrol is reduced by 15 sen per litre.

“This is because there is a minimum order quantity of 21,000 litres that we must pay for immediately. There is no credit,” he said.

I wonder how he did his calculation? Let's say he orders a minimum quantity of 21,000 litres, and with a reduction of 15 sen per litre, that would come up to 21,000 x 0.15 = RM3,150. Where, pray tell, did the figure of RM13,000 to RM25,000 come about? And I haven't even included the 12 sen margin allocated to all the petrol dealers. If that is taken into account, the losses would only be 3 sen per litre, translating to RM630, assuming minimum quantity is ordered. Also, another assumption is that NONE of the petrol is sold from the morning when the dealers get the petrol delivery, until the night when announcements are usually made.

Now, do you think the excuse provided by the certain moron is actually bullshit? If the petrol dealers really want to minimize losses, the government could either:

1) Provide the dealers 2-3 days notice in advance, so that the dealers could buy the minimum amount for that few days. Or better still, the petrol dealers should be smart enough to know that petrol prices will usually be adjusted at the end of the month, and should only stock up the minimum quantity by then.

2) The government can always reduce just 12 sen per adjustment, but with NO minimum amount of RM1.92/litre. If they reduce 12 sen each time, the petrol dealers are theoretically not suffering from losses.

Finally, the same moron also mentioned selling the petrol at the minimum of RM1.92/litre would enable the government to reduce its subsidy on petrol if the global price fell further. So this is the main reason of setting the minimum? So that the government could SAVE and the rakyat should pay the so-called 'subsidy' instead? This is such a stupid excuse! In the first place, the subsidy amount has already reduced to a meagre value, and if the price reduces, I don't think the subsidy should be reduced! That was what was promised to us when the petrol price was increasing. Now that it's on the decreasing trend, they want to consider pulling back the subsidy? Is that fairness?

I am appalled by how and what the moron thinks. How could he not think on behalf of the consumer? And that, coming from a Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister, who doesn't really take the consumers' welfare into consideration.

I don't agree, why must the government put a minimum on the petrol price if the global oil prices keep plunging? Does it make sense to the consumers if say, one day the petrol price retails at RM1.80/litre and we STILL have to pay RM1.92/litre?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Farewell my friend

It was 28th of September, 2008. A group of us gathered to meet at Chili's G Hotel to bid farewell to our dear friend, mentor, coursemate, teacher, Vickna. Personally, I only got to know Vickna better during the last 2 semesters of my masters degree. Previously, we were just coursemates who happened to sit in the same class. But was I glad that we got to know each other better! He's what most people would refer to as Teacher. Smart and patient, I really think he's perfect to be a lecturer or tutor. To me, Vickna is the epitome of the perfect son as well. He's filial, homey and respectful, at the same time holding on to his own principles and goals. I could tell that he wanted to be with his family long time ago, but he had to put the plans on hold due to our studies. Now that the classes are all over, it was high time for him to perform his duties as the loyal son. All the reasons which led to his farewell from Pearl of the Orient that is Penang.

By now, he would have been working down south, closer to his home and his dear family. I would like to use this opportunity to dedicate this post to him, for being a good mentor especially during examination times, and for being a great friend too. I'm sure before long, you'd be on your way to having your own family. *winks* I wish you all the best in everything that you do, and may your new job and new life bring you more happiness than ever before!

We went to Chili's for a final 'makan' with Vickna, starting with the bottomless tostada chips. This appetizer is perfect for a big group of people looking to spend the night chatting away while having something to munch, simply because the chips taste great and are unlimited!

Tostada chips

Some pictures before our dinner was served.

dory and witch

Manager P and Allan, next time you guys leave, I'll dedicate a post to each of you also. :P

Manager P and Allan

Goodbye Vickna!

Vickna and witch

Our dinner that night:

1) Grilled lamb shoulder

Lamb shoulder

2) Chicken Monterey - pretty good

Chicken Monterey

3) Firecracker dory fish - ordered by dory herself! Haha.. Feeding on your own kind, dory! That's cannibalism. :P

Firecracker Dory fish eaten by dory herself :P

Finally a group picture before we called it a night.

Group picture - (clockwise from left) Vickna, witch, dory, Manager P and Allan

It was a night of great food, great company and wonderful chips! Do let us know whenever you visit Penang again next time, ok! :)

Sunday, October 26, 2008

A trip to Phuket: Day 3

Time really flies when you're having fun! Without realizing it, it had come the day for us to go home. Our final day was just a short one, so we did not do much except to relax and drink more beer and wine. :) The first thing we did in the morning was to return the motorbike we rented the day before. After that, we walked back to our hotel, by crossing this bridge. The view from this bridge was really breathtaking, especially when we're walking towards to the beach direction.

Bridge towards Kamala Village

We had our usual daily buffet breakfast, and we managed to sit at the same table with the previous morning. :)

Breakfast at the same table

Tea for me and coffee for Saucer. Aromatic.

Coffee, tea and milk

Before leaving the resort, we took some time to take more pictures of the beach again. Luckily it wasn't so hot in the morning, and the beach was also deserted.

Kamala beach

I love this picture of the coconut tree shadow. ;)

Coconut tree shadow

Beautiful beach

Coconut trees lining the beach

witch at the beach

Our flight was at 11am, so the hotel arranged for a pickup at about 9.30am. We reached the airport at about 10.15am, with almost another hour to spare. As usual, since it was the off-season and with the recent emergency state, there were not many people at the airport. We checked in within minutes of arrival and had nothing to do.

Phuket airport

We waited in the check-in lounge by ourselves. Saucer was so bored he slept on the chairs! *LOL*

Waiting area

Soon enough, it was time for us to board the plane. Being a low cost carrier, Firefly did not have its own boarding gate from the airport. Instead, we had to take a shuttle bus that fetched us to the plane. It was just a short ride though, less than 5 minutes away.

Bus from airport to the plane

Due to the small number of passengers there, the airline crew did not stop us when we tried to snap pictures in front of the plane. :) I mean, how often do you have the chance to take a picture with the plane in the background eh? Both Saucer and I took turns to take pictures, complete with propellers in the background.

Saucer with Firefly

Goodbye Phuket!

Overall, it was indeed a pleasant trip, albeit short. It was what I needed after studying for my exams for so long! A well-deserved break for both of us. :) Will I go there again? Yes, only after I've visited other parts of Thailand. ;)


My dad used to have perfect eyesight. Ever since he was born until the age of 40, he never had to wear any corrective lenses, until he realized he couldn't read clearly after the age of 40. An eye inspection at the optometrist later showed that he had far-sightedness and had to wear glasses for reading. Having been spectacles-free for the past 40 years, it was indeed an unfamiliar feeling to wear glasses most of the time. Hence, he started do open up his options on laser vision corrective surgery, such as LASIK.

Nowadays, even NASA and the U.S. military have relied on an all-laser form of LASIK technology to improve the performance of their mission-critical personnel facing extreme, physically demanding conditions. This same technology has benefited residents for more than five years. According to Steven Schallhorn, M. D. and a retired U.S. Navy captain, “The DOD and NASA have validated the fact that today’s LASIK exceeds all established standards of safety and effectiveness.”

iLASIK™ Procedure, also referred to as the modern LASIK, features the usage of two lasers instead of one. During the first stage, wave-front technology maps the unique characteristics of the individual eyes, followed by an ultrafast, computer-guided laser to create a corneal flap. Using this laser to replace the handheld microkeratome blade in the older forms of LASIK results in an exceptionally safe procedure.

After that, the wave-front mapping data guides a second laser for vision correction. The new advanced laser technologies create a custom-fit procedure that is clinically proven to provide superb safety and visual results. A military evaluation of iLASIK in 100 personnel showed that a whopping 95% achieved 20/20 uncorrected vision or better. During the evaluation, 100% of naval aviators who went through the procedure said that they would recommend the surgery to fellow colleagues. Dr. Schallhorn emphasized that, “technologically speaking, there is no better time than now to join the over 12 million Americans who have benefited from LASIK."

Now if you'll excuse me, I am very excited to show my father this website for further LASIK information.


Friday, October 24, 2008

A trip to Phuket: Day 2.5

So the story continues after our foot massage in Jungceylon mall. Our trip was really a rest & relax getaway, so we didn't visit many places but instead went for massages and facials and beaches. :) Our feet revived, we were on our feet again now hunting for food. There were many restaurants and cafes at the mall: Irish, Western, Japanese, Thai, German, you name it. After scouting around high and low, we finally decided to go with Japanese. There was one huge Japanese restaurant at the ground floor called Fuji.

Fuji at Jungceylon Mall, Patong

We decided to go there because we saw many maps that recommended this restaurant as well. The interior was nicely decorated with paintings of bamboo shoots.

Interior of the restaurant

Our table

We ordered the special grilled beef set, sukiyaki beef set and mineral water. Now I know why this place was popular and crowded. The sets were so GOOD! And cheap! Well, reasonably and comparatively cheap. Can you imagine, this was our cheapest meal in Phuket throughout the 3 whole days? The local Thai restaurants were even more expensive than this.

Mineral water

This was what I ordered for myself:

Grilled beef set

The beef pieces were juicy and tender with special marinated sauce inside. You wouldn't have known by just looking at the pictures.

Delicious grilled beef

Saucer ordered the sukiyaki set and the sukiyaki soup/sauce (not the miso soup OK) was AMAZING! I couldn't stop stealing spoonfuls of the soup from his box. *LOL* A tad salty, so it was perfect to go with rice.

Sukiyaki beef set

In total, the bill for this meal was slightly less than RM40 only. I don't think you could get similar quality food with such price in Malaysia. Definitely a must-visit restaurant. I'd definitely go here again if I visit Phuket next time. :)

After filling our tummies, guess what we did? Facials! It was impressive how advanced the people in Phuket were. Inside the mall, there were at least 3 huge facial centres, with state-of-the-art equipment and plenty of facial chairs. I'd never seen such a thing before in Malaysia. There were at least 20 of such chairs within one centre, and each chair had its own steamer and blackhead suction tool. Best of all, the price for a 1-hour facial was dirt cheap, RM30 only. I guess it's all due to economics of scale. With such a large amount of customers to serve, they could afford to sell their services at a cheaper price. Facial is like a mass-produced service Phuket, unlike in Malaysia, where facials are considered a luxury.

One of the facial centres

Did you see the facial chairs inside? That's probably only a quarter of the whole centre. I know what some of you might think, with such cheap price, would they lack in quality? Well, Saucer and I did the facials and both of us still have good skin now. So I guess, the products (which they claimed were from Japan) were not that bad. :)

It was already 4+pm by this time, and we decided to go back to our hotel room to rest after coming out for a whole day. We took another 10 minutes trying to find our bike. Seriously, the number of bikes in the area was just AMAZING! And each one looked the same to me. *LOL*

After reaching our room, I took out the map again to check where to go for the night. There was this street called Bangla Street which was the main attraction point for night spots. It was literally filled with agogo clubs, gay bars, lesbian bars, everything! That was where we decided to go that night. ;)

Armed with our trusty bike, we rode out again at night, hunting for dinner. We actually wanted to have local food, and the brightly lit stalls of Patong Food Park attracted our attention.

Patong food park

There was a stall which sold many types of meat on sticks, like kebab. Some of the meat looked really weird, like they're from some weird animals. Saucer tried one of the sausages there, which the lady BBQed before handing to us. The taste was really weird! It's not like normal sausages at all, even the feeling of biting into it was funny. I do not know how else to describe it, but I'd definitely stay away from that if I were you.

Stall with weird meat

This was the sausage that we had. I know, it looked delicious! Trust me, it's not!

Weird sausage

In the end, we decided to settle for a more decent stall to have dinner. There were about 3 or 4 similar seafood stalls at the food park, but we went to the one which was more crowded. The stall had a fresh selection of seafood to be chosen by customers and cooked according to their requests.

Seafood stall in Patong Food Park

We ordered the following dishes:

Never miss out on tom yam whenever you're in Thailand, was Saucer's mantra. This was our third tom yam soup in 2 days, and I must say, I favoured this the best! In terms of taste, it was more closely matched to Prontip, just a little more spicy.

Seafood tom yam soup - again!

There was this snapper that the waiter recommended to us, because the size was small enough for two persons. We asked them to prepare the fish ala Thai style. The fish was deep fried before the sauce was poured all over it. I'd say not too bad, although one usually can't taste the freshness of the fish after being deep fried.

Snapper in Thai sauce

Not forgetting the cooling and refreshing sweet coconut water to wash the dinner down. :)

Sweet coconut water

After dinner, we asked for directions to go to Bangla Street. With our maps handy, we managed to reach the place easily. The street was really brightly lit, with music coming out from every club and pub around. The night really came alive in Bangla Street!

There were many shops and restaurants which opened late into the night along this street. This picture was taken at a nearby junction. Very similar to Petaling Street.

Petaling Street alike

This was the dress that I bought earlier from the bazaar opposite Jungceylon Mall. Nice or not? :)

My new dress!

This was the famous Bangla Street. Look at the amount of people, on a so-called off-peak season! It makes me cringe at the thought of visiting this place during the peak season. It would be a disaster to just walk through this street!

Bangla Street

One thing that made us feel uncomfortable was the amount of 'stalkers' who followed us around to tempt us to visit their bars/pubs/discos. They would show us a piece of paper with a list of exotic dances or performances, and told us that they'd bring us to watch those for free. I swear we met with these people once every 10 seconds and it was really irritating. Furthermore, they wouldn't tell you where their so-called bar was located at. They're supposed to escort us there. Sounded dodgy to me. But don't worry, as long as you ignore them, they would give up eventually. :)


Even though we're curious to see the famous Thai girl show, we didn't dare to go with just the two of us. But we didn't regret our decision one bit. It was satisfying enough to experience the night life from afar. Maybe next time, we'd go again with a bigger group of people. :)