Friday, 31 August 2012

Signature Hotel, Kuantan

Of late, TF has been staying in Kuantan due to some ongoing work projects. It is pretty difficult to choose an appropriate hotel when in Kuantan due to the lack of reviews on the internet. Furthermore, more  new hotels are being opened in Kuantan. With his experience in staying in various hotels around Kuantan, he very kindly shared with me to allow me to  post it on my blog :)

Signature hotel has 47 rooms available. Walk-in bookings can sometimes be cheaper than the online booking. So, it is best to call the hotel to check their rates first, before booking online. I was also told that charges a processing fee which then means you will have to pay extra.

 No. 41, Tkt. Bawah & Mezz, Jalan Beserah, 25000 , Kuantan, Pahang. tel+609 513 2919

Signature Hotel was one hotel I stayed in recently. First thing to put in my mind is, do not expect much from hotels with price range of RM95-Rm150 per night. When I first step foot into the lobby of this hotel, the whiff of fresh paint was unavoidable. This was because the hotel was just opened four months ago. Other than that, the lobby was tidy and clean. The interior was simple yet showed some class.

I am actually sitting at the lobby while blogging because the lobby's atmosphere is decent. There are many Malaysian chinese people who are hotel guests here. The black sofa I am sitting on is pretty comfortable. More comfortable than the room which only has a small stool.

At the lobby, there are also newspapers provided for free reading.

The service, I must say, is impeccable. The receptionist was this naturally friendly guy. Not that type I see in posh hotels, where they are trained to be friendly. He was helpful and happy to answer any queries we had. That is a plus point when staying in a hotel - Good service! He even offered to get me some nasi lemak for breakfast, so that I did not need to cross the road. It does make one feel at home to have caring staff like that.

This hotel provides daily housekeeping. Since it was a weekday, I think the housekeeper was not busy. So, I could just walk down to the lobby and request for her to clean my room now since I was going out. Of course, she will still clean your room that day even without asking. If you do not wish to have your room cleaned, you could also just request for a change of towels. The housekeeper was happy to oblige and very friendly. You know how sometimes I get intimidated by the staff elsewhere because of their rudeness and stuck up behaviour, in Signature Hotel its different. I am not even paid by them to write this review!

I stayed in a room with a queen size bed and one bathroom. Basically, when you enter the room, its already the bedroom with a shelved cupboard on my right and then the bathroom. There is also a TV with 12 channels (eg: Star movies, national geographic, other local channels)
The bathroom is decent. They lack a shower curtain which makes the entire toilet wet after I shower. I did not like that part because wet toilets just feels disgusting. Anyway, the ventilation is good and the aircond is pretty strong, so the toilet floor does dry up fast.

Although the hotel is located along the pretty busy street of Jalan Berserah, but I was not disturbed by the sounds of traffic when I was in the hotel room. The one thing lacking in the room was a kettle to boil hot water. There are also no cups or complementary coffee or tea. Complementary mineral water were provided..

Signature Hotel is located on the same row as Jawhari Cat Medical Centre, Syarikat Menang Glassware (a shop selling dining utensils), Al-Ikhsan (Sports shop), Klinik Dr. Ko and 7-Eleven. In my opinion, if there is a 7-eleven nearby, its good enough to survive. I found out from the 7-eleven staff that they provide hot water for free, which is good given that the hotel does not provide hot water. But, of course, you will have to bring your own cup to take the hot water as the hot water in 7-11 was actually for the maggi cup noodles. So, thats where the glassware shop comes in handy if you need to buy a cup ;)

Other hotels in Kuantan review:
-Signature Hotel, Kuantan

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Zouk @ Midvalley

Celebrating The eve of Merdeka with Tiger beer, spaghetti ala marinara and deep fried spicy squid heads. All three were pretty good!

We ordered Zouk's Sandwich at first, but the waiter came back and told us all their bread expired..... Lol

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Chocolate cake

Cakes are so sinful. I will make them, but I would not really eat them. I made a chocolate cake today.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

The right one

To know that you have found the right boyfriend, you are supposed to notice that he is always committed to you, he appreciates and loves you the way you are, he's always there for you amd also, he is to make youe feel special like his queen.


Being teochew, I love teochew food! No, I do not know the language. But, the food, YES!

My all time favourite is teochew porridge with lou ngap. Can never say no whenever there is duck served.

Today I made 'oh nee'. I made the halal version, meaning no fatty pig oil. I replaced it with olive oil. Oh nee is a teochew delicacy, some cook it with roasted pork. Some places make it too sweet. Can also add ginkgo in it. It can be easily found in the food courts in Singapore.... (duck also nicer in Singapore ;p)

Monday, 27 August 2012


I was invited to go hiking at Gunung Nuang on this friday (Merdeka Holiday).... Ar first I agreed to go.

But then...

I read blog reviews that it was a 12 hour hike and there were plenty of leeches....

So, I chickened out.
As much as I want to hike, I have never hiked before in my life. I am telling myself I should not be too adventurous. The Gunung Nuang hike was a prep for them before hiking Gunung Kinabalu in September. Sooo nice!! I want, but can't.

Start small aye.. Bukit Tabur hike on Monday will test my stamina.

Maybe I should walk up and down my hill ten times and see how breathless I get as a test.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Plan B, Midvalley

I have tried the food in Plan B twice. Not too bad. It was 50% off at that time, so everything was worth it. I am not sure if the offer is still ongoing.

The first meal I had was Smoked Salmon Sandwich. The normal price was rm20 meaning after 50% discount it cost rm10. Very worth it given the generous amount of smoked salmon in my sandwich. The sandwich came with a side of lettuce and thinly sliced deep fried sweet potatoes and yam.

The second time round I tried their lamb sausage puff. The sausage was good, but I could not really taste the lamb flavour. I was told to try their pies, which were good.

Free flow of water given in a lab looking bottle.

What Has Happened to Wikileaks

Wikileaks has been around for 6 years now.  On its website it says that "Our goal is to bring important news and information to the public.  The broader principles on which our work is based are the defence of freedom of speech and media publishing, the improvement of our common historical record and the support of the rights of all people to create new history."

Through a network of volunteers and informers, it has released millions of leaked documents that governments and other organisations consider to be confidential.  They range from secret files on prisoners detained in Guantánamo Bay, e-mails from the University of East Anglia (on "Climategate"), the contents of Sarah Palin's private Yahoo account, to footage of the US airstrike in Baghdad in July 2007 in which Iraqi journalists were killed.  Many of the leaks have been front page news items.

Aftermath of one of the many US Iraqi airstrikes

Wikileaks without doubt attracts strong reactions either way.  Many see it as "shining a light into the darkness" of government secrecy and authoritarianism.  Many defenders of free speech and transparency are instinctively drawn to its aims.  Others see it as recklessly endangering security and lives.  Its founder, Julian Assange, has himself acknowledged it might end up with "blood of its hands" through its activities.  He said in an interview on Swedish TV in December 2010 that the potential to save lives outweighs the dangers to innocents.  Whether it should be for an individual to make such a judgment over other people's life and death is a good question.

Shades of Grey

My own position on Wikileaks (apart from hating its silly name because I know one day I'll type "Wikipedia" by accident and everyone will laugh at me) has always been of not taking a polarised view.  I can support its general aims whilst realising the organisation has many obvious flaws.  I am also very aware of the recklessness and potential danger of releasing unfiltered material.  A key question for me is will the existence of Wikileaks change governments' behaviour for the better, because they are fearful of their practices being brought "into the light"?  I am actually genuinely yet to be convinced of that. 

I do remember following Wikileaks on Twitter when I heard that anyone doing so could be liable to have their account details handed to the US authorities.  Many others did too, in a show of Spartacus type indignation.  I also recall the outrageous case of Icelandic MP Birgitta Jonsdottir who was the subject of an attempt by the US justice department to obtain her private Twitter details.  I felt complete instinctive repulsion at this.

Whatever your views on Wikileaks, throughout the discussion of Julian Assange's rape investigation, I have also reminded people that it is possible, and indeed important, to separate the organisation from the man.  You can support Wikileaks, whilst still believing that he should face investigation and due process (which includes a presumption of innocence) in Sweden.  [I might add that you can also believe in the rule of law and not mix this up with conspiracy theories and hypothetical situations, but I'd either be preaching to the converted or to un-convertable...]

Wikileaks on Twitter

This week the whole issue of Assange's bail skipping and obtaining political asylum in the Ecuador Embassy has been the subject of fierce comment on Twitter.  During this time I have been directed back to various tweets on the Wikileaks account.  I have been really quite surprised at what I have seen.

Here is an organisation supposedly dedicated to bring transparency to government secrecy and objectively to bringing important news and information to the public.  Instead the overwhelming bulk of its prodigious output has been to defend Julian Assange personally.  It deals not in facts, but puts out tweets aimed at feeding conspiracy theories such as "UK refuses to extradite "most-wanted pedophile" on human rights grounds, but still intent on extraditing Assange. Why?" 

It speaks of a siege.  Forgive me for questioning whether "siege" is an accurate term.  Have 1 million civilians died as during the siege of Leningrad?  Have armed hostage takers held 26 people against their will, such as during the Iranian Embassy siege?  Are people even prevented from entering and leaving the Ecuador embassy at all (other than one individual who has skipped bail and has an EAW outstanding against him)?  Yes, it's semantics, but it is indicative of the exact completely non-objective language of melodrama and thriller novels I noted in a previous post regarding supporters of Assange that I've recently come into contact with.  Yes, the UK wants him "dead or alive": this is all just one big Bond movie or Dan Brown novel after all:

Then we have the sweeping statements and ongoing hate campaign against the nation of Sweden, which has gone from being a place where Assange sought residency, a neutral country and one of the world's most developed democracies, to being a lawless servant of the US empire.  Note the language "What people need to understand": 10/10 for patronising and losing your audience before you have started.

Further, we have the nomination for Comedy Gold in attempting to stir up anti-UK feeling with the "Perfidious Albion" line that dates back to 18th century French propaganda.  Note the link that that authoritative source, Wikipedia (did I get that right?!):

We have retweets of George Galloway, who has been criticised by his own party for diminishing the seriousness of rape by dismissing the allegations against Assange as "bad etiquette".  This type of rape denial is grotesque and has been widely condemned, yet here is Wikileaks retweeting the man on the very subject.

We have retweets of Noam Chomsky who wins first prize for proving Godwin's law by suggesting that Sweden cooperates with whoever is in power, as "shown" by collaboration with the Nazis in World War Two.  Aside from the fact that Sweden was neutral, gave safe haven to Danish Jews, and its undoubted economic collaboration (with both sides) is preferable in my view to armed involvement, what does this have to do with anything?  I might as well bring up the siege (yup, an actual siege) of Brno of 1645 during the 30 Years War to "prove" what dastardly cads the Swedes are.  Ikea always miss out a bolt too, so that's another reason to hate them.

David Allen Green

Perhaps most remarkably, we have the Birmingham lawyer David Allen Green.  He wrote a fact based, sourced article for the New Statesman recently entitled Legal Myths about the Assange Extradition.  It brought together some very good pieces from various members of the legal blogosphere, who remarkably seem to be speaking with one voice on this subject, and are desperate to keep the subject to facts, due process, the rule of law and not stray onto the many myths that people keep repeating.

Read the following tweets from the bottom up.  It is easy to mock the fact that Wikileaks has accused his piece of being full of "basic errors" whilst spelling his name wrong, and to note the apparent lack of an ability to count all the way up to 3/3.  However, what exactly is this doing on the Wikileaks timeline at all?

It is the most personal of attacks which invites attacks on David from the 1.6 million supporters.  He is denounced as an "enemy".  We know that everything has to be seen in the black and white terms of the "goodie" and the "baddie" in the world of thriller novels and movies.  It didn't just stop with this one attack, it was followed up the following night with this:

It seems Assange's situation is so important that everything else must be neglected, as if this is the most important thing in the world.  It has gone from "shining a light into the world of government secrecy" to what occurs as the mouthpiece of a cult to defend the person of its leader.  Someone has spoken out against him and must retract and repent.  It just so happens that David Allen Green is far more capable of most of us of defending himself, but what has happened to Wikileaks?  The organisation is clearly dedicated to protecting Assange, come what may of how people view this.
How Responsible Bodies Act

My view is that any responsible body would have disassociated itself from Assange and asked him to step back whilst the serious sexual crime allegations are investigated and resolved one way or the other.  He himself could have resigned at any stage to allow Wiklieaks to fight its stated aims, without being tarnished by being associated with a highly controversial situation.  I'm afraid that by the blurring of the line between man and organisation, which Wikileaks has itself done, has made this extremely difficult.

There has been a clear politicisation of a criminal investigation by a body that claims to be anti-political.  The longer Wikileaks digs in with the likes of George Galloway and denounces as "enemies" critics of its leader for writing rational, factual articles the further respect diminishes.

Friday, 24 August 2012

my Burger Lab, Taman SEA (Sea Park)

Also read: my Burger Lab (First experience)

My burger experience rankings. Click on links to read more:
Sixth place: Chilli's Cheeseburger, KLCC/Midvalley

If you have not tried Burger Lab, you should! It is after all one of the best burgers found in KL and its freshly made. The burger's bun is also fantastic and no other burger buns can beat Burger Labs ones.

The downside to this place was location. Very limited parking spaces. You need to know how to side park la. I live in ampang, so Taman SEA isn't actually nearby.... I won't even go to that unfamiliar area if I didnt have someone else driving me there.

Uhm there was another downside. The shop is small. Limited seats. And just like waiting for Abang Burn's burger bakar, I do not recommend you to wear pretty clothes or go anywhere else after a visit to Burger Lab because your hair and clothes will stink. Their kitchen is open concept... Need better ventilation in my opinion.

By 5.30pm, the place was packed. The queue was so long. There were people everywhere. It was claustrophobic!!! There was also a sign outside the main door telling customers the waiting time
Was 30-45minutes.

We arrived at 5.10pm. Still had a decent place to sit. The wait was not too long. Maybe because we were playing a word game called Snatch.

Burgers came. Free flow of soda. Fries came. Very satisfying but did not really feel full enough xD
I had the 'say cheese burger' which was just cheeseburger. My bro has something burger with peanut butter which he found amazing. And i dont b the other burger since I wasnt the one
Placing the orders and the burger pics all look similar.

Its always best to go to Burger Lab with a friend or two. Advantages of going with friends:
1. If cannot find parking at least one person can go down and queue up first to order.
2. If one person dont know how to side park, maybe the other friend knows how to.
3. While you order, your other friend can go and save a seat for you.
4. The burgers can sometimes take awhile, so better to have someone to talk to or play games with while waiting. We brought this word game called Snatch to pass our time :)

Opening hours: 5pm till 10.30pm (tue - sunday)

Gay Olympians

There was lots of wonderful, positive comment about participation by women in the 2012 London Olympics.  We have come a long way from the 1896 Games when the founder, Baron de Coubertin stated their inclusion would be "impractical, uninteresting, unaesthetic, and incorrect".  By the 1900 Paris Games, women were permitted to enter, but only to play the genteel "lady like" sports of lawn tennis and golf.

Just amazing: standing ovation for Attar as she crossed the line

A record 44% of all competitors at London 2012 were women.  With the inclusion of women's boxing (what fun to have dropped Coubertin into the ring to slug it out with one of them), every sport now has woman competitors.  Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Brunei sent women athletes for the first time, meaning that every participating country has now sent women athletes.  I know that for me one of the most touching moments was the standing ovation for Saudi athlete Sarah Attar as she crossed the finish line in the 800m race in her headscarf.  There is no question that there has been an absolute sea change in women's participation.


We are five days away from the opening of the Paralympics.  The level of interest being expressed is huge.  I know I'm basically a soft-toy in a human body, but I found it incredibly warming to see the amount of people on my Twitter feed genuinely shouting out "But this isn't the end of the Games" at the main Olympic closing ceremony.  Although there were forerunners, the Paralympics only started in their present form in Seoul in 1988 (that is, same host city, same facilities, held straight after the main Olympics).  The name apparently comes from Greek para = "along side" and not as many think, from paraplegic.  They have come from no where to be, to many, more inspiring than the Olympics themselves. Within the Paralympics themselves, a record number of women will also be competing this time (double the number that took part in Barcelona twenty years ago).

"Benefit Scroungers"
The excitement around the Paralympics is doubly gratifying, if just a tad ironic, given the type of depressing hostility and prejudice towards ordinary disabled people that bloggers such as @BendyGirl and @MrsNickyClark describe on a regular basis, including an ongoing war on disabled benefit claimants.

Pallid Weedy Vegetarians

So far, so good.  My god, even fellow vegetarians are represented in this splendid display of diversity and inclusiveness.  Lizzie Armitstead won the very first medal for Team GB with a silver in the cycling.  She commented:

"One of the most common misconceptions I’ve come across is that vegetarians are pallid, gentle creatures who would recoil in a tough sporting arena. Despite the fact I was breaking school records on the track, people still questioned my diet’s ability to make me strong.”

Take solace, Lizzie: American Olympian Carl Lewis is a vegan and picked up 9 Gold medals during his Olympic career.  He actually credits his success to his diet.

Where are the Gays?

So, where are the gays in all this?  Of the 10,960 participants in the 2012 London Olympics, the Pink News gave the grand total of fourteen (0.12%) as being openly gay.  That is two men and twelve women.  The Telegraph (link below) gave the number as twenty one (three men and eighteen women), which is 0.19%.  Jokes about the Team GB diving team having crashed the hook-up app Grindr aside, this is pretty mind-boggling.  There are 6098 young male athletes there... and three are openly gay?  If we're going on one in twenty figure of the general population you'd expect over 300.  Instead we have Matthew Mitcham, Carl Hester (Team GB, Gold Medalist) and the Dutch equestrian, Edward Gal.  Representation by gay women is clearly better, but still pitifully low.

I wonder how many readers of this blog are aware of the existence of the Gay Games?  They started life as the "Gay Olympics" in San Francisco.  Tina Turner sang at the opening ceremony.  Three weeks before they were due to start, the International Olympic Committee sued the organisers to stop them using the name.  The defendants pointed out that there had been no objection to the Nebraska Rat Olympics or the Police Olympics, but lost their case.

I wish it were a joke. Object to sporting gays, but not to rats.

The Gay Games continue.  These are not small events.  There were 9500 participants at the Cologne Gay Games in 2010 (over double the number competing in the Paralympics, and not far short of the 10,960 in the Olympics).  They came from over 70 countries.  The participants in the next Gay Games in Cleveland in 2014 will not, however, be using the same stadium that the Olympians and Paralympians will - nor will they be competing in the same year, nor will the main stream media be covering the event in any way the same manner.

You might question why there is a need for a Gay Games in 2014.  I do too.  I wish that we had moved on since the times of the 80s were gays were seen as "sissies" and incapable of competing alongside straight people.  It's shameful that the eloquent defence of their existence (click for link) has to be put by former soccer star Derek Liecty in the way that he does.  Look at the stats that I have given on "open" participation in the 2012 Olympics, however, and you understand why there is still a need to provide a safe and inclusive space for non-straight athletes to compete.

Go Mitcham, Go TeamOz

Much has been commented on homophobia in soccer in this country.  Less comment has been made on the far wider picture, which is of an environment desperately lagging behind the main stream.  The likes of Matthew Mitcham provide an amazing role model to younger gay people, athletes or not.  The Telegraph recently ran an excellent piece on this issue.  Its most depressing finding was that gay athletes are routinely dropped by sponsors and this is why most remain in the closet.  Nonetheless the fact that the Telegraph ran this piece left me a bit stunned.  This from a paper to that still routinely calls us homosexuals, and didn't drop the inverted commas around "gay" that long ago.

We are really getting there on women's participation.  All races and religions are represented at the Olympics.  Team Veggie is proving us proud.  We have the Paralympics to look forward to shortly.  We will get there on Gay Olympians I am sure, but how crap I've even had to write this piece, frankly.

Take note

Don't marry a man unless you are proud to have a son exactly like him

Tuesday, 21 August 2012


I need plenty of distractions at this moment.


So I made it back to Smoke City in time for Menningarnótt, or Culture Night 2012. We had wonderful weather which makes a day/night like this, with thousands and thousands of people pouring into the downtown area, a perfect success (the point being that people would pour in regardless of the weather, being hearty Viking types, but the less wet and wind-blown and harried they are, the better!)

I was lucky enough to snap a bunch of really awesome and colorful photos of locals and visitors, which you can look at on my personal Facebook. Then go to the  Iceland Eyes Facebook page and Like it, just for fun : )

Here are a few shots to get you started...

I love the super colorfulness of this shot from the day's concert series at the Heart Park:

And here's Bedda, who some of you may know from the award-winning Our House hostel in downtown Reykjavik : )

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Assange's Balcony Speech

This afternoon Julian Assange delivered a long-awaited speech from the balcony of the Embassy of Ecuador in front of an assembled crowd of world media and supporters.  I'm intrigued to see what the press makes of it.  You can watch the speech in full here or read the full transcript here if you prefer.

I personally found the speech quite astounding.  There were various suggestions as to what he might say about the resolution of his situation, that he might submit voluntarily to the Swedish authorities etc.  He is of course under an obligation, as part of his being granted political asylum by the Republic of Ecuador, to refrain from making political statements.  Instead he used the opportunity, from the premises of the Embassy, to drive home a very political message and to describe his personal position in some of the dramatic terms that I have commented on in my last blog entry.

Specifically, the language he used would not be out of place in a political thriller.  He spoke in Hollywood terms of police "descending" on the building, "swarming" up an internal fire escape, "after dark".  He spoke in the language of the underdog: a courageous small nation standing up bravely to "threats" and taking a "stand for justice", a country defending its Constitution, of shining a light on the secret crimes of the powerful, of unity in oppression and determination. 

All of this is of course like catnip to his devotees.  It is exactly the language they love and a reinforcement of a vision they seem to require.  The paranoid world they dwell in is full of fear, secrecy, and conspiracies.  He spoke to his supporters as being "witnesses" who had protected him, giving them a sense of importance and purpose.  It is all about vigilance: looking out for the hidden faces of the "enemy" and "oppression".  He reduced it to the personal: "his children who have been denied their father.  Forgive me, we will be reunited soon."

What he did not do once was mention why he was held up in the Embassy, which is because of his decision and own voluntary act in skipping bail, and being a fugitive from due judicial process.  Not once did he mention the two women in Sweden, alleged victims of serious sexual assault.  He blatantly conflated the work of Wikileaks (which many consider extremely valuable) with his personal situation of being a rape suspect avoiding justice.

To me he came across as being caught up in the same head space of many of his devoted supporters.  He expressly stated that the UK did not "throw away the Vienna Convention" because his supporters "were watching".  This must be either highly insincere, or the view of a fantasist.  The implication is the UK would have stormed the Embassy had no one noticed? I can't get my head round how that would work exactly.  I should have thought the media would have been involved in any such event, regardless of the presence of a group of people waiting outside.

He brought the United States into the picture by speaking of a witch hunt.  There was no acceptance that it is Sweden that requires him for a criminal prosecution, not a country that has not even sought his extradition.  It is exactly the same mixing of real and hypothetical that his supporters engage in. He spoke of Pussy Riot and the disgraceful case of the treatment of Private Manning.  What exactly do either of those have to do with his position as a rape suspect?

Assange named a host of Latin American nations whose foreign ministers would hold an "emergency meeting" (again note the drama of his language).  The irony that many on the list have quite dubious records on human rights and government oppression surely cannot be lost on the intelligent observer.  Here is a man whose organisation has stood up against government secrecy and censorship seeking refuge with regimes whose records are for the most part incomparably worse than the "oppressor" nations which are his enemies.

Julian Assange did not come across to me as a frightened man.  He came across today, in my subjective view, as an arrogant, egotistical, manipulative coward.  The last few days have really changed my view on him, and not for the better.  His speech took us no further.  It gave no detail of anything that would happen next, of any remorse, or of any recognition of the two women who have alleged serious sexual assault.  I joked before he came on that his appearance would remind me of a scene from Evita.  For the drama he plied on, and for his astounding egomania, I fear I was far from wrong.