Wednesday, December 31, 2008

08 to 09

It's that time again ... the final hours before a brand new year dawns upon us. Time to reflect on the yesterdays and commit new resolutions for the tomorrows.

Just as many had done, I'm jumping into the bandwagon and listing down (as far as I can recall) the thirty ups and downs experienced throughout the year 2008 ... here it goes :

1) Was told I had to go through a brain and spine surgery. Was told it would cost RM40k. O_O"""

2) Broke someone's heart.

3) Stole someone's heart.

4) Admitted to the hospital for the first time in my life. Had the surgery performed.

5) Made many new friends.

6) Realised so many people cared for me ... some I never knew existed.

7) Realised my family are made up of superheroes in their own way.

8) Was told I need to go through a second 'corrective' surgery. O_O"""

9) Went under the surgeon's knife for the second time.

10) Spent CNY and Valentine's Day lying on the hospital bed.

11) Stayed home, eat and sleep for more than 2 whole months.

12) No gym for 3.5 months. Put on 10 kilos in 3.5 months.

13) Shed 6 kilos in 3 months.

14) Close friends drifted apart.

15) Discovered new priorities in life.

16) Was featured in a magazine.

17) Went to Taiwan for the first time.

18) I proposed. She said yes.

19) Was sent to the Middle East for work.

20) Started to cook once more. I last cooked regularly during my uni days almost 5 years ago.

21) Learnt new culture. Learnt to adapt. Learnt to accept.

22) Learnt to give more.

23) Learnt to take less.

24) Learnt to thankfully appreciate.

25) Learnt to move forward and not look back.

26) Re-visited Hong Kong.

27) Re-visited Macao.

28) Ate a Canadian sea urchin.

29) Preparing for what ought to be one of the biggest day of my life ... :)

30) I grew up a li'll bit more.

Now it's time for the fellas to loosen their ties and the ladies to kick off their heels. Time to put your hands in the air and partayyyyyy!!!


Hong Kong - Day 5 & Day 6

Oh yea!!! ... final post for my Hong Kong trip. Day 5 started off very lazily. We wanted to get outta bed early to do a bit of shopping before meeting up with SY's aunt for lunch at the Dragon King Restaurant. Alas ... the sandman worked his magic on us and we ended waking up just in time for our lunch appointment.

The food at Dragon King located at the World Trade Center was oh soooooooo good. Their dim sum variety are most unique and delish delish delish!!! Their BBQ pork are the juiciest and most tender, the insides marinated so well that it explodes with flavoursome goodness at every bite. The roasted pork is filled with sublime saltiness on the crunchy skin and so soft on the insides. Ok ... enough bout food cause it's really making my starving belly growling with hunger pangs.

After that long lunch, we went to Langham's Place for a li'll bit of shopping before heading to Harbour City. There we shopped a li'll bit more and the Esprit Factory Outlet had pretty decent offerings too.

We walked towards the harbour and feasted our eyes on the brightly litted night sky. The high rises were so mesmerizingly beautiful with their multi coloured lightings. We went back to freshen up before heading up to SY's aunt's house at the peak for a BBQ session. The chilley weather provided the perfect ambience to fire up the grill. The warmth from the flame, the magnificent view of the city, the scrumptious aroma from the charcoaled roasted meats and vegs, the great company ... that's life at its best. *wink* SY's aunt even got someone to buy a serving of roasted goose from the ever famous 'Sam Cheng'. True to its reputation, it was the best I ever had ... delicious beyond words.

Since it was Ivy's b'day the next day, we celebrated it in advance for her. The cake was specially ordered from Shangrila's bakery ... can't remember its name but it was layers of soft creamy custard and crispy sweet crust. Very unique and yet very pleasing to the pallet. Me like :D

After that we bid everyone good night and headed back to the apartment to pack for home.

The next day we adjourned early to the airport since YJ and CTs' flight was earlier than SY's and mine. After sending them off, we brunched at Tai Ka Lok and it was soon SY's turn to board. :( Since I had some time left, I walked around the airport and shopped. Haha. Got myself a sling bag with a 40% discount. *woot* Even managed to score a nice li'll wristlet from Coach for my colleague's gf since he asked me earlier to get his gf a X'mas gift on his behalf. Apaprently that wristlet is exclusive to that Coach outlet in HK Airport and not available anywhere else. For SY, I got her a cute keychain ... also from Coach to go with her new handbag purchased earlier. Got myself a couple of books too before heading in to the departure lounge and saying goodbye to this wonderful island ... promising that I'll soon return for more of its great offerings.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Hong Kong - Day 4

So this brings us to Day 4 of my recent Hong Kong trip. Well, we didn't really spend much time in HK cause we actually went to Macao instead. So as early as 9:00am, the bunch of us went and bought our Turbo Jet (high speed luxury ferry) tickets at the ferry terminal. Since we had some spare time before it was time to depart, we had breakfast at some Macao restaurant. Their serving of polo bun and iced tea was very mediocre to say the least. It took us slightly less than an our on board the ferry before we set foot on the tiny island of Macao. Once there, Leslie a.k.a our tour guide hurried us into two cabs and off we went to O Porto Interior Restaurante, a rather well known Portugese restaurant judging by the massive crowd patronizing it. The walls were decked with many black & white photos of local and foreign celebrities alike giving the place a very classic vibe. I couldn't recall the names of the dishes we ordered since Leslie took care of that. All I knew was that there were chicken, pork, sardine and fried rice on the table.

Next stop, we planned to head towards Macao Tower but since the walking journey was too far away, we abandoned the idea midway and went straight to St. Paul's Cathedral. Not much had changed since my last trip here 2 years ago and we filled our bellies with snacks and drinks along the way up to the cathedral. Ooo yes, I finally satisfied my craving for milky bubble tea. :D Loads of people were everywhere ... I guess that helped added to the merry atmosphere. We camwhored quite a bit before stopping by Koi Kei Bakery, the famous self-proclaimed Macao's No.1 souveneir shop to buy back some local goodies for family and friends. People were literally pushing and shoving amongst themselves inside the shop ... utter madness really.

From there, we adjourned to Cafe Kam Ma Lon for their pork chop bun. We ordered 3 portions of there sinful yummies to share and as we were happily snapping away on our digital compacts, one of em' waitresses came over to our table and placed on it, the BIGGEST bun I've ever seen in my entire life. It's fully edible too ... amazing stuff huh. Apparently, they're aiming to make another one twice that size in the near future once their new oven arrives. According to the waitress, this gimmick worked well to attract customers. Can't argue with that I guess.

More eating ensured after that since we're nothing but a bunch of greedy gluttons ... haha. This time, it was at Leitaria I Son for their steamed milk. It's actually fresh milk steamed till it became pudding like. A rule was enforced in this restaurant whereby anyone not ordering a portion of their food will have to pay a fee of 5.00 Macao Dollars. This is to discourage sharing amongst their customers. Leave it to the Chinese to come out with such profit making scheme eh. :p

Our bellies deserve a rest, so our journey continued to The Venetian. A rather new hotel opened on the island and it exudes regal luxury at every inch of it. Golden Greek statues to painted ceilings, Roman pillars to exquisite fountains ... it all spelled $$$. We visited the hotel's casino and SY & I lost 20 Macao Dollars within 10 minutes on the slots. Sheesh! We also shopped a bit for li'll souveneirs to mark our visit to this acclaimed hotel.

Our final stop landed us in the Fisherman's Wharf. We walked by the many beautiful architectures built there and pit stopped at the New Zealand Natural's outlet for some delish ice cream. Finally found the orange choc flavour that had been evading me for a long time now. Muahahaha.

Dead tired, we boarded the Turbo Jet back to Hong Kong and had a quick supper at KFC before bidding the day good night. To be continued ...

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas isn't Christmas till it happens in your heart ...

You’re always on my mind
With the love that our hearts strongly bind
Baby, just so you know
This X'mas I’m missing you especially so

I pray and thank every hour of every day
That despite all that came between our way
From closing unwelcomed ‘doors’
To completing tiring relationship chores
You’re still mine and I’m still yours
There’s really nothing I could wish for more

Merry Christmas b …

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A white X'mas in the desert

At precisely 6:03am on this X'mas eve morning, I received an sms from my Project Manager asking if I wanted to go jogging with him. I agreed and lazily hauled myself out of bed to prepare for the morning run. Upon opening the front door, I was greeted by a most unlikely scene ... the surrounding area was so misty and not to mention cold too. The chilly humidity was a pleasant welcome since the weather had been very dry lately. With my windbreaker zipped up, we started the workout. Visibility was less than 10 meters and passing vehicles were practically crawling cautiously.

With this kinda environment, it reminded me of scenes in ol' London during yesteryears that we often see in the movies (think Oliver Twist) and was half expecting Jack The Ripper to jump out of the corner and take me to my doom. Haha.

40 minutes later and panting heavily, I entered my room and what I saw in front of the mirror shocked me. The cool weather had caused the water vapour in the air to crystalised at the tips of my hair. Hence, I literally had my entire head covered with ice. Cool huh. :D

Anyways, it's not everyday one will have the oppurtunity to experience this kinda thing especially over here in Abu Dhabi but I guess it's the closest I can get to a white X'mas. :p

Have you been naughty or nice this year??? Here's wishing all of you a very Merry & Blessed X'mas!!! HO HO HO.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Hong Kong - Day 3

We woke up real early on Day 3 to make sure we'll get a good head start and to maximize the hours we have. We caught a cab to Admiralty and had brunch at 'Tai Ka Lok' or Coral De Cafe. Now this is a very well known Chinese fast food restaurant chain serving typical HK gastranomic offerings such as BBQ pork rice, cheese baked rice etc. We both had the Two Combination Rice (BBQ Pork & Roasted Duck and BBQ pork & steamed chicken) and it's a crime by my books not to order the 'Yin Yong' (a blend of milk tea and coffee) there. Oh and SY had their borsch soup as well.

Hunger pangs solved, we bought tickets for both the amusement park and bus ride and soon boarded the double decker bus destined for Ocean Park. This is HK's 'other' Disneyland and we could see throngs of tourist mingling outside especially from Mainland China upon arrival. This amusement park is really huge and is divided into two separate sections (Highland and Lowland) linked by a cable car system. We were dropped off at the Highland and proceeded in. Once inside, we studied the park's map and went to join the nearest queue for one of 'em mini roller coaster ride. The waiting time was rather long, so we decided to bail and explore the rest of the park instead. Going up through a series of very long and steep escalators later, our next stop was the Aquarium. There we feasted our eyes on the very rich marine life co-habiting in a very large glass encased aquarium. The sight of large manta rays gliding gracefully between the fierce looking nurse sharks, the ever hurrying tunas streaming past the lonesome leatherback turtle and so many others painting a very colourful picture against the blend of sapphire and emerald oceanic canvas was indeed most mesmerizing. We ooh-ed and aah-ed for quite some time before heading to The Dragon. It's another roller coaster ride and this one goes 360 deg a couple of loops. Thankfully the queue wasn't long and before you know it, SY and I were zooming lightning quick through the metal tracks of the ride. We played a couple of fun-fair games in the hope of winning some soft toy prizes for SY. Our 'investments' paid off when by the end of the day we managed to bag 2 medium sized cuties (a zebra and a frog) and a li'll dragon.

Lunch was taken at another chinese cafe inside the park and guess what I had ... practically what I ordered for brunch earlier ... two combination rice with an iced 'yin yong'. Haha. Can't get enough of these. :p SY went for the BBQ pork cutlet bun.

At mid afternoon, we seated ourselves for the dolphin and sea lion show. The venue was packed to the max with certain people inconsiderately sitting on the staircases but we enjoyed it very much nevertheless. A short cable car ride brought us to the Lowlands and we headed straight to the Panda Bear enclosure. There were four of them adorable lazy buggers there. Three of them were sleeping most of them time and the remaining one was feeding himself and naturally attracted the most crowd. Oh and we even saw one of em' doing his No.2 ... shameless huh. :) It was my first time seeing this gentle creatures up close and the experience was very memorable. We then took a leisurely walk towards the Dolphin University where the park's animal trainers study and train the sea lions and dolphins alike for their shows. From watching the park's staff working, one can be educated on the way the animals live. Alas it was almost closing time, hence we didn't get to see much of it. Boo hoo!

Amidst all the fun, we actually tired ourselves quite a bit and so we decided to head out of Ocean Park. Waving goodbye, we hopped into an awaiting taxi and directed the driver to take us to Stanley. We drifted in and out of sleep before reaching our next destination. Upon alighting from our ride, we noticed that there's some sort of event being held and soon realised that Cathay Pacific together with the Hong Kong Jockey Club had booked the place for a partayyy. With all the reporters and tuxedo donning crowd on the red carpet, we ignored the commotion and headed in to find a nice restaurant so that we could eat and rest. The event actually booked the ENTIRE bloody place. So clutching our soft toys won from Ocean Park, we embarassingly headed for the exit. SY's constant giggling didn't help divert the attention away from us. Haha. People were staring but none came to 'apprehend' us, so all was good. Hehe. Walking along the rest of Stanley, we browsed through many li'll shops plying local trade and ended up buying souveneirs for our families. Dad got his name engraved on a Chinese marble stamp, bought Mom her usual fridge magnets and bros ... t-shirts.

Dinner was at Bays De Brasserie, a fusion based restaurant and the soft lighting and soothing music resonated a most relaxing ambience. We had fried calamari, potato skins, creamy pasta and bangers & mash. After dinner, the both of us decided to head back home since our aching bodies were screaming for rest time. Upon reaching our apartment, SY's aunt called and invited us for dinner at The Peak Gallery's Jap restaurant. We obliged and it was a bloody good decision to go since the food there was oh so scrumptious. Really top notched quality and not to mention real expensive too. From sea urchins to wagyu beef, sashimi to assorted sherbets and premium sake ... this second dinner was worth every single calory gained. Yummilicious and without a doubt the best Jap meal I ever had.

After dinner, we took a slow and pleasant drive home and it certainly didn't take us long to head to Lalaland very soon after. ZZZzzzZZZzzz ... to be continued ...

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Hong Kong - Day 2

Day 2 started off late. Hehe ... we slept in till it was almost lunch time. These ol' bones aren't like what they used to be eh. :p Anyways, we went to Daniel and Janet's crib and played a li'll bit with baby Ezra before making our way to Olympic City One for lunch. Met up with YJ, CT and Ivy there and the table was filled with really delish dishes such as 'siu long bao', buttery creamy prawns, stir fried noodles etc. We hoovered down the gastronomic offerings and suddenly spotted one of em' TVB actress. Dunno her name, just recognize her face, so don't bother asking who it was. Oh and yesterday, we 'bumped' into Sean Yu Lok Man as we were exiting the apartment we stayed in. :D Got us into a celeb-spotting frenzy after that. Haha.

After lunch, we spend quite a fair bit of time shopping in G2000 since the sales there were pretty decent to say the least ... between 40 - 50% yo. Got meself a few working shirts, pairs of trousers and SY even got me a nice belt. :)

From there, we adjourned to Langham's Place and browsed through many of their quirky shops. I must say that the people on this Chinese island are pretty talented in the creative department. From mugs to pillow cases, women accesories to candle ... practically everything under the sun can be taken and given a 'twist' to make it more pleasing to the eye. Oh and the escalators are reallyyyyyy long and high. SY's was literally gripping the handrails for dear life each time she gets on one of them.

After hours of walking, we needed a rest and planted our butts in Honeymoon Dessert Cafe. This chain of dessert restaurant is rather well known here and we satisfied our cravings on durian pancake, mango & pamelo sago with ice cream and glutinous rice balls with crushed peanuts and sesame seeds. ALL of them were wonderful stuff. The pancake was so aromatic and with real durian fillings inside ... yum yum. The mango & pamelo sago are one of their specialities and with good reason too since the blend of mango chunks, pamelo pulps, mango syrup, sago and a dollop of green tea ice cream served well to soothe the throat as well as pleased our sweet tooth. The glutinous rice balls are similar to the 'mua chee' we have back home only the texture of the balls are more chewy and the different crunchiness between the peanuts and sesame seeds gave provided a different but most pleasant munching sensation.

As we were about to leave, YJ and CT walked right in and we stayed with them for a bit before leaving for Tsim Tsa Chui. Luck was on our side as I spotted Hacken Lee walking towards us as we were leaving the place. SY's mind must've been someplace else coz she missed a glance at him. By the time I pointed it out to her, Hacken was already walking away. There, we filled our bellies again with two skewers of spicy curry fish balls and washed it down with some refreshing watermelon juice. Bought SY a pair of Nike Free since she complained that her current pair is beginning to hurt her feet.

Soon after, we were hunting for dinner ... yes I know this entry made us look like gluttons but come on, HK's a haven for food no especially when what they offer can't be obtained from Abu Dhabi. :p Initially wanted to dine at one of those classic Chinese restaurant or 'char chan teng' as they call it but couldn't find any in that area. What caught our eye was Snoopy Cafe ... if you're a fan of Charlie Brown, then this would what you call heaven on earth. The owner most definitely did not stinge on the decor ... so intricate were the attention given to everything in the cafe ... from the serviettes to the mugs, ceiling paintings to toilet signs ... all were simply screaming Charlie Brown stuff. What they lack in the variety in their menu, they made it up well with the happy cartoony ambience. :)

After a long day out, we took a relaxing journey back home to slumber in preparation for Day 3 ... to be continued.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Hong Kong - Day 1

I took a short trip to Hong Kong recently. It serves as a li'll holiday and at the same time to pay visit to a couple of SY's relatives. I took a two hour ride to Dubai International and caught my flight on Cathay Pacific. It's nice to get away from the Middle East and with my previous trip to Hong Kong dating back to the end of 2006, I'm really looking forward to this and even made a wager with certain people that I'll eat enough pork for it to leak outta my ears.

Upon reaching Hong Kong, I took my time around the airport as SY was scheduled to arrive 30 minutes after I did from Kuala Lumpur. Lo and behold, it was she who was waiting for me at the baggage claim area soon after. Since we had a couple of hours to kill before the arrival of SY's younger bro and his gf, we wandered to newly opened Terminal 2. Terminal 2 is indeed huge with many retail outlets and restaurants to help us pass the time. We browsed through a couple of shops before making some purchase at a Kaloo outlet for SY's cousin's newborn. Next up, we pit stopped for lunch at a chinese restaurant (can't remember the name le). Before long, we were hungrily gobbling, munching and slurping on an assortment of dim sums and stir fried noodles.

With our bellies filled, we met up with SY's bro & gf and together, we hopped onto our awaiting car and went of to SY's cousin's place to dump our luggages. The apartment with stayed had a marvellous view of the city since it's located at The Peak. After freshening up for a bit, we made our way to Times Square and it's nice to be amongst the hustle and bustle of the island's metropolitan as well as soaking up the Yuletide atmosphere. It's been a while since I last laid eyes on so many Chinese peeps. Haha. Ooo ... also managed to snack on one of HK's famous all time favourite street food ... the curry fishballs. The texture of this ball shaped fish paste is oh so (for lack of a better word) 'rubbery' and 'bouncy' ... very different from the ones we have back home. Drenced with some fiery spicy sauce, it was YUMMILICIOUS!!!

Before long, it was time again for food ... dinner to be exact and we went to Spaghetti House to rendezvous with some of SY's relatives. Was also introduced to one of SY's cousin's gf whom I've never met prior and all of us indulged in CHEESE FONDUE. So sinful yet very delish. The food was great but the company was even better. We chatted, laughed, ate, drank till it was the restaurant's closing time.

We managed to play with baby Ezra for a bit before retiring to bed. That was how my first day in HK was spent. Stay tuned for Day 2 ... to be continued.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Desert Safari & Eid Mubarak!!!

Over here in the U.A.E., we were fortunate enough to be blessed with a 3 day holiday due to Eid (or better known as Hari Raya Haji back home in Malaysia). So after much deliberation and planning, we finally coughed up approximately RM250 each and engaged Emirates Adventures to take us on a desert safari trip. I've personally been on a similar trip 2 years ago from Dubai and enjoyed myself enough for me to give it a go once more.

At 3:30pm, we took a 5 minutes walk to a nearby supermarket where we were due to rendezvous with our safari guide. Being early, we helped ourselves to some 31 Baskin Robbins before packing ourselves in the Land Cruiser a.k.a. the safari wagon. We took a leisurely 45 minutes cruise before coming to a halt at a camel farm. Before alighting from the vehicle, our guide, Faizal warned us not to stand behind the camel or risk suffering from the strong back kicks of this desert animal.

Other visitors soon joined the entourage and there were no less than 13 4x4s in the group. All of us posed for photos with the camels and it's kinda pitiful to see some of the camel's front legs being tied up. Apart from camels, other animals were also available at the farm namely goats of different species, chickens & fowls and pigeons. One of the kid (baby goat) came towards JJ and I and managed to squeezed itself through the wooden fencing and started to adorably nibble at our clothing. This attracted the other visitors to group around us before they picked the li'll kid up and started snapping their cameras away. Soon, another suprise came when the camels were let loose out of their pen. They were galloping in all directions much to our amazement. We soon realized that these are actually very docile creatures who only wants to be stroked. We took photos aplenty before getting back into the vehicle for the 2nd part of our adventure.

From the farm, we straightaway proceeded with the dune bashing. We were told to buckle up and prepare ourselves for a bumpy ride ahead. Faizal accelerated and manouvered the 4x4 expertly through the steep desert dunes. Imagine a roller coaster ride without tracks ... only very precipitous slopes made of the finest sands. This went on for a good 30 minutes or so before we were given the chance to sandboard on the desert itself. Due to insufficient number of sandboards available, most of us simply ran down the 'sand slide' ... BIG MISTAKE!!! Why you ask ... because the climb up was most tiring and excruciating on the muscles ... no joke yo.

More dune bashing followed before we arrived at our camp site. Since the buffet spread wasn't ready yet, we took the oppurtunity to browse the site and see what are its offerings. Some of us went for a short camel ride while the ladies got themselves some pretty henna tattoos. Eddy tried some Arabic coffee and he only managed a tiny sip of this potent concoction. I remembered my experience with this similar beverage ... utterly YUCKSSS.

There was also a small souveneir shop selling local products from tobacco to musical instruments. JJ and I bought ourselves each a photo frame containing the desert sands collected from the seven emirates of the U.A.E. while the rest of the gang donned the abayas and konduras (local Arab clothing) for another round of photo oppurtunities.

Tired from all the day's activities, we plopped ourselves on one of the tables beside the stage where the belly dancing performance was due to take place. Served with complimentary soft drinks and water, we rested while waiting for the performance to begin. Alco drinks were also avaialble but that's chargable of course.

All of a sudden, all the lights were switched off and the camp was pitch black. The speakers started blasting Arabic music before the spot lights illuminated the stage ever so brightly. The blonde belly dancer dressed in lightning blue walked gracefully to the center of the stage and started doing her thing. The way she shook her body was indeed mesmerizing ... a lot of core strength needed to perform such a sensuous dance routine. Soon the dancer went around choosing 'volunteers' to help make her performance more 'interactive' and the first one she set her eyes on was none other that my colleague, Jenson. After much persuasion and 'shoving', we finally managed to get Jenson on stage. Together with a few others, they danced along with the dancer although some of them seemed to be equipped with two left feet if you know what I mean *wink*.

After the dancer was done with her thing, dinner was served. The spread was buffet style and on the menu were salads, hommous, briyani, vegs and kebabs. We stuffed ourselves silly and for desserts, it was sweet cake with a variety of fruits.

After dinner, we walked to a nearby area where carpets and cushions were laid out. We sat down lazily and smoked some pretty decent sisha (flavoured tobacco) as we gazed upon the million of stars up above the desert sky. It was most relaxing with soothing classic instrumental numbers playing in the background. The camp operators even turned off all the lights to provide us with a better view of the twinkling stars. I was personally on a natural high as it's moments like these that you wished you have your loved one with you there to cuddle with.

The lights were later turned back on ... signalling the end of the night's program. Our driver told us to check our belongings before taking us on a silent drive home.

Eid Mubarak everyone!!!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Something fishy's going on here ...

Sometime last week, the bunch of us craved for fish. Hence my Project Manager suggested we head to Port Zayed's Fish Market and see what's good to offer. After work, our driver took us on a 15 minutes drive there and I guess the photos above are self explanatory. Can you smell it from your side??? Hehehe ...

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The U.A.E. turns 37 ...

The 2nd of Dec 2008 marks the 37th National Day for the United Arab Emirates. Being a newbie in this desert country, it's only fitting for me to head out and join in the festivity and see just how the Emiratis party.

The morning papers reported that at 8:30pm sharp that night, a display of the world's BIGGEST fireworks show will be held at the Emirates Palace. It's scheduled to last for a good 45 minutes and it's suppose to be the Ruler of Abu Dhabi and President of the U.A.E, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan's gift to his people.

Since it's a holiday that day, my colleagues and I had an early dinner and headed out with our bicycles at approximately 8:00pm. The cooling night breeze was very welcoming to say the least. It was also bloody good thinking to cycle there since traffic at ALL intersections were badly jammed up (as can be seen in Photo 3). Even the cycling paths were filled with throngs of pedestrians ... tourists, foreigners and locals alike. Navigating our two wheelers through this massive crowd ain't easy I tell ya.

The usual silence of the night was shattered with constant blaring honks from vehicles, air horns and the vociferous Arabic music. Almost every other vehicle on the road was 'decorated' with stickers or washable paints of green, red and black ... the colours of the U.A.E flag. Locals especially teenagers will pile themselves in 4x4s sitting at the window edge or popping out of sunroofs. Some donned Halloween masks as they sing and dance the night away.

The atmosphere was simply shockingly crazy ... the people party as if it's their last day on earth. A lot of them were armed with party foam sprays and were actively foaming passing vehicles. Others can be seen roller-blading and even horse riding on the streets. You can imagine the mass of cars, pedestrians, cyclists, roller bladers, horses :p ... all headed towards the same place ... the Emirates Palace. Gun shots were also heard every now and then because apparently, the locals are allowed to purchase firearms. Kinda dangerous if you ask me. Fortunately, police personnels are also aplenty throughout the way to control the crowd and served well to prevent any excessive rowdiness.

At precisely 8:30pm ... a LOUD BOOM was heard ... signalling the start of the SHOW. The fireworks illuminated the night sky majestically and everything came to a standstill as we watched in awe, this magnificent vibrant colourful display. Cameras started clicking away in attempts to capture this special moment permanently.

Sparkling lights of red, blue, green, yellow, pink, purple, white etc contrasted well against the black canvas of the night's darkness. It was nothing short of mesmerizing indeed. Further down the road ... near Port Mina I think, another exact fireworks show was being synchronised with the one at Emirates Palace and the timing was perfect to the last second. Two shows being simultaneously held to divide the crowd I suppose ... very considerate of the organizers if you ask me.

We OOH-ed and AHH-ed for precisely 45 minutes before the show came to an end. The completion of the fireworks is by no means the end of the party. NO WAY ... the people continued partying in the streets as the bunch of us made our way to 31 Baskin Robbins for a well deserved treat. My sweet tooth was well satisfied with a serving of Coffee Crunch ... a blend of coffee ice cream, whipped cream and crunched waffle. Yum Yum. :D

By the time we got home, the time was almost 11 pm as we bid goodnight to another day in the U.A.E. HAPPY 37TH BIRTHDAY U.A.E.!!!

P.S. Also in Photo 3, noticed how the local women were all dressed up in their abayas ... I wonder if there's how JK Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series got her inspiration for her Dementors. You can see how a Dementor looks like here and here's a closer shot of a typical local woman in her abaya. Muahahaha.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

I turned 27 on the 28th

On Friday the 28th, I turned 27. What have I got to show thus far ... well, nothing much except that I've been blessed with the most wonderful family, engaged to the sweetest of gal, made friends with some of the craziest bunch of peeps and lived life to the best I simply could ... or at least that's what I like to think. Come on yo, it's my big day no? :P

So how did I spend my birthday you ask??? Well, I slept in late. Haha ... yea, since it was on a Friday, it was also an off day for me, so sleeping in just seems to be the right thing to do. Just before lunch time, SY and I lazily made our way to Marina Mall and there we had lunch at La Brioche. A pretty decent French chain restaurant that's rather popular with the expats and locals alike here in Abu Dhabi. Seated at the table, it was nice just to watch the variations of people pass us by.

Soon we were served complimentary bagguette with yummy truffle butter. Our drinks of refreshing strawberry and lemon iced teas were served in a long cylinder glasses that's pleasing to the eyes as well as the pallet. Our grumbling tummies demanded to be served well, hence we started off with some delish chicken ceasar salad and an almond croissant. Both were good ... the salad's crunchy greens paired well with the juicy chicken fillet tenders and the salty truffle butter complimented the sweet croissant especially well indeed.

Our mains came next and we both wanted pasta. SY made the better choice this time around with spaghetti on white truffle mushroom sauce. It was rich and creamy ... just the way we both liked it. My chicken & spinach lasagna was a bit of a dissapoinment since it tasted bland and the cheese used seemed a li'll 'rubbery'.

We walked around the mall for a bit before taking a pit stop at Starbucks. Here I had my 'bday' cake in the form of a slice of the ever sinful strawberry cheesecake. SY went to buy me a 'love candle' and was prepared to sing me a bday song but I insisted on having my bday song sung behind closed doors instead since there were so many people in the mall that day. Malu lah!!! Haha. :P

We then took a cab to Abu Dhabi's Heritage Village and on the way there, we passed by the marina and feasted our envious eyes on the many luxury yachts parked majestically there. Entry to the Village is free of charge and inside, we saw a group of Emirati men singing traditional folk songs. Clay huts were also on display to give visitors a glimpse of life here in the UAE before the vast developments kicked in. Further in, shops were plying their trade of swords, perfumes, carpentry, glassware etc. Some fried sweets were also offered on a complimentary basis. There is a museum as well and inside, one can see old photos of Abu Dhabi and appreciate how this country have tremendously developed over the past 37 years. From bare nothings to what it is today ... nothing short of an amazing accomplishment I must say. Live farm animals like goats and cows were also on display to showcase the livestocks available in yesteryears.

Soon it was dinner time and we had to walk a good 20 minutes back to Marina Mall to hail a cab. The amount of people in the taxi queue was most disheartening indeed with at least 50 people in front of us. Luckily the number of taxis were abundant and the wait was cut short to approximately 30 minutes. We told the cab driver to drop us off at Novotel Hotel and on the 2nd floor lies Restaurant China. This is my second visit here and this time around we satisfied our craving for authentic sour & spicy soup, sharks fin with scrambled egg, plain stir-fried kang kung and deep fried spare ribs. As usual, we were guilty of over-ordering again but we managed to 'stuff' it all nevertheless and washed it all down with some soothing tasting chinese tea.

After being out almost the entire day, we retired back home and I got my bday song. Just the two of us, the lights dimmed ... she sweetly sung, I clasped my hands, made my wish and blew out the candle to mark the end of another wonderful birthday made that much more special with SY being around to enjoy it with me. :D

Ooo ... that's me in the Polo shirt my bros got me. Notice how my collar was flipped up. SY doesn't like it this way but I can do it since it was my bday. She said it made me look as if I've lost my neck wo. Haha ... what say you guys??? To flip or not to flip??? And in photo 3 ... that's obviously the 'love candle' sitting on the duvet sheet SY bought. Nice hor ... :p

Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Eve ...

On the eve of my 'BIG DAY', I rushed home from work and took SY to Vasco's. It's a western restaurant under the Hilton Hotel's wing and it's themed based on the travel stories of a certain Vasco De Gama. *wink*

Anyways, we were amongst the first customers there and had the fortunate priviledge to be seated at the al fresco area. The evening bayou breeze was indeed welcoming and served well to wash away all the stress from work. Facing the beach, we had a panoramic view of the marina and the splendour of the crimson sky.

Service was second to none and after being seated, we were served with complimentary bread and dips. There were at least 7 different kinda breads and the salsa dip went along wonderfully to stir up the appetite.

We both had soup for starters. SY went with the lobster minestrone while I opted for the seafood bisque. Both tasted delish indeed although SY mentioned that hers was a tad bit too salty. I tasted the minestrone too and it was simply fine by me.

For mains, I had the grilled chicken breast served with corniche sauce, roasted vegs and potatoes. I know it doesn't sound like much but believe you me that it was YUMMILICIOUSSS!!! SY's seabass was prepared in a Chinese styled fusion and it came served in a plastic pouch before being served in the designated dish.

Last but definitely not least, we succumed to the sinful calling of our sweet tooth and indulged in desserts. We kicked off with a serving of affogato ... bitter expresso topped with a dollop of sweet vanilla ice cream ... funny how opposites can compliment each other so perfectly sometimes ... the bitter and the sweet ... the hot and the cold. The result ... one satisfied happy couple. :) Our second dessert, the chocolate souffle was highly recommended by our waiter and we were told that it'll take at least 15 minutes to prepare. Since we had all the time in the world, we happily obliged and it was worth the wait indeed. So soft, so fluffy and so moist was the texture of this French creation. Served on a white porcelain rectangle plate, it came with a mixture of wild berries and a scoop of rich vanilla ice cream in an edible chocolate cup. Yum Yum!!! We polished it all up without any guilt what-so-eva!!! Haha.

After the meal, we took a leisurely stroll along the hotel's club grounds before heading back to the villa.

At precisely midnight, I got my birthday wishes from a giggling SY. She suprised me with a card which she was hiding beneath the duvet all the while. After that, came a gift wrapped box and inside was a Precious Moment figurine. This holds a special meaning for the both of us, so don't bother asking cause it's for us to know and for you to find out. :p

Minutes later, SY (who was still giggling by the way) whipped out another card. Why another card you ask ... you don't need to know. Hehehe. Couldn't ask for a more pleasant way to welcome myself into the 27th year of my time here on God's green earth. :)

Oh yea, earlier I opened gifts received from my family, Su Yee & Alex and SY too (yes, she bought me multiple gifts :p). My brothers got me a Polo shirt, parents gave a red packet and Su & Alex tumpang-ed SY to pass me a Renoma t-shirt. SY got me a very nice set of duvet cover and bed sheets that made my old sheets look like the ones they used in Guantanomao Bay. Here's a BIG THANK YOU to all of ya. :D

Thursday, November 27, 2008

You know you've put on weight when ...

1. You can't button the collar button on your shirt when you previously could.
2. The belt buckle you're wearing suddenly snapped open when you breathe out.
3. Your gf tells you she has never seen you this fat before ... and she reminds you again and again and again ...
4. You look at yourself in the mirror and two words immediately come to mind ... MUFFIN TOP!!!. Damn you Ping. :P
5. You look at yourself in the mirror and the second thing that comes to mind is the uncanny resemblence your body shape is compared to your overweight father.
6. Your gf tells you she has never seen you this fat before ... and she reminds you again and again and again ... oh wait, I mentioned this already.
7. You try to justify that you're in shape simply because ROUND IS A SHAPE.
8. Breathing in and out results in your belly performing the Mexican wave. *APPLAUSE*
9. Sitting down, watching the tele, you can rest your coffee mug comfortably on your belly. *Kinda cool though*
10. Standing up, your buldging belly obstructs your view of your privates ... *GOSH*

I check on no.1 to no.7. Here's praying I'll never reach no.8 to no.10 ... sighhh ... :(

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The One Restaurant

Two nights ago, SY and I decided to eat out and I brought her to The One. The One is a furniture and household appliance selling establishment and its concept is everything which Ikea is not. Meaning to say that it's generally the opposite of the more popular Ikea. Where Ikea stressed on basics and simplicity, The One sells on abstract and elegance.

Ooo ... and their X'mas decor are all up already. Walking through its aisle flanked by colourful fairy lights, gorgeously decorated X'mas trees and with classis X'mas tunes melodiously playing in the background ... it felt simply wonderful to soak up the Yuletide atmosphere. HO HO HO ...

The One has only one restaurant inside and guess what is it named ... THE ONE RESTAURANT!!! Haha. Decked with thick crocodile leathered chairs, matching dark mahogany wooden tables and elaborate Victorian chandeliers, it envelope the customers with a sense of utter lushness and regal opulence. "Now where's my buttered scones and tea, ol' chap?" Hehe.

Browsing through the menu revealed that the pricing is really reasonable for what it's offering. Serving staple authentic English food as well as fusioned local cuisines, from Illy's coffee to healthy smoothies, no wonder this hidden gem is popular amongst the gwai los and local Arabs. It's usually packed during lunch and dinner hours too.

They're promoting their X'mas menu now and it comes with an option of a 2-course meal (60 AED) or a 3-course meal (70 AED). Consisting of 3 selections of starters, 3 selections of mains and 3 selections of dessert, you pick an item from each section and it comes standard with a serving of after meal coffee as well as X'mas truffles.

We both went for the 3-course meal and SY opted for the Parsnip Soup drizzled with truffle oil, wild mushrooms risotto and peaches and strawberry sorbet.

I went for the goat's cheese tart, the traditional turkey with cranberry sauce and stuffing and ended with the X'mas pudding.

It was really yummilicious and somehow the photos failed to do the food justice. The soup was thick and flavoursome. Dipped with the complimentary garlic bread ... delish delish delish!!! My goat's cheese tart is worth a mention with it's bold taste coupling well with fresh tomatoes served on a crispy flaky crust which reminded me of some very good roti canai I once had back in Malaysia.

The turkey was well smoked indeed served on top of a bed of boiled carrots, peppers, potatoes and brussel sprouts ... another 'must have' this one. SY's risotto came in a very generous portion but that's the only plus point here. It tasted very mediocre and it didn't take long before we had more than enough of it.

The sorbet was refreshingly delectable and served well to offset the dominant taste from the risotto while my X'mas pudding failed my expectations with the absence of rum / brandy. Other than that, it was all goooood. :)

Final conclusion being that dining at THE ONE RESTAURANT received a double thumbs up from SY and I. Excellent ambience along with scrumtious food and fine service ... I'll be sure to go back there again and again and again ... :)