Saturday, October 29, 2011

Friends Are Friends Forever

I think many of us remember this song ... quite famous gospel song in the late 90s. By the way, I would like to share this song as I have finally found and make great friends here in Penang. I mean real friends ... not friends with benefit ... (or sex friends hahaha). These are friends that will always support and be there for me. Friends that will protect and watch my back. Friends who have the same passion and believe in what matter most. But the mosttttttttttt important of all ... friends of the same age group hahahahahaha

Bukan apa lah ... before meeting these new friends ... the two person closest to me seorang teruna senja and seorang pulak andalusia. Dua-dua pun dah nak dekat umur persaraan (sebelum dilanjutkan ke 60 tahun)

I was never short of meeting people that would want to be acquainted with me or from the same social background or social circle. However, I always feel empty inside ... or not that interested to meet them for social outings or non work related. However, lately I have been laughing my heart out ... or found myself burst to guffaw of laughters. Even the Dzi beads seller or auntie who sell me wantan mee will smile widely when they saw me hahaha.

Now I have great friends that I can talk about food. Also friends to talk about arts and culture. To link this together, I have good friend who is a journalist, editor and my unofficial source on information who's who. I also have close friend in event management, an owner of the most important tourism hub in Mainland Penang, another one who always scold me like a senior boss but when we never see each other for a time ... will call me instead and say ... "what happened to you ... I miss you, you know" hahaha

Most important of all ... let say one day someone suddenly asked you ... "Can I kiss you?" at least you can have someone to share it with or analysed whether this guy was in his right mind or not. Hahahaha

Let's admit it ... without a friend by your side be it your family members, your spouse, your colleagues or even a stranger whom you befriended... it can be tough to walk this life with all its challenges, turmoils and trials. Don't live in isolation...

And I thank God from the bottom of my heart for this blessing.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Penang Beat Prelude@Queensbay, Penang 2011

Hello friends ... just want to promote my latest event for Penang. Maybe some of you might wonder why out the blue I suddenly want to promote this event on my blog. To be honest, my office events during the last few months were back to back with no time for me to spare for updating my blog. As for this one, my office is the co-organiser so I have some space to breathe.

Few months back I was approached by Penang Municipal Council to assist them in this event which will be mainly funded by them. This was because, the President of Penang Municipal Council was so impressed with Music In The Park Concert during the last Parks and Gardens Carnival at Penang Botanic Gardens. Further to that, I was also made to understand that the council would also like to strengthen and focus on tourism related activities as a member of Tourism Promotion Organisation (TPO).Coincidentally, I was also doing a research on sister cities or friendship cities as a catalyst for sustainable tourism (huhuhu ... topik memang hebat tapi paper pernah tak siap-siap).

So together with the National Arts and Culture Department (under Ministry of Information, Communication and Culture), we researched, planned and developed a music fest that will benefit from the council sister-cities networks and TPO membership as well as creating new arts and culture based tourism product for Penang. To be honest, I was a bit surprised when Cik Mariam (National Arts and Culture Department Director) suggested that we explore "experimental music". Wow, when all the hype now in Malaysia is "World Music" ... from Penang to Sarawak and now Sabah ... lets be honest here that I was skeptical. I remembered talking to one of the founders of Sarawak Rainforest Music Festival ... years ago, nobody cares about world music and now 3 states are claiming that theirs are different than others.

But as we progressed further, I began to realise that Cik Mariam might have a point. It was to my great surprise that we as in Malaysia do have groups that have won numerous awards at international level and a homegrown group that just need a little push and exposure. Hahaha ... now, the Penang Beat is no longer a music fest but a platform for these groups to compete with each other. But since the genre is relatively new we decided to design it as a showcase or prelude first.

Hahahaha ... will have to stop here as I don't want to give away so much information ... just come and feel the BEAT on 11-12 November 2011 at Queensbay Beach area from 7.30 pm to 10.30 pm. See you there!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Teratak Spa, Bayan Baru, Penang

Sometimes, it kind of bad knowing too much. It makes us too cautious and skeptical on little, little details. Like when I was with Ministry of Housing, though it saved me from buying property from scrupulous developer, it took me about 7 years to invest in one. The same goes here in Ministry of Tourism when I had to rate hotels and spas in preparation for the Visit Malaysia Year 2013 as well as to move the Malaysia Tourism Transformational Plan - 2020:36:168. Some hotels that I had rated, looks good on the outside but sekali you go to the kitchen .... you want to pengsan.

However, on the bright side, at least you are ensured that company practised good quality assurance in their services while keeping up with competition and latest trends. Having said that ... I am still skeptical hahaha. Takut masa rating jer "fabulous" and "marvelous", habis rating ... lagi teruk dari hotel cap ayam hahahaha ...

Anyway, I want to share my personal experience with one of the spas that I had rated and in which I think deserve to be promoted by me. By the way, the lady boss doesn't know that I own a blog and going to blog about her spa as whenever I went there for "short breakaway from the office" ...she was not around.

The entrance to Teratak Spa
Teratak Spa is actually a double storey, corner lot house which was converted into a spa sanctuary in the residential area of Bayan Baru. It is actually quite near to the Bandar Bayan Baru roundabout heading towards Bukit Jambul, but most people missed it from the roundabout because there are huge trees planted by Penang Council blocking the view.
All the lush tropical greens in the garden greeting you as you enter the spa compound.
The spa concept in my opinion is a mixture of Balinese and Javanese, from the spa deco to the treatments offered. However, I was very happy when she incorporated some local elements in the deco such as spice tray (nutmeg, clove, cinnamon, star anise), rattan casings, "mengkuang" mat and bunga rampai (a Malay pot-purri). The owner also created a special brew of ginger tea with nutmeg essence that was quite calming and soothing (though slightly spicy) as a welcome drink before you go for your treatment.

The bunga rampai

To be honest, when it come to massage ... I am a great fan of Thai massage by Thai masseurs. It is something about the massage technique and how they applied pressure from using their thumb or palm. Every time I went back to Kuala Lumpur, I will definitely indulged myself with a nice massage at Thai Odyssey. Sometimes, I will go to Urban Retreat at The Curve@Mutiara Damansara. I did try some local spa centres who engaged local therapists before but ... memang kureng lah.

But on that fateful day, I was actually having very stiff neck and back pain due to fatigue, stress and lack of sleep/rest. Coincidentally, that month ... there was no trip to KL. Cannot "tahan" anymore, I called up the spa for a short session during long Friday prayer break. The therapist on duty recommended me to try the 1 hour Swedish massage after a brief consultation. That time I didn't care anymore ... Swedish kah, Thai kah, Malaysian kah ... as long as it could relieve the pain and make me feel relax I am OK. She also recommended "cream bath" to go with the massage.

The treatment bed and some insight on the treatment room.

Cream bath hair treatment is actually a traditional Indonesian hair treatment to promote hair growth, elasticity and prevent damaged hair. The treatment usually uses ingredients such as coconut milk, mint leaves, aloe vera and sometimes avocado, which is applied to your hair and scalp with a light head massage. I tried it for the first time at Taman Sari Spa Jakarta and love it so much. My hair smelled coconutly terrific for days.

Most of treatment rooms come with a bath tub and built in shower.
Rain shower ... I love rain shower. The rustic wall is cement by the way.
I also love the fact that Teratak Spa use quality clean towels and proper massage bed ... among the plus points I gave them during my rating session. The treatment room was clean and tidy, with proper locker to keep your things. During rating session, I usually give special attention to the preparation area and product storage especially if the spa is using natural ingredients such as fresh fruits, yoghurts or coconut milk in their treatment. And Teratak Spa scored high marks in those area.

Anyway, lets move to the most important part - the treatment. Was it worth the money spend? To be honest, it was fantastic. I started dozing off during the cream bath treatment which was unexpectedly minty cold by the way, followed by a very relaxing Swedish massage with the right pressure on the right points on my body.  Seriously ... that was the first time I enjoyed a massage by a local therapist so so much.  Overall, it costs me about RM 170.00 for a 1 and half hour session of massage and cream bath hair treatment. But I really, really enjoyed it and truly recommended it to all tired and stressful ladies out there. I went there twice and both times it was excellent.

No. 31 Jalan Tun Dr Awang,
11950 Bayan Baru, Penang.

Telephone: 04-6444121

Monday, October 17, 2011

Someone Like You

I really love Adele ... starting from Rolling In The Deep. I love it when the singer in Hard Rock Penang sang Rolling In The Deep to live band. It usually got me into the mood. However, for Someone Like You ... we need a nice piano and a soulful voice ... Tersentuh hati akak bila dengar lagu ni for the first time. As if satu penceritaan on akak punya perchentaan yang tak kesampaian ... hahahaah! One day I must try sing this song in my Kotak Merah session.

But anyway, I had to say it's hard to turn something negative to positive. In the song, Adele sang ... "nevermind I'll find someone like you, I wish nothing but the best for you ...., Don't forget me, I begged, I remember you said, sometimes it last in love, sometimes it hurts instead"... Fuh meremang bulu roma akak when she get into that part. 2-3 kali ulang lagu ni ... part tu jugak yang buat bulu roma meremang.

Adakah orang nak wish macam tu to their ex-lovers? Usually after the break-up, you usually wish him or her to ROT in hell. And he or she met someone else, some people will use black magic or spreading bad rumours so that he or she will never live that "happily ever after". Sedih bila mengenangkan kejadian yang menimpa one of my staff. After 5 kids, one very jealous ex-admirer still couldn't get over with it ... macam-macam dia buat to my staff's wife. Santau lah, penuju lah aiyoooo ... Kan bagus if he just write a song about his pain and who knows like Adele, it became a chart topper.

One of my friend pernah pujuk me by saying ... "God is fair ... He will send good man to a good woman and bad man to a bad woman" ... Wonder I ni kategori mana ... hmmm maybe cute and forever young ... balik-balik yang mengetuk pintu hati yang muda belia jer auwwwww ... tak rela akak! Tapi I doakan I met "someone like you" yang like 10 years ago sebab sekarang that "you" dah boroi so tak lazat hahaahahahahahahaahah

To be honest, blogging to me is a very "positive" avenue in channeling your thoughts and feelings. I had been busy these last few months that it came to a point that I myself don't know which way I am heading to. Despite the "hoohaas" I felt empty inside (unfortunately stomach never empty hehehe). But I returned back to this blog once in a while, looking back what I had done in the past ... what exciting experience that I shared ... comments I got from friends and fellow bloggers. One most important comment ... "this blog lighted up someone's life" ...

Okaylah chow dulu ... Saja nak lift up my mood on this Moody Monday hehehe

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Mie On Penang after 19 months

When I started blogging somewhere 2007, I managed to separate my working life and personal life as it was already quite balance. I refused then to blog so much about my working life as I was dealing a lot with housing problems - sales and purchase agreements, rehabilitation of abandoned housing projects, prosecutions of rogue developers etc. Looking back, if i was to compile all these work stories, it may be a bestseller hehehehe

Here in Penang, working life rules! So can't help lah selit-selit about work. Gosh ... I couldn't enjoy my weekends. Got calls on odd hours. Kadang-kadang tu teringin jugak tak dapat tidur malam sebab terbayang-bayang seseorang. Ni tidak, cannot sleep sebab worried work tak siap. Kadang-kadang wish jugak my heart pumping hard because nampak object yang "lazat" mata memandang. Ni tidak, jantung berdegup kencang sebab nampak no telefon yang tak lazat appeared on phone screen hahaha

Though I have all the priviledges of a state Director but at this age ... I think I deserve a good rest. Had been doing this when I was 41-44 officers. Btw, I hope the Housing Act amendment are being carried out smoothly ... it was already 80% complete when I left. Bukan nak take credit, but it was a team 4 people yang really think about it from 2009- april 2010 ... now semua left Ministry due to better offer. Hari-hari balik pukul 9 malam. But weekends ... sorang pun tak kacau.

Penang to be honest post quite a challenge for me to handle. The greatest pressure is actually how to be different or better than my predecessors. And in order to do that I need a good team. Adoh, when we first start-up, some posts were not being filled up. And ada pulak officer bermasalah yang dihantar ke opis aku. OMG! Ada yang sebok dengan DAP (Di Alam Percintaan), ada yang ada kes tatatertib, ada yang sebenarnya lari dari negeri asal sebab tak bayar kontraktor heheheheeh ... tapi after probing further some are actually mild and can be tackled easily. Masih better than one of the state directors who had to handle isu staff tiba-tiba hilang dari ofis sebab masalah pankreas atau gout stage kritikal. 

But the funniest incident was when my HR officer told me that one of the staff is a disable person. The description given was "no hand and leg". I almost had a heart attack. So what can she do? Dahlah staff tak cukup, bagi pulak sorang yang OKU takde tangan dan kaki I nak buat macam mana? So when I arrived in Penang, I checked sorang-sorang yang takde tangan dan kaki. Rupa-rupanya the staff hands and legs are slightly deformed but she still can do work but slow. Now, she is one of my best staff handling homestay and program pelancongan pelajar. And has longer list of beau than me hehehe

Throughout 2010, I had been through many trials and errors ... polishing my people skills, building bridges and linking cultures, and trying to adapt Ministry's policy into Penang settings. Coincidentally,  many of the programs and products introduced by Ministry or to be exact, my Lady Boss actually work in Penang. Sometimes, it's hard to tell the OTAI of tourism in Penang that the tourism scene has change and we need to change. Itu belum lagi those who think they know better than you huhuhu

Entering the tourism market now are the Gen X and Gen Ys, both as tourists and tourism players. At the end of the day, what we want to get from tourism are income, job opportunities and of course leisure. Domestic tourism must also work for both local and foreign tourists. I looked at the growth of our budget carriers. Their routes, not only it must encourage outbound but it must also bring inbound as well. I relooked at all the concrete structures implemented during 8th-9th Malaysia plan. Many of those had become white elephants as people just know how to build but dunno how to market and used it to it's fullest capacity.

I know many people dislike Dato' Seri Idris and his PEMANDU team. But having worked with him for a month I learned one very valuable lesson, if we can change the way we work, no matter how simple the idea is to create a big impact and transformed the industry, why not?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Batu Keras Story

It had been quite a while since I had a very loud, huge guffaw of laughters. Yelah status kat FB pun none yang brain stimulating kan ... Like I said before, since I now breathing, living and eating in a heritage city ... lama-lama I pun jadi heritage. Soooooo the 19 kong kong (1900 BC).

Despite that, thank you sooooooo much Sazali, for making my day and night! I had so much fun catching up with you. You know what, despite working like in a living hell for 4 years under Dr. P ... looking back we had so many stories and memories that comparitively NOW, despite all the glamour and paparan di dada akhbar  (kelasssss) ... my life as Lady Di (Lady Director) is soooooooo pale in comparison. Hari-hari my blood go upstairs hehehehe

Back to Sazali ... when I got his surprised sms the other day ... I quickly called him and said .... "We are soooooo going to Batu Kerasssss today". Didn't realise that he had no idea what is Batu Keras that he had to ask his bus driver cum tourist guide, Mr Baskaran. 

Zali: Mr Baskaran, where is Batu Keras ha?
Mr Baskaran: Mr Sazali, I have been living in Penang for 30 years ... I never heard of Batu Keras. Batu Uban, Batu Maung, Batu Kawan and Batu Feringghi ada lah ... Batu Keras mana ada ... 

Zali: My friend is working with Tourism and she said she want to bring me to a place called Batu Keras. Must be exclusive place that locals don't know.

Hahaha ...luckily lah I didn't say ... Senorita Licin (Slippery Senorita) or Straits Kuey (Straits Quay ... hehehe) ... lagi konfius Mr Baskaran!

Yaaaaa .... this is Batu Keras. Had a great time rocking !

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