Friday, February 27, 2009

Teh Botol

Yeah! We found Teh Botol in Philly. Didn't really expect there's this ice tea brand in this city. My wife likes this tea back home eventhough in Kuching it's not really famous but in KL, it is well known.

The yummy teh botol

I guess the Indons are really going global after all. Same goes with the Thai's products. They are everywhere especially in oriental groceries stores. The only Malaysian original product that we found in Philly are santan paste and shrimps, so far, excluding all other big international co. product that have factories in Malaysia like Nestle. Maybe there are many others in the American market, it is just a matter of time that we will eventually stumble into them. Hopefully.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Japanese House in Philly

We were heading to Philly Downtown last Friday to get some information regarding the Amtrak pass ticket for our summer trip plan. We were just about to merge into route 76, when we got stuck in a very bad traffic jam. Great. We moved slowly bumper to bumper with other cars, not knowing what waiting for us upfront. So, we decided to take the first exit to get to the other path towards downtown via the Fairmount Park. We were quite sure that there were not many drivers who know about this road, except for those who live nearby in West Philly.

Philly downtown skyscrapers view taken from the Philadelphia Museum of Art

On the way, we saw a signboard of "Japanese House". Hmm... we saw the signboard a couple of times before and we never bother about it. But this time, since we still have the time, we decided to look for it.

It was a gusty and chilly day. We drove slowly deeper into the park with no one else around. After 5 minutes drive from the main road, we saw an isolated Japanese house surrounded with big trees in the middle of the park. Wow... we didn't expect there is a Japanese house in Philadelphia and it is just minutes away from our place.

The isolated and peaceful looking Japanese house in the middle of the park

The house is gated with bricks and there seemed to be no one there. Maybe it's Winter so we made a wild guess that it will be opened next Spring.

A peaceful looking pond at the Japanese house

We spent only 10 minutes hanging around on the brick wall in front of the house before we drove away to continue with our earlier mission, which is to get to downtown using the shortest way possible to reach the 30th Street Station. We'll be back, house. Soon!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Slumdog Millionaire vs Q&A

Everybody is talking about Slumdog Millionaire nowadays after they became a big hit in movie theaters across the nation. Eventhough in their early days, people didn't really bother with this cheap movie and the unknown stars acting in it. We were looking forward for the movie to be in the theater last November but it was a huge disappointment when we found out there were only a few movie theaters in Philadelphia showing this movie. But last night, they just won 8 Oscars at the 81st Grammy Awards Ceremony at the Kodak Theater in L.A and the movie is showing everywhere. How ironic.

Jamal was in the middle of answering his nature's call when his idol, Amitabh Bachan landed with the chopper at his slum village. Hilarious part of the film.

We were aware of the existence of this film when Danny Boyle, the director were in the middle of shooting the film in Madras's slum area. I knew about this because I am a big fan of Danny Boyle's film The Trainspotting, and my wife is mad about Dev Patel since he is one of the co star in Skins BBC Series. My wife never missed every single episodes on BBC America Channel every Sunday at 10pm. We never expect both of them will work together on this film , which was adapted from the novel I bought for my wife back in 2005. On a business trip, I bought the novel called Q&A by Vikas Swarup at MPH in KL Central while waiting for my ERL to KLIA.

Q&A by Vikas Swarup. The novel that we never expect that it will be the core of the history for both Bollywood and Hollywood

I was roaming around the MPH bookstore and reading some free books when all of a sudden, my eyes caught at a white and bright green titled color book, with the image of a waiter boy carrying a food tray on the front cover. After I read the synopsis and comment, I decided to buy it as a gift to my wife [still a girlfriend at that time].

The team in Oscars. Anil Kapoor..err we are not his fan.

After she read it, I asked her opinion about the book and she said she likes it. So I read the book myself and suprisingly, I finished reading it in 2 days which I spent the whole night till early morning, two days in a row to finish it. The plot is so unique, and the way the author arranged his story is so interesting and different. We love the novel very much.

The bunch of Madras slum's kids who acted in the movie completed their journey from the slums of Mumbai, India, to the world’s most dazzling awards show in Hollywood.

The truth is, after watching the movie, we are quite frustated because they altered the novel too much and most of the interesting parts in the novel are not in the movie. The novel and the movie are totally different in story telling except for the similiar plot which was based on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire and how he managed to answers all the question. Well, we guess all movies that adapted from novels are like that. It will never be the same and most of the time, novels are better. Much much better.

Friday, February 20, 2009


For those who likes to watch Nickelodeon channel, you might know about iCarly comedy series.

It's about a Seattle girl, named Carly who has her own web show called iCarly. Together with her sidekick cum best friends Sam as her co-host and Freddie, the technical producer who has a crush on her, they reach out to others with all sorts of web show.

The Casts : Sam, Carly, Freddie and the goofy Spencer

Carly, an average teenage girl who is locally popular due to her web show. Intelligent, pretty, level-headed and an honest person, who would not have a crush on her? She produces her own web casts from a studio in the attic of her Bushwell Plaza apartment.

iCarly Studio

As for Sam, Carly's best friend, she's a trouble maker who likes to torture Freddy most of the time with her witty remarks. Every time she's on air, you'll see her munching on food or talk about food ALL the time. We all can say that she's the exact opposite of Carly. So Carly had to be the peacemaker each time Sam and Freddie had issues.

A vintage car, part of the studio's many designs

Freddie, lives just opposite the hall of Carly's apartment. He has feelings for Carly and everyone knows that. He always seemed to be the victim of Sam's bullying act and guess what? It's funny, seeing him having a hard time with Sam.

The infamous Skybucks Coffee

Oh! Did we forget to mention about goofy Spencer, Carly's big brother? He's an artist, with amazing ideas that on each series, he'll come out with different sculptors and arts. He created a magnetic Chirstmas tree sculpture out of metal junk, a giant coffee drink called Skybucks Coffee, different sorts of socks with bliking lights, etc. We love his spontaneous comedic act. Even though he acts immature, deep down, he is such a responsible person.

Spencer's robot. He had to drink 150 bottles of soda to create this sculpture.

We can just laugh our heads off each time we watch the series. It is, in fact, a simple comedy series acted by talented teenagers. I guess there's a kid within each one of us.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Fav Coffee

I'm not really a coffee goer, the only coffee I drank back home was only my Mak's ice coffee which I will drink when I had the chance to sip it everytime I ransack the fridge [I'm not sure either my Mak notice the changes of her coffee level in her big steel mug]. The coffee were originally made from raw coffee seeds that she bought from the apek's shop at Gambier Street. She will ask the tauke to grind the seed himself before packing it up. The aroma of the coffee is so nice eventhough I don't really like coffee.

But since we arrived here, we can see a lot of coffee shop in every corner of the block and the Americans, they're practically mad about coffee. Usually they have coffee together with bagel or doughnuts for breakfast, lunch or even dinner.

One of the coffee shop in Downtown Philly

And there's different type of coffee shops, from the big and international brands like Starbucks, Coffee Beans, Seattle Coffee or the ma & pa's small coffee shop cum diner. Since we are here, I never hesitate to try all of the coffees especially at ma & pa's diner. Since then, I became an unofficial coffee tester.

Starbucks are everywhere and with their expensive and overtaste coffee, they are affected by the economic recession. Since last year, they had closed down nearly 900 of their outlets.

But my all time favourite is Wawa coffee. Wawa is a convenience store that spreads their franchise within Mid Atlantic region of the U.S. Their coffee is damn nice. Since I tried their coffee, I never look back to other big names like Starbucks or other ordinary coffee shop near our place.

The two nearest Wawa from our place, Narberth Wawa [above] and West Belmont Ave Wawa

There are various types of coffee such as regular, java, brazilian nuts, hazelnut etc.

At Wawa, you pour the coffee on your own (self-service)

The largest cup you can get and the taste will never disappoint you [if you know how to mix up the right stuff]

I like regular Wawa coffee with extra Irish cream. Heaven. And best of all, the coffee is cheap. I can have the largest paper cup for merely USD1.49, instead of having a large Starbucks coffee for USD6.49. Usually, when there's a friend of us coming to town, I will fully recommend Wawa coffee and so far, I didn't get any negative respond. I even think of bringing this franchise back to Kuching.

But after a deep thought, hmm...nahhhh.. I don't think so. I still prefer my Mak's Gambier Road ice coffee =))

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Tonsil : Love & Hate

Supposedly, I should have underwent a surgery today, a tonsil removal procedure [tonsillectomy]. And supposedly, it should be done last 2 weeks back but I screwed up. Yeap, I screwed up my own surgery by having a slice of bread for breakfast which I was not supposed to have anything to eat 12 hours prior to the surgery. I have no one else to blame except myself because the nurse has told me earlier that I CANNOT eat or drink 12 hours prior to the surgery. But I was too forgetful and didn't listen to my wife. So they rescheduled my surgery in 2 weeks time. Damn* Just because of a slice of bread.

My doctor said I'm having a chronic tonsillitis which I have suffered for more than a year. I've been waiting for this surgery for ages. Before this I was on medication and was under observation by my doctor, Dr Seth Zwillenberg. He just didn't want to simply remove and throw away the tonsil and by the way, it's the only tonsil that I have forgodsake. So he got me into antibiotic. First antibiotic was sulfa. It was fine and I can feel the improvement in my throat.

That's where the tonsil is. Tonsillectomy in adults is more painful than in children's, although each patient will have a different experience [wikipedia]

BUT after 1 week of taking the prescription, I got myself admitted to Lankenau Hospital. I'm allergic to sulfa and I didn't know that. Crap. I just found out about it when I had swollen and itchiness all over my body out of sudden in the middle of my sleep [I looked like a monster from the swamp]. So after being discharged, the doctor put my with a different antibiotic. It worked good on me, my throat felt better and less of hoarse voice.

But recently the pain in my throat is back after 5 months of relief and that left the doctor with no other option than to take out the tonsil. I know it will be a painful procedure for an adult like me. But I'd rather to be in pain for a week than living in discomforts especially every time when I wake up in the morning or talk to people because of the the sore throat caused from the tonsil.

But for now, I need to wait maybe another 2 weeks or a month to get into the schedule after the surgery was cancelled today due to my fever and cold that I have since last weekend. Darn it! I just want to get rid of this tonsil. It's killing me. Or maybe it's a sign, my tonsil just don't wanna let me go?

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Mei Mei... Ni Hen Ke Ai

My Sister

She knows just where I dream to go,
Remembers where I've been.
She accepts me just the way I am,
And treats me like a friend.

She's someone who is there for me,
No matter where or when.
And every time I'm with her,
It's like coming home again.

Feb 18th is a day to remember and cherish. Congratulations, Sis.


p.s : Ak, sori sikpat pegi nikah kitak. Wish me & your kakak are there - Mr. Fleece

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Oasis Concert

Opening song by the britpop legend

Oasis is a britpop band that formed in Manchester, UK. They reached their peak of fame back in 1995 when they published their 2nd album, (What's the story) Morning Glory and became the 3rd largest ever selling album in the UK. Among the songs that really boomed in that album were Don't Look Back In Anger and Wonderwall. Fab Songs.

The rebel Liam Gallagher performing their hit, Wonderwall

Recently, we went to their tour concert held at Sasquehenna Centre in Camden, New Jersey just across the river from Philly.

The early crowd, before the concert starts

The souvenirs tees sold outside of the venue. We didn't buy one =))

This time, I just charged through the crowd and the security, heading towards the mainstage just to get the nearest view of the band. Not a bad effort though, before I got kicked out by the security.

The concert was awesome, the venue was packed with Oasis fans and we can't get enough of it. The opportunity to see Noel & Liam Gallagher performed their songs LIVE on stage was just a backflash of the good old days. Hail Oasis.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Warung in Philly

Being away from home especially if you are in western countries, warung or simple kedai makan like the ones we have back at home are rare to be found. It's harder if you don't have big Malay community in a town where you live and as a Muslim, we need to be extra particular when it comes to eating outside.

The outside view of the so-called warung

Since we arrived here, we prefer to eat at home or if we want to try something different, we will go to Arab or Indian restaurant that serves only halal food. Craving for Malay warung food haunt us most of the time. Just recently, we found out from the Malaysian students at Temple University about an Indonesian restaurant that serves local Indonesian food somewhere in South Philly. Hey, it's Indonesian food and "we are serumpun", [so cliche]. So we decided to give it a try since we have been craving for Malay warung food for ages!

The "exotic" interior design that we really missed all this while

The warung is called Waroeng Surabaya, located south at Moore St and Hicks [say 15 street blocks away from Philly downtown]. We went there 3 times. At first it was a splendid one. We ate like we never have eaten nasik before. The second time around we brought our Sarawakian friends with family from Virginia to try the food. The last time we went there was two days back, and to be honest, the food is not as delicious as the first time we came.

The variety of lauk-pauk available which can be ordered with the tip of your finger [finger pointing and with the magic words " yang itu pak, iyaaa..yang itu pak"]

Well, beggars cannot be choosers and it's better than nothing at all. Besides, we love tempe and sayur lode a whole lot! Drool*

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Halifax - Children of the Corn Town

The signboard in the coffee shop's restroom showing how proud they are with their small old town

We are traveller, not tourist. We will stop wherever and whenever we want. Usually we don't have any fix itinerary when it comes to visiting places because we don't want to restrict ourselves with time and schedule. With the flexible time and movement, we get to enjoy our trip more, our way.

On the way back from Raleigh, North Carolina to Herndon, Virginia via Highway 95, we saw a signboard of Halifax, the county in North of North Carolina. We never heard of this county before and decided to go further deep, far from the main highway without any clue of what will be waiting for us there.

This town is "peopleless". No one on the street in the middle of the day. Weird.

We felt a chill down our spine as we entered the area. All we saw was empty land, ol' buildings and churches, rundown shops and houses. We decided to take a walk around the place and get some coffee to perk us up. We went into a nearby coffee shop and was greeted by a man who we presumed to be one of the locals there. We paid for the coffee, used their washroom, took some pics around the shop and off we went to the end of the town, on foot.

Old church building with excellent preservation

We spotted old-looking rocks arranged in such an odd way and a house in the middle of a field. We went nearer to get a good look and behold, the rocks that we saw were actually tombstones. Who would have thought that the place was a graveyard. It was written that the graveyard was built in late 1700s. Wind was blowing hard and the sounds of tree leaves made us shiver. Feels like someone or something is whispering to our ears, telling us not to stay too long. There was no one around us. We decided to retreat and move on to a brick building which is just across the street. Seriously, it was spooky.

Rocks with weird arrangement from afar

Oh ok. It's an old cemetary with more than 300 years old tombstones

The only house near the cemetery. We wanted to get closer, but our instinct told us not to

The buildings that we saw were mostly of independence war era [between 1790 - 1810], such as the Secretary of War office, jail (one of the earliest built in the States) and pillory was set up as a method of punishment, and a tavern. We chose to peep through the windows, looking at what is left inside. The furniture was still in place and in good condition, as if there were some people working like any ordinary day. That is creepy. Really, it was creepy.

The Office of War Secretary

We peeped inside, it's all about curiosity

The furniture inside the building are still in a good condition but a lil' bit dusty

The punishment ground

The early jailhouse. Felt like someone is looking at us from inside

We quickly took some pictures and move on. We were wondering where the hell are the people living here? We did not see a soul at the street except an African-American guy who walked towards us and asked for a ciggie. Then, he vanished between the buildings.

The nearby villagers' house. Still, we didn't see anyone

It looked like it is going to rain, with the wind still blowing hard. After the brief tour, we started to quicken our pace and went straight for the car to continue our journey back home. As we reached home, we can still feel goose bumps crawling on our skin. During our journey back home, we tried so hard not to look back. Who knows, 'they' might take a ride with us back to Herndon, or worse, to Philly. We never know.

p.s : Halifax is the place where all the revolutionist of American Revolution War against the British had a meeting for the first time and consensusly agreed to fight for their independence from the Brits. How cool is that?

Monday, February 2, 2009

Summer Backpacking Plan

We know that Summer 2009 is still a long way to go, but we couldn't help making plans on where to go for the holiday. 3 long months. Where should we start? Right here in Philly? Or Chicago, where the Midwest Sports competition between universities will be held (May 22-24). But we'll definitely make a red stop in LA, just to meet up with relatives and friends.

What transportation should we use? Airplane? Or train, where we get to sit back and enjoy the trip at our own pace, making stops at each States and stay for a night or two at lodgings or hostels, whichever we prefer AND within our budget. Options options options.

Thinking about the West Coast this time around makes us feel warm inside. We can just imagine ourselves wearing t-shirts and shorts, with flip flops and sunnies, sipping iced tea and getting ourselves a tan. 2 years of honeymoon bliss. Better take a full advantage out of it
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