Saturday, December 31, 2011

My Favourite Stuff of 2011

Continuing this blog's great tradition, I present to you my favourite stuff from this year:

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol
Watched it twice (once at Sunway's brand new IMAX cinema and once at a regular one), I had my heart in my mouth most of the time on both occasions. A great popcorn movie that hits all the required action spots. And then some...

My extended edition and box-set collection
It's slowly building up (as my bank accout shrinks) but seriously, there's nothing like slipping in a blu-ray disc on a lazy Saturday afternoon and enjoying the incredible picture and sound.

CD (pop)
Adele's 21
Heart-wrenching, beatifully sung, masterly crafted, utterly memorable... I could go on and on.

CD (rock)
Foo Fighters' Wasting Light
A blistering barrage of awesome rock tunes recorded the old fashion way. Win!

Switchfoot in KL
Hated the venue (in "trendy" Jalan Ipoh, for crying out loud), but once the show started, Switchfoot proved that they could rock anytime, anywhere.

My Grammar and I
The horror! A book about grammar? Really? Well, when it's as well-written and entertaining as this, I can only say that this is the book for me. Or should that be 'I'?

TV Show
Piers Morgan Tonight
Took over from Larry King, and damnit, the dude is good. Seriously, this is the kind of show I wanna do in my lifetime. Yes, do watch this space.

Perth was precious, Gold Coast was great, but our winter sojourn in London and Paris tops it all...

So simple, yet it never fails to put a smile on my face...

Bose Headphone
Worth the money so far!

2011's the year of the dessert for me. And this particular one, a blend of things even I can't identify, tops my list. Yum!

Friday, December 30, 2011

MHI Bids Farewell to Abby & Wardina

It was a special episode of Malaysia Hari Ini earlier this morning. And for a couple of different reasons too. It was the last one for the year 2011, and I simply loved the Year In Review content. We looked back at the year's most memorable events that encompassed sports, human interest stories, world and local news, as well as MHI's best moments. A job well done by the producer Izwan and team!

It was also special, in a bitter sweet manner, because we said goodbye to two of our female co-hosts, Abby & Wardina. Abby had been with the show for the past nine years, and Wardina, five. It was a pity though that Abby couldn't join in the broadcast as she had to be at SinarFM at the same time.

I first met Abby on the set of MHI in 2007. Before I joined the show as a co-host, I regularly appeared as a guest promoting mainly stuff. I also listened to her on the radio, and I quite like her laidback yet "gila-gila" style and personality. I also met Wardina the same way, on the set of MHI.

When I first joined the MHI family in 2010, they were warm in welcoming the newbies. I must say that it was pretty easy to develop the chemistry between Abby and I. Probably it's because we're from the same generation more or less, we could easily banter about things we had in common with. About 80s music, the Johor slang, and we constantly teased each other about our "advanced" age. It didn't take too long for us to figure out our timing and we never really got in each other's way. Simply a joy to be on-air with.

Wardina's the type who wears her heart on her sleeve and you can't help but to admire her honesty. She speaks passionately about the issues she cares about and is not afraid to show how she feels about them through her facial expressions.

It would certainly feel odd not having both of them as part of the family in 2012.

And speaking of 2012, the show will continue with five hosts: Ally, Fedtri, Nurul Syuhada, Zahan and myself. There will be some changes and add-ons to the content and everyone's basically pumped up to present a new-look MHI. So, do watch the show and hit me up with comments!

And oh yeah, there's been a lot of speculation on why both of them are no longer with MHI. I don't want to, and can't speak on their behalf, but I do know that they have other commitments lined up. But out of all the "theories" and questions posed online, including on my own timeline was whether they've been dropped because they wear the tudung. This is the most preposterous and ignorant question anyone could ask. And it doesn't even deserve a sarcastic reply from me.

Sometimes I do wonder where such people come from? Seriously, I would love to sit down one day and try to understand such mentality.

But that's for another time. Let me just end this note by thanking both Abby & Wardina for all their contributions to the show and I wish them the very best of luck!

My Favourite Moments of 2011

Oh what a year 2011 was! All around the world, loads of shit (good and bad) happened, and really, we never even had a chance to pause and breathe before something else happened. Natural disasters, political upheavals, celebrity deaths; it was an endless roller coaster ride for everyone, and for different reasons too.

But as usual, allow me to share the good stuff. Cos really, years from now, I'd rather be looking back on these personal moments rather than, say, the death of dictators. Read on!

The Finish Line
From ZERO runs in my lifetime, to seven different events throughout 2011. And it was a special feeling indeed every time I crossed that finish line.

Maharajah M.Zul
Dressed up for the Media Prima 1001 Raya and Primeworks won the best booth award! I think it was the celak. And fake mustache.

Primetime Fame
Yup! Had a small part in "Kias Ramadhan" on TV3. Over 1 million people watched it and the reviews were rather good. I should have been in "Ombak Rindu", man...

Met The Tallest Man In The World
Pictures will never do this man justice. Felt like I was in The Land of the Giants, or something.

Rocked KLCC
D'Kechewas annual rock-out took place at the KL Convention Centre this year during the MPB Screenings post party. And finally, I get to belt out Prince's "Kiss"!

Turned 40
And no, I don't feel ancient : )

Run M.Zul, Run!
As a final prep for the ntv7 Feel Good Run, I ran 3kms, "live" on national TV via Malaysia Hari Ini. And got a massage straight after. I love this gig...

Hey Look, No Lovehandles! (Well, almost)
Stepped on the scale one morning and discovered that I had lost 7kgs. Then I had a steak. Kidding!

After following the Liverpool anthem through TV all these years, finally joined thousands others in singing "You'll Never Walk Alone" during the Liverpool vs Malaysia match at the National Stadium. Goosebumps.

The Best Ever Negaraku
Also at the National Stadium. 85,000 proud Malaysians stood up to sing the national anthem with all their heart. I almost cried. Which I did after Malaysia failed to beat Singapore that night and we got knocked out of the World Cup qualifiers. Boo hoo.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Johor Premium Outlets

It wasn't really in the plans, but once we crossed the Second Link from Singapore, I thought: "Hmmm, why not make a stop at JPO before we head back to KL tomorrow?" It was an interesting Hmmm moment, for sure.

And so, after being shown the new sort-of coastal highway earlier in the morning on Sunday by Hazrey, a freelance broadcast journalist who's also a regular contributor on MHI, we drove straight from Thistle to Kulaijaya. I wondered out loud if they'd be enough signboards to take us to JPO. The answer? Not really. 

It wasn't until we were close to the Senai toll exit that we first saw the first JPO signboard. Come on lah, you wanna make this place a MAJOR attraction in Johor? Point people to it from miles and miles away! Make them feel like it's a true MUST-VISIT destination. And make it as convenient as possible for everyone!

And speaking of making things convenient, once you exit the toll, it's a pretty much straight forward drive to JPO, UNTIL...  you approach the entry into the carpark.

No doubt there's ample space for parking, but I think they shouldn't try to make money from this. In other words, make parking free for all patrons! It should be one of the "attractions" of JPO. And guess what? There were only two entry points, and one of the points had a faulty barrier! Which meant the cars were bottleneck-ed and a jam quickly developed. Haiyo!

After the not-so-promising start though, things did look much more promising after we set foot on the premises. The outlets were well laid out, well-landscaped and definitely had an international feel to it. In fact, it looked almost exactly like the Premium Outlets I went to in Korea last year. Check it out:

Looking around, I immediately saw all the big brands people were talking about: Burberry, Shanghai Tang, Armani, Ferragamo, Zegna, DKNY, Coach etc.

It was getting really crowded then too, not surprising since people on both sides of the causeway were on holiday! Then came another problem. This time, not of the human or machine kind, but of the insect kind! Flies were everywhere! Why? I don't know. But they were outside the stores, and INSIDE.

So sayang, since the place was clean overall, but the flies were a real problem. Hope something will be done about this quick.

OK now, how about the discounts, you ask? Well, quite good, I must say; although I must confess that we didn't go into some of the more popular stores cos there were long queues outside (and really, we were just "window" shopping). From the few outlets we actually checked out, I can tell you that the promise of 25-65% proved to be true.

Went into the Nike store, for example, and found that great discounts were being offered for running shoes. Almost bought the Lunarglide +3 because of the good price, but the cushioning just wasn't right, so had to give it a pass.

But I did buy a couple of shirts at Raoul and got a near 60% discount. Another item picked up at Michael Kors was also generously discounted. Same with La Senza (so much for window shopping, huh?). But like I said, we didn't have the patience to wait in line to go into the likes of Burberry and Coach, so I have no report on those. Variety of items might disappoint some, though. Gap, for example, had almost nothing of worthy in the men's section.

Elsewhere, the food court's pretty decent with loads of variety on offer. But it was annoying how people kept knocking down the chairs. Seriously! It was like one chair knocked down every 5 minutes. So you'd be enjoying your beef curry and suddenly, "PANNNGGG!!" It's as mysterious as those flies, I tell ya...

After a couple of hours, we decided to leave before it became massively overcrowded, and guess what, I'm not done with complaining about the parking! This time, PAYING for parking proved to be equally annoying. There were long queues at the autopay stations, and halfway through my own queuing, the machine stopped. Seriously, why make it difficult for people in come in and out lah?

So, I can't quite make a conclusive judgment yet on JPO, especially when I've only been inside a fraction of the 80 outlets available, and the 2 hours spent there were not really sufficient. But I would say that it's at least worth one visit.

To the JPO management: DO FIX THE PARKING AND SIGNBOARD PROBLEMS ASAP! And yes, the flies need to go as well...

Wet In The Lion City

We were quite nervous about the traffic going into Singapore last Saturday, but taking the Second Link proved to be the right decision. It was pretty smooth going in, although it poured heavily as we got to the immigrations.

The AYE then took us all the way to the city, and ultimately our hotel of choice, the Novotel Clarke Quay at River Valley Road. Yup, instead of staying in the heart of the city, I decided on Novotel knowing how it can get really happening by the river, especially on the eve of a big holiday.

I had booked the room through an online service, and more good news came when we checked in: our room had been upgraded! : ) It was a decent-sized room with a nice bed, big TV and a great view.

I would recommend this hotel if you're down in Singapore the next time around. Service was overall very good, there's also the complimentary use of Macs at with wi-fi at the lobby, and if you're driving, you can easily park the car next door at Liang Court. Everything's downstairs as well; Starbucks, supermarket, McD and other makan places, and even the Singapore River Cruise!

After freshening up a bit, we drove to Orchard Road (where else?) to soak in the holiday atmosphere and do a bit of shopping. And also to get wet, apparently. Yup, Singapore's been at the receiving end of more-than-usual-rainfall, and in fact, just a couple of days before we got there, flashfloods had disrupted some businesses here.

So yeah, we had to move about while covering our heads with our hands, but it wasn't too bad lah. What was quite "bad" was the over-crowding. Understandably, people were doing their last minute X'Mas shopping, so everywhere was really packed. But the bargains were quite good, and we left with more than a few bags in our hands : )

Dinner was back at Clarke Quay.  As expected, the place was pretty happening and festive, despite the rain coming down again.

We had a look around and settled with Bayang, a Balinese makan place. Food was pretty good (especially the sup sapi!), and it was cool to just sit down and people-watch.

 After more photo-snapping, we went back to the hotel to chill before my Day To Remember : )

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Newton New Year Challenge 2012

So, what will you be doing this New Year's day? Sleeping in? More shopping? Lying by the beach somewhere in Bali? All good options that should have been mine as well. Instead, I'll be running up and down the hilly route of Bandar Kinrara for 12kms. Woo freakin' hoo.

Sounded like a good idea when I signed up for it, but now it sounds like a real hell of a challenge. But it's too late to back off now, so in the wee hours of 1st Jan 2012, I'll be huffing and puffing my way through the Newton New Year Challenge.

Picked up my race kit last Friday and this would also be my first run in the "veteran" category. Yes, that's what happens when you're in the four-series.

Also got myself a new pair of compression pants in Singapore. This would cost a bomb here but with the sale going on down south, I got these for only SGD177.

So, wish me luck and enjoy your relaxing New Year's day! *grumble grumble*


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