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Walking Tour: Quayside Mall@twentyfive.7, Kota Kemuning South

Residential or neighbourhood malls are now the norm rather than the trend, usually part of ‘integrated developments’ where you’d have condominiums or office towers within the vicinity, as well as parks and other facilities. One of the newer ones, which opened in December 2020, is Quayside Mall@twentyfive.7 at Kota Kemuning South, Telok Panglima Garang.

The neighbourhood itself is new and located in a somewhat difficult to access locale (the roads there are bumpy and under construction, with plantations on both sides and lots of heavy vehicle traffic ie lorries/trucks). Despite it being quite close to my city, it still look me awhile to reach due to road conditions + I got lost as the GPS brought me through really quiet kampung roads to avoid traffic and at the end access was blocked lol.

Couldn’t take photos since I was driving, but here’s an artist impression of Quayside Mall. Photo via Gamuda Land

Parking is free (*as of October 2021) and there was ample space on a weekday.

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Coming up from the escalator, I emerged into an outdoor promenade-like area, with several restaurants. The key attraction here, is, of course, the lakeside – so you can sit al fresco, sip on a cold coffee and enjoy the balmy Malaysian weather while looking out at the scenery.

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Okay, maybe a little too balmy.

Too hot so I couldn’t go for a stroll, but the lake looks nice. Flamingoes are the main theme here so you’ll see lots of cute statues. They also have paddle boats for rent.

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They have a bike lane circling around the promenade, so you can literally cycle ‘through’ part of the mall.

Escaped quickly into the mall proper for some blissful air conditioning. Here’s a video! (pls subscribe to my YT – shameless plug).

The mall spans three floors. Although it’s not big, it has pretty much everything under one roof, including a well-stocked Jaya Grocer, a Harvey Norman deparmental store, mobile service providers, a Watsons, clothing and sports apparel stores, a hair saloon, and more. You can tell they’ve tried to make the spaces more experiential, so there’s an events hall on the top floor, and the outdoor space where events can be hosted (hopefully when this pandemic gets better).

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Events space
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Popped into UNION Artisan Coffee for some takeaway ice blended chocolate.

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I just got fully vaccinated a couple of weeks ago, which means I’m able to dine-in at restos and stuff. I would love to hangout here since it looks cosy and has a great view. But since I live with my fam and there are vulnerable people in my household, I don’t want to risk it – so it’s still takeaway for me now.

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They’ve got a nice selection of cakes and coffee. You can also get blends to brew at home.

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Cold, sweet iced chocolate. Perfect for hot weather.
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Anyway, the reason I came here was to pickup my lunch from Sushi Zanmai – had an intense craving for unagi (eel) on rice. 😛

Quayside Mall is a pleasant enough neighbourhood mall. It doesn’t see a lot of foot traffic on weekdays (at least not during my visit), so it might be an alternative for those who want to shop in peace away from the hordes at places like Sunway or whatnot. But be prepared to go through a somewhat bumpy/rough road if you’re coming from Puchong. Also, possibly due to the pandemic, not all tenants have moved in, so you’ll still see a lot of empty lots (I would estimate about 60 – 65% have been taken up).

ADDRESS

Persiaran Freesia Gamuda Kemuning 25.7, 42500 Telok Panglima Garang, Kuala Langat, Selangor Darul Ehsan

https://www.quaysidemall.com.my/full/

PS: I have a Patreon! If you enjoyed reading this, consider buying me a cup of coffee. 🙂

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All I Want For Christmas Is … A Lush Advent Calendar

With Christmas around the corner, now’s the time to start prepping gifts. My wish is simple this year. I want a Lush Advent Calendar.

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Have You Seen Their Gorgeous Box?

I’m a sucker for beautiful packaging — and the design of the Lush Advent Calendar can’t be prettier. Inspired by a magical midnight wonderland, London-based designer Sally Kelly has created a vibrant piece bursting with colourful florals and rich detail. The reusable trunk is also made from 100% recycled materials, so you can repurpose it for storage and even gifting. Definitely something I’d be proud to have in my room as both a decorative and practical piece of furniture.

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Lush Products, Duh

I love Lush products, not just for their quality and creative offerings, but their stance on sustainability. Each Lush Advent Calendar comes with 25 vegan products to discover, one for every day and night leading up to Christmas Day. It’s like celebrating Christmas, right up til Christmas! If you’re the impatient kind, you can always just open all of them at once. 😛

Take a trip down memory lane with four retro products from Lush Christmas past, like the Cinder Bath Bomb, Christmas Penguin Bubble Bar and Keep It Fluffy Perfume; or try out the six new products that are exclusively available in the Lush Advent Calendar, including Kris Mouse Bubble Bar, Merry Christmas Shower Gel, and Sleepy Bath Bomb.

The Lush Advent Calendar will be available online from 18th October at lush.my, and in-stores from 19th October, priced at RM1,299.

Now. Fingers crossed someone will fulfil my wish for me. 😛

*Photos courtesy of LUSH.

*In the spirit of the festive season, why not buy me a cup of coffee on Patreon? 🙂

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You’ll Want To Take Better Care of Your Body After Watching This Anime

Did you know? 

  • Red blood cells carry oxygen throughout our body, working relentlessly throughout their life cycle (about 120 days), after which they are replaced with new cells. 
  • White blood cells protect our body against diseases and foreign invaders. There are several subtypes, including macrophages, which destroy bacteria, as well as T-cells that destroy infected cells. 
  • I learned all this from an anime. 

Okay, so that’s not 100% true. I learned it in biology class. But that was 15 years ago, and I’ve long since forgotten everything but the most basic facts about the human body. So watching Cells at Work: Code Black was a fun (albeit dark) refresher. 

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Seriously, if we had shows like this back in the day instead of boring ol’ textbooks, everyone would have aced their biology exams. It has everything that a good anime should have: beautiful art, interesting characters, a great plot, awesome action. But most of all, it’s educational, and it carries an important message beyond just entertainment: Take. Better. Care. Of. Our. Bodies. 

Based on a popular manga series, the first anime season of Cells at Work! details how a body functions through the eyes of anthropomorphised cells, ie a red blood cell and a white blood cell. I haven’t watched the original, but I’ve heard it’s light and fun, with a focus on comedy. Code Black, however, is much darker – and shines the spotlight on what happens to an unhealthy body caused by bad lifestyle habits and stress. 

Synopsis 

The series opens with our ‘hero’ AA2153, a rookie red blood cell. Somewhat naive in character, he starts off enthusiastic and pumped (ha!) for work, but soon discovers that there are plenty of problems with his work environment, from angry, overworked cells to pathways clogged with cholesterol and plaque, hindering oxygen deliveries — a reflection of the body’s unhealthy state. The environment is also hostile: AA2153 often gets verbally abused by other cells, as they are all stretched to their limit and often have to prioritise certain functions over others.

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During a delivery run, our protagonist is saved by white blood cell U1196 from an invading Pneumonia Coccus, and a friendship blossoms despite their different roles. The two characters will continue running into each other throughout the course of the series, as they both try to fulfil their duties to keep the body running. 

AA2153 does his best under terrible working conditions and tries to keep his optimism up. In the first episode, he witnesses a terrible scene: his co-workers turning into zombies (carboxyhemoglobin) after coming into contact with carbon monoxide (from smoking). Although initially terrified, he hardens his resolve to deliver oxygen after his senpai sacrifices himself by running through the gas, so that AA2153 could deliver oxygen through a safer route. However, this is just the beginning of the body’s troubles. 

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Throughout the course of the anime, our characters will have to overcome various situations, some of which are self-inflicted by the body, from heavy drinking and a bad diet to consumption of caffeine and energy drinks, which in turn cause the body to weaken further, making it prone to disease. After battling conditions such as hair loss, kidney stones, gout, erectile dysfunction, gonococci and pulmonary embolism, AA2153 starts to lose hope that the hellish environment will change… 

Verdict 

I absolutely love this anime. Pretty art style aside, I think it’s brilliant how the writers have managed to turn somewhat complicated concepts into easy-to-digest (pun intended) stories— and they’ve also done an excellent job depicting the anthropomorphised cells and the various organs creatively. 

The kidney, for example, is shown as a traditional bathhouse, and the glomeruli (the filtering unit) as bath girls who help clean up the red blood cells. When bacteria invades one kidney, threatening to destroy it, AA2153 urges the girls to evacuate – but they are prevented from doing so by the matriarch Glomeruli, who tells them that the kidney is a ‘silent organ’ — always working, never complaining. This hit me hard because I know that kidney failure is often called a silent killer, and it isn’t until they are failing that we realise something is very wrong. The kidney is eventually saved after the body ingests antibiotics, which help the white blood cells defeat the invading bacteria. 

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Another good example of the anime’s creativity is the liver, represented as a red light district with hostess clubs, where the red blood cells go to ‘unwind’ and detoxify, especially after alcohol consumption. But as the body continues drinking excessively, the once bright and colourful district becomes a dark and gloomy place, with exhausted and sickly hostesses (hepatocytes). I think it’s just great how they used real-life scenarios and applied them to the anime in such a way that is easy to understand. 

But more than just spitting facts, the anime manages to depict the emotions of the anthropomorphised cells and the seemingly hopeless state they are living in. The characters aren’t just there to tell you about how the body works: they have their own hopes and dreams and feelings. The main character is your typical anime hero: bright, cheerful and enthusiastic, always trying to inspire others — and while it’s nothing original as far as animes go (think Naruto, or Luffy), AA2153 is endearing in his own way.

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AA2153 and AC1677

The side characters are equally well developed. In episode 7, our hero’s best friend, a fellow red blood cell designated as AC1677, becomes jealous of AA2153’s achievements, having always been overshadowed by the former’s achievements.  He also feels somewhat guilty at AA2153’s persistence and dedication, as he doesn’t have the same zeal. AC1677 turns to the high that caffeine produces in order to try and outshine his friend. The body suffers a nosebleed, and AA2153 almost loses his best friend as red blood cells are sucked out and AC1677 loses his strength after crashing from a caffeine high — but he manages to save him, and eventually returns to his former self and works harder. (AC1677 is my favourite character by the way!) 

It’s episodes like these that make me feel a twinge of guilt — of course, I too have made my own body suffer from bad decisions (lack of sleep, for example, eating unhealthy food, and stressing myself out lol) and watching Code Black somehow drives the point home that I’m letting it down. I’m killing these cells in my body even though they’re working so hard for me — always working, never resting — so that I can enjoy a good quality life for as long as possible without suffering and pain. 

Since the pandemic began, I’ve made some changes to my lifestyle, including more exercise and a better diet (because I haven’t been able to eat out lol). I’ve lost about 12 kg, and I’m feeling much better compared to the days I used to gorge on fried foods coz of work stress. I couldn’t even climb stairs without feeling winded. My body must have been screaming. 

I’d like to think I’m providing a better ‘working’ environment for the cells living in me these days. So that’s a good thing. 

Rating: 8.5/10 

Like this post? Please consider supporting my website by buying me a cup of coffee through Paypal. This will go towards hosting fees and ensuring that I can continue to deliver authentic content for your reading pleasure. You can also support me on Patreon. Thanks for stopping by!

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Game Review: Ken Follet’s The Pillars of the Earth

Many fantasy RPGs use the medieval era as a backdrop or inspiration to build their worlds: think The Witcher, Dragon Age, Divinity, Dark Souls. But even without the dragons, magic, witches and warlocks, there is something inherently fascinating about the era – it was, after all, a dangerous time rife with political intricacies, brutal wars and religious dogma; a time of towering castles, jousting knights and tyrannical kings.

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Enter The Pillars of the Earth, a story-driven point-and-click game set in 12th-century England. Based on the critically acclaimed 1989 novel by Welsh author Ken Follett, the game is divided into three books spanning 21 chapters and revolves around several characters, whose fates and lives are intertwined around the town of Kingsbridge. There’s Tom Builder, the mason whose life’s dream is to build a grand cathedral that will stand the test of time; Philip, a kind abbey prior who inadvertently gets dragged into a war involving two English lords; Jack, a young outlaw who grew up in the forest with his mother; Lady Aliena, a disgraced noblewoman who finds love in a most unexpected place; as well as a whole host of colourful, secondary characters.

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The world of Kingsbridge is one of upheaval and strife from the get-go. The country is in the middle of a war after the death of King Henry I, as two opposing factions vie for the crown – and the characters you play will all be embroiled in it one way or another. You start the game as Tom Builder, leading your family through the woods to seek job opportunities elsewhere. Your wife is pregnant, it’s the middle of a harsh winter, and you’re low on food and supplies. As things go, your wife dies in childbirth, and out of grief, you abandon your baby in the woods. Yep, this game pulls no punches – and this is just a small taster of what to expect in the following chapters.

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The real ‘star’ of the story, however, isn’t in its characters (although they are certainly unique and rich, with multiple layers). It is in the building of Kingsbridge Cathedral and what it represents. Ken Follet himself in interviews has said that his inspiration for the novel came from his fascination of medieval communities and their obsession with church-building. In medieval England, building a large and beautiful cathedral was seen as an everlasting monument to God, a way for them to make meaning of their lives and show their religious devotion. But at the same time, the church itself was a place rife with corruption, where bishops plotted to murder. Playing the game, I felt as if the characters are there to tell the story of the cathedral, rather than the other way around. Characters would live and die – but the Cathedral, despite being destroyed and rebuilt time and time again, would endure; the task of building it taken over by future builders. All this is beautifully brought to life with hand-painted portraits, each bursting with detail that makes each scene seem alive.

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That being said, TPoTE is not for everyone. The pace is extremely slow, and there aren’t a lot of climatic moments – it’s really more like reading a historical novel than playing a game, really. There isn’t much to do apart from interacting with objects. Your choices are not that important when it comes to the overarching narrative, but they do matter in relation to the fates of several characters and whether they live or die. You don’t get to solve puzzles other than a few easy ones which have more to do with using items in your inventory to interact with certain things on the screen than actually cracking your brain. And of course, once you’ve finished the game, there is very little replay value. Still, it offers good value — I completed mine in 12 hours, and I since I bought it on sale on Steam for RM15, I can’t complain.

Rating: 6.5/10

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My First Book Subscription Box: Bookish Bundle

Subscription boxes were first introduced over a decade ago as a clever marketing strategy – but in the last few years, it has grown into a niche market of its own. I mean, who doesn’t like the idea of receiving a box filled with curated goodies? The mystery of its contents just adds to the anticipation and excitement.

In Malaysia, subscription box services are still fairly rare, with most of them centred around beauty or food – so I was surprised to find that we have one that caters to book lovers as well. Enter Bookish Bundle, a bi-monthly book subscription service which has been around since 2016. Run by a group of friends, the boxes are curated around a particular theme, and always contain a book plus various book-related goodies and artsy items, usually from local creatives.

I’ve been following their Instagram for awhile now, and decided to order their Skipping A Heartbeat box for the month of May. Based on the name, I guessed it had something to do with romance – a genre I do not typically read – so it was two firsts for me: subscribing to a box service, and also getting a romance novel for the first time. The box was supposed to arrive in early May, but due to delayed shipment, I received it at the end of May instead.

And here’s the unboxing! PS: If you haven’t subscribed to my Youtube channel yet, why haven’t you? 😛 #shamelessplug

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A quick look at the items fresh out of the box. So aside from a romance novel called Twice Shy by Sarah Hogle, the box also includes a cute poster of couples from popular literature, a photo frame with an art print, a bookmark corner, a thoughtful note from the Bookish Bundle team which doubles as a decorative card, an Amortentia (Love Potion from the Harry Potter universe) brooch, and a homemade butter cookie.

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A nicer photo taken during the day (minus the cookie, because I was hungry).

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My favourite item of the lot – super adorable design!

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I’m one of those monsters that dog-ear my pages – but I guess I won’t have to do that now that I have this bookmark corner. The constellation pattern is nice too. BTW, Mybookbudz is a small local business that makes book sleeves and table sleeves. You can check them out and support the biz on Facebook.

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I’m not really one for posters, but the illustrations are cute. I also don’t recognise many of the characters because as I’ve said, I don’t read romance/drama often. The only ones I recognise here are Peeta Mallark/Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games, Ginny Weasley and Harry Potter, and Bella Swan and Edward Cullen from Twilight (latter I know from the movies, coz I didn’t read the books).

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The synopsis says it’s about a woman who inherits a house in the Smokies and goes to claim her inheritance, only to find that as part of the conditions, she has to share everything with a grouchy housekeeper. Haven’t had time to read this yet, but the summary reminds me of a Hong Kong movie from the 2000s called Summer Holiday.

Overall, I’m pretty happy with my Bookish Bundle subscription box – there are some items I like more than others, but they’re all nice in their own way, and it feels good to be supporting local businesses whilst getting something I can enjoy.

If you’re keen on getting your own subscription box, go to instagram.com/bookishbundle – they regularly post updates and when orders are open for the next boxes. Each box is priced at RM95 for West Malaysia, and RM100 for East Malaysia (inclusive of shipping).

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May 2021: Another Bath & Body Works Haul

Once in awhile, you come across a deal that’s just too good to pass up.

At least, that’s how I felt when I saw that luxury and lifestyle conglomerate Valiram was having a sale for brands under its wing, including Bath & Body Works. Last Christmas, I went overboard with my shopping so I still have a tub of body butter to finish, but I couldn’t resist getting more lotions – because you don’t get deals like these too often. “But aren’t you just spending money for things that you could have done without?” you ask. Perhaps, but since I AM going to use them, I don’t think they’re a total waste of money, so shush. 😛

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The order came pretty fast and was nicely packaged.

Video if you’re lazy to read. Have you subscribed yet? #shamelessplug
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Of course, buying things on sale means you won’t be getting the latest products or much variety, but I think that’s a fair trade – and if you haven’t tried something before, isn’t it essentially ‘new’? At their regular price, each bottle costs RM75, so 3 would have been around RM220+, but I got all of these for just RM56 (excluding shipping) – which means a 75% discount. Don’t you think that’s a steal?

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The Winter Candy Apple has been a Christmas staple since 2014. If you like fruity scents, this one will be right up your alley, with fragrance notes of red apple, winter rose petals and candied orange, formulated with shea butter and added vitamin E.

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My favourite among the bunch is the Lovely Dreamer, which has notes of fluffy musk, clean woods and fresh bergamot. The delectable concoction is whipped to luxurious perfection with coconut oil, shea butter and vitamin E.

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Last but not least, we have Forever Red. This is perfect for those romantic dinner dates (well, when we can go out again anyway), with top notes of fiery pomegranate, rare French peach and luminous apple, mid-notes of red peony, night marigold and red osmanthus, and dry notes of rich vanilla, velvety marshmallow and oak wood. If you’re envisioning a dessert of some kind, you’re not the only one. Dabbing some on before you sleep can help with relaxation; almost like aromatherapy.

With this, I am all set with my body care needs for the next 6 months!

Or at least until Christmas sale.

If you’re keen on grabbing some lotions, body shower gels or other pampering items, Valiram’s sale is still ongoing at valiram247.com. You can also shop for other luxury and lifestyle brands under their umbrella, including Michael Kors, Montblanc, Godiva, Victoria’s Secret, Tory Burch, Swarovski, and more.

Like this post? Please consider supporting my website by buying me a cup of coffee through Paypal. This will go towards hosting fees and ensuring that I can continue to deliver authentic content for your reading pleasure. You can also support me on Patreon. Thanks for stopping by!

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Review: Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 4G – Worth It?

Two months ago, I finally caved and bought a new phone. My old Samsung Galaxy A8 Star, which I bought in 2018, is still perfectly functional (albeit with reduced camera quality) – but since my mom was looking for a better phone and she didn’t want to buy a brand new one (she’s using a RM300+ XiaoMi that’s super laggy), I gave her my old phone.

I use my phone mainly to browse the internet, take photos and videos, and play simple games (nothing taxing like Genshin Impact or Ragnarok) – so right off the bat, I knew I wanted something with an above-average camera, but at a price that wouldn’t break the bank. My initial budget was around RM1,500; but most of the phones in this price range either didn’t offer the specs I wanted, or they were from brands that I have not tried before, like Oppo and OnePlus. I have been a Samsung user for the longest time – I used a Sony XPeria Z once, but it was a bad experience for me, so I was hesitant to try other brands. Unfortunately, none of the Samsung releases with the specs that I wanted were within my budget either. 😦

After a lot of deliberation, I upped my budget to get a semi-flagship phone: the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE (Fan Edition). It’s basically a toned down version of their flagship, marketed at an upper-middle price range. There are two versions available, namely the 4G and 5G variants, and there is a pretty substantial difference in price. I ended up getting the 4G, because 5G rollout is still slow in Malaysia (I can’t even get coverage in my own house, despite living in a highly urbanised area – thanks, Digi!).

Getting the phone was a challenge in itself. None of the outlets I went to had ready stock of the 4G version, and after trying several, I had to order online instead. It came fairly fast though, and setup was easy. At the time, the only available variant was the one running on the Exynos 990 LTE chip (which is what they use for phones in Europe), but Samsung Malaysia currently offers the Snapdragon 865 version too.

The phone cost me RM2,299 – the most I’ve ever spent on a phone. And guess what?

The phone is currently going for RM1,899.

Face. Palm.

Anyway, I’m not big on gadgets, and I’m not a professional reviewer – but I thought I’d share my experience with the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 4G so far. There are pros and cons, so it’s really a matter of what you think would best fit your needs, and whether some of the issues would affect your usage.

USABILITY

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My phone, in Cloud Orange

As mentioned, the series comes with two different types of chips; the Exynos 990 and the Snapdragon 865, with 6GB and 8GB RAM respectively. My G version is able to run most apps smoothly. However, I don’t think the Exynos is a good chip. The phone tends to overheat, especially in outdoor conditions (I was filming something once for five minutes and my camera shut down on its own because it was getting too hot), and sometimes, even when I’m just playing music in the (air-conditioned) car, it feels very warm to the touch. This is apparently a major issue with the Exynos, even for their latest flagship S21. Given how expensive these phones are, I think it’s unscrupulous of Samsung to not address the issue and still continue charging a premium.

BATTERY

When I first got my phone, the battery life was SO POOR I thought I got a defective model (it would drain like 1-2% PER MINUTE, and that was just with regular browsing). After looking up potential solutions online, including reducing the refresh rate to 60Hz, turning off always-on mode, putting all of my apps to deep sleep, and reducing the screen brightness to like 20%, it was still not improving by much – so I called up the service centre. They asked me to check the battery performance and concluded that it was caused by ‘usage of external third party apps’ rather than the phone itself, which was ridiculous to me because wtf would you buy a phone for if not to use third party apps? I mean, even Instagram is a third party app.. so I can’t browse social media on a phone that costs RM2,299?

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Box and back cover

I was panicking and thinking if I could get a refund, but thankfully, after a couple of days, the phone’s battery life seemed to stabilise (this apparently happens with new phones as they try to observe your usage patterns and maximise battery life for you) Light usage now yields me about 8 to 10 hours. Heavy usage, such as when playing games, will give me 3 hours at most. I still have it running at minimum – low brightness, deep sleeping apps, etc. to achieve this result. So, when compared to my old Samsung Galaxy A8 Star, which has excellent battery life and can last for days on idle, the S20 FE fares poorly. Again, this comes down to the Exynos chip, which has been criticised for poor performance and causing battery drain.

Another thing to note : the phone supports ‘fast charging’ at 25W, but it still takes an hour to charge from like 20% to full.

STORAGE SPACE

The 4G variant has a single SIM and 128GB of storage space, as compared to the 5G which offers up to 256GB. I think 128 is plenty for my needs.

CAMERA

The main thing I look for in a smartphone is a good camera, and this is where the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE shines. Boasting triple cameras at the back including a 12MP main camera, 12MP ultra-wide-angle lens and an 8MP telephoto camera with 3x optical zoom, it also has a 32MP punch-hole front camera. The photos and videos produced are crisp, with good detailing and colour, and the phone’s Full HD Super Amoled display helps to showcase the media you’ve snapped with perfect clarity. There are also many modes to choose from, such as Food, Panorama, Night (the night mode is pretty good too) and an interesting feature called Single Take, an AI-powered function that captures up to 10 photos per second while recording a 15-second video clip, then picks out the best moments and intelligently comes up with ways to present the captured content.

Sample 4K video captured using my Samsung Galaxy S20 FE
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Sample photo
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Sample photo

LOOK AND FEEL

The 5G version offers more colours to choose from, but the 4G options aren’t bad either. They all have this fun, ‘pop’ like colour scheme with hues such as Cloud Orange, Cloud Lavender and Cloud Red. The back of the phone is plastic, but it feels solid. It weighs around 190g, which is not too heavy. The phone also offers a good grip, unlike my old J7 Pro which I destroyed because it kept slipping from my grasp and hitting the floor lmao.

OTHER PERKS

As befitting of a semi-flagship, it has water and dust resistance. The stereo speakers are good, with the sound filling up the space – but the phone lacks a headphone jack, so you’ll have to use wireless buds if you’re looking for some privacy.

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Verdict

The Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 4G (Exynos 990) is an okay phone. There, I said it. I love the camera, it runs smoothly, and I like how it looks and feels. But the battery life and overheating issues are major turn-offs for me. Perhaps the Snapdragon version would fare better – users have said that they don’t encounter as many problems as with Exynos. And since Samsung Malaysia is having an online sale right now for the S20 FE 4G Snapdragon, this might be as good a time as any to make the purchase.

Like this post? Please consider supporting my website by buying me a cup of coffee through Paypal. This will go towards hosting fees and ensuring that I can continue to deliver authentic content for your reading pleasure. You can also support me on Patreon. Thanks for stopping by!

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Who Is David Hockney and Why Is His Latest Work Getting Dragged by Londoners?

Up until this week, I had never heard of David Hockney.

“Preposterous,” I hear you huffing. “How can you not know one of the most influential British artists of modern times?”

Well, pardon me for being an uncultured swine, but while I like and appreciate art, it’s not exactly necessary knowledge for me to pay my bills. So yeah.

But I digress.

To the uninitiated, David Hockney is an English painter, widely considered to be one of Britain’s most celebrated living artists. His early works often featured swimming pools in Los Angeles — where he lived in the 1960s — and they were his signature for a long time. In 2018, a 1972 artwork dubbed “Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures)” broke records at a Christie auction by selling for $90.3million (RM3.7bilion) — making it the highest price at auction for a work by a living artist.

To put it into perspective, the Selangor state government of Malaysia (where I’m staying) had a revenue of RM2.32billion in 2019. Which means that Hockney’s one piece surpasses the revenue that the richest state in Malaysia makes in an entire year. (**If you want to see how a $90.3 million painting looks like, click here.) In recent years, Hockney has transitioned to creating whimsical digital pieces using his iPad.

Over the years, there have been numerous debates on why Hockney’s works are so famous, and whether or not they’re worth the price they’re paid for. Now, I know that art is a very subjective thing — what you like may not be appealing to others. Personally, I do like some of Hockney’s works — they have a very Picasso/Matisse-esque quality to them. But I also know how the art world can be… biased in their way of valuing things (more on this later) — and there comes a point where as an ordinary person, you seriously question if some of these artists (and those in the art society) aren’t just… you know. Trolling the masses.

Recently, London’s mayor unveiled Hockney’s latest work at Piccadilly Circus as part of the #LetsDoLondon campaign, to revive domestic tourism and encourage Londoners to get out and support local businesses. It certainly got people buzzing — but not all of the noise was positive:

British people had a field day in the responses. (Swipe right for more)

While the majority took the mickey out of the painting, there were also those that thought it was a smart and provocative move. Yet others believed that people were making much ado about nothing.

Meanwhile, young artists have also joined the conversation, calling the entire campaign a ‘missed opportunity’ for the mayor’s office to not only help struggling artists and businesses, but also showcase London’s diversity. Some have shopped works of their own onto the space where Hockney’s works are currently being displayed. *Look up the hashtag #letsdolondonbetter — there are some seriously amazing artworks here!

While Hockney’s piece was apparently done for free, the mayor did spend £7million on the entire campaign — which no doubt included marketing and the engagement of an agency and what not to a) promote and b) put up the posters. Which, to many artists whose livelihoods have been affected by the pandemic, is a double slap to the face because Hockney has not lived in the UK for a long time (he’s based in the US). Perhaps the only possible good reason for choosing him over everyone else is the clout that Hockney has — so in a way I guess the work achieved its purpose to create conversations, because like I said: I didn’t know who Hockney was until recently.

This brings me to the next point which I mentioned earlier: how we value art today.

If you’ve ever watched the horror/thriller movie Velvet Buzzsaw starring Jake Gyllenhaal, it’s a brilliant satire of the art world today. In the film, Gyllenhaal plays a seemingly independent art critic, who gets pulled into the world of price fixing after his girlfriend — who works for a prominent art gallery owner — discovers cache of haunted paintings by a dead artist. They decided to display the paintings, to great success, but as greed and avarice take over, the trade off becomes deadly.

While the story’s plot is pretty outlandish, its portrayal of price fixing — and how critics, gallery owners, and buyers are basically complicit in ‘valuing’ how much an art piece is worth — is accurate imo. Take Mr Hockney’s latest piece for example, and this article. It is well written, full of praise like “a great piece of public art” and seemingly thought-provoking points like how public art usually adheres to ‘safe, sterile taste of private developers keen to bring artistic flair to artificially created public realms void of people or life’. And it makes you think, hey, maybe there IS more to this. They sound like valid points.

But I guess if you asked a child what they would see — without the pomp and flair and fancy words — they’d tell you like it is: it’s a doodle. One that they could probably make, given the right tools and materials. Eg: 5-year-old Rob makes a painting. Parent: “It shows how artistic he really is. Look at the composition. The brilliant pairing of colours. It’s sublime and it expresses the human condition.”

“Why’d you make this piece, Rob?”

5-year-old Rob: “I dunno. I just like it.”

Anyway, what this environment creates is a small, select group of ‘elite’ artists whose works are considered extremely valuable, and you have the rest of the artists — whose works by the way are no more or less than others — but are undervalued and taken advantage of. I personally know artist friends who struggle to make ends meet despite how talented they are, because there are clients who constantly want discounts, aren’t paying them fairly, and think that art isn’t ‘worth’ anything. These same clients would gladly pay thousands for a prestigious piece from an artist who somehow managed to market themselves better.

A sketch I made. Value: priceless.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, the art world as we know it today has lost its true meaning and purpose. When they say art can be anything, I didn’t think these people would literally take it to heart and spin in that way lol. There’s that artist Maurizio Catalan who duct taped a banana to a wall and someone paid $120,000 for it. There are also a series of paintings at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art that comprise of completely white pieces. According to SFMOMA’s website, the primary reason for the artist’s creation was to “create a painting that looked untouched by human hands”. The site later goes on to say that they have an important place in art history as precursors of Minimalism and Conceptualism.

Yeah… you keep telling yourself that, buddy.

Maybe I’m dumb. I’m not a professional artist or an art critic. But what I see are blank paintings, and a lot of ways to describe why they’re revolutionary, ground breaking, amazing. It reminds me of the story of the Emperor and his New Clothes, where everyone was too afraid to call out that the emperor was parading around naked; instead clapping and applauding because everyone around them was doing so. It took a child’s innocent eyes to call it for what it was.

What do you think about Hockney’s work, and art today in general? I’d love to hear if you agree or disagree with my views, especially if you’re an artist. Let me know in the comments below!