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Merry Christmas!

Christmas has always been my favourite time of the year. Although I don’t celebrate it religiously, I just like the cheer and excitement that comes with the season – the beautiful Christmas decorations, the splendid feasts and festive dishes, the gifts and the gatherings.

The pandemic has certainly put a damper on things, as many people are unable to celebrate the holiday season with their loved ones due to safety/health concerns, work, or travel restrictions. I had been looking forward to my first proper Christmas with N, but since he’s still stuck in the Philippines, we have no choice but to be patient and hope things get better soon. The important thing is that we’re both healthy and safe.

While I wasn’t able to celebrate Christmas with the husband, I still got a bit of low-key celebrating in with a couple of friends. So here’s what I’ve been up to!

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I met up with some ex-colleagues for Christmas brunch, and bought them some pampering items from The Body Shop as gifts.

My office used to have a tradition where we’d all go for a Christmas dinner – usually a buffet at a hotel – where we’d eat and exchange gifts. It’s true what they say about not knowing what you’ve got till it’s gone – I never realised how much I’ve come to enjoy them. It feels a little weird that the company started off with 11 people this year… and now I’m left all by my lonesome. 😦

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More gifts, but for a different group of friends.
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Also took the chance to grab some pampering masks: ChrisZen was having a sale – only RM1 per mask!
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Also, finally managed to clear out the office a couple of days before Christmas. My ex-colleague was supposed to help before he left, but he dropped the ball so I was left to do all of it alone lol.

The main problem was the boxes of electronics and files I had to ship to our main office in Singapore. There were two huge Apple monitors, and I couldn’t find boxes that were big enough to fit them (lesson learned: NEVER throw away your original box). Custom-made boxes are expensive, and it would take time to make them to the required specifications.

In the end, my ex-designer was a lifesaver – she came to the office with two of her friends who do prop-making on the side. They basically cut and put together smaller boxes to make a big one so that the monitors would fit. They also helped to dismantle the wooden cupboard and shelves we had in the office, so I didn’t need to get a lorry service to cart them away. Thanks guys!

I still had to throw a lot of stuff away; 10 boxes of keychains, luggage tags, old magazines, cardboard boxes and stuff. I’m not young anymore so it was torture lugging all the stuff to the big dumpster outside the mall, four floors below. A good workout but my back was killing me for days after lol.

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Rewarded myself for all that hard work @KFry, 1Utama
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Met up with a high school friend, G, who’s back from Ipoh for the holidays. She has three adorable cats. They’re triplets, so they have the same orange and white pattern.

Cats are like people and have unique personalities: which is the case with these three. The oldest, Big Bean, is friendly, playful and affectionate; she loves pets and rubbing on your legs. The middle child, Zhong Fen (Mandarin for ‘centre parting’ – because she has a pattern in the middle of her forehead) is quiet, haughty and antisocial: she shot me a distrustful look when I put out my hand for her to sniff, then promptly turned around and showed me her butt. She also dislikes being manhandled, and protested loudly when my friend’s son tried to hug her.

The youngest, Small Bean, is calm and cool, and likes to observe. The first thing she did after being let out from her cage was jump on top of the fridge, so that she’d have a good view of the surroundings.

I think G’s doing an excellent job with her cats, despite being a first-time owner. They’re all fat, fluffy and clean.

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Zhong Fen
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“Gib pets”: Big Bean
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Christmas Day was spent playing with my DIY candle kit, which I ordered from Lazada. Now, I’m not very good with arts and crafts (or anything that requires working with my hands lol). But the process was actually fairly simple, and I’m happy with the result. Will detail this in a separate post! 🙂

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And finally, I met up with another friend, H, for lunch. It was good to catch up and walk around the mall. Felt almost normal again. The mall was surprisingly empty (we went to Sunway Velocity) – a far cry from how Pavilion KL was over the weekend. The crowd there was crazy. I think people aren’t even worrying about the pandemic anymore. You can’t blame the government when they announce 2,000+ cases if you’re not even practicing social distancing.

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H said: “You’ll probably laugh when you unwrap my present”. Sure enough, I did. It was just really funny that she gift wrapped the Super Rings But it was this simple gift and gesture that, to use the old-fashioned idiom, warmed the cockles of my heart.

So that was my Christmas! I initially wanted to bring a little festive cheer to the house by suggesting we get each other gifts, but was promptly shot down by the Moo. Not giving up though… there’s always next year.

How did you celebrate Christmas? 🙂

Yohoho!

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Sukiyaki @ Sushi Zanmai, IOI Mall Puchong (Revisited)

A breather from updating about Taiwan! Got a call from C over the weekend while I was still recuperating from staying up late gaming:

C: Ey woman, can help me paint my house?

Me: What?

C: Paint my house.

Me: Okay sure.

I find it rather funny that other girls usually ask their girlfriends to go out shopping on a weekend. I wouldn’t have it any other way though. 😀

C came to pick me up and we had a quick breakfast at a food court nearby. Dish of the day: curry chee cheong fun, ie flat rice noodles swimming in a spicy broth and topped with various fried/boiled items such as fishball, meatball, pig’s skin and fried beancurd.

Got to the apartment, which she rents out. She was planning to rent it out to a new set of tenants so we had to clean up the mess left behind by the previous ones – dirty walls with handprints, double sided sticky tape, nails, etc. My ‘job’ was to help repaint the rooms with a nice fresh coat of white. Sounds easier than it looks, but it was a good workout! Took us a few hours, the prospective tenants came to have a look; then we sat around watching some Chinese DVD on the TV. By then it was already 6pm so we went to hunt for food.

Ended up going for Japanese at Sushi Zanmai in IOI Mall, Puchong. This is my second visit here, and like before, business seemed to be booming, with a queue of patrons waiting to be seated. We got seats fairly quick. C ordered garlic fried rice, which was fragrant but rather tasteless. Like many Malaysians, she peppered it with a mad amount of wasabi lol.

I was in the mood for some cold noodles; so went for the tempura soba. A popular summer dish, these buckwheat noodles are bouncy with an al-dente texture, usually served with a small bowl of soy sauce broth.

This is how you eat it: pour in the spring onion/shredded daikon into your soysauce-y broth, grab some noodles, dunk them in, and slurp them from the bowl. Apparently you are also supposed to slurp all of the strands in one go, and make a loud noise while you’re at it. It’s ‘polite’. 😀 Culture is a strange (and fascinating) thing.

Crispy tempura. The eggplant, long beans and shrimp were not too oily and had sealed its juices on the inside. 

For the finale, we had a Sukiyaki (hotpot) to share. The sweet broth was loaded with vegetables, mushrooms and tofu. We waited for it to boil before adding in the thin slices of beef.

Fresh egg is whipped and used for ‘dipping’. Some might find the idea of eating raw egg with cooked meat weird, but trust me, it’s awesome. The egg gives it a silky smooth texture, and also helps in ‘cooling’ down the piping hot meat.

The meat was just the right thickness to cook quickly, and was well marinated: flavourful, juicy and tender on its own. Possibly one of the better hotpots out there. Although, for someone used to free flow, the few pieces of beef weren’t enough 😛

SUSHI ZANMAI 

G18A, IOI Mall,
Batu 9 Jalan Puchong,
Bandar Puchong Jaya,
47170 Puchong, Selangor.

Business hours: 10am – 10pm (daily)

Previous blog post: Here

 

 

DIY Mini Dreamcatcher from Typo

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On a normal day, I wouldn’t buy anything from Typo (its a branded arts/crafts store) coz everything so bloody expensive, but Mabel and Jo got me a box of DIY Mini Dream Catchers as a birthday present recently, so thank you, guys! ❤ Had some free time over the weekend to assemble it…

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The box said there were ‘instructions’ on the inside.. yeah right. They were basically useless and told me nothing about how to make anything beyond looping and tying random pieces of string on the hoops. I ended up looking for tutorials on Youtube. A useful one here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vmtkc7FOWLw

Anyway, there were two mini plastic hoops, some twine and smooth string, lace, decorative blue/white/teal feathers, and matching beads. Quality of the lace was the best; the feather tips were flaky and the bead openings weren’t complete – still had to poke a hard object through them to get the string through.

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Tada! The web looked a little retarded coz the hoop was too small and I couldn’t follow the tutorial exactly, but hey, not bad for a first timer. Spent about four hours on it and felt a sense of accomplishment.

*While working on it, my mum comes into the room and was like ‘why spend so much time and money on making that? wouldn’t it be easier to buy it?’ lol, it’s not the same, mom..

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The left is a store bought one, vs mine. I’ve run out of places to hang my stuff btw.

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Also got this cute Totoro Powerbank from Carmen, Simon and Elyss, who treated me to a Korean BBQ meal.

A big thank you to everyone who has taken the time/effort to make my 26th birthday a special one. I appreciate every one of you. ❤

Cremelin Pattiserie, Bandung Indonesia – and Meeting up with Liv !

The last time I met up with my Indonesian friend Liv was on her trip to KL two years ago. So this time around, she got to play tour guide! 🙂

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Liv came to meet me at the hotel. She came on a bike, and I didn’t want to waste money on a cab, so I hopped onto the back seat. I was a bit worried since there was no extra helmet and the traffic’s crazy, but life’s short… you gotta live, right? haha.

Riding around Bandung at night was an interesting experience. There was a slight drizzle and the weather was cool enough to warrant a jacket. I saw first hand how expert the locals are at maneuvering the roads – she basically weaved and squeezed the bike through traffic, sometimes with only inches to spare.

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Her recommended cafe was a place called Cremelin Pattiserie. They just opened earlier this year. Aside from desserts and cakes, they also have Western dishes. The interior is cosy with lots of solid colours on white.

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Hot tea on a cold day always hits the spot!

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Liv’s dish, I forgot what it was.. but the fries were nice. The thin, crispy kind, lightly salted. The poached egg on her sandwich was simply beautiful.

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I had the Russian Tefteli Pork. Shaped into balls, the pork was deep fried to crunchy golden perfection whilst retaining its moistness on the inside. The scrambled eggs were fluffy and drenched in a light creamy sauce, while the salad was tossed in an appetising balsamic vinaigrette. They weren’t stingy with the portions either. Thumbs up.

It’s a shame I didn’t get to try more dishes and their cakes. Perhaps the next time I’m in Bandung. 🙂

Cremelin Pattiserie and Coffee

Jl. Abdul Rivai 3A Bandung 40171

Tues-Sun : 7.30am-10pm

Closed on Mondays

On another note, it was great catching up with Liv! The Internet is such an amazing thing; it has allowed me to forge friendships and relationships with great people around the world. Which is great, because I have a tour guide whenever I visit some place 😛

 

Yasmin’s Birthday

It was Yasmin’s birthday, and some of my ex-colleagues and I decided to ‘surprise’ her at her boyfriend’s house one Saturday evening (the bf was in the plan, of course). Another friend had successfully lured her out for the day while we went about the preparations.

The time came and it was raining like crazy, most of us got delayed because it was flooded everywhere in KL, the pizza came late, and basically everything to do with Murphy’s Law that could go wrong went wrong. When Yasmin finally came up to the apartment, she actually saw one of the guys standing from the kitchen window. He stooped down but it was too late, we weren’t prepared and I lighted up the candles in a record 2 seconds, and then when they came in we sang Happy Birthday lol.

Kind of a failed surprise, and then Yasmin decided to drop another bomb by telling us.. she already knew our plan two days ago! What??!!

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Turns out she accidentally saw our Whatsapp group on her bf’s phone (which we named Yasmin’s Birthday Plan), haha! Although the surprise was spoiled, it was all good coz we still had loads of fun. 🙂

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Red velvet cake with cream cheese and macarons, Pizza from Domino’s and a buttload of snacks which we munched on while catching up, goofing around and watching TV as the storm raged outside.

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Ex-colleagues from the newspaper! Since I left last year, we haven’t had a gathering like this really. It was nice catching up with those I was close to, and getting to know those I wasn’t so close to like Nelly and Feisol. I haven’t laughed as hard as I have in such a long time, especially when we were playing with the Boomerang app and Snapchat.

A video posted by erisgoesto (@erisgoesto) on May 7, 2016 at 11:45pm PDT

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Spicy Stir-Fried Chicken @ Mr Dakgalbi, Setiawalk Puchong

It was El’s birthday and she wanted to have Korean food, so we went to Mr Dakgalbi at Setiawalk, Puchong. It’s my third visit here, and the quality of the food has been consistent.  Service needs improvement though. I wanted to add on octopus to our fried rice and ramen set, but the server recommended the Dakgalbi (RM64!) because it ‘goes better with octopus’.. or so he said. But since it was too expensive (but I still wanted octopus), I told him it was fine and asked if the kitchen could cook the octopus separately for us.

He rolled his eyes at me. 

Excuse me? The last time I checked, customers had the right to order whatever they want as long as it’s reasonable and it’s offered on the menu. It was not like I was ordering chocolate to be poured over my ramen. Anyway, putting that waiter-on-a-period episode behind…

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Food was still good. Chicken marinated in spicy miso being cooked on the hotplate with loads of spring onions..

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Fried rice with extra cheese and ramyeon. I love how the ramyeon was bouncy and had an al-dente bite to it. The chicken in the rice was really good – flavourful and tender. If you’re like me, you’ll love the crusty rice bits at the bottom.

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The octopus that the server got annoyed over. A little too chewy for the girls, but just how I like it.

Would you try raw octopus in Korea?

MR DAKGALBI 

C-10-G, Ground Floor, Setiawalk, Jalan Persiaran Wawasan, Pusat Bandar Puchong, 47160 Puchong, Selangor

Opening hours: 11AM – 10PM (daily)

**I had a long, tiring day coz I woke up at 5.30am for a Genting assignment where I had to bounce around on inflatable obstacle courses (all while lugging a DSLR over my neck), but it was nice chilling with the girls. 

Skyranch Theme Park, Tagaytay Philippines

On my second day in Tagaytay, I met up with a good friend of mine, Bonny, for the first time 🙂 It was nice to finally see after years of talking online. I knew her from a great chat site called Stickam (which shut down more than two years ago). Unlike many other sites like Tinychat and Chat Roulette, the community in Stickam was awesome. I still keep in touch with many of them and in some, I’ve found friends for life. Ah, good times.

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After a quick McDs lunch, we took a Jeepney to Skyranch.

This 5-hectare, family-friendly theme park is one of the must visit places while in Tagaytay. Entry is 80PHP on a weekday, and 100PHP for weekends. Rides have to be purchased separately.

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There was a paddock where visitors can ride on ponies. LOL at the fart part of the sign.

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The park is fairly new and well maintained. Rides are more family-friendly than adrenaline pumping; nothing too crazy but fun. There were also many carnival-style stalls where you can win gigantic stuffed teddies. Perfect place to take your significant other on a date.

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Since we had a limited budget, we only went on a few rides. One of them was the Sky Eye, a gigantic Ferris Wheel with 32 air-conditioned gondolas. Each ticket costs PHP150 per ticket, but the views were worth it as you can see the whole of Taal Lake/Volcano. Getting to the top was scary because the wind was so strong that our gondola kept swaying. D:

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We also went on the Super Viking (PHP100), a pirate-ship ride that can swing up to 90 degrees. This got the blood pumping but not in an ‘omg I’m dying of a heart attack’ way. Despite this, E almost broke my arm with his grip (lol are you getting too old for this? :P)

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Visitors taking selfies with the Sky Ranch sign.

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Beautiful view of Taal Lake/Volcano. I think the views are even better here than at Picnic Grove!

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It was a fun-filled day hanging out with B, but as all good things come to an end, it was time to say goodbye. I hope that she’ll be able to visit me in KL sometime soon 🙂

And then it was time for the dreaded three hour ride back to Manila..

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Sunset on the highway.

Our short escape to Tagaytay was a great one, and I thoroughly enjoyed the beautiful scenery/nature and the clean, fresh air. Definitely a place to visit to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life.

SKY RANCH TAGAYTAY 

Tagaytay – Nasugbu Hwy, Tagaytay, Cavite, Philippines
Phone: +63 921 323 3389

Opening hours: (Mon – Fri) 10am-10pm, (weekends/public holidays) 8am – 10pm

More info: Skyranch website