Life Changing 2013

Happy New Year 2014!

Last year 2013, I didn’t have time to recap the moments of the entire year. I was so caught up with events in December that I kinda forgot all about blogging.

In short, 2013 was one of the greatest years in my life (well, I said that every end of the year, don’t I?). Hmmpph. But really, 2013 was not only great but was life-changing. I have gotten my long awaited double promotion, and long-awaited chance to be married. Sounds desperate, but I am not desperate. I do work hard for it. Stuffs sometimes just happen and it goes in your favour. God’s will.

Highlights:

1. I was being proposed to by one of the most amazing guy on earth (ok lah, exaggerate a bit here), but I love him; my family and relatives adores him; we share the same passion. etc. And with that, came a diamond ring. If you know me well, naturally I don’t really care how many carats it was, but the 2-weeks secret proposal effort did make me cry, and that was all that matters. Read it all here.

2. Malaysia General Election clogged up almost all conversations in the office, coffeeshops, homes, etc. during first quarter of the year. Read my thoughts and experiences in one of the most dramatic and ‘dirtiest’ GE of all times.

3. My birthday was also my ROM. There was I, signing my name off. Sounds morbid but it was actually my mum and dad’s dream to see me married off, as many would have said: Ivy might never get married cause her character is….(insert masculine adjective(s) here)…. Of course, the myth was debunked.

4. We signed up for a wedding photography package and made Cameron Highlands our outdoor location shoot. Thanks to Jacky from Bridal Collection and some luck with the cooling weather and sunset, we’ve got ourselves some breathtaking photographs. At the same time, we really had lots of fun doing the whole shoot, and it was sooo cooling. No sweat, literally! Read the experiences and my current take of weddings here.

5. Fong has gotten a new double-storey link house for us to begin our lives together, and so we worked hard, day and night to personalized our pad. With much money thrown in, I think we are both happy to get ourselves a place in Klang Valley, where many young people could only dream of – a landed property. A lot of sweat poured in into doing our own painting, fixing of own cabinets, knobs, hinges, with no help of an ID. From there, I found that Fong does make full use of his PE in civil engineering – such a great handyman and has much knowledge in renovation, he could be a salaried Renovator himself. Plus, I remembered going IKEA 5 times in one month.

6. Just like every year …*ZzzzZzZzZ*….I had to prepare for my naik-pangkat assessment. This year, I did it! Promotion! Smiling from cheek-to-cheek when my payslip arrived just the other month.

7. I went to Beijing twice for meetings and another for a business attachment. Me being me, I make sure I explore the city like a tourist, but on the other hand, going to many roads less traveled. I try to absorb in as much as I could about the country, while maintaining my own cultural integrity, also making every trip a time for self-discovery and a learning process. From there, I never had the same thought about China ever again. Funny, but I love China, and my colleagues were jokingly asking me to ‘balik China’ again as I was bragging about my VIP treatments in Beijing, oh well….so much better compared to my treatment as a chinese in my own country.

Photos of my 1.5 months business attachment will soon be posted on my PICASA. Here are some sneak peeks:

8.  My appraisal/performance this year scored me another promotion and consequently, a long-awaited salary upgrade that brings to my face, a larger smile. That makes it a double-promotion this year alone! I worked my ass out this year (harder!) and finally, finally…phew…got noticed.

9. Achieved the best full marathon time ever with at 5hrs 24 mins in the SCKLM. And I could proudly say that I ran this race alone. I gave myself a pat in the back before retiring from races for the rest of this year ’til my wedding in March 2014.

10. I have gotten myself a beautiful sister-in-law (Ipoh girl mahh), as my elder brother tiba-tiba preceded me in getting married. I said “tiba-tiba” because it was Fong and I who announced our marriage first, but their wedding was done earlier than ours. I am so happy for them both and wish them both the best as husband and wife. At the same time, our family moved into our new bungalow in Tambun. My parents were so proud this year alone; it shows in their faces every time I go back to Ipoh.

I pray that this year 2014 would be another memorable one for me. This will be the year of my wedding, and I have great hopes for my career to be a Certified Chemist (just in case you didn’t know, I am a biologist working my ass off as a chemist). This is also the year where our government will be imposing the GST and has had many items increase in prices including electricity, water (ice!), food, toll, etc….in response to the bad results they obtain in GE(?). Some sort of revenge, eh?  Meh, I am not surprised that our federal government is retaliating. Hah! Happy BN (Barang Naik) year of 2014.

God bless and lots of hugs to my loyal readers.

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Beijing – Sept 2013

Who would’ve thought that I would be going to China. I mean, think about it: China was never part of my bucket list and would never thought to have a change of going there in 100 years, due to the following reasons:

1. I am super-bad in Mandarin and super-bad is an understatement (at least, I take praise that my Cantonese has improved tremendously).

2. I studied all my life in a Sekolah Kebangsaan and speak English at home, therefore has no inkling of China history and nothing from China or that part of Asia has ever interests me (only a peek of its history through ‘over-dramatized’ TVB drama/movies, and that’s Hong Kong, btw). I am highly influenced by Western culture, and

3. The horror stories of the unfriendliness of the people, toilet hygiene, and also elements of ‘fakeness’ everywhere.

Let me reiterate that if you don’t experience the country/city yourself by stepping foot there, don’t go having a bad impressions of the country from here-say. Any country/city has its pros and cons but somehow, Beijing..really impresses me a lot for a first timer in China. That’s why, perhaps, being well-traveled is important.

I told my boss I’ll opt out of the project in the US because of my looming wedding and they already dedicate another staff to be there. I was one of the staff going together with my 4 big bosses to Beijing….just because I looked Chinese! Errr….and my boss actually thought I could speak Mandarin. Hehehe…Boss kena tipu: don’t know that I am a banana! Never judge me by its cover. LOL!

The city:

City of Beijing on a weekday

City of Beijing is very modern, but here and there you’ll see a mix of old chinese gothic roofed-buildings. I was first impressed with the type of cars driven here – predominantly Volkswagen, Merz and Nissan Teana. No Kancil-small cars. I may have a early impression being in Singapore, minus the traffic jam. The traffic is bad relatively but at a similar capacity with KL. I heard it could be worse. To me, town planning in Klang Valley is lousy compared to Beijing though the latter has existed for thousands of years. There were bicycles, but it’s getting rarer according to the hoteliers there. I am amazed by Beijing’s cleanliness in general, and I was lucky there wasn’t smog problems when I was there. The subways are hyper-packed with human on rush hour (well, which country isn’t on rush hour?), but the subway is really well-connected throughout the city. I’d rather walk (if you know me, I would have ran) the whole Beijing than take public transport, but I am here for business, not leisure.

From my window

Kerry Hotel, Beijing:

I cannot be happier to describe the 5-star hotel we are staying in Beijing. Amazingly, amazingly amazingly unexpectedly AMAZING! Of course you’ll get amazing because I paid RM1200.00 per night for non-resort hotel. Boss say nvm, claim back mar :-P. Imagine, my CEO told me that there are much nicer hotels than Kerry but they particularly like the facilities here. Whadaya mean “BETTER HOTELS OUT THERE?!?!?!!” I mean, what could be better than Kerry Hotel, ah? I feel so suaku!

Kerry Hotel, Shangri La, Beijing

 From the outside, it’s like a normal building, but voila…inside the hotel is a different story. I don’t know where to start to describe it’s amazing interior and services:

Kerry Hotel is owned by Kerry Holdings, Shangri La brand….by our own Robert Kuok! Ahem, he sponsored my whole Ph.D degreeThank you, thank you. There are many Shangri-Las around, and Kerry Hotel is one of them. Service at Premier Lounge is top notch with free food and (alcoholic) drinks anytime of the day. We spend a lot of time there for breakfast, lunch and hi-tea. Swimming pool is set indoor, next to the gym and is Olympic size…with heater weiii! The gym is very huge with full equipment range and is opened 24 hours. Dressing room is also 24 hours with amazing dressing tables, sauna and jacuzzi – all 24 hours.

Best indoor swimming pool ever. 2 pools some more.
Dressing table
24 hours extensive gym.

Bed is King size and super soft with a choice of any type of pillow. Then, there’s the bathroom and toilet, ahhh….where do I begin? Fully automated toilet bowl and drys your ass some more at various drying capacities, pressure and position. Too much details, opps. I main tekan-tekan a remote control, a TV-screen pops up on my freakin’ mirror. EVERYTHING in the room is Loccitane. Kiasu as I admit I am, I grabbed back a whole lot of stuff from the bathroom into my luggage. Hello, I paid RM1200 for this place? (Protruding kiasu-ness).

Ini baru standard room….Wonder what the suite looks like?
Pressure. I went the max and something you don’t wanna try.

There’s a coffee maker for 3 different type of espresso beans. Everything in the refrigerator is free, including the alcoholic drinks. Then there’s fruits servings everyday: one of the fruits include the HUGE FRESH winter dates (mind you, not dried) that tasted like pears. Mooncake in Beijing is different skin from mooncakes from Malaysia too.

Coffee maker and a variety of espresso
Fresh winter dates and mooncake. Mooncake festival was just around the corner

The Business Lounge in hotel is like butler service, and once again jakun like me tried to absorbed all in. Free flow of alcoholic beverages. We’ve got like food prepare by a Malaysian chef just for us, as they know we needed to double check on the handling of meals (no pork). Coffee is like ‘EVERYDAY’. The hotel lent me an iPad for my use in Beijing. Woh…I cannot believe that either.

Trips elsewhere in Beijing

First time in Beijing, my colleague and I together wants to see the famous Forbidden City. But for some reason, it was ‘forbidden’ for visitors to enter that day. I mean, it hasn’t been closed for thousands of years, and when Ivy Chai arrives in Beijing, they were closed for business. WHAT ARE THE FREAKIN’ CHANCES?!!!!? I was so angry, I hated Beijing for a while. But let me tell you, the vicinity of the exterior walls (including Tiananmen) was itself an amazing sight. You don’t need to go inside the walls to know how amazing the Chinese Civilization was and is. It was immense: Willow trees, rivers of green, cool breeze, amazing architecture, the beautiful parks made me imagined the extend of its interior even more. What an eye-opener. But I must blame my freakin’ luck that the Forbidden city was forbidden to me. I will be back.

Shit! When I am here, you close door!

Tiananmen
River surrounding the exterior of the palace
I heart willow trees. The parks here are so serene, though in the city

Having not much time, we went around Beijing area by foot, but Beijing is quite a maze. We got lost. I was pretty confident about my new-found language skills until I ask about the subway in Mandarin to a young Chinese couple, but who stared at me in absurdity and to the disgrace of my chinesey slang. They replied in English. Phew!

 The Banquet:

There was this vintage old antique restaurant (blazing amazing from the external) where lunch started with an assortment of nuts, tea-time. Main course lobster, stewed lamb, la-mien, etc. It was not some regular luncheon. It was a banquet!! What can I say…I had the time of my life in Beijing. We took time off to do some shopping, but which I bought nothing. The weather in September was just right – not too cold, not too warm.

Accomplished:

1. Spoke complete sentences in Mandarin, and even gave a short speech in Mandarin (a yum seng toast) in one of the best dining experience in my life. No, I wasn’t drunk.

2. Drank good coffee everyday when I thought China is good only for its tea.

3. Ate yummy and super-cheap siew-long-pao. RM4 for 3 pieces. Comet to think of it, Din Tai Fung ones suck!

Did not accomplish (and will be back with a vengeance):

1. Peking duck. Duck was a big no-no to my colleagues, and I doubt I can finish a whole roast duck myself. And they don’t sell by plate.

2. Imperial palace/Gu Gong – the Forbidden City was closed for an event when I was there. I blame it on my luck. I am going again soon, and they may closed it again due to a terrorist attack at Tiananmen recently.

HAVE TO SAY: I ENJOYED & HEART BEIJING!

At the Gold Club Lounge at Beijing Airport…heading back to KL.

Next post: TIANJIN – luxurious food (I am getting bored of luxury :-P), yum seng, badminton Malaysia vs. China, and lots of oil. All next!

Yee ha!

Maybe some close friends has already know this – that I will be attached to Houston, TX for a few months, which may be both a good and a bad thing. The good thing is: I am going to the USA! It’s USA, y’all!! Yee haa!! *cowgirl style*. I have always wanted to go US ever since my whole family  were there for my brother’s graduation, except the pity me. So, this is it (FOC some more, except the shopping bags). But on the other hand, I don’t know what will become of my ROM/wedding, etc. I might have to delay my wedding if I can’t plan on time. Wedding is all about planning, and communication which at this point of time, is pretty much = zero.

Another splendid thing about me going to the US, is that…ahem….I am giving my fiance the time he needs to renovate our new beautiful house. By me going away, probably I don’t have to mess with him on what’s best for the house. I’ve been with him long enough to know that I am such a butthead on the new pad, his annoyance shows in his demeanour. 😛 Hehehehe…macam clash of the titans gitu. But I trust he knows best, well, except probably the wardrobe. Decorating the bedroom and wardrobe always requires some woman’s touch/feel (which some times guys, as guys, just can’t seem to get it).

BTW, my family in Ipoh are all moving out to a bigger place near Tambun. I am expecting two new houses in a year! *Blessed*

Yee ha! New Ipoh house.

I have been advice by friends/relatives close and far regarding how we need to ‘be ready’ for a wedding, like… book this, book that, do this, do that, don’t do this, wear this, don’t wear that, get this make-up, guest list, etc. Hmmphh. At this point of time, there’s no date, I’ve not surveyed a single bridal gallery, haven’t talked to the Pastor. I have no dream wedding in mind since I was a kid (cause that’s just me). But I do have Pinterest and wedding ideas from there are infinite, kan?! I think nothing beats Pinterest as a good start to bridal wants and nots, whilst putting my smartphone to some other good use besides Candy Crush and Facebook. I still can’t see myself in the dress I am to wear on my wedding day, but one thing I do know is the theme will be pink, which is undeniably, my favourite colour.

All I can think of now what kinda stuffs I wanna buy and bring back from the US *rub hands**evil smirk*. Actually, I’ve no inkling how it’s gonna be at Houston but as usual, Wikipedia (and Pinterest) would be a good start. However, even before Wiki, I knew Houston has NASA, ample museums, Houston Rockets (Jeremy Lin’s back! But when I go there the NBA season may be over), summer heat and humidity like Malaysia (not too good a feature), but lots of sweet succulent ribs and steak! I have to remind myself many times that I am there to korek minyak, not to shop. 😛 So say Houston is a mecca for shopping, but then again, which US city is not?

So, let’s get started: A shopping list, a US visa (urrggh!) and a lots of credit and cash.

Rice University is located at in the middle of Houston. I feel so spoilt already.
Houston is the oil and gas hub of the world. Wait, issit..?

My many firsts

There are many firsts in Sarawak:

1. First time travelling all alone just for work.
Usually I am with my entourage of make up artist ….and….creative designer……Okay, Okay, usually whilst work-travelling, I am with at least a colleague who would give me much comfort in a foreign land. But this time it’s entirely different. Pretty much given the freedom to independently run my ‘show’.

Just to let everyone know (and am proud of it), my room+apartment suit in Miri is bigger than my own Puchong apartment!!! SUPER huge! What a waste staying alone. Next trip, I will be bringing my own “entourage”. Mum??

2. First time supervising a huge project on my own.

All I had to do was to courage-up and do what MAN does at sea. When I said MAN, it’s a 99.9% MAN’s world out there. I am probably the only lady on board every day, and man after man comes by to tease you. It’s a pleasant kinda tease” saying how small or cute I am in big construction boots, if I need a place to rest, they offer me theirs; many offered to bring my bags, etc…When you’re in a man’s world, a lady is the luckiest babe in the world!

I am the Queen of the World!

But not quite a queen yet…

…because the job is not easy and it’s literally dirty. Of course I get to ‘cheat’ a little in my job and ‘bluff’ tired, and MAN will come help me. But naturally, I did everything I was supposed to do myself, all by myself. I need to learn too how to do things hands on and do not like to be identified as a pure laboratory geek. But no doubt it’s a harsh, harsh, harsh environment out there and I ain’t kidding. The job requires both brains and brawn. More of the latter:

i. It’s hot and sunny and humid out at sea.
ii. I am in coveralls, which makes me sweat like a pig.
iii. The sea may not be as calm as you think. Sometimes, the boat rocks really hard and you go nausea. Thank God I have some boat diving experiences, in which my body is quite accustomed to.
iv. The job is about oil crude that comes splashing out from some well-head. Soooo oilly!! My face, my hands, my neck…sooo oilllyyyyy!!! I spot new pimples on my face daily.
v. And you always ask: “What smell is that?”
vi. “You mean I just pee/poop through this HOLE and you can see my sh*t and poop falling into the sea?! ‘Nice'” I’d rather kap-see some times.

My gloves: It’s oil oil oil oil everywhere! Yucksy!
I am barred from showing this pic, but can’t help it: While we were bored….we picked up a new hobby. Fishing.

3. First time going offshore platforms…and what more, 2 weeks!
I am a lady who works in a laboratory all the time and heard of the ‘wonders’ of how oil is being drilled and produced offshore, but I was petrified when I got here. It’s harsh. One of the harshest conditions I’ve ever been (besides Bangkok’s Chatuchak market :P). Nevertheless, the view is picture perfect and I’ve got this few shots with my new Canon. Of course, the next time I wanna go with a helicopter. It should be way better and faster than a boat.

Going offshore takes a toll on your body. The environment is harsh, plus the daily boat trips that you make (waking up at 4.30am and only get home by 9:00pm) gets you so tired, you just wanna sleep the night off. If this is someone’s life, I do not want to be that ‘someone’. It’s not even life. I’m going to use this as a one (or two) off experience.

I am so going to take the helicopter next time. It’s faster, but is it safer?

Brilliant platform lights at night – I was like “WOooooooaaaahhhhh” (again!)

4. First time tasting the recommended Kolo Mee.
Nothing to shout about; nothing special. Plain whitish noodle with soya sauce. So, that’s all for my food review. The End.

5. And of course, First time setting foot in the massive state of Sarawak.
Let’s just say I’ve been to EVERY state in the whole of Malaysia (yes, even Perlis when I was working for BERNAS to check on some paddy fields and neighbour Brunei for a short stay), but never before til now that I’ve stepped foot in the vast state of Sarawak. I thought I may visit Kuching for my first trip to Sarawak, but turned out to be Miri instead. Gladly, many claimed Miri is more ‘happening’ as it has more entertainment value (hush hush: karaoke, china-dolls, pubs, disco, seafood, etc.) in comparison to Kuching.

The Pulau Melayu Wharf. Miri’s fishing village with thriving boat business

If you want to make a comparison, I should say Miri is like Kuantan. But unlike our Pahang sister, Miri started off from nothing to a rich, buzzling city because of…yup, you’ve guessed it: oil. The Grand Old Lady was the where the first oil was produced onshore, and though it’s no longer producing, and being made a museum, the city and population is still sustained by the industry. Hotels are mostly made up of oil&gas staff working here, while the outskirts have fishermen, boat-makers, boats for rent, etc…Tourism is a thriving industry here. As I’ve mentioned before, the vast “entertainment value” and freedom it offers attracts people from nearby Brunei and other quieter cities (e.g. Bintulu) especially in the weekends.

I will be back to Miri for sure to follow up on the project. Then it will be a different blogpost the next round as it will include more reviews of Sarawak food which would interest more readers, I guess. Nearby Niah Caves and Taman Negara shall be my next destination too if I were to return, which sadly did not fit into my tight itinerary during this trip.

Ivy-out!

>Octopussy

>Exactly at October 19, 2010 is my 1st Anniversary in Petronas!

I am loving every single minute with my team since Day 1. The work fits my personality and their technical demands is in line with what I had done during my Ph.D. There are definitely stressful times (like now!), where your brains are worked up 24-7 and you thought you just had a power nap in the office which turned up to be an hour’s sleep at work! Opps! Since 1st anniversary is always known as ‘Paper’ anniversary = I have to say that I am given papers and tonnes of reports to do (Quarterly report, Annual Report, Monthly Report, you name it). Konon I am good in English here and I’ve been writing scientific reports during my Ph.D. years (but errr, wait til they read my pasar English in this blog). And errr…I am actually supposed to simplify all scientific reports here to layman’s report. So, kononlah I am good in scientific report which doesn’t fit the requirement anyway! Wuahahaha.
My department ppl are such foodie ppl, that I get FOC food all the time – Nasi Arab, Nasi Lemak, Nasi whatever, Bakso, Roti Jala, Sphagetti, etc.. Obviously no one here lets me cook – tak halal marr. Which makes me the luckiest person here! I am already known to just bring my stomach. Okay, okay, I did bring a watermelon or an apple or two. Only when being coerced.



Hari Raya company open house. HUGE HUGE HUGE buffet. YUmmmms



Makaning on the floor 🙂
I am known as the coffee addict at office. Who doesn’t know that, eh? My colleague made me stop drinking coffee cause she saw me I drink at least two cups while in office – and if there’s a meeting, make that three. Balik rumah, drink again…

My team had a team photo recently. My superior said this would be a photo full of great memories; might be our last (we all know why *wink*). Don’t we all look like we came out from some penitentiary or what!??!!

BTW, half of my working life is actually in this huge ‘prison cell’ a.k.a greenhouse that requires hard labour. No matter how tough it is, I kinda enjoy every minute of it, esp. when you can start to reap what you sow, literally.
‘prison cell’ with plants.
soo amazing. plants growing soo well. All my hard labour.

October was also my luckiest month cause I get to see Adam Lambert live in KL! VIP seats some more. *muaks FP* His Falsetto is totally True. Better than what u imagined on TV’s American Idol. Flawless. Such a handsome guy, but he needs a bit of gym work out. Spot his flabby arms while he danced gayfully 😛 I am still dreaming of the chances of being with him.

Next: My Halloween Party at my apartment 30 Oct 2010 7.30 pm. Wait for my personal invite. I will personally PM y’all.
Theme: Halloween, of course (hint: bedak sejuk).

>The January Bag’s Full

>Before even January had set in, I knew this month will not spare me even a breath. The new year began with a red-carpet of high priority tasks at work and at home (play!). I anticipated all the busy-ness and the frenzy, but the stress level hit me like a bolt of lightning.

*sweat**sweat**stress* If January can be this ‘crazy’, I can certainly tell how amusing the rest of the year would turn out to be.

Not that I hate being busy. If you know me, I love being busy. I get excited. The adrenaline. As a dumb person, yes, I say “YES” to everything. I still go for events, make it for parties after parties, makan lunch with my foodie colleagues, teach swimming, diving, and have yet to cancel any yum cha appointments.

Albeit the tensiometer ringing high, when I accomplished many, I smile many too. Then ppl asked me how I find time to do soo many things and agree to almost everything, cause I just say: YES to almost everything…..almost…except Sleep.
**Sleep hates me and I hate Mr. Sleep. We are the worst of friends. Today is replacement holiday for Thaipusam, so it’s also a day of replacement of all my missed-sleep.
In my January Bag:
1. YP and Bun’s said YES at Chin Woo Assoc., Ipoh:

2. The next day, Mindy and Mathew Dass’ both said YES. The sweet, purple-theme, amazingly geogeous wedding reception @ Gunung Lang, Ipoh:

3. Great time at Richard’s NY’s party @ his pad at Seksyen 14 (sorry, no pics) 😦

4. Visited 3 amazingly beautiful caves and becoming emcee @ company’s Environment trip to Felda Ladang Tekam, Pahang

5. Taking SSI Diving license at Pulau Payar, Langkawi from Cikgu Mansor:

6. And last but not least for busy JANUARY is: my new short fringe and straightened hair:

That’s all for January 2010! Thaipusam tomorrow. Which could only mean: CNY Shopping til drop…

…but that’s, of course, reserved for February