Deepavali holiday back in Malaysia.


Happy Deepavali to all my Indian friends and to the others who are celebrating this wonderful festival! May this Festival of Lights be a festival of joy, peace and prosperity!

This year’s Deepavali falls on a Tuesday (tomorrow) and many people including me are taking leave today (Monday). That means we got to enjoy a four-days long break after counting in the past weekend. I was definitely not missing out this opportunity to return to KL for a long holiday, desired entertainment, deserving rest and to reunite with my family.

Surprisingly, the bus trip back to KL from Singapore on last Friday’s evening was not as bad as I expected. There were massive congestion of cars but my trip was not affected as we are on the bus lane that was less crowded. I was still to reach home at around 3 to 4am as usual (I was reminded back then when I only got to arrive at home by 6am when I cam back to KL during the Raya holiday).

This long break allows me to have a good bonding time with my family. I also got to play rummy game with my family on last Saturday’s evening after dinner (didn’t play it for quite a long time already). Then, we spent the whole Sunday at Genting Highlands. Although most of us lost some money up there (me included, but I’m glad I only lost a bit), but we were still enjoying the trip with some awesome time especially when riding the Awana Skyway cable car from the Premium Outlet to the mountain resort at the top (my second ride). It’s really hard to win money from Genting (if not, Genting won’t be as grand, big and wealthy as it is today).

This time around, most parts of the new indoor mall called Sky Avenue at Genting Highlands have opened up to the public including cool outdoor dining area, cinema, etc. However, the indoor theme park inside the mall isn’t opened yet (it will open most probably on January 2019). The very much delayed outdoor theme park (20th Century Fox World) is still under-construction but all the shapes and main structures were built already. After years of delay, I’m expecting it to finally open end of next year. By the way, it looks very small and compact. The new Sky Avenue mall has taken up a huge chunk of the land, hence reducing the area of the outdoor theme park unfortunately.

(Image source: http://www.themeparx.com/20th-century-fox-world-malaysia)

Time flies. I’m returning to Singapore tomorrow’s afternoon and my ordinary working life resumes after that. Anyway, I’m still cherishing the break I have back at home. The next long holiday that I have got to enjoy would be the Christmas break end of this year.

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Happy Halloween! What’s the coolest Halloween gift you ever receive?


 

This famous painting of the nun from the ‘Conjuring’ film series would be the perfect Halloween gift for your friends! Give it as a surprise Halloween present for your playful friends! Haha. By the way, the painting seriously looks damn creepy. It would be terrifying if you really have this painting in your bedroom, right on the wall across from your bed. And when you turn off the light, the painting is slightly illuminated to reveal yet another sight of horror. I believe no one will dare to hang that up.

The movie ‘The Nun’ which was just released last month has been doing very well at the box office (it has grossed over US$360 million so far  and is already the highest grossing film in the ‘Conjuring’ film series). It does not perform well to the critics though; earning less than 30% at Rotten Tomatoes. Have you watched the movie? It is a must watch if you are a fan of the ‘Conjuring’ film series. James Wan, a Malaysian born Australian film director is the man behind this. A very talented man (he designed this nun’s appearance as well as the creepy Annabelle doll too).

Anyway, Happy Halloween! Until these days, I’m still confused and curious on why do the Western people (or Christians) ‘happily celebrate’ and ‘enjoy with fun’ a festival that remembers the dead and puts ghosts and scary stuff to the spotlight. It is a norm for them to play trick-or-treat, pranks or other games, watch horror movies, attend costume parties, share horror stories, visit haunted attractions, and just enjoy the fun. Try imagine us, the Chinese celebrating Qing Ming Festival or Hungry Ghost Month Festival with games and laughter like Halloween. We would be grilled by the elders due to being very disrespectful. That’s such a different (totally opposite) practice by different culture. We said ‘Happy Halloween!’, but we will never say ‘Happy Qing Ming!’.

Halloween comes and it means this long month of October is finally coming to an end. I’m looking forward to the next two months (last two months of the year) where many holiday is coming such as Deepavali (next week!), Christmas and New Year celebration.

(Images in this post are from various online sources)

Mid-Autumn Festival isn’t complete without mooncakes!


Happy Mid-Autumn Festival! Since there isn’t any four seasons here in Southeast Asia, we usually called the festival as Mooncake Festival. Well, the festival isn’t complete without the mooncakes. I love to eat them, especially the original flavor (lotus paste with yolk). However for this year, I didn’t get to eat snow skin or jelly mooncake which are my other favorites besides the original flavor. They are pretty expensive and taste very sweet nowadays; well, it’s alright since we only got to eat them once a year.

In case you didn’t know or didn’t realize, Mid-Autumn Festival is actually the second largest celebration for the Chinese. Falling on the 15th day of the 8th month in Chinese lunar calendar, Mid-Autumn Festival is a public holiday in China, Hong Kong, and also Taiwan. Since Chinese forms the major population in Singapore, I think Mid-Autumn Festival should be made a public holiday too since it is a rather important and meaningful festival. Singapore has too few public holiday annually.

I went back to KL last weekend and had a nice dinner with my family to compensate for the supposingly family reunion dinner this evening in conjunction with the festival. Well, the festival falls on Monday and is not a holiday, so it’s not possible to be at KL with family for the day. I have to save my annual leave for my Chinese New Year’s trip to Europe early next year.

Monday blues today and it get worst as I was feeling unwell; stomachache and headache. They both came at once, giving me fatigue and a huge discomfort. Fortunately, there isn’t much work today. I should have just taken a medical leave today but I didn’t, and I don’t know why. Weird. Guess I’m saving on my medical leave too (pointless). I’m going to get a good rest tonight and hopefully will return to a healthy being tomorrow hopefully. Still have to go through the remaining long week ahead.

(Images in this post are from various sources throughout the world wide web)

Merry Christmas! Have an awesome one this year!


This year’s Christmas falls on Monday. That’s great as it has turned our weekend a day longer, giving us more opportunities to go for a longer continuous break or a quick vacation. Same goes to the New Year’s Day next week that is also going to be observed on Monday.

Christmas in Malaysia is nothing besides than seeing the extravagant Christmas decorations in major shopping malls in the country. Visiting these malls is the only way to bring Christmas feel to the table too as they are air-conditioned (hence feeling like being in winter and away from the outside heat). There are also various spots to take lovely pictures with the decorations, Christmas music filling the air, and End Year Sale (shopping time!).

(Christmas decorations in Pavilion KL mall’s main atrium this year. This is one of the malls in KL that is spending a lot on decorations annually)

Christmas in Malaysia is more commercialized rather than religiously celebrated as Malaysia is a country with Muslim-majority, I’m not being racist here but I’m trying to send out a message on this festive season that peace and unity should come above all. That is integral to maintain the harmonious state of the nation that comprises of people of various races and religions. There is no place for extremist views. I felt angered and disappointed over incidents such as the ‘Muslim-only launderette’, ‘protest over just a cross sign in Muslim neighbourhood’, and ‘protest over Christian sculptures in a public park’ that happened in Malaysia in recent years. Where is the respect? I believe all religions promote peace and respect. There should never be a thinking that one religion is above another.

Alright. Let’s not destroy the festive mood. How will you be celebrating the day? For Malaysians, we would just be visiting the malls. But for my family, we didn’t even plan to do so as those places are going to be very crowded and traffic congestion is also imminent. We will try to avoid that by staying indoor for most of the day but that’s going to be boring. Hmm…we still don’t have plan for the day. I think we will sort it out and we are still going to enjoy the day!

For all Christians who are celebrating, have a wonderful Christmas! May your wishes come true and may you receive the Christmas presents that you long desire! Have an awesome day with your family and friends! Merry Christmas!

(Images in this post are from various sources throughout the world wide web)

 

Winners at the World Architecture Festival 2017.


World Architecture Festival 2017 was held recently in Berlin, Germany from 15 to 17th November. This annual festival contains events for the architecture industry and one of the main highlights of the festival is the awards presentation. The festival honors architectural projects across the world in various categories and will select a project to be declared World Building of the Year. Here below is the full list of winners for this year’s World Architecture Festival:

Completed Buildings

Civic and Community – Streetlight Tagpuro, Tacloban, Philippines (Eriksson Furunes + Leandro V. Locsin)

Display – The Smile, London, United Kingdom (Alison Brooks Architects)

Housing – Superlofts Houthaven, Amsterdam, Netherlands (Marc Koehler Architects)

This housing project receives this year’s newly created award; Director’s Special Award. 

A new co-housing concept that aims to create a global network of local building co-operatives, judges said the concept is “a game changer – a replicable and transferable model which could extend in terms of scale.”

Culture – The Palestinian Museum, Birzeit, Palestine (Heneghan Peng Architects)

House – Binh House, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam (Vo Trong Nghia Architects)

New and Old – Post earthquake reconstruction and demonstration project of Guangming Village, Zhaotong, China (The Chinese University of Hong Kong)

This project is also the winner for World Building Of The Year.

The project was initiated in response to the catastrophic Ludian earthquake in 2014, which destroyed most of the traditional rammed-earth buildings in the village of Guangming. When replacement materials such as brick and concrete proved to be too costly for most of the village’s residents, the architect team developed a new technique of constructing rammed-earth homes that will be more resistant to future seismic activity.

A prototype house built for an elderly couple was completed last year, proving the method could provide a safe, economical, comfortable, and sustainable reconstruction strategy for the village and the wider region of Southwest China.

The judges believed this to be an extraordinary project in terms of the scope of ambition, exemplified in the addressing of profound problems facing ordinary people. They applauded the re-use of traditional material and construction methods but with the addition of new technology – combining ancient wisdom with modern know-how.

The judges were also impressed by the iterative research process which could be re-applied to anywhere in the world affected by seismic problems and low levels of wealth. “The architects succeeded in translating ‘four walls and a roof’ into something which, through architectural commitment, becomes a project that is much more profound,” WAF Programme Director Paul Finch commented. “This building is a demonstration that architecture is just as relevant in the poorest of communities as it is in the richest.”

I am delighted that the juries decided to go for architecture that is really useful and resistant rather than picking those fancy designs. This is a fresh direction.

Office – Co Op Kyosai Plaza, Tokyo, Japan (Nikken Sekkei)

Production, Energy and Recycling – The Farm of 38 – 30, Afyonkarahisar, Turkey (Slash Architects and Arkizon Architects)

School – East Sydney Early Learning Centre, Sydney, Australia (Andrew Burges Architects)

Sport – US Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, United States of America (HKS)

Health – Westbury Clinic, Johannesburg, South Africa (Ntsika Architects)

Higher Education and Research – Maersk Tower, Copenhagen, Denmark (CF Moller Architects)

Hotel and Leisure – Vegetable Trellis, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam (Cong Sinh Architects)

Mixed Use – Westminster Bridge Road, London, United Kingdom (Allford Hall Monaghan Morris)

Religion – Bushey Cemetery, Bushey, United Kingdom (Waugh Thistleton Architects)

Shopping – Victoria Gate, Leeds, United Kingdom (ACME)

Transport – Transformation Chemnitz Central Station, Chemnitz, Germany (Gruntuch Errnst Architects)

Villa – Bach With Two Roofs, Golden Bay, New Zealand (Irving Smith Architects)

Future Projects

Leisure-led Development – Bodrum Loft, Bodrum, Turkey (Tabanlioglu Architects)

Competition Entries – New Cyprus Archaeological Museum, Nicosia, Cyprus (Pilbrow & Partners)

Health – Desa Semesta, Bogor, Indonesia (Magi Design Studio)

Experimental – Sharjah Observatory, Mleiha National Park, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates (3deluxe Transdisciplinary Design)

Office – Viettel Offsite Studio, Hanoi, Vietnam (Vo Trong Nghia Architects)

Civic – Consulate Building, Staff Housing & School Complex, Karachi, Pakistan (edgeARCH)

Infrastructure – The Bridge, Ras, India (Sanjay Puri Architects)

Commercial Mixed Use – Battersea Power Station Phase 2, London, United Kingdom (WilkinsonEyre)

Education – Aga Khan Academy, Dhaka, Bangladesh (Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios + SHATOTTO Architecture)

Culture – Kulturkorgen – A Basket Full Of Culture, Gothenburg, Sweden (Sweco Architects)

Kulturkorgen6-Sweco Architects

House – Queenstown House, Queenstown, New Zealand (Monk Mackenzie Architects)

Masterplanning – Sydney Fish Markets, Sydney, Australia (Allen Jack + Cottier Architects)

Residential – Goksu Residences, Istanbul, Turkey (EAA Emre Arolat Architecture)

My country, Malaysia did have few projects that were able to make it to the finalists. However, none of them succeeds to be listed as winner. It shows that there are a lot to do to improve the architectural field in Malaysia.

(Images and information in this post are from Archdaily)

References:

https://www.worldarchitecturefestival.com/

https://www.archdaily.com/883888/guangming-post-earthquake-reconstruction-project-wins-world-building-of-the-year-2017

https://www.archdaily.com/883761/2017-world-architecture-festival-announces-day-1-award-winners

https://www.archdaily.com/883814/world-architecture-festival-reveals-day-2-category-winners-of-their-2017-awards

 

 

Will be away to Thailand for trip beginning tomorrow! And Selamat Hari Raya!


Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri / Happy Eid to all Muslims across the world especially to my Malay friends in Malaysia! Have fun and enjoy in this festival after a month of dedicated fasting in the holy month of Ramadhan. Have a safe journey back home (balik kampung) and cherish the happy and festive moment with your family, relatives, friends, and neighbours. For the other Malaysians (me included) who are not celebrating, Happy Holiday!

I always envy this Hari Raya festival. It comes earlier every year because the Islamic calendar is shorter than the Gregorian calendar the whole world is using now. For our Chinese New Year festival, we are fixed to the time from January to February annually because our Chinese calendar has the similar number of days with the Gregorian calendar. Soon after, Hari Raya will get past us one round and clash with the Chinese New Year.

So for this Hari Raya holiday, I will be joining my parents for a short trip at Bangkok and Hua Hin, Thailand. We took on a 5 days 4 nights group tour which will begin tomorrow and ends on next Wednesday. I have been to Thailand twice in the past but this will be only my first time visiting its capital city, Bangkok. I’m looking forward to it. I’m hoping that I can see some great architecture over there like the traditional ones such as from its palaces and temples and the contemporary ones such as from its latest tallest building, Mahanakhon (designed by Ole Scheeren). You see, that’s the difference between a normal tourist and a people with an architecture background. You tend to search or look for different thing even when you are on a trip. I call it ‘architectural virus’ that has infected me for over a decade.

Besides than the bustling Bangkok, I am also anticipating for the visit to Hua Hin, a small beachside holiday town which is a few hours drive south from Bangkok. I think I need a time to get near to the nature and so this beachside attraction will be an ideal location. I have just returned from the airport few days ago, and tomorrow, I will be heading there again to catch the flight to Thailand. KLIA is now my frequent destination annually. If you want a tour in the airport, I think I can help on that without any problem. Haha…I have just unpacked my luggage few days ago, and now I have to pack it again for this trip. Will be back writing about this trip as soon as I’m back on next Wednesday!

(Images in this post are from various sources throughout the world wide web)

 

Happy Chinese New Year! It’s the year of rooster!


I’m wishing everyone a Happy Chinese New Year! This wish is particularly for my family, relatives, friends, neighbours, and to all Malaysian Chinese! Gong Xi Fa Cai!

chinese-new-year-2017-rooster-1

The lunar new year comes early this year. This Chinese largest festival (known as Spring Festival in China) always falls on February every year. But for this time, it’s on end of January. We have just finished celebrating the new year 2017 and now we get to celebrate another one. Next year, this festival will be pushed back to February due to additional days in our lunar calendar once every four years.

We now say goodbye to the year of monkey and welcomes the year of rooster. Rooster is the main character this year and unfortunately, it’s also usually the main character in our Chinese dishes. Chicken dishes everywhere and my two nephews love to eat them the most.

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This is also the time for us, the superstitious Chinese to check on our zodiac forecast of the year. I was born in the year of sheep and so my Chinese zodiac sign is sheep. I found out that this is going to be an average year for me, with nothing really bad or good happening. It’s a fairly flat year for me. I will take that. Well, I’m not superstitious but getting a knowledge of it is something not harmful either, so why not…

I had a fairly plain reunion dinner just now in a simple and affordable restaurant nearby. The important thing is not the cost of the food, but everyone being together on the table for this significant meal. It’s alright. We will be having a ‘grander’ dinner soon for the next weekend when my eldest sister and her family will join in too. I will be spending the first day of the Chinese New Year visiting some relatives and also watching a Chinese New Year movie in cinema hopefully. Then, from second day to sixth day of the celebration, I will be having a vacation in Hanoi, Vietnam with my parents. After coming back, I will be spending that coming weekend (next Saturday and Sunday) on Genting Highlands. That’s it. After that, it’s the end of my Chinese New Year celebration this year before I fly back to Perth, Australia near the end of February to resume the final year of my postgraduate study.

Let’s not talk that far yet. Now, is the time to get prepared to welcome this lunar new year with joyful mood, get dressed in new clothes, get angpows, meet relatives (and hopefully successfully dealt with all those questions from aunties and uncles asking about whether you have boyfriend or girlfriend already or not), gamble (who doesn’t like to play and hopefully win), attend friends’ gatherings, eat all those delicious new year biscuits and cookies, watch all the released CNY movies this year, light up firecrackers or fireworks, etc.

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Once again, Happy Chinese New Year! May you have a blessed year ahead with good health and wealth! Gong Xi Fa Cai!

(Images in this post are from various sources throughout the world wide web)