Friday, October 31, 2008

The thrill of paying bills..

Today is my last day from my 10-day break. It has been eventful cos I managed to hole in at home with my last 90 bucks.

Like Bear Gryles, I got some help of course. I survived the horrific month of October. In other words, the next six months is going to turn out shitty as well.

Bathed the dogs, cleaned up the living room and headed straight off to the bank to pay my car loan and debts.

Its really disheartening to see my hard earned money shrinking. But well, that'll be something I have to love and live with.

I hope that by December, the contract bonus would be good. Its gonna be pro-rated, but nevertheless, some extra cash would certainly be good.

The thing on my mind right now, is to weather the storm and uncertain days ahead. Hopefully, I would pull through.

Great expectations..

This was one of the days where things did not turned out the way I had expected it to be.
I went to the bank to get my internet banking access. Waited for one hour, then when the buzzer rang, the customer service clerk sent me to the wrong cubicle, I waited and nothing happened.
She buzzed again, someone else stepped up. I asked her why she skipped, she said I didn't show up.
Nia mah kah foolat! I was sent to counter 14, she sat at counter 11 and waited. So, spare the wait, I got things straightened out.
Then I checked my bank balance, the pay was in. But it was way below the mark. My photo claims exceeded RM2.6k, taxation came up to RM1.95k.
Fuck the IRB buggers! Not only that, they would continue to deduct my salary till April next year.
Seems like a nightmare, but so far, I have been managing well for three months. All in total, there is a nine-month deduction with the last one being a bomb!
It's going to be a long winter and hopefully, I can sit this one out and cut for a new lease of life after April 2009.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Another disappointing day?

This has been a really long month. I am still waiting for my paycheck to be banked in and seems that it's been dragging for a while.
Hopefully, the ATM would yeild some encouragement when it comes to my bank balance.
I also need to head to the bank's branch to sort out my internet banking facility. With that done, there is no need to go to a automated teller.
As for the rest of the day, I would be in the office to file in my food stories as well as claims for travel and pictures used.
Later in the night, I am meeting Kevin Kadow, a dude from the USN who flew in all the way from Chicago.

Today's assignment..

The result
The process..

Aaah.. Another slow day. Hot one too! What I like about breaks from work, is that you can wake up late.
Anytime you want. So, I got up at about 9am, then took the kidz for a short walk. It started to get really hot and I took advantage of the late morning traffic to head to Giant at USJ 1 for some shopping.
Bought some meatballs, minced beef, tomatoes andparmensan cheese to prepare dinner.
I promise my wife to cook because I have to be away on Thursday night. I have a guest in town.
So, it's simple pasta and meat sauce. Best of all, we can keep it for a coupla days. And being working folks, that's how it is..

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A real break..

I've holed in at home with the dogs, chilling out with them the whole day. Feels great not to do anything.
There's roughly about four more days to burn before I head back to work. South and East again.
Been told not to assign Court and Crime stories and well, with a little bit of luck, I'd be able to pull through.
Gonna be a long month in November, just one more month to go before wrapping up 2008.

Monday, October 27, 2008

TAD's new despatch bag..

Fuah! Just when I thought it was safe to put down the mouse, San Francisco's TADgear had come up with their despatch bag.

I am a sucka for these thingies and they've certainly got it right! This multirole bag seems just nice for lugging around town for meetings and assignments.

And the price point is around USD$190 a pop, making it a premium item. Love the add-on accessories too!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Home sweet home..

A Thai official greeting passengers of the inaugral Subang - Koh Samui flight this morning
Touchdown! The aircraft arriving from Subang
My last night at Koh Samui
The Dinner
The hotel at night..

Nothing can compare the home I share with my lovely wife. Even a RM1,500 per nite room with all the bells and whistles is beyond compare.
I was sleep deprived, thanks to two drama mommas last night and had to pull my self through an early assignment at the Koh Samui airport.
My big boss was there and so was the entire Malaysian Press contingent. I don't really give much thought to the rest.
When he and his wife came down the FN aircraft directly from Subang, I greeted him and shook his hand.
I overheard the Firefly corporate comm director saying something to him and it was boiling hot at the tarmac.
Spent about 15-minutes there with the TV cameraman and shot off to the departure hall.
We had a flight to catch to Subang. I miss my wife and kidz. The Koh Samui assignment was a breeze for me as I am a seasoned traveller.
Firefly's Alita did very well in providing the logistics as well as taking care of business for the Press.
Last night, we had dinner with the hotel owner and some important trade guests from Bangkok.
The Firefly girls of Koh Samui were elated and wanted to show us around Ban Chawaeng.
But one of the magazine writer was ill and had to be sent to the hospital. Seemed that she had a bout with food poisoning.
Her cameraman seemed allright and went on shooting like a madman. For the peanut pay, I really pity him.
So, I went off to Chawaeng with the TV3 crewmen, only to make fast exit and head to straight to the hospital.
We spent a few hours there because the writer and the crew's producer were ill. Funny how it seems - the larger the crew, the tougher things can get.
These folks don't seemed to gel. And one of the senior crew members was also a guy whom I had travelled together with to the US.
That was eight years ago. Seemed like a long time. Anyways, I am glad to be home and will spend the next few days stiching the story together..

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Das is good lunch!

Me and Krit the driver at lunch
Deep fried ikan bulus with garlic - sedaaaapz!!
Tom Kham, Tom Yam's evil brother with that extra kickAny place that advertises with Singha Bia is good lah...
For starters, we had grated coconut belacan dip with ulam..

My driver Khun Krit recommended a makan place called Krua Ban Po at the outskirts of Nathorn port in Koh Samui.
He said : "Khun Samo, the price is vely cheap, you must try..." So, having heard that, I sense that the man was sincere, so I tried his recommendation.
We arrived at a very quiet eatery. No one was there at it was about 1:30pm. He ordered some 'spicy' prawn fried with prawn paste.
It turned out to be belacan fried with petai and shrimps. Fuahhh!!! Then I ordered Coconut milk curry with seafood.
I must say that in the years that I have traveled to Thailand, this fare is the BEST. Absolutely no doubts about it.
The third dish was 'fried fish with garlic' which turned out to be deep fried ikan bulus. It was tasty and on a scale of 1 - 10, I give this makan place an 8.
Damage? I paid 370baht, which is roughly about RM42 at this present currency exchange rate.
Koh Samui is an expensive island to start with, and with such an affordable fare, I am planning a return trip with my wife..

Mission to Nathorn

The sea was choppy today with strong winds..
A ferry departing for the mainland from Nathorn
The port town of Nathorn, Koh Samui
Fresh catch at the Nathorn wet market
A spice shop at the market

I made an appointment with the hotel's General Manager Khun Chawalit to have a casual chat with him over breakfast.
Well, the food was rich and good. If I stay here at this resort for a month, I would be in the morgue already.
After the conversation, the Firefly PR Exec Alita had arranged for a driver to take me to some common sights in Koh Samui.
High on my watch list is the town of Nakhorn. To put it in a nutshell, Samui is not a small place. Its HUGE.
Ferries from Surat Thani ply the South China Seas to get to this place and bringing along with them, are ugly Malaysians in the superbikes.
I saw some overweight buggers roaring away at downtown Nakhorn. The weather, as predicted, was fucked up.
So, much of my shots were compacted telephoto scenes of the town. There weren't much to shoot, so, we proceeded for lunch some 15-minutes away from this town.
The food was good and as my driver Khun Krit had suggested, it was value for money. I spent about RM40 for three dishes.
Since I am in Thailand, the food I wouldn't give a miss is the Thai coconut curry Tom Kham. This came with seafood and since it was a highly recommended place, it was not a total disappointment.
I had fried whiting with garlic, coconut soup with seafood and petai goreng belacan with shrimps which Khun Krit said - was too spicy.
It was a great lunch and we moved on to Ban Chawaeng. This is the Sukhumvit of Koh Samui, very high end neighbourhood.
But the shots were lousy, so, I snapped a few and went to Tesco Lotus to score some Thai instant noodles.
I noticed that the goods in this island is at least 15% more that what you would get in the mainland. But well, seeing that I won't be making a trip here that soon, it was worth the try.
Later this evening, the organiser had slotted a dinner programme. I don't know exactly what, but would have to play by the ear and find out.
while I am taking a short break from the hectic day, I took advantage of the washing machine to clean my tee-shirt, socks and the micro-fibre wipe.
Hopefully, with the drier in place, I would have some clean socks to wear and not much dirty laundry to bring home.
Tomorrow, it would be an early day cos I would have to rush to the airport and catch the 09:35am flight back to Subang T3.
Word had it that my big boss in on the inaugral flight to Koh Samui from KL. Seems that I would be off on the same day...

Friday, October 24, 2008

A soggy morning in Koh Samui

Having a washing machine and a drier on a rainy Saturday morning is a bliss!
The scene taken off my room's balcony at 07:00 this morning..

It's great to have the time advantage here as well as the freedom of moving around alone. The organiser had assigned a driver for me so that I can go and get some common sights of the island.
But I guess with the rain and all, there won't be much to photograph. Thankfully, I can also do some laundry and by the time I get back, the clothes are already dry and I can wear them.
Especially my shorts. Last nite's dinner was a disaster. Solely because all the travel pundits thought they knew what they were doing.
There is this woman travelling with the group who used to be with Malay Mail. I spotted her at the airport, but her attitude showed me that she was indeed the person I kinda marked out..
Anyways, she got a kiasu attitude, so, I guess better leave this one out alone. She also bragged a lot, and the TV crew that I am travelling with were impressed..
I can see the organiser was also very pissed off with the TV crew's team leader last night for demanding this and that.
Lucky for me, I was patient enough to watch the drama unfold and the whole world go by. Today would be a heavy day for picture taking and all the hoohahs.
I hope to get some good shots in town as well as the fishing village around Koh Samui. Maybe a temple shot or some scenery and have a swell time during lunch..
More updates later...

What a long day....

The Sasha resort where I am staying
Nice view from the lobby at dusk..

It took me half a day to get from Subang to Koh Samui with transit in Penang. The weather sucked and well, half the went down without much done..
I am bunked in at a really luxurious resort at the far end of the island. Phone signal is good and there is wireless internet access in my shared room.
The hotel folks told me that the cheapest room here is about 13,000 baht. Now, that is way over the top.
But hey, since I don't have to pay, I should enjoy it. My stay ends on Sunday, and well, tomorrow is gonna be even packed.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Destination : Koh Samui, Thailand.

The ATR72-500, thought to be a Fokker aircraft by many. Infact, it's a plane made by the French and Italians for regional hauls. This one is one of their top models.
Tomorrow's journey would take me from Subang to Penang and Koh Samui, Thailand

I've finalised my departure time and date with the PR of Firefly airlines this afternoon.
Will be leaving KL for Penang and Koh Samui tomorrow at 09:35. Gonna be stuck in Penang till 14:00 before resuming the journey towards the Kra Ithmus and land in Koh Samui.
I don't know what to expect, but have been told that there ain't much except for taking pictures and conducting some interviews.
Seems that the TV crew that I am travelling with had their own agendas. Think I would chill out in town, probably rope-in a TAT person to show me around.
This time round, I am travelling with a very tight budget and hope not to blow it by the time I get home.
Gonna be in the island for two solid days before heading home on Sunday afternoon.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Day two...

I'm on leave till the 31st this month. And it's great to just chill out and do nothing.
But in the midst of things, my boss had assigned me for a job to Koh Samui in Thailand.
Basically, is a working trip to cover Firefly's new route to this island off the East Coast of the country.
I called the organiser and was told that there were no more seats left on the flight to the island.
So, the alternatives are to depart Subang on 24/10 or on 27/1o. I don't want this to screw up my schedule, so, I opted to travel earlier in a shorter notice.
Having said that, the organiser is trying to arrange for accommodation and the flight, which is once daily from Subang ex Penang and Koh Samui.
I told her that it was allright and that I need to reschedule the working trip with the OC in my office.
Hopefully, things would turn out allright. It's just a job which I have to do, get it over and done with..

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


My day is almost done. Beyond tomorrow would be a 10-day break and in-between, I am required to travel to Southern Thailand for a working assignment.That said, there's plenty to be done especially when I have to travel on a very tight budget. In the days to come, I have some chores to settle.My company had also issued a special festival voucher to ease the burden of getting all the household goods. Its RM150 which is just enough to cover some grounds. Nevertheless, I am grateful.Things are working out in many ways since I came back full circle at my present workplace. Spare some ups and downs, I think I will pull through for the rest of the year..

Monday, October 20, 2008


My day starts at 0:600am. The dogs came up and the nite earlier, they had to stay indoors because of the heavy rain.
I sent them out at 03:00am so that they could do their business and get them back into our room.
Anyways, the drive to work wasn't as smooth as I have expected. That said, most of the work was done in advance, so, what I need to do, is update a story from the North.
Later in the day, some changes were made. Everything was smooth until one of our writers from Miri started to kick some shit.
He wanted more pictures to be used in his piece. I told him only one so far, he got ballistic. Lucky for me, the sub-editor did her job very well, another save!
There were some layout changes at the last moment, but everything was smooth sailing by 05:00pm.
Then, it started to pour. I have a bad feeling that the ride home would be affected by the evening rush hour as well.
That said, I have only one more day to serve before going on my leave and break for 10 days. And shoot off to Koh Samui in Thailand for a two-day job...

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Sharperner upgrade...

Spyderco's Sharpmaker model 204
The Edge Pro sharperner
DMT's Aligner

One of my earliest frurstrations on using and collecting knives - was keeping it sharp.
I had hones and oils before but it turned out that I mostly destroy the edge on my knives.
So, at one point, I gave up. It wasn't until eight years ago when I discovered that sharpening knives is made easy by the Spyderco Sharpmaker Model 203.
My knives began to get a razor edge, hair popping sharp! Since then, I have never reverted to any other form of sharpeners.
Basically, its a set of triangular ceramic rods placed on a base that gives it a 'V' shape.
The design was simple and the brainchild of Sal Glesser who founded Spyderco Inc with his wife Gail.
Glesser travelled across the US on a modified bread truck before settling down in Golden, Colorado to concentrate on producing sharperners and eventually, became one of the leading knife manufacturers in the world.
Yes. I shit you not! His sharpmaker was upgraded to the Model 204 which features back beveling and a 20-degree angle for each side of the balde.
The 204 is one of the most versatile sharpeners around to give your knife a utility edge.
Later, I found out that there were more products out there that rivals the Spyderco sharperners.
One of them were Edge Pro's Apex sharpener. This is a premium-priced produced where many seasoned knife users have sweared by it.
I am yet to sink my paws on one. Then, recently, DMT sharperners, a pioneer in producing industrial diamond impregnated hones - came up with the 'Aligner'.
This concept is similar to what GATCO and Lansky is offering in the market.
Basically - it's a sharperner that comes with a clamp and a base. I cannot explain it, seeing is believing.
So, with a base price of USD$41.75, (cheapest so far) this is a good and safe beat. Best of all, it can be stashed in a nylon pouch for travel.
Having said that, I am looking forward to scoring one - perhaps a Christmas gift for myself by the end of this year..

Canon EF-S 18-200mm lens

This the 'one' lens to do it all. Multi-element wide-angle to telephoto zoom. It's like having all the range covered.
Price? Well, my eyeballs popped off its sockets when I saw it. RM2.8k. It's even more expensive than an entry-level kit that covers the camera body and lens.
Performance? Well, gave it a 7 out of 10 rating. From my experience, it is convenient to pack only one lens and a body when you travel.
But the multiple element factor and usage in rugged environment may be a hinderance.
Usually, such a high magnification lens with all the different elements would not take a drop or hard bump.
You may screw up its focusing and zoom barrel. But then again, given the price and its capability, its a toss between carrying an extra lens and the additional weight in your already heavy and

What an AWESOME weekend!

Me, the Coonster and Michelle enroute to Central Park
Sir Clifford McNaughty in a pensive mood
We arrived early
Michelle and Axel, a male Siberian Husky pup
Michelle and the Coonster in action!

The Sunday morning weather was good! And as predicted by the weatherman, storms and scattered shower is expected to hit the Klang Valley in the afternoons.
Michelle and I took the kidz to One Utama's Central park at 7am and got there in less-than 20 minutes. And as usual, we went to McDonald's to pack our takeaway.
When we got there, we set up camp. It was a breeze because there were plenty of open space around.
Then this guy walked up to me and asked : "Were you in my collage?" I was dumbfounded for a while.
It took me a while to process his facial recognition and after a short pause, I said : "You are Richard?"
He acknowknowledged. So, I exchanged some small talk with the guy. Back in the early days, this guy was a prick. I guess time heals the rift and when you walk around with a Siberian Husky, even the worst of enemies can reconcile and become friends.
The usual bullshit was : "I did this, that and the other.." So, when I summed it up, this guy had matured a lot. A bonus thing on his side. He scored plenty of points.
Michelle took the Coonkid for registration. This is cool cos we can score some freebies. Today, we got some dog food samples. It's going to be donated to my mother in-law's dogs - Woggie and Sandy Socks.
As the day drew hotter, we mostly chilled out at the usual spot - Camp Husky. My boy behaved pretty well today despite some male Huskies around.
He chomped up a pup to dominate it, but lucky for me, there no serious injuries.
As for the club crowd, the usual folks showed up. I guessed that it was because this month itself was so full of outings, many were engaged in their own matters.
After we cleared up at about 12:45pm, it was time to hit the road and head straight home.
This was the part I dreaded the most : cleaning up. But having said that, it has to be done.
House chores comes first as we head straigth for work first thing in the morning..

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Dogtober Fest!

Michelle with Sir Clifford McNaughty..

Been an easy day at the office. Short of some basic administrative jobs, the entire day was smooth. I plan to head home early to prepare a good meal for my wife and settle in with the dogs.
Tomorrow, we would be heading off to 1 Utama's fair ground to participate in the Malaysian Responsible Dog Owner's day - an event which we have been actively attending for three years..

Friday, October 17, 2008

3 nurses go into the morgue, and there's a dead man's bodylying there, with an erection.

The first nurse sees it, and says "I'm dying for it," gets atop the man and has her way with it.
The second nurse says "Aye, so am I, shame to let it go towaste", and she does the same.
They turn to the 3rd nurse and ask her if she is having a go.She replies she is having her period, and declines.

One of the nurses replies, "He's dead anyway, he won't be bothered."

The last nurse agrees with this, gets on and does her thing too.

Just after she finishes, the dead man sits up.

The nurses asks him "We thought you were dead!"

The man replies, "After two jump starts and a bloodtransfusion, you wouldn't be dead either!"

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Spencer's lockback..

Spencer A Reiter (SAR) got it right with his new and radical lockback folding knife design.
I was most impressed with the overall blade geometry and handle works he had posted on the Usual Suspect Network.
A full-time soldier, Spence makes knives on the side and has a loyal following. I would say that two of his masterpieces : the Ridge Runner and 1911 folder had caught my attention.
The lockback is an old design which was time proven. I think Spence got all the elements right with his rendition..

An awesome week!

Hmmph! Five days of break is coming to an end. Tomorrow, it's back to the crunch.
All I can say is that I've had a great time with my wife and kidz! The timing was excellent and well, seems that I have to work for another week and will be going on my leave again from the 22nd - 31st. Woohoo!

Monday, October 13, 2008

WPs in S7

I heard that the S7 is one of the toughest steel around. And you can trust the Striderguys to put an edge on this material used for jackhammers.. Hahahh!
And at USD$175, the Strider WP is one of the most afforable field knife ever produced.
I have a few and kept a WP Drop Point with G-10 thermoplastic slabs. This is by far, one of my most valued field tool. Its small, tough and sharp.
If there's one made in Drop Point, I'll be grabbing it!