Tuesday, July 30, 2013

What Do You Care What Other People Think?

As I mentioned a few months back, I always have a soft spot for Physicists. For years, after collecting a few copies of Einstein's and Hawking's, I have been looking for Feynman's books in Malaysia but always failed.

A few years ago, I finally bought "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman! (Adventures of a Curious Character)", but then, somehow, I totally forgot about that book! (Ya, crazy huh? I still couldn't believe this!) Anyway, years later, I accidentally found it in my bookshelf recently, and I couldn't put down the book. I finished it in 2 nights.

So, during our "Half" Peninsular Malaysia road trip, when I visited Kinokuniya at KLCC, I couldn't resist but to buy a few Feynman's books (and of course, other titles too, spent over RM300 there in less than 1 hour). The first title that I finished reading was “What Do You Care What Other People Think”.

The first part of the book is about the love stories between Feynman and his father, his mother, his first love, and his family. The title "What Do You Care What Other People Think" came from his first wife's comment to him, when she tricked him in doing some embarrassing acts. He did them anyway, I think partly because he loved her, partly because she was dying, and partly because he knew that's true.

The second part of the book mainly revolves around the true stories of the Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster. (FYI, The Rogers Commission Report was created by a Presidential Commission charged with investigating the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster during its 10th mission, STS-51-L. The report, released and submitted to President Ronald Reagan on 9 June 1986, both determined the cause of the disaster that took place 73 seconds after lift-off, and urged NASA to improve and install new safety features on the shuttles and in its organizational handling of future missions.)

Reading these stories had further strengthen my values that instilled long time ago. I believe manufacturers are responsible to produce products with quality that exceed customers' implied expectations with conscience.
I used to dream of working in NASA when I was in primary school (I gave up this dream after I found out their minimum height requirements :p). Reading these behind the scene stories from Richard Feynman made me realize that even NASA has no difference.
  1.  The communication between management and the floor is always the key weakness / strength of an organization.
  2. Criteria are always being changed when the reality cannot catch up with the original expectations
  3. People tend to be unrealistic in making contracts, and in estimating the costs / difficulties of each project. 
  4. Departments that spend a lot of money and resources in the important but not urgent activities (making sure that no problems happen) always being victimized. It is always seen as "wasting money on preventing things that never give us problems".
  5.  When being assigned to carry out an investigation, most people focus on preparing a perfect report than actually spending resources in finding the root cause
My intention of listing the above is not to tell you how bad the manufacturing world is, but to remind you the reality.
I would like to remind you that while we still have our conscience intact, it is our responsibility to provide correct and sufficient information to the decision makers, and to remind the decision makers on what is right when necessary.
You don't have to care what other people think :)

“For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for Nature cannot be fooled.” ~ Richard Feynman

Friday, July 26, 2013

Exploring Ipoh Old Town

We had a very short road trip in the second last weekend of May 2013.
Our driving route for the 3D2N: Penang --> Ipoh --> Bukit Tinggi --> Bentong --> KL --> Ipoh --> Penang.

Ipoh is my second hometown. I spent 7 years of my preteen in this clean, lovely town (now a city). So, I always have a soft spot for Ipoh. I always try to plan a brief stop at Ipoh, whenever I can, when I'm on my Malaysia road trip.

This round, we skipped our favorite dimsum. Instead, we had some nice breakfast at 2 different coffee shops in the old town. I just love to explore this part of Ipoh city.

All the walls have stories to tell......

And I bet this tree can talk like an Ent, with stories worth passing down, for days and nights.

Every corner, there's an old charm standing tall, waiting for you to explore.

And I love all the passages to the past......

And most importantly, I love how life continues, in this rustic corner of the modern city......

As usual, we first went to Nam Heong for the addictive White Coffee. Before the "Old Town White Coffee" franchise era, this street was where our family spent our Sunday morning, for the aromatic white coffee, and the to kill for roasted pork.
After I had my favorite white coffee, and some food, we went to the famous Thean Chun Restaurant, which is fondly known as The Hall of Mirrors.

This, surprisingly, was my first visit. With the 95% full stomach, I still couldn't resist but ordered a lot of food! (well, at least to my standard). None of them really made an effort to help me so we actually spent more than 1.5 hour there, trying very hard to finish my 2nd round breakfast.

Because this gang that followed me on the road trip was not so keen in food, I guess I have to arrange for another makan-makan trip to Ipoh.

I'll be back.....

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Cuti-cuti "Half" Peninsular Malaysia - Day 4 - Sunrise at Panorama Hill

3rd June 2013:  
Driving route: Sungai Lembing --> Kuala Lumpur

We woke up at 5am and left Lembing Riverview Resort for the Panorama Hill sunrise at 5:30am. Except papa, none of us brought torch light. Luckily there were other tourists too so everyone was helping each other.

For a place to view the sea of clouds, Panorama Hill is relatively low. Averagely tourists take about one hour to fight the steep stairs to reach the top. If you are going with kids or senior citizens, be careful. Though relatively low, this hill is still quite challenging.

We reached the top right before sunrise. Though not as crowded as my previous trip, still, it was hard to find a great spot for photo. So instead of focusing on the sunrise like everyone else, I took quite some Chinese-painting-style-photos. 

Our luck was good but not great. The sun was blocked by huge, thick cloud! So instead of the view of egg york coming out from the horizon, we got to see the "golden-lining" decorating the cloud.

I wish I can paint something like this......

Hard work, everyone :)

Going downhill was equally hard. Dad and I walked slowly while the others went to the market to grab some breakfast (phobia, from previous night experience)

Tips: For those that plan to visit Sungai Lembing, sigh..... it is really hard to choose. If you go during weekend, most probably you have to fight for food (and everything else) with a lot of tourists. If you go on weekdays, most of the famous stalls are not open.

After breakfast, just like any responsible tourists, we visited the village, the suspension bridge, and the famous Lembing noodle making factory.

The Sungai Lembing noodle shop owner told me that no matter how much she made, the tourists "sapu" within an hour. I guessed the Singaporeans just love this traditional food.

After our short Sungai Lembing trip, we drove all the way to KL to meet our uncle. It was a long drive, luckily there's someone kept me entertained :)

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Cuti-cuti "Half" Peninsular Malaysia - Return of the Masterpieces

As I have told you earlier, we enrolled in a batik workshop and we enjoyed the experience very much. However, our masterpieces were accidentally sent to the Australian family when they left Pasir Belanda Resort. Pasir Belanda Resort owner promised to try to contact the Australian family after their Taman Negara trip and try to get them to send the batik to my home address when they reach Kuala Lumpur. This happened almost 2 months ago. We thought we will never see our masterpieces again.....

Then, last week, I received an email from Pasir Belanda Resort. I was told that the parcel was returned to the sender. I suspected something wrong with Bukit Mertajam post office, or the postmen working in Bukit Mertajam, or even something wrong with my house address since I always face problems with the postal service (remember the Threadless episode?). So, I gave them my office address instead. 

So, finally, this morning, the parcel arrived!!!
With Pasir Belanda address written on the back of the envelope

It's so nice to finally see the final products! This is the first time I see our final products!
Nicely wrapped

Again, another shot!

I was so excited! I have to open up all these 3 in the office, almost immediately!

Sonia's masterpiece, dolphin and friends, get the most thumbs ups!

Wei's bright and vibrant artwork, the sunflowers and the butterfly, is quite popular too!

However, I still love my cute little mushrooms the most! They reminded me of the lovely China Dance from Fantasia :)

Monday, July 15, 2013

Cuti-cuti "Half" Peninsular Malaysia - Day3 - Near Starvation at Sungai Lembing

2nd June 2013:  
Driving route: Kota Bharu --> Bachok --> Kuala Terengganu --> Sungai Lembing

Due to my "bad habit" (can't resist to stop at great spots along the coast), I suspected that I could never arrive at Sungai Lembing before sunset. Hence, I have chose the highway instead, to drive from Kuala Lumpur to Sungai Lembing. 

Little did I know that the highway is actually still in construction. The first time we reached the junction with a sign board showing "turn left to Kuantan" but there were no way to turn, we were panic! We turned on every gadgets we had in the car, checked our direction, checked the GPS, checked Google Map, checked Waze......We were stressed until we were sure that we were still on the right track. 

About less than hour later, we were back to the old federal road. It was under construction, it was raining, it was full of trucks, it was SLOW! I should have continued on the beautiful coastal route!

Anyway, we reached Lembing Riverview Resort around 6pm. We got our keys, chit chat with the resort owner, and ordered the famous roasted pork from the resort owner. Guess what, the roasted pork was delivered to the resort! What a service! :)

The roasted pork smell sooooo good and we were sooooo hungry then, we totally forgot about taking photos. The only thing that I can tell you is that it was crispy outside, juicy inside. My aunt said this is the best Shio Bak she has ever tasted!

After getting our roasted pork, we drove to the town area. There were only 2 restaurants in the town. So we walked in to the shop nearest to our car. 

"Did you make any reservation? We are full and do not entertain walk in" the waiter told us. I couldn't believe this! I could never ever link "restaurant reservation" with a town of only 2 streets! 

Anyway, I accepted the fact, and we walked to another one, just a few shops away. Full house too! They were kind enough to find a table for us, but the waitress said "You all can sit down first, but we have to serve all these people in the restaurant at this moment, and there are 3 more tables with reservation that will come to the restaurant an hour later, then only we will serve you". I almost fainted! I doubt if this restaurant could handle this capacity, and whether they have enough raw material to serve us 2 hours later (if we were lucky). So we decided to let the senior citizens to stay put, while Wei Wei, Sonia and I explored the town. I sent Wei Wei to the almost-close grocery store to buy some biscuit (just in case), while I surveyed the only still-in-operation-food-stall. I was told that there were only 2 bowls of clear soup noodle (清汤面) and a few bowls of curry noodle left. Without any delay, I quickly secured one table while I sent Sonia back to the restaurant to get the rest to come to this humble little stall. Finally we managed to secure THE FINAL FEW BOWLS of food left in this town! Phew!! 

We knew there were a lot of people flocked in from Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and many other places during the long weekend (Yee Hau warned us by sending Singapore news to Wei Wei when we were at Kuala Terengganu), but we didn't expect that even getting something to eat could be so difficult. A local guide must have seen how we struggled and came chit chat with me. He said we can consider ourselves lucky. The day before there were more than 30 tour buses in this tiny little town! And for the local guides, each of them guided more than 100 people to the Rainbow Waterfall in one day! Unbelievable!

Tips for those that wish to visit Sungai Lembing:
1. Please go as soon as possible. This place is turning into another Cameron Highland soon, a wonderful place that was ruined after developed into a famous tourism spot.
2. Please avoid long weekends. You will hate the crowd.
3. Please make sure you pre-book your meals!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Cuti-cuti "Half" Peninsular Malaysia - Day3

2nd June 2013:  
Driving route: Kota Bharu --> Bachok --> Kuala Terengganu --> Sungai Lembing

Mama prepared lots of "bak chang" for our trip. So, on our last night at Kelantan, we were ordered to finish all these "bak chang" as breakfast on the next morning. However, I did notice that little Sonia doesn't like "bak chang" so I promised her I'll order breakfast for her from Pasir Belanda Resort.

Platform by the river
On the next morning, after we finished our bak chang, we all came to the platform by the river to accompany Sonia for her American breakfast. After days of spicy local food, I bet she missed American food :)

While Wei Wei and I chit chat with Sonia, my mum and her siblings were having their "math class" at this beautiful platform. Though we had great fun, my mum couldn't stop complaining about the "ugly river".

Well, to be fair, I did see some real nice photos from Tripadvisor of this river besides Pasir Belanda Resort. I guess it must be the season for these floating plants to conquer the river when we were there. Though not as beautiful as I imagined, still, I think it is still nice to sit by the river, enjoying the green, where buffaloes and geese wandering afar.

After breakfast, we packed and started our long journey to Sungai Lembing.

From Pasir Belanda to Bachok is a long, boring drive. There are endless traffic lights and it took almost forever to reach our destinition.

So, by the time we reached Wat Phothikyan (Double Dragon Temple), I was quite glad that I finally can stretch my limbs.

Wat Phothikyan used to be famous for the double dragon at the entrance. Now it is famous for the relatively new standing Buddha statue, and this is also the tallest standing Buddha statue in the South East Asia.

My personal favorite is the huge "wishing tree". You can buy the "wishing apparatus" from the temple, write down your wishes and throw it to the huge rain tree. If your apparatus stays on the tree, your wishes will come true. :)
Though none of us made any wishes there, Wei and I took a lot of photos of the colourfully decorated wishing tree.

After the brief stop at Double Dragon Temple, we finally actually started our journey to Sungai Lembing through the beautiful Malaysia Federal Route D11, T3 & T1.

The weather was excellent that day. South China Sea was more beautiful than ever. I couldn't resist the endless shades of blue and we kept having pit stops for the sea breeze. (How I wished I had a few more days off so that we could spend a few days in the islands)

After a few stops, I knew we wouldn't be able to make it to Sungai Lembing before dark if I keep on stopping. So, I changed the strategy. Instead of stopping at the beach, we drove extremely slow on the scenic roads by the beach.

Since I was the driver, I didn't take as many photos as I wish. However, I have decided that I should plan for a photography trip on Malaysia Federal Route T1 in near future.

Yacht Competition

This scenic route ends at Kuala Terengganu. When we drove cross Terengganu River through the bridge of Jalan Tengku Mizan, we can see Kuala Terengganu City standing beautifully under the sun, surrounded by South China Sea and Terengganu River. The white Floating Mosque stood out from the background (deep blue river) and shines from afar.

Perhaps due to my marvelous mood after driving along Federal Route T1, Kuala Terengganu seemed much more beautiful than I could remember. I'm glad that I planned for lunch here.

We were delighted. The China Town is nicely paved, clean and vivid. We settled for a decent yet cozy restaurant "On The Way". It's a 2 stories prewar building that oversee the Waterfront.

While the rest waiting for their food (and had "Math Class" again!! In the public!!!), Wei Wei and I went to explore the lovely Chinatown.

I was too lazy to carry my DSLR so I explored with my iPad. Wei Wei carried her "weapon" so I naturally became her model. Most of the time, I was in the photo because she needed some "perspective" or "the beautiful yellow door needed an object to "photograph".

Besides being colourful and interesting, there were also a few restaurants in Chinatown that look authentic and we really wished to try. Maybe next time.

There's also a new tourist attraction in town. A small alley was converted to "Turtle Alley". It's decorated with mosaic of turtles along and walkway and on the wall. It's definitely an artful way to create awareness on turtle conservation.

After lunch, I decided not to take the coastal Federal Route since it is more time consuming. We gave the South China Sea a sweet farewell and then took the highway and headed to Sungai Lembing.