My new Pinterest

Every so often I would think of how this site needs pictures of some gorgeous hunks to liven it up a bit, or sometimes I want to share some images of some interior design that I like. But to write a post around a photograph that’s not even mine (by the way, the three photos below were taken by me), well I guess it’s okay once in a while, but I think it’s better to just use another platform such as Pinterest and just put the address of the site at the sidebar here if anyone is interested.

I should mention it now so as not to waste anyone’s time: To view the things on Pinterest, you have to join it by creating an account by providing your email address and creating a password. Anyway, my site is at: www.pinterest.com/simplehal

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Thistle Hotel, Johor Bahru, Malaysia

Pinterest is a photo sharing website. It had proved to be useful for my work but I mainly use it as a way to relax. It’s like being sprawled on the sofa lazily leafing through a glossy magazine, but even lazier that that. Because if you come across something nice and you want to file it for whatever reason for later, it just takes a few clicks as opposed to ripping out a page or scanning it.

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Park Royal Hotel, Singapore

I enjoy using it as I get to file ideas, or just images that just strike me as interesting, in neat little folders. They call these folders ‘pinboards’ over there, and the images are the ‘pins’. The first time I used it was a few years ago when a friend asked me to design a shop he’s setting up. I was busy with work commitments, but still wanted to help in some way. I got the idea to start a Pinterest website to compile lots of ideas I thought would be relevant to him, and e-mailed him the address of the site so he could have a look anytime.

And then some time later when we were proposing the supply and installation of terracotta floor tiles for a client, she didn’t quite fancy what she saw in the few catalogues I had in the office. So again I turned to Pinterest to gather images to better relay to her what I think would work for her. The ideas were neatly divided into different pinboards like finish, layout, and pattern. Pinterest is useful and convenient like that.

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Rati Lanna Riverside Spa Resort, Chiang Mai, Thailand

You can also pin images you come across on other platforms, including Tumblr, which I’ve also used on and off for some time as a way to compile images. I used to have 2 or 3 Tumblr sites at any one time. One would be for work, for example design ideas and solutions. Another would be fitness-related for example fitness tips and motivational quotes. Another would serve as inspirational eye candy (let’s just call it that). Also for things like, you know, recipes, things like that. Then it got tedious, having so many sites. I barely use my Facebook as it is.

When I started this latest Pinterest, I thought I would painstakingly bring over all the images that I had collected on my Tumblr sites and previous Pinterest sites, but I decided that would be boring and tedious (read: I’m too lazy to do it). I’d rather just spend the hours idly looking at new images and ideas.

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Related:

  • sheknows.com – Pinterest: What it is, how to use it and why you’ll be addicted

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The Grand Gem restaurant

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The entrance of the restaurant at the lobby of Grand BlueWave Hotel.

This is an Indian restaurant my sister brought us to in Johor Bahru. She’s been wanting to introduce it to us for some time as the food is really good and the prices are very attractive. We totally agreed with her.

The restaurant is located at the Grand BlueWave Hotel which is mere minutes from Causeway CIQ (Customs, Immigration & Quarantine) centre. So it’s very convenient for Singaporeans who just want to hop over to J.B. for a few hours like, say, shopping mainly at City Square.

They serve a buffet lunch for Ringgit Malaysia (RM)25. That’s like Singapore (S)$10! And it’s nett price!

Buffet! Less than ten dollars! Nett! And it’s not even one of those buffets that are economically priced but then get you to fork out for expensive drinks. No. This one came with a free flow of drink too. Bert and I were excited at the thought of pigging out at a buffet for less than ten dollars. So far, the best deal we had experienced for buffets was at the then-newish Shangri-La Hotel in Chiangmai, which was the equivalent of about S$16. Yes, a Shangri-La hotel buffet for only S$16. Amazing Thailand, indeed. That was in 2009, though.

At The Grand Gem, the buffet is even better-priced. Unfortunately, it was not meant to be for us that day. Their buffet lunch is only from Thursday to Sunday, and we could only make it to J.B. on a Wednesday. However, Bert caught sight of a leaflet at the entrance that informed us there were set lunches for RM18 (less than S$7!). There were a total of 4 choices offered.

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My choice was this – called the ‘Non Vegetarian – Fish‘ set. The rice looks little but the metal bowl it comes in is deep and the portion was actually enough for 2 persons.

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While Bert went for the Naan bread set, served with chicken curry. He ordered two more garlic Naan, and that was RM6.50 (about S$2.50) each, and then found it was too much food for him. I was happy to help him finish.

My mouth is watering as I type this, looking at the pictures and recalling the deliciousness. Everything was delicious.

Other notes:

  • Only a few tables (about ten) were occupied when we were there at lunchtime during the non-lunch-buffet weekday we visited. Just how I like it: pleasant, relaxed and not noisy.
  • Service was attentive and gracious, with polite friendly staff with easy smiles.
  • The food took some time to be served, although we didn’t wait too long. Just how I like it. If it had came out too quickly I’d suspect it was just dumped in the microwave to be reheated.
  • Our RM18 sets each came with a sweet drink like mango juice or lassi, a delicious and refreshing yoghurt based drink. Generously portioned in a tall glass. Besides this, water was also served, cold or warm as we wished.
  • My sister was driving us and her carpark charge at the BlueWave Hotel was RM4. Her car was parked there for maybe around an hour and a half, I think.

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The decor was very nice. There were the touches you’d see in an Indian restaurant, set in an opulent yet largely modern and refreshing design. I didn’t take many photos and besides my photography is ultra basic, haha. For a better idea of how nice the restaurant is, please head over to the following blog for some really beautiful pictures in its review, including the buffet: JB Foodie.

Related:

  • Facebook of The Grand Gem restaurant – with information about their buffet and other promotions, as well as general info like address and opening hours.
  • Google Map – Grand BlueWave Hotel, Johor Bahru.

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Day 99 of ‘100 Happy Days‘. So, my lunch at The Grand Gem with Bert and my sister is the very last thing that made me happy that I’m noting for this 100 Happy Days saga. Tomorrow I’ll wrap it up on the 100th day by noting how freaking happy I am that I’ve done this thing, and what it is that I’ve learnt and discovered from the interesting experience.

Green bouffant

I came across this bush plant for the second time, this time in Johor Bahru, and I find myself marvelling again at how beautiful it is. I don’t know what it’s called, and how it gets its shape, but I love it. It makes me think of a well-coiffed hairdo.

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I like how it falls and drapes the sides of the steps. If the steps are tiled nicely instead of just this concrete screed, in something like terracotta for example, it would look gorgeous.

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I first noticed it in January, taking a stroll along Keppel Bay.

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Interesting to see a bald patch, revealing how there’s just a thin layer of its tiny green leaves on the surface

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So very pretty, almost surreal.

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Day 69

Purple Orchids

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This is a great idea I saw at Thistle Hotel in Johor Bahru. I’d love to try it but first I need to get some test tubes, which I know is available at Art Friend, the art supplies store. I’ve seen arrangements using test tubes as vases but this one is really interesting and beautiful to me.

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The tubes are tied to decorative dried branches or sticks, and each one holds a small bunch of flowers. I don’t know what these green tubes are and where to find them, but no matter as I think regular test tubes made of glass would look better, anyway. I also wouldn’t use those industrial-looking nylon cable ties which to me spoils the look of the arrangement. I would simply use the regular green floral wire, or alternatively, a thin fabric ribbon tied into a simple bow.

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Day 62

Lunch at Tea Garden Junction

We experienced the coffeeshop/restaurant Tea Garden Junction in Johor Bahru for the first time . It was very good. Really good, when you consider the prices.

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Chicken Curry Hor Fun. RM6.50 (about S$2.60)

I think that’s the name of the above dish I ordered for myself. I don’t quite remember, it was a blur once I had my first slurp of the curry. I inhaled the thing in a matter of minutes. The curry was so good; so thick and rich.

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A closer look at the hor fun noodles

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Bert had the ‘Nasi Lemak Rendang Mutton’. RM9.50 (about S$3.80). He said the Nasi Lemak was delicious and rich with the taste of coconut milk. I thought the portion of the rice was a bit itsy bitsy, but then again too much rice is really bad for you, especially of the rich variety like this. The mutton rendang was good too.

With prices like that above, it’s more economical than eating at a food court in Singapore! And you don’t have to stand around hovering at the stall till your food is ready, although ordering itself is via self-service. The place-mat menu is on the table. So is a stack of order chit and pen. You write the code number of what you want and bring that to the cashier where you pay for your order. Then a runner brings your order to your table when it’s ready.

The prices of drinks are reasonable, but look strange next to the food. For example you could have a Mee Siam for RM4.50, but the drink you order could be 2.50 or 3.50. Soft drinks are RM2.50 (about S$1.00), if I remember correctly. You could have plain water at 50 cents, but I was guessing it came straight from the tap, and honestly I’m not comfortable with that there even if filtered, so I didn’t have that. I didn’t check the price of bottled water, probably the same as soft drinks.

Definitely dropping by a lot whenever we have the chance. Located at Jalan Mutiara Emas in the Taman Mount Austin area. I don’t remember the exact number of the road, but it’s next to Jubin BMS, the mega tile store. Click here for the map there.

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Day 58

More curry, in a bread bowl

I’m still thinking of the curry Bert made which I enjoyed so much. This reminds me of the curry-in-a-bread-bowl available at Season Cafe, which has several outlets all over Johor Bahru.

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The photos of this chicken curry that had been happily devoured were taken at their Plaza Pelangi outlet. Curry goes so well not just with rice but with bread. Any bread, whether Indian bread like naan, chapati, parata, etc, or really any other bread. So, really, it’s the perfect dish to be served in a bread bowl. Usually it’s just the mushroom chowder soup of some sort that we see in a bread bowl, which happens to be available at Season Cafe as well.

It’s such an exquisite dish. So cute to look at, and so tasty. It’s simple but immense joy to have these two things together: thick delicious curry and white bread, in this case French-loaf style in taste. Comfort food at its most satisfying. My mouth is watering as I type this. I have to stop thinking about it and wait patiently till I next find myself at Season Cafe, which should be in the next few days. Looking forward to it.

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Day 36

happy meter: nostalgic

Tan Hak Heng in Jawi

This brought a smile to my face when I saw it, walking along a road in Johor Bahru. A Chinese name written in Jawi script as well.

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What is Jawi? Wikipedia explains it:

Jawi (Jawi: جاوي‎ Jāwī; Pattani: Yawi; Acehnese: Jawoë) is an Arabic alphabet for writing the Malay language, Acehnese, Banjarese, Minangkabau, and several other languages in Southeast Asia.

Jawi is one of the two official scripts in Brunei, and is used as an alternate script in Malaysia. Usage wise, it was the standard script for the Malay language but has since been replaced by a Latin alphabet called Rumi, and Jawi has since been relegated to a script used for religious and cultural purposes. Day-to-day usage of Jawi is maintained in more conservative Malay-populated areas such as Kelantan in (northern) Malaysia and Pattani (in southern Thailand).

It interests me because I am learning Arabic, in weekly lessons, and as I learn every new word in the regular Roman script, I find myself looking for the word as spelt in the actual Arabic script. It’s not listed in the course I’m using, so I have to look for it online. And it has slowed down my learning quite a lot ever since I started doing this, because I’m basically learning to spell with a different script than the Roman letters I’m used to. The effort is worth it, though. It helps with making sure I get the correct pronunciation, I find.

And sometimes as I do that, I think of how wonderful it would be if the Malay language still solely uses Jawi, because I think it’s largely a lost art in many parts of the Malay-speaking world. In terms of everyday usage by the Malays, I mean. We already learned the Roman script in school to read and write English, so it would be nice to have ‘our own’ script for our Malay language, just like the Chinese has for their Mandarin language, and the Indians for their Tamil language, here in Singapore.

I regret not taking an interest to learn it from my late father, who was not only well-versed in writing Malay in Jawi script, but was skillful in Arabic calligraphy, so he wrote beautifully. He was very artistic. Whereas here I am, my writing so comically awful, as I practise writing in Arabic alphabets as I spell out the words I learn. I hope it will improve over time.

Looking at the name ‘Tan Hak Heng‘ in Jawi in the photos made me smile and laugh to myself because it reminded me of when I first tried to write my own name months ago. I was embarrassed to discover I got it so wrong, haha! Fortunately for us Malays in Singapore, our name in Jawi script is actually provided in our national Identity Card (which is pretty cool, actually), so I know the correct spelling.

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Day 35

happy meter: pleasantly surprised

Magnums to drool over

I was shopping at Jusco supermarket in Johor Bahru and came across my favourite ice-cream on a stick, Magnum. I love Magnum. It’s so creamy and rich, truly delicious.

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In J.B. it’s so much cheaper than in Singapore. In the first picture above, I captured the special offer price of RM23.90 for TWO boxes of the mini ones. At a rounded off currency exchange of 2.5 to an SG dollar (actually as of writing now it’s more around 2.6) that’s only SG$9.56.

In Singapore, based on this flyer I found on singapore-promotions.com, a special offer price of those two boxes would be around SG$15. So that’s more than 50% more expensive! Of course bear in mind that different supermarkets in both Singapore and J.B. will feature different prices and at different times as well.

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Regular-sized Magnums come 3 in a box, at 90ml each.

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Whereas the Mini ones, are exactly half at 45ml. Perfect for those on a diet, or those who simply find it too rich and sinful. I tend to get these, as I find it satisfyingly big enough already.

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Naturally I have tried these two flavours as well and love them too.

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In unrelated news, well not really unrelated since I did drool and lust over him growing up, this is another Magnum I think of when I hear or see the name. Ooh yummy.

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Tom Selleck a.k.a. Magnum, P.I. Image from the Tumblr site ZestyBlog, via the Pinterest page Hollywoody. Click image to go to the latter.

A video of an episode found on YouTube thanks to user Michael Knight.

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This post is Day 15 of ‘100 Happy Days‘.

Happy meter: contented