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

Galaxy Cat

I came across this beautiful mural art at one side of Holland Village Market & Food Centre, the side that faces Haagen Dazs.

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Gorgeous, isn’t it. I find it fascinating, even as I feel a bit uneasy as I study it. It rekindles a suspicion deep inside me that I thought I had long banished.

That cats first came from outer space thousands of years ago, landing on our planet to enslave us. Cunningly working their way into our hearts with their fluffy cuteness and by pretending to be hopelessly derpy ever since. But we all know they are forever slyly plotting away in those pretty little heads of theirs on how to finally beat us into total submission. I have frequently caught my cats staring at me with a startlingly evil expression.They came close to domination with the ancient Egyptians, but all their effort backfired when they ended up being mummified along with the very masters they were seeking to destroy after seducing them. Progress has been slow ever since because they kept getting distracted into playtime by glittery things and puking out hairballs.

The designer of my keychain not only agrees with me, but thinks the situation is far more grim than I had thought.

Cats now rule the world

Anyway, back to the mural art.

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Detail 2

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I am inspired by this artwork to call the next cat I adopt ‘Galaxy’. Or Gal, for short.

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Related:

Depressing signs

I’m putting here pictures of three that I came across and snapped in the past few weeks.

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The first one below was taken at Ikea, and it just cracked me up when I saw it.

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Probably laughed way more than I should, but I was just so tickled by it. I was thinking, why the hell is such a sign necessary? Why would anyone think that a toilet bowl in a showroom is a functioning one, and why would anyone there want to use one in the open in the first place?

Then I thought, ahh okay, it’s for those crazy parents/grandparents of young kids who I’ve seen before letting the kids relieve themselves in public, like into a drain. And hey, these days, even in Singapore it’s not just the kids anymore, going by the stories in the links below.

So, yes, that sign (complete with acrylic sheet covering the whole toilet opening so nobody can insist on peeing or shitting into it! haha!) in Ikea is sensible, I guess. I shudder to think if such signs were originally brought on by any smelly messy incidents, whether in Singapore or in any of their hundreds of stores elsewhere in the world. Eeww. Poor cleaner.

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A blogger I follow, Laura of Texas on Thames, who is an expat in Singapore, featured a similar Crime Alert sign in a post just recently where she wrote about staying attentive in Singapore even though we have a low crime rate. I was just commenting on her post about how such signs seem to be appearing with more frequency, which is worrying.

So when I came across this yet another new one just last week or so, it’s such a bummer. I mean, these signs themselves are great because they serve such an important purpose, but at the same time when they start to seem more common to me, it does seem to point to an increase in crime, generally. And, ugh, ‘obscene act‘. What is that, like a flasher? How rude. My sympathies to the victim, and I hope the authorities apprehend the offender soon. I think usually I see the alert for ‘shoplifting‘ or ‘housebreaking‘ or something like that.

By the way, this Crime Alert sign was placed outside Botanic Gardens MRT Station, Exit A. (for if by any chance anyone reading this was at the time and place and saw something,)

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The third sign I snapped made me sad too. It was captured on a public bus.

“No assault on bus captain.”

(Perhaps for another post on another day, but by the way why are bus drivers in Singapore called bus captains? To give the occupation a fancy name? If so, why? And would that mean we look down on bus drivers, so much that we need to give them a fancier sounding name, to make the job look better? I just think that would be friggin’ ridiculous. Driving a bus is not just an honest and decent living, but honorable. The safety and lives of hundreds of passengers are in your hands every single day.)

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There must have been some ugly incidents for the bus company to deem such a sign necessary, and the thought is just depressing.

Just a couple of weeks after I saw the sign above and wondered about it, I read about how in Penang, Malaysia last week, a bus driver was stabbed by a female passenger, for not acceding to her request to stop by the roadside. Please be warned that the photo of the victim contained in the following linked article is graphic, showing blood: Rapid Penang bus driver stabbed by a passenger.

Damn. Imagine being attacked and injured so seriously, but as the driver you still need to think for everyone’s safety, so you have to struggle to stop the bus safely even as you’re struggling to fight off your assailant.

Looks like Malaysia should follow Singapore’s example and put up “No assault on bus driver” signs to remind passengers to control their temper if riled up by the drivers, if they haven’t put up such signs already. How bloody screwed up, that all these signs are necessary.

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Update 17 October 2014: Related: Unemployed man jailed for punching bus driver (Stomp.com.sg – 15 October 2014)

Prego Restaurant

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I haven’t visited Prego for years, more than a decade. It used to be a firm favourite with me and Bert. We first came across it about twenty years ago I think, around when it first opened, when the space it occupied used to be under one of the Westin Hotels formerly there. Westin Stamford or Plaza, I forgot which. Now the hotel there is called the Fairmont.

So it brought back some nice memories when we went back with a couple of friends recently. To me, the fact that Prego is still there after all these years is remarkable for Singapore. But it’s pretty stunning that even the interior is the same. Now that’s incredible. Commercial space here like malls and restaurants get makeovers frequently, some every few years. From interiors to even entire building facades, it can seem striking even for locals how frequent and fast things change, let alone for repeat visitors like tourists.

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The shock of yellow is a tad gaudy to me but I guess it goes alright with the rest of the colour palette. I love the potted bushes of rosemary.

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I so love that they kept this travertino floor at the foyer, and the waves of happiness kept rolling over me when I realised they kept everything I remember about the place.

I don’t know why I was so darn happy. It’s just a restaurant. I think it’s just that I was so surprised because it’s so unusual for things to stay the same in Singapore, and for such a long time. Things keep changing here. To keep them appealingly fresh, I suppose. But the way I see it, the problem becomes: how do you really let sink in the memories that you can treasure by letting them take root, when the places these memories are crafted around seem disposable. At the back of your head you are already thinking that the place won’t last, that you would soon be forming new memories with the new things that will take over the space. After a while there are just too many of these ‘short-term’ memories, so you allow all these memories associated with the same space to be filmsy and disposable too.

So when I walked in again and saw that things were mostly the same as it were twenty years ago (except for some very few and very small touches here and there) Prego ceased to be just a restaurant. It became snapshots and voices and laughter from years ago, the food we ordered, what we liked and didn’t liked. The faces of the friends and family we dined with. The other people we brought there. I even remember a few of the waiters. Not their names or what they looked like, but some things that were said or done to earn smiles or frowns. Crazy, the amount of memories. And now imprinted even more deeply in me, to be cherished for many more years.

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I don’t remember the awning and similarly striped wallpaper, but the rest of the restaurant looks exactly the same as I remember it, including the chairs.

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We went for the ‘Sunday Semi-Buffet Lunch’

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Just a glimpse of the buffet line. There was actually a big and very tasty selection of appetisers and desserts. I was too shy to go around taking photos of the spread, and it would have been disruptive to the other people getting their food.

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Part of the buffet is this long list of dishes you order ala carte. Just tick what you want and hand it to the waiter. Limited to one dish a person at a time. When you’ve had that, you can order more. This turned out to be a very good idea, as we found that we were beginning to be stuffed by the time our ala carte selection arrived.

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They even kept these Mediterranean-style plates I remember! If not exactly the same ones, they at least kept to the same design, which put yet another smile on my face. These four dishes are our first round from the buffet ala carte menu.

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Beer barrel tables! I want one, if only I have the space for it at home. And painted so prettily too. Cuteness overload.

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The windows used to look out to the street but not anymore, so I guess the hotel had claimed the space outside to expand its interior. The sayings above the restaurants are yet another thing I remember and remember liking. This one is “Troppi cuochi sciupano la minestra” which is “Too many cooks spoil the broth“.

‘Prego’, the name of the restaurant, means ‘welcome‘, by the way.

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.

Squirrel

I was just so happy when I spotted this cheeky little guy. Or gal. It’s not often that I’m lucky enough to spot such delightful creatures. Once in a blue moon, some exotic-looking bird, (exotic to me as in unusual colouring or marking even if a tad) would land on a branch within sight, and I’d get all excited. I’d be in such awe, haha. We live in such a concrete jungle.

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Gnawing away on a coconut to get to the delicious flesh inside.

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Ravaged! Those are some powerful teeth. I wouldn’t pet him even if he lets me, lest he’s neurotic or feeling cranky and decides to have a go at one of my fingers.

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So very cute.

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Day 97

 

Graffiti art in Kuala Lumpur

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When we were in K.L., there was a metro station just about ten minutes walk from our hotel, so it was convenient to use their excellent commuter rail system to get around the city for sightseeing. This is the street art we were treated to on the way there, along a canal drain we would cross to get to the station.

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My favourite panel. A kid gazing out a train window at what I’m guessing is the exact spot or area we’re at! The same canal, the same bridges we crossed, the same wall of graffiti. Neat.

Some of the other photos:

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Day 96

Dream garden in HortPark

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Of the many theme gardens at the park dubbed ‘the gardening hub‘, this is the one that makes me sigh and smile wistfully. Not nearly as conventionally pretty as the other more manicured gardens featured there, but I’ve always loved vegetable gardens, even before I came across the ‘Grow Food, Not Lawns‘ thing online.

So lovely to have your own space to grow some of your vegetables. Doesn’t have to be as big as this, not even by half, just a little bit of space. Doesn’t have to be your entire supply of vegetables if that’s not possible. Even the privilege of growing just a tiny bit would still be exhilarating and fun and fulfilling.

Some other photos from HortPark.

A few pictures from the Pinterest of Cristyane Lamastra-Conner that made me swoon. Click the images to go to her site.

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Not just a vegetable garden but a vertical vegetable garden. Wow.

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Day 95

Mosaic work on floor

On the drive back from a long weekend trip to the resort town of Port Dickson, my brother and sister-in-law very kindly decided to stop by the historical city of Malacca for Bert’s benefit as he had never been there before, and to grab lunch. We only had a few hours, so we only caught glimpses of three sights very quickly: the A Famosa Fort, the Malacca Sultanate Palace, and the Independence Monument Museum.

I’ll post pictures someday, probably when we have returned there to visit it ‘properly’, as Malacca is a very interesting city-state. One of the smallest states in Malaysia, but one of the most fascinating as it is rich in history and culture. It is in fact dubbed ‘The Historic State‘ and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with Penang’s George Town.

Damn, wrong intro. After mentioning history and culture, all I’m going to show now are pictures from a shopping mall. Haha, sorry.

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Oh well, it’s just that, across where we ate was this mall with a lot of arts and crafts stalls. After visiting those, we went outside of one of the upper floors for a breather and there was this gorgeous mosaic work featuring what look like pebble stones. And that’s what I want to feature in this post, this really beautiful (to me) and large mosaic work.

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Day 91