Saturday, December 28, 2013

Paranormal Activity - The Marked Ones (Movie Review)

A quick recap on the Paranormal Activity franchise :

Paranormal Activity (2007) - 'Found footage' of an unexplained haunting that happens to a young couple, Micah & Katie, encapsulating all the paranormal activities in a voyeuristic perspective (yes, bedroom scenes included) using home digital camera. 

Paranormal Activity 2 (2010) - A prequel to PA1, the 'found footage' of the unexplained (which is later explained to the audience) haunting that happened in Katie's sister, Kristi's household. PA2 further explained why the haunting happened in PA1, with special appearance by Katie.

Paranormal Activity 3 (2011) - A prequel to the prequel of PA1, the 'found footage' explained the previously unexplained incidents in PA1 & PA2, where the story delved further into the history of Katie & Kristi's haunting/demonic possessions/behavioural changes.

Paranormal Activity 4 (2012) - Finally, no more prequels, PA4 is a sequel of PA2 and focuses on Alex, who also recorded a series of paranormal activities on recorders, security cams and video cams, who happened to be a neighbor of the said missing Katie (eh, news never showed Katie's pictures on TV/newspaper ah?).

Now, our beloved franchise brings you a slight spin off of the Paranormal Activity franchise - The Marked Ones.

The 'found footage' taken in 2012, revolves around the protagonist, Jesse who unfortunately happens to stumbled across the strange phenomena known as Paranormal Activity, and yada yada suffers the same haunting. Same B-grade acting to be expected along the way, slightly clever lines that won't bore you half way throughout the movie, ridiculous video shots and angles, and one clear thing I noticed along the movie, it looks like elements from Chronicle/ Resident Evil/ Insidious are mashed up into this movie (no spoiler intended, you would have to watch/read spoiler reviews).

Same WTF moments to be expected at the end of the movie, but I personally enjoyed the show for good laugh (whether it was intentional or otherwise) & very minimal scare factors (whether it was intentional or otherwise). 

Paranormal Activity : The Marked Ones opens in cinemas nationwide on the 2nd of January, 2014.
Running Time : 84 minutes | Director : Christopher B.Landon

This premiere screening is courtesy of Nuffnang :)

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Tips and Tricks : Nanten En Ryokan

If you are ever in Japan, do consider spending a night over an Edo style ryokan (旅館) for a unique Japanese home stay experience.

The one my travel mates and I chose was Nanten En, located in Amami. We slotted our ryokan stay towards the last day of our week there so that we won't be so adventurous to the Kansai International Airport. Getting there is easy, if you're from KIX, there are 4 different train routes you can take (all praises to Japanese public transportation system) that would land you to Amami station. The ryokan is just next to the train station, we arrived when it was pitch black (mind you, it was only 7pm that time, autumn in Japan has shorter daytime) and we still managed to find our way to the inn, it's that near.

We were greeted with the warmest welcome from the inn keepers and they showed us to our room after confirming our earlier reservation. If you wish to have your saiseki dinner, you would have to show up by 6pm (last call). There are no convenience stall within walking distance in Amami, so your option is pretty limited, either buy your supplies when you're in town, or enjoy the Japanese dinner in the room.

We were pretty lucky as they still take in order when we arrived. We opted for a hot pot with generous slices of pork from black pigs and fresh local vegetables to complement all the meat. The inn keeper that took our order is well versed in both Japanese and English, so not that much of language barriers to order what you want. 

The dining table was in the center of the tatami matted room, and we were first served with hot tea and welcoming sweet appetizer. The kaiseki we had also included sashimi, fresh cuts of salmon & tuna, a joy to the palate. The soup is flavoured with miso, and the broth that was infused with the goodness from the pork and vegetable has its taste still resonates on my taste bud till today (too much info?). And hot sake, perfect combination need I say?

What is a ryokan without donning the yukata? Provided for the guests, the yukata is a complimentary outfit which we wore throughout our stay there.

As the night kicks in after the awesome dinner, we couldn't go for further sight seeing as it was pitch black and freezing cold outside. Another must have experience when you're in Japan, is of course the onsen. The hot spring bath is said to be medicinal and rejuvenating, which to a certain extend I do agree after the whole day of walking, a relaxing bath is all I need. 

Nanten En's onsen is not an outdoor hot spring bath where you can bath with snow monkeys, but non the less adequate enough for the hot bath experience. Proper etiquette of onsen needed to be adhered, including showering before entering and the small towel must not immerse into the bath water. To be perfectly frank, there's no one who is watching, so even if you don't exactly follow the rules 100%, you will not be penalized (as long as you're not caught that is).

When we were done with our onsen, our room was already made with the futon for the night, the dining table miraculously disappeared and replaced with the futons. 


The next morning, before our breakfast, we took the opportunity for a morning onsen bath, complemented with the morning breeze, it was truly refreshing to say the least. The breakfast we ordered was a traditional Japanese breakfast with rice, fish and soup.

We then went for a shutterbug spree around before packing up to Osaka again. Nanten En is truly a home stay experience that was worth every yen spent. All in all, we paid approximately 27,000 yen (about RM250 per person - there were 4 of us, for the night) for the room and 39,000-ish yen (RM300-ish per person, party of 4) for the kaiseki , sake & the breakfast.

4 ronins
Next trip to Japan, if possible, I would want to venture into a more remote, exquisite ryokan for a different experience. But if you're in Osaka, do give Nanten En a try :)

Getting There:

158 Amami, Kawachinagano-shi, Osaka, 586-0062, Japan
TEL:0721-68-8081, (International:+81-721-68-8081), FAX:0721-68-8012
Check-in 15:00p.m. , Check out 10:00a.m.

By train : Suggested routes by Google Maps. Please do your research before hand as the train map might not be that easy to read in Japan. Just saying :)

Friday, November 29, 2013

Tips and Tricks : Kansai International Airport

If you're heading or planning for a trip to Japan from KL via AirAsia X and your preferred destination is Osaka, bear in mind as of date of posting (29/11/2013), there are three different timing slot that you may choose from depending on the day you're traveling. (0100-0825, 0815-1540, 1500-2225).

Now, knowing the current season of the destination you are flying is to is not crucial, but informative for itinerary adjustment purposes (if you are self planning your trip). My travel mates and I overlooked the fact that autumn, during the duration of visit has shorter day time (thus, by 5pm it'll be looking like 8pm in KL). Having a jam packed itinerary was challenging but we motivated ourselves to master the art of Shunpo (瞬歩, Flash steps) in order for us to cover as many places that we wanted to see.

File:Kansai International Airport North Terminal.jpg
Photos courtesy of WikiMedia
Our flight on the Monday, 11th of November 2013 was 1500-2225 (approximately 6 hours 25 minutes in the sky). We knew for the fact, excluding time for passport to be processed, we may only leave the airport at 2300 (Tokyo time, GMT +0700), thus we did not consider getting an accommodation in Osaka and opted to stay in the airport for a night. Reading up about Kansai International Airport, we knew that in terms of safety and security, it's a viable place to bunk for a night.

There are airport lounge that you can opt for, a 'private' room may only cost 1000 yen per person for 8 hours. With additional cost, you can find yourself at the comfort of shower as well. We, being stingy backpackers, decided to bunk outside due to the rooms with sofas has already been fully booked, makes no difference to us.

Lawson's wide range of food, too much to choose from :)
Read several blogs around mentioning that the safest place to bunk for the night is at the vicinity near Lawson Convenience Store, Police Station and McDonalds. Though it is true to a certain extent that it is safer, but if you're planning to sleep you would have to ingloriously expose your sleeping styles to quite a number of awake pedestrians. Yes, my sleeping style is no where near fabulous, 9Gag worthy I must say.

Speaking of McDonald's, this was actually my 1st dinner/supper there
Try the 1st floor (In Japan, 1st floor is Ground Floor), nearby the information center. There, if you can't sleep, you can read loads of travel brochures, maps and such. There are ample charging ports near there as well, and need I say, WiFi gratis in the airport.

Tips : Electricity in Japan, the locals are using Type A or Type B plugs, 100V and 50/60 Hz. Just have your regular travel adapter, and you should be fine. 

You can opt to sleep at the nearby benches, without the large company of other night bunkers. The security officers may approach you and ask routine questions, the one that approached us even asked us if we are cold or not - in Japanese. Of course I was tempted to just answer 分かりません,分かりません (I don't know), but I managed to blurt out some incomprehensible Japanese words enough to imply that we're doing just fine. How nice of him. 

We did try to sleep on the hard seaters, but were rudely awaken by a worker who decided to clean the floor around us (for more than 15 minutes, near the same spot) with the loud noise from the floor cleaning machine. Conclusively, we were pretty much sleepless the whole night.

Eyebags but excited to start the day in Japan!
After surviving till 6 a.m. (Japan time), we decided to look for Lawson and buy some convenient breakfast before heading out to Osaka. Had my 1st Onigiri breakfast, not too shabby but kinda not used to having that kinda rice for breakfast. 

We then proceeded to look for WiFi rental and purchased our bus tickets to Osaka. Buses here are VERY punctual, and the bus workers are highly efficient in their duty and polite. Something we might rarely get back home. The bus took us only an hour or so, and till the next post - Osaka!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Burberry Brit Rhythm Men Music Event : Singapore

To mark the launch of Burberry Brit Rhythm fragrance (For Him), a series of 3 live gigs was held in three cities throughout the world : London (16th Oct), New York (17th Oct) and Singapore (18th Oct). In conjunction with the Singapore gig, Burberry Malaysia with collaboration of Sunway Pyramid flew a handful of lucky Malaysians to Singapore to experience the exclusive Brit Rhythm Music Event.

Brit Rhythm, the new fragrance for men, is inspired by British music and the energy of audience sharing that one common electrifying experience. Marking Burberry's first fragrance launch since enrolling in the beauty business in April 2013, the sexy (and provocative) fragrance is one of the brand's most significant men's fragrance launch to date.

Welcome Pack and the Temporary Tattoo - Woot woot!
We checked into the Grand Park Orchard at noon, and were given leisure time to walk around or simply freshen ourselves for the night gig. Definitely a grander stay compared to my previous stays in Singapore. :)

Accommodation for the night, Grand Park Orchard
The weather was fine, and we opted to be touristy and revisited Marina Bay Sands and some other attractions within reach via the SMRT, just for the fun of window shopping and air conditioning. Since we're smacked in the middle of Orchard, we figured that we could hang around here after the gig. 

We were driven to the gig location in Lorong Ampas in the evening, and we soon figured out despite the compact venue, it was not short of elegant guests and event set up. I found out the event's venue is Wheeler's Yard, apparently a place to get your bikes fixed while enjoying your sip of coffee cum gig venue.  

Crowd building up at Wheeler's Yard

Left : Reps from Malaysia, Yin Yin & Joy from Luxasia Malaysia with Dome Pakorn
Right : The new face of Burberry Brit Rhythm, Suki Waterhouse
The highlight of the music gig was definitely post-punk band, White Lies from (you guessed it), the UK. With tracks like First Time Caller and There Goes Our Love Again, definitely played to the mood of the energy and adrenaline of Brit music. 

White Lies
Free flow of beers and cocktails and lively crowd, recipe of a truly happening gig. The gig's finale with rains of confetti of the iconic Brit Rhythm bottle definitely closed the event on a high note.

Available at all leading stores, Burberry Brit Rhythm is layered by :

Top Notes : Basil Verveina, Spicy Cardamom, a shot of Juniper Berries
Heart Notes : Black Leather, Heady Patchoulli, Styrax Resin
Base Notes : Cedarwood Heart, Incense and Warm Tonka Beans

Thanks again to Burberry Malaysia, Sunway Pyramid and Singapore. Certainly wouldn't mind heading to another Burberry's gig in the near future.

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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Insidious 2 (Movie Review)

KLIPS Malaysia and I sure have a thang for horror movie, 2nd movie scored under Klips is non other than James Wan's Insidious 2 (sequel to where the story left off in Insidious, 2011).

Well, just when you thought that your family might get off the hook of stubborn entities, Josh Lambert (Patrick Wilson) was apparently still being haunted by the entity from the first Insidious movie. Insidious 2 further explains the haunting, young Josh and Lorraine's (Barbara Hershey) relationship with deceased medium Elise, and whether the Lambert family survives this round of 'insidious' disturbance. Quite frankly I wasn't expecting much after the preceding installment but Insidious 2 should be a bearable watch (after all it has elements of Oren Peli and Mr.Conjuring-Director James Wan, it's not that of a train wreck rest assured).

Oh, if you're watching it, keep your eyes peeled at the end of the movie (before the credits) and let me know what you think :)

Release Date    :   17 Oct 2013
Running Time    :   105 minutes
Director            :   James Wan
Cast                 :    Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Barbara Hershey

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Know when to Fold

The moment I spilled milk on my presentation day, I knew that it will be a rough sea ahead of my sail, and my worst fears materialized. This is related to one of the contest I participated recently, about designing a product made primarily from Tetra Pak materials. 

So I got my creative juice flowed since I knew that I had to come up with something that is creative/original as it was one of the main judging criteria (as plucked from the contest overview here). Aside from that, it has to be commercially viable (translate : something that people would actually buy). Next was quality and functionality, which means the design should be at the peak of its quality and be functional and feasible.

My entry made it to the Top 20 out of 69 submitted entries, where the final 20 contestants would have to come up with a live presentation of their design and submit their sales pitch to the judges. On the presentation day, the Final 10 are selected and as I predicted for myself earlier that morning, I flunked and effectively out of the running. Knowing when to fold is one thing, knowing why I folded probably would help me move on. Below are 5 breakdowns that I observed from my self evaluation.

5. Sales Pitching
I must admit that I am not salesman material, nor am I a professional public speaker. The confidence I had was due to the fact that I understood my product perfectly. The feedback I got after the presentation was 
  • "What do you work as?" - Well, I answered honestly that I am working in IT line, and I gotten a good feedback that my sales pitch was good, OK, a good start.
  • "Your design and idea is good, but not for this contest maybe." - Fuck! Whenever people praise you followed by a conjunction, you know that you're screwed, royally or otherwise, but definitely screwed.
I compared my presentation to the other 18 finalists, I did not listen to all of them because quite frankly I couldn't hear most of them despite the usage of the microphone. Most of them merely described what they made rather that hitting all the points of the judging criteria. Probably that's where I faltered, by explaining who are my target clients, possible sales points when I should just focus on what the fuck I made and why I made it. My bad - wrong presentation style at the wrong place :D

4. It's one thing to have a winning design, but...
The complexity of the designs who made it to the top 10, from my perspective of the public (and not as a bitter loser or else I would've hated them all), 3 of them had intricate designs and longer manufacturing time (this was apparently one of the judging criteria by 2 of the judges). The rest of them are something that you can craft yourself at the convenience of your home. What I overlooked was that the winning design would commercially be put into the market, but by who? I was grilled when I said that my design took about a day to make versus other simplistic designs which took hours. Should've unrealistically say my design would take less than an hour to make, with elves assisting.

3. Design something that doesn't suck
Self explanatory, otherwise I wouldn't be typing this.

2. Know your odds when you're a minority.
Q:    I am a student, can I participate?
A:    Yes, you may. This competition is open to everyone, regardless of age and nationality. However, those below age of 18 will require consent of their parent/legal guardian. Refer to Clause 2.2 under T&C.

This was extracted from the FAQ of the contest, but, by talking to other finalists on the presentation day, I've learned that 15 out of 20 of them are from Taylor's College student. Essentially, that is already 21.7% of the confirmed Taylor's participant out of the total 69 of participants, and winning odds further shortens to 75% at the final 20. My analysis stopped there since I was booted out halfway through. And to further drift my odds, one of the judges, is a part time lecturer at Taylor's University. Think of it this way, assuming that I love listening to the Beatles, and I was given an iPod by a Belieber, who filled the song list with 9 Justin Bieber songs out of 10, what are the odds that I would actually hit the Beatles song if I had the iPod on shuffle. 

1. For those who didn't make it, don't give up. You're still in the running for the people's vote category.
Any seasoned comper would know, 'voting' contests are divided to two distinctive camps - Those who join and Those who don't. 'Camp Join' would have their distinctive division as well - Those who goes for the jugular for the votes by any means possible, ethical or otherwise and those who genuinely garner their votes by futilely begging/bugging/annoying their Facebook friends. 

I was told by the compère that 50% would be public vote (those who visit the exhibition area in Publika) and 50% would be online vote. Either way, with the most obvious way to rig the voting system ( Read my previous out takes on Bane of Voting Contest and Do Your Votes Really Matter ) , it is easy money of RM1000 - people choice. Heck I would sell my vital organs for RM1000 as well. The moment the compère started naming the shortlisted finalists 'in no particular', I knew that I am royally screwed as those designs are distinctively different to what I presented. I don't think my product sucked that bad per se, but if I am serving a appetizer when everyone are serving entree, you know how it goes. I would rather hear "You lost, go suck a lemon, get on with your life and move on" than "You didn't make it, don't give up, go further fuck yourself by trying to chase the votes (said with a smiley face)".

The contest is still on going as I am typing this, they will award the top 4 designs (which means another 6 will fall), and one of them is potentially going to automatically win RM1000, feel free to join the bandwagon here). If there is any justice, from the final 10, I would actually put my money on Recycle(d) Calender Clock, after talking to the designer, I understood his passion and design and his presentation was spot on as well. Do check their entries currently displayed in Publika as well.

C'est la vie, :End Rant:

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Last Summer (Thai Movie - Review)

I am a sucker for horror movies, really. Courtesy of KLIPS Malaysia, I've managed to spook myself into watching Last Summer a night before set to release on 15th of August 2013.

This movie revolves around a suicidal, popular high school student, Joy who was joined by three friends, Singh, Garn and her bff Meen on a summer beach getaway where the 'joyful' vacation ended with an unexpected tragedy. Joy, who was been wronged by her friends/family is back to haunt the heck out of them (Albeit the dead did not appear as a killer with a fisherman hat and hook on a killing frenzy).

The movie consists of three interrelated stories, each linked to the main demised. I was disappointed actually the way how the motive and the cause of death of Joy, the spooker elevated to the series of haunting. Comparing to the peers of Thai horror flicks, this one definitely fell short on the lower side of the spectrum.

Don't expect a full snoozefest though, as the sound effects would be sufficient to torment you throughout the 1 hour and a half duration of the movie, but overall I would suggest that you avoid this movie unless you've covered every single movies in the cinema already, coff*watchconjuring*coff.

Release Date   :           15 Aug 2013
Running Time   :           92 minutes
Director           :           Kittithat Tangsirikit, Sittisiri Mongkolsiri, Saranyoo Jiralak
Cast                 :           Jirayu La-ongmanee, Sutatta Udomsilp, Pimpakan Phraekhunnatham, Krit Sathapanapitakkij, Ekkawat Ekatchariya

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Tips and Tricks : Sibu

Sibu town, located at the more north-eastern side of Sarawak is a quiet but dainty place to be in the state. However, this town is also infamous for its triads/paikia activities, which gives it the nickname of 'Wild West' of Malaysia. Also dubbed as the Garden City, this town is predominantly resided by the Foochow Chinese.

It was the new year of 2007, when two friends and myself decided to visit a friend, Karen in her hometown. The journey from Kuching to Sibu via bus took us around 7 hours, with multiple stops along the way (we even almost missed the bus at one of the stops).

There is almost no night activities in Sibu if discounted eating. But at the light of day, there are several places that you can visit when you're in town.

Tua Pek Kong temple

The Tua Pek Kong temple, is dated back to 1870, and one of the remarkable places of worship in Sibu. Jubilee Park and Lake Park are recreational areas that you can walk around, nothing too fancy though.

And of course, the mascot of Sibu, the Swan statue is smacked right in the town center, if you're into those landmarks or so.

Do visit the local market if you wish to load yourself with fresh produce and local good food such as their famed kompia. Kompia is a Foochow delicacy made with flour, oven baked and eaten either with or without meat and a special gravy. Almost similar to bagel or fried donuts in texture, the kompia is loved by the locals, regardless of their race (and of course the halal version for the Malays)


Eating in Sibu, you will find heavy influence of the Foochow cuisine. From the famous Kampua Mee (干盘面) to their Kompia (光饼), you are in for a treat here. Here you can also find ample stalls that sells Mi Suah (some vermicelli and red wine soup dish) as well. Kampua Mee is not to be mistaken with Sarawak's Mi Kolok though they have heavy similarities with each other. Eat with your conventional Maggi chilli sauce, simple but savory dish.

Kampua Mee
Mi Suah
 All in all, Sibu is a dainty town if you wish to escape from your hectic weekday schedules, solely to fill your tummy. Flights from Sibu to Kuching took us approximately 20 minutes, the seats weren't even warmed up enough when we touched down. If you're in Kuching or Miri, why not stop by and check what Sibu can offer you? :)

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Tips and Tricks : Around Jogja (Kraton & Taman Sari)

After surviving a whole day visiting the temples the day before, we decided to have a closer look at the Jogja town instead. One of the better attractions was the Taman Sari. The Taman Sari Water Castle is located 2km south from another attraction, the Kraton. Built in mid 18th century, the Taman Sari had multiple functions, such as a resting area, a workshop, a meditation area, a defense area, and a hiding place. But put in another manner, it was the place for the ruler to satisfy his fetish of spying on bathing maidens, true story!

Pool View
Locals and strolling through the Tajug buildings

Elevated Stairways in Sumur Gumuling

Souvenirs sold within the vicinity of Taman Sari
The labyrinth of Taman Sari isn't exactly complex per se, but an accompanying tour guide wouldn't harm. Just remember to tip him off for a small fee, depending on how much you think the guide is worth.

Musical Instruments at the Pendopo 

Kraton, on the other hand, is basically unimpressive to say the least. The reason being is that the place is made to be museum like, and it is generally swarmed with tourists and locals alike by morning. Give and take the weather of Jogja, walking around in Kraton could be tad uncomfortable at times, but maybe that's just me. Skip-able if it's were me.

Half a body, near the Vredeburg entrance

Vredeburg Fortress is another tourist enigma. This Dutch influenced barracks is now another museum showcasing dioramas of events that took place in Yogyakarta during the period of 1830 till 1949. The fortress was deprived of tourists when we were there, quite possibly all of them are centered at Kraton or Taman Sari.

High fashion pose from a becak dude

Yogyakarta from a view

In comparison with the temples tour, the town itself breathes a different set of attractions that you may be interested in visiting. Going around, don't shy from taking the andong or becak, both forms of transportation that even locals take daily. Jogjakarta Tetap Istimewa (Jogjakarta's always special), I do agree!