Monday, December 29, 2008

Pimp My Toxic Ride

Dear Friends,

Your pick. Performance, style or comfort? Why not choose all three?
Let me recollect. To date; wheels and tyres, suspension, competition brakes, exhaust system, performance air filter, high indensity lights, voltage stabilizer, auto styling and I could also make do with a 5lb nitrous system which will add a shot of extra jooze.
I was looking at my ride the other day and realised that somehow boredom has begun to set in for me. I began to question the look of how 'small' the offset of the wheels looked and how distorted the front spoiler was. In denial that the recession was cashing in, I could not resist my prolific habit of splurting when it comes to pimping my ride. So, I thought I should pay a visit to the pimping guys called Nextlevel Customz. ( to see what is or indeed isn't possible.

I dread this guy called Kumerg who is the Creative Director. What is indeed isn't possible is made possible when he gets his hands 'photoshop'-ing on designs for my ride. It is made to look easy with technology these days. A little 'cut' from designs of renowned auto styles (my favorite being the Wald designs - and later 'pasted' on an image of my ride and "VOILA", it sets me pocket back a couple of thousand bucks. I am vulnerable when it comes to my ride and I pray to repent against such temptations.
I chose Nextlevel Customz because it is a name that seems to regularly market itself contemporarily. They have appeared as a feature on television when they pimped the ride of Phat Fabes, a local television celebrity on 8TV emulating the way it is done on MTV's 'Pimp My Ride'. I found that advertising innovation if compared to advertising expenses incurred by their peers, if any. But what blew me away was their '17 Commandments' insribed on stone which they swear by on their website. The one I like best is Commandment No. Twelve. It assures like this:

Quote - "An unheard of, never before offered, we gotta be out of our minds, 90 DAYS VALUE FOR MONEY GUARANTEE. We are so confident we are able to deliver exceptional value to you and because we take your business seriously, Next Level Customz will give you 90 days before we will actually consider the sale final. In the event that after you have made the wise decision to invest in our products and services, and you are actually able to get better value elsewhere-and I’m not talking about price alone-but the entire package including product and workmanship quality, warranty, after sales support, follow up, no hassle guaranteed replacements and no questions asked exchange policy; Just provide us with documented proof stating all the above and we will pay that competitor to work on your ride-and refund you the price difference (if any)!"- unquote.

This styling outfit is managed by Aaaron Goh aka 'Botak' - the Chief Executive Officer, Shaiful aka 'Kumerg' - the Creative Director and assisted by Ryzal Assidiq aka 'Boy' - the Shop Representative who has a passion into cross dressing during the weekends, for crying out loud. (okay, I am kidding).

To me, Nextlevel Customz felt more like an enthusiast's 'home' rather than a workshop. From the comforts of the sofas in the showroom where designs are plentifully stored in a computer (they should consider a Mac for better brought to life visuals), the work areas and the oven baking spraying room - it is a complete 'complex', in every sense of the word. Drooling about designs; you can choose from Wald for luxurious and exotic designs, Caractere for the Audis and Volkswagons or be daring and opt for a West Coast custom built car.(they are the franchise holder for the brand which is made popular in America by pimping rides on MTV).

There are hundreds of designs to choose from with price range which are not for the average Joe. An instant reminder of the old maxim,"Good things no cheap - Cheap things no good". As a rough guide, a full body kit inclusive of a rear spoiler for a Honda Civic, to be converted to a Type R, will set you broke by about Ringgit Malaysia Five Thousand. Outside of this, it is probably best to call them at +60 3 5621 3617 or cruise down and visit them in person to get a better grasp of the potential cost of remodelling your ride. For the cost, some good negotiation and bargaining skills are required with Aaaron. If it is some out of the ordinary designs that you are after, ask Kumerg for some design advise. As for Boy, ask him for a good hang out place to solicit during the weekends. :p (Okay Boy, I shall repent from saying that) Another sort of pimping, come what may :D

I have come to realise that auto styling is not so much about a desire for luxury, it is the individuality aspect that appeals to me at least and most people. For luxury, I am still awaiting for my Lexus windfall. As for now, I will remain a wannabe. At least that is what I believe in.

P/s: Now that I have posted this and I was looking at constructing a rear diffuser, how much did you say it was again Aaaron? (tongue in cheek emoticon)

Thursday, December 25, 2008

The Real Meaning of Christmas

Dear Friends,

As the lyrics of the Christmas tune goes, "It is the most wonderful time of the year". How true, it has indeed been wonderful for me. I have always been taught that the real meaning of Christmas is the sharing of love and the giving of hope. This festival is shared meaningfully by Christians who believes that the true gift to mankind was the birth of Jesus Christ some two thousand years ago. This birth represents the giving of hope, "For GOD so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believes in him should not perish but will have everlasting life", as famously quoted in the gospel of John.
I read an article in the newspaper today with much conviction. It was about a Malaysian man called Clifford Leong who has been given a new lease of life. Clifford is celebrating Christmas for the very first time this year. This Christmas signifies a new beginning for him as he was a survivor of a tragic car accident which left him in a coma for two weeks in 2007. The accident damaged his speech and optical nerves as well as the motor skills on the right part of his body. He further adds, quote, "A friend took pictures of my wrecked car and while looking at them I realised why Jesus is called a saviour. The front part of my car was a total wreck and I survived such a terrible crash", unquote
To cut a long story short, Clifford prayed to the Lord Jesus and a miracle took place when he found that he recovered after about seven weeks. The doctors thought he could only start walking in six months with a full recovery only in three years. Miracles do happen if you have the faith to believe.

These are real life situations experienced by real people who will continue sharing their testimonies of love and hope until their dying day. I was in church this morning for the Christmas service. The message today was that the joy and the hope of Christmas is in the forgiveness, the fellowship and the generosity. The preacher did not at anytime assured me that the thought of Christmas conjured around the images of tall and decorated Christmas trees or the fat bloke from the North Pole ,wearing a red suit in his sleigh, with a red nose reindeer.

There is a special blessing in the Christmas message which is frequently missed by many. The birth of Christ is not simply an interesting fact of history. It is however, a gift given by God for all mankind. Have you ever thought that this birth was for you, as the Christmas carol goes, "Joy to the world, the Lord is come, let us receive her king".

As for me, I have known only the Christmas celebrations from birth and I do celebrate the Chinese New Year for cultural reasons. My Christmas tree is up and lit, we had our traditional turkey for dinner last night, we listened to carols being sung and we exchanged gifts with our loved ones. This special day was celebrated today with family and friends with reflections on how blessed this year has been for me.

Have a Blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Mad Hatters Club

Dear Friends,

Recently, I was appointed 'G.O' (Gullible Organizer) for the annual Management retreat. The comments that came across my desk then were; "Why not Ho Chi Minh City?", "What Club Med?", "Travelling to Cherating just for a night?". The initial plans of flying to Ho Chi Minh City and crawling into the Cu Chi tunnel sounded much more exciting but Murphy's Law came a striking. Final destination; Club Med, Cherating - Kuantan, Malaysia. A convoy of six cars with 23 hardworking or hardly working executives made our way along the East Coast Highway to this secluded village. A tiny 'Club Med' sign at a turn off hardly visible along the way to Kemaman- Terengganu, led us to this tropical resort after a three and a half hours drive from Kuala Lumpur. We further travelled along some mangroves before reaching the gates of this paradise.

Upon arrival, we were met by a 'GO' called Angie who is Malaysian. The acronym stands for 'Gentils Organisateurs' a French term similar to the likes of guest officers. Their main tasks are to ensure that all 'GM's also known as 'Gentils Membres' or guest members (which are us) are taken care of with the best possible stays. The special feature of Club Med is that the GOs and GMs play, dine, drink, and dance together anytime of the day. Along the lines of a communal party, if you like.

A particular institution is the communal dance or crazy signs led by the GOs at varying intervals during the day and evening (the frequency varies by village). The dance steps for each song are standard across the organisation with some new ones introduced each year. The evening shows,often requiring detailed choreography, are also standardised and include both new and established routines. GOs are moved between villages and many work both winter and summer seasons. All GOs, regardless of their specialism (a sport or administrative function), are expected to regularly participate in both the show and "crazy signs".

The Club Med concept offers an all inclusive package which means that you do not need to spend a cent around the village. Meals, booze which are mainly house pouring, (they differentiate this with a colour coding on the menus) activities and entertainment are all for you to enjoy 'with compliments'. The only setback with this resort in Cherating is that there are no facilities for water sports.Pic: The 'Island'

I feasted from their lavish buffets for dinner, breakfast and lunch and I must commend the quality of food and the layout of their restaurants. I could have played volleyball, tennis, do some rock climbing or for the matter bungee bouncing. But I guess it was all too much after the long drive, coupled with the fact that we were only going to be there for a night. The boys hung around 'the island' social interacting with Mai Tai, Bucks Fizz, Blue China and of course the pretty GOs, Aya and Romi both from Japan and Korea. They were shy but friendly and kept the boys amused with their pleasantries.

Pic: GO - Aya from Japan and GO - Romi from Korea
It has always been stigmatized that Club Med has its reputation to be a swinging singles getaway. Seen for so long for its wild parties, 'friendly' GMs looking for an 'adventure'; it was clearly not seen at this village. I found a lot of wholesome family fun here with many young ones running around. If you are planning to get hitched, think again. You will probably go home disappointed. In short, there is far more appeal for families compared to single desperadoes.

Pic: Hello, I am Hunk. Wanna hitch?

I don't know if everyone in my group enjoyed themselves. If you are there just for the relaxation and tranquility, you may not have come to the right place. If you are there to catch the nightly entertainment by the GOs, you are in for a treat. If you are there to 'score' or to get hitched, you may have to inflate the condom you brought and float it into the sea.

This is the first time in my many times of organising an outing, that people in the group were looking forward to going home. It could be the long journey by surface, it could be the short one night stay, it could be the different likes and dislikes or some the frustration of bringing the entire unopened box of contraceptives home.

As for me, I was glad that it was just a night. I couldn't have survived the second night. Most satisfying was that I held a table tennis bat after a lapse of 25 years. And I scored five times on that table.

A different kind of 'orgasm' I must say.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Porkie the Pig

Dear Friends,

"Food, Glorious Food!", as the saying goes. Malaysia, the country where I come from is blessed with such diversity in culture that food varieties come in abundance. Ask any Malaysian - the first thing in any conversation will always begin with a foody connotation like, "Hi, have you eaten?" Malaysians who travel overseas will always be on the look out for the two most popular past time, Shopping and EATING.
As a continuation to my recent post on "Bali Hai", I once travelled on a day trip down to Ubud, a small village in the central of Bali. This village is about a 2 hours drive from Denpasar and is renowned for its arts and crafts. You will find silver crafts, wooden crafts and also bulkier master pieces carved on rocks and stones. Paintings are plentiful too with the many art galleries and museums.
Ubud is like a sleepy hollow - it is slow moving, tranquil and full of temperaments due to the arts. Apart from the arts, tourists travel all the way to feed on a delicacy called 'Babi Guling'. Literally translated as ' Turning Pig', it is a meal that is a must try whenever one is in Bali. It is a delicacy made from a pig similar to the Chinese roasted suckling pig. A whole pig is used for the roasting process. The inside of the pig is removed and is stuffed with spices and herbs. The mix consists of basic ingredients like ginger, garlic, shallots, chillies, lemongrass and much more. Once Porkie is stuffed, it is then roasted over an open fire ignited out of dried coconut husks up to five hours. It is slowly turned (thus the term 'guling') to ensure that Porkie gets an even tan and crisp.
In previous times, this delicacy is served during traditional rituals and religious ceremonies. These days, the 'Babi Guling' is available at all times as it can be found served in many restaurants in Bali. One of the most popular restaurant serving this in Bali is none other than "IBU OKA" in Ubud. This is no fancy restaurant as it is termed as a 'warung' or translated as stall from Bahasa Indonesia. This is also the wrong place to go to if you fancy an air conditioned environment with tables set with table cloths and high back chairs for you to lean on. "Ibu Oka" is an outlet with only wooden tables complemented with wooden benches. Tables come in two sizes - high or low. As you approach the entrance of the stall, the action of poor Porkie being diced, sliced and chopped up can be seen on the left via an 'open kitchen'. There is a flight of wooden steps ahead of you to enter the restaurant while the lower level near the entrance is alfresco with many people scrambling for seats.

There is not much on the menu as it is pretty much Porkie niche. I had the works known as 'Babi Guling Special'. Served with steam rice, vegetables, some inner spare parts like intestines and of course succulent tender Porkie meat. The crispiness of the skin was beyond description. The sweet and slightly spicy sambal was heavenly as accompaniment. To some, this may sound creepy and disgusting (the intestines I mean) but as the saying goes, "One man's meat is another man's poison".

I would suggest that this delicacy be eaten in moderation. I remember not being able to finish the dish completely as it was just too 'rich' with flavour and the oozing of the 'fattiness' from Porkie :p A good complement for sweetness after the entire gastronomic adventure would be an Indonesian Jasmine tea called 'Teh Botol'.

As George Bernard Shaw once quoted, "There is no love sincerer than the love of food"

"SELAMAT MAKAN" or better translated as "Bon Appetit" :)

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Bali Hai

Dear Friends,

The 'Islands of the Gods' as it is known, Bali has the reputation as being one of the most beautiful islands in the world. Indonesia has 17,000 islands that makes up the archipelago and this tourist spot lies in between the islands of Java and Lombok. The reason why tourists visit this island is probably for the sea, sand and sun. The seas surrounding this gem are the Indian Ocean and the Java sea.
I first got myself acquainted with this island in 1996. I was an expatriate in Jakarta and I remember that it was for a golfing weekend with Daniel Tan, Country Manager of Silkair at that time. From then until now, I have returned to Bali on numerous occasions mainly for short getaways. Once in Bali, there are many beaches that you can stay at. Amongst the few that I have experienced are Nusa Dua, Jimbaran, Kuta and Seminyak.

The golfing weekend in 1996 had me at Nusa Dua. It is located on the islands most southern tip. It has a beautiful stretch of white sandy beach that offers excellent swimming conditions. Before leaving Jakarta for home in 1997, I booked a holiday to Bali and my supporting agent at that time, Padma Wijaya Travel made arrangements for me at the Inter Continental on Jimbaran Beach. This is a sleepy cove with the pace much slower with a very relaxed atmosphere. The waters are much calmer and this part of the beach is known for their spectacular sunsets and seafood restaurants.
Two years back on a company trip, I stayed at Kuta Beach the most popular spot for tourists because of its accessibility, liveliness and happenings. This beach is fenced by the airport's runway which gives you a breathtaking landing experience. It is well known for its party places, watering holes and it is an area to be seen and noticed. I stayed at the renowned Hard Rock Hotel. They have good live bands performing. We drank to the beats and rhythms and ended up at the supposedly most happening club which operates on weekends until 6.00AM called the Double Six.

A few months back, Jean Jacques Kiefer celebrated his birthday and I was invited to be part of it. The venue was none other than the Serene Villas ( which he co-owns. This concept is different than the normal hotels you would find in town. With eight private villas nestled in spacious designer tropical gardens, with your own private swimming pool. The design of the villas are modern and tropical in style, the decor is simple and yet luxurious. Seminyak is coming into its own as an area to be reckoned with. The area is termed luxurious and has attracted the 'well to do'. The restaurant scene here is vibrant and eclectic. This is where you want to go to after you have done too much in Kuta.

Unlike the many beaches and islands that I have visited, nothing compares to Bali. As I write this, I am now transported back to the serene journey along the road leading out of Ngurah Rai Airport, the sounds of the sea, the sight of the once stood Paddy Pub and the shopping along the Matahari Square. The time has come - I need to get back to this Paradise.

Monday, October 27, 2008

From Mild to Wild

Dear Friends,

If ever you need reminding how strong our thriving scene is here in Malaysia, you need to get along to Bandar Sunway, where performance car tuners are in abundance. Previously a mining area in the 1960s, land was perceived to be of no value as it was 'mining' and comes with a lease hold tenure. Bandar Sunway is now a premier township with its' tag of "Resort Living within a City". It is also now a regular haunt for Subaru WRX Imprezas, Nissan 350Zs, Mazda RX8s and various other Japanese models. Beemers are also a common sight with the latest being the market for multi purpose vehicles (MPVs).

What is particularly impressive driving in this area are the taste, quality and creativity of the cars and their owners. Performance and exterior tuning shops such as Redzone, Racing Fit, Kakimotor, N 1 Racing, Racecraft; Hup Soon for their rims and tyres; Top Spray for their immaculate spray painting works and much more. This could be seen by most of the cars on 'display' along the main streets of PJS.

If you are into wide body kits with arches or a total modified make over, head on down to Nextlevelcustomz. ( I was driving pass one day and came across this company; I decided to give it a chance to conduct 'constructive surgery' on my Camry. Ask for Aaaron Goh who is the Chief Executive Officer, as his card says.(sounds too corporate for a tuning business :p) Fun, talkative and convincing describes this lad. As I am still waiting for a LEXUS WINDFALL, the best I can do for now is to be a LEXUS WANNABE.

This is definitely an unconventional Camry

A splitter to add profile

When I grow up, I just want to be like a Lexus

It says, TRD Racing Development

Looks like an eyelid

I have managed to maintain the subtleness and classiness of a JDM theme. Amongst the tuning aficionados, there seems to be a real desire to have something that no one else has got, or be sitting on a set of rims that nobody else has seen before and that can only be a good thing. This means that we may be able to start setting the standard, as opposed to our southern and northern neighbours leading the way.

Watch my back

Rear Spoiler

When I grow up, I just want to be like a Lexus.

Lexus IS F - "Intimate,Sexy and Fast"

Dear Friends,

Many who knows me will agree that I have a passion for cars. Speed has always been exhilarating for me. I know of many who envies the European makes but I have always been an exception. To me it was none other than a LEXUS. In particular, the IS F.

The person instrumental for the birth of the LEXUS IS F is Yukihiko Yaguchi. For the 30 years that he has been with Toyota, he had always wanted to build a dream car he would love to own. When he moved to Lexus, he was dreaming of nothing less than an all wheel drive super car with huge horsepower, race track inspired handling and enormous stopping power. In short, a premium sports sedan that would offer comfort, sophistication and performance to equal and beat the best of European class.
The result was an engineering marvel with special aerodynamics, 8 speed sport direct shift transmission with paddle shifters and its own special performance profile, Brembo disc brakes that feature a huge 14.2 inch cross-drilled disc and six pistons per caliper up front, 19 inch wheels and a specially tuned suspension system.

The engine of the IS F is made by Yamaha which has a history of making engine component parts for Toyota and Lexus. It was worked on a Yamaha's Formula One engine program. The end result is a DOHC 5.0L V8, churning out 416 horsepower enough to blast through from 0 - 100 km/h in 4.6 seconds.

The IS F has been tested at renowned race tracks around the world. This includes the legendary Nurburgring in Germany and the Fuji Speedway in Japan. This is indeed a super sedan that has been really inspired.