Sunday, May 31, 2009

"Harro , I am GeeTee Queen"

Dear Friends,

(It's my pleasure)

I had to labour last weekend and I didn't complain. I turned chaperon to two Japanese ladies who spoke no English. I could get along with some conversational Japanese but I was perpetually relying on my I-Phone's translator feature. These 'babes' are young and were selected from amongst 200 entries in Japan to be laureled this years 'GT Queens'. The 'Queens' have a huge following in Japan and some have proven to be even more favourable in comparison to the GT race drivers.
Last week, Sepang International Circuit (SIC), the event organizers for the Super GT International Series Malaysia 2009, had their event launch at the Sunway Resort Hotel and Spa. During the launch they also acquainted their promotional 'materials' – 'GT Queens' Sana Yuki and Nana Shibata. I am humbled to say that I was instrumental in securing 'Official Hotel' status for the GT event this year. For the foregone six years, the teams had always stayed in the city centre. My acknowledgement to my friend, Razlan Razali who was recently appointed Chief Executive Officer of the Sepang International Circuit. He made this possible by introducing the management of GTA, Japan to me early this year. And the rest, as they say is history.

Established in 1994 by the Japanese Automobile Federation, the Super GT series is a grand touring car race series promoted by the GT-Association (GTA) and recognized by the Federal Internationale Automobile. (FIA). Races are held as part of a yearly series and take place on well known Japanese race tracks like Twin Ring Motegi, Fuji Speedway, and Suzuka Circuit.

The race cars and racing equipments; the drivers and teams, and their 'GT Babes' will be arriving at the Sepang International Circuit during race week. I am told that the teams and drivers are all exhilarated to come to Sepang for the race. Sepang has always been special to them because it is the only round outside Japan. More importantly, it is the most challenging race in the entire GT racing calendar. Sepang is the mother of all the GT battles every year. The cars are fractioned into two groups: GT500 and GT300 (cars with no more than 500 and 300 horsepower). They race simultaneously, with a total of 34 souped up cars on the grid for the race engaging plenty of adrenalin throughout the 54-lap race. A unequaled event combining mean machines and gorgeous 'GT Babes' in bringing a truly Japanese carnival-like atmosphere to the circuit. Malaysia will host Round 4 of the 2009 championship, which will also feature some of the best regional races as supporting events. To be held from June 19 to 21, Sepang International Circuit hosts the only international round of the championship, which provides a sexy combination of stylish sports cars and gorgeous Japanese grid babes. The babes will be dressed in skimpy outfits emblazoned with logos identifying the respective teams and their sponsors. Their roles are to add 'spice' on race day and also to meet spectators. These Japanese babes are gorgeous, friendly and some are current top models in Japan. 'GT Queens' 2009 - Sana Uki is currently an actress whilst Nana Shibata is a businesswoman.

Incomparable to the GT championships, race fans are allowed to visit the paddocks on qualifying and race day to mingle with the various team's 'GT Babes' and drivers. They are also allowed on the starting grid on race day by purchasing special pit walkabout passes. Tickets for the Main Grandstand can be purchased at RM100. SIC is also offering a special family package at RM250 for four Main Grandstand tickets. It is free for children below seven years old. Passes for the main race day pit walkabout, where fans not only can get up-close to the racing cars and drivers, but the 'GT Babes' as well, are sold at RM100.
There will be a Japan Super GT celebration on the 19 June 2009 from 9.00pm onwards at Ministry of Sound - Euphoria at Bandar Sunway. For further information, call Sunway Resort Hotel and Spa at +60 3 7492 8000.

The 'GT Queens' repetitive singing of, 'Anatano Sekshi' (You are sexy) is still lingering and rewinding in my mind. "Dozo Yoroshiku" (Nice Meeting You)

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Sparkling Korea

Dear Friends


Last month, I flew into Incheon International Airport on a chilly spring Monday morning. The temperature was about seven degrees celsius and it was graceful with all the cherry blossoms in bloom. This was my second trip to Seoul after a sixteen years lapse.
Korea is difficult to depict - to experience it is to understand it. It is an inhabited nation of about 48 million people. Koreans are primarily from one ethnic family and they only speak one language - Korean. With distinct physical features, they are believed to be descendants of several Mongol tribes that migrated to the Korean Peninsula from Central Asia. I found it hard to converse as English was rarely spoken. I found the Koreans to have very solid cultural traditions. Everyone bow to their elders and superiors. Not only listening to them, but doing exactly as the last word was spoken. No questions asked. I was amused at one of their traditions. Kim Jong Eun (state coach for the Penang bowling team) my translator, taught me the proper way of pouring and toasting a drink. It is rude not to take a sip when being toasted by a peer.
Seoul is a busy city. It doesn't matter what time of the day it is, the streets are jam-packed with vehicles and people everywhere. This is one of the cleanest cities I have ever been to. Not having much of a chance to explore it on my own, my itinerary was packed as the host wanted me to see the best the city could offer. One of the tourist attractions that I visited was the 'Gyeong Bok Gung' Palace or also known as the 'Palace Greatly Blessed by the Heavens'. It was built in 1935 and served as the main palace. This was a symbol of national sovereignty and was demolished during the Japanese occupation. Other than this national heritage, I also visited the Korean Folk Village. In a natural environment of 243 acres, I saw the different traditional houses and cultures of the Koreans. I could feel the ancestral experience from the many performances watched.
I flew to Korea for one reason and that was to bowl. At the invitation of Seong Nam City, a total of 21 of us made the trip. I found the lanes and the alleys different compared to home. The conditions were brutal with exceptionally slippery approaches. My team member, Chloe Tay slipped and fell next to me and I was mentally affected. With a high score of only 196 and a piteous low of 120, it was devastating. We bowled for two consecutive days and all I wanted was to at least bowl my average (of 185). It was not the winning or losing. I thought about it and realised that this was part of bowling. To be strong mentally and psyched up is needed for game maturity.They had some great talents which included bowlers from the Korean Professional Bowlers Association (KPBA).

Each day that we were there, our meals were provided. At local restaurants, we were served 'Korean' for all three daily meals . It was alright for the first two days but it got to me after that. Dishes are served at the same time. A typical meal normally includes rice, soup, and several side dishes, the number of which vary. 'Bap' or rice is the staple food for Koreans, it is eaten with almost every meal.(breakfast included) Korean rice is often sticky in texture, and sometimes it is combined with beans, chestnuts, sorghum, red beans, barley or other cereals for added flavor. Another must have at every meal is 'Gui'. It is marinated meat barbecued over a charcoal fire. The most popular gui dishes are meats, such as bulgogi and galbi. At every meal, a must have is definitely 'Kimchi'. Kimchi has been scientifically proven to be high in nutrition and is always eaten as a side dish. Cabbages and other vegetables are soaked in salt water, then seasoned with different spices before being fermented. There are many different types of kimchi, such as cabbage kimchi (the most common), cucumber kimchi, radish kimchi, cubed radish kimchi, green onion kimchi, and more. One of the lunches, we were served 'Samgyetang'. A young chicken is cleaned out then stuffed with various ingredients before being boiled to draw out a delicious broth.

On the last evening of my visit, I had some time to do last minute shopping. We were brought to a market area called Dongdaemun. Dongdaemun Market has been one of the major markets in Korea. Specializing in wholesale clothing, the market has grown large, having more than 20 shopping malls. The main street seperates Dongdaemun Market into two sections. Section 1 is on the side where Doosan Tower is found, and Section 2 is on the side of Dongdaemun Stadium. Huge shopping malls in Section 1 basically sell wholesale and retail goods, but mostly deal with general customers and tourists at retail prices.

Seoul is filled with wonderful scenery, from the brightest lights to the pretty cherry blossoms. The five days spent here was magical. I truly enjoyed the spring and the people. After all, it is a "Sparkling Korea".

Pictures of places I saw and friends I met could be found below this post; Scenic Seoul and Faces of Korea.

Scenic Seoul

Faces of Korea

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Hey Mama

Dear Friends,

Today is Mother's Day. How ironic it is that our lives these days are conditioned to look out for dates to express gratitude and to express our feelings. It has become a norm for establishments to ignite our guilt conscience to spend lavishly, order the best in dishes and purchase the most expensive in presents. Today will come and go, tomorrow will return us to our normal practice of taking the old dame for granted.

I am thankful that my mum is still with me, knowing the bitter feelings of losing my dad when I was seven. She was just thirty and having been married for only 9 years. A man whom she so depended on for strength was taken away after nine months of pain and suffering. I recalled the times of travelling every week to Singapore where dad was warded because it seemed that he would have a chance to live if he went there. In the early 1970s, the word chemotherapy never existed. I still remember the tears that flowed from her eyes until they were no more. This innocent child was helpless let alone naive.

Thirty some years have come and gone. This lady of tenacity have blossomed well and has fended for her two off-springs. We became strong and what we are today is because of what we have received from this single parent. Mothers are special and one of the happiest moments in anyone's life is to be with them.

I admit that I now find her nagging and difficult as she grows old. Her demands are becoming demanding and sometimes my level of irritation reaches its peak. I chose to understand that due to circumstances she holds superior in her sacrifices all these years. Such is the love and strength of my mother. Mum, you have shown me the good values of life and because of you I am able to live it comfortable and happy now.

My mum, Vivian Tan Lai Kuan, thanks a million for all your guidance, teachings, patience and at times irritations. I may not have said it for a long time but I indeed love you. May GOD continue to enrich you and bless you with good health and much happiness. I pledge that I will be duty bound to take care of you till the last days, in sickness and in health.

Happy Mother's Day.
* Pictured above with her grandchildren, Eugene and Charmaine in 2008

Sunday, May 3, 2009

A Malaysian Social Contract?

Dear Friends,

I have been busy lately and have not found time to blog. It has been a laborious one month of work, travels and domestic obligations. I travelled to Seoul- Korea, for a week of bowling. I had wanted to indite the trip down but have not been inspired to do so.

In the meantime, my friend cum blogger Anas Zubedy has an interesting feature. This friend of mine is not afraid to verbalize his beliefs aloud. He is grounded, knows his mission and stays the course to accomplishment. Malaysians of the Buddhist faith will be celebrating Vesak day this coming Wednesday. And as tradition, Anas Zubedy will take a full page advertisement in the local daily to convey his well wishes and call for unity.

I have copied a portion of his blog here for all to harmonize a true call for a united Malaysia.

Quote, "I propose a Social Contract this Wesak Day

"This Wednesday May 6th, the message below will be advertised in The Star as a full page ad. Many Malaysians have debated about the social contract. Some say it exist, while others don’t. Some is for it, some against. But what is the social contract? Where is it? Does it really exist? Whether it exist or not, why not we come out with one?So, here are my thoughts. You can agree with my ideas, comment about them or simply agree to disagree. But, please use logic, love and wisdom. Because,Logic will make us fair with our minds; Love will make us fair with our hearts; and, Wisdom will lead us to combine our love and logic in the way of God and for the benefit of Mankind.

Thank you, cheers and peace, / anas zubedy"

To read further, log on to

Pictured on the top right hand corner is, Venerable Dr. K. Sri Dhammananda ( 1918-2006) who has always been instrumental in "Do something for others"

My blog on 'Sparkling Korea' should be appearing soon...very very soon :) Until then, keep those hands clean and not be infected by the Influenza A H1N1 virus.