Mr Muack Muack and Mau Mau person

Story by JJ for Ban

Once upon time, there was someone called Mr Muack Muack. His life changed dramatically with the appearance of the Mau Mau person. They both fell in love with each other and have been muack-ing and maumau-ing ever since.

The End.

PS: Sorry, not as epic as Ban's story :P

Left jaw update

After diligently applying self-care treatment as posted previously for about 19 days, the pain has finally subsided to the point where I can eat normally. Phew! Thank goodness that it wasn't more serious than TMJ.

There's now only a twinge of pain when I fully close my mouth to chew and so I still continue with the self-care treatment. I probably should also still let my jaw rest as much as possible. The irony is that previously I automatically didn't use my jaw as much because the pain occurred as soon as I chewed normally. Hence I have to try even harder to rest my jaw now.

Iori @ Civic, Canberra

Recently, my sister and I had lunch at one of our favourite Japanese restaurants in Canberra. I was prepared to order their Sushi Zen set when I noticed one of the 2 daily specials, which they served only 5 sets a day. It appeared to have much more food and at cheaper price too. I was keen on all of them except for the chicken teriyaki which I was indifferent too. In the end, I ordered it

Iori 16 ori 26_1

Iori 16 ori 26_2

It was very filling and considered a good bargain in Canberra at only AUD16 (original price AUD26). The sashimi and sushi were quite good, though the sashimi pieces were half of the size I was used to in Malaysia and Singapore (then again, this sashimi was part of a set). Teriyaki chicken was quite unusual as it was a little saltier than what I was used to. The vegetable tempura was light and delicious but the prawn tempura was a disappointment as the prawn was quite scrawny and I could taste thick flour. Meh.

My biggest mistake (and complaint) was asking for more wasabi. Guess how much they charged for a small amount of wasabi (about one fifth of the size of the sushi)? AUD2. Goodness, did they plant the root, harvest and scrape the wasabi to justify such price? It should be much lesser than AUD2 or maybe none at all. The funny thing was that they had a book for guests to sign and comment but provided a pen that ran out of ink.

Would I go back there again? Yes, I will but I really should remember not to ask for more wasabi. You know what's ironic? My sister claimed that I experienced the same thing and reacted the same way previously. Lol. Goodness.



Bunyip 1

Bunyip 2

Bunyip 3

Minced pork wantan mee @ Restaurant 126

Restaurant 126 is close to Ban's and my favourite chap fan shop. Once a while, especially if the chap fan shop is closed and we do not wish to drive elsewhere, we will eat at this shop.

As I understand, the shop is supposedly famous for its bittergourd noodle soup but I had it only once. It was ok for me, though my friend William thought it was salty. Ban didn't try it. He seldom experiment with food...not of his own volition anyway :) Ban usually orders noodle soup with seaweed and special meat paste, which is a combination of fish and pork paste, while I usually will order the dry noodle that comes with a bowl of seaweed and fish paste.

Once a while, I would try something new. I tried minced pork wantan mee twice and quite like its taste but I'm quite dismayed over the portion of ingredient, which like everything else in the shop, is a little lacking and so it's not recommended for you to have noodle at that shop if you're ravenous. Even the wantan looked flat. The price of this noodle is RM5.50.

5.50 mince pork wantan mee Rest 126_1

5.50 mince pork wantan mee Rest 126_2

5.50 mince pork wantan mee Rest 126_3

Left jaw

More than a week ago, while I was washing the rice cooker, there was sudden pain around my left jaw. Since then, I couldn't fully close my mouth to chew my food properly and had to nibble instead. Also, I couldn't open my mouth to the fullest without feeling pain.

After searching the internet, I suspect that I have Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Syndrome. Based on symptoms as stated by Emedicinehealth, I have only 2 out of 7 stated symptoms, which are
  • Pain in the facial muscles and jaw joints may radiate to the neck or shoulders. Joints may be overstretched. You may experience muscle spasms from TMJ syndrome. You may feel pain every time you talk, chew, or yawn. Pain usually appears in the joint itself, in front of the ear, but it may move elsewhere in the skull, face, or jaw and lead to headaches, dizziness, and even migraines.
  • When the joints move, you may hear sounds, such as clicking, grating, and/or popping. Others may also be able to hear the sounds. Clicking and popping are common. This means the disc may be in an abnormal position. Sometimes no treatment is needed if the sounds give you no pain.

From the same website, I've been following this treatment:
  • Apply warm compresses on the area of pain. Home therapy includes mandible (lower jaw) movements, such as opening and closing the jaw from side to side. Try this after a warm compress is applied for 20 minutes. The lower jaw movements should be repeated three to five times a day, five minutes continuously each time, for about two to four weeks. A gentle massage of the area can also be beneficial.
I did feel better after a few days but now the progress seem to have stagnated. The pain is the greatest in the morning when I wake up and gradually feel better throughout the day, presumably due to the treatment and this repeats the next day.

Later, I found an interesting article on The New York Times it also confirmed my suspicion that I have TMJ syndrome. Symptoms, as stated in the article, are as follows:

"But the most common TMJ problem is known as myofacial pain disorder, a neuromuscular problem of the chewing muscles characterized by a dull, aching pain in and around the ear that may radiate to the side or back of the head or down the neck. Someone with this disorder may have tender jaw muscles, hear clicking or popping noises in the jaw, or have difficulty opening or closing the mouth. Simple acts like chewing, talking excessively or yawning can make the symptoms worse."

I hope the above treatment is enough to make it right and soon!

Delicious home-grown tomatoes

Home grown sweet tomatoes

Looks good, right? Grown without chemical. Just water, sunshine and love. Every single of them, so far, is sweet and is barely sour, if at all. Such rare taste. I eat them like they are fruits (which technically, they are!).

These came from a single tomato plant that my sister and her family grew. It is still bearing fruits. Good yield!

Edit: I was informed that fertiliser was used. No pesticide though.

KL-Melbourne-Canberra flight: the good and the bad

Contrary to the cliche, I shall start with the bad first.

The bad
(B1) At LCCT, boarding pass and passport were checked 4 times. Typically it's only 3 times: right at the main departure gate, the immigration checkpoint and then at the boarding gate, typically by the airline crew. This time, however, there was yet another check, just about 2m away from the airline crew (who checked already) and right before the last bag screening, by security force.

(B2) Air Asia X's chicken sandwich was very dry. Bet it would have worked well as a sponge.

(B3) I couldn't sleep on the plane but this was no fault of the airline though.

(B4) Someone's handphone was switched on at least 2 hours before landing and during landing. She used it from time to time. Even worse was the fact she received an sms (I recognised that standard ringtone anywhere, which fyi was supposedly a Morse code for S M S) and had the audacity to read it...during the landing process! I was certain that at least the nearest attendant could hear the ringtone but none of them reprimanded her.

(B5) At Melbourne airport, took 1 hour to clear both immigration and custom checkpoints. Insane.

(B6) My luggage's top part of the handle (the part that could be pulled up so that you can drag the bag on wheels) was gone when I got it at the carousel, with 2 pieces of steel sticking out (the ones that allow you to unlock and lock the handle in place) out of the lower part of the handle. I was upset, especially it was Ban who lent it to me. I tried looking for it on the carousel but to no avail.

(B7) I had already checked in for my domestic flight on Virgin Australia via the web and all I had to do was to drop by bag. The queue was monstrously long. It took 40 mins.

(B8) The landing by Virgin Australia at the Canberra airport was shakey.

(B9) Remember my damaged luggage? By the time I picked it up at Canberra airport, even the pieces of steel were gone and so there was no way for me to somehow use the damanged handle any more.

The good
(G1) There was no traffic on the way to LCCT. In fact, fewer cars than usual.

(G2) There was no delay in departure and arrival by Air Asia X.

(G3) Air Asia X's chicken sandwich was filling.

(G4) Pleasantly surprised to discover (since I assume Air Asia is stingy) that I could get a refill of hot water for my tea bag. Saved money on mineral water.

(G5) Temperature within Air Asia X's plane was thankfully normal this time, unlike a previous trip where it was a lot warmer.

(G6) At the end of the ridiculous queue for custom checkpoint, I was not randomly picked for checking of my luggage. I would hate to waste more time there.

(G7) There was no delay in departure and arrival by Virgin Australia. In fact, I believed they arrived a little earlier than scheduled.

(G8) I was pleasantly surprised that Virgin Australia served a snack and juice/water for free. It could be their normal procedure but I didn't expect it to be that way.

Sibaraku @ Mahkota Parade, Melaka

I have been to Sibaraku twice but I totally forgot about what I ate the first time. At least, I knew it was a place I didn't ban :)

So when I went there the second time, I made sure I took special note about the food there. Unlike the first time (this much I remember hehe), I ordered ala carte sushi and naturally it included salmon.

Sibaraku Sal 3 sal roe 4

Ok, they were all salmon. They are my favourites :) The salmon sushi was RM3 a piece (same price as Kita No Zen @ One Utama in KL) while the salmon roe wrapped with salmon sashimi was only RM4. Judging by its size and its quality, it was definitely value for money and I would love to go back there again for these.

Sibaraku plain water

Why am I showing a photo of a bamboo vase with a cup of McDonald's coffee? The former contained plain water, which I ordered, while the latter was there to give viewers a sense of how tall the 'glass' of plain water was. It was so unusual.

Melaka chicken rice ball

It's harder these days to get chicken rice ball, what more good ones, in Melaka compared to decades ago. I tried the one at Jonkers Walk, a tourist magnet, but their chicken meat was very soft like it was prepared for toothless people.

Later, Ban brought me to a place where his family enjoy having that dish and yes, it was one of the best chicken rice ball I had in decades. However, it is difficult for him to give directions to it and therefore I couldn't tell my family and friends exactly how to get there. All I knew was that it was in Batu Berendam.

One fine day, when we were in Melaka, we attempted to go there for lunch. Unfortunately, it was close that day (and the next week or so) but luckily I remembered to take a photo of the shop so as to give that information to others:

Chic rice ball Tmn melaka baru

It is in Taman Melaka Baru, Batu Berendam.

Happy New Year 2013

Unlike a year ago, I didn't feel like celebrating the new year. I just simply couldn't muster the enthusiasm.

I'm not sure why. Maybe it's because I'm anxious to see whether the savings plan I recently implemented will work well or not or maybe the worry over the property market in Singapore. Perhaps a more likely reason is that I will be away from Ban approximately next 7 weeks, starting tonight. The longest I had been continuously absent was about 4 weeks.

Here's a quick review of 2012:

1. New PC games I played:
  • Atlantica Online
  • Mount & Blade
  • Dungeon Defenders
  • Divinity 2: The Dragon Knight Series
  • Torchlight 2
  • Democracy 2
  • Crusader Kings 2
  • Delve Deeper

2. New boardgames I played:
  • Mage Knight
  • Seasons
  • Ristorante Italia
  • Memoir 44
  • Blokus
  • Nefarious
  • Khet 1.0
  • Dominion
  • Agricola

3. Shared with Ban to buy Mage Knight boardgame, which is the first expensive boardgame (RM270!) I bought. However, I am really disappointed about the number of defective items (>90%) in it and it appears that the publisher is making it really difficult for exchange. We are still waiting for news from Meeples (the shop where we purchased the game). We also read online that even for those who managed to get the items changed, the colour of the cards were different than the original and thus spoiling the randomness of the game. This would be the first and last time I would buy game from this publisher. Humph.

4. I introduced Everquest to Ban but we abandoned it after a mere few days. The game quest mechanic is outdated compared to recent games. Nevertheless, I felt nostalgic being in its world again.

5. Books I finished reading:
  • The Intelligent Investor - Benjamin Graham, revised edition updated with commentary by Jason Zweig
  • The Riftwar Saga trilogy - Raymond E. Feist
  • Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators: The Mystery of the Laughing Shadow - Robert Arthur, Jr.
  • Eragon & The Eldest (first two books of the Inheritance trilogy) - Christopher Paolini

6. I tried my hand at hosting a D&D pen&paper game. It went quite well but took quite a lot of work to prepare for. The hosting chair was given to another friend who stopped hosting after a few sessions because he was going overseas but never restart once he was back. In fact, another D&D game was also discontnued. I guess the fever has gone. I will consider hosting this game again this year as I believe it is good mental exercise to do so.

7. Ban was infected with dengue just before Chinese New Year. It was a sad time for me because I had to go home and thus wasn't with him. He was so downcast :( Fortunately, his family visited him everyday until he was discharged. I did send him an audio message to teach him the correct way to do the mau mau meditation, which made him laughed hehe. Months later, he had insect screening doors and windows installed in the house. Incredibly effective in keeping mosquitoes out.

8. Played my first pen&paper game, Ironclaw, which was hosted by Ban. I loved it and Ban was a good host. In fact, a friend is still trying to persuade Ban to host another one hehe.

9. I had to use steroidal nasal spray again, after not needing to do so for years. Good news is that I didn't need to use it for long. Phew. Also, there was the rather harrowing stomach cramp experience. I'm grateful for Ban being there for me. Aside from these, my health has been generally good during the past year possibly due to increased in frequency of exercise. My cholesterol results at the end of the year were significantly better than that at the start of the year.

10. My investment in shares was pretty stable. Took opportunity during a significant share market downturn to buy Singtel and CapitaMall Trust and added more shares to my existing portfolio. I sold off Suntec REIT due to a few reasons. Towards the end of the year, I sold some CapitaCommercial Trust at a significant percentage of profit to shore up my cash position as well as for rebalancing purpose.

11. Managed to rent out the house in Seremban. I still want to sell it and invest the proceed in dividend-yielding shares.

12. My sister and her family moved to Penang. Fewer opportunites to spend time with them. Oh well, that's life, huh?

2013 could be a watershed year, hopefully for the better. Here's wishing everyone an encouraging year ahead.