Family vacation in Ipoh

A quick update as a background: since the last update, my dad underwent radiotherapy and successfully reduced the tumour significantly. Dr D said no further treatment needed. Pain's gone and my dad can walk again and exercise although not as good as previously.

My sister from Australia then came here for a 3-week visit. My youngest sister then planned a family vacation (only for 5 of us). After some discussion with parents, they settled on Ipoh.

Sister arrived in KL, where Ban and I got her at KLIA2. The next day, she and I took ETS to Ipoh. I was pleasantly surprised that they gave use a brown bag containing 2 packets of different biscuits and a small packet of Milo. I thought I bought Gold class, instead of Platinum.

Here's a summary of what we did in Ipoh:

(1) We stayed at a suite at Kinta Riverfront.

(2) Share a variety of food (char kuay teow, satay, hor fun soup, steamed chicken) at the shophouse next to Thean Chun for lunch upon arrival.

(3) Swam (almost?) everyday.

(4) Bought salted baked chicken, bread and lettuce for dinner on first day.

(5) Had dim sum at Foh San (twice!). The best dim sum I ever had in Malaysia. So worth it. But should arrive before 8am to get seats.

(6) Had yong taufu at Big Three Yong Tau Foo Was not bad but nothing to shout about honestly. Maybe because I didn't take their fried items? I had sorethroat.

(7) Had the smoothest and softest taufufa at Lost World of Tambun. Experienced hot springs for the first time. Nearly fainted haha.

(8) The most fun we had was at the Funtasy/Trick Art Museum.

(9) Had steamed chicken with rice/hor fun at Onn Kee. First time had normal chicken. Second time had "wu shou" chicken, which is what the shop is famous for. Still prefer the normal one.

Atlas Reactor: Tol-Ren

I tried a few combination of mods initially (starting from playing in PTS) and I settled on these ones on my road to first 5:
(please refer to this Wikia for description of abilities and mods)

(1) Twin Slashes - Honed Blade (3 loadout points)

Unconditional extra damage. Flexibility e.g. broad slash at the front and top-down slash at the back.

(2) Ren's Fury - Way of the Monkey (1 loadout point)

Good survival mod. Since it's free action, you can use this (and nothing else) and then use full movement to get to safety. Combo well with Second Wind.

(3) Spirit Rend - Spirit Master (3 loadout points)

2 cd range ability? Great! Sacrificed slow but I prefer consistency.

(4) Rushing Steel - From Very Angle (2 loadout points)

Due to how this dash ability works, this mod increases your chance of not getting hit by your target.

(5) Showdown - Spirit Wrack (1 loadout point)

Sometimes you might ulti next to the target and he is still alive next turn. This helps you survive better against his attack. I actually prefer Veangence Seaker but not enough points.

Some gameplay:





Atlas Reactor: first 5 a third time

Whenever there's a new freelancer, I'll try to be the first 5 players to level it to level 20 if I like it and can play it competently. Back in April, that freelancer was Tol-Ren.

I wasn't sure whether I could be make it because there was a day of interstate traveling and for a couple of weeks I was helping family members doing various tasks. Nevertheless I gave it a try and managed to be the 5th player to do so.

Tol-Ren lvl 20_1

Tol-Ren lvl 20_2

Tol-Ren lvl 20_3

Unfortunately, I forgot to screenshot the broadcast :(

So now I have 3 freelancers with such achievement (Grey and Khita as 4th player). That's pretty good, eh? :)

Barred outgoing calls

I still have my Singapore Starhub mobile prepaid sim card, on a cheap simple Nokia phone. Every 4 months I will top up its credit so that it doesn't expire. The only reason I keep this is my Singapore Citibank credit card which earns me miles points, which can be used to indirectly redeem air tickets. As for the credits, whenever I call Singapore, I'll use that phone.

Due to some problems purchasing movie tickets online, I tried calling Singapore Citibank with that phone but I couldn't because "all outgoing calls are barred". Why??!

Called Starhub a few times and we did the following but none is working so far:

  • Take out battery and put it back
  • Use another phone with that sim card
  • Tried *116* (instead of +) to call
  • Cancel "Call divert"
  • Cancel "all barrings" but "request not completed"
  • Reset roaming
Starhub checked and confirmed that my account is still active. There's credit. So I'm stumped...and so does Starhub @@

Update: after the last failed attempt (reset roaming), I called Starhub again. This time, the officer informed me that their technical team advised me to get a sim replacement card because (apparently) 2G service is no longer available. Question: why didn't they call me to tell me this??

Since I have no plans yet to visit Singapore in the near term, I asked help from a friend who visit Singapore quite regularly. He agrees to help me (thank you!!). The Starhub officer said I could get a friend to do it if I I provide him a letter of authorisation and my original NRIC.

More update: hold on! I found this. Specifically,

" 7. I am currently using a 2G device. What are my options to prepare for the 2G network closure in 2017?

2G services will be available until March 2017, so you can use your 2G device till then.

If you are a postpaid customer and eligible to re-contract, we strongly encourage you to take advantage of our latest mobile offers. Please visit any StarHub Shop for assistance.

For business mobile customers, please approach your StarHub Account Manager for assistance if you wish to find out the latest mobile device offers available for you.

For pre-paid customers who wish to buy a 3G or 4G phone, please visit any of our over 40 authorised dealers across the island for the latest offers."

That means I need to upgrade my phone??? Grrr.

Cholesterol 2017: Part 2

Since the last result, I tried to exercised more consistently to bring down the cholesterol level. Emphasis on "tried".

Earlier this month, I went for general health screening, which included lipid profile test. Here's that test result compared to previous one:

                               Feb 2017          Ref. range          Feb 2017          Ref. range        
Total cholesterol           6.0                 < 5.2                      6.4                 < 5.2
HDL ("good")               1.62               > 1.04                   1.50                > 1.04
LDL ("bad")                  3.7                < 2.6                      4.2                 < 2.6
Triglycerides                 1.4                 < 1.7                     1.6                  < 1.7
Total/HDL ratio            3.7                 < 5.0                      4.3                 < 5.0

Not good! Bad cholesterol went up whereas good cholesterol went down. Omg @@

I showed the health screening test result to my GP. Other "red flags" are to be monitored (as this is my first time doing this, they become sort of a baseline) and retested in 3 months time, but naturally for the high cholesterol, he recommended medicine after ascertaining that my diet and exercise regime were appropriate. This time, he prescribed Fenofibrate 160mg, once a day. Apparently it has less side effects? *shrug*. This GP has been good and spot on in his diagnosis so far for both Ban and I, and so I trust him on this.

Update: Some information on fibrate vs statins. Sounds like a mixed bag...

Headlamp wiper?

Headlamp wiper

So cute! I wonder whether it's easy to get replacement or not.

NSK Seremban

The first hypermart in Seremban was Makro, before such concept became popular. It started off by charging membership fee but later removed this requirement. It couldn't survive though.

Later came Giant, Tesco and Rapid. The last one also closed down. Giant have 2 branches but in my opinion, Tesco was more popular...until NSK came along this year. This new kid offers fresh food at lower prices. I'm so curious at how they can do it.

Anyway, this post isn't really about its main source of business. Instead, it's about the restaurant attached to it: Citarasa Seafood Market Steamboat.

NSK 1

NSK 2

Among its menu are sets of food that are suitable for different number of people, priced as low as RM9.90 that's suitable for 1 pax. Soup is charged at RM1 per person. You can also choose from its shelves various add-on such as eggs, noodle, tofu, lettuce etc.

Now, the rather unique thing about this restaurant is that you can purchase raw food (there are live prawns and fishes too) in NSK hypermart and bring them over to the restaurant for them to prepare suitably for your steamboat. They charge a service fee of 10% of purchase price. My father said that it's much cheaper to do that than to buy their sets of food.

I've compared some food (hypermart with 10% surcharge vs restaurant): tofu RM1.65 vs RM2.00, a packet of lettuce RM3.30 vs RM6.00.


NSK 3

We had fish, prawns, bamboo shellfish (pictured above; am I using the correct term?), lettuce, noodle, enoki mushroom, tofu and cut rock melon (which I think it's expensive!). Including the surcharge and cost of soup, it came to about RM17 per person, which is pretty good for steamboat with fresh ingredients. The only "normal" feature of the steamboat is its soup i.e. nothing to shout about.

For steamboat lovers, I highly recommend you try this at least once and get the food from the hypermart itself to maximise value for money. Maybe I try the set of food next time for comparison.

Atlas Reactor: Su Ren

Honestly, I'm more comfortable playing, say, Aurora and Orion, than Su Ren because the latter is a short-range character. That means she is (well at least one would think so!) harmed more often than a long-range character.

However, she has at least 2 things (that I can think off at the moment) which help her survivability:

(a) She has 2 dashes but the second dash has to be used the turn after the first one; otherwise it's wasted and the cooldown starts.

(b) The dashes and buff/debuff ability give her lots of energy while her healing can also give lots if hit multiple allies. This then hastens the time to get her ultimate, which is a good protective ability.

The build (and only one) I'm using is as follows:
(please refer to this Wikia for more details on his abilities and mods)

(1) Martial Master - Zen State (3 loadout points)

Doesn't seem to be a popular mod. I see players usually take Bo Staff Skills (get ultimate faster) or Forceful Strike (default). 3 health may look small but it does help her survivability e.g. just need to survive that turn and ultimate is up next turn, and occasionally saves her life (as evidenced by the video below).

(2) Serenity - Close to Greatness (2 loadout points)

I prefer Gaia's Blessing but there are not enough loadout points and so I stick to this default mod. This means that I can't go for clutch healing and instead should top up allies hp as often as possible, which makes this mod equally as good as Gaia's Blessing when played this way.

(3) Shifting Winds - Swift as the Wind (2 loadout points)

I know many players prefer Protector for clutch healing but I prioritise my survivability a little more. Dead support is bad for team, don't you think so? However, having said that, the reason why I switched from Protector was because the number of times my second dash was wasted was just significant enough to warrant this change.

(4) Spirit Bend - Chi Overflow (1 loadout point)

Give ally energy? Great! Spiritual Journey is better but too expensive as it would mean giving up some other mod choices. In any case, often time this ability is used only if there is nothing else better to do.

(5) Karmic Justice - Gaia's Chosen (2 loadout points)

As a friend said, this default mod gives the team a win-win situation (provided the target's not dead): if target takes damage, it gets to deal damage next turn. If target does not take damage, it gets the full healing.


And now, behold the power of healing mod on the primary ability :)

Missing petrol

On a recent trip back from Seremban, I stopped at a Shell petrol station at the Seremban rest stop. I was at kiosk 11 and wanted to go inside the shop to "order" RM50 worth of petrol. However, I was instead attended by an attendant who just finished helping a customer at the kiosk just in front of me. As usual, I gave him RM50 and Bonuslink card and then he swiped the card and his access card to start the terminal. He then told me the petrol pump was ready for use. He then sauntered towards the shop.

However, when I inserted the pump into my car petrol tank and pressed its handle, no petrol came out! I looked at the screen on the kiosk: the petrol volume and cost figures were not moving (coincidentally, it was showing RM50, presumably from previous customer). The smaller screen initially stated that the terminal was "processing" and then a few seconds later it was "closed".

In the meantime, I was looking around for help from any attendant. Two of them told me I had to go into the shop for help. Coincidentally, the attendant who helped me earlier walked towards me. After I explained the situation, he asked me to move my car backward to kiosk 5. He managed to obtain a receipt, presumably from kiosk 11, showing the time 12.13pm and that it indicated that RM50 worth of petrol was offloaded. My watch at the time showed 12.24pm and so I thought the receipt was legitimate.

I then showed him my car petrol meter. It had only 2 bars and so it was impossible that I had RM50 worth of petrol because it would had shown all bars! Even if I started the tank near zero, it would had shown so many more bars than just 2. That was when he brought me into the shop so that he could alert his supervisor.

His supervisor said nothing like this happened before and highlighted that some customers had faulty petrol meter. Nevertheless, to further ascertain the facts, he asked his colleagues to get ready to test the kiosk petrol pump while he checked the CCTV. While we were waiting for him, upon request, I showed the petrol meter again. Yup, still 2 bars.

The supervisor emerged and told me that it was confirmed I was at the kiosk holding the petrol pump but I pointed out that I was frantically looking around for help instead. Then another person (his manager?) asked him to cross-check my Bonuslink card number with that on the receipt. In addition, he asked the attendant to end shift so that they could reconcile the cash amount he had with the figure registered in the system. He asked me to drive my car back to kiosk 11 (because there were other customers wanting to use kiosk 5), gave me a bottle of chilled mineral water and invited me to sit in the shop while he checked.

Lo behold, the card number was different! Also, the attendant had RM50 more than that registered by the system. Further check on the time of the CCTV showed that I was there at 12.16pm, not 12.13pm. Hence, it was clear that the receipt was not for me. He apologised profusely and instructed his colleague to fill my car with RM50 worth of petrol. He said that since this had never happened before, they were quite at a loss of what to do. He would ask Shell to look into this. I suggested that they close this kiosk in the meantime.

I think I spent about 30-40mins there @@ I am glad it was resolved in my favour. Phew! FYI, this was all done in a professional manner and in fact, the supervisor was quite friendly.

Farmer's Street

One Sunday evening, Ban, his brother and I were on the way to Uptown to have chap fan for dinner when it started raining quite heavily. Hence, upon my suggestion, we went to Tropicana City Mall instead.

We considered both Simple Kitchen and Farmer's Street but chose the latter because its menu was more suitable for Ban.

I ordered Nyonya Curry Chicken (RM13):

Farmer's Street 1

It had 2 large pieces of chicken, including a drumstick, and 2 small pieces. It was delicious, with sufficient amount of spices to differentiate it from normal curry chicken, although a little spicier too. A little aromatic. It would be better if it came with, say, at least half of a hard boiled egg or more cucumber.

Later, upon my feedback, the manager/boss said that next time I could ask for more cucumber. The reason why they gave only 2 slices because some customers don't even finish them!

Farmer's Street 2

Their Specially Brewed Milk Tea (RM 5) was quite normal and so that's good enough.

I would definitely bring my parents here for the curry chicken.