Friday, December 27, 2013

Comic Fiesta 2013 - 'Buy First, Think Later' Day 2

'Buy first, think later' seemed to be the popular motto of the day since it was after all, the second and final day of Comic Fiesta.
Everything was selling like hot cakes and even the Pikachu hoodie jacket was sold out by the end of Day 1 and the Shingeki No Kyojin jackets only had limited sizes remaining at the start of Day 2. I saw plenty of stuff that I wanted at the Creative market booths, ranging from doujins to trinkets to handmade jewelry, some of which were going at discounted rates. Abiding by the motto (just like last year) I ended up spending, um, RM600 within two days. I will show you my CF hurl at the end of this post.

Customized charm bracelet.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Comic Fiesta 2013 - Shingeki no CF Day 1

Oh, my. Has it been a year already since the previous Comic Fiesta?

Doesn't time fly when you have something to look forward to each year. Comic Fiesta (CF) has become a permanent mark in my calender for the past six years and the one event I blocked out my entire December for. Seriously, I only start making plans once the dates for CF have been announced.

Over the weekend before Christmas, 21-22 Dec 2013, close to 40,000 (39,855 to be precise) otakus, anime and manga fans and curious visitors (about to be severely overwhelmed by culture shock) from all over the country descended upon Kuala Lumpur Convention Center in a crazed frenzy driven by a one-year-long wait for the biggest ACG (Anime, Comic, Games) convention in Malaysia.
My blogger pass privilege

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Australia: 10 Things to do and Eat in Perth

So what do you do in Perth when you are only there for 5 days, 4 nights?  Actually in my case, it was really 4 days, 4 nights because I flew off in the wee hours in the morning on the fifth day.

Things to do in Perth
1. Swimming with dolphins, Rockingham
Forget aquariums and Sea World. Nothing beats seeing these amazing animals in the wild, just going about their daily lives. The fact that we are allowed to witness this makes all the more special. You can opt to fly up to Monkey Mia if you are there on a long trip or just go to Rockingham for a half day trip.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Australia: Adina Barracks Apartment & Royal Hotel Perth

Sometimes the cheapest alternative for a well-located decent accommodation can come in the form of a decent serviced apartment shared amongst 4 to 5 friends. Because accommodation was expensive in Perth (at least by Malaysian standards), my group of friends opted to share an apartment amongst ourselves for the first two night as we were all taking part in Tough Mudder Perth.

We settled for Adina Barracks Apartment in the Perth CBD and shared between 11 of us, we ended up paying about RM400 each for two nights for two premiere two-bedroom apartments. Given the convenience of keeping a huge group together in a comfortable accommodation in a prime location, I didn't mind paying that amount.

The apartment hotel was along Barrack street and at first, a bit hard to spot from the car. We missed it once and had to circle the block a few times also to look for parking. It turned out that the hotel has limited parking and if it is full, the receptionists will direct you to the public parking lot across the road. That can cost a lot overnight.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Twelve Cupcakes, Sunway Pyramid

Twelve Cupcakes has been dubbed 'the best cupcakes' in Singapore and this quint cupcake franchise has found its way to our Malaysians shore, setting up shop in the ever busy Sunway Pyramid.

Why twelve you ask?

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Garfield wishes ESG shoppers Merry X-Mas!

Which iconic tabby is orange, fat, lazy, sarcastic and loves his food and teddy bear, Pooka?

Okay, if you do not know the answer to that, you really need to redefine your childhood. I am talking about Garfield of course, the lovable fat cat. Loved by all adults and kids alike, Garfield is undoubtedly the most famous cat in the world.

This Christmas, thanks to Empire Shopping Gallery, Subang, shoppers get a chance to meet Garfield and his friends live! You get to snap a picture and have fun with these lovable childhood characters: Nermal, Oddie, Arlene and of course, Garfield himself.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Australia: Swimming with Dolphins in Rockingham, Perth

In Nov 2012, I had the pleasure of watching spinner dolphins leap from the ocean against the setting sun in Maldives and during my recent trip to Perth, I decided to take it a step further and actually go swimming with them.

Monkey Mia is the famous dolphin sanctuary in Western Australia, far North of Perth but little does many people know that south of Perth and Fremantle is a cheaper alternative. Rockingham is a small quiet beach-side town about 45 minutes drive from Perth and is also the main base for Rockingham Wild Encounters' Swimming with Dolphins.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Frontera Relaunch

If you are looking for good Mexican food, then look no further than Frontera Sol of Mexico in Jaya One, Petaling Jaya. 

Frontera has a reputation for serving up authentic Mexican food in a cosy ambiance and has recently decided a menu revamp was in order to ensure that their choices remain interesting and appealing to its patrons which now include families. 

Organised by the hands-on students of IACT  college, Frontera launched their brand new menu to the food and fashion themed event named Rayos de Colores (Spanish for Rays of Colours). Restaurant manager, Ramesh Vadiveloo said, “Our business in the past focused on working adults looking for affordable and quick set lunch. We now would like to cater more to families, providing a smoke-free, family-friendly environment.”

Friday, November 29, 2013

Bite Hopping with 1Utama & the Butterfly Project Part 2

In this part of Bite Hopping through 1Utama with the Butterfly Project, let me introduce you to the eateries found in High Street. After covering most of Food Street (which you can read about in Part 1 here), the next part of my foodie mission took me to High Street lower ground (LG). 

[Non-halal] But before that, on my way to the former new wing of 1Utama, I dropped by this hidden little hideaway for my Bak Kut Teh fix, Pao Xiang Bak Kut Teh. How do you find it? Just look out for a giant bowl next to the escalator on the lower ground floor and it is right next to the Chinese medicine store, way inside. 

Pao Xiang Bak Kut Teh is famously known for their string-tied meat that ensure the meat remains firm and succulent when it is boiled in the herbal soup. It comes served on a ceramic burner to make sure it is constantly hot as you slurp on it. And it just so happened that when I was here, it started pouring cats and dogs outside. Talk about the perfect weather for piping hot soup and pork!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Bite Hopping with 1Utama & the Butterfly Project Part 1

Today's installment of Bite Hopping was brought to you by 1Utama Shopping Centre in collaboration with the Butterfly Project. Being the 4th largest shopping mall in the world, you can be really spoiled for choice in terms of food in 1Utama. Spoiled rotten like a kid in Candyland.

Thanks to the Butterfly Project, I got to try out some of 1Utama's hidden food treasures last weekend as part of their Blogger Wonderfood Adventure. My mission, should I chose to accept or not (I did, that's why I am doing this anyway) was to explore, eat, taste and photography 15 selected outlets of the lower ground (LG) floor. All within a 5 hours time limit from 11am to 4pm.

As soon as I collected my food passport to collect stamps from the outlets and my goodie bag from the registration counter, I started mapping out my foodie route for the next five hours. (cue Mission Impossible music)

Let me start by introducing you to Food Street, located in the LG Promenade area directly beneath Isetan if you need a landmark to find it. There is a good number of eateries here that can satisfy any sort of craving be it local or international, sweet or savoury.

Monday, November 25, 2013

[Guest Post] The Food Here Tastes Different by Marta

Hey, readers!

Today I have something or rather someone special in the house. May I present you to Happy Days' first ever guest writer, Marta Velez! Yay!
Marta is a girl from Lisbon working in Kuala Lumpur. She has been living here for some months now and she loves it. Marta loves to travel, play guitar, meet new people and cultures and most of all food. She loves knowing other cultures and her love for the local gastronomy, lifestyle and culture was what led her to Happy Days Ahead.

More than that, Marta also has a passion for writing and in her own words, wants to share her experience with our Malaysian food since her arrival here. So without further ado, here's what Marta has to say.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Australia: Tough Mudder Perth 2013

As you know, I took part in the Viper Challenge held in August this year with my awesome team HUH?! which made me realize my addiction to obstacle challenges. By October, I was itching for another round of monkey bars, mud, ice and water and so, it was off to Perth, Australia for Tough Mudder Perth!

Tough Mudder has been hailed as "possibly the toughest event on the planet" and is organised throughout the year in different countries like the United States, New Zealand and of course, Australia. Perth was the latest edition to reach Australia, adding to a list consisting of Sydney, Melbourne, the Sunshine Coast and so on.

Since Perth was the closest Tough Mudder venue to Malaysia, we boarded a flight the day before the event and flew off to sunny Perth. (actually quite a far bit of logistics planning went into this trip as there were 13 of us, all with different itineraries)

Tough Mudder Perth was held in the middle of nowhere (WPC Copley Farm to be exact) and with our luck (good or bad, depends on you) it was freezing when we got there at 7am. We got ourselves sorted out at registration, got our bibs, got our numbers drawn our foreheads and dropped off our bags at the baggage counters, all rather quickly thanks to the efficiency of the organizers and volunteers.

Of course, to commemorate the event, we took a lot of pictures.My team was Mudder-in-Law, after a friend's favourite curse phrase and we were the most mismatched, psychotic team to fly out of Malaysia for this. Our wackiness started on the five hour flight over and quite frankly, we were surprised we were not thrown out from the plane for all the noisy and obstruction we made on the plane.

Anyway, Tough Mudder had the coolest starting Emcee who drilled the essence of the event in our heads and got us all pumped up for the flag off. Did I mention that we had to scale a mini wall just to get to the start line. That was Tough Mudder alright.

We were to expected 20 obstacles over a 20 km (12mile) trail and we got our money's worth in the crazy but fun obstacles that lined the course.

1. Kiss of Mud
Kiss of Mud was fairly straight-forward. We crawled through the mud, almost kissing it but the only catch was that there are barb-wires above our heads. My hair got caught a few times on that and a lot of people also lost their bibs in the mud.

2. Just the Tip
I must say this obstacle was one of my favourites despite taking a long time to calm my nerves to tackle it. Basically we had to inch our way along a wall with minimal hand hold and foothold across a pit of water. At one point, I was literally hanging by my fingertips as the footholds disappeared, relying only my arm strength and body momentum to swing me across.

3. Cage Crawl
A lot of people had concerns over this obstacle as it can get claustrophobic but water babies aka swimmers would love floating along the shallow tunnels filled with water and with only 6 inches of breathing space. I found it a rather....tranquil experience.

Our photographers were spotted running alongside the team on an assigned route for spectators.

4. Mud Mile
Now this was where we got really dirty all over. We had to sludge our way through a mile of mud and water that were up to our waist. It wasn't too bad other than the fact the water was cold and the hills of mud were collapsing under our hands even as we tried to boost ourselves up. That was what my team was for though and we got over this rather smoothly. I heard it wasn't that bad since our trenches were filled with water rather than actual heavy mud.

5. Electric Eel
Mentally and physically, this was one of the more daunting challenges as there was absolutely no way we could have trained for this, short of actually electrocuting ourselves....We had to crawl on our bellies through live wires that were dangling all around us and there was almost no way you can avoid them. I say, almost because somehow I managed to get through this obstacle without a jolt or a sizzle of electricity. Friends who got zapped ended up hopping around, screaming about their crown jewels.

Of course, the real skeleton at the front of the challenge didn't help. 

6. Glory Blades
Glory Blades was one of the easier walls to tackle. To get over it, we had to support each other by forming a stepping stone for our friends at the wall. Once they were over and down, there was another one on the other side.

7. Arctic Enema
Ah, the infamous Artic Enema of Tough Mudder.

I did a similar one for Viper which was actually modeled after this and this was certainly no walk in the park. Again, we had no way of training for this other than sitting in a tub filled with ice but somehow we went ahead with the Just Do It mentality and did it anyway.

Not a pretty experience as the water was freezing cold and filled to the brim with ice. We had to dunk our heads completely underwater to get under a board and come out the other side. It was just my bad luck that the guy in front of me got stuck trying to get out and I had to wait a torturous minute for someone to pull him out. In less than zero Celsius ice and water. By the time I had climbed out, I lost all feelings in my body and it was a miracle that I could still move without cramping up.

8. Water Logged
This was easy and we all had to do was climb over several fences of logs and duck under several barb wires in between. Of course, nothing was ever easy with my team and one of us...had a wardrobe malfunction when her pants caught a splinter and ripped. We spent a good ten minutes trying to patch her up with duct tape only for it to fall off as soon as she started running. And as if that wasn't obvious enough, she kept turning around and asking us, "IS IT OBVIOUS?!"

No, Caryn. It wasn't obvious UNTIL you did that. 

9. Warrior Carry
Next part was the Warrior Carry and in pairs or trios, we had to carry each other for 100 meter, then switch roles and go for another 100 meter. Ironically, this was where my left calf decided to cramp up. Not because I was carrying my teammate but because I was hopping on to his back. Luckily for me, he carried me the whole 200 meters with me yelling 'MUSH!' at the top of my lungs.

Thanks, Raj! 

Junken in the picture below got royalty treatment and was carried by Alex and Lenny.

10. Spider's Web 
Due to my cramp, I walked around this challenge. It was similar to the one we did at Viper Challenge where we had to climb a loose net and to create tension, people had to anchor it. It was a nice change to see other teams helping each other to hold the net down while people scaled over it. Got to love the team spirit that Tough Mudder fostered.

11. King of the Mountain
This was the only challenge we encountered a line and waited about five minutes before it was our turn. By then, the top of the hay had disintegrated due to people constantly grabbing at it. So the organizers pulled up and closed off this challenge to allow them to fix it up. It was a good call for safety reasons and since we had done the same thing in the Viper Challenge, my team had no problem giving it a miss.

Of course, in every team there just had to be that one person who did it anyway despite us yelling at him to get down.

I found out much later that there were several more culprits in team who couldn't resist the challenge and scaled it after the team ran ahead. Sneaky buggers. They ended up getting stuck up there to help other people.

12.  Berlin Walls
I loathed the 12 feet walls but because this was Tough Mudder, I wasn't allowed to whine or complain. Aloud. My plan was to just scramble over them by any means necessary and not look like an idiot doing so. Mission accomplished.

The same can't be said for my friend who tried helping other people and ended up looking like a pervert looking to grab ass. 

Nevertheless, we all did it!

Only to find another wall waiting for us.

13. Underwater Tunnels
I can't believe I forgot to bring my goggles for Tough Mudder and really had to squeeze my eyes shut for this challenge less my contact lenses got swept away. People had to basically go under the barrels and come out on the end. Easy enough if you are accustomed to water. Although the marshal at the start yelling "DON'T DRINK THE WATER. IT HAS TADPOLE PEE IN IT!" didn't help.

14. Hold Your Wood
What a cheeky challenge name but it was by no means a joke.While it may seem easy to carry a small log or share out a long one amongst your teammates, what most people don't realized is that the dirt road we carried the log around went uphill and down. Smart people went for the low numbered logs while those driven by adrenaline and egoism...went for the heaviest log. Like my two teammates in the photo below, sharing a long and heavy log.

Really, genius....

15. Walk the Plank
Officially my favourite. A few of my friends were hesitant to tackle this challenge, not because of the height of 15 feet but because they couldn't swim. I just went for it and as soon as the space beneath me was empty of people, I leapt in and paddle to the top. I realised only then there were scuba divers on standby to fish for any one who didn't come up. There was also a lifeguard on a surf board, ready to assist anyone struggling to get to the land.

16. Twinkle Toes
Twinkle Toes really depended on our sense of balance and speed because right in the middle was when you really need to sprint for the other side. The plank would wobble and there goes your balance and into the water you go!

17. Funky Monkey
Unlike the monkey bars I have encountered, this one curved at the top and went down again. I gave it a shot and just couldn't find my grip. I lost it at the fourth rung and into the water (again) I went.

18. Everest
One of the most iconic obstacle of Tough Mudder. We had to sprint up a quarter-pipe and with the help of our friends and other Mudders, scale over this summit. Timing and coordination was key for this obstacle. And most of all, a never-give-up mentality. I will let the photos and videos do the talking.

19. Electroshock Therapy
And finally to bring an end to our misery, erm, challenge, this was the last obstacle that stood between us and the finish line. We recuperated before this challenge, steeled our nerves, held hands and ran like shit into a field of dangling live wires. Some carried a voltage of 10,000 volts and I definitely felt it all the way to my right feet each time it jerked under me. I got hit four time I think but that wasn't as bad as a friend who took 10 wires that sent him to his knees.

And finally the end. The sweet sensation of walking pass the finish line and getting our hard-earn orange headband, t-shirts and beer. Team Mudder-in-Law had completed the entire course in about 4 hours and a half. HOORAH!

I know I cursed and swore the whole way but I wouldn't have been able to do this without my teammates. The memories of Tough Mudder is just something that only fellow Mudders can understand and appreciate and I am glad that I got to do it with the most supportive and whacky group of friends.

Would I do it again? Hell, yeah.

*Sunglasses sponsored by Glassesonline.