While doing window shopping at Imperial Mall in Miri today, I came across these “internet-themed” flippers at one of the shops there. I saw Google flippers, Facebook flippers, Yahoo flippers, Twitter flippers and YouTube flippers.Obviously these are marketed without the permission of all these online iconic companies. But what the heck! Go get yourself a pair now!

Which one do you prefer? Youtube? Google? Facebook? Yahoo?

Or do you want Twitter?

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Today is a sad day. At about 8.00am this morning, my father-in-law passed away. Last night we were all at the house of one of my sister-in-laws to celebrate the birthday of her son. My father-in-law was there though he did not eat much.  We went home at about 10.15 pm and after taking our bathe, we were thinking of calling it a day when we received news that my father-in-law had been rushed to Columbia Specialist Centre as he was feeling very unwell.

We rushed to Columbia and was told that my father-in-law would be sent to Miri General Hospital as his condition was very serious. About half an hour after our arrival, my father-in-law was rushed to Miri General Hospital in an ambulance. He was already unconscious.

We spent the whole night at the hospital and only went home at about 7.30 am this morning to take our bathe and a rest. But shortly after taking our bathe, we received news that our father-in-law had passed away. So without any chance for rest, we rushed to my father-in-law’s house.  We have been  there for the whole day and only canme back a short while ago to take our bathe. We will going to my father-in-law’s house after this so this blog post of mine seems a bit rushed.

Life is so unpredictable at times.  I hope my father-in-law will rest in peace. He is with the Lord now!

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The 2010 Borneo International Yachting Challenge (BIYC) began in Miri, Sarawak on the 24th of this month with 51 yachts  from 14 countries taking part. There are 20 entries from Australia, 6 from UK, 5 from Malaysia, 5 from New Zealand, 4 from USA, 2 from Germany, 2 from France and 1 each from Singapore, Grenadines, Vanuatu, British Virgin Island, Netherlands, Canada and Sweden.

BIYC 2010 Logo

This annual event, now in its 7th year, takes a fleet of international yachts from Miri to Labuan – a distance of 105 miles, and then from Labuan to Kota Kinabalu (Sabah) which is another 65 miles. The regatta finishes in Kota Kinabalu with two races around the Tunku Abdul Rahman national Marine Park on Friday the 30th July, followed by a lavish prize giving dinner at Sutera Harbour Marina Club hosted by Sabah Tourism.

The regatta is a joint effort between the Ministry Of Tourism And Heritage Sarawak, Labuan Corporation, and the Sabah Tourism Board. Other sponsors include Sutera Harbour Resort, Samling Global, Pelita and Park City Everly Hotel in Miri.

Sarawak’s Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Dr George Chan flagged off the contestants at Marina Bay in Miri. Sarawk’s Assistant Minister of Social Development & Urbanisation Datuk Lee Kin Shin, BYIC Miri Working Committee chairman Troy Yaw and Miri mayor Lawrence Lai were also present at the flag-off.

Marina Bay Miri

This year’s fleet has set a new record for the event. It will also make the regatta one of the largest of its kind in South East Asia. One of the reasons for this dramatic increase in numbers is due to collaboration between the BIYC and the Sail Malaysia Rally – Passage to the East.

BIYC committee member Simon Farmer, who was instrumental in forging this partnership with the organizers of Sail Malaysia, said that given the current state of the global economy and the ever shrinking sponsorship dollar it made sense to combine the two events. He said the number of entries this year proved that this had been a popular strategy.

The Chairman of Sabah Tourism Board and co-chairman of the regatta, Dato Seri Tengku Zainal Adlin expressed his delight with the number of yachts taking part this year and said that Sabah is on target to achieving its goal in becoming the Caribbean of the East.

He said that ‘events such as this are putting Borneo and Kota Kinabalu on the map, and are the perfect vehicle for showcasing the state and its bio-diversity’.

Adlin commented further that over the past 12 months Sutera Harbour Marina and Kota Kinabalu had hosted at least 10 mega yachts of over thirty meters with a combined value of over US$350 million dollars. Among these visitors was the world’s largest privately owned sailing yacht, the 92 meter ‘Eos’ valued in excess of US$150 million.

Sutera Harbour Marina in Kota Kinabalu

“The fact that more and more of these types of yachts are visiting our shores means that the message is getting through to yacht owners and captains that Sabah and Borneo have as much to offer, if not more than the other major destinations around the world. These types of visitors provide a tremendous boost to the local economy and to the global perception of Sabah”, remarked Adlin

Tengku Adlin will take part in the regatta once again this year sailing aboard Farmers yacht in the final two races off Kota Kinabalu. This will be a little different from last year when he crewed on the 120’ luxury sailing yacht ‘Naos’ and was treated to a gourmet lunch. Farmer warned Adlin not to expect the same this year as the boat he is sailing on is a stripped out racing yacht with only the bare essentials. Adlin replied that he was ready for the challenge.

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We had breakfast yesterday at Face To Face Noodles House in Boulevard Commercial Centre. Face To Face is a West Malaysian franchise.

Face To Face Noodles House at Boulevard Commercial Center

I ordered Fried Pan Mee Mamak ‘s Style with a cup of “Kopi O” while my wife tried Creations Minced Pork Pan Mee with her usual “Tea O”. My son Les opt for their House Specialty Hot & Spicy Pan Mee (dry) and a cup of Milo.

Fried Pan Mee Mamak's Style....looks like char kway teow

Minced meat pan mee with the usual ikan bilis and cangkut manis

House specialty......hot & spicy pan mee

House specialty......hot & spicy pan mee

There were not many customers so we got served quite fast. Want our verdict? Well, we all find the pan mee not bad but nothing to shout about. I was hoping that it would be something really nice so I must say I am a little bit disappointed. However if you are looking for something for a change when you get tired of the usual kolomee or laksa, do head down to Face To Face. Just for your info, our bill came to a reasonable RM16.40.

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Myriam Janeth Abreu Medfina, representing Venezuela, was crowned Miss Tourism Intercontinental 2010 last night by Sarawak’s Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Dr George Chan at the Miri Indoor Stadium.

Miss Venezuela Wins The Title of Miss Tourism Intercontinental 2010

Miss Venezuela Wins

First runner-up was Miss Australia, Kelly Louise Maguire. Miss America, Amy Diaz, was the second runner-up. Congratulations to the winners!

Winners of the Miss Tourism Intercontinental 2010

Miss Malaysia, Darcia Marselynna, won the subsidiary title of “Miss Congeniality”. The “Best Talent” title went to Miss Germany, Klaudia Domagalska. Miss Netherlands, Djamila Celina Mercherts, won the “Best National Costume” title.  Miss Mexico, Leslie Ines Quezada Bueno, took home the “Best Evening Gown” title.

Below are photos of 30 of the contestants taken during their stint at Grand Palace Hotel a few days ago. All the photos in this blog post are by the courtesy of Chris Gan of Grand Palace Hotel Miri. Thanks, Chris!

Miss Australia

Miss Azerbaijan

Miss Belarus

Miss Brazil

Miss China

Miss Estonia

Miss Ethiopia

Miss Germany

Miss Hong Kong

Miss India

Miss Japan

Miss Kyrghyzstan

Miss Latvia

Miss Lebanon

Miss Macau

Miss Malaysia

Miss Mexico

Miss Netherlands

Miss New Zealand

Miss Pakistan

Miss Russia

Miss Singapore

Miss South Africa

Miss South Korea

Miss Taiwan

Miss Thailand

Miss Tunisia

Miss Ukraine

Miss USA

Miss Venezuela...she really exudes confidence!

Chris Gan With Some of the Contestants

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The Miss Tourism Intercontinental 2010 Finale will be held at the Miri Indoor Stadium tonight. The pageant is organized by Alaric Productions which is owned by Malaysian Alaric Soh. It is being held in Miri in conjunction with Miri’s fifth anniversary as a city.

Miri Indoor Stadium

Thirty three finalists are vying for the title. These thirty three finalists are from Australia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Brazil, China, Estonia, Ethiopia,  Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Kyrghyzstan, Latvia, Lebanon, Macau, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Pakistan, Panama, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Tunisia, Ukraine, USA and Venezuela.

The beauty pageant has stirred up controversy in Taiwan. Amanda Chen Pei Ying, representing Taiwan, has sparked a war of words between two Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislators in Taiwan after photos showed her wearing a “Miss Taiwan China” sash.

Miss Taiwan Amanda Chen(photo courtesy of Chris Gan)

DPP Legislator Chen Yin said that the organizers undermined Taiwan’s sovereignty and that Amanda Chen “had problems recognizing her own country.”

Speaking to the Liberty Times, Amanda Chen denied that the sash was a big issue for her and said that she did not see the need to ask organizers to change the wording. “China is very friendly toward me, so the sash doesn’t need to be changed,” the newspaper quoted Amanda Chen, who reportedly works in China, as saying.

However, in a turn of events that left the DPP lawmaker red-faced, it was later revealed that Amanda Chen is connected with DPP Legislator Yu Tien through his son Yu Hsiang-chuan, who is Amanda Chen’s boyfriend.

The Chinese-language website NOWnews quoted Yu Tien criticizing Chen Ying yesterday afternoon, saying that her comments crossed the line and that she should instead empathize with the contestant.

“What kind of bullshit is she saying? What does she mean by problems recognizing her own country?” Yu Tien was quoted as saying. “Chen Ying has no right criticizing my son’s girlfriend.”

“She has no choice, being out there alone. Instead, what has the Ministry of Foreign Affairs done for her? I think that the problem lies with Taiwan’s government,” Yu Tien said.

Another snag that hit the pageant was the absence of Vietnam’s Kim Dung . Kin Dung was supposed to take part but she was not granted licence to participate because she has not won any titles in national beauty contests. She therefore did not meet Vietnam’s Ministry of Culture, Sports & Tourism’s standard to represent Vietnam in international beauty pageants. Kim Dung was the Bronze Cup winner at the Vietnam Supermodel 2009 contest which means she can compete in international model competitions but not beauty pageants.

Vietnam's Kim Dung

Malaysia is represented by student Darcia Marselynna, 20, from Miri. She was the first runner up in Miss Borneo Beautiful 2009 and is of Malay and Chinese parentage.

The contestants have varied backgrounds and include students, models, beauty therapists, environmental spokesperson, lecturer, TV host, general manager, tour guide, actress and cabin crew.

The tallest among the contestants is Pakistan’s Asma Waheed. Aged 24, she is 180 cm tall and weighs 65 kg and her hobby is car racing.

The shortest is 21-year old Ane Coertze, a beauty therapist from South Africa who stands at 162 cm and weighs 50 kg and lists scuba diving as her hobby.

The youngest is Panama’s Maria Alejandra Tejada, 18, a student of social communication and whose hobby is reading. Her height is 176 cm.

Who will win the coveted title of Miss Tourism Intercontinental 2010 tonight? Check out my blog post tomorrow!

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A view of Miri from Canada Hill

Yesterday was the launch of Miri May Fest in Miri and Miri became the first city to get 5,000 over people to converge at one spot to go totally “green” in their shopping.  The feat earned Miri a recognition by The Malaysian Book of Record.

The event was held at the Miri Indoor Stadium yesterday morning. The 5,000 plus crowd shopped only with recycleable eco-bags sponsored by Shell. The event was in conjunction with the city’s “Say No To Plastic Bags Every Day” campaign.

Miri has three international events during the month-long May Fest:

1. Miri Jazz Festival (May 14-15)

2. Miss Tourism Intercontinental (May 20)

3. Miri City International Deep Sea Fishing Competition (May 21-23)

Miri holds more than 100 events throughout the year. It is a fast developing city with a few major shopping complexes in the pipeline. A couple of new hotels are nearing completion. Housing projects are mushrooming in every corners.

Beautiful beaches are just minutes’ drive from the city center. There are lovely parks in and near the city. It is also the gateway to the world-renowned Mulu Caves and Niah Caves.

Didn’t I tell you that Miri is the best place in Sarawak to live in?

A view of Taman Selera Beach in Miri

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I went to Kuching on the morning of  April 2 for Ching Ming Festival and returned to Miri last night.  I had an enjoyable three days in Kuching where I stayed with my second brother. My eldest brother flew to Kuching from Miri a day earlier than me. My two brothers, my mum and I talked a lot about our younger days in Bintangor and our family history.

On my first night in Kuching, my second brother treated us to a sumptuous meal at a seafood restaurant. My sister, my brother-in-law and their youngest daughter were there. And I met Pending State Assemblywoman Violet Yong in person for the first time. She was sitting in a table near us and she came over to say hi as she knows my sister well.

Photo of Violet Yong from sarawakupdate.com

Photo of Violet Yong from sarawakupdate.com

We went to our father’s grave at about 7.10 am on  April 3. We did the customary chores of cleaning up the tombstone and removing the weeds. My sister even bought 2 paper shirts and a pair of paper sports shoes for my dad. My sister said she wanted to encourage my dad to exercise in the other world, haha!

Some time around noon on April 3, my friend John Wong came to pick me to meet up with another ex-schoolmate Goh Leng Yew. We had a simple nice lunch by the poolside at Sarawak Club. We shared our experiences, reminisced about my time at Kolej Tuanku Bujang in Miri, exchanged news about other schoolmates of ours. John is a mechanical engineer attached to JKR while Goh is a successful businessman who owns an engineering consultancy firm and a  mineral water factory in Kuching. Leng Yew, thanks for the treat! And John, thank you too for always finding time to meet up with me whenever I am in Kuching.

When John sent me back to my brother’s house, I met my grand nephew Derek Cheu for the first time.  Derek is the son of my niece Angel Lim (my second brother’s daughter). He is such a cute baby who is not shy of strangers. He didn’t mind at all when I carried him.

Little Derek

Little Derek

That night, my sister and my brother-in-law treated us to another sumptuous dinner at a Chinese restaurant.  I met my grand niece Janice again…she has grown a lot since I last saw her almost a year ago. She is such a smart little girl. Though she is not even three, she can speak and sing very well. Now that I have a grand nephew and 2 grand nieces, it is a sure sign that I am  getting old!

My sister and her granddaughter Janice

My sister and her granddaughter Janice

My brother, Derek and my mum

My second brother and his grandson Derek

After dinner, we went to my sister’s house to watch the Manchester United-Chelsea clash. Oh, it was so disappointing to see MU lose due to a controversial offside goal. MU’s hope of retaining the English Premier League championship has been very seriously dented now, thanks to the linesman.

My good friend Poh Ted Ang dropped by my sister’s house to pick me up for a chit-chat. He decided to go to Oriental Pearl Reflexology for a one-hour reflexology session. By the way, before you start jumping to the wrong conclusion, this reflexology outlet offers genuine reflexology and not what some of you may be thinking. We were each served by a male masseur from China. The masseur put a basin of hot water containing some herbs in front of me and asked me to immerse my legs in the water. The water was quite hot and I instinctively recoiled with shock when I put my legs into the water, haha! The masseur started by massaging my neck and shoulders. Oh gosh! There were times that I felt like screaming in pain! But I know that if I can endure the pain, I will feel so much better once it is over.  When the session was over, I really felt very relaxed. Thank you for picking up the tab, Ted Ang!

Yesterday morning, my eldest brother and I went shopping for butter cakes and “kompian”. I bought several butter cakes at the Mita Cake House at Satok. The shop was enjoying brisk business when I popped into the shop. Its butter cakes are tasty as they use a lot of butter unlike a lot of other cake shops that scrimp on butter when making cakes. After that, we went to buy the Foochow delicacy “kompian”.

Yesterday afternoon, as I had to meet someone near Sunny Hill Ice-cream, I thought of tasting the famous Sunny Hill ice-cream. But there was a queue of people waiting to be served and the queue was moving at such a slow pace. I gave up  and went back to my brother’s house after meeting the person that I had an appointment with.I guess I will try the next time I am in Kuching as my brother’s house is quite near Sunny Hill Ice Cream.

The slow-moving queue at Sunny Hill Ice Cream

The slow-moving queue at Sunny Hill Ice Cream

I left Kuching at about 7.40pm and arrived back in Miri at about 8.35 pm. Being rather tired, I retired to bed after a quick dinner of “char kuay teow” that I had bought at Pelita Commercial Center on the way from the airport to my house. I think I was sound asleep within a few minutes after hitting the bed!

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The haze is back with a vengeance. I had a hard time cleaning up my garage yesterday afternoon as it was covered with ashes.

And this morning I woke up to find my housing estate enveloped in a thick haze. At first I thought it was a morning mist but when I walked out to my garage, I was hit with the pungent smell of smoke.

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As I was sending my wife and my son to work, I could see the seriousness of the haze. In some places, visibility was only four to five metres. It was no wonder that cars had their headlights on.

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Visibility was real bad.

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As usual, the culprits for the current haze are mainly the moonlighting farmers who burn roadside land for cultivation of crops to earn some part-time income. These people have no regards for the dire consequences of their actions. They often play a game of hide-and-seek with the authorities. They start the roadside fires and then disappear. Sometimes the fires started by them rage out of control and the fire brigades have to be called in to help put out the fires. Later these farmers come back to claim their “territories” and start planting crops like corn.  This happens every year.

A few days ago, the mayor of Miri warned of stern actions against open burning. The authorities would impose fines on those caught in the act of open burning. But as these farmers always play hide-and-seek with the authorities, it is not easy for the authorities to catch them.  The mayor  thus reiterated that the authorities would no longer hesitate to destroy the crops planted by these moonlighting farmers. I hope the authorities will really carry out their threats to destroy the crops planted by these moonlighting farmers as these farmers need to be taught a lesson. Go Mayor go!

When will we see haze-free days in Miri again? Sigh………..

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Almost a fortnight has gone by since my last blog article.  After all the Chinese New Year visiting and activities, I got bitten by the lazy bug and have just been relaxing. I guess it is time to get back into the normal day-to-day routine again.

During the first few days of the Chinese New Year, my family visited the houses of quite a lot of relatives. With my son Clarence and his girl friend back from Penang to spend the Chinese New Year with us, our house was  noisier and livelier than usual.

During the course of our Chinese New Year visiting, we came across this house with its water meter secured with barbed wire to prevent theft of the meter. It is truly surprising that there are people who would resort to stealing water meters but I have read newspaper reports about such thefts.

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In another relative’s house, we came across quite a number of unwelcomed visitors. These visitors were crawling on the floor and the walls….upon closer examination, these visitors turned out to be dog lice! A relative of mine tried to kill the lice that he saw.

Killing dog lices crawling on the floor!Killing dog lice crawling on the floor!

The lion dance troupe from Democratic Action Party (DAP) passed through our housing estate and performed a short dance in the garage of my house.  Here in Miri, it is a very common practice for lion dance troupes from Chinese schools, associations and political parties to perform from house to house to raise funds. It adds to the Chinese New Year mood.

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An unfortunate event happened on the third day of the Chinese New Year . One of my relatives hosted an open house on that day and we dropped by his house. My relative had ordered several dishes from a Malay so we savored the food. That night, both of my sons and I came down with bad diarhoea. My son Clarence was the most seriously affected as he had fever in addition to a severe case of diarhoea. I immediately suspected that the cause must be the curry that we had taken at the open house. My wife was not affected as she did not take the curry. The next day we found out that a lot of our other relatives who had been to the open house had diarhoea. And my relative who hosted the open house later told us he only found out that there was something wrong with the curry later that night. The curry had turned frothy!

My son Clarence and Amanda left Miri for Penang on the fourth day of the Chinese New Year. I felt so sad to see them go. And I felt so sorry for Clarence as he was still unwell from the food poisoning with bouts of fever as well as sore throat. On arrival in Penang, he had to see a doctor immediately and had to take the following day off as a medical leave.

Today is the twelfth day of the Chinese New Year. And in three more days, it is Chap Go Meh ….another round of big makan (eating) again!

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