Sunday, August 31, 2008

Selamat Berpuasa

At the time of writing, I am sitting in front of the TV, waiting for the announcement of the start of puasa.

Regardless of when puasa starts, here's wishing all Selamat Berpuasa. Semoga amalan diterima Allah SWT dan kita sentiasa dirahmati Allah SWT. Amin....

Here is a helpful site to know everything about puasa.

Post-publication edit: Puasa in Brunei will start on Tuesday 2 September 2008 after the new moon was not sighted at 4 locations in Brunei. Malaysia will, however, start puasa on Monday, 1 September 2008.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Happy Birthday CL!

Here's wishing CL on her birthday which falls today.

She is now on a diving trip to the Great Barrier Reef, so great it is that it is visible from space. What a way to celebrate one's birthday!

We had a surprise birthday dinner a fortnight ago. Read about it here, here and here.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Ho Chi Minh City Reviewed

I got asked many times on my trip to Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC). Some people wanted to know if HCMC would be a must-visit city.

For a place that I visited for the first time ever, I actually enjoyed my trip to HCMC. It was my first experience in a capitalist country, so I was expecting it to be a run-down country with minimal or no development. As soon as we left the airplane, I was actually quite impressed with the new airport terminal that welcomed our visit. I left me thinking how come the International Airport in Brunei could not be that impressive; all you had to do was build a new terminal complete with the modern amenities and bring it up to the international standards. I expected to be hassled to be able to enter the country, but perhaps because Brunei and Vietnam are members of ASEAN, entry was smooth.

The airport was a good thirty minute taxi ride away from the city centre. As soon as youexited the arrival hall, please be aware of taxi drivers offering you a trip to your hotel. Be sure to agree on a price. We were approached by this taxi driver and he mentioned USD5, which we thought was the total fare. When we arrived at the airport, he actually meant USD5 per person. Our guidebook actually said that the trip would normally cost USD5 per taxi.

The trip from the airport was something that I would not forget easily. We passed through the suburban area, which was dirtier and looked quite disorganised. HCMC was developing fast and it was quite evident. Most roads had works being done on them and buildings were being erected at a hastened pace.

Scooters or mopeds were one of the main mode of transport in HCMC. On the road everywhere, we were getting swarmed by scooters/mopeds. Traffic here can be described as chaotic, insane and dangerous. Because of the sheer number of scooters and mopeds which seemed to have overtaken the whole road, drivers (of cars, buses and even scooters/mopeds) used their horn a lot. On the trip from the airport to the hotel, our taxi driver seemed to honk his car horn all the time. There were also some instances where there would be a ong line of cars and buses and the ones behind a slow-moving vehicles would display their displeasures by honking their horn and I was wondering why they would do that as I would not think the slow-moving vehicle would actually move aside and let the others go. I noticed that in HCMC (or perhaps the whole of Vietnam), it seemed that the only road users that obeyed the traffic rules were drivers of bigger vehicles such as cars, buses and lorries. If the traffic light turned red, the car, lorry or bus drivers would be stopping, while the scooters/mopeds would pass through the red light. Crossing the road in Vietnam was not for the faint-hearted. At the beginning, we had difficulty to cross the roads as mopeds and scooters would be there on the road as they would ignore the red light. We read the guidebook that advised the readers to 'just cross the road'. So with a bit of courage, we followed the advice given and in no time, we were masters at weaving through the sea of scooters and mopeds.

How to cross the road in Ho Chi Minh City?

For Muslim visitors, finding food might be a problem. One of the secretaries at work had been to HCMC before and she passed me some info on some of the Halal food establishment there. Also, it would be a good idea to look for info from websites such as I am a big fan of Japanese food, so I dined in Japanese restaurants too and it was not much of a problem either.

The hotel that we stayed at was rated three stars. It was clean and came with good amenities. American breakfast was provided. Free wireless internet was free, which most modern hotels in Singapore and Kuala Lumpur could not even offer.

Vietnamese Dong is the currency of Vietnam but US Dollar is widely accepted and preferred here. I am nit an economist, but there would be an economic impact that two currencies are used in one country, wouldn't there? It must probably feel like a small victory to USA to know that US Dollars are preferred in Vietnam, despite losing face in the Vietnam-American War.

Would I visit Ho Chi Minh City again? Yes, I probably would.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Picture Post

A few weeks ago, I went to a friend's wedding, which was then followed by a quick visit to the Pusat Ehsan Bazaar and the Go Kart race in Bandar Seri Begawan.

In this series of pictures, I am showing some of my favourite pictures from the above events.

I like the 'picture-in-picture' effect.

My friend CL took picture....., but using my camera and my 'skinny' lens.

Croutons or croquets?

Banyaknya tapau!

I can't imagine how these tyres may help in case of accident during the go-kart race.

I like the sheen on the newly-replaced golden mosaic tiles on the dome on the mosque. It was gleaming in the later afternoon sun. The mosque will be celebrating the 50th anniversary since its opening on 29 September 1958.

I like this picture LYC laughing; she was not aware I took this picture and I was pleased with the result.

Monday, August 25, 2008

TM HLP - Fun Sports Day (Part 2)

More pictures from the TM Fun Sports Day which took place on Friday.

Some of the spectators who decided to sit out some of the more physically-demanding games.

These two TM staff are cousins.

One of the games: bottle fishing. It looked easy, but not when you were racing against other teams and time.

A three-legged race with a twist; all runnners were supposed to pick up specially coloured balls and throw them into a basket to score points.

Another favourite program of the event: makan time!

In my third-placed winner's bag: healthy food!

The winner: Yellow Team

Second-placed winner: Red Team

Third-placed winner: Blue Team

One of the guys here was recently married. Congrats Haji!

The customary group photo!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

TM HLP - Fun Sports Day (Part 1)

On Friday, Technical Function (TM) had their second Fun Sports Day of the year. The first Fun Sports Day took place in March 2008. It was part of the TM's Healthy Lifestyle Program (HLP) calendar and other events included visit to Pusat Ehsan, fire fighting training and the annual BLNG inter-function badminton tournament.

The Second Fun Sports Day was participated by more than thirty staff and attachment students in TM, an even greater number than the first Fun Sports Day. Seven games were contested, ranging from three-legged race, to relay race with coconuts as batons, bowling with coconuts, the classic childrens' games of looking for sweets in flour, to a team building-inspired game of filling up bottles with water from spoons passed through a long line of people. The weather seemed to have cooperated with us, it was not sunny and the clouds were out to keep the temperature low.

As always, the organisers did a wonderful job in making sure that the day was as fun as its name. Everyone had an enjoyable time. As expected, spirits were high and some people got a bit competitive, but it was all for a bit of laugh and fun.

Here is the first of a 2-part series on the Fun Sports Day.

Kicks was really competitive; we had a gentlemen agreement to win the equal number of games but he did not keep his part of the promise!

One of the committee trying to explain the rules and regulations of the games.

Diamond in the Rough trying to explain how big 'it' was..... again!

Adzul standing 'tall' among the other TM staff....

Diamond's injured middle fingers; luckily not from the Fun Sports Day's games.

Busy preparation before the games start.

It was important to put on the sunblock!

MVD had his first taste of Brunei's competitiveness.
Some of the Lab staff.
Keeping tabs on the attendees.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

To hell with Brontok....

Arrggghhhh....... I am having a serious worm problem.., not, not that kind of worm.

For the past two weeks, this pop-up kept coming up, which said "A virus was found" and the virus happened to be Win32 Brontok worm. Regardless of whatever I did (moved to chest, deleted, ignored and full scan of the system), it kept coming back. I had a Brontok Cleaner software installed, but it got rid of it and did not stop it from coming. I even switched my anti-virus software from Avast! to AVG Anti-virus and still the problem persists.

One of the things that I noticed that the pop-up always said the worm was residing in the external hard drive that I have attached to my desktop. But when I did the full system scan, the worm was found in other drives too.

Perhaps I have a few options to do now:
1. Do a full re-format on my hard-disks and re-install the whole OS and all the other programs, but this is a big job and something that I am reluctant to do.
2. Ignore it further but risking getting all the other computers in the network infected, if they are not already.
3. Buy a totally new desktop and moving the essential files to the new PC, but I am risking moving the worm with them.

Or do you have any experience dealing with this and successfully got rid of the worm? If you do, I would really appreciate it if you could share it with me. Email me here (at

I am really fed up and tired of doing clicking that Move to Chest button.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Need vs Want

Saw this and got quite interested with that MacBook.....

A few hours later, this box was taken home......

My first ever Macintosh Machine..... a MacBook!

I have always wanted to own a MacBook myself; my experiences with Mac OS have been on friends' machine and I told myself that one day I might get it myself. That's a good excuse to own one right? :)

Well, if you see Jester's post here, I could probably use at least two of the excuses that he put up in that post!

Thursday, August 21, 2008


As seen in the Borneo Bulletin today.....

Apparently the girl who was supposed to be representing Brunei Darussalam in one of the Olympics swimming events was in Beijing for a '10-day holiday'. Brunei Darussalam was omitted from the Beijing Olympics after failing to submit the athlete registration to the International Olympics Committee before noon of the opening day of the Olympics Games. The fact that the omission only happened on the opening day itself and if Brunei had managed to register its athlete on time, she was probably in Beijing to carry Brunei's flag into the Bird Nest Stadium. So, was she really in Beijing for the '10-day holiday' or was she there to participate in the Olympics?

Read more about it here.

In the latest cabinet re-shuffle, which happens vey rarely here, the Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports has been transferred to the Energy Division of the Prime Minister's Office and his post has been taken over by the Minister of Industry and Primary Resources. Could this be the result of the Brunei's Beijing Olympics fiasco?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


To commemorate Michael Phelps' 8-gold-medal achievement at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, the Baltimore swimmer posed with his 8 gold medals for the cover of Sports Illustrated magazine.

There seems to be something wrong with the picture. I took a quick glance at the picture and it looked as though Michael Phelps was wearing a neck strap dress, like the one below.

Michael's picture was taken from

And lastly, it is 20.08.2008, and it is the birthday of my youngest sister. Happy birthday Sis! Many happy returns and enjoy the day!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Ho Chi Minh City - More Photos

Another set of photographs taken during the recent trip to Vietnam.

Note: Photographs with italic captions were taken by Red Lob.

A street vendor, plying her trade near the Ben Thanh Market.

I don't know what this pagoda was called.

I wonder if these measuring containers were ever calibrated during their use.....

A mock-up of the Cu Chi Tunnels, at the Ho Chi Minh City Museum.

The All Seeing Eye can be seen everywhere at the Cao Dai Temple.

One of the many street 'bookstores'..... and most of their books were pirated copies.

One of the favourite eating place for my travelling companions. Pho is Vietnamese noodle and pronounced 'phe'.

Another lovely view inside the Grand Hall of the General Post Office.

Yours truly showing his friends that their birthday present was extensively used in Ho Chi Minh City!

The famous gold-star-on-red flag of Vietnam.

This park was at the front of the hotel and this scenery was seen from the 9th floor Restaurant at the hotel.

A row of telephone booths inside the Grand Hall of the General Post Office.

'Monkeying around' in one of the telephone booths.

The local coffee company in Vietnam; nice decor but shame about the service.

The girl was staring at us all the way from Bandar Seri Begawan to Ho Chi Minh City and she threw a sweet at us.

Another view of the Park in front of the hotel.