Thursday, July 30, 2009

Welsh Singing Sensation.....

This young man was said to have outsung Mariah Carey during the recent Memorial Service for Michael Jackson. Shaheen Jafargholi, who is twelve and hails from Wales, was one of the finalists of this year's Britain's Got Talents. He was apparently invited by Michael Jackson to perform during his This Is It tours in London and it was inevitable that he would be invited to sing during Jackson's Memorial.

He impressed the audience at the Memorial and apparently following his tribute, Larry King leaned forward and asked Motoen Record founder Berry Gordy, "Who is that?". Gordy, who was moved by the performance, reportedly replies, "I have no cotton pickin' idea who that is, but if I were still in the business, I would sign him tomorrow".

I thought he sang much better during the audition of Britain's Got Talents. The backing singers at the Memorial kinda spoilt it for me.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

What's going on?

What's up with this? A Pre-sale Sale?

Nazmi is not the only one doing this. Just trawl through the newspaper and you'll see other establishments are also doing it.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Back at work.....

It was my first day at work today, after being away for the last fortnight. As expected, more than 200 emails were received, tho 20% of them were probably forwarded or junk emails. I have always had this problem opening my emails at work. Sometimes, it would take a minute or more to get an email opened. So imagine having to open 200+ emails. The snail mail was not too bad either.

Thankfully, I opened and sorted all my emails today. From tomorrow onwards, I hope to be able to finish off things that need to be finished.

How great it is to be back.......... :(

Monday, July 27, 2009

Royal Fruit?

What is it with the Royal birthday and thai longans? Every year perhaps thousand of boxes of them are sold, not by one seller, but by almost every other seller in town. And have you ever checked their price? They are sold at BND3 per kg or BND5 per 2 kg, by every vendor! Do they sign an agreement not to sell at different price?

And a tip, they are much cheaper in Bandar than they are in KB. And just don't eat too much of them, or else you will end up having a bad sore throat.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Birthday Greetings....

These birthday greetings go to a niece and a nephew who share their birthdays today.....

Firstly, to Mona on her 18th birthday.

Then, to Yuyan on his 11th birthday today.

Happy Birthday to the both of you. Moga panjang umur dan murah rezeki.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Easy Prius.....

For the duration of our stay in Manchester, Jester rented a car, so that it would be easy for us to get around. It also let us to stay somewhere not too near the city centre, or else the hotel rate would be more. With a car, it also enabled us to go anywhere at anytime we want. We would not have to wait for taxi or get on a bus to go places.

We had a Toyota Prius for our use while in the UK. It was a hybrid car; it ran on petrol engine and electric motor. During normal city driving, it would run on the electric motor and switched to the petrol engine while driving on the highway. When we got the car on our arrival in Manchester, the tank was just slightly less than half full (or is it half empty?). We filled the tank on that very first day. During the week we were there, we used the car everyday to get to the city centre, a return day trip to Cheshire Oak, which was about 30 miles from Manchester, and a day trip to Leeds, which was about 50-60 miles away from Manchester. Amazingly, after all those trip, the fuel tank indicator returned to almost the same point when we got the car. As a courtesy, we also added about 5 litres of petrol just before we returned it.

The display showed which, either the petrol engine or the electric motor, was being used. Above, it showed the petrol engine was being used. The yellow arrow indicated that the battery for the motor was being re-charged.

To get around, Jester borrowed this TomTom Navigation System (or as said by this person we met in Manchester, GP.... GP....). Perhaps, the road system in Brunei is not that terribly complicated, but it may be fun to be told to go left or right on the next junction.

The TomTom Navigation system. Just don't leave this on the windscreen when you park to go the shops or at home; otherwise you will not see it ever again.

We were impressed with this car. It saved us a lot on the costly fuel, which amounted to almost GBP1 (or about BND2.40) per litre. It may not be the fastest car, but it was economical, safe and environmentally0-friendly as well.

I heard that NBT Brunei might start selling this car in Brunei in the second half of this year. If your driving is mainly in the city, perhaps it may be a good idea to get this car. And a new model is available soon too. We also saw this adert that a hydbrid-version of the Lexus RX400 is available too.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Memory Lanes

This trip to UK has been a trip down the memory lane, both for me and Jester.

It was wonderful to get re-acquinted with the familiar names in retail therapy that I came to know and love during my studies here almost ten years ago. Some of the retailers have gone bigger, some have gone smaller, and some have gone bust. It was nice to be able to shop at Topman, H&M, JJB Sports, WH Smith, Marks & Spencer, Asda and Gap, to name a few. I also miss shopping at Woolsworth which gone bankrupt last year. It was also good to have all those foods which were our staples many years ago. Spicy chicken wings, bbq ribs and kebabs brought back memories of yesteryears.

It was also a trip down the memory lane for Jester. On the first day in Manchester, he showed me around the campus, his apartment, his gym, his Asda and his computer cluster (which I would probably call Computer Room!). We also went to Leeds, where he graduated from eleven years ago. I have never seen him getting excited, animated and emotional all at once. He showed me the city centre, including Morrisons which he frequented, the campus of Leeds University, his old houses and this park where he had an unfortunate incident. I swear I could see him trying to dry those tears!

This trip to UK has been a relaxing and memory-evoking trip for us. The length of the trip is just right. The timing was right too; it was in the height of summer, though it rained a lot!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Happy Birthday, Sis!

Happy Birthday to my sister, Fina, on her birthday today.

Moga panjang umur dan murah rezeki.

P.s. bah esok public holiday to celebrate your birthday!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Hello from MCR

It's July and it is supposed to be the height of summer, but the weather did not seem to show it. The past few days have been chilly. The sun might be out, but the wind made it chilly. And yesterday, it rained and it reminded me of my days in Galway.

Hopefully the weather over the weekend improves. There is a promise of sunshine, but knowing UK, it would probably be sunny for a few minutes before the rain takes over.

The past few days was spent doing some retail therapy. And yesterday, I attended Jester's graduation ceremony. He spent a year off from work to do his Masters in Refinery Design and Operation. Congratulations Jester!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Happy Birthday......

to the kids at home who are celebrating their irthdays today......

Firstly, to Afifah, who celebrates her second birthday today.....

And secondly, to Akush, who celebrates his first irthday today.....

Happy Birthday! And enjoy the party tomorrow.....!

My 24-hour journey......

I am now on holiday in the United Kingdom with Jester. We are here for a week-long holiday and will be spending most of it in Manchester.

It took us around 24 hours to get to Manchester from Brunei; a journey which can be broken into three parts.

The first part was from Brunei to Singapore by Royal Brunei Airlines. Nothing much can be said the national flag carrier's service. The inflight magazine, Muhibah, was not available; apparently it was not available anymore though it was only the 14th day of the month. Perhaps it was a commemorative issue on the Sultan's birthday, but not a copy was available.

The second part was from Singapore to Dubai on an Emirates flight. We had a four-hour transit at the Singapore airport, which we used to explore the new Terminal Three. The terminal was impressive and huge. It felt more like a shopping mall than an airport terminal. I also had my first encounter with an Airbus A380. It was huge! We left for Dubai just after 1am that morning. The flight was largely empty. The service by Emirates was much better than our national carrier. There was an individual screen, which was touchscreen monitor, from which we had a choice of more than 500 music and video channels. The food was not too bad either.

This plane is huge! And I saw three more after that, one is Singapore and two in Dubai.

When we arrived in Dubai, we had another three-hour wait for the last leg of the journey. We did not do much at theDubai Airport. We went browsing but could not find anything to buy. The flight from Dubai to Manchester, also on Emirates, was almost full. We were seated next to this friendly English gentleman who shared his month-long motorcycle expedition in Vietnam. The service by the Emirates staff was equally good.

The touch-screen individual monitor. Incidentally, one of the available channels showed the Top Gear episode where they were on a motorcycle trek from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi. This apparently inspired our neighbour on the plane to do the same thing.

One of the snacks provided by Emirates

When we arrived in Manchester, we were ushered to queue for almost 30minutes before we got our passports stamped. I could not understand that there were only four counters avaiable for non-EU passports, which required longer time to process, compared to the ten counters forEU passport holders, who were moving very fast.

The new UK landing card. And I noticed the Immigration Authority is now called UK Border Agency

Finally, after almost 24 hours leaving Brunei, we reached the hotel in Manchester, where I was glad to get to to freshen up....

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


It's the start of my 2-week long holiday! It's my first long holiday in a long while.

I am away for a large part of my holiday somewhere and I am not sure if I am going to have any access to the internet, so expect some interrupted service.

Until then, enjoy the festivities.

Monday, July 13, 2009

13th NBT Treasure Hunt

After winning the inter-function badminton tournament at work on Friday, the week was capped with a top 10 finish in the 13th NBT Treasure Hunt.

I felt this year's Treasure Hunt was better than last year. I was a bit miffed a bit though as the first part of the Hunt involved us driving to 13 locations just to get our log bool stamped, with
some extra bit of activities at three locations. In Gadong, there was a 5-question 'signboard' hunting and both at Bukit Shahbandar and Pantai Muara, there were 2 challenges to be completed. On top of this, we were to break the clues and bring three treasures back to the mid-point control. And yeah, there was also a Rebus-type of challenges.

In the second part, we went to Kiulap to do a 15-question 'signboard' hunt. This probably came from experience, but I had to admit they were a bit too easy. We were out of Kiulap in less than half an hour.

I was not expecting a good position, as we messed up our challenges. We lost at least 5 precious points from these failed challenges. We were banking on our hunt answers to get into a good position.

Last year, we came in the 8th position; for the two years before that, we got third place back-to-back. I was hoping that we would at least better last year's position. And we did just that. We won the seventh place! And we won two return economy tickets to Singapore, though there were four of us in the team.

See this, 7th place for team no. 79...... so 779! That's my car number!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Champions Finally....

I just have to announce it to the world that.....

..... we are the BLNG Badminton Champions!

Well, it is quite a hollow feeling to gloat as I only contributed one point to the team. And that one solitary point came from the loss of the only game I played during the tournament.

Organisational-wise, I am glad that the tournament passed with no major incidents. The changes that we made to this year's tournament were well-received by many people.

My colleagues and I have some ideas on how we would want to organise it next year. But until, I am gonna savour and milk the title that we've won this year.

Friday, July 10, 2009

More about the Flu.....

I was sent this link, which summarises the Influenza A H1N1 infections globally.

Looking at the many statistics that are available on the site, I'm quite surprised with the situations that Brunei has found itself in.

1. The country with the highest growth of cases in the past ten days.
2. The country with the highest density of cases per 10,000 of the population.

These are the two records that I'd imagine the Ministry of Health of Brunei would rather not have.

However, we shall not panic. We have to ensure that we are protecting ourselves against the infection by practicing better personal hygiene (wash hands regularly, for example) and better social etiquette (cover mouth when sneezing and coughing, refrain from handshakings). As the Medical Officer told us during the Influenza A H1N1 briefing at work yesterday, at this time, we just have to be frank and honest about protecting ourselves from getting infected. We shall not get offended if someone refuses to shake your hands or if someone wears the facemask while talking to you.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Say What?

As heard....

1. On Brunei's only private radio station.....

"The group will also be promotioning their album at the Expo......"

2. During an Influenza A (H1N1) briefing.....

Someone asked about "tamilflu", instead of tamiflu..........

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Irresponsible Driving....

What could be worse (or isn't it just as bad) than talking on the phone while driving?

It's reading while driving. It may sound unbelievable, but that was what I witnessed just a few days ago. I was on the faster, right lane, when I caught up with a car which was driven much slower than mine. After a while, the car moved over and as I went past the car, I noticed the driver was reading his newspaper. He had folded them and actually placed it on the steering wheel.

It's stupid, dangerous and irresponsible. It's good thing to read, but do it appropriately and safely.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Work's Badminton Tourney

It's going to be a busy week for me. Wel, not really busy at work, but rather it's going to be a busy week after work.

For the fourth year, some colleagues and I are organising the company-wide badminton tournament. It's taking place on Monday, Wednesday and Friday of this week. More than 100 players from eight teams are taking part. This year, we have introduced some changes to the format of the tournament. For the first time ever, mens' single matches are introduced. We've reduced the number of teams from ten to eight. Also, the tournament is also taking part over a period of three days, rather than the ten that we had in previous years.

In tonight's match, my team met the Combo team. The team won but I lost my men's double game. It was quite disappointing but it was only the first match. Hope the next matches are better.

The last game of tonight's matches finished after 9.00pm. It's going to be like this for the next five days.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

2nd July revisited.....

Right after lunch on my birthday, the Lunchgang came to the office. I kinda knew what was going to happen, but yeah, I did not want to look too eager so I played along!

So Kakarrot came in with a fancy paperbag and I fished out the contents of the bag........

Yup... it's my birthday card and a present from the Lunchgang!

The inside of the card.... A little too cryptic. And apparent--ly I liked mussels.....

WW asked not to put this picture, but I ignored her. Don't ask why she was at a distance from us.

Hmmm....... What's your wish, eh?

If only we had a real DJ set in the lab....!

Yeah, I got a set of noise-cancelling headphones, which I somehow hinted during one of our lunch outing. I did not even realise I said it, but Jester heard something about getting a noise-cancelling headphone set. Thanks guys, it is going to be helpful during those long-hours of flights.

Later in the evening, we had a small celebration at home. And I got my first birthday cake of the year! Thanks to whoever got it for me.

Thanks to Redlob for the bday gift. And thanks too to all well-wishers, either through Facebook, this blog, sms, email and phonecall.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Let him rest in peace....

I don't think anyone could go much lower than OK! magazine. This British magazine seems to have lost it when they put a photo, which was said to be the last ever picture of Michael Jackson as medics tried to revive him, on the cover of its latest issue.

It is a sickening picture, a picture which is meant to bring in the punters and benefit out of the tragic event that unfolded last week. I don't think anyone would want to see this picture. Somehow, OK! magazine lost all senses and published it for all to see. Could you imagine how the family, especially his children, would feel seeing this picture being paraded in public? OK! magazine even had the cheek to label this issue as the official tribute issue. It is an obvious money-grabbbing exercise and I don't think anyone should buy this magazine, ever. I am so disgusted with this magazine.

I am not going to show the picture on this blog. If you still want to see it, click here.

It's now 42...

The latest number of confirmed Influenza A H1N1 in Brunei stands at 42. That was the number of infections that cropped up here in just ten days, when the first case was confirmed. Why was there such as sudden explosion of infections in Brunei? True, that the numbers were contributed to returning travellers and students, but somehow when the first one was confirmed, we suddenly see the number increasing steadily.

It is really worrying to see the infection is spreading like a wild fire. H1N1 could just hit anyone, regardless of your gender or age. One of the easiest things to do is to keep fit. Like the normal flu, you get a better chance to miss it when you're fit and healthy.