Sunday, August 31, 2008

Malaysia is 51 years old!

Today is Hari Merdeka (Independence day) in Malaysia. Since it falls on a Sunday, Malaysians get to enjoy a day off on Monday as compensation. Note that this practice does not apply to France, a country that claims to enjoy the most vacations in the world.

I don't know if Malaysians elsewhere in France celebrated this event, but certainly not in Brittany. I only know of a Malaysian in Nantes, it doesn't seem that we have a huge community here. So, the only thing I did was declaring to everyone around that Malaysia is celebrating it's 51 years old birthday.

My wish for my country: peace, harmony and equality.

Ps: In case you don't know, it is not appropriate to bake a cake with Malaysian flag on it. Here's the explanation taken from 5xmom's blog.

Friday August 10, 2007

PM’s Dept: Cakes with Jalur Gemilang disrespectful

“Some people think that it is all right to bake cakes with the national flag design on them, but actually, it is inappropriate because later, they will be cut and eaten. The gesture is not appropriate,” a spokesman from the secretariat said today.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Bad weather increases the productivity?

This week we had gloomy sky from Monday to Friday. The sun was no where to be seen. This really dismotivated me. I missed the time in Malaysia where in the morning you are blessed with the rising sun and in the evening you are welcome home with sunset.

The oddest thing was that when driving home around six something in the evening, the sun finally showed it's face, as if it just decided to wake up. One of the explanations was that the city I work has bad weather and the city I live in has more sunshine.

Anyway, I was talking to a bunch of coworkers over lunch, and they said that the awful weather can actually increase productivity, as people prefer to stay indoor working. If the sun is shining outside, a lot of people would wish that they could be outside doing all kind of activities, instead of slaving for the bosses. A theory that I have never thought off, and yet to be proven, and certainly do not apply to me.

For me, gloomy weather will just lead to bad mood and low motivation.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Mahathir's blog: Affirmative Action

I strongly encourage everyone who care about Malaysia to read Dr Mahathir's blog (Malaysia X Prime Minister) especially the one on Affirmative Action.

Some interesting extractions:


33. The Malays must accept that this discrimination cannot be forever. If they fail to respond properly to what is being done for them, they should accept this policy would be taken away.

34. When Malay youngsters, especially boys, failed to study and qualify for university education, when they preferred to play and not study, we cannot expect the non-Malays to patiently wait and give up their opportunities until the Malays decide to become serious and study. That would not be fair.

35. That was why we introduced merit in the selection of students for the universities. Unfortunately, the implementers of Government decisions chose to interpret it differently. By requiring Bumiputeras to sit for the matriculation and the non-Bumiputeras to sit for higher school certificates, they managed to give the impression that the Bumiputeras were actually better qualified than the non-Bumiputeras. With this, the intention of the Government to make the Bumiputeras become more serious about their education failed.

36. There is a tendency among Malays to regard the discrimination in their favour as a privilege, as a recognition of their superior status. I think this is wrong. The discrimination is in order to give them a kind of headstart so that they can catch up with other races. To me, it is shameful to have to be protected because we do not have the capacity to compete. We are not Red Indians to live on reserves. We should regard it as a temporary expedient to be done away with once we have achieved the capacity to compete on our own.

37. However, we must give time for ending the NEP and it should be done in stages. I hope that the time will not be too long. In the meantime, serious efforts by the Bumiputeras must be made to avail themselves of the opportunities. If this is obviously not being done, then, as with entrance into the universities, the discrimination must end.


I love the blogsphere. Readers now can leave comments directly to Dr M, and I think he reads them as sometimes he will make a post based on some comments. He has explained about a lot of policies in a sincere tone. He did admit he made mistakes.

If you have time, read through the comments. You may understand how other races think about certain policies, something that you will never get if you only read news from the same language source.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Indian Yoga versus Breton Yoga

India claimed that they invented Yoga like 5000 years ago. Some Indian yoga masters can perform very difficult yoga technical gesture, as shown in this photo:

It was a surprise to read that the Breton (people from Brittany, west of France) could be good at it too.

Well, at least when they are drunk. :-)

Note: couldn't find the source of these photos, got them from an forwarded email.

Monday, August 25, 2008

How much a gold medal worth

Did you notice that the top ten countries that got the most gold medals are actually some of the wealthiest countries or have biggest economy in the world? I think their brilliant performances one way or other has to do with the country's investment/allocation towards the sport development. I read that the British government has pumped in a big lump sum of resources into sport and see how handsome their athletes scored in the Beijing Olympic Games. For China and Russia where the GDP is quite low compared to other countries, going into sport and become a world champion is one of the best ways to get rich. See how much a gold medal can bring them (approximate figures):

1. China - USD120k or 81k€ + endorsement/advertisement contracts
2. USA - USD25k or 17k€ + endorsement/advertisement contracts
3. Russia - USD100k or 68k€ + allocation from 7 million pound sterling fund sponsored by 10 Russians business men.
4. Great Britain - one Alfa Romeo car for certain disciplines
5. Germany - USD22k or 15k€ + Two Europetickets from Lufthansa airlines, 600 litters of Warsteiner beer and a Mercedes for a year
6. Australia - USD20k or 14k€
7. Korea - USD50k or 34k€
8. Japan - USD100k or 68k€
9. Italy - USD207k or 140k€
10. France - USD74k or 50k€

But, these are not the highest paying countries. Other countries are promising million (in the local currency) to their athletes if they win gold:
1. Singapore - USD705k or 478k€ or 1 million Singapore Dollar
2. The Philippines - USD328k or 222k€ or 15 million pesos
3. Malaysia - USD300k or 201k€ or RM1 million

With all the hard works these athletes put in, I think they really deserve all these awards and bonuses.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Spanish eye slant gesture: offensive?

The Spanish Olympic basketball team posting for a Spanish courier company in an advertisement.


The Spanish Tennis team making the slit-eyed gesture


These gestures have been interpreted as mocking the Chinese people and could be considered offensive and racial insensitive. I don't know how other Asian interpret this, I myself found it funny. The first time I saw this was when hubby told me how to differentiate a Japanese from a Chinese:
slit-eyed up = Chinese
slit-eyed down = Japanese
one eye slit up and one eye slit down = Japanese Chinese mixed

I was laughing to dead when he did the gesture, in which I didn't find it offensive at all.

Come on people, just take it as a joke.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The old France

The above photo was taken at a junction when passing by a small village. We were waiting for a traffic light and voila, an ancient church just appeared right in front of my eyes.

One thing differentiate France, Malaysia or even USA is that every way you go, you can see old churches or chapels or buildings, the prove of a nation that has gone through many centuries. This might apply to other European countries. Each time I go back to Malaysia, I was amazed at how different these two countries are, the old buildings in Malaysia were probably built like 100 years ago, as compared to France that have buildings that could be dated to 4th century.

In front of France, Malaysia is just a baby. :-)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Some countryside photos

Last weekend while visiting the countryside, we discovered the sunflower field where the sunflowers are taller than me. The view is simply fascinating.

The first time I visited France, I stumbled into hectare of fields like that. People told me they are grasses for cattle. I had hard time understanding it, as why they need to cut those grasses instead of letting cows eat them freshly from the field?

I forgot, grasses dry out during winter, and these are reserves for animals. People even advertise on it for summer festival.

I have a feeling that cows in France are a lot prettier and clearer than those in Malaysia. Not that I have seen many cattle farms in Malaysia, but those I saw in Langkawi were quite dirty.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

When hubby becomes the satay man

Last weekend we were invited to a friend's surprise party in a country side surrounded by vineywards. Since the friend is a wine geek, we decided to visit around the wineries and choose some nice wines as his presents.

On the way to the wineries, we passed by a strawberry farm and decided to make a stop to pick some fresh strawberries.

We had a picnic in front of this magnificent view.

The party was surrounded with tons of foods and drinks. It was a good occasion to introduce some Malaysian foods, so I prepared some satays and peanut sauce. The highlight of the day, for me, was when hubby became the satay man, grilling all the satays for us.

When hubby served me satays with some peanut sauce, life becomes so good. :-)

Thursday, August 14, 2008

My new challenge: 6000 pieces puzzle

Last week we finally received the puzzle we ordered since Jun. It was a huge and heavy ! It is a puzzle of 6000 pieces, I think it is going to take us quite a while to finish it.

It is a scenery in Dolomiti Italy, I'm dreaming of visiting it one day.

It is so huge, bigger than our dining table, 65" x 45", it was difficult to find such a huge spot in our tiny apartment so we decided to make it on the floor.

The first step is to sort out the pieces by color and get all the corners together. So far we haven't been able to finish the corner as some of the pieces are still missing as we didn't do a good job at the first sorting.

Hopefully by the time we finish it, we could start preparing the trip there.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Going back for Chinese New Year 2009!

Finally we are flying back to Malaysia for CNY!

I called my mother this morning to inform her the good news, and she was so thrilled. However, she was disappointed that we only stay for 3 weeks, too short for her!

I have been browsing through websites looking for a good deal and we got one at 705 euros round trip which covers the whole 15 days of Chinese Lunar New Year. We had to do it around 5 months in advance else risking the exorbitant prices or limited dates choices.

We used but check out this website as sometimes expedia sold off for certain dates and they could be still available here:

It has been a brave decision as there is uncertainty for my work (no contract has been signed). But, the other day my nieces sent me some photos for my mother's birthday, and it seems like she ages very fast. So, I want to try my best to see my family members as often, while I still can.

Anyway it was a happy moment once I bought the tickets. Time to things about all the shoppings and foods...

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Carte de séjour and timbre O.M.I

Timbre O.M.I (OMI stamp)

This is the third time I renew my permanent resident card (carte de séjour). The process was fast and simple. Two months before my card expired, I submitted the necessary documents to the nearby Town Hall, at a small town right at the border of Nantes. The process was a lot easier compared to the Prefecture in Nantes:
1. Call or email the Town Hall for the list of documents required
2. Submit the documents to get a temporarily card (récipicée)
3. The Town Hall will send out a letter once the récipicée is ready
4. Pick up the récipicée
5. Wait for the letter from them to notify that your card is ready
6. Go to pick up the card with the récipicée, the expired card and an O.M.I stamp with face value of 70 euros.

I was lucky to get the card just 10 days after it was expired, even before the temporarily card expired. The tricky part was to get the O.M.I stamp, which is only sold in certain places like the Prefecture and the Treasury office. For working people who can only do it on Saturday, there is only one choice in Nantes: go to the bureau Tabac de Sillion de Bretagne (Tabac Presse) inside the Commercial centre. I wonder why they are the only shop selling this kind of stamp.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Beijing Olympics: Teams entered by Chinese strokes order

I was reading and the journalist explained that during the Olympics Games Opening ceremony, teams were marched in not by the traditional alphabetic order, but by the order of Chinese character. He then continued his sentence with a big question mark about "order by Chinese character?". I watched the ceremony and the French host explained it the same way without further elaboration. I think people who do not write Chinese must be quite confused.

I know it must be referring to the number of strokes in Chinese characters for the name of each country. For example: (I hope your screen reads Chinese characters)
France = 法国 (Fa Guo): 法 = 8 strokes; 国 = 8 strokes (Wow 88 for France, good number!)
Malaysia = 马来西亚: 马 = 3 strokes; 来 = 7 strokes; 西 = 6 strokes; 亚 = 6 strokes
Mali = 马利 (Ma Li): 马 = 3 strokes; 利 = 3 strokes
USA = 美国 (Mei Guo): 美 = 9 strokes; 国 = 8 strokes

First you have to refer to the strokes of the first character, so the order had been:
Mali (3 strokes)
Malaysia (3 strokes)
France (8 strokes)
USA (9 strokes)

In the case that the first character has the same stroke, you refer to the second one, then third one....So, Mali has to go in front of Malaysia even though their first and second characters produce the same strokes. Malaysia is left behind due to the third and fourth characters.

This is just my personal interpretation and it worked well when I see the sequence of the teams marched in. The Chinese organizers might want to communicate better their programs and arrangements as some of them didn't appear clear to the guests. Another example was during the march in of the Chinese team, the French TV hosts didn't understand why the flag holder Yao Ming was walking in with a little boy by his side. One of them had to go ask for explanation, and realized that the 9 years old boy was one of the survivals of the Sechuan earthquake.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Go get your own potatoes!

Last weekend, we had BBQ as dinner and I wanted to grill some potatoes. The house was running out of potatoes, and hubby said:"there are a lot sleeping in the garden, just go get it!" Instead of using the heavy garden fork, I used this small tool to dig out some fresh potatoes. They were simply yummy.

We discovered this in the garden. Personally I found it painful to eat artichoke. My Bolivian told me that there are a lot of these in her parents' garden back home and they didn't know they could eat them. When the French went there for a visit, the parents kindly asked the guests to just take them all.

The strawberries should be well protected until the net, but still we found some of them had been half eaten by the birds.

Zucchini plants are growing like hell.

See how big are they? For reference, the small ones in the middle are those that you could find in the supermarket. The big ones have too many seeds.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

The Battle of Red Cliff: bad chose of main charactors

No!!! How could John Woo let Takeshi Kaneshiro (Jing Cheng Woo) played the role of Zhu Ge Liang, the most honorable strategist in the ancient Chinese history? This is definitely a bad decision! He has always played roles as handsome guy or fighter, but no way being a strategist. If I were the director, I would reverse the role between Tony Leong (Zhou Yu) and him.

Red Cliff is one of the famous battles in the Three Kingdom history. I read it long time ago when I had to sit for the form six Chinese paper. A friend lent me the whole set of VCR, a very long winded series but it helped me to score well in the exam. At that time Chinese actors were chosen not based on their look but their acting skills. The guy who played Zhu Ge Liang was so good that the first impression I have about him was that he is a wise man. Takeshi Kaneshiro certainly couldn't give me this impression.

What is done is done. I read that Tony Leung was supposed to play this role but he gave up due to some health issues. Later he came back and picked up the role of Zhou Yu, which was supposed to be played by Chow Yun Fat. Tony Leung's performance was ok, but I couldn't help but notice that he was actually speaking in Cantonese and his voice got dubbed by someone else. The sound matching for Takashi was off too despite him speaking fluently Mandarin. Chang Chen's Taiwan Mandarin was odd compared to a bunch of mainland Chinese speaker.

The famous Taiwanese model Lin Chi-Ling was playing as Tony Leung's wife. Hubby was quite disturbed by her baby voice but overall this is just another vase character in a male dominated movie. Despite being the most expensive Chinese movie ever made ($80 million), I prefer Hero than Red Cliff.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

International Celtic Music Festival in Lorient

Each year at the beginning of August, Lorient will host the Inter-Celtic festival for around 10 days. It is estimated that 500,000 people had shown up last year. The festival features celtic musics and other artistic events. The Celtic diaspora includes Brittany, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Cornwall, the Isle of Man, Galicia and Asturias.

This year the festival is held from 1 to 10 August. We went there last weekend but the weather was not corporating. Streets were filled with crowd, stores that sell Celtic related art products, beer/alcohol and food stands. Many bands were still performing despite the rain, and people were dancing on the streets. It is a family event, so you can see baby, kids and the elderly occupying a table in front of a bar, the adults smoke and sip their beers while the babies and kids enjoy themselves. I was told that it is the second most beer consumed event after the German beer festival. Since I'm not a fan of beer, I tried out the cider from Cornwall and I have to say that Brittany produces better cider. Wales is the guest country this year so we see their flags everywhere. I didn't know their flag is consisted of a red dragon. I learnt that in the European legends, dragon could represent evil, destruction and sin, while in Asia it usually represents wisdom and good fortune.

We wondered about the streets, from store to store and finally made a stop in a school gym. There, thousand of people were dancing, including grandmas and grandpas. Many Celtic dances welcome large crowd, so people from different generations hold their fingers or arms together and just follow the music or singing from the performers. Dances range from easy to complicated steps.

If you just happen to be on vacation in the northern of France, don't miss out this opportunity. If you have no idea what is Celtic culture, just think of a Scottish man with his kilt and pipe. I heard that traditionally, a man wearing a kilt is not supposed to wear anything under. So, during a wedding, we spotted a man with his kilt and we viciously sent someone over to verify this. And, just say that he is really respecting the tradition. haha!

Monday, August 04, 2008

Homemade croquembouche

Hubby made this for his brother's birthday. He spent 2-3 hours in making this. It is quite a tedious dessert, so to have such a result for the first try is considered very very good. :-)

Friday, August 01, 2008

The lucky one

I met a girl who just joined the company. She is Algerian. She has to work as intern while the company applies for her the working visa.

I asked her how she got this job, and her reply was: The jobs found me. Basically, she updated her CV on, and companies just contacted her. She got several offers and just need to choose one. She said companies even went to her school for hiring as this sector is in high demand for man power.

How I wish I had her luck! On the other hand we don't have the same education background, so it is very hard to compare.