Kindness Knows No Boundary

You cannot dream yourself into a character;
you must hammer and forge yourself one.~Henry David Thoreau~

Don’t talk to strangers.
A reminder that was instilled in our mind since we were kid.
I do understand where this sentiment is coming from. Especially in this era, where trust has to be earned.

But what I experienced in Fayyoum, Egypt showed that not everybody shares the same sentiment. There are people who demonstrated an absolute trust towards complete strangers without a drop of hesitation.

We were on the way to Qasr Qarun (will talk about this in another post) when our guide, Thaaqib, stopped at a village that we passed by to find a loo. He simply knocked the door of a random house but was greeted by a friendly family.

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Witnessing the nice hospitality, we decided to ask for a permission to use the loo as well. What awaited us after that was a nice, warm cup of tea.

The kindness didn’t stop there. The family insisted us to have lunch at their house!

We refused the offer at first, but they kept on insisting, and their sincerity made us give in to it. Accepting it turned out to be a blast. We were served with what I could describe as the most delicious homemade Egyptian dishes I ever tasted throughout my stay in Egypt.

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I wasn’t exaggerating when I said the dishes were super yummy!

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The home of the kind family.

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In the end, we could not visit the oasis in Fayyoum as scheduled, but what we gained instead was such a valuable experience.

This whole experience made me wonder – how could someone be so trusting?

I remembered clearly, a long time ago – an old woman carried a basket of snacks, going from one house to another trying to sell them to earn some money. There were times when she would ask for a glass of water. Given her age, it would make sense that she was exhausted from the long walk under the hot sun. Of course I would give her the drink. Even so, there would always be a speck of doubt within my heart.

What if, that was just an act?
What if…
What if…

The high crime rates in Malaysia simply prevents most of us from developing this good quality. Creative con artists are blooming rapidly, causing us to be on high alert most of the times.

Who could blame us for having such a thought?
Still, it would be great if we were able to live in such environment, peaceful and harmonious, with nothing to fear.

One could only dream.

When The Earth Shook in Anger

The great lesson is that the sacred is in the ordinary, that it is to be found in one’s daily life, in one’s neighbors, friends and family, in one’s backyard.
~Abraham Maslow~

The recent earthquake that struck Christchurch brought back the memory of the same disaster that killed almost 200 people in 2011.

It was shocking. And sad.

I was in Dunedin when the first big quake hit Christchurch in 2010. It was around 4am in the morning. I was still sleeping on my bed in my cozy sunroom when I was woken up by a sudden shake.

It was just the tremor that I felt. Those who actually experienced it must be really scared. I could still recall the trauma my friend (who was living in Christchurch at that time) had, who would jump in fear at the sound of the train passing by.

A year after that, another massive quake hit the same city. Though the magnitude was less that the previous year, the impact was multiple times worse.

Once again the tremor traveled down to Dunedin. This time, I was in my lab on the second floor. The building was swaying. My friends and I knew straight away that an earthquake had hit somewhere in the South Island.

We just casually talked about it. Even laughed. Another tremor was felt. Once again we weren’t really concerned. Earthquakes were pretty normal in New Zealand.

But the news that came right after that was hard to swallow. Lots of casualties and injuries. Buildings were destroyed. The danger was real. We weren’t able to laugh anymore.

I had a chance to visit Christchurch a few months after the disaster struck. It wasn’t even a pleasant view to see the ruins or the abandoned shops. Like I was in a ghost city.

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The destroyed buildings…
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The deserted street…
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The abandoned shops…
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New Zealand, a country that I hold dearly in my heart.
My thoughts and prayers are with you.

Air New Zealand – One of the World’s Best Flights

To reach a port, we must sailโ€”Sail, not tie at anchorโ€”Sail, not drift.

~Franklin Roosevelt~


Just bought my flight ticket to Jakarta this afternoon.
It reminded me of the joy of flying.
Of how much I love flying and traveling to different countries and experiencing a new adventure in a foreign land.

Before this, I frequently traveled to different continents. But since coming back to Malaysia, my savings don’t allow me the pleasure anymore, though my passion never subsides. Hence for two years in a row, my destination would just be the neighboring country.

When looking for a flight ticket, one would normally look for a cheap price.
Me? Not really.

The previous me, I loved flying on different flights.

I flew with Brunei Airlines, Egypt Air, Air Berlin, Easy Jet, Emirates, Etihad, Singapore Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, AirAsia, Jet Star, Qantas, Lufthansa, TAP Portugal, Air New Zealand and Cathay Pacific.

With the recent air tragedies, I completely stopped that habit and chose only the best flights. I don’t mind paying a little extra for a comfort travel and a safer journey.

And one of the best flights to me is definitely Air New Zealand (my top 3 are Air New Zealand, Cathay Pacific & Singapore Airlines).

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They provide a very good service (and delicious lollies in every flight!).
They always produce a creative in-flight safety video (always in Top 10) – of course the videos are seasonal and you would never get bored with the same video played over and over again.

Most of the airports have super awesome scenery. Take Dunedin Airport for example – an airport in the middle of farms. You can see thousands of sheep upon landing.
The staff – from the check-in counter to the immigration to the boarding gate – are all nice and friendly and helpful. They are rich with smiles.

And I always feel comfortable whenever I flew with Air New Zealand carrier.

Though I’m no longer in New Zealand, I still have the GrabASeat notification sent to my email every day. Talking about being in denial ๐Ÿ˜›

One day – God willing – am gonna go back to New Zealand and relive all the great moments I have with the airlines ^-^

To What Extend Would You Kill Off A Great Character In A Novel?

There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must take it because his conscience tells him it is right….

Martin Luther


It has been a long time since I reviewed on a manga or anime.
– For no apparent reason actually.
I normally post a topic based on my mood – and yeah, my current mood is NOT HAPPY.
There, I said it.

I got emotional easily when reading a manga or a novel.
This time it was caused by Alderamin on the Sky, a Japanese light novel that was recently adapted into an anime. I sorta like it so when I like something, I’ll look for more information – spoilers in this case.
And what I found was beyond shocking.

I was once a writer but I’m not going to comment from a writer’s point of view.
As a reader, I hate a storyline where the author built-up a main character so much, and then killed it off just to give way to another annoying character to be the protagonist.

Plot-wise, I do understand why some characters need to be killed off. (By the way, the context of this discussion is for the on-going series). Take One Piece for example. When Oda-sensei killed off Ace, that was for the sake of Luffy so he could power up. Even so, he gave us Sabo. Yes, exactly – the equivalent exchange.

Or when Manato was killed off early in Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash, to give way to Haruhiro to stand out as their leader (since he’s the main protagonist). Anyway, the point is, neither Ace nor Manato was the main character. They were simply side characters needed for the protagonist’s character development.

But Yatori Igsem in Alderamin on the Sky, the female protagonist, died in the 7th volume, and for what purpose? So Ikta Solork would be a better soldier without his right hand? I’m actually ok if it’s solely for that purpose.

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However, killing Yatori and making the annoying Princess Chamille as the main protagonist was unacceptable. It is like killing off Asuna in Sword Art Online so the other females in Kirito’s harem will get a fair chance, or getting rid of Erina Nakiri in Food Wars! to give way to a bland character like Megumi to become the heroin.

Unfortunately, some people do think that way.
Yeah, let the best girl died so the worst girl got to live.
Welcome to the real world.

Does it really worth to have such a plot twist?
Authors write for readers.
Novels only survive if the readers are supporting it.

In the Alderamin on the Sky’s case, a lot of readers are not happy. Some have already dropped the series though many are still hanging on to it. To me, one of the reasons for them to stay loyal is because they are clinging to the hope that Yatori will be revived, due to the fact that her body was actually frozen using the cryogenics method.

If that’s the case, then I’ll say the author has really succeeded in maintaining his readers.

Me? I’ve learnt not to hope too much but I will continue to see what does Volume 11 have to offer.

Cockles Hunting

Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.

~Helen Keller~


One of my most favorite things to do back in Dunedin during low tide – collecting cockles in Aramoana. Why Aramoana? Maybe because the beach is pretty and it was easy to get there.

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Normally I would go during summer time, not because of the longer day but because of the temperature of the sea water. Summer – the hot weather – is only in the name. The water would still be freezing cold ๐Ÿ˜›

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Even so, it won’t stop me and others from collecting the cockles. It was really fun. Sometimes we arrived late after the low tide and the water level started increasing. In this case, it was really challenging to collect these cockles. If you’re lucky enough you’ll manage to get a half-bucket of them!

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There was one time when we encounter a man walking his dog by the roadside, close to where my car was parked. The dog’s size was super huge. Though most of us are really scared of dogs, some of us summoned the courage not to miss the opportunity to pose with the gigantic dog.

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The fun part didn’t end there. The climax of this activity was to turn those cockles into super yummy dishes!

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The cockles can be cooked in varieties of ways. The sea water made them salty enough, so be very careful if you want to add salt to your dish! ๐Ÿ˜›

Women’s Best Friend…

Being content creates simplicity in life.

~John Heider~


Ask me the question and I’ll say it’s chocolate!
Well, at least, it is true for me.

And speaking of chocolate, one of my favorites would be Cadbury, of course, the other would be Whittakers. There is no way for you to live in New Zealand for years and not loving Whittakers!

As a Cadbury lover, if you are in Dunedin, Cadbury Factory is a must-visit place. Not only you will learn how the chocolate is made, but you will also get free samples which are super delicious.

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Cadbury in New Zealand uses butter (unlike palm oil in Malaysia) and that results in the difference in its texture and taste – I guess. If you bring the chocolate back to Malaysia, it will melt in no time ๐Ÿ˜›

The inside of the factory is designed beautifully. After the tour, you are free to wander around, taking heaps of photos with different backgrounds and buy varieties of chocolates!

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For Muslims, they don’t have to worry much about the gelatine used as the ingredients since they use Halal gelatine. Marshmallow lovers could also purchase the Cadbury-produced product without a doubt.

Even if chocolate isn’t your best friend, this factory is worth the visit!

Memories of Ramadhan

Everything that happens to us leaves some trace behind; everything contributes imperceptibly to make us what we are.
~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe~

This year denotes the second time I spend a full Ramadhan (inshaAllah) in Malaysia. Still, it could not be compared to the years I spent in Dunedin.

The season. The food. The people. The environment. The feeling.

It was because of Ramadhan I met the best of people there. Having Iftar at the mosque itself strengthened my bond with other Muslims from different backgrounds. Since Iftar at the mosque is based on donation, every day there would be someone volunteered to cook, hence the variety of food every night.

I didn’t miss the opportunity to cook for the mass, of course with the help of friends. The last two Ramadhan in Dunedin, I’d had helped from my Iranian friends. Rather than a 100% Malaysian dish, it became a combination of Malaysian and Iranian delicacies.

Furthermore, the Iftar is not only for Muslims. Non-Muslim friends were also invited, to exposed them to the beauty of our religion.

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There was also a time when it snowed heavily, making it impossible for others to come due to the danger in driving. So the Imam combined both Maghrib and Isha’ prayers, and we had an early Tarawikh prayer that night. (Tarawikh there is normally led by an Imam from Saudi, and it will be 1 juzu’ per night).

When I worked at ADInstruments, it was also during Ramadhan. The office hours were from 9 to 5.30 pm. Since it was winter, the Iftar time would be at around 5ish. So I had to break the fast at the office, then rushed home to get my car and drove to the mosque. Luckily Sister Arien was kindly enough to save a plate of food for me every day.

Well, there were also other moments worth remembering. Like this one year where I decided to go back to Malaysia for Eid, and a night before my journey my purse was stolen. I lost my cash that was supposed to be used for my cab fare to the airport. For that year itself, I actually arrived in Malaysia on the morning of the first Eid, reached my hometown at noon, and spent the rest of the Eid sleeping till evening ๐Ÿ˜€

Ramadhan is not just about Iftar, right? There’s suhr as well. Normally I had suhr by myself and in 2012, Ramadhan fell at the same time as the Olympics. Because New Zealand is located at the rightmost position on the world map, I could watch the live telecast as early as 6am, and witnessed the amazing run of Usain Bolt who broke another world record.

Those were all precious memories that would never be forgotten.
Given a chance, one day inshaAllah I would love to experience those moments again in my beloved hometown, Dunedin.

Will You Jump?

The rose is fairest when ‘t is budding new,
and hope is brightest when it dawns from fears.

~Walter Scott~


One of the scariest things to do, but I did it anyway (though it was ages ago ^-^)
I mean, I was already at the World’s first commercially operated Bungy Jumping Site, the Kawarau Bungy, so why would I miss the chance?

I won’t lie. I was super scared. Will alone wasn’t enough to make me jump from the top of the bridge. The video below was a solid proof of how scared I was.

But I pushed myself to overcome that fear, and I succeeded. Looking back, I was really proud of myself.

Will I bungy jump again?
Hell, yeah! ๐Ÿ˜€

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This was definitely one of the best moments in my life!

Bye Bye Expedia! You Will Not Be Missed!

You may hate me but it ain’t no lie,
Baby Bye, bye, bye…

~N’Sync~


It took only one bad service to ruin one reputation. That’s exactly my experience with Expedia. Though it wasn’t recently – talking about 4 months ago -, still, it is worth sharing the unfortunate experience.

I used their service a lot while in New Zealand. Never once I had an issue, though I read lots of comments regarding the agent online.

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Last Christmas, I made a last minute plan with my cousin and her daughter to travel to Krabi, Thailand. As usual, I logged on to Expedia website to look for the best deal. Considering myself lucky, we locked on the deal – travelling to Krabi via Phuket. All was sorted, we got our booking confirmation.

On the travelling day itself, we decided to stay overnight at KLIA since our flight was scheduled at 4.45 am. We departed from home early, around 3pm, went to KL Sentral to take KLIA Express to the airport.

Upon check-in, the lady at the counter told us that there were problems with my cousin’s and her daughter’s names. For some reason, Expedia wrote their name wrongly in the system. We checked out the online confirmation, all names were correctly written. I didn’t know how did Expedia screw up, but they did it big time.

Unlike my cousin, whose name was missing one character, her daughter’s name was completely shortened to 4 characters only (out of 3 word-name). She called Expedia to sort out this problem, the agent said he could not do anything so she demanded to talk to the manager.

After a few moments of debating, — he even blamed us for not telling us earlier. Duh! Are you retarded? The problem occured upon check-in, how could we tell you sooner??? — the manager said he would need two hours to fix the issues (like seriously?). So we headed to KLIA, hoping that the matter would be resolved once we’ve arrived at the airport.

Not even half an hour after we boarded the train, the manager called, saying that he could not do it within 24 hours. There were procedures they have to follow yada yada. Again, seriously? You screwed up and you could not even fix it.

The solution he gave? We had to purchase new tickets and guaranteed for a refund.

As a travel agent, he should know better that that was Christmas time, definitely the plane to Phuket (everybody loves to go to Phuket!) was fully booked. At least, what he could do was to explain the situation to MAS, purchased the tickets on behalf of us and not leave us handling the problem ourselves with 1001 uncertainties.

Fortunately, the MAS agents were really helpful, assisting us to solve this problem. It wasn’t smooth, they had to make a lot of calls in between, but they did their best to help.

Expedia? Didn’t even try to assist.

According to the MAS agent, our case wasn’t the first. There were a lot of other angry customers having issues with Expedia.

After experiencing their bad service first hand, that would be the last time used them as an online agent. Not gonna give them a second chance. Nada. Ziltch.

And I’m not gonna put out a nice word about them either. Full stop.

A Place of Your Own

It is not how much we have, but how much we enjoy, that makes happiness.

~Charles Spurgeon~


Flat hunting had been my yearly routine when I was in Dunedin. Starting from a resident hall to a flat to a studio and finally to a boarding house. If I have to choose 1 word to describe the process, it would be tiring.

Yes. Searching for a flat or room online is fun, but the viewing process, not so much. Most of the time, I was deceived by the great photos shown. When I looked at the actual unit, most of them were quite a letdown.

There were, of course, some great ones but you need to compete based on first come first serve
but, as usual, I was never the first to come ๐Ÿ˜›

Now I’m back in Malaysia, and once again, I’m going through the same process – finding a place to stay. Before this, the criteria I looked for were cheap and okay. Now, they have to be affordable, close, convenience and comfortable.

I’m done staying in a budget room. I crashed at my Iranian friend’s place once for a few months. I stayed at Imam’s house, accompanying her daughter while he was away for Hajj. I lived like a nomad, hopping from 1 place to another before I finally rented a boarding house – which was the longest I stayed at (for almost two years).

At the moment, I’m temporarily boarded at my aunt’s house. I’m not much a family person. For more than 7 years, I stayed by myself. No need to inform of my whereabouts. No need to worry about a curfew. I did things as I like.

When I think back, I really long for a place that I could call home, where I can live my life like how I used to.

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So when I found a studio unit to rent, with great facilities, close to my workplace, surrounded by great amenities though a little bit expensive – I ain’t thinking twice. Now, it’s time to live comfortably, not just sufficiently. And the most important is to regain my fortress of solitude.

One more month before moving into a new place. There are still so many things to do – furniture to buy, broadband to subscribe.

Hopefully this new place will meet (or exceed) my expectation.