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 😛

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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! 😛

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 😛

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 😀

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! 😀

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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 😛

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.

It Has Been 6 Months…

Our life’s a stage, a comedy: either learn to play and take it lightly, or bear its troubles patiently.
~Palladas~


… and I’m still thinking about Dunedin.
I’ve accepted my fate, that I’m now back in Malaysia but I can’t deceive my own heart.


But you only need the light when it’s burning low
Only miss the sun when it starts to snow
Only know you love her when you let her go

Only know you’ve been high when you’re feeling low
Only hate the road when you’re missing home
Only know you love her when you let her go

Each time this song was played, my mind would be flooded with wonderful memories from when I was still in Dunedin. It reminded me of my great friends – Kak Arien, Missa, Chiho Kojima. Of the great activities I normally joined especially volleyball. Of the people who have been restlessly helping me until now (and still are) – Geoff, Niamh, Don, Yi Tian. Of my car and my small rented room at Clifton house, including my two lovely roommates – Winona and Jackmill.

With the current air in Malaysia reaching an unhealthy level due to haze, not to mention the heat, the crazy traffic and bad drivers, different work environment and the attitudes of the people, all these made me miss Dunedin even more.

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There’s no place like home. Dunedin is my home, and forever will be.
One day, I’ll come back to Dunedin and “claim” my right to stay there for good.

Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works – A Great Piece, Well Executed By Ufotable

Fighting for others, but not yourself, is nothing but hypocrisy.

~Archer~


Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works route just ended. Kudos to Ufotable for delivering the animation awesomely.

As most people know, the Fate/Stay series is super popular. Based on visual novels, it follows three different routes. The first route Fate, was animated by Studio Deen in 2006. The same studio adapted Unlimited Blade Works (UBW) into a movie in 2010.

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So how does the Deen’s production differ from Ufotable?

I’ll say, by miles.

1) Quality
Ufotable has a big budget and they did not waste it. The animation was done beautifully and it’s a shame if fans did not watch the series in HD.

2) Story/Plot
While Fate/Stay plot is pretty much fixed, Ufotable invested a lot in character development and gave a proper background to most of the characters. It played with the emotion and made you understand more about those who involved with the Holy Grail War.

3) Ending
Ufotable chose to follow UBW True Ending, where Rin and Shirou both went to study magic at Clock Tower in London. And it did not stop there. They explored Rin’s and Shirou’s life after the war, and what decision Shirou had come to.

They also added a nice bit where Rin brought Shirou to visit Saber’s grave (who was the great King of Britain) for him to properly say goodbye to her.

There were also cameo appearances by Waver Velvet who was currently known as Lord El-Melloi II, a great professor at Clock Tower (you need to watch Fate/Zero in order to know who Waver was) as well as Luvia Edelfelt.

4) OST
The combination of Aimer, Kalafina and Lisa for opening, ending and insert songs. What else do you need?

Whilst this route can be watched as an independent series, I highly recommend to watch Fate/Zero (also produced by Ufotable) prior to this. Why you ask? Fate/Zero unfolded a lot of things you need to know about the Holy Grail. It was set 10 years before the 5th war took place. And since UBW route follows directly after Fate/Zero, there were a lot of references to the previous series, especially stuff related to Emiya Kiritsugu (since he had the most connections with the characters: Emiya Shirou, Saber, Kotomine Kirei, Ilya etc).

However, once you’ve watched Fate/Zero, you’ll find that not all issues were resolved in a single route. Take UBW for example. Ilya died without knowing the truth as to why Kiritsugu abandoned her. The dagger used by Kirei to kill Tohsaka Tokiomi, and was later passed down to Rin did not make it appearances in this route (but it was used by Shirou to kill Kirei in the Fate route. Yeah, talk about karma..). Till the end, Sakura Matou did not know that Rin was her biological sister (but this was revealed in the Heaven’s Feel route).

In conclusion, I’m happy with Ufotable adaptation of UBW. The pacing was great, the story was nicely told, the fight was realistic, and Shirou’s monologue was brilliantly represented. And most of all, it brought out the best of Rin. She is definitely the best girl in this series!

p/s: Heaven’s Feel movie by Ufotable will be released sometimes later. Let’s hope Ufotable maintains its great job ^-^

Sword Art Online Progressive Volume 1 (Novel)

There’s no way to beat this game. The only difference is when and where you die…

~Yuuki Asuna~


I’m a big fan of Sword Art Online (SAO). Though I’m not really happy with the way Kawahara Reki downgraded the heroin from amazing to just being Kirito’s girlfriend, as well as adding other females to Kirito’s harem, however, story wise, I have to give credit to Kawahara sensei.

I watched its anime. It seemed a bit rush. So I read its novel, SAO – Aincrad Part 1 and 2. A lot of details were left out from the anime, especially on Argo the Rat. She’s the information broker, an important figure however she only appeared briefly in the anime, on episode Red Nose Reindeer.

The anime is still entertaining to watch. It just that I wish for more. The first novel started from 74th floor. The second novel only consists of side stories about Silica, Lisbeth, Yui and Sachi. I really wanted to know about the players early lives in Aincrad. What happened after the first floor boss fight.

SAO Progressive holds the answer.

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It covers three stories.

Aria on a Starless Night – This part covers in details how Kirito first met Asuna. It was actually in a dungeon, not during the floor boss meeting as portrayed in the anime. The story then progresses to the floor boss meeting, the deal Diavel made with Kibaou and Argo to buy Kirito’s Anneal Blade sword in order to prevent him from taking the last attack and ends with Kirito holding the title ‘Beater’.

The Reason for the Whiskers – After the first floor had been defeated, Kirito went on a quest where he learned the truth behind Argo’s whiskers which earned her the nickname ‘The Rat’.

Rondo for a Fragile Blade – Kirito and Asuna once again partied up together to solve the mystery of sword thieving committed by the first Aincrad blacksmith. They did not stop there, and later joined up with Agil and the rest of the front liners to beat the boss of the second floor.

SAO Progressive basically is a story about how the bosses for each floor is defeated, which is not covered in SAO – Aincrad. The second volume (English) has just been released and it is on its way to me ^-^

As far as I know, there is Volume 3 as well. I don’t what Kawahara sensei is planning but I hope he would write for each floor, though that might take forever 😛

Seraph of The End (終わりのセラフ)S1 – Not Just Another Vampire Story

“…I was looking west. That’s where Mika’s gotta be, right? In the vampire city. I heard the place they held us was somewhere underneath Kyoto… Someday, I swear… I’ll go get him back.”

~Hyakuya Yūichirō~


There are heaps of vampire stories out there. No, I’m not really a big fan of vampire. But to me, Seraph of the End holds its own charm.

I guess what captivated me the most was the focus of the story. About the relationship of two brothers, though not blood-related (yeah, some even called it ‘bromance’ :P).

It is a dark fantasy story but amusing. The protagonist, Yūichirō or Yū for short, followed the characteristics of a shounen MC. Strong, nice but an idiot.

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The setting of the story took place after the trumpets of the apocalypse caused the death of most humans, except for children under 13. In the midst of calamity, vampires arose from the underground, took control of the human world and kept these children as livestock, where the kids had to ‘donate’ their bloods in return.

Unlike the other vampire stories where the bitten human would be turned into one, these vampires are very reluctant to reproduce. Hence only vampire nobles were given the authority to turn a human into a vampire.

Among the livestock was a group of children from Hyakuya orphanage. One day Hyakuya Mikaela planned to escape from the vampires together with Yū and the rest of his so-called Hyakuya family. Unfortunately his plan backfired. Most of his family were killed by Lord Ferid, a vampire noble. Mika sacrificed himself to allow Yū to escape.

Angered by the event, Yū who was rescued by the Japanese Imperial Demon Army, vowed to avenge the death of his family. However it was later revealed that Mika was still alive and had been turned into a vampire against his will by Krul Tepes, the vampire queen.

Mika, convinced that Yū was being used by the humans, was very determined to save him from them. Fate reunited these two brothers. Yū, after learning the truth, was also determined to save Mika from the vampires and turn him back into human.

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The first cour of the anime has just ended. The second cour will start in October 2015. The manga is still on-going with a lot of questions unanswered.

Hyakuya Sect performed a human experiment on the children they sheltered. As told by Yū’s demon, a tenth of him was not human. That was the reason why he was ‘saved’ the Japanese Imperial Demon Army. Mika was also turned into a vampire for the same reason. It was said that the human had involved in a forbidden research, Seraph of the End. What the research is about, is still a mystery. But the key to this answer is definitely Mika and Yū.

At this point of time, it is hard to say who the bad guy really is. The vampires claimed that it was the humans’ greediness that brought the world into its current state, and hence decided to get rid of them. The humans, on the other hand, led by the Hiragi family, also had an ulterior motive and were constantly breaking laws by performing forbidden research on humans in order to gain more power.

This is the story about family, brotherhood and friendship, with power struggle mixing in between. The direction its taking seems promising and up until now, the story has not disappointed me yet. Enough to make me invest my money in its volumes (Volume 5 (English) was just released, and Volume 6 is scheduled to be released in September, with Krul Tepes on the cover).

If you love a shounen dark fantasy story with less romance (but more on bromance :P), this is for you. The story was great, the animation was done brilliantly and the musics were awesome! After all the musics were composed by the musically genius Sawano Hiroyuki ^-^