For the Love of Coffee

Coffee + Art + Music = Bliss. Throw in some ice cream and you'll leave me at a loss for words.

So my officemate told me about the Coffee and Art Fringe Festival Asia 2013 some weeks ago and I promptly marked it down in my calendar. It had the words "coffee" and "art" thrown together in the same sentence so why not?

I imagined going to a cozy coffee shop with funky art displayed on the walls. On easels across the hall. On the tables. On top of the coffee. With jazzy music playing in the background. I should have paid more attention to the even details though, because there wasn't really any of that. But it was still full of awesomeness.

The event ran from September 28-29, 2013 at Publika, a trendy shopping mall in Hartamas. For the love of coffee, Partner-in-Crime and I found ourselves almost hopelessly lost in Jalan Duta because we were driving to the mall with only intuition and Google Maps on our side. We made it there safely, thank God, just in time for the Saturday evening event.

It turns out that the festival involved a lot different coffee companies giving out free coffee. Other companies (soy companies and this one ice cream company) were giving out free samples, too! We tried a few stuff and bought a few too. 

Exhibit A: Milano Cappuccino Trial.

Free taste!

Exhibit B: Fatbaby Salted Ice Cream.

We bought this!

Exhibit C: Vintage Coasters - Freebies when you buy RM 10 worth of Nescafe products.

I <3 Vintage.

There were four bands playing some music at The Square that night. We were only able to watch Juxtaposed's full set. The music was pretty cool. Most of the songs were in Bahasa Melayu. I liked the second to the last song when one of the guys played a bamboo flute and the music sounded all traditional and melancholy.

The band before Juxtaposed. Dead Mushrooms?

The night was worth getting honked at a few times at the roundabouts leading to Publika. Let's do this again!

Crisscrossing Between SG and MY


Patawad, dear readers, for not being able to write here last week. I was in Singapore during the long weekend (Happy Malaysia Day!) and I spent much of the first few days of last week resting.

Strange, right? I was in Singapore for Malaysia Day. If I were Malaysian, that would be very unpatriotic of me, but then again I'm just a foreigner in this foreign land.

Hello, SG.

So anyway, I grabbed the opportunity to travel and visit friends since, by the last quarter of this year, my passport and visa will keep me from getting out of Malaysia again. And I work during Saturday mornings so... Thank God for long weekends.

There comes a stage in your travelling life when people become more important than places. You won't care if you spend the day bumming around at home or if you meet up wherever just as long as you get to spend time with, you know, people close to your heart.

That's exactly what I did.

I can't say that didn't come with a price though. Here I go again with my travelling misadventures. But don't worry, nothing big this time.

I learned that it's very hard to find good parking spots when you're in transit during long weekends. I usually leave my car at Terminal Bersepandu Selatan (at Bandar Tasik Selatan) when I travel. I do this because: (1) I can ride a train to LCCT and KLIA there; and (2) I can ride buses to and from Singapore/Johor Bahru there, too. Parking costs RM 3 per day, it's covered, and security is quite good.

But then again, when everyone in KL is travelling and making balik kampung - be warned. I had to fit Caleb into this non-parking spot next to a Kancil that Saturday. After 30 minutes of circling the two levels. Yeah, there are just two park-able levels (hey wait, can we park at level 4?) so that explains the lack of good parking spots.


Anyway, I got to Singapore in one piece. I was able to leave in one piece, too. It was my first time to ride the bus from Larkin again and not directly from SG like what we did last time. It's cheaper but a bit less convenient when it comes to time because you have to allot some hours into crossing the border. Well, I just slept. Whenever I opened my eyes to take a peep of what was happening outside, all I could see was heavy traffic. The bus left JB at 7:00PM and got to TBS at 1:00AM. So there you go - that's the long weekend traffic for you.

I enjoyed the ride though. It made me feel nostalgic of the long bus rides from Manila to Baguio City, my home town.

Well, that's all for now. I'll be back next year, Singapore.

I wonder where I put my EZ Link?

Passion and Excellence

There's something inspiring about watching people execute their crafts with utmost passion and excellence. It makes you want to break out from a life brimming with apathy and mediocrity. It makes you want to break into a life exuding so much more.

My friends and I went to a concert at the Dewan Filharmonik Petronas (DFP), home of the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra (MPO), this Sunday, September 8. It was our first time there and I am sure it wouldn't be our last.

The show was entitled "The Art of the Countertenor" and featured British countertenor Robin Blaze. Boy, did he surprise us with his voice. Countertenors are those male singers having the vocal range of female contraltos. I associate myself to being a contralto (it's supposed to be the lowest female voice type) but his range is even higher than mine! His falsetto is so clean, his breathing control is so astounding, and if you had your eyes closed the whole time, you would have thought it was a woman singing.

Here's a YT vid I found of him. You know, so you wouldn't have to keep imagining.

My mouth must have been half-open throughout his entire performance. He was amazing. And he had this cheerful countenance. I like how he felt every emotion of the music, how he kept in tune with the conductor and the rest of the orchestra.

THE CONDUCTOR AND THE ORCHESTRA. How can I even begin to explain all the emotions I felt while watching them do their thing onstage? One moment I was smiling. Another moment I was gaping. The next moment I was smiling again.

It was fun watching the individual players put all their passion into playing their songs. Some played with brows furrowed in deep concentration. Others played smiling, their eyes twinkling like the lights that shone on us from the ceiling (sorry, photography wasn't allowed inside the hall). Others played expressively with an eyebrow arching from time to time, with a lip twitching in amusement every now and then. They made me want to try my hand at the violin again. But on second thought - nah. How could my skills even begin to compare with theirs?

Did I say we were seated in the second front row seats? With nobody sitting in the row before us? We were so close to the stage we could see the drops of perspiration forming on the conductor's face.

Oh the conductor! He was, of course, wonderful. So. Expressive. I'm sure most conductors are. But it was my first time to see a real conductor onstage and this man, Bernard Labadie, was amazing. He was very energetic and appreciative. I liked the way he embraced and shook hands with Robin Blaze at the end.

Watching a conductor conduct was something. Somehow, I could imagine how creation must have played out, seeing the maestro bring each instrument to life with a gesture from his hand and with a stroke from his baton.

Our ticket envelope said, "We wish you a memorable concert experience." Indeed, ours was a very noteworthy one. Who wants to come here with us next time?

Raya-Induced Food Coma

My tummy is still on Hari Raya break. It's been jumping up and down with glee because it was filled to the brim with wonderful Malaysian Cuisine.

This is not good for my diet.

I'm going to start hitting the gym (faithfully) again, soon.

But like my Iranian officemate said last Friday, "Malaysian food is soooooo goooood." It is. And so I present to you some munchies which have been invading my tummy for the past few weeks or so.

1. Cendol

When I first came to Malaysia for a cultural exchange trip last 2008, my mother had only two directives: 1) Take lots of pictures; and 2) Try the Durian Cendol. I did both but Multiply has unfortunately made all the pictures I took back then disappear into oblivion. But the Durian Cendol... mmmm. I didn't try cendol with "stinky socks" at the time (I forgot that she specifically said it should be Durian Cendol) but I fell in love with the dessert nonetheless.

Cendol is made of green worm-like jelly, beans, coconut milk, and gula melaka (palm sugar). It's basically heaven in a cup. Though, at first glance, the "worms" do leave a lot to be desired.

2. Nasi Kerabu

Granted, I only ate the fish and not the nasi, but this Kelantan dish is a must try. Nasi Kerabu is blue rice (made blue because of coloring by butterfly-pea flowers) eaten with chicken, fish (usually cat fish), or beef, sided with fish crackers, red eggs, greens, anchovies, and sambal kelapa (coconut flaked fish). The combination of the different tastes and textures is amazing.

And top everything off with the sauce from Yati Ayam Percik - hallelujah.

3. Dry Chilli Pan Mee

Dry Chilli Pan Mee. Pork Chilli Pan Mee, please. Yes, pork. Though a majority of Malaysians are Muslims and halal eateries are mainstream, many Chinese restaurants still let pork-eating people like me satisfy their piggy cravings with various dishes like bak kut teh, char siew pau, etc. It was my first time to try Dry Chilli Pan Mee this Sunday. It was... yum. Twas a bit hard to eat the thick, savory noodles with chopsticks though. Good thing there were a lot of tissues at hand, because, if there weren't any, my face would have been a complete mess by the time the meal was over.

4. Raya Cookies

One of my officemates brought in Raya Cookies after the Raya Break last month! Wouldn't it be nice if we could eat them all year long? But that wouldn't make them special any more, right? Raya Cookies come in all shapes, flavors, and colors. Take your pick. You have the entire Raya Season to feast on them. Yum, yum, yum, yum.

I have to wake up from a Raya-induced food coma soon. 

Well, enjoy. Makan, makan, makan!