Friday, August 31, 2007

FHM 2007 - Part 8

I have to touch a bit more on Culinaire Malaysia. Held alongside the spectacular FHM 2007, this bi-annual event was organised in collaboration with the Malaysian Association of Hotels
(MAH) and the Chefs Association of Malaysia.

Culinaire Malaysia was an event of culinary contests, witnessing chefs and F & B executives throughout Malaysia vying for the top-notch positions.

As I mentioned in the earlier posts, Culinaire Malaysia gave a tremendous exposure to culinary skills and art.

The highlights of the event included contests in hot and cold cooking, bartending, themed table setting, butter, fruit and vegetable sculpture and ice carving.

It was a very fruitful visit to Culinaire Malaysia.

The picture shows the cooking contest in progress.

Two chefs taking part in competition.
Foods on display for marking.
Bartending contest in progress.

Bartending contest participant facing the panel judges.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

FHM 2007 - Part 7

It is an art requiring skills to mould food into statues or models. Just look at the model in the picture above - it looks so very real !

At Culinaire Malaysia, I had got a rare opportunity to expose myself to a wide range of models and statues, all hand-made of foods.

I snapped a lot of splendid models with my digicam for sharing purposes.

Culinaire Malaysia provided a wonderful opportunity for me to open my eyes to the fineness of culinary art.

A wonderful show of a bull.
A lively statue!
Made of chocolate, it is themed "Alien vs Predator".
An old-time bicycle for you to admire!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

FHM 2007 - Part 6

As the saying goes, consuming good food nourishes the body, but consuming good food displayed well nourishes the imagination. This tells the artistic value of food presentation.

I love the above quote and believe ardently that food is much more than just for physical consumption - it is actually a form of art, especially in its presentation aspect.

Garnishing and displaying with skills make food a lot more appealing and value-added. Food presentation has, therefore, become an integral part of food preparation.

The whole of Culinaire Malaysia was devoted to banquet setting,food decoration, platter arrangement, vegetable carving, artistic displays and fruits peeling/slicing/presentation techniques.

I was very much amazed by the high standard of skills demonstrated.

The picture shows a dessert display.

A very innovative presentation.
A display with a theme.
A live demonstration of fruit carving.
An appealing banquet setting.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

FHM 2007 - Part 5

A lot of exhibitors provided samples for tasting to convince the visitors. This was an effective way to promote products. I am a coffee lover and for the whole two-day visiting, I had wonderful opportunities to sample coffee of different brands.

IT has penetrated every facet of hotel and food industry. I was being shown to a software package which makes order-taking and food preparation very highly technological.

Food presentation is essentially a form of art. The exhibition opened my eyes to a lot of splendid presentations of foods - all were so artistic that I was greatly amazed.

The picture shows an exhibitor taking great care to brew the best coffee for the on-looking visitors.

The pop corn served at this booth was perhaps the best I had ever tasted.
TOTAL SOLUTIONS provided a comprehensive range of kitchenware.
A software package provider to meet the industry's needs.
Themed GREEN VALLEY - I really love this wonderful food presentation.

Monday, August 27, 2007

FHM 2007 - Part 4

KL Convention Centre is now a keen competitor to PWTC (Putra World Trade Centre), the latter of which used to be the most popular venue for conventions and exhibitions.

FHM occupied the whole of Ground Floor and Level 3, with the former on Culinaire Malaysia and the latter FHM.

It took me two days to make a full coverage of the exhibition.

The show was orientated to bringing updates on products to keep the players abreast with the latest knowledge. In short, it was informative in nature!

The exhibitors provided a lot of opportunities for food sampling. Yokomon, a Japanese ice-cream, attracted huge crowds to try out the product.

Another bustling section where foods were available for sampling.
Pastries for you to try.
Yummy cheese cakes for sampling.

A cake-making demonstration in progress.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

FHM 2007 - Part 3

When we reached KLCC, I was taken with excitement - firstly, this was the first time I saw KLCC and the Twin Towers in real buildings; secondly, the Twin Towers right in front of me at one time did Malaysia proud by being the world's tallest buildings.

The magnificent KLCC and the Twin Towers have impressive architectural designs with an overall uniqueness in themselves. The interiors are posh and of good taste.

My nephew told me that the retail outlets here mostly opt for brands and the pricing - haha, is all of upmarket range.

Even KFC here marks up pricing to incorporate value-added factor - but, the business is still buzzing, showing that our consumers are value-centred also.

I almost lost my way in the building, having to stop for a few times to enquire before I could reach the Convention Centre.

The picture shows a banquet setting by Hilton KL. The fineness was an eye-opener to me.

The picture shows a section of Food & Beverage equipment on display.
On show is an excellent lay-out of foods in a very artistic way.
Fine crockery on display to entice visitors into placing orders.
Giacomo International Tableware - it gives you a close inspection of its latest products.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

FHM 2007 - Part 2

I flew by AirAsia with our hotel's F&B Manager on August 22 to attend this event of international scale.

After touching down on LCC-T, we took a SkyTrain bus to KL Sentral, and from there by a transfer van to Capitol Hotel at Jalan Bukit Bintang, with all in at RM18 per person -which was a lot cheaper when compared to taking a cab.

LCC-T lives up well to its name - simple but functional.

There have been adverse comments on the over-simplicity of LCC-T, saying it might impact our image unfavourably .

But, I incline to be of opinion that it might be a bit over-pessimistic to express such fears since LCC-T is a decently built up terminal with functionality beyond any reasonable doubt.

After checking in the hotel, we took a cab to KLCC to join in the bustling exhibition.

The picture shows the main entrance to KLCC.

The posh interiors of KLCC.
At the entrance to Culinaire Malaysia 2007 where admission was strictly by fee - paying.

Friday, August 24, 2007

FHM 2007 - Part 1

I was in KL on August 22-24 attending FHM 2007 ( Food and Hotel Malaysia 2007) - an international exhibition event of food, drinks, hotel, restaurant & foodservice equipment, supplies, services & related technology.

This event is held on biennial basis and has been highly recognised as the hottest F & B and Hospitality specialised trade event.

Just look at the statistics and you would agree with me that FHM 2007 is not to be missed out if you are a player in this industry - participating companies come up to 600 from 32 countries across the regiom showcasing their latest food and beverage, equipment, hospitality and IT to cater to the needs of the industry.

FHM 2007 is being held at KL Convention Centre of KLCC which is thus far the hottest property in KL. I learned that even condominiums overlooking to the Twin Towers tend to command higher value - my goodness, just imagine the kind of charisma that the property is commanding!

FHM 2007 is scheduled to be a four-day event (Augyst 22-25) with an exciting line-up of programmes for the players and visitors to catch up with the latest products.

The picture shows a copy of FHM 2007 Show Preview which was sent to us well before the actual event.

The picture shows the entrance to the exhibition halls.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Sayonara to New Creation Band

New Creation Band, a band with all its members from the Philippines, had been with us for a stretch of five months, performing nightly at Bamboo House, our lively entertainment outlet.

The service contract for the band was extended for a further period of two months after expiration of the initial three-month duration due to popular demand.

We had to bid farewell to them on August 17 when the term of service came to a close -well ,as the saying goes : all good things must come to an end.

Filipinos are renowned for being musically talented and their ingenuity has earned huge foreign reserves for the nation by performing abroad. In short, export of musical talents has long become an integral part of the Philippines' earning base.

I took a snapshot of them before they left.

New Creation Band as seen in full costume.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Dutch tourists in Sibu on the Chinese Valentine's Day

This group of Dutch tourists arrived Sibu yesterday - which coincidentally was the Chinese Valentine's Day falling on the 7th day of the 7th lunar month in the Chinese calendar.

The story of Cowherd and Weaving Maid has been most touching - and their sentimental love moves me every time it flows back to my memory. They keep reminding all lovers to value their affection for each other by their very living testimony - though they meet only once a year, they never forsake!

Alright, I am a little bit sidetracked - let's come back to the Dutch group. They are on a 23-day visit to Borneo Island - a splendid breakaway from home to experience our exotic natural settings.

Before they set off for Bintulu this morning, I took a snapshot of them in front of the hotel

Annema excitedly told me that she is fascinated by the nature of Borneo. This is her first visit to Malaysia - and she loves it so much!
Onno is leading the 23-day tour of Borneo. The beauty of our culture and nature goes deep into his memory.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

The Story Of Uncle Sam - Part 8 (Final)

In short, U.S. was in a state of financial turmoil, eventually calling for the injections of funds to save the dried-up market as a result of the liquidity crunch (credit squeezing by banks not willing to give out loans) to which the Federal Reserve did pump in. The credit squeeze spread globally, requiring other major central bankers to follow suit.

All these led to a slump in the share markets, globally.

Simply put, the United States is now terminally sick, suffering from fundamental economic problems. Loosening monetary policy ( increase in the benchmark rate) would help towards solving the woes on a long-term basis.

But, just like a patient in critical condition, a strong medication ( in this case, an increase in rate) would kill off the patient outright.

Rather than taking a drastic measure to lift the States out of the economic dilemma (by increasing the benchmark rate), a rate cut would soothe the acute situation in short term.

A cut in discount rate by the Federal Reserve on August 17 paved the way for a decrease in the benchmark rate when FOMC meets again next month. Ben Bernake did the right policy making decision absolutely.

A rate cut has never been favoured by the Fed, but the critical condition compelled the decision - making committee to resort to a temporary soothing measure.

The present deep-seated economic trauma is far from over. If you are a player, continue to track greenback, yen and gold.

Globally, the United States is still ranked no. one. Just look at the recent vibrations that it brought to the whole world - and you would agree with me.

Uncle Sam just e-mailed me with a sigh of relief. I wish him all the best!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

The Story Of Uncle Sam - Part 7

As and when interest rates spiralled up, the house market was impacted - the house prices, as expected, started to dwindle. The rising benchmark rates also made mortgage loan repayments much weightier, thereby adding financial burden to the borrowers.

In the absence of additional income supplements, it naturally followed that default and foreclosure rates shot up - almost hand-in-hand with the Fed rates.

The falling house prices , coupled with the rising default rates, landed the mortgage loan lenders in a financial strait-jacket - and eventually with some major players going into bankruptcy.

The rout of the subprime mortgage market was certainly going to affect the domestic consumption. The market confidence was instantly killed off, leading investors to believe that the share market would crash as a result of an increasingly bleak prospect of the United States' growth.

Friday, August 17, 2007

The Story Of Uncle Sam - Part 6

The fast economic recovery, coupled with the rising commodity prices, quickly succumbed the whole world to great inflationary pressure.

With the Federal Reserve of U.S. taking the lead again, the global central bankers embarked on a rate increase measure to tame the overheated economies.

Whilst inflation flattened the consumers' purses, the massive upward rate adjustments planted dangerous mines in the mortgage market in the United States.

The increasing borrowing cost effectively cooled off the steamy bubbling house market - in a very painful way. The correction signal started to emerge at the beginning of 2006.

The superbull house market sent both lenders (financial institutions) and borrowers (house owners) to a frenzied chase for gains and personal satisfaction.

The house boom provided such a lucrative trade that aggressive mortgage financing started to mushroom, giving rise to booming subprime mortgage market which was generally very lax in lending in return for much higher gains at greater risks.

Big banks (HSBC, DBS, just to name two) and hedge funds found it so difficult to resist the lures of the highly profitable returns that they exposed excessively to the subprime mortgage loans. All would be fine if the house prices continued on an upward trend. But things did not work out that way - it was simply too bad that the house bubble was pricked and the house price started to fall. In short, it signalled a beginning to a nightmare for the United States.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Story Of Uncle Sam - Part 5

Uncle Sam was proud that the American consumptions led the global market to a much faster recovery. In other words, the single engine propelled the whole world to another take-off.

China's cheap labour provided another global force to lift the world up. Global manufacturers were attracted to outsource non-core operations to China to take advantage of its exceedingly low cost. Outsourcing by industrialised nations turned China into a "global factory".

With U.S. and China acting as global players in consumption and manufacturing respectively, together they put the world on the recovery track after the IT bubble burst.

As the global economy heated up, the fearful inflationary pressure also started to build up. With China fast rising up to become a world player, inflation caught up fast to be a global agenda - a concern that all central bankers had to take on.

China's massive demand and insatiable appetite for commodities ( for example, oil ) jacked up prices globally - and crazily!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The Story Of Uncle Sam - Part 4

The decades' low borrowing cost, coupled with escalating house prices, gave Americans irresistible incentives to remortgage their residential properties.

Despite the slow-down in economy due to the burst of IT bubble, the households could keep up with the lavish spending - all because of the massive appreciation in houses that propped up the domestic consumption.

Take the case of Uncle Sam - in spite of his dwindling personal income, he could sustain his extravagant life -style by refinancing his big house.

Household consumptions constitute roughly 70% of the United States' GDP. Thanks to the surging house prices - they made it possible for the American households to go on spending to save the weakened economy.

When the consumers salvaged the American economy, they also propelled the whole world to recovery for a very simple reason - the United States is the world's largest export market. In short, it was the world's single engine of growth.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The Story Of Uncle Sam - Part 3

With interest rate at the decades' low of 1%,the Federal Reserve in actual fact was pumping huge liquidity into the market and making the funds extremely cheap. In short, borrowing cost couldn't be any lower, and Americans had no reason not to smile their way to banks to take up offers.

The superliquid market triggered off a bull run on the American residential house market, making it lucrative to speculate in houses by borrowing cheap funds. A lot of speculators joined in to a frenzied chase for wealth in house market.

The superbull roared in a stretch of six years from 2001 to 2006, making all house owners hilarious as they watched the house price index inching up day by day.

The appreciating residential properties saved the United States, and the world, from going deep into recession following the IT bubble burst. In fact, this was one of the shortest recessions that U.S. ever experienced in history - for a reason none other than the rising house prices. Another equally important factor was China.

Uncle Sam was more than happy to see the value of his house shooting up to sky-high.

Monday, August 13, 2007

The Story Of Uncle Sam - Part 2

The burst of the IT bubble in 2000 was traumatic in effect to the investors. Worldwide, the collapse of NASDAQ sent all other share markets to slump down, leaving great bloodshed all over.

The chain effects of the bubble burst eventually led the whole world into recession in 2001, with only a handful of exceptions, of which one of them was China.

Alan Greenspan, then the Chairman of Federal Reserve, took a defensive move by prudently cutting rates massively to loosen the American monetary policy, from the high of 6.25% to the decades ' low of 1%, to prop up the dwindling economy.

Uncle Sam disposed of his old house at a good price in late 90s and topped up the proceeds with a mortage loan to purchase a much bigger one. "Life is meant for enjoyment- never miss it if you have the means," he told his friends.

With IT going bust naturally meant that Uncle Sam was less well off now. He had to live with a subprime job.

Uncle Sam's investment in IT shares also shrank excessively after NASDAQ melted down from the high of 5000 to the low of 1200. Vaporized was his hard-built wealth in a most dramatic way.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

The Story Of Uncle Sam - Part 1

Uncle Sam's story is the greed (of bankers) and thriftlessness of the American consumers in miniature. Altogether they add up to form factors contributing to the present fiasco of the subprime market which triggered a massive panic sell-off in shares worldwide last week (on August 8).

Uncle Sam is just one of the many caught in the dwindling residential house market with very gloomy outlook. A lot of signals pointed to the probable collapse of the house market with anticipated grave consequences for the American economy, but Uncle Sam took the warning with jeers, believing the United States as still being healthy.

Debt-ridden and, worse still, with scanty savings, Uncle Sam is now in a sorrowful state. The falling house prices in the States has become a nightmare making him almost an insomniac. There is a loud cry from him for help, but he is hardly heard now.

Uncle Sam is an IT engineer with his base in New York. In 90s during the frenzy IT boom, he was hotly demanded for his expertise - which he amassed riches throughout the period when NASDAQ went sky-high to the record 5000 points.

All good things must come to an end. The investors' illusions about and speculative chase for wealth eventually turned NASDAQ into bubble. Despite several rate increases to cool off, the market continued to rally with craze, making NASDAQ increasingly unsustainable.

The American court made an unfavourable ruling against Microsoft on its market monopolistic practice in March 2000 which threw the investors off their balance. The market took the excuse to correct - but the panic went out of control. The market quickly went bust and it eventually turned catastrophic.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

The Piccadilly Fish & Chips

Our fish and chips -The Piccadilly Fish & Chips - is an authentic western cuisine served in an unique oblong-shaped earthenware dish.

Let me recall my Monash days before I proceed further. Fish and chips was my favourite during my days at Monash University. At an affordable pricing, fish and chips was a popular take-away budget meal for students. Another equally famous meal for take-away was chicken and chips.

Fish and chips was originated from the United Kingdom. For decades , the food dominated the take-away sector in the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand.

A perennial favourite with popular demands, The Piccadilly Fish & Chips is very temptingly presented with a serving that is just right.

The crispy and tasty fish is accompanied by asparagus, grilled mushrooms, tomatoes, french fries, mixed vegetables salad and tartar sauce.

Together with a toasted bun and butter, the dish makes an excellent meal at a value-for-money price of RM22.50++.

If you are a fish and chips lover, you have no reason not to try out.

Please visit our website for the details of Cafe Palmelia at

Friday, August 10, 2007

NATEF 2007 - Exhibition

I popped in to the exhibition venue on the ground floor of Wisma Sanyan for a round of visits to keep myself staying at the forefront of the market trend and open my eyes to more latest products.

The exhibition is not that wide-ranging - it covers only sanitaryware, accessories and some toiletries.

But the booths set up by some government departments are very informative in their materials, providing useful coverage on their efforts to improve the awareness of toilet hygiene locally.

It is worthwhile for Sibuians to drop in for a visit to gain an in-depth understanding of our government's role in promoting toilet cleanliness culture and upgrading the quality of our public toilets. It is all well-intentioned for the betterment of the rakyat.

The picture shows the leaflets on display - they are both educational and informative.

SMC's booth displays the works of Sibu Toilet Council - an aggressive arm of SMC to push for improvement in toilet cleanliness, especially in kopitiam and public places. Up to now, there are a lot of thumbs up, frankly!
Kementerian Perumahan dan Kerajaan Tempatan (Ministry of Housing and Local Government) has a booth manned by two officers to disseminate its thrust on the culture of cleanliness in toilets. Very admirable indeed is their work - let's give cheers to them.
SRK Perbandaran Sibu No. 4 has constructed the First Model School Toilet in Malaysia. Sibuians, this is a great honour! On display at the booth is comprehensive information pertaing to the school's project. The model toilet will be officially opened on August 11.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

NATEF 2007 - Part 3 (Final)

Today, participants to NATEF 2007 have started to arrive from all over the places. We have a fair share of the accommodation requirements, although Premier Hotel is not the venue for the forum.

Yesterday I requested to SMC for a banner to be hung in front of our hotel for publicity. They did it this morning - cheers to them for the fast response!

NATEF 2007 is organised by Sibu Municipal Council for a duration of four days from 9th to 12th of August. It is mind-boggling to Sibuians since the forum concerns toilet - seriously an unthinkable topic in the past.

But as Sibu thrives, it has to face up to issues like cleanliness of public toilets - issues now of special relevance since it is moving in top gear towards achieving elevation to city status.

Sibu also narrows down tourism as one of the industries that it can viably develop into an economic base.

To this effect, Sibu's infrastructural and public facilities have to be of tourist quality in order to have the edge. The timing for NATEF is , therefore, just right for Sibu!

I hope the forum will be particularly beneficial to Sibu.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

NATEF 2007 - Part 2

When I first arrived in Melbourne, Australia as a student, I was very amazed by the hygienic and odourlerss condition of the public toilets there. I almost couldn't believe it when I first stepped in to use it.

This was entirely a new experience for a kampung boy like me coming far away from Sibu. But right in front of me was a reality - and I knew I was not in a dream.

On one occasion after I settled down, I was at a shopping mall in Melbourne city with some Sibu guys. The toilet there was so perfectly clean that if I were to walk in blindfolded, I would have failed flat to guess where I was then.

You might think this is just one kind of an exaggeration. But that was precisely what I experienced in Melbourne.

In nurturing a good toilet cleanliness culture, we still have a long way to go. But at least we are moving somewhere - especially in Sibu.

Sibu Municipal Council has been working very hard, even relentlessly, to instil a sense of toilet culture in Sibuians. We have seen for ourselves a much improved toilet hygiene condition in kopitiam and public places now in Sibu.

Well done, SMC!

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

NATEF 2007 - Part 1

No longer is toilet a prohibitive word in public speaking. Shunning publicity was our past mentality on toilet -and now there is no more of this hideous culture ever since NATEF (National Toilet Exposition & Forum ) became a national agenda.

NATEF is now a national annual event. It is now into its second year and Sibu is the venue for it.

Very much awaited for, NATEF is in actuality a culture-breeding forum. According to Councilor Robert Lau, it aims to cultivate a correct toilet culture in our society.

It still sounds weird to talk about toilet in public in Asian societies. This out-dated mentality has to undergo reform to nurture a better life-style in our society.

The West has a better toilet culture which we are now emulating. The timing of NATEF is just perfect for us to instil a sense of toilet hygiene into our rakyat.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Sibu Carnival by Sin Chew - Part 2 (Final)

Then I noticed Bok Ah Chuan speaking eloquently on stage with a microphone, taking the audience mesmerized.

Bok is our loyal guest, coming to Sibu regularly on business.

Today, he was in formal dressing, making him look smart. But I am more used to his usual self - Bok in his casual attire with a cap. We all recognise him a quarter mile away!

I intended to step forward to snapshot him, but gave up because the stage was too far away.

After that, I made a round of the stalls to catch up with the products on display. Our market is always on the move and this is one way to be close to the trend.

One stall particularly caught my attention , and without hesitation, I snapped a shot of it for my blog. The stall was manned by some Chinese clans to sell local specialties for the sole purpose of raising funds for the private chinese secondary schools.

It was very touching to see Sibu chinese being so enthusiastic about chinese education , without whose support the private chinese secondary schools would not have survived so well.

Let's all give thumbs up to them.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Sibu Carnival by Sin Chew Daily - Part 1

On July 29, Sin Chew Daily organised Sibu Carnival at Sibu Trade and Exhibition Centre in its massive show of gratitude to the public and in conjunction with our nation celebrating 50 years of nationhood.

The programme of the day was extensively diverse, ranging from talks of specific interests ( including geomancy and pediatrics , just to name two), stalls to take you into a world of glittering mini fair to an explosive stage shows in the star-lit evening with celebrities to enthral Sibuians.

The publicity was so impressive that I made it a point to at least pop in for a visit to see for myself and to show my support.

When I entered the exhibition hall, the pleasantly colourful settings of huge scale took me by surprise. The crowds jostled among the stalls, only to make it a hard time for me to snap good shots for my blogging.

The picture shows children at a colouring contest.