Thursday, November 4, 2010

A Coffee Table For My Son's New House

Azrin with his three children, Irsyad, Ayen and Syakirah

Yanie posing with a friend. The Black Merc belongs to her friend.

It was sometimes in August 2010 that my daughter in law Yanie made a posting in her Facebook that she will be moving into her new home in Subang Alam in Section 27 Shah Alam. I immediately responded by promising to give a coffee table which she could collect when she came back for the last Idulfitri. Unfortunately the table was not ready as the workshop that I commissioned to do was too busy doing other jobs including my own wakaf (gazebo).
It was only today that the final coat of white shellac was sprayed and was ready for collection.
The table top for the coffee table is a special piece of cengal wood measuring 18" x 43" carved with floral motives. This piece of wood is special in that I had purchased it some 20 odd years ago from my uncle in Kuala Lumpur. It was a surplus piece from those used to decorate the walls of the traditional houses in Bukit Cahaya Seri Alam Shah Alam. I remember paying my uncle some RM300 for that piece with a few other items made from wood. The piece had been in my keep without knowing when it will ever be used. So when we moved back from our previous home in Gua Musang, that piece of wood carving came along. Though I have never found a proper use for it, it was never the less safely tucked away in a corner. Our own furniture of mainly Indonesian Jati did not seem to allow for this gem to fit in anywhere.
The beautiful carving with a floral motif.

That was until my son bought his new house that there was space enough for a coffee table which I offered him for via Yanie's facebook posting. There was a snag though. He had ordered his new furniture in white even though they were made of Cengal, the king of Malaysian wood. He wanted furniture made of wood that will last but of white color. To me painting wood is against the spirit of wood especially when they are made of cengal whereby all the grain in the wood will be obscured.

In the case of the coffee table, I had to compromise. The body of the table will be painted with white shellac, while the table top with the floral carving will be stained with wood oil and covered with a piece of 8 mm glass. Thus the carving will remain the color of the wood with the spirit of wood intact.
The table will be delivered to my son's home when I next visit them after Yanie has delivered my ninth grandson in January 2011.
Today is Azrin's birthday. Happy birthday son.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Saving The Life of A Machine

The two of us who are members of the Surau near our home was almost done with the vacuuming of the carpet in the small surau after the Friday Subuh prayers when the vacuum machine suddenly went quiet. We tried to restart the machine but it was to no avail. When I touched the body of the machine, it felt pretty hot. After letting it cool down we tried again after checking all the cables to see all the power supply was intact.We even changed the point from where the machine was plugged into. Since after such attempts were made the machine refused to come to life.
I took the machine home and told my wife that the machine ain't working anymore. It could be a burnt coil. Since we had been using the machine for several years already we thought the machine has had its day and called it quit. We decide to buy a new one the next day as we were going to Kota Bharu on Saturday. We will buy a similar model, a Panasonic by National. Since we are buying a new one, I decided to have a go with the machine and open it up to see what is wrong with it. Knowing that the worst that can happen is replacing the machine, I didn't have to worry if it will be good again or not.
There were not many visible screws to unscrew and the few that I saw were already out and yet the machine refused to be disemboweled. After further scrutiny I found a few more screws under a removable body part. Yet the machine can't be opened up. Using flat screw drivers I forced open a section of the body and suddenly I heard a small crack, indicating that a small part had given way to the force and broke up. Removing the piece I saw another single screw that needed to be opened before the whole machine can be opened. What a way to learn things by experimenting and relying on hunches.

The motor was removed and cleaned of dust.

At last I could open up the machine and was able to check the motor inside. Upon closer scrutiny, there was no visibility burning signs on the coil. That is a good sign, meaning a simple machine like a vacuum machine is not overly damaged if the coil is still intact. To confirm the coil is OK I called on my neighbour Chong who is an electrician and he confirmed my hunch that the motor is OK.
He suggested that I just clean up the dusts in the machine and fit them together again to try and start it up. Rebuilding became a bit of a problem as I had not really observed the steps I took when opening up. Since there were not many parts inside, I finally did manage to fit in all the screws and kept the wires inside intact.
It was music to my ears when upon switching it on, the motor whined. My wife grinned from ear to ear as we are saved several hundred ringgit if we were to buy a new machine. At least that expense will be delayed until much later when the machine will give up its last breath.
In our home I have managed to salvage many other electrical appliances like the electric irons, fans and vacuum cleaners because I dare to try and repair them first before throwing them away for good. Sometimes they were just mere dusts, broken wires or dry bearings that prevented them from function. Reconnecting broke wires, reapplying grease on bearings and removing dusts often bring them back to life. Not all were so easy though but some did. Those that did were really satisfying.
My sister in law's vacuum cleaner was not sucking much dust. She was contemplating buying a new one. When she told me of her problem, I opened up the dust compartment and sure enough the dust bag was choked up with years of all the things it was made to suck in. Her Electrolux vacuum cleaner is still serving her fine despite the many decades of being in service.
The moral of the story, don't rush into buying a new machine unless it is beyond repair. Such machines do need regular servicing to keep them in working condition. If it needs be, it must be brought to the service centers to have them professionally cleaned up. You will defintely be the winner

Saturday, August 14, 2010


Being diagnosed with even a mild hypertension at an early age of 27 way back in 1977 wasn't a good prospect for my future life. Knowing it early was a blessing as I know what to do so as not to aggravate the ailment. The doctors told me to watch my diet, sleep well, watch my weight and above all exercise. All relevant points to note for all those afflicted with hypertension.
I led a pretty active life prior to 1997. Playing tennis to sweat it out was like a must in my daily life. Things changed when I became an internet junkie hooked on the internet relay chat or IRC. All those who had suffered the same malady as me will understand the situation. This addiction continued to the end of my working days that is till the end of 2005. Being a weekend husband who will only return to the family located 185 kms away provided the ultimate opportunity for me to stay online till the wee hours of the day. I know I was getting any healthier with that kind of life.
A change of lifestyle was needed. Though I can opt for another year of service, I prefer to retire just to be with my family and lead a new lifestyle.
It was time to regain my health. I need to sweat it out. My earlier investment of a step machine did not work as it was boring to work on. Fortunately I did not invest on a stationary exercise bike as it was just as boring. The mountain bike and all the other bicycles that I had just continued to collect dust.
I made a great mistake when I invested in a massage chair. Take my word that the massage chair is not the way to health. Fortunately my brother in law offered to buy the machine at a highly discounted price. Now it was time to look for another machine to help me to exercise.
Scouting the malls in Kota Bharu took me to fitness shops selling a multitude of exercise machines. The treadmills fascinated me. Nowadays only motorized treadmills are being sold so I won't be making the mistake of buying one that is not. The problem was how to make a choice. There were so many brands and specifications to choose from. Reebok, Gintel, Takashima and many others from Taiwan are available ranging in price from RM2,000 to RM6,000 which is the price range I am looking for. Some brands and models come with attractive freebies in the form of other fitness machines. The top of the line model from Gintel comes with a free massage chair.
After several look and see at the outlet, we finally decide to buy a Takashima due to the many models available with the specifications I had in mind.
Utmost in my mind is that the machine must be powered with a minimum of 2 HP motor. Anything below will not stand the vigorous use. Other specifications are the presence of built in programs for the workout, pliant board that will not stress my 60 years old feet (the heart maybe as old but you know the owner always feel it is younger than its chronological or physical age) and any other features will be a bonus.
The model we decided upon was Takashima Fitness 1 Advance series TK 551. Thanks to Fikry the sale staff who made the recommendation and put in an effort to make the sale.

Using the machine doesn't mean that I will get the look and shape of the model, but it is an inspiration to become one.

Reading the user manual helped me to understand better on how to use the machine because the sale staff may not know everything. One thing I learned is not to start the machine while you are standing on the board. Step on the board only after it has started moving as it will help the motor to have a longer life since it is not stressed. This was not told to me by the staff.

Trying out the F1 Advance at the outlet at KB Mall before making the purchase.

The sale staff with Fikry in the middle while Ramlah the KB Mall outlet head was busy preparing the necessary purchase orders.
A week later the delivery was made to my home. The delivery was within the two weeks promised.

The machine in it folded position for storage. As a comparison, the American made Reebok will just have the board folded and not the motor.
The console of the treadmill has a built in speaker and will accommodate an MP3 player or a hand phone. One of the program has a voice instruction accompanied with music. I prefer my house radio to keep me company.

The display monitor is large enough to show the time elapsed or remaining depending on the program, the speed in kmh. the distance in km, the pulse, the incline from 0 to 15 percent, the calories burned and program used.
The maximum load this machine can take is 120 kg. So if you are a fatso weighing over 120 kg, please get the Reebok which has a 3HP motor.
Thus far I have only done a maximum of 30 minutes walking a distance of 2 km. with a speed ranging fro a slow 2 kmh to a maximum of 7 kmh and an incline of 2 percent. That was more than enough to burn 70 calories off for a day and make me sweat. My maximum pulse rate is 135 beats per minute and I was told to not exceed the 150 beats being a 60 year old. They give you the chart as a guide on the maximum pulse that you should attain. A pull on the safety magnet switch will automatically switch off the machine and one end of the string to the switch must be attached to your apparel to ensure the machine will be cut off should a user fall from it.
Stretching is an important exercise to do before using the machine. The process will prepare your body for the strenuous exercise and prevent injury. Doing it after the exercise will help your body to cool down. Many people are reluctant to do this stretching exercise.

Since the exercise bike was given free, I made use of it if the wife happens to be using the treadmill at the same time. Actually we paid RM200 extra to get the bike of the model below. The one actually given free with the treadmill seemed too flimsy for our liking.

Since the doctor has advised my wife Fatthiyah to do some exercise and lose some weight, she was as eager as me to use the machine. Doing it together will definitely be more fun as the other will egg the other on to complete the programme.

The machine on its own will not do much to improve your health. Only by using it will it helps.
My aim now is to bring down my weight by 5 kg. I started off at 80 kg. With the fasting month on and a minimum of 3 times weekly 30 minutes workouts, InsyaAllah I will achieve it.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Korea - The Final Part

Seoul-Ho Chi Mink City-Kuala Lumpur

This was the final night we are spending in Seoul, Korea. The hotel Stay 7 where we are putting up is located on an island which bears many similarities with Manhattan Island in USA. One similarity is it being the business district of Seoul and thus it is also known as Manhattan and there is even Manhattan hotel beside our Stay 7 Hotel.
Since we checked in at almost 9 PM at the hotel and we will be checking out very early the next day, I didn't really have much time to explore the area around the hotel and thus couldn't write much about the area.
The next day we checked out at 7 AM without any breakfast at the hotel as we usually do. Breakfast was arranged at another restaurant en route to the airport. This quite convenient it seems.

Early morning pose infront of the hotel.

Then we rode the bus to the place breakfast. Since we have collected some money among us to tip the helper Mr. Jeung, Tuan haji Shafie was elected to present the gift. I doubt anyone knows how much was collected as we just passed the plastic bag around.

It was a Korean breakfast for us mainly comprising of kimchi and seaweed which I managed to down them all. A half boiled egg and some bread brought by Lucy the tourist guide helped those who can't take the Korean original dish.

On the shelves inside the restaurants are some souvenir samples that can be bought at the shop below. Now I know why we were made to stop at this restaurant. It was the last stop where we could finish our Korean Won or US dollars that we had on us. For those who still need a few more souvenirs to take home, this is the last chance though the price marked were definitely highly marked up. This is a good tactic and Malaysia should emulate it to extract the last bit of money from travellers before they depart for their next destination.
I found this beautiful kitchen knife which was priced at a hefty USD 35.00 an amount I could easily pay for a Victorinox. Well since we have quite a bit of unspent budget, we bought it. The knife is beautiful to look at as well as very sharp.

We bought a 24 carat plated plate with the Korean symbol.

It has found a place among our collection of plates.

We landed at Ho Chi Minh City airport.

A local tourist guide took us in a bus to our hotel.

A beautiful Pagoda along the way.

Poster of what is showing at the movies. This shows the film industry in Vietnam is still thriving.

Instead of taking us direct to the hotel, we were taken to a shop selling all sort of food. The main item was coffee. I recalled reading somewhere that not all Vietnam coffee is halal because some people roasted the bean in lard. I told my other half about it but she seemed to pooh pooh what I said. I abstained from drinking the coffee and had tea instead. She loves coffee and tasted her Vietnam coffee and fortunately she did not buy any to take home seeing that I wasn't drinking it despite my love for coffee.
Later somebody told her that Vietnam coffee are like the 'kopi musang' in Indonesia where the best coffee comes through the backside of the musang. That I concurred and made her angry that i did not tell her earlier. Hey didn't I try to caution her?

There were all sort of things they tried to sell to our group but not many of us were interested as many of us had already decided on what things to buy at Ben Than market.
We checked in into our hotel.
Tan hai Long Hotel is quite close to Ben Than Market and all we need is to walk to it.
The hotel room is cosy and the internet connection is good and free.
Some of the ladies wanted to buy 'telekong' (prayer robefor ladies). For that we were taken on a very short unnecessary bus ride. I guess the tour guide wanted to mislead into thinking that the place was far from the hotel and thus we would not be able to go on our own. Going on our own will mean cutting off his commission, a real necessity for him in this business.
While waiting for the wife to buy the 'telekung', there was a sudden electrical outage in the area. Then suddenly we saw some outlets bringing out standby generators. Such power failures seems to be a normal thing in Vietnam or at leat in Ho Chi Minh City.
A 14 year old girl was accosting me to buy some beautiful fans. She was selling them at USD10 for 10. Though I didn't want to buy them, she was persistent and hang around me like a lost cat. I tried to get her to go by taking a picture of her which she avoided by opening the fan across her face.

Sensing that she could make me buy her items by letting me take her picture, she brought the fan down. Ain't she pretty?

We walked back to the hotel. on the way we stopped at Ben Than market. There are lots of things you can buy in the market. make sure you stop there when you are in Saigon. This is how the market look from afar.

Dinner that night was again at the 4 Season restaurant, a restaurant operated by the Champa Malays. Told you the food there was so so.

That night it was another round of shopping at the street market around the Ben Than market close to the hotel. Some of the stalls were at the doorsteps of the hotel at the back entrance.

Here the other half is buying some T shirts for the male family members. price are cheap and the quality acceptable though the brands are obviously fake.

Initially we bought the yellow wooden container. Later when it was almost closing time, your truly was made to rush down to buy the more colorful one to make a pair.

This is how the city look at night near the hotel.

Pretty paintings on hotel walls. How I wish I could explore the city for such art work. Saigon is city with many talented artists, only one must know where to go.

We were up quite early the next day. We were checking out after having breakfast at the hotel. While waiting for our bus to coma, we spent sometime at the free internet station available at the hotel lobby. Below Aizat and his mum were using the internet too. They almost missed the flight home as his father Mohamad Yusoff had ofted to use the safety deposit box provided in our room to keep their passport. The box refused to open up and the hotel could not assist them despite calling for an expert. They had to wait for the supplier in Bangkok to come into office to give further instruction. Later a master password was received from Bangkok and they managed to open the box. They had to take a taxi to the airport as the bus could not wait for them. Luckily they were still in time to catch the flight home.

As usual the roads in saigon is teeming with motorbikes.

The wearing of safety helmets is now mandatory in Vietnam. hence you can see them being sold by the roadside.
Coffee corners are available around the city for breakfast. locals have their breakfast there before going to work.
The parks are used for recreation and exercise by the locals.
Finally our Tour Leader Norma representing POTO Travel and Tours Sdn Bhd, thanked the group for travelling wiith the company.

Pak Zawi slouching on a bench while waiting for the flight home. Though tiring, we did enjoy this trip to Korea which included stop overs in Saigon.