Friday, 10 February 2017

Miss Chinese International Pageant 2017, Genting Highlands

Contestants from all corners of the world were featured, including young ladies from the US, Canada, Australia, South Africa and Asian cities. They will vie for the Miss Chinese International 2017 crown as well as the First and Second Runners-up spots and the title of Miss Friendship 2017.
Tan Sri Dato' Michelle Yeoh, Dato’ Nancy Yeoh and Hong Kong actors Simon Yam, Wayne Lai, Niki Chow and Eric Tsang are among the big names who added glitter to the prestigious Miss Chinese International Pageant 2017. The pageant, was taking place outside Hong Kong for the very first time, and was held at Resorts World Genting on 15 January 2017.
Tan Sri Yeoh, Dato’ Nancy Yeoh, Simon Yam, Wayne Lai and Niki Chow will be among the judges at the pageant while Tsang will take on the role of master of ceremonies (emcee). Tan Sri Yeoh, who is also a brand ambassador of Resorts World Genting, hopes her presence will inspire all contestants. The actress, who was Miss Malaysia 1983 and voted as one of the “50 Most Beautiful People in the World” by People magazine in 1997, found fame in Hong Kong and was also the only Asian Bond Girl.
From Auckland, New Zealand is Liu Xuanyi, or Christina, 21, who is a voice-over talent. Liu is heavily into sports—swimming, basketball and pingpong—but she also loves singing, poetry and photography.
Representing Thailand is Chanya Wonglappanich, or Gam, who is from Bangkok. This 24- year-old lass is also into sports but loves music as well. 
Hong Kong's Crystal Fung Ying Ying, 22, is into yoga and dancing but also loves cooking, travelling and reading.
Lee Adelaide Hong Zhen's interests are as diverse. Also known as Addy, the 22-year-old from Johannesburg, South Africa, loves surfing, jogging, and hiking—but she is also into reading and eating!

Serene Lee, 20, who is from Kuala Lumpur. Winner of Miss Astro Chinese 2016 (and also winner of Miss Photogenic along with being voted Miss Gorgeous), Lee is a marathoner who also loves cycling, reading and watching movies.
Qu Li, also known as Lili. At 26, she is one of the oldest contestants, and she has impressive credentials to boot—among others, she is president of Global China Connection at Vanderbilt University. The lass, who lives in Los Angeles, says her greatest joy is serving as an art teacher for autistic children and holding music workshops for school children. She loves to travel but she always “travels with a purpose,” which translates to travelling to help others. She has thus far taught art and English to children in Cambodia, Guatemala, and the Dominican Republic. A graduate in Human and Organisational Development from Vanderbilt University, Qu Li also lists archery, horse riding, swimming, calligraphy and playing the piano as her favourite activities.

Zeng Lin, or Janne, 20, hails from the Philippines. The Manila-based lass who won Miss Chinatown Philippines 2016, is into singing, dancing and drawing.

Melbourne-based Rong Yu or Gloria, 21, who loves many different things—horse riding, dancing, drawing, playing violin and emceeing.
Bella Li is the only participate from China. She is born in Foshan and her hobby is reading and recitation. She wished to become a successful emcee or reporter.

From Montreal, Canada is Zhang Gao Yu, or Alice, 21, who says she simply loves poetry and reading. Zhang's avocation is music—she can play the piano, guitar and drums. But she's also athletic in nature, loving sports like tennis, hockey and snowboarding.

Ssuting Yu, fondly called Stitch by her friends, is 22, and hails from New York. She is into acting, dancing, drawing, roller skating, and scuba diving.

Wong Stephanie Rachel, 24, is from San Francisco, and lists aerial silks acrobatics as among her favourite pastimes. She is also into videography and photography, dancing, and hairstyling and beauty

Lovelle Cengiya, 22, represents Singapore, and is into singing and dancing, but she is also skilled in robotics, listing making radio-controlled cars and robots as her favourite pastimes.
Representing Australia is Yu Xinhui or Emily, 26, who is from Sydney. She is also into sports, listing snowboarding, jogging, swimming and dancing as her favourite pastimes. But she also loves to read.

Li Gloria, 25, from Toronto, who also speaks Spanish, apart from English, Mandarin and Cantonese. This lass loves reading, dancing, playing guitar, and pursuing sports.
Rincon Maria Camila Xiaosi, 22, who is from Vancouver, is likewise into dancing and exercising. But she also loves blogging.
After went through all kinds of challenges, Serene Lee from Malaysia came out as the hot favorite to win the crown especially after the Q&A session when she was asked how she would sell herself to the casting directors in a movie biography about Michelle Yeoh. She answered that Michelle Yeoh and her share similar physical features. They were also both 20 years old when we competed for a beauty pageant. If they want to cast her to play Michelle Yeoh, she would ‘smash herself into pieces’ for the performance.
At the final stage, the last five contestants were tested with their talent performance. Crystal Fung from Hong Kong performed a simple magic tricks.
Alice Zhang from Montreal, Canada, was trying to impress the judges with her talent in her drum but unfortunately she sang longer than playing the drum where her vocal is not the best she got in her.
Meanwhile, Emily Yu from Sydney, Australia was performing her Latin dance while showing her attractive pair of long legs. Too bad, the rhythm and her dance were out of sync.
When she knew she already almost certain to win the crown on that night and only the talent performance to go through, she screwed it up pretty badly with her pop & lock dance instead. It was more than certain that performance has caused her title.

Especially when Stitch Yu from New York gave the judges and the audiences the best performance of the night with her inline figure skating skill. It was really a twist ending when she surprised everyone and came out to be the winner.
Addy Lee from Johannesburg won herself the Miss Friendship 2017.
Crystal Fung from Hong Kong with only 22" waistline earned second runner up.
Serene Lim from Malaysia settled herself with the runner-up title.
The surprise winner, Stitch Yu came out from no where until her final talent performance to clinch the winner crown from the Miss Chinese International Pageant 2016 winner, Miss Jennifer Coosemans from Vancouver, Canada.

It was a disappointment moment for Serene Lim and also the audiences from Malaysia but it was really an exciting performances by all the contenders. Everyone was giving out their very best to win and to stun the audiences. 
It was also a great experience for me to see all my favourite Hong Kong actors and actresses were there in Malaysia. I just can't wait for next year for another outstanding beauty pageant contest. I got the feeling it is going to be greater than this.

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Nature discovery via Resorts World Genting's Fashion Forest, Awana Hotel

The focus of Fashion Forest are the forests in Genting Highlands—located between 3,000 ft and 6,000 ft above sea level. There are three forest types Treks refers to as “alliance of rainforests.” These are divided into four groups, namely Fashion Forest at Awana (upper Dipterocarp Forest 3,000 ft above sea level), Slay Forest at Chin Swee Temple (Montane Oak Forest some 4,500 ft above sea level), Chocolate Forest (Montane Ericaceous Forest some 6,000 ft above sea level), and Skyride Forest in Awana.
To get to there, you can enjoy the newly built Awana Skyway which can fit 10 pax per gondola at the price of RM8.00/pax or 5 genting points/pax. It will takes about 10 minutes to bring you down or up. With the consistent speed of 6m/s, you will able to enjoy the spectacular view and comfy ride inside the gondola . If you are in a hurry, you can cut all the unnecessary queue by getting their express boarding pass at RM40.00/pax. For your information, the location of the skyway is located at the Sky Avenue station at Level 4. 
The latest addition in this new Awana Skyway is their glass-floor gondola. There are only a limited of 10 gondolas available and it comes with a very high price which is RM50/pax or 40GP for Genting Rewards card member. They only limit 6 pax per gondola. Passengers can take along one aircraft cabin size bag per passenger on the gondola. Oversized baggage can be stored at the Baggage Storage Service located at Level G of the Awana SkyWay building for RM5 per baggage for 24 hours. Otherwise, a surcharge of RM20 will be imposed for bringing oversized baggage into the cable car per passenger. 
RM50/pax may sound a little overpriced but when you think about it is a once in a lifetime experience especially for your kids, anything is worthwhile. My son enjoyed every moment he has by looking out from the glass-floor. As for us as an adult, it may be a challenge for us to feel the fear. 
There is a free shuttle bus to get you to the Awana Hotel which is the place where you will start your nature adventure. For as little as RM75 per person, the best of nature can be enjoyed, although generally a full-day walk or nature tour can cost RM130 per person (or RM120 for children aged 11 and below) for a minimum group of three persons. Many types of packages are offered by Treks to cater to various groups including individuals, families and corporations. The packages are all priced differently.
The MVA (meals with a view and activity) is especially popular as it is a full-day tour of many parts of Genting Highlands. It begins with breakfast with a scenic valley view, 
coupled with activities like abseiling and painting. This is followed by morning tea with waterfall view and bird watching activity. Lunch at Fashion Forest is next, and after that,afternoon tea while you take in a view of Awana and enjoy more abseiling. The day ends with dinner at Pasar Ikan Bakar and a night forest walk, followed by supper at the Fort and a session of karaoke! It is a programme that is bound to satisfy every kind of pleasure-seeker there is but those wanting to focus on the environment may just opt for the Fashion Forest Green Campaign that incorporates technology in its line-up of competitions and games. The Mountain Man Challenge, on the other hand, is for those seeking to indulge in sports and physically-challenging recreational activities.

For corporations, there are the Corporate Bonding Activities in store. These would include teambuilding activities like the REEL simulator—an action learning programme based on popular movies—contemporary simulation games, treasure hunt, and Fashion Forest's own Amazing Race!
For children, the Fashion Forest Summer Camp packages are education, adventure and fun rolled into one. The main concept of the camp is to immerse children in multidisciplinary programmes filled with challenging recreational activities that will help them acquire the right disciplines. Among others, they learn about camping, nature and conservation, and they get to indulge in sports like archery and rock-climbing. Other interesting programmes to pursue at Fashion Forest are the Art, Music & Nature Festival, and the Sax & Jazz Art Club.
Wandering around the countryside can be a hugely exciting adventure, especially when you have an agenda. And at Fashion Forest, you will be armed with a programme—the one you opt for. Treks Nature Enterprise, that is based at Awana and the English Garden in Theme Park Hotel, is a consultancy that designs nature activities for everyone. At the helm are Eddie Chan and Pat Ang who ensure there is a programme for every need.
The “stars” awaiting discovery, of course, are the flora and fauna in Genting Highlands—and there are many of them. Most notable are the Montane-Ericaceous forest located above 1,500 metres altitude and the Hill Dipterocarp forest, the most extensive forest type in the country that exists at between 300 and 700 metres altitude.
The Montane-Ericaceous forest is especially fascinating, with trees that are generally smaller in size and are gnarled and stunted. Bamboos, ferns and mosses are also main residents here. According to Treks, these forests are unique for many reasons including their biodiversity that is intact and abundant, and the fact that they enjoy protection from publicabuse, being part of Genting Highlands. Accessibility and the short distance between the forests and Kuala Lumpur are other interesting factors.

And apart from programmes offering nature walks and recreational outdoor activities, Treks offers some unique programmes like Discover the Elusive Helmeted Hornbill, where you can find out more about the four species of hornbills that call the area home—the other three being the Rhinoceros Hornbill, the Great Hornbill and the Bushy Crested Hornbill. This particular programme is priced at RM250 per person for a minimum group of four persons. Other programmes worth pursuing: Discover the Elusive Black Gibbons, Discover Birding, and Enjoying Herping Searching. Discover Birding sees avid bird watcher Henry Goh sharing his knowledge of the endemic birds and migratory birds that are found in the Awana area.

Enjoying Herping Searching means searching for amphibians and reptiles—not a vocation for the faint-hearted! This programme is conducted at night by Steven Wong, the head coordinator of the Herpetofauna Special Interest Group of the MNS (Selangor branch). Night walks are his forte and he is only too keen to introduce people to the world of reptiles, amphibians and other nocturnal creatures.
No less interesting are the pitcher plants found in Genting Highlands—the main conservation project of Treks. This involves rescuing pitcher plants from roadsides, hill slopes and pieces of land earmarked for development. The pitcher plants are rehabilitated and are available for public viewing at the Treks Nepenthes Conservation & Display Wall at the English Garden in Theme Park Hotel (and also the Treks outlet in Awana). If you are keen to know more about these wonderful plants, the man to talk to is Mohd Fauzi bin Abu Bakar who has been growing pitcher plants since 2002.

The name “Fashion Forest” calls to mind supermodels and catwalks—and, well, it is meant to. Participants are encouraged to dress in their best as they commune with nature. Describing it as “a new paradigm in nature walks,” Treks says it has re-invented the way to explore nature through a concept called Eco Chic—where you “dress up and walk with attitude and with that wow factor.” This is said to be important in order for you to get passionate about nature and share your experiences through social media.

Certainly all the programmes offered are therapeutic as participants will learn to count their blessings by appreciating the “simpler” things in life—things people do not ordinarily notice like a dead tree trunk or a forest herb, says Treks. The organisation aims to “re-image how art, music, fashion and social media can help us love nature more spontaneously.” The intention is to introduce art forms like painting and sculpting into the forest environment, while at the same time turning it into a platform for the enjoyment of music. Toward this end, live performances of musical events are held, and likewise designer furniture and other fashionable amenities are installed to create an artistic and creative atmosphere. In line with this, fashion labels and popular animated characters from the world of film can be introduced to spice things up. 
An important element to ensure the success of Fashion Forest is the availability of internet connectivity—participants can expect to enjoy this free. Technology is utilized to help people “see more, discover more and enjoy more” through fun and practical ways—via visual aids like the Natgeo Frame, living sculptures (like trees and plants), Nature Pergolas and elevated platforms. Brought to the fore are the many special trees in the forest that are “animated” to heighten appreciation of them. At Fashion Forest, trees have personalities—there are the Supermodel trees, and the Celebri-Trees, among others. Participants are encouraged to help promote awareness of these trees by discovering and recording them via social media.
The rustic realm of the countryside promises education, fun and adventure whether you are a stressed out urbanity in need of some downtime or a weekend warrior seeking the adrenaline rush provided by sports and vigorous outdoor activities. Treks has programmes for every need—from nature walks for the whole family to sports-oriented team-building programmes for corporations and organisations.

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

De A Mano Cafe, Kluang

It has been a while since I have posted anything about the food in Kluang. The reason is because most of the newly opened business in Kluang does not last more than a year especially a cafe style. Unlike the others, surprisingly for De A Mano has lasted more than a year now. It is a good start for able to go through the first year. Congratulations to them, now the following year is all about hanging on and keep coming up with new recipe to keep the return customers entertained.
De A Mano is in Spanish which means "by hand". This is not a Spanish restaurant but the owner is trying to bring the message to their customers that all their ingredients are freshly made especially pasta, dough and pastry products.
My first impression when walking into the restaurant was the ambiance is dim and relaxing. It is perfect place to hide from the bright and scotching hot sun on the outside. I sat close to their walls and I found that it is just scrub with cement. So simple and economical yet able to bring the artistic on it. They can save a lot in repainting the walls.
The hilarious part during my lunch at De A Mano cafe was when my son acted so happily but shy when he saw this beautiful young lady who was there to take our order. He got so excited and extremely polite when everytime he saw her. I think he has just met the girl of his life. cute boy always surprised us.
It is great to know that Kluang has another cafe with a proper coffee machine. They do not have the commercial type of coffee machine but enough to make the standard coffee such as cafe latte, americano, cappucino, mocha and espresso. It is good enough for me but for those who are more into fancy coffee such as frappucino will be disappointed here.
Their green tea latte is not bad too. For those who are health conscious will prefer their fruit juice and their signature flavored ice cube drinks. 
This is their unique drinks which is Blueberry flavored ice cube soda. It comes with other three flavors which are raspberry, passion fruit and lime. It is a drink that is worth to order.
Salted Egg Cream Pasta @RM17.00
Outlook: 3/5
Creativity: 3/5
Taste: 3/5
Price: 2/5
Overall: 2/5 - The buttery fragrance oyster mushroom is really delicious. However, I do not understand why this restaurant only serve Fettuccine. 

Roasted Chicken Burger @RM18.00
Outlook: 4/5
Creativity: 4/5
Taste: 3/5
Price: 3/5
Overall: 3/5 - The chicken thigh meat is surprisingly too dry. Usually a chicken thigh should be tender and soft but unfortunately it is not as juicy as their pork burger. Overall taste is still acceptable.

Fresh Pork Patty Burger @RM18.00
Outlook: 4/5
Creativity: 4/5
Taste: 4/5
Price: 3/5
Overall: 3/5 - Finally Kluang has a decent pork burger, the pork patty is juicy and thick enough to sink your whole teeth into it. After that, the fragrant from the meat will start to immerse into your mouth. Sensational feeling is not going to end when the fragrance of the sesame bun is joining the taste. The burger comes with salad and sweet potato fries to make you feel less guilty.

White Wine Aglio Olio @RM12.00
Outlook: 3/5
Creativity: 3/5
Taste: 3/5
Price: 3/5
Overall: 3/5 - The taste is acceptable but I would prefer spaghetti to pair with aglio olio style instead of using fettucine.

My son's dream girl is making him a creme brulee. I can see her that she really loves her job and serious about the things she is doing. She burned the sugar on the creme brulee nicer than I do.
Creme Brulee @RM5.00
Outlook: 4/5
Creativity: 3/5
Taste: 2/5
Price: 4/5
Overall: 3/5 - Even though she prepared it very elegantly, I still have to be honest that the creme brulee is not up to my standard. The creme brulee is not made from pure vanilla beans but just vanilla essence. Furthermore, it is a little too sweet. The creme layer itself is thin so the burned sugar layer should be even thinner. Well, that's why the price is only RM5.00!

Strawberry Panna Cotta @RM4.00
Outlook: 3/5
Creativity: 2/5
Taste: 1/5
Price: 3/5
Overall: 2/5 - Never see a panna cotta is made inside a pudding bottle. Anyway, there is barely strawberry taste in it. The texture is not soft enough, most likely they have put too much gelatin in it. They shouldn't have put too much gelatin since they are going to serve in a bottle like this, unless they want to put the panna cotta on a plate so the gelatin can hold.
Honey Yogurt Cheese Cake @RM8.00
Outlook: 4/5
Creativity: 4/5
Taste: 4/5
Price: 3/5
Overall: 3/5 - It is an interesting combination which doesn't bring very strong cheese taste to make me queasy. Slight honey taste with slight sourish taste from the yogurt bring entirely new taste for me to enjoy. 

The location of this restaurant is easily missed because of the hilly slop which has block the view of this restaurant. Morever, the road is very narrow and most people will concentrate on the road instead of looking around. If is not my friend told me about this place, I will never know this place forever. Overall, the main dish is acceptable but some of their desserts are not impressive. To be honest, the menu is very limited and I do hope they will come up with a special new dish every each month to keep their customers.
Total Damage: RM54.00
Ambiance: 4/5
Service: 4/5
Food Serving Speed: Slow
Recommended?: Yes, for a drink and a simple hearty lunch. Don't expect too much.

De A Mano Cafe

13, Jalan Bakar Sampah
86000 Kluang
Business Hours: 11.00am - 6.00pm (Wednesday off)