A New Way Of Apologising

Our youth leader Khairy Jamaluddin explained he has no intentions of hurting feelings when he said that non-Malays would take advantage of a weak UMNO. But he did not make an apology.
Our neighbour Lee Kuan Yew apologised for the discomfort he caused when he said that Chinese are marginalised in Malaysia, but our leader said it’s not an apology.
That’s the way to go about doing things nowadays isn’t it?

Special thanks to Brandon Juan, for agreeing to appear in this sketch

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Singapore’s Left Hand

I met up with some friends while I was in Singapore during my stopover to Auckland, who remarked to me how much of Singapore was built based on the principles of Feng Shui.

A lot of people have this misconception that Feng Shui revolves around strange monks doing weird chants.
As much as Feng Shui is sometimes being disregarded as superstition, you gotta admit it is a pretty cool topic to know more about. It’s not so much a New Age “Zen” thing like psychic gypsies and astrological starsigns, more so a traditional Chinese way of life. Despite being an ancient practice from yonks ago, a lot of its recommendations are still very practical in the modern world. Sometimes you don’t realise how powerful it is until you apply them yourselves.
In East Asian countries especially, Feng Shui is very much part of the protocol in the business world by de facto. Even today, when people want to get married or move to a new home, they still have seek consultation “to get a good date”.

The Chinese believe that in order to achieve harmony, the sky (“tian”), the earth (“di”) and the human (“ren”) must be in harmony. “Tian” being what we’re born with – it’s our predetermined genetic make-up, our DNA. “Earth” being the environment we live in, which is something dynamic, and sometimes evade our control even with the best of Feng Shui applications.
The only variable left in charge of our destiny lies within ourselves.

Master Vincent Koh, a celebrity in the realm of Feng Shui

Feng Shui is big in Singapore. So big, you can even attend a course in Singapore Polytechnic to obtain a diploma in Feng Shui if you want to.
When I met with Master Vincent Koh, founder of the Singapore Feng Shui Centre and the lecturer of the Feng Shui course at Singapore Polytechnic, he explained to me that Feng Shui is simply a set of guidelines to ensure our way of living responds to our surrounding elements.
I have to admit, I am a bit of an idiot when it comes to this whole thing. Although I have travelled to Singapore extensively many times in the past, I never notice how heavily the design and architecture of the buildings in Singapore are influenced by Feng Shui.

Sarawak’s own Master Shang

It wasn’t until I met Master Shang Zong Wei of Shang Architects in Singapore, that I understood why some of the most prominent Singaporean buildings are structured a certain way. Many Singaporeans, and some believe the father of modern Singapore Lee Kwan Yew, are firm believers of Feng Shui. It is little coincidence that the Little Red Dot has today one of Asia’s wealthiest economy.

The single most prominent symbol of Singapore’s dedication to Feng Shui is undoubtedly, Suntec City. The collection of 4 tall skinny buildings, 1 short building and the wide convention centre are intentionally positioned that way to resemble the shape of the human left hand. Left hand being the symbol of authority, pointing towards Singapore’s financial district at Raffles Place, commanding all of Singapore’s cash to come to momma.
Why is the left hand the symbol of authority?

Because Darth Vader says so. And NOBODY disputes with Darth Vader, the great Sith Lord.
Placed at the “palm” of the “left hand” is the world’s largest fountain – water representing life and wealth. The ring-shaped structure of the fountain is essential in “retaining” the water. Without it, water (and thus, wealth) flows out through the fingers.
It’s a pretty impressive concept having Suntec City resemble a left hand. If it were up to me, I would have built a similar “left hand” in Kuching. Except it’ll have four short buildings and one tall building in the middle, pointing towards Indonesia saying “OI! Thanks A LOT for giving us the haze, buddy!”

Double trouble

Unfortunately, life isn’t always a bed of roses for the highly successful Suntec City. Its harmonious environment was disrupted shortly after that spiky-shaped Esplanade building was completed in its nearby vicinity. While performing maintenance work, crane at Suntec City fell and damaged one of the fountain’s supporting pillar.
Whatever you think it is, you gotta admit that it’s a pretty freaky coincidence.

There are a lot more icons of such success stories in Singapore. Some are the stuff of legends, such as how the octagonal shapes of SGD$1 coins are meant to resemble a Chinese “ba gua”; and how the doors of the Grand Hyatt Hotel were designed to slant at right-angles to each other.

Previously, when the reception at Grand Hyatt was facing a long flat glass door entrance, it was doing poorly despite its brilliant location.
Along came a Feng Shui Master, who noticed that good vibes were flowing out from the lobby counters, through the glass walls and spilling into the streets. So the front doors were redesigned and the counters repositioned. Today, the Grand Hyatt Hotel today enjoys one of the city state’s highest occupancy rates.

Other Singaporean Feng Shui stories are less well-known.
Master Shang told me that when the Paragon Shopping Centre on Orchard Road was being built, his teacher Master Tan was consulted. He was worried that fortress-shaped Ngee Ann City from across the road might “intimidate” the Paragon building. So the wise ol’ Master suggested that Paragon be built to include features of a White Tiger – a celestical creature in Feng Shui. Y’know, just to show Mr Ngee Ann who’s the one in charge around here.

The silver “stripes” on the white building are done exactly for that reason.
Feng Shui has huge following worldwide. So huge, they’re organising a 2-day International Feng Shui Convention in Singapore on the 4-5 November. It’s the largest English-speaking Feng Shui convention of its kind, and is targeted towards everyone from architects to designers, business owners to home owners, to just everyday people.
For cultural buffs like myself, I think it’s just an invaluable opportunity to find out more about this traditional Chinese culture.

I think the Feng Shui Convention is gonna be really worth it lor. This convention isn’t just one person talking. It involves many practitioners from different schools and sects in Feng Shui, including Masters Vincent Koh and Shang Zong Wei. Where else can you find an event that includes some of the most knowledgable Masters from Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, UK and Australia all under one roof? It’s gonna be like Feng Shui Idol, man.
You know what the best thing is? I managed to negotiate for kennysia.com readers to get a sweet 5% discount off registration fees if you decide to book through this website.
Just in case you’re wondering – don’t worry, there will NOT be strange monks doing weird chants during the opening ceremony.

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The Maori Dance

While I was at the smelly town of Rotorua, I paid a visit to a Maori cultural village called Mitai.

The Maoris are the indigenous natives of New Zealand. According to legend, they came to New Zealand hundreds of years ago in large canoes, in a time before the European settlers arrived.
These days, although they are in the minority, much respect has been given to the Maori tradition and culture in modern New Zealand. They are to New Zealand what the Red Indians are to USA, the Malays are to Peninsular Malaysia, the Ibans are to Sarawak.
Entrance to the village costs NZD 68 / RM 167. When we arrived, we’re given a preview of dinner for later that night.

Do you smell what the rock is cooking?

The “hangi” is the Maori’s version of a barbeque. Stuff like chicken, lamb, potatoes are put on top of a pit filled with heated rocks and then cooked for several hours.

Tribal food normally tasted like somewhere between crap and dog poo, but this was the best meal I had in the long time. Maybe I was starving, but when I finally laid my hands on the meal, I gobbled everything down like a fat kid at Pizza Hut. The hangi produced a flavour so succulent, it’s unlike anything else I’ve tasted before.
Before dinner, we bushwalked through the forest to the stage where we were treated to the traditional Maori cultural performances.

It was a fascinating experience for me, because from learning about their tribal way of life, I realised much of the Maori cultural draws parallel to the tribal Iban culture I know of back home. Just like the Ibans, the Maoris place a lot of spiritual importance on their weapons, clothing and tattoos.
Without a doubt, the best part of the cultural performance is the traditional Maori Haka Dance.

The Haka dance

It’s the same dance used by the All Blacks before the start of their rugby match to boost team morale and scare away their opponents. The dance involves synchronised slapping of the thigh and chest, bulging of the eyes, sticking out of the tongues, all the while shouting in a foreign language few people understand.
Some people joke about the Haka Dance, saying that its the equivalent of a Maori wondering “where the f**k I put my car keys!?” But trust me, as much as I wanna laugh at a bunch of grown men dancing around in G-strings, I gotta admit it was terrifying just watching it.
Sitting there in the audience I was thinking if they wanted to eat me for dinner or something.

Please note that it is spelt as the HAKA dance, with one “k”. Not HAKKA, which is a Chinese dialect.
If you want to see a Hakka dance, just go to a night club in Malaysia playing Ah Beng techno music and you’ll see this familiar sight.

Want to see a Hakka dance?

Don’t have to fly all the way to New Zealand.

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Kuching And Auckland Are Almost The Same

It’s nice to finally be back in Kuching after a long hiatus away in New Zealand. Back to the dreaded routine of waking up, going to work, gymming, blogging, sleeping, waking up, then repeat the process everyday until the next holiday.

As soon as I stepped off the plane at our beautiful multi-million ringgit Kuching “International” Airport (“International” is in quotes, because the ONLY international destination it has direct flights with is our neighbour Singapore), I came to realise that Auckland and Kuching are actually quite similar.
See, Auckland was foggy.

Kuching is also foggy.

The only difference is that in Auckland, it was due to coldness.
In Kuching, it was due to pollution.

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Zorbing In Rotorua

Ask a New Zealander how to spell the word “die”, he’d probably spell it as “F-U-N”.

New Zealand is essentially one big theme park for grown-ups. If you ever got bored from riding childish rollercoasters in theme parks, NZ is the place to go. Apart from introducing the world’s first commercialised bungy jumping, the Kiwis has also invented another form of extreme sports called “Zorbing“.

The Zorb is basically this one giant plastic ball surrounded by a cushion of air. The whole concept behind zorbing is quite simple. To play, you climb your whole body into the Zorb. Then with some help, the ball (with you in it) is rolled off the top of a slope, then you bounce and spin and fall until you reached the end of the track downhill.
It’s a milder form of extreme sports. If you managed to remain on your two feet till the very end, they’ll even throw you a Zorb T-shirt in for free. Otherwise, just enjoy the very, very bumpy ride.
Trust the Kiwis to come up with stupid ideas and then make a lot of money from it all in the name of fun.

What happened to 2001? Not pretty enough is it?

Zorbing sites can be found throughout the world, but the original one is in Rotorua, New Zealand where this crazy sport began.
Rotorua is a small town about 3 hours drive south of Auckland. It is very popular destination among holidayers, largely because it is a geothermal area dotted with natural hot springs and mudpools.

One of Rotorua’s famous hot springs

I don’t know why people like to holiday here, because personally I don’t think it’s a pleasant city to be in. See, the unfortunate side effect of hot springs is that the entire town is practically filled with foul-smelling sulfuric gases. By “sulfuric gases”, I mean the air here smells like shit, literally.
The smell there is so bad, it’s like everyone in Rotorua is walking around with shit in their pants.

Behold, Mother Nature’s fart hole!

I wish I could upload the smell here onto kennysia.com to let you have a sample of how bad the air here is. I don’t know how the residents even managed to live in here under such torturous conditions. Maybe it’s a bit like when you discreetly let off a silent fart bomb in front of your friends. You don’t feel it yourself, but everyone around you are covering their noses to protect themselves from dying a slow painful death.
But enough about Rotorua and how shitty it smells.

Zorbing costs NZD45 / RM110 per person – which is expensive in real world terms, but cheap for the dose of serotonin-boost it provides.
The original Zorb is one that has harness straps inside or you to hold on to. Most people opt for the “hydro” option, where the Zorbs are filled with water for lubrication. And that’s the option I went for.

Click to check out the video. You might wanna turn off the speakers, unless you wanna hear me screaming and laughing in orgasmic delight. *shy*

From the outside, it looks like a giant golf ball. From the inside, it feels like being inside one big washing machine. As soon as I hit the first bump, I was thrown off balance and bounced around violently within the cushion walls of air. I couldn’t even stand on my feet! The whole thing lasted only a minute and a half, but it was craziness to the max from the get go.
Coming out from the tight wet hole of Zorb, I feel like I was born again.
Think Zorbing is only for the young and fearless? Think again.

It was so fun I almost shat in my pants.
Which is fine really. Because in Rotorua, everyone smells like they got shit in their pants.

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Sex And The City State

I’m back in Singapore now for a short stop after a long 10 hour flight from Auckland.

The city state is having this Singapore Biennale thing, which is interesting because half the population probably don’t even know what the word “Biennale” means. Heck, I don’t even know how to pronounce the word “Biennale”, but I’ve caught enough of it to understand that it’s some sorta large scale art exhibition.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not bagging it. In fact, I’m enjoying myself going through their art pieces on show. I love it because some of the sculptures they put up are quite… erm… well… stimulating. 😉

Like this one in front of Wheelock Place that features a faceless lady that kinda look like she’s from the Night Elf faction in Warcraft III.
In case you’re wondering, yes, those are breasts. And those two little things in front of her lady lumps are called nipples. Don’t be silly, art pieces don’t have to wear bras. Because if they wear bras, its not called art anymore. Doesn’t matter that it’s placed right in the middle of busy Orchard Road with kids walking by.
But that was nothing. My favourite sculpture though, has gotta be this one in front of Ngee Ann City.

I believe the title for this is called “The Headless, Armless, Big-Boobed, Buck Naked Lady Having A Caesarean-section To Lay An Egg”. Serious.
I don’t have rock hard evidence with me, but I was told Geylang reported a unprecedented increase in sales immediately after these exhibits were revealed to the world.
Y’know, if this is what the Singapore Biennale is all about, I support it 100%, with three thumbs up.
Don’t ask me where my third thumb is.

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