This monstrosity of a building is the Venetian Macao Resort Hotel.
Built on what was previously nothing but a body of sea water, this building is now officially the largest inhabited building in the world. Also in it is the largest casino in the world, and the largest convention centre in the whole of Asia.
We arrived here late last night, and throughout our stay we were virtually continuously in awe non-stop. It is truthfully unlike anything else we have ever seen before.
The 13 of us from Malaysia is only a small part of a total of some 1,250 media and news crew from all over the world. We aren’t even the VIPs but already we feel like we are treated like kings.
The hotel suite is easily the most lavish and luxurious I have ever stayed at.
They called it a suite, man. Not rooms, SUITES.
It is the best hotel accomodation my blogging has given me. Considering I have been put up in really impressive hotels like the Hilton KL and Swissotel Singapore before, that’s saying something.
In-room broadband internet is free and there’s even a freaking fax/printer/scanner/copier 4-in-1 machine in the room! And we’re talking about the cheapest room they have available.
This is probably the only chance in my entire life that I’ll be staying here because I’m I would’ve never be able to afford paying for something like this on my own.
One night in the Venetian Macao would cost at least HKD$5,500++. That’s almost like RM3,000 a night.
But not to worry. If you book now, you can get a room at a special introductory rate of HKD$1,088++. That’s only RM600 a night!
A lot of work are still yet to be done, and clearly the workers have been working frantically around the clock.
The grand opening of the resort is scheduled to open tomorrow, on the auspicious day of 28/08/07. Coco Lee, Hacken Lee, Alan Tam and the Cirque de Soliel are all scheduled to perform.
Queen Amidala meets Anakin Skywalker in Korea
I just witnessed a traditional Korean wedding taking place today. On the opening day itself, there will be three more weddings, one of which will be between a Sarawakian couple.
I’ve got a full day tomorrow and there’s a lot more to cover, but rest assured – you’ll read it all at kennysia.com
Earlier this month, I turned down an all-expense paid trip to Thailand offered by a major local airline.
I don’t turn down free trips very often, especially when the three magic words “all expense paid” are involved. But I really couldn’t do it. I would’ve missed too many days off work and I’ve already taken enough annual leave.
Contrary to popular belief, I actually do have a normal 9-6 day job. Just because I don’t write about work on my blog doesn’t mean I don’t work. Besides, blogging about work could mean automatic career suicide.
Actually, the second biggest reason why I didn’t end up going to Thailand was because I was offered another all expense paid trip to Macau.
In what can only be described as an unconventional move, the Malaysian media agent employed by Sands Casino’s Venetian Macao decided to pick a blogger out of so many media outlets they could’ve chosen from to cover the grand opening of this new luxurious integerated resort.
When the agent told me about it, I thought she was joking. At the back of my mind, I was thinking “Is this some kinda ploy by scammer Eu Sok Eng to try to get back at me?”
It wasn’t until I was shown the air tickets that I was convinced. “We gotta move with the times,” she said. “More and more people are surfing blogs now instead of watching TV or reading newspapers.”
Behold, the power of blogs!
Over the next four days, I’ll be joining representatives from New Straits Times, Eastern Times, The Edge, Tell Magazine, Sarawak Tourism Federation in Macau. Just as they promised, Venetian Macao will be paying for all our travelling expenses.
We feel like such big shots that instead of flying from KL to Macau direct using AirAsia, we took the longer and more expensive route via Hong Kong using Cathay Pacific instead.
Why? Because our balls are too huge to sit on AirAsia.
The schedule is kinda packed, but I’m excited. Will update more when I reach Macau. 🙂
Just wanna throw in a quick plug for a Merdeka Day beach party happening at the Camp Permai Beach in Kuching this coming Thursday, 30th August.
Tickets are RM60 each but you can get it for RM50 if you purchase by tomorrow at Patio Cafe @ Padungan or City Jungle @ Travilion. Free flow goes from 8:30pm to 9:30pm!
I will be there, so come in your best bitch beach wear.
Got a wet dream a few nights back.
Was feeling restless, so I called up Ernest and asked him to satisfy my urges.
Diving urges, I mean. I haven’t been diving since Jakarta.
Kuching diving season starts in April and ends around September. I gotta satisfy my underwater cravings before monsoon season kicks in and force me to stay indoors. I also wanna test out the new wetsuit and snorkel I bought during the dive expo a while back.
Ernest brought us to Sematan – a little fishing village about 1.5 hours drive from Kuching. From there we took a chartered fishing boat out to Talang Island, which took another 20 minutes or so. I paid him RM210 (including gear rental) for the whole trip.
The road to Sematan was long and bumpy, but the gorgeous aquatic views made the difficult journey worth every bit. Armed with my trusty Sony T10 and a marine case, I was ready to shoot heaps of great photos underwater.
Kuching isn’t as popular as other better-known diving locations in Malaysia, but we still get a nice stretch of coral reef here.
For a lot of people, when they think corals, they think beautiful tentacle-like corals like these.
That’s not quite the case over here.
We have some standard-looking corals, but most of the other ones look a little strange.
Corals in underwater Kuching are very eerie-looking, looking more like props out of a B-grade zombie movie than Alice In The Wonderland.
This one has a surface that look like those octopus creatures from Japanese anime.
These one are hairy. Just like my legs!
These are fan corals. They are the only ones that look hauntingly beautiful.
These ones look like grapes.
My guide said they are bubble corals. I reckon they should be called condom corals.
There’s something surreal about being surrounded by thousands of fish circling above your head.
I feel so miniscule in such a huge space of magnificent underwater world.
Normally, the only chance we get interacting with marine life is looking them through an aquarium, or eating them on the dinner table. For once, I am in their territory and they are not in mine.
The presence of well-preserved corals in Kuching attracted heaps of marine life.
Some are colourful.
Some are cute.
Some are dangerous.
My biggest fan
Some look like you could use it to fan yourself during warm days.
Some even look like Ah Beng cars with blue neon lights.
Then there are those that just look really delicious.
I’m not even sure what fish this is, but I reckon it should go well with sambal and a bit of lime juice.
One of the most fascinating discovery I made that day was a blue-spotted stingray hiding under the rocks.
These graceful creatures are so timid and shy in nature. It didn’t even flinch one bit as I swam closer to take a macro photo of its intense-looking eyes.
Can’t believe they’re of the same species that killed Steve Irwin last year.
I stayed for the longest time underwater during this dive – 82 minutes. That’s quite an improvement considering the first time I dived, I lasted a pathetic 25 minutes before I gulped up all the air in my tank.
Something tells me having THAT as a logo looks way too freaky to attract customers.
By the way, why is it that within the past 12 months, so many massage centres suddenly popped up all over Kuching? Staying in Kuching very stressful meh?
So far we’ve got Genting Reflexology, Beijing Reflexology, Shanghai Reflexology, ThienJing Reflexology.
Soon you can visit massage centres named after any city in China you want in Kuching.
kennysia.com never looked so good on a phone.
Well, technically it’s not a phone yet. Because some dude at Apple think its so smart to hold the phone hostage until you sign some 2-year plan with an American service provider. Everything else works fine though.
This is the same phone that people lined up for hours in front of the Apple store on the day of its launch. But thanks to the good guys at IT Fusion in Kuching, I managed to get my hands on an actual Apple iPhone, months before its official release in Malaysia.
Google Maps on iPhone. Anyone knows which location this is in Kuching? 😉
My eyes literally lit up when the boss said to me, “Take your time to do the review. Just return it to us when you get tired of it.”
Thanks Moorey. Problem is, I don’t even know when I’m gonna get tired of playing with the iPhone!
Watching a video on the touch-screen iPod.
Everything is so beautifully implemented. Even without the phone feature, the WiFi websurfing and iPod feature is enough to blow me completely away.
I almost needed a fresh pair of pants to complete this review.
The graphic is crisp. The usage is intuitive. The touchscreen is responsive. Its addictive just running through all the functions.
I gotta say, using the iPhone is the second longest workout my fingers had gone through.
Yeah baby, so I got the iPhone now.
Who wants to touch me?
My mom walked into my room one day and threw a copy of the newspaper onto my table.
“KENNY! Explain to me what this is all about. Why are all these bloggers getting arrested?! Even the Prime Minister also come out and give warning to bloggers! You better be careful what you write on your blog ah!”
Bloggers have been appearing in the newspaper left right and centre lately. Not necessarily for good reasons.
Earlier this year, Jeff Ooi and Rocky were both served a lawsuit, allegedly for defaming the New Starts Times and its editors. (they did not)
Two months ago, Nathaniel Tan was remanded by the police for questioning over a comment on his blog which supposedly had violated the Official Secrets Act. (it did not)
And just a few weeks ago, even relatives of the royal family Raja Petra Kamarudin and his wife were taken in by the police for questioning after a complaint filed by a certain ruling political party, alleging that contents he wrote on his blog were insulting religion and the Agung of Malaysia (they were not).
In the days that followed, countless warnings and name-callings were issued by government officials against Malaysian bloggers.
I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a little perturbed.
Reading their statements on newspapers was like witnessing a modern day witch hunt. As if the officials were out to condemn bloggers as scums of the Earth on par with mass murderers and child rapists. They were not holding anything back.
What’s the big idea?
The most obvious thing these four bloggers all have in common is that they are all considered socio-political bloggers. Unlike Kenny Sia, these guys don’t write about how the logo of some bank resemble a penis, or how some metallic bird in Kuching was equipped flashing neon lights.
These guys write the serious stuff.
Which is why as much as there are different theories thrown around about the sudden wave of condemnation against bloggers, the most logical assumption is this simple fact – ELECTIONS ARE COMING.
Let’s face it. By far, a huge majority of socio-political bloggers on the Internet are outspoken and passionate activists. History has also shown that the more well-informed, internet-connected urban voters tend to sway towards the Opposition’s side.
Case in point, the Singapore Elections and the Sarawak Elections in the 2006. In both cases, the ruling political party suffered major loss on an almost unprecedented scale. In both cases, socio-political bloggers were seen as the driving force behind the political climate change.
The ruling party in Malaysia has every reason to be afraid of bloggers in this day and age of new media. For all the actions and intimidation taken against these bloggers, I must say I am not surprised.
Perhaps the officials have another reason to be even MORE afraid when Jeff Ooi announced recently that he is crossing over into politics. He will be contesting in the next General Elections as part of the Opposition.
This is big news. In fact, this is HUGE news.
This is the first time in Malaysian history that a popular blogger will be competing in an election. This is the first time a socio-political blogger might actually end up becoming a member of the Malaysian parliament.
Instead of going to jeffooi.com, we might have to go to yangberhormatjeffooi.com
Heck, a blogger might even become Prime Minister of Malaysia.
Sure it’s a long shot. But why not, right?
Malaysia is not run by communists. Malaysia is a democratic country and in truly democratic nations, any citizen could theoretically be elected as the head of government. So what if Jeff is Chinese? Race shouldn’t be a limiting factor in democratic nations.
Although it is likely that the Malaysian blogging community will be happy to cast a vote for one of our own, the problem with Jeff is that his blog appeals mostly to blog readers of the older age group, which is unfortunately very small.
Blog readers are predominantly younger. Only a small number of young blog readers of voting age know of Jeff, let alone vote for him in the upcoming elections.
Adding to that is the cold hard truth that most young voters are more interested in the latest hit single by Avril Lavigne than who to vote for in the upcoming elections. A lot of work needs to be done if Jeff wanna attract younger votes.
Now, this is just a suggestion. But if Jeff wants to run a campaign to woo younger voters in the upcoming elections, I think I might have a solution for it.
Behold, my ‘suggested’ campaign video for Jeff Ooi’s upcoming parliamentary election.
Sure, it’s a little rough around the edges. Hey, I’m not Namewee. What matters is that it comes from the heart.
If this doesn’t make Jeff Ooi the next Prime Minister of Malaysia, I don’t know what will.
It is the state bird of Sarawak.
We love this bird very much. We love it so much that, we call Sarawak the ‘Land of the Hornbills’.
That is why you can see images of this bird everywhere in Kuching.
We are so proud of our bird, we even erected a giant bird right in the middle of the BDC roundabout.
When you come in from the airport to town, the first thing you see is our bird.
You may think that our bird looks normal, but you are wrong.
In the morning, it may look just like any other metal bird.
But at night, our bird transformed into something very different. That’s because we zhng our bird with the same neon lights that Ah Bengs use to zhng their car.
Got a phone call last Monday from an unknown number.
The lady from the other end of the phone spoke to me with that easily identifiable mainland Chinese accent. Ching chong lady told me from she’s from a Hong Kong company, calling me to conduct a marketing survey in Malaysia.
That’s sounded alright, so I obliged and I was asked some pretty standard questions like how old I am, my monthly income and stuff like that. The phone call lasted for about 20 minutes. As a token of appreciation. ching chong lady gave me a lucky draw number for a publicity event they will be holding in Genting.
Since I couldn’t possibly be attending the event all the way in Genting, I didn’t bother writing that number down and just forget about it.
The next evening around 6pm, Ching Chong lady called again. This time she sounded happy and excited, as if China has just won the World Cup. In the background, the crowd noise typical of a big dinner function can be heard. Ching Chong Lady: Mr Kenny Sia! Are you Mr Kenny Sia!? Listen, are you in Genting right now?! Kenny: No, I thought I mentioned yesterday that I couldn’t attend the event because I am in Sarawak? Ching Chong Lady: Ohhh! No wonder our emcee called your name so many times and you didn’t come up on stage! Kenny: What is going on? Ching Chong Lady: Mr Kenny Sia, you just won the second prize of our lucky draw! Congratulations! Kenny: Oh, cool. *thinking it was probably like a toaster or a fan or something* Ching Chong Lady: YOU JUST WON YOURSELF $240,000 HK DOLLARS!!! Kenny: Whoa?!
Honestly, at that point in time I could not believe my luck. I had believed Miss Ching Chonglady completely.
HKD$240,000 is about RM120,000. That is a lot of money. Ching Chonglady congratulated me further. Before we ended our conversation, she advised me to stay safe and invited me to visit their company when they set up a branch in Malaysia. I agreed. She was so nice and courteous that I didn’t even suspect a single thing.
That night, I went to bed feeling elated. I even dreamt about how to spend my prize money.
Very early next morning, she called again to arrange for the collection of my HKD$240,000 prize. That is when I first thought something fishy was going on.
Everyone knows that in Malaysia, it takes FOREVER for prizes to reach the winner’s hand.
I should know. I took part in Deal or No Deal Malaysia almost three months ago and until now I STILL haven’t even received my meagre prize money!
And these people who called me are handling the prize collection too efficiently. Of course it looked firshy!
The name of the company was a jewellery company called Hong Kong DiFenNi, and the lady who contacted me is Chen Ke.
I was asked how I would like to collect my prize money, so I suggested she deposit the cash into my bank account. She gave me an option to pick up the money in Hong Kong, but I declined saying it was too inconvenient.
Anyway, I gave Chen Ke my real bank account and IC number, placing my full trust in Maybank to protect the whole 20 ringgit I have in my savings account.
As soon as I hung up the phone, Detective Kenny Sia rushed to the computer and decided to do some investigative work.
First thing I did was call up Genting Resorts to check if any foreign company called “Hong Kong DiFenNi” had rented out their ballrooms for an event last night. The nice lady at Genting gave me two company names that had booked their facilities yesterday, and both of them are local.
Fine. Give them benefit of the doubt. Maybe they used a local company to rent out a ballroom on their behalf.
Next, I logged on to the Internet to check out the website address they had given me – www.difenni.com.cn
The URL redirected me to another website at www.weidajp.com
At first glance, their website looked awfully professional. They have a news section and a products section typical of any good company website. The phone number they gave me (+852 6554 6865) matches the one on the website. And eventhough the jewellery they displayed on their website looks butt ugly, I must admit that on the whole their website looked very convincing.
Then I looked up the WHOIS registry of these two websites.
Website is registered on the 20th June 2007. That’s only one month old!
How bloody likely was it for an established international export company to not even have a website until one freaking month ago?
FISHY. So fishy, it’s fishier than a fish market.
Fine. Once again, I give them benefit of the doubt. Finally, I fired up Google and typed in the some search words. BINGO! I found this.
Apparently, this scam has been going around for a while and a number of people in Malaysia and Singapore had fallen for it. The scammers will convince you that you have won a lucky draw, but in order to take the money out you’d have to pay a certain amount of insurance deposit. The scammers will then run away with the ‘deposit’ and you will never see a single cent of your winnings ever.
I called up DAP Sarawak’s chairman Richard Wong at his office because his name was mentioned in the Borneo Post report and I told him about my predicament. Talking him further convinced me that this was a tried and true scam that has been going around for a while. The name of the company was different, but the method of execution was the same.
Since I hadn’t been asked to send them any money yet, I decided to have a little fun with them.
The next time I received a phone call from the scammers, I was talking to a ching chong man instead. His name is Yang Jun.
Whaddya know? Just as expected, I was told that in order to receive my prize money, I need to send them some money as insurance deposit first.
They said there was a law erected to prevent people taking money above HKD$150,000 out of the country. They claimed its for fear of black market or terrorism financing.
To me, that’s just a whole lotta bull.
If they wanna force me to buy some insurance deposit, they can just deduct some off my prize money.
But fine. I told them if its illegal to transfer so much money overseas, just send me the limit of HKD$150,000. “Sorry, the cheque has already been written and we can’t write a new one.”
Fine! So I told them I will fly to HK to pick up the money in person. To my surprise, they said they would welcome me with open arms. They even invited me to their “jewellery showroom”.
Immediately I regretted suggesting that. Because if I showed up, those people could very well abduct me.
Maybe even sell me off for gay prostitution or something.
My patience was wearing thin After thirty minutes of international phone call, FINALLY I said to them I “agreed” to pay RM3,000 insurance deposit.
You could almost hear the jubilent cheer in his voice.
Jubilent cheer… anyone still thinks AC Milan’s Brazilian striker Kaka is cute?
I was asked to contact a Chen ZhenRong who, according to ching chong man, is their “most esteemed accountant who took time out of his very busy schedule to handle your transaction, out of the goodness of his heart.“
It’s funny how these people make themselves sounded like some patron saint of Jesus Christ, when in fact they are more crooked than Barbra Streisand’s nose.
Of course, I couldn’t give two hoots about who this Chen ZhenRong is. Everytime he called, I purposely fooled around with Mr Gold-Hearted Saint Jesus Accountant Who Took Time Out Of His Very Busy Schedule, dilly-dallying, time-wasting, and just giving them endless supply of lame excuses and empty promises.
They were persistent. Annoyed, angry, impatient, but still very persistent.
I am touched. Never have a stranger been so desperate to give me RM120,000 before.
What I am REALLY impressed with is that these people are so convincing and so organised. There were virtually no holes in their web of lies.
I was even given a number of a Hong Kong bank to contact. When I called, the automated voice prompt confirmed that HKD$240,000 is sitting there waiting in my bank account. All they need is my RM3,000 insurance deposit.
You can try it yourself. The phone number was +852 6635 7011. My bank account number is 2110 1600 0787 80 and my PIN number is 821127.
Of course, I gave them a fake bank account number. They believed me.
I told them to deposit my prize money into my special company bank account that could handle quicker international transaction. They believed me.
I also told them that my company name was Kanina Chee Bye. And they believed me!
The best thing about all of these? I have recorded every single bit of telephone conversations they had with me. And they didn’t even know about it.
Click on it to listen!
Don’t worry if you can’t understand Chinese. There are English subtitles.
Anyway, I was told to put the RM3,000 insurance deposit into their Hong Leong bank account 023-51-06038-8, under the name Eu Sok Eng.
But after playing with them for so long, I decided I have had enough fun. Yesterday, I visited our local Hong Leong Branch and banked in the money for our friendly HK scammer.
When Mr Gold-Hearted Saint Jesus Accountant Who Took Time Out Of His Very Busy Schedule called again, he was clearly furious at my non-cooperation. Mr Saint Jesus Accountant: WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON?! Kenny: Listen, I… Mr Saint Jesus Accountant: WHERE IS THE INSURANCE DEPOSIT!? YOU SAID YOU WILL BANK IN FOR US BUT YOU NEVER DID! Kenny: No wait, I already… Mr Saint Jesus Accountant: DO YOU THINK WE HAVE A LOT OF TIME FOR YOUR GAMES!? ARE YOU TREATING US LIKE A JOKE!??! Kenny: Listen, I banked in the money to your account already. I swear to you I did. Mr Saint Jesus Accountant: BY CHEQUE OR BY CASH!!? Kenny: Cash! Just like you instructed. Mr Saint Jesus Accountant: WHAT TIME!? Kenny: 14 o’clock and 5 minute. Mr Saint Jesus Accountant: WHICH SECOND!? Kenny: 3 second. The receipt number is 00748. Mr Saint Jesus Accountant: Ok. You let me check. I will call you back later.
I wasn’t lying, you know? I did send him the money. But the accountant never me called back. And I don’t think he ever will.
Because as a slap in the face, I sent him a grand total of…
Al-Rajhi, one of the most aggressively expanding foreign banks, has finally opened its doors in Kuching.
One thing about the design of the new bank fascinates me.
I’m sure I’m not the only person thinking this way, but everytime I stare at the bank’s logo I thought it looked a little bit…
Seriously, look at it carefully. It does seem a little wrong.
Come on. Don’t tell me you couldn’t at least see two balls and one batang sticking out in that picture.
Such a phallic symbol. Imagine you walk into the building. All their male employees would be wearing one of those push-up underwears.
I mean, if this is a logo for a sperm bank, it’d be perfect.
Then again, that’s a TOTALLY different kinda bank.