This is my hometown.
Some months ago, Janet flew into Kuching to film an episode of Fun Asia for TLC.
I’m so ashamed I had never even heard of the show before this. After the episode had gone to air, I kept getting phone calls and SMSes and tweets from people who are surprised to see me on the show.
For those of you who missed it, this is me showing my hometown to the pretty Taiwanese travel host.
I think she likes me.
A few weeks ago, The Spring shopping mall had a contest to search for the best Santa look-a-like.
I was involved in it not as a participant, but as an event sponsor. Part of the perk (if you count it as a perk) was that I’ll come on board as one of the competition judges.
Now, I have been involved as a judge for many talent quests – most notably the online model search Malaysian Dreamgirls some 3 years ago.
How exactly did I go from being a judge for ten hot girls in skimpy undies to ten fat men in Santa outfits, I have no idea.
Nonetheless, it’s a good fun thing for me to do over the holiday season.
There were many Santas who turned up for the audition that day.
There’s your typical jolly ol’ Santa.
Cha Boh Santas.
Harry Potter Santa.
And then there’s this Chao Ah Beng Santa who dyed his hair and beard.
Look like lion.
Being a Santa ain’t easy, even if it were just for a couple of hours. The Santas had to be put through gruelling tests set out by the judges.
Like wrapping up Christmas presents at the fastest speed possible.
Or singing Christmas carols at their perfect pitch.
But like any true beauty pageants, at the end of the day, it is not the looks but the personality that counts.
Good jolly ol’ Santa Charles won the first prize of RM2,500 sponsored by The Spring and Level Up Fitness. I also gave him a one year membership, but until today I still haven’t seen him working out at my gym.
Maybe Santa has gone back to North Pole.
But the real winners are of course the kids who turned up to The Spring that day.
You wanna talk about going home with a bag full of goodies? You gotta see the way those kids swarmed towards Santas.
It’s almost like a Starcraft Zerg attack.
The parents of those kids are obviously very happy too.
Because they don’t have to buy presents for their kids anymore!
Kuching people should know what I’m talking about.
Many many years ago, Soho was the undisputed king of Kuching nightspots. Back then, if you rocked up to Soho on a weekend, 9 times out of 10 you’d bump into somebody you know.
The most happening guys in town goes to Soho. The hottest chicks in town goes to Soho. Christmas Countdown, New Year’s Countdown, Chinese New Year Countdown… it’s all at Soho.
Everyone knows that.
Heck, at one point, the place became so packed that they opened up Ipanema next door just to accommodate the crowd. Ipanema was a wine bar and its chillout ambience was perfect hideout from the deafening music at Soho.
Because of Soho, old-school Jalan Pandungan became the hottest party central among the hip 20-somethings in Kuching for the longest time.
Since then, new owners have taken over both Soho and Ipanema.
From time to time, DJs from KL takes over the decks, injecting a much needed tasteful vibe into Kuching’s night scene.
To lure back the younger crowd, the new owners have also dropped the "wine bar" label from Ipanema, gave it a cool Irish vibe and renamed it…
Scary name. Maybe the new owners don’t like me very much. 🙁
The ex-Ipanema is still the same, except the focus has turned away from wines and into Irish beers. To me that’s a very good thing, because I don’t care a lot about wines, but dammit – I LOVE Irish beers.
Kilkenny’s obviously got its namesake from the beer Kilkenny Draught – the "Irish Cream Ale", which in turn got its name from a city in southern Ireland where it was created. I learnt about this and its fascinating history at www.kilkenny.com.my
Truth is, I never had Kilkenny before I visited this pub. I just thought it’s a bit funny for a Kenny to drink a Kilkenny. But since this beer is what the pub is promoting, I thought why not?
A lot of people who drink Kilkenny tends to compare it with Guinness. That’s perfectly understandable. After all Kilkenny is produced by the same people who made the stout.
I’d say it’s like the younger brother of Guinness. It’s poured the same way, served the same way and produced the same kinda foamy head. The only thing different is that it’s ruby red.
In terms of flavour, it sits somewhere between a stout and a lager. Kilkenny is velvety smooth, not too bitter and got that creamy aftertaste to it.
It’s a great beer to celebrate with during this festive season, when all I wanna do is get some alcohol into the system, but not something strong like my grandfather’s Chinese medicine.
Just party, celebrate a happy occasion, pair with a plate of good food then chillout afterwards.
At the pub, I ordered a mean plate of umai to go with my beer. Umai is our Sarawakian version of Japanese sashimi – raw fish marinated in lime and chilli padi. It’s SUPER SPICY, goes well with Kilkenny and I highly recommend it.
Yes, as wrong as it sounds, Kenny drinks Kilkenny!
Every morning I wake up, brush my teeth, hop into my car, tune into hitz.fm 95.3 “Playing you all the hits”.
Yeah, call me mainstream and what not, but I’ve been listening to them since 6 years ago. I’m a guy who keeps his fingers firmly on the pulse of mainstream pop culture so I listen to all the current hits, which includes everything from Flo Rida to Rihanna to Lady Gaga.
Admittedly, it doesn’t take a lot of make a Top 40 music these days. All you really need to know is how to stutter uncontrollably. For example,
“Umbrella-ella-ella-eh-eh-eh.” – Rihanna
“Po-po-po-po-poker face po-po-poker face.” – Lady Gaga
Then there’s “Alejandro, Alejandro. Ale-Alejandro Ale-Alejandro.” – Lady Gaga
Whoever Alejandro is, somebody please tell him to stop call Lady Gaga’s name so much that she has to write a song about him.
I like listening to hitz.fm, although sometimes what they talk about are stuff happening in Kuala Lumpur.
Whenever they have concerts like Paramore or Adam Lambert, it’s in Kuala Lumpur. Whenever the hitz.fm Cruisers have freebies to giveaway, it’s in Kuala Lumpur.
Good thing is, whenever Priscilla Patrick talk about how horrible the traffic jam is, it’s also in Kuala Lumpur!
Pretty much the only time we ever hear about Kuching on hitz.fm is when there’s a traffic jam happening in Jalan Kuching.
In the end, those of us living in Kuching felt a little ripped off. We always felt KL folks are a little spoilt because there’s so much happening over there and not enough happening over this side of the South China Sea.
Hey, we are Malaysians too! We want those freebies and those concerts too! We wanna prank our friends and colleagues with Gotcha calls too! What about meeeeee?
Well, looks like our prayers are answered because all this is about to change.
On 25th October, Malaysia’s No.1 English radio station hitz.fm, along with sister stations MY FM and ERA fm have officially set up their bases in Kuching.
This is huge. For those of us living in Kuching, this is the best thing to have happened in Kuching since the invention of Sarawak laksa and Kolo mee!
In fact, this is the first time we have localised radio content run by a commercial national radio broadcaster.
For radio listeners, this means we can call into radio stations without dialling “03” in the front and win prizes that we can use without flying to KL. It means we can tune into My FM and listen to people talking in Mandarin instead of Cantonese – because God knows only how many people in Sarawak speaks Cantonese.
It means we can tune into our radios and hear about news and events happening in Kuching, instead of something happening on the other side of the country. Heck, it even means we can have legendary radio announcers Jakeman visiting Level Up Fitness in Kuching, and blog about it!
For local businesses like myself, it means we can finally advertise on local radio stations – the ones that people actually listens to – and not pay ridiculous advertising fees to advertise to people who aren’t even living in Sarawak. Heck, I have already booked my advertising slots on all three radio stations.
By setting up their base in Kuching, hitz.fm, MY FM and ERA fm is gonna revolutionise the radio landscape in Sarawak for the better.
hitz.fm even recruited two Kuching-based radio announcers and give them their own 3-hour timeslot from 10am – 1pm weekdays. The two are 25-year-old pint-sized former “Food Designer” Vix, and 29-year-old ex-Insurance-Analyst Herman.
Neither of them have any experience in radio announcing, but what incredible charisma they possess and what great future they have ahead of them. Soon, Vix and Herman will be joining luminaries like Jakeman.
No, I have no idea why most of them have no hair either.
Judging by the looks of it, our local DJ Herman have a “bald” future ahead of him.
Anyone got any ideas on a radio ad for a fitness centre? Anything will do… as long as it’s not two woman speaking excitedly inside a supermarket please.
The Kuching Food Festival is back, and this time it’s groovier than ever.
Much of the Kuching Festival is the same as previous years. Most people come here for the food, but as usual they have a couple of attractions on the side as well.
The trade fair is where you see the whole entire housewife population in Kuching coming in to check out what’s the latest in cooking or cleaning technology. Seriously, the average age of people here is like 50 years old.
Then you have the other end of the scale.
There’s a mini fun-fair filled with 5-year-old ADHD kids bugging their parents to spend RM3 on some stupid game that’s impossible to win – just for that soft toy.
IT’S SO FLUFFYYYYY!
Not wanting to lose out on the crowd, I got ourselves a booth there to promote the fitness centre. Honestly speaking though, the response aren’t all that fantastic.
People coming to the Kuching Festival are not interested in signing up for a fitness membership and getting fit. They are more interested in getting fat.
Compared to us, the food stalls in general are doing very well. All the best food in Kuching are gathered here for the 3 week festival and a lot of them get sold out before the night is over.
Still, there are like 101 different stalls selling Taiwanese sausages and they are all the same. But I think Kuching people don’t like Taiwanese sausages anymore because they are way too small.
Kuching people like Rudy’s German sausages. He got people queuing up every night for his big juicy sausages. And every night without fail he’d sold out because people keep coming for more.
Food stalls that sell slightly different items are also doing very well. Most people won’t think twice about spending RM2 on a slightly different-shaped potato.
One thing that definitely fascinated me about Kuching Festival this year is the… questionable displays they have.
You see, right on the front gate are three monstrous cats who can climb trees. It’s so scary. The cat on the left is PURPLE. And most likely it’s PURPLE because the sponsor of the festival is Xpax (which is also purple).
At the backgate is a kiddy ride that loops around the most hideous-looking dinosaurs ever.
They are so ugly they’ll scare real dinosaurs away into extinction.
Like they say: it is SO bad, it’s good.
Charming as they may be, NOTHING could quite capture the attention of the people like the display of this Western food stall called… The United Steak of Richmond.
The United WHAT? Doesn’t matter.
Hellboy is already rolling in Hell over the blatant misuse of his picture, alongside Captain Davy Jones and Jar Jar Binks from Star Wars on the top of KLCC.
You wonder if they actually put these up to make kids excited, or to scare them away.
I have not been writing a lot about Kuching.
Partly because I’ve been flying all over the place, and partly also because Kuching has always been same ol’ same ol’ to me. But yesterday morning, as I was driving back from the airport, I was amused to find the main road to the city closed off.
It wasn’t until today when I went to Jalan Song for lunch, that I found out what the road closure was for.
The famous line of trees along Jalan Tun Jugah, the road connecting the airport and Kuching city, is now no more.
There must’ve been about 30 or so century-old trees, all chopped down to make way for the road expansion. When I was there this afternoon, workers were picking off the remaining tree stumps with chainsaws.
I go to the airport all the time and I must have travelled down that road multiple times a week. Each time I return to Kuching, it is those majestic leafy trees protecting me from the harsh sunlight, that welcomes me back home.
Kuala Lumpur may be where I party and Singapore may be my favourite big city, but it is here in my home that I find the perfect balance between kampung and city life.
To me, those gigantic trees lining up Jalan Tun Jugah is the symbol of that balance.
Perhaps I am being sentimental, but I suppose as Kuching develops more into a city, we will see more concrete less trees, more street lamps less sunlight, more grey less green.
Kuching, as I know it, is a romantic city surrounded by mountains, rivers and jungle. But bit by bit, the identity of my hometown as a garden city has to be sacrificed to make way for construction and infrastructure.
And that is something that I will dearly miss.
Oh well, at least it’ll be faster to get to the airport now.
It’s the new year, and I want to start it off on a good note.
I have always recognised that bloggers have a lot of potential to do good for charity. In my capacity, I’m always happy to lend publicity to several charitable causes on my blog, so long as they are legitimate and transparent.
But late last year, I was approached by folks from the Sarawak Children Cancer Society.
The society related strongly to me for two reasons.
One, I know they have been very active in providing support and care for childhood cancer sufferers, and cancer support is one of those things I keep very close to my heart.
Having gone through the pain of losing my father to kidney cancer, I know what a dreadful experience it is, and I would never ever wish that upon even the worst of my enemies.
Secondly, the society is based in Sarawak.
It is a fact that Sarawak-based charities don’t receive as much attention as their Peninsular-based counterparts. Personally, I find that very unfortunate considering Sarawak has a very large rural population, many of whom still live in poverty. They are the ones who needed help the most, and yet there aren’t enough of us who reach out to them.
Due to lack of medical facilities in the rural areas, many parents of childhood cancer sufferers frequently travel long-distances, hours at a time, just bring their sick children to Kuching to seek treatment.
As a voluntary organisation, Sarawak Children Cancer Society has always provided care and support for the poor and needy in the State.
One of the best things they come up with among many fantastic ones, is the Children Cancer Centre located minutes away from the Sarawak General Hospital. Families of outstation patients are offered to temporarily stay in the Centre while their children undergo treatment at the hospital.
Food, amenities, counselling, and sometimes financial support are all provided by volunteers and their three full-time social workers. And this is just one of the many things the SCCS do to help lighten the emotional and financial burden faced by these families.
Childhood cancer is in fact a very curable form of cancer. Unfortunately, many sufferers in Sarawak needlessly die every year either due to lack of funds or access to hospital.
That is why I am very happy to give my support to the SCCS.
Of course, the running of the Children Cancer Centre is not free. Worse still, with the increasing number of outstation patients utilising the facility, their resources have been stretched thinner a plate of roti tisu.
Someone has to pay the bills. Most of the time, this is done through public donation and the many fund-raising activities that they organise.
However, when I met with the SCCS a few weeks ago, the support they asked from me for this time round goes beyond just monetary donation and publicity on kennysia.com
They want me to shave my head bald for charity.
“What! Wait, wait, wait. I cannot confirm yet. Do I really have to do this?” I groaned.
“Well, it’s to create the awareness,” said Rodney Wong, the SCCS publicity chief when he pitched the idea to me. “We can raise funds doing food fairs and stuff but few people would pay attention. Once you say ‘Kenny Sia is willing to shave his head bald for charity’, immediately everyone takes notice.”
I say it’s a
bald bold move.
I never like saying no to people. In this case, I find it very difficult to give up my hair eventhough it is for a good cause. Everybody is vain to different extent, including me. I go through great lengths to preserve my hair. I’m already not very good-looking, but if I go bald I’d become uglier.
I certainly don’t want nother adjective people can use insult me!
“Rodney, I spent RM150 a month on Propecia just to keep my hair from dropping. And now you want me to lose all my hair?”
“You can think about it,” replied Rodney. “Our target is to raise RM200K in total. But if you’re in, I think you can raise RM50,000 no problem.”
RM50,000 to give the hope of survival to children suffering from cancer, in return for all of my hair.
Suddenly this does not seem like such a difficult decision to make anymore.
“Alright Rodney. Let’s see how generous kennysia.com readers are then,” I said with a painful smile. “If I can raise RM50,000 by 12th February, I will shave my head bald.”
“Let’s do it!”
And so the race is on.
The deadline is Thursay,12th February. The target is RM50,000. Everyone from all parts of the world can donate, and all major forms of payment are accepted.
Once we hit the target, I guess I’ll be sporting a new hair cut (or lack there of) just in time for Valentine’s Day. Guess I will be date-less for the next 12 months, at least.
It’s too late for me to back out now. I’ve already made my promise to the SCCS.
Now it is all up to you, readers of kennysia.com to decide whether I can keep my hair.
Or not. p>
To pledge your donation, CLICK HERE. 🙂
It is officially the year end and everyone is having sales.
Everywhere you go it’s 30% off this, 50% off that, buy this one and get that free.
Every shop, every store, every shopping mall are doing their year-end sales, and everything is really cheap right now.
Even a funeral parlour is joining in on the fun.
From now until 31st December, if you purchase an urn compartment, we will cremate you ABSOLUTELY FREE!
Hurry! Die now and save money!
The Kuching Cat Museum is located inside the bizzare-looking UFO-shaped DBKU building in North Kuching.
Most people pass by this building on their way to Santubong without bothering to drop by. It’s quite unfortunate, because cat lovers would find this place a very interesting tourist attraction.
Besides, how could anyone not love pussies? 😉
The entrance to the cat museum is a gigantic fugly cat.
To enter, you literally walk in through the cat’s mouth.
Inside the cat musuem, there are many different kinds of cat.
Occasionally, you might even see a Kenny Cat.
Inside the cat museum, there is also an exhibition of a cat’s grave.
A grave for a pet cat.
Awww… That would have been a very sad and sombre affair.
If it weren’t for the description on the grave stone.
The pussy is called Dick!