ADV: What Is Your Dream Home?

If you have a choice, where would you choose to live?

For me, 3 things define my ideals of a dream home.

First, location is everything. My home should be close to where I live, work and play. No point living in a nice place if you gotta spend 1.5 hours commuting to work each day

Second, it should be easy to maintain. In practice, this means living in a condominium. Unless I am a Datuk who can afford 5 gardeners and 2 maids to clean up around my bungalow, I reckon it is generally more practical to have a shared pool of staff to help take care of common facilities like gardens, corridors and concierge.

Third, it should conform to my lifestyle and standards. The design and decor of the place should be reflective to who I am as a person. A lot of people’s houses are over-populated with their father’s collection of Chinese traditional arts and calligraphy. Personally, I’m more of a fan of dwellings that incorporate contemporary motifs and eco technology into their design.

One of the most impressive condominiums in Klang Valley right now is KEN Bangsar, located at the very top of Bangsar Hill. This residential highrise is developed by KEN Holdings, the award-winning developer of such other properties as KEN Damansara 1, KEN Damansara 2, KEN Damansara 3 and

Oh wait, not the last one.

Here are a few reasons why KEN Bangsar will blow your socks off:

It is the highest residential unit within the Klang Valley, the hilltop location of KEN Bangsar gave it commanding view of the surroundings yet still within close proximity to Bangsar Shopping Centre and Sprint and Damansara highways.

The 15-storey freehold luxury residential highrise consists of 76 apartment units and 4 triple-storey penthouses. Each comes with a built-up area from 2,000 to 2,600sq ft, with the price between RM900 to a cool RM1,300 per square feet!

While the price tag may seem expensive compared to other properties within the vicinity, the difference is in the details.

Personally, I have had bad experiences buying so-called "luxury properties" from developers, only to learn that their so-called definition of "luxury" meant cheap furniture, fittings and gym equipment imported from China.

With KEN Bangsar, the developer – under the guidance of their energetic Executive Director Sam Tan, have taken great pains to ensure "luxury" meant not just standard luxury, but OVER-THE-TOP LUXURY.

For example, the entrance to the building is through a double volume lounge for a sense of space, the fitness equipment are of commercial high-end gym quality and the sanitary wares are top-notch Dornbracht fittings from Germany, some costing over RM8,000 a piece!

Then there’s those gorgeous floor-to-ceiling windows with low-E bulletproof laminated glass to reduce heat and exquisite marble flooring laid throughout each residential unit.

It is no surprise then that in 2009, KEN Bangsar won Singapore’s Buiding & Construction Authority’s Green Mark Gold Plus Award. In 2011, they further cemented (pardon the pun) their position in the Malaysian real estate when they won the prestigious FIABCI-Malaysia Property Award – Sustainable Development Category.

Those awards are truly well-deserved, because what made KEN Bangsar stood out from the rest is how they took the lead and incorporated so many eco-friendly designs into the building.

Building wastages are recycled and reused as decoration. Energy-efficient motion-sensing lights adorn the car park and staircases. Finally, there’s a rainwater harvesting tank irrigating the landscape throughout the grounds.

By far, the most innovative feature of KEN Bangsar is how Executive Director Sam Tan designed the double volume lobby to be light and airy without the need for air-conditioning.

Sam created a system that harvests cool condensates from the management office’s air conditioner then routed it to an evaporative 2-storey high waterfall inside the lobby to cool it. Meanwhile, the hot air from the air-conditioning compressors is also harvested to provide hot water for the common toilets.

Heck, they even have a fancy name for it called "CHEEL", something KEN Bangsar are innovative enough to come up with. But can’t deny it’s very smart lah.

Even with such high prices, the units in KEN Bangsar are already 85% sold.

So unless you have deep pockets to snap up the remaining units, you may wanna bug Sam Tan on his Twitter to see if he can work out a
good deal with you.

A good alternative is to look into KEN Rimba’s new township in Shah Alam called LEGIAN as well as their soon-to-be-launched project called JIMBARAN.

Coincidentally, these will be Malaysia’s first ever Green townships. Information available at or

Luxurious, yet high-tech and sophisticated – now that’s a definition of a dream house.

It’s Been Seven Years

Dear Papa,

  How are you doing up there?

  Today is the seventh year since the day you left us. Time does fly, doesn’t it? I remember you telling us that our time on Earth is like going overseas for a holiday. We may have lots of fun while we’re here, but we all have to go home eventually.

  That’s a nice analogy papa. I guess the big difference is that when we come home from for holidays, we can always go for another one next week. When we leave Earth, we cannot go back even if we wanted to, isn’t it?

  Unless you are “Ironman” Tony Stark lah.

  Aiya, but it’s true some things are not meant to last forever.

  Last week, I had my Australian permanent residency revoked by the Australian Immigration. They said I did not manage to stay there for even 2 weeks in the past 5 years, so why should I keep my permanent residency? I was given a chance to appeal, but I don’t think my chances are high.

  I felt like it was such a loss. I remember how much effort you went through in 1996 to get that PR. I wanted to keep it, partly because the Australian PR was one of the few things you left for us, and partly because I thought it might be useful for the education of my children in the future.

  The Malaysian education system is so hopeless now. Can you believe they just reverted the teaching of Maths and Science in English back to Malay? Such a joke isn’t it? While the rest of the world is moving forward, our education system just flip-flops like that.

  At least mom is happy. Now that she knows I no longer have my Australian PR, at least she is certain that one of her children will be by her side.

  There is nothing to worry about me here, Papa. Things at work are getting more hectic, but manageable. Things with Ming are going really well too. She is very supportive in everything that I do and I am very lucky to have her.

  Did you know, Papa?! I recently won an award for my business!

  Ever since you left, the thing I worried the most is who to turn to for business advice when I need them.

  Recently, I joined a contest called the Enterprise Development Challenge, organized by a magazine in Singapore. They paired start-up entrepreneurs like myself with veteran businessmen as mentors. Over the course of 6 weeks we worked together to improve several aspects of our respective businesses.

  Some of the other young entrepreneurs are like CEOs of big hotel chains and famous websites!

  My mentor is a charismatic sports marketing agent called Marcus Luer, who heads a company called TotalSportsAsia. He is so passionate and knowledgeable. I learnt so much from him and have so much fun applying the things I learnt into my running of Level Up Fitness.

  Against much formidable contestants, I surprised when I was named the winner! I may have won a couple of awards for my blog, but this is the first time I won an award as an entrepreneur. I am so happy!

  Even the prizes are quite amazing, like Director’s Box tickets to Liverpool Anfield and a trophy worth RM20,000. But none of those are as valuable as the knowledge I gained from my mentor over those 6 weeks.

  Is he a guardian angel you sent to watch over me!? Haha!

  If you are capable of sending guardian angels, Papa, I think I may need another one really soon.

  As much as I have been taking care of my health by exercising and eating right, I went to the doctor recently and discovered I have stones in my gallbladder measuring up to 1cm. How the stones get in there, I have no idea. I swear I haven’t been swallowing rocks for fun!

  Anyway, doctor advised me to remove my gallbladder to reduce complications, but I’m having second thoughts about that. I noticed if I don’t drink alcohol or eat curry during the day, I won’t get stomach pains at night. Since I can live without alcohol and curry, I’ll just stop doing those.

  The doctor also found a lesion in my liver measuring up to 2cm. I have no idea how it get there. I’m gonna do a CT scan next Tuesday to find out.

  Please watch over me from up there?

  Anyway, I better stop here. It’s getting late and I have a 6am flight to catch to KK tomorrow.

  Papa, remember when I was really young, you like to call me from overseas? You always like to ask me if I missed you. I never answered you back then, because I was always too shy to answer it in front of Mom.


  I know it’s too late to answer this now, but yes Papa – I miss you very, very much.



Lots of love from your youngest son,


Eating Snails

When I was in Vietnam, I followed some of the local volunteers to have "The Best Snails in Hue City".


Slimy, squirmy, fat, juicy little snails, fresh from the garden, complete with their shells!

This is the restaurant cafe somebody’s house carpark where we’ll be devouring our shelly little friends.

Ignore the bruise mark on my forehead. When people ask me why, I tell them truth: I went to have a bowl of pho, I complained of a headache, and the pho lady suddenly appear to pinch my head to "get rid of the wind".

When she’s done. I have no more "wind" in my head. Instead I have a red mark on my face.

You can’t get an experience any more Vietnamese than that.

Wearing dental gloves and plastic glass for protection because it’s gonna get messy!

First, you take a freshly-cooked snail from the pot.

Then you pick the slug out from its shell using a toothpick.

Dip it into chilli or lime sauce, then put it on your tongue.

Next, allow the slug to slowly crawl its way into your stomach.




You quickly swallow the contents of the snail.

The meat of the slug is a bit tough, kinda like beef tendons or uncooked sotong. There’s not much you can chew.

Flavour-wise, it tastes a bit like EARTH-FLAVOURED clams. I guess the best way to eat them is to dip them into lots and lots of dipping sauce for the best experience.

If this is your first snail-y experience, then give the most excruciating expression on your face for entertainment.

My friends asked me how I felt after I swallowed my first snail in Vietnam.


"Sluggish," I said.

Operation Smile, Vietnam

I am in Vietnam for one week volunteering for Operation Smile.

This is my very first attempt at volunteer travel, and the reason why I ended up here in Vietnam is quite unusual.

A couple of weeks ago, I was fitting up my new Invisalign aligners at at Jalan Ipoh, KL when Dr Melissa and Dr Foo asked if I would like to join them in Vietnam for an Operation Smile mission.

Unlike the travels I was used to in the past where I simply spend all my time visiting tourists sights that I forget months later, this trip to Vietnam different. Volunteer travel is all about is more about doing something charitable, while at the same time experiencing a different culture together with the locals.

Before meeting Dr Foo, I have never even heard of Operation Smile. Of course, without knowing much, I didn’t promise them anything right away. After all, I get approached by armchair activists all day long to "spread awareness" and with dubious charity organizations like KONY 2012, one can never be too careful.

If I have to contribute my time, I must choose very carefully who I work with.

Although not very well-known in Malaysia, Operation Smile is a 30-year-old non-religious not-for-profit medical organization that provides cleft lip and cleft palate repair for free to children in underprivileged conditions worldwide.

It started when the founders went to the Philippines for a cleft lip repair mission, but had to turn away many patients because they did not have the resources to take care of everyone.

Operation Smile is a legitimate charity organization, run by medical and non-medical volunteers, with audited financials published for all to see, without a religious or political agenda hiding beneath what they are trying to achieve.

Their only cause is to bring high standards of dental care to patients who cannot afford it.

The thing that impressed me the most about Operation Smile is the high standards that they applied for themselves. Even for dentists who want to volunteer, the screening process is tough.

Dr Melissa explained to me they had to submit their resume to Operation Smile to be screened. Unlike some charity organizations, Operation Smile only let medical professionals with proper credentials come on board, and not just accept any Tom, Dick and Harry.

I had no idea how well-run and organized Operation Smile is until I arrived Hue city in Central Vietnam together with Dr Melissa and Dr Foo.

We are the only ones from Malaysia. The other 30+ people in the team are comprised of practising dentists, retired dentists and dental students from the United States and a group of very passionate local volunteers who took care of our logistics.

Hue is where Operation Smile left their first footprint in Vietnam, more than 15 years ago.

Their presence is felt strongly here following the establishment of a 4-storey dental hospital.

The Hue Odonto-Stomatological Hospital is where our team is basing at for the following 5 days. This is where the medical volunteers are offering free dental screening and treatment to hundreds of children in and around Hue.

Although they are just volunteering, both the medical and non-medical volunteers are incredibly passionate about what they do.

Quite often with charity missions, there are bound to be a couple of volunteers who either complain about this and that, or compromise their standards when it comes to safety and documentation.

There is no such behaviour here. Everyone is genuinely working together towards a common cause.

Every morning, the volunteers wake up bright and early at 6am, breakfast at 6:30am, be at the hospital by 7:30am and finish everything by 5pm. In between, we squeeze in team meetings, bonding sessions, education sessions and meals.

Despite the long hours, the spirits are always high and mood is always so positive.

The patients are selected from orphanages, schools and doctor referrals.

These kids form a team of 5.

First, they meet with the dental hygienists. They were given a goodie bag containing a toothpaste, toothbrush and a Potato Head toy sponsored by Hasbro.

Dental Hygienists Lucinda and Madeleine’s job is to keep spirits high and teach those kids how to brush their teeth properly in a fun way.

Some of these kids have never held a toothbrush ever before in their lives!

Next, they are ushered one by one to see a dentist for oral screening.

Here, their teeth are inspected and the form of treatment required are written down on a form. Because of the severity of some cases, sometimes the dentists had to recommend 3-4 teeth to be pulled out at one go.

That experience has gotta be terrifying for some of the 7 year olds!

The main operating room is where all the action is!

This is where 10 pairs of dentists and assistants work concurrently on 10 dental chairs laid side-by-side. One by one, each child is led onto the dental chairs where these team of dentists will carry out the treatment recommended by the initial medical volunteer.

The whole thing worked like a well-oiled machine.

Each day, over 100 children received dental education, oral screening and went through appropriate treatment done by some of the best dentists from Malaysia and USA, using world-class medical equipment generously sponsored by their suppliers.

It wasn’t just the medical volunteers that got all the action. Some of the non-medical volunteers have big heavy roles to play as well.

This is Rachel.

Rachel is the logistics coordinator for Operation Smile from Massachusetts, USA and has been working with Operation Smile for close to a year.

Originally a political science graduate, I asked her what inspired her to get started with Operation Smile. Rachel mentioned that when she graduated, she decided that she wants to work for something meaningful, something fun, something medical and something global.

And you cannot get any more global than Operation Smile.

There’s an incident in Ghana that left a lasting impression on her.

In Ghana, Operation Smile’s base of operation was set up at the capital of Ghana of Accra. Word was spread out all over the country to gather children needing cleft lips surgery.

There was a 9-year-old girl born with a cleft lip who heard about this.

Problem is: she came from a minority tribe and cannot speak a word of the local language. Her father was not around and her mother had to stay back to take care of her siblings.

Without any adults to accompany her, this 9-year-old girl took the leap of faith.


She a long distance bus out from her village down to place she has never been to in her entire life – just to meet with the team from Operation Smile.

It is courage and bravery like this that inspired Rachel to continue her work with Operation Smile.

Today is only the second day I am in Hue with Operation Smile Vietnam. Although all I had was a glimpse, already I am pleasantly surprised with the work Operation Smile Vietnam is doing.

What can be more precious than giving children the ability to smile?

Operation Smile is not in Malaysia yet.

Hopefully, if all goes well, Dr Melissa and Dr Foo too will be able to bring Operation Smile into Malaysia, so that Malaysian children born with cleft lips can also get the help they need.

Vietnamese Coconuts And Banana

This has gotta be the biggest coconut I have ever seen!

I am in Hue, central Vietnam right now and one thing I definitely noticed here is how big the coconuts here are.

Seriously, check out the size comparison with that chair!

Yes, I believe it is almost as big as my testicles. (Except mine is bigger)

Amusingly, the bananas here are comparatively small.


In fact, they are so tiny it’s pathetic.

What It Means When An Indian Wiggles His Head

I am in India right now for my annual company trip.

India was a shock to me. Like most major capital city I travel to, the first time I arrived it was like &*@KEFMOVAP{LAWQAP$KBOCZR overwhelming.

But after a couple of days, I actually start to appreciate the local culture a lot more.

There’s one thing however, that remains confusing to me.

What exactly does it mean when an Indian wiggles his head?

Seriously, they do it all the  time. Sometimes when I ask them a question, they don’t answer anything. All they do is wiggle their head.

And I’m supposed to guess?

Kenny: Hey, can you take me to So-And-So Hotel please?

Indian Rickshaw Driver: *says nothing* *wiggles head*

Kenny: ???

It could mean any of the following things

a) Yes
b) No
c) I don’t know
d) 150 rupees, please
e) My rickshaw has no gas left, can you take another rickshaw?
f) I am not familiar with that hotel, can you show me the way? 
g) About three things I was absolutely positive. First, Edward was a vampire. Second, there was a part of him-and I didn’t know how potent that part might be-that thirsted for my blood. And third, I was unconditionally and irrevocably in love with him.

Baba Nest, Phuket

Could this be the most romantic spot in the whole of Phuket?

The Thai island of Phuket boasts some of the most beautiful sunsets and sunrises in South-East Asia, but only a handful of places can claim to have the perfect vantage point for BOTH sunsets and sunrises on the island.

Baba Nest is a tapas bar located at the very top of Sri Panwa estate, which in turn is located at Cape Panwa, on the south-eastern tip of Phuket island. This perfectly square bar, surrounded by an infinity-edge swimming pool, has no chairs, only bean bags, and can accommodate at most only 20 persons at a time.

Baba Nest’s location on the hilltop means it have a 270-degree panoramic view of the Andaman Ocean.

And what a view it is.

Nothing beats watching sunsets in Phuket like having funky chill-out music playing in the background while being served a glass of icy-cold cocktail and the choicest sashimi cuts from their Japanese chefs. For those who enjoy their cocktails with a difference, the sake mojito here is definitely worth trying out.

Originally part of the residence of the owner of Sri Panwa, Baba Nest was opened up to public simply because a view like this is too good to be enjoyed alone. It’s a hidden treasure, but Baba Nest is so popular during sunsets that it gets booked out almost every single night.

For those travelling to Phuket looking for something romantic to do, my advice is stop crowding the over-rated tittie bars in Patong Beach and take our loved ones to Baba Nest to watch the sunset together.

It’s too good to miss out on.

My girlfriend and I loved it so much, even our feet (attempted to) form a heart-shape.