September 28, 2012

A Samui story

I flew to Koh Samui on Sep 22-23, 2012, making the trip my maiden visit to Thailand. It was also my first time flying alone—and the experience is amazing; liberating; independent. It set a precedent. Here on, I want fly solo.

From KLIA, I boarded Bangkok Airways’ Airbus 319 to Samui International Airport. And I noted the pronounced difference of my emotions in reaction to the distinct atmospheres of the two airports. In KLIA I was feeling like a lost little girl in a big, big world. But in Samui, the sun’s smile was imprinted on my cheek, the breeze tugged at my hair and tickled my face, and the coconut trees—there were so many of them—waved their leaves in welcome.

Speaking of inaugural events, I never had to meet a stranger at an airport holding up my name on a placard. But there it was…‘Ms. Jolyn New’, written with blue marker on a folded piece of white paper. I was tickled and all buttered up at the funny, flattering gesture. No one thinks twice about this method of announcement and rolls on the floor in hysterics (or in my case, hysterics breeaking loose internally, while  the face remains stoic outside), do they? But then no one is as self-amused about silly things in life's ordinary routines as I am...and can get.

That was Krit. Then we were picked up by his colleague Passapong and headed out on a top-to-bottom Samui exploration. It was an eye-opener watching them interact with other people. Complete strangers; yet so amiable, good-natured, and sincere. Our party received an ample helping of the humble wai—the traditional Thai greeting of head slightly bowed towards clasped palms clasped—and dulcet “Sawadee ka/krap”. It's incredible; a culture shock, to me at least, because in Malaysia no one is that friendly. You could try pulling your lips open towards both sides of the ears but all people deliver in return (usually) are cold stares and turned heads. Maybe I'm dipping into unfair sweeping generalisation, but I've lived in Malaysia long enough... Anyway, I guess that's why they call Thailand the Land of a Thousand Smiles.

I only stayed for a night and two days and that’s not enough to comb the island. My opinion: if you want to get to know this beautiful tropical paradise, please stay longer. I wish I had extended my stay now.

I’ve written a fuller piece on Expatriate Lifestyle’s website.

I truly miss Samui—the sights, the charming little shops, Chaweng’s activity, the seafood, and of course my two new friends. Hopefully someday I will be able to plant more footprints on the island’s coconut-fringed paths.
Samui International Airport. Where it all began and ended

Lamai Fresh Coconut Ice-cream.
A mobile kiosk that either parks in Lamai or Chaweng beaches

Coconut ice-cream with sticky rice and pineapple toppings

Me at Lamai lookout point. Deb's said I looked like a happy camper

A coconut candy seller. At the Hin Ta-Hin Yai site

Grandfather Rock

That's Great-grandfather Rock at the back

We stayed at InterContinental Baan Taling Ngam. It's gorgeous

My room at InterContinental. Room 421

Thai vermicelli noodles with fish curry

Same as above, but a variation. And spicier

Vegetables for the vermicelli
Thai iced tea. It's fragrant and sweet.
Tastes different to our own because of use of a different kind of leaves

Bakubung Cafe. Heard the coconut cake here is good

Passapong + Krit. But only their backs

September 21, 2012

Ed-static over kwon chef’s genius

Chef Edward Kwon demonstrating the preparation of Samgyetang

LI TV's Korean celebrity chef, Edward Kwon, cooked for a special gala dinner which I attended with Rebecca as media guests under Expatriate Lifestyle. Special thanks to Sook Ping, Hwei and Akmal, the lovely ladies from Roots Asia Pacific who invited us. Here's an excerpt of my piece below and a link to the full story on EL's website.

Food either makes you happy or leaves you wanting. But guests at Korean celebrity chef, Edward Kwon’s six-course gala dinner on Sept 14, were rendered thoroughly impressed over his masterpieces. Inspired by the 13-episode production of EdVentures in Asia starring Chef Kwon, the feast was presented by Life Inspired TV and Maybank at the Ritz-Carlton Kuala Lumpur.
>> Read more


Photos, videos and information on EdVentures in Asia.

September 15, 2012

Office moments (EL in Mongoose)

It's been a year and six months since I've worked in Mongoose Publishing. I remember starting on April 4, 2011 and my little corner desk, which then, I had a better view than I do now. I was appointed as Editorial Executive of Expatriate Lifestyle magazine and its sister projects, Essential Education, Arrivals and most recently, Voyage. Today, I face a wall with the words 'communicating with integrity' plastered across.

I've seen four members leave, including my beloved Keirsten Clark; five members and an intern join the editorial team, one new editor, one in design, and I've lost count of new and missing faces in sales. Since April 4, I've had to write a cover story on the William and Kate visit to Malaysia in ONE DAY; Travel Malaysia stories to Johor, Penang, luxury hotels around Malaysia, the Best of Malaysia Awards; Travel Asia; food features; education; homes; reviews; advertorials; briefs and basically nearly everything in Expatriate Lifestyle... with the only remaining page being 'Editor's letter'.

Here is what my office desk looks like today. (From top left) My DIY name placard, stack organiser, people's name cards, chick, impractical coffee mug, pink Hello Kitty calculator, notebook, telephone, magazine file (with issues dating from back to March 2011), 'Jesus Loves Me' badge against the wall, handwritten letters to EL, Dell monitor and keypad, sticky notes, polaroid photos, jelly bone wrist rest, Thermos + Threadless hydration bottle, cupcake memo holder, kawaii card reader, another stack organiser, yellow EL job bags, cork board calendar, and colourful Daiso blanket slung on my chair.


Office Funnies
Starring: Jolyn (senior editorial executive), Samantha (editorial executive), Antoine (executive editor a.k.a. boss), Keirsten (ex deputy editor), Sim (Time Out Penang web writer)

Calling Plaza Indonesia, Indonesia for images.
Operator: Nombor yang anda panggil, tiada dalam servis. Sila dial jbdhvfgbcj nul-nul-nul-nul... Terima kasih.
Jolyn: Whaddaheck?! People, I just called Indonesia and the operator went 'jbdhvfgbcj nul-nul-nul-nul'.
Sim: Haha, let me try!
Sim dials the mall number.
Operator: Nombor yang anda panggil, tiada dalam servis. Sila dial jbdhvfgbcj nul-nul-nul-nul... Terima kasih.
Sim: Hahahaha! That's funny. Thanks for the stress relief, Jolyn.
After a call to the PR of another mall, Senayan City. 
Jolyn: Oh shit, Sam, I just called the PR for Senayan City and said "Hello, can I please get high resolution images of Plaza Indonesia?" The PR person said "...this is Senayan City".
Samantha: Hahaha!

Looking at images on previewer.
Jolyn: Hey, look! When I zoom into the picture, it zooms to where the cursor points!
Antoine: It.finally.connected!
*Hallelujah...

The team doing TalentCorp articles.
Jolyn: Ok I've finished mine. 'What to do and what not to do in Malaysia'.
Keirsten edits.
Keirsten: Jolyn, what is this?!!! "Do not make fun of our food. We know some Malaysian delicacies such durian are not everyone's cup of tea, but there worse things people out there eat; dirt, bugs, trash, other people, etc.
Team explodes in laughter.
Keirsten: And this! "Do not rub people's heads. We're not good luck charms you know. But it would probably be alright to pat children's head... hmm".
Team ROFL.
Keirsten: And you had to add "hmm" in?!

Received a call from Shangri-La Kuala Lumpur.
Caller: Hello, this is xw$htj#jsdn@hjs$am#bajh@...may I know why you need the images?
Jolyn: (Huh??? What images?!) Um... hello? Sorry, what did you say just now? Something's wrong with the phone and I didn't catch your words.
Caller: Yeah, this is Qhadaffi from Shangri-La KL. Can I know why you emailed us for high resolution images?
Jolyn: Ah! Yes! We need them for our upcoming Best of Malaysia issue for October.
Caller: Oh, I see. Alright then. I will send them to you shortly.
Jolyn: Ok, thank you so much!
Hangs up.
Jolyn: Omg Sam, I fazed out just now during a call. The guy was asking bla-bla, something and I only caught the word "images" at the end, and I was thinking what images? Then I quickly made up some excuse and said my there's some problem with my phone. So he repeated himself and I finally understood what he wanted. I fazed out during a call!
Samantha: You what?! Hahaha!

Print day is Friday and everyone had only started working on EL on Monday. Before that the team was busy with Voyage.
Jolyn: Shucks, I can't focus la Sam! I need horse blinders to keep my train of sight only on the monitor.
Samantha: I'll make you one.
Jolyn: Thanks!
Sam makes makeshift horse blinders out of A4 printouts and her hair band (pic below). See what amazing works, creative hands can do.
Team: OMGWTFROFLTAO!