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Time for a topic that is slightly different from the usual food related articles.

We’ve received vacant posession to our KEN Rimba house at Shah Alam several months ago, and been busy doing defects and renovation work ever since. There are a few more weeks work to be done before we can probably move in and call it our new home, so I thought it’s best to start documenting some of the stuff we’ve done to the house on this space so that we can reflect in years to come.

First off, the koi pond.

pond digging and piling work
pond digging and piling work

I have been keeping koi fish for some ten years at the current SS3 address from a pond Horng and I constructed in 2005. We’re moving, the fish has to come along, so a new pond is needed.

Since the developer promised to put in a small pool to the unit, I took the opportunity to commission the same backhoe loader to dig the pond. It was to be a 14′ x 6′ x 5′ deep pond. Digging and timber piling work was done in early March.

construction of the fish pond
construction of the fish pond

Reinforced concrete were then poured to the make the foundation of the pond, which resides at the rear end of the yard just a few feed by the fiber glass pool.

We decided to hire foreign workers (Nepalese & Bangladeshi mostly) to build the brick wall for the pond. The joints were interlocked and rebar used to ensure structure integrity. I also decided that 2 layers of bricks is laid as per Sheng’s advise, who is a structural engineer by profession. (Thanks)

We also laid some PVC pipes for drainage & filtration system at this point.

This stage took about 3 weeks, with work mostly done either only on Sunday or off hours.

plastering and waterproofing
plastering and waterproofing

Next, we got a couple of Indonesian workers to help plaster the walls. Man, these guys worked fast and I reckon they were at least twice as efficient as the previous guys. We got the walls plastered in two days.

Haze and I then spent several weeks applying a couple layers of waterproofing agent on the pond. We used Nippon Flexiseal for this application.

In retrospect, we should have applied waterproofing measures while pouring concrete and making brick walls, oh well.

harvesting rain water for koi pond
harvesting rain water for koi pond

Since the house came with rain water harvesting tank at the rear, I decided to take advantage of it by connecting a pipe and run it to the pond. What’s better than natural rain water for the fish?

At this point, we also discovered that the first round waterproofing was not good. To rectify this, we use a Sika grout product as per recommended by my cousin who is in construction industry. Thankfully, we managed to solve the leakage problem with a little bit of creative workaround.

additional water proofing fix & filter hook up
additional water proofing fix & filter hook up

I’ve then temporarily hooked up the Laguna Powerflo Filter Fall to try to let it mature a little bit. Local guppies are now thriving in the pond to prevent it being a mosquito breeding ground.

This filtration system is chosen due to the ease maintenance. I purchased this from Sunway Mas Commercial Centre’s Fish Depot, they are very helpful and I urge you to check them out should you have any aquarium supply needs.

Other aspects of the house will be updated on this space soon, as well as the second part of this koi pond story with the way filtration system is set up.

This is not a typical food, travel, or advertorial entry to this blog, but is rather an even that I want myself to be reminded of years to come. I met the US Ambassador to Malaysia, Joseph Y. Yun, and I was invited to do so.

Monika & KY with US Ambassador to Malaysia Joseph Y. Yun
Monika & KY with US Ambassador to Malaysia Joseph Y. Yun

A couple weeks ago I got this email that says:

The Ambassador of the United States of America
Joseph Y. Yun and Dr. Melanie Billings-Yun
request the pleasure of your company at the

 U.S. Travel and Food Promotion Event

on Tuesday, May 26, 2015
from 5:30  to 7:00 o’clock

Which initially looked sorta suspicious, but I really couldn’t think of any Nigerian scam that could start this way, so I responded, and after a couple KM walk from office on the 26th of May, 2015, I arrived at the ambassador’s residence, which by quarter to six was filled with people whom I’ve never met before (except two.)

US Travel & Food Promotion Event at the US Embassy, KL
US Travel & Food Promotion Event at the US Embassy, KL

The US Travel & Food Promotion Event was attended by mostly people in the travel industry, the media, and a couple food writers (that I can recognise).

At the Ambassador’s “humble” home, we got to sample quite a few products from the States. OceanSpray cranberry juice, Florida’s Natural orange juice, cheese, Kettle’s chips, a couple types of ice cream, Californian wine, and even raw oysters.

some of the products from United States
some of the products from United States

If you think about it, the most popular food in the world is actually American food. They’ve been incredibly successful in exporting American culture & food via hollywood & fast food chains, but look around a little more and you’ll find that there are many other US food brands that carries a much more positive image of the country.

This event sorta reminded me of the good times I had spending that 4.5 years in the States.

Thank you for the invitation, and hopefully I get to travel to the States again soon.

This is a pretty simple question – where would you travel for 100,000 KMs?

Going to work would be 20-30+ km for me, getting to breakfast? Maybe 2-5 km, a fancy place for dinner? Perhaps 20 or even 30 km away. A one-night getaway? Perhaps up to 100-150 km. Two day binge eating trip? Up to 350 km.

travel around peninsular Malaysia

To put things in perspective, 100,000 km would allow you to go around all the states in peninsular Malaysia almost 50 times!

Bean sprout chicken rice at Ipoh, laksa and char kuih teow in Penang, fish filet curry mee at Alor Setar, tomyam up North, nasi kerabu at Kota Bharu, keropok lekor at Kuala Terengganu, stuffed crab over at Kuantan, kuih teow kia by Johor, satey celup at Melaka, Seremban beef noodle/crab, and then back to Selangor for some good old fashion bak kut teh.

travel to eat

Around, around, and around in this great nation of food that is Malaysia, and we’re only talking about peninsular. If you hop over to Sabah, Sarawak, and Borneo, there are even more opportunity to explore.

All of which can be done with on your favorite mode of transportation, which more often than not, would come in the form of a vehicle with 4 wheels, which in turn, needs a set of good tyres.

Now imagine if the longevity of the tyres is something you don’t need to worry about. Check out the following video:

Goodyear Assurance DuraPlus is a tyre that’s engineered to take it all the way – up to 100,000 km on the road. The tyre is reinforced with DuPont™ Kevlar® technology that provides added protection as well.

Check out the other features & benefits:

  • TredLife Technology™
    For longer lasting tread
  • Enhanced Durability
    Reinforced layer from DuPont™ Kevlar® for added protection against road hazard. An additional layer of lightweight material that is used to reinforce/strengthen the tire for enhanced protection and durability.
  • Advanced Carbon Based Tread Compound
    The compound with higher carbon content provides higher resistance to road wear, thus improving tread wear performance.
  • Optimized Wide Face Cavity
    The larger tread width design from optimized cavity shape puts more wearable rubber in contact with the road.
  • Maximized Rubber Volume
    Maximized road contact area. Deep tread depth resulting increased wearable rubber volume.
  • Asymmetric Tread Design for Precise Handling
    Asymmetric tread design places more rubber on the outside shoulder providing increased grip during cornering.

Goodyear Assurance DuraPlus

Apart from that, Goodyear Assurance DuraPlus is also under the programme of Worry Free Assurance; where your tyres are insured from the nasty road hazard damages. This programme also covers damages from manmade mishap, such as puncture, cut and buglers impact. Pretty cool initiative by the company for their client. Click here to know more.

So for those of you who loves to travel for makan or putting on mileage on the car for any other purpose at all, Goodyear Assurance DuraPlus is definitely something to check out if you are due for a new set of shoes for the car.

Head to the website to find out more.

It goes without saying that I’m pretty adventurous when it comes to seeking for food, there’s almost no place too far or too difficult if the food is awesome. And to accomplish my craving for good food, my tool of choice is often my trusted Japanese lady – the MR2 that’s older than most recent new graduates.

toyota MR2 in glauco blue

I’ve been driving this car going to and from kopitiam, restaurants, work, Penang, Ipoh, Bukit Tinggi, Genting, and other places for some ten years now. While I try to be safe and ensure that my 4-point seat belt is used properly at all time, there’s always that extra protection that one needs to feel truly covered.

Zurich CoPilot

And this is where Zurich CoPilot can come into play.

In essence, the CoPilot is one card that has many roles. For RM 280 (plus GST), it provides three key features:

Zurich CoPilot

Safety : Legal Assistance

  • Unlimited access to professional legal assistance
  • 24/7 legal assistance & services
  • Easy, convenient & interactive

Protection : Insurance Solutions

  • Protect yourself, your loved ones and your passengers
  • Safeguard your personal valuables
  • Ease your financial burden

Convenience : Other Services

  • Prepaid electronic cash card services through Touch ‘n Go
  • Simple, convenient & secure by just a swipe away
  • 24 hours roadside assistance across the country

In case of any trouble on the road, such as collisions or any fender-bender, the CoPilot holder can call to get advise on legal proceedings and insurance policy solutions. This can be done via phone consultation, face to face, or even court representation.

CoPilot will be available soon, stay tuned for more updates at www.copilot.com.my or contact CoPilot hotline at 1300 30 20 10

Zurich branch network

There’s also Pilot Plus to protect your passenger(s) while traveling in the same vehicle, Pilot Protect to safeguard personal valuables when traveling in own vehicle, Auto Pilot to ease financial burden when any mishap happens, and On-Time Arrival – the all important round the clock roadside assistance across the nation (this is probably most important for me).

Head to a Zurich branch near you to find out more. Coincidentally, the nearest branch in PJ is at SS3, a mere 5 minutes bicycle ride from me!

There are 6 branches in Klang Valley, so you don’t have to travel far to get to one. I find it better to speak to representative face to face, but if you prefer, there’s always the choice of doing it via phone/website as well.

Head to www.zurich.com.my for more.

3A couple years ago I was one of the earlier adopters in fitness tracker with the jawbone. Since that unit became faulty with a defunct vibration mode, I sort of stopped using it, until I was introduced to Mi Band by Yee Hou, Xiaomi’s answer to activity tracker than costs only RM 69 instead of the usual RM 300-400 from other brands.

This is my short review and why you may want to think of getting one.

mi band on my wrist and being charged
mi band on my wrist and being charged

WHAT IS AN ACTIVITY TRACKER AND WHY DO I NEED ONE?

Well, an activity tracker is basically something that you wear on you 24/7 and tracks what you do to a certain extend. In the case of Mi Band, it tracks your step counts as well as the number of hours you sleep. You can usually view these information on a connected mobile application or the tracker itself.

Additionally, some activity trackers also has reminder functions, calorie counts, alarms, or even connect to heart rate monitors.

In the case of Xiaomi’s Mi Band, it has the following functions worth mentioning, additionally, it is paired with the phone with Bluetooth 4.0.

  • step counting
  • sleep tracking
  • alarms
  • alerts
  • rope skipping & sit ups

mi band as a pedometer
mi band as a pedometer

STEP COUNT FUNCTION:

The one feature every activity tracker has is the step count. In essence, this is just a pedometer that counts pretty much every single step you take throughout the day.

Mi Band’s feature is pretty basic, it’ll try to “guess” when you are running versus walking, but I find it generally doing a pretty poor job of guessing, though the step count is quite spot on.

The default goal is 8,000 steps per day, once you reach 1/3 of that, the band blinks one of 3 LEDs when you bring the band up from your wrist in a “look at your watch” gesture. 2 LEDs when you reach 2/3, and all 3 plus vibration when you hit the 8000 mark.

However, the gesture doesn’t always work, and I prefer to use the application to view the step count anyway.

On the app, you can also view a breakdown of today’s steps, and view a history of previous days/weeks/monthly average. However, there is no way to view detailed breakdown of yesterday or any other day’s count. There is also no web-version of the app.

mi band sleep tracking
mi band sleep tracking

SLEEP TRACKING:

Unlike other fitness tracker that requires you to manually enter a sleep mode, Mi Band tracks you sleeping pattern at night automatically, and with that there’s pros & cons.

You will never forget to manually click a button before you go to sleep, but at the same time, the band has no ability to track afternoon naps. It’ll merely come up as inactivity period(s).

You also cannot edit sleep time on the application. I wish this could change in the future via updates.

However, it still does its job quite well 90% of the time, giving you a pretty good idea of how much sleep (or the lack of) you get throughout the week.

mi band alarm & charging
mi band alarm & charging

ALARM, BATTERY, & OTHER FUNCTIONS:

Another neat feature of Mi Band is the alarm function. You can set 3 recurring alarms and the band will vibrate and blink at those set time. It’s a great way to wake up without having to bother the person sleeping next to you (or at the same room).

The battery life on Mi Band is advertised at 1 month per charge, and from experience it is actually even better than advertised. I still have 27% left at day 36. I’ll trade not having a display for long battery life any day.

Mi Band also has other, less useful features like being able to share your target achieving streaks or daily step counts on social media platforms such as Facebook or WeChat, and you can also track sit ups and rope jumping, though I’ve never really bothered with those.

CONCLUSION:

Mi Band is a great little piece of gadget that is absolutely worth the price you pay for it. Sure, the functions are pretty basic, but it does it well and has excellent battery life to boot.

If you’re looking into having a basic tracker to be a healthier and more active person, Mi Band is not a bad way to start.