Sunday, November 28, 2010

ATP Tour Masters London Final Line-up

So Rafael Nadal struggled his way through his semi-final with Andy Murray, who blew a 4-1 lead in the final set tie-breaker to gift the Spaniard a final berth.

Meanwhile, Roger Federer obliterated Novak Djokovic 6-1, 6-4 to enter the final, as he attempts to win the end-of-year Masters for a 5th time.


Saturday, November 27, 2010

ATP Tour Masters London Semi-finals

So we have arrived at the semi-final stage of the ATP Tour Masters in London. There are no surprises and 2 stand-out players thus far. The semi-finals will shape up like this:



Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have both come through the round robin stage undefeated, with 3 wins out of 3. Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic qualified as group runners-up after losing one of their three matches each.

I'm desperately hoping Andy Angles can go against all the odds and beat Nadal because to be honest, I'm scared of Nadal but not Murray. As for Federer, he just has to play to a similar standard as he has in the round robin stage and he should have no problems against Djokovic. Federer is hitting the ball sweetly and most pleasing, his backhand was magnificent in his victory over Soderling. Nadal has not been at his best, doing enough to win, but he did enjoy a 6-1 thrashing of Berdych after he took the first on a tie-break. Nadal dropped a set against Roddick but Federer has yet to lose one, with a perfect 6-0 record in that department.

I hope Murray makes the final, but in my head, where common sense normally prevails, Nadal will slaughter the helpless Scot and enter a mouthwatering final with Federer.

And Federer is due a win over his Spanish rival...

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Zenith Hotel Opening Moved to January 1st, 2011

So the Zenith Hotel will not be opening until January 1st, 2011. There are still plenty of things which need to be done before it can genuinely be ready for operation. Here are a few pictures of the Zenith Hotel which will display its current level of development and show you why it isn't quite ready as yet.

Pallets of materials line the side of Zenith Hotel

The basement entrance looks nowhere near ready

Pallets are loaded up high and bricks strewn across the entrance to the Zenith Hotel

A bonsai tree stands in front of Zenith Hotel
A second bonsai tree waits in the background, but since this picture was taken, the trees have been moved to a mystery location

Piles of bricks are stacked in front of the Zenith Hotel as work is very much ongoing

Zenith Hotel's next-door neighbour - a monitor lizard. Sleep tight!
Zenith Hotel stands beside East Coast Mall, Kuantan
Zenith Hotel is lit-up every night now as workers continue after hours
Work is going on in the reception/foyer area as the Zenith Hotel struggles to be ready by January 1st, 2011
View of Zenith Hotel from the side
The lower walls are still dirt-stained from the ongoing work at Zenith Hotel

Monday, November 22, 2010

Federer the Fans Favourite

Roger Federer was awarded his eighth fan's favourite trophy yesterday at the start of the ATP Tour end of year Masters. People voted online at for their favourite player of the year, and Roger Federer came out on top for the eighth time. I voted for him as well and I'm glad he took the moment to thank me for my vote. He may not be the current world number one any more, but he is still the fan's favourite tennis player for his great successes, fair play and respectful treatment of his opponents.

Roger Federer looked dapper in a bright red shirt as he comfortably beat Spain's David Ferrer in his opening round robin match yesterday at London's O2 arena. He ran out a 6-1, 6-4 winner and will next face up to Scotland's Andy Murray.

Talking of Murray, he opened proceedings by beating Robin Soderling 6-2, 6-4 in an absolutely awful shirt that kind of matches his personality and character.

Federer and Murray have become big rivals on tour, sharing wins and losses of late. But it is their deeply contrasting styles which are the most interesting to analyse. Murray is loud and boisterous; Federer calmly and quietly goes about his work. Murray, as previously mentioned, wears some awfully distasteful attire; Federer always wears simple and neat clothing. Murray's hair and face is a complete mess, not even for the end of year Masters can he get himself looking anywhere near decent; Federer is always smartly dressed, appropriately for whatever occasion, and looks clean-shaven and neat when on-court. Murray's frustrations too often get the better of him, leaving him vulnerable to collapse; Federer's mental toughness sees him soak up pressure and overcome it more often than not. Murray delights in ice-baths (which didn't do much for him at this year's Australian Open under the coaching of Miles Maclagan, who since then, has parted ways with the Scot); Federer simply goes for family time with his wife and daughters, and other advertising appointments with Credit Suisse and Lindt, for example. Murray hits a double-handed backhand which can be pretty effective with slow balls but limited in its reach; Federer has the most exquisite single-handed backhand which can hit balls to any spot on the court. Some have targeted Federer's backhand as a potential weakness but I've never believed it. Only Ree-shard (Richard) Gasquet has a backhand comparable. Murray has a disastrously vulnerable second serve; Federer's is as reliable as they come. Both players are immaculate at mixing up their shots in both speed and direction and placement. Murray has yet to win a Grand Slam; Federer has 16.

And so in the build-up to tomorrow's showdown between the two players, I will share a clip of highlights from their round robin clash last year, which Federer won. The only catch is that this clip includes the most hilarious Arabic commentary ever with the translation to English subtitles sure to provide a barrel of laughs! 

Take the time to check it out, it's a fantastic bit of fun!

Let's hope the standard of tennis was as high as last year.


Friday, November 19, 2010

Appreciating the Journey


The familiar tune of my alarm sounded its soft beat as I took a break from composing this post to make some hot chocolate for Lauren. I had just got back home to find her wide awake watching cartoons on the TV.

It's been a long time. A very long time. My alarm was set for 07:40 but it turned out that I awoke at a considerably earlier 06:20. I smiled to myself as I stopped the alarm, reflecting on the past 80 minutes, which wasn't filled with sleep as planned. There are better things than sleep when it comes to the early hours of the morning.


Lauren's shufflings between her bed and ours awoke me at dawn. I peered out of the bedroom window to see the regular group of ladies doing their morning exercises in the dark to the enchanting rhythm being played out from a nearby cassette player. A look at the clock confirmed that it was somewhere after 6am.

Quickly deciding that it wasn't worth going back to sleep for a mere hour, I threw on a t-shirt and pair of shorts, grabbed the Panasonic Lumix DMC-F2 camera, and hastily made my way down the lighted stairs and out under the dark, somewhat chilly, night sky. One bright star still shed its light above the impending sunrise.

Yes, it was time for me to witness another sunrise. Click here for the last time I observed such a wonder









A fun picture with me in silhouette against the sunrise

The sun lights up everything...
...a parked car...
...and a row of shop-lots



Slowly, gradually, the dark of night became the light of day. It wasn't just the flip of a switch bringing immediate light, but instead was a series of remarkable scenes and colours, as degree by degree, imperceptibly as a whole, the dawning of a new day materialised.

And that's kind of how life goes. While there are occasionally a few dramatic shifts in our journey, the majority of time in our lives goes from one small step to the next, day by day, until imperceptibly, you are suddenly going to school for the first time, or working in your first job, married for over four years, living in a different country, parenting a child of your very own, becoming a grandparent.

Most people's reaction is "Where has the time gone?" They find it hard to accept the change because they never realised the joys of the process. Like the sunrise. We normally arise sometime between 7-8am, completely missing the magnificent process of the sunrise. It was a privilege and a joy to observe the grand procession of the sun's entrance this morning.

Coming to appreciate nature is also a gradual process. It develops until you reach the point where you don't just enjoy the sunrise because somebody else does, but because you savour it of your own volition.

And that's the key. The sunrise is a public event but carries with it extremely personal convictions.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Return of the Sunsets

Around a year ago I was enjoying fantastic sunsets almost every evening, and some pretty cool sunrises too. Then they seemed to go missing for a year. Now, however, the sunsets are starting to make somewhat of a comeback. While there are not too many decent vantage points where I live in Bukit Sekilau, Kuantan, I am able to capture a few good sunset shots. Here are two from this week:

Palm trees sure make for superb sunset images!

Monday, November 15, 2010

More images with my Panasonic Lumix DMC-F2

This is by far and away our favourite restaurant. The Hong Kong Food and Tea restaurant provides the winning combination of a comfortable ambience with food of desire

Our cold milkshakes

The froth on top of my strawberry milkshake
This mesmerizing pattern formed on the chocolate milkshake
Hong Kong Food and Tea is the best restaurant in East Coast Mall, Kuantan
We both opted for this egg-wrapped fish and rice dish, which went down a treat!

Lauren tried on the winter wear at the Parkson sale
Our new candle holder
We decided to add the delightful smell of pot pourri to our home

Friday, November 12, 2010

Recent activities through a Panasonic Lumix DMC-F2 lens

Enjoy these photographs taken with my Panasonic Lumix DMC-F2 camera. It's small, lightweight and compact and comes in a handy black pouch. There are many shooting modes which produce nice pictures, and a convenient Auto mode which prepares the right mode to use for a certain scene. However, the macro function is limited and struggles to detect small objects like flowers and insects.

I've been butterfly spotting of late...

Saw this plant at Restoran Nusantara, a rest station on the way to Singapore from Kuantan...

Here is Lauren playing at the hospital while mummy was having her blood pressure checked...

My good wife has been very excited about Christmas, so consequently the tree is up, as of early November...

 Here is a minute fly on our orange tree...

Last week it was Deepavali, and as such, this exquisitely designed Deepavali floor decoration in East Coast Mall was made using different coloured grains of rice...

These small flowers were just large enough for my camera's macro powers to pick up...

A landscape scene from the park outside my house in Bukit Sekilau, Kuantan...

The other night there was a quite beautiful sunset which caused the sky to burn in yellows and oranges...

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


Amidst the excitement of the rapid construction of the Zenith Hotel, it remains necessary to equally weigh up the drawbacks with the advantages. You should really read my other essay detailing some of... you can see the other side of the coin and come to your own conclusions.

Firstly, the most astonishing detail of the Zenith Hotel is its prices. At RM450 being the starting price for a standard deluxe room, I am wondering who exactly will be staying there for more than one night. A typical family room starts from RM850, which I don't believe is particularly inviting for families who are on a strict budget each month. With the price of the Zenith Suite escalating to RM20,000 per night, I would dare to comment that this is a hotel in the wrong place. For me, I would probably get myself down to the Hyatt Regency Resort Kuantan, over RM100 less and located right on Teluk Chempedak beach.

Check out my journey on my trusty bicycle around Kuantan in the blistering heat, as I surveyed a number of Kuantan hotels.

As for the Zenith Hotel, the price is just too dear to attract ordinary Malaysian folk.

At the end of October 2010, I had a run-in with a bogus policeman. In the dark of night at around 7:20pm, I was cycling home when I reached a row of shop-lots just a stone's throw from the Zenith Hotel. The bogus policeman came on a motorbike from a dark, back alley. He showed me some form of identification, but had no police badge or uniform. I was very fortunate that I was carrying an empty bag (I had strangely left my camera at home that evening) and my wallet was in my back pocket. He was adamant on seeing my passport, then he wanted me to buy him coffee in some feeble attempt at a bribe. I bluntly refused and at this point my suspicions that he wasn't a real cop were confirmed. He ended up following me back to my house where he asked me to bring down my passport. He wouldn't come up. Of course I didn't go back down, and within five minutes he'd decided to go and look for someone else to rob.

With the inception of a five-star hotel looking to attract rich visitors from Malaysia and abroad, bogus police like him will be a huge deterrent to tourists. If I had been here on holiday as opposed to living here, I most definitely would not come back or consider Malaysia in any future holiday plans. With a lack of "real" police presence or law enforcement, bogus police will sadly thrive on innocent foreigners. So too will other types of crime flourish, including snatch thefts and scams, on unassuming travellers.

My third point however, deals with the absence of tourists in Kuantan. For whatever reasons, Kuantan doesn't seem to be a tourist hot-spot. I bemoan this sad state of affairs because there is so much to see and many places of interest in and around Kuantan, from religious structures to natural garden scenes to stunning beaches. It seems that Tourism Malaysia will need to dramatically improve its promotion of Kuantan as a holiday destination, or the Zenith Hotel may find the majority of its 515 rooms empty.

The Zenith Hotel will be relying heavily on people from outstation and abroad. As a result, local Kuantanites will fail to establish a connection with the Zenith Hotel. It will not feel like it belongs to them and so may be further excluded from the life of locals. I would hope that the Zenith Hotel will not become a target for criticism from those who may feel negatively about its construction.

With East Coast Mall (ECM) yards away, and the ever-growing Putra Square in close vicinity, the Zenith Hotel area will be prone to sizeable traffic jams. The road between Zenith Hotel and ECM, and those roads around Putra Square, are extremely narrow and incapable of efficiently transporting traffic along. This is not helped by drivers who constantly park their vehicles on the yellow lines at the sides of the busy roads. Traffic jams and minor accidents will surely be on the rise when the Zenith Hotel opens its doors for business, particularly on weekends and public holidays. This will also affect the traffic flow in the surrounding area of Jalan Dato Lim Hoe Lek and the junction between the stadium and LA Hotel. Coming from the stadium, and also Jalan Dato Lim Hoe Lek, there is only a single lane entrance to the hotel and ECM.

We therefore hope that these factors have fully been taken into account during the process of planning and constructing the Zenith Hotel, and that necessary adjustments will be made. Although, with just over a month until the opening, all of the aforementioned concerns remain.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Federer wins, completes good weekend

Every weekend we look forward to our sport. Sometimes there are many different sporting competitions going on at the same time, for example, football, tennis, Formula One racing, rugby. We enjoy following each sport and our favourite sportsmen and women. Sometimes there are good weekends where all of our favourites win; and occasionally we endure the disappointment of a bad weekend, where the teams and individuals we yearn for, end up on the losing side.

The weekend just passed could be classified as a good weekend, though it wasn't a perfectly victorious one. Allow me to explain.

Firstly was the Barclays Premier League on Saturday night. Any team which is half-good and poses a threat to Manchester United, will be cheered on in all of their struggles. Tottenham, who are rapidly improving and just beat reigning European Champions Internazionale in midweek, suffered a terrible hangover as they went down 4-2 at Bolton Wanderers. That was a good start to our weekend, not to mention a very entertaining match for the neutrals.

By the way, Kevin Davies should definitely keep his place in the England squad

Things almost took a turn for the worse when later that night an absolutely wretched performance from Man.Utd almost resulted in more dropped points. It was only thanks to a stoppage time winner from South Korean winger Ji-sung Park, which gave us the 3 points in a 2-1 win over unlucky Wolves.

On Sunday, there was football, tennis and F1. Let's deal with the one disappointment first, shall we? Lewis Hamilton could only finish fourth in the Brazilian Grand Prix, behind title rivals Sebastian Vettel, Mark Webber and Fernando Alonso, who carries a slim lead into the final race of the year in Abu Dhabi. Hamilton needs a miracle comprising of him winning the race and his 3 main title rivals all not finishing in the points. Oh well. . . there's always next year.

Meanwhile, things were going great at the Emirates stadium where Newcastle put on a magnificently disciplined performance to beat Arsenal in their own backyard by a single Andy Carroll goal to nil. Arsenal to win the league? No chance! Not when you've lost games at home to newly promoted teams in West Brom and Newcastle.

Further joy came at Anfield where a resurgent Liverpool powered past Chelsea 2-0 thanks to a rejuvenated Fernando Torres. Chelsea's second BPL defeat of the season was sweet. ManU are just a couple of points behind the leaders now. Thanks Liverpool, for helping us out yet again.

Meanwhile, on the continent, in a small town named Basle in Switzerland, a home-grown star was lifting ATP title number 65 of his glittering career. Roger Federer, the G.O.A.T, beat Novak Djok-strap in 3 sets, sealing triumph with an amazing half-volley backhand winner on match point, taking the decider 6-1.

Enjoying a pizza party with his fellow ball-kids after the match


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