Thursday, October 23, 2014

Dialogue In The Dark: The Lesson

I'm back and still feeling the blessing of my sight, Shneep people! Yes, if you have already forgotten, I made a visit to Dialogue In The Dark in Jaya One last Friday courtesy of ChurpChurp who held the #ChurpOutInTheDark event in hand with Dialogue In The Dark to give us a sense of what it's like to be visually impaired. I must say that it was such an eye opener (No pun intended!) especially for someone like me who has always had bad eyesight.

Mum's pointing at G, the initial to her name.

 I attempted an E but settled for a L...with an E in some way. 

Because of the experience I got at Dialogue In The Dark, I decided to also pen down what I've felt during and after the tour. And here goes nothing.

DURING

Loneliness.
While I had my mum who tugged on my hoodie all the way and all the other people who kept shouting over and over alongside my guide, Mimi, who was trying to help us around, I still could not help but to feel a little lonely in those times of darkness. It was almost like you just felt as though no one was with you and you were lost. Truth be told, this was the worse feeling to have while I was in the experience centre because there was no backing down and you couldn't speed anything up either for everyone was there enjoying it too. You just had to deal with it. 

Serenity.
I don't know if this was prominently happening to everyone else but when we all took a seat on the bench in one of the rooms and was told to "enjoy the breeze and surroundings", I closed my eyes and took in a whiff of what I knew for sure was air-conditioning but enjoyed it all the same as if it were fresh mist of the mountains we were told to imagine in our minds. Sometimes it is when we are out of sight that we put our brains into working out an image...without the image in front of us anyway.

Freedom to express & the lack of self-consciousness.
I know for sure everyone felt this. We could scream, shout, talk and do every other silly thing while we were in there without the need to worry about how anyone felt about us. We didn't even know who was doing what and that felt great. In fact, I had to tap on this participant named Jason throughout the entire tour and it didn't feel as awkward as I ever had to when playing ice-breaking games. It was just that kind of freedom in the dark that you felt and you could express it your own way.

When the lights were turned on, we were all awkwardly silent and shared nothing but mutual smiles to one another at the same dining table. Before that, we were really engrossed in chats and tried to explore what was on our plates asking each other what we've found. And I thought that was great. You didn't care how the person looked and it didn't matter if they were fat or thin. All that mattered was that there was someone there to talk to and you were grateful for it.

AFTER

Gratefulness.
Coming back out to the light brought me more than just an experience but the art to be thankful. I was thankful for my gift of sight, I was thankful for the hospitality everyone from Dialogue In The Dark gave me but most of all, I was thankful to have been alive to see the world in all its beauty...or horror whatsoever be it. I think this is something that has come through everyone's minds when they stepped out from the dark. The loud sighs and relieved breaths were something you could definitely catch the night of #ChurpOutInTheDark.

Loving my senses.
Factoring in the deal that I could see nothing, I put absolute trust in every sense of mine that night. I started listening in on how the blind stick hit other things like the wall or benches, I touched obstacles ahead of me and tapped on the person in front, I smelled things like oranges and lemongrass when we were walking around the "market" to feel what it's like to be out grocery shopping as a visually impaired person and I took to tasting each of my dinner's course with delicate care whenever Mimi served us a new plate of whatever. These senses; these everyday things that we have with us and take for granted suddenly came together as the most precious things ever. It's such an indescribable feeling, I can hardly put it in words. I just figure you really need to try it out yourself.

Admiration.
For the ones who are visually impaired, a grand salutation to them all. Not only did they guide us noisy bloggers and Churpers around the experience centre, they also had to take us to our seats for dinner and serve us meals while going up and down whenever we asked for extra tissue or drinks. And to think that we're the able bodied ones who have all of our senses perfectly intact! I absolutely think they are amazing after the evening at Dialogue In The Dark, not only during the tour but through their everyday lives when they are out of the centre.

I know they won't see this, but I just had to try it out myself.

Thank you once again for the lessons you have taught me, people from Dialogue In The Dark. It is invaluable, it is precious and it is something no one can just tell you about for you truly have to try it out yourself. Dialogue In The Dark welcomes the public to experience life in pitch darkness with tickets priced at:  
RM 30 per adult aged 18 and above
RM 25 per youth aged 13 to 17
RM 20 per child aged 7 to 12

And here's where you can find them:

100-P1-001, The School,
Block J, Jaya ONE,
No. 72A, Jalan Universiti,
46200 Petaling Jaya. 

Seriously though people, care for your eyes. Life as a visually impaired is difficult. 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Dialogue In The Dark: The Experience

As someone who has been wearing glasses since the age of 10, I've always taken to understanding that I won't have perfect vision unless I went on for something drastic like laser treatments for my short sightedness and astigmatism. But what happens to people who don't even have the option of these treatments and their world is just a dark place...forever?

Giving the tourist pose.

I first encountered Dialogue In The Dark when I was back in Jaya One during the Markets fair in August but was pressed for time to experience it then somehow never gave it another thought until ChurpChurp came up with the #ChurpOutInTheDark event. This time, I thought for sure that I just HAD to be there and be there I did on Friday!
And I brought my mother along!

For those who don't know, Dialogue In The Dark has been around Malaysia for about 2 years now and has been founded by Mr. Stevens Chan, a corporate professional and active businessman until the year 2007 when he lost his sight to Glaucoma. The idea of Dialogue In The Dark or DID as it is commonly called is to bring awareness to those with sight on how it's like to live in the dark or to blend into everyday living. 

Welcome to Dialogue In The Dark.

Lockers to store your belongings safely.

And the words of those who has experienced DID for themselves.

For a wholesome time in the experience centre of DID, anything that would light up was no allowed so that meant no phones, no cameras and even to the extent that no digital watches that had light would be allowed. Each tour lasts between 45 minutes to an hour and it's performed in pitch black darkness so you actually get to feel what it's like to be...blind per say. All you have is faith to your guide and a walking stick to move around without hitting the walls or anything inside.

Because this was a #ChurpOutInTheDark event (And also #NNDialogueInTheDark), the lot of us were split into groups of 10 and we followed a kind lady called Margona to enter the experience centre before we were handed over to another lady called Mimi. Bear in mind that we couldn't see Mimi at all, all we had was the guidance of her voice and her warm touches on our arms. The theme of our walk was "Cuti-Cuti Malaysia", much done in accordance to Visit Malaysia 2014 and every step took us around the familiar areas of Malaysia without the gift of sight. In fact, let me show you how it was like in the experience centre.

The dots are really just lights from the CCTV that kept the guides safe.

And I am not kidding. Many would think (Myself included) that the experience centre would have at least allowed us to see our own hands at a close distance as you would when you turn off the lights and stare into your room but in DID, darkness is no joke. As Mimi took us on our journey around Malaysia, she also guided us into a place where we were served with fantastic food courtesy of Mango Chilli...also in complete darkness.

Tasks that we had included writing a poem with each other by passing the paper and pen around with each one only writing ONE word and other things like pouring tea from a flask then having our 4 course meal. Not only was it awkwardly difficult to figure out what was being served, it also posed such difficulty in just finding our seats. The experience took a little less than 3 hours including dinner time and when the lights were turned on, our eyes took so much time to adapt once again to the sheer brightness and that was when we were introduced to our guides.

This is the guide for my group, Mimi.

Mimi has been partially blind from the age of 16 yet possesses a diploma in early childhood education and was a kindergarten teacher before coming to DID to work as a guide. Her sight was impaired when a nerve in her eye began to give her problems and it was then when she lived a life with only half the sight she had. At the other end of the room was her twin sister, Shah (I assume such as her name from what I heard) who has the same problem as Mimi and is also partially blind. I cannot imagine what their family has come to face with not just one but two of these beautiful girls losing their sight together. 

Mr. Stevens and his seeing eye dog with a French name, LaShawn.
If you think he's a little familiar, it's because he is the same Mr. Stevens who made headlines on the Malay Mail with LaShawn earlier this year with the article titled, "Man's best friend not loved by everyone." I remember reading the article back when it was widely circulated on social media and malls were scrutinized by the society alike for their lack of compassion but nothing beats the experience of actually trying to maneuver around the experience centre with only a blind stick. Now as I take another glance on the article, I find it so true that those who are visually impaired have so much to go through; from finding things to buy in supermarkets to hailing cabs and attending to nature's call.

Bloggers and Churpers alike gather for a photo.

The event ended on a high note with everyone coming back to the light and loving the fact that we could see once again. For someone who always goes through momentary blurriness from removing my contact lenses and switching back to my glasses or waking up in the morning to look for these sightly help, Dialogue In The Dark has taught me that my blurry moments were nothing compared to what those who are visually impaired has to go through. 

So thank you very much, ChurpChurp for this amazing time in learning how important my sight is in life. A great big thank you also extends to Dialogue In The Dark and their guides (Especially Mimi for me!) for having us rowdy and noisy bloggers and churpers over. Suppose everyone had their panicking moments when they saw nothing because it takes time to get used to. It was indeed an eye-mazing night.

Dialogue In The Dark welcomes the public to experience life in pitch darkness with tickets priced at:  
RM 30 per adult aged 18 and above
RM 25 per youth aged 13 to 17
RM 20 per child aged 7 to 12

And here's where you can find them:

100-P1-001, The School,
Block J, Jaya ONE,
No. 72A, Jalan Universiti,
46200 Petaling Jaya.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Little Days

Hello, Shneep-people! Okay I am typing this from my iPad because I thought of trying out the blogging-on-the-go feel so if there are typos all over or spacing issues all about, leave me a comment and let me know.

Anyway, here's a fun fact: I never stopped sleeping in my parents' room until I was 8. This would have resulted in my father knowing when I sleep and when I wake up especially on school days. The thing with me however is that I hardly enjoyed sleep time (WHAT WAS I THINKING?) so I had a habit of lying down and pretending to fall asleep but I'd put my hands up and fool around with my fingers in the air.

To me, this was how he would never catch me still awake because I'm technically flat on the floor and possibly have dozed off with shut eyes. In fact when I looked over, this is what I would see.

He couldn't see me, I was sure of it!

Whenever this happens, my dad also shouts out to me and says, "Go and sleeeeeeeep." which leaves me puzzled because...HOW DID HE KNOW? And last night when I put up in their room again, I realized an important thing.

This was how.

He could totally see my fingers! What. Was. I. Thinking. But then again, I was only about 7 or 8 years old. In fact, I looked like this.

Cute, no? That's my buddy when we were 7 and her name's Faustina.
I had to bug my cousin for this picture so you best appreciate this!

So yes, here's a post to remember the days when I was sillier, funnier and a lot more naive. Exactly as I've said, the little days. I just thought I should share. 

Friday, October 10, 2014

Bringing Changes

Hello fellow people! I've done something that has made me so proud of myself, I must grab a nice slice of cake today to celebrate. That's right, I now have my own domain so welcome to Shneep's Corner at a brand new URL!


To be honest, I have been dying to grab my own domain name in fears that someone would somehow fall into place and take away the name "Cantuslupus" from me so when Isabel shared it with Tania, Senri and I that Exabytes was doing a great big promotion for bloggers alike, I just knew it was fate running up to me telling me to grab the chance and just do it. If you're new here and you're wondering why the name means so much to me, you definitely need to click on the tab that says "The Original Cantus Lupus" on top.

New header, yay!

Of course, that doesn't seem to be the only change to the blog considering how there's also a spanking new header for the site! Scroll up if you haven't noticed because I spent quite a number of hours on it with my limited knowledge in Illustrator skills and other little factors on my artistic end. Credits all goes to sites such as Freepik and FontSquirrel for all the little additions to the piece. Seriously, they have such extensive libraries of vectors and fonts, it's just amazing!

Additionally, a favicon is under the wraps with that much of a design bug biting me so I thought I might as well get them all changed at once. While I do hope to give the blog a different outlook, I can only do so much and I have bigger qualms of picture sizes and such so I can't be doing that just yet until I discover someone who could help me revamp my blog...for not so much a fee or none at all. I'll buy you coffee with wishful thinking?

Hello, I needed a reason to post this here.

And that's just about the kind of update I have for you now. Welcome to the semi-new space, people. I have never felt more proud of my blog and my own writing. Besides the time I saw my article being printed and framed at an uncle's house anyway.

Monday, October 6, 2014

The Halloween Escape

Hello people! I hope you've missed me because I've been having a momentary writer's block on what to tell you aside the fact that I have gotten older (And fatter) and that I am still mulling around home. But last Saturday proved a little different for me because I got to visit Malaysia's 1st Halloween Escape happening at the Wet World, Shah Alam!

Yeah, a skeleton with its eyes lit...not scary, not scary...

Capturing the essence of fear now that it's Halloween season, Wet World Shah Alam decided to pull in Escape Room to make up the very first Halloween Escape in Malaysia where you first get scared then you get witty. Point in fact is that there are fantastic decorations set up all over Wet World Shah Alam that will be up all of October and several Escape Room styled cabanas that are open every Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays of the entire October this year.

Dare you walk in?
Interesting decorations of skeletons in a float just bobbing up and down the pool.

As I arrived later than expected, I had missed out on the Terrifying Mist Water Show that featured water projection of these scary heads and eerie speeches set at the Wet World Lobby. Luckily for me however, they had it up and showing again around 9.30 PM and I caught half of it on camera! 

video
I hope you can hear the video because I hear it loud and clear!

 Say hello to their friendly...uh...ghost.
Stephanie and Chan who were there much earlier even had time for a walkabout of the area while it was still bright so you could head over to their blog where you can see their account of the event right here. I suppose that's what happens when you don't do too good of a planning on itinerary and count too much on Waze. 

"Blood" packs for the thirsty.

Having sips of "type O blood". I did get very thirsty all night.

The thing that I enjoyed most about the entire night had to be the amount of precise details being put into it what with food that resembled fingers and syrup served in the looks of blood packs. In fact, they even had this adorable pumpkin bun that I could NOT get over!

I'm sorry I had to eat you, pumpkin bun!

Caught in action by Steph. The thug looking person next to me is Steven, my plus one of the night.

Obviously food was not the only thing that got us hooked because they had likes of Chinese vampires walking around and dead nurses in scrubs scaring the bejesus out of Stephanie all night long. She was actually so scared, she kept repeating this all night long: "I will punch them if they come near me!" It was her mantra, I think.

I hung out with this girl in white and a scythe...before she went "RAWR" on me.
Note the nurse in scrubs on the left. She was just...epic.

Come on, it's not everyday you get to hang out with ghosts...right?

What we did get to try that night however, was the Haunted House that was set up by Escape Room as well as one of the 4 mini cabana escapes (Because the lines were really long), both of which we failed to find our ways out. For someone who despises horror movies and scream fests, I told my heart to be still and braved my way into the Haunted House but it wasn't a feat done without my high pitched screams; a part of me that still isn't as boy-ish as most of my friends think.

Steven's stare down with the nurse in scrubs. Three guesses who walked away a winner. 
Tip: It isn't the guy.
Aside to the challenges, games and eerie decorations that were set up, the Halloween Escape also featured surprise events for the media and bloggers to watch that included live band performances and flash mobs by non other than the creepy halloween mascots. 

I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed the dance and oddly nice yet eerie music.

We also had a quick sit down with the Senior Manager of Wet World Shah Alam, Mr. Steven Chang (Not to be confused with my plus one!) who told us that the concept behind this collaboration with Escape Room came about as they wanted to bring more exposure to what the theme park had to offer in addition to giving everyone a new experience of enjoying Halloween. Of course, the Haunted House is definitely not for those with weak hearts or expectant mothers nor little kids unless accompanied but otherwise, everyone is welcome so long it's the weekends.
Creepily intricate on details.
With a twist of luck did we also get to meet Mr. Victor Lo and Mr. Jason Leung, the handsomely charming founders of Escape Room who then told us that this entire attraction has been built on months and months of pre-planning and they were excited to see how it would workout when they brought Escape Room out of the normal areas. Everything that has been set up at the Halloween Escape has been provided by the folks over at Escape Room and that's saying a lot! "We're just a little twisted and we tend to enjoy getting more people get twisted," said Mr. Lo when Steph and I pondered on the idea of building Escape Room.
At this point of time, I do wish that I have more to show you but unfortunately for me, it was extremely difficult to take decent photographs all night as there is something terribly wrong with my phone; throwing itself from a 99% battery life to 47% within an hour...without usage. So I must say that most of the photos in this post have all been taken by Stephanie and also from her blog BLESS HER SOUL. 

The Halloween Escape at Wet World Shah Alam opens every Friday, Saturday and Sunday in the entire month of October with tickets priced at only RM 38 per person! It's definitely a different experience for those who enjoys a great challenge and if I were to give you an advice, it would be to really go ahead and enjoy yourself there. For the hungry ghosts (No pun intended!), food stalls are set up with likes of food such as fingers with blood and spaghetti with eyeballs in line with the creepy theme.

For more details on ticket purchases and other questions, check out the Escape Game page or the Wet World Shah Alam site! Don't be a chicken, go spook yourself crazy this Halloween!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Le Cordon Bleu: To Be A Cuisinier

Hello again from the fat Shneep! I'm really just dropping by today because I feel really guilty to have you guys hanging from my first mention of the day at Le Cordon Bleu and I never spoke about the second session after. But fret not, here it is!

Introducing Chef David Morris, 1 part chef, 1 part lecturer and 2 parts murderer. (I kid.)

Born and bred in the rural areas of the United Kingdom, food from the land and sea is nothing new to the passionate Chef Morris who began to train as an apprentice in a leading Birmingham hotel in his young teenage days. Before long, Chef Morris found himself in Henley-on-Thames where he began to work under the wings of Head Chef Norman Cook at the Phyllis Court Club before being promoted as a Sous Chef and got himself promoted as the Executive Sous Chef at the Compleat Anglear Hotel in Marlow. In the year 2005, Chef Morris was crowned runner up as the Hampshire Chef of the Year and has helped design and open Shendish Manor in Hertfordshire, one of the best country house hotels today.
 
As a patient lecturer who makes sure his students understands each technique properly, he began the session with a really quirky posture; holding the knife up. I thought it was a really interesting way to speak to us because he explained to us how knives or any other thing around us isn't exactly as dangerous as we thought and the real danger in the kitchen was something closer to home. It was us, or rather our recklessness. It's something my brother has mentioned to me before and I do agree wholeheartedly. I mean, if you think about how a knife is dangerous, it's just about how we handle it. Logically speaking, I thought Chef Morris truly knew his deal and I wasn't wrong about that thought.

And here's our our dish of the day; squid.

The demonstration by Chef Morris was an Asian Inspired Consomme with Squid alongside Rosettes of Melon with Mango Chilli Salsa. With his new found love for chillies when he arrived Malaysia years ago, Chef Morris has constantly been instilling this spicy touch to all his creations. To him, a little bit of bird's eye chilli (Or chilli padi as we call it) was really needed for a tang on your tongue that leaves you partly gasping yet wanting more.

Preparing the fresh catch.

And showing us what it's like to clean it thoroughly; inside and out.

As someone who spends possibly only 10% of her life in the kitchen to date, I never knew there was so much to clean in a squid! I've always had them already cooked and deliciously battered or prepared in whatever way, I didn't even know the backbone of a squid resembled plastic pieces and there was a thing inside the squid that absolutely had to be removed (I think it was the teeth or something) that looks extremely small yet dangerous. All these were done and ready in a manner of minutes in the hands of Chef Morris in front of our eyes, people!

Dealing with a paste made of white fish, squid trimmings and left overs of chilli, ginger and lemongrass.

Making sure the paste in cold fish stock hasn't gotten burnt at the bottom of the pot.

It was crucial in the creation of consommes that it doesn't get stirred yet doesn't get burned at the bottom with light taps of a chopstick and this was something we learned from Chef Morris. It would seem like the art of cooking wasn't just with your hands but also a coordination of your 5 senses. You had to see how clear the stock had boiled, smell if your ingredients have gone bad, taste if it has been seasoned well enough, hear if the consomme has burned and feel to know if everything was in place. Being a chef isn't an easy job.

This is how you simmer.

Our consomme is ready for dishing!

During the demonstration period, Chef Morris got us engaged in an interesting activity whereby he had us off our butts and do a little stretch in our arms. It was funny yet intriguing to know that this was how he is in classes too; making it less boring and as I believe, will definitely make it more memorable for his students to know what they are doing right (Or wrong) while cooking.

Little touches to our Asian Inspired Consomme with Squid.

Tada! Everything has been made from scratch, smack in front of our eyes! 

Rosettes of Melon with Mango Chilli Salsa.

It was the first of my consomme experiences and truly something unexpected if you ask me. It wasn't overly coiling as how I expected the fish stock to be. In fact, it had that tangy twist with a bit of spicy taste and the scent of lemongrass all in one while the lightly grilled squid wasn't at all rubbery; a feat that some chefs may not achieve. While I didn't manage to take photos of how the rosettes of melon with mango chilli salsa was made, I can distinctively remember how Chef Morris has used a meat slicer to turn a really sweet rock melon into thin slices before hand-rolling them to resemble a rosette then drenched bits of the mango chilli salsa (That he made from scratch in front of our eyes, no less!) over the sides. The result was a sweet and flavourful appetizer that I wish I had more of.

A tour to the kitchen.

Much like the patissier kitchen, the cuisinier kitchen fits 16 students at every given time so everyone has their own counter tops to prepare their ingredients, cook up a storm then wash up before presenting it to Chef Morris to grade by the end of the class. It has been designed such as that Chef Morris could be standing exactly where I stood as this picture was taken and look out to his students so he knows if they've done something wrong. And may I just remind you that these kitchens costed RM 6 million to build in Sunway Le Cordon Bleu? You're welcome.

With Chef David Morris...lesser of a murderer when you've been in the demonstration long enough.

And that was how my Saturday went at Sunway Le Cordon Bleu. It was truly an eye opening experiences to watch as things were created in front of my face when hours ago, these materials were sitting separately from on another and were definitely not what they turned out to be. Visits around the campus also showed me that the kitchen was really well equipped and students in Sunway Le Cordon Bleu would definitely be getting a state of the art education in walking their paths to cook up a storm and make everyone's tummy happy. 

I just thought I should again thank ChurpChurp for the vouchers to this demonstration (That I almost did not turn up to!) and Disney Malaysia in line with Sunway Le Cordon Bleu for arranging this amazing experience. You could check out the official Le Cordon Bleu website to know more about enrollment details as well as scholarships that they offer right now at www.lecordonbleu.com.my or just head off to Sunway University College and ask for a good tour of the place. It's seriously not your regular campus where Le Cordon Bleu stands. Until then, I'm just going to have soup from the can because I can't make consommes...or rosettes of melon with mango chilli salsa. Yet.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Rakuten Super Sale September!

I suppose we should all by now be familiar with the song, "Wake me up when September ends" since it's the lyric everyone chooses to post on social media whenever September looms. For me, it does give a nice punch to it considering then end of September always means it's my birthday! This September however, it also means the arrival of Rakuten's Super Sale September event!

Running from the 25th of September to the 1st of October, the Super Sale comes just in time to dish out on the latest Autumn/Winter 2014 collections from brands such as Sweet Sixties, Sporty Chic and Fairytale fashion so everybody gets to look fashionably good without breaking a sweat in our sweltering heat. I mean, we don't have Autumn or Winter here in Malaysia but it doesn't mean we can't look good in their collections, right?

Rakuten Super Sale happening 25th September - 1st October, all day long!

In fact during the period of the Rakuten Super Sale, shoppers are going to be rewarded with money-saving promotions such as the Time Sale event, Everything under RM 99 promotions and bundle + free shipping deals! That's like putting something on sale then slashing the prices again so you practically go a little crazy shopping when you visit the Rakuten website or connect with Rakuten on Facebook or the phone application LINE.

As for me, I've been scurrying the Rakuten website and looking through their Autumn/Winter 2014 fashion trends only to land my eyes on this amazing piece that would be perfect for my cousin's wedding in November.
 
 Stylishly parading the Open Back Skater Dress in Beige from KEI MAG.

Sophisticated yet simple, I'm putting my money on turning a number of heads back (No pun intended) during the upcoming banquet dinner. I left no hesitation to put a piece into my shopping cart even when it is currently on back order because I'm very sure it will come in time for me to lavishly look good when the night comes.

Oh and if you're not one for fashion goods online, Rakuten also holds products in health, beauty, electronic, food (Hint: They have really amazing KitKat flavours!) and grocery categories so nobody has to slip out of their oversized clothes and home pants when they do their shopping. Everything is at the tip of your finger with your computer or phone, anytime and anywhere you are! Happy shopping, people! After all as Rakuten says, shopping is entertainment!