Thursday, December 31, 2009

Broga Hills

I’ve been wanting to blog about this trip the minute I completed the hike way back in November but time just got the better of me. Plus, ever since I found out about all these reading challenges on the blogosphere, I’ve naturally had my head buried in books like an ostrich holed up in sand. Anyway, considering that we only have one day left before 2010 looms on us, and also coz I promised myself that I would write about this, so here it goes…

My girlfriends and I (not my usual ex-uni gals, but my ex-PwC gals) have planned for this Broga trip for as long as I can remember. The plans finally materialised last month and to top it off, those of us who were married actually managed to drag our husbands along. For the record, this was my first time doing something like this with J. After 5 years of marriage, with him usually shaking his head each time I did something smelling of adventure, he finally succumbed to my passion for the outdoors...didn’t realise it would take me that long to charm him though. Anyway, I discovered that Ms F and Ms S had some trouble convincing their hubsters to join in too. Apparently, their mate’s would have rather waited at the foot of the hill with the focal excuse being somebody had to take care of the food…seriously guys...(tsk, tsk, tsk).

Okay, so our adventure started from the Kajang toll. By the way, if you’re reading this blog hoping for directions to Broga then you’ve come to the wrong place. I’m hopeless at directions and if I ever got lost in the woods I’d probably be eaten by a Sumatran Tiger before I manage to figure out how the compass works. I did manage to source for a map somewhere on the web though and thank god for AR who sort of knew the way in, and Eddie for leading us out all the way to the Bangi Kopitiam for our much deserved brunch. I think I’ve run off tangent here. Sorry, back to Broga. So, we were supposed to convoy from the Kajang toll at 7am, with 7.15 being the latest. But dear Ms E and Ms J either woke up late, were hopeless at directions too, or had to feed the cats first (I forget the exact reason), only arrived around 7.45am. No worries, we were all in a cheery mood and were just glad they arrived in one piece (apparently Ms E drove at neck-breaking speed and took only 20 mins to reach the Kajang toll from Ampang - yikes).

We used the Kajang Silk highway that heads towards Nottingham University and parked our cars in the oil palm estate, opposite the rabbit farm. From there, we hiked for about 5 to 10 mins before reaching the foot of the hill. The hike up took about 35 mins. It’s quite an easy trek if you’re a regular hiker as most of the route has been cleared out and some of the up-hill trails have been nicely shaped into small steps.

And this is the view from the top folks:

All in all, this is a great trail to hike on a regular basis. It’s fun, simple and doesn’t take too long to reach the fantastic views. I saw a few older couples on the way up who seem to be regular visitors. They say the view there is best at sunrise.

A note to first-timers: Please, please remember to take a leak before your trip, unless you don’t mind doing it in a natural environment with a few furry friends staring right at your wonderness. It is okay to drink lots of water during trekking or any other sports in general though, as your body will get rid of the waste through your sweat.

Also, a special thanks to Avian for the great shots!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Club Dead & Dead to the World – The Sookie Stackhouse Series

These two books are my favourite in the series so far. In the first 2 books of the Series (see my reviews here and here), the main characters were centered on Sookie (of course) and Bill, due to their budding romance. In Club Dead however, the romance gets a nip in the bud when Bill disappears mysteriously. In her attempt to find Bill, Sookie unexpectedly finds an ally in Alcide, who coincidentally is a werewolf. What I love most about this book is the emphasis on Alcide. Unfortunately, I’m not much of a Bill fan so I sort of welcomed the author’s shift in focus to other characters. I liked the portrayal of Alcide’s strong-yet-gentle demeanour and how Sookie actually sees a future in the two of them being together. I think Alcide is a really sweet guy…

In Dead to the World (Book 4), Bill and Sookie’s relationship is almost non-existent. (Next part is a spoiler so quickly skip to next paragraph if you can). They eventually breakup at the end of Club Dead, so Sookie starts off the new year in Book 4 a single and free woman. But not for long…

On her way home from Merlotte’s (the bar that Sookie works at), she finds Eric (the really really hot vampire) running naked (whoa..) in the middle of the road. It turns out that Eric was cursed by a witch and can’t remember anything about himself, his past or his surroundings. His vulnerability appeals to Sookie, and before you know it they develop a romantic relationship. I’ve always liked Eric. Despite his superior and occasionally pompous character (before he lost his memory that is), Eric is quite a funny guy vamp. Plus, he is the epitome of yumminess…

Overall, I’d give both books the two thumbs-up. The storyline has definitely improved from the first 2 books and I am so very hooked.

These books are part of The Sookie Stackhouse Reading Challenge.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Living Dead in Dallas – The Sookie Stackhouse Series

Living Dead in Dallas is the second book in the SS series. Here, Sookie, a cocktail waitress from Bon Temps, finds herself falling into a deeper relationship with the Vampire Bill, both romantically and professionally as Bill becomes her ally in an unfolding vampire adventure.

One night after getting into a fight with Bill, Sookie is unexpectedly attacked by another supernatural being. The supe’s attack left poison in Sookie’s blood stream and the only other beings that could help remove it were the vampires of Shreveport, led by the notorious-yet-delicious Vampire Sheriff of Area 5, Eric Northman. Since they sort of saved her life, she felt obliged to help when Eric requested her to use her telepathic abilities to help solve a mystery for the vampires of Dallas.

In Dallas, whilst trying to unravel the mystery she was sent on, Sookie finds herself getting into trouble with a group of vampire-haters, and finds herself getting a little closer to Eric...

My thoughts:
I enjoyed this book more than the first one. It definitely had more action and the introduction to the other super-naturals in Sookie's world made it even more interesting. I did get a little confused though, coz there is more than one plot in the book. Basically, the mystery of the vampires of Dallas wasn't the only mystery that needed solving. I'm not going to reveal more for the benefit of those who haven't read it, but suffice to say that the solving of the other mystery kind of revealed more of Eric's character and I am liking it ;)

This book is part of The Sookie Stackhouse Reading Challenge.

The Sookie Stackhouse Reading Challenge

This is my first ever reading challenge and boy, am I excited! I stumbled upon this when googling for some info on the Sookie Stackhouse series. I’ve already read the first 2 books from the series and I must say that I’m definitely warming up to the quirky world of Sookie.

This challenge is hosted by Beth Fish and runs from 1st July 2009 to 30th June 2010. I only have about 6 months to go but I’m thinking that I might be able to finish this on time, fingers crossed.

The books listed in the challenge are:

Dead Until Dark (read review Dead Until Dark)
Living Dead in Dallas (read review Living Dead in Dallas)
Club Dead (read review Club Dead)
Dead to the World (read review Dead to the World)
Dead as a Doornail (read review Dead as a Doornail)
Definitely Dead (read review Definitely Dead)
All Together Dead (read review All Together Dead)
From Dead to Worse (read review From Dead to Worse)
Dead and Gone (read review Dead and Gone)

Can’t wait to get started on the rest of the books a.s.a.p!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Dead Until Dark – The Sookie Stackhouse Series

After finishing the Twilight Saga mid this year, I’ve officially become a Vampire Series addict. Since Stephenie Meyer decided to end the Twilight Saga with Breaking Dawn, I’ve begun to pine for some vampire action, not to mention perpetually missing the ever-so-charming Edward. I had to find myself another Vampire Series before the withdrawal symptoms came full-scale.

So I started snooping around and found out that the vampire craze has now expanded to include the Southern Vampire / Sookie Stackhouse Series and The Vampire Diaries. Needless to say, I got into my car straight away and drove to 4 different book stores, before I managed to get my hands on the Sookie Stackhouse Series box set (*cheers!!*)

Dead Until Dark is the first book of the Sookie Stackhouse Series and introduces Sookie Stackhouse, a cocktail waitress from Bon-Temps, Louisiana. Sookie is a telepath who has trouble socialising as she spends most of her time trying to block out people’s thoughts. Her life starts to change dramatically when a Vampire, (Bill Compton) walks into her bar. Being a vampire, Sookie can’t hear Bill’s thoughts and feels completely at ease with him. But Bill is the first vampire to ever lay foot in Bon Temps and ever since he did, the small town is suddenly laden with mysterious murders.

My thoughts: Quirky, amusing and weird, all spun into one. It makes for good fantasy reading though I probably would have enjoyed it more if I hadn’t watched the TV Series first (in my haste to find more vampires to be obsessed with, I ended up watching True Blood, the Sookie Stackhouse TV Series, before I could get my hands on the book box set…big mistake…the book is so much better).

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown

I was shopping for kid’s books a few months back when I saw that Dan Brown’s latest book i.e. The Lost Symbol was on 20% discount (and that was for the hard cover *smiles*). Being a big fan of his Da Vinci Code, I jumped at the opportunity of course.

The Lost Symbol features the return of Professor Langdon, the Harvard symbologist, in another thriller/adventure that takes him through the secrets of Masonry and hidden history in Washington D.C. There’s also a teeny-weeny bit of romance going on for him here…but don’t get your hopes up too high. As I mentioned, it’s just a teeny bit, about half-way through the book when he is reunited with his mentor’s sister.

My thoughts on the Book: I was expecting more from this one. Da Vinci Code was such a hit for me that I kind of expected this to hit me even better. The plot, for me, was a tad familiar and it felt like I was reading parts of Da Vinci code all over again, except that the setting was in a different city. It’s just not as thrilling when you read a plot almost the second time round. Anyway, the book is still worth reading. If you’re not a fan of non-fiction, reading this will give you some insights on Masonic rituals and an introduction to Noetic Sciences, as the author has kept true to the facts. As usually expected with Dan Brown, the artwork and monuments described in the book are also real. So, yes, it’s still an interesting book….just not as interesting as The Da Vinci Code, I think.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

De-stress, De-stress, De-stress…

I have a 101 things to blog about but have been so busy with work lately (*frown*). It’s almost year-end, and for business units like us (I manage corporate and investment accounts when I have half of my head on), year-ends are when we try to seal the deal to meet the budget so that we can live happily ever after on our fat bonuses. Sadly though, a fat bonus is probably a far-cry considering that we’ve barely met the budget this year. Which makes it an even more stressful year-end for me (although we have tried to blame it on the economy…hey, it’s not our fault, right?). On top of that, year-end is also where all the auditors in the world (both internal and external, not to mention the Bank Negara auditors too) suddenly converge to make it a living hell for people like us. The facts of life (*sigh*)…

Anyway, despite the busy-ness , I’m quite happy that I managed to squeeze in a few de-stresser activities over the past 2 months. Since I haven’t had a chance to write about them yet (will endeavour to do that real soon), I thought I’d just list summarise them down first. So here goes, a list summary of my top de-stresser activities for the months of Nov & Dec 2009:

1) Broga Hills Hike @ Semenyih, Selangor
A great way to work-out with friends and family. One can take a short hike (about 45mins to 1 hr) up Broga Hills to watch the sunrise/sunset, or simply enjoy the view from the top. Definitely a refreshing experience compared to the endless traffic and perpetual noise pollution in KL.

2) Comedy Club @ Zouk, Kuala Lumpur
This is a real great place to let all hang loose and laugh your guts out. I’ve had the pleasure of frequenting this place twice, and both times tremendously enjoyed myself. The Club features stand-up comedians from around the world, as well as local acts. I’ve only been to the ones held at Zouk, but I think they run shows at other places as well. If you’d like further info on this, please visit their official web page at:

3) Breakfast @ McD’s Shah Alam with little D in tow
Okay, I know this may not be much of an activity for some but believe it or not, this was the first time I ever brought D for a breakfast-cum-playtime @ the McD’s near my place. When it comes to McD’s we usually go to the drive-thru and swallow our Big Mac even before we reach the house. When it comes to weekend breakfasts, we usually go for hot Nasi Lemak or Roti Canai at Syed’s in Section 11. But D gets restless really fast there, and it’s almost impossible to enjoy the Sunday paper with all the “Mamaks” shouting the orders across your table, hoping the 'machaa' all the way in the kitchen heard them.

So, Sunday breakfast at McD’s was a different and relaxing experience for me. Not only did D finish every morsel of his hot cakes, we also got to relax (J got to read his morning news in peace and I managed to finish Club Dead of my Sookie Stackhouse series), whilst D played on the colourful slides in the play area. He even made a couple of new friends there, as I recently found out, quite a few other parents were doing the dump-ur-kid-at-the-McD-play-area-while-u-relax thing. Splendid.

4) Salomon X-Trail Challenge
This is my first time joining a running challenge and I LOVED it!!! Being a first-timer, I only did the 4km race and I finished too. Yippee!! For those who haven’t heard about this before, the Salomon X-Trail challenge is an off-road running race that takes you through the woods of Lembah Kiara, Taman Tun. The race is mostly 2kms up-hill and 2kms sprint, down-hill. And, there’s also the 10km track, for pros of course. Results are not out yet, but I think I may have done it an hour or so. Don’t know how I fared compared to other 4km racers, but I’m just happy I managed to finish it in one piece.

All in all, I’m feeling completely recharged and ready for the final 2 gruelling weeks of what's remaining of 2009. After that, all set for a new round of de-stresser Christmas hols and a whole new year ahead. Can’t wait!!


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