31 May 2009

What A Shock!

Thanks to the super-dry weather here, I've lost count of the number of times I get shocked by static electricity when touching metal handrails. You would think I'd learn my lesson after the 5th shock, but no, it's more than 10 times and counting. Dammit!

Also, the dry weather is such that most any moisturizer I apply on my skin is dried out in mere hours. I had to buy a good Nivea body milk lotion to combat premature skin aging! And the thing is foreign brands are more expensive here than home, so I've been wasting my yuan on unnecessary things like moisturizers and face masks.

26 May 2009

A Goal We Can All Aspire To

I've decided to become an alcoholic. Let me explain.

I'm not a big fan of alcohol consumption, what with following my Buddhist 5 Precepts and my low tolerance for it (a sip of wine and I'll turn maroon). I've recently been more interested in cocktails but that is a very rare occasion.

However, here in China the government doesn't impose a sin tax (I think) on alcohol and tobacco. That's why beers and cigarettes are so DAMN cheap. A local pack of cancer sticks is less than RMB3, which is roughly RM1.50. Similarly, a 355ml can of imported Heineken is around RMB3.60, which is only RM1.80. Local brands like Tsing Tao run even cheaper!

So can you see why I'm looking forward to indulge my senses and stress my liver? I'm only here for 9 more weeks - it's time I let loose a little and made new friends with names like Tiger, Budweiser, Carlsberg, and Tsing Tao.


17 May 2009

Banana in Beijing, Part 1

As promised, the first episode of my vlog of my experiences in China:

Banana in Beijing (Ep 1) from Zemien on Vimeo.

A little background on the production process: I took all the videos myself. When doing the self interview I have to extend my left arm all the way out to the front, resulting in a tired left arm by the end of filming. The cam has a flip-out LCD that allows me to frame myself in the video. That's why you will sometimes see my eyes gaze to the left as I check myself out in the LCD (just to make sure I don't chop my head off in the video, ok?!)

I spent about 4 hours putting all the clips together in Sony Vegas 8. I had no experience with it whatsoever but I found it a joy to learn and use. It is pretty lightweight, fast on its feet, and does what it needs to do well. I can foresee this software being a strong contender to iMovie '08 on my iMac.

I had planned to write down the topics I wanted to cover but I completely forgot and just started talking on my feet. There were a few segments that were re-shot, and some embarassing mistakes were edited out. There was one shot where the sweet I was sucking on fell out of my mouth and I quickly looked into the camera and said, "You didn't see that." I thought that was charming, but I removed it from the final product.

I have no idea why I started using an awful sounding accent. I think it's because I tried to speak proper English. Believe me when I say I am more relaxed when you talk to me in person. In this video I sound like I have a large carrot stuffed up my you-know-where and had a gun pointed to my head.

Do drop a comment to tell me what you think and what topics you'd like me to cover in the upcoming episodes. I plan to film this weekly and set it at various locations. So keep yourself tuned in to "Banana in Beijing"!

14 May 2009

Beijing-style Lok Lok

Though I'm all for local integration, I don't think I can bring myself to eat anything bought from this stall.

13 May 2009


Back home in Penang, waking up to see sunshine means I'm going to be late for work.

Here in Beijing, waking up to see sunshine probably means it's 5am and I have an hour more to sleep through.

Cultural changes...

My Apartment in Beijing

Argh there's some technical difficulties in converting and editing the video from my camcorder, but here's a tour of my apartment unit.

Oakwood Serviced Apmt Tour from Zemien on Vimeo.

When I return home I'll make a better compilation of everything, so what you see here is pretty rough.

12 May 2009


Like yesterday morning, we took the taxi to work. On our way there MK (my female colleague) had to shield her face from the glaring sun as it's really burning her up. I gave her the newspaper to cover her side.

I began wondering, why did this not happen yesterday? We were using the same route but we didn't have such a bright sun getting us all hot around the collar.

Then I realized: Beijing is having a blue sky day!

For those following the Olympics last year a lot of brouhaha was raised surrounding Beijing's dismal air quality, wayyy above the WHO's safety level. And it's true. For most of the day all we see is smog in the air and the sidewalks are very dusty.

But today we got to see the first blue sky since we landed here. And the air quality is so much better, plus we could see further. Without a cloud in the sky it can get hot, but at least it will make a great outing to parks.

10 May 2009


In a few more hours I'll have to wake up and get ready for my business trip to Beijing. So many things to worry about that I haven't had time to reflect. But here are my general goals during my trip:
  1. Improve my spoken Mandarin
  2. Thanks to the paid meals, I can afford to eat heartily everyday. So gotta take this chance to bulk up. Operation:Eat ain't over! It's just going international.
  3. Visit some tourist sites, though I don't know how much free time I actually have.
  4. Learn up some old BodyJam releases. Free from the pressures of clearance and 2 classes/week, I should spend time becoming a better dancer.
Stay safe till I'm home!

07 May 2009

The Fear

My mood is exactly like the one portrayed in Lily Allen's "The Fear" right now. Nice, haunting song.

Yesterday my manager called me to his desk and dropped da bomb on me - I'll be joining 2 of my colleagues to Beijing for a technology transfer.

Shock #1: I'll be leaving in 3 days time!

Shock #2: I'll be there for almost 3 months!

The thing is, I am a last minute replacement. The person meant to go had a valid reason (I won't dive into that) to stay in Penang, so backup plan was activated, i.e. me. Therefore it never crossed my mind that I could be selected for the flight, since the transition team has already been chosen.

Compounding the shock, my concerns are:
  1. My skill, or lack thereof, in spoken Mandarin. Beijing itself has its flavour of Mandarin so it'll be an added layer of challenge to comprehend them.
  2. My technical skills may not be up to requirements. Even when this epic journey was announced I counted myself out because I didn't believe I had the required skill sets that they needed. Well, whether I have it or not I'll need to get it soon!!
  3. The people whom we're learning from are being laid off. Erm, can anyone spell "hostile"? Will they be willing to part with their valuable knowledge (that ultimately didn't save them from retrenchment)?
There's also the matter of just dropping all my plans here and getting ready to move to Beijing for three months. There's a lot of upheavels going on - I'll have to skip the Les Mills quarterly and also forego a planned excursion into Gua Tempurung. The moment I was out of meeting I started sending messages and planning farewells. So without allocating time for packing I've filled the next 72 hours with quick meals with loved ones.

Thruthfully I'm still absorbing the impact of the news. There's so many things I should do before I go but I just can't remember them. What are the things I should bring? How will I stay fit and keep updated with BodyJam when I'm there? Questions! Questions! And no time to answer them!

I'll be bringing my videocam there though, and I'm seriously thinking of video blogging. I won't have time to edit them - just plan my episode, shoot, and upload; so it'll be rough. I'm thinking of calling it "Banana in Beijing". Whaddya think?

06 May 2009


Wear black tomorrow (May 7th) if you want to oppose the unlawful Perak State Assembly sitting. A representative from Bersih suggested that and was subsequently picked up by the police under the Sedition Act.


I'll be in black. You?

04 May 2009

BodyJam 49 Tracklist

Can't wait for it!

Sandcastle Disco (Freemasons Club Mix) (Solange)
Smooze Salsa:
Shake Up The Party (Joy Enriquez)

Ricky Revival:
Loaded (Ricky Martin)

Street Jazz:
RoboCop (Kanye West)
Party Like A Rock Star (Shop Boyz)
One Night Only (Disco Version) (Anika Noni Rose, Beyoncé Knowles, Sharon Leal)
Turnin' Me On (Keri Hilson feat. Lil Wayne)

Return The Favor (Keri Hilson feat. Timbaland)

Burnin' Up Ze 'Ouse:
You Got Me Burning Up! 2008 (Cevin Fisher's DNA Mix) (Cevin Fisher Feat. Loleatta Holloway)
3 Minutes To Explain (Fedde le Grand & Funkerman)
Womanizer (Benny Benassi Mix) (Britney Spears)

Groove Down:
See You In My Nightmares feat. Lil Wayne (Kanye West)


I did it! April 2009 was the first month I spent more than I earned in 30 days. I also withdrew a lot of spare cash to be deposited into the sukuk (Islamic bonds) scheme. Two days before my salary was banked in, I only had RM15 in my bank account.

Yatta~!! Say yes to retail therapy.

01 May 2009

Side Effects

At my last weigh-in, I've gained another kilo to settle at 72.5kg with 16.5% bodyfat.

It's not without side-effects:
  1. I can't fucking wear my skin tight Nike Pro Fit top coz of the slight bulge in the tummy. (Tummy!! Tummy! Not the pants!!!)
  2. My stamina is blown to hell. Getting sluggish. Last night I could barely survive though my tracklist which was only 50% dance and 50% cardio. How the hell am I gonna survive my next 100% cardio release?
Action plan:
  1. Hit the weights more often!
  2. Make the time to practice my class and BodyJam more