Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Myvi is finally here!

Wow! I finished work at 9pm today. Rushed down to the new Perodua showroom at Puchong Jaya to take a peek at the new Myvi.

First impression is that the Myvi is a lot larger than you imagine from looking at the pictures alone. I sat inside the driver and back seats. It's definitely sufficient and will offer you a comfortable drive. Looks like the Myvi really does have a cabin comparable to a Wira.

I haven't driven many Perodua cars but one of the weirdest things I felt about driving a Kenari once was that the gear stick was way too low for me. The same problem occurs in the Myvi and I'm just a person of average height.

The car doesn't really look striking. The pictures of the car circulated on the Internet didn't get me too excited. Well guess what I'm still not impressed. One other gripe is that the internal plastics of the car are still very cheap looking. One guy sitting next to me was knocking the plastics around the dashboard... they sounded hollow :)

The Myvi is a good deal though. I would buy it but alas I have someting more important to do with my money :(

Read more about the new Perodua Myvi here.

posted by wyejon at Wednesday, May 25, 2005 (permalink) | 6 comments | trackbacks

Monday, May 23, 2005

Malaysia and Japan; Free Trade Agreement

This morning as I was having my breakfast of Chee Cheong Fun I looked at my copy of The Star newspaper and immediately the following headline grabbed my attention: Rafidah> All set for FTA in Japan. This immediately made me think... wow! Are car prices finally going to come down to sane levels (the FTA encompasses many other industries and products but I'm primarily interested in cars)?

Read The Star article here. Basically the article in The Star gives nothing away which is very typical of mainstream English and Bahasa Malaysia newspapers in the country. However the article did mention the following:

The Japan-Malaysia Economic Partnership Agreement (JMEPA) has been finalised, with differences over issues involving the automotive and steel sectors being resolved.

International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Rafidah Aziz said both sides had agreed on a comprehensive economic framework, which would pave the way for a Free Trade Agreement.

“We have tied the loose strings in the JMEPA. What we have decided today will become the basis for the agreement in principle between the two Prime Ministers (who meet) on Wednesday,” she told a joint press conference with Japanese Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Shoichi Nakagawa yesterday.

Which means of course that nothing is set in stone yet. The JMEPA which includes the FTA between Malaysia and Japan is expected to be signed by December this year. More excerpts from The Star article:

The report said the conclusion of the negotiations was a major coup for Japan, which had lobbied hard for Malaysia to reduce tariffs on imported steel and automotive products.

Rafidah, who will accompany Abdullah to Japan, said the JMEPA would be translated into legal text to be officially signed by both governments in December.

Now the following question begs to be answered. What exactly is a major coup for Japan? The Star will did not offer any answers but a little Googling may provide the answer. Asashi Shimbun has an article on the FTA talks as well. You may read Asashi Shimbun's article here. From Asashi Shimbun's article (right at the end of the article):

Among points agreed to Sunday were a 10-year phasing out of tariffs on Japanese automobiles and steel exports. Nakagawa called the deal "extremely significant".

The Asashi Shimbun article may be a little misleading though... Reuters has a much more comprehensive article. Read the Reuters article here. An extract from the Reuters article:

The in-principle agreement would virtually scrap Malaysian duties on imports of large Japanese cars and on Japanese-made car kits by 2008, said a Japanese official who declined to be named.

This would put these Japanese imports on an equal footing with auto imports from Malaysia's Southeast Asian neighbours. Under a regional free trade pact, Malaysia has vowed to cut tariffs on Southeast Asian auto imports to 0 to 5 percent by 2008.

Japan has begun its own talks with the 10-member Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) aimed at clinching a pact to create a massive regional free trade zone.

"Eventually it will dovetail (with Southeast Asian free trade)," Rafidah said of the Malaysia-Japan trade arrangements.

This bit is interesting and it contradicts the Asashi Shimbun article somewhat. There's no mention of a 10 year phasing-out period but instead sets the year 2008 as the deadline for the reduction of duties to be fully reduced.

Interestingly, Japan is pushing for terms similar to Malaysia's AFTA pact with ASEAN. Now the treatment for AFTA in regards to car prices in Malaysia has been terrrible. It remains to be seen how Malaysia will play its cards with Japan and its ASEAN neighbours particularly Thailand which is being called the Detroit of Asia. Now for the last bit of excerpt from the online articles... again from Reuters:

Malaysia plans to announce an overhauled auto policy this year, taking into account pressure from its trading partners to open up the domestic market and its own goal of opening up other markets for Proton, whose strategy relies on offshore sales.

We shall see what the government has in mind for us peasants. Hopefully it's something great. Pak Lah needs to do something to impress the rakyat... he's been NATO (no action, talk only) for far too long.

Unrelated rant: Proton needs all the luck it can get if it expects to compete offshore. Even with so much protectionism they are already finding it hard to compete in the domestic market. Proton is also losing ground very quickly to Perodua. Mark my words, Perodua's Myvi will outsell Proton's phantom TRM. When will Proton ever learn? It doesnt' take much to win the Malaysian auto market... better quality, more safety features and a reasonable price... Perodua seems to be heading in this direction. We'll see what Proton will do with the TRM once it's finally launched.

posted by wyejon at Monday, May 23, 2005 (permalink) | 1 comments | trackbacks

Friday, May 20, 2005

Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

I've just gotten home from watching the purportedly final Star Wars movie. I'm kind of lost now because hell... there are no more Star Wars movies! Well at least that's what director George Lucas tells us. I wouldn't mind another installment though. I've also read that there's a TV series coming up to bridge the events between episodes III and IV so there's more hope for Star Wars junkies.

What follows is my attempt to review the movie. Don't read on if you don't want spoilers :)

First thing's first. For anyone who's watched the original trilogy this movie will hold no surprises for you. Everything you expect to happen happens. Episode III is at its core the story of Anakin Skywalker's transformation to Darth Vader.

Episode III connects both trilogies together in obvious and subtle ways. The most obvious one being Darth Vader's appearance. We also get to see the birth of the Skywalker twins ( Luke and Leia in case you didn't know ), Yoda's decision to become a hermit, Obi Wan delivering Luke to his Uncle, Bail Organa and his wife keeping care of Leia on Alderaan and heck even Chewbacca and Grand Moff Tarkin makes an appearance. Tarkin's appearance was a real surprise to me. It's not Peter Cushing playing the role ( he's been dead for some time ) but that person they hired to play him was a good doppelganger.

The terrible acting and dialog that bugs the prequels is back in its third installment. I'm not sure who's more deserving of the Wooden Actors Guild awards ( which awarded a life time achievement award to Keanu Reeves last year ); Hayden Christensen or Natalie Portman. Not too sure of Hayden but Natalie has definitely done better work in other movies. Their on screen romance is forced and unbelievable.

On the other hand I would really love it if someone gave an Academy Award for best supporting actor to Yoda ( or maybe just Frank Oz ). I never once understood the hype about Gollum from Peter Jackson's Lord of the Ring movies being called the most amazing digital actor ever created but Yoda in this movie is amazing. He's extremely lifelike and at no point in the movie do you feel that he's a terrible CG character with the exception of his hair which looks much like silk. Best of all he wields his light saber in this movie against Darth Sidious ( the emperor from the original trilogy ) but the battle is far too short though. More on this battle later.

Industrial Light and Magic have done a tremendously good job with the special effects in this movie. I doubt there will be any movie topping the realism of the effects in Episode III anytime soon. The showcase piece of this movie is the final duel between Anakin and his mentor Obi Wan set in the perpertually erupting volcano planet, Mustafar. However there are some parts where the CG is painfully hideous. Most indoor shots set in the capitol planet Coruscant look like they were produced for PC games with composited actors circa 1997. Luke and Leia in Obi Wan's arms during the delivery was an obvious Copy and Paste job.

Besides Anakin and Obi Wan's light saber battle I would also have liked to see Darth Sidious duke it out with Yoda much longer. Maybe I didn't understand this part of the movie very well but it seemed to me that Yoda just chickened out of the fight with the emperor and decided to lead a life of exile in Dagobah... which makes no fricking sense! Why would Yoda just flee when his skills are evenly matched with the emperor's. It would have made sense if Yoda had the crap beat out of him but that's not the case. Basically in the movie, what happens is Yoda takes a fall and runs the hell away... that's all!

There's one more rant I want to get off before I go sleep... does anyone else notice how ineffective the villians are in the prequels? Basically we were introduced to 4 villians, Darth Maul ( a personal favourite when Episode I was released ), Darth Tyrannus aka Count Dooku, General Grievous and Darth Sidious aka Chancellor Palpatine. NONE of them had the effect that Darth Vader had. I bet most casual moviegoers would not even remember Darth Maul by now. Count Dooku got an okay treatment in the movies but he dies early on in Episode III. I had high hopes that General Grievous would be a formidable villian but nope... he's not good enough to do the light sabre tango with Obi Wan for more than 5 minutes.

Alright sleepy now... going to cut short the review. Despite its flaws, Episode III is very much worth watching if only for a sense of closure. Good nite :)

posted by wyejon at Friday, May 20, 2005 (permalink) | 0 comments | trackbacks

Friday, May 13, 2005

Proton TRM Coming Sooner Than You Think

There's been word in some forums that the TRM is launching a week before Myvi. Now I have some form of proof to support this. I managed to get this flyer from a Proton sales person while I was taking a walk in ( of all places ) the local pasar malam :)

Now I was also told that the TRM will be launching next week, which is as the forums predicted a week before the Perodua Myvi's launch. I don't know the TRM's specifics yet. I will have to visit the Proton showroom to find out but the salesperson did mention that the car will cost about RM45k. The salesperson also showed me a few pictures that werenot available on the Internet ( but I bet they will show up very soon ).

Sounds like a good deal but I'm not convinced about Proton's quality.

posted by wyejon at Friday, May 13, 2005 (permalink) | 9 comments | trackbacks

Friday, May 06, 2005

Gin Ryu Tei, Mid Valley Megamall

We went to Gin Ryu Tei, a Japanese restaurant located in Midvalley Megamall. In their website, they claim to offer a combination of Chinese influenced Japanese food, Korean influenced Japanese food as well as authentic Japanese food.

My advise to you is never to come here. The food is terrible. Either bland or too salty and some of the sushi we were served was not fresh. If that isn't bad enough it's also quite expensive. Don't say I didn't warn you :) Oh and one other piece of advice... don't bother asking the waitresses for any suggestions. You will end up confusing them.

The restaurant is made out of several different types of seatings. The normal ones you can see here and ones with a hot plate in the middle of the table (3rd picture onwards)

They served a weird appetizer. Chicken meat with ladies fingers.

There was a special on the California Temaki. One of the waitresses kept trying to pester me to get 2. I only wanted one so that I can give their Temakis a try. The result: Even Jaya Jusco can do better than this.

The Chawan Mushi wasn't too bad though. Well actually I think any Chawan Mushi is edible as long as it's not from Sushi King.

This is the Sushi Ramen set. It may look like a lot of sushi in this picture but the pictures they had in the menu showed even more varieties of sushi! Felt slightly cheated here especially since their sushi was not fresh.

Beef Sukiyaki set. It was a huge mistake to other this... well unless you love to drink salt water :)

posted by wyejon at Friday, May 06, 2005 (permalink) | 1 comments | trackbacks

Strawberry Park Resort

Strawberry Park Resorts is one of the better known lodgings in Cameron Highlands. It also happens to be one of the more expensive ones. Thankfully it was significantly cheaper for us because we managed to find out about what they call the Great Deals Package.

Now I'm not sure if the person who picked up the phone was plain ignorant but when I made my reservations for the rooms I asked him whether there were promotions for the rooms. He replied me with the standard room rates. I had to specifically mention about the Great Deals Package to him before he acknowledged that there were promotional room rates.

The view from the balcony is nice.

There's a fountain near the entrance to the hotel and all the guests take pictures here before leaving.

The view from the outside is not bad either.

posted by wyejon at Friday, May 06, 2005 (permalink) | 0 comments | trackbacks

Cactus Valley

Cactus Valley. I'm not sure if this place is actually located in a valley or not but I do know that you have to pay RM4 per person to get in. Siew Toh is an avid cactus collector and one of the reasons why I came to Camerons with her was to show her this so called Cactus Valley.

I felt that the entrance fee was a little ridiculous since they are essentially a cactus shop meaning you have to pay to have the privilige to shop there. On the other hand they had a very impressive collection of cactus on display. Be warned though, there are much cheaper places to buy your cactus :)

Woah! Gigantic Cactus Balls!

Not only that but there are lots of them too!

Surprisingly you can even find apples here.

Ok, I just wanted to show up on my own blog a little more often :)

posted by wyejon at Friday, May 06, 2005 (permalink) | 1 comments | trackbacks

Kasimanis Strawberry Farm / Healthy Strawberry Farm

These are two of the better strawberry farms that I visited in Cameron Highlands. They are both quite similar in many ways. Both sell strawberries and their various byproducts. Both also sell various kinds of plants and cactus ( plural is cacti? ). Lastly both are located very near to a major resort/hotel.

We went to Kasimanis Strawberry Farm first because it was just down the road from where we stayed, which was the Stawberry Park Resort.

Kasimanis from the outside.

This is how strawberries are grown in Cameron Highlands.

Healthy Strawberry Farm is located on the hill above Merlin Hotel. Like I previously mentioned it's pretty much the same deal with Kasimanis although we ended up buying most of our stawberry supplies from Healthy Strawberry Farm :)

There's nothing much to show here except for 5 really beautiful pictures I took while I was there. The first four pictures are me playing around with the magnify feature of the digicam.

Erm... I don't know my flower names.

Strawberry flower... interesting, no?

Strawberries again.

Is this a lily?

I can't resist putting up a Siew Toh pic.

posted by wyejon at Friday, May 06, 2005 (permalink) | 1 comments | trackbacks

Boh Tea Plantation / Cameron Valley Bharat Plantation

First up is the Boh Tea Plantation. We went there at around closing time ( 4pm if I remember correctly ) so we did not bother going to the Boh factory for a look see. The way up to the Boh Tea Plantation is a strictly one-way road so make sure u honk at blind corners so that the oncoming cars will know to avoid you.

What we did at Boh was to take the hike up their scenic walk path. It's a little hill that goes up for quite a distance but the view above is great and the air even fresher

Whee... tea trees!

This picture was taken halfway thru the hill climb. Another couple were making their way down and asked us to take a picture for them. They returned the favour with this shot.

The view from above.

Now let's talk about the Cameron Valley Bharat Plantation. Located not too far from the Boh Tea Plantation the Bharat Tea Plantation is infinitely more accesible to tourists because it's situated right next to the road. No hilly climbs here.

Stop by and take a cuppa tea. The Lemon Tea is great. It's Lemon Tea with fresh lemon juice squeezed into it.

This is actually a very beautiful picture but I reduced the resolution so much till it looks like crap :) Trust me though, this place looks much better than Boh.

posted by wyejon at Friday, May 06, 2005 (permalink) | 0 comments | trackbacks

Cameron Highlands - TCafe

OK time to catch up on all the postings I should have done 2 weeks ago :)

Siew Toh and myself went up to Cameron Highlands on the 21st of April till the 23rd of April 2005.

We discovered this really nice cafe that serves the best ( and cheapest! ) scones around. It's called TCafe and you can find it on the floor above the Marrybrown Fast Food Restaurant in Tanah Rata. Don't bother with the noodle dishes... go try their Western Food or give the Nyona Curry a try ( I didn't try the curry but one of the Western dudes who was there seemed to love it ).

Now we liked this place so much we went there twice, the second time being just before we left Camerons :)

This is how the entrance looks like.

The 2 drinks are lassis. Mango and Orange but frankly there wasn't much juice in it.

Now you haven't been to Cameron Highlands if you have not tried the scones. TCafe serves scones at half the price of other outlets. RM2 per scone which includes butter, whipped cream and strawberry jam. Delicious!

Garlic Bread, French Onion Soup ( homemade! ) and Highland Tea with Lime. You should really try the soup.

Chicken or Beef lasagna... I can't remember which. Anyways the really special thing about this lasagna is the large amount of fresh vegetables they put into it. It's not just meat and cheese.

I had the Sirlion Steak with garlic sauce and I recommend you do too. I love the fact that there were chunks of garlic in the sauce :) Be vary of smelly breath afterwards though.

This is Apple Pie with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream. They have 2 items they proudly display on the signboard outside; 1. scones, 2. apple pie. The apple pie was so-so.

posted by wyejon at Friday, May 06, 2005 (permalink) | 0 comments | trackbacks

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