Thursday, April 30, 2009

17 Again

What would you do if you got a second shot at life? Class of 1989, Mike O'Donnell is a star on his high school basketball court with a college scout in the stands and a bright future in his grasp. But instead, he decides to throw it all away to share his life with his girlfriend Scarlett and the baby he just learned they are expecting. Almost 20 years later, Mike's glory days are decidedly behind him. His marriage to Scarlett has fallen apart, he has been passed over for a promotion at work, his teenage kids think he is a loser, and he has been reduced to crashing with his high school nerd-turned-techno-billionaire best friend Ned. But Mike is given another chance when he is miraculously transformed back to the age of 17.

I had no plans at all to see this movie but we had no choice as we were in Bugis Junction and this was the only decent movie to watch. With Zac Efron spearheading the movie, I really thought it was another girly teeny-bopper film but I must say, I was pleasantly surprised! It was funny and really enjoyable to watch.

In my opinion though, the real scene-stealer was his ultra-geek roommate, Ned Gold. He was uber funny and his crazy pursuit of the school principal was outrageously hilarious!

I have a feeling this is just the beginning of a long successful movie career for Zac Efron. Lucky Guy.

My rating for 17 Again is 4.0/5.0
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Saturday, April 25, 2009

Friday the 13th

In yet another version of the famous story, five friends - Whitney, Clay, Mike, Jenna and Trent - decide to explore the famous Crystal Lake campsite but their seemingly fun weekend turns tragic quickly. Before they know it, each of them are hunted by a machete-wielding maniac known as Jason Voorhees.

Obviously, they capitalized on the infamous popularity of the movie franchise to sell this film. As the 13th installment of this horror series, it gets even more gorey with a twist of soft porn. One critic coined the movie as "Gore-geous!", haha isn't that fitting?

I remember enjoying the previous Friday the 13th movies as a kid (ehm, that doesn't sound right..), but with all that gore and nudity I don't think it would be appropriate to have any minor watch this.

Anyway, that is already too much space on my blog for such a so-so movie. Despite all the blood and violence, this movie made me fall asleep. I hope this is the end of Jason.

My rating for Friday the 13th is -13/5.0
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Bryan (Liam Neeson), a former secret agent living in the US, reluctantly lets his 17-year-old daughter Kim (Maggie Grace, "Lost") go on holiday to Paris with a friend. Upon arrival in Paris, the two girls meet a seemingly nice young man who turns out to be a member of an Albanian crime syndicate, promptly kidnapping and forcing them into prostitution. Bryan must rely on his old skills in order to rescue his daughter from the slave trade.

"I will find you, I will kill you" - I love this line in the movie! Yes, the movie was very predictable but still I was on the edge of my seat rooting for Byran (Liam Neeson) to find his daughter and kill the goddamn bastards. I think I've already mentioned before that I'm not so much into action movies but this is truly an exception. To me, it was sort of like Mission Impossible meets modern MacGyver-ish kind of movie (remember this classic TV series? God I feel so old, haha).

I also love the part where he asks the guys to translate this albanian word so he could recognize the voice from the video clip. The only thing I didn't like was how the girls got in trouble so quickly after they arrived in Paris, like they were meant to be in trouble. Nevertheless, I think it was truly an eye-opener on how real the flesh trade is in some parts of the world. I am quite sure this really happens somewhere out there.

My rating for Taken - 4.5/5
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Pola Pola Cafe, Bangkok, Thailand

On our 3rd night, we had dinner at this Italian Resto that we chanced upon while walking around the area near our hotel. It's not that we were tired of thai food, we just wanted to sample how Italian cuisine is in Bangkok.

Margarita to kickstart your appetite =)

Long Island Iced Tea

(Free!) Freshly baked rolls for Appetizer with creamed garlic butter

Scrumptuous!!! Seafood Squid-Ink Fettucine with Cream Sauce. Look at the abundance of scallops and seafood!

4-Cheese Pizza

Lobster & Shrimp Fettucine.
Dinner was around THB 1,331 (around S$60). Not bad considering we had cocktails, pizza and pasta.

We so enjoyed our dinner the previous night that we decided to go back for lunch the next day, our last day.

Pola Pola's Special Salmon Pizza
A bit salty and lacking in tomato sauce but still quite nice.

Squid-Ink Angel Hair Pasta with Mushrooms in cream sauce.
Lunch was around THB600+ (around S$30).

So that caps off our 4-day Bangkok getaway. We were a bit anxious to get home as by that time the riots were really getting crazy. In fact, singapore residents who were in Thailand were already encouraged by the government to enlist their names online just in case anything happens.
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Lek Seafood, Bangkok, Thailand

Dinner on our first night was at a hole-in-the-wall neighborhood restaurant (this was at a small alley at the back of our hotel). It was actually Patrick, Zach's friend, who introduced us to this place. He ate here before and guaranteed the place served authentic, delicious and (most importantly) cheap thai food.

As they say, a picture says a thousand words so let the pictures do the talking hahaha.

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Erawan Tea Room, Grand Hyatt, Bangkok, Thailand

On our first afternoon, we had high tea at the Erawan Tea Room in Grand Hyatt. I love the interior of the place, homey yet classy ambience.

THB220 per person for the high tea. Quite reasonable given we were in Grand Hyatt, plus the spread was really plenty. It wasn't buffet though but believe me it is very filling.

An interesting mix of international (scones, tart et al) and local delicacies. I love the Banana dumpling in Banana leaf cone.

I never really liked rice cakes or rice desserts as I find it too heavy for snacking but the Mango with Sticky Rice was utterly divine. It looks real plain and simple but the taste is exquisite and unforgettable. Ok I'm exaggerating. But really it was good. Don't ever leave Bangkok without tasting it.
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Bangkok, Thailand

3 days after we got back from Bali, we were headed to Bangkok. It wasn't a good time actually. The previous night I saw in the news that the rallies were escalating. The problem is we already paid for our tickets & hotel months before and unfortunately we didn't get promo rates. So riot or no riot, we had to be in Bangkok by hook or by crook haha.

Zach was actually on vacation leave for a month that's why we jampacked our travels in April. I also needed a break from work anyway. Bangkok is pretty much like any cosmopolitan metropolis. Very modern but the touch of culture and heritage spells the difference. The food was absolutely the highlight of this trip (haha whats new). Seriously, authentic thai food is the bomb!

It was a big bummer that on our 3rd day in Bkk, everyone in Siam Paragon was asked to go home since the rallyists were invading the area. So we pretty much weren't able to go around anymore for fear of our safety. It was ironic though how the rallyists were causing chaos while the others were celebrating the Songkran "Water" Festival.

Enjoy the pics! Click on the link to Kodak Gallery below and make sure to scroll over the headings to view the titles/comments.
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The Paon Restaurant, Bali Collection, Nusa Dua Bali, Indonesia

On our first night in Bali, we explored the immediate area surrounding our hotel in Nusa Dua. We found this restaurant (after choosing from a dozen other restaurants) in Bali Collection, an open-area concept mall.

It was amusing how some small girls dressed in traditional balinese outfits put flowers in the ears of all the dining customers.

We were attracted to this restaurant because there were a lot of people eating there plus their ambience was very inviting. We availed of their set dinner for two. I forgot what it was called but its comprised of indonesian favorites.

Clear Chicken Soup with noodles for starters. Very light and refreshing. There was so much chicken meat it can actually be considered a meal for those light eaters (but not for me haha).

An assortment of seafood, grilled meat, chicken beef and vegetables. What a feast!! I loved every bite of it :P

Finally, we had ice cream with banana fritters for dessert. All in all, including taxes, the set meal was around IDR 250,000. Thats around SGD 30+. Not bad for a 3-course meal including cocktails.

Photo op with the little girls hehe. They were also dancing the "Barong Dance" to the delight of the diners.

Bali Collection was quite nice. It was surprising that high-end shops like D&G, Paul Smith, et al, can be found in the mall. There was also a grocery where we bought food for breakfast since the buffet breakfast at the hotel was ridiculously expensive and not worth it.
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Babi Guling Ibu Oka Restaurant, Ubud, Bali Indonesia

I found the BABI GULING!!!!!!!!

We were lucky our tour guide/driver knew where to find the Babi Guling. We went to Ubud, around 1.5 hours away from the main Kuta beach and luckily there was a restaurant there that specializes in Babi Guling, in fact they serve ONLY Babi Guling. I'm not sure though if this is the best but it looks real authentic and there were a lot of tourists.

Click on the picture above to look at the full list of their menu (1 SGD = IDR 7,500). Of course, I had to order no less than the Babi Guling Special.

I loved the idea of eating on the floor and just being able to comfortably enjoy your food.

Now, I'm not sure if my expectations were too high because I actually think it tasted just like any other ordinary roast pork. I also felt the chili sauce on top masked the real taste of the meat.

Nothing spectacular. The skin wasn't crispy in fact quite soggy. And if you've read my entry before we left for Bali, Anthony Bourdain rated this dish as the 2nd best roast pork he has ever tasted in the whole world - next to #1 Cebu's Lechon in the Philippines.

In my opinion, Cebu's Lechon is (so much) better by a far mile.

There were throngs of Japanese tourists in Ubud and like me, they also made sure they visited this place for the roast pork.

We both enjoyed the coffee. Very rustic but aromatic with an intense flavour. It was actually roughly ground which meant there was still a lot of coffee sediments at the bottom of the cup. Zach loved it.

No rating for now as I wasn't really being too critical about anything as I wanted to enjoy our trip :-)
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Bali, Indonesia

Can I just say that Blogger definitely has to find a way to make uploading pictures much easier. 5 pics at a time will take me forever to upload all our pictures.

Anyway, I absolutely to-the-highest-supercalifragilistic-effing-degree enjoyed Bali!

I set my expectations really low because I've heard numerous so-so stories about Bali. But I really loved the culture and the mystical aura of Bali (Seriously, there's something different about the habitat and environment). The Indonesians have got to be one of the most, if not the most, courteous and hospitable people I have ever met in my whole 28 years of existence. The food is another wonderful story altogether. I can honestly say Bali has been of the most memorable and enjoyable trips I have ever had in a long time. I enjoyed it way more than the other beach places I've been to so far - Boracay in the Philippines, Phuket and Phi Phi in Thailand or Tioman in Malaysia.

With regard to the pics, I figured it would be way easier to view them through Kodak Gallery Shutterfly, so kindly click on the link below. I've added captions to the pictures for storytelling purposes.


P.S. I am definitely planning another trip to Bali.. SOON!
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When a teacher (Nicolas Cage) opens a time capsule that was dug up recently in his son's elementary school, he discovers that it contains some chilling and strange predictions about the future. Some events have already occurred and some are yet to unfold. The discoveries soon lead him into believing that his family plays a role in the events that are about to unfold.

Ok I have at least 10 backlog blog entries so I'll keep this short and sweet.

I was expecting a lot from this film, as I always do as long as Nicolas Cage is in it, but I was left disappointed. I loved the idea of the time capsule and how the numbers were supposedly dates of disastrous events predicted 50 years earlier. But I absolutely abhorred the alien-ish twist in the movie. It totally ruined it for me.

So thats it. I can barely recall my exact sentiments on this film as we watched this weeks ago even before my trips so obviously its been pushed in the back of my head haha.

My rating for this movie - 2.5/5
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Saturday, April 4, 2009

Sweet Escape

In a few hours, less than 7 hours to be exact, i'll be boarding an Air Asia flight to Denpasar in Indonesia for a much-needed 4-day holiday in Bali.

Can you believe Air Asia had a S$50net promo for a roundtrip ticket to Bali?! I couldn't believe it as well so when I saw this sale a few months ago I didn't think twice about booking it. C'mon, its 50 freaken dollars hehe. Actually, ours came up to S$75 each because we booked exit seats and return luggage. But still, its way too cheap.

Call it destiny because that same week-period that Air Asia went on sale, Accor Hotels also went on a 3-day ridiculous sale. We were able to book a room in Novotel Nusa Dua for S$65 a night. Now are we lucky or what? :)

Plus, I'm really looking forward to Balinese Babi Guling (Roast Pork). Anthony Bourdain said in his blog that it's the second best roast pork he has ever tasted in the whole world (next to #1's Cebu Lechon in the Philippines), no kidding! Sorry Zach hehe I just want to taste.

See you in 4 days :-)

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