Thursday, September 30, 2010

Maximizing Your Consultation With Your GP. Yook Tho Yin, Tim Pan Kor Kor, PJ.

(random thoughts)

Wooden Clothes Peg used to mark the dishes at Yook Tho Yin

For many people, GPs play a very important role in their lives, from diagnosing common maladies that affect them to picking up more life threatening conditions that require further investigations and care from a tertiary centre. They usually act as a friend and a confidante, being privy to many problems that burden their patients.

Interior of Delicious Cafe at Dua Residency

Unfortunately, most of the time, GPs are usually very busy and consultation time is usually limited. In Western Medical Practice, history taking or the description of symptoms by the patient is a very important part of the consultation. A Western Trained Doctor cannot tell what is wrong with a patient by just taking the pulse, a fantasy best left to B grade TVB teledramas. If we lived in an ideal world, the GP should spend at least 30 minutes per consult, and spend some time taking your history and examining you and ultimately describing the treatment or advising you on further investigation like blood tests or imaging that might be helpful in the diagnosis.

Delicious Cafe

Below are some thoughts on how to maximize your consultation in that limited amount of time, in the Malaysian context.

Delicious Cafe

1. Time your visits when possible.

Mornings are usually not a good time to visit your GP. Clinics are usually crowded with people who have been fasting overnight to do blood tests, ladies who drop by after their morning exercise or marketing and the office workers who want a Medical Chit to exempt them from work. Your consultation with the GP will be more hurried due to the overwhelming amount of patients waiting outside. Most GPs do not practice appointments and in this less than ideal situation, try not to visit in the mornings unless of course it is an emergency.

Glutinous Rice Balls with Peanuts from Tim Pan Kor Kor, SS2

Evenings are a bad time too. Parents who have finished working will bring their sick child to the doctor and trying to get a consult after official clinic hours is a bad idea too, because the doctor would have been too tired from a long day. The best times are usually from 3PM to 5PM.

If the clinic is extra heavy and you find that there are other unresolved problems that might need attention, try asking the Doctor if it will be better for you to come back for another visit.

Red Beans and Soya from Tim Pan Kor Kor

2. Be Properly Attired.

Just some common sense. If you have a rash on your thighs, do not wear long tights unless you want to show of your undergarments too. It would be best to wear loose fitting clothes, especially if you are expecting an ultrasound scan or some other procedures to be preformed. The time spent on undoing clasps and buttons should be better spent at describing your symptoms and getting useful advice from your doctor.

Pickled Chili from Yook Tho Yin

Gentlemen should avoid wearing singlets. The tactile stimulation from the wet and hairy bush under the armpits while the Doctor attempts to take your BP will not endear you to him. Unless it is an emergency, try to be clean. Doctors are after all only human, and will appreciate any effort to make the consult as pleasant as possible. I am sure any ethical Doctor will tolerate anybody who smells like rotting fish if it is an emergency. Turning up with your hand covered in grease and leaving a trail of body odour that requires 3 cans of air freshener to hide the smell is just plain silly if you are just at the clinic to pick up your regular anti hypertensives. The Nurse would have to spend time wiping off the grease marks on the chair and table, time which could be used to see the next patient.

Sang Meen from YTY

3. Children and Clinics.

Try to leave you children who are not sick at home and do not bring them along with you to the clinic. Clinics are filled with sick people and Germs. It is possible for them to get infected as well. Children are naturally hyperactive if they are well (sometimes even if they are sick).

If Mummy is sick, please leave the children at home. Uncle Doctor will be very very distracted if Little Johnny treats the RM120,000 ultrasound machine like a PS 3 and Little Lisa jumps up and down the weighing scale like a trampoline while Mummy is being examined. It will be made worse if Daddy is discussing the stock market with his stockbroker in the background. It will be a natural reaction of the Doctor to hurry on the consultation. The examination room is usually not very child friendly and filled with electrical hazards and sharp instruments.

Preparation for a sick child for a consultation begins at home. There are many child care books that teached techniques of preparing the child for a visit to the Dr. Try to keep the child comfortable, and bring along his or her favourite toy. Again, fuss free clothing that are loose and comfortable will make it easier for them to be examined. For older children who are fretful of clinics, try playing "doctor" with them at home with a toy stethescope to familiarize them with the rote of physical examination.

Salted Fish and Pork from YTY

4. Be concise and precise about your symptoms.

Terms like giddiness means different things to different people. It could mean feeling like blacking out, feeling like the room is spinning for feeling some form of imbalance, all of which may have different causes. If you have had the symptoms before, tell the Doctor why you are particularly worried about the current episode. Is it more severe, or does it come with other symptoms as well.

Avoid vague terms like "uncomfortable". Use a language that you are really conversant with to avoid confusion.

Take note of any previous allergic reactions to medication and insist on getting the name of the medicine from the clinic. Jot down the names of any medication that you are taking or have taken over the past day prior to the consultation to avoid any undesirable interactions with the medication that the doctor is prescribing for you. A very interesting observation to note is that some people can remember all the top three prize winners for Magnum for the past month, but are unable to recall what medication they are allergic to.

Fish Head Curry from YTY

5. Ask

If you are in doubt, ask. A good Doctor usually will let you know why he thinks that your symptoms and signs fits in with a particular diagnosis. Make the Doctor discuss the treatment plan with you in detail, and ask for possible complications that might arise from both the disease and the treatment. But of course, ask intelligently. For instance, do not ask questions like where do bacterias come from, and in the process give your doctor a stroke.

Ginger Chicken

This blog post is mainly for entertainment value. Please consult your professional medical practitioner for proper advice.

One evening saw us catching up on Chinese food from a small papa and mama joint in DU. Yok Tho Yin serves Chinese food which is best described as hearty and affordable or boring and predictable, depending on how you see it. The price was certainly reasonable, a meal for 4 cost us less than RM100. The star of the night would be the Salted Egg Yolks Fried with Bitter Gourd, which was a lovely tribute to the usually morose and dour Bitter Gourd. It was lifted out of it's doldrums by the bright sunshine coloured yolks which provided an interesting flaky and powdery saltiness to this beautiful combination.

Desserts at Tim Pan Kor Kor was reflected by their crowd which would average around 23 years old. Full of hopes and unrealized dreams. Dish cafe is already well known and is a comfortable place to have a civil conversation amidst a beautiful interior. Food will be tried and tested favourites which is not really my cup of tea.

Yook Tho Yin
31, Jalan SS21/37
Damansara Utama
Petaling Jaya

Tim Pan Kor Kor
No 36, Jalan SS2/63
47000 Petalin Jaya

Dua Residency
Jalan Tun Razak
Kuala Lumpur.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Searching For Superlatives. Gu Yue Tien, Chulan Square, KL.

(non halal)

Preserved Chinese Mustard

Sometimes, writing about food that is so devastatingly exquisite and beautifully thought out and breathtakingly innovative demands superlatives. When words fail, it is exasperating because I could never convey the exquisite pleasure of the stimulation of senses the food offers.

Oven Baked Calamari

Take for instance, the humble calamari. Not any Calamari, the mutant foot long ones perfectly Oven Baked until it is crunchy and slightly charred outside yet as tender as fish on the inside. Stuffed with sinful roe and intriguingly rich, slightly bitter yet delicately uni, the combination was so ethereal that it has dampened my appreciation of the normal grilled Calamari forever. Such is the price of perfection, especially when the richness was tempered down with the tanginess from a wedge of lemon and the sour and tart chili based dip. Breathtaking.

The Filling of Roe and Uni (Sea Urchin)

Stepping into Gu Yue Tien from the busy and traffic clogged streets itself is therapeutic. An oasis of calm an sanity greets you as you climb up the stairs into the main dining area which is decorated in Neo-Chinese style. It is not overtly fancy or ostentatious, but functional and clean, with 6 private dining rooms on both sides of the restaurant.

Bacon Salad

We had ordered lunch "Omakasen" style, and left the tedium of deciding what to order to the chef. The first dish did not impress me at all. It was Bacon salad, served with red and green corals with Thousand Island dressing. Although the Salad was faultless and their beautiful bacon smoked in-house was beautifully balanced in flavour and texture, it did not dazzle my palate.

Clams and Apple Salad

By the time the second course arrived, I was ready to eat my words. The Giant Clam and Apple Salad was a creation of pure genius. It was a melange of flavours, sweet, sour and salty with some spiciness from chili. Not only that, the flavour of the chewy clams were brought alive by apples which were crunchy in contrast.

Fish Cake with Cheese Stuffing

Even the plain old fish cake was given a new lease of life. It was playfully filled with some melted Cheddar Cheese. I would never have thought that Cheese and Chinese food could have such a happy union.

Wok Fried Beef with Mushroom Reduction and Tempura

The Pan Fried Beef served with Mushroom Reduction, served with Wasabi Sauce and Tempura Spinach was a revelation of the Chef's ability to fuse Western, Chinese and Japanese cuisine. The beef was delightfully tender and the perfectly fried Spinach complemented the dish very well.

Close up of the Spinach Tempura

I have often thought of Chinese Food as being rather stodgy and conventional, but Chef Frankie has given Chinese Cuisine a different revelation, bringing with it some really new and exciting flavours and and Western inspired plating.

Braised Pork Knuckle

I am not a fan of Pork, and will refrain from commenting on the next dish, which was Braised Pork Knuckle with Preserved Vegetables (Mooi Choi) and Pumpkin Puree.

Mooncakes for Dessert

That was one of the most interesting Chinese Meals I have had this year. In fact, I am anticipating a return to try out the rest of their menu after my break, and will keep you posted.

Gu Yue Tien
Lot 5A Chulan Square
Jalan Raja Chulan
50200 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: +

Friday, September 24, 2010

Staple Japanese. Benkay, Hotel Nikko, Jalan Ampang, KL.

(no pork served)

Angry looking lobster in the tank at Benkay. Fresh lobster Teppanyaki is available from their a la carte menu.

My quest for a good restaurant that serves good Japanese Food say me trotting off to Benkay. The abnormal proliferation of Japanese Restaurants in KL like a good Catholic that does not believe in family planning has led to a deplorable condition where there is an over abundance of restaurants with very little quality. Some of the Japanese Restaurants are owned by large chains that contribute to the blurring of boundaries between the restaurants, all of which serves to attempt some form of fusion food. Food that attempts to stroke too many senses at one go and ends up miserably on the road to gastronomic perdition. The menu is often frightfully overwrought with misconceived notions of what Fusion Japanese cuisine should be and churns out something quite similar to Gozilla running amok in New York, clueless and seething with rage, which is pretty close to what I feel too after a bad Japanese meal. And we have not even begun to talk about Kaiseki yet.


The interior of Benkay is functional and simple with lots of wood based furniture and bright windows. Unfortunately the Restaurant attracts a new breed of lunch crowd diners whose idea of a civil conversation involves shouting across the table and into their mobile phones. Be prepared for an auditory assault while dining here.

California Roll

The simple and functional decor is reflected in their lunch menu, which is devoid of any pretensions as well. Their salad was restrained, just pieces of fresh vegetable and corn showered with Shoyu Vinaigrette. The California hand roll which came with my set was mercifully devoid of the horrid Kewpie Mayonnaise that I often complain about. The Sunomono showed too much restraint with the vinegar and was generously sweet, a minor complaint that has nothing to do with the competency of the chef, but personal taste.


The Chawan Mushi was perfectly smooth and topped with Ginko besides the usual Mushroom. I ordered the Udon Set, and was served with beautifully textured Udon noodles in a Konbu based soup with the usual condiments of kakiage, wakame and scallions. There is something about warm and perfected done broth and a good dining companion that acts as a calming panacea for distracted souls. The Udon worked it's magic during lunch.


My Dining companion had the Sliced Beef and Vegetable hot pot set, which was also similar, but came without the Hand Rolled Sushi which was substituted with rice.

Sliced Beef and Vege Hot Pot

Actually. Mondays are not a good day to visit Japanese Restaurants in KL. Fishes are replenished on Tuesdays and Fridays. We cautiously avoided the Sashimi Fish Nigiris and fell back on to Tako and Ebi Sushi which just confirmed our suspicion. The freshness was slightly off, just squirmingly so, but not to the point of being offensive.

Chawan Mushi

Their choices for dessert is somewhat limited. We had both the Green Tea and Black Sesame ice cream which seems to be the basic yet boring staple for Japanese Restaurant Desserts in KL.

Ebi Sushi

No massacres, no mayo and no cheese. Not dazzling, but just good old plain Japanese Food which some people might term comfort food. It doesn't come cheap. Lunch for 2, i.e. 2 sets plus 4 pieces of sushi, desserts and green tea came up to RM110 per pax.


I know that this is a food blog, but sometimes I just can't help myself. I was just thinking about my recent tirade against Thomas Lee's op ed piece, and had thought about the question whether if Morality can exist without God. I am still sticking to my guns.

Black Sesame Ice Cream

Sorry for the short post, as I am feeling tired after a long day walking. I am still on Holidays and will be back on the 4th. Ta's!

Benkay Japanese Restaurant
Hotel Nikko
165 Jalan Ampang
50450 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: +

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Food Was So Good, I Could Just Diet. Photos from J and R.

Whimsical Musings

Weight. The karmic retribution that plagues most foodies for the sin of gluttony coupled with sloth. I love being unobtrusive and obscure. My favourite seat at Sage (perhaps I should not be revealing this) is actually at the corner of the right hand side as you enter the restaurant, right where the pillar is. But it is extremely difficult to remain hidden, even by a big pillar when my paunch is the size of Everest, jutting out in it's full glory. A physical sign to announce to the world that I have arrived, the paunch being a debutant gift after completing finishing school in overeating. I do not believe in the Devil or any of those mumbo jumbo superstitious stuff. My idle mind is the workshop of edacity, the playground of lovely morsels of tidbits and food. Whisper sweet nothings inside my ear, and my mind wanders and tries to figure out where to have dinner to continue the conversation.

It is not like I have not tried to lose weight before. You name it, I've tried it. When the Atkin's Diet was in the vogue I made it my mission in life to get ketones in the urine. Being stuffed with proteins and fat and leafy vegetables with not a morsel of Carbohydrates for 2 weeks made my mouth smell like putrefying garbage, gave me a bad headache and nausea and I had to spend a longer time sitting on my throne in the morning than being stuck on the Federal Highway on a rainy day. Other than losing 4 kilograms, I also lost some friends due to halitosis and awful mood swings, and I lost a couple of bucks more for some medication for hemorrhoids.

The beetroot and grapefruit diet was worse. Half a Grapefruit, A cup of Coffee and half a cup of cereal for breakfast had me hallucinating by 10am. I thought the files to be pancakes and my secretary a red lobster and suddenly the CD-ROMs look strangely delectable by 11.

When I was not a foodie and just starting out at a much junior position in Bangkok, I had no problems with weight. I was a paltry 72kg. It was wonderful. I felt lighter and my present 2 dimensional face which needs google maps to render it into 3D view now, was much smaller and ermmm.... 3 dimensional. But then again, I was following the Wagyu diet. Not that I ate a lot of wagyu, but just like prime Wagyu, I was fed on beer and whiskey every night at the clubs and massages in the evening before hitting the clubs to dance the night away again. Of course if you have seen me dance, you would know that it would take copious amounts of alcohol for me to flail my arms and shake my bootie and generally make a fool of my self. The Ratchada Strip was my favourite grazing ground. Unfortunately hangovers in the morning gave me nausea and I was surviving on hot liquid diet as well. Porridge, Noodle Soup for breakfast and my lunches always at MK Suki, which serves Thai Hot Pot. Nothing more adventurous was possible and just by having chicken rice for lunch puts me into a prolonged food coma and wretching like an expecting mum after lunch.

A couple of jumps in the hierarchy saw me making the decision to stop my Wagyu diet. Turning up for work in the office wearing the shirt inside out would be ridiculously embarrassing. That was when my girth started expanding. It was controllable in Bangkok. The Gym at my apartment is fairly well equipped and is open 24 hours a day. I could still go clubbing till 6 in the morning at the small hell hole dance clubs for extra workout on weekends.

When I had my first posting in KL 3 years back, that was when my weight ballooned out of control. The public transportation was so bad, I had to drive. My apartment Gym (poorly equipped) closes at 9 and Clubs closes at 2 am. Drats. That meant that my wagyu diet was not going to go anywhere at all. A much heavier workload meant that I would not be getting enough sleep and the best way to keep awake for me is by snacking. Malaysia remains one of the funniest places to work. This is one place where the staff refuses to work for money, and would scheme and snake their way out of working extra hours. If you force them, the work they produce is just crap anyway, and that means I have to clean up their mess myself. My larder in the office and at home was better stocked than an animal that was going into hibernation. And the price to pay is 25 kg in 3 years.

I have recently embarked on an exercise program and so far have been able to reduce my weight by a miserable 3 kg in 3 months. The best way I can envision myself with a six pack will be to buy six cans of Heneiken and stick it to my abdominal wall. I still can't diet.

Food from this post was from Jarrod and Rawlins, who were such good sports and did not mind me being my prissy, sanctimonious self by refusing to write a review of the food because it was an invite. Nah... Actually I was stuffed when I went and did not get to taste much of the food.

Anyway, who could diet when faced with food like these all the time, screaming to be eaten?

Nice week ahead, all!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Curl Up And Diet. Ogden Nash.


Being on holidays meant that I have a lot of time. Transit Lounges are one of the most dreary places in the world. Despite the best efforts of airlines to ply you with free alcohol and food and internet access and the apparent appearance of luxury, lounges remain a place of abject misery. Filled by officious looking people, brimming with self importance, droning in monotony with the sense of humour of a rhinoceros. Maybe it is the time zone changes or sheer exhaustion plus the desire to arrive at my destination without the benefit of a teleporter, i pace around and wish that the little hole in the latrine would be my saviour, a small breach in the time space continuum where i could crawl in an arrive at my destination in an instant. Anything to escape the excruciation of airline lounges and airports.

During one of the sojourns, I begin to google for the poetry of Ogden Nash. Often humorous, and with funny sense of rhyme, it is always a pick me up. I found a little gem that I would like to share with you guys on a Saturday.

Curl Up and Diet

Some ladies smoke too much and some ladies drink too much and some ladies pray too much,
But all ladies think that they weigh too much.

They may be slender as a sylph or a dryad,
But just let them on the scales and they embark on a doleful jerremiad;

No matter how low the figure needle happens to touch,
They always claim it is at least five pounds too much;
No matter how underfed to you a lady's anatomy seemeth;
She describes herself as Leviathan or Behemoth;
To the world she may appear slinky and feline,
But she inspects herself in the mirror and cries Oh, I look like a sea lion;
Yes, she tells you she is growing into the shape of a sea cow or manatee,
And if you say No, my dear, she says you are just lying to make her feel better, and if you say Yes, my dear, you injure her vanity.

And in any case her eyes flow like faucets,
And she goes out and buys some new caucets.

Once upon a time there was a girl more beautiful and witty and charming than tongue can tell,
And she is now a dangerous raving maniac in a padded cell,
And the first indication her friends and relatives had that she was mentally overwrought
Was one day when she said I weigh a hundred and twenty-seven, which is exactly what I ought.

Oh, often I am haunted
By the thought that somebody might some day discover a diet that would let ladies reduce just as much as they wanted,
Because I wonder if there is a woman in the world strong-minded enough to shed ten pounds or twenty,
And say There now, That's plenty;
And I fear me one ten-pound loss would only arouse the craving for another,
So it wouldn't do any good for ladies to get their ambition and look like somebody's fourteen-year-old brother,
Because, having accomplished this with ease,
They would next want to look like somebody's fourteen-year-old brother in the final stages of some obscure disease,
And the more success you have the more you want to get of it,
So then their goal would be to look like somebody's fourteen-year-old brother's ghost, or rather not the ghost itself, which is fairly solid, but a silhouette of it,
So I think it is very nice to be lithe and lissome,
But not so much so that you cut yourself if you happen to embrace or kissome

- Ogden Nash


Friday, September 17, 2010

Itching for Japanese. Edo Ichi, Solaris Dutamas, KL.

(no pork served)

Interior of Edo Ichi

I seem to have zilch luck when it comes to dining Japanese in KL. I do not know what it takes to find a dank and small joint, fitted with cedar wood, smelling of stale cigarettes and an indescribable fishy yet intoxicating smell. Greeted with a warm towel and freshly grated wasabi. Hmmmm... So far, the trips to some Japanese joints had been a traumatic experience. I witnessed the senseless massacre of prime meat and fish in the name of some botched up idea of gastronomy. It has made me a bit hesitant in trying our Japanese joints in KL.

Edo-Ichi was recommended to me by some friends, and of course, after reading Boo's blog, I had to give it a go. The photos have a bluish tint because there was a huge aquarium behind me. I did not fire my flash because I was sitting at the sushi bar. I could accidentally blind the chef temporarily and served some sashimied finger.

Dobin Mushi

A single piece of prawn was sentenced to confinement in the the Dobin Mushi pot with some fish fillets as play mates. I could feel that it was sulking because it would have loved to play with some Matsusake Mushrooms too. The soup was not smokey enough, but the biggest fault was serving the soup with Calamansi instead of a rind of Lime which would have enhanced the flavours of the soup with it's tartness.

Bearing in mind that the visit was over the long Hari Raya weekend, the restaurant must have had some problems in sourcing the ingredients.

Tako Sunomono

The Tako Sunomono however, was perfectly vinegary, drizzled with lemon and served with wakame and kyuri and lightly sprinkled with Sesame. It was a perfect appetizer.

Tsubagai sauteed with Okra and Kimchi

The Okra with Tsubugai with Kimchi Sauce was perfectly sauteed with the Okra not overdone. The dish just screamed out for rice like a wailing banshee. The flavours were interesting, but not captivating.

Salmon Belly Sushi

Being the Raya weekend, they have run out of Toro and Uni, and I had to settle for the more pedestrian Salmon Belly and Hamachi Belly Sushi. Both were perfunctory executed with no frills and both were acceptably good. The cuts were fresh and unctuous.

Butter Sauteed Mushrooms

The mushroom (enoki) sauteed with butter and garlic was slightly heavy. The butter, garlic and salt overwhelmed the natural flavours of the mushroom. The Beef wrapped Enoki suffered the same fate.

Hamachi Belly

I am not sure if I am too much of a purist, but I found the most traditional dishes and the simplest dishes to be the best. Bad timing on my part to arrange for a visit during an extended weekend, I know. I would be back to sample more of the dishes again.

Yuzu Sherbet

If there is a reason to go to Edo Ichi, it would be the beautiful Yuzu Sherbet. Cold, crisp, tangy and light. I could have bowls of this without getting bored. The Frigid Ice Queen stole the show. Quaint.

There you are, a new Japanese joint and only two massacred dishes which is the best record for a Japanese Restaurant in KL for me so far. Just stick to the basics, and you won't go far wrong at Edo-Ichi.

Price were about RM190 for the above dishes plus an Asahi. Be prepared to spend about RM250 per person if you plan to get some really good cuts.

Service was good and efficient, despite the restaurant being quite full.

Edo Ichi satisfied my itch temporarily, but not completely. Next two on my list would be Ozeki and Kapoh. Typing is such a chore on my minuscule netbook, you guys will have to suffer some bad typos for a while till I get back. I should have brought my notebook.

Edo Ichi Japanese Restaurant
Solaris Dutamas
Kuala Lumpur

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Hawking, Nietzsche and a Buffoon. Madras Lane, KL.

Whimsical Musings.

Wet Market in Chinatown's Madras Lane

Waking up on Saturdays are never easy, especially for a sloth like me who likes my ass well done. Saturday mornings will see me frying my well endowed, gorgeous posterior in bed, wrapped in a comforter, air conditioning set on full blast. To ensure that my generous rump is well done on both sides, I will turn on my sides and lay flat in equal proportion of time, and the timer is set to buzz at 11:00 am with generous allowances for snoozing.

One morning, a well meaning and dear friend invited me for breakfast at Madras Lane, Chinatown at an ungodly hour of 9:00am. She is what Harold Ross, the founder of New Yorker magazine would describe as a "duodenum scarred veteran of many years of guerrilla service in the Hydrochloric war". Years of working in a stressful environment has made her stomach suffer from unbalanced acidity. A straight talker on the verge of being blunt, she has not endeared herself to those who need to be pandered and praised constantly but for those who love uncomplicated yes and nos, she is a godsend.

I managed to drag my hefty buns out of bed at 7:00 and made it to Chinatown by 7:45am. Quite an effort for which I was amply rewarded, because the sight, the sounds, the colours and the smell that greeted me was simply amazing. I have never been to Chinatown in the morning. My nocturnal sojourns was never impressive. It was noisy, filled with shouting from the vendors piling their wares. The fluorescent lights and darkness of the night seemed to amplify it's squalor and filth. The beady and shifty eyed con artists filled the streets already choking with exhaust fumes and smoke complemented the backdrop of a scene from a triad movie set in Hong Kong.

Flower Market at Chinatown

In the early mornings, the transformation was breathtaking. The air was fresh, and the pace was slow, with geriatrics plying the sidewalk and sitting in coffee shops chatting and idling as they slowly savour in the morning. There was a very bright and vibrant flower market. The psychedelic colours were amazingly rich and varied. The sun brought a lot of life to Chinatown, all the little nook and crannies was brought to life, teeming with activities. To my surprise, there was a vibrant wet market right in the centre of Chinatown, hidden in the back alleys and begging to be explored.

Flower market at Chinatown

You would have noticed that the pictures in this blog has been scaled down to 640 x 480. I usually access my blog from home, using a 24 inch monitor. Since I am on holiday, I am using a 19 incher and the photos looks freakishly and mutantly huge! I guess I should have been more empathic and hence the saner sizes.

Those who follow Malaysian Insider regularly would have noticed a dismal piece of op ed entitled "No Place For God?" by a certain Thomas Lee Seng Hock. I have not read such a piece of drivel in a long time. Written in his usual grandiose style written with a help of a thesaurus and peppering the piece with the most obscure and affected words in the English language hoping to make himself sound more authoritative. Ineluctable... Who uses words like this nowadays? It is obvious that he had been poisoned by some fundamentalist fear mongering hick, who is flustered when evolutionists claim that humans are descended from primates but have no qualms whatsoever when the book of Genesis claims that humans are made from dust. Dust. The same particle that sticks to the bottom of my feet, and the same particle that dog poo on the roadside becomes when it degrades.

Chinese Temple at Chinatown

I do not think that his article in TMI warrants a line by line rebuttal. Just some irritating things he brought up. The anecdote about Paul Gentuso can be found here. I wonder if Dr. Paul (currently practicing in Nashville) shares the same wonder and amazement when he delivers a baby with examphalos, with no skin covering the abdomen and the intestines are all hanging out and is dependent entirely on modern medical science to survive?

He goes on to say that without god as a creator, then we have no intrinsic value and no morality. Irregardless of whether we evolved or whether a greater being created us, i don't think that there is any fundamental change to who we are or what we become. Communist countries are not less moral that theistic countries. In fact, people are more and more aware about ethics and morality in this increasingly atheistic world compared to the past where the belief of God and Creationism was widespread together with slavery, subjugation of women to horrific discrimination and capital punishment was meted out in matters regarding personal faith.

Hindu Temple at Chinatown

Mr. Thomas has obviously misunderstood Nietzsche, and the nuances of his philosophical aphorisms. I am doubtful if he had read Nietzsche before. Nietzsche's Sledgehammer was not to knock down morality, but our way of perceiving morality. I do not wish to bore you guys with Nietzsche, but for those who are interested, this is a good place to start finding out what the "Beyond" in this brilliant thinker's book Beyond Good and Evil means. It is a talk given by Fred Ulfers from European Graduate School.

This is probably not the place to argue about evidence for and against the existence of God, which can be found in any standard textbook of Philosophy. I am just miffed that the same courtesy is not extended to Atheists, Agnostics or Pantheists that is given to people of other faiths in public arena. I do find that rather exasperating, as if Atheists, Agnostics and Pantheists have not thought about why they believe what they believe. We certainly do behave better and will not declare an unholy war or wear a bomb and detonate ourselves in a church. The meek shall inherit the earth, and we have to survive being bashed in the public for our convictions. Ironic. We know what fundamentalist Christians say about other faiths in their churches, except that they do not voice it out. I have read the Bible, although I am not a Bible Scholar and wish that Mr. Thomas had done the same with Hawking and Nietzsche before writing the article.

Garlands for sale in front of Hindu Temple

The Bible, if not taken literally, does not contradict science. It is when it is taken for it's literal meaning, without considering the culture and the milleu it was written in that religion runs into problems. The Spirit that led Luther's nailing of the 95 theses at Wittenburg which sparked of the reformation and led to the existence of protestant churches is stiffled by the desire of dogmatic fundamentalists who wants to dictate how the Bible must be interpreted right down to which version of the Bible is not evil. How paradoxical.

It is becoming a Modern version of Quixote, but instead of fighting windmills, they are demonizing science as the monster. It would be sad if fundamentalists, like Quixote, finally recovers one day into sanity and when the truth finally sets in, they realize too late that they should be fighting against the real enemies of humanity. Bigotry, Ignorance, Injustice and Cruelty. The knowledge of whether I evolved or was created or the real Age of the Earth just satisfied my curiosity in the order of things. But it never did transform me into a better or a more just person. The discovery of Humanism did.

Curry noodles

Back to the food at Madras Lane. The Curry Noodles were very thick, but unfortunately bland and served with Pork Skin. I am naturally averse to that, and did not finish the noodles.

Chee Cheong Fun

My Dining companion's Chee Cheong Fun fared slightly better and was silky smooth in consistency. Even if the food was not exceptional, the company and the experience of walking in Chinatown so early in the morning was. Even though I call myself an atheist, deep down I may not be one. I just haven't found anything that could appease my curiosity and questions. I welcome all forms of civilized debate without the invocation of hell and brimstones.

I am not trying to show off my library, but just to share with you some books that have enlightened me and probably would be useful before tackling Hawking. Probably a good place to start would be Spinoza's Ethics. Spinoza's account of the materialistic world and his Pantheism (or Panentheism) is a great influence on Einstein and Hawking, and "God" to both of them does not mean a personal God who is keeping tab of how many times you wash your bum after defaecating, but a creator being.

Next on the list will be Kant's Critique of Pure Reason. I am sorry, I cannot recommend a translated version because Paul Guyer's is a torture, Meikeljohn is even worse. If there is a remotely readable translation it would have to be the Norman Kemp-Smith. I can't start to describe how important this book is, from epistemology, to the problems of space and time, metaphysics and theories for the existence of God and ultimately the rejection of reason for faith when it comes to God.

A follow up to this would be Schopenhauer's depressive philosophy and the Two seminal works by Nietzsche, Also Sprach Zarathustra and Beyond Good and Evil. (These last three recommended for Thomas). Kaufmann's beguiling and often humorous critique is an essential read for those who are interested in the Christian Faith and Philosophy.

The more "technical" intro would be Roger Penrose's Voluminous Road to Reality, which begins with 16 chapters of essential Mathematics for the understanding of Physics which might be a little bit daunting because it includes Clifford and Grassman Algebras and Geodesics. Those who manage to plough through will be rewarded with a wonderful chapter on Quantum Mechanics and a beautiful Final Chapter on the integration of Quantum with Relativity, Klein Gordon Equation and the factoring into Dirac and anti Dirac equations. A peek in to Hawking's God Created Integers would be a useful primer before Penrose.

Einstein's Biography is illuminating and Michio Kaku's simplified version of Cosmology will maintain your interest before attempting more Hawking.

I am on vacation and so far, my blackberryless days have been wonderful and filled with lovely meals with friends who share a common interest in talking rots and discussing things that are probably insignificant. Who cares about Fermat's Theorem anyway? I will be moving on to a place where the internet connection is more patchy and unreliable. I have scheduled some updates (food related, I promise and no more boring stuff like this) and have disabled comments because I do not forsee that I could reply them. Take care, all. Happy Malaysia Day. Back on the 3rd. Cheers.

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Unless stated otherwise, all the posts and food here is paid for by the Paranoid Android. He dose not receive any financial compensation for posting in this blog. The views expressed here are an opinion and as usual, taste is subjective and varies among people, time and mood as well! Please feel free to contact me at humanist dot philo at gmail dot com. Unless otherwise stated, the photos here belong to the owner of this blog. You are free to use it for any non commercial purpose. As courtesy, just drop me an email and credit the photo to the blog. Thanks for dropping by!

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