elb's hovel of thoughts

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Commentry on Malaysia's first space flight participant

Frankly, I don't give two hoots about Malaysia's first space flight participant. Oops, maybe I actually am since I am going to comment on it:

Why on earth are we getting so patriotic (or rather, supposed to) over this paid for event? Would the Russians have even agreed to it had it not been part of a military deal? Maybe, after all, its still money.

Ultimately, let's face it. The first Malaysian, a non-Malay, flying to outer space? Unthinkable. A non-Malay Malaysian flying to outer space during Eid ul Fitr? Scandalous!

We all knew from day one that the space tourist would be of a certain ethnicity. Eventhough it was claimed that the selection 'would be fair', who would have believed it? There were a few ethnicities who made it past the laughable SMS-voting. Come on, voting an astronaut by text messaging? Oh wait, its a space tourist, so I suppose its a bit more acceptable.

What takes the cake is that ultimately, NASA decided to call our 'astronaut' a space tourist. So the Malaysian government protested to Russia; Russia agrees with Malaysia. With a multi billion dollar jet deal between Russia and Malaysia at the core of this 'astronaut' program at stake, how could Russia not refuse?

However, I believe that many of us would concur with NASA that Muszaphar Shukor is a mere space flight participant, although obviously there are people who don't agree, as the Wikipedia entry demonstrates. What the hell, he stills gets credited with being the first Malaysian in space, and the first Muslim to celebrate Eid-ur Fitr in space. Be happy enough with that already.

And now, they want to waste even more money sending a second space tourist; probably to placate the 'runner up' space tourist more than anything else (and to show that Malaysia 'boleh', once again).

On top of that, they want to start a Space Agency? We frankly don't need to waste money on such a thing, at least not until Malaysia has a more developed economy with deeper pockets (the fact that the main space exploration countries are USA, Russia, EU, China are also huge economies don't come coincidentally).

So, why should we feel proud, let alone patriotic over this waste of time and money which is of no value but to massage and grow the Malay(-sian) ego?


Random update

Been very busy lately; just too many things to do. I wake as early as 5.30am for work, and even so the earliest I can get back home is around 7.30pm. Which just doesn't happen all the time, as pretty frequently I would get my dinner outside or drop by a shopping mall/ supermarket. And that's before you take into account my going to the gym after work.

After getting home, I usually watch a couple of TV series episodes (24 season 6 DVD boxset has just been released, with House Season 3 to come very soon) before going to sleep. On weekends, I just want to stay at home and sleep. On top of that, I still have a few hundred photographs to process from RAW (oh, I lost my compact camera, joy!) and to distribute to various people.

All this alone leaves me with almost zero time for my social life, and you can see why I'm probably a bit too busy to blog.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Fine dining @ Lafite

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One of the most renowned restaurants in Malaysia. We were here to celebrate an occassion.

Their bread came together with a thick cream herbal mousse. This went down very well with our stomachs.
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So good, that was probably all you needed to eat.

Our drinks soon arrived, one being the Loooooooooooooooong Island Iced Tea (RM3x), the other a glass of bubbly Moet (RM6x?).
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Loooooooooooooooong Island Iced Tea, the bottom half cold, top half warm.

We called for two starters, the rather weirdly named FoieGras@ red.com (RM62), and the equally techno-inspired Virtual Steak Tartar (RM48).

The seared foie gras, with balsamic vinegar and pistachios and peppered strawberries. Absolutely classic French dish, and it was fantastic.

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The steak tartar was rather creatively done as well. Raw thin slices of beef carpaccio came with a soft poached quail egg in the middle and Yorkshire puddings at either end, and was liberally sprinkled with mustard, capers, smoked salt and chervil. The combination of tastes in this dish was stunning and well received.

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For the mains, we had lamb cappucino. This consisted of lamb loin with pumpkins in various forms (cubes, seeds, puree, oil), hazelnuts, milk froth, and coffee paper. RM91

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To balance out all that meat, we also ordered a fish dish. This consisted of a base of Spanish omelette and asparagus, topped with slow roasted sea bass, and a prawn which was crowned with some Oscietra caviar and carrot mix, and a sauce made with garlic and parsley. RM96.

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Also worth mentioning was their version of shepherd's pie - made with wagyu beef cheek and foie gras. But we didn't get around to ordering it....

To be frank, after the excellent appetizers, we probably had too high an expectation for the mains, thus the mains did appear to be a little flat in comparison.

As we were finishing, the chef came by to say hello and we took the opportunity to heap some praise onto him. It was also at this point that he pointed out that the sea bass dish had some Spanish influence, which I immediately picked on as I had a monkfish dish which had a sauce that was very similar back in Spain.

We were too full at this point of course, so we decided to skip dessert. And a good thing too, as they brought out a surprise:

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A tree, with cotton candy dipped in strawberry dust as 'leaves' and chocolate 'stones' and peels as the 'earth'. And to top it off, the cotton candy started to drop off slowly and it looked like autumn.

Overall, an absolutely fantastic dinner with amazing ambiance. And a price tag to match! Do not expect this review to be current as chefs of this calibre do change their menus, but you can expect fantastic food, and a wonderful night out. Just ignore the pinch on the wallet.

Shangri La Hotel
Jalan Sultan Ismail
Kuala Lumpur