Malaysian Holiday during Hari Raya (Ramadan) – quick trip update

Malaysia is a wonderful country to visit, and as I have good friends there, I have been there many times. I have been inspired by Matt Dan who went to visit Malaysia and never left, learning the language (in local dialect – so he sounds like a native) and embracing the culture.

I won’t be going that far, but I will try a little bit of each area on this visit.

As I was visiting during the time of fasting and just before Hari Raya, Kuala Lumpur (KL) was a buzz with activity. Our first stop was a market to buy my traditional Malay outfit, and have a night-time (breakfast meal). I was very tired after the trip, but excited to be there!

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Early Morning drive to Kelantan

The next day we drove to Kelantan –  a rural state in the northeast of Peninsular. It may be rural, but it was not quiet. What would normally take four hours to drive from KL took us 13 hours. The next day was Hari Raya, which I was invited to celebrate with my Malaysian friends. So I decided to check-in to my local hotel and get a good night’s sleep.

Locals don’t’ see too many ‘orang asing’ (foreigner) in this area so I had a few people staring at me, and they don’t mind staring too! Granted –  I was probably a sight – An Irish guy, in traditional Malay clothes, carrying a Malaysian child (my friend’s daughter – who stuck to me like glue for the entire visit). But I felt very welcome, and soon forgot how awkward I felt.

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Saya nama John

The Malays have many wonderful traditions on Hari Raya, and one of them was to cook massive amounts of wonderful foods and desserts and invite all their friends and neighbours to dine with them. In fact, neighbours and guests got to eat first, in the house I visited. Some neighbours were not Muslim, but they too were invited in for a meal and a chat.

I’m glad I’ve been to Malaysia before because I had learned the basics and learned to respect and not forgot them. The first is always take off your shoes before entering a household, and sometimes even a local shop. The second is not to shake a woman’s(unrelated by blood) hand unless of course, she offers it first. I think this is also an Islamic custom.

The first time I visited Malaysia I was not aware of this last one. I shook a ladies hand, she accepted it but covered her own hand with her garment. Live and learn!

Being Irish, it’s very refreshing to see people having a great time with family and friends staying up late, and not a drop of alcohol was touched! It can be done, folks.

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Sleeping Buddha

Over the next few days, I was driven around in an envoy of three packed cars (families are massive in Malaysia) to see all the local sites. They even drove me three hours to see some Buddhist statues, despite the fact they did not want to see it themselves.

I really appreciated what these people were willing to do to keep me entertained but maintain their beliefs! They took me to see the ‘Sleeping Buddha’ temple in Kelantan which is a 40-metre statue of a sleeping Buddha, which is the longest of its kind in Southeast Asia.

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Local Restaurant

The food in Malaysia is amazing, but I have to say I wish I was more adventurous with what I ate. Some foods and desserts look and taste amazing and are so inexpensive in comparison to Dublin, it makes you wonder what else are you missing out on in this world!

The next few days were a blur, but we drove across Malaysia and down the west coast, stopping at some very packed, but very scenic resorts along the way until we arrived back in Kuala Lumpur. There we spent two days shopping and drinking copious amounts of coffee.

Next a trip to Penang Penang Island, where the capital city, George Town, is located.

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Penang Hill – View

We did not have long to explore Penang Island which was a shame, but the drive there across the longest bridge I have ever seen was an experience in itself.

On Penang Island, there seem to be much more Chinese people than Malay people, so I noticed in particular much more pubs and entertainment venues, as well as people wearing slightly less modest clothing! (not that I was looking or anything).

Anyway, If you visit Penang, make sure to visit Penang Hill, where you can get a train up the to the top of the hill for a breathtaking view!

Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus- The Non-Technical Review

Samsung’s flagship phone is here! The Galaxy S8 Plus packs a punch!

Here is my non-technical quick review

I love the Galaxy S 8 Plus, it looks great, feels great and runs very smoothly –  so far ( I only have it two months!). Coming from a 16 GB Apple iPhone 6 ,I found the abundance of storage (expandable too) … almost overwhelming-  I no longer see warning messages regarding storage capacity being depleted that plagued my iPhone. Apple, why did you make a phone which such a low storage capacity?

That aside, the best part of this phone has to be the screen.

Screen

Samsung has a name for this type of screen, it’s called an infinity screen, and Samsung has really spent a lot of time perfecting this generations display. Yes the screen looks amazing, and as this is a non-technical review, I won’t go into the specs, but this is a display you need to see in person!

There is a curve on the screen (it’s not as pounced as it is in the Galaxy Edge 7 – but it’s there all the same), at times this can be annoying, but mostly –  it just looks really cool!

The Android software on the Galaxy S8 has been adopted by Samsung so if you come across applications that do not support the unusual screen size and unusual curvature, you can have the phone crop the display so you can use the whole lot of this curved display. Or conversely, un-crop the screen if the app looks strange. Yes! It does look a bit odd for some applications and games, mind you, but mostly it works just fine.

On the day you buy this phone make sure you also purchase a decent cover for it! The back of the phone easily accumulates hairline scrapes, and unfortunately, the screen, as beautiful as it is, seems rather delicate and prone to scrapes and scratches. You need to protect the screen, somehow.

I already have a deep scratch on my screen, and a quick internet search seems to indicate –  it’s common enough for this to happen. Yes, I hate covering such a beautiful phone, though – but it needs to be done!

Charging

Wow! Samsung was not lying when they said this phone offers ‘fast charging’ – this phone charges faster than any phone I’ve ever had. Not just a marketing gimmick!

I also bought the fast charging wireless doc this phone supports, it is not as fast charging as connecting it directly, but a small price to pay – I suppose, if you want to use the handy wireless feature.

Features & Software

Samsung’s version of Touch ID, that is, the finger print reader, is in a very unusual location – at the back of the phone right beside the camera lens! What a place to put it. Not a great idea at all and feels a little ‘last minute’, but you know –  you do get used to it.

However, you often end up putting your finger over the camera lens… smudging it for any future photos. There are a number of other ways of unlocking your phone, such as the retina reader, which, when it works is a very handy feature, and of course the face recognition feature.

I will admit, tapping in the PIN works just as well for me!

I had been, up until I bought the Galaxy S 8 Plus, an iPhone user, I had switched back from Samsung, because I found the implementation of touch wiz – that is the Samsung implementation of Android operating system on their phones a massive annoyance, it was slow, glitchy and just a massive pain to use.

Thankfully, those days are behind us, and so far (fingers crossed) the Galaxy S 8 seems to have no problems for me in terms of software smoothness.

I’m happy, I bought this phone overall and Samsung has put a lot of work into this years flagship phone.

Superfoods for Men

Superfoods, is a wonderful term! A food unlike any other, here to answer all your dietary requirements and solve all your ailments . Recently, Channel 4 (Ireland/UK) have launched a TV documentary centered around so called Superfoods. And I’ve learned something! Most foods are good for us – but at certain degrees, some have almost no benefits at all, others, which are marketed as superfoods, contain less nutritional value than those that have been previously coveted. None the less, it is an interesting exercise to highlight my favorite Superfoods for Men. So, what is the definition of superfoods? Basically – it’s a marketing term. But, we can turn this on it’s head, and give it value!

You could describe a superfood, as a food that offers a substantial nutritional or health benefit, over commonly consumed foods, a food that is often high in anti-oxidants and may offer anti-aging benefits.

Below are Superfoods for Men, which I have found a great benefit to things like general health, good skin, but also tackle other issues like; improve your mood, and supposedly help with depression, among others.

Olive Oil

Olive oil is oil that is pressed from olives, the fruits of the olive tree, A study published in the scientific journal Diabetes Care has  showed that a Mediterranean style diet rich in olive oil reduced the risk of type II diabetes by almost 50 percent compared to a low fat diet . Olive oil also can help lower your LDL (bad cholesterol) and raise your good HDL levels. Extra virgin olive oil is mostly used as a salad dressing and as an ingredient in salad dressings.

Quinoa

Quiona, I have often supplemented for rice. It is high in protein, fiber, magnesium, B-vitamins, iron, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, vitamin E. I first heard about it in the United States, where it has boomed in popularity, but  has been consumed for thousands of years in South America.Perhaps the most striking health benefit provided by quinoa is its overall nutrient richness. When the nutrient composition of this food is analyzed in depth, the results are unusual and striking.

Coconut Water

It is said to hydrate better than water after a sports event, and maybe it does, maybe not, it still tastes great and is good for you! Coconut Water naturally low in calories, naturally fat- and cholesterol free, more potassium than four bananas! If you need a boost before and after a workout and plan on having a red bull or something similar – read the ingredients and then read the one ingredient in coconut water. On a recent trip to Asia, I was lucky enough to drink this direct from the coconut! What a treat!

Dark Chocolate

I love dark chocolate, it has a very rich and slightly bitter taste, and goes great with my coffee. Health wise dark chocolate has compounds that are biologically active and function as antioxidants. These include polyphenols, flavanols, catechins.

Bananas

I used to have a banana every day. They are nutritious, give me a great energy boost, tasty and filling and contain lots of potassium. Are they a superfood, in my opinion. Yes. Humans share 50% of our DNA with a banana. If that’s not a sign we should be eating them, then I don’t know what is. Bananas are rich in fiber, antioxidants and several nutrients. An average banana contains about 105 calories

Matcha Tea

OK! This is a new one to me, but it looks very exciting, having watched the TV Superfoods on Channel 4 (Ireland/UK) I was very impressed by it’s benefits.  My takings from it’s benefits all come down to this. Matcha Tea, comes from the same plant as green and black tea. This is very surprising, but apparently, the shading of the plant and it’s treatment that gives us Matcha Tea.One of the major health benefits of Matcha tea is that it delivers a mega dose of antioxidants in every sip. According to the latest innovation in antioxidant research, Matcha is packed with exponentially more antioxidants than any other ‘superfood’.

Almonds

I love almonds, almond butter is almost as good as peanut butter. The benefits? Cholesterol reduction is the most celebrated health benefit of almonds, but there are many other health benefits of almonds. Almonds are also  low in saturated fatty acids, rich in unsaturated fatty acids, and contain filling fiber, unique and protective phytosterol antioxidants as well as plant protein.

Sources

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=142
http://draxe.com/1almonds-nutrition/

3 Astonishing Things That Happen When You Give up Alcohol

I have picked 3 astonishing things that happen when you give up alcohol. Why these three? Because, these are the three main benefits I found as a result reducing my alcohol intake. In my previous post I discussed 10 tips for reducing alcohol intake and right off the cusp of that post, I thought these 3 astonishing things that happen when you give up alcohol would be the most appropriate. So here we go with number 1. Continue reading 3 Astonishing Things That Happen When You Give up Alcohol

10 tips to quit drinking alcohol

Below I have compiled 10 tips to quit drinking alcohol. I hope you find them useful and remember, that are many other things you can do and many tips you will come across yourself on your journey. Feel free to share them with me in the comments section. So lets begin looking at 10 tips to quit drinking alcohol!

  1. Do not keep alcohol in your house if you really want to quit drinking alcohol. I found over the years, if you do not have a beer in the house, you can’t drink it. DOINK! Sounds obvious, but if you’re anything like me and you have some in the house, you will always say, well there’s some there, I’d love some and why not. In fact you will find your brain will help with this rational very well and will encourage you to have one, sure why not. I say it again don’t keep alcohol in the house if you are easily tempted.
  2. Everyone makes mistakes, and if you have decided to quit or reduce alcohol and somehow feel like you have failed, you went on a bing or have have a few bad days, for whatever reason don’t feel like you can’t pick up the pieces again…. I mean the idea here, at least in my case, was to improve my general lifestyle, and every effort I made, and that you will make, can only have a positive effect on life! Stay positive, hold your head high and simply start again. Everyone makes mistakes during this process!
  3. Drink plenty…of water (…sorry…). You most likely will have heard this advice before, but heed it! Most of us do not drink enough water, and we need it to survive even more-so than food! What I did was – I bought a 1 litre bottle of water and reused it, I keep it at my desk in the office, as reminder of how much I have had that day or had not. It is said, the drinking action is helpful to reduce your desire for alcohol, but I did not find this true for me at all. What I did find however, about drinking more water, is it made me feel more healthy, not just in the ‘I’m doing what I am supposed to’ way but, it also set me in the right frame of mind, and pointed me in the right direction when taking into account a healthy diet. And talking about a healthy diet…
  4. Adopt a healthy diet. You knew it was coming, and yes, here it is! And it can be very hard to maintain, simply do this gradually, find healthy fruits and vegetables that you like and go from there. Make meals yourself from real foods, not foods that ‘may contain what it is supposed to be’ or is flavoured something or other. Start what what your mom used to make or told you to eat, she won’t send you down the wrong path!
  5. Go for a run. Ok! Maybe running is not for you, but what ever is your exercise of choice – do it. But if it is running, google ‘runners high’. Much better than that buzz from alcohol, and it’s healthy, a healthy buzz! Who knew!
  6. Stay out of situations where you will be tempted, until you are ready. I, still have the occasional drink, as I noted on my introduction page, my aim was to enjoy a beverage when I wanted it, but not to rely on it as some sort of solution. While you are still adapting to the process of reducing your alcohol intake or quitting it completely, do not place yourself in a situation where you would be expected to have a beverage, for me, that was certain friends who could not comprehend on any level why I was not having a beer. What was wrong with me? The truth is, for some people, they too feel uncomfortable with their relationship with alcohol and feel somewhat vindicated if you break your pledge and join them.
  7. You are in control when it comes to quit drinking alcohol! Always remember, it may be hard to find the power at times, but it is always there. I have found the ‘physical walk away’ solution worked very well for me. If I was out with friends and uncomfortable about being bothered to have a drink, when I had one, and was satisfied with that, or I was at home and really badly needed a drink, but did not want one, I just went for a walk cleared by head, it does wonders. Remember you have to approve anything that goes inside your body, you are in control!
  8. Remember why you are doing this. It has to be for you! It’s, of course, great to have a reason, for your family, for work, but for me these were the positive impact of reducing my beer intake, but not the reason. You have to want to do this for yourself, if you do not value yourself, how can you expect others to?
  9. Waking up without a hangover. If, like a friend of mine, you’ve had a minimum of one glass (probably closer to two glasses if he was truly honest, and those where large glasses!) per night, you will forget what it’s like to wake up:
    1. On-time for work.
    2. Without a hangover or headache.
    3. Have bathroom trouble – yes no one likes to talk about this one, but it is the free prize at the end of many glasses of beer or wine!
  10. Quit drinking alcohol! Plan your day and move things around, make life interesting and be positive. Little things here and there and a few big things can have a very positive impact on your life, so do them!
  11. Stay tuned to my blog, I have been a little vague here and there on some of my tips on quit drinking alcohol, but I hope to expand many of these tips where possible. I hope these helped, and yes, it was kind of … 11 tips, but 10 is a nice round figure.

Game of Thrones characters can drink their fill

I started watching and enjoying Game of Thrones when it first aired on TV and then abruptly stopped, deciding I would read all the books first. I’m not the fastest reader, it has to be said, it took me 6 months to finish them all. But, reading the books, I got to see, much closer, into all the characters thought-processes and it occurred to me, these characters sure do drink a lot.

Well, perhaps it reflects life, I mean Game of Thrones may be brutal and fantasy. But it can reflect modern society in many ways such as peoples quest for, power, desire, hate, the ups and downs, and through it all, there are flagons of Mead and Arbour Gold.

Tyrion Lannister, one of my favorite characters in the novels, loves to have a drink with breakfast, and then again… well lets just say…most of the day. But, he is a very intelligent character who thinks ahead and sees behind lies and deceit a lesson learned from his harsh life experiences. But is this why he drinks so much? What a million dollar question!

I suspect he is representative of today’s society and our often unhealthy relationship with alcohol. When we drink at home, be it one or two, do we consider this ‘drinking’? Or do we have to be with friends or at a pub for it to count as such. For Tyrion, it was his orange juice in the morning and his beverage of choice with  meals, and he was not alone, all the other characters were ‘social drinkers’. Did they need a vice, living in the world they do? Do we? Living in the different, yet comparable, world we live in. Yes, does it have to be beer or wine? No! But, we do need a vice, and NO I don’t mean drugs… sorry!

I will explore some alternative ‘vices’ or alternatives I used when my mind went to a cool beer, in later blog posts, so check those out when you can. And, I am not alone, by the way, in my Game of Thrones question! Watch this video, below, from seasons 1-4 of Game of Thrones characters having some wine.

“Ever watched Game of Thrones and thought sh*t they drink a lot of wine. Well here at The Movie Maniacs we’ve watched every episode and compiled a lovely little video that features every drinking shot from a main character and most of the background characters (I’m sure we missed at least a couple) from seasons 1 to 4. Stark, Lannister, Baratheon, which house drinks the most? Well I guess your just going to have to watch and find out!”

 

IRELAND: “Where is our Apple Store?”

I’ve been reading a lot on the internet about the so-called fake Apple Stores in Asia, I understand that two have now been closed, not because of any reaction from Apple (yet), but because they were unlicensed.

There is still some of them open for business. It makes me wonder why we don’t have an Apple store here in Dublin or anywhere in Ireland for that matter? We really are missing out by not having one.

While ‘CompuB’ have some very nice stores in Dublin and Limerick (the stores I have been to), it would be nice if Apple showed a little more retail interest in Ireland.

As of writing this post, Apple has 237 stores in the US, 30 in the UK with only 4 in China, they also have stores in Canada, Australia, France, Japan, Germany, Italy, Switzerland and Spain.

Apple stores, in themselves, are a tourist attraction, have you ever seen the ones in New York? There is people outside actually taking photos… of a computer store!!!

What prompted this post from me, was my recent call to Apple Care. The agent seemed shocked that we don’t have a retail store or an authorized re-seller who can repair iPhones.

I has smashed the screen on my iPhone 4 on Sunday – it hit the ground face first.

It’s going back into its protective leather case, no more naked iPhone 4!

So back to the title of this post, come on Apple open a retail store in Dublin…

You won’t regret it!