Thursday, June 8, 2017

Beautiful Malaysian Towns: Kampar

Kampar is unarguably one of the most beautiful towns in Perak. A new township in the area called Bandar Agacia has a few rows of shop houses inspired by American design. 

There are even some shops which are named after iconic Disney films and characters. 

Just a few miles away from Bandar Agacia is New Town. At the center is the iconic Grand Kampar Hotel. 

Even the design of the shop houses here are not the generic Malaysian type. They seem heavily inspired by European design, which gives the entire town a unique look. 

Kampar has truly developed into a flourishing town and it is mostly thanks to the establishment of the University of Tunku Abdul Rahman in the area. Kampar is now a thriving university town. The campus is beautiful to say the least. 

Friday, May 26, 2017

Top 10 Sabahan and Sarawakian Food Outlets We Hope Would Expand Their Business Into West Malaysia

While living in Sabah for two years, we discovered there were many restaurant franchises that are famous in West Malaysia have not set foot in East Malaysia yet. But that did not mean we were left out when it comes to great Malaysian food. Borneo has its own restaurants and food outlets that are just as good, if not better, than the ones in the Peninsular. So here are the Top 10 Sabahan and Sarawakian Food Outlets We Hope Would Expand Their Business Into West Malaysia. 

1) Yoyo Cafe

Source: Google Images

Popular for its milky tea, this cafe has recently diversified its menu with an assortment of bread, pastries, cookies, cakes and even gift sets.

Source: Google Images

Yoyo's Pearly Milk Tea

2) Multi-Bake

Source: Google Images

With over 32 outlets all around Sabah, this bakery serves a variety of more than a 100 different types of baked goodies. It is most popular for its Cake of The Month.

Source: Google Images

Multi-Bake's bread and cakes

3) Upperstar

Source: Google Images

People don't just come here for the awesome food but for the ambiance as well. Apart from local and western cuisine, they also serve all kinds of beverages as well. The kitschy decor with Internet-equipped cushioned booths add to the experience.

Source: Google Images

Upperstar's unique decor.

4) Rafflesia Chicken Hut

Source: Google Images

As the name suggests, they specialize in Malaysian-styled chicken dishes. Apart from that, there is also all kinds of side dishes, beverages and desserts on their menu. For an air-conditioned restaurant, the food is surprisingly inexpensive while maintaining a high quality.

Source: Google Images

RCH's Pandan Chicken Rice

5) SCR Restaurant

Source: Google Images

This Singapore-Sarawak joint venture was opened in 1987, thirteen years before West Malaysia's The Chicken Rice Shop. SCR now has over 30 outlets throughout Borneo, including East Malaysia, Brunei and Kalimatan (Indonesia). Although it specializes in Singaporean chicken rice as the name suggests, it also serves a range of Western and fusion cuisine as well.

Source: Google Images

Part of SCR's menu.

6) Karamell Almondo

Source: Google Images

Famous for its soft ice cream made from milk powder and natural vanilla bean, the ice cream here does not contain eggs and gelatin. One of its latest hits on the menu is the Sabah Cocoa Soft Ice Cream which is made with the Majulah Cocoa, Sabah's homegrown premium cocoa bean.

Source: Google Images

Sabah Cocoa Soft Ice Cream

7) Borenos Fried Chicken

Source: Google Images

Serving American southern comfort food just like KFC, McD and Marrybrown, what makes Borenos appealing is it is much ore affordable. The name is a combination of “Borneo and “Sabah”. Its fried chicken is popular for its tender texture and juiciness.

Source: Google Images

American comfort food.

8) Sabah Kertang Restaurant

Source: Google Images

Famous for its Giant Grouper, this Sabahan seafood restaurant has three branch in Kota Kinabalu, one in Miri and a brand new outlet in Sandakan. They also feature a variety of fish, squid and prawns in our Menus.

Source: Google Images

The Giant Grouper.

9) Southern Bakery

Source: Google Images

Although they serve a variety of bread and cakes, Southern stands out for its egg tarts and Kaya puffs which are to die for!

Source: Google Images

The famous Kaya puffs.

10) Sugar Bun 

Source: Google Images

Alright, so we'll admit we're cheating a little by including this franchise in this list because they by the time this article was written, Sugar Bun has already opened two outlets in West Malaysia. With over 90 outlets all across the world, this is probably one of the most successful East Malaysian food outlets out there. Starting out as a simple ice-cream parlour in the late 70s, Sugar Bun's menu now also serves a variety of Borneo cuisine as well as some Western dishes. 

Source: Google Images

More than just ice-cream.

Did we leave any good ones out? East Malaysians, we need your opinion. Let us know in the comment section below. 

Saturday, May 20, 2017

The Deeper Meaning Behind 'Get Out'


One of my all time favourite horror films is 2005's The Skeleton Key. In case you haven't watched that film (spoiler alert), two black slaves in New Orleans use voodoo magic to exchange bodies with their white masters' children. They grow up, get old, find younger white people to exchange bodies with and continue to prolong their lives across almost three generations. One of their final victims is the character played by Kate Hudson. I watched this movie more than ten years after it was released. Despite really enjoying this film because it was fun and had something important to say about race, I was also a little frustrated because it did not really explore its theme to the fullest.

So now, we have Get Out by Jordan Peel. In this film, the roles are reversed. Instead of oppressed black people taking over privileged white people's bodies with voodoo, it is white Negrophiliacs taking over innocent black people's bodies through surgery and hypnotism.

This film is a shout out to horror films of the past which were not just pure entertainment, but were also social commentaries on society. There are so many layers to this film that you probably missed it the first time watching it. So here is The Deeper Meaning Behind 'Get Out'.

Source: Google Images

1) Foreshadowing 

At the beginning of the film, we see Andre Hayworth being lost in a white suburb in the middle of the night. He describes this to his friend over the phone that he sticks out like a sore thumb in this area. This is not only how our hero, Chris will feel later in the movie, but how most black people feel when they are the only black person among white people. It also comes as no surprise that his abductor is a white man in a black mask kidnapping black people in a white car.

Later on, when we see Chris in his apartment, we see an enlarged photo on his wall of a white girl wearing a black mask. This foreshadows the desire of the white people in the story wanting to be black. This is also shown when the Armitage's guests wear predominantly white clothes and drive black cars.

Source: Google Images

2) Rose Armitage's True Nature

Although we get a sense of what her family is up to throughout the movie, it is only towards the final act that we learn that Rose is just as evil as them. For instance, when the police officer demands Chris show him his ID, Rose appears to be sticking up for her man by telling him this is unfair since Chris was not driving the car. This scene is particularly brilliant because it goes to show what many black people have to go through in America when faced with the police. However, it is really just Rose trying to avoid a paper trail to avoid being implicated in his eventual disappearance. 

Notice the unusual way in which Rose eats her cereal. She keeps them separated from the milk, which she drinks off a glass with a black straw. This could be read as a metaphor for segregation, where whites and nonwhites should never integrate.

Jordon Peel has really engineered each detail in each scene with such intricacy. For example, check out the picture below of Rose with Chris. Don't they resemble the American flag? Genius!

Source: Google Images

3) The Deer Metaphor

Throughout the movie, Chris has flashbacks about having killed the deer. It could be because his own mother died in a hit-and-run. However, the deer functions as a metaphor for black people throughout the movie. When we first meet Dean Armitage, he explains how much he dislikes the deer species which he claims are destroying the ecosystem. He talks about eradicating them, almost like they are a people. A male deer is called a buck. It comes as no coincidence that "black buck" was a racist slur in the past for black African-American men who refused to subject themselves to white authority. Fittingly, Dean dies in the end after being stabbed with a buck's antlers.

Source: Google Images

4) Grandpa Armitage 

The entire order known as The Order of The Coagula was founded by Rose's grandfather. At the end of the movie, it is revealed that he is still alive and resides in Walter's body. This explains all the running he does because he is a runner who lost to Jesse Owens, who then went on to represent America in the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

Speaking of the family name "Armitage", the name appears to be inspired from the protagonist in 20th-century horror writer H.P.Lovecraft's story, The Dunwich Horror. In Lovecraft's story, evil New England families have ties to the occult and transfer souls from one body to another. 

Source: Google Images

5) Grandma Armitage

A couple of times throughout the movie, Chris sees Georgina fixing her bangs and admiring her own beauty through her reflection. She is probably covering her lobotomy scars, just like how Walter a.k.a Grandpa Armitage is never seen without his hat. Also, there is a saying that black doesn't crack to show how black people age slowly. As an old white woman, Grandma Armitage would have wanted to stay young, which is why she wanted to be a beautiful black woman.

About the same time we discover Grandpa Armitage lives in Walter's body, we also learn Gradnma Armitage resides in Georgina's. The first time we meet Georgina is when Dean is showing Chris around the house and they come to the kitchen where she is standing. Dean describes it as his mother's favourite part of the house and that he likes to keep a piece of her there. 

Also, Dean explains, "We hired Georgina and Walter to help care for my parents. When they died, I couldn't bear to let them go." Although the pronoun 'them' might appear to refer to Georgina and Walter, we later find out that Dean's parents are still alive and it was them whom he was referring to when he said he could not bear to let them go.

Source: Google Images

6) Modern Slavery

The white people in the film are not racists. In fact, they literally want to be black. However, this has obsession of theirs has created a new form of slavery. The bingo game is eerily similar to slave auctions from back in the day. Also, notice how Chris has to escape his captive by putting stuffing into his ears to avoid being hypnotized. He was literally forced to "pick cotton."

Rose's mother, Missy Armitage controls people through the use of a silver spoon. This is synonymous with privilege, so much so that there is an idiom about it. In the Middle Ages, it was important for artisans and farmers who worked hard and looked dirty to distinguish themselves from escaped slaves. Silver spoons served as some kind of identifier or cultural marker to function as proof of who they are.

Source: Google Images

7) The White Guests

If there is anything creepier than the Armitage family, it is their house guests who are the literal opposite of racists. Although they are all dressed in predominantly black, they are wearing some for of red too. Chris stands out here because he is wearing blue denim, although he already stands out because of the colour of his skin. Perhaps these colours symbolize the two American political parties. 

Later in the party, Chris meets the blind art dealer, who himself describes himself as an irony. But what is really ironic about him is how he is a metaphor for the white liberal elite's attitude towards the African-American experience. They might act like they know everything about an black people, symbolized by art here. However, they will never actually understand it, let alone experience it for themselves. In other words, they are just like the art dealer; blind towards the real truth. 

Source: Google Images

8) That One Asian Guest

What was that Asian guy doing among these low-key evil white people? Apart from Chris and the black servants, the only other person of color is this elderly Japanese man, Notice the questions each guest asks Chris. One old white man who used to play gold asks if Chris can play. A middle-aged white lady asks if sex is better with a black man while her elderly white husband looks on. But that one Asian guest asks, “Is the African-American experience an advantage or disadvantage?” He was probably wondering would it be better to stay Asian or become black. 

There are many theories behind this. One is that Asians, despite being a smaller minority in America than black people, also were involved in slavery. Also, being Asians ourselves, Asians have always regarded whites as being more superior to us while looking down on blacks. Speaking English and practicing western culture has always been deemed respectable in our society. Even being lighter skinned is seen as being more attractive. This could be some of the reasons why the filmmakers aligned the one Asian character with white people instead of the black people. 

Source: Google Images

9) The Sunken Place

Whenever Chris is hypnotized, his mind is transported into a deep, dark, never-ending void. No matter how loudly he shouts, his voice is inaudible. Director Jordan Peele Tweeted, "The Sunken Place means we're marginalized. No matter how hard we scream, the system silences us."

Then, before he is being hypnotized for the last time in the basement, the video on the TV repeats, "A mind is a terrible thing to waste." This is actually the slogan for the United Negro College Fund.

Source: Google Images

10) The Ending

At the end of the film, when Chris is strangling Rose, what seems to be a police patrol car arrives. Chris raises his hands to surrender silently, even though he has not done anything wrong. By now, the audience would assume things are bad for him since he is black and the authorities would never believe him. However, it turns out to be Chris's TSA buddy who saves him. 

Just like in The Night of The Living Dead, this movie plays around with the troops of the horror genre by having the hero, who is black, survive at the end of the movie. However, there is an alternate ending where Chris gets arrested by the police officer who demanded for his ID in the movie's beginning. He is then imprisoned for murdering Rose, her family and their servants. However, following the series of real-life violent encounters involving African-American and the police, Jordon Peel felt his audience deserves a happier ending.

Source: Google Images