Saturday, May 31, 2008

MVP Dinner and Appreciation Party in Bossa Nova

On the 3rd night of Tech·Ed SEA 2007, there was an appreciation dinner and party where MVPs, Microsoft folks and the conference speakers were invited. It was done in Bossa Nova, a Brazillian restaurant serving food fresh from the grill. The restaurant was in the ground floor of Parkroyal Kuala Lumpur hotel near Bukit Bintang.

It was a very nice place. Seems to me though that this place is an upscale restaurant for the locals.

It also has a nice bar that was open for the night. Free flowing drinks! The staff were attentive and friendly too!

The thing that sticked on my mind was this activity where they pour alcoholic drink that passed over the ice and then you drink from a straw connected to it. There was a huge Microsoft ice in the event just for this.

I haven't seen anything like this yet, at least in person. They pour vodka over the ice and you wait for it to pour out from the straw while the ladies and the crowd cheer you up.

So how did I find the place overall? The place was nice but kinda elite for me. I find the place a bit upscale though I really didn't see the bill or how much the items were, it's easy to asume that it is no ordinary restaurant - being situated in the ground floor of a hotel and I'm pretty sure Microsoft won't bring us into cheap places. The food we were served were good. There were all kinds of meat served hot off the grill (beef, chicken, pork, veal, seafood, sausages).

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Friday, May 30, 2008

Lunch at Pepper Lunch

Jojo is celebrating today so he treated us for lunch in Power Plant Mall at Rockwell Center. He brought us to this popular do-it-yourself fastfood steak house in Japan called Pepper Lunch.

There were lots of items to choose from and as a steak and grilled meat lover myself, it made me drool on every item on the menu. At the end I chose Hitokuchi Cut Steak.

The ambience of the place is not so Japanese but more likely a fusion of oriental Asian styles.

Before we ordered, we were given table number tags. The idea is great because customers know that after they paid in the counter they will have "guaranteed seats".

Again, today is Jojo's day that's why he's so happy and celebrating!

So this is my Hitokuchi Cut Steak. Food here are served in an iron hot plate uncooked and unmixed. The concept? You have to cook it yourself! There are makuchi (honey brown sauce), karakuchi (garlic soy sauce) salt and pepper on the side so you can mix and match these according to your taste. There is a recommended way to cook your meal written on the paper surrounding your plate (remove it before eating).

The experience? Well it was good. Similar to a shabu-shabu cook-it-yourself thing but the ingredients are fixed. I find the meat tender, juicy and just right. How about the taste? Well, you can't go wrong here and if you do, you shouldn't blame anyone else - you'll cook it yourself remember?

Inside Petrosains

Petrosains is a museum and a science discovery center of some sort that showcases scientific studies related to petroleum and energy in a way that is fun and exciting and that kids will understand them. Owned by Petronas, a leading oil and gas company in Malaysia, it showcases a history of oil and gas in Malaysia and presents things from humble beginning to what it is now to audiences of both kids and adults. The museum is located in the top floor of Suria KLCC.

Before we went in to Petrosains main exhibit area, we first went to Speed!, a side exhibit featuring motor sports, motion and obviously, speed. Inspired by Grand Prix Formula 1 race, the exhibit contains a lot of items related to speed and racing.

There were hands-on demos available all-over. This was an example of which ball will reach the end point first by slanted or straight line.

Mind games. There was an object inside and the goal is to push that object towards your opponent. The more energy you concentrate on your mind, the greater the force of pushing the object away from you.

There were also model cars like this one that mimic those that are used for the race.

This is a racing simulator game. It got me dizzy afterwards but it was cool and quite realistic.

One of those racing games in the exhibit, but not the type where you will be driving. It is more of who's the fastest to accelerate (or step on the gas wheel). Kinda lame but it was a group fun.

After a few minutes inside the Speed! exhibit, we went to Petrosains.

In Petrosains, we rode one of this funny looking but futuristic ride to get inside the exhibit area. Called Dark Ride In, the vehicles are designed to look like oil drops.

On the way to the exhibit proper there were panels like these that showcases history and exciting colorful displays and sounds about where we are heading to. It's like being transported from the real world to the world of Petrosains.

We arrived in Petrojaya. According to the information guide, it was a town derived from a comic book. I didn't get the relation of this town, but I find it interesting, colorful, and very artistic.

There was this mirror that seems to reflect bystanders endlessly so I took this shot.

Next stop was in Geotime Diorama. There was a large scale model of a dinosaur and the area described things about fossils and petroleum.

Next we were headed to Science Station. The theme was all about space and space exploration. In there we were able to play with some exhibits that mimics what you will find in space mission control centers.

Mission Control Centre

There was this toy where you will have to insert your head and take your picture. The result will be displayed up in the ceiling where a spaceman is flying but with your head. I call this the "crazy spaceman".

There's this Thermal Infrared Camera also where you stand in front of a camera and on your left is what a human eye can see an on the right, it's infrared counterpart.

Right outside was like a play area. We tried to "play" a soccer game starring ourselves in the video game.

There was a Helicopter Simulator where the chopper will take you around and land you on an oil platform.

After the ride, you will be directed to a mock up of an oil platform. You will really feel as if you're in a real one right in the middle of the sea.

After the tour inside the oil platform were other interesting stuffs.

There was a "bed of nails" that Julie tried and according to her, it didn't hurt at all.

There was another race simulator but this time you really get to race and drive.

Eugene and Julie tried this long and looping slide.

There was also a few aquariums in Petrosains showcasing beautiful tropical fishes.

More interesting stuff came towards the end of the whole tour. There were mind bogglers and eye deceivers like these.

Is it straight or slanted?

At the end of the tour, we rode again one of those oil-shaped vehicles. Here shown are both regular day-to-day living people and visionaries.

For me, Petrosains was an exciting museum to visit both for kids and adults alike. There are loads of things you can learn from it and the way they presented their exhibits are in a fun and exciting way as compared to conventional science discovery centers that can be a bit boring.

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Thursday, May 29, 2008

My Tech·Ed SEA 2007 experience

I attended Tech·Ed SEA 2007 last September 10-13, 2007. It was not a company sponsored event and me and my peers had to shell out for this trip but it was well worth it. Aside from the knowledge we absorbed from the ingenius minds of the speakers in the conference, we went there for the experience of mingling with other technical folks like us and to feel how an international conference goes. This is my first time to attend an event open to the public where delegates are from all over the region. My next posts will be about this trip and related sidetrips in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Because we were on a tight budget, we took a Cebu Pacific flight late at night from Manila and arrived in Kuala Lumpur by midnight. Budget airlines use Kuala Lumpur International Airport - Low Cost Carrier Terminal. A no frills terminal, it just have basic facilities and modest stores. It doesn't have jet bridges so you literally go down and touch the airport parking apron and walk to the terminal.

The terminal is approximately 40 minutes away from the city center so it was a long drive past 1am. We immediately checked-in and rested for we have to wake up early tomorrow for the conference.

Registration started at 8am the following morning. We were there right on time and the welcome session was yet to come so we had a few opportunities to walk around the park of Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre.

A few minutes later Tech·Ed SEA 2007 officially started. 2007 was Malaysia's tourism year so the delegates were welcomed by local government officials and festive dances.

Chocolates. During the plenary session some of us felt a bit sleepy and others were hungry so I shared a pack of chocolates that was in my bag.

Because literally thousands attended the event, there was literally a stampede during lunch hour. Thousands of delegates waited for the dining room to open its doors and serve their hungry stomachs.

Right after lunch we decided to cut the first sessions and walk around KLCC Park.

In the park were luscious greens, places to sit down and enjoy, children's playground and water fountain displays. It was a very relaxing place to stay and chill out.

We went to Suria KLCC to look for a Maxis Telecom store. We bought Hotlink SIM cards for our phones. We abused the network service to be connected with one another throughout the duration of the conference and up until our extended stay. In our group, Eugene was staying in another hotel, and Christine was in another wing of our hotel.

This is the view of Petronas Twin Towers and KLCC from Skybar, 33rd floor of Trader's Hotel. I was with Eugene and a few other Microsoft folks in the region and other visiting countries for a little chitchat and for a drink. The twin towers are really beautiful and stunning from afar!

We went down after to grab some food. It was time for LIVE Fest, full of exciting and fun activities for the participants.

Because we had a very long day that started early and ended late, and due to lack of sleep the night before, we didn't really hanged out in the party and left early to get some rest. I stayed in Renaissance Hotel which is a few blocks and 10-minute walk from KLCC.

Going to sleep, we can't help but be amazed of this view right outside our window when we lie down.

Day 2 was jampacked with sessions. We only had a few opportunities to go around Suria KLCC during break time.

On our way back to the hotel on the we decided to pass by the stalls of street foods near our hotel. Too many bizarre food to choose from but we didn't dared much and went for more regular food.

We went back to our hotel with carrying Tandori Chicken, Garlic Naan and Cheese Naan, based on the recommendation of the stall vendors.

Julie and I went around more that night. Right across our hotel is Malaysia Tourism Centre. From here we got information of other spots in the area and other things to do in the city.

We also tried the KL Monorail for the first time going to KL Sentral Station from Bukit Nanas which is the nearest station from our hotel. It was my first time ever to ride a monorail (because I failed to try the one in Seattle).

We arrived in KL Sentral a few stations after. The Monorail station wasn't really connected to the other trains that are in the main terminal station so we needed to cross the street and a parking lot to get there.

On the way back, we decided to stop by the open-air night market. This is where we got a few souvenirs and shirts for keeps.

3rd day's schedule was more full. Aside from the conference, we were invited to attend an MVP Dinner party that same night. We just tried to visit a few places near the hotel and but didn't really tour around.

Our MVP Dinner Party was in Bossa Nova, a Brazilian restaurant in Parkroyal hotel. I'll be blogging more about this experience later.

Going back, we passed by Bintang Walk in Bukit Bintang, a trendy and hip place for hanging out, parties and shopping.

We used the KL Monorail to go from Bukit Bintang back to Bukit Nanas.

The last day of the event was a bit relaxed. The most famous and overwhelming acceptance of booth in the conference belonged to the Internet Kiosks - it was always jampacked and there were even times that long waiting lines were present. If you brought your own laptop, there was wi-fi station nearby where you can sit down and connect your mobile unlike this kiosk.

At the end of the conference, we tried to explore more of the KLCC park. We visited Asy-Syakirin Mosque.

When we got tired, Eugene, Julie and I decided to rest in one of the covered benches in the park. Julie took this picture of me and Eugene resting and fixing things.

It was also Eugene's last day in Kuala Lumpur. We accompanied him to do some shopping for take homes and went to different malls in Bukit Bintang area including Sungei Wang Plaza.

My feet and legs was severely swollen because of this experience. Julie was helping Eugene to shop a gift for a girl and we walked from Low Yat Plaza to Bintang Walk to Times Plaza and back to Bukit Bintang area.

One thing that caught my eye was a shop full of pink stuffs. Pink clothes, pink lights, pink accessories, etc.

It was Eugene's last day. As for Julie and I, we extended until weekend to explore more of Kuala Lumpur and nearby attractions. My mom and eldest brother Jairus joined us early next morning. I'll blog more about this later.

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