Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Tiger Crystal Beer

This bottled beer was launched onto the Malaysian market a few months back.
Initially I avoided it like the plague due to the exorbitant asking price of....wait for it....wait for it....RM 17 a bottle!
I guess my response was similar to many others with the result that Tiger couldn't shift it.
So, those clever marketing people at Tiger have come up with a very good promotion.....sell it at the same price as that of their draft Tiger.
Which is nice.
So,at Gypsy Bar you can get a bucket of 6 bottles of crystal for RM 60.
Healy Macs sells 5 bottles for RM55.
Now,here's the's actually very drinkable beer.
It tastes like San Miguel Light or any other cold-filtered light beer.
It's also not quite as strong at 4.5% ABV as regular Tiger which is, I believe 5%ABV.
A friend of mine described it as "inoffensive" but I would go better and say it was clean, crisp and quite refreshing and doesn't leave that sticky aftertaste that draught Tiger does.
And,if you've ever woken-up with a "Tiger Head" after a heavy night I have to report that so far Tiger Crystal doesn't seem to result in such a near-death experience as a night on the draft can result in.
It's only available for a "limited" time-whatever that means, probably until they sell it all so you've got to get in quick.
Gypsy Bar are always running-out since I discovered it...
Update 6/5/10
Only in Malaysia would they have a "promotion" and actually increase the price!
Tonight Gypsy Bar are having a beer promotion night for Tiger Crystal with promotional girls etc etc.
The price for a bucket of 6 has been increased to RM65.
Still good value but it made me laugh when I was told "we are having a promotion and the price is increasing...."

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Most Expensive Beer in Kuala Lumpur ?

A strange topic for me to blog about as I'm a bit of a cheapskate who searches out the least expensive beers in the best bars.
Gypsy Bar, Changkat Bukit Bintang is probably the least expensive good bar in town but what do you think is the most expensive bar in Kuala Lumpur?
Any imported beer is costly unless it has somehow magically bypassed Customs and is either from the duty-free havens of Langkawi or Labuan or has come over the border/sold under the table from Thailand,Indonesia or even from further away like China.
Distance may also be a factor, I understand that is why Sol Beer, which is brewed in China is cheaper than Corona beer from Mexico.
Gypsy Bar have their pricing very competitive with original, legit Paulaner at RM 25 for a big bottle (500ml) whilst Weissbrau at Pavillion charges a ridiculous RM 55 for a similar size bottle from a different brand.
For locally brewed beers, that horrid Starker beer was available at RM 33 for 500ml for a short while at Gypsy Bar and still sells for a bit more at OverTime in the Life Centre.
Hotel Bars will always be pricey and they even take pleasure in being known as expensive places as they feel it gives them a certain status.
So choose from the bars at The Mandarin, Shangri La, Traders or Hilton.
I've been told that Zeta Bar at the Hilton now sells 500ml of locally brewed Tiger Beer at RM 40.
Can anyone beat that?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

East Coast Islands

If you get the opportunity to get away from Kuala Lumpur for a couple of nights there are quite a few options.
I would highly recommend a trip to the Islands in the North on the East Coast.
Choose from;
Redang Island, Perhentian Besar, Perhentian Kecil or Lang Tengah or even Tioman, further South.
They're all pretty much the same....
If you've never seen a tropical island before, you will be spellbound and even if you have, it's still great.
There are however a few things to bear in mind.
1. Getting to them is slow and tedious and involves either a coach (12 hours ) or flight (1 hour) to Kuala Terengganu or Kota Baru then a hour-long taxi/minibus ride to the jetty on the coast and then a 45minute speedboat ride.
So,even if you fly it can take7 or 8 hours,including all the waiting.
2. It's expensive for what you get-Islands in Thailand offer much better value-for-money.
3. The accommodation ranges from "expensive and shoddy" to "really expensive and really shoddy".
4. The food is pretty average at best.
5. There's nothing to do at night.
In my experience,Malaysia doesn't seem to be able to offer or even want to offer good beach holidays.There are no 'centres" just ribbon developments all looking pretty much the same.
What they call a resort is usually a few poorly maintained dark and dingy chalets with a restaurant offering poorly prepared and tasteless food.
If there is a picture of a few pebbles behind the reception desk they call it a "spa".
But...and it's a big BUT

6.The Beach is usually fantastic!
And that's why we put-up with the substandard amenities and service.
7. Most of the coral is dead or dying.
In the last few years it's quite noticeable how much this is happening and on most islands you've got to either get a boat trip away from the main island or if you're really lucky there may be a small remnant of coral hanging on at the tip of a headland on the island.
Places I've enjoyed staying include;
Redang Reef Resort, Redang-Very friendly and lively and I saw some huge Bumphead Parrot fish at the top of bay (almost as big as a cow!)
BuBu Resort, Perhentian Kecil-Has a nice bar area and slightly better rooms then most.
Places to avoid include;
Perhentian Island Resort, Perhentian Besar-The absolute worst place I have ever stayed. NEVER, EVER stay here unless you want smelly rooms, blocked toilets, indifferent staff, food that was going rotten, dirty sheets and a half-drained swimming pool covered in algae (but it's on the best,best beach ever)
Coral View Island Resort, Perhentain Besar, shares the same beach, is still dark and dingy but a bit cheaper.
Lang Tengah Island-they tell you it's "surrounded by it's own coral garden" but what they don't tell you is that it's all dead coral.

The Marine Park itself,on Redang is a bit farcical with more tourists than there are fish and it can get very crowded with orange life-vests bumping into each other.But there is a Giant Grouper that lives under the pier.

Tioman Island, all right, it has cheap duty-free beer but when I was there the place was filthy- dirty with litter strewn everywhere. I didn't like it at all.

Most packages to the islands include all food but believe me when I say that you'll be happy to escape your "resort"and move from restaurant to restaurant along the beach-some are quite good and they can be found dotted along the main beaches of most islands.
It's easy to get a beer,about Rm 8 for a can.
I've also heard that you get better customer service if you go early in the season(May-July)
and that later in the season, staff quit, are not replaced, the remaining staff get overworked, wages may be delayed etc etc. Except for the dive staff that is,they are always friendly and helpful wherever you go.
Also, I've never ever found a comfortable chair to sit on,all those wooden slats can get very uncomfortable.
Don't get me wrong, I just love the beaches and snorkeling and have encounted all manner of reef fish including Parrot fish, the huge aforementioned Bumpheads, Clown fish,Sting Rays, Sharks up to about 4ft in length,Giant Grouper and turtles.
On a good day, visibility can be about 30-35ft down.
But be prepared for some discomfort on land.
And yes, The sand really is that white and the sea really is that blue!

Monday, April 19, 2010

KL Wildlife

You may think that the only wildlife you'll see in the centre of KL would be rats and cockroaches, with a few stray cats hanging around foodstalls-but you'd be wrong.
The area around Jalan Alor/Tengkat Tong Shin is also home to an ever-dwindling troop of Macaques.
There used to be a big group living in the trees behind where I live but the developers have felled most of the trees and shot most of the monkeys.
Quite sad.
Nowadays,I see this old guy every now and again,he looks a bit grumpy as there have been so many changes to his neighbourhood;more concrete,more noise,more traffic etc etc but the stallholders make sure he's got enough fruit to eat,which he takes very gently from the hands that feed him.
How long he'll last I don't know,he seems fairly streetwise and I wish him a happy retirement.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Debenhams Opening Night at Lot 10 Shopping Mall

British retailer Debenhams opened their flagship store at Lot 10 last night.
Guest of honour (apart from me) was renowned designer Matthew Williamson with other notable attendees being shoe designer Jimmy Choo, some guy from the British High Comm and the Mayor of KL all rubbing shoulders with the big-wigs of YTL, the owners of Lot 10.
The event kicked-off with a fashion show featuring different inhouse brands paraded by a selection of not unattractive tall,thin girls with really skinny legs.
The champagne flowed freely and there were tasty little snacks served by attentative waiters.
It was a pretty good show but why do they play such loud crappy music? It reminded me of being in TwentyOne on Changkat Bukit Bintang. And it was just as crowded.
After the grand opening of the store we were encouraged to browse and shop but even after the one-off 20% discount,the clothes are still fairly pricey.
At 10pm there was an "after party" on the roof at the peculiarly named Roots nightspot,which I believe included 2 free drinks but to be honest we couldn't be bothered to wait that long and headed off to Gypsy Bar-where the people are a little more down-to-earth than posy fashionistas...
But an interesting night nevertheless.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Complaints about the Noise on Changkat Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur

It had to happen,I mentioned a while back that nearby residents were getting a bit fed-up with the noise,especially after midnight.
Click on the title above to read a report from "The Star" 8/4/10
I have to say I have some sympathy for the residents as we have all noticed that the street is louder,more brash and is getting bit too intense and "full-on".
And,the later it gets,the more intense it gets.
There is a construction site behind me at the moment and when they work outside permitted hours I get really pissed-off and have resorted to complaining to City Hall and to the press ,so yeah I know how they feel.

I heard in the past that the culprits were Reggae Bar, Twenty One and sometimes upstairs at Havana when they have a band but maybe it's just a cumulative effect of all the nightspots.
I know a guy who lives two streets behind and he says that the thumping bass and car horns can be very,very annoying.
There are loads of car parks at the top and bottom of the street but the jockey parking is "allowed" to almost block one side of the street-and I hear that there can be a few fights after closing-time as the Bouncers let-off a bit of steam and the last remaining drunks get a bit tired and ratty.
If they're not careful,many outlets will find that their operating licences will not be renewed and what happened in Bangsar will happen on Changkat Bukit Bintang.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Malones Bar, KLCC

Sorry about the crappy picture-but then again it's a crappy bar....
Like we need another"Irish Bar" like a hole in the head...anyway I've been meaning to check this place out for a while but never really could be bothered-and I was right.
If you work in KLCC or get thirsty after going to the cinema/ shopping then there are few alternatives to Malones so you may decide it's OK for a couple of beers before heading somewhere else.
It's fairly small inside and is very dark and gloomy.
The outside seating is OK but nothing special as it still feels "indoors" what with the glass roof and aircon whirring away.
They have a small stage offering live music after 9pm but happy-hour finishes at 8pm so I didn't hang around.
Happy Hour prices are OK at RM15 for a 'metric pint" (500ml) of Tiger or RM11.50 for a mug.
It was standing room only at 7.00pm so it does get popular with the office crowd but by 8pm it was starting to thin-out with people either going home or on to a more exciting place.
The service was dreadful-really bad and I won't be going back,the staff were "busy being busy" and were fussing around each other but it took ages to get served-and even longer to get my change,they didn't seem to be short-handed but they were advertising for many staff....
If you've ever been to any of the Harry's Bars in Singapore-that's what it seems they were trying to recreate but they've failed miserably.
So,in summary-it's dark, gloomy and slightly claustrophobic,has very bad service and a too short happy hour and you can't see anything because it's surrounded by pot-plants.
If you happen to be in KLCC and in need of refreshment,make the effort and walk to Quatro in Avenue K,or to the bars on Jalan P.Ramlee.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Petronas Pit Pulse, KLCC, Kuala Lumpur

Every time they feel like it (or can remember to organise it) Petronas ,who have been involved in F1 since at least 1999 put on a roadshow at KLCC to drum-up interest in the Malaysian GP at Sepang.
This year they pulled-out all the stops and put on a great show.
As in previous years,they convert part of the KLCC car park into an arena where they put on a show featuring various Petronas sponsored racing machinery doing "donuts" for the crowd and cumulating in an F1 car doing the same.
There are also lots of racing simulators and side-show and displays to keep you entertained.
This year was a bit special.
1.It was raining.
2.The cars drove out of the arena onto the road.
3.Michael Schumacher was there.

For 2010 Petronas have teamed up as the main sponsor for team Mercedes and last Wednesday,all the F1 drivers were present and the crowd got to see them drive.
First out was Nico Rosberg in his F1 car,then the team's Test Driver Nick Heidfield driving a 1955 Silver Arrow and last but not least and when it was raining the most out came Schumi fish-tailing his car to the thrill of the crowd...
And what a crowd it was!-overflowing and bursting at the seams,to be honest there were too many people there and if Petronas do the same thing next year I think they will need even more seating.
I gave up trying to get space inside and found somewhere to stand on the road at the point where the cars leave the arena and go onto the road so they all have to make a quick turn,hence the fish-tailing.
Yeah,we all got wet but it was a good evening's entertainment for a "petrol head" like me.
And,because it was wet-no juvenile show-off donuts and tyre smoke-which was a bonus.
I've been attending these events for quite a while now...this was the best so far.

F1 Roadshow at Pavilion, Kuala Lumpur

The Malaysian F1 has been on the sporting calendar since 1999.
Some years it's promoted quite heavily in Kuala Lumpur,with all the bars getting behind a certain team,displaying a show car etc, and then there are lots of mall events and road shows.
Other years everybody forgets to do anything about it.....until the following year.
This year, the popular bars have lots of flags and bunting on display and there seems to be a bit more 'buzz" around town.
Pavilion Shopping Centre has had a great static display of FI cars from the 80's and 90's including;Schumi's Benetton,Nelson Piquet's old Benetton,a March driven by Tiff Nedell,Martin Brundle's old Tyrell from '86 and.... pride of place a '92 Active Suspension Lotus driven by Senna.(pic above)
Now that was a real race car!
It was also the venue for the "homecoming" (whatever that means) of the new Lotus Team and they had an actual race car on display together with a few spare parts such as front wings and rear wings,race simulators etc etc
I didn't get to see the drivers but perched on the car (above) is Mike Gascoyne,Team Lotus Chief Engineer.