Sunday, July 31, 2016

An unforgettable Langkawi and Penang trip (15 to 25 June 2016)

The weakened Malaysia Ringgit has led us to another vacation in Langkawi and Penang, during the school holiday in June 2016.   The other reason we were back was to offer prayers to our late Ah Ma whom passed away two years ago.  This trip was the longest we ever spent there over the Ramadan period (Muslim fasting month). 

This is not the regular chronological itinerary based post.  Rather, it focused on our experiences that I wish to pen down.

Maiden visit to Tanjung Rhu, Langkawi
We have heard about Langkawi for its beautiful beaches and wanted to go so badly. But not for Papa who had visited the island with his friend, Joseph, many years ago and thus, he was not keen. However, I suggested to include Langkawi in our itinerary considering the little one wanted to play sand and swim.  We stayed at Tanjong Rhu resort which lives up to its name for its private, peaceful and beautiful beach despite hotel room was dated and seawater was murky due to broken shells and debris afloat.  Low season and coupled with some hotel rooms under renovation somewhat contributed to the quietness and serene environment.  And the kids' club was closed too. We missed the sand bar whereby by on low tide, you could actually walk across to the other island.


Sightings and dining experience in Langkawi
With relatives staying Penang, we were usually chauffeured around or borrowed a car from them.   For the first time, we hired a car for food and sightseeing in Langkwai. Another reason was Tanjong Rhu was pretty far away from the town and major tourist spots.  With our own transport zipping around the island freely, there were plenty of things to do and see and here were the highlights.
  • The panorama view from the Machincang mountain which we took a cable car ride to its peak was magnificient.  It was a spoiler that the skybridge was closed early due to fasting month.
  • Langkawi is duty free shopping haven for its liquor, chocolates, cigarettes, cookware...etc  Kuah town has the most extensive selection and competitive prices. I was pleasantly surprised that a glass of fresh fruit juice was priced the same as a glass of alcohol drink in one of the restaurant.
  • Cable car ride to Mount Machincang
  • Having awarded the UNESCO Geo Park status in 2007, it was definitely a must visit to the Geo Park.  We booked Kilim Geo park Mangrove cruise with JungleWalla because of its close proximity to our hotel at Tanjong Rhu. However, our guide did not turn up at the hotel to pick up us due to some miscommunication.  Eventually, they honoured and came in the late morning.  Due to the last minute arrangement, we had the whole boat to ourselves and truly enjoyed the 4 hours boat ride. Sighted blue collar kingfisher, pitta snake, mudskippers, coloured mud crabs, brahminy kites, white bellied eagle and macaque monkeys.  It also included exploration of a bat cave, a stopover at a fish farm and lastly, ended a cruise in Andaman sea despite it began to rain. The tour was educational, informative and interesting.

  • We had a wonderful dinner at The Pia's The Padi, overlooking the lush green padi field with sunset at the background
Dinner at The Pia's The Padi
High Speed Ferry from Langkawi to Penang
We took a high speed ferry from Langkawi jetty terminal to Penang (no porter, we carried our luggages onto the ferry). I thought that I would get seasick or even worse, vomit in case of choppy ride because we read some reviews had warned that it felt like 'hell' and most uncomfortable during the 3 hours ride. The journey unexpectedly turned out to be a smooth ride, accompanied by movie 'Ant Man' being showed in a tiny TV as we were seated right in front of it.  The weather was kind to us and we arrived safely in Penang. 

2 star hotel in Georgetown Penang
We had never stayed in a hotel with rating lower than 4 stars in Malaysia.  This trip, however, we took the plunge in view of the excellent reviews of B Street Hotel located at the World Heritage Site, Georgetown.  A refurbished hotel from old shophouse along Beach Street or Lebuh Pantai.  It was clean, stylish and modern, exceeded our expectation. The room was really small in size which reminded me of the our hotel room in Shinjuku Tokyo.  But it did not matter because the Delux Quadruple  Room we booked has two queen size bed which was comfortable for a good night sleep.  The hotel also offered simple Mama style breakfast with store bought white bread, cereals, small cake roll, hardboiled eggs, banana, biscuits, coffee and tea would sure to fill your tummy if you were not too choosy. 

Clan Jetties (also known as Weld Quay Jetties)
The other reason we chose B Street hotel was because the clan jetties was just a stone away.  Each Jetty was named after a Chinese surnames likes Lim, Chew, Tan, Lee...etc.  Chew Clan is the largest and famous surname.  Houses were built on stilt.  A TVB Cantonese drama - OUTBOUND LOVE / 單戀雙城  was previously filmed there. The show somewhat left a deep impression that led us to explore Chew jetty and the rest.
Tummy trouble with street food
Penang was a foodie paradise. Papa missed the street food so much that we spent the next 5 days feasting with all kinds of it.  That was his plan for this trip. My son was enjoying eating too without much consideration of the hygiene.  Tummy trouble hit him on second day but bearable. On the third day, it got worse!  Severe stomach pain and diarrhea.  We were not prepared because he has never had any problem for all the Malaysia trips.  But it has proven too much for his guts.  What did he eat?  Ice popsicles, gelato, chendol, fried kway teow, fried lor bak, duck/pork innards kway chap, Gingko barley fuzhu dessert, all in one fine day! We took him to Singapore clinic and were prescribed with charcoal capsules and anti-spasm pills.  That started his nightmare.  He was unable to swallow the whole of charcoal capsules because he was not trained to do so as our doctors in Singapore gave liquid form medicine for children.  He teared and chewed it bitterly with a lots of cajoling from the nurses who brought him sweets and Holicks (malted milk beverage) for him.  Back in the hotel room, I also bought a loaf of white bread to go with his medicine.  Luckily, he recovered well.  As for Papa, a happy belly of course! 
Stomach ache and diarrhea

Home Sweet Home
10 days holiday in Malaysia from 15 to 25 June 2016 ended with a beautiful sunset from the airplane as we about to descend at Singapore Changi Airport. 

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Pokemon - Pikachu

# 353

First, we have a pop up Pokémon café at Bugis Junction that created a bee line when it first opened.   People were in queue for hours just to have a meal in the café.  We went down but decided to give it a miss.  So much craze over the pop up café which would only be here in Singapore until the end of July.   Now, the 'Pokémon Go' augmented reality mobile game is taking the world by storm.  Although it has not been released to Asia yet, Papa has already introduced the new game to my boy.  Both were totally excited about it!

Therefore, I presented here a Pikachu bento which cut out from an egg sheet, imitated crab stick, cheese and seaweed.  The pokeball was flavoured with ketchup to create the red hue.  On the side, there were baked salmon fillet, stir fried dou miao (pea shoot), cheery tomatoes and Japanese cucumber.  I have forgotten to outline his lips and nose.  Hence, I touched up his face in my laptop :P  Yeah, it has been a long time I have not created a karaben and this Pikachu has taken up a fair amount of time. 

Before touch up

Whilst the boys are looking forward to play Pokémon Go, Papa has already started his PS4 game - 'Guns Up' that annoys me the most. He is so engrossed that he can play everyday clocking more than 8 hours/day.  My son, of course, cannot resist it but dare not ask to play.  He merely watches Papa playing game and talks about the strategies.  He has already complained that it is not fair that Papa can play everyday and he is only limited once a week.  I am not against it but one cannot be too obsessed over such games to the extent that weekends are burnt and no family outing.  It just happened last weekend; Saturday was game time for the whole of afternoon and Sunday, I dragged my son out of the house to the Science Festival at Vivocity to stop him from playing any more games and Papa did not join us.  He was glued to the TV!  Seeing his father playing games in the living room, he will ran back and forth to find out the outcome/stages of the game while doing his school homework/revision.  His mind is in the game!  For now, Papa insists and stubbornly declares that he will continue to play :(  I hope my boy knows how to control his temptation and stick to his normal routine instead of being slave to the games.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

A surprise

 Just before the June holiday, my son wrote a piece of Chinese composition and mailed it to the Thumbs Up Junior 小拇指 magazine and the article was selected and published! 

My son came home exceptionally overjoyed that day.  He did not tell me straight away about the publication.  Instead, he asked me to close my eyes first and said that he had a surprise for me.  When I gently opened my eyes as instructed, he proudly showed me his composition, grinning ear to ear, and said "Mama, look! That's my composition!".  "Oh my god! Good job! That's very encouraging."  I praised my son.  I could not believe my eyes and kept repeatedly saying "Oh my god!"  Reason being, he was not fluent in Mandarin and writing a Chinese composition was a daunting task.  That particular day, he was in good mood.  So I suggested to write a Chinese composition and encouraged him to send to Thumbs Up Junior publication.  I also sat down with him and taught him how to write the mailing address.  And he did including posting the letter himself.  Little did I know that the editor would pick his composition to publish because his piece was really simple and pale in comparison with others.  I felt like a proud Mama and he was elated too!  Then he continued to narrate how his classmate, Rachel discovered his composition and later brought it up to the attention of his Chinese teacher, Lin Lao Shi. The latter then announced to all the students about my boy's composition being published.  One classmate came forward to congratulate and hug him with encouraging words 鼓励鼓励! Another criticised the tiger he drew was ugly.  Well, he was not affected by the unkind words.  He was over the moon! :D

I hope this feel good experience would boost his confidence in Chinese writing.  加油!