Feb 27, 2015

10 Kid At Heart, Watching The Lion Dance

Tak Tung Chiang is here!!!

That's how we alerted the elders that the Lion Dance troupe had arrived when we were little. Tak Tuk Chiang, being the sound of the beating drum that accompanies the lion dance.

Chinese New Year is a happening affair back in my kampung. We would all hang red lanterns and prosperity symbols on the door. This also makes it easy for the lion dance troupe to identify which houses to visit. The lion would stop by and bless homes with good luck and fortune.

Dad would prepare several red packets (ang pao) with money for the lion. Several, because the number of lions that visit us can be as many as seven or eight in the first two days of the New Year! Some lions are from temples and some are from Chinese schools. Dad gives more to the temple that 'takes care of me' - although we're church-going people, I was also a devotee of the Goddess Kuan Yin. Ah, but this is another story altogether.

My corner of the kampung is predominantly Chinese so it made more sense for the lion to walk from house to house than get on and off the slow-moving truck that transports the whole troupe. It's always an exciting time for adults and kids alike, one filled with vibrant chatter, GongXi wishes and occasional mimicking of lion dance movements, as we followed the lion to far as five houses!

Fast forward now and in my middle age, I still make an effort to catch the lion dance every year. I have this feeling that if I were to stop, my life would be a lot less colourful and festive gatherings would slowly fade away to routine table get-togethers that are less memorable ...not less enjoyable ..just less memorable.

These photos were taken on the first day, after having our annual mee sua (longevity noodles) breakfast.  I apologise for the blurry pics!

A little bit about what's going on. The lion first pays respect to the deity and ancestors. Drums and cymbals slow to a uniform beat at this point. It picks up dramatically when the lion starts bowing.

And then, it gets exciting with fancy footwork and the lion agilely jumping about and raising its head.

Lion paying respect.

This is a short video of the lion giving out mandarin oranges to onlookers, including me. 

My share of the lion loot. They say these bring good luck.

Mandarin Oranges

Lions taking more oranges to give out.

Hanging from the ceiling of the entrance of this building is a bundle of fresh lettuce with a red packet tied to it. Lettuce carries the symbol of wealth. One lion lifts the other to reach it. It eats the lettuce and spits it out to the crowd, symbolic of spreading wealth to all of us who were there. That's the gist of it.

Now you know how I spend my New Year mornings. I'd be looking out for the lion!

With that, I wish everyone "Gong Xi Fa Cai!" (I wish you prosperity).

Feb 14, 2015

10 CNY Decor At 1Utama

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone!

I've just finished preparing the home for Chinese New Year. On Valentine's Day? I know...but I'm feeling really accomplished.

The decor is up. The prosperity symbol, a red papercut piece, hangs outside my door upside down. I welcome spring with a thin cardboard sign with the Chinese character emblazoned on it.

1Utama CNY Decor

Festive cookies, ang pao packets, lively songs I don't understand a word of and oh, as I type this, someone's lighted the  firecracker! I've heard drum beats from a couple of trucks ferrying the lion dance troupe passing by my home.

It's hard to not feel overly excited.

These are photos I took the other day of the decor at 1Utama Shopping Mall.

Theme : Bloom of Opulence (Left, Spring. Center, God of Prosperity)

Summer (Back), Autumn (Front)

It reminds me of the old Chinese opera performers. So lovely to look at. If these came in small sized dolls, I would definitely buy some to decorate my home.


Oh my, it's almost 6PM. I have to go get ready. ..for dinner, of course.

Feb 7, 2015

16 The Endgame is REAL ~ Meet & Greet : James Frey

It all started with a regular visit to Popular Bookstore to get the Endgame book. While browsing the magazines corner, I noticed a huge banner promoting a 'Meet and Greet' with American writer, James Frey.

"Heyyyyy ... that's a coincidence! " I thought to myself. I snapped a photo of the details.

Five days later, I was back at the store, waiting excitedly.

Who is James Frey exactly? Well, I can't tell you that of course but I do know that besides Endgame: The Calling, he was also one of the authors for I Am Number Four, a book which has already been made into a movie. Have you watched it? I did, and enjoyed the fight scene between Number Six and the Mogadorians very much.

Anyway, back to the story. It was a relaxing session. James sat down and chatted with us for awhile. He shared how the book Endgame came about and also some amazing bits about the world and aliens.

James Frey in Kuala Lumpur

In between, there was a quiz to win Endgame merchandise. Some lucky people walked away with tees. After that, we got our books autographed. This is me.

James signing Sharon's Endgame book!
Nice, right?

Tadaaa...so cool!

I could not miss a photo opportunity!

Sharon meets James Frey

Endgame is basically a science fiction story where 12 chosen young people from different communities are taken away to fight for their survival, and the fate of the human race, in an endgame designed by Aliens. Hunger Games much? Not really!

There is a twist to this book which makes it unique. It was written with a real adventure slipped in. Yup, in its pages, is a mystery to solve. Think intricate puzzles and codes. Anyone who figures it out will win a prize of US$500,000 in gold!

The concept was inspired by Masquerade, a 1979 book which was written to include clues to the location of real hidden treasure.

More about Endgame, the game, here: www.endgamegold.com

But if you're not into that, you can just read the book for its amazing story.

Book and tee, Endgame: The Calling

Jan 29, 2015

16 The Birthday ..and a little about Elvis Presley

I have the same Birthday ....I never fail to brag, as Elvis Presley! It doesn't matter that he wasn't a celebrity of my era. I became a fan after watching one of his movies.

I was an impressionable 10-year-old who'd swoon in adoration when he appeared on our TV screen. Elvis movies were usually aired late nights on weekends, which suited me well because everyone in the family would have retired into their rooms by then. And I had free reign over the TV remote.

One fine day, curious me pulled out my old folk's record player. It had been left unused for sometime. FuhhH! A dusty affair. I wiped it clean, flipped through stacks of records and discovered a piece by Elvis. There was no turning back. I had to try!

While kids in my class were on the Sony Walkman cassette player with Michael Jackson's Thriller on play, I enjoyed getting home to my record player with songs from the old days. I don't know if I was more excited about the discovery of an old gadget or the cool idea that I listen to The Beach Boys and I was different. 

Well, just look at me! I've gotten carried away. This post was supposed to be about how I spent my Birthday. How embarrassing. Aah..but I cannot not share a quote and a couple of my favourite song scenes from these Elvis movies before I end my nostalgic meanderings down memory lane.

When things go wrong, don't go with them. ~ Elvis Presley

I pretty much glided into my 41st Birthday with several dates out in mall/s with friends. We chatted, ate and laughed over the silliest things.

The night before was spent with family members who dropped by for a visit. Chocolates and Jacob's Creek Sparkling Rose was my present.

Friends and family, nothing more perfect than that.

Early that morning, I had also received a call about a flower delivery. Roses are red ..they truly are. Deep red. Well, these are and they're from my parents.

Red Roses

The roses were so beautiful that I felt my home had been blessed with something magical. With that, I bid adieu to forty.

Are you planning anything special for your Birthday this year?

Jan 20, 2015

16 Saying Goodbye To The Deer Park In Perdana Botanical Garden

In the news ~ DBKL To Close Down Deer Park At Perdana Botanical Garden In Stages.

The largest green lung within the bustling city of Kuala Lumpur is the well-known Perdana Botanical Garden. It's a place that holds many tourist attractions. I've been here many times but have visited the deer park only once. That was last year, to warm up my leg muscles for a walkathon. The deer park has been around for close to thirty years!

This is the main entrance. It's free to enter. There were flags hung up because I was here during the month of Malaysia Day celebrations.

Deer Park Entrance, Kuala Lumpur

Visiting on a gloomy Sunday afternoon has its perks. The park was quiet of people who had stayed away in anticipation of rain.  I'm not afraid of rain. I would, however, hide under my blanket if it was accompanied by thunder and lightning.

Housed in the enclosures (pictured below), are small shy mousedeers.

Home to a few mousedeers

At the end of the path was a man-made waterfall. The sound of flowing water lent a moment of spiritual enlightenment. It was relaxing and I felt like I was in a state of meditation.

Waterfall at Deer Park, Kuala Lumpur

Then, a climb up several stairs. Phew! Luckily, it wasn't a steep one. The scenery was beautiful. 

Huffed and puffed up the stairs

I got a good view of the deers, mostly resting in a large fenced area. The stairway bridge where I stood to admire them, was nestled in the center. This was the view on my left (below).

Deers resting in the shade

On my right, and further up, I was able to get a closer view of the deers. They were munching on some leaves.


Can you tell if this is a Fallow or Axis deer? I'm clueless in this department, even after googling.

Deer at Deer Park, Kuala Lumpur

The deer park will be closed in stages to make way for a Center of Rare Plant Species. That sounds pretty exciting too, doesn't it ..even if The Little Shop of Horrors  flashed across my mind for a moment. Pardon my imagination!

Hello there!

I'm not sure how far they are with works on the new center, but if you're keen to check the place out, it's now or never as it has been reported in the papers that the park will close soon.

Jan 4, 2015

16 A Quiet New Year

All good for the soul, but not good at all .. because I spent my New Year gorging on the most addictive chocolate chip cookies. Now I feel like a well nourished potato, rolling her wobbly way around the house. I knew I was asking for trouble when I made the decision to bake the legendary Nestle Toll House cookie but my regrets aren't real. It brought me immense satisfaction. 

Chocolate Chip Cookie with Pumpkin Seeds and Almonds

Aah..2015. "Happy New Year! Happy New Year!", we cheered to each other. Some with renewed hope, others a little superficially.

You see, it's been a tough year for Malaysians in general. A year of sorts. It was a year for the extremists. We were torn apart by racial barbs. It was the year of kidnappings for ransom. That put a dent on the tourism industry. It was the year of aviation disasters. Flight MH370 remains missing, MH17 was shot down and QZ8501 had, it seemed, succumbed to bad weather. QZ8501, although an Indonesian plane, flies under the banner of Air Asia, a Malaysian low-cost airline.

To top it off, several states are facing the worst floods. The rain has been relentless. More than a hundred thousand people have been displaced. Homes have been washed away. Many of us have risen to donate and help in any way we can.

All this, as we try to usher the year in with positive thoughts. The skies remained grey and it was chilly throughout. I didn't stay up to catch the fireworks on the eve. That doesn't mean that I didn't have a good day. I did.

I snuggled up in bed with chocolate chip cookies and three movies. No whoops of joy with friends or running off to start on my resolutions. It was just a day to appreciate the little things more and to be grateful for what I have.

Happy New Year, everyone.

Dec 25, 2014

18 Let me take a ...selfie. Merry Christmas!

This is really all Rose' doing. She asked to see my selfie pics with the pandas, which I honestly didn't have.

If there's one thing I rarely do, it is to take a selfie or a wefie. I'll explain why. I find it a challenge to focus my eyes on the camera while trying to navigate my finger to the button on my smartphone. Haha, I know.

Anyway, it is Christmas and I am having a jolly good time. Cindyrina sent me a really lovely gift, in addition to the goodies I won from her blog contest. She is awesome!

Meet little blue Smurfette! A WE-fie was in order, surely. After 10 minutes, I gave up trying to look at the camera and just found it easier if I worked with looking at the button or somewhere else instead.

Tadaa...! What do you think?

May your days be filled with laughter. Merry Christmas! ;)

Dec 23, 2014

10 The 1600 Pandas World Tour, Dataran Merdeka

These adorable paper mache pandas caused much excitement at Dataran Merdeka on Sunday. It was an event for selfies, wefies and ...just taking photographs.

1600 Panda World Tour

Well, that's not the reason why they were flown in. They're here to pass on a message to you and me about conserving the environment.

Merry Christmas, y'all

In 2008, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) worked with renowned French sculptor Paulo Grangeon to launch the 1600 panda campaign. 1,600 pandas were made out of recycled paper. Why 1,600? It was estimated that there were only 1,600 pandas left in the wild at the time.

This campaign was organised to raise awareness of the endangered species, and to highlight the importance of preserving the environment. Proceeds from the 1600 Pandas MY event will be used to support local conservation initiatives.

Wait..this is all that's left of us?

There was, at first, childlike joy and wonder at seeing so many cute little panda statues being displayed. But once it sinks in that this is all that's left of them, there is sadness and a realisation that if we do not do something about it, then they, the pandas, and many other animals will go extinct.

Please take care of the environment because it is our home!

The 1600 Pandas event was published in a number of news and media portals today. The hype was amazing. Many stated that there were 1600 pandas on display at the launch and one local paper said thousands had made their way into our country. All I saw was something in the range of a couple of hundreds, maybe less. Mmm..where were they hiding..  

At the launch of 1600 Pandas World Tour in Malaysia

The good news? They'll be touring Malaysia for a month. I'll be making my way to see the pandas again and this time, I'll keep my eyes peeled for 1,600!

1600 Pandas at Dataran Merdeka

The details of the tour can be found on this Facebook page, in case you're keen to pay the pandas a visit : 1600 Pandas MY (https://www.facebook.com/1600PandasMY)

Dec 15, 2014

17 JW Marriott's Eco Christmas Tree

A long, lonnnNnnng time ago, I worked for a profitable multinational organisation that took ages to approve anything. Oh, the red tape! But Christmas was almost upon us and while the more established offices were having their fun, we were work weary and serious. I decided a little cheer was in order.

So, out I went one evening to hunt for a little tree. I was on a tight budget then. A third of my salary went towards my degree education, the rest to managing household expenses, a car and a home loan. Maggi noodles was my best friend! Even so, I never felt that I was short on anything in life. I have only fond memories of my go-getter days. I felt resilient.

It was a stroke of luck that I stumbled across a store that was selling a 6ft tree for only RM30. I snapped it up along with baubles and all. I cannot forget the excitement that filled the air when my colleagues saw the tree! Then on, we organised gift exchanges and a little party. It was a nice break from office tasks and we got to know each other a little better. 

I never claimed any money for it so the tree went home with me after I left the company. This tree that I speak of is now over a decade old and is the same one I put up yearly in my home, the one I've been blogging about.

As for the company? They finally approved a purchase request for one ;)
Well, enough about my tree! I've gone all nostalgic.

This post is supposed be about another tree that I have been oohing and aahing over. On our (friend and I) walkabout in the heart of Kuala Lumpur the other day, we decided to pop into the JW Marriott Hotel to see what their Christmas tree was like. I'm glad we did because it was really stunning and one of my favourites this year.

Here is JW Marriott's Eco Christmas Tree! And it is accompanied by lighted angels with trumpet in hand.

The JW Marriott Kuala Lumpur Eco Tree

This eco tree is made from recycled materials. Can you see the old magazines and mineral bottles? The Santa pieces are made from paper mache decorated by the hotel's employees.

Paper mache Santas by the staff of JW Marriott Kuala Lumpur

Beautiful tree and it's nice that so many people were involved in making it. I love how this tree makes me feel - warm and fuzzy in the heart!

Dec 9, 2014

20 The Big Bad Wolf Book Sale 2014

It's happening NOW! My previous adventures here and here. As you can see, I am no newbie to The Big Bad Wolf Book Sale (BBW). I did mention in my previous blog post that I wasn't doing any holiday shopping because I wanted to save all my money for this sale. Well, this is it - check out my purchases.

My BBW Book Stash
And if you want tips, I say choose to go on a week day or early Sunday morning. Take a day off if you have to. This isn't just any sale. It's The Amazing Spider-man Big Bad Wolf!

My other advice? Bring a trolley bag because you WILL get carried away. You can choose to use the boxes provided by BBW to help you with the books, but unless you have strong arms, you're not going to get very far.

You can, however, leave your unpaid stash at the storage counter while you continue your book browsing.

And my final tip - Bring extra cash.

I woke up in the wee hours of the morning last Sunday just to get to the sale by 7am. There was ample parking space and it wasn't too crowded yet.

The Big Bad Wolf Book Sale In The Early Morning

The best part? No long queues at the cashier.

BBW Cashiers Taking A Break

I make it a point to leave by 11-ish. That's when it begins to get crowded. My visit to the BBW has always been peaceful and pleasant. You are looking at a pro. Hehe.

Check out some of the books I saw at the cookery corner.

BBW Cookery

I bet you recognise some of these chefs! Priced between RM15 to RM30, these books are a steal, I say.

BBW Cook Books

The Big Bad Wolf gives out bookmarks to good customers - one at the cashier when payment is made and another for filling up a survey form.

BBW Bookmarks

These cute button badges cost RM10 per pack. I wanted it but was torn between spending it on books or badges. I let the badges go.

BBW Button Badges

If you need any assistance, don't hesitate to howl, I mean ask. BBW has hired the friendliest peeps to attend to you.

BBW Help

The Big Bad Wolf Book Sale ends on 16th Dec 2014. Have I mentioned that it's non-stop? That's right, you can shop at 3am if you like. It doesn't close for the day.
Location : MIECC, The Mines

Go and be wow-ed.

Dec 6, 2014

8 Christmas at Pavilion, Kuala Lumpur

A day out in the big city. Two girls, window shopping. That was our goal...plus a small spending budget.

"It would be folly to 'squander' our savings on a festive whim," so I thought to myself in the seriousness of a puppy chewing on her treats. The truth is, I really wanted to save every penny for a big book sale we were heading to this weekend. Well, we certainly made good on keeping our hands off our wallets!

Did we have a great day then? I describe it as magical. We were consumed by the holiday spirit - this, after seeing a beautiful Christmas tree outside a small boutique hotel. I haven't figured out what exactly it was that hit us, but we zipped through several malls snapping photos of every Christmas tree we saw.

These are just the ones I took at Pavilion, which in my personal opinion, was out-of-this-world enchanting.

Christmas at Pavilion, Kuala Lumpur

Left corner of the Christmas Santa at Pavilion, Kuala Lumpur

An overall picture of the Christmas decor at Pavilion, Kuala Lumpur

More Christmas trees at the entrance of Pavilion, Kuala Lumpur

The night scene - Christmas at Pavilion, Kuala Lumpur

Although exhausted, we couldn't resist walking back to Pavilion to see how the trees would look like at night. We were surprised with a musical light show. This is a short video of it. Happens at 8PM ;)

On a side note,  Crabtree & Evelyn is giving out a mystery gift! Snap a photo of yourself at their store or Christmas booth, using the props provided. Upload the photo into Crabtree & Evelyn's 'Festive Joy Wishes' app on Facebook. Show this to the cashier to claim the gift. We did this on the spot via our mobile phone and were both rewarded with a tube of hand lotion. 

In case anyone's interested, Crabtree & Evelyn's Christmas booth is located near the main entrance of Pavilion. 

Crabtree & Evelyn Mystery Gift!

Looks like we didn't go home empty handed after all ;)

All in, we covered seven malls! Sticky with sweat and in need of a bath, badly. Exercise? Bah, pretty sure this counts as enough. I'm feeling healthier already.


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