Mar 29, 2011

0 Cheng Beng - The Tomb Sweeping Festival

It's that time of year again where Chinese families gather to clean the graves and, offer food and prayers to their ancestors. Besides hell money, paper crafted into mobile phones, cars, clothes and whatever your mind can conjure, are burned up to the dearly departed.

The actual date of Cheng Beng falls on 5th April this year, but we fulfilled our obligations early. We arrived Penang by bus, on a very wet Saturday. The rain refused to relent and lasted throughout the day. I prayed for blue skies the next morning.

God answered with grey clouds and a couple of hours to get the job done. A blessing no less.

Arrived at 6am - Praying at the temple is no.1 on the list of to-dos

Eerie..the sun's not up yet!

After tidying up the grave, food is prepared for the ancestors
Placing paper and planting colourful flags on the grave

The end result - pretty, isn't it?

Another grave..look at the mud up ahead

Cash, clothes, car...wait, is that a passport??

Up it goes..enjoy, Grandpa

For RM25, he'll clean the grave for you

More people arriving

The sun's up and it started to drizzle, but we're already done.
Bye people.

Sorry Mr. Frog..they'll be clearing this tomb soon.
You'd best move on.

Mar 26, 2011

0 Been there, not done that! 3rd Putrajaya International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta

The sun just broke through the clouds. It was only 8-ish and tickets for the tethered rides were already sold out.

I had hoped to be amongst the foolish excited few who would fork out money just to sit in a hot air balloon, which goes not very high up by the way and, comes down in minutes. It seemed like an acivity which could only amuse the older, responsibilities-tamed set. 

Boy, was I wrong. There were eager beavers of all ages and some had camped there since 3am. How was I to compete... I was still in La-La land at 6am, and barely lifted my eyelids when the alarm rang.

It was nonetheless a fun outing. I truly enjoyed the walkabout because of the many hot air balloons that graced the morning sky. A sight to behold, it is.

Firing up the Hot Air Balloons

Weee...! Doraemon

It's the cutest

Most unique

Eco message

Elephants roam the Earth

Don't be sad

Be happy!

Darth Vader's searching for his missing body

Look ma, no basket!

Tethered rides

Ok...what is this..



Meals on wheels

And that's that - 1Malaysia, we're all here

Mar 18, 2011

0 Sungai Buloh Nurseries - A Gardener's Haven

A green thumb I have not. That's why the only green adorning my home is the very common house plant 'Pothos'. You laugh at my feeble attempt to contribute something back against the many trees we have cut down?

I've a mini garden in the balcony stemmed from a belief that if we were to all do our part no matter how small, when done in sizeable support, it counts towards helping Mother Earth. I'm naive that way. How many apartment dwellers take this seriously, right?

Anyway, I paid a visit to the renowned Sungai Buloh Nurseries (Located not far from Hospital Sungai Buloh) in a bid to ignite the green talent I know that's hidden inside me.

Plants are sold at a good bargain here. That's why this place is packed with avid gardeners on weekends.

Here we are

Pots, pots, pots

A patriot

Gorgeous plants on display

Walk the stretch, don't be too quick to commit

In the Garden of Eden

Everyone has green fingers here

I went behind the stalls

A treasure trove

Pitcher plants for an exotic feel

If you have a large compound

Colours to brighten your day

Chilli padi for that sambal

You can depend on him to cool you down!
Seeing the many beautiful plant varieties I had never seen before, I was motivated to make it happen. I knew I could do it! 
So when a weed started growing in my garden, I took it that it was an exotic plant, meant to be nurtured.  I was pretty oblivious to the fact that perhaps I still had not mastered the art of gardening.
This weed was an exciting shade of green and growing fast. All I had to do was water it. I felt talented. It was a success story in the making until my best friend saw it and lambasted me for keeping a weed.
"I don't believe it! Can you not see it's a WEED?!", she blasted.
"Why are you planting a WEED?!", she asked with an incredulous look on her face.
The bubble burst and it dawned on me that "some people just have it in them".
I pulled the weed out after that, of course. What was I thinking.

Mar 16, 2011

0 Baked eggs are in, the lazy cook says

It's true, at least, in my kitchen.

So many of my meals are born out of the oven that I often fancy myself a baking enthusiast. The reality is I'm just a lazy cook.

I'm not into pastries, cakes or anything of the sort. Oh, that would be too taxing and complicated. Meat and vegetables, that's a different story.

I love throwing everything together and leaving it in the oven. Recipes, be gone!

Then, off I go to do whatever I want. 

Here, I've mushrooms,  cuttlefish, tomatoes, onions and green vegetables. A good balance, no? Add salt, pepper, some tomato sauce and a bit of that rosemary herb. Cover with foil and bake until ready. 

Much later..

"Psst, how about some eggs?", I thought to myself.

"I don't know about that. It sounds like more work. All that frying or boiling", I discouraged the thought.

"But you could just bake them, could you not?", I replied proudly.

So I cracked a couple of eggs into the same baking tray (with cooked meat, vegetables and all) and put it back into the oven until the eggs were done to my preference.

Voila! Garnish with greens. Eat however you like. I had mine with plain instant noodles. 

Bake in a covered foil

A close-up

Scoop onto noodles 

Mar 15, 2011

0 National Science Centre, Bukit Kiara

One of the things I love about having my own home, is having the occasional visitors stay over. It's an adrenaline rush preparing a list of places to visit, even if it turns out to be a head banging affair. Things weren't always this way. An old habit of mine was to drop into one shopping mall per day and be done with it. You know..Midvalley, 1Utama, Sungei Wang.

Living in the city for a good decade has made me lackadaisical in the spirit of exploration and poor in appreciating the little things around me. Work, home, work, home, anywhere else would labeled 'too far'.

Often, I would know the place you're talking about but I'd never really been there, unless you consider passing by as good as 'been there'. Have I wronged the place I was born and bred in?

I picture the majestic sights and sounds of China in my head, a great week-long getaway. I take for granted the beautiful places around me which I have shamefully driven by without a second thought.

"Ohh..that place arh. Can eat with Hornbills one", Typically how I answer people who tell me they've been someplace (eg the KL Bird Park) I haven't and leave the sentence hanging, hoping they don't ask the next question ie "You've been there?"

It's uncanny why I should feel inadequate but I do. Mayhaps I am imbued with feelings of guilt..if I can travel overseas and be wowed by the little things there, how is it that I've never ventured our own land with the same passion. 

So, these days, whenever anyone pays me a visit, I make it a habit to go out of the norm. While I've made some progress over the years, there are days I wonder whether I risk ruining someone's holiday.

Like this trip to the National Science Centre. I'd been dying to enter this great green dome for ages. That building, which promotes enquiring minds, beckoned my conscience everytime I drove past the hill it stood on. The opportunity finally presented itself when a friend from Penang stayed over.

She said, "No more shopping malls. Let's explore."

I gleefully agreed.

At the National Science Centre

December school holidays - kiddy chaos 

Does this work?

Cloning box..*pinch nose* ..cough..cough

What the..?

Again? It's everywhere!

We walked out and saw a bit of history
My friend lamented on the poor state it was in...yadda yadda yadda.....was I hearing a loud echo? Whoaa..! Her voice reverberated around us. There goes any chance we had of "putting it nicely". I'm pretty sure all the employees heard THAT.

Caught by surprise, we retreated into a softer voice, and soon found the culprit. It was a whispering dish located just outside the entrance. 

Thank you so much for letting us air it all out in the open, Mr Dish!

Sound waves..sounds like how a rumour travels
A good laugh we had.

From the putrid smell of human sweat in the cloning box to the unvacuumed floor and the many contraptions that are out of order, I worry about the state of our scientific prowess for real. 

While I understand that repairs are being carried out, I cannot fathom how it had gotten this far in the first place, unless regular maintenance was never a practice.

Well, that's one place off my list....for now.

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