It's terrible. I have not blogged for quite a while and there is a whole stack of pictures waiting to be edited and stories to be blogged. Looks like I have to carry them into the new year!!

Had a simple dinner tonight. Just the family. Beef balls, fries, sausages n salad....ended with a tub of icecream. I had mine with kahlua.

2011 had its ups and downs ... May 2012 be filled with God's presence, joy and peace!!!
I have to get this blogged before I forget it completely. We spent two nights in Bangkok at Bangkok Cha-da. Quite a nice hotel. The kids and I had adjoining rooms....we could had just bunked into one room as the room and bed are very big.

Bangkok is so much like KL. It's hot and humid. We really missed the north where it was so cooling and nice. The traffic was horrible especially when we returned from the Floating Market. I think it took us an extra hour to reach the next destination.

We tried to maximise our time. The first day we hired a van which took us around. Around was just the Floating Market (an hour away) and The Grand Palace (which is in the city) and finally a shopping complex where we had our dinner.

We headed off to the Floating Market first thing in the morning. Took us an hour to reach the jetty. We had to pay 500baht a person for the ride to and fro. Very very expensive. Actually the other option is to get the driver to take us straight to the market and we can just hire a boat there to take us around for a shorter distance.

We got into one of these boats. We were given a welcome drink each....coconut water.
It's actually narrow canals and pretty smelly. The dirty water sprayed onto our faces. Before reaching the market, we passed by people's you can imagine the smell when you pass the backyards.

The boatman stopped by this place. All part of the sales gimmick. Here we were shown how they make coconut sugar but half of the place was taken up by souvenir shop. Want us to buy the stuff there....I didn't get a's the same everywhere.

The market....interesting place. They sell almost everything; from souvenir to food. I bought my favourite sticky rice with mango here. Really delicious. Also got myself a leather handbag; which Albert claimed to be genuine. The price started at 5500 baht; I finally paid 2500baht. I think it's still expensive. Just the other day I saw a handbag almost like the one I bought and branded...Hidesign; cost slightly over RM200.

Spent quite a while walking through the market before leaving for The Grand Palace. Another expensive tour. 400baht....but Thai citizens get to visit it for free. I think that is good. Malaysia should implement this too.

The whole place is big and massive. There is also a big temple in the palace ground. Am so amazed at how they preserve the place.

Each of us were given a brochure of the place. We needed it as we need to know where we were and what the place is. So the kids read the brochure and tried to guide us around. Architecture is amazing. I can imagine Mongkut and Chulalongkorn walking on those grounds that I walked.

There is a long mural along the wall of a corridor. I guess it tells a story...but don't know where the beginning or ending is. The kids made their own story as they walked along.

This is outside the weapon museum. This place got the boys real excited. Again I was impressed to look at the weapons that they had kept and preserved. Not just a few but lots and lots of them. Really put Malaysia to shame....look at Melaka and what weapons from Kesultanan Melaka is left in the museum??

We were not allowed to take pictures in the museum so nothing to show from inside. The Thais really take care of their own people. Before going upstairs, we had to remove our shoes. They actually had different shelves for foreign shoes and local shoes.

We left the palace before the agreed time...too tired. Outside the palace, a woman kept pressing packets of corns into our hands. I didn't want but she insisted that we take it. It was to feed the pigeons. When we wanted to walk away, she made KC pay her 300baht (that's what KC said...bit too much right?). So if you are here....don't take anything from these people...just ignore them and walk away.

The next day we decided to take the MRT to Chinatown. We walked around the place. It was hot and we were all sweating. We were quite lost....didn't know where exactly to go and what to look for.

After a long tiring walk, we jumped into a tuk tuk. Dan had been pestering to sit in one. Albert said it's scary; they ride real fast like in the James Bond show. The boys were imagining 'Hawaii Five 0' theme as they rode along. The tuk tuk which KC, Lyn and I took followed behind the was an interesting ride.

All along the buildings, sandbags like this was a common sight. The flood was indeed very bad but the city was really clean. The only sign of flood was the sandbags.

Our final destination was a shopping complex called Terminal 21. It is new and very impressive. Each level is themed after a city. There is London, San Francisco, Tokyo, Bangkok, Istanbul,Paris and Carribean. The toilets are beautifully decorated according to the city. The first place we visit at each floor was the toilet!!!!!

San Francisco.....the toilet was bread themed....even smelt like a bakery.


Japanese themed door outside the toilet on Tokyo floor.

We didn't get to visit all the floors. This place is really really nice.

Overall....I will not visit Bangkok again. It's just like KL but maybe nicer. The MRT is more organized. Lyn asked why the rail system in other countries like HK, Singapore and even Thailand is better than Malaysia? Oh well....Anyway.....I've no intention of visiting Thailand again. Enough for my lifetime!!! Want to visit elsewhere.

One of the topics that the Form 1 students have to write at the beginning of the year is My Favourite Pastime. I'm going to write a short essay here on my favourite pastime this holiday. (hahaha)

This holiday (I sound so like a student), I've been enjoying quite a few things but there are three things that I enjoy best. Reading (top on the list), cross-stitching and watching mini-series on youtube.

Reading is my all time favourite. I've finished two of Ken Follet's books (Pillar of the Earth and World without End). Giving him a break...too long-winded and scandalous. Characters get all twisted one way or other; how frustrating. I'm still reading; rereading some of my old favourites. started off as Lyn's holiday project. She has so much to do too....reading, making origami, cross-stitching etc etc. As she was hardly moving, I decided to lend a hand. Now that she's away for camp, I've taken over the cross-stitching and I find it real soothing especially with Christmas music on.

Watching the mini-series is done mostly at night when KC is home. I've been watching a lot of 'Love come softly' series but gave up after a while because almost every woman ends up being a widow. Sigh....why must they make the story so complicated??

Looks like my favourite pastime involves a lot of energy from my eyes and I wake up every morning with heavy and panda looking eyes. I wish my eyes are stronger but as age catches up it gets worse. My eye-sight has never been good and one of my fear is going blind. I wonder will this happen one day? What am I to do if I can't read or watch tv???

Oh dear...the essay has gone out of topic.
The kids have been my apprentice in keropok making. They have been doing all the kneading after I make sure the dough is at the right texture. It is more like play for them; each having a dough to roll and knead and bang around. Told them to knead it like washing clothes and they actually don't know how to wash clothes. Dan said, just throw in the washing machine!

I hope this will help them remember how to make the keropok when they need to do it one day on their own!!

A short walk from the hotel in Maesai is the night market. We saw a stall selling a variety of grubs. You get to choose what grubs you want and then seasoning will be added to it. I challenged Joash to eat it and he said why he chose a three types of grubs. Paid 40baht for it; ie about RM4 or more.

This big insect is 7baht per piece. He picked one of it. He told Lyn that it smelt like cockroach. Yucks....
The grubs fried and mixed with pandan to make it smell good I suppose.

I saw this in the morning market. They are alive!!!! Joash chose this too the previous night. Lyn said it tasted quite ok. It's almost like the sago worms in Sarawak but I think the worms in Sarawak are fatter. Somebody said it taste like butter. Can you imagine eating maggots?

When everyone is not in, I seem to be more motivated to work and not laze around. Ok ... some update of our trip to Myanmar/Thailand.

On 26th November, we rented a van to take us to two places...the Golden Triangle and Mae Fah Luang Garden/Doi Tung Royal Villa. The van is really spacious and comfortable. When you travel around like this, you feel like you can just travel on and on....

The road to the Golden Triangle was under construction. Maybe the flood spoilt the road. When we reached the place...the road there was dusty and dirty due to the flood. Lots of shops selling souvenirs and shirts and we bought quite a few items here. The rule in buying in these places is you must bring down the price by half. If the saleperson refuses to give in, just walk away and forget about it. Many times they actually called us back and offer the price we want.

This is the map of the places we had been. The Golden Triangle is pretty clear...The pink part is Laos, the blue is Myanmar and yellow is Thailand. We stayed at Tachilek (Myanmar) a night and Maesai (Thailand) two nights.
From where we stood, we could see Laos and Myanmar. That's why it's the Golden Traingle....lots of opium in the highlands I believe.

Mae Fah Luang Garden is part of the royal grounds. The valley is filled with flowers. From the royal villa, the royalty are able to get a good view of the garden. We have to buy two for the garden; the other to get into the villa.

A little pond in the garden with a swan and a few ducks. The ponds and rivers here are all brownish. I wonder why.

Very beautifully landscaped.

Quite a few arches like this around the garden.

The colours of the flowers are well coordinated too. This garden has brought about a lot of work to the people around. We saw many tribal people (in their costumes) and monks visiting the garden.

Outside the royal villa. Can't take pictures inside.

The majestic view of the mountains from the balcony of the villa. Imagine staying in a villa like this and sitting at the balcony sipping hot coffee; looking at the mountains. I don't mind living like this too.

After the trip ended, we went back to the hotel. That night, I went for a foot massage. Only RM12!!! Sooooo cheap.

We were in the kitchen looking down into our neighbour's garden. She was plucking rambutans. She has a big tree in her garden. She looked up and saw us and asked if we want some. I quickly shouted yes yes!!!

So here we are eating yellow rambutan from the neighbour's garden!!! The tree that we had been envying.
Two weeks of holiday has gone by. What have I done with my time? Since I returned from Thailand, I had done absolutely nothing except sleep, eat, read, exercise and repeat the whole process again.

I did help to edit some articles but that didn't take much time. I thought of uploading pictures in facebook....takes up too much time as there as so many pictures. Will give that a skip.

Thought of blogging some of my experiences with pictures...again too lazy to select pictures.

Ing says my house has the spirit of laziness and sleepiness. I agree with her. The three of us are just feeling so lazy and we sleep so much everyday. Well, it's holiday. When else do we get to do this?? So I'll just laze around with my books and junk food till I feel real guilty...

Oh yes....I did my first batch of keropok today. Forced myself out of bed to do it. Raining a lot..not sure how to dry it but I hope to be able to make 10kg of prawns (ie 10 times) before the year ends. That will be the supply for Christmas, CNY and throughout 2012.
This place is on top of a hill about half an hour's drive from Mae Sai. It is built in Swiss style. Totally wood. Simply furnished but very elegant.

This villa was build for the late princess mother (mother to the present king of Thailand.). She spent a lot of time in Switzerland, thus her love for Swiss styled living.

The villa overlooks the majestic mountain ranges and the furthest range is Myanmar. Below is a valley which is landscaped into a beautiful garden with colourful flowers and nice rocks. It's opened to the public. Opium planters are encouraged to venture into plant nurseries instead of planting opium.

The villa has been opened to public after the death of the princess mother at the age of 93 in 1995. We are allowed into the hall where she received visitors. A big portrait is put in place of where she would sit and a large carpet for people who want to pay their respect. The Thais really respect their royalty; they remove their shoes, kneel and bow to the portrait.

Her kitchen, living room, bedroom etc... We could only have a peep. There is even a dental room as she was very particular about dental health.

Her marriage to a prince was a fairy tale. She was a commoner. Her father was a goatherd. The prince had to write a letter to his mother to explain why he wanted to marry this special commoner. The letter is kept in the Inspiration Hall today.

At her old age she still look very elegant and beautiful. From all that have been said about her she seemed to be well loved by her people. Building the villa in Doi Tung is an example of how she helped the people in Dai Tung to move out of poverty and find work in other fields instead of opium planting.

We enjoyed this visit very very much except for Albert who is not interested in history and anything of such kind.
There are lots of strawberries here; both in Tachilek and Mae Sai. Bought a packet this morning for 100baht; that is about rm10. I think the weather is cool n suitable for growing this fruit just like in Cameron Highland.

Definitely more expensive back home. Probably double the price.
Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar and Vietnam have a group of tribe known as Akha. We met Arthur (an Akha from Thailand) who is married to Deborah (an Akha from Myanmar). They run a bible college in Mae Sai.

Arthur has a coffee farm with about 10000 trees. He claims that his coffee his organic.

We visited the bible college and manged to buy a few packets of coffee powder. Most of it are coffee bean but I didn't take the beans as I don't have a grinder. Coffee bean is better as it last longer and the aroma is better.

The picture on the label is Arthur's grandma.
Today I walked from Myanmar to Thailand! Sounds so far but actually from the hotel at Tachilek(myanmar) to the hotel at Mae Sai(Thailand).

Mae Sai is the most northern tip of Thailand. Never heard of it till now. About an hour's drive from Chiangrai.

A vast difference between the two countries. Stepping into Myanmar is like going back in time. The roads are narrow, messy with potholes. The shops are disorganised. People rush all over the road on funny looking vehicles which are laden with goods.

Being in Mae Sai is like civilisation in every sense. The hotel is clean, big and like all hotels that I've been. The hotel in Tachilek is like those old rumah tumpangan that we see back home.

What makes the difference? The government.

I voiced to a Myanmar pastor that I would love to visit one of the hill tribes. He said he would love to invite us to his village but he can't because of unrest and fighting amongst tribes and drug lords. Hmmm...interesting. Never thought it is that bad.

This is the latest book that I am reading. It is massive...really thick. Six parts and each part has at least three chapters and each chapter has an average of 500 pages (I'm reading e-book using the iphone). Usually I would give up on such a thick book but this book has me glued to it almost all the time. I can't stop reading it!!

Ken Follet tells the story beautifully. Every character has depth and every scene is vividly described. This can be quite gory and I had to skip certain parts. But I guess that is how the society is those days.

It is set in the medieval time. To me the most important person is Prior Philip, a monk who fears God and strive to do what is right in God's eyes. The next person is Tom the Builder...he plays an important role in building the cathedral of Kingsbridge; where Philip is the prior. Then Jack and Aliena...(these are my favourite characters).

As in all stories, the good and the bad characters are very clear. The bad are not necessarily the commoners but many of the priests and monks are shown to be bad and greedy.

Building a cathedral is not all that simple. Elements of vengeance, romance, violence, war are all intertwined to bring about the cathedral. A power struggle between the church and the crown. Only a great story teller can make a simple story become so complex and yet at the same time keeping the interest of the reader going.

Every time I read the book, I'm transported into the middle ages. A must read book for adults but teenagers....can wait till adulthood as there are lots of gory scenes.

After finishing such a thick book, I feel lost. Now I need to look for more of Ken Follet's books.
I am a great fan of books related to the Amish. Infact I wrote a review on a set of Amish books which I purchased for Lyn two years ago. They are fantastic.

In the recent book hunt, I bought another set of books about the Amish people written by Beth Wiseman...a series of four books in the Daughters of the Promise novel. Excellent writer whose characters are so alive and real and she has a lot of biblical lessons in her stories.

I learnt quite a few lessons from her books : a. simplicity in life
b. don't question God's the Amish it's a strong words
c. to worry is sin because it means that one doesn't trust I ponder on it, I realise how small my faith is...

Anyway, I started to look for more of such books and found this video on youtube. Pretty interesting documentary on the Amish culture and how two young adults are struggling with some of the rules in their culture. They have a set of rules (which is not the Bible) known as ordnung; it is both written and unwrittenrules; passed down from generation to generation. The church leaders especially the bishop has a very strong hold and influence on their society. No human is perfect and these people are far from perfect. Very interesting and educational documentary.

If ever I were to visit the US, I would like to visit the Amish community in Pennsylvania. If they have homestay, I think I don't mind staying a while to experience a life that is electricity, tv, telephone etc.
In this two weeks, we have eaten durians three times. This is all for brother's sake. He had been asking about durian since he returned from Vancouver; so we have to make sure he eats till he is so muak with it before returning to Vancouver on Saturday.

The first time, I bought from Pagoh; on the way back from Sibu Island. D24; RM16 perkg. Bought four for a hundred ringgit.

The second time, KC and brother went out to buy and they spent close to a hundred ringgit again but there were like 8 durians. So it was not too bad. Between RM 8 pkg and RM12 per kg.

Today, we bought again hopefully for the last time this month. Same lorryman near SPI but the price went up. It was 10,15 and 20. 15 was D24. We bargained till 14 (not much difference). So brother bought 4 for RM80. Still cheaper than the first time.
D24...the taste is standard and guaranteed good. All four durians were good especially one particular durian...extra bitter. I only eat bitter durian.

The four precious durians. Everybody in the house enjoys durians except Lyn who can eat but has no craving for it. Dan used to dislike durian but he loves it now.

No more durians for the rest of the year. It's too rich and fattening.

Yesterday was Raya Qurban. Woke up bright and early (5.15am) to get ready to hike Broga Hill for the second time this year. Ing's best friend, LN came all the way from Singapore to visit Ma. So this was one of the activity Ing wanted to do with her. I invited Dr Lim and Siew Khim as they are hill climbing kakis like us.

The seven of us jumped into one car after Dr Lim parked his car at CMH. Took us about 50minutes to reach the foot of the hill. We used Mantin way; easier as it's not so winding. This picture was taken after the hike; all of us still look fresh and good.

On our way down we met this family....Wong Kam Fook and Chua Siew Khim. They came from Shah Alam. It's interesting how we bump into each other. The last time was when Doulos came to Port Klang. This time is at Broga. KF, CSK, KC and I went to USM together. The guys were housemates and CSK and I were also housemates. KF is from Mambau; a little town off Seremban. CSK is from Ayer Tawar; a little town off Sitiawan. Wierd!!

The four of us were the first in the group to reach the peak. We had to climb three small hills to get to the peak. Doc and Siew Khim were fast actually, we slowed down to wait for the rest. At the first hill, the wait was so long that I got worried. Thought Ing fainted or whatever. But it was her bff who had to do some business....

This time I climbed up the stone to take a picture next to the signboard. It's easy to climb from the back. KC jumped off the stone but the picture didn't come out at all. Should had jumped slow motion.

When we came down from the peak, we saw the three stooges making their way up loudly. As usual when Ing get together with her bff, they just make lots of noises and get lots of attention. Here is the difficult part where you have to use the rope to hoist yourself up...we skipped this and found another route up but went down using this rope...faster.

This is taken from the third hill, where we can see the second and first hill. The first hill has the widest top/peak where most people take a long break. Some people give up after the second hill (I almost gave up the first time). The third hill is the one where we have to use the rope to get up or use an alternative route which is longer and also very steep. Next to it is the final hill.

Lots of stones/rocks like this.

Going up the hills are easy but coming down is quite challenging. This one has rope to help but the rope doesn't reach to the end of the steps. I was slightly lower down waiting for the three stooges when I heard a familiar cry, more rope!!!! I quickly asked KC to go up and help her down. Like I say, she is always so loud and dramatic. Everybody stopped to look at her!!!

We ended the trip with breakfast at Broga Village. We sat at a kopitiam that faces the hill. Had delicious coffee, toast and eggs!!!

I enjoyed this trip very much. The company makes a difference. Looking forward to another hike up this hill again.

Christmas is round the corner. Siew Khim and family just returned from England. Gave me a box of mince pies.

First tasted it in Windermere. I love it...think I'm the only one in the family who love sweet pies. Bought a few boxes home. I remembered the horror when I dropped a box and the pies were crushed. Had to share them with jackie.

Looking forward to Christmas preparations....
This is the last weekend kor is spending with us. Next week this time he'll be flying back to Vancouver.

We went to my favourite shop for kopi kiam c, wholemeal toasts and soft boiled eggs.

Then marketing for the week. Mil coming for dinner, ing n LN visiting tomorrow. Need to buy extra.

When we returned, all three of us washed, vacuum and wax (kc's car) two cars. Very fruitful morning.

If it doesn't rain we will go up kepayng hill later. Then cook bakuteh for mil.

That's how a Saturday is like in this house.
This sibu story is taking too long. Getting tired of it. So let me conclude.

I will never ever ride in a speed boat again and if can I want to fly to whatever island I go next time or take a ship. The boatboy sped all the way back to Tanjung Leman again though Kiki reminded him not to speed.

Water splashed onto my face so many times. I was totally terrified after the first experience. Kept praying that I would reach land safely. Then we passed another speed boat which was going at a steady pace. Only then did I realise that the ride need not be so frightening.

All in all we paid RM200 for the ride to and fro which was about 20 minutes. I never believe in paying to have fun that will shorten my life like a roller coaster ride. And I just did that!!!

Hopefully when both kids go for camps next year, we will be able to take time off on our own like this again.
Everywhere we walked around Sibu Island (except at SP), we saw cowdung. Quite puzzling as there was not a single cow in sight. It was only on the second day when we hiked further into the village that we saw cows roaming everywhere.

The dung was just all over the place. The road, the fields, the beach.....I spent most of the time with my eyes on the road unlike KC who had his eyes all over the place. So I was shouting to him all the time, Watch Out!!

Unfortunately there was this one time when I was too late in warning him and he stepped right into a fresh one. Yucks!!!!

This is a field near a village. Nice field and good place for kids to kick a ball but it is spotted with cowdung.
We saw this near the beach next to the village. Somebody must have cleaned up the dung near his/her place and just dump it by the beach. KC went into a discourse on how these people should harvest the dung and turn it into some energy heap like what the Indians in India do.

I counted up to about 50 cows. They are pretty skinny animals. Just roam around freely, chewing on grass. Quite suspicous of us when we walked by and I have phobia of cows. Was attacked by one when I was a kid in Stwn Estate.

We walked to the village twice...on Saturday evening and Sunday morning. On Saturday we did not venture far. Managed to have dinner before returning to SP.

We were braver on Sunday. We walked from 9am to 12pm. I was exhausted from the heat. Had only a cap to protect me and am very tanned on top of my already tanned complexion.

Most energetic as we started off.

Quite a long list of kampungs here but I think we probably passed only three. The villages are not big at all. Maybe about 10-20 houses. The people are very friendly. Whenever they pass by us on the motorbike, the men will definitely tabik and the women will give their broadest smile. This is so unlike us living in the city/town where I am guilty of ignoring people.

The road is hilly. It is cemented all the way. Not very wide. Enough for a motorbike to pass.

We passed the Twin Beach Resort which is closed. It has a nice beach facing the South China Sea and the jetty is on the other side facing the mainland; just like SP. I guess that is why it is called Twin Beach. Quite a nice place; very neat but not luxurious like SP.

Along the beach we saw quite a few skeleton boats like this. I wonder is there any other way of getting rid of old boats without creating an eye sore?

One of the villages...The center building is a restaurant. We wanted to eat there on Sunday but it was not open. Neither was the other shop which we had dinner on Saturday open. So hungry me had to walk 25minutes back to the resort for lunch. Despite all the walking, I didn't lose an ounce but gained a kg!

We met an old lady sitting on the beach opening clams. Another lady was collecting it from the beach (tide was low so she could walk quite far out). This clam (forgotten the name she gave) is huge. It has to be cleaned well or else it will cause food poisoning.

This is kerang/clam...those which are found is kari laksa. It is also huge. The ones we normally see in the market is half or less of this size.

This village is closer to SP. It is made up of a few poor looking houses. KC says it is better to look poor and get subsidy from the government.

One lonely primary school here. I was on the phone talking to Lyn. Actually the whole time I was here, I missed the kids terribly especially in the evenings. I felt so bad for not bringing them with me.

Life here is so slow paced compared to our lives that KC and I teased each other that we should just retire and live on the island. I can teach English here and he can be a cowherd. (There are lots of cows in this village).

KC's dream house. This is one of the better looking houses and it is quite big. Set KC dreaming of what it would be like to live here. I think we will soon be bored.

Walking around the village reminded me a lot of Sitiawan Estate and the malay kampung nearby. The smell of cowdung is everywhere. We didn't see any cows on the first day but we saw and smell the dung everywhere.

The village is here more picturesque than than kampung back in Sitiawan. I think its near the beach and the grass don't seem to grow long. So it looks quite neat. Wonder when we will do this again....just walk through a village for the fun of it.