23 Jun 2013

Wayang Kulit at Rimbun Dahan

Kids have been attending several random workshops. I've just been lazy to blog about them.

1) Book Making workshop at Silverfish Books. It was an enjoyable workshop where they learnt the basics in building parts of a book. They also learned how to write a blurb.
2) A First Aid Workshop at St John's Ambulance, Klang.  The workshop was rather long, starting at 9am, going on till 5pm. However, it was an enjoyable and informative workshop. Children had some hands on experience, eg. carrying an injured person, various methods of bandaging (which they enjoyed), CPR and of course, they loved the part where they got to try chest compressions on a dummy.
3) A Comic Writing workshop with a comic artist. Again it was a basic workshop where they learned about building a character, setting and structure (I think...I didn't sit in.)

I know they went for a few more, but can't seem to recall at the moment.
Yesterday we added Wayang Kulit (Shadow Puppet) to the list of field trips. The workshop was held at Rimbun Dahan, a beautiful place with lovely gardens.

Nutmeg tree

Exploring the garden

The younger wanted to see if water lilies were waterproof.

The first part of the workshop was learning about the different characters that made up the Wayang Kulit, the history behind it, the different types of Wayang Kulit, the music and source. The performers leading the workshop were really generous with information, willing to share everything they knew. They also told us that anyone's welcomed  to watch their rehearsals every Wednesday night at Rumah Pena.

The second part of the workshop was where the children went on to painting and making their own puppets.

Talking about the characters

Looking through the amazing variety of shadow puppets. All tediously crafted by hand. They say that creating a detailed one takes an average  of one month per puppet! Process involves preparing cowhide, drawing the character on the skin in detail, then slowly chiseling bits  off to create the intricate designs, followed by painting.

Wayang Kulit Show 8:30 pm

A moonlit sky greeted us as we returned to Rimbun Dahan for the night Wayang Kulit Show. Insects were at their loudest and the children were thrilled to be in such an environment again. Nel in fact, wished that she'd be allowed to camp there.

The people in charge had beautifully lit the path towards the outdoor show. Jo thought it was like we were in a magical fairy realm, and it certainly felt like it. So we lingered near the lights, allowing my children to soak in the ambience that sparked their imagination.
little lamps that lit the path

When we got to the theater ground, the stage was set and all the puppets lined up. They had placed large woven mats across the garden for audience to relax and enjoy the show.

We watched as the musicians warmed up, many of them, for some reason, smoked their pipes before the show began. Wonder what was in those pipes, didn't really like the smell.
A musician warming up on the Serunai. The Serunai which is heard throughout the performance. This was miked up, and was too loud for Nel who's always been sensitive to loud sounds.

Below is the Tok Dalang, the main person behind the show. He alone controls all the puppets, and tells the story. A lot of his story was told in a Kelantanese accent, making it a little hard for me to understand some parts.

Several times during the show, the children ran towards the side to see what went on behind the scene. I did too, and thought it was just fascinating watching the music ensemble and the way the Tok Dalang controlled his puppets.
Children on the right taking a peek at what happens behind the screen.

The Story we watched yesterday was taken from an "episode in the Kelantanese Ramayan epic in which Dewi is kidnapped by Bota Maharaja Rawana. The Maharaja Sri Rama asks for help from his son Harimau Kera Putih. A clash between Harimau Kera Putih and Maharaja Rawana follows in which Harimau Kera Putih becomes the victor." Quote taken from here.

Scene from when the bad character kidnapped the princess.

Overall, both Nel and Jo enjoyed the afternoon session where they got to make puppets, and most of all, they enjoyed exploring, looking through and playing with the original shadow puppets.

As for the night show, Jo loved it. She watched attentively, asked a ton of questions about the plot, sometimes dancing with the music, sometimes lip synching! haha...  I kinda guessed she'd like it, after all, she's watched an entire opera in German (3 hours on VCD), multiple times!

Nel was more like me. I was tempted to head home after the initial excitement wore off, and when the show dragged on past one hour. But I sat for the sake of Jo.
Nel who sat several feet behind us (coz she couldn't take the loud sound of the amplified music) enjoyed the first bit. By the middle bit, I turned around to see her flat on her back looking at the stars. She got up a bit to take some shots of backstage and the moon, then lay down again. Three quarters into the show, I turned to see her flat on her tummy, almost knocked out. hahaha....

All in all, it was certainly an unforgettable experience. My children and I learnt so much from half day at the show than what we would have from history books. That's the beauty of hands on learning. And it was certainly a unique and worthwhile experience, something I'd highly recommend.

(Below is a short video clip from the scene where Harimau Kera Putih and Maharaja Rawana fight.)

Video 1.

video 2. (unsure what this part is about, but listen to the Dalang's voice as he goes "Ohhhhwoi!" Yeah, that part of the dialogue my kids remember. haha..

@poundthegarlic.blogspot.com 2013


17 Jun 2013

Camel goes on a Holiday with us - Ruby's Resort

We've been traveling quite a bit this month.  I guess, it's kinda like making up for all the time lost when I had issues with health. Anyway, we just got back and I told my husband that I'd be blogging about Camel's holiday. My husband raised his eyebrows and asked "Not blogging about OUR holiday, but about our dog's holiday?" I replied "Yes, Camel's turn this time." So here, a short post bout Camel's vacation.

We adopted Camel about 5 years ago. He was an abused dog, rescued by a volunteer at PAWS. When we first adopted him, he was already debarked by his previous owner,  timid, scared of being carried, cowered whenever we walked towards him. It took us a while to gain his full trust, and today, he's such a confident, curious little pooch.

Well, when the children found out that Camel would be going on a holiday with us to Ruby's Resort, they went wild with excitement! To cut a long story short, Camel was spoilt with the constant attention he got at the resort from all the children.

As for Nel and Jo, they as usual had a great time with friends, spending most of the day by the beach swimming, playing with the waves (jumping over...hiding under ..swimming over and simply getting whacked by huge waves.) 

 Ruby's Resort where you get to holiday with your pets. Ruby herself has several stray dogs and cats which are really well taken care off.
 Camel's very first time at the beach.

 Nel taking Camel for a long run. They both loved it!

 Camel's first experience with waves. At first he kept barking as every wave crashed onto shore. Then being the curious dog he is, he approached it with a pounce. The wave smacked him, and he got a fright. Afterwards, he'd only try swimming when the water was calm.

Best friends taking a break

The waves at the Cherating beach are huge and strong. That created a lot of exciting play for the children.

 Trying a bit of boarding

 At Ruby's pets are to be kept on the leash, except when in the middle compound. Here Camel managed to escape from the compound and went wondering on his own.

 All the kids went running after him shouting "Camel come back!! Camel!!" (Camel is a fast runner!) Well they found him in someone's balcony. So one of them got him out.

 Camel watching his first sunrise at the beach. I think he really loved it.

On the second night, after  a long wonderful day by the beach the children knocked out very quickly. But we were awoken less than 10 minutes after. A turtle had chosen to land right by Ruby's gate. The few of us who were awake walked out to watch quietly from afar as the turtle dug her hole. As we watched we realized we weren't the only ones. Several strangers dressed in black stood nearby waiting for the turtle to lay her eggs. Sure enough as soon as she started laying, they came and took her eggs, claiming that they were conservationist. A few riders on bikes passed by, exchanged words, and rode away. I certainly hope her eggs are safe.  We stayed about 2 hours watching the whole tedious process. So much tough work. Poor turtle. The children walked quietly by her side as she returned to sea saying their goodbyes. What a lovely experience added to the lovely weekend. Truly God is good.

We plan to go back real soon with Camel again, and a few friends with their doggies. Camel aside, we truly enjoyed the trip because we got to catch up with friends, and the children got to bond better with their buddies. Indeed, it really doesn't matter where one spends the holidays, as long as there is good company. :)

@poundthegarlic.blogspot.com 2013


9 Jun 2013

Camping Merapoh, Sg. Relau.

We spent a lovely weekend away at Taman Negara Merapoh, Sg. Relau with six other families.  When we first arrived at the campsite, we were really disappointed with how the campground looked. It was super hot, several trees had wasps nests, and the river that flowed next to campground was murky, not a breath of wind.  It looked no better than anyone's backyard and less than 10 minutes after arrival, one of the kids got stung, and several more received bites throughout the stay.

Some backed out of camping and decided to rent a chalet next to the campground. (Chalet costs RM90 with aircond.)  Well...the rest of us decided that since we'd driven all the way there, we might as well set up tent.  After setting up tent, we decided to trek to escape the scorching heat.


10 minutes into the jungle (err...quite a lot of leeches!), the air got cooler and we saw the river as it should be, the beautiful Sg. Relau river. Quite fast flowing at certain spots, cold and almost crystal clear. The kids jumped in immediately. Some started building structures with pebbles and slates they found, creating imaginary sushi and furniture shops in the river, some built dams and forts and some had races and water fights.

Boys having a swimming race upstream.

Exploring the beautiful Relau River. The current is strong and several slippers and stuff flowed downstream and away.

A splashing fight and good time.

After a really refreshing swim, we had BBQ for dinner, and of course marshmallows for the kids. Then the 17 children played till their heart's content while we adults sat and chatted. In between many insects dropped by to show off their colours. It's amazing how many varieties of insects we found! This thrilled us all, especially the bug lovers and children.

 It was hard falling asleep after that because of the heat. It only got cooler about 3am.

Were awaken early by the amazing sounds of the forest. That's one thing I really loved about Merapoh, it's just teeming with wildlife. First thing I saw was a huge hornbill flying across the sky. A group of gibbons called loudly from nearby and an amazing orchestra of insects made incredibly powerful sounds.

A few of us walked the forest path in silence listening to the morning sounds of nature. The children cupped their ears and were amazed at the high frequency of sounds traveling all around us.

Some of us then decided to take a 4WD towards Kelah Sanctuary. The ride was wild, going up and down steep roads at a rather fast speed. A friend mentioned that this was a really dangerous journey, because we were sitting on the top on handmade planks which moved forward and backward with the truck! But the children and adrenaline junkies imagined themselves on a roller coaster ride, screaming at every bend and slope. At quite many spots, we had to duck to avoid hanging branches, especially sharp rattan!

On the truck, heading to Kelah Sanctuary

Arrival at Kelah Sanctuary

First thing we saw were beautiful butterflies everywhere

The man who brought us in provided lots of fish food. We placed some in our palms and fed the fish, which boldly came and ate out of our hands. These are huge and strong fish which swim against the current. They really feel like toothless babies munching on our palms when they grab the food.

The man in charge caught several Kelahs for us to feel and hold. Well, some of us tried to catch one, but failed to do so. The fish  were just too powerful and strong.

Fruits that the Kelah eat

After the excitement of seeing the powerful fish swimming against the fast, shallow rapids, we went for a long cold cold swim in this really refreshing river. It was HEAVENLY and just made the whole camping trip worth it!
On our way back, we stopped at this high lookout point to enjoy the beauty of the forest.

I spotted two Prevost squirrel,  around our campsite. Very active and can really jump quite a far distance from tree to tree. Was thrilled to watch them in action.

In the end, despite the hot campsite with lots of bees and wasps, most of us enjoyed ourselves tremendously. The children certainly did, as one child said to his mum at the end of the camp "What am  I going to do without my friends mama?" 

Actually it was interesting observing the children as they played. We left them on their own, and they had a large space to run and a little hall with a stage. They created their own drama, and new games. When the lights went off, they made shadow dramas with their flashlights.  Sometimes in teams they played army and detective, defended forts and captured "enemies". Children left on their own become really creative and they are wonderful at organizing themselves.

If you plan to go, I recommend the chalets rather than the campsite. But then again, if you rented the chalet, you'd miss nature's beautiful sounds that ring through the night and early morning. So for us, we'd still camp.

(What can I say, I intended to make this a detailed post, but just got news that a good friend just passed away of nasal cancer. Deeply saddened, though I know he's in a better place.     :(  RIP Mr. Choo Chee Kuang.)

@poundthegarlic.blogspot.com 2013


2 Jun 2013

Short getaway, Family Time.

With the current heat wave, we decided on a spontaneous trip to the beach yesterday. At first the children begged if they could bring a friend or two, but hubby and I decided that it'd be just family. Family time.

As we traveled away from the city, past tiny villages/towns and vegetable farms, I felt the tension from stress begin to ease. Once at the beach we found a spot and Nel decided to stay put on the sand, contented  to just building stuff with her spade and hands, while her dad sat with her.

Jo and I decided to walk far out since the  tide was low and water really far out. How lovely that God gave me a talkative, extroverted child to break my introverted thoughts. At first a hundred thoughts filled my head as usual while I tried to internally sort them out, but almost every thought was broken by my curious child's chatter and questions. So I gave up thinking and truly began to enjoy nature and my child.

"Mum...look...did you know tube worms build their homes deep down under. Look mum, I've dug, and it looks like an underground tunnel system, tubes going everywhere!"

"Mum" said the young one slyly,  "I'm an alligator, hiding in the murky water...come near me and SNAP!!! I am ferocious!" Jo's just lost 3 front teeth. She claims that she currently looks like a sabertooth with 2 fangs showing.

"Look mum...see the slugs. I love slugs..so pretty. See here, see here, an anemone!! It closes when I touch!"

At one point, Nel too joined us on our walk, helping her lil sister look for interesting sea creatures.

 but once the sisters are grown, 
it becomes the strongest relationship.
~Margaret Mead

"See mum, how the small crabs dig a hole" (sorry blur video..)

"See mum, how high I can jump!"

"Mum...careful where you walk, don't walk where crabs are. Oh WOW!!! The crabs have dominated the land!! They're everywhere." "Do they all share the same water hole?"
Jo thinks the little pool in between the crab holes is a drinking source for them.

After about an hour far out examining the creatures at low tide, we finally walked inwards to inspect what Nel had been doing.

A few castles and a TOILET BOWL where you get to shit in if you pay RM50!

She'd also helped her lil sis make a large pond which Jo filled with all her catch of the day..several crabs, slugs, hermit crabs and all.

We stayed, enjoying the windy breeze, the changing hues as the sun set. Sunset was amazing...breathtaking. Most people had by then left to eat. But sunset was the part we had waited for. Nel sat watching, dazzled by the colours while Jo ooh and aahed at the colours while running back and forth fetching water for her water creatures.

We sat till it got darker and most people had left except us. Then gladly we packed, washed up and got us a delicious dinner of grilled fish and rice.

Nel building me a cushion to sit on.

So much contentment can come from just a short outing with family alone. I tell my kids from time to time, some outings must be shared just by family alone, for family time is so important to reconnect. Family time is precious. It fills our hearts and mind with peace and love , eases away tension, gives us strength to face the days together as one.


Some random stuff:  Resting from a bad cough the other day, the house grew too quiet. I went downstairs to find Nel folding a huge mountain of clothes all by herself. Jo too was hard at work, sweeping and organizing my kitchen for me. These random moments are more precious than mother's day itself.

@poundthegarlic.blogspot.com 2013

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