9 Dec 2015

Hanoi- Old Quarters

The weather in Hanoi was lovely the days we were there. Most of the time it was 16C with occasional light drizzle. What we loved about Hanoi Old Quarters were the surprises that each street brought, such as old musical instruments, the abundance of fresh flowers and fruits, blacksmiths, beautiful bags and clothing for sale, worms and frogs for food, peddlers on foot and bicycles, a whole street of Christmas decorations, a cathedral, water puppet theatre, street market and the occasional "scam vendor." (We were tricked twice on the first day, and that taught us to be careful rest of the trip.)

Not sure what these are, or how they're cooked. They're alive and for eating.

Dried goods and flowers for sale. Check the weighing scale before you pay.

We walked no less than 5km a day, enjoying the cool wind, but certainly not the loud honks everywhere. Hanoi has a population of 8 million people and 5 million motorbikes!  They don't slow down at yellow lights, and neither do they stop at red lights! I had a close call there, but luckily it was my umbrella that went flying, while I only suffered a light bruise.

Water Puppet Show, a must watch if you've not done so.

Street food! We learnt to ask for the price before sitting down to eat. We learnt fast from our taxi driver the first day when he pointed to a street food vendor, then made an imaginary slit across his own throat. Still street food is cheaper than restaurants, though you may find the tiny tiny stools uncomfortable. If you have a weak stomach, be careful about the generous portions of raw vegetables served. We noticed that uneaten greens were simply placed back into the basket and served to the next customer.

Pho (pronounced pher), was our favourite. Warm delicious noodles in soup. Comes with stewed beef, beef slices or chicken slices.
Bun Cha (grilled pork with noodles)

We met rude people, we met nice people. The receptionist of the budget hotel we put up at, was extremely hospitable, and helpful. The barista at the cafe next door was humorous and never failed to put a smile on our faces. We asked for his name, and he typed his name on Google translate and told us happily, '"My name Power!!" followed by a loud, hearty laugh.  :) 

Strawberries, really sweet juicy ones....rm40 for 1 whole kg.


Finally, let me end this short post with this story which I shared with my friends on fb.

A blacksmith at work in Hanoi. A sight I've not seen in ages. Curious my children stood in awe, watching him hard at work. Soon he put his tools down and stared right back at us! A staring competition which preceded a game of charades because we didn't understand his language. 

He wanted to tell us what he was making, so he began acting...using two hands to show a movement downwards. I replied, "Bicycle pump?" He looked at me blankly. Of course, he didn't understand English, I forgot. So I acted back like I was pumping a bicycle, but the blacksmith shook his head, side to side, indicating No.

His turn again, he pretended to grip something in his hands and pressed downwards again. Then, Nel, pointed to herself, and began creating a motion of gripping and pressing downwards, like drilling a hard ground, and shaking her body and head quiet violently in exaggeration.

To our surprise, the blacksmith began laughing uncontrollably! He laughed and laughed and laughed, then gave us a thumbs up sign signalling yes, he was making a drill. smile emoticon

I think we left part of our hearts in Hanoi. Amazing city, amazing people.
@poundthegarlic.blogspot.com 2015

23 Sep 2015

Play-Doh Shape a Colourful Community 21st-27th Sept

Hi Everyone, this is Jo. 
This is my first playdoh competition ever, and also my very first blog entry. I love moulding Playdoh as much as any kid. And I'd be really really grateful if somebody could give me a big ammount of playdoh! 

When I was young, my mum used to make lots of playdoh for me, especially using stuff like expired flour. I had lots of fun. So when My mum received this invitation below in her email, I got very excited!!!

Dear Parent Bloggers!

 We have an exciting blogger campaign, celebrating Malaysia's first-ever PLAY-DOH Day this year, and we would really love that you can be part of this special occasion! :-)

This will be two-part campaign, starting with a pre-event program, followed by an invitation to the PLAY-DOH roadshow.

Kindly find below the e-invite for your consideration.  If you and your family or friends are interested, please let me know by Sept 1, Tues, and kindly provide your address where we can courier the PLAY-DOH pack to you. :-)

Have a colorful rest-of-the-week ahead!

Thanks much!

 I was very excited when the package arrived and i started molding figures at once. Since Malaysia is a multi cultural nation I chose to create our three main races. I made a Malay lady, a Chinese and an Indian lady. 

The invitation said to create things that represent Malaysia and i thought hmmm...Malaysia is famous for its food. So i also sculpted Capati, Fried kuaw-teow and Nasi lemak.
I also made the twin towers out of the container in which I received the free playdoh, and lastly a hibiscus flower.

    Here is my final presentation.

                 The  Chinese lady was tired of posing so she fell asleep.
 The hibiscus was molded based  on my memory of the hibiscus in our garden. Do you like it?

                There was no red in the package they sent me so i had to go with orange coloured curry!
There was no brown either, so I mixed pink,orange,green and purple to make brown skin.
I hope you like my creation of Capati,  Nasi lemak and Char-kuew-teow with prawns and fish cake. There was no white either, so I used a bit of clay I found to make the lump of rice and boiled egg in my nasi lemak.

I forgot to add a stand, so she's a little tiny, but cute. :)

Yummmm.....does your mouth water looking at my playdoh creation?

Finally, if you're free on the 26th September 2015, 10am, do go to 1Utama to be part of "Playdoh's Most Number of PlayDoh sculptures Created." Hopefully it'll be long enough to get into Malaysia's Book of Records! Thank you for reading my first ever blog post!


@poundthegarlic.blogspot.com 2015


Art Expo Plus 2015 Malaysia

We love viewing art. So despite the bad haze, we decided to visit Art Expo Malaysia Plus 2015. We spent about 4 hours there, viewing art piece by piece. Some the children liked, some they didn't, some they just didn't understand.

It was a worthwhile experience doing art appreciation, talking about the different styles, trying to interpret art and its meaning.

When we got home Jo expressed that she thought some of the paintings there, that were more of lines or splotches of paint, couldn't be art. Anyway, we googled videos and stumbled upon the one below. Then we had a good discussion after.

We look forward to going for more exhibitions in the future.

@poundthegarlic.blogspot.com 2015


9 Sep 2015

Melaka Apa Kaba Village

Continued from last post. After our long day of cleaning up the Turtle Sanctuary and beach front in Melaka, we had a late dinner and drove an hour to Apa Kaba Homestay.

What a delightful place it is! According to the front desk, the place is more than a 100 years old, but refurbished and extended a little to accommodate guests.

The simple and lovely courtyard. Outside of the house there's a little patio for guests to lounge at. 

This was our room, facing the main hall. The windows had traditional wooden shutters, which the children found fascinating.

The front of the kampung house.

 There were bits of antiques here and there to give the house an old feeling, such as the very antique oven seen on the left, a knob to control fan speed (top middle), traditional glass windows (right) and the old typewriter (center below.)

While we were there, we rented bikes for rm10 each. The bikes were quite creaky and old fashioned, which made it fun for the kids. Surprisingly Jo, being a new rider handled her high bike well. Kids and their friends cycled around the neighbourhood exploring while we parents walked along, sometimes stopping to talk to villagers.

We stumbled upon many old houses like the one with the steep roof. An elderly lady we met lived in such a house, but in a really dilapidated condition. She told us, "Makcik dah tua. Dulu makcik ada rumah kampung yang cantik, dekat jalan sana. Skarang...semua diambil untuk bina bangunan baru. Jadi sewa saja rumah ni. Takda duit dah....nasib baik sudah tua...." 

An old Chinese village house. Banda Kaba has two sides, the Malay side and the Chinese side.

A slightly more modern Malay traditional house.

As the room we booked had an adjoining door with their friends next door, the children passed messages back and forth. :)

Overall....we found the experience lovely. However, do not expect a 5-Star hotel with comfortable beds. Beds were a little sunken, and there was dust. However, the hosts were very warm and friendly people, and we just enjoyed the experience of staying in an old kampung house, and definitely exploring the village by bike/foot.

@poundthegarlic.blogspot.com 2015

8 Sep 2015

Volunteering with MNS Green Living-

We saw an ad on MNS Green Living looking for volunteers to help clean up turtle tanks, the hatchery and the beach at the Melaka Turtle Conservation. I asked my children if they were keen, and very eagerly they said Yes.

It was quite a wait before the briefing began, because we had to wait for late comers. During briefing children were asked to be very careful, because the tank would be VERY slippery! Their job for the day would involve scrubbing the tanks, as well as gently scrubbing turtle shells too.

 The Melaka Turtle Conservation is mainly home to Hawksbill Turtle...and we spotted only one Green Turtle.
"The Critically Endangered hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) has been exploited for thousands of years as the sole source of commercial tortoiseshell. The beautiful carapace is generally streaked and marbled with amber, yellow or brown and often has a strongly serrated edge (5). The strongly hooked beak on the narrow head gives rise to the hawksbill turtle's common name (6). Unlike other marine turtles, the scales (scutes) of the hawksbill turtle’s carapace are imbricate, or overlapping, hence the scientific name 'imbricata(7)."(Arkive.org) 

Children gently scrubbing the top of a turtle's shell. They were told to only scrub in one direction, downwards, away from the head.

Scrubbing done, we headed to the hatchery.

From the outside of the hatchery, we took a peek and saw these babies that were newly hatched and ready to be released! How eager they were to get out of the bucket. :) According to Arkive.org, "probably less than one out of 1,000 eggs will survive and reach adulthood (9)."  :(

~We were not to go near the nests, but clean areas away from the nests. Children were given rakes and bags to clear the area of leaves and whatever trash they found.

Final job for the day was to clean up the beach by the sanctuary. This was a dirty job that required gloves.

Somebody lent Jo this gadget which really came in handy. We found all sorts of garbage, like diapers, lots of styrofoam, old batteries, plastic containers, underwear and just gross items.

Nel carrying her full bag of garbage back to the meeting point.


Finally to celebrate the hard work done, volunteers were asked to make a V on the beach to celebrate the release of turtle hatchlings. Nobody was to touch any hatchlings. The bucket of hatchlings was tipped over gently and we stood and watched as the little ones began their journey to the ocean. Some struggled even on sand...and we wondered if they'd survive. We know, the rate of survival is low...we could only pray for them and hope.

Back home, Jo drew these pictures in her travel journal. I asked my children if they thought the trip worth it, they said Yes. They never expected to find so much trash on the beach and they do realize how trash will pollute the ocean when the tide rises, harming sea creatures and the environment. I think they learnt a lot from volunteering.

So yeah, Let's keep our environment CLEAN...and teach our children to protect the environment  through volunteering in such programs, and perhaps even starting little projects in our neighbourhoods to educate others about the importance of keeping mother earth clean.

Next Post: Apa Kaba Homestay where we stayed the night after a long working day.

@poundthegarlic.blogspot.com 2015


28 Aug 2015

Some random art

 This is still incomplete. We were reviewing what we learnt in  Bali. Balinese Art. 
1)Draw picture, include lots of lines. Outline lines with darker pen.
2) Paint first layer with Chinese Ink. Include shading. Before starting dilute Chinese ink into different levels of black.
3) When done, add some colour (not done yet).

 After a long time of not painting, it was hard getting reacquainted with water colour. First attempt after a long long time. (Painting based on picture of a calendar given my friend.)

 Trying charcoal again after several years...(You can tell....I've not been doing much art.) Well...I was working on this halfway, when I woke the morning, I found that someone had added the picture on the left together with the words! hmmm....:)

@poundthegarlic.blogspot.com 2015


25 Aug 2015

Survival Class 3

Today's class we had to trek about one hour up some rather steep terrain. We were looking for a new spot to build shelter.

On the way, we passed by lots of Daun Bertam (palm) plants.

Some of the paths were new and Kak Jumima had to use her parang to cut away branches and vines to  create a new path.

Once we arrived, F and Jo were asked to look for firewood. F started the fire and Jo looked after it. The rest had to go help gather daun Bertam to make our temporary shelter. Because it had rained in the morning, ground was soggy, and there were lots of leeches.

Kak Jumima did all the chopping, while girls helped to drag the slightly thorny bertam leaves down.

We each then had to weave the leaves. 

Nel did pretty well, although Jo's was a little awkward. She was better at keeping the fire going.

Raman set the poles up and began placing weaved leaves in place.

knots were tied using long roots.

Shelter completed.

More leaves added to the back for more protection from rain. All that done, we sat down to have lunch which tasted more delicious then ever, as it always does after much hard work!

Raman showed us the Tongkat Ali pant. Roots are like ginseng. Leaves if burnt and crushed can be used to treat skin ailment, said Raman.

While looking for firewood, Kak J screamed and shouted, "Ular!! Ular!!" We snapped pictures of this beauty and sent it to Steven. Turns out it is a Wagler's Pit Viper, but the OA call it "Tunggu Bulan." It is Venomous so...stay away!

Update: Back at the jungle again the children took up the challenge of building their own shelter from scratch, this time without Raman's help. It was a true learning experience, from learning how to shave wood to create poles with spiky end (to be grounded at least 6 inches below), to weaving leaves together to create roof etc.
Job well done by the kids!
Moth Pupae in basket cocoon.

@poundthegarlic.blogspot.com 2015

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