Friday, December 23, 2011

Not Ready

Christmas is sneaky this year. It crept up to me unawares. I'm not ready.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Best Christmas Present of All

At Ken Ray, the Christmas season offically begins with the putting up of our Christmas tree. Then we draw lots to pick someone we have to buy a Christmas present for. This year the budget is not less than RM15.00.

Tradition demands that on D-Day you must identify the mystery giver of your present failing which you will be penalized. If you manage to identify him or her then the giver is penalized. Under such circumstance everyone lies. No one could be trusted to tell the truth.

Our Christmas wish list

 Wishes range from the outrageous to the more realistic and affordable

This was my wish: I really want a holiday in Venice...but I wouldn't mind a trip to Bali. Ok la, I close one eye for a holiday in Langkawi.

After weeks of subterfuge and investigation the day finally arrives when we submit our guesses and open our presents. And that's today!

Lots of presents were already waiting for me at my table 
bright and early in the morning

  Tension mounts as we get ready to collect our presents 
knowing that a penalty awaits us if none of our three guesses are right

Our Christmas tree laden with gifts

All of us with our presents

My gift wrapped in a an AirAsia advertisement torn from the newspaper

To my surprise it's really an air ticket to Pulau Langkawi!!!

Courtesy of my 'Bee

Never in my wildest dream did I expect my wish to be granted. This only goes to show that no wish is too ridiculous. 

All things are possible. 

Dreams do come true. 

And you cannot trust anyone this time of the year - not even your nearest and dearest!

So THANK YOU VERY, VERY MUCH 'bee for making my wish your command - Siri-style! Please keep it up and you'll have a happy bunny for a mommy!

And now our Christmas tree stands forlorn denuded of gifts

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


I planned a surprise for Vive but it backfired on me.

So here we are... Indian dressed in China man baju and me in a saree

How was I to know that he was thinking of dressing cross-culturally as well? Anyway, this was 1Malaysia and muhibbah demonstrated at John Loh and Hui Min's wedding dinner. 

I think I should wear the saree more often

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Iron Therapy for Sleepless Nights

I had one of my sleepless nights last night. I was so fed up tossing and turning, trying to sleep that I finally resorted to my tried-and-tested Iron therapy. It works without fail. Every time!

My best buy of the year

Monday, December 12, 2011

Raymond's Forty-Sixth Birthday

We took Baby Brother to Delicious to celebrate his 46th birthday. For once we managed to take him somewhere nice instead of the normal coffee-shop-style vegetarian restaurant. (That is due to his dietary preference which restricted our choice of venues for meals.)

 The Tong siblings from Lto R: Baby Brother, Baby Sister and me, Big Sister

After a delicious dinner we proceeded to order dessert. We were so kiasu that we ordered 3 different types of cakes for him - Coconut Cake, Macadamia Cheesecake and Peach Frangipane with Vanilla Ice-Cream.

 The birthday boy with his cakes

 We then asked him to make a face and this was the result.

 After that he couldn't hold back his laughter.

 Then he made a comment. Couldn't remember what he said. 

 Then he laughed again.

I love my Baby Brother and I love to see him laugh even more. I think he needs more exposure to both his siao sisters to bring more laughter into his life. 

My share of the yummy cakes

Finally we had afogato to end the wonderful meal.

I hope you enjoyed yourself, Raymond! I did. And here's a Hokkien blessing for you that's worthy of our Mom.
Sin Ku Eong Eong. Choot Jip Peng Aun. Kee Tar Loh Ooi Too Tio Ho Kooi Jin. 
Literal Translation: Body strong, strong. Safe going out and coming in. Everywhere you go, you meet people who will bless you. 

Happy birthday, Baby Brother! We love you.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

24th Peranakan Convention in Penang

I did not sign up for the whole convention but only appeared for those events where I have a part to play.

Somehow the convention this year did not stir up as much exceitement for me as the one held in Phuket last year. Baby Sis also shared my sentiments. Going away for a convention helps because the novelty is missing when you are on home ground.

25 November 2011
Sunset Welcome Dinner-By-The-Sea at Tanjung Bungah Beach Hotel

 Dressed for the beach

 Dressed to participate in the mock "sang jit" ceremony

26 November 2011
Gala Dinner and Dance at Khoo Kongsi

We were dressed in "baju panjang" for our dance

 We couldn't resist fooling around with the sedan chair

 More fooling around

 Our scarf dance

27 November 2011
Baba Nyonya Morning Bazaar at Upper Penang Road

Fan dance from the Sayang-sayang Nyonya Dancers

Peranakan Mansion Book Launch

Received an invitation to the book launch on 24 November 2011. It was a totally nyonya affair.

 The CM Lim Guan Eng receiving a copy of the book. 
Fr L to R: The author of the book Chan Suan Choo, the Director of 
the NUS Centre for the Arts Ms Christine Khor, Soon Jr., Mrs Soon, Mr Soon, 
the CM, a descendant of the original owner of the Peranakan Mansion, 
the Museum Director Lillian Tong and Baba Peter Wee from Singapore

The CM also launched the newly formed Persatuan Peranakan Baba Nyonya Pulau Pinang.

 The CM unveiled the logo for the society and it's the very appropriate nyonya kerosang!

Baby Sis and I with Ms Tan Siok Choo

At first I was a a bit overawed to find myself seated beside Ms Tan. After all her grandfather was Tun Tan Cheng Lock, who together with Tunku Abdul Rahman was instrumental in Malaya's fight for independence. Her father was the late Tun Tan Siew Sin, the country's longest-serving Finanace Minister (1959-1974).

Beyond her illustrious heritage, I later found out that Siok Choo herself is also a very accomplished lady. She had been trained as a lawyer and then became a journalist. She is now director of United Malacca Berhad and OCBC Bank Malaysia Berhad.

My first impression of her was that she is a regal and refined lady but as the evening went on I was even more impressed by her friendly and unpretentious manner. She is so humble and unassuming.

How appropriate the Malay proverb that says: Seperti buah padi, makin berisi makin rendah; jangan seperti lalang, makin lama makin tinggi. (Translation: Be like the padi that bends down as ripens, don't be like the lalang that grows tall but is useless.)

 Me with Dr Lee Soo Kim, author of Kebaya Tales

I also had a fun time showing Dr Lee around Little India while we waited for the event to start. We dropped by a Bubur Kacang stall for tea and mooted the idea of taking the Peranakan Convention back to China!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Glassy Problem

I hate these glasses of mine. They don't suit me at all.

I don't understand why some people can look so gaya in glasses whereas I look so dungu in them?

But I can't change them for the moment because of the cataract on the left eye.

If I remove the cataract, I cannot wear glasses because of difference in power for both eyes will be too great. According to the optometrist that'll cause me a lot of problems.

I can wear contacts on one side, which I do, but I don't want to wear contacts all the time.

All I want is a pair of glasses that makes me look good and is not too heavy so it doesn't press down and leave two depressions on both sides of my nose.

Susah la.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Visit to a Hawaiian Church

On 9 October 2011, which was our second Sunday at Maui, we had the privilege of attending a Hawaiian church at South Kihei Road.

This kind lady took 8 of us to church. That's the church behind us. 
She had to make 2 trips.

 The church also calls itself 
"The Little Church by the Ocean Spray"

 The church bulletin

 One of the musicians with her ukelele

The whole service was so laid-back and casual. We were each given a flower to wear in our hair and most of the people involved in worship were bare-footed!

The service started out with the members of the congregation choosing songs and choruses from a song book for the band to play and the whole church to sing along. Then they sang their church song.

After that the they blew the conch shell and the service proper started with a procession of Hawaiian girls saying some chant in Hawaiian followed by an elder and the Pastor who came down the aisle with a staff in his hand. That reminded me of Moses and his rod.

 One of the many hula dances during the service.

Click here to see the hula dancers dancing to the church's theme song.

 An elder (or was he the ex-pastor?) 
giving announcements barefooted! 

Shaking hands with the pastor. Notice the staff in his hand.

When You Are Undecided...

...a simple and speedy solution is to get one of everything.

From L to R: Water, red wine, Chinese tea and sarsi

It Followed Me Home From Maui

The week after I came back from Maui was super hectic. I was recovering from jet lag, settling back to the daily life, preparing my lesson plan and slides for FIS (Facilitator Initiation Seminar) on 10 November and getting to preach on 13 November.

I only had time to finish my unpacking after all the hoo-ha was over. I was clearing the handbag I used in Maui when, to my horror, I found..... room key at HI!

I was very certain that I handed in my room key so why is it still with me? It must have followed me home!

That started a whole process of getting the key back to Maui via King, our HI SEA Regional Representative, and Albert Cheam, an ex-TOPian now residing in Johor Bahru, who was heading for Maui to attend the M1111x session.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

From 2 Pieces to 20 Kg

Speedi shuttle came to pick us from HI at 5.30am on Sunday, 30 October 2011. That's 11.30pm on Sunday night, Malaysian time.

After 4 planes and many hours of waiting in between, I finally stepped out of the Penang International Airport at 3.30pm on Tuesday, 1 November 2011. That's a total of 40 hours of traveling!

The actual flight time was only about 32.5 hours. The rest of the time was spent waiting in transit. We even had to spend a night in Manila because there was no connecting flight to KL when we arrived at 5pm.

To complicate matters, Hawaiian Airlines would not hold luggage for more than 4 hours so we could not check through our luggage all the way back to Malaysia. We had to collect our luggage and check-in again the next morning at 4am!

That was the start of our problem. We were only allowed 1 piece of luggage weighing 20 kg per person on Malaysia Airlines whereas we checked in 2 pieces of luggage on Hawaiian Airlines from Maui to Manila.

Malaysia Airlines wanted to charge us for excess weight. Thank God for steady Jean who stood her ground and went on like a broken record insisting that they allow us to check in 2 pieces of luggage each because we were coming in from the US. They finally gave up and she got her way. Kudos to Jean!

Moral of the story: It pays to trust in the Lord, persevere and have two ohers pray while you fight the battle. Reminds me of Joshua and Hur holding up the hands of Moses.

 2 pcs check-in luggage + 1 pc hand carry per person 
for the 3 of us added up to a huge mountain of luggage

 All that's left of our luggage after we won the check-in battle. 
That's super steady Jean with me.

Last snapshot of the 3 Haggaians at KLIA before Jean left 
to collect her luggage. Boey and I had a 3-hour wait 
for our flight to Penang.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Last Night at Maui

Tonight is my last night in Maui. It's amazing how time flies. 28 days went in a flash.

I leave tomorrow morning, spend a night in Manila and I'll be home!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Maui 4-8 October 2011

Opening Lunch for sessions 911 (mine) and 912 was held on Tuesday.

 The 4 Malaysians (L to R): Nancy, Boey, Jean and I

Soyolmaa from Mongolia, Herda, Mercy and Roma 
from Indonesia and Munguu from Mongolia

Mantinti from Zimbabwe is our Resident Coordinator. 
Beside her is Anna and Junisas from Indonesia 
and Bongi from South Africa.

Sal from Philippines said I look like her daughter-in-law!

Table-setting and the delicious meal during the Opening Lunch

 On Saturday classes ended at 5pm so we had time 
to walk to the beach

 Posing beside a Maui Police car

 Caitlin, one of the volunteers, taught us how to make gift boxes