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We Love Sandra Boynton!

4 Aug

Sandra Boynton is my all time favorite illustrator and author for children’s book. I discovered her books while working in New York City back in the early 90s, after graduating from college. I am proud to say I have quite a sizeable collection of her titles.

My collection were read by M1 and M2 in their early years, and even me occasionally these days when the mood hits.

When M1 was a toddler, I taught her to read ‘But Not the Hippopotamus’. The child was amazing. She could recite the whole book with full of zest and expression without a glance at the pages. The only thing she struggled with was the long word ‘hippopotamus’ which came out as ‘neh-neh-neh-tamus’.

When M2 was 19 months’ old, she had her exposure to Sandra Boynton too. Multi-tasking at such an early age, she’s engrossed with ‘Barney’ on the TV while attempting to read ‘Doggies’ at the same time. You have to turn up the volume, ignore Barney and listen to her carefully.

Adorable is all I can say. Sigh… why do they grow up so fast?

M2readsSandraBoynton

A Tribute – The Great Wall of China

27 Jul

The carving efforts have improved with time and dedication. This most recent piece is a tribute to hubby’s uncle, a man with a great passion and unusual life mission which is to walk the Great Wall of China.

This little 31mm Wanderlust Owl comes complete with a cap, a backpack and hiking pole, just like the man who has traversed the Great Wall in a spate of several years since 2009. He would continue on each year from where he left off on the previous journey to pursue the improbable dream and fulfill his mission with amazing courage.

You can read all about his adventure in details on his website: http://ooithin.wixsite.com/count1million

Hats off to you for this courageous and determined effort! You deserve the Wanderlust Owl.

Carving-5b

Blame It On the Rain

27 Jun

The weekend getaway was good despite the late start. We played a round of golf and sadly, my tennis elbow suffered a setback. But I didn’t care. We had a good time because the golf course wasn’t crowded. When rain came down unexpectedly with five holes to go, we didn’t care. 

We felt at ease and no hurry in the world. So we patiently waited it out. And when the downpour dwindled to a slight drizzle, we continued the remaining holes because there was no siren. By the end of the round, both of us were drenched. Blame it on the rain.

During the stay with hubby’s parents, it was all about eating and sleeping. This is all we do whenever we visit. My bathroom scale hates me every time after such trips.

By Monday, it was time to leave and we started our journey late, at 1.45pm. The initial stretch was not too bad. The paddy fields are always a sight to appreciate as we zoomed along the highway. The rich bright green creates a sense of peace.

Traffic wasn’t as heavy as we feared, however things took a turn for the worse when the rain came down. And it rained all the way home, complete with thunder and lightning. What a light show it was! Horrendous conditions to drive if you asked me. We arrived home after almost eight hours on the road. Blame it on the rain. 

But rain or holiday-makers traffic aside, we got home safely and it was indeed a good getaway.

Twelve Hours Later

26 Jun

Last week, we intended to leave town on Friday morning but there was a hitch. A big hitch. I had mention we will arrive when we arrive but little did I know it would be 12 hours later that we began our journey…

It all started from that last minute publication design project that I was working on. The original deadline of Monday set by the client was not met (not because of me but them). Then it got pushed to Wednesday but the client still could not finalize the editorial. What happened thereafter was just a designer’s nightmare. It’s been a long time since I have been subjected to such a situation.

After being informed that Wednesday night’s handover to me was good to be worked on, a Friday deadline was given and it couldn’t budge. Not even an inch. So I basically had only a day (Thursday) to work on the new stuff. One day to redesign what I had done earlier because there’s so much more information! The design ended up being revamped and expanded from the initial 60-pager to 80-pages. My team helped wherever possible.

And as if the situation wasn’t stressful enough, things were still under edits that Friday morning and more new materials to include came after the redesign was done! Can you believe it? Leaving town that morning was not an option because I don’t think I can leave with a peace of mind if this wasn’t completed properly. Thank goodness we were driving instead of flying.

To cut a long story short, after a flurry of phone calls on Friday morning, the client came over, at 3.00pm and not earlier unfortunately. They sat with me and together, we finalized all the details of the publication. It was 6.00pm when we eventually completed the task in hand. What a day Friday turned out to be!

Twelve hours later (9.00pm) from our intended time of departure, we started our journey. Traffic was heavy at certain stretches but thankfully not bumper to bumper due to the holiday break and took the usual time because of the distance. It was 2.40am when we finally arrived at the grandparents’ home up north.

Today we head back home and hopefully traffic will be kind. All in all, it was a good break despite the unexpected circumstances to the start of it.

Off We Go Again

23 Jun

It’s a long weekend ahead because of the Hari Raya holidays and we are off to hubby’s hometown to see the grandparents. We anticipate a long drive ahead, similar to during Chinese New Year when city folks go back to their respective hometowns. Oh well, part and parcel of the festivities and long holidays…

We will get there when we get there. Just drive safe and no hurry, safe travels to all!

Destination: Taiping, Part 2

25 Apr

Sleep wasn’t the most comfortable but I guess it wasn’t critical when thoughts of what we can eat made up for it. Honestly, it was the pillow and somehow, my little travel pillow didn’t help this time. Sigh…

The day started off early with a trip to the Casual Market for breakfast. Located in the middle of the town, this food court had plenty to offer. A friend highly recommended Stall 64 for the Curry Laksa but it was closed! Oh… disappointment kicked in.

But fret not, there were plenty of other choices and we had our fill. And the day was still young, so we headed back to Taiping Lake Gardens as the skies were clear and perfect to admire the trees.

It was indeed very pretty, all the trees leaning towards the water. The reflection and the surrounding was so peaceful and calming. We sat by the lake just to breathe in the fresh air and absorbed some Vitamin D (the sun).

Then we headed to Kuala Sepetang to visit the Charcoal Factory. It was very enlightening to learn how charcoal are made. After that visit, we went across the road and explored the mangrove forest to pass time so that we can have lunch at Lemon Tree Restaurant nearby (in Matang) for the recommended seafood porridge. Like last night’s dinner, the porridge was very good, and cheap!

Sated to the brim (burp), it was time to leave Matang and Taiping now filled with memories of cheap eats and wonderful discoveries. The drive back was pleasant enough and we decided to detour to Ipoh for coffee! After all, this was a gastronomic journey, why not cap it with some good coffee.

Now you see why the need for stretchy pants?

Closed! Not our luck this time.


But we had all these other options!

  

Feels like entering a long tunnel. Branches are so unique!




  
  

Mr Chuah has quite an impressive charcoal factory!


Mangrove wood are stripped of the bark, sun-dried first and then into the kiln they go


The backyard for all the wood supplies to reach the clusters of factories at this place

  

This kiln has been sealed to further smoke the 1,500 pieces of mangrove wood inside. 


This fella was getting some hot charcoal to actually bake some potatoes!

  

This kiln has yet to be sealed. Smoke coming out is actually the moisture from the wood. Foreground rubber wood are used for burning to smoke the mangrove wood


  

Laden with crab, prawns, fish, scallops and fishballs, best seafood porridge we had!


Iced coffee, iced milk coffee and toast before we head home!

Destination: Taiping

24 Apr

You know you’re courting fatness when you go on a foodie road trip and stretchy pants are intentionally packed along. All those food that will be eaten will surely go to the waist and the stretchy pants will accommodate this indulgence!

Well, with the tennis elbow limiting my exercise, an outstation trip this time is not a golf outing so a food outing is the next best thing. It’s an unexpected public holiday today and we made the most of long three-day weekend with Mom and M2 for the short getaway.

The destination: Taiping this time instead of Penang or Ipoh, our usual go-to places. The little town has a lot of cheap and delicious eats worthy to rival the two other famed destinations.

The drive on Saturday morning wasn’t too bad without the holiday-makers although there were some stretches that were slow and congested. When we finally arrived at Taiping, we looked for a place to eat for it was way past the usual lunchtime.

The Char Kueh Teow we had was good, at a ridiculously cheap price that you simply cannot find in KL – Four Ringgit. Even the Chicken Rice was Four Ringgit, and both had sizeable portions, not less at this price. Food prices in KL has soared so much recently and to find something good at this price was just amazing.

The rain was a spoiler especially when we wanted to see the famed trees at Taiping Lake Gardens. And came down even harder when we made our way to Matang for dinner but we took things in stride. No rush, no hurry, no stress, just go with the flow of the situation.

Our dinner was so so cheap. I seriously think if we ate the same things back in KL, it would cost twice the amount! The portions were big and the taste… Oh so good.

Towards the end of the evening, the sporadic rainfall prevented us from coming out of the car. So we just drove around the town, which had a similar feel to Ipoh. Hubby and I agreed that the town is worthy of a revisit plus a golf game thrown in at Taiping Golf Resort.

We called it an early night as the next day, we had a more comprehensive food trail to do and sights to take in.

   
 
  
   

A fallen raintree that was equally appealing

  

Dinner was so good

 

Tall People Travel Too

3 Apr

I speak purely from a shorty’s point of view when it comes to height challenging situations during my travels. The few encounters I had are definitely opposites for a tall person. A reader highlighted this to me.

It never crossed my mind that tall people also have travel woes – simple things like the hotel room’s mirror being too low and the shower head being too low as well for their tall frame. Wow. I never knew.

Hubby and the girls are all average like me. But my only sibling is a one tall dude, standing at six feet in height while yours truly, almost a foot shorter than him (5 feet 1.5 inches). I do remember brother dearest has mentioned to me before that normal beds was a issue for him. His feet would stick out of the bed but other than this, I have not heard much of his height travel woes.

Somewhere along the growing up years, he must have eaten more of something that I didn’t… How else can I explain this huge height discrepancy?

Wouldn’t it be awesome for the travel scene if the hospitality industry came up with two types of room: one for short travelers and one for tall travelers to address the height challenges? But would cost be a deterrent to make this happen?

Wishful thinking… so whether you are tall or short, keep on traveling so that there’s stories and experiences to share!!!

Short People Travel Too, Part 2

30 Mar

I must say I was impressed with the ample hooks in the bathroom of Kings Green Hotel at Malacca. It’s rare because most hotels that I have stayed at somehow do not place an importance on their availability, what more on height especially for short travellers. Could this be a hotel star-rating issue? A five-star versus a three-star for such amenities?

I remember when we were in Ipoh in August last year for golf as well, we faced a similar short travellers’ woes…

The hotel we stayed at was boutique-status and you would expect a nicer setup. If having a rain shower facility is considered a nice boutique offering, having no shower curtain certainly spoilt it.  I certainly didn’t place my dry clothes on the covered toilet seat because it’s so close by and water from such a height hitting a body would definitely splash beyond the imaginary demarcation.

In truth, I don’t recall any bathroom hooks (not even on the door) to hang clothes but I do remember the towel rack was placed at such a ridiculous height, it was impossible to use. I understand they may be trying to clear the floor but touching the ceiling? Goodness! How do I place my clothes? Throw them up and hope they land safely on it? Geez.

Maybe the boutique status was more of the coffees and cakes they serve at the lobby? Hmm… Now compare it a five-star hotel…

Several years ago, I was on a business trip to Singapore and stayed at Shangri-La on Orange Grove. Their bathroom was outstanding. Hooks everywhere and at a height a shorty feels right at home. Like I said, are such little details due to the premise’s space and ratings being a higher star-rating with full amenities versus a lower star rating with basics?

You would think that amenities were just stuff in the room and its fridge and bar, but no, additional hooks in the bathroom are actually an amenity too. Think about it the next time you travel…

Society must remember there are short people everywhere and because of this, I think I will start to document this little detail every time I travel from now on.

Ipoh-2016

The square patch above is the rain shower. Too bad I didn’t take a picture of where the towel rack was! 

Short People Travel Too

28 Mar

Although throughout the school holiday week, we did not go anywhere due to M2 wanting to prepare for her exams, we did go away on the last weekend before school reopened. We joined our golf club for two away-Interclub matches, a 2D/1N trip to Port Dickson and Malacca. It was a good short getaway I must say.

When we stayed overnight in Malacca at Kings Green Hotel, I was impressed with the hotel on two things: the pillows and hooks in the bathroom. The pillows were plump and just right! And the bed was equally good with the right firmness. For once, I didn’t have to whip out my travel pillow, which I brought along, to have a good night’s sleep. And the bathroom hooks! There was ample which is rare, with a row of four hooks at a height that short people appreciates.

This reminds me of our last hotel stay in December last year.

We were in Ho Chi Minh City when M1 was back for her Christmas break. The hotel we stayed at, Sunrise Central Hotel was pretty strategic. Located in District 1, just next to Grand Silverland Hotel (which I stayed at during my June golf trip last year as well), it was within walking distance to food and shopping. The room may be small compared to Grand Silverland’s room but was decent. However, one thing irked me.

There were just not enough hooks to hang clothes in the bathroom and the only one available was way too high! It is as though such tourist hotels are catered only to tall people with an easy reach to hang up their clothes or towel.

The bathroom door actually had a glass panel (unusual with such a feature) and there was no practical place for the hook to be except way above the glass panel. Why didn’t they consider having the hook at the wall right behind the door at a reachable height instead? The hook was at least a good six feet high or more.

I am average in height for an Asian at 156cm (5 feet 1.5 inches), not short but not tall either. When I stretched my arm up to measure the height of the hook, my arm was pretty straight upwards and I still had to be on tip toe to hang my towel. I don’t think this is right, is it? I can’t imagine how my girls dealt with it, as they are slightly shorter than me. Even the closet, the rod inside was pretty high up. Sigh…

Usually when such situations arose, I would, albeit reluctantly just put down the toilet seat cover and place my clean clothes on it because I don’t like to walk into a cold room after a hot shower even with a snugly wrapped towel. All that nice after-shower toasty feeling would be lost immediately once the cold air hits the skin.

Whoever assigned the contractors or installers to put these things up should remember that short people travel too and these things are important to us. And to consider adding another hook in the bathroom as well for practicality. Goodness only knows how clean (or unclean) those toilet seat covers are and for me, after a long day playing tourist, I seriously don’t need to do any yoga stretches in the bathroom to get to my clothes.

 

These babies were so comfy!

 

The row of hooks just above my eyebrows