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Smooth Sailing

28 Jan

The weekend passed by quickly and this morning we said our goodbyes to the parents and left at 8.45am. In anticipation of heavy traffic ahead, I packed lots of snacks and drinks to keep us fueled. But we were in for a surprise, it was smooth sailing!

It took us the normal two and a half hours to reach Ipoh, which was good. But we joined a long slow crawl after Ipoh. A quick check on Waze showed an accident further up. Oh dear.

Nonetheless it’s an okay pace because half the journey was completed already. Even if we arrived home by two, we’d still have done it in good time.

Preparations for the Lunar New Year

17 Jan

The Lunar New Year or Chinese New Year is one week away, omg! This time, I really take the cake leaving it until the very last minute to prepare to usher in the Year of the Rat. What a champion.

According to the Chinese zodiac, the Rat is the first animal in the 12-year cycle and 2020 is the year of the Male Metal Rat. Do find out what the Metal Rat Year means for you if you believe in Chinese horoscope as it differs for all Chinese zodiac signs. For me, well… good fortune will smile upon me if I put family and friends first!

On the homefront, the customary red cloth at the entrance of the house will be put up this weekend (told you it’s very last minute!) and the customary gifts finally prepared. This year the Reunion Dinner will be with my Mom and my sibling’s family before we head North the next day to hubby’s side of the family. And for the second year in the row, both our girls will not be present for the festive occasion.

The End of the Food Trail

7 Jan

M1 has arrived safely this morning after a long but on time flight. So the adventures of her food trail officially ended on Sunday with an early dinner before leaving for the airport that night. With the end of the food trail, this means no more constant heavy meals for us except for several upcoming Chinese New Year-related dinners with friends that have been pre-arranged earlier. We have gone back to the 16/8 diet routine immediately, kicking it off with a salad lunch yesterday.

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Bak Kut Teh with two sides was a good farewell dinner choice

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Contrasting the meat-based dinner, lunch the next day was just fiber and more fiber

The big question I’m sure that must be on everyone’s mind, did I gain weight? Of course I did! How could I not when the eating window was switched to 16 hours and the non-eating window reduced to eight hours or less, three quarters of which was being asleep. So essentially there was very little time in between for a meal to be fully digested before the next meal.

There were nights when I fretted to step on the bathroom scale knowing the numbers I’d see would not be pleasant. But I took it in stride because I knew the situation was temporary and it won’t last long.

There were several times when the weight climbed steadily upwards, it was rather horrifying. However the numbers fluctuated when we ate less; I even managed to squeeze in a couple of salad lunches to lessen the guilt. Thankfully, yesterday morning when I stepped on the bathroom scale, the final result was somewhat comforting for I had expected it to be more. I gained only a kilo (2.2lbs) which wasn’t too bad considering it did spiked up more than that!

I’m sure within a week, this gain would be erased and the 16/8 continues until when Chinese New Year comes around, a new round of festive eating to indulge in!

Now We Wait

6 Jan
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We thought it was rather cute to stand in front of KFC’s Fun Land signage at KLIA.

Last night, we sent M1 off. The two and a half weeks of wonderful quality time together has come to an end, so has the gastronomic food trail too. She had a long ‘To Eat’ list and we got most on it covered. But towards the last few days, hubby and I surrendered and was glad her friends took her out for a couple of dinners giving us a breather.

Now we wait, having heard from her this morning when she arrived in Incheon Airport on time and departed for Narita two hours later. Soon we will hear from her when she arrives in Narita to complete her second leg. After that we will have to wait until the wee hours of Tuesday morning (or Monday past midnight) when she lands in Portland to hear from her again. Long wait. Long trip.

No tears this time and like I said, acceptance. And quietness all over again at home. Sigh… best if I channel my focus now towards preparing for Chinese New Year.

Beginnings and Endings

3 Jan

The new year started off rather quietly for us. We stayed home that evening and had a fun time cooking together, preparing dinner for a very leisurely paced New Year’s Eve meal. I felt this was better quality time instead of going out and be squashed in the crowds.

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Ushering in 2020 with some wine and cheese!

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Sautéd mushrooms, baked potato wedges, honey-glazed carrots, pork steak, greens and a pasta. Quite a meal!

By midnight after seeing some of the fireworks that we could see from our windows, we continued to watch Netflix, waiting to Skype with M2. After we finally heard from her, we went to bed after that! No revelry beyond as it felt just like any other day.

The new beginning is supposed to bring new excitement. We have not even fully digested the spirit of Christmas, New Year’s mood, suddenly at the turn, Chinese New Year things popped up! Decorations at the mall were updated, along with cookies, clothes especially Cheongsams and all things Chinese New Year related were on full display. I am so not ready yet for the next festive celebration.

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Roaring display of the lion dance at the mall

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The new beginning means an ending for us. The food trail is coming to an end as M1’s time with us is ending soon. It’s not sadness all over again but acceptance.

As we cherish the next two days before she leaves, we hope to spend quality time with her again in the future. It has been truly wonderful. Maybe we will visit her in the US again? Who knows? The year 2020 will be full of surprises.

Playing Tourist

30 Dec

I had a good night’s rest on Saturday night after we returned from our trip because it’s back to the familiar – my bed and pillows. And Sunday was a day to play tourist besides just eating to check off M1’s ‘to eat’ list.

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Glass noodles, crunchy honey bacon and crispy fried kailan. So good!

We started the day with a late lunch then we visited Batu Caves! The last time we were at this tourist spot was when M1 was just slightly a year old (but we didn’t bring her along). Now 21 years later, we revisited and with her this time.

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Crowded but not overly so at Batu Caves

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It’s so bright and we were all squinting!

Initially we all felt climbing the 272 steps wouldn’t be daunting even though it was hot and humid. But at mid-point I was sweating buckets and decided to check my heart rate; it spiked up to 144 bpm! Wow… a little more taxing than I thought. Even M1 and hubby had to stop every now and then for a breather. But we persevered and finally made our way up to see the shrines inside.

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Almost there!

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The main temple area

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The second temple, up the stairs from the main section

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Looking up at the limestones from the second temple

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View from the second temple down to the main temple

I think we stayed on a while longer to recover from the climb more than to take photos before making our way down the rainbow steps again. I must say, the going up and coming down stressed different parts of the body – up affecting the heart and thighs, and down, the knees.

When I reached the bottom, the legs were not so much jellied but instead the knees felt painful from the weighted grind of the bones as a result from the descend. We thought it was a good overall workout burning some calories especially when we have been eating so much.

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A well-deserved banana leaf rice, butter naan, paper thosai and condiments, complete with resam and lassi to drink

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Frozen mugs of beer and a mouth-watering molten lava cake

We ran some errands after the unplanned tourist stop and time passed by quickly. All in all, it was a good day and ended with a hearty banana leaf dinner, followed by a cold beer each and dessert at our favorite watering hole again! That night, my legs were so sore to the core, sleep evaded me. Sigh… I hope I can sleep better tonight.

Revisiting Some Attractions

28 Dec

Since we came to Matang for lunch, we thought visiting some of the local attractions would be a good experience for M1. The last time we were here, M2 and my mom was with us while M1 was still in the US.

We covered the Charcoal Factory first as it was the closest. The place despite being hot and humid, was a nice revisit for me at least. To see the giant kiln again and although understanding only 70% of the process because the guide spoke in Mandarin and I’m not so well versed in that language, it was sufficient.

One kiln can fit 1,500 pieces of mangrove logs and they would stay in there for 24 days to be smoked and dried. After 24 days, they’d remain inside for another eight days for the heat to dissipate and the logs to cool down before being removed. There’s actually more to the process but as the guide went on and on in Mandarin, I lost him towards the end. Oh well.

We left the place to head for Taiping next and it rained. Heavily too! Haish. How to see the giant rain trees surrounding Taiping Lake?

The giant being propped & the road perpetually closed

We almost gave up but luckily the rain dwindled and we managed to come down to take some nice photos. Once the photo ops were done, we decided not to stay the night in Taiping but drive home instead. It will be late by the time we get arrive but it’s okay, we’re in no hurry and it’s been a good getaway.

Local fruits at the rest stop along the highway

More local fruits! Can you name them?

A Leisurely Drive

28 Dec

The goodbyes were swift and short. We left at ten to fill up the petrol tank before hitting the highway. Traffic was not that heavy and you could say it was a leisurely drive.

It’s always nice to drive past the paddy fields

I took another painkiller, this time more for the headache developing from the lack of sleep and not for the endometriosis pain which subsided. It’s going to be a long day and I didn’t want to be in any discomfort throughout the journey.

We decided to go to Matang for seafood porridge instead of crab porridge at Nibong Tebal. And it was worth the detour, Matang being further from the highway compared to Nibong Tebal.

Satisfying loaded seafood porridge

Unexpected Attack

28 Dec

I had a horrid unexpected endometriosis attack last night! I suspect it could be due to having the extra sips of the boba drink that triggered it. The Xin Fu Tang was all milk and cream and it was actually very nice – not too sweet as we thought. So a couple more sips was all it took and I suffered the consequences. Sigh…

The pain was building up before dinner and I took a painkiller before going out. We had Thai food which was actually very nice but the pain by dinner time overshadowed the food. When we got home, I had to take another painkiller and it didn’t help. Almost keeled over. What a spoiler. Hrmph.

This morning I am feeling slightly better despite a restless night. The worst is over. Phew.

We say goodbye to the (grand)parents today to continue on with the food trail to other parts of the country. I need to be more careful on my food intake to avoid another unexpected attack.

Non-stop Eating

27 Dec

After the morning market excursion, we decided to drive a distance away to eat Ah Cheng Laksa. This name has become a franchise brand and they have shops everywhere but we hardly eat this back in KL.

The humble beginnings of a franchise

However today felt like a good day for Assam Laksa. And apparently this stall in front of the house (presumably Ah Cheng’s home?) is the original beginnings of the brand and we were not disappointed.

Cold desserts for a hot day!

Assam Laksa (top) and Prawn Mee (bottom)

The desserts were very yummy. And both the Assam Laksa and Prawn Mee were very flavorful yet not too overpowering and the portions were just nice so we didn’t feel overly stuffed. Which was a good thing because we went for a body massage after that.

I opted for a head, neck and shoulder massage while M1 did a full body massage. Unfortunately there wasn’t enough masseurs working, so hubby just waited for us.

My masseur wasn’t the best I must say. Half the time, she was just pressing my shoulders, messing my hair, pinching and squeezing my arms instead of working the knots and veins. I felt both my arms were being bruised from her actions.

And the chair that I sat on when I had to switch places for her to work on my back, oh my goodness! It squeaked every single time when she pushed rather than massaged my back. Not quite what I had hoped for… thankfully the session was only an hour and not more.

After a quick stop to get a boba tea, we came home to rest and planned for dinner. I feel so bloated just thinking about it. We have become eating machines with all this non-stop eating!