23 August 2012

Kidzania, Kuala Lumpur

Children everywhere, lights, noise, excitement......greeted us the moment we entered the 5th floor of Kidzania in Mutiara Damansara.

I was pretty excited myself.

We were somewhat confused when we first arrived to find ourselves at what appeared to be AirAsia check-in counters! They had made the registration counters a mimic of AirAsia, and the kids couldn't wait to go upstairs.

Kidzania  is a theme park for kids with a twist - children get to role-play adult professions. Children perform "jobs" and are either paid for their work (as a fireman, doctor, police officer, journalist, shopkeeper, etc.) or pay to shop or to be entertained. There is Kidzania currency, which teaches children about earning, spending and saving.

A key component of the KidZania experience is the integration of real-world brands to sponsor the "city's" business and activities. Sponsors comprise major local brands across industries such as airlines, banking, fast food, utilities, mobile phone operators, car makers etc. Brands and companies that children can recognize and relate to.

Kidzania in Malaysia is one of 11 Kidzania chapters (currently). Hey! It's rare that KL got picked ahead of Singapore for any major franchise.....it's a good thing that Malaysians are multi-lingual as tourists can bring their kids here since English is used. Singapore will get its own Kidzania in 2014.

My son homed into the secret agent station, while my little girl seemed lost and confused. She didn't quite understand the concept at first and said she didn't want to work, she wanted to "play".

We spent a long time waiting for my son to get his turn at playing secret agent and in the end we left him there. I took my little girl to the Pos Laju job station and she donned the uniform and teamed up with 2 other "work mates" and off they went with their instructions to pick up 3 packages. Of course moms were hot on their heels, and when the "nagivator" got lost, the dads stepped in to tell the kids which way to go to CIMB bank and TNB for their pickups. For their efforts, they were paid 10 Kidzania dollars each. My little girl now understood the concept and wanted to work more!

My son finally got his turn to be secret agent and had a lot of fun. He also scaled the 100+ wall to ring the bell at the top, surprising me with his success as the climb didn't look very easy and he isn't exactly the McGyver-type! Well done, son!

My girl also had a makeup session that she had to pay for, and brother-and-sister worked together at the BHP station as well as had a cooking class at the Ayam Brand shop. My advice - SKIP the Ayam Brand cooking class. It was a waste of time, boring, and a waste of Kidzania money! We will go for the Marry Brown burger cooking class next time.

There are still many many more professions that we didn't have time to try. Looks like repeat visits are inevitable. I should let them open Kidzania CIMB accounts the next time we are there......

Food Foundry, Section 17, PJ.

It's not a place you would imagine you would go to for coffee, some Asian-Western fusion food, and cakes. After all, it's not your swanky Bangsar or Mont Kiara.

Section 17 PJ is well located and well known as an old neighbourhood, just off the Sprint Highway. There are many coffee shops here offering good local fare, many of which have been covered by food bloggers.

The Food Foundry is located on the ground floor of the Happy Mansion Flats on Jalan 17/13. The middle block to be exact and you have to take a left and drive round to the back. Its popularity has been high and appears to be sustaining, judging by the number of bloggers writing about it, and also its expansion. The last time I was there, it was still a single shoplot. Now, it has taken over the adjacent 3 shop lots!

My daughter has developed a taste for the Food Foundry's vanilla mille crepe cake. So this school holidays, whilst visiting gran and gramps, we ordered a 1kg crepe cake to take home to Ipoh (RM85). Was she pleased!

We ended up having lunch at the Food Foundry 2 days in a row, once with friends and once with family. My son and daughter enjoyed the fish chips, steak sandwich and pasta bolognese, while I had the spicy chicken pasta and chicken cordon bleu over the 2 lunches. Hubby had the mixed grill, as did Dad while Mom followed the kids with fish and chips.

It's nice having this little restaurant/ cafe so close by to us in PJ with something to make everyone happy.

14 August 2012

Can a dog get diarrhea from getting its tail pulled?

Now this is the first time I have ever heard that a dog could get diarrhea from having its tail pulled.

I pull at my dog's tail, sometimes.

Before all the dog lovers and animal lovers out there get hysterically upset, can I just tell you that I pull it gently, only very occasionally and never to distress my dog. It's more play and affection, and my dog knows that and likes it. And she has never ever gone to defecate straight after I pull her tail.

So when my brother-in-law's wife saw this rare and unusual form of play the other day, she almost had a fit and practically shouted, "Don't do that! The dog will get diarrhea!"


I have done a cursory search on the net about this statement and also asked friends on FB to comment. All I have turned up is lots of people's comments that it is "mean", "dumb", "bad", "cruel" to pull a dog's tail but no definitive experience of a dog actually being triggered into having a bout of diarrhea.

On one of  Yahoo's pages, a reader responded to a similar question posted there like this "It makes me sick to even think about a dog getting it's tail pulled so much, that it would stress it out enough to cause it to get diarrhea."

This is a very emotional reaction (typical of people besotted with pets I am afraid), without calm thought. The person who had asked the question merely wanted to know if it was possible that a dog could get diarrhea from getting its tail pulled too much? Answer the question; and not frolic off on your own venting about how disgusted you are that a dog might be stressed enough to get diarrhea because it got its tail pulled.This kind of response contributes nothing to the knowledge-sharing purpose of a forum.

So is this a myth, an old wife's tale?

Found this video on youtube while searching for information on this topic. 

07 August 2012

Datuk Lee Chong Wei, our 2012 Olympics Badminton HERO

On Sunday night 5 August 2012, my young family, along with the rest of Malaysia, sat down at 8pm to watch our hero Lee Chong Wei, attempt to win gold in his second and most likely final, Olympics outing, in London.

My children are now just old enough to sit through a whole game, to understand the meaning of victory-defeat, to begin to feel national pride.  And Lee Chong Wei has done a stellar job in uniting all Malaysians in the great spirit of sports and international competition.

Win or lose, DLCW, you are indeed Malaysia's hero and you will be forever remembered in history as our first and to date, only, badminton singles Olympics silver medal winner. Congratulations! 

List of medalists

Medal Name Games Sport Event
 Bronze Razif Sidek & Jalani Sidek Spain 1992 Barcelona Badminton pictogram.svg Badminton Men's doubles
 Silver Cheah Soon Kit & Yap Kim Hock United States 1996 Atlanta Badminton pictogram.svg Badminton Men's doubles
 Bronze Rashid Sidek United States 1996 Atlanta Badminton pictogram.svg Badminton Men's singles
 Silver Lee Chong Wei China 2008 Beijing Badminton pictogram.svg Badminton Men's singles
 Silver Lee Chong Wei United Kingdom 2012 London Badminton pictogram.svg Badminton Men's singles
 Bronze Pandelela Rinong Pamg United Kingdom 2012 London Diving pictogram.svg Diving Women's 10 metre platform

We were all crushed when the gold again went to China's Lin Dan, seemingly unbeatable. It was heartbreaking to see DLCW visibly shattered and struggling to hold back his tears, but he did cry a little. And we cried along with him.

My little girl was very sympathetic. She said DLCW was very brave. She said nobody should laugh at him because no one else in Malaysia could have played as well. She's right! And in her childish mind, she must have imagined the loser being jeered and boo-ed which she declared should not happen to DLCW!

As for my older boy, he was disappointed at the loss and also at the prospect of having lost a possible public holiday. Such is the thinking of kids! He also said some nasty things about LD but I told him that in sport, in any competition, there must be a winner and a loser. And one must uphold that gracious spirit of sportsmanship in accepting the outcome of a challenge. And DLCW could not have been more gracious, more controlled and humble in accepting his defeat.

DLCW, you don't have to apologise. We thank you for being Malaysia's badminton hero, for your tireless and dedicated training, for your courage in facing unimaginable pressure, the expectations of a nation and your own physical injuries and pain. Thank you and well done.
(table of medal tally from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malaysia_at_the_Olympics)

05 August 2012

Brown spot corrector that works

Yikes! Brown spot, pigmentation, freckles.....the bane of lighter-skinned Asian women.

Who wouldn't love to have smooth, flawless, evenly-toned skin?

Most of us ladies would have had the perfect baby-smooth skin when we were babes and as young children. Then comes the teenage years with its over active sebaceous glands, white heads and black heads, and pimples. I so admire the lucky females who have very balanced hormones and "normal" skin who never had to contend with combination or sensitive skin. Sigh...........

I have always had some freckles on my face and legs since teenhood. Sure they looked cute then, and didn't pose any problem to my appearance. Now with school-going kids, and much driving to do, my freckles seem to have generated offspring, and also darkened with time. The picture below (not of me) illustrates the problem with freckles/ pigmentation.

The classic pigmentation or brown spots that affect lighter-skinned Asian women cluster around the highest parts of their faces - around their cheekbones. Many moms who do not have drivers and do a lot of driving develop these skin imperfections in their 40s but I have also noted much younger moms, maybe in their late 20s, also having these distinct roundish brown-black spots around their cheekbone areas.

Aaah, to have Carina Lau Kar Ling's (HK actress-Tony Leung's wife-ambassador for SKII) smooth flawless skin would be a dream come true! But of course, her lifestyle and mine couldn't be further apart, so let's just be realistic shall we?

As for the efficacy of SKII? I haven't tried it..although it is so visible, as its ads and promotional materials are plastered everywhere with beautiful and handsome (e.g. Godfrey Gao) ambassadors to testify for it.    

In terms of branded boutique cosmetics, I have only tried Clarins' roll-on spot corrector. I didn't see any results.

Recently, I chatted with a lady who was purchasing Clinique's spot correcting products while I was getting the Super City Block. I asked her if it was working. Ruefully, she merely turned her cheek to me and asked me to inspect her brown spot. It was still there, dark and obvious. She said she would try Clinique one more time (this was her second-round purchase) before moving on to another brand (incidentally, the Clinique sales personnel was doing brisk business selling the spot correcting serums/ creams and assuring that just one bottle would yield results.) Such is our search for the skin care product that works.

Anyway I am now into week 3 of my new spot correcting creams under Reviva Labs.  I use them once at night and once in the morning - Reviva Labs Brown Spot Skin Lightening Night Cream and Reviva Labs Skin Lightener for Day Fade Cream (with SPF 15). I am pretty sure I am not over enthusiastic or hallucinating when I say I notice the cluster of freckles on my right cheekbone lightening in colour, and the single medium-sized brown spot on my left cheekbone also fading considerably. I also have a spot on my right shoulder which is similarly lightening, while a large spot on my right leg (exposed to sun when driving in shorts) is also responding to the treatment creams.

Both the night and day creams are light and absorb quickly, without leaving a greasy residue. I like the fragrance - light, not overpowering and reminds me of my mom's old English products like Hazeline Snow or Pond's Cold Cream. I purchased both creams from an online dealer, and looking at the amount of cream left, I believe they will last me another 2 months, which is good value for money.

Under Reviva's range, I have used their firming eye serum, and have no complaints. The serum is light and absorbs quickly leaving the skin around the eyes feeling refreshed, soft and supple. I am please with Reviva's range of skin care.
(picture from ozskin.wordpress.com and reviva labs homepage)

01 August 2012

A large Chinese family in Malaysia - my ramblings

The article Through Thick and Thin in the Star on 18 July 2012 struck a chord with me.

It was about large families where the next generation has 30 to 40 cousins to grow up, clown about and share with. I admired the 2 families featured in the article, and wished that my own was more like that.

A poignant question that I have often asked myself was well put in that article: how is it that these two families are able to foster such a close relationship amongst all the cousins, when some families don’t even know who their cousins are anymore?

And yes, the answer, as I  have come to conclude for myself as well, is the presence of a single person who held the family together.  In the Chong and Lim families featured in the Star, it was the female matriarch, their grandmother, who insisted the family come back often for family gatherings and to stay close to one another.

I too, come from a large family. My dad's family comprises 14 children! Let's see, I have ...35 cousins! It is truly reflective of the older generation's propensity towards large families. But sadly it is one of those unlike the Chongs and the Lims.
But whilst growing up, I don't remember any regular family gatherings where everyone would return to a central meeting place. I don't remember conversations with my grandmother. I don't remember sleepovers or play-times with my many cousins. I don't remember having phone calls to chat about girly stuff with my girl cousins. I would have liked that very much.

And it is not that there was no elderly figure in the family to hold the family together. My grandfather passed away rather early - I never met him. But my grandmother lived till the ripe old age of 80++ and she lived with the eldest son i.e. my uncle #1.

Now in my adulthood, married and with children of my own, and with the benefit of hindsight, I believe my grandmother was a weak figure.

She had no say, and did not say much. Living with her eldest son and his family, she depended on them for their companionship and physical care, though not her financial well being, as I understand my grandfather left a very sizable fortune behind. My grandmother probably left everything to my uncle to run, to manage, to dictate and to decide.

Like a monarchy with an absent or inept monarch, the second-in-power rules with personal interest in mind, I guess. I am the grand-daughter, daughter to one of the younger sons in the family and if I were to guess, I am probably cousin no. 27.

Most traditional Chinese families would have the annual Chinese New Year reunion dinner on a grand scale, calling home all the children and grandchildren. But my grandmother never kept that tradition, and my uncle #1 also chose not to do it. A great tragedy, if you ask me.

I think, as the first-born son, uncle #1 should have taken the initiative to maintain close ties with all of his siblings and nephews/ nieces...I observed that uncle #1 selected the siblings and  nephews/ nieces he wished his family to socialise with. On what basis one might ask? And one could also harbour a very good guess...........like those weepy melodramatic Hong Kong/ Chinese dramas, there exists insidious agenda, support groups, matters to hide, wealth to conceal, shared objectives and perhaps shared characteristics among those in the inner circle within the larger sphere of the family. It's true! Don't laugh...

I am writing this as I have long pondered the issue. And I would like my children to be cognisant of the value of family and the challenges of keeping a family together. I hope my children will grow up close to one another, and close to their 2 cousins! Only 2 cousins.........what a divergence from just one generation ago. A clear indication of the changing trends of modern life.

Certain incidences of my childhood with my paternal clan remain in my mind:

  • Aunty #3 had asked me once, rather sternly and wickedly was my child-like impression, as to which ranking exactly was she in the family, as I had only greeted her with Hello, Koo Ma (Koo Ma means elder sister of one's father). This particular aunt lives in a different town, and I would be lucky to see her once a year. To ask a child that question is rather unfair. I would defend that my mother does take pains to explain to me each and every uncle and aunt on my father's side, but putting a face to a numbered relative takes some practice. I forever associate that aunt with her question.
  • An older girl cousin had once made a very hilarious remark to my younger boy cousin whom she considered a nuisance (he was picking up the phone in her house every few minutes and putting it to his ear!)  that "each time you pick up that phone, the phone company charges 10 sen!" That stopped his antics.
  • Aunty #7 is quite a character. Sometimes I wonder if she does it deliberately or such is her nature that she can't help it. With her, everything that she does, or that she owns, or that her children do are superb, marvelous, out of this world, beyond comparison! As I grew up and could differentiate fact from fiction, to hear her speak that way actually makes my hair stand on end, but everyone within ear shot listens dutifully, their expressions never betraying their feelings. Perhaps it is just I?
  • I think my gentlest and most cordial aunt is Aunty #4. Some in the family say I bear some resemblance to her facial features. I remember her manner of speaking was calm and slow, she was always well groomed without being OTT, she was not boastful although she had a lot to boast about. I like her sons, who are all a great deal older to me. They are all jokers, easy going and intelligent. As I was growing up, each time they saw me they would remark how tall I was getting in their witty funny ways (I am among the tallest females in my family) 
I admire Aunty #4's eldest son (of five) who now as the head of his family since both Aunty #4 and her husband have passed, does a very good job of keeping in touch with his brothers and their families.(My uncle #1 should learn a thing or two from my cousin)

The single largest, almost complete, gathering of the entire family happened during my grandmother's funeral. I was 9. I remember feeling awed, at the size of my family, when so-and-so was pointed out to me. Childish sentiments.

But today, as the family unravels, and grows ever larger in their individual and separate directions, it makes no difference whether I have 35 cousins or none. Like a large conglomerate, the family has been badly run by its CEO.  

(I like the pictures I found on http://primaltrek.com/gourd.html. They are ancient Chinese gourd charms with inscriptions that mean happiness and longevity, both complete)