24 December 2013

KTKLN, visa and your Indonesian maid

Many Malaysian households include an Indonesian maid as part of the family.

We do.

Having a maid eases my workload, and having the same maid for many years makes her presence an accepted and appreciated part of our lives.

And when you have an Indonesian maid, there are documentation issues that you have to know.

Working visa

The most crucial and basic issue. This has to be renewed on an annual basis. The Malaysian Immigration Dept is the responsible authority for this matter.

Most employers I know use the services of a maid agency to get this done. The agency charges around RM400-600 for this service.

I do it myself. It's not very difficult:
  • go to the Malaysian Immigration office
  • bring your maid's valid passport with the attached working visa that is about to expire
  • ask for the relevant form to extend your maid's visa
  • bring copies of the employer's IC, the first page of your maid's passport and the current working visa 
  • bring money to pay for the new visa (about RM495)

Maid's passport

Now, getting this document extended is much more difficult and demanding!

Only because the Indonesian Embassy on Jalan Tun Razak in KL is always, always inundated with hundreds of people. Which means you and your maid have to get there well before 8am and start queuing.

You pick up the form and contract of employment from the officer while you are queuing.

I usually fill up the form and the contract of employment as the both of us walk in the queue. Don't worry - the queue moves quite slowly so you should be able to write while standing. Although my maid says the others in the queue often stare at me writing and walking. Well, I'm not about to give up my spot in the queue just to sit down and fill out the forms!

Then you get inside the Embassy and wait for your number to be called. Your maid will be called to another room to have her photo taken for her new passport. Don't expect to leave the Embassy until around 4-5pm!

You need to bring:
  • your maid's passport, original and a copy
  • a copy of the visa
  • 2 copies of employer's IC
  • 2 copies of authorization letter because in my case, my husband is the registered employer
  • 2 copies of domestic maid insurance
  • employment contract which you have just filled up, signed by both you and your maid
  • your maid's bank book with her salary credited inside

Go have tea and lunch at the Embassy cafeteria upstairs. Bring a book or Ipad to play games.

KTKLN  (Kartu Tenaga Kerja Luar Negeri)

Now, this is the real bummer that we were caught unawares 2 years ago. As I understand it, many others were caught unawares too.

You can read more about it at about KTKLN  but in a nutshell, if your maid doesn't have it, she's gotta have this card. Otherwise, when your maid returns to Indonesia for a holiday and plans to come back to you to continue work, she will be prevented from leaving Indonesia. Simple as that.

That happened to my maid 2 years ago, and after much worry, toing and froing, changing the date of her return flight, she managed to secure the card and come  back to Malaysia.

That's not all. The KTKLN has to be renewed. Sigh....and all this can only be done in Indonesia.

I sure hope the Indonesian Embassy will be authorised to issue the KTKLN in the near future, or at least enable us to obtain and renew the KTKLN online.

23 November 2013

Holiday in Hong Kong

A hotel offer came along for Metropark in Kowloon for 4 short nights, and we decided to go.

So, what to do in Hong Kong?

I was actually happy to go on such a short holiday, because our recent vacations have been rather long - 3 weeks+. That is too long away from home for me. Too many clothes to pack, too many "standby" meds, wondering how the house is, the dogs etc.

At this time of year, Hong Kong's climate is just like Malaysia, so we could travel light. We did the usual checks on the net, saw what other people like to do in Hong Kong and checked with my friends. They all thumbed their noses up at Kowloon, where out hotel is, and said that the area is rough or too Chinese.

Well, we found the Metropark Hotel on Waterloo Road in Kowloon to be well-located, clean, comfortable and most of all, spacious! And the hotel shuttle bus would take us to Mong Kok or Tsim Sha Tsui - that made getting around so convenient! Plus all the shopping streets like Ladies Street, Sports Shoes Street are all in the Mong Kok area. We found nothing wrong with the area.

After all, having been conditioned to how things are in Malaysia, most Malaysians would be alert to personal safety issues abroad.

On the afternoon of our arrival, we walked to the shops close to our hotel and found interesting places including a dog hotel and a little supermarket which sold my son's favourite Nissin brand of tonkotsu-flavoured instant noodles that we can't find in Malaysia. We bought 27 packets.

Our first meal in Hong Kong was the Chinese fast food of chicken rice/ charsiu (barbecued pork) rice/ roast goose rice.  It was time to get used to Hong Kong prices. A plate of charsiu rice costs HK$42 (about RM20)! You do get a lot of rice and meat, though.
In our short time in Hong Kong, we used the Star Ferry thrice to cross over to Hong Kong. The kids and I really enjoyed that short ride on the sea. And it's so cheap. HK$1.50 for kids and HK$2.50 for adults.

Hong Kong's Symphony of Lights was a short 15 minutes display of light and sound. On the night we watched it, it was calm and warm, and the crowds were not too bad. It was quite enjoyable but not jaw-dropping.

We took the Mid Levels escalator all the way to the top and walked down, passing by the Glenealy International School and stopping to rest and admire the Zoological and Botanical Gardens on the way down to town. (the kids did complain about the walk down!) We observed that up there way above the city, the condominiums were more luxurious, the cars driven much larger and the community more expatriate. This network of escalators brings you away from the bustle of Hong Kong's streets below into the quiet cool of bistros, restaurants and the residences of the expat community.

The skies above Hong Kong were grey and choked throughout our stay so we decided to give the Peak a miss.

On another day, the kids had a fun time in the Hong Kong Space Museum, after which we hopped across the road for high tea at the Peninsula Hotel (recommended by a friend). This old, classy hotel brings you back to the days of old Hong Kong when the British were still around.

Finally, Ocean Park. It was a toss up between that or Disneyland, but Ocean Park was always the top contender. We wanted something local and unique to Hong Kong, rather than a licensee presence of a giant amusement park from a country half a planet away. We were not disappointed.

Oh and of course, the food! 5 days was not long enough to sample all the great eats, but we had great dim sum at One Dim Sum in Kowloon, which in my opinion beats the much touted Tim Ho Wan.

Yung Kee's roast goose and century eggs were eaten with relish.

And my friend's recommendation of Tsui Wah went down well with the family. Famous for their fish ball noodles.


My husband had a second lunch one day of Mak's famous wanton noodles, not far from Yung Kee restaurant. Too bad he didn't have enough space in his tummy to try out the rival wan ton mee just opposite called Tsim Chai Kee.

Taking a break from Chinese cuisine, we enjoyed a Vietnamese dinner in Nha Trang at Harbour City after we hopped off the ferry. How convenient.

23 October 2013

Malaysian Teenager Found Dead in Suitcase

It is a parent's worst nightmare.

To find your missing teenager dead, and that was the headline in the Star today.

I truly feel for the mother and the rest of the family, and hope no other teenager suffers the same fate and no other family needs to go through this torment.

But how do we keep our children safe in this age of Facebook and Twitter and smartphones?

This generation of children are net savvy, way more mature at their age than we were at the same age and do not take kindly to parental advice/ control. Violence and sex are plastered all over TV shows and movies.

When I forbade my son from opening an FB account under his own name, he did it anyway. I found out, and we had a long serious "discussion". He added me as a friend and I check in on his account.

When his friends wanted to spend an afternoon together at one of the boy's house, I gave him permission to go but I accompanied him to the meeting point, saw that he and his friends were picked up as arranged. Later that day, I drove to the friend's house, earlier than the appointed time, to bring him home. Needless to say, my boy was not happy to see me an hour before the official end of play day.

Well, that's too bad. Whether he likes it or not, my priority is to make sure he is safe. And that he is where he said he would be. That's why I went earlier to pick him up.

I foresee it is going to get more difficult to keep track of my boy. And I can't keep saying "no" to his requests to join his friends for outings. He is only 12. Heck, I didn't go for outings with friends till I was in college!

This poor girl, Ng Yuk Tim, who suffered such a tragic untimely death is a stark reminder to all of us of the dangers of making friends on the net. When and how do we really know a person? Even if you befriended a person physically, not virtually, there is no way to tell if he or she is a pervert, murderer or just plain dishonest. 

But there are questions to be answered in Ng Yuk Tim's death and I hope justice will prevail.

I am worried.

22 October 2013

Rescuing stray dogs and cats

Unlike developed nations in the west, Malaysia's stray population of cats and dogs is large.

You can see them everywhere on the streets, near food stalls, at the market. If you come from a country where there are no or very few stray animals on the streets, you will probably be very surprised.

The answer in reducing the stray population lies in changing the mindset and attitude of Malaysian pet owners.

If you cannot maintain a pet responsibly, then don't have one. Do not buy or adopt a pet only to release it later because you find it too troublesome to care for another living thing.

Neuter your pets, as there are enough backyard breeders in Malaysia.

I recently became aware of  Noah's Ark Ipoh Animal Welfare. Founded by a local vet, Dr. Ranjit, this body attracts volunteers with the same love for animals and the heart to rescue strays. These strays are taken off the streets or rescued from the council pound death rows and treated, fed, neutered and put up for adoption.

Emaciated stray dog rescued

The lengths that Noah's Ark volunteers go to for these strays is touching and amazing. Through rain or shine, night or day, they lovingly approach stray dogs and cats and bring them home to be treated. The lucky ones find new homes and new owners.

A stray kitty

Noah's Ark has rescued and neutered over 2000 strays since its inception in September 2009.

Well done, and Ipoh is lucky to have Noah's Ark.

18 October 2013

Ah Oh Thai Food

After that disastrous meal at Koh Sa Mui Thai restaurant on Cowan Street, we were a little leery about trying another Thai restaurant in Ipoh. But this one came well recommended, so we took the bite.

And it wasn't bad. Much, much better than Koh Sa Mui.

This place is just behind Kok Tai Restaurant in Ipoh Garden East, close to Kinta City.

We got there well before 7pm and were the first customers. The lady owner- (I presumed) cum-chef was sitting at one of the tables outside chatting on her mobile until we walked into the restaurant. She followed us in and took our order, then disappeared into the kitchen to wok-up her food (sorry, couldn't resist that!)

Mango salad was tangy and appetizing, maybe a bit too tangy, but I don't mind sour notes (just sour people).

Fried squid was nice and crispy.

Ahhh, and the tom yam kung was flavourful, spicy and sour. Mmmm...

We had salted fish and kai lan for our greens, green chicken curry and sweet and sour pork for the kids. We enjoyed all the dishes except maybe for the S&S Pork - the Thai style differs from our Chinese S&S Pork, as the pork is sliced and just stir fried in the tomato sauce unlike the Chinese style which batters the pork pieces, deep fries them then have the tomato sauce poured over it. Just a difference in style I guess.

The bill came to RM90.50, for 6 dishes feeding 5 and 2 coconuts and a large bottle of mineral water.

We'll go back there again.

13 October 2013

Chee Cheong Fun and Curry Noodles at Keng Nam

It is wet and rainy this morning.

It has been wet and rainy in Ipoh all week, coinciding with the Chinese Nine Emperor Gods Festival which is celebrated for nine days. It usually rains during this festival in Malaysia. I guess there are certain associations we make, like hot and dry for Chinese New Year.

On our way out to breakfast this morning, we came across the grand send-off procession for the Nine Emperor Gods Festival in town. Of course we didn't know about it, and wondered why there would be such a snarl in Ipoh on a Sunday morning and why there were so many people lining up alongside the covered walkways of the shops as it had begun to drizzle.

Using alternative roads, we arrived at a coffee shop called Keng Nam on Cowan Street. It is an old favourite with my grandmother-in-law (who is now in her 90s), though we don't frequent it much. When we got there, the shop was packed out. Looks like it's still popular!

I was thankful we managed to secure a table pretty quick. The kids saw a chee cheong fun stall and went for that, while hubs and I had the soupy curry with a mix of yellow noodles and vermicelli. I noticed people having kaya rice, so we had that as well.

The kids' assessment of the chee cheong fun was that it is almost as good as our favourite chee cheong fun stall at Yei Lock. After his curry mee, hubs had a small serve of the chee cheong fun and said that the kids are right. 

As for the curry noodles, it was not bad. The curry gravy was well done and satisfying.

Here's the kaya served on top of glutinous rice - sticky and sweet. Children love it.

10 October 2013

Lunch just out of Ipoh

Hubby suddenly said he wanted to go to Lawan Kuda to look at something. Why not have lunch there?

Lawan Kuda is a little town about 1/2 hour's drive from Ipoh. It's just after Gopeng, another small town on the fringes of Ipoh.

We had a pleasant drive and met some buffaloes. Although we were quite a distance from them, they started getting to their feet and shuffled slowly away, with the male who was obviously the patriarch, assessing us just as we were delighting in watching them in their mud bath.

We had lunch in a restaurant called Ho Ho Chak on Jalan Besar, Lawan Kuda Baru. In Hokkien, the name simply means very delicious. We ordered their specialty, the snakehead fish or ikan haruan, a fresh water fish. We asked for the fillets to be cooked in ginger and spring onions, while the rest of the fish was made into ham choy (salted mustard vegetable) soup. We had a stirfried leafy vegetable, and finally, sweet and sour pork, which the children absolutely loved. All in, it was a very enjoyable lunch. And the place was also full of locals, a good sign that the food is good.

On the way home, we dropped by Gopeng. Suddenly (again), hubby asked if I needed to buy any soya sauce as he remembered from his childhood how his parents used to drive to a home-based soya sauce maker there. Why not, I said. If he could find it. And he did.

So the kids had the opportunity to see how soy beans were left in large clay pots for them to ferment and transform into soya sauce. The name of the maker is Hup Teck, and they said they only sell from their home. I bought a couple of bottles of soya sauce and meen-see (fermented bean paste), and a bottle of caramelized dark sauce.

A little jaunt outside of Ipoh where the kids saw some nature, and a traditional trade.

03 October 2013

Good Ipoh food - list

Sometimes, one just needs a quick list for stuff you're looking for.
I saw a request on FB by someone who wanted a list of Ipoh food he could quickly refer to. Here's a list of some of my family's favourite dining places. Hope it's useful.

Hawker food

  • Kong Heng and Tin Chun in Old Town
  • Jen Jen on Jalan Tokong (off Jalan Kampar) near the big Kow Wong Ye temple 
  • Lo Wong, Ong Kee and Onn Kee famous Ipoh chicken, horfun and bean sprouts
  • Woolie food court and Tungku Theng (just next door) in Ipoh Garden
  • Yat Yat Seng in Ipoh Garden, same row as Hong Leong Bank
  • Hollywood in Canning Garden
  • Wah Nam in town (at the corner of Jalan Raja Ekran and Jalan Leong Sin Nam)
  • Cafe Central (opposite Wah Nam)
  • Kedai Kopi Taman Ipoh Timur in Ipoh Garden East just after the highway overhead bridge

Dim Sum street on Jalan Leong Sin Nam (3 big ones there: Foh San, Ming Court, Yook Fook Mun)

Indian Food

  • Pakeeza
  • The Old Andersonian Club (take 2  o'clock at the roundabout near Taman DR if you are coming from Ipoh Hospital)  (sorry I wouldn't really recommend Tandoor Grill: too expensive, too much gravy and too little meat)
Rice and noodles
  • Hoong Tho in Old Town ( row of shop houses opposite the famous Sin Yoon Loong white coffee place)
  • Ko Kee (in an alley called Yee Lai Hong,just opposite Kong Heng in  Old Town)
  • Mun Choong restaurant
  • Tuck Kee restaurant
  • Oversea restaurant (at the corner, opposite Excelsior Hotel)
  • 1919 restaurant (opposite Tesco in Ipoh Garden East)
  • Sun Marpoh in Ipoh Garden (same row as Maybank)

Western food

  • Citrus restaurant on Laluan Ipoh Perdana, Taman Ipoh Perdana
  • Secret Garden on Jalan Cheah Cheang Lim (across the road from Heritage Hotel)

30 September 2013

What to do in Malaysia

For the tourist, getting information is so much easier in this web-age of ours. In fact, there's probably too much information out there!

Still, it's better having some idea on where to go than just arriving in a foreign country clueless.

I'm not a very adventurous traveler, I like safety and hygiene, am quite scared of illness. So what ever I recommend should be good for most everyone, perhaps a little dull!

I'm a Malaysian, and here's my introductory list of things for you to do in my wonderful country, Malaysia. Also next year, 2014, is Visit Malaysia Year.

Kuala Lumpur

The capital of any country is always the first and major gateway you walk through. Arriving at our international airport, KLIA, you will immediately feel the tropical heat and might be greeted by our routine afternoon showers. Welcome to Malaysia!

Highlights here include the Islamic Arts Museum, the National Mosque, the shopping  streets of Little India and Chinatown, the historic architecture around Independence Square and shopping in the city’s malls in the KL Golden Triangle where you will find Berjaya Times Square (with a theme park inside), Pavillion, Sungai Wang Plaza (bargain paradise) and Suria KLCC (visit the famed Petronas Twin Towers at the same time).


You would have heard that Malaysia is a food paradise, so don't worry about not finding something to eat - take your pick from cheap and flavourful hawker/ street food, air conditioned restaurants or fine dining in hotels. And the type of cuisine? We've got everything!

Other unique things you could do (which I haven't!) include having a lovely seafood dinner then watching the fireflies as you are taken for a gentle boat ride on the river in Kuala Selangor. Or visit our famous Batu Caves, a revered Hindu shrine set in limestone caverns and challenge yourself to climb up its 272 steps. You could also take a canopy walk in the Forest Research Institute of Malaysia.

 Exercise your legs climbing up the Batu Caves steps

Light show by fireflies

Malaysia's 5-star hotels are excellent and value for money for tourists from countries with currencies stronger than the Malaysian Ringgit. Take your pick from international names such as Shangri-La, Hyatt, Park Royal, Westin, Mandarin Oriental and the InterContinental, among others.

Our Hills

I love our hill stations. They offer a cooling respite from our constant summer conditions, and the kids can get to wear some light jackets just for the heck of it!

If you've had enough of the heat, try Cameron Highlands. You will find charming colonial styled bungalows, and strawberry and vegetable farms here. And Malaysia's famous Boh Tea Plantations. There are waterfalls and short trekking trails for you to stretch your muscles and enjoy the fresh air.

A smaller hill station would be Fraser's Hill - charming, cool and relaxing.

Or for a bit of gambling, Genting Highlands (close to KL) might interest you. Nature-wise, Genting is very sterile.

Our sand and sea

The Pearl of the Orient, is our famous and historical Penang island. With abundant choice of  delicious food, great hotels, temples and fabulous sandy beaches, there is little need to say more of the attractions of Penang.

Other islands beckoning those who love beach holidays are Langkawi, Pangkor, Redang, Perhentian and Tioman. You could do a great spot of snorkeling and diving at Redang and Perhentian. 


Our rainforest

National Geographic and nature lovers from the west make a fuss over our rain forest and lament its destruction for development and agriculture.

So perhaps you would enjoy a trip to our national park, Taman Negara.

If you are short on time, and traveling to Taman Negara in Pahang is a problem, you could visit the Bukit Nanas Forest Reserve, located right in the heart of KL. In fact, it's at the foot of the Kuala Lumpur Tower, the tallest telecommunication tower in South East Asia.


Our caves

For the adventurous nature explorers, Malaysia's caves may be an interesting destination. However, please do not expect our caves to be as well protected, preserved or maintained as cave systems abroad. I very much enjoyed my trip to the Margaret River region of Western Australia where there were some interesting cave systems.

I believe Malaysia could do more for its caves, to preserve them as nature's gift to Malaysians as well as being able to promote them with pride to tourists. Right now, there are no properly trained cave guides, lighting is inadequate, safety questionable and the general attitude towards our caves, lackadaisical. Unless under direct state protection or gazetted within a reserve, many of our caves are not protected.

Nonetheless, do explore and enjoy our caves if that's your cup of tea. Niah Cave in Sarawak, is part of the Niah National Park.

Our elephants

I haven't been to the Kuala Gandah Elephant Sanctuary but friends who have been say it's a rare treat to get up close to our elephants. Visitor reviews all seem to attest to the fantastic time people had at the sanctuary.

Our mountain

Mount Kinabalu, standing at 4095 meters, is Malaysia's highest peak, and protected within Kinabalu National Park, a world heritage site.

I don't think I will ever scale the heights of this majestic mountain. I am content to look at its beautiful pictures.

My city, Ipoh

My home city now, of 4 years. An easy 2-hour drive northwards of Kuala Lumpur on the North-South Expressway from my birth city of Petaling Jaya in Selangor.

I have come to appreciate the pace and quality of life in this smaller city. All the basic infrastructure, facilities, services and entertainment you would expect to make your life comfortable are available.

Minus the endless traffic snarls of KL and PJ. The skies are blue and clear most days. The air is noticeably fresher. The people friendlier, with a little more time for a smile and some small talk. Distances are shorter, and parking more easily found. And the food! What can I say? Even Malaysians make day trips to Ipoh just for its food.

People call Ipoh the retirement city. Perhaps because of all these qualities. But they don't know the quality of life here is excellent. Housing is much more affordable. For the price of a condo in KL, you could buy a semi-detached house here with land enough for your green fingers. And there are no tolls to pay!!

Indeed, Ipoh should market itself as a retirement city . Your money goes further here. And Ipoh is conveniently located between KL and Penang, a 2hr drive either direction. Isn't that great? I think it is. There is an up and coming retirement village, styled after the well-planned retirement villages of Australia, that will be located in Meru, Ipoh.

But what is there to see and do in Ipoh? Granted, it is a smaller city, slower and much less cosmopolitan. Therein lies its charm, with pre-war architecture standing side by side with newer buildings. I was glad to see Ipoh mentioned in Asia Rooms.


Ipoh is surrounded by lime stone hills. The natural beauty of the hill-scape parallels that of the mountains I saw in Guilin, China. And within Ipoh's limestone caves, Chinese temples and shrines are found.
amous Chinese cave temples like Perak Tong, Sam Poh Tong and Kek Lok Tong. Ipoh is also one of Malaysia’s famous food havens - See more at: http://www.asiarooms.com/en/community/blog/5-lesser-known-cities-in-southeast-asia/#comment-1065378271

A cave popular with splunkers is Gua Tempurung, the largest cave in Peninsular Malaysia, about 3 km long with an underground river running through it.

Ipoh is blessed with natural hot springs. If you have the budget for it, you could indulge yourself at the Banjaran. Or, you could do the same without breaking your bank account at the  Lost World of Tambun.


Ipoh is famous for its lovely pomelo, a member of the citrus family and native to South East Asia. You could visit a pomelo farm while in Ipoh and buy the produce directly from the farmer.

28 September 2013

Pet Shop - Pretty Pets

When we first moved to Ipoh, I did most of my shopping for essentials at places frequented by my in-laws.

Naturally. Go to familiar and tried-and-tested places right?

Over the years, having settled into Ipoh, learned the roads and shortcuts, beat a few traffic lights and driving in the wrong direction on one-way streets, I'm branching out.

The pet shop.

Important for us since we have dogs.

I first did all my shopping for pet needs at Hupp Fatt. The owners of the shop are friendly and helpful. About 2 years ago, the elderly owner's son decided to set up a second Hup Fatt pet store just behind his father's shop - cleaner, air-conditioned and selling slightly more expensive brands.

In these last 2 years, I have also changed my pet needs destination to another pet store called Pretty Pets in Ipoh Garden South. The shop is very clean and well kept, with a good range of things. Their prices might be slightly higher, but they also carry premium brands which Hupp Fatt does not.

After a long, long time, we happened to be near Hupp Fatt as we had lunched at the Old Andersonian Club, enjoying their banana leaf rice. Since I needed a spare bag of dog biscuits, I decided to swing by the newer (the son's)  Hupp Fatt. I bought Science Plan Chicken flavour for large breeds in the large 18kg value pack. Hupp Fatt charged me RM192 for it, which is expensive and overpriced!

Pretty Pets sells the same brand to me for RM181, a good RM11below Hupp Fatt's price. I was quite sure Hupp Fatt was overcharging me but I couldn't remember the price at that time. I did query the owner of Hupp Fatt and she said the full price is RM200 with an RM8 special given by Science Plan itself. When I arrived home, I checked Pretty Pet's receipt: RM189 less RM8=RM181.

Going by the location in Ipoh Garden South, the range of brands and things available, I would recommend that you shop for your pet's needs in Pretty Pets (unless you live far away from Ipoh Garden South).

(Image from panpages.my)     

27 September 2013

Double-boiled Chinese Pear and Red Apple Soup

I am making this sweet soup for the first time today, in my brand new ceramic double-boiler that I bought from an old-style shop near the Ipoh market.

It is a delight to visit such shops as they are crammed to the top of their shelves and on the floor with pots and pans and plates and bowls and so many other things. You can't find anything yourself, you'll have to ask the owner! I bought the ceramic double boiler, a mini Satay grill, rattan hand-fans, titanium wok, stainless steel plate and a round tea-leaf holder.

Back to this soup.

The mom of my daughter's classmate recommended this soup to me, saying it is sweet, delicious and good for the lungs and skin. I remember my mom mentioning to me about double boiling apples or pears or oranges, but my mom never did it herself.

A mother myself now, I decided to try this soup today. We Chinese love anything soupy!

2-3 large yellow Chinese pears
2-3 red apples

Very simple. Just wash the fruits and peel them (I didn't want to have the skin left on the fruits - pesticides).
Core the fruits and cut them into medium sized chunks.
Place everything into the double boiler and add 1 cup of water.
Boil away for about 2 hours.

I didn't add any rock sugar, so it tastes very natural, with the fragrance of apple and pear. If you would like it sweeter (my little girl screwed up her little nose in displeasure because it wasn't sweet enough), you'll have to add some rock sugar, or perhaps more red apples and some dried figs. My boy said it was fine (he takes after me, not much of a sweet tooth).

Googling around, I found other similar recipes. Some just use the pear or apple on their own, like my attempt today. Variations include adding sweet & bitter almonds (to alleviate coughs), dried figs, wolfberries (wonder berry!) and chuan bei mu (Bulbus Fritillariae Cirrhosae) (to nourish lungs).


(Chuan bei mu and wolfberry pictures from Wikipedia)

19 September 2013

Common Courtesy

One of our radio stations recently had a short run on the topic "Common Courtesy" in a bid to help improve Malaysians' appalling lack of courtesy and manners.

It's true isn't it, when you look around you and watch how Malaysian parents are NOT doing their part to educate their beloved offspring on how to behave like a civilized person. The adults are equally bad.

  • I see Malaysian children pushing and shoving in the parks (while mom looks lovingly at her specimen)
  • I see Malaysian kids rushing into elevators without waiting for other people to step out
  • I see Malaysian adults jumping queue
  • I see Malaysian adults who do not make eye contact with you, much less thank you, for holding the bank/ restaurant door open for them ( I feel like deliberately letting the door slam into their big noses!)
  • I see Malaysian adults loading their shopping into their car in a mall parking lot while you wait patiently for them in your car (thinking they are leaving). And then, these people lock up their car and stride back towards the mall to continue their shopping/ dining/ whatever. Having made you wait there like an idiot! 

Common courtesy is not common.

But there are courteous Malaysians left in this country as evidenced by letters such as these Common courtesy is lacking, Chivalry is not dead and Common courtesy is almost dead.

I have had my run-ins with my rude neighbour:
  • when their house was being constructed, we had to put up with much noise and dust but they never once came to make small talk
  • when their house was being constructed, we often had to open the common gate leading into our area for their workmen to come and go late at night or during weekends. They never once said thank you.
  • their workmen used our electricity supply for their work before theirs was connected. No word of thanks? You bet! 
  • after they moved in, I did the neighborly thing by them - sending food over to them (nasi lemak, chicken curry, bubur caca, nangka and umbra from my garden, banana fritters, yam cake). My platters were returned to me empty. Being Chinese, this shows a very real lack of good manners and poor upbringing if not on the husband's part, then on the wife's part. Oh! Wait...I forget. They did send over one dish: a broccoli-ham dish that was a leftover from Chinese New Year.
  • when Fed Ex comes to deliver stuff to them, and they're out or abroad, they expect us to take delivery for them. When our courier service comes to our house and we're out, do they take delivery for us? Man! You're a genius!
  • they give our telephone number, without telling us, to the person who feeds their pets when they are abroad. So the pet-keeper calls us up when she can't open the common gates. 

I don't get it why my neighbour can't have the courtesy to inform us about the pet keeper, about Fed Ex deliveries and could we please accept delivery for them and thank you by the way?

18 September 2013

High Heeled Warrior Awards

I just learned about the presently ongoing High Heeled Warrior Awards - Celebrating Women in Asia.

This awards event is rolled out by NBC Universal, having concluded their High Heeled Warrior research on female Pay-TV viewers.

The High Heeled Warrior Awards will recognize and celebrate the achievements of women in Asia who have contributed to society in their industry and community, and have made an impact in the lives of many around them.

The 12 High Heeled Warrior Awards nominees from Asia spread across four categories.

The first 3 categories; Arts & Entertainment, Community Service and Entrepreneurship have been selected by the High Heeled Warrior Awards Judging Panel, based on their positive impact and contribution to their community.

A fourth category, Unsung Hero, will include women nominated by the public.

What is the Unsung Hero all about?
The nominated Unsung Hero in your life is a passionate woman living in Asia and providing a service that benefits others.

Why nominate an Unsung Hero?
Your Unsung Hero may not be well-known around the region like the High Heeled Warriors Awards nominees, but that doesn't mean she is any less impactful, inspiring and all-round awesome! This is a perfect opportunity to let everyone know how much you recognize and honour your Unsung Hero's self-sacrificing efforts. Everyone needs a little bit of encouragement and appreciation from time to time!

My choice for the Unsung Hero this time is Jasmine Ong from Malaysia.