28 April 2013

General Elections 13 - UNDILAH!

One thing is for sure............there is so much more political awareness among rakyat Malaysia now.

The EC stated that up to 2.3 million new voters were registered as voters, making the GE13 a genuine battlefield with untested first-time voters, fierce cyber campaigning and instant sharing of thoughts as well as political antics available online 24 by 7.

And awareness that YOUR VOTE COUNTS.

The  political tsunami in Malaysian politics in 2008 shocked the ruling elite as well as highlighted to the rakyat that their voice can and will be heard if only they exercise their constitutional right to vote.

 In Perak, I believe its unique experience of the people voting in a new Perak state government in 2008, only to have representatives from the new state government leap-frogging over to BN (for personal gain) thereby handing the state back to BN was an eye opening and illuminating lesson for all.

But when I first came to Ipoh, I was rather shocked and taken aback by the fact that the new lady friends I made here have never registered to vote! In their entire lives, they have never voted. In casual conversations with ladies in shops, restaurants, music centres, dance centres, kindergartens...there were still many who have never voted.

I am not a politician. Can't ever imagine being one!

But I am upset by people constantly complaining "the government is terrible", "that Minister is useless", "the country is being run into the ground", "that's my tax money being used for another white elephant project", and when I ask them if they vote, they sheepishly say "no". Well, they get a little education from me there and then!

"If you don't vote, you have no right to complain!"

I drove several of my new friends to get themselves registered as voters. I hassled a long time friend working in KL to get registered - she finally did.

You have the right to vote. You have the right to vote for whichever party you believe will form a government that will lead Malaysia for the betterment of all Malaysians. Just like Michelle Yeoh our Ipoh Bond girl, has the right to publicly support the party of her choice.

And for Malaysia to be a true democracy, our political leaders must learn to accept that there must be CHANGE in the country's leadership! Otherwise, what is the point of elections if the same party wins again and again? It's just a sham then.

I have read many comments on the net which roughly go like this,"Kenapa mau ubah? Selalu mau ubah saja!" Such thoughts demonstrate complacency, political immaturity and a fear of trying something new (and perhaps better).

When the party and PM in power can never be sure whether they will still be in power for the next term, that's when they do their job properly, think long term and deliver fair, sustainable policies to the rakyat.

Exercise your vote. UNDILAH!

(image from allposters.com)

25 April 2013

Oh no! Where's Burger King?

Burger King has folded, closed up and shut down. In Ipoh, that is.

When we first moved to Ipoh in 2009, Burger King set up shop with 2 outlets, shortly after. We were thrilled.

But last year, the Burger King outlet in De Gardens (opposite Kinta City) closed down. We were left with the remaining Burger King in Gunung Rapat, opposite its arch nemesis, Mc Donald's.

While Mc Donald's was always bustling with customers, its drive-thru lane packed with cars, Burger King would be serene and tranquil with just 2 or 3 tables of diners.

Things did not look good.

And so it was that we discovered a couple of nights ago when the kids and dad wanted a burger supper, that the last Burger King outlet in Ipoh had also folded. The building next to McDonald's in Gunung Rapat was dark and deserted when we got there.

Hubby was not pleased, as he much prefers Burger King's burgers to Mc Donald's commercial-tasting non-fragrant but kid-pleasing burgers.

Good bye Burger King, we'll have to see you when we go to PJ.

22 April 2013

Edible Flowers - Telosma Cordata

One of my readers shared about her recent purchase of a creeper plant that bears pale yellow fragrant flowers  - the telosma cordata. 

This plant goes by many names such as Chinese Violet, tonkin jasmine, bunga tongkeng, cowslip creeper, and is native to China.

What attracted me to read up on this flower is that my reader told me that not only are the flowers extremely fragrant, emitting a rich heavy fragrance day and night when in bloom, but that they are also edible! Lending itself to soups or fried in an omelet, the flowers are reputed to be healthful for the eyes.

One blog I read, shared a legend about the flowers, which I reproduce from Garden Lab:
"A troop of fearless warriors had seized an enemy’s castle.  At dusk, a hypnotic fragrance came wafting through the air, dissipating the aggressive feelings of the warriors as they inhaled the aroma. By the next morning, the warriors were so subdued that they were forced to abandon the castle and retreat. This fragrance came from none other than the Telosma Cordata!"

On another blog called Tanam Sendiri , the blogger wrote:
"Auntie yang jual (bunga ini) kata kaum Cina suka buat sup, kaum India pula suka letak dalam kari, kaum Melayu pula letak dalam gulai. Kira bunga muhibbah ni."

I thought that was such a marvellous description of this flower for our Malaysia:
"The lady at the market who sells this flower said that the Chinese like to use it in soups, the Indians like to use it in curries and the Malays like to use it in gulai. This is a unity flower - muhibbah!."

A flower for all Malaysians! 

Nature is endless in providing humankind with beauty and nutrition.

17 April 2013

Neo Strata skin care

I recently started using Neo Strata Illuminating Serum and Neo Strata Pigment Controller.

It was recommended by my doctor! I was there to discuss my annual medical checkup results, when she looks at my face and said, "You are getting more freckles. Why don't you try this line of skin care?" Well, I was game, what with our relentless sunshine here in Malaysia and my thin Asian skin which is practically being fried from all my driving the whole day long.

I already try my best to protect my skin, applying Clinique's City Block before I venture out. Use an umbrella, big shades and long-sleeved shirts/ long trousers. But it just isn't enough....

Neo Strata Illuminating Serum

Is described as "an advanced formula that contains 12 active brighteners that target 6 pigment control systems to help break up and reduce the appearance of existing pigmentation and discourage new dark spots from forming."

As usual, it is to be used once in the morning and once at night. Its liquid texture is smooth and silky, and it glides onto skin easily. Absorption is fast.

Then I pair it with  the Pigment Controller which  has "extracts from alpine plants and SabiWhite® that help lighten existing pigmentation and prevent new stains. Vitamin E protects the skin from further damage."

After 3 weeks, there is improvement in my skin tone: move even and less dull definitely. As for my freckles, I can't say there is any reduction but I wasn't expecting it anyway. I don't think any beauty product can deliver results so quickly, no matter how big their sales puff is. 

For a dramatic improvement/reduction in freckles/ pigmentation, something more serious like laser treatment or major peeling would be required, something I am not prepared to explore yet.

08 April 2013

Ching Ming Checklist

The Ching Ming Festival (All Souls' Day for the Chinese) has just concluded.

This year was the first time that I had to play a major role in preparing for this festival which my husband's family observes strictly every year.

As I understand it, for the last 30 years, the eldest daughter-in-law of my husband's Uncle had somehow been burdened with the task of buying all the materials necessary for the ritual as well as preparing food sufficient to feed the horde (about 30 + people) after the ceremony.

Which means that it was the grand-daughter-in-law (my generation) who led the ceremony and not the daughters-in-law, who are still surviving. I had asked my husband why the daughter-in-law was not doing anything (his mom) as it should be the sons and their wives leading the ceremony and not the grandchildren. Of course, my husband has no idea why!  

Anyway, the grand-daughter-in-law finally wanted to retire from this office she has been holding, or at least take a sabbatical. Fair enough, I thought. After all, there are other sons and grandsons who should also help out.

Therefore, the task got handed to my father-in-law's branch of the family this year, and more specifically to me. Again, I do not understand why my MIL wants to have nothing to do with the whole affair (she is after all, the DIL to the ancestors we are conducting the ceremony for). Contrary to her usual know-it-all stance, for Ching Ming, she had no knowledge, no experience and no advice to dispense. In fact, she didn't even turn up on the day the whole family went for the Ching Ming ceremony, citing housework!

I myself have absolutely no knowledge of Chinese traditional ancestral worship, the ritual, the materials required etc. From memory and from many discussions with the "sifu", my cousin-in-law, I came up with this list which will now serve as the guiding document for future preparations.

For those of you equally in the dark about Ching Ming preparations, I hope this list helps you. We are a Cantonese family, so the materials might differ (I don't know!) among the different dialects.

  1. Roast pig (above 30 katis in weight)
  2. Notes, gold paper and hell money(lots of it) 
  3. Joss sticks (big/small) (many)
  4. Candles (big/small) (many)
  5. Prayer cups, prayer plates
  6. Alcohol for offering
  7. Chinese tea 1.5 litre
  8. Roasted whole chicken x 1
  9. Roasted whole duck x 1 
  10. Fatt Ko small x 10 
  11. Ang ku x 10 
  12. Chin Dui x 10 
  13. Char siu pau x 20 
  14. Egg tarts (dan tart) x 20 
  15. Ham Yuk Chung  x 10 
  16. Kan Sui Chung  x 10
  17. Green apples x 20
  18. Oranges x 20
  19. Pineapple x 1
  20. Banana x1 bunch
  21. Lettuce for prayer  x 1 bunch
  22. Duck eggs ( hard boiled, shell intact ) x 5
  23. Cuttlefish (whole) x 1
  24. Fried noodles and fried vermicelli (vegetarian) – 2 kgs each (to feed the human horde)
  25. Chilly sauce x2
  26. Red firecrackers - 1 or 2 lengths
  27. Bunch of flowers
  28. Disposable plates, tissues, chopsticks, paper napkins, plastic bags (food/trash), rubber bands
  29. Packet Drinks – 2 cartons (24 x2) (for the humans)
  30. Mineral Water – 2 cartons (24 x2) (for the humans)
  31. Big chopping knife, chopping board 
  32. Old newspapers, lighter, matches 
    The ceremony
  • “Chai” foodstuff followed by meats to be arranged in front of main tombstone
  • 3 cups tea, 3 cups alcohol, 3 pairs chopsticks each at main tombstone and side headstone
  • Side headstone - place fruits and fatt ko
  • Place 3 joss sticks alternate with candles all around tomb
  • Spread prayer paper onto tomb
  • Offer 3 joss sticks for each neighbouring tombstone (sign of respect and neighbourliness)
  • Special stack of prayer paper to be placed on headstone
  • Pair of big candles and 3 big joss sticks for main tomb
  • Smaller pair of candles and 3 smaller joss sticks for side headstone
  • Family, generation by generation, offer joss sticks and bow. Proceed to offer tea and alcohol. Also, may lift up plates of food offered (as a sign to invite departed ancestors to eat)
  • Elder of each family-branch to burn and offer specially folded stack of prayer papers, then to place burning papers into larger pile of prayer papers
  • Wait for all prayer papers to be burnt

04 April 2013

Korean food: Bulgogi Brothers

K-Pop, Korean wave, Korean phones, Korean electricals and cars.

Korean food?

My family and I together with my parents and my brother's family had lunch at Bulgogi Brothers in Paradigm Mall recently.

I have to say that Korean food does not immediately grab my fancy.

The signature Korean dish of bibimbap? Sadly, I found it to be over-rated, unexciting and bland despite its purported chili pepper taste.

Wikipedia explains that "the word literally means "mixed rice". Bibimbap is served as a bowl of warm white rice topped with namul (sautéed and seasoned vegetables) and gochujang (chili pepper paste). A raw or fried egg and sliced meat (usually beef) are common additions. The ingredients are stirred together thoroughly just before eating.[2] It can be served either cold or hot."

There were not more than 3 thinly sliced pieces of beef in my bibimbap, and for the price of RM20 something ++, it is definitely not worth it.

My husband, my son, my dad and brother only enjoyed their lunch because they chose the barbecued beef set. That is hardly anything to jubilate over as most everyone can do an excellent and tasty barby with the right cuts of meat, yes?

My husband and I came away with the same opinion: Chinese and Japanese food are way ahead of Korean food.
(images from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bibimbap and http://www.bulgogibros.com.my/)

03 April 2013

Meru Mutiara, Ipoh

A real deal!

Total Investment Sdn Bhd recently launched their Meru Mutiara project with its first batch of semi dees. The houses attracted a great deal of interest because of its extremely reasonable pricing.

Prices for the semi-dees start from only RM398,000.000 for a lot size of 35 x 70.

This in contrast to a neighbouring project currently selling terraced houses with prices in a similar range.

The Meru area is a fast developing part of Ipoh with the state government's push to make it the administrative capital. Mydin recently opened its doors in Meru as did the new bus terminal. Tenby International School is slated to open its new campus in Meru sometime this year.

Maybe take the family to view some show houses in Meru over the weekend?


Wow! The first phase of Meru Mutiara sold like hot cakes! Gone in a jiffy. The following batch of semi-dees launched were priced at RM438,000 and now the current ones on sale are at RM498,000.

Finding a place to live

Known, not so flatteringly, as the "Retirement City", people were intrigued as to why we would move to Ipoh.

In our thirties, at the prime of our personal and professional lives, our friends thought it would not be a rewarding move. "Ipoh is for old folks!", they all chimed.


From my observation, people who move to Ipoh from the larger cities such as KL, usually do so because Ipoh is their hometown, because of family ties. Few do so for the sake of career advancement. Ipoh is famed for not "paying as much" as KL, since the cost of living here is touted to be much lower. That does not hold water anymore, as the cost of living in Ipoh is edging closer to that in KL. But that is a topic for another day.

So, here we are because my hubby is an Ipoh-boy. My first 1 1/2 years were trying, as I learned to navigate a new town, learned to start from scratch again to find new acquaintances/ friends, learned not to rely on my mom for meals or advice or everything else that I used to rely on her for on a daily basis back in KL.

Truth be told, I felt isolated and lonely. Hubby has his job and his own hobbies to occupy him for the "after office hour" time, so it was not a problem for him. This after all, was the place he grew up in .

I was the outsider, to Ipoh as well as the family, I guess, since I am the "daughter-in-law". Even my brother-in-law's wife is an Ipoh girl. So I was well and truly alien.

That was 4 years ago.

As for finding a place to live, we made the usual enquiries from real estate agents and with my parents-in-law. Of course it is all about location, location, location. We wanted the usual hotspots of Ipoh Garden, Canning Garden, Ipoh Garden South, around the Tiger Lane area. These are established areas with old houses or condos you could rent or empty plots of land you could buy and build on.

Today, Ipoh has grown a lot. Not unlike the Klang Valley, people are beginning to live outside of the established central areas. New townships have sprung up in Meru, Klebang, Gunung Lang, Pengkalan and Taman Botani. Townships such as the one in Pengkalan called Tiara Lake Park are well served by stores such as Tesco and AEON Station 18, along with banks, coffee shops and a plethora of other retail shops. People who live in Pengkalan used to have to come way over to Ipoh Garden East to shop at Tesco and Jusco, but not anymore.

If you are looking to buy a home in Ipoh, you will be pleasantly surprised to find that you could purchase your dream home at a realistic and affordable price. Tops in terms of affordability is the recently launched semid-dees by Total Investment in Meru, called Meru Mutiara. The semi-dees start at RM398,000. Unbelievable for KL folk huh??
(imagesofipoh.blogspot.com and tihomes.com)

02 April 2013

Changing Schools

Everyone has their own style and own pace for doing things.

The really uptight ones (like me) plan well ahead, and agonise well ahead too! Which isn't always necessary.

The easy going ones just know that the big move is coming up but never really bother up until maybe the last couple of months.

Then there's the in-betweens, the well balanced ones. Who have a healthy schedule yet are able to keep their stress levels down.

My own move

We seriously talked about moving back to Ipoh 2 years before the event.

Then my first born entered Standard One in PJ and we knew for certain the event would take place at the end of that year. So for that whole year I was preoccupied with when to resign from my job, when to start packing up the house, when to apply for a transfer of school. And in the middle of that, we were finalizing our plans about where to live in Ipoh!

Before March of that academic year, I had already spoken to my son's school about his transfer to Ipoh and gotten the relevant information. We had also approached our school of choice in Ipoh about enrolling our son there. The transfer process is a matter between the schools so there is no need to trouble yourself with the Ministry of Education (who in their right mind would go to any Ministry of Malaysia anyway???)

We had 2 overseas trips that year, one in September and one in October. So I only started packing in earnest in October. We moved in late December.

About SJKC

There is something peculiar about transferring from another state's Chinese school to one of the "premier" SJK Chinese schools in Ipoh. Apparently, it can't be done.

You would have to transfer to a "normal" SJKC and then after a little while, reapply to transfer to your chosen "premier" SJKC.

In our case, we had chosen Sam Tet. The principal of Sam Tet had informed us that there were vacancies for year two the following year so there should be no problem. But the final decision was to be made by the Perak State Education Department. Sigh!! That's where the trouble stems from.

Come late November, the State Edu. Dept. informed us that my son had been assigned to another SJKC which firstly, was not our choice at all and secondly, was far from our home. (what did I tell you about government departments??) We wrote in numerous times to the State Edu. Dept. explaining our position and when we were physically in Ipoh, I went personally to see the relevant person in the Dept on a daily basis!

As is the practice with government departments, the relevant person is never there, is having a tea break, is in the lavatory, is sick, or is attending a meeting today and a seminar tomorrow. As late as 30 December, the kerani at the Dept still could not give me a conclusive answer as to which school my son would be attending once term begins in the first week of January!

Being almost a fixture there, the kerani had said to me, "Puan baliklah dulu. Kami akan telefon Puan nanti." (Madam, why don't you go home. We will call you shortly.)
I replied, "Tak apa. Saya suka duduk di sini." (It's alright. I like sitting here.)

Perhaps it was the sight of me sitting right there in front of their counters, sheer persistence or a blessing, but I finally got my answer and the school of my choice. The things mothers have to do!

Have you got questions about moving to Ipoh?

I recently made a new friend. She was one of my blog readers and like me, had moved to Ipoh from KL.

Naturally, she had questions about the ins and outs of life in Ipoh. Having children around the same age as mine, she needed much the same information as I had sought when I first arrived in Ipoh. But back then in 2009, there was no blog writer offering friendly advice about Ipoh.

I have had several more enquiries from prospective Ipoh-residents-to-be, and I am ever so glad to assist in helping newbies to Ipoh transition as easily as possible. I only remember too well how I had to struggle to learn about Ipoh, despite having in-laws here.

This new section in my blog is for Ipoh-residents-to-be.

Welcome to IPOH!

(image from http://seeker-kianhin.blogspot.com/2012/08/back-to-ipoh-for-rest.html)