20 June 2013

Not enough sleep

...is bad for you.

I always believed so.

But with today's lifestyle: adults sleeping late because of lots of entertainment options; children sleeping late due to the sheer pressure of school work; it is hard to get the proper amount of sleep.

I personally love my sleep. I sleep in when I get the chance. And afternoon naps? Love them!

Cheating Ourselves of Sleep which appeared in the New York Times said:
Think you do just fine on five or six hours of shut-eye? Chances are, you are among the many millions who unwittingly shortchange themselves on sleep.

Research shows that most people require seven or eight hours of sleep to function optimally. Failing to get enough sleep night after night can compromise your health and may even shorten your life. From infancy to old age, the effects of inadequate sleep can profoundly affect memory, learning, creativity, productivity and emotional stability, as well as your physical health.

Children can also experience hormonal disruptions from inadequate sleep. Growth hormone is released during deep sleep; it not only stimulates growth in children, but also boosts muscle mass and repairs damaged cells and tissues in both children and adults.

I am  particularly worried about children. I think children in Asia sleep less than their counterparts in the Western world. Even as close by as Australia, I know friends who tuck their children into bed as early as 8pm at night!

What are Malaysian children doing at 8pm? Some are having dinner; some are doing their homework; some are attending tuition classes. And as late as 10pm, I have seen Malaysian parents out in Jaya Jusco or at hawker centres with their kids as young as 3 years old. Malaysians somehow don't seem to value sleep.

I am among the very few moms who still give afternoon naps to my kids at least twice a week (they are 12 and 8). Definitely on weekends. I find time on weekdays, if their homework load is not too heavy, I tell my kids to have a lie-down for 45 minutes or so. Once they are asleep, they usually get up only after an hour! They are tired.

I see kids in my children's school who attend tuition after tuition class, tons of homework, no naps, no physical outlet, no pets. Just books and computer games. They look pale, mostly bespectacled, thin and short for their age group.                  

17 June 2013

Koh Samui Thai Restaurant in Ipoh

I am sorry to have to say at the outset that our meal in this restaurant was the worst Thai food I have ever had.

I read up some reviews online just now and was surprised that people like the food here. Guess they must have their unique set of customers otherwise Koh Samui can't have 2 outlets in Ipoh, one near Kinta City and the other along Jalan Ekram.

What was wrong with the food? Plenty.

Pineapple fried rice.

Never mind that it was not served in a hollowed-out pineapple. The rice was damp and sticky, and there was no fragrance at all. It was cold.

Tom Yam Goong
Completely disappointing because it was just sour and salty. All the wonderful spicy aroma and taste one would expect from a tom yam were absent. I could not detect any lemon grass or kaffir lime leaves. It was a flat soup. You could whip up a tastier tom yam at home from a bottle.

Green curry (beef)
It was green and quite rich in coconut milk. It was also too sweet. And you have to hunt for the small pieces of meat.

Steamed fish
From the description in the menu, my husband was hoping for the steamed fish he had in Thailand that was served in an amazingly delicious and fragrant broth. The fish we had was nothing like that. It did have a lot of broth, but it was more like Teo Chew-style steamed fish, with salted mustard and sour plum.

Glass noodles salad with seafood
This starter was a pass although hubby thought it was too sour.

Pandan chicken
This was the only saving grace of the entire meal. Oh, and they didn't have thab thim krob.

Needless to say, this is the first and last time that we will be eating at Koh Samui. If you haven't been there, you haven't missed out on anything.

There must be a better Thai restaurant in Ipoh.

13 June 2013

Delicious Nangka (Jackfruit)

Fruits of our labour!

My family and I tasted the sweet golden flesh of our nangka last night.

Just 4 years after setting my nangka tree into the ground, we were rewarded with its heavy fruit - in all there are 5 fruit on the tree. We brought down 2 last night, leaving 3 on the tree.

Do you think trees have feelings?

I ask this because my  jackfruit had been producing flowers and little baby jackfruit since last year. But each time the baby fruit got to be about 3 inches long, it would turn black and fall to the ground.

At that time, I had a gardener who was supposed to lighten our gardening duties. He was to come in 3 times a week to mow the lawn, water the plants, do the trimming and weeding. He underperformed, to put it mildly.

The gardener was slip-shod in his work. He didn't water the plants sufficiently, he didn't weed regularly, and he trimmed the bushes and trees hurriedly and with little thought.

In that time, I noticed that a lot of my fruit trees were not bearing fruit.

Before I asked the gardener to stop, he quit in December. After only 10 months.

Within a month of my gardener's departure, my umbra, mango, nona and jackfruit trees all regained their vivacious growth. Perhaps my plants did not like him. Not enough TLC.

Caring for my jackfruit tree

It has been quite simple caring for it. Regular watering when it was still a sapling, and applying fertilizer every 3-4 weeks.

I read on the net that pruning or trimming the tree is important to stimulate growth and fruiting.

I watched a very interesting video on youtube demonstrating how a jackfruit tree ought to be pruned. The instructions seemed rather radical but I followed them, with success. (video below)

07 June 2013

Ginvera Green Tea Whitening Marvel Gel

Another exfoliating product by Ginvera, under their Green Tea line.

Having tried their Nutri White Marvel Gel I decided to give the Green Tea line a go.

Ginvera Green Tea series

Ginvera explains that their Green Tea Whitening series contains Green Tea extract as its main ingredient. Green Tea extract is a strong anti-oxidant that delays the skin’s ageing process and also reduces the damage from sun’s rays. The new and improved Ginvera Green Tea Whitening series is also now enriched with Korean soybean for enhanced whitening of the skin. This unique Korean soybean is fermented with Bacillus Subtilis which will produce Cellplus+ (a soft liquid product that consist plenty of amino acids) which has strong moisturizing and whitening properties. With Green Tea extract and Korean soybean, the newly formulated Ginvera Green Tea Whitening series serves to restore skin’s clarity with its natural ingredients.

The Green Tea Marvel Gel

Ginvera lists 10 amazing efficacies:

1) Removes blackheads painlessly
2) Softens the cornified layer and gently removes dead skin cells
3) Refines pores and reveals finer, smoother skin
4) Fades pigmentation spots and acne scars
5) Removes oil seeds around eye area
6) Regulates and balances oil secretion, prevent pimples
7) Evens out skin tone to give skin clarity
8) Dull and rough skin becomes smoother and fairer
9) Stimulates skin metabolism, skin becomes younger
10) Allows rapid and instant penetration of skincare products applied subsequently

After using almost a whole tube paired with the Green Tea Whitening Cleanser....

I find that there is no significant advantage of the Green Tea Marvel Gel over the Nutri White Marvel Gel. In fact, I find it less effective than the Nutri White Marvel Gel.

The Green Tea Marvel Gel behaves in the same manner as the  Nutri White Marvel Gel - it forms clumps on your face after you massage the gel into your skin. You will feel your skin become smoother and softer after using it, having removed some dead skin and impurities in the outer layer of your skin that had flaked away.

It doesn't irritate the skin, although you will feel a cool sensation on your face, which some people may (or may not) like.  But it definitely does not help in fading pigmentation or freckles.

(images from Ginvera and www.pretty-in-pink-blog.com )

Honest Bus Driver

I had written about the honesty of the Japanese people, and experienced it for ourselves during our recent trip to Japan.

I am happy to let you know that the bus driver who drove our group home to Ipoh from the LCCT is also an honest person, and should be commended.

My little girl left her Barbie handbag in the bus. Unsure if she had brought her handbag down from the bus, we searched the house for a couple of days after we got home. Nope, nowhere to be found at home.  Must have been left on the bus.

So I called up Yoyo  the bus company we had used for our return trip to the LCCT. I didn't expect much, as I thought someone else would have taken her bag, the cleaner might have taken the bag, whoever.

I spoke to a polite young man named Jeffrey and explained the situation to him. He took down my number and said he would contact me after he spoke to the relevant driver.

He called me back after a couple of hours saying that the handbag was found in the bus and I may collect it from the Yoyo office in Bercham! Wow! I could hardly believe it. We picked up my daughter's handbag this morning, with a little baggie of chocs and sweets for the driver.

Honesty is well and alive in Malaysia.

I would recommend the Yoyo bus company if you are traveling to LCCT or KLIA from Ipoh. This is the first time my family and I have used Yoyo. The bus drivers are careful and caring, although they may look a tad grumpy. The buses are clean and comfortable, with wide seats that recline sufficiently for you to have a snooze (definitely reclines more than Air Asia seats).

If you are sending your maid back for a holiday to her native country (and if you trust her to travel on her own) you may also send her to and from LCCT via Yoyo. I have done that myself and my maid said it was easy and convenient. The drivers were also helpful and would give her advice about where to go, watch out for her bags, where to catch the bus when she returns etc.

The Yoyo bus company will also send you sms-es to remind you of your bus schedule and if you are late, the bus drivers will call you. That's good service.

(images from www.123rf.com  and daves-words-of-wisdom.blogspot.com)

03 June 2013

Floor cleaner

I have two points to make in this post.


I found this really neat floor cleaner. It is a no-rinse floor cleaner. After you mop your floor with it, you can actually feel that your floor is squeaky clean! Good enough for a TV ad.

My maid won't use any other mop solution now.

The floor cleaner is just called SGLL 1188. Costs RM13.90 for a one liter bottle.


I found another shop selling my floor cleaner so I bought a bottle of it home.

Alas! This bottle is a fake. Imitation. Complete passing off.

Look closely at the picture of both the bottles. Can you spot the difference? The original floor cleaner is on the right.

Lawyers should have a case with this should the original manufacturer choose to sue.

People would make a fake version of anything these days. Beware.

01 June 2013

Lessons from Japan

It was a lovely trip to Osaka and Kyoto. I think May is a wonderful time of the year to visit this country. The weather was just right.

Of course the kids loved Universal Studio in Osaka, although they said it would have been better if they could understand what was being said during the rides!

But it was more than just fun, and sight seeing. We had a very funny and entertaining tour guide who just so happened to be a Malaysian. He had married a Japanese lady and settled in the Land of the Rising Sun. He's been there 14 years. The envy of the guys in our company for sure!

But our guide said it was not easy adapting to life in Japan, learning a whole new language and way of life. I don't know if what he said about the balance of control between a married Japanese couple is true - but he was just a great story teller!

So the kids learned these lessons about Japan (as did we):

Married life

The husband works and the wife quits her job, usually upon the arrival of children. The husband gives his entire pay packet to his wife and the wife gives him pocket money equal to 10% of his salary!

Due to the small amount of $ the husband has, he takes a home-made bento lunch to work everyday. Or, he could eat an economical meal of Yoshinoya beef rice at only 280 yen. While the stay-home wife goes out shopping with the kids and eats at Italian restaurants. (so says our guide!)

Paper thin walls

You will know that Japanese houses are made from wood and bamboo.

Our guide says there is not much privacy in a Japanese house due to the thinness of the walls. That's why Japanese people speak very softly and gently. His Japanese inlaws thought his parents were quarreling the first time they met, as Chinese people speak rather loudly!


You will not find a more honest people than the Japanese.

Our guide said that the Japanese think of the consequences of what they do. The impact if they took something that is not theirs. The impact on the true owner as well as on themselves.

I personally think it is because of the religion of Buddhism which a large number of Japanese subscribe to. Buddhism emphasizes a lot on kharma, the principle of what goes around comes around. If you do bad, bad things will happen to you. If you do good, well, you can expect rewards. It's quite simple.

My mother-in-law replied that all religions teach this. Reap what you sow, do unto others as you would have them do unto you. But I think not enough emphasis is given to it as today people conduct themselves thoughtlessly.

My son's umbrella tale proves the honesty of the Japanese.

Cleanliness is Godliness

My children were completely impressed by how clean Japan is!

Every toilet experience was a wonderful and relaxing one. Dry, clean toilets with no unpleasant smell whatsoever. Working hand dryers, full rolls of toilet paper. Hand soap and even anti-bacterial hand sanitizers were provided.

Unlike here in Malaysia, where every visit to a public toilet is an anxious, heart pumping encounter - will it be smellier than the last toilet? Will I find faeces on the floor? Did the person who used the toilet before me stand on the toilet seat? Will the toilet floor be covered in half an inch of water? Will I be stepping on urine? It is really quite a shame, the state of toilets in Malaysia.

So, it was a good opportunity to teach my children to use public facilities responsibly and to think of the next person who uses the toilet after them. Again, our guide said that the Japanese think of the comfort of the person who will use the toilet next.

Sales service

Excellent! Polite, smiling, bowing sales attendants.

Your purchases will be wrapped up attractively. And if it is raining at the time of your purchase, the sales personnel will wrap your purchase in an additional layer of plastic to keep it protected and dry.

Our guide said that Japanese companies train their staff well and impress upon them that the customer who walks into the shop is a blessing as the customer is the source of income for them. Regardless of whether the customer buys something or leaves empty handed, the customer is to be served with the utmost courtesy and respect. The customer may return another day to make a purchase.

Unlike some sales personnel who make us feel like they are doing us a favour by selling stuff to us!