Monday, December 31, 2007

Usher in the New Year

In less than 2 hours, we shall usher in 2008. New beginnings, new hopes and new aspirations.

So how will it be for me, this New Year??

No words says it better than these wise quotes of Ann Landers.

“Vow to do some of the things you've always wanted to do but couldn't find the time. ... Call up a forgotten friend. Drop an old grudge, and replace it with some pleasant memories. ... Vow not to make a promise you don't think you can keep. ... Walk tall, and smile more. You'll look 10 years younger. Don't be afraid to say, "I love you". Say it again. They are the sweetest words in the world.”
Cheers to the New Year and another chance for us to get it right.

Friday, December 28, 2007

A Life Cut Short

I had gone for a swim this evening and I picked up a local daily to later read in the sauna. As I turned to the pages, I saw the bold headlines "Bhutto Assassinated". Huh???? Did I miss something? I have been following the news and didn't catch anything earlier this morning.

As I read the news, I felt this sudden pull in my stomach. What is happening to the world around us?? Just a while ago, I watched some news clippings on CNN and the word "terrorism" surfaced many times. Was Bhutto's assassination a work of terrorist? Well, at least that's what some quarters believe. And to make matters worst, you just don't know if you can gobble down what's reported in the electronic media.

I am not much of a follower of the Pakistani politics. But I do like Benazir Bhutto. She had those deep caring eyes which displayed her love and concerns of her country and people. She had fought so much to bring modernity and education to the people in her country. It was a difficult struggle and yet she never failed to get it done with so much gracefulness.

Early this year, in the preface of her autobiography 'Daughter of the East', she wrote this, "I didn't choose this life, it chose me. Born in Pakistan, my life mirrors its turbulence, its tragedies and its triumphs. Pakistan is no ordinary country. And mine has been no ordinary life.'

Benazir Bhutto to me, is one truly great lady. One with courage and determination and this is just how I'd like to remember her.

Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji `oon.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays

Christmas is the season to look forward to! Love, togetherness, friendship come together to make a perfect blend on Christmas.

Wishing all the happiness this holiday season & throughout the coming year.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Salam Aidul Adha

Wishing all Muslims a blessed Aidul-Adha, 10 Zulhijjah 1428, and may this year's festivities bring us all closer to God's grace and closer to the very essence of our being, our destiny.


Saturday, December 15, 2007

Day 4 - Disneyland Here We Come

Mid day 9 December 2007

It was Disneyland right in front of our very eyes. I've never been to Disneyland before. Those 4 years in the States didn't quite give me the chance to be there. Well, when one was on a government scholarship, what could you expect. As a student, the scholarship money was just enough to cover for the basic necessities. There wasn't much left for traveling. But that was many, many years ago. And now here we were at the gates of Disneyland.

Hong Kong Disneyland park is located on reclaimed land in Penny's Bay on Lantau Island. The magic Kingdom style park first opened its gates to visitors on 12 September 2005.

The park has 3 main areas - Tomorrowland, Fantasyland and Adventureland.

The walk into the park was a pleasant one. The immaculate and beautiful landscape provided a warm welcome to visitors. Obviously, many of these "spots" became a favourite for photo takes.

As we were walking into the park, I heard a familiar language. A couple of ladies, were speaking in a lingo similar to the one spoken by Bibik and her friends in their morning gatherings back home. Waduh!!! Kamu ni "neng" (young girls) dari Indon ya??

My guess was right. They were Indonesian maids working in Hong Kong. Sunday is their hari libur (off day) and they were off to Disneyland. They must be making a lot, I guess. Just entrance ticket to the park cost HK$295 per person and that didn't include the food and drinks, which was on the premium side.

One of them was funny enough to say that she is now so "gendut" (fat) and udah rupa (looks like) Donald Duck!!

Sleeping Beauty Castle

Nissa and Mickey & Minnie in the background

After stopping at all the MUST take photo areas, we were finally in the park. was some beauty!!! We passed through the Main Street USA heading towards the Sleeping Beauty Castle in Fantasyland. Fantasyland had a couple of interesting rides.

ABE took Nissa on the Cinderella Carousel while the girls and I queued to go on the Dumbo the Flying Elephant ride.

Me & Ayna on the Dumbo ride

For starters, the ride was alright and pretty harmless. As for Mom, she sat happily on the bench by the side while watching us run up and down for our rides.

After those "intro" rides, we went to see the Mickey PhilharMagic Show. It was a 3-D show of Mickey Mouse and friends. A very good show I must say. The 3-D effects made Princess Jasmine and Aladdin flew on their carpet right before your very eyes!!!

Queue for the Jungle River Cruise

Next was the Adventureland. We decided to go on the Jungle River Cruise. Beware it may get wet!!!

ABE, Mom and girls seated at the back of the boat

This ride was OK lah.... not so scarry as what was mentioned earlier. I was a bit disappointed with the guide's distinct Chinese slang in his English. Well, what was I expecting... this was Hong Kong Disneyland. But complaints. They enjoyed themselves for sure.

Here comes the train..

By the time we finished the river cruise, it was almost 2.45pm. We wanted to go see the Christmas Parade at the Main Street USA which was to start at 3.15pm. So we walked back to Fantasyland and took the train back to the Main Street USA. When we arrived, the crowd was just starting to build up.

Mom asked if there was a place where she could perform her solat. I told her from the looks of things I didn't think there was any. She then said that in a "darurat" (emergency) situation like this it was OK to perform your prayers while sitting. know best Mom. Faris took out the compass and checked out the direction of the Kiblat and then they took turns to perform their solat. As for flag mahhh....cuti!!!

At 3.15pm the parade started. The Disney characters danced and walked passed us. It was some show they put on. At the end of it, snow (huh...snow in HK?? Manmade one lah from soap bubbles!!!) came down from the sky.

Kids punyer la bergambar sakan...ala-ala tengah snowing.

After the Christmas parade, we moved on to Tomorrowland. It was here that we spent most of our time.

ABE took Nissa to go up a ride called the Orbitron. It was quite a wait till their turns came. Mom said she wanted to get something to eat. I surveyed the eating places and they didn't look like they serve HALAL food anywhere. ABE mentioned that he had sneaked in a Maggie cup and Mom could have that first until we finished the ride. So I got the Maggie cup from him and passed to Mom. She went to the food counter and asked for some hot water. She wanted to pay for it, but the girl was kind enough to just let her have the water for her noodles.

I then queued up to go on the Orbitron with the girls and Faris told me that he wanted to go on the Space Mountain. Naik je la...apa-apa yang suka....have fun!!!

When we came down the Orbitron, we were all so, so hungry. Time to eat before any of the kids fall flat. I went to check out the fastfood join in Tomorrowland and got ourselves the fish burgers and fries. Kids finished their burgers in a jiffy and they were ready to go again. This time they said,"Let's try the space mountain!!!".

Muka lepas naik Space Mountain

OK..I must confess, my days of roller coaster rides are definitely OVER. The Space Mountain ride if compared to those in Six Flags America was nothing close. I have ridden on many other challenging and terrifying rides before. The Edge, The Wooden Roller Coaster, The name it. I've been on most of them. But now at 40 something, I guess I shall pass. However, for the sake of having fun with the kids, what the heck....I braved myself and went up the Space Mountain ride not once but twice!!!

After the second Space Mountain ride, I was beat tired. ABE dah lama surrender. So he sat and accompanied Mom. Not long after that, I too had to sit down and catch my breath. The kids went on a few more times on the Space Mountain.

Then kids ajak me to go on the Mad Hatter tea cups ride. Fuhhh...that was some spinning ride. At the end of it, I almost saw "stars"!!!

Nissa wanted to watch the Stitch Encounter show. So we queued and waited for the show. We were the first ones in the queue. Yet another interesting show where kids got to interact with Stitch and his misadventures.

Let's light up the



By the time we came out from Stitch Encounter it was already dark. Not long after that, we saw the lighting up of the Sleeping Beauty Castle. What a stunning beauty!!!

Fireworks..just warming up

This was the best view of fireworks I could capture on my compact digital camera

People now had started to gather at the Castle area to wait for the grand finale - the Disney in Stars Fireworks. At 8.15pm the skies over Disneyland was all lighted up with sparkling fireworks display. ABE carried Nissa on his shoulders so that she could get a better view. Huh...that was some 20 something kilos he had on his shoulders!!!

All buildings lighted up

Lighted and standing tall... the Xmas Tree

After the fireworks display, we walked slowly passed the Main Street USA and snapped a couple more shots. Tired but satisfied...that was what I could read from the children's faces.

One final family photo..before we left the park

Too bad....every beginning has got to come to an end. For me, I was glad that everything went well and the children had enjoyed themselves. After all this vacation was all planned for them to have a good time.

We then walked out to the place where we were supposed to wait for our pick up. There were some confusion over the bus and who were supposed to be on it. Anyhow, as what was advised our HK guide, we just stayed put on the bus. Too bad that some other people had to get down and wait for another bus to pick them up.

It was a long ride back to our hotel. Tired from the day's excitement, kids dozed off during the journey back. As for me, Alhamdullilah, everything turned out as how we had wanted this vacation to be.

Day 4 - Morning Travel Shenzhen to Hong Kong

Sunday 9 December 2007

Today would be our last day in Shenzhen. We would be going back to Hong Kong later. But 1st order of the day was as usual, breakfast. Breakfast was at the same restaurant as we did yesterday morning. When we got to the restaurant, the place was full with Malaysians or Melayu to be more accurate. Hummm......guess for Muslim tours, this restaurant has been "pajak" to serve the Muslim tourist especially the ones from Malaysia.

Hot buns sold at restaurant where we had breakfast

After breakfast, we went back to our hotel to collect our bags and checked out after that. This morning we would be taking a coach back to Hong Kong since we would be joining other Malaysians tour groups.

When we got onto the bus, it had already picked up the others. Alamak....ah sohs (aunties) and their loh kongs (husband in Cantonese) and families. Ni yang tak best ni...sikit kurenggggg with these people. Bukan sebab apa-apa....just that they were pretty "loud", if one knew what that meant. We were no racist but excuse me, could we travel in peace please? No choice...tak pe lah...I said to myself.

ABE and kids queuing outside Shenzhen Immigrations

We were then taken to the Chinese Immigrations Complex for clearance. Again we queued as how we did when we entered China that day. Unfortunately, Lychee couldn't follow us back to Hong Kong. She assisted us at the Immigrations and then told us that we would be joining the other group and their guide would be of our assistance.

Muni and kids also in queue at Shenzhen Immigrations

MINAH Comboy's hairdo...but it wasn't any close to this

The OTHER tour guide...ummm....I must talk about this woman (too bad I didn't manage to get her picture). My first impression of her was, cowboy mana plak terlepas ni???? There she was, in jeans and boots (I guess boots were just so in fashion in she decided to have em on her...ha...ha) and some "scissors cut" t-shirt (haiya...dunno how to describe lah....but it looked so, so wouldn't want to be caught dead in somethin' like that!!!) And the most striking thing about her was her hair. It was a tak menjadi Vic Beckham's hair do and it was dyed BLUE!!!! That's it....CONFIRM mai tang "bukit" mana la ni.... Anyway, I decided to call her MINAH Cowboy.

I cleared Immigrations pretty fast. The rest in my group were still in the queue. MINAH Cowboy and some of the people in her group had also cleared Immigrations. So when I saw her waiting in some corner, I asked her, "Do we follow you?" And she gave me one very "kurang ajar" (rude) reply. Almost screaming she said , "UP TO YOU!!!"

Eh..hello....MINAH...cakap baik-baik boleh tak??? By then, I could feel "panas" on my face and that was it...I told myself, this MINAH was just asking for trouble. Jaga kau!!!

So I yelled back at her..."Excuse me....helllooooo........what do you mean by UP TO YOU!!!" And I gave her my most "dirty" look. She walked away with her people and I stayed put, waiting for the rest.

Then on the bus, she was talking loudly in Cantonese. By then, I had declared WAR with MINAH Cowboy. Then suddenly the bus jerked and wanted to leave and some of the people in my group were not yet on the bus. I said to her.."Hey!!! There are still people who are not on the bus yet!!" She then replied, "Kita nak reverse bus saja." I replied back..."Lain kali cakap what you want to do can ah??"

By now, she knew that I was no one she could fool and mess around with. I was so upset with her, when I went up the bus, I physically bushed her off with my backpack. you see sapa yang or you!!!

That was a good 1 hour of tensed situation. My kids didn't say a word coz' they knew, you mess with Mom,'ve had it. She fights back. You'll be lucky if she didn't bite...hah..haha.

View of ships on the way to Disneyland

Alhamdullilah, things went OK after that. MINAH Cowboy saw that we were no "lekeh" (in Neghori dialect, it meant "ordinary") people whom she could treat like dirt. So she went over to ABE and Muni's husband, Dolah and explained how to go about in Disneyland later.

I eavesdropped on what she was saying. OK lah...good enough info for us to go into Disneyland. It's just going into Disneyland, not rocket science mahhh. I was sure there were signages in English and surely folks in park speak English as well. After all, this is a Walt Disney park, ain't it?

After about 1 1/2 hour ride in the bus, we were finally in DISNEYLAND!!! The bus dropped us at the coach parking area. After organizing ourselves and our things, we were all ready to see Mickey and gang.

So, Disneyland here we come.

Day 3 - Shenzhen City Tour

Saturday 8 December 2007

It was another early morning for all of us. We were to have quite a long day today. The day started with breakfast at 7.30am. Breakfast was at same restaurant where we had dinner last night. Breakfast was a heavy one that morning - fried rice, scrambled eggs and noodles.

A bicycle spotted outside the restaurant

Our program for the day was visit to Splendid China, a cultural park where one would be able to see the different tribes and interesting cultures of the Chinese people.

High rise in Shenzhen

More modern buildings in Shenzhen

Our guide Lychee started off with more intro on Shenzhen. She was explaining how rapid was the development in Shenzhen and how the city would play an important part in the coming Beijing Olympics. All of a sudden, she started talking about a theme park which was not in our itinerary - Windows of the World. She was then giving rates to the park and was coming on quite strong in getting us to go to the park. If we agreed, we'd have to pay like another RM500 plus per family. Huh....this was too much. We told her that since this was not in the tour, there was no point us going there. Looking at time and the amount of walking the kids and Mom would have to do, both Muni and I decided not to go for the Windows of the World tour. Lychee seemed a bit upset but we were the ones paying for it. So she'd just had to respect and accept our decision.

The bus or coach (which Lychee happily pronounced as "couch") took us to view Windows of the World from its entrance. I guess this was the usual tactics of tour guides wanting to make some extra income from innocent tour groups like us. Too bad for Lychee, we didn't fall for her persuasions.

It took a while for Lychee to figure out where she was to take us next since there were no takers to Windows of the World. She then decided to take us to the Jade Museum. OK...we figured...a museum would be good to start with in the morning.

Customers by the bus loads to the shopping places a.k.a museums

When we got to the museum, there were already lots of people queuing to get in. We were greeted by a young lady who then explained to us the different types of jade. There were green jades, purple jades, white jades and also blood red jade. Wow...I never knew that there were jades of many different colours.

Once she finished with her story on jade, she led us into another room. was a showroom where jades and jewelery of all kids were sold. much for going to a museum huh!!!

My ardent shopping supporters

As the saying goes...ladies...glitters ...they attract!! And that was what precisely happened. When the lady was explaining the science of purple jade earlier, I had already set my eyes on them. So as soon as I got into the showroom, I went straight looking for the purple jade. There were a couple of jade bracelet on display but my eyes were all set on the purple one. With the girls as my supporter, it didn't take me long to get a sweet purple jade bracelet for myself.

After my damage on the bracelet, Mom got herself a crystal jade bangle and a matching set of dark green jade bracelet and ring. Muni too got something for herself, a multiple colours of jade bracelet. The best thing about this place was..they even accept Malaysian Ringgit. Haa......a definite place where damage was to happen. After the "rush" for the jade stuffs, we also got some tea for friends and family back home.

Nissa & Ayna...that's all tea in the bag!!

When we came out of the jade museum, Lychee was all smiles. Why?? This was definitely better than Windows of the World...her commission on our purchases were ready for collection. I guess she's still new at this tour thingy. One thing for sure...with Malaysian groups, be sure to take them shopping. You'll be on your way to the cash register in no time :-))

Next , Lychee took us to a silk shop. Unfortunately, there was nothing very irresistible or with a calling "BUY ME" tag for us to get.

Way to Muslim restaurant

All the shopping got us very hungry after that. Next stop was lunch. On the way to our lunch place, Mom asked Ayna about the camera she had earlier passed to the girl. Ayna, with a panic look, searched in her bag. But......tak dak!!! Alamak...there goes one camera!!! What to do, as Mom put it, "Tak de rezeki...biar lah." True in some ways...but it was sheer carelessness too, if I were to sum it up simply.

Roti sold at the restaurant

The happy faces...after lunch, of course!!

After lunch, Mom and the rest of the gang performed solat at the restaurant. They opened up a room for them to pray.

We then boarded our bus heading towards our next destination - Splendid China. It was a big theme park depicting all the interesting landmarks of the big country. The park tour started with a warrior show, groups of men on horses showing their skills riding and fighting on the horses.

After that we went on a tram ride to see the interesting replicas of China's landmarks. There was the Great Wall and also the gardens and lakes in Hangzhou. So...apa lagi picture and posing time lah.

The tour in the park ended with a cultural show. All the different minority groups in China showed its elaborate costumes and dances. What a colourful show it was.

By the time we left the park, it was dark and we were all so tired. Dinner was next and we were heading back to the restaurant we we had breakfast this morning. It was quite a long drive and I ter"doze" off in the bus. What a day....

Dinner was good and we ate almost everything that was served. After dinner we asked if Lychee could drop us off at the shopping place. Mom, Abe and Nissa didn't want to hit the streets anymore, so we sent them back to the hotel. The girls, Faris and I were ready to shop again that night.

We spent a couple of hours at the shopping place. Got more stuffs and souvenirs for kids' friends. The girls got themselves Giordano t-shirts and Lesportsac bags. By the time we decided to call it off for the night, it was almost 10.30pm. We hailed down a cab, this time a real cab...not taxi sapu as it was in the previous night.

The cab ride back to hotel didn't take us long. When we got out of the cab, everyone was smiles all over. Mana tak sakan and they managed to get good bargains for the things they bought too. In the lift up to our rooms, I was thinking to myself....gosh, I see the making of my shopping proteges in these kids.

Day 2 - Train Ride to Shenzhen

The afternoon of Friday 7 December 2007

After HK city tour & lunch, we got onto train to go Shenzhen. The ride took us about 45 minutes to get to the last station - Lo Wu.

The ride was a pleasant one, with views of the busy streets of Hong Kong and the flourishing commercial towers and shopping centers and officers.

Check out the old woman standing behind ABE.. Did ABE offer his seat??

Your guess and mine were right .... no way ABE was going to offer his seat.

Halfway during journey, came in an old woman with packs of old newspaper. The train was slightly packed with commuters by then. She so happened to park herself near ABE's seat. Kids were already looking at ABE to see if he was going to offer the old woman a seat. Ha..ha...tak de nyer ABE bangun!!! So he buat la ala-ala advertisement kat TV3 tu...yang Adlin buat-buat buta and didn't want to give up his seat to the needy ones. Kids said, "Tau dah...Daddy won't give up his seat." And I wasn't at all surprised......ABE bole...even in Hong Kong :-((

Good for you lah ...Ah Ma....she must be sayin' this, "Me need none of your could sit on me old newspaper!!"

But I guess the old woman was pretty used to young people not wanting to give up their seats. So, she was pretty smart. In no time, we saw her gathering her collection of newspapers and boxes and she comfortably sat on them. Yesss....that's the spirit old woman!!! She went down 2 stops before us and my cheers went to her for being self sufficient and creative.

Crossing over...from Hong Kong into China

We then came down at Lo Wu station, which was also the last station. It was quite a walk to the Immigrations on the China side. There were some slight confusion over filling up our forms and also locating our China tour guide. But once we managed to meet up our guide, things went smoothly afterwards. So we lined up again....according to the names listed in the document for our Immigrations clearance.

Once everyone has cleared Immigrations, we followed our tour guide to the bus, which was parked at the other end of the Immigrations we had to walk further. Kids were ok with the walk. Mom (age 68 and still goin' strong) was ok too.....but ABE was the cranky and grumpy one. By then, the kids didn't want to "layan" him already. I saw the look on Farah's face....and it had this written all over her..."Haiya..Daddy...u walk la....just like everyone driver here....this is not one of your TNB Indian trips....where you've got drivers waiting for u hands and feet!!". Nasib baik Farah tak laser kan ABE...knowing her...push comes to shove ...she would just blurt it out.

In the bus to the hotel, our tour guide introduced herself. We've got a sweet and young girl whose name is Lychee. Yup.....just like the fruit!!! And what a coincidence too, lychee is the famous local fruit of Shenzhen. Lychee then gave us some brief intro of Shenzhen.

We were then taken to our hotel to first check in and then we came down after that to go for dinner. Dinner was at a Muslim restaurant, not far from the hotel were we were staying.

Haiya...ate so much ...face still poyo ka???

Tired and hungry, kids did justice to the food. In no time, we finished what was served to us. Alhamdullilah...rezeki jangan how the old folks put it.

After dinner, Lychee asked us what we wanted to do. Do we want to go back to the hotel and rest or do we want to go do some shopping. la of course!!! It was the unanimous voice from the ladies. ABE gave that "poyo" look....but who cares. By then, the kids really didn't want to layan their cranky ole' man. He..he...I told ABE loosen up a bit...this was the kids' holiday, remember!!! By then...I too...wasn't in the mood to layan ABE.

TGIF and shopping atmosphere in Shenzhen was shopping time!!! By the time we got to the Dong Men shopping area, it was already so packed with people. That night being Friday night, a lot of people were out in the street having fun...TGIF maaa.

Farah looking at the mountain of shoes on SALE

We walked around, got a table cloth and a Burberry look alike handbag for Mom, some stuffs for the kids and a game for Nissa's gameboy. I looked at my watch and it was already 10.00pm. Mom looked exhausted already and so was Nissa. Had it been just me and the girls, we would still be shop hopping. Ok la...I guess, it was time to go back.

Our guide had earlier told us that we could just hail a cab to get us back to the hotel. However, when we showed the cab drivers our hotel card, they didn't want to take us there. In the end, we managed to get two cars to take us back to our hotel. It was like "taxi sapu" in KL. But these "taxi sapu" were Hondas and Toyotas. We had to pay slightly more than the normal cab. But it go us back to hotel. Suspence jugak...tempat orang...mana lah tau..tourists are the most likely people that could get tricked. Tawakkal saja la....Alhamdullilah...we got back to our hotel in less than 10 minutes.

Kids then went into their own rooms. In no time everyone was in slumberland. I felt a slight cold coming down on me. So...I took 2 panadols and that knocked me up till morning.