Monday, August 31, 2009

My 1Malaysia Memories

Flicking through the newspaper today, one would see manifestations on 1Malaysia by various corporate giants are all over its pages. I don't know, to me 1Malaysia is not at all a new "concept". As I rummaged through the old family albums I found these powerful reminders from the past.

Angklong Team of Convent Seremban. Our teacher/conductor was Mrs Tan, a pretty lady whose hair was all the time neatly coiffured. The rest in the team comprised of students from mixed races. We won the Pesta Music competition in NS and as a reward we were invited to perform for the King and Queen at a Merdeka celebration in Dewan Bahasa & Pustaka.

The Year 6 Boria group. Chinese, Indians, Punjabi, Portuguese and Malays singing in harmony "Selamat lah datang kami ucapkan...." and closed each verse with punch line "Yea-bah!!"
(teka lah yang mana satu saya :D)

Convent Seremban Prefects Year 1976. Another mixed combination of students of all races. We sang, we ate and we cried together. Our headmistress was Ms Vickki Muthu and adviser was Pn Suria.

This is 1Malaysia to me. Cultivating the idea starts from young. There were no fancy adverts on tv or radio telling us how to be ONE. But we knew that we were ONE and how great it felt having each other.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Salam Merdeka


"Rakyat Didahulukan, Pencapaian Diutamakan"

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Answer

So much for trying to be adventurous with mangoes, ulam jantung and daun kadok yesterday. Pergghhhh....the moment I got home from work, my tummy felt funny. There were extra strong growls and it felt so pedih. For some seconds I thought I saw stars. Thank God I was already at home.

Ahhh tau was going to attack me. What else if it wasn't my "friendly" gastric spasm. I managed to hang on till berbuka. Bibik took centre stage with the cooking. To quote Mamasita, Bibik was the Iron Chef, as usual lah kan. She did come up with a brilliant dish using the jantung pisang - a jawanese favourite according to her. She first boiled the jantung till it soften and then mixed it with ikan bilis and cili api, perah asam limau sikit dan dimakan with sambal belacan. No way I could have that, not with my stomach acting up violently against me. So ambil bau je lah.....

While everyone else was enjoying their masak asam ikan pari, sambal paru and the jantung thingy, I had to settle with this......

Apa nak kata kan......nasib baik Abe dengan rela hati pi beli bubur nih.

And he also remembered that this is what I like for dessert.......thank you, thank you :)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Question

Salams to all. It's the fourth day of fasting today. Alhamdullilah everything is under control. Nissa is at her second attempt trying to fast this year. She managed to do about 20 days last year I think. She tells me she wants to improve the earlier set record. Kira okay lah tu kan. I'm not too pushy over this. I believe she's got to want to do it herself.

So like everyone else out there, the question of what to masak for berbuka is constantly on every Mom's mind. I see FB postings of curry puff making, recipe for masak asam pedas ikan pari and many others. Fuhhh..dah tengahari gini, perut dah berkeroncong.....meleleh gak air liuq bila baca.

I pretty much leave my cooking to Bibik during this fasting month (errr ...bukan fasting month je...tak fasting month pun Bibik gak yang masak). However today, I feel extra domesticated pulak and terasa nak turun padang.

Yesterday I discovered these greens all full grown in Abe's garden. Nak masak apa eh? Does anyone have any ideas?

Young green mangoes.....

and jantung pisang.....

and daun kadok yang menjalar dengan subur nya

Friday, August 21, 2009

Rejuvenate and Restore

We must have done more than 10,000 steps walking up down the streets of HCMC – a verifiable fact vouched by the body aches and sore muscles. At this “blooming” age, slightest exert would give instant signals to the body. Both Muni and I knew that we ought to seek help.

And nothing could be more blissful than a treat at the spa.

Spa Siam was a place we discovered on our first night in HCMC. We decided to try out its foot massage, hoping that it would help ease our sore feet. Ahhhhhh…….best nyer!!! The therapist started with a foot scrub, kinda ticklish but nice. Later when she skillfully massaged my aching feet, it was so relaxing that I instantly went into slumber. A real pro at locating the pressure points, the young therapist applied mild pressing to help ease my tensed muscles - such great physical relaxation and calmness.

The repeat visit was on our last day in HCMC. Unanimously we both agreed, nothing beats surrendering our aching bodies to Spa Siam's enthusiastic therapists. The two girls worked on our bodies, combining both ancient and contemporary techniques in a natural manner. I fell into slumber almost instantly again. When the session ended, I heard a faint voice telling me to open my eyes. Feeling a whole lot better after the 2 hours treatment, we were all recharged to head back home.

That was one bliss and to go for another one didn't seem like asking too much kan? After all we were on holiday, right?

It just didn’t seem complete if we ignored our other desirable and important asset – our crowing glory (ha..ha…whatcha think it was??). Grays all over, undesirably dry and tangled. Thus, it was obvious that we had to get it fixed.

Hair saloons in HCMC are plenty – ranging from the upmarket ones, located just a few blocks from our hotel to the small leery ones found in the back alley way of HCMC. The lady from Hong Anh recommended us the one near the Ben Thanh market. Good service plus price was reasonable that was what she shared with us.

Gambar hiasan je ni... :)

And what happened afterward was a delightful surprise. As we walked into the saloon, we were greeted by big built all so masculine guys. I seriously thought they were body guards or someone of ah long equivalent back home. Later I learnt that they were the stylist!!! Fuyoooo…imagine having your hair styled by hunks!!! So unlike the “awww ones” found in saloons back home.

The end result??? Oh yesss…rambut kami menyerlah semula after dibelai and dibelek oleh abang-abang stylist dari HCMC. Too bad we didn’t get snaps of them.

This entry puts a wrap to my HCMC RT serial. It has been two weeks since we our return and it's back to work as usual. And what is my present state of mind now? All recharged and some what motivated lah, and slowly recovering from the burns in the pocket (plus wait anxiously for the credit card bill to arrive).

Alhamdullilah, Ramadan is here again, another bliss alright. I take this opportunity to wish everyone a blessed month. May our fasting and prayers and other worship this month be pleasing to Allah. May He make it easy for us and strengthen us by it.

Thursday, August 20, 2009


Other than shop hopping, what else did we do??? Truth be told, shopping was how we pretty much occupied our time. Friends suggested that we went on a tour to the Mekong River Delta. Errr...did we? Nope....we didn't. And reason why we skipped was obvious.

So how else did we spend our four days??

Strolled along the main street HCMC and enjoyed view of the brightly lighted Saigon Opera House

Ahhh...another beautiful sight...the People's Committee building.

Malaysia's Parkson in the background, strategically located in the city centre

Coffee anyone?? Head towards Gloria Jean

Shops of all sorts...souvenirs, name it, they've got it

Green in the city

View of street before rush hour...empty still.

Dah penat jalan-jalan...lepak jap sambil.......

minum air kelapa....but Aunty ni jual sebiji RM6 wooo!!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


Getting halal food in HCMC was easy. In two simple steps, we got to these gastronomical joints. First, we Googled and second, we let our feet do the walking. Dah penat berjalan...makan pun so berselera :)

Bon Mua Four Season Restaurant, 2 Thi Sach Street, District 1.
(Unfortunately we didn't get to try out this restaurant. It is located at the end of the street, a bit poorly lighted. Didn't feel safe going there at night)

An Indian joint...Bombay Restaurant. Rather small...when we peeked from outside, there were only 4 tables available for dining.

D'Anjung is located at 3rd floor Parkson Shopping complex at Le Thanh Ton Street, District 1. Good food and services.

We had Nasi Lemak and teh tarik that night...yummy!!!

Twice we had dinner at this restaurant - Halal@Saigon. Located at 31 Dong Du, District 1. New, clean, modern and pleasing to the eye restaurant and serves good food too. Met the owner of the place, Dr Shimi, an Indian lady based in HCMC on our last night.

The Musulman Mosque is right opposite Halal@Saigon

Monday, August 17, 2009

A Confused Jumble

Try make out which is which of these mass of confusedly interlaced cables. I got somewhat carried away at snapping utility poles in HCMC. Looking at these pictures now, I gasp in a state of ultimate bewilderment. Thank God we don't find such mess back home.

A common sighting...dangling cables.

All mixed together, bet the maintenance guy has fun doing his job.

Standing under these cable gives you the creeps

But none of the rest can beat this one.......definitely one of its kind

A closer look....that's some tangled mess they've got up there!!!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

HCMC Shopping Mishmash

Women and shopping, a habit hard to break huh? In many women's lives, shopping is a hobby and a must for some. When we're up, we shop. When we're down, we shop even more. It's like through shopping, somehow we found a new focus and our moods get uplifted. What we can't solve in real life, we solve it through retail therapy (RT).

Up market shopping area in HCMC

Ho Chi Minh City was our second RT destination this year. That trip to Jakarta in April was the first. My greatest appreciation to AA for its bargain tickets, and now everyone can fly!!! (and that saving on airfare can be utilized for shopping…ha..ha) As for now, I am restricting myself from going to Air Asia website gawking for other bargain tickets. Udah..udah lah tu kan…kot lah asyik nak berRT all the time??

Gucci and other branded stuffs

Pretty embroidered purses from Ben Thanh market. Almost made the sales girl cry coz she didn't quite take to my bargaining skills. In the end, we met half way on the price.

As corny as it sounds, HCMC is a paradise for shoppers. Beautiful handicrafts and deliciously tacky tourist junk are in endless supply. Popular market place like Ben Thanh in District 1, Binh Tay near Cholon in District 5 and Anh Dong in District 3 are favourite haunts for bargain hunters. If market place is not quite your fancy, streets shops that specialized in fine quality fabric, paintings and delicate embroidery are just waiting to be visited. Along Le Thanh Ton street where we stayed, these shops are just a few hundred steps away.

Beaded clogs

Bling-bling stilettos...kena marah for snapping this pic. They takut I'd sell design to other designers kot..hah..hah :)

We took the streets like ducks to water, venturing nooks and corners of the city, pushing doors of shops that captured our eyes. One could just go crazy!!! From a fellow shopper whom we met at the market place earlier, we discovered a shop that caters to mostly Malaysians, Singaporeans and customers from Brunei. It was at this shop that we saw the ever so familiar busana, the baju kurung on the window display mannequin. My oh my…even the patung had a tudung donned on its head!!! We later learnt that tudung Ikin and tudung Ariani were tailored in this shop. Even telekung bunga timbul pun ada…. So can you imagine how frenzied we became??

Hong Anh, a boutique owned by one industrious Vietnamese lady has apparently been receiving top visitors from our country. Pictures of her with Permaisuri Agong, Tengku Fauziah were proudly displayed at both her boutiques. There was also another one that showed her accompanying Tun Siti Hasmah when Tun was there. Three of the four floors at the boutique displayed racks of baju kurung. These are the kurungs that one would find on sale at Ramadan bazaars hare - fully lined chiffon kurung, heavy with bead works of various colours and designs. And she even had matching tudungs to go with the baju kurungs!! Look no further, her boutique was like a one stop centre for the family’s raya busana. Baju melayu pun ada. Nak colour sedondon for the entire family?? No worries…the sales assistants were more than happy to get them for you. Even as we spoke, her staff were busy packing baju kurung to be sent to KL. She said the earlier shipment, weighing about 1 tonne had landed safely in KL!! A few times, I had to like knock on my head to see if I wasn’t dreaming. I was in HCMC and not in KL, was I not??

Beading on Farah's baju kurung

Beading on Nissa's baju

We went to Hong Anh twice. Banyak juga lah damage here. Both Muni and I got baju kurung for our girls, real nice ones and for good price too I must say. The two Mamas instantly fell in love with the bajus. Why?? Not only were they pretty, they came with colourful beading as well!!! Yeah..tahun ni nampak nya tak perlu nak juling-juling mata menjahit manik.

Cotton bedsheets..I got only two pieces...berat nak carry wooo :)

The intricate embroidery

Couldn't get my eyes off this TERpaksa lah beli..hah..hah

It would take me days to talk about our shopping galore in HCMC. There were so many things that stole our interest. From fabric, to cotton and linen shirts, to beaded nyonya like clogs, to smocking dresses to laquerware, to trendy Kipling bags, to embroidered bed and table linens, to hand beaded dinner hand bags….fuuuhhhh the list is endless. In fact it was like our trade mark to come back to the hotel with bags from our purchase. Our acts were so noticeable that one day the bell boy tegur us with this cheeky line, “Are you tired Madam?” I mentioned to Muni that what he actually wanted to say was “Aren't you tired of shopping Madam?” We chuckled as this wasn’t the first time we received such remarks….heh..heh.

Nissa's cotton frocks with really attractive smocking (my last attempt at dressing up my lil one, think by next year she'd say NO to these gurly stuffs)

Our "adik angkat" who sold us beaded bags at a bargain. She's now learning BM. She said Malaysian customers come to her store by the bus load. However, she a little disappointed coz Ramadan is upcoming. No Malaysians coming, business won't be as good.

My all time favourite...the laquerware. Actually I wanted to give one to a "someone". Akan tetapi takut what will the wife say about my pemberian. Furthermore, Abe said these things should come in pairs. So gantung kat rumah sendiri je lah....

Jupe with the ole-ole we got her. She was supposed to go....but.......

HCMC for now, tops our destination list for RT. And when would that list be shuffled, am not too sure. Guess we will see what happens at our next RT trip…whenever, wherever, that destination will be.

Friday, August 14, 2009

10,000 Steps in HCMC

I’d blame it on the big “S” thing. “S” thing? Ahhhh….what else, it’s the infamous STRESS. Worst still when it’s work stress - the kind that could drive one up the wall and you pray so hard that it won't make you fall sick and demotivated.

The city's most prominent landmarks, is now somewhat incongruously the home of the Ho Chi Minh City People's Committee. where SALE

It was stress alright that impelled both Muni and I into making that pronto decision to go for a quick holiday in Ho Chi Minh City. Muni was in a meeting at her office in Melawati and I was in a boring discussion in my office in Subang. A few sms exchanges went across town - between Subang and Melawati, and the next thing we knew we had booked ourselves tickets to Uncle Ho’s Land.

That was in June I think when it happened. Our busy schedules kept us occupied. There were times when we were so unsure if we could actually release ourselves from work commitments. We braved the storm alright and when the day finally came, there was no looking back, no remorse feeling what so ever, and HCMC here we come!!!

Our plane landed safely at Tan Son Nhat International Airport about 8.00am local time. I dozed off for a short while during the flight, not enough considering I hadn't slept over the last 24 hours. Never mind, I knew I’d be ok. Got all the adrenaline pumping into my system as my retail therapy will start in just a bit.

Entrance of our hotel

We took a cab from the airport to our hotel in down town HCMC. Our hotel, Hai Nam Hotel was a modest shop lot sandwiched between a jewelry and shoe shop. A few steps to the left led us to the Ben Thanh Market place and to our right, a few blocks away was the city centre. One thing good about these small hotels is that one could negotiate the check in and check out times. We got our rooms the very instant we checked in at 9.00am. about good service huh??

Roses in HCMC...beautiful!!

After having a quick breakfast in our room, both Muni and I were all recharged to venture the streets of HCMC. Maka keluar lah the maps and the notes on shopping places that we have compiled before coming. Muni had earlier gotten tips from a colleague who had just returned from HCMC. Wahhh…macam orang mengantuk disorong bantal. All the information feed that we could get was most welcome.

Ben Thanh Market entrance

First destination for the day was the Ben Thanh Market place. We went round “surveying” what was good and interesting. Ohhh…banyak lah benda yang we knew we’d do damage on. From cotton, chiffon and silk fabric to beaded handmade bags to cotton bed sheets to the strong smelling Vietnamese coffee to many, many other stuffs, we just had to control our splurging urge.

We spent a good two hours just looking around and collecting business cards as we hopped from one shop to the other. There was also one occasion when we met a group of ladies which was together on the same flight this morning. From the big bags they were lugging we could see that they had made good progress with their shopping. Later we learnt that the three ladies were on a day trip, buying all they could get hold off before their return flight in the evening. Whoooaaaa....ini sudah bagus!!! Macam gi Penang balik hari je. And what they were doing gave both Muni and I lots of crazy ideas afterwards..heh..heh (read : ade cita-cita nak buat the same stunt….)

Lunch crowd at Ben Thanh Market

The walking around made us hungry so we headed back to the hotel for lunch and solat. Lunch was instant noodles and serunding, the bekal we brought from home. The plan was to eat light and then go have dinner later in the evening.

Motorbikes every where in HCMC

Our next destination was Binh Tay market. I learnt from my research on the Internet that this market was a fabric heaven. Ahhh…a must go for fabric hunters like us!!! We took a cab to Binh Tay, and what happened when we got there was pretty much expected. There were lots of “oooooossss” and “aaaahhhhsss” as we scouted the place. Within minutes, we did our “damages” and happily carted away bags of good bargains. Happy nyer…happy nyer….

Air kelapa by the road side...ada berani nak indulge???