Penang Trip 2013 P2 – Georgetown, Street Art By Ernest Zachas

July 25, 2013 at 11:28 am

Continues from here.

♥June 2nd♥

The last 3 years when we were at Penang, we stayed in Traders Hotel, but decided we would try a smaller hotel this time. Hence we chose Noordin Mews, a small hotel converted from a corner prewar shop lot, which is near Traders.

It was a rainy morning and we took it slow. Breakfast at Noordin Mew is ordered from a menu (not buffet). This is Zara’s.

And I have poached eggs on toasts.

Not deterred by the rain, we walked over to Jalan Kuala Kangsar, where my favourite dry grocer Fook Weng and kitchenware shop are located. Then it was time for lunch, which we had in Nonya Breeze, another must stop every time we went to Penang (even the girls would insist dropping there for at least 1 meal).

As always, the meal was good.

The girls’ favourite is the Inchi Kabin, and the fried mushroom. Zara almost licked the plate clean.

(Nyonya Breze, 50, Lorong Abu Siti, Georgetown, 10400 Penang, Malaysia. Tel: 04-227 9646)

Before we went to Penang, the hubs had already done some research and picked a few places for dessert. One of them was La Vanille, which serves one of the best macarons in Penang.

The price is not cheap though.

Girls have a tough time choosing the flavour, because we only allowed them to order one each initially.

They sell cake toppers too.

The macarons in fact were very good, instead of 1 each, we ended up having 3 each!

(La Vanille, 122 A Hutton Lane, 10050 Penang, Malaysia. Tel: 04-226 4024)

After our macaron fixed, we just thought of walking around Georgetown. The girls were attracted by the exterior of a toy museum, and wanted to enter.

Ben’s Vintage Toy Museum is just a small set up, but with lots of vintage toys.

Some of the items are still in working condition. The girls, after exploring the whole place in 5 minutes, spent most of their time playing this Tomy pinball machine which was made in 198x.

(Ben’s Vintage Toy Museum, 55, Lebuh Acheh, Georgetown, Penang Island 10200, Malaysia. Tel : 014 308 6657)

And by chance, we came across this bicycle shop. The friendly shop owner was distributing Georgetown Street Art map.

Click on the pix to get the full size map

We were wondering how to get around to see all those street art. The girls although can cycle a 2 wheeler, we were not comfortable they ride around the busy town. The shop owner took us to another section of his shop and recommended us Japanese style bicycle with a basket as back seat, and suggested we take 2, so we adult can paddle while the girls sit in the basket. Zara was a bit reluctant, worried someone she knew would spot her in one of these *roll eyes*; but soon she was enjoying herself too.

The price for these? RM16 per bicycle, we took the bicycle at 5pm, the owner said we can return anytime before 7:30pm, and that’s the price!

(Chin Seng Leong Bike Shop, 84, Armenian Street, 10200 Penang. Tel : 0125533553)

So the girls each held a map and navigated, while we did the paddling. It was quite fun, and the girls felt it was like a treasure hunt they were going on, hunting down all Ernest Zachas‘ streetart. And these were what we saw.

For every street art, there’s an unwritten protocol, people just stood away from the art and waited for their turn to photograph or to be photographed.

This is not by Zachas, but still it’s worth a photo. The Chinese writing said, “If I couldn’t fall asleep, the shop will remain opened. If I overslept, shop will be opened late.” 😛

As for this at the Chew Jetty, it’s already faded and almost all gone.

The girls enjoyed hunting down all these street art, as much as we did. In fact, they wanted to do it again the following day, but we didn’t, as hubs thought a Monday traffic in Georgetown would be more difficult to navigate than a Sunday’s traffic.

For dinner, we had heard so much about Tek Sen Restaurant, and it was nearby, so off to Tek Sen we went.

Well, the food is good, but wasn’t like really THAAAT good. Maybe they do better pork dishes.

(Tek Sen Restaurant, 18, lebuh carnarvon, 10100 Penang, Malaysia. Tel: 012-981 5117)

Back to Noordin Mews, girls were eager to see what the house keeping folks did with Fifi. There she was, placed in the middle of our bed.

This is the room we got, with a King bed + 1 day bed which converted to another single bed. I slept with the girls on the king bed, while the hubs slept on the single bed.

As with all holidays, the girls have to write in their journal before they are allowed to watch TV or use the iPad. So they wrote about their ‘adventure’ hunting down Zachas’ street art today.

Continues here.

Kissy Kissy

July 16, 2013 at 10:39 pm

Do you talk to your children about your ex boyfriends or the relationship you have before you were married?

For me, since my girls and I talked about anything under the sun (the boys they like in school or enrichment class, who they or I thought is 帅 or handsome etc) they knew how many ex boyfriends I’d had before their dad came along.

Tonight before bed time, they wanted to question me about my past. Guess who did the interrogation? Zaria, the chili padi, but of course.
The interesting bits I’d captured :
Zaria : So did you hold Mr Chineeeese Man’s hands?
Me : Yeah.
Zaria : What else did you do with Mr Chineeeese Man?
Me : We kissed.
Zaria : Ptui! Buek! You kissed him? I’m not going to let you kiss me any more. Ptui!
Zaria : Where did you kiss him? In the restaurant?? In the toilet? In the shopping mall? Ptui.. UEK!
Me : We don’t kiss in public, Zaria.
Zara : That’s why ma, you shouldn’t kiss me in school too. It’s embarrassing.
Me : *roll eyes*
Zaria : Ptui! Buek.
Me : Why can’t I kiss my boy friend?
Zaria : Ptui! His salivAAAAA. EWWWW… UEK! *scrunching her face up*
Me : Then, can I kiss you dad?
Zaria : At least he’s your husband! Boy friend, girl friend, no kissy kissy! It’s HORRID, PUTRID and DISGRACEFUL. And the least I want to say is, it’s DISGUSTING!
(I have to remember to show her this in future, and remind her Girl friend, boy friend, no kissy kissy!)

Penang Trip 2013 P1 – Kuala Sepetang, St Anne’s Church

July 15, 2013 at 9:09 am

♥June 1st♥

We made our annual trip to Penang during the school holidays, as with every year, to visit St Anne’s church and give our thanks for another blessed year.

This year, the hubs wanted a detour to Kuala Sepetang, formerly known as Port Weld, which is famous for mangrove swamp and charcoal factories. As it was not a planned stop, (the hubs just thought we still have time, and exited the highway at Changkat Jering before informing us where we’re heading), we’d done no research and don’t know what to expect. We just parked our car, and walked about. As we just had lunch (if he’d told us where we were going first, we could have saved our stomach for later), we didn’t even have room for the famous mee udang (Malay: prawn noodle), where a few restaurants were serving.

At one of the houses next to the river, we bumped into another family who was trying to gather enough people to hire a boat for a river cruise, and we agreed to join. The river cruise cost about RM60 for 4 of us (adult RM20/head, children RM20/head) for a 30 minutes cruise.

Poooh-weee! We had to put on the stinky safety vests which probably never got washed/cleaned since the first day the boat started operating.

Even with the smell bothering us, it was still quite a pleasant ride. We cruised past the fishing village.

Saw fishing boats anchored at the back of the houses.

And also went pass mangrove forest, with monkeys playing at the banks.

When we were done with the cruise, and walked back to the car, we saw some salted fish being dried. So we bought some as well. It’s very tasty by the way, should you visit this place, don’t forget to buy some of these long salted fish home.

And then we drove just a KM or 2 to get to the charcoal factories. We were told Kuala Sepetang charcoal is considered one of the best in Asia and it’s in high demand in the international market.

Just so happened we arrived at the famous Mr Chuah’s charcoal factory, Mr Chuah was about to end a guided tour to a bus load of tourists, so we joined in as well (tour is free, and to avoid disappointment, best to give Mr Chuah a call before going).

In the factory, there are domes like this which are the kilns where the de-barked mangrove trunks will be ‘baked’ and dried.
Once dried, the ‘door’ to the kiln will be sealed off for the charcoal to cool down for a further 8 days.

There were pile high of mangrove branches/trunks awaiting to be turned into charcoal.

Who, but the foreign workers, would want to work in a smokey environment? They are the ones who toiled for us so we could have our good quality charcoals!

Charcoal are broken into smaller pieces and bagged up to be sold.
We bought a big charcoal log to be placed in the house as deodoriser, as well as a pack of charcoal. 2/3 of it has already been used up since we got home. Verdict : super fragrant barbecue! So don’t forget to buy some home if you visited this place.

(Mr Chuah’s charcoal factory, 34650 Taiping, Perak. Tel: 012-573 9563)

Then it was back to the NKVE and to Bukit Mertajam. The hubs have to drive a bit faster because St Anne’s Church closes at about 7pm.

The ambiance in the old chapel is always very serene and quiet. That’s where we’ll always go to for our thanks giving.

9th year in a row… our yearly tradition of going to give our thanks, and also taking a shot at the front of the old chapel.

And we always wash ourselves at the St Anne’s water, and fill up a bottle with the water to bring home.

We’d never seemed to be able to find a good eating place in Bukit Mertajam. One year, we were looking for this highly rated place Yoong Kee which is located near the Bukit Mertajam market for lunch, but it was closed. This year, we managed to find it after asking around at the market.

The restaurant has been operating for more than 60 years. It’s at a shabby shop lot which you probably won’t notice except for the crowd gathered there.

We ordered 1 fried fish for the girls, and 1 steam fish with plum for us, and a mix vege. The vege, fried with a pork sauce, was very homely. The fish were both very good, very fresh, and well prepared.

The hubs claimed this is the best steam fish with plum he’s ever tasted.

It was a cheap and satisfying dinner (if you didn’t mind the occasional rats zooming under the table).

(Resturant Yoong Kee, Jalan Pasar, Penang, Bukit Mertajam, 14000. Phone: 04-539 8764)

Continues here.


July 12, 2013 at 2:22 pm

I’m a morbid person. I like to talk about death with the children, just so they know it’s not something to be afraid of, and that everyone goes through it.

Yesterday is one of the rare moment where Zaria has to go for a class that Zara doesn’t attend. Alone in the car with Zaria, we had this conversation.
Me : One day, if daddy and mummy died, of all the aunties and uncles, kuma (姑妈), yeeyee (阿姨) that you have, who do you think you would want to ask to be your parents?
Zaria : You and daddy both died?
Me : Yeah.
Zaria (thought a while) : Hmmm. I want jiejie to be my mummy. o.O”

Today over lunch. I told Zaria to keep quiet because I want to ask Zara the same question.
Me : One day, if daddy and mummy died, of all the aunties and uncles, kuma (姑妈), yeeyee (阿姨), ah kim (婶婶) that you have, who do you think you would want to ask to adopt you? Zaria has given me her answer, but I want to hear what you say.
Zara : Who did Zaria pick?
Me : Can’t tell you now. You tell me your answer first.
Zara : (thought a while with her finger tapping her chin) I want to live alone with Zaria. We’ll take care of each other. o.O”

I want to cry just knowing how close these 2 are.

The girls do almost everything together. I’m lucky to be able to arrange that they attend the same morning session in school, go for almost all their extra-curicular activities together. Although they annoy or irritate each other sometimes, most of the time, they get along very well and have a lot of fun together.

Zara has numerous times stood up for Zaria when Zaria got punished. She’s blocked the cane (coming down) that was meant for Zaria, told us off when we scolded Zaria too much and threatened to send her to boarding school (the little one can be a tyrant at times, if you’d been following me on Facebook or my blog), “She’s your daughter too you know.” And it shows by this question, that they do love each other very much.

It warms my heart knowing that their bond is so strong. *wipe tears away* 死也无遗憾咯.

Here is a piece of writing in Zaria’s journal (written end last year). I made her write about her sister, and think about how it would be if Zara is no longer living with us, after they had a big fight, and she said Zara was a rotten sister and asked us to send Zara away.


2 Children, 2 Reactions

July 8, 2013 at 1:17 pm

We got home from watching Coppelia Ballet very late on Saturday.

The girls fell asleep in the car on our way home. When they got home, both of them have to take a shower before they went to bed. Of course, both were in a foul mood. I helped them by quickly soaping them and rinsing them. While Zara cooperated, Zaria was throwing a tantrum, spitting toothpaste all over the shower cubicle as a form of protest.

After I’d finished rinsing Zaria, when I wanted to get out of the shower cubicle, I slipped and fall. BANG! I was sprawl on the ground. My left upper arm, abdomen, and right thigh hit the threshold of the shower screen, and I lay like that for a couple of seconds. Zara, who was brushing her teeth at the sink, rushed over and tried to pull me up. “Are you ok mom? Can you still walk?”
Although in pain, I stood up and moaned. Zara asked, “Can you still go to work?”
I asked her why she was asking me this sort of questions.
She replied, “Oh, because if you can no longer go to work, we’ll be poorer.” o.O”
She then helped me out of the bathroom.

Now, all these while, Zaria stood frozen in the shower cubicle. When I turned to her and glared at her (I probably slipped on the tooth paste she spat out). She glared back and me, “What? It’s not my fault wut.” and stomped out of the bathroom. o.O”

No apologies, no asking if I was ok from this girl. This girl has very little compassion. *shake head*


And how was the ballet?

Throughout the ballet the girls were talking with their friends (who sat on the same row) and occasionally exchanging seats (until someone at the back went SHHHHH).

While Zaria was interested in the whole 3 acts, Zara at act 3 was getting bored (guess it was getting really late). Making remarks like “When are they going to stop?” (when 2 guys danced). And when they finally did she went “YEAH!!!” and cheered so loud like she was in a football match and her favourite team scored a goal. R-U-D-E!

As for Zaria, when the lead dancer put on white tights and came out dancing she said, “Now I can see his butt which are like two paos and his giant penis.” o.O”

Weird Human Behaviour – From a Child’s View

July 5, 2013 at 11:10 am

We talked about ambition one day in the car, and Zaria said she’s undecided on what she wanted to be when she grew up.

A vet dentist (yeah, one who will extract tooth for crocodiles) or a florist.

I casually said she’ll need a rich husband to be a florist, as there’s not much income to be made, since not many people give or get flowers these days. I’m the best example! I’d never received flowers from anyone nor the hubs except the time when I had my miscarriage many years ago where I got a bouquet from my Singapore boss who couldn’t visit me personally.

Both girls replied together, “Yeah, except when they are dead! (in funerals)”

Back home, I thought it’ll be a good topic to write about, so I asked Zaria to write “Weird habits people have.” She was not very happy I asked her to write, but she knew she had to do it or she won’t get to watch TV nor have a go at the iPad.

So this is what she wrote (horrid writing because she’s extremely unhappy with the assignment).

Can you make up what she wrote?

Malaysia Haze

June 28, 2013 at 4:51 pm

The last couple of days, all we Malaysians (and Singaporeans) talked about was the haze! Facebook friends including myself were reporting on API, where to get masks, what was the visibility outside, how the haze was affecting us (itchy skin/eyes, smokey, choking feeling etc).

People were wearing masks, and my girls out of fun, put on theirs as well.

The girls didn’t go to school for 3 days, and were locked up together with me in the study, with ironiser and aircon turned on and doors and windows all shut. Pity them as they are the outdoor type who likes to cycle and runaround at the park.

I made them write about the haze when we were under house arrest, reluctantly they did (hence the sloppy writing) or they won’t get to use the iPad or start their playing session.

Now that the skies are clear and blue, and the fluffy clouds are back, we hope we’d seen the last of the haze.

Sri Lanka Part 7 – Apa Villa and Going Home

June 20, 2013 at 10:48 pm

The post and summary of the trip can be found here.

This was what we covered on this post. (Credit : Map taken from google map)

♥29th March 2013♥

The last day of our trip, we just wanted to spend time in Apa Villa and enjoy the place. According to the staff there, the property was built 100 years ago, and owned by a Sri Lankan. It’s now bought over by a European who then converted it to a small boutique hotel (only 6 rooms). It’s a beautiful place with a main house, a vast garden with mature vegetation, and another little house next to a pond. Our room was in the main house, opening up to a courtyard. There’s a big living room with huge furniture, and lots of art work.

One of the table at the dining area.

Server carrying breakfast to the guests.

Even the room key has character

Right outside our room

The courtyard

I absolutely love the old tiles used in the house.

And the garden, beautiful, with lots of flowers blooming. In the mornings, we saw some (wild) peacocks in the garden, and lots of birds visited the place. To maintain the garden, there were quite a few gardeners tending to the garden, making it very beautiful and tidy.

Fallen leaves strung up to decorate another tree, what a great idea

The pond house is away from the main house, where it housed 2 other rooms. I love the swing and the tranquility.

These are the people that added charm to the place. Our friendly server for 2 days.

The gardener who tended the garden.

Apa Villa has two properties near Galle, one is the one we stayed in, i.e. Apa Villa Illuketia, which is in land. Another Apa Villa Thalpe, which is by the sea. Guests are welcome to visit the other property while staying in one. So we thought we’ll spend some time at Apa Vila Thalpe, 15mins tuk-tuk ride away, so the girls can enjoy the beach.

It is another beautiful place.

It was a scorching hot day, so we just enjoyed the pool, and didn’t head to the beach.

After spending the morning there, we headed back to Apa Villa Illuketia for lunch, and then checked out.

The other 2 dishes (pesto fusilli, fish cutlets) weren’t that great, but boy, their Tuna Burger was heavenly…..

The girls were so tired, so we waited for them to nap in the living room before we left.

After their rest, it was the journey up North towards Colombo. I wanted to try ayurvedic massage, and this was my last chance. Asanka made a stop at Hikkadua, not knowing which Ayurvedic Centre was good, I just picked the first that we came across. Hmm…. it was just ok.

As our flight was very late in the night, Asanka had invited us over to his house for dinner and a rest. His MIL made us string hoppers.
Oh man, so much work.

These would then go into the steamer.

After a sumptious dinner, Asanka drove us to the airport.

The thing with flights to and from Sri Lanka is they are all arriving late in the night, and departing late in the night. Our flight out was 1am+, and the girls just propped themselves up on the seats at the waiting lounge and slept.

Overall, Sri Lanka is a beautiful place and still relatively affordable (except for the flight) to go to. We hope to go back soon before they become too developed and crowded with tourists.

I Will Never Let Go Of Your Hand And Keeping Quiet

June 18, 2013 at 11:15 am

We were in the car, and we heard the Hai-O parents’ day advertisement on radio. The ending was a man telling his parents, “I will never let go of your hand.”

Zaria heard that and started saying,
“Aaah, it’s silly.
Well, Don’t tell me, when he goes to school, he’ll have his parents go to school with him as well?
Don’t tell me, when he grows up and becomes a businessman, he’s going to drag his parents here and there and everywhere.
Don’t tell me, when his parents are dead, he’s going to dig out their bodies, and drag their skeletons everywhere.”


And on another day before I was about to make a call to my manager.
Me : I’m going to call my boss, so please be absolutely queit.
Zara : Can we burp?
Me : No loud burping
Zaria : Can we fart? Because I’m just about to fart?
Me : NO!
Zara : Can we breath then?

Yeah I know, I have very entertaining kids.

Sri Lanka Part 6 – Galle and Surrounding

June 13, 2013 at 2:40 pm

The post and summary of the trip can be found here.

Day 7 journey
This was what we covered on this post. (Credit : Map taken from google map)

♥28th March 2013♥

After the meager breakfast at Saraii Village, the breakfast at Apa Villa was a feast!

Huge portion of fruits for us to share.

Girls get eggs and toast.

While we adults got served Sri Lankan breakfast of appa (hoppers) and string hoppers. They were served with a light coconut curry and a sambal.

We usually have our apom and putu mayam (Malaysian version of appa and string hoppers) sweet. So, to have the appa with egg, tasted a bit odd for me, but I don’t mind the plain ones.

Initially, the plan for the day was to go whale watching, one of the to-do things in Sri Lanka. As I terrible motion sickness on our journey to Happutale, we thought we should skip it. I probably won’t be able to take the journey out to the sea. Hence we decided to take things easy that day.

We started our tour for the day late morning. Asanka brought us to a Turtle Hatchery at Habaraduwa. We had to pay a fee to enter the small establishment. There were a couple of cement tanks for newly hatched baby turtles and rehabilitating turtles rescued from the beach/ocean.

Newly hatched green turtles

Newly hatched green turtles swimming with an albino turtles

This turtle was caught in a fishing net, and have one of its flippers severed and amputated. It no longer can sink (according to the guide in the hatchery) and will never get release to the ocean.

A small area was allocated for turtle eggs incubation, with markings indicating when the turtle eggs were buried.

We were asked if we wanted to release baby turtles (the ones in the tank) for a steep price (~USD30?), we didn’t as we don’t really know if the hatchery is a non-profit organisation, or doing all these for profit. And of course, there’s a donation box to welcome any contribution.

After a while, the girls were more interested with the beach where the hatchery was located than the turtles. Don’t blame them, it’s a lovely beach.

We broke for lunch at a local cafe. Such cafes are aplenty in the town area throughout Sri Lanka, and it’s good for tea breaks or simple lunches. Usually they are very clean, and the price for a meal is very cheap.

Not far from where we were, 2 cheeky boys were spotted.

Asanka then dropped us of the market at Galle, as I wanted to get some spices. He was to meet us later inside the Galle Fort.

The fish market was getting less busy but the fish still looked fresh non-the-less.

A fish monger offered his shark teeth for sale, but no, I wasn’t going to bring this home.

Curd were sold in terracotta pots, again I refrain myself from getting one just for the pot.

Just behind the fish market, it’s the spice market. There are only a couple of shops selling spices.

We just picked one to enter. Told the shop owner what we wanted, he quoted us a price, and we started bargaining. I forgot the exact amount, but I think I paid around RM50 for 500g of Sri Lankan cinnamon.

After some shopping, we headed to the Galle Fort.

A little about Galle taken from Lonely Planet:
Built by the Dutch beginning in 1663, the 36-hectare Fort occupies most of the promontory that forms the older part of Galle. The Fort is an amazing collection of structures and culture dating back through the centuries. Just wandering the streets at random yields one architectural surprise after another. And be sure to take in the dramatic views of town and ocean from the encircling walls. Unesco has recognised Fort as a World Heritage Site. A key part of the Fort’s allure, however, is that it isn’t just a pretty place. Rather, it remains a working community: there are administrative offices, courts, export companies and lots of regular folks populating the streets.

Road signs leading to the Main Gate.

Nearby there’s a big bus station, so lots of buses were seen outside the Galle Fort.

And again, school children are often eager to have their photos taken.

It as a day where the temperature was close to 40C, it was so hot, the heat we endured walking from the market to the fort made us so sweaty and tired. Good thing Asanka was waiting for us at the old gate, so he brought us to the lovely Pedler’s Inn Cafe to avoid the afternoon heat.

It’s an old colonial house converted to a cafe. There were long wooden benches with cushions. After a nice cool drink each, the two girls and I took a nap, the hubs went walking around, and Asanka watched a cricket game.

Late afternoon, when the heat is more bearable, we started exploring the fort. There were lots of nice old buildings, little jewelry shops, boutiques, souvenir shops, cafes and restaurants.

I chose to get my afternoon snacks from a mobile vendor.

Unlike Malaysia where most street food is packed in plastic bags, when you buy street food from Sri Lanka, it’s likely that it’ll be packed in someone’s homework page. Mine was a page of English homework. Talk about recycling!

Sri Lanka is famous for their gems, we went to one recommended by Lonely Planet, PS Weerasekara Fashion Jewellery. Their items set in local and imported gemstones are more contemporary and hip compared to other shops. We each got ourselves something as a souvenir.

Outside another jewelry shop, a gem stone cutter was demonstrating how gems stones are cut the traditional way.

There were many old buildings seen, and some of them are still in used.

And makes a nice backdrop for a wedding photo.

A lot of people were heading to fort wall close to the sea to catch the sunset, so we headed there as well. Many locals were exercising there, or just relaxing.

After the sunset, we headed back inland where the shops are, because the girls wanted to get some souvenirs. Before that, ice cream first.

We headed to the parking lot where Asanka was waiting for us.

This ends our sightseeing tour in Sri Lanka. That night, we brought Asanka out for dinner at the famous Kingfisher Restaurant at Unawatuna. It’s a small little restaurant with tables set at the beach. It was dark when we arrived so we couldn’t take any photos, but gosh, the food was good! Best of all, it’s very reasonably priced. All of us, including Asanka, enjoyed it. (The girls enjoyed it not because of the food, but because they could play sand while they waited for their food).

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