Thursday, June 14, 2018

Greetings From Hong Kong

I arrived Hong Kong today. You can say it is my WORKation trip again. My wife will be attending a conference at the Education University of Hong Kong where she will speak about the Computational Thinking education in Malaysia.

We are staying at a hotel at the busy Nathan Road where there are many shopping and dining excitement. It has been raining almost everyday and we will be here for a week! I have to carry umbrella like an old lady. 

The flight this morning was pleasant but the plane was 100% full. We enjoyed the above fabulous meal on board the Dragon Air. I ate salmon with rice with delicious fruit salad & sausages plus a yummy cup of strawberry Hagen Dazz ice cream!!

The plane touched down at Hong Kong International Airport after flying for 4 hours. It was raining and I had a bigger shock to see water leaked into the plane itself! The crew had to open up umbrellas for the passengers to wriggle out of the plane. 

*Posted From My Smart phone!

Friday, June 8, 2018

Wat Chetawan - Wesak Day Celebrations

This year the Wesak Day was celebrated on the 29th of May. I joined the thousands of Buddhists who thronged the Wat Chetawan temple at Petaling Jaya. This landmark temple has become part of my journey and my face is slowly getting more familiar with the resident monks. If you recall that I once taught English conversation to several monks during the night classes which I have blogged here. It was a temporary class during their free time to brush up their spoken English as most of them have to travel around so often. I have almost disappeared from there except for twice yearly prayers conducted at the temple on my family's request for both my late parents.

Recently, I bumped into a long lost old friend who is a Malaysian born Thai. Today he heads one of the state's MACC office in the country and there are so many worms to flush out right now! He was my ex colleague during our days at Texchem Group where he saw me taking charge on some of the Japanese product designs and he decided to keep me busy to do some designs for this temple where he is a committee member.

I managed to try my hand to design this year's logo (above) for the temple using the mouse and Adobe Illustrator. This design was used to print their tee shirts and other items.  I did everything from scratch after referring to some photos and samples. My head and hands are so rusty now.

Earlier, this Thai friend had also requested me to design the above logo for their Songkran Water Festival. He gave me a few hours to hurry and I wish I had more time for improvement.

Now I have some plans to get my other friends to help me to print some postcards for this temple as they never had postcards. I felt that I should do something really different and requested my friend who has the 'drone' to shoot aerial view photographs. I was truly impressed with all the aerial view shots and am sharing just one photo to let you see. When this project is completed, I will share how the set of postcards will be displayed for public sale where all the 100% sales proceeds will go towards the temple. Hope you would kindly support this small project and send the postcards of this beautiful temple with authentic Thai architecture to your friends. Stay tuned please.


Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Popular Malaysian Kuih / Desserts

I have a terrible sweet tooth and cravings for the variety of Nyonya Kuihs sold in our country. I think we are truly blessed to have a good combination with so many races and culture here. We are spoilt with all types of delicacies from the Nyonya, Malay, Chinese, Indian and even Thai desserts / cakes being sold everywhere.

This morning I went to get my fix again and bought some kuih from the Yong Len Coffee Shop before heading to office. I realized that I do not know the names of many delicious Nyonya and Malay kuihs that I have been eating all my life.

(Photo 1) I stared at the trays above and only know the names of 3 kuihs. Do you know all the names above? I started to google for their names and was surprised to discover so many sites sharing well illustrated pictures of the kuihs/cakes with their given names! I decided to save all of them in this post for myself and everyone to refer them. I could not tag the original source of the pictures below which was illustrated by Lee Xin Li. It has been recycled a hundred times, therefore I just join them to borrow and share lah.

(Photo 2) Now I have a better idea of the origins of some kuihs/cakes above. The Kuih Kapit, Kuih Bakul, Kuih Bulan and Yoo Char Kuih are definitely from China as they are mentioned in their ancient history. As for the others, it could be a common delicacy among the Nyonya clans during the 19th Century. The Kuih Tako and Kuih Cara are still popular in Thailand today but I would not know its actual origin. I would say that Malaysia definitely has more kuihs sold here than in Thailand or even China!

(Photo 3) My favourites above are Ondeh Ondeh, Pulut Tekan and Ang Koo Kuih! Yums! I think Ang Koo Kuih is the only one (above) that is available in China as coconut is not something common there. Correct me please if I am wrong.

 (Photo 4) I am curious whether Kuih Tutu is an Indian delicacy? I love to eat Kuih Bahulu and Kek Lapis Indonesia very much as they go well with black coffee. We can find modified versions of Chai Tow Kuih, Png Kuih and Huat Kuih in China.

(Photo 5) The above delicacies look like sweets used for auspicious occasions like prayers, Chinese New Year and Weddings. They are all easily available in China and probably originated from there


(Photo 6) These are the variety of Moon Cakes and originated from China. Now we have modified versions here including durian moon cakes!

(Photo 7) The above are "Khanom" from Thailand which means kuih/desserts. I love to eat Foy Thong which is expensive and made of 100% Duck Egg Yolk. Many friends including my wife dislike the smell and it is way too sweet that could attract bees from miles away. I believe most of you have eaten the common Mango with Glutinous Rice and Pumpkin Custard.


Monday, June 4, 2018

Wrong Way Of Merit Making

It was Wesak Day last week and was a public holiday for our country. I decided to visit the famous Thai Temple in Petaling Jaya to pay my respects to the Lord Buddha and offer my prayers. I knew that the streets lining up to the temple would be jammed with many cars as thousands of Buddhist devotees would throng to this temple annually. We parked our car about half a kilometer away and walked our way up the slopes to arrive the temple which was like a sea of humans. I will blog about this later with more colourful photos.

Buddhists across Asia have always believed in the merit making rituals by releasing lives to clear some karma and making merits at the same time. Having grown up in Thailand during my childhood days, I had seen and heard much of their beliefs and rituals in many forms. Now that I am an adult today with matured thinking, I could agree and support the many temples which have often discouraged many devotees from releasing birds at the temple grounds. Instead, they are encouraged to release those caged animals elsewhere at anytime as soon as possible and not to wait for this auspicious date. Many temples have realized this method today has been abused while it has become a commercial aspect where hunters would capture and trap all these animals to sell them to vendors who would wait in vain for naive devotees to buy the poor animals.

Many big and small birds were squeezed together into small and suffocating cages. It made my heart so sick that I turned my head away quickly. So many birds had died unfortunately and the bad karma would obviously go to the bird vendor and their hunters! It confused my head and heart whether I should buy up all the cages of hundreds of birds to set them free? The hunters might be waiting somewhere to recapture the frightened birds again to resell them like slaves. It would never end just like human trafficking which has been around since ancient times. These horrendous humans would sadly never learn from mistakes when they do not have wisdom and compassion. 

Now this poor bird above, was released at the temple grounds together with other feathered friends. Many of them fell onto the ground and parked cars right away, shaking uncontrollably as if they had forgotten how to fly after being in captive for weeks! It was a sad and pitiful sight indeed. I could not even help the bird to fly or chirp some comforting words to soothe its soul. Some people chose to believe that those birds and turtles were being bred in farms for sale, hence they won't know how to live in freedom. While others believed that they were being saved enroute to the cooking pots of restaurants' kitchens. In Thailand, one could find many of these commercial methods of releasing lives which I need not elaborate as I just had to blog this after witnessing it last week. 

I read this story and decided to share its origin of Merit Making By Releasing Lives:

In the time of the Lord Buddha, there was a temple named Chetawan Wihan which was under the charge of Saributr. One summer day, a young novice went to pay respect to Saributr as usual. The abbot noticed an abnormal sign on the novice’s face and knew immediately that the novice would die seven days later. Out of pity, he told the poor novice about this and tried to console him. The novice then asked for leave to go home to bid farewell to his parents and relatives. He promised that he would come back to Chetawan temple within seven days in order to die there.
Two events happened on his way home. First, when he passed a water-hole and tried to get some water to drink, he saw fish struggling in the mud. He felt pity on them, so he took off his robe, caught all the fish and put them in his robe. He walked to a nearby pond and freed the fish there.
Later, when the novice reached an old farm he saw three birds stuck in snares. He wanted to free them, but he couldn’t because that would mean violating the second precept of the Buddhist moral code (i.e. to abstain from stealing). So the novice just stood still looking at the birds and prayed for their safety. He concentrated in praying for a long time until there was a gust blowing in the direction where the birds were stuck. The snares shook until the wires broke and the birds flew away.
When the novice arrived home and told his relatives about his expected imminent death, they were so sad that they decided to make merit for him. They weighed the novice and prepared a quantity of rice equaling the weight of the novice. They boiled the rice and presented it to the monks. They took good care of him day and night. Surprisingly, seven days passed and the novice was still alive and healthy, so he went back to Chetawan Temple.
When Saributr saw the novice, he was very surprised as his predictions had never failed before. So he asked the novice to explain to him thoroughly what he had done in the past seven days. After hearing the account, Saributr understood that the novice’s escape from death was due to his meritorious acts done from his compassionate heart – freeing fishes, helping birds to flee and presenting boiled rice to the monks. All these merits added together were strong enough to prolong his life. That is believed to be the origin of the Buddhist tradition of freeing fish and birds that has been observed by Thais as well as other Buddhists since the ancient times.

Source: “Thaiways” Vol. 18, No. 15, 2001


Monday, May 28, 2018

Happy Wesak Day @ The Starling Mall

All opinions are solely mine & subject to
my own discretion. 

We visited The Starling Mall again yesterday for our quick lunch at the popular Food court which is now getting crowded with shoppers. The stalls sell tasty food (halal & non halal) at reasonable prices and the modern ambiance with high ventilated ceilings is certainly a very refreshing place to laze and relax after your meals.

We adjourned to see the Buddhist Association's food fair which was held on the 5th floor. I got 2 tickets to watch & support their Hong Jie Jie Drama "Hot Hot Is Missing"I had no idea what this drama was all about.

I was indeed surprised to see the whole venue was packed with hive of activities where so many people were selling and buying many charitable items besides offering flowers, lights and prayers to the Lord Buddha at the altars, in conjunction with the Wesak Day celebrations. It was like a packed supermarket having big sales.

It was interesting to see Durian desserts, organic produce, cakes, bags, household detergents, herbal supplements and many types of food & drinks being sold. Everyone was doing a roaring and noisy business. 

 Musical & Dance Performance of Hong Jie Jie Drama "Hot Hot Is Missing"

We had a pleasant surprise to see my actor friend Fai Chen, all made up in a fancy costume on stage. It was my first time seeing him act in a live perfomance where he played the fatherly role. He really could sing and dance so well in that meaningful drama to entertain the many kids and adult spectators.

I really applauded the whole cast of performers who did a very wonderful and entertaining show. I did not expect it to be so entertaining as their make shift stage was so small yet they could all dance and prance happily on the whole stage. In the end, this drama got very teary when the young daughter really cried real tears on stage and pleaded with her father Fai Chen. Both sang very sad songs in duet with their mournful tone that made all the adult ladies wept so openly. My darling wife who had a very sad & abusive childhood upbringing wiped away buckets of tears too.

Later I had to ask Fai Chen about this wonderful drama's background and was told that it was directed by Mr. Mon Lim and produced by a former famous 98.8 radio DJ.

Happy Wesak Day To All My Readers & Friends!

Monday, May 21, 2018

Big Bad Wolf Box Sale

All opinions are solely mine & subject to
my own discretion. 

 It was such a tensed GE14 for me on Wednesday 9th May. It really drained out all my energy from all the anxiety, worries and excitement from watching the slow results reported through the television and smartphones. I am sure many Malaysians, young and old were all glued to the live telecasts to hear which party had won to form the ruling government. It was the first time the whole country came together in unity to vote out the corrupted politicians. 

Most of the voters slept after 4.00am and I was no exception. I woke up late in the morning with a blurry head and decided that we needed to get out of the house for some fresh air. I saw this Small Kuching who alerted everyone about her visit to the book fair at The Starling Mall. It was a coincidence as I wanted to eat my brunch at their food court as they have very good iced coffee that could keep me awake & alive. So I had planned to walk into the fair and browse some books since we are allowed to claim from our income tax.

I was very surprised to see the huge crowd of shoppers who came with their whole families. It was so merry and happy to see everyone with their index fingers all inked. Some shoppers smiled at me when they saw my long hands exposed my inked finger while grabbing some books on display.

My old friend Desmond just showed up at the fair unannounced. We all 3 book worms decided to pool our books together and bought the big box at RM97.90 which was a good bargain. We could only fill the box with over 20 books which would cost averagely RM4.50 per book which was still a good bargain. Some of our books were valued and sold at over RM100 at their original retail price.

We paid for the whole loot and checked out of the book fair which was held on the top floor of The Starling Mall. We passed a backdrop of boxes for their "Snap And Win Contest". My wife took out her smartphone. Desmond and I just started to act very silly without qualms. Many book shoppers walked pass and laughed at the 2 uncles like us, clowning & fighting away in full public view.

 10 days later...

What a nice surprise today. I received a text message to congratulate me!

This is our winning photo entry!


Monday, May 7, 2018

Practical Rattan Furnitures

I have been driving past this mobile truck for a long time and always admired at his rattan wares. The seller would display them all over the sidewalk outside the 7-Eleven. At one glance, it could transport my mind to all my childhood days and my late grandfather.

Last Sunday, I had to make stop outside this particular 7-Eleven along Jalan Burhanuddin Helmi at Taman Tun Dr. Ismail. I needed to top up my Touch & Go card which had RM2.00 left. So I took a good look at all the rattan wares on display. I thought of my late parents and grandfather as they used to have several pieces of the rattan furniture and baskets at home.

I used to ride those rattan rocking horses and rocking chairs at the houses of my cousins. It was something that I truly enjoyed and happy childhood memories came flooding back to me. I chuckled when I thought of myself riding the rocking horse today. My heavy weight would definitely flatten and kill the poor horse!

I was excited to slowly browse at all the useful kitchen wares and lazy chairs for the living room. I find that they are so strong, very light and cooling to relax on the rattan chairs. No wonder I could play overnight mahjong that lasted over 10 hours as the chairs I sat were made of cane & rattan being bound together. Seriously, I am thinking of slowly converting all my living room sofas & dining chairs to rattan pieces instead. Would you agree with my ideas?

I had to run off to top up my T&G cash card when I realised the owner was sitting on his truck. He was busy firing the strips of cane with a portable flame gun and bent all into the desired shapes. It looked so easy and interesting that I am planning to visit him again this weekend. If you are interested, I would snap photos of this talented man in action making all the wares by himself! Voila!

All opinions are solely mine & subject to
my own discretion. 


Greetings From Hong Kong

I arrived Hong Kong today. You can say it is my WORKation trip again. My wife will be attending a conference at the Education University of ...