Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Hong Kong Island @ Central & Mid Levels

I came back from Hong Kong after staying there for a week. It was the first time I really had free and ample time to wander around aimlessly alone to discover the exciting city. I might have visited and transited at Hong Kong for over 10 times since 1985 but I had never roamed the streets alone until recently.

Hong Kong is definitely a very safe and exciting place with crowds of locals and happy tourists shopping every where! My wife was away at the Hong Kong's education university for 3 days and we met up for dinner nightly. We stayed extra 3 days to catch up with my long lost friends of 21 & 16 years respectively! One was my childhood family friend who is now a wealthy tycoon living at the hills of the HKG Jockey Club vicinity and the other old friend was during my tour inside TVB Studios @ Clearwater Bay during my office trip. We didn't see each other for 21 years and he is still so funny like a comedy actor.

My wife and I also found time to make our way to visit a famous island called Cheung Chau which was a wonderful bliss. I will blog about Cheung Chau later on. You must hear about that famous Qing Dynasty's pirate Cheong Po Tsai.

I sat outside alone to admire the prominent landmarks around Central. Next to my left is the famous hotel where the popular singer jumped down to commit suicide at 6.43pm. It made me think about how fragile life is and we should help everyone who is depressed. Only depressions would cause suicides. Please spend time with your loved ones who might show depressions and worries. I quickly left that spot before that 'fateful hour' as the law of universe would see victims repeat their suicide acts at the same spot and time until their "supposedly lifetime duration". It means that if you are supposed to live as a human cycle till 80 years but killed yourself at 50 years old, you might have to kill yourself in the same manner everyday for 30 years until your 80 year's age! The same pain and bloody death would be repeatedly inflicted again & again beyond help. Every religion says humans should never commit suicide. That is the reasons many accident spots and houses became spooky & haunted due to the unseen factors.

Every Sunday, you will see thousands of Filipina maids gathering like happy birds singing & relaxing all over Central's district on their off days. HKG has not enough parks for people like them in the city's meeting point as their forests and green parks are located too far in the suburbs.

This is the famous Hollywood Road where the famous police station is located on the right. Hundreds of movies and TVB dramas have filmed this building.

We both explored around Central and decided to walk our way up to the swanky hills at Mid Level. It was truly an eye opener to see how tall and crammed the living space there. Need I say more?

The condos and apartments are so tall as we soared higher and higher till the Upper Mid Levels. It looks scary to see them building high rises on every inch of land but they are very solid buildings that have survived all the typhoons. They never had "Highland Towers" tragedy here.

It was Hari Raya and I was pleased to see a green mosque located right in between the high rise condominiums at Upper Mid Levels. I opened the small gate and promptly walked inside to admire the facade of the mosque which has nice and serene ambiance.

I saw property advertisements everywhere in Central and my eyes went really big like gold fish eyes!! Their average rentals was over HKG$20,000 until $80,000 per month! Then the selling prices for less than 1,000sq ft would start from HKG$16 million till $60 million for slightly bigger units. Walau Eh! My big eyes popped out of my sockets onto the floor. I need to be a slave for many lives to own a unit there.

As I had plenty of time to loiter around from stations to stations of the whole Hong Kong and Kowloon MTR lines, I started to notice that many people waited and met up with acquaintances at the railings that barricaded the inbound & outbound passengers! I really learnt a valuable lesson here. They could be one coming from opposite end at Chai Wan in HKG island to pass a package or documents to someone at far away Tuen Mun in Kowloon side. They just meet at the railings to pass the goods without alighting from the exit gate and board the same train back to their place of origin. That would save a lot of money and time. Our MRT extended lines are new in KL and I will definitely adopt this cost saving delivery in future.


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