Wednesday, November 25, 2009

2: An Unchartered Territory - My Sojourn To Myanmar: Day 1 Story 2

Day 1 Story 2, Yangon, Myanmar

Hell Drivers and Dare-Devil Pedestrians
If you think that Bangkok traffic is scary and awful, and their drivers terrible, wait till you experience the traffic in Myanmar, and meet the hell drivers and dare-devil pedestrians here.

Oh my God, Win (the driver assigned to me for my duration of stay in Myanmar) was driving like a fiend but I reckon he's so used to it that even if he closes his eyes, he'd bring you safely to your destination.

And the pedestrians!!! Oh my!!!! They criss cross the roads at their fancies. What I realised is that in Myanmar, pedestrians, saykal riders (trishaw riders), and peddlars on carts are the Kings of the Road, unlike in Malaysia.


In Malaysia, if you so much as dare to zig zag to cross the road, in no time you will be a "mechanic" and a another statistic in the number of road deaths!!! 

Plaza Yuzan
My first stop was at Plaza Yuzan. This Plaza reminds me of Pratunam in Bangkok and S&M in Kuala Lumpur. Nothing much fancies me, although May and Sharon, and her mum, thought they could interest me to buy Myanmar's traditional dress (a sarong and a short blouse).

We just did a lot of window shopping. However,just before we left the Plaza, I saw this pretty twirling black and white skirt, fell in love and bought it without much hesitation. If truth be known, I have a really soft spot for anything which comes in black and white. That was my first purchase in Myanmar and the only purchase at  Plaza. 

Sayasan Plaza (Sculpture Creation From Fallen Trees By Nargis )
Next, I was taken to Sayasan Plaza, a Plaza where they house and sell Myanmar crafts and the very famous Myanmar jades and pearls. And more recently, they added wood carving stuff.

What was simply amazing about those wood carvings was the fact that the Myanmar government decided to turn a tragedy into a profit-making business. In May 2008, Nargis typhoon hit Myanmar. The cyclone made landfall in the country on May 2, 2008, causing catastrophic destruction and at least 146,000 fatalities with thousands more people missing.

However, what the government had ingeniously done was to capitalise on the fallen trees and made amazing and breathtakingly beautifulsculptures out of them.

Myanmar Jade
I'm one female shopper who's not really into decking myself with jewelleries, though I don't mind simple rings or pendants. Hence, pearls and jades are not really my cup of tea. But, Sharon and her mum thought that my trip to Myanmar would be incomplete if I don't bring back Myanmar jade so her mum bought a complete set for me, one each for ring and pendant and two for earrrings, and a big one for bracelet. 

Halal Food and Halal Hotel
I had agreed to put up at Panorama Hotel when told that food served there was halal, despite the higher hotel charges (double the price I paid elsewhere in Yangon).

I was kind of excited coz rarely did I get to savour halal food in a hotel when I'm abroad. I was planning to order room service for dinner. When I opened the menu, I had the shock of my life.


Suffice to say, I ended up eating maggi in a cup!! And for desert, I had plenty of fruits which Sharon's mum had asked Win to to buy (he actually bought so much banana that it could feed almost a household of people). I also had a slice of durian cake which I had brought from KL. Thank God.

And that night, my sleep was fitful.  The aircon had malfunctioned earlier and when they came to repair it became too cold. I was tossing here and there, and ended up falling asleep only at 5:00 a.m. And before I realised it, it was time to perform my subuh solat (in Yangon, subuh begins at 4:30 a.m) and sun rises at 6:01 a.m.! 

Points to note when you're in Myanmar
1/ US Dollars vs Kyat vs RM
Most (maybe all) budget hotels only accept US dollars. They don't even accept kyat (their own currency, which I find highly perplexing).

And when you take delivery of the US dollars at your money changer, be VERY SURE to check that the notes are in PERFECT condition.  There musn't be the slightest damage or tear, coz it'll be rejected.

However, if you look at the kyat in circulation, oh my!!! Even though it's torn and tattered and falling apart, it's still in circulation and still deemed legal tender. What an irony!!! And I left all my kyat in Myanmar (exchanged and donated almost half of them to May) as kyat is not accepted at money changers in Malaysia.

2/ Never believe everything they say
What I've learnt from the episode at Panorama Hotel, especially as a Muslim, is not to believe everything they say.  Thank God, I'm rather inquisitive, hence discovering that the food served at the hotel was not halal despite them trying to convince me otherwise.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

1: An Unchartered Territory - My Sojourn To Myanmar: Day 1 Story 1

11 November 2009, Wednesday (24 Zulkaedah)

Day 1 Story 1, Yangon, Myanmar

Thank Goodness, I had arrived safely in Myanmar, without much fanfare or drama, unlike my aborted trip earlier.

28 Days in Myanmar!!
In the plane, both May (my Myanmarese student's cousin) and I were seated at the same row as a British guy by the name of Jeremy, who was going to Myanmar for 28 days as a back-packer!!! Can you imagine that?

May and Jeremy (a British)

When I told my friends back in Malaysia that I was going to be in Myanmar for 8 days, most of their jaws dropped!!! 28 days, they would probably drop dead!!!

"Pasar Borong" Airport
In any case, upon arrival, I was shocked by the sheer number of people at the airport. It was more like a 'pasar borong' (wholesale market) to me. There was chaos everywhere. I was told later that the sea of people was due to a haj flight leaving Myanmar. No wonder!!! For a moment, I thought that the throngs of people are a normal sight at the airport.

My Luggage!!!
As May was picked up by her family, I was frantically searching for Sharon (my ex student) and was deliriously happy to see her as I was feeling kind of disoriented with the horde of people, some were pleading to help carry my luggage. Of course, for a fee!!!

Sharon's Youthful Looking Mum
Sharon introduced me to her mum, who looks not a day older than her. Despite being in her mid 30's, she looks very youthful. And I was also introduced to May War, Sharon's friend, and Tun Tun (May War's cousin). OMG, it was like an entourage had come to welcome me at the airport.

Left to Right: Sharon, May War and Moh Moh Lwin (Sharon's mum)

And the driver, Win (whom Sharon's mum had hired to take me around for the duration of my stay in Myanmar) drove us straight to Panorama Hotel. I was kind of surprised as I was told earlier that I was going to put up at Eastern Hotel.

Win, on the right

May War explained that they had specifically chosen this hotel as the food served is halal. I was feeling excited at the prospect of taking breakfast at the coffee house, instead of in my room, which would be a choice of either maggi noodles, or tortilla bread with serunding or tuna.

Panorama Hotel, Yangon, Myanmar

After a little discussion, we decided that it was best for us to hit the trail right away, as most shopping complexes close at 4:00 p.m in Myanmar. And as I wasn't really feeling hungry as I had eaten a mini nasi lemak for brunch on the plane, I decided to skip lunch.  

Continued... in Story 2.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Yangon, Here I Come

11 to 18 November 2009

This is where I will be spending my next 8 days...........

I Will Miss......

10 November 2009, Tuesday (23 Zulkaedah)

No matter where I am in the world I will miss Malaysia occasionally. There are certain things that I miss most when I'm away from home.

I will mostly miss the people who fill my life. If my husband, my sons and my daughter, are not with me or close by, I can get homesick pretty quickly.
What I will miss most when I travel to Myanmar for 8 days starting tomorrow, apart from the people who fill my life, would be: (not necesssarily in this order):
  1. My laptop (penning my thoughts in my blog and facebooking)
  2. My bed (the familiar dent on my side of the bed)
  3. Tinkering in my kitchen
  4. Looking out my bedroom window and watch the day/cars/people pass by
  5. And of course, who wouldn't miss Malaysian food when they are away.  In fact, I would crave like crazy curry, nasi lemak and roti canai, despite not eating these sinful food regularly
Note that I did not mention that I will miss my pillow. That's simply because, wherever I go, my small pillow goes with me.  My pillow is special as it is a cervical pillow, suitable for people with multiple slip discs. I've not slept on a normal pillow since I was involved in a car accident in 2003, which caused injury to my spine, specifically, my cervical discs.

In any case, I'm sure you will agree with me that no matter where we go or how happy we are in the country we visit, there will always be things we miss from our homes. SO I was just wondering, in the spirit of nostalgia, what do you miss most about your homes, what do you miss most when you away from home, sweet home?

Cry If You Must!!!

10 November 2009, Tuesday (23 Zulkaedah)

I was watching this programme "Macam-Macam Aznil", where Aznil's (the host) guest was Nagasri, a well-known dramatist on TV.  And part of the script for that programme was to ask Ngasri to demonstrate how he acts out sad scenes.

Aznil was also trying to prove that crying comes easily for some people, whereas for others, it's an uphill task. Later, he asked two audience members to cry. And his point was proven when one lady had trouble shedding tears, whilst the other one cried almost immediately.

Being an experienced actor and given that he has acted out many such scenes, Ngasri had little trouble getting into a sad character. In no time, tears was freely flowing. Hey, guys are not supposed to cry, but in acting, and in real life too, I've seen men cry.

I do not know about you, but I feel that crying is healthy. You may have heard someone saying, “Don’t be afraid to cry. It will free your mind of sorrowful thoughts.” Or, "If I need to cry, please help me to let go.

We can opt to stow things, or we can opt to let go of things. If we opt to stow things, then we will feel a deep sorrow, or anguish, self pity, or dread. Sometimes we feel a strong urge to cry. On the other hand, sometimes we are taught it is not okay to cry, especially for men.

What most people don't realise is that God created the human being to cry. Crying is a form of release of your pent-up emotions. This release enables us to let go of thoughts that are not helping us, so we can open to new thoughts that will help. Crying is natural for women and men.”

For me, crying comes easily. As Aznil was asking Ngasri to act out the sad scene, my tears was already freely flowing. I can easily cry whenever I think of my late mum or my late dad. The tears will pool automatically. In fact, I cry as easily as I laugh.

It is okay, necessary and sometimes daunting and terrifying for both men and women to cry during grief. Personally, I reckon it's okay to cry, even publicly.  Without a shadow of a doubt, the whole world will not cry with you, but, CRY IF U MUST!!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Are We Thankful?

9 November 2009, Monday (22 Zulkaedah)

God has given us a lot of graces,
but we forget all.
The small child gives us a lot to think about ourselves.
Are we still whining?
Are we still not thankful?
Are we still not grateful?
Are we thankful for all that God has given us?

The Heavenly Boiled Tapioca: Care To Try?

9 November 2009, Monday (21 Zulkaedah)

Do you know how tasty boiled tapioca is? The taste is simply heavenly, especially if you eat it with steamed grated coconut.

In KL, it is rather hard to find stalls selling this delicacy. And two places that I know of that offer this for breakfast are Gerai Kak Long at Bandar Tun Hussein Onn, and Mayang Sari resataurant in Gombak.
For those who have never tried this delectable delicacy, you certainly do not know what you are missing in life.
Imagine, tapioca used to be food for the desolate and the poor, and was a staple diet during the Japanese Occupation (my late mum used to relate how she and her siblings would eat tapioca during the World War as food was scarce at that time).

And today, a small plate of boiled potato with grated coconut would cost you nothing less than RM4-5 a small plate!!!Time sure has changed.
I urge you to try to know what "heavenly" means.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Sunshine and Rainbow Will Emerge.......... After the Rain

8 November 2009, Sunday (20 Zulkaedah)

This picture was taken from my bedroom window
as the rain patters down the awning at my balcony

Also taken from my bedroom window, 
I love watching the peppering of rain drops against the wind chime

Rhythm of the Rain
No matter what your grief,
No matter what your anguish,
No matter what your sorrow,
Sunshine will emerge after the rain.

Conceivably, you may falter, perchance even tumble,
But The Almighty is always there
to resolve your predicament.

The Almighty feels every despair,
The Almighty feels every misery,
The Almighty hears your cry,
The Almighty sees your tear,
But do not despair,
The Almighty can soothe
your every angst
and fear.

Your grief,
your anguish,
and your heartache,
may traipse all through the night,
But swiftly peter out at the break of dawn.

The Almighty
is hovering
someplace above,
To bestow you His mercy
and shower you His love.

No matter what your grief,
No matter what your anguish,
No matter what your sorrow,
Rainbows will emerge after the rain.

All I Wanna Do Is Go Buy Groceries....

8 November, Sunday (20 Zulkaedah)

"Sayang, please don't go ," pleaded my husband.
"GO!!! Since you refused to listen to me!!", my husband roared.

And all I wanna do was go shopping for eggs, meat and vegetables.......

Friday, November 6, 2009

Can We Go Watch "The Time Traveller's Wife" movie?

6 November 2009, Friday (18 Zulkaedah)

I can't wait to devour Audrey Niffenegger's The Time Traveller's Wife book, which I bought recently.
I was pleasantly surprised when the purchase came with two complimentary tickets. The story has now been made into a blockbuster movie.

I'm waiting for the day when my husband is free, so we can both watch together this high-end romance rejuvenated by a clever time-travel device, a winning combination of fantasy and human drama.

Dear hubby, when can we go watch this movie before the validity of the tickets expires?

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Lessons From Noah's Ark

5 November 2009, Thursday (17 Zulkaedah)

This was an extract of an email I received from a friend in Singapore, which I deemed worth sharing.

Everything I need to know, I learned from Noah's Ark .
ONE: Don't miss the boat.
TWO: Remember that we are all in the same boat!
THREE: Plan ahead. It wasn't raining when Noah built the Ark.
FOUR: Stay fit. When you're 60 years old, someone may ask you to do something really big.
FIVE: Don't listen to critics; just get on with the job that needs to be done.
SIX: Build your future on high ground.
SEVEN: For safety's sake, travel in pairs.
EIGHT: Speed isn't always an advantage.. The snails were on board with the cheetahs.
NINE: When you're stressed, float awhile.
TEN: Remember, the Ark was built by amateurs; the Titanic by professionals.
ELEVEN: No matter the storm, when you are with God, there's always a rainbow waiting.

My instructions were to send this to the people that I wanted God to bless and I picked you. Please pass this on to people you want to be blessed.

Friends Leave Footprints In Our Hearts

5 November 2009, Thursday (17 Zulkaedah)

Many people will walk in and out of your life,
But only true friends will leave footprints in our hearts.

To handle yourself, use your head;
To handle others, use your heart.
Anger is only one letter short of danger.
If someone betrays you once, it is his fault;
If someone betrays you twice, it is your fault
Great minds discuss ideas;
Average minds discuss events;
Small minds discuss people.
He who loses money, loses much;
He, who loses a friend, loses much more;
He, who loses faith, loses all.
Beautiful young people are accidents of nature,
But beautiful old people are works of art.
Learn from the mistakes of others.
You can't live long enough to make them all yourself.
Friends, you and me ...
You brought another friend ...
And then there were 3 ...
We started our group ...
Our circle of friends ...
And like that circle ...
There is no beginning or end.
Yesterday is history.
Tomorrow is mystery.
Today is a gift.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Misfortune Seldom Comes Alone To The House...

4 November 2009, Wednesday (16 Zulkaedah)

When It Rains It Pours
Did you ever have a day when everything went wrong? I mean a day when everything you did just didn't work. This was my day. This was the day when not only it rained, it poured!! 

Myanmar Here I Come
30th October was the day I was supposed to go for a week's vacation to Myanmar. First thing after I got out of bed, I searched for my luggage locks and couldn't find them.. After frantically rummaging through all my luggage, I finally found them right at the bottom of one of the bags. Thank God, but I was kind of flustered by then. It was the start of bad things to come.

Row "G"
After my husband had dropped me off at the airport, I looked up the flight information board to see which row I needed to go to, to check in. And the flight to Myanmar read "Row G". 

Row "G to Row "F"
So, after Sharon, a Myanmarese (my ex student who was traveling with me) arrived, we both pushed our trolley and queued up at Row G. Once we reached the front of the queue, I asked the Customer Service (CS) staff manning the queue which counter to go to since most counters had indicated "Hongkong" as their flight destinations, only to be told by him that the row we should be queueing should be Row F. I muttered under my breath, "If it's Row F, why on earth did the board display Row G"????

In any case, I thought, "No big deal. We'll just have to queue again. I was still high-spirited. After all, I was going on a much needed holiday. 

Row "G" to Row "F" to Row "C"
So, once again, we both pushed our trolley, and this time we patiently waited for our turn to check in at Row F. Once we reached the CS staff, he asked for our destination. Would you believe what he told me, "Sorry, if you are going to Mynamar, you should go to Row C, that's the counters for all flights to Asia."

Boy!! This time, I was beginning to slowly simmer. I was cursing under my breath. Why couldn't they get this simple thing right? If it's Row C for all flights to Asia, why couldn't their board display the correct information in the first place???

Row "C"
And once again, we quickly pushed our trolley to Row C.  And this time, just to be sure, I had crossed to the front of the queue to ask the CS staff, and this time, he confirmed that we were at the right row. 

Ticket and Passport
Phew, we heaved a sigh of relief. Once our turn came, we happily walked up to the counter staff and was greeted warmly by a young male staff. And I thought, "Finally, things were looking positive, and I was well on my way to Mynamar." I placed my ticket and passport on the counter and started day dreaming.

Moh Moh Lwin, Tun Tun Oo, and Aung Kaung Myat
I've been planning this trip with Sharon the last couple of weeks. And I was so looking forward to meeting her mum, Moh Moh Lwin, her dad, Tun Tun Oo, and her little brother, Aung Kaung Myat. 

And my mind raced to the interesting places/spots that Sharon was going to take me to. And I was relishing the thought of all the shopping that I was going to do. 

Visa, What Visa?
As I continued day dreaming, suddenly I realised that the counter staff was talking to me and asking me a question, "Maam, where's your visa?" I was thinking, "Visa?" My brain couldn't compute the word. What was he talking about? "Yes, you would need a visa to go to Myanmar!," he continued.  

Exemplary MAS Counter Staff
My jaw dropped. I actually felt like crying at this point. There began an exchange of civilised (note, I didn't say "heated") conversations between the counter staff and me, and later, he even spoke to his superior to see if he could help sort out my problem. I actually admired his cool demeanour, given how frazzled I was, and the circumstance I was in. I was quite stressed out, to say the least, but keeping my cool as he was very patient and professional as he went about trying his best to help me. 

Why the Exception?
He had advised me to go to the Myanmar Embassy to apply for the visa and directed me to go to the 3rd floor to the MAS ticketing office to change my flight to another date. I had told him that I wasn't even aware that I'd need a visa to go to Myanmar.  I don't need visa to go to SEA countries. So why the exception?? 

Oh Boy, Myanmar: Only in My Dream
Finally, reality hit me that I was not flying to Myanmar today, as without a visa, I would be refused entry upon arrival. The counter staff tried to get the telephone number of Myanmar Embassy but for some strange reasons could not obtain it. He then directed me to the Customer Service counter.

Sharon Left Without Me
By then, I was resigned to the fact that Sharon had to travel back to her country without me. So, we quickly told the polite and exemplary staff that he should proceed with checking in Sharon, and I would have to deal with my situation later as time was running late for Sharon. We spent almost 45 minutes at that counter!!! In any case, I would like to offer my bouquet of appreciation to that staff (sorry I didn't manage to get his name, but hoping to meet him again next week, so I could find out his name).

After Sharon had headed towards the Departure exit, May (a fellow Myanmarese and Sharon's best friend, who accompanied her to the airport) and I proceeded to the Customer Service Counter. I had wanted to confirm with the Embassy first whether I could get an express visa before I changed my ticket to enable me to travel the next day. 

Frantic Calls To No Avail
After obtaining the Myanmar Embassy's telephone number, I dialled numerous times but there was no ringing tone and had requested for an alternative number. Again, I called many times, but to no avail.  No one was picking up the calls despite it being past 9.00 a.m. 

Snappy Decision
By then, I was frantic and had to make a quick decision. I made a call to my husband who was shocked to discover my predicament. As he was busy, he sought his secreatry's assistance to call the Embassy to make some enquiries.

A Friend In Need Is A Friend Indeed
Meanwhile, May spoke to her Myanmar agent, Hayman to seek her advice. And she gave me her Myanmar Embassy contact who could help me to process an express visa, of course with an extra fee.... Given my situation, I was prepared for anything..

Later, my husband's secretary even gave me her contact, a Myanmarese professor who happened to be at the Emabssy at that time, if I needed his help. 

Lugging My Luggage Home
Since I couldn't get through the Embassy, I decided to go there myself, with May. So, we took a taxi back to my house to drop off all our luggage (mine plus Sharon's as her load was ovedrweight). And later we took a different cab to Myanmar Embassy. 

Don't Judge a Book By Its Cover
When we arrived at the Embassy, the taxi dropped us off at the entarnce to what looked like a very sleazy and rundown place. Never in my wildest dream did I imagine an Embassy to be looking like that. It looked very lifeless and dreary, just like the predicament I was in. 

Oh My, A Hidden Connecting Door
I made a call to Hayman's contact, and shortly later, he emerged from a side door, and then only I realised that that was a connecting door to the actual Embassy.  Where we stood was just the section for visa applicants. 

You Wait At the Canteen!!
And once we introduced ourselves, he asked whether I had filled up my visa application form. After telling him that I had not, he said, "Okay, you wait at the canteen. I will come back with the form'" which I found very amusing and hilarious. 

For Once I Felt Good That Morning!!
The so-called canteen was across the same ground, so May and I proceeded there, and saw many Mynamarese sitting and hovering at the canteen. When I saw the contact approaching with the form, my heart was lifted up at this point, and I really felt good for once that morning. 

Light At The End of The Tunnel
I was told to come back to collect my express visa by 5:00 p.m. Finally, I could see light at the end of the tunnel. 

KL Sentral
Right after we left the Embassy, we hailed a cab to go back to my house before going to KL Sentral to the MAS ticketing office, but I changed my mind mid way, and decided to go straight there using the same cab. 

My Jaw Dropped A Second Time
Once my turn came at the ticketing office, I told the staff that I wanted to change my flight to the next morning, but was shocked to be told that all seats were fully booked and the only available seat was in business class. I needed to fork out RM1300, which was way too expensive. No way did I want to spend this kind of unnecessary expenditure!!! 

When It Rains It Pours Again and AgainI was utterly disappointed as I was very confident of getting a seat. And if I thought that the misfortune that had befallen me was about to end, I was wrong. To add salt to the wound, I was told that because I had missed my flight to Myanmar, they had to cancel my flight back to KL too. 

A Worthy Penalty
My mind quickly went back to why I was here in the first place. My heart sank once again. I wanted to curse the day, but for some reason, I held my tongue. I politely asked her to see if there were other available flights to and fro Myanmar at a more affordable fare as I had to pay penalty for changing the flight dates. Finally, she confirmed that I could fly on the 11 November and come back on 18 November with a RM350 penalty. 

Finally, I Could Smile Again
I smiled as I realized my day was getting better. This was a better deal than I had expected. I had anticipated to be penalised for both sectors.

And I got May's help to call my Mynamar Embassy contact to tell him that I did not need the express visa after all, as I was only travelling much later. So, I saved a bit on the processing fee plus I needn't go back in the evening to collect the visa. By then, I was already dead tired. The whole fiasco was draining my energy, both physically and mentally. 

Betweeen Us, We Could Eat a Horse
Neither May nor I had taken our breakfast.  For me, with all the morning's happening, I did not have any appetite to eat. But after leaving the ticketing office, suddenly we both were ravenous. We were so hungry we could eat a horse.  As May wasn't too keen on spicy food, we stopped at KFC for lunch, as by then, it was already almost 12:00 p.m. 

I Was Sure Enough Misfortune Had Befallen Me, So I Thought....
On the way back home via LRT, I finally started feeling like maybe the day wasn't so bad after all. Even though I still had to send May and Sharon's luggage back, things had started looking up. I had everything I needed, and was well on my my way to getting things taken care of. And so I thought. 

Lurching Escalators Anyone?
We had to take a train from KL Sentral to Masjid Jamek (MJ) and another train from (MJ) to Bandar Tun Razak. As we were taking the escalator at the Masjid Jamek station, suddenly, the escalator lurched violently and halted, with most commuters thrown and kissing into one another's back!!! On reflection, I realised I might have suffered my third whiplash, because since that day, I have had excruciating pain in both my cervical and mid spine. 

Bad Karma
Once we reached the top, both May and I burst out laughing when I commented to her that I had never experienced a lurching escalator ever in my life, despite taking many escalators before. And I jokingly told May that maybe her karma was not so positive...

After my son and I sent May home to Shah Alam, I went home, actually feeling quite relieved that my holiday was not meant to be, just yet. 

True Value of Friendship
My bad day turned out to be a day that I learnt the true value of friendship and what the maxim "A Friend In Need Is A Friend Indeed" actually means.

I learnt to keep my cool and fortitude when I was under duress. I also learnt to laugh at myself for my sloppiness (in not finding out beforehand about the requirement for visa). 

Blessing In Disguise
And I'm grateful too that I got to spend more time with my kittos and husband, especially in the absence of a maid in my house. At least, I didn't feel so guilty about leaving them in the lurch while I went vacationing. As a minimum, they still got to enjoy their favourite dishes (like daging goreng, daging masak hitam, kueteow special, mee bandung muar, nasi lemak, kari udang, asam pedas), to name a few, within these few days. In fact, it was a blessing in disguise.

Thank you Allah for this day that though it seemed very bad, became one of the greatest blessings I ever received.

I Wanna

4 November 2009, Wednesday (16 Zulkaedah)

This is where I wanna be. 
I wanna laze around by the beach, without a care to the world.
I wanna hear the rush of the waves.
I wanna walk along the pristine white beach
I wanna dip my feet in the unspoiled white sand
I wanna look up to clear blue sky.
I wanna feel the soft breeze against my skin.
I wanna inhale the fresh unsullied air. 
I WANNA be here!!!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Lucky Despite One or Two Bad Apples

3 November 2009, Tuesday (15 Zulkaedah)

Yesterday afternoon, as I was peeling the tons of onions, shallots and garlic (as my kids are crazy over fried shallots), I was thinking about the Indonesian maid that my agent promised to bring in by the end of this month.

I missed having a maid to do all the routine and mundane chores in my house. I do not mind doing most housework but peeling onions, pounding stuff in my mortar, and ironing, are certainly not my cup of tea, chores which I'm not passionate about at all.

I'm very much looking forward to the arrival of my maid to lighten my burden as I'm still nursing a spinal problem.

Just as I dream about the maid's arrival, I received a phone call from my agent who told me a piece of bad news. He said that because of the recent brouhaha about Indonesian maid (the murder and abuse cases), Indonesian government has put a stop (temporary or otherwise) to the inflow of new maids. Gosh, there goes my dream. I was fuming and was thinking why the majority of employers are penalised because of one or two bad apples!!! Urggghhh!!!
Immediately, my husband asked me to contact the company providing weekend help as he reckons I would need help now that no maid is forthcoming.

As luck would have it, later in the afternoon, I received an sms from my sister asking if I still needed a maid, and gave me the contact detail of an agent who could supply Indonesian maid. Hmmm... I was surprised, what with the recent spat between Malaysia and Indonesia.

Without a moment to lose, I called this lady, by the name of Ustazah Jeliah and she confirmed that she has two maids waiting to be employed. Both are on social visit pass, and I could try one out. And if I find her suitable and competent, she would look into processing her work permit.

So, later that night, we drove all the way to Taman Kosas to meet the agent and brought our new maid home. Her name is Sulis Stiyani, 38 years old.  Looks decent, but through my experience, looks are belying, and I've learnt not to judge a book by its cover, like decent face, monstrous character; monstrous face, timid character, or the likes of it.

I pray to Allah that she would turn out okay. I fervently hope that she would treat my father in law well, and not abuse him, like my previous schizo maid. Also, I'm tired of training new maids. I have to start all over again once I hire a new maid, and let me tell you, it's no mean feat training them. I hope she'll stay long with us and alleviate my burden.

Ina and I Declared War on These Creepy Crawlies!!!

3 November 2009, Tuesday (15 Zulkaedah)

While I was preparing breakfast for my family today, I felt something brushing my feet, and as I was AVERSE to creepy crawlies, especially cockroaches, I shook off my foot, and true enough, I saw a roach flung a short distance near my feet. I felt revolted and sick to my stomach and quickly looked for my insecticide, but couldn't find it in the kitchen, despite having bought 2 canisters recently.  I rushed to my bedroom, and believe it or not, couldn't locate them either.

When I entered the kitchen again, I was looking high and low for that miserable, nauseating, horrendous and revolting lone ranger, but it probably was hiding from me, lurking somewhere. I was tensed and on my guard, when suddenly, through the corner of my eye, I saw something crawling near my feet, and this time, no way was this wretched beast going to get the better of me! I quickly stomped my slippered foot and snuffed the life of this good-for-nothing monster!!!
I do not know about you, but I will go berserk if a roach crawls up my legs. Once, when my eldest son was about a year old, and I was carrying him at that time, I felt something creeping up my leg, and I knew for certain it was that stomach-churning beast.  I was hysterical to say the least, and was screaming my head off, like a stark crazy woman. I almost dropped my baby at that time. Of course, after shaking off my legs repeatedly, the fiend scurried away!!!

Anyway, coming back to this war that my daughter, Ina and I had declared on this brute. Right after breakfast, I saw that there were two messages on my mobile.

Upon checking, I realised that there were 2 messages from Ina and they read, "Ma, Ina wants to declare war on roaches starting today. Urggghhh..They love entering my room, especially when I'm studying.  Urgggghhhh!!!"

And the second message read, "Because of the roaches, I dropped my laptop and the cooling pad wire snapped! The roaches drive me crazy and I'm having tension early in the morning!!!

That made the two of us. Like my daughter, I too have declared an all-out WAR against these hideous and stomach churning skunks!!!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Cruise To Nowhere

1 November 2009, Sunday (13 Zulkaedah)

Whatever you do, let yourself dream, let yourself fantasize about where you'd like to go, even if you may not be able to pull off your ultimate journey just yet.  Wherever it is, begin to plan and make your adventure a reality.

I have been fantasising and dreaming about going on a cruise to nowhere.
Just me and my soulmate.
Would this just remain a fantasy, or would it, one day, be a reality? I will begin to plan and make this dream a reality......