Tuesday, June 29, 2010


During the school holidays two weeks ago, we made an ad hoc trip to Penang. E managed to get two days off work so over dinner on Wednesday night, we were deciding between Penang and Melaka. If we were to choose Melaka, C wanted to visit the museum. She said she wanted to 'see Hang Tuah'. I thought I could show her the house I used to live in and the schools that I went to as well. If it were Penang, she said she wanted to go to the Snake Temple. And I could show her the university I went to there.

Since it was the school holidays (which also coincided with the Singapore school hols), a destination like Penang was popular and most hotels, especially those by the beach were fully booked. Many of them had school holiday promo packages.  After dinner, we made a few phone calls and internet checks on hotels. We ended up with one right in the centre of Georgetown, near the landmark Komtar.

We had plans to visit the Snake Temple, the currently much-debated Botanical Garden (I wanted to see the tilting arch) and maybe Penang Hill. Although I had spent four years in Penang in the late 80s and early 90s, I never ever visited the Botanical Garden, while I did hike up Penang Hill. I was hoping Caitlin would be up to some outdoor, nature activity instead of her usual favourite, i.e. swimming at the pool or beach. But alas, knowing my child who thrives only on creature comforts, who cannot stand heat, perspiration and non-aircon places like coffeeshops and hawker stalls, we visited only the Snake Temple.

E and I were hoping to satisfy our 'makan-makan' cravings with visits to recommended coffee shops (we had a trusted Penang food guidebook). Since we were there for only three days, we managed to check out five places only, with C dragging her feet and sulking and complaining about the non-aircon places. We did go to an air conditioned nyonya restaurant for lunch after the visit to the Snake Temple. The food was pretty good. Since it was a short, last-minute trip, I also didn't get the chance to catch up with some old friends who live there.

After the Snake Temple and lunch, we retreated to the hotel room and spent the better part of the afternoon watching tv (yes, going on holiday and staying inside the hotel room to watch tv! *eyes rolling*) before heading out to Gurney Drive for dinner.

Food at the famed Gurney Drive is no longer good. And for the price you pay, you'd be disappointed with the quantity and quality you get. You can get better tasting ones at various stalls at coffee shops around Georgetown like those on Macalister Road, Burmah Road, Penang Road and Pulau Tikus. There are some big and new food centres in Penang too but we didn't visit any of them.

After dinner, we took a short walk along Gurney Drive and ended up in Gurney Plaza mall. And guess who convinced us to visit Toys R Us and to buy her a toy!

We didn't get a chance to go on an all-you-can-eat durian feast in Balik Pulau. I figured it was worth foregoing that craving to keep my sanity. Imagine trying to savour the rich taste of durian while you have one 'little pest' complaining about the orchard surroundings and the durians (she doesn't like durians!).

Looks like it was more of a holiday for her than for us adults. She got to swim in the pool on the final morning before checkout. And luckily, lunch at a coffeeshop which served very good chicken rice (her favourite) before we drove towards the Penang Bridge made up for the lousy char kway teow we had the night before at Gurney Drive. The char kway teow and wan tan mee in that coffeshop was quite good too. The steamed chicken was smooth and tender, and boy, we had to wait rather long to be served as it was lunchtime and almost the entire coffee shop's patrons had ordered chicken rice.

Driving around Penang this time, I got to see how much this island city has changed over the past 18-20 years. There's land reclamation, more highways and overhead carriageways, more high rise buildings and apartments, and slightly less rubbish. We drove past the entrance of my university and even that looks different now, with a few more buildings on what used to be open grassy patches. I couldn't recognise the roads around that area as what used to be zinc-roofed one-storey wooden shoplots and foodstalls have become multi-storey concrete shoplots and apartments. Undergrads these days have it much easier. Many 'proper' shops for them to get supplies and there's even a Tesco just a few hundred metres away. During my time, I had to buy biscuits, bread or Maggi mee from the traditional, dilapidated kedai runcit just outside the campus gate. I could pay 70 sen for a  bowl of Penang prawn noodles  and 40 sen for a glass of barley drink then at the coffeeshop that's no longer there now.

Traffic and the motorists' attitudes are still the same. Motorcyclists in Penang are kings of the road. They weave in and out and expect you to give way. One old man who parked his bike in front of our car just as we were about to drive out of the lot grumbled and gave us the dirty look when we gestured to him requesting him to move his bike so that our car could get out. Not to be intimidated, I scowled at him and gestured to point out his 'wrongdoing' behind the 'security' of my car window. I think if I knew how to argue in Hokkien, I'd have done so!

If it was a more leisurely holiday, minus the kid, I think I'd have eaten more and taken more photographs. Again, I've yet to load the photos I'd taken into the computer so the pics will have to be in the next post.

Sunday, June 27, 2010


I read this post on Facebook when someone shared it and felt the need to share it here. It's sad to read about incidents such as this one, and also disappointing (that's a rather mild adjective to use in fact) to note how help which you would expect to be available almost immediately, was just not available until it was too late. Why does it always require lives lost before people realise that nothing should be taken for granted, discounted or overlooked when organising such events?

The note below was written by a participant of the marathon, Toh Yit Ming

A Tragic Incident at Standard Chartered KL Marathon 2010Share. Today at 1:55pm

I would like to share a tragic incident that happened at Standard Chartered KL Marathon today…

When i was running my final 2 km on the 10km… as i was running along the road in front of Dewan Bandaraya Kuala Lumpur, i saw a guy was sitting on the road side then soon enough he collapsed…

this incident attracted my attention as a guy(a training doctor, named Irkhan) that was trying to help him was shouting for medic..

as i was a trained EFR, i ran over to see what is happening.. (it was around 1 hour into the race for 10km runners)

i got to know that the guy (named Lim) has collapsed and was having seizure.. we tried to place him in recovery position… he was breathing very heavily and shortly and he was also biting his teeth very very hard… i was afraid that he will hurt himself (with either biting his own tongue or he closed up his airway).. so i tried to open up his jaw and tried to communicate wif him to have him relax and breath easily.. he then slowed down his breathing and taking deeper breath…

another lady (lady A) came to help and constantly monitor on his pulse… and Dr. Visva (was another participant in the run) came over to help…

Then suddenly, his pulse was gone… then we lied him flat and started on CPR procedures… we constantly check on his pulse to check whether his pulse has come back.. we did chest compression and also mouth-to-mouth breathing to Lim…

as we were doing the CPR procedures, we did not sight medic anywhere.. and we tried to shout as loud as possible for medic…

After awhile into the CPR procedures, "lady A" said that she could feel his pulse but was very weak.. then we stopped the CPR procedures to see whether he regain consciousness or not…

After i stopped the chest compression on Lim, i started shouting for medic services again with the hope that a medic services is nearby and heard us.. but unfortunately not… we only sighted 3 DBKL Officers(with big motorcycles) just stood by the road side and just stare… the did not come over to help or to check out what happened… (it was around 10 minutes that Lim collapse and had seizure)…

after a moment, Lim loose his pulse again.. we started CPR procedures again.. we still did not sight an ambulance or any EMS(Emergency Medical Services) around… after approximately 30 compression, Lim regained his pulse but was very very weak.. and yet.. there was still no ambulance or EMS sighted… and DBKL officers still stood there and did not came over to help… so I informed a passer by to run to the officers to tell them to call for an EMS soonest possible...

after we performed CPR procedures on Lim for the the third time, finally a St. John ambulance came after around 15 - 20 minutes after Lim collapsed…

we let the EMS officers to take over the CPR and First Aid… Dr. Visva asked whether do they have the AED(Automated External Defibrillator)… one of the person from the EMS said that they do not have it.. then I asked whether do they have a face mask with pump.. they also did not have it there… THEY PRACTICALLY HAVE NOTHING IN THE AMBULANCE!!!!!!!! -.-"

EMS took him and speed their way to HKL…

we were later informed that the Response time for EMS is 3 minutes but it took them almost 20 minutes to arrive… and later.. as I was reading through the Runners Guide that was provided in our running kit…

There is a statement (at page 15) that states that "Medical Assistance - Medical Aid is available every 4km and at the Finish Area. Due to runner's physical condition, Medical Officials are authorized to stop runners and remove their timing chip"…

every 4KM MY ROYAL A*S.. I did not see any first aider, ambulance or any sort of medical officials along my 10km route… and if 4km was true.. it definitely will not take them SO LONG to arrive...


I got a call from Dr. Visva a moment ago.. he went to HKL to check out the condition of Lim and he informed me that Lim have passed away on his arrival to the hospital… T__T

Lim is only into his 20's and was running the 10KM distance…

P/s: please share this note to as many people as possible.. we will hope to create awareness on the inefficiency of EMS, DBKL officers and organiser of standard chartered KL Marathon 2010...

we also want to create an awareness that this kind of inefficiency have caused a life of a young man...

we will hope that the marathon organisers will take responsibility and make EMS a top priority in their planning

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Daddy's Girl

It was Father's Day yesterday so I think this post is quite appropriate timing-wise. Caitlin is truly daddy's girl. She loves her daddy indeed. If Daddy is not home before her bedtime, she'll be pining for him, asking me when he'll be home. She'll also call him on his mobile phone to ask, using her sweetest and most 'manja' tone. She cannot go to sleep without a bedtime story from him. When Daddy arrives home, she'll run to him, or hide somewhere and jump out to give him a surprise.

A few days ago, she wanted a Kit Kat, so I got one for her and another extra. I told her I'd keep the extra one for myself. She suggested I share it with Daddy.

I asked her if she planned to get Daddy a Father's Day present. She said yes. I teased her saying that she didn't get me one for Mother's Day, only a card. She said, "At least I made you a card, you must be thankful for what you have!" Daddy's response was "That's my girl!"

Yesterday, Daddy missed what I said to him a few times. So she said Daddy is half deaf, and Daddy heard it (and simply smiled).  "He even has to turn up the volume in the car to 15! But I (she has possession of the remote control for the audio player in the car) turned it down to 14."

I said 14 is still loud (we usually tell her the maximum volume is 10). She replied, "Yes, but I just didn't want to hurt his feelings."

When the little girl is still little, she only has eyes for daddy. But in years to come, when the little girl becomes a teenager, will that still hold true? Only time will tell but I'm sure daddy will still be wrapped around her not-so-little finger  whether he admits it or not.
Happy Father's Day to all Daddies and Grandpas!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Then and now

The first week of the school holidays are over. And next week will just pass very quickly. Then it's back to school for C. Hopefully, the next half of her academic year will be better, in the sense that the teachers will move a little faster in their teaching pace. I felt that this first half has been rather slow moving. I don't blame the teachers entirely.

The kids in her class are a hyper bunch, with rather short attention span and easily distracted. The teachers this year don't seem to be able to keep them in good discipline and control as well as last year's teachers. Sometimes lessons can't be carried out smoothly or cannot be completed because of disruptions. There's always noise and petty disputes to settle.  This however does not mean the kids are unintelligent. They are simply mischievous but smart and fast learners. They know which teachers they can bully.

I think teachers these days have to be more skilful in handling children compared to long ago during my time. Those days, teachers only had to wield a feather duster, ruler or cane. Now if they did, parents would cry child abuse. Children during my time seemed to be more obedient and easily disciplined. Maybe that's because we were not exposed to as many things as children are nowadays.

There's so much external stimuli, influence, and information bombarding them these days from all the media and technology surrounding them. Those days, we only had the TV and radio for entertainment. No DVD, few cinemas, lesser advertisements, no Nintendos or Gameboys or computers.

TV was limited to only 2 or 3 channels compared to hundreds now. Cartoons were limited to only one hour a day; even if we wanted to watch more, there wasn't any to watch. Now, there are a number of channels dedicated to cartoons only and they broadcast 24 hours a day. And YouTube, where you can find just about anything and everything to watch and listen to!

And if you want to know something, all you do is Google. You don't need to own a big, thick dictionary or a collection of encyclopaedia.

How times have changed. It's no wonder children these days are different.

Friday, June 11, 2010

New Template

I just discovered that Blogger has revamped their blog templates with more choices for users. There are new templates with lots of background, layout and colour options to choose from. I've just experimented with it and am now using this new template. I'll most probably experiment and change it to something else tomorrow!

World Cup fever begins

Eight years ago around this time of the year, I was on one month's medical leave from work after an appendectomy while four to five months pregnant with Caitlin. It was World Cup season. That was one of the only times in my life I watched quite a number of soccer matches.

I wonder if that has anything to do with Caitlin having a strange affinity to kicking balls when she was a toddler and some interest in soccer rather consistently these few years!

While I'm writing this, she is engrossed with the FIFA World Cup 2010 pre-opening concert in South Africa on TV. She wants to stay up to catch the opening match between S. Africa and Mexico. She will be rooting for Mexico and is betting with her grandpa. If she wins the bet, 'kung kung' has to buy her a new toy. If 'kung kung' wins, she's supposed to practise her piano and drums at least thrice a week.

She also knows names like Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea. She likes Manchester United. I don't know why and I doubt she really knows why herself either. Probably following the popular favourite.

And when she gets to secondary school, she says she wants to join the school soccer team.

Like in everything else, I tell her she can do and be anything she is interested in, as long as she works hard at it to be as good as she can.

Caitlin, 6 months old in 2003

Monday, June 7, 2010

Holiday programmes for children

The two-week school holiday has just started. It's time again to keep the kid occupied. However, in this household, the kid had been sick on and off the past two weeks and had stayed home a lot. This coming two weeks feels like an extension of the past two weeks.

I've been too tired of daily chores to plan ahead for anything. So there's no proper 'holiday programme' for C. I have not drawn up any homemade holiday programme or signed C up for any external ones.

Some parents sign their kids up for short courses orgniased by child enrichment establishments. These programmes can be quite helpful as they keep the kids occupied with something productive and educational and the parents don't have to worry about childcare when they have to work. These programmes are also rather costly. If the parents can afford it or have budgeted for it, then' it's no problem I guess. But parents should consider carefully when choosing and deciding which programmes to send their kids to. It's not only the cost but also the track record of the organisation, the needs of the child, the suitability of the programme for the child, and whether the programme is indeed really necessary or it could be replicated at lower cost and more personalised with individual attention at home by the parent. There are lots of useful online educational materials and and self-help child development books in the market which you can research, and use if you are hardworking enough.

These days, child enrichment and holiday programmes are in abundance so many parents will take the easier and more convenient way out by sending the kids to such programmes. As long as they can afford it and have the time to transport the kids, most prefer to leave the headache of planning and teaching their own children to outsiders (strangers, in fact).

What are the pros and cons to 'hands on' and 'hands off' parenting?

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


E posted this on his Facebook wall and I found it inspiring. I thought it'd be nice to share it here.

The original video is found here or you can watch it on YouTube.

Children can do lots, only if you believe and empower them.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

One week

It's exactly a week today that Caitlin has stayed home. Last Tuesday she had fever and by Thursday she recovered. However, her class was closed on Thursday as one classmate had H1N1 flu. Subsequently another two kids from a Year 3 class was confirmed with the H1N1 flu too on Monday. Since she has just recovered we decided to keep her home. She'll go back to school tomorrow. I'm hoping her immunity will hold up for the next 3 days before school is out for two weeks. Lessons have been minimal as class attendance has been rather poor due to some kids being sick and some being kept home by the parents to avoid unnecessary exposure to whatever germs, especially the H1N1 virus that could be lurking around in school.

She wants to go back to school. Said she's tired of staying at home. I kept her occupied with piano practice/homework, some math and Bahasa workbooks, but most of the time she read, watched tv, played and got on my nerves.

We hardly went out in the past one week. I'm getting cabin fever and sick and tired of childminding round the clock. Feels like I've been in 'prison' and dying of boredom. Hardly any contact with the outside world. Doesn't help with a perpetually aching shoulder which stemmed from overstretching the shoulder ligament reaching backwards in the car some months ago.

Last night, we hurried before closing time to this place that practises a combo of Chinese and Western healing methods. E has also been suffering from the same predicament -- overstretched ligament on the left shoulder. He'd been to that place several times already and found that it helped. Hopefully after a few more visits, our shoulders will feel better.

With Caitlin going back to school tomorrow, I hope to catch up with all the stuff that has been on the backburner the past week - a piece to write for my fortnightly contribution to a daily (still no idea what to write about and it's due latest on Sunday!), servicing the car, grocery shopping, planning for activities to keep C occupied for the next two weeks of school holiday, gardening....