Thursday, September 29, 2011

Busy, busy, busy....bump! and dent!

This is a rather long-winded post.

Time flies when you're having fun, they say. I agree with the first part about time flying. As for the second part about having fun, I'm not too sure. I've just been busy, busy, busy. And sometimes when you're busy, busy, busy, you forget to have fun. Or even if the busy, busy, busy bits are related to fun events, you're just too tired to have fun because you had been busy, busy, busy earlier. Am I making any sense? Aah, these days, things just seem to go round and round like in a carnival where many things are happening at the same time - there's music, there's jugglers, stiltwalkers, clowns, magicians, side shows with loud announcements, all the kiddy rides blaring their own music etc, all going on at the same time it makes you dizzy. Busy and dizzy - they rhyme.

On weekdays, I have the daily routine of waking up, preparing breakfast, doing laundry, going online for various reasons, feeding plants, dog and fishes, cleaning/tidying house, going to the wet market/supermarket, cleaning and putting away groceries, preparing food and cooking, chauffering, supervising, nagging etc etc etc.

Meanwhile, the past weekends have been activity filled too. Besides the usual chauffering duties on Saturdays for music lesson and Sundays for Sunday School, we've attended two birthdays and one full-moon do, and this weekend, two reunions with old friends.

Yesterday was a crazy day. As I was merrily sitting in my car at standstill at morning 8.30am peak hour traffic on my way to the market, listening to an interview with the great David Foster (anyone has free tickets for his upcoming concert in KL?), I was suddenly jolted out of my world by a loud bang. Someone had rear-ended me. So I got out. Our cars were on the fast lane but I was oblivious at that moment to the jam we were causing. Ms Myvi had hit me because the car behind hers, Ms Peugeot, had hit her. My back hatch door was dented and the bumper had a few scratches.

It was about 'Breakfast'. You see, Ms. Peugeot who started the chain accident had somehow lost control of her car (yeah, in standstill traffic, sheesh...) because she had reached down to get some food (found that out from Ms Myvi two hours later). She must not have had her breakfast yet so she decided to eat while driving.... She hit Ms. Myvi so Ms. Myvi hit me. Luckily, I didn't hit the car in front of me. Poor Ms Myvi's front and back were smashed. She was Sandwich-ed.

It's strange how each of us just got out of our cars and started calling someone, more so the other two ladies....I had started out wanting to get the whole thing settled asap but since they got preoccupied on their phones, I decided to do the same. In between phone calls, we decided to move our cars to a side road nearby to sort it out.

About 45 minutes of my time was wasted talking, discussing options, wondering which police station to go to if we were to make reports, getting distracted by some workshop guy offering his services, waiting for Ms Myvi and Ms Peugeot's husbands to come and 'rescue' them as their decisions affect me... As for me, hubby was available only via mobile phone but it was no sweat.

Ms Myvi and her husband decided to settle upfront with me, no police report about her hitting me. She didn't want to lose her no-claim bonus from her insurance. So I led her, again through the peak hour jam, to my workshop so that they could quote the repair cost and they paid for it (RM450). By the time I got to my original destination of the market, it was another hour later. I was somewhat relieved that I could move on with life. I bought my chicken, meat, and other stuff and drove home. Just as I was about to reach home, my phone rang and the circus started.

Ms Myvi said Ms Peugeot's insurance can pay for Myvi's repairs (of course!) and MINE as well (really? but Ms Peugeot didn't hit me so why would her insurance pay me?). So the phone calls between the three of us started going around again. I was trying to confirm if such is true and how now that Myvi has already paid my workshop etc etc....

To cut the long story short, I finally had to go to the police station later in the afternoon to make a police report to enable Ms Myvi to claim insurance from Ms Peugeot and to allow the former to get her refund from my workshop. I also had to make the report to avoid getting a fine since Myvi had reported she hit me (in an accident, it is required that the other party(ies) involved make a police report too within 24 hours if one party does so). I told Ms Myvi she had to deal with my workshop herself to get her refund. And my poor workshop has to now go through the hassle of the paperwork to claim the cost of my repair from Ms Peugeot's insurance. I've yet to send my car in to be fixed.

By the time I got done at the police station and got home, it was time to hit the kitchen to cook dinner. By the time dinner was over, I was totally exhausted, having been on the go with my juggling act all day.

I'm thankful the damage to my car was not too bad compared to Ms Myvi Sandwich, and that other than the hassle I had to go through and time wastage, I'm still in one piece :)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Harry Connick Jr

I like Harry Connick Jr. He's a good singer and musician/pianist, and he acts too. Some of the moives he's acted in are Memphis Belle, Independence Day, Copycat and New In Town.

Check him out here singing and playing:

Friday, September 9, 2011

Mini Great Wall of China, Pangkor Island

These are a few sections of the Mini Great Wall of China as you walk along the paved and stepped walkway.

Before our recent visit, I had come to Pangkor Island only once before. That was more than 10 years ago. I had heard about this place on the island but had never been there before this. The Mini Great Wall of China as it's called, is simply a very scaled-down replica (doubt this word is even suitable in fact). But it still manages to attract lots of tourists by the vanloads.

The reason I say 'vanloads' and not 'busloads' is that during our three to four hours in Pangkor, all I saw were pink vans going about the narrow roads of the island bringing tourists to all the various attractions. And speaking about narrow roads, the road leading to the Fu Lin Kong Chinese Temple where the Mini Great Wall is located is very narrow, just enough for 1.5 cars to pass either way, meandering through a haphazard housing area (a village is more like it).

As you approach the temple, the first thing that greets you is a bright, colourful Chinese arch. Walk past the parking area where you also find a few stalls selling drinks, snacks and souvenirs and you reach the temple with rock-arch entrances on both sides.

Archway entrance to the temple

The parking area in front of the Fu Lin Kong temple, with many pink taxi vans.

I did not step into the temple but I could see that it's well-maintained, clean and has a fresh coat of paint. The roof of the temple is typical of most Chinese temples with its various intricate designs and sculptures. This one has figurines of the 12 Chinese zodiac animals as well.

The temple with its various sculptured structures

The horse atop one of the roof corners

The Mini Great Wall is towards the back of the temple. On one side of the temple, there are some cages with monkeys and squirrels inside. They were not well-maintained and the animals didn't look too happy to be there. I wonder why the management of the temple (or whoever owns the animals) wants to have those animals and cage them up.... :(

We walked around for a bit, went up the gradual steps along the 'great wall', saw some tortoises at one corner of the temple, and left after browsing at the souvenir stalls.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Chronological account of our trip to Ipoh-Lumut-Pangkor

Every year, the school third term holiday falls in mid August. This year, however, the one-week holiday was a bit later and coincided with Hari Raya and National Day (first day of Raya was also Merdeka day). On the first day of the school holiday on Saturday 27th August, we drove to Ipoh to attend E's cousin's wedding dinner.

As it was the school holiday cum 'balik kampung' rush for almost all Malaysians, one would expect the highways to be congested. Our initial plan was to leave home at 6am to beat the jam and arrive in Ipoh for breakfast (tasty Ipoh dim sum!) but alas, it was not meant to be. E got home late the night before and hadn't packed his bag yet. I had packed mine and C's. I don't pack E's bags for him for travels as he's one picky guy. Unlike some husbands who happily leave it to their wives to pack for them, be it for business or leisure trips, E being the vainpot that he is (ha ha ha, hubby bashing here) seldom agrees with my choice of clothes for him. If I pack for him, he'll re-pack so what's the point? So it was only that morning before we left that we waited after breakfast for him to pack and then we left home at around 10.30am.

Traffic was smooth at first until we came to a point where the highway narrowed to two lanes with undulating terrain. That's when we started crawling. Thankfully, it eased up when we were nearing our destination and the usual two-hour travel took us three hours -- not too bad.

After lunch, we checked into the hotel that we were to spend that one night in and rested for a bit before getting ready to attend the dinner.

The following day (Sunday), after a sumptuos lunch feted by the bridal couple again, we left Ipoh for a short two-night holiday at Swiss Garden Damai Laut near Lumut. It rained all the way there and what was left of the evening after checking in was too gloomy and wet to go frolicking around the pool or beach. We decided to drive out to Lumut town where the waterfront and jetty to Pangkor Island is to forage for dinner. We ended up in a small Chinese non-airconditioned restaurant and had a simple dinner of fried rice and oyster omelet. C the city girl hates non-aircon places and wasn't too happy with our choice.

We then took a short stroll along the shops selling dried seafood products (Pangkor Island and Lumut are famous for these) and bought a set of beach toys for sandplay for our grumpy kid who had insisted that a beach holiday must include such paraphernalia to make sandcastles.

The next morning, we took a day trip to Pangkor Island. It was C's first ride on a ferry. She enjoyed it very much, standing out on the open deck all the way there. At Pangkor, we rented a car for three hours and visited a Chinese temple popular for its mini Great Wall of China. Then, we visited the Dutch Fort. After that, it was time for lunch.

We ended up in another non-aircon shop which sold chicken rice. Many of the coffee shops and eating places in Pangkor that day were packed with tourists. You can hardly find any air-conditioned place in Pangkor Island as it is still considered a small fishing village with narrow roads and old shops apart from its popularity as a beach/tourist destination. Being holiday season, the island was swarmed with visitors and the chicken rice seller was laughing his way to the bank. We found a table but his supply had run out so we had to wait awhile for a fresh batch of steamed chicken to arrive. Soon after we got our cold drinks, a motorcyclist arrived with a plastic bucket in hand. Out came two or three steamed chickens which promptly landed on the chopping board to be served quickly to a number of tables of ravenous people, including ACE. We were served only chicken and rice, no soup, no cucumbers as sides. We couldn't complain as we were hot, sweaty, hungry and what could they do if we did? They had run out of soup and cucumber and weren't going to replenish.

After lunch we returned the rental car and hopped onto the next ferry back to Lumut. Back at the hotel, Miss Grumpy became Miss Happy as she quickly got into her swimsuit to head for the beach and pool with daddy while I headed to the spa for a painful foot reflexology session. I sometimes wonder why I subject myself to pain instead of pleasure at a spa. That night's dinner was at one of the restaurants at the hotel. It was a buffet and the spread was nothing to shout about, not too bad but not great either. Being the first day of Raya, the spread included Raya delicacies like lemang, ketupat and rendang too.

The next morning after breakfast, we checked out and headed back to Ipoh to E's aunt's house to collect a boxful of frozen, boneless roast ducks to be brought back to KL for E's sister who had ordered them through the aunt who has contact with the supplier. Direct purchase from the outlet in bulk (a minimum of 20) gets you a 10 per cent discount. So we carted 18 frozen ducks in a box home (the aunt had taken two). I took four and E's sis took the rest for herself and for distribution to other people.

Upon arrival in KL, we detoured to where Rusty was boarded for the past four nights to take him home. We got home, unloaded our bags and Rusty, showered quickly (all that in under half an hour), and started driving again, this time to Klang for dinner with E's parents who had just returned from a trip to UK/Europe and were not able to attend the wedding dinner. It was the only night available for them to meet the bridal couple who were leaving the next day for a trip to another Asian country. Again, the bridal couple bought us dinner at a nice (this time air-conditioned) restaurant in Klang. It was a very long and tiring day for us that day. Poor E drove almost all day since noon (I drove only the KL-Klang leg) and by the time we got home from Klang, it was past 11pm.

I will write separately about some of the food we had, the places we visited and what we did in another post. It's bedtime now and I'm still recovering from a mild flu I caught after returning from this 'whirlwind' trip. Sometimes I think going on holiday causes more stress!