Saturday, March 27, 2010

Mystical Bali

Gunung Agung

Beautiful Paddy terraces

A snapshot with the Kecak dancers
Danau team + me

The residents of Danau Kaseh were in Bali a few weeks ago with AZ's Danau team, making it the 3rd year we travelled together. We all had a blast!

We only had 3 days to spend in Bali, so our diary was packed!

Day 1: Explored Kuta

Bali is a beautiful island filled with myths and legends. The serene lives of the locals are bound by magical folklores and pagan rituals. The Balinese are very polite and hospitable, always the perfect hosts, ready with friendly smiles.

Unfortunately, the lives of these simple people, is simple no more. This is especially felt in Kuta as the city is swarmed by tourists, primarily from Australia. Jalan Pantai Kuta is dominated by international franchises and restaurants: Starbucks, Hard Rock Cafe, Pizzahut and MacDonalds, to name a few. The stores lining Jalan Legian prominantly display the brandnames of Levi's, Crocs, Reebok and Nike.

Prices in markets and stalls are not cheap, clearly catering for the foreigners who are their main customers..

Day 2: Gunung Agung volcano, Paddy Terraces and Kecak Dance

Our 2nd day was full. A trip to the volcano was made memorable by the group of relentless peddlars who hassled us incessantly after our lunch, blocking our way to the van. Anas and Adlina were scared.

A word of advice: despite their aggressive approach, you will find the best prices and bargains from these peddlars. Anas bought 25 keychains for Rp50,000 (RM16). Unfortunately, the more you buy, the more they hassle you!
Our next stop was the Pasar Ubud which was overflowing with touristy products and souvenirs. I thought the prices were reasonable but found out later that the prices in Denpasar Market was even cheaper! Bought loads of beautifully carved wooden trinket boxes.

The Kecak dance is not to be missed if you are in Bali. It completes the mystical experience that is Bali. The dance is very intense and dramatic featuring a hypnotic chorus of chanting and grunting simulating the sounds of a gamelan orchestra. It's an awesome experience.
Adlina + Mama

Wina Holiday Villa Courtyard
(The hotel serves Halal food)

Papa + the Boys

Day 3: Bali is a Shopping Heaven

Bali is a true shopping heaven. There are so many interesting souvenirs to bring home, all at under RM10. From Batik shirts to Wooden boxes to Mengkuang Bags to beaded slippers! Just bring extra Rupiahs!!

Check out the Denpasar Market. It's so much cheaper than the market in Ubud. Just wish we had more time to spend shopping in Denpasar. Most things are cheaper by more than 50% compared to Ubud or Kuta.
The day ended with the kids riding the waves with Hasanah, Thony, Azim and Shida. Azie was taking photos from the beach and me and AZ were just lazing under the shade! Hasanah and I finished off the evening with a full body massage and lulur which was heavenly...

In the van going places!

Can't wait for our next trip together. Thanks everyone for a great time!

Postscript: Had a BAD sunburn due to the intense heat. Wear a big hat in Bali, ladies (^_^)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

My Big Sista

Kak Long - post op

My eldest sister Marlin is very special. We call her Kak Long. She is a very positive and loving person who always look at the brighter side of everything and the good side of everyone. Kak Long loves to give us presents, not just for special occasions, but for no occasion at all - except to remind us how special our relationship is.

I now realize that Kak Long has been such a huge influence in my life. As we grew up, it was Kak Long and Kak Ngah who reminded us time and again to always study hard and excel, and to show Apak that girls are just as good as boys, if not better (Apak always wanted a boy - and he had 7 girls before finally getting his only son, my brother Andy). Both of them used to round us up (there were only 5 of us then) and motivate us. Kak Long was such a big motivator. She still is.

When Mak followed Apak to London for a whole year and we were left in the care of Nenek, Kak Long and Kak Ngah held the fort for us and made sure that we stayed close together. I was only 5 then. But I can vividly remember the 5 of us holding hands when we went to sleep. Thinking about those times can still bring tears to my eyes.

Kak Long, Kak Ngah and Kak Mas were exemplary. They taught us by example. They all obtained scholarships to study in America, Australia and England respectively. I remember Kak Long never forgets birthdays and special occasions. She used to send cards and little presents by mail for birthdays and good luck cards prior to big exams. This taught me to always remember birthdays and special occasions. To always remember to celebrate special occasions and remind the people you love how much they are loved. And for this important lesson, I am truly grateful.

When Kak Long informed us 10 days ago that she had a tumor in her pituitary gland and needed a surgery to remove it, I was shocked and shaken. I cried and felt so scared. I realized that I have not been spending enough time with my Kak Long and I just wished that we stayed closer together. I have been taking our relationship for granted, thinking that she will always be there for me. It's really true how crisis and hurdles make you look back, think and reflect on things that go on with your life, make you appreciate what you have more.

Alhamdulillah, Kak Long's surgery went well last Tuesday and she is now in recovery. I have vowed to always remind her how much I love her and to try my level best to spend as much time as possible with her and my other sistas who are living in KL.

To Kak Long: I thank Allah for having you as my sister. You are so special and precious. You are such an inspiration to me. Thank you so much for everything that you are to me. I truly love you.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Malacca State Champions

Happy Hakim + friends when the result was announced!

The truly 1Malaysia Winning team

Hakim and his St David High School Choral Speaking Team are Malacca State Champions!! The school has now won the coveted title for 5 years in a row! CONGRATULATIONS everyone!!

Special THANKS to the most passionate coach, Madam Anna Nonis, who poured her heart and soul into the team. Watching them perform last Thursday, I was filled with so much pride and joy. The students were in their element. Their performance was SUPERB! The team was really in a class of their own, way above the rest (Biased mom speaking, I know!!). I couldn't believe they only had 7 days to practice! The script entitled "Superstition", written by Anna, was hilarious and informative at the same time. I loved every minute of it, and I could see that the judges (and audience) were truly entertained!

This is the 3rd year I've seen the team from St David perform at the State level Choral Speaking competition. The past 2 years, Adlan was in the team. This year, he passed the baton to Hakim, to continue the tradition that he started. The school won first prize at the National Level competition last year and it was Adlan's brightest highlight of the year :)

To darling Hakim: Mama is so, so proud of you! You were great!
PS: Really hope that the Ministry will allocate the budget for the national level competition (^_^)

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Facebook vs. Blog

There is another HUGE reason why I haven't been updating my Blog as frequently as I should. It's called: FACEBOOK. Somehow Facebook has won over Blogger in my case..

Facebook: Quick & Easy Status Updates
Blog: Need time to think of new Posting

Facebook: Many friends linked directly to daily updates
Blog: Friends need to type in your Blog URL

Facebook: Immediate link through Blackberry & iPhone
Blog: Need to type in your Blog URL

Facebook: You can check many friends' status daily by opening just 1 window
Blog: Must open many windows

Facebook: Easy to upload photos & albums
Blog: Not as easy as FB

Facebook: Many games directly linked
Blog: What games?

Alamak! So many reasons la!! Facebook wins!

So, please don't blame me for not updating regularly.. (^_^)