Saturday, 20 December 2008

Chew sisters' art collaboration

My mother's name characterised by the dragon - she was born in the year of the Dragon . At the bottom left of the picture, I even designed a stamp "Chew three sisters"

Same picture without the stamp

Today is my mother's birthday. We made her a scrapbook, which turned out to be "great success". It took us about five days to finish it.

Ah... I'm really proud of the final product!


Thursday, 11 December 2008

Mandara Spa At Renaissance Hotel Kuala Lumpur

We tried the spa sampler - Balinese massage plus facial

Third day in Malaysia: My sisters, C and X, and C's uni friend, went to the Mandara spa at the Renaissance Hotel, Kuala Lumpur. C and her friend have already tried out spa massages before, and told me and X that the massage is so good that 50 minutes of it is not enough.

I was a bit hesitant at first, wasn't too sure about the massage as I was sure I would feel ticklish. I thought I would just get a facial instead. Turned out a facial costs more than a spa sampler - a Balinese massage and a facial. In the end, X and I both went for the spa sampler.

C and her friend decided on the Nirvana massage - a Balinese massage, sauna, foot scrub, and tea ceremony.

While waiting for the ladies to prepare for the massages, we were served cold ginger tea, which was very refreshing. I could have drank more of the tea!

We then went to the spa rooms. X and I were in one room, C and her in another. Our room was dimly lit, with the smell of lemongrass essential oil wafting in the air.

The massage was really good, and left me feeling relaxed and sleepy. By the time the lady finished with the massage and gave me a facial, I was close to lala-land.

Then I heard the lady telling me that the spa sampler has finished... I pictured myself rolling on the floor and banging my fists, saying, "NO!!! I WANT MORE!!!"

Not something I would go for every day, not unless I've got heaps of money to spend, but as a luxury, an escape to paradise, let me be the first to say, "AYE!"


Sunday, 7 December 2008

I'm back at home....

I just arrived this morning in Kuala Lumpur.

It's good to be home...

The weather is really terrible, humid, with heavy overcast threatening rain.

I'm definitely going to rot at home, both literally and figuratively. :P


Wednesday, 29 October 2008

This Life

I quote an acquaintance of mine:

"and it is this balance that brings meaning to life...
for would we know the meaning of happiness if there is no sadness...
the joy of success and winning if there is no defeat ...
and appreciate light if there is no darkness ??
but one thing that i have learnt is that however long the night ...
dawn will eventually break ... "

Many a things have happened in my life recently...
Some not so significant,
Some more significant,
When I piece them together,
I think to myself,
What is my purpose of being?

I'm not thinking of ground-breaking discoveries,
Not about how the world works,
Not what the Buddha has discovered many aeons ago,
I'm far from Nibbana...
I just want to realise what I want out of life...
Out of living...

I haven't been praying much,
The turbulence of life sweeps me from day to day,
I hardly keep track of time or day,
I don't seem to recollect a recent time I've sat quietly,
To be still...

Even in sleep,
I am restless,
I wake up with thoughts in my head,
The feeling of fulfillment,
Is lost on me...

I've started to pray again,
For the people around me,
For my loved ones,
For the dearly departed
And I guess I'll pray,
For me...

To discover some sense,
To sense what's right from what's not,
To enjoy the here and now,
To be happy and healthy,
To be still...


Sunday, 19 October 2008

Testing the Limits

KT and I went to his friend's wedding dinner at Zilver's. There were alcohol at the table, a bottle Shiraz and Remy Martin VSOP. I didn't talk much, so I decided to test my alcohol limit. I don't drink on a regular basis, not even socially, and since KT was with me, and neither of us were driving home that night, I felt "safe" to test the waters.

Throughout the night, I had one wine glass (perhaps a little bit more) of Shiraz and one glass of VSOP.


I don't think I tolerate red wines - I had a slight headache after downing the glass, and I didn't like the oak aftertaste of the Shiraz.

The VSOP? I loved it. For 40%v/v alcohol content, it was surprisingly easy to down, except to the fiery trail it burns down the throat. At the end of the night, one of KT's friends dropped us home, and I remember talking a lot considering I didn't know them that well. To my recollection, I didn't talk nonsense, but KT said I did.

Alcohol does loosen inhibition - that's a proven fact.

I didn't throw up, though. And I didn't drink enough to have a hangover. Guess I do tolerate alcohol well enough. ;)


Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Hot Pot on a Cold Windy Night

Great success!!! We even had side dishes!!!

Monday evening: cold and very very windy. As usual, we had a predictable pattern of unpredictable weather. PY suggested hotpot, and what a good idea that turned out to be. The soup base was kim chi flavoured chicken stock, and we had some home-made sour and spicy pickled cucumber and stewed potatoes. This was the first time we ever had a proper hot pot!

We had some soup leftover, and it'll be the same thing tonight, except that the weather today is, if you haven't guessed it, hot!


Sunday, 5 October 2008

Flower Festival Trip to Canberra 21/09/2008

We didn't get much of a spring this year. The weather has been on either extreme - too hot on one day, too cold the next. Thank goodness for air conditioning.

What about today's weather? Cold and dreary, rainy. We had a late night yesterday celebrating a friend's birthday, and daylight savings started today, too. I woke up at about 9am, neither here nor there.

Spring is a pretty season, and I'm glad that we made the trip to Canberra to see the Flower Festival, held mid-September each year. The flowers were amazing, planted in patches, each patch with a movie theme (e.g. Babe, Happy Feet).

For a rainy day, these pictures brighten up the screen, and my mood. :P


Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Mid-Autumn Festival Sunday 14th September 2008

The moon was full and round that night, swathed in a chiffon of clouds.

KT, PY and I were at a friend's apartment (a block across from ours) celebrating the Mid-Autumn Festival. We had Korean / Japanese / Chinese fusion hot pot (for the occasion, KT bought the hot pot "kit" - the hot pot pot :P and portable gas stove).

Afterwards, we were treated to Mei Sum's "bing pi" (snowy skinned) moon cakes of different flavours - blueberry, mango, and even mocha. I love bing pi moon cakes. :P

Back at our place, we have some mini lotus seed paste moon cakes - I made them!!! My parents bought over a moon cake mould knowing that I wanted to make some, with a recipe of Betty Yew's. First attempt proved successful, although the moon cake pattern wasn't well-defined. I could have added a little bit more flour to make the dough easier to mould and used a finer pastry brush to brush the egg wash.

KT and PY said that it tastes yummy ^_^


Sunday, 14 September 2008

Wall.E - One of the Most Meaningful Animated Movies in a Long While

Wall.E is another production of the geniuses at Pixar. I love the story-telling with the characters with minimal dialogue. It's not a "fluff" animation either; I had to think a bit to understand the storyline.

In a way, Wall.E reminds me of Hayao Miyazaki's animes - it relies more on visual impact and interpretation, and the environmental message is unmistakable.

The main character, Wall.E, is so lovable. I just couldn't stop crying throughout the film, even the funny parts were heart-wrenching.

I love the part where Wall.E gathers "junk" and carefully puts them away in his "home" as if they were treasures - Wall.E was going about his usual business of compacting junk and collecting trinkets when he came across a ring box, he opened it to reveal a ring, proceeded to throw away the ring, was instead fascinated by the box and put the box in his storage box for keeping.

I like it that Wall.E is portrayed to be a complex character, human-like, and yet, with a "mind" and "heart" of a child - simple and pure.

It's a story about love, the ability to feel, and the appreciation for the Earth on which we live.


Sunday, 31 August 2008

Merdeka Feast

KT suggested Malaysian fare for dinner, so we went to Paddy's market to get all the necessary ingredients to cook chicken rendang, nasi lemak, sambal prawns, stir fried kangkung, and rojak. We even got canned petai to cook the sambal prawns! Yummy yummy, I can't wait. Whilst KT is slaving away washing up in the kitchen, I'm taking the opportunity to write up and laze around. :P

OK, KT is giving me the go-ahead to cook. :P



Today is Malaysia's Independence Day.

Merdeka! Merdeka! Merdeka!

Semoga Malaysia kekal aman dan damai, dan merdeka dalam semua aspek!


Saturday, 30 August 2008


I've always had a thing for dark chocolate. Ever since KT took me to the Lindt store for some chocolate goodness, my obsession with all things chocolate (especially of the dark variety) has escalated.

Recently PY and I went to the grocery store around the corner to get some grocery, and I saw this DARS bitter chocolate bars displayed on the check-out countertop. Point-of-sales positioning is so effective. We had some on our way home, and oh my, it was very good. Bittersweet, smooth, melt-in-mouth, concoction. Even PY, who's not a fan of dark chocolate, said it was good.

I'm hoping to use some of the chocolate to make chocolate shortbread. Hopefully I'm able to get some good results. :P

I'm happy to say that I made a decent batch of chocolate shortbread, as shown in the above picture. The shortbreads in the jars are not those of Lindt and Barby, but mine!!! Compared to Lindt's, it's not as chocolate-y rich, but I'm hoping to improve on that. :P I'm pretty happy with the result, because the shortbreads are crumbly and melts in the mouth! Here is the recipe (I modified it so much that I really can't say if I have a source for the recipe :P)

230g plain flour
70g corn flour
250g unsalted butter, cut into cubes
100g brown sugar
1 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
A pinch of sea salt
150g dark chocolate, chopped up roughly (I used some Meiji's and Cadbury's)
11/2 tsp vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 160 degrees Celcius.
2. Grease a 32cm x 22cm baking tray.
3. Sift plain flour, corn flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and sea salt into the
food processor.
4. Add the brown sugar.
5. Pulse ingredients until mixed.
6. Add butter, cube by cube, and pulse ingredients until just combined.
7. Add vanilla extract, and pulse until combined.
8. Stir dark chocolate into mixture.
9. Press dough into the baking tray.
10. Prick evenly with fork.
11. Bake in pre-heated oven for 30 minutes at 160 degrees, then another 5 minutes
or so at 140 degrees.
12. Cool in tray for about 10 minutes.
13. Cut into squares.
14. Wait until shortbread cools thoroughly, then transfer into jars to store.

I think the next time, I might increase the chocolate to about 200g, maybe melt 50g to be mixed into the mixture, than the remaining 150g chopped roughly to be stirred into the mixture. I might also substitute half a teaspoon of vanilla extract with some sort of liquor, rum or marsala, perhaps? Stay tuned for the next experiment!


Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Love Exchange

Disclaimer: This is not a review of the television drama Love Exchange. This entry is the sole opinion of the writer.

I think I'm becoming one of those archetypical “师奶” (housewife) who can't go through the day without TV drama. I would have finished watching TVB's Love Exchange in three days - I forced myself to slow down because if I finished the series, I would have no dramas to watch for a couple of days until I get hold of the next episode of currently aired Moonlight Resonance!

I'm down to the last two episodes of Love Exchange. So far, I've found it to be an entertaining watch. There are a couple of sub-plots / character(s) that I didn't care for - Tracy Ip's one-dimensional character as the rich daddy's girl Sophie. I fail to understand how a 20-something year old beautiful, born with a silver spoon in her mouth, accomplished, seemingly intelligent, woman could be so appallingly pathetic when it comes to love. Sophie seemed to have it all - an intellectual Paris Hilton - and yet she is Play-Doh in her husband's slimy hands, choosing to ignore her husband's unfaithfulness and wrong-doings. The crowning glory to Ms. Sophie's beautiful head is - shock horror - she's actually a NICE rich girl.

Her most memorable line from her lacklustre performance:
"I don't mind (my husband's) philandering, as long as he knows the way home."

I don't think many - if any - rich girls would act this way. Hey, if I were a beautiful rich girl, why should I tolerate any nonsense from anyone?

I could have done without Sophie's insipid character or Tracy Ip's acting - frustrating to watch and a blow to feminism. I don't even consider myself a feminist. :P

Enough ranting from me. I'll get back to watching Episode 19.

HK police investigation was portrayed to be some sort of a circus - laughable. Best character portrayal - Crystal Tin. The twist at the end was a bit of a surprise, but not a shock. The ending - realistic enough.

Verdict? Better TVB drama of recent times. Some parts were reminiscent of older dramas (e.g. the scene where Sophie's father rolled down the stairs and became a vegetable), but I can't be able to pinpoint which, perhaps it's because scenes get rehashed so often that it's difficult to keep track.

Now that I have finished the series, perhaps I could go about doing something more constructive. Banking? Grocery-shopping? The list goes on.


Friday, 15 August 2008

I'm having one of those "oh another day, what am I going to do?" type of morning. I have had many of these mornings in recent times, more so when I anticipate a change in my life. I think I'm one of the lucky ones who have inertia rooted deep into their beings - I think I'm quite resistant to change. Ironically, I probably have gone through more change than the next door girl.

On the other hand, I dislike monotony. I loathe to do the same things over and over again without having even the slightest change to the routine. My life, at this stage, it monotonous. Wake up, laze around, get dressed for work, catch the train, work, go home, cook / order take-away, shower, eat, watch TV / DVDs laze around, sleep. Sometimes I try to pick up a book or magazine to escape from the routine, by the time I get to it, it's almost time to end the day, and start again. :P

Yes, I'm having one of those mornings, where I sit and ponder the mornings prior to this. The only difference to this morning is I've decided to air my thoughts on the World Wide Web.

I need to get changed for work.


Sunday, 10 August 2008


PY has become an elite member of Registered Pharmacists of NSW. For those who do not know, registration is a grueling ordeal. Nearing the end of 2000 hours of supervised practice, one must pass both the written and oral components of the examination before the Pharmacy Board is satisfied that one may be let loose onto the community. Or the other way around. Into my second year of being let loose, I realise that there are some prized customers out there who derive morbid pleasure out of seeing a pharmacist being put in her / his place. However, this could arguably be my sole opinion; the Board obviously thinks that the community is a herd of meek lambs. :P

We went to Azuma as Chifley Plaza for dinner on Saturday 09/08/2008. KT has been itching to try out this one chef hat Japanese restaurant. We have PY to thank for the golden opportunity!

Pre-dinner entertainment

I would call this an entree: deep-fried prawns with home-made tartar sauce and Ponzu dipping sauce - yummy, but PY and I both agree that the prawns were not too fresh.

Of course, we had more than just the prawns - we then went on to have the yummy Azuma specialty - deep fried flounder fillets with Ponzu dipping sauce - the flounder pieces were like M&M's - they melted in my mouth! :P Don't forget the sushi, soba, and tempura ramen - all very yummy, and I was left wanting more!

Yes, the Pièce de résistance - the famous Double Bay ice-cream extravaganza - we ate so much ice-cream that night that I couldn't be able to tell the difference between the many different flavours!

PY is worried that she might not get a job - I worried too when I first started out - but I'm sure she'd have no troubles in finding one, and I'm hoping that it would be the "big break" - a wonderful start of a new chapter in her life. Here's to you, my friend. :)


Friday, 25 July 2008


I long for,

Familiar faces, familiar voices, familiar sights, familiar sounds,
The best fish porridge in the world,
The smell of Swea'D,
The giggling in a dim room,
Dark room and glow-in-the-dark butterflies,
Sleeping side-by-side,
Garden full of plants,
The Yamaha in the living room,
Late night ghost movies,
Dinner at a favourite restaurant,
Chinese New Year,
Birthday celebrations,
The hugs, kisses,
The encouragement,
The warmth,
The love


Tuesday, 22 July 2008

The Art of Chocolate Soufflé

I have heard of the story of Soufflé. Temperamental concoction of egg whites, but oh-so-delightful to the palate. How could I resist trying out the recipe in Australia Vogue Entertaining + Travel (April / May 2008)? I could not. I was in the mood for a challenge.

Soft butter, to grease
75g caster sugar
100g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), chopped
4 eggs, at room temperature, separated

The ingredients were simple enough. Nothing exotic or intimidating. I have seen recipes calling for Dutch cocoa or dark couverture chocolate. Where do you suppose I could get Dutch cocoa from? The Netherlands? Even though Sydney is truly a cosmopolitan city, I doubt our friendly Coles' or Woolworths' stock Dutch cocoa. Try SELECTED delis. Never mind.

Back to the Soufflé project.

Step 1: Grease and coat the insides and rims of four ramekins with a generous amount of butter, then caster sugar. I remember what Matthew McConaughey said in "How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days". "Frosting". So the insides of the ramekins looked like they've been frosted. Beautiful. Put the ramekins on a baking tray. Done.

Step 2: Preheat oven at 200 degrees Celcius. KT was using the oven to toast the garlic bread whilst I whisked the egg whites. Done.

Step 3: Melt the dark chocolate in a double boiler. Whisk in the 4 egg yolks one by one. Remove mixture from heat. Done. The mixture looked good enough for me to stick my finger in it for a taste, but I resisted the urge and risk of Salmonella poisoning.

Step 4: Whisk egg whites to soft peaks with an electric mixer. Electric mixer?!! I resorted to physical violence with my trusty stainless steel, manually operated balloon whisk. After much huffing and puffing, the soft peaks deigned to form.

Step 5: Whisk a quarter of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture to loosen up the mixture. Gently fold the chocolate mixture into the remaining egg whites until just incorporated. I interpreted that as to handle the Soufflé mixture with the same care as you would a priceless antique. Done.

Step 6: Divide mixture among ramekins, then bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until risen. 10 minutes later, I reckoned they were done.

Comments on this recipe:
I could have whisked the egg whites more. I read other recipes on the Internet, and those recipes called for stiff peaks as opposed to soft, drooping peaks. Some recipes also suggested the use of a "binding agent" e.g. cream of Tartar or a pinch of salt to help stabilise the soft peaks, then to add sugar to the egg white mixture prior to whisking to form stiff peaks.

Some recipes also suggested to add butter and/or heavy cream and/or sugar to the chocolate mixture, perhaps to produce a more rich Soufflé. I wonder if the addition of such heavy ingredients would impede the rising of the Soufflé, hence needing the egg whites to be whisked until stiff peaks are formed.

All the recipes I searched on the Internet suggested longer cooking times, some as long as 26 minutes. A vast difference from the 8 to 10 minutes I operated on. The end-result should be a outer crust, yet still "jiggly" Soufflé core. Hmm...

The only way of mastering the Art is more research, practice, and trial and error.

Until the next practice session, I bid the Soufflé au revoir.


Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Dearest Papa

Dearest Papa,

Thank you for always being by our side, guiding us through good and bad times with your 'seng mok'-ness.

Thank you for being understanding and patient with us, even when we try your patience, and, most of the time, it's difficult to understand us.

Thank you for taking care of us, cooking us the 'best fish porridge in the world' and cleaning up the mess after us dirty piggies.

Thank you for the family trips, getting us together as a family to see the world.

Thank you for showing us the world and how you see the world, so that on our own two feet, we know how to face the world.

Thank you for sending us out into the world, yet letting us know that home is where we can always return to.

Most of all,

Thank you for being the best Papa in the world, and the best man, too, for we know, that in this world, there is no better Papa than you.


Sunday, 6 July 2008

We past the point of no return when we showed our tickets to the usher. As I sat down on my seat, my heart skipped a few beats.

I have listened to recordings of the Phantom of the Opera musical countless times during my first and second years in Sydney, so much so that I could memorise each and every word, both dialogue and songs. When the film version came out in 2004, I was ecstatic. The ultimate dream was to see the musical for myself, and my dream came true when KT said that he bought tickets for the 5th of July!

The lights went off. The theatre plunged into darkness. A single strike of the gavel transported me into musical nostalgia. For the first time I was able to piece together sound with sight. The stage setting did not leave me wanting, and each scene left with me a curious sensation that the Phantom did not only lurk on the stage, but also in the theatre. I found myself looking for the hiding Phantom in each scene!

The ending moved me to tears. The Phantom of the Opera is a tale of yearning of love unrequited. The part where the Phantom waled out "You alone can make my song take flight, it's over now, the music of the night" wrenched my heart.

The cast was brilliant, in that each person gave a unique interpretation of his/her character that made the character more believable. I loved it that Christine part sobbed part sang to convey frustation and helplessness. I loved it that Raoul was portrayed as the knight in shining armour, with a hint of simple-mindedness about him. I loved the dramatic Carlotta and Piangi, although I hoped that Carlotta could have been more dramatic. :P I loved the pairing of André and Firmin lending comic relief to the musical.

Needless to say, it was the Angel of Music who was the shining star. His expression when Christine kissed him at the ending was priceless, comical even.

I'd love to see the Phantom of the Opera again!


Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Red Herring News

Frankly, I am sick of following the sham they call news in Malaysia. Not too long ago, we were astounded by the news of soaring fuel prices, price increases in groceries and what-have-yous, and now this red herring - bad history repeating itself.

Politics is not a profession one would want to get involved in if one aspires to go down the straight and narrow. With the way things are going, it's utterly disgusting.

There are more vital issues to address in Malaysia, such as national security, rise in cost of living against income, issues that would make Malaysians proud to be Malaysians, and yet these are downplayed by the PG rating. Power-Greedy.

If the so-called leaders do not put our best interests at heart, what hope do we have for our nation?


Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Nam Nam Father, poor Old St. Michael's needs more than dusting!

I know. It's been over a month since I wrote something. It's blogger's block. :P So many things go through my mind every day, I reach for the computer to write them down, and when I begin to, my mind draws a blank.

I suppose I should update on the current happenings in my life. Yes, it has been nearly three months since I moved. So far, it's been good. I love the quietness of the new place, and although I have to make mad dashes to the city for grocery and errands, it's a good change. I do miss Broadway, though. I miss the convenience of being so close to the city. I miss going to Harris Farm and shopping for weird and wonderful foods. Just Saturday KT and I went for a shopping spree at Broadway for groceries and necessities, and we were waiting for a taxi to cart our shopping home, and we happened across a new yum cha place where Mamma's Kitchen used to be at. Yum cha from 10am to 10pm. Imagine that.

Father gave us a tour of "poor old St. Michael's". It seems that since the majority of us has left St. Michael's, it has begun to collapse. Literally-speaking. The engineers came around to assess St. Michael's state of disrepair. The roof has begun to peel off in certain parts of the college, due to the collection of rain water on the rooftop. The room where PY and I have stayed for more than three years smells musty and dank, with water leaking from most parts of the ceiling.

Father showed us each and every room that has been affected, and I felt as if I was on a tour of a delapidated historical building. I almost expected to see a sad ghost around each corner. St. Michael's is too quiet, so very different to when we used to stay there, running up and down the stairs, shouting and jumping around in our room, cooking in the kitchen, singing in the bathroom whilst have a shower, watching the Australian Open in the TV room, playing mahjong.

As Father showed us the tree and bamboo plants he planted thirty years ago, I was overcome with a wave of sadness, so intense that I wanted to cry. Even now, I cannot help feeling nostalgic for the happy days we shared at St. Michael's. Old and rundown though it has been, it was our fleeting home.


Saturday, 19 April 2008

All Things New

Today is my birthday.

I am 27 years old.

It is also the first birthday in 6 years that I get to celebrate with my parents.

It is also the first birthday in the new apartment.

Yes, I have moved into an apartment. It's quite new, us being the second lot of tenants to move in since two years ago, if I'm not mistaken.

More about the apartment in another entry.

I celebrated my 27th year with a mask on my face. No, literally. I put on some facial mask on my face quarter to midnight, thinking that before midnight, I would have washed it off well before midnight and my skin would feel good and refreshed. At midnight my roommate burst into the room with a friend and they had a cake for me. I still had the mask on, and whilst they serenaded me with the birthday song, I entertained them with bits of dried up mask falling off my face. Not very appetising.

The cake, on the other hand, was very yummy. Taro-flavoured. My favourite.

I should be getting a move on to meet my parents.


Tuesday, 18 March 2008

After Four Years

Finally, we're going to move out of college...

Four years seem like a long time, and I suppose it is... I suppose if not for the fact that the college would soon be torn down, we would have continued to stay there until the end of the year...

It's a big adventure for me, as I have never truly rented a place before, and a big headache, too... I didn't realise that I have so much JUNK collected throughout the years I have stayed in Sydney (my sixth year so far, so I count my lucky stars that I'm moving now rather than, say, 12 years later).

Packing is the worst part so far, but I suspect that moving EVERYTHING from here to the new place would be HAVOC.

A friend told me that it's a new chapter in my life. Well, I wish for the hard part to move on quickly.... :P


Sunday, 9 March 2008

"Vote Wisely"

My family and I would tune and watch the election results closely come election every four years. 8th of March 2008, I am not in Malaysia to follow the results closely. Nevertheless, I am watching, and waiting.

I do hope that the voters have indeed, in the words of our Prime Minister, voted wisely.


Friday, 7 March 2008

Don't Be That Guy!

So there I was on a Wednesday evening walking towards the exit of Central Station like any other evening, minding my business, when this guy walks up from behind and alongside me, and asks,

"I have seen you from somewhere. Where do you work?"

Nice try, MATE. I felt like telling him, "THE POLICE STATION". Of course, I was too polite, not to mention, too wary of him, to say that. I walked faster and mumbled, "I'm in a hurry."

I don't know what his intention was, but if it was to:

1. use that line as a pick-up line, BAD CHOICE. Why ask me where I work? It made me think that he's a stalker. My aunt told me that there are a lot of crazy people in Australia when I first came to Australia, and, in my line of work, I have met many crazy people. Besides, my mummy tells me never to talk to strangers. So there.

2. ask me where I work because he actually recognised me, let him figure it out on his own. I'm not about to tell any Tom, Dick, and Harry, where I work.

Tough luck, mate. You picked the wrong person to chat up.


Friday, 22 February 2008

Fifteenth Day of Chinese New Year - Chap Goh Mei

The fifteenth day of Chinese New Year is more popularly known in Malaysia as Chap Goh Mei. The celebrations of the fifteenth day is no less splendid; on the night we would make sweet glutinous rice balls (tang yuan) served in a ginger syrup soup as a symbol of unity (round) and the good things in life (sweetness). Chap Goh Mei is also the Chinese version of St. Valentine's day, with unmarried girls throwing mandarin oranges for the man of their dreams to pick up.

I worked on Chap Goh Mei, of course. This Chap Goh Mei turned out to be the most eventful one of my life so far. The pharmacy I worked at was robbed and I was held up by a man holding a sharp knife. Thankfully no one was hurt. I left the pharmacy feeling angry, angry that there are people who feel that they have the right to rob and steal from others just because they feel themselves to be underprivileged. This man is neither physically impaired, and certainly not mentally impaired, considering that he is clever enough to orchestrate a hold-up on two defenceless ladies. Indeed.

I left the scene feeling detached and wary, too. I can't stop these things from happening. One of the things in life. It's a valuable lesson for me to be always vigilant no matter where I am. My rose-tinted glasses have faded now.

To that man: You may escape without being caught this time, count yourself lucky. I do believe in karma. What goes around comes around. It's a valuable lesson for you, too, not just for me.

I saw the full moon on Chap Goh Mei night. I wished that I was carrying a Chinese lattern as when I was young, playing beneath the moonlight, blissfully unaware of the ugly reality of the world.

Sadly, I no longer live in a beautiful world.


Monday, 11 February 2008

Fifth Day of Chinese New Year in Sydney

I arrived in Sydney this morning to very nice cool weather, a far cry from the blistering heat back home in Petaling Jaya.

Chinese New Year cannot be any quieter than in Sydney, with most of the celebrations concentrated in Chinatown, only 15 minutes' away from where I stay. Whereas I had the sound of Chinese drums and cymbals accompanying the lion dance back home, back at college, I have the banging and clanging of heavy machinery at the construction site right next to the college. Still, I fancy the sounds to be those of Chinese New Year celebrations, to keep my Chinese New Year spirits up. After all, the festive season does not end until after the 15th.

KT bought a nian gao at Chinatown. Tonight, I'll be frying battered nian gao with sweet potato slices, a little treat for us. Can't wait... yum yum... :)


Thursday, 7 February 2008

First Day of Chinese New Year

The first day of Chinese New Year has always been celebrated pretty much the same way from year to year at our household. By the time the three of us kids (not so young anymore, but we're still kids in our parents' eyes) wake up, my mother would be busy frying the "nian gao". My mother cuts the nian gao into thin pieces, coats them in egg batter, and / or fries them together with sweet potato pieces. Yummy stuff!!! I love the sticky, chewy, crispy texture of fried nian gao.

Fireworks (although banned in Malaysia) and lion dance are a must during Chinese New Year. Some families in the neighbourhood pay for dance troupes to perform the lion dance to welcome in the new year, bringing the families good fortune. Fireworks and the sounds of the lion dance liven up the atmosphere.

We would have the TV on whilst eating fried nian gao. Almost every channel would air programmes relating to the Chinese New Year, so my sisters would channel surf until they see an interesting programme (it used to be just three channels, now with Channel 7, 8, and 9, and Astro, the possibilities are endless!).

Then comes tradition. The night before we would set up a table as a makeshift altar to pray to the gods and my late grandfather on New Year's Eve. The next morning, after breakfast, we would light some incense to put at the altar, and then we would have the tea ceremony. After pouring tea to the elders (in my case, my grandmother and my parents), they would give us a red packet "ang pow" as a symbol of good luck.

We would then set up the tea table laden with Chinese New Year titbits - some bought, some home-made, and wait for relatives and friends to call on us. That usually means more "ang pows" for us "kids". :P It's during Chinese New Year that we get to see relatives and friends whom we have not seen in a while, sit down and have a chat about the past year.

That's pretty much the first day... not very eventful, but for me, just perfect the way the day goes by, as long as I am at home, I am very happy. :)


Wednesday, 6 February 2008

Berry Nice Ice-cream Cheesecake

KT has nicknamed the pharmacy I work in "The Laidback Chemist" for a good reason; it hardly gets busy during the day when I work , so I spend most of the time at the back watching cooking shows on TV. One of my favourite shows is Huey's Cooking Adventures (3:30pm, Mondays - Fridays, Channel Ten). The half an hour cooking slot is jam-packed with interesting recipes (certainly adventurous; have you ever heard of WATERMELON CURRY with seared swordfish?) and useful cooking tips. I have tried some of Huey's recipes, but it's this particular recipe from which I have had some good reviews (KT said that even a friend who's a chef at this super-posh restaurant - The Wharf - deigned to try it!), so here it is, with some variations to the recipe:

I call it Berry Nice Ice-cream Cheesecake:


For the cake base:

2 cups crushed sweet biscuits (I usually use digestive biscuits because they're less sweet; this time around I used Cole's "Nice biscuits" because I wondered how biscuits could not taste nice - the result was a very nice base indeed!)

175 melted butter

For the cake:

1/2 cup unrefined sugar (Huey's recipe: 3/4 cup castor sugar; I didn't have castor sugar, castor sugar would have made the cake much smoother I suppose, and I didn't want the cake to be too sweet!)

500 g Philadelphia cream cheese (softened) (Huey's recipe 375 g; my cake would have been much cheesier then!)

200 g frozen raspberries

1 L vanilla ice-cream (softened)

For the topping:

Fresh berries (I used fresh strawberries and blueberries)

Frozen raspberries

Marsala wine (Huey's recipe called for Orange Liquor - Curaçao - but I didn't want to buy a whole bottle; I had some Marsala left over from my tiramisu adventure, so I used Marsala instead, turned out to be nice and mellow as opposed to the tartness of orange liquor I suppose?)


Prepare the cake base:

1. Mix the crushed biscuits with the melted butter.

2. Flatten the mixture into a springform tin.

3. Put the tin into the fridge for 30 minutes to allow the base to set.

Meanwhile, prepare the cake mixture:

1. Blend cream cheese and sugar in a food processor until smooth.

2. Pour mixture into a bowl.

3. Purée the frozen raspberries in the food processor.

4. Add the puréed raspberries to the cream cheese and sugar mixture. Mix with a

spatula until well-combined.

5. Gradually add the vanilla ice-cream to the mixture.

6. Pour mixture into the springform tin (with the set cake base).

7. I put some of the fresh blueberries into the cake mixture - not according to

recipe, but just to try out.

8. Put the tin into the freezer to set the cake.

To prepare the pièce de résistance - the berry topping:

1. Quarter the strawberries.

2. Soak the berries into the liquor - this process is called maceration - to soften

the berries and allow the flavour to develop in the liquor.

Prior to serving, thaw the cake slightly by leaving it in the fridge for a while. Cut into slices and top with the berry topping. Enjoy! I know I did!


Tuesday, 5 February 2008

I Love You


Tuesday, 29 January 2008


"In sickness and in health, until death doth parts us"
Mr. and Mrs. L are the pharmacy's regular customers. They nearly always come to the pharmacy together. They stand patiently at the counter whilst I get their medications ready. They would make small talk whilst waiting, the kind that husbands and wives make after being together for a very long time, yet are still very fond of each other. When I go to the counter with their medications, Mr. L signs the scripts and tells Mrs. L to pay for the medications. Mrs. L exclaims in feigned indignation, "Pay with my money? You give me money only to take it away from me?" She proceeds to tell me sotto voce, "That's to make sure that I won't leave him" and she smiles. I then jokingly reply, "Who does the cooking?". Mrs. L says, "I do! I do everything and he does nothing!", to which Mr. L affirms, "I do nothing". They carry on their bantering all the way to the door.
Mr. L, on one occasion of him coming to the pharmacy without Mrs. L, told me that Mrs. L had a bad back. "Goodness knows she has a bad back, with me as her burden all these years, but don't tell her that."
Mr. C is by Mrs. C's bedside every day. She is a shell of her former self, sleeping most the time due to the pain medications given to her. She can no longer talk nor walk from weakness, her eyes lighting up when she has visitors, her eyes the windows of communication when speech fails her. Mr. C sits and watches over her, his love for her is silent but strong, stated not in words but in actions.
They know better than others the meaning of love, love that transcends mere words. I am moved to awe and tears. I hope to begin to understand, if only a fraction at a time, what love is all about.

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