Monday, February 20, 2017

Kundasang

[Anecdotes from our Chinese New Year holiday in Malaysia]

So we come to my favourite photo from our entire holiday.

This was taken at the backseat of my parents’ car during our little day trip to Kundasang.

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I have many fond memories of family trips up to Kundasang, sitting in the backseat of car just like this. Except this time, it was sans the company of my two brothers, and in their place were my own two children with my hubs.

There were a few changes to the landscape since the last time I visited, and some new upgrades and additions to the facilities. Apart from that, the air and the atmosphere smelt and felt exactly the same.

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The featured itinerary for this trip was a visit to the Desa Cattle and dairy farm.

Some people call it the little ‘New Zealand’ of Sabah.

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We got up close to some calves and goats to feed them some grass and milk.
(the grass cost RM1.00 per bunch and milk cost RM1.50 per bottle)

Both the children and the animals simply couldn’t get enough of it.

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And the sweet end to this excursion was the grandparents’ promise of gelato ice cream.

Chocolate. Naturally.

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Parting shot with our official trip sponsors.

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If you’re interested to find out more about visiting the Desa cattle and dairy farm in Kundasang, I recommend the following sites:

Sunday, February 19, 2017

The Museum

[Anecdotes from our Chinese New Year holiday in Malaysia]

One of my favourite childhood ‘playgrounds’ was the local state museum of Sabah.

When I was a child, entry was free for everyone. So every now and then we’d beg our mum…. “please, pleeeeease, can we go to the museum today?”. By some adult mysterious reasoning we could never guess or fathom, every now and then she would say okay.

I can remember the exact flow of almost every single display area almost by heart. From anthropology and natural history, to the ceramics display, all the way down to the local indigenous section. I enjoyed listening to my mum talk about the different artefacts on display. Then afterwards our favourite final stop was the heritage village with actual models of traditional longhouses where my brothers and I would revel in climbing up and down the ladders and running across the bamboo floors of all the different indigenous houses.

I was determined that my kids would share the same joy.

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But as it often goes… reality does not always align with expectations.

“Mummy, it’s so hot!”

“This is boooooring!”

“My legs are tired!”

“I’m hungry!”

“Can we go home now?”

But being the little troopers they are, they duly followed me through all the different sections and displays and listen to me rattle on about the different artefacts and items of interest.

And it was not all that bad really. They were definitely interested in studying the lifelike animals on display in the natural history section, and venturing inside a life-sized model of a burial cave (“very spooky, mummy!”) and being weirded out by the display of human skulls in the headhunter’s gallery.

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It was a very surreal feeling walking through all the familiar galleries and sections around the museum. The layout had remained almost completely unchanged since I last visited this place probably more than 20 years ago. My favourite section was always the ceramics gallery. I enjoyed studying the intricate patterns and designs of the ceramic pieces from all the different historical dynasties. Unfortunately I couldn’t do much of that this time round. This was one of the children’s least favourite section, although we did pause at a ceramic pillow on display which Nathan could not believe people actually used to sleep on.

Finally after navigating our way quickly through the remaining sections inside the museum building and adjoining block, we headed outside to the heritage village to look at the display of longhouses. We opted to cross over to the village via this suspension bridge. It was easily one of the safest suspension bridges I had walked across in my life. But to my urban Aussie kids, this was considered almost real jungle level adventure.

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It had rained quite heavily the night before, so the ground was fairly muddy in some spots… which my kids did NOT care for at all and they expressed their displeasure very loudly. But when we finally were in sight of the heritage village, I think even they had to admit that those longhouses looked pretty cool.

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They were eager to explore every single longhouse in the heritage village (despite the bother of having to step over the muddy spots) and Grace even tested out what it felt like to sleep on one of those pillow blocks like the ceramic one we saw inside the museum earlier (except this one was made from wood).

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Joy shared.

 

If you’re interested to find out more about visiting the Sabah state museum, I recommend the following sites:

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Barbershop

[Anecdotes from our Chinese New Year holiday in Malaysia]

First item on the agenda of our Malaysia holiday: a trip to an old school barbershop to get trimmed up for the upcoming Chinese New Year festivities.

I have very vivid childhood memories of visiting an old school Chinese barbershop like this. Sitting up on those black leather chairs that go up and down--on one of those small wooden planks propped up between the armrests. Breathing in the distinct barbershop smell of wet hair, shaving cream, talcum powder and aftershave.

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One barbershop. Two very different reactions to the experience.

Grace thoroughly enjoyed the entire ceremony. She took it very seriously and sat very importantly up on the seat, following the cues of the lady barber to angle her head this way and that.

Nathan’s was a nightmare experience. He told me afterwards that he was terrified that the lady barber would accidently snip his skin with the scissors and draw blood.

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Afterwards, the lady barber kindly rewarded them both with a couple of lollies. So that was a sweet end to the experience. Lollies always make everything alright in the end.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

A real Malaysian Chinese New Year

[Anecdotes from our Chinese New Year holiday in Malaysia]

This year’s trip back to Malaysia had been planned years ahead. Chinese New Year this year happens to fall in January just at the tail end of the summer school holidays in Australia. We had booked our plane tickets way ahead so we could look forward to enjoying the big festivities back in Malaysia for the first time in several years.

We made sure that the kids got a first hand taste of Chinese New Year in Malaysia.

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Colourful lion dances
Firecrackers
Night markets
Chinese New Year cookies
Yeos packet drinks
Lou sang dinners
Dressing up in new clothes
Playing with lots of cousins
Visiting friends and relatives houses.
Loads and loads of ang pow

A real classic festive Chinese New Year every Chinese kid must experience at least once in their lifetime.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Airports and airplanes

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After that dejecting end to last year’s affairs, I picked myself up and look forward to kicking off the new year with a long awaited holiday in Malaysia.

Nathan was bursting with excitement over the adventure of flying on an airplane. Grace was just excited that she could pack ‘real stuff’ in her very own backpack to carry. We borrowed this book which we read umpteen times in anticipation of the trip.

I have to confess I am not a big fan myself of airports and airplanes myself. Not that I suffer from any kind of phobia or travel sickness. I just find the long waits and upright seating uncomfortable. But the delight and enthusiasm of my two little animated travellers is highly contagious. I couldn’t help having the buzz of their excitement rub off me a bit.

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I must say travelling with the kids now is so much easier than before, now that I no longer have lug around a monster-sized bag of nappies, wipes and assortment of baby paraphernalia. No more worrying over fighting for a bassinet seat or making special meal requests for baby food. The kids can now carry their own little backpacks to bring along their crayons, notebooks and snacks. And thankfully they’ve always been terrific travellers, always smiley and charming to the flight attendants, no crying or whinging during take-offs and landings, no complaining of being bored or impatient during waiting times. So I can’t complain.

More anecdotes and photos from our holiday to come!