Sunday, November 15, 2020

The Strangest Year

2020. It was a year people look forward to. The perfect year for a brand new start. Unbeknownst to all, it was also the start of a pandemic which source is heavily speculated.  

Many, many years ago, when I was little, I don't remember how old I was, I thought about how my life would be like in 2020. Then, it seemed like an impossible year to reach but here we are. It was nothing like I imagined. I envisioned myself not wearing masks in public. That was the clearest I remembered. No smelling my own breath and frequently taking off my specs to get rid of the proof of exhalation that escaped the gap between the mask and my face wishing I could stow the specs somewhere until I free my mouth in the privacy of my home. 

At first, I wasn't threatened by the pandemic. I kept thinking that it would somehow disappear as suddenly as it first came. Yes, it came swiftly but its hopeful disappearance did not happen. It spread globally in a matter of weeks affecting from hundreds and then thousands of people. This is when it hit nearer to home. The country went into a lockdown with no interstate nor international travels allowed on 18 March which lasted until 10 June 2020. The social creatures were encouraged to stay at home to curb the spread. The outcome? The unshakeable tourism industry was at the brink of collapsing. 

It would be a lie if I say I am not worried at all. True, there was a few months of escape from the pandemic which I thought would last. At least, I thought everything will be rosy again. It was an unsettling quiet before the storm. 

Here we are again, at yet another conditional movement control order. There is one important thing I can do. It's not about becoming a nervous wreck, worrying for things beyond my control. It's time I learn to continue trusting God. Everything is happening according to His plan. 

Saturday, August 17, 2019

An impending change and Choco

My working life has changed. It might not seem so yet, but it is definitely coming. For good or bad, only time can tell. Will this newcomer be supportive and not try to take control over all things? I just hope the change will be for the better, and most importantly, no one is slighted.

I told my comrades, we are all in the same boat. We have one another. I need to constantly remind myself that no matter what others say, I have to keep an objective mindset to avoid being judgmental.

As I’m typing this, something warm and black but constantly itchy is sitting beside me on the sofa. Oh, how he loves the sofa - the forbidden item at home which we now relinquished to his control for a couple more days.

His name is Choco, named after the forbidden ingredient that will cause death to his kind when ingested for long term in a considerable amount.

Choco emitting powerful signals from his eyes to get something 
How can you say no to that doe-eyed dog?

His deer-like ears, too large for his small face, are constantly searching for sounds to have reasons for his heart freezing screams. His cuteness disappears for a moment whenever that happens.

Now resting on the covered sofa, his mind slowly drifts into the world where sleeping canines go.

I wonder if he dreams about his real family?

Or maybe he dreams of some delicious beef jerky suited only for human consumption which he robbed from midair last weekend.

His body relaxes as his sleep gets deeper. Even his jaw relaxes showing his two rows of white teeth, worthy of a toothpaste commercial.

Good night, kangaroo dog.

Savour your precious time on this temporary throne before your demotion back to the balcony with sea view.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

What? Chiang Mai trip was three weeks ago?

It's strange how the year has gone by so swiftly. Is it just me who feel this way? People tell me, "Time moves at the same speed. It's just you." 

Let me tell you why I felt it was a speedy year. One example below. 

My much awaited and anticipated Chiang Mai trip had come to an end. It has even been almost three weeks since I came back. How fast is that? Deep down, there was a tiny bit of regret that I was not there at the opportune period to experience the cool weather. Nevertheless, it is no doubt a beautiful city of Thailand. 

It was my virgin trip to Thailand, and I went straight to the northernmost city. Apprehensive at first, thinking that the food would be out of this world - unsuitable for my usually picky tongue for strong flavoured food - I was surprised to be impressed by the variety of delectable and appetising local specialities. They were also quite cheap. When I say cheap, it doesn't mean RM1 meals but definitely worth what I paid for. Although I did have RM1 meals out of MAMA creamy tomyam cup noodles. If I were not afraid of dying early, I could eat them every day. They were for sale at 27 baht for 3 in a pack! Tell me how I could resist this drug in MAMA form. 

Another main highlight - Shangri-La Hotel Chiang Mai 

The grand hotel which is celebrating her 10th anniversary this year

It has a spacious and comfortable room with a bed that magically turned me into Aurora. If there was really nowhere else to go, I would definitely be happy to be a hermit tucked under my sheets, with my Kindle in one hand, whilst the other reaching out to the tempting steaming mug of Chamomile tea at the bedside table. 

Oh no, look at the time now. It's twenty minutes past midnight. Another proof that the needles on the clock are racing to the next morning, desperate to evilly drag me out of bed to work. 

I wish I could stay and write more. Well, I can always save this post as draft and build on it later but what fun is there to it if I procrastinate too much and it gets published probably years later? 

It is too mean of me to do that. 

Hope you were entertained by this entry I enjoyed writing tonight.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Day 3 in Pho Land

Finally got my iced coffee today! 


Had a first round of mixed greens dressed with sesame garlic dressing from the buffet line. 

From the menu, I picked the same sunny side up eggs with bacon, my favourite from the list. 

Also took the chance to try the cakes and cream puffs which I didn't take yesterday. 

Good combination of colours

After a quick rest at the hotel, we went to Ben Thanh Market for more souvenir hunting. 

On the way, I saw some beautiful ao dais on display. 
Window shopping done

Beautiful colours 

Time for the market tour and then lunch. Third day and it's finally pho day!

Look at the crowd inside the shop

Time to tuck in - Beef brisket noodle and Vietnamese iced tea

See the lime at the far corner? It's the usual condiment for all the meals I have had so far. 

It's more about eating and drinking today as it's a free and easy day. Right immediately after lunch, we went to Bach Dang for an ice cream. 

Coconut ice cream

It began to rain heavily as we left and we took shelter at Legend Trung Nguyen Coffee. 


Cool bookcase around the round window
We went back to the market after the rain ceased for another round of shopping. It was a productive day and we completed our shopping list. 

Time to eat again and this time, we went to Bahn Xeo. 

A famous place for pancake and the big headed prawns 

Scary big heads but really fresh and delicious

Look at that fat and juicy prawn

Group photo before sayonara

Today did not end very nicely for me as something unexpected happened. But thank God that I am safe and sound. 

I won't miss the one way streets and the bikes though. Traumatised.  

Flying back to Malaysia tomorrow. Time flies. Goodbye Ho Chi Minh!

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Day 2 in Pho Land

Started day 2 with pigeon feeding at 7:00am outside the cathedral and the post office. 

First pigeon feeding experience in Vietnam

Too busy eating, they didn't notice. Too busy feeding, I didn't notice. When the lens was on us. 

Birds flocking to the square for breakfast

First a few came 

Then more came after news of new feeders travel to the rest of the pigeons. Indeed, they are the pioneers of communication. 

One of them monopolising the grains and beans on my palm 

A bright orange pigeon. Have you seen it before?

Some were smarter to go to the source

Saigon Notre-Dame Cathedral

Family shot

After feeding the birds, we crossed the road to tour the post office for a bit. 

The Central Post Office

So do the pigeons get their assignments here? 

The day had barely begun. This explained the emptiness of the post office. 

I hope I did manage to send a postcard from there. :)

It was time for breakfast so we headed back to the hotel. On the way back, we saw a vendor selling banh mi, a local sandwich similar to Subway format - you get to choose your meat and other vegetables to go with your bun. 

The prep of our banh mi 

Banh Mi attack!

Our pre-breakfast

Too lazy to go into the compound of the Independence Palace so just took a shot from the outside. 

The Independence Palace 

Eggs and bacon 

Tan Dinh Catholic Church 

The pink church

The pink church, taxi and me 

Had a personalised home-cooked meal for lunch. This is undoubtedly the best meal of the entire trip. Thanks to Van and her family for their kind hospitality!

Vietnamese salad 

Beef broth with bun

And several other dishes. I am stuffed. We chilled a while and then the rain started. Thank God it wasn't a heavy one as I have yet to buy another umbrella. 

A cute girl and me


Finally managed to get an umbrella and an ao dai top - something I cannot get in Malaysia. Sorry, no pictures available. :P

Dinner at Thanh Vien, serving traditional Vietnamese cuisine. 

The interior

Something like lor bak wrapped with lettuce, basil leaf and fish leaf. 

Barbecued prawns with some vegetables and flour pancake. 

Sweet prawns cooked in coconut water

Unique, but it does take some getting used to. It's an eye-opening experience for me. 

Second day passed by as swiftly as the first. Best experience? It has got to be the pigeon feeding activity today. 

Looking forward to another wonderful experience at HCMC tomorrow. 

By the way, day 2 is over. Still has not tasted pho. 

Day 1 in Pho Land

Was missing and here once again. I am getting better at this disappearance act. 

My first view of the city before touchdown 

First day in Ho Chi Minh city. Thanks to the first trip to Phnom Penh in May, I had prepared myself for the traffic culture in Vietnam. One thing for sure, the people here are really good in maneuvering their vehicles under such congested conditions. Hats off to them! 

Amazed to see the Grab Bikes

Checked in to our humble abode for the next three nights. 

Miniature figurines wearing ao dais at the reception of the hotel. 

The most wonderful thing about the room?

It's not this but...


Can you see how many channels were available on TV? Not that I enjoy staying in the room watching TV all day but the variety of channels just blew my mind.

First stop: Ben Thanh Market

It was drizzling slightly so umbrella came to the rescue. Sadly, I lost the heroic umbrella later in the evening due to my clumsiness. :(

Bought something for someone's special day at the market. I stopped myself from looking at more goods as there would be more opportunities to get better bargains at the night market nearby, maybe tomorrow or the day after. 
Colourful sticky rice spotted outside the market. Cheerful colours. 
Yet to get a taste of pho yet but my tastebuds were pampered with other wonderful dishes native to Vietnam at the start of my first evening here. 

Dining on this fish-shaped ship. Never did I know it would also swim away halfway through our dinner. 

A couple of highlights from the chow time. 

The first dish was so good that my camera did not have the opportunity to feast on it. I was famished, probably. 

Some chicken and coconut cakes with fried rice wrapped in egg

This bowl of bitter gourd soup and noodles reminded me of the koay teow soup from Cambodia. I added lime to bring back the familiar taste. So appetising. 

A performance that keeps me holding my breath, fearing a single breath would jeopardise her balancing of glasses on the sword. 

Just enjoy looking at the lights

Another floating restaurant on a ship called Tau Sai Gon. Wish I could be there too. 

A while later, we took a stroll at Walking Street. I was a bit tired so there were not many photos taken. 

The City Hall

Mr. Ho Chi Minh

Tried to take a selfie with him but I looked invisible. Bad skill, so I gave up. 

Interesting coffee shops seemingly stacked up like Jenga

There were some street performances. Even spotted Kungfu Panda in a rush. Probably he was late for his training with Master Wuguai. Hmm... 

Beautiful lights in Saigon Garden. I guess it is a popular hangout spot for young people with some modern tea places for catch up sessions among friends. Cool place. 

Brain tired to think more. Will update more when I have the willpower to do so.