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Friday, May 29, 2015

Julian is 8 Years Old!

Julian turned 8 years old on 28 May 2015. Some photo updates...

[Bithday celebration in Menglembu]

[Birthday celebration at home]

[Julian after school]

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Justin at 70 Months

Justin turned 70 months old on 25 May 2015.

This month, Justin asked some interesting questions:
#1 Why numbers don't end?
#2 Why [the] alphabet end[s]?

At his babysitter's, Justin told Uncle, "Pek Kong, you must not open the fridge for 5 hours. If you open the fridge, the hot air will go in." Shortly after, Aunty opened the fridge and found a broken egg at the bottom... This happened at around 4+ in the afternoon. He comes home around 6+ in the evening.

In our daily prayers, we always pray for Ah Kong & Poh Poh - that they may rest in peace. On one of the nights, Justin asked, "When will they rest in peace?" And on another night, he asked, "Will Ah Kong and Poh Poh rise from the dead like Jesus?" When Mummy said 'yes', he asked, "But how will they get out from the grave?"

[Justin engross with a composition]

[Justin playing his composition]

Monday, May 25, 2015

Chicken Nest Dumpling (Kai Wo)

This is Kai Wo (chicken nest) - a pau (dumpling) that is a cross between a big pau and lor mai kai (sticky rice & chicken). Available only on Sundays at the Pin Sim Sing Kee restaurant in Menglembu, Perak.

[Looks like a big pau from the top]

[A whole different story inside]

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Our 11th Anniversary

We celebrated our 11th wedding anniversary on 1 May 2015.

This year, we were in Medan over the long weekend. Subsequently, we were preoccupied with other things so much so that we only sat down for our anniversary prayer on 26 July 2016! Anyway, better late than never.

[Lighting our Unity Candle]

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Medan 2015: Day 4

Day 4: Berastagi to Medan

We checked-out of Grand Mutiara Hotel Berastagi at about 8.00am.

Agriculture is big business in Berastagi and the surrounding area, thanks to the cool climate and fertile volcanic soil. The climate here is similar to that of Cameron Highlands. This makes the market a popular attraction.

On the way to the market, we stopped by the Church of St. Francis of Assisi.

[Church of St. Francis of Assisi, Berastagi]

[Interior of the church]

We arrived at the market at around 8.30am. There is a wide range of flowers, vegetables, fruits, as well as clothes and souvenirs. The fruits are perhaps a bit more interesting here. The passion fruit (markisa) and tamarillo (terung Belanda) are popular (they are also made into juice concentrate). Also available are the local persimmon, pepino (a kind of small purplish melon), snake fruit (salak), avocado, mango, grapes, and dragon fruit. It was also recommended we try the sweet-spicy grilled corn.

[Berastagi Market: Flowers]

[Berastagi Market: Vegetables]

[Berastagi Market: Fruits]

[Grilled and boiled corn]

After the market, we headed to Gundaling Hill - a popular lookout area to view Gunung Sinabung and Gunung Sibayak. We arrived at about 9.30am. Both volcanoes are still active. Gunung Sinabung has recently been erupting off and on. Besides the volcanoes, the kids were especially excited over the dandelions, wanting to pick the blowballs to blow.

[Gunung Sinabung]

[Gunung Sibayak]

[Dandelions on Gundaling Hill]

At about 10.15am, we arrived at a strawberry farm to pick strawberries. Unfortunately, it was off-season and the kids had to make do picking the left-overs. They didn't mind though. We did not see any dark red strawberries, but even the "off-red" ones were already as sweet as the ripe Cameron Highlands variety.

[Picking strawberries]

At 10.45am, we visited Lumbini Nature Park. It is a Buddhist temple with a wooded nature park nearby.

[Buddhist temple at Lumbini Park]

We left at about 11.15am and headed back to Medan. At about 1.00pm, we arrived at the Marian Shrine of Annai Velangkanni. It has a very unique and elaborate design. "Lessons" on the seven days of creation can be found on the circular ramps leading to the main church area. The seven sacraments can be found on the ceiling of the church. There is also a mini Jerusalem in one corner of the church compound.

[Marian Shrine of Annai Velangkanni]

[Interior of the shrine]

We were dropped-off at the Kuala Namu airport at about 3.00pm for our 6.30pm flight home to Penang.

For the record, we can think of perhaps two rather unfortunate incidences during the holiday:
  1. While having a dip in the bathtub in the hotel in Berastagi, Julian bumped his head against the bathtub tap, resulting in a 1cm gash. Luckily it was not as deep as his first (and major) gash. However, it was enough to cause a scene, and the obvious need for a plaster (see the photo of Julian picking the strawberry).
  2. We liked the mixed passion fruit and tamarillo juice (called martabe = markisa + terung Belanda) we order during one of our meals. So, at the Berastagi market, we bought a bottle each of passion fruit and tamarillo juice concentrate. However, we absent-mindedly forgot to check them in at the airport. They were discovered in one of our hand-carry bags during the security check and had to be left behind.

Overall, it was an enjoyable and interesting holiday. We were happy that the places we visited appealed to the adults as well as the kids.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Medan 2015: Day 3

Day 3: Samosir to Berastagi

We checked-out at 7.00am. As we drove away from Samosir Cottages, we saw some rocks that were rhyodacite lava domes.

[Rhyodacite lava dome]

[An idyllic lakeside view of Lake Toba]

At 7.30am, we arrived at our first stop for the day - the Stone Chair of King Siallagan. The stone chairs and statues found at this village were made from rhyodacite lava rocks we saw earlier. The chairs were used by the king and elders to conduct trials on crimes committed. Criminals who were sentenced to death are taken to another area for execution.

[The Stone Chair: Daddy on trial]

[A mock execution]

[Instruments used for execution]

We then took a long drive uphill to the Tele Viewing Tower located on the mainland just west of Samosir. We arrived at about 9.50am. From the tower, we enjoyed the panoramic view of Lake Toba and Samosir. The tower itself is rather shaby and not well maintained, but the view is truly amazing. There is a small shop in the area where we bought a few hard-boiled duck eggs, much to the amusement of the kids.

[The Tele Viewing Tower]

[A north-east view from the tower]

[A south-east view from the tower]

[A panoramic view from the tower (thanks to AutoStitch)]

At 11.15am we arrived at a hot spring, also on the mainland. It is a rocky, off-the-beaten-track sort of place with a small stream. Some rocks were stained yellow indicating the presence of sulfur, and the smell of the air confirmed this. Nearer the source, the water was really very hot. There were lots of piping in the area, very likely taking the water to hot spring bathing pools that are popular in the area.

[At the hot spring]

At 11.45am we had lunch at Saulina Resort. We order grilled ikan nila stuffed with sambal. It was delicious! Apparently, ikan nila is a popular aquacultured fish in the Lake Toba area, some of which are even exported to Europe we were told. As it turned out, after some Googling, ikan nila = Nile fish = Nile tilapia! Anyway, for a tilapia, it did not have the muddy-pondish taste of our local tilapia.

[Grilled Nile tilapia]

After lunch, we were back on Samosir. We were supposed to have gotten on the 1.30pm ferry from the Simanindo jetty but it was full. So, we took a short walk to another Batak Museum nearby to while-away some time.

[A traditional Batak boat at the Simanindo Batak Museum]

[The kids waiting for the ferry at Simanindo]

We caught the next available ferry at 4.15pm and drove towards Berastagi. On the way, we made a pit stop at Simarjarunjung at about 5.20pm to take some photos. Our driver, Jack, was anxious to get us to Sipisopiso waterfall by nightfall as it gets dark around 6-ish. To our relief, we arrived at Sipisopiso at around 6.10pm with just enough daylight to enjoy the spectacular view of the 120m waterfall. The water appears to be gushing out of "a hole in the wall".

[Sipisopiso waterfall]

By about 6.30pm it was already dark. We had dinner at one of the stalls at the Sipisopiso lookout area. We had simple fried instant noodles (because of the kids) at tourist prices, but the experience of dining in a rural jungle-like environment with a chorus of crickets singing in the background made up for it.

We made it to Grand Mutiara Hotel Berastagi at about 8.30pm.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Medan 2015: Days 1 & 2

We had a holiday in Medan from 1-4 May 2015, taking advantage of the long Labour Day and Wesak Day weekend. This was Angie's second trip (after 24 years), while it was the first for the rest of the family.

Day 1: Penang to Medan

We left Penang at 4.10pm on Air Asia, and arrived at 4.10pm local time in Medan. We were picked up by our driver and guide, Jack, and headed straight to the city. Accommodation for the night was at Swiss-Belinn Medan.

For dinner, Bart's former student took us to the Mega Mas area for dinner at a hawker centre and a walk around the night market. It was a very crowded area with the pedestrians practically sandwiched between the stalls and vehicles. Before we parted, we were presented with two of Medan's famous desserts: Bolu Meranti's cheese Swiss-roll, and Nikmat Twin's bika ambon.

Day 2: Medan to Lake Toba

After breakfast at the hotel, we checked-out at 8.00am. We stopped at Istana Maimun, the palace of the Sultanate of Deli for a quick look-around before leaving the city at around 8.30am for Lake Toba.

[Istana Maimun]

At 11.45am we stopped at the famous Paten shop at Pematang Siantar. We left after purchasing some dodol with sesame seeds, spicy binjai fritters, pong pong (rice pop candy), pang pang (similar to our shat kek mah), tang tang (similar to our kuih kapit), and ak am (soft peanut candy).

[At the Paten shop]

[Some of the stuff we bought from the Paten shop]

At 1.15pm we arrived at the lakeside town of Parapat. We had lunch at a road-side stall serving the local delicacy: babi panggang Karo (BPK) or Karo grilled pork. A set comes with grilled pork, kidu-kidu (pig intestine sausage), pulos-pulos (thinly shredded tapioca leaves), and soup. Simple but delicious!

[BPK being prepared]

[The BPK set of rice, grilled pork, kidu-kidu, pulos-pulos and soup]

After lunch, we caught the 2.30pm ferry for a one-hour ride to Samosir.

[On the ferry from Parapat to Samosir]

Upon arrival at Samosir, we headed to the Batak Museum, and Tombs of the Sidabutar Kings at Tomok.

[The Batak museum]

[The tombs of the Sidabutar Kings]

[Adults are obliged to wear the ulos (a kind of shoulder shawl or selendang) while entering the tomb area]

We arrived at Samosir Cottages at about 4.15pm, and it was drizzling. Shortly after settling in, the kids wanted to go swimming in the pool. The water was cold (the climate at Lake Toba is actually slightly cool) but they didn't seem to mind!

[At the edge of the lake at Samosir Cottages]

We had dinner at the hotel and were entertained thereafter with a performance of Batak dances and singing.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Jianna at 37 Months

Jianna turned 37 months old on 30 April 2015.

Jianna and Justin were playing hide-and-seek one evening. At one point, it was Justin's turn to hide but Jianna had difficulty finding him. So Justin made some noise to give Jianna a clue.
Mummy: Where's that noise coming from?
Jianna: From Justin's mouth!
Mummy: ???

On one of the mornings (during the 'challenge' of getting Justin and Jianna ready for school)...
Jianna: You cannot play with fire. Only Daddy and Mummy can... cook, cook, cook...
Me: Yes, cook for whom to eat?
Jianna: Julian and Justin.
Me: What about Jianna? Does Jianna eat the food?
Jianna: Yes.
Me: Where does the food come from?
Jianna: From the plate.
Me: How did the food get into the plate?
Jianna: It jumped into the plate.

[Next generation glasses]

Julian at 95 Months

Julian turned 95 months old on 28 April 2015. He seems to have an interesting theory about skin colour...

We prepared two empty egg shells for Julian's art and craft at school.
Daddy: How many egg shells did you use?
Julian: One.
Daddy: What happened to the other one?
Julian: I lent it to ET. She asked for permission.
Daddy: That's nice. Is she Catholic? *Daddy going into match-making mode*
Julian: Yes!
Daddy: How do you know she's Catholic?
Julian: I know by the colour of her skin.
Daddy: ???

[Julian learning to prepare vegetables]

[He's by brother!]

[Julian the "Taikor"]

Justin at 69 Months

Justin turned 69 months old on 25 April 2015. Here's what he's been up to...

While driving to dinner after mass, Daddy was singing the chorus of one of the songs sung during mass...
Daddy: Lord, I give you my heart, I give you my soul...
Justin: Stop, Daddy. That's crazy!
Daddy: Why? What's crazy?
Justin: The words are crazy!
Daddy: Why?
Justin: You can't give your soul to somebody.
Daddy: Do you know what a soul is?
Justin: It's the part of the body under the foot.
Daddy: ???

Justin was playing with some jenga-type blocks and pretended they were nuts. After a while something new dawned upon him and we heard him declare, "Nut juice!"

Recently taking an interest in the chinese zodiac (and somewhat obsessed with people's age)...
Justin: What animal was Tua Ee (eldest Aunt) born on?
Mummy: Tua Ee wasn't born on any animal...

[Justin with a huge pomegranate]

[More funny faces from Justin]

[The shirt need a stretch!]