Scars Have Stories

I repainted my car last month. The paint on its bonnet has started to “flake” and fade. It’s due to the accident many years ago, so it was not an original bonnet. Actually, I don’t really care about the esthetics of my car.. just as I don’t really bother how I look like. Haha. Ok, I am quite bothered on how I look like but then, I don’t have the discipline and will power to do something about it. There you have it.. honest answer.

Ok.. back to my car. I accidentally scratch the back of my car when I was backing it out one night, on a rainy November 2003. I still remember the incident vividly. That time, my car was still new. I think I had it less than 4 months into my new job – which I hated.. the job, not the car.

My mom woke me up around 1 am and told me, “Your grandma is dead. She passed away just now”. I thought it was a dream. I quickly got up, went into the room with my mom and saw a motionless body on my bed. My late grandma was visiting and she was sleeping in my room with my cousin sister because she couldn’t tolerate the air conditioned room in the master bedroom.

I went downstairs to call the ambulance. 5 minutes later, we received a call from from an undertaker asking us if we would like his funeral services. I declined politely and was in shock how did these people get my number so fast???

After I called the ambulance, I went to back my car out in order for the ambulance to get into my car porch. With my new sets of driving skills and driving out after being woken up from my sleep… in disbelief that my grandma is gone.. I scratched the right side of my car on the gate. It left quite a significant size of hole at the back of my car. I was annoyed but i was hoping the paramedics in the ambulance would revived my lifeless grandmother.

Unfortunately, they came and certified the time of death. There was a loud wailing in the house. My uncle helped to carry my grandmother down while sobbing loudly. This was probably the first and only time, I saw him cried. We made necessary phone calls to the parents of the children we baby sat to take them home while we make preparations for my grandma’s funeral.

After busy preparing for my grandma’s funeral and returning to the job which I loathed… I don’t have time to patch the hole up. It soon became a fixture on my car. If there’s a row of silver colored Kenari on the parking lot, with the plat numbers removed, that would be the identification for my car.

So, last month, I sent my car for a fresh coat of sparkling silver paint. The “scar” on my car is gone. But rest assured, the memories of my late grandmother will forever remained in my heart.


22nd April 2014, Tuesday

Had a short meet up with friends I met from IRC back in 1998. We have been keeping in touch throughout the years. Kat aka Sugarfree – has migrated to UK since she started studying there and met her British husband in university. We would meet as and when she is back to Malaysia for a short holiday.

Those days were a riot! We would meet online in channel #marquis and talked all night! Sometimes, we would just go out for supper at 4 am. It was really crazy. Thank God during those times, Malaysia was still considered rather safe. I could go out by myself at night and returned home at 4 am with no untoward incident. Why can’t we go back to that stage of peace and tranquility?

The thing is, this Kat, she would be online almost 24 hours and yet, she managed to score straight As in her A levels, obtained a scholarship to study chemical engineering in UK and since she did really well, she furthered her phd studies immediately and graduated with the title Dr by age 26. Super impressive neh?? As for me, not so lucky. I think I spent too much time talking on the internet and fell asleep in most of my classes that I had to repeat some of them. Not a good thing to share but, I think that was fun.. at least, I still manage to graduate! Haha.

It’s nice to catch up with Sugarfree, alienskin aka demonspit and ^ChRiStiNe aka Becky. We now living our different lives now – marriage, children, career path, etc. It’s good to have Facebook to keep track of what’s going on in the lives of the people we care about most.

Growing Mature

I went back to Penang and Taiping for Ching Ming over the last weekend. My mom’s side is in Taiping whereas my dad’s in Penang.
When I was younger, I used to loathe Ching Ming. It didn’t make sense to me the significance. I was just grumpy because of the long journey from KL and then, having to bask in the sun to clear graves and cemetery. Why can’t everybody just get cremated and get over with it?? Haha! Yes.. I was that moronically obnoxious! So, most of the time, I would just avoid going to Ching Ming. Afterall, if I were to go, there won’t be enough space in the car either. So, I stayed out of Ching Ming most of my initial working years.

As I grew older, I learned the significance of Ching Ming. It’s just once a year event for us to cultivate filial piety to our ancestors. I think, as a Chinese custom, this is considered one of the most significant events to foster filial piety. I know, I always argue that, it’s even more important for us to be filial to our parents and elderly when they are still alive and not wait till they are dead – to put up a show that we are filial.

Ching Ming is also a time for other living members of the family to gather together, after Chinese New Year event. Since we no more going back to Penang for Chinese New Year as both of our grandparents are gone, and the only uncle has passed away a few years back, we spent CNY within our own families in KL and Taiping. So Ching Ming is the only time we get to meet other relatives in Penang.

This time, we didn’t see one of our nieces as she has to work. Also, my cousin in law (her mom) lamented that she’s now 21 and she would spend most of her time with her friends. She would always go traveling with her friends and not her parents. Ah Ching is a quiet girl and she rarely speaks to her parents. But would be very animated with her friends. Well, I told my cousin in law that, this is her rebellious young adult years. Soon, when she starts a family of her own, she would remember how important her mother was to her before and she would miss her mom… and she would be crawling back for attention!

This is from my own personal experience. I used to be this young lady who refused to sit at home and preferred to spend more time hanging out with friends or simply going out. Now, as I grew much older and hopefully mature too, I rather spend more time at home.

Since the past 8 years, I could see my mom growing older faster by the day. She seems to repeat more times of what she say and would forget easily what we told her. She would fall asleep easily while watching tv and remained wide awake at night. She would nag and nag and nag with even more gusto! I am growing impatient but then, I keep on reminding myself that, I would someday grow old too and probably Ern Ern would be fed up with me. Haha.

Well, kids, appreciate your parents when they are still alive and well. It’s too late to say anything once they are gone.

Langkawi Island

We decided to go on an impromptu trip to Langkawi after we had yearly dim sum session at Mandarin Oriental in December. We went there 11 years ago! In fact, this was the first time I flew from Langkawi to KL! Thanks to AirAsia! We took the 8-hours back breaking bus rides to Kuala Muda, Kedah to catch a ferry to the island. This was where I slapped a man’s head really hard as I mistaken him for the girls. They were sitting in front of me in the ferry before I dozed off and decided to change their seats after the air conditioner above them was leaking. Yes! It was a hilarious moment and till today, the girls are laughing at me!

These bunch of girls were my main hang when I first started working. I was poor because I just started working and didn’t have much money to spend, so we usually would go on local weekend getaways. I am blessed to have known these girls. They are truly good friends I met from work.

I actually wrote a long post earlier in my gmail but couldn’t seem to locate it! So, this shall be a short post.

Just a few pointers on what to do in Langkawi.

1. We stayed in Resorts World Langkawi at Tanjung Malai. It doesn’t have its own beach but close enough to the waters to have nice view of the sea and a small jetty, for island hopping purposes.

DSC_8804aResorts World Langkawi

2. Resorts World Langkawi has a special package – Chillax package at RM296nett per person for 3D2N stay (Garden view), and comes with 3 options of freebies – RM100 dining voucher at Yellow Cafe/Sagar restaurant/The Cliff or island drop at Beras Basah Island with packed lunch (towel provided as well) or free flow drinks throughout your stay at the hotel (alcoholic and non alcoholic). We decided to choose the dining voucher at the Cliff, which the reception graciously assist us to make a booking for us for dinner and the island drop the next day! Value for money! This package is valid till end of this year.

DSC_8872aBeras Basah Island

3. Since we have been to most places in Langkawi during our first trip 11 years ago, we decided to skip Mahsuri’s tomb and Burnt Rice area (which to me are nothing much to see). This time round we wanted to go to the expansion bridge and cable car but unfortunately, I heard it has been closed for 22 months! A quick check on the internet though – it seemed somebody went there 2 weeks before us. Ah well.. forget it! Places of interests normally closed by 6 pm so be early if you want to visit places of interests.

4. Since it was off peak season this time, we managed to rent a Suzuki SX4 at Rm150 for 3 days. MyVi was priced at Rm140 for 3 days. You can get your cars at the arrival hall before going out of the airport.

DSC_8922aBlack Sand Beach/Pantai Pasir Hitam

DSC_8932aPantai Pasir Hitam

5. I really like the Black Sand Beach. I wish I had more time to lurk around snap photos here. It seems, when it rains, you will get to see the black sand. Otherwise, Langkawi was in a hot spell like KL the past one month and there wasn’t much black sand. We were lucky because it rained the two days when we were there.. so we managed to have a closer look at the black sand beach! The old jetty at the end of the shore has character and good for photo-op. This is where you buy fresh ikan bilis (anchovies) from the sea. Apparently, the fishermen would get a bulk of ikan bilis from the sea, placed them in a hot steamer in their fishing boats to cook them. When they arrived at the shore, the ikan bilis would be placed in oven to dry them up. You can either purchase ungutted ikan bilis without cleaning or if you have no time – you can purchase a pack of gutted ikan bilis  at higher price.

6. Langkawi Saga Shopping centre sells the cheapest chocolates!

7. We were introduced to myriads of beer brands from all over the world and spoil for choice! We ended buying Pelican vodka, Corona, Hoegaarden and Chang beer. Also, we bought some Taiwanese fruity beers which are rather good as well – lychee and grape flavor!

DSC_8864aGrilled seafood platter

8. Most restaurants we went didn’t serve really good food. Probably we have too high anticipation. The only place that did not disappoint us is the Cliff. The grilled seafood platter is really delicious! Also, our hotel serves really good spread of breakfast as well! And I simply love the packed lunch of turkey ham sandwich and grilled drummets for our island escapade! Not to mention the first lunch we had when we landed. We had some nasi goreng ayam paprik, mee goreng, mee bandung and nasi goreng kampong at Bella Restaurant along Cenang road.

9. Langkawi has changed so much since. It was a rather dead place with basically nothing much to eat but now, there’s plenty of shops along the busy Pantai Cenang road. It looked like Phuket really – with less crowd, cars and of course, dingy massage parlour!

DSC_8846aView from the Cliff restaurant

10. I wish I could spend more time on the beach! Other than Beras Basah Island, there’s actually a small stretch of beach right at the junction from Resorts World Langkawi before turning into Pantai Cenang road. We managed to take a look at it on the last day of our stay. Unfortunately, it was too hot to even get out from the car, so we simply stare at the beach in our air conditioned car! Haha!

11. There’s a new hang out place named Harbour Port, near Pantai Kok. The place is rather dead too… but there’s the famous bakery there – The Loaf where they also served food like pastas and sandwiches.

DSC_8993Idyllic life at Kuala Cenang

12. We chanced upon Tubotel hotel along Kuala Cenang during our aimless driving before going to the airport. I think it was a rather unique hotel, despite the rather secluded place! The water there is crystal clear! I don’t think I would stay here as I couldn’t stand the heat! I think it’s a place for young people to mingle.. and am too old for this!

Lost Home

My sister used to assist to set up site offices all around Malaysia whenever our company started a new construction project. A few years ago, she was sent to Brunei to do the same.

The company hired foreign workers to assist in clearing up project site, as well as setting up cabins for foreign workers to live in. Here, she met a hardworking and industrious Vietnamese worker named Dinh Xuan Tu. Throughout the few months working with him, he is conscientious and would take initiative to do things without being told.

My sister also returned favours by being nice to him and his fellow Vietnamese workers. Buy them some food and snacks as and when they completed back breaking tasks. We know they are paid to do what was needed to be done, but hey! Nobody says we cannot be nice to them! After all, a foreign worker took a leap of faith when they left their families and loved ones in their home country to work in another country. They don’t know what to expect except to make money to be sent home to their families to ease their burdens.

It was most unfortunate that, the agency which supplied him for our office was unscrupulous. Apparently, they refused to pay him his last salary as he is scheduled to go back to Vietnam after his work permit expires. Tu was adamant that they pay him his last salary otherwise he refused to fly back to Vietnam. After some ruckus, he managed to get his last salary and flew back to Hanoi feeling dejected.We reported this matter to management and gotten ourselves a new agent.

Since then, Tu been calling my sister to ask about her well being. All these years, the once in a blue moon chats were mainly about my sister’s family and his family. We learned that his mom passed away not long after he reached Hanoi. It was a good thing that he was back in Hanoi to take care of things. Since there weren’t many jobs in Hanoi, Tu went to Phnom Penh to work in a hotel.

Then, the Haiyan typhoon struck. It traveled from the Philippines to Vietnam. It hit Quang Ninh, where Tu’s family lives. When he got back to his home after the typhoon, he was shocked to discover his entire home was wiped out. He was left with nothing. Now, his wife and himself are taking refuge at a friend’s house nearby while searching for a new place to stay, which is rather difficult.

We simply do not know how to help him, except to send him some forms of cash relief. All these years, he never once ask for money and always ask us to visit him in Hanoi or Phnom Penh. So this time, he must be desperate.

He didn’t ask us for money but we know he would need some. Fortunately a friend went to Hanoi last Saturday so we just gave her some money to be handed to Tu. He has to travel at least a day and night, on a train just to get to Hanoi. Initially, we told him we would bank in money for him – he needs to give us his bank account number but he said it’s too complicated for him. He would make the trip to Hanoi. He was grateful and thanked my sister profusely over the 1 minute phone call.

We wish to thank our previous Hanoi tour agent as well, Mr Nguyen Truong who helped us to translate to Tu – where and when to meet in Vietnamese and helped us to communicate more effectively. We are grateful to friends who assist us to raise money for Tu. A friend in need is truly a friend indeed.