Saturday, July 19, 2014

MH17

Late night of 17th of July 2014, I was back in my room after the newly found karate session and a skype session with my mother. It was when I scrolled down my Facebook page that the feed reeled in news on MH17 being shot down. I thought I had misread the whole thing or someone was just posting a terrible joke. After checking from several sites on the Internet (which probably was not the most trusted methodology), it was confirmed that one of the Malaysia Airline passenger plane MH17 was indeed shot down from the airspace near the Ukraine-Russian border.

It was a truly sad news since it meant no survivors and many more problems to come. I was deeply saddened by the usual fact that in the event of conflict, the innocents were most of the time dragged into the whole whirlpool. It also highlighted to the public the importance of common people like us, to understand what is going on in the world. We were usually living within our own comfort zone, our safety place, and we should be grateful for that. But that doesn't mean everywhere else, everyone else is having the luxury of sleeping in peace, having a full stomach to sleep with, a roof above them. 

This event also brought me ultimate frustration. Why? This is not a post trying to put a blame on which side or party, but in the end, the whole thing stems down to our very nature of human. Us, warmonger. We fought our way through history, competing each other out of the space, often with a price - sometimes using some things that did not belong to us. Ukraine-Russia is not the only border having tension in the world. We could make a documentary programme out of each every of them. And it is ridiculous. We are living in an era where we could call across the globe within a press of a button, flying across nations as how viruses could spread, sending spacecrafts into space - and we would thought why we need barriers when we have the technology not to. 

At the same time, I know I should not feel angry or a feel of retribution. As much as such tragedy create an uprise of yelling people around the world, I personally do not think revenge or retribution would be a great idea. There was almost no perfect way to solve a problem with punishment. That would lead to more casualty and victims, and again, mostly including those who are innocent. Important lesson, however, lies in us, being more aware and mindful over these things that are happening all over the world. 

Here I would like to share a quote from Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J. K. Rowling. Even though it was an excerpt out of a fiction book, it did say a lot about our world.


On top of that, just yesterday morning, I received news about my ex-roomate lost two sisters and a nephew on that same plane. On a personal point of view, this might be a great impact on her and her family. My deepest thought and prayers to her. I do hope they stay strong throughout this trying time. It was also disheartening to see so many talented and wonderful people perished in this event, especially those amazingly devoted AIDS researchers. This is truly a loss to the world.


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Something Worth Meditating On

As you can see, I don't usually share Internet-posted things on my blog. But there are exceptions. This time, I would like to share a short excerpt of an interview with J. K. Rowling.

In case of those who have no idea who she is, she is the author of Harry Potter series.


Most of the fans would know how J. K. Rowling wrote one of the phenomenal series during the last decade, most of the time inside a café called The Elephant House. What was presented to the public was that she was on welfare during the time, difficult time... And this is her view after she's gotten her bestseller, which is something we should bear in mind often.

In my opinion, this is a great kind of mindset. No matter we are on welfare, food coupon, parents' financial support or so forth, it should be our short term solution. We could view it as the kindness and compassion of others who invest on us, so that we could work our way out of current situation. All the time, grateful. Always be grateful and appreciate these, as blessings and opportunity. We shouldn't look at these as entitlement. And in future when we are able, we would return these goodwill, to the party/person who helped us, or transfer the kindness to others who are in need. We should work to make someone's investment on us a successful one, and continue to invest on another, and hopefully the line continues.

I fear my descriptive here might not be very clear, but yea, something to think about...

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Indonesia-Penang Trip V


1 June 2014
One might think of visiting mall during a trip is the most unexciting activities, but no - it was far from it. Everything was relaxing and comfortably slow paced until we saw Giant. Yes, Giant, the same Giant we had in Malaysia and Singapore, only - this is so much more interesting.

For me, this is an opportunity to dive into immersion of the local lifestyle, from their grocery.

First we passed by loads of snacks. The problem here isn't just about the amount of snacks the mart could provide, it was about the what-on-earth prices too. It is definitely affordable to eat snacks. Not just that, there are several brands that we never get to see, some of the local brands and some with special flavours. For example, we found barbeque flavoured Hello Panda.



It would be disgraceful if I didn't at least try to find Teh Botol in an Indonesian mart. And I didn't have to. Just down the aisle, there were piles and piles of drinks, different brands of jasmin tea - until I found my favourite Sosro. And they were sold at around 50cents SGD per bottle, putting all vending machines in NUS to shame. 


Look at how happy I was when I found them.


Other than the usual jasmine tea, the mart do sell different things too, such as coffee. We realized they sell quite a variety of coffee, and the Kapal Api probably was one of the local's favourite, since it was displayed in large quantity at a side. There was even herbal tea which they called Liang Teh, same as how Singaporeans pronounced (Penang Hokkien would usually call it Leng Teh).


As we swayed across the dairies, this was what caught my attention. You might be thinking about Japanese beancurd, which they do sell it as per Malaysia/Singapore. But these packages over here were soy bean milk! If I were not careful, I might have bought one and thought they were beancurd. But to think of it, this packaging probably ease the drinking process since you just need to cut the tip and start sipping.


Another interesting part was the milk section. Instead of UHT milk, they sell sterilized milk! And the Nestle bear canned milk was probably one of the famous milk drink over there. The one on the right could be opened like a normal canned drinks as well.


Indomie Section. Nah, Indomie was in fact only one of the brands selling indonesian noodle. One of the common food you could find in a warung, was Indomie. They were dried noodle mixed with sauces. Here, there were different brands with different flavour. This is me posing with a trolley of instant noodles. It was not my trolley. The trolley just happened to be there and I thought it was fun to take an exaggerating photo with it.


Anyone named Amanda would probably been reminded along the trip because this was also one of the frequent word appering everywhere. Apparently, that was a famous brownie in Indonesia.


Another section which we spent quite a lot of time in was probably the toiletries - of all sections. Yes, the products were very cheap. From what we gathered, the manufacturing factories were mostly based in Indonesia, resulting in cheaper prices here because of lack of transportation cost and everything. However, the prices were ridiculously cheap that we were wondering whether Singapore was charging a little too high for let's say - sanitary pads? It could have save so much more if they were selling at the Indonesian price!


And in the end we bought half a trolley of stuff, spending quite a long time in a mart. It looked like the most boring thing you would do, but it turned out to be filled with so much excitement and happiness. Great grocery shopping indeed!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Indonesia-Penang Trip IV

1 June 2014
From the market, our friend has some errands to run while we chillaxed in a supermarket. On the way, we passed by this very humble shop. Just to give an idea of how some warung looks like. They were just set up beside the road. And sederhana means 'medium'. We called it a humble shop because usually shops name will indicate they were the best or nicest, but not average, unlike this one.


Of all things in Indonesia, we decided to revisit our childhood fast food, A&W. See, we were even taking photos with the mascot bear.


However, we ordered something more unique to Indonesia, such as rice and soup. It doesn't look like fast food now, does it? And of course, how could we came to A&W without ordering root beer float, right?


Look at how the rice was served, like a burger.


After the main meal, we decided to try their ice cream cone It was a mixed flavour, chocolate and vanila. But most of all, note the generosity of the staff of the ice cream. Most of the McD I visited in Singapore can't even achieve half of that!


After A&W, our friend went on with errands while we went for a second round. This was what happened when you have people with big appetite. It was a japanese stall but used to be our friend's high school hangout place. The price was unfortunately increased, according to our friend. We tried the meat and the spring rolls. Mainly, this was to fill up our tummy and rest. The shop was pretty quiet, hence a good place to chill.


Indonesia-Penang Trip III

1 June 2014
After breakfast, it was our market time. We were given a task to buy something back from Indonesia so we decided to have a look at the wet market. We stopped at a distant away and had the driver wait. I was, again, amazed by the parience and professionalism of the driver for waiting in the car. We passed by rows of shops that sell tidbits and fruits. I was dehydrated and due to my love for teh botol (a brand of sweetened jasmine tea I was fond of since introduced years before this), I bought this teh kotak(right). We misread it as teh botak at first. I had my first time paying the money, nearly ended up paying more than I should - still trying to get use with the zeros.


Before we entered into the wet market area, there were parts with proper stalls and buildings first. At the kaki lima, there were people everywhere, selling and buying things. I saw this one that sell hamsters, tortoise and sea turtles. I do hope this is legal and wondered how did the person know how to take care of a sea turtle. Since I was not very good at taxonomy, I couldn't identify if these were of endangered species. Besides, they do sell magazines, and guess what, photocopied version of magazines. I guess the proper magazine might be too costly and a cheaper version is needed for knowledge to be more affordable.


Bananas everywhere! One thing that I noticed was the bunches of banana. They were displayed along the street in almost every stall. They were big and most of them were ripe. I called it 'Excessive Banana Production'. Judging by the amount of banana in the market, it was no surprise many processed banana to dried food.


Next, we entered the real market. They sell things in bulk. There were a lot of sea cucumber, shell fish, and frog. 


They do sell a lot of pineapples too. The intereesting part was the way they cut and sel them. They were peeled nicely and sold readily to be eaten. We bought some and they were sweet.


Because that weekend was also Dumpling Day, the stalls were selling leaves for dumpling and even dumplings.


Left was the amount of atap seed they sell - massive, huh? And on the right, a stall selling sea coconut. It was different from how we used to consume sea coconut after they were pickled with honey. These were fresh and not so sweet.


This is a cincau stall. Yes, they sell the same cincau we ate here, but they have another kind of cincau as well. The latter was a herbal cincau. It has a bit of grassy taste but otherwise was refreshing.


The kind of bridge they used between stalls over their longkang.


There were lots of stray cats everywhere too!


Along the road, one can see this driving around, no matter it is a street, road or main streen. It is called Becak, same as what we called Beca in Malay, except this newer version of beca was sheltered and motorized. According to the local, the fees were almost same as a normal taxi.


Part of the trip, we passed by a temple. Outside of the temple stood a little stall selling cages of birds. In some of the temple culture, they think it is good to free the birds, but most of the time, they ignored what kind of torture the birds were going through because this has become a business. There were kids buying the birds just for entertainment purposes, tying strings on their legs, making them struggling while flying, hoping for freedom but most of the time resorted to fatigue and loss of the ability of flying and in the end, death. By that time, the kids would feel bored and get themselves occupied with another entertainment. It was heartbreaking.


We passed by some more chinese shop which sells angpau and materials for chinese weddings. 


After all, we returned to the tidbits area and bought some snack. I got a giant pack of green peas.


Before we head back to the car, we bought ourselves this dessert. One of the interesting ingredient in it was the Tape Singkong. It was pretty common to see packed rectangular yellowish stuff in the market, and it was fermented cassava/tapioca. They were used in many of their food too, with some alcoholic taste. The other thing that you might noticed was the word 'Es' and yes, it means 'ais' in Malay (ice in English). So this is basically something like ais kacang only smoother and different ingredient. Plus, it was really sweet, a plus as a dessert.


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