Friday, January 27, 2012

Xin Nian Kuai Le

It's been a week of family gatherings, having people over at our place for meals, meeting up with old friends...basically lots of conversations, exchange of stories and angpows, eating, drinking and much laughter.

My brother and his wife hosted the annual family reunion at their home this year. I brought a mixed-vegetables dish and some konyakku jelly while they prepared the rest of the meal. So we had the reunion dinner on Saturday, the day before Chinese New Year eve, so that my family and I could join my parents and brothers for dinner...something that I have not been able to do for many years now since I had to be at my parents-in-law's home for reunion dinner on New Year's eve every year. 

Our first 'lou sang' of the year
My mum-in-law decided that we should have steamboat for our reunion dinner on Chinese New Year eve this year. My duty was to bring extra ladles and buy   some salmon and tomyam paste for the soup while she bought the rest of the steamboat ingredients. I went with SweetTeen to the Giant supermarket nearby where I knew they had pretty fresh salmon slices everyday and to my surprise there was a queue of people buying salmon that day! My mum-in-law bought generous portions of everything and we ate until we were really, really full... and yet there was still leftovers!

My son, CoolTeen, stayed over at my parents-in-law's place so that he could watch the football match between his favourite team Arsenal and some other team which-I-can't-remember-the-name-of because we don't have the sports channel on our TV. So it was pretty quiet back home on the first day of Chinese New Year with just one kid in the house. Went over to my parents-in-law's place for dinner and then off to visit hubby's aunt and her family in Puchong.

The next day we visited my parents and went out to lunch with them. Later in the evening, my older brother and his family plus my cousin brother and his family came over for dinner. The 3 of us - my older brother, my cousin brother (who's older than me by a year) and myself were the best of pals when we were children but now we only meet up once a year, so it was a really fun time catching up with the goings-on in each other's lives.

On the 3rd day of Chinese New Year, hubby invited his administrative staff over for lunch, then it was off to visit a friend in Bukit Jalil. 

Pavlova, brought by one of hubby's staff 
who loves to bake :)
The next day I met up with some of my ex-colleagues and we've known each other since we were single, some 20 odd years ago. These are friends for life...we've been to each other's weddings, celebrated births and attended fullmoon parties, been there to support one through a divorce and now most of our children are time flies!

Our they have grown!
Wishing everyone Xin Nian Kuai Le, may you have good health and prosperity throughout the year!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Bird Nest Update

Update on the new nest in my garden:
The female bird has been sitting in the nest for the past 2 days after we took the first photo of the new nest!

It never fails to amaze me just how fast I can get information from the internet. I found this website that has photos of various species of birds found in Malaysia and compared the photo that hubby took of the mommy bird sitting in the nest.

At first I thought it was the Oriental Magpie Robin but upon closer inspection of the photo and seeing the bird fly away from the nest today (I must have frightened it when I opened my curtains to peep), I've matched it to the Yellow-vented Bulbul, a pretty black and white bird with a patch of yellow on the underside of its tail.
You can only see the head and tail when
mommy bird sits in her nest
Today, curiosity got the better of me and I managed to sneak up to the nest after making sure that the mommy bird was not anywhere nearby, and took a quick snapshot to check if there are any eggs in it.
The above photo was taken at around 5pm, and it looks like there weren't any eggs yet...but it's probably the angle of my camera because this is what hubby saw through his phone camera when he came back from work at around 6.30pm...before the mommy bird returned to the nest:
2 little eggs!!
I think the Bulbul is going to realise soon that it chose the wrong place to build the is a bird going to have any privacy to hatch her eggs with these 2 nosey human beings around?! Don't worry, hubby and I will just keep watch from a distance.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Another Nest In Our Garden

For the past few years around this time of the year, sunbirds have been building nests in our garden, so when I heard the chirping of birds for the past few mornings I thought that the sunbirds were back again to build a new nest.

Then hubby noticed something in one of the hanging flower pots - some pieces of cotton and raffia string plus lots of little twigs. 

Today we saw this and marvelled at how little birds could build a cup-like nest that is so perfectly circular without any measuring instruments...

There are no eggs yet
and we don't really know what kind of bird built this,
but we shall soon find out
when the mother bird lays her eggs and hatches them :)

Monday, January 2, 2012

Family Holiday In Langkawi

Went on a 4-day holiday to Langkawi island with hubby, kids, parents-in-law and sis-in-law last week. We had not gone on any trips last year because of CoolTeen's exams, so this was a long awaited holiday for us.

We have fond memories of our time in Langkawi in 2010 so we decided to go again since hubby managed to book his company's holiday bungalow for a 2 night stay. We booked an extra night at Landcons Hotel at Pantai Cenang because it's really too short to go all the way there for only 2 nights.

On Tuesday morning we left KL around 6.45am after fetching my in-laws. Had a quick bite at Autocity in Seberang Perai and reached the Kuala Kedah jetty at 12.00noon. Caught the 1pm ferry to Langkawi island, and hubby insisted that we got tickets for the large 500-passenger ferry as he doesn't travel well and the smaller ferry would bounce his meal out of his tummy.

This time we rented an MPV and got a Mazda 5 to travel around the island. The kids liked the auto-sliding doors. Checked into Landcons Hotel, situated opposite the Underwater World - nothing fancy but clean, and within our budget of below RM200 per room. 

Our ride :)
We had dinner at one of our favourite restaurants, Palm View Seafood Restaurant just a short walk away from the hotel, only to find that they have raised their prices quite a bit since the last time we ate there although the food was still as good. After dinner we did some window shopping at the many souvenir and clothes shops along the street. Hubby was sad that the shop where he bought some clothes in 2010 had burnt down just about a week before our trip.

The next morning as I was brushing my teeth, I noticed that the water supply from the tap was getting less and less. That meant only one thing, so I quickly rinsed my mouth and true enough, a few seconds later, I was standing at the sink with a completely dry tap and wondering how I was going to rinse my toothbrush! There was no water supply to that part of the island on that day but thankfully we could collect water from the drinking water dispenser in the lobby.

Had continental style breakfast at a little place with no name, run by Ann and her husband Andy, because they rent a restaurant premise to serve breakfast in the mornings. The actual restaurant only opens for lunch and dinner. 

The breakfast place with no name
Then we noticed that Andy had boats for hire for day tours to the mangrove forest, so we hired an 8-seater boat for 2 hours at RM230. Departed from the Kilim jetty northeast of Langkawi island and cruised (and sometimes sped) down the river in a covered motorboat to visit the dark bat cave (where we saw little bats hanging upside down trying to sleep while excited tourists snapped away at them with their cameras), a fish farm with some interesting species of fish and stingrays (the most interesting was the 'ikan sumpit' which spits water at its prey/food and jumps up to eat it as it falls into the water), saw beautiful eagles swooping down from the sky to catch fish at the river, went through the crocodile cave (which once had crocodiles but not any more) and went out into the open sea right up to the border of Thailand...before running out of petrol on our way back to the jetty! Thankfully our boat carried extra fuel and our driver got us back to dry land safely.

Kilim jetty

mangrove trees

eagle feeding on fish

Pulau Kasut ( shoe island)

Visited the cable car but only hubby and his parents rode the cable car up to the mountain top because the rest of us have already rode in the cable car the year before, so we shopped for souvenirs while waiting.

Hubby finally walked the famous sky bridge
Checked into the company holiday bungalow at Pantai Tengah, about a kilometre from Landcons Hotel. Took a walk on the beach, then had dinner at the Orchid Ria seafood restaurant where customers queue to be seated. Every table seem to have ordered lobster so we decided to try it too. Food was ok but a little pricey, as expected from a tourist area.

Our RM180 lobster
We spent the next day shopping in Kuah town buying duty-free chocolates. The price of chocolates is very competitive in the many chocolate shops all over town so it's best to compare prices before buying any.

And of course, we had to stop by the Morac International Go Kart circuit once again, as we did the previous year, something which my kids had been looking forward to. Met a couple from Sweden who were spending part of their 2-month vacation at Langkawi..which, according to them, is paradise :)

All too soon it was time to pack up and head for home. Had a relaxing time at Langkawi - the beach is beautiful, the weather was sunny throughout the 4 days, and there was much fun and laughter as we went sight-seeing and shopping...a perfect end to the year 2011.