Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Family trip recap (Part I)

Today I want to share about our family trip in December 2015, as the 5 of us FINALLY reunite, squeezed through the 4 hours ride back to:
  1.  Dad's hometown- Kuala Kurau, Perak

    A small fisherman's town- every single person whom I have revealed to on my dad's birthplace would not have heard of this place. I've accepted that my Dad didn't come from a popular town and that's okay.
  2. Mum's hometown- Tanjung Piandang, Perak

    Again- a small fishing village which explains why you may have heard it only for the first time.
  3. Butterworth, Perak
  4. Penang Island, Penang 

First stop: Kuala Kurau, Perak.

Many thanks to Daddy and Mummy for working as a team and driving half of the journey each. What amazing parents I have. They insisted on taking over the steering wheel even though I offered on the basis that they had wanted us to rest. And probably 'cause they prioritised everyone's safety given my amateur and at times emotional driving. Whoops. I promise I'm working on it! 

Being the light sleeper I am, I was awake most of the time and helped massage their shoulders and necks as a traveling booster. Hope it contributed in easing the tension.

We wasted no time greeting our relatives, and paid respect to our ancestors. 

Embarrassing story: I accidentally barged into the first room where my cousin sister's boyfriend was sleeping half naked in it- AWKWARD. Apologised and immediately backed out. The unexpected encounter could have ended up worse. I'm thankful. 

I was excited awaiting to dig in the Hokkien Mee my aunt got us. 

Not sure if it was hunger playing tricks, but the picky- I mean- selective eaters found the Hokkien Mee extra tasty.

Notice I didn't point out who the selective eaters are. Hehe. 

Glutinous rice balls to celebrate Winter Solstice. What most of us predominantly love about celebrations among the Chinese has got to be: FOOD. 

Chinese New Year Eve? Reunion steamboats. 

Chinese New Year? 
Usually featured on this occasion: Prosperity Toss (or more commonly known as Lou Sang/ Yee Sang), spring rolls, Nian Gao, fish, pineapple tarts, arrowhead chips, butter cookies, peanut cookies, almond cookies, oh just any food you can think of, really! 

My heart sings with glee seeing all these cookies being displayed around.

Although it does pose difficulty in my resisting of these temptations lying around!

These were pineapple tarts our neighbour kindly gave. 

The usual crusts I suspect are made with margarine but these were made using butter AND CHEESE. As though using solely butter isn't a killer enough. Pack on the calories, guys, calories don't count when it's Chinese New Year. 

Mid Autumn Festival? Mooncakes. 

Dragon Boat Festival? Dumplings wrapped in lotus leaves! I love zong zi, easily my favourite Chinese traditional food!  

Qing Ming Festival? Yes, even on the day where we sweep tombs and make offerings to our ancestors grave sites, we have the tendency to prepare A LOT of food.

Then of course, like I've mentioned, in commemoration of the Winter Solstice Festival- we have glutinous rice balls.

"'Tis the season for eating." 

Problem is: Every season is, in accordance to me. Hahahaha. 

Sleeping. Yet again.
Then we traveled to Light Hotel, Butterworth to put up a few nights! 
Candy land sandals.
Victoria Station.
Late lunch.
Odd hour at 4.30-ish when we settled down?

'Cuz we coolz.

Close-knitted siblings we are (I love them all the time including those two times when they kicked the football in the living room in our previous house in USJ 11 and broke two of my trophies- nope, not bitter about it at all). 
It was just us 4 sans Daddy because the Papa was hard at work to cater for our exorbitant taste buds. Kidding. Dining in Victoria Station is more of a once in a blue moon kind of occasion.

I used to think my mama dotes only on my two brothers and wasn't particularly fond of me because she was extremely strict on me. 

Plot twist: I still think the same way 10 years later. 

I KID I KID. She loves me, and I love her. And I genuinely don't mind her showering tons of care and affection on my brothers because they're these crazy lovable people!

No, no, there wasn't a gun to my head when I typed that. ^

HAHAHAHA I'm so sarcastic I can't stand myself.

A ball of roll.
Shepherd's pie.
Reminded me of my talented friend, Aril, who made this during our reunion back in August. Certainly sincere of him to have contributed a homemade dish to the potluck dinner. It was delectable and we couldn't stop raving about the dish. 

It is also hilarious as memories surfaced- how the brother mistakenly took Aril for Leland (hello, Leland in the U.S.! You have not been forgotten, in fact, Ken seemed to miss you the most! Hahahaha.) and how we laughed historically for a good 5 minutes. 
Rich, creamy potatoes, delicious, juicy minced beef...
Beef ribs.
Notice Ken's folded crossed arms at the back. 

What did I say, brother? Patience is virtue. 
I had just a couple of broccoli's because... I was saving up stomach room for dinner prepared by 大舅母。
I heard fabulous things from mama about Uncle's wife's cooking so I made sure to resist ordering in Victoria Station. 

Priorities when you don't have a speedy metabolism unlike the boys I know. 

Eldest uncle and family kindly and graciously welcomed our family to their house last night, and we enjoyed ourselves tremendously. 

My eyes instantaneously lit up upon catching sight of the spread of delicious goodness. 

These deep fried prawns... Tasted incredibly fresh and the batter coating the prawns was strikingly crispy!

We finished off with a crazy, fantastic Karaoke session where brother sang his heart out. And unsurprisingly, after such a feast, had to be rolled into bed. 

Mama, Ken and I stayed a night in their near and tidy bedrooms.

Mum and I bunked in my cousin sister, Wei Hui's room. 

Spot her name in the painting!

The next morning, I took a walk with my mum and 大舅 around the neighbourhood. Then spent a good 20 minutes talking to cousin sister, Wei Hui before heading down for breakfast. 

Felt 满满的幸福 to indulge in these delicacies prepared specially by the relatives. 

Thank you 大舅 and family for your warm and generous welcome. 

Said goodbye to 大舅's house and went and reunite with Sean and Dad.

Lunch at 金沙煲 with eldest uncle and their family minus Cousin sister Wei Qi who was occupied with her commitments as a doctor.

Thank you for being such great hosts to our family. You made us laugh 'till our bellies hurt. You make such a delightful company! 

Ken, Dad and Sean.


Curry fish and chicken.

Initially everyone started scooping their portions and I was late to snap a pic so Cousin Wei Hui (who is might I add, extremely amiable and bubbly) used the spoon and centred the bitter gourd to visually revert it to its original looking position. 

Smart girl she is, too!

Resulting in the dish looking like it has just been served!

Sweet potato leaves.

At first instance, you'd think it's tofu isn't it? 

Mum after realising it was NOT tofu commented sheepishly: "No wonder it tasted odd for what was presumably a tofu dish."

Oh, mama, you weren't the only one! 

Well guess what?! It was deep fried sliced eggplants! 

Crunchy fried chicken!

I liked the soup too! But avoided the 皮蛋 because I didn't feel comfortable of the texture and appearance. 

After our lunch with eldest uncle and his family, we set off to visit our third uncle.

Visiting my third uncle was... Tough.

Not because my third uncle's wife commented the minute she saw me: "噢,比上次胖了很多hor。"

My efforts to mentally prep myself that the vastly striking difference of my appearance post weight gain was going to be alarmingly haunting and shocking for those who compared me to when I was 15 didn't work successfully.

It was still painful no matter how I have accepted it will take time to reduce my weight and restore my health to a healthy state, and before that fully occurs I will receive hurtful comments even though they may be non maliciously made...

But it wasn't after 5 minutes later that I realised how trivial my problems may have seemed.

There he was laying on the bed. So fragile, so weak, so... Heart-wrenching.

The scenes of my physiotherapist cousin sister and medicine student cousin brother performing physical therapy on my third uncle broke my heart. It tugged vehemently at the strings of my despaired emotions.

All I could remember was his cheerful face, his sharp jawline, his bright smile, his humorous jokes...

Why was he lying there, his now skinny and frail body only capable of carrying out involuntary movements?

It was horrifyingly cruel to watch. His eyelids jerked wide as the therapy progressed. Recovery is meant to be agonising but useful, they insisted. But it just looked dreadfully inhumane, and as much as I tried to hold back my tears- be tough, they said, you want to send out positive vibes- tears swelled and finally rolled down my cheeks. 

Hastily I wiped my tears on the back of Dad's shirt. I kept the faith. 

He has been improving. 

Give it time. 

Time always heal, right?

Slowly yet steadily. 

But not too slow, uncle, you've been sleeping for a frightfully long time.

Time to get out of bed, yes?

He will be on his toes again. 

He will be happy and smiling again. 

He will regain his health. 

He will be. 

He has to be.

I will keep on praying for you, third uncle. 


With a heavy but hopeful heart, we got on the ferry to travel to Penang Island.

My shirt was quickly drenched in sweat. The heat and crowd made it even more uncomfortable and unbearable but it was an experience, after all. 

I tried to remind myself that it was all temporary, and not to grumble of my extreme hunger pangs, instead to enjoy the food and the moment.


Ikan Bakar. Grilled Fish.

Laksa which was such a let down. The soup was overly sweet.

Sean's chicken rice.

Char Kuey Teow. 

Mediocre, once again. 

Dad was disappointed by the measly portion, lackluster taste and hefty price. 


Not something that big of a deal to let it get in our way of enjoying the remaining of the trip.

More importantly, we got to open our eyes to the other side of Penang, instead of limiting ourselves to strolling in the typical air-conditioned malls, and we soaked up the warmth of each other's company. 

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