Friday, April 15, 2011

The Yogya Connection

Ah, I found this short essay written by my mom on my father's heritage.
Read on...

My "Royal" Connection

This is the story of 3 princesses namely Hjh Fatimah, Hjh Peng and Hjh Induk. They lived at Istana Pati (which is now the largest roundabout in Jogjakarta), on the island of Java, Indonesia. Sometime in the 1880s, after performing their Haj, the princesses together with their husbands sailed to Tanah Melayu and landed at Stulang, Johor. There, they built houses using kayu jati, Indonesian marble and ceramics which they brought along from Indonesia. They also developed the area and called it Kampung Stulang. Interestingly, one of the houses is still standing strong in Kg Stulang Darat till today. There is also a Surau Hjh Fatimah at Kg Stulang Darat.

Hjh Fatimah and her husband had a daughter named Rogayah. She married Abd Hamid from the village and they were blessed with 6 sons and a daughter. Their daughter, Rahmah, married Abd Samad and they had 5 children namely Maznah, Abd Majid, Mohd Agil, Mohd Zaid and Abd Jamil. The youngest child, Abd Jamil, died in 1980 due to illness and Hjh Rahmah passed away in 1989.

Mohd Agil, the great grandson of Hjh Fatimah, married Noraini and they have 2 children - Ajib (that's my bro - Razib) and Aida. Erm then my mom wrote a statement perasan ehehe (malu LOL!)- Or maybe we should call them Putra Agung Sriwijaya Ajib and Putri Shinta Alengka Aida.

Contributed by Noraini


Monday, April 11, 2011

Sesi mencuci

I haven't gotten around to thank my friends for helping me mencuci rumah, secara ad-hoc pulak tu ehehe...
Kejadian berlaku Jumaat, 18/3/11

Thank you girls & boys !!!

Lepas mencuci tu, aku bawak diorang makan mamak & tengok rumah orang2 kaya di pagi hari.
Statement paling tak tahan: Diorang ni kerja apa? Jual dadah ke??!! LOL!!!!

Lady Maslina

Razeif sempat menyanyi, penuh feeling tu fuuuuh...

Tangan camerawoman - Liza. Ni kitorang buat gaya tangan ala Usop

Manto yg kepenatan...

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Saturday, April 09, 2011

Mission Saigon: Day 4: 29/03/11

Ah, today is the last day of our trip. Nothing much today. In the morning, we went for breakfast, local style at a back alley stall (tepi lorong) - it's a Halal stall.

We had a nom nom noodle (I forgot to jot down the local name) - it looks spicy, but it's not and a local kebab (again forgot to jot down the name). Each costs about USD2 (RM6), but the portion is big and filling. Again, Erni treated us all for breakfast! Thank you so much Erni!

Makan tepi lorong

Ulam2 for kebab lorong Lorong noodle Lorong kebab With kakak tepi lorong

Before going back to our hotel, we dropped by at Tous Les Jous again (by now, this is Azni's fave bakery). Reaching back, we headed straight to the tailor to pick up Azni's & Jue's clothes, but some still needed adjustment. So to while away the time, we went for a manicure / pedicure at Femme Nails, just a walking distance from our hotel. It costs USD 7.5 (RM 22.5) for the mani/pedi package. As for Jue and Azni's package, they took the mani/pedi with spa (massage) package which costs USD18 (RM 54)

We had lunch at VN@halal again, nothing fancy, all Malayisan dishes. Then we went back to the tailor to collect the clothes that needed adjustment, and made our final visit to Ben Thant (I've already lost count how many trips we've made there!) as Azni wanted to buy some fruits.

It was then time to pack and leave. Our flight back was at 4.20 pm local time, so we still had ample time to pack. We left our hotel at 2pm local time, then still had time at the airport, so we hung around at Illy cafe' having its iced chocolate drink (USD 6.5 or RM18.75) -it was exorbitantly priced and it tasted just so-so. Gila mahal air coklat!

Posing with our hotel receptionist. Dia dah slim pun ambik Herbal Life. So how?

We finally reached KL at 7pm. At the immigration, we were stopped by a female officer, she asked me from which destination I was from, but I didn't want to answer her, so I just said we had 2 other people with me (I assumed she may be looking at our 6 bags - all cabin sized though.) Agitated with me for dodging her question, she raised her voice and asked again - but Jue and Azni answered it, and was asked to scan the bags. Then when I came to put the bags to be scanned, another officer - a male - just waved me to pass through without scanning hehe... We finally reached back Azni's home at almost 9pm, sent back Jue, and then back to home sweet home.

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Monday, April 04, 2011

Mission Saigon: Day 3 : 28/03/11

Ah rise and shine! Today we had an early start as we have a full day CuChi (pronounced Ku Chi) tunnel and City tour which starts at 8am local time. After breakfast, we took the taxi to Sinh Cafe tour agent as we were a bit late to walk there. When we arrived, the bus was already there, so we immediately took our seats. We were given drinking water and wet tissue which is included in the package, no lunch provided. (The first trip in 2008, I was given water and peanuts). Luckily we had packed the delicious karipap from the kakak last night :) Entrance fee is not included in the package, so we had to pay another USD4 (VND 80,000). This is my second trip to CuChi actually. View my previous trip here

The journey to CuChi tunnel took almost 2 hours. When we arrived,it was scorching hot. But nevertheless, we braved the sun (actually we took shelter hehe) at the video viewing hall - where they showed an old footage from circa 1969 when the Vietnamese Civil War between the US and the Viet Cong (the communist from North Vietnam) took place.

The tunnels were used by Viet Cong guerillas as hiding spots during combat, as well as serving as communication and supply routes, hospitals, food and weapon caches and living quarters for numerous guerrilla fighters. Air, food and water were scarce and the tunnels were infested with ants, poisonous centipedes, spiders and mosquitoes. The tunnels were often rigged with explosive booby traps or punji stake pits. The clever design of the tunnels along with the strategic use of trap doors and air filtration systems rendered American technology ineffective. (taken from Wiki).

We were given the chance to enter the tunnels and had to crawl as it is very narrow. We were told that the tunnel for visitors had been widen to accommodate us. We were also shown how the guerillas could quickly disappear by hiding in a camouflaged trap door.

The tunnel layout with hall, kitchen, water well, hiding place

One of the hiding you see me

Now you don't

Happy nak masuk terowong...

Trap door

One of the booby traps

Before leaving, we were served some ubi kayu (tapioca) and tea to sample the food the guerrillas had eaten while at war. We then made our journey back to the city to continue with our city tour, which would commence at 2.15pm. We still had 45 minutes when we reached back at the tour premise, so we proceeded to the nearby Highlands Coffee Cafe to have some (more) smoothies. Again, their smoothies are lean and healthy

We got back to Sinh Cafe by 2.15pm and then whisked away to the Vietnamese War Museum. Entrance fee is VND 15,000 (RM 2.25). It was very disturbing to see the images of victims of the Vietnamese Civilian War between the US and Viet Cong (communist). Even civilians were targeted, worse, children were tortured and killed. Villages were burnt down.

During the Bertrand Russell Tribunal 1967, it was concluded that the US government is guilty of genocide of the Vietnamese people. Here is the statement:

"The United States bears responsibility for the use of force in Viet Nam, and has, therefore, committed against that country a crime of aggression, a crime against peace... In subjecting the civilian populations and civilian targets of the DRVN (republic of Viet Nam) to an intense and systematic bombardment , the USA has committed a crime of war. These is on the part of the US armed forces utilization or testing of weapons prohibited by the laws of war (CBU's, napalm, phosphorus bombs, combat gases, toxic chemicals) The prisoners of war captured by the US armed forces are subjected to treatments prohibited by the laws of war. The US armed forces subject the civilian populations to inhuman treatments prohibited by international law. The US government is guilty of genocide vis-a-vis the Vietnamese people"

The Vietnamese War lasted for almost 20 years from 1955 to 1975. Read more here

War museum

Oour very patriotic guide

Image of a girl calling for revenge after her village is burnt down

Victims of Agent Orange: Dioxin were used

Victims of phosphorous bombs

Massacre: Children were not spared

Villages burnt down

Next, we went to the Reunification Palace. Entrance fee is VND 30,000 (RM4.50)

It is formerly known as Independence Palace , built on the site of the former Norodom Palace. The palace was named Norodom Palace after the then king of Cambodia - Noronom (1834–1904). During World War 2, Norodom Palace became the headquarters of Japanese colonial officials in Vietnam.

After WW2, in 1954, Norodom Palace was handed over to the prime minister of the State of Vietnam, Ngo Dinh Diem by a representative of the French presence in Vietnam, General Paul Ely. In 1955, he defeated former Emperor Bao Dai, the chief of state of the State of Vietnam, and declared himself president of the newly proclaimed Republic of Vietnam and renamed the building the Independence Palace.

It was the home and workplace of the President of South Vietnam during the Vietnam War. It was the site of the end of the Vietnam War during theon April 30, 1975, when a North Vietnamese Army tank crashed through its gates. In November 1975, after the negotiation convention between the communist North Vietnam and their colleagues in South Vietnam was completed, the Provisional Revolutionary Government renamed the palace Reunification Hall. Excerpted from Wiki. Read more here

the corridor

First lady reception room

one of the halls

President's office

Movie theathre

Next we brought to the Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica Cathedral. Established by French colonists, the cathedral was constructed between 1863 and 1880. In 1959, Bishop Joseph Pham Van Thien ordered a Peaceful Notre Dame statue made with granite in Rome. When the statue arrived in Saigon on 16 February 1959, Bishop Pham Van Thien held a ceremony to install the statue on the empty base and presented the title of "Regina Pacis". Read more here

Notre Dame cathedral outside & inside

Lastly, we went to the Saigon central post office which is just across the cathedral. The building was constructed when Vietnam was part of French Indochina in the early 20th century. It has a Gothic architectural style. It was designed and constructed by the famous architect Gustave Eiffel

Post office: Inside & outside

When we finally finished our city tour, it was already 5.30pm. Since our van dropped a fellow passenger nearby Ben Thant market, we got down there too and walked back to our hotel to freshen up.

Later, we had dinner at VN @ Halal, then we went for a refreshing foot massage at Miu Miu, a Japanese spa. The massage lasted for 70 minutes and costs USD 12 (RM36). It also includes back and hand massages. Interestingly, after finishing our massage, we chatted up with a fellow customer - I think I heard his name as Pierre, asking us where we were from - and that he knew a friend of ours - Aida Othman! Woah, she's so famous, she is also known in Vietnam! Feeling refreshed, we finally went back to our hotel and had a nice sleep

Miu Miu spa


Sunday, April 03, 2011

Mission Saigon: Day 2: 27/03/11

Today we would be continuing our mission at Ben Thant market. Also, we would be meeting up with a good friend of mine – Izwan and his family.

We woke up a bit late today – had a late night yesterday hanging out. After breakfast of toast and eggs at the hotel (included in our room package), we went straight to Ben Thant, together with Erni. Apart from our mission, Azni and Jue also bought some materials to be tailored for their office wear. They later sent their materials to Mysang tailor, just beside our hotel and had their fittings there. Their clothes would be ready by Tuesday morning, our departing day back to KL.

That took up the whole morning. We went for lunch at VN @ halal, which is just a walking distance from our hotel. Izwan and family would be meeting us up there. At VN, we had ala carte meals, i.e. I had Bun Bo Hue – it is sort of pho (pronounced 'fur') – like kuey teow soup. But the noodles is a bit like laksa noodles. The rest had Malaysian dishes – fried rice, chicken rice and cantonese mee.

Bun Bo Hue

Us with Izwan, wife Nazila & baby Adam

Izwan recommended us to take the Saigon river night cruise at the Ho Chi Minh port (no. 2 in Trip Advisor's things to do) which also includes dinner and performances. But we didn't go as we didn't have enough time – perhaps next time.

After saying our goodbyes to Izwan, Nazila and baby Adam, we went back to Ben Thant for some more unfinished business and to a supplier outside Ben Thant until the rain came down pouring, but that did not deter us from our mission lol!

Finally finishing our business, we walked back to our hotel to freshen up, then took the taxi to have dinner at D'Nyonya - a Malaysian restaurant at Dong Khoi area. At D'Nyonya, we ordered Malaysian dishes i.e. tauhu telur (this is similar to the one I tasted at the now defunct Sundanese restaurant at KLCC – but I prefered the Sundanese version), fried chicken with salted egg, chikcen chop, beef pho, Thai style fried rice and banana fritters. All were nom nom, especially Azni's pho. All costs us USD 25.29 or RM77 for 4 persons

Facade of D'Nyonya

D'Nyonya interior

Azni's pho

L-R: chicken with salted egg, taufu telur

banana fritters

Azni suddenly realized it was almost 9pm which means a certain shop that she wanted to buy some things would be closing shop soon. Or else she would be dreaming of it tonight! I'm not kidding, she dreamt of a particular bag the previous night! So she made a mad dash to rush to the shop as if there was an emergency evacuation! Again, I'm not kidding – Azni pushed the chairs and made her way out asap as if there was a fire lol!

When we arrived at the shop, they had already shut off the lights and told us to come back the next day. But luckily, before we left, the supervisor came, and let us purchase the items that we wanted. Azni was so happy and relieved, she wouldn't have nightmares tonight ;)

Before going back to our hotel, we took some karipap that Erni had ordered from her favourite supplier at the night market near our hotel – whom also sells telekung and clothes. She is a Cham Malay , so the karipap is halal – plus, it's very tasty indeed, with lots of beef! This would be our meal for tomorrow's full day CuChi tunnel and city tour trip. How thoughtful of Erni to pack us the karipap, and sponsored them too! We are so indebted to you! :D

Us with the kakak karipap

After saying our goodbyes to Erni, we had a short stroll along the night market. Azni and Jue bought a baju kurung from one the stalls here – which in my opinion is nicer than the one at a boutique we went to earlier in the evening (I forgot the name). Ah, tomorrow we will be starting early at 8am for our tour!

Choices, choices

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Mission Saigon: Day 1: 26/03/11

Ah I don't even know how to start, so much happenings, so many things to write! ;)
I suggested that we have a sleep over at Azni's place at D'sara Perdana as we have a morning flight the next day to Ho Chi Minh City @ Saigon. But in the end it was me who missed it as I finished late from MGMT's concert. So I only came in the next morning. Sorry Jue, I didn't mean to ditch you...

Our flight was scheduled at 0910 am, so we took off from Azni's place at 7am. Ah yes, we have a mission this time around. Our troupe consists of myself, Azni and Jue. Another partner – Nani won't be joining us though

Anyway, back to the trip. We didn't get to sit together for the flight to Saigon. We were very hungry on the flight, as we were in a rush in the morning, plus we didn't pre-order our meals. When the steward finally came, the overly friendly passenger next to me had lots of things to say to the steward. I was becoming slightly annoyed (remember I was really hungry by now), so I cut their conversation short hehe..sorry fellow passenger :-p Later after enjoying my meal, the friendly lady chatted with me. She's one heck of a travel bug, she has at least 5 trips per year with different groups, would always eye for Air Asia's free ticket promo and had already a booked a trip a year from now. This trip to Saigon was booked a year ago, woah! She payed about RM50 for taxes only.

We arrived on time at Saigon at 10.10 am local time (Saigon is 1 hour behind Malaysian time). We took the taxi to our hotel – An Tam hotel near to Ben Thant market which cost us USD9 (1 USD = 20,000 VND = RM3). Our taxi driver was quiet weird, he suddenly swatted a mosquito (or a fly), and at one point of time, was babbling to himself, or maybe to us, but we couldn't understand him.

When we arrived at the hotel, it was only 11am. We couldn't check in until 12 noon, so we decided to go straight to Ben Thant market. It is so near to our hotel that when we step out the door, we could immediately see Ben Thant's door #5. This would become our daily routine for the next 4 days.

We surveyed around Ben Thant quickly, eyeing for our mission items (I will only reveal this in my next post! So you have to stay tuned!) Then we went to the shoe shops outside Ben Thant as Azni wanted to buy some Crocs sandals. I'm not sure whether these are originals, but most probably not, but they are good imitations. I think Azni went in and out this shop for the next 3 days to change / buy new shoes / Crocs / jibbitz lol! The shopkeeper could recognize us already!

The Crocs

Now, feeling hungry we went searching for food! We saw a very nice looking bakery – Tou Les Jours (it's French for “Everyday”). But crossing the road was a nightmare! The traffic was never ending, we had to ask for “abang hijau”'s assistance. We felt like we were in a scene from Friends' Central Perks, having buns and smoothies at the cafe. I had the strawberry banana smoothie (USD2 or RM6) as I wanted to compare it with KFC's Krushers. Verdict? Tou Les Jours' tasted leaner, sans the milk. So I prefer the 'unhealthier' version i.e. KFC's hehe. But then Azni loved her mango smoothie.

Abg hijau

Our smoothies

Hunger pangs satisfied, we moved on in search of Sinh Cafe Travel agent. It was recommended by Azni's friend Erni (who will be joining us later) to take a tour through the agent. But it proved to be quite a challenge to find it – not everyone knew the place. We asked almost everyone that we could find, but in the end a hotel receptionist was able to point us to the right direction. If we were in the Amazing Race, we would have been eliminated! Actually I did take this agent during my previous trip to CuChi tunnel, but the location just somehow slipped off my mind.

Finally finding Sinh Cafe, we decided to take the CuChi tunnel + Ho Chi Minh city 1 day tour for USD8 (RM 24). This doesn't include the entrance fee to the places that we would be going – only covering the bus transportation and the guide fees.

We then walked back to our hotel only to find that our deluxe 3 bedroom was still not ready. We were told to wait for a while, then given a 2 bedroom (room # 501), and told that an extra bed would be sent later. Upon inspection, we were satisfied with the size of the room – it was spacious for the 3 of us, and still looked new. After resting and prayers, we were up and about again. We would be meeting Azni's friend Erni at the hotel, then she would be taking us to eat and shop hurrah!

We asked the hotel again for our extra bed, but were then told it was still not ready. After we voiced our disappointements (we paid for 3 beds – through Agoda for RM123 per room per night), the hotel agreed to change our room to Room# 301. We got our 3 beds, but unfortunately, only later we found out that the room's hot shower wasn't working! We were too lazy to change rooms again, so we stuck with it till the end of the trip.

Our room

Hotel kami yg kurus

At our hotel lobby

When Erni came, she took us to Halal@Saigon restaurant. (Taxi cost about USD2) We had Ban Xeo as appetizer (a floury savoury eaten with leaves and sauce – very healthy!), Clam soup, Talapia sambal (this is a Malaysian dish) and Thien ly garlic. All cost us USD30 (RM90 for 4 persons, not bad!) The food was nom nom!

Happy eaters @ Halal Saigon

Ban Xeo appetizer

Clam soup

Talapia sambal

Thien ly

Everyone happy and full, it was time to embark on our mission. What is it actually? Let it remain a mystery ;) We almost snapped up everything hehe..well not everything, just the range that caught our fancy ;)

Day 1 mission was a success! When we finished, it was then time for Earth Hour at 8.30pm local time where participating outlets would switch off their lights to support the campaign. Erni told us that her apartment Somerset was participating, so she brought us back to her home. Boy, was it dark! We were escorted by torchlights to the swimming pool where candles were lit and the residents were having BBQ. Nice! Btw, this is the second time I'm celebrating Earth Hour in Vietnam, last year was at Ha Long bay.

Next Erni brought us to a very nice cafe nearby to her house – Take cafe where we had our current addiction – ca phe sua da (pronounced ca-fe sher-da) or iced coffee with milk. We had a photo session thanks to the very helpful waitress (I suspect she was bored – as she just readily entertained our requests for all sort of poses).

Take cafe

Ca phe sua da

We went back to Erni's place to meet up with her mom who was accompanying her for a few weeks. Although still full, she served us with more food – fruits and keropoks. At the end of the day, we might have piled up a few kilos already – and it's only Day 1! We then said our goodbyes and went back to our hotel. We would be meeting up with Erni again the next day.

Ah, a note I forgot to mention - WiFi is easily accessible here, everywhere you go, it is available! And it's free! However, facebook is blocked in Vietnam. You would need to do some tweaking to be able to access it.

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