Thursday, 31 July 2014

Art (and Kitsch) in Melaka City

When in Melaka, you cannot help being aware of so much art, culture and kitsch in the city. It was reported in the newspapers recently that some street art in Melaka had been vandalised. These included the 'Eight running horses' mural and the Heeren House wall calligraphy. We found the former being 'cleaned' of this vandalism, but the latter still has the 'gangster graffiti' on it.

When you walk along the narrow streets of Jalan Hang Jebat, Jalan Hang Kasturi, Jalan Tokong, Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock, etc. there are many beautiful architectural details that you can observe on the buildings. Some facades sport beautiful hues of blues, greens, aquamarines, etc. Like the Straits Chinese Jewelry Museum below. Even Kim Eng, one of the museum guides, is a walking piece of art and culture in her pretty kebaya nyonya and sarong.

The Orang Utan House has quite a few branches selling their artsy-fartsy T-shirts. But naaah ... we have too, too many t-shirts at home to buy any. Instead I was more fascinated with the facades of their shop in Jalan Tukang Besi. The cute orang utan with a flower in its mouth and the green, green plants surrounding an entrance.

Kitsch in Melaka? You find it right smack on the most popular spot in Melaka city - the junk (pun intended) atop a platform of bric-a-bracs of pottery jars, etc. Quite an eyesore, if you ask me. Err... sorry Cheng Ho/Zheng He.

More kitsch? Outside the Mamee Museum you see this wrought iron sculpture, and inside you get to meet the huge blue Mamee monster.

I have always liked to watch visitors' reactions when they encounter this kitschy dinosaur in front of the Science Museum. Mostly the children put on acts of fighting and grappling with this 'monster' in their midst. Quite amusing, really.

But what could be more kitschy than this bronze statue of the upper torso of Mr Melaka/Malaysia/Asia /Universe aka the 'Father of bodybuilders in Malaysia' which adorns (??) the Taman Warisan Dunia; the small, beautiful park along Jalan Hang Jebat.

Then there are the ever popular but garishly and gaudily decorated beca/tricycles on the streets of Melaka. Art or kitsch? You decide. Peace to all!

Melaka 28-30 July 2014

Some Good Eats in Melaka

Whatever foods or meals we  have had in Melaka were mostly unplanned, quite serendipitous really. Wherever seems right, convenient and easy. We do not especially 'hunt' for good Melaka/Peranakan /Nyonya eats, but after five trips to Melaka, some good food* experiences are repeated.

For the best of the iconic kueh ondeh-ondeh or kueh buah melaka,  freshly made, queue up at the Aku & Dia shop. The generous gula melaka (palm sugar) centre of this kueh just deliciously bursts in your mouth. Inside the unpretentious shop you can also have the best Malay-style kway teow and other goreng-goreng.

Queue outside Aku & Dia (CNB 2014)

When walking along the river in the city centre, you will notice that there are some picturesque riverine cafes, one of them, 'Riverine'. The  Nyonya/Peranakan food here is pretty good, especially the seafood. The cincaluk omelette is quite delish to say the least. But the chicken pongteh is an acquired taste.

You can't miss the Hard Rock Cafe by the Melaka River, what with the huge guitar 'installation' outside. Apart from the usual steaks (B had) and other Western fare like fish and chips (M had), the nasi goreng I had was a-OK.  Very generous portion (as is usual with HRC fare) but surprisingly a bit on the pedas side for me!

Nasi  goreng HRC

The Casa del Rio's River Cafe serves 'sinful' pizzas and good mocktails, but the hot chocolate we had at their Bar Rio one evening was 'weak'. That's why one should never order hot chocolate at a bar, ha ha.

We had so-so hot chocolate at Bar Rio CDR (MB 2014)

When you walk along Jalan Hang Jebat/Jonker Street or Jonker Walk, especially during the weekend night markets, you can't ignore the sights, sounds and smells all round. There's the gula ting-ting, gula melaka, one-bite durian puffs, Portuguese egg tarts, oyster omelettes, etc., etc. Queues that form in front of the eateries here 'confirm' that the food should be better than average. Museum Cafe aka Jonker 88 (aka my 'Mao's Cafe') serve their famous Durian cendol dessert and Laksa kahwin.

Jonker 88 or Museum Cafe or 'Mao's Cafe'

The famous (Trip Advisor awarded/Lonely Planet mentioned) Geographer Cafe serves pretty good Nasi lemak and 'coconut soup'. But usually we drop by for cakes and drinks only.

Pretty Geographer Cafe (CNB 2012)

We had the best Asam pedas at a Malay Restaurant I can't remember the name of. We also had previously sampled some good Peranakan dishes at Nyonya Makko in Taman Melaka Raya before. We found the Zheng He Tea House most interesting on a previous visit. But we have yet to try what is touted as Melaka's signature foods - Devil curry and Chicken rice ball. Maybe this calls for yet another visit! Anyway what food 'souvenirs' did we bring home this time around? Not the iconic cincaluk or belacan because we still have them from our last visit. But the local Melaka coffee from Aik Cheong. And of course Gula Melaka, what else??

Get roasted Liberica coffee beans from here (CNB 2014)

Gula Melaka Comel (CNB 2014)

Note: From, the most popular deliciacies (sic) of Melaka are: Asam pedas, Satay, Ondeh-ondeh, Pai tee, Chicken rice ball, Chicken pongteh, Cincaluk, Devil curry, Renginang and Sambal belacan. Selamat makan-makan!

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Raya 20fourteen @ Melaka

In a break from tradition, instead of going back to the kampung in Pulau Pinang, we spent the Hari Raya holidays in Melaka. Why Melaka? Because there is no horrendous traffic crawl to get there and back during this festive period. (Last year we were stuck in a more than 10 hour traffic jam on the N-S highway). Also because M has never been to Melaka before. Although he would still prefer the Pulau anytime, he was vetoed. So we found ourselves on the road to Melaka in the afternoon of the first day of Raya.

Awaiting a very late Raya lunch at the HRC Melaka

In Melaka, we played tourist guides, ushering M towards the sights, sounds and smells of this UNESCO heritage city. Although this is my fifth visit to this place, I never tire repeating experiences of walking on the city streets and along the Melaka River, abound with so much history, art and culture.

M & B at the Dutch Square (CNB 2014)

Photo stop along the Melaka River (BB 2014)

A beautiful Raya sunset on Melaka (CNB 2014)
Melaka 28-30 July 2014

Monday, 28 July 2014

Selamat Hari Raya Twenty14 (1435H)

Raya morning pic at home in Shah Alam

Selamat Hari Raya to all who celebrate this day of triumph after a month of steadfast fasting.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Chick Lit and Romance Novels: An Indulgence

Chick Lit as defined in Wikipedia is genre fiction which addresses issues of modern womanhood, often humourously and lightheartedly. Although it sometimes includes romantic elements, Chick Lit is generally not considered a direct subcategory of the romance novel genre because the heroine's relationship with her family and friends is often just as important as her romantic relationship. This Chick Lit genre became popular in the late 1990s with titles topping bestseller lists and the creation of imprints devoted entirely to Chick Lit. The number of titles in the "Popular Chick Lit" list? An astounding 69,648 at the last count!

As for the Romance Novel, all females read these at some stage in their lives, usually during adolescence and beyond. I remember I started reading Barbara Cartland novels at the start of boarding school. We bought the books from the Grenier's bookstore in Seremban town or the newspaper vendor who came on weekends to the College.

I only became aware of Chick Lit when B started buying the "Shopaholic" books by Sophie Kinsella. Then there was Helen Fielding's Bridget Jones Diary, followed by other Chick Lit authors and titles. Not surprisingly, quite a number of Chick Lit (and romance novel) titles have been adapted to film. Like Eat Pray Love, etc. Hence the popularity of romantic comedies (read: Chick flicks)! My favourite film genre. (More on this in another blog post). In retrospect, I have read quite a few Chick Lit titles and enjoyed them because they are rather light reading, 'but not (too) dumb'! Like romance novels, they make for good escapism. A few recent titles include, Chocolat and The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris.

In our local bookshops, especially the MPH outlets, I notice that Malay Chick Lit feature quite a bit, next to the many books on faith and religion. Many TV dramas adapted from Malay fiction (especially Chick Lit) have in turn popularised the reading of these books. I was tempted into buying two titles because I had watched the dramas and found the stories interesting enough to go on to read the books. When I bought Love You Mr Arrogant, it was in its 12th printing, while Kerana Terpaksa... Aku Relakan was in its 13th printing. Reading these books was easy (I finished the 772 paged KTAR within two days, and the 462 paged LYMA in one - a record of sorts for me). But I wish the editors would work harder on the English bits of conversation found therein. But then again... maybe that is how English is spoken nowadays.

Note: We all know that the term 'Chick' is American slang for 'young female' and Lit is the short form of Literature.

Bridget Jones' Diary/ Helen Fielding Ex Libris CNB 0583
Eat, Pray, Love/Elizabeth Gilbert. Ex Libris CNB 1782
Chocolat/Joanne Harris. Ex Libris CNB 
The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris/Jenny Colgan. Ex Libris CNB 2030
Love You Mr Arrogant/Aliesha Kirana. Penerbitan Karyaseni, 2013. Ex Libris CNB 2002
Kerana Terpaksa... Aku Relakan/Umie Nadzimah. Penerbitan Karyaseni, 2014. Ex Libris CNB 2073
(In Progress)

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Three Years, 505 Postings

Today this blog is three years old, and this posting is the 505th. Looking back, even if there were times I felt like abandoning my blog altogether, I find that on the whole, blogging has been a pretty interesting exercise (sometimes at the expense of essential housework, heheh!). At the very least I have tried to keep on writing (sometimes cheating with lots of pictures though, because I also love photography) about whatever, wherever, whenever. I have 'tweaked' some old entries that needed tweaking, but there are those that have been and still are 'in progress' and those that I am still not too thrilled about. C'est la vie! 

A Rose by any other name is still a Rose.  A Rose by any other name would smell as sweet.
(Picture of pink rose was taken in the garden of the Rumah Puteh, Pulau Pinang)

On a very sad note: Even as the mysterious disappearance of our Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 has yet to be solved, today our MH17 was shot down near the Ukraine-Russian border.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

SA Garden Catalogue: Mother-in-Law Tongue

Sansevieria trifasciata 'Hahnii'

Scientific name: Sansevieria trifasciata
Common name: Mother-in-law tongue
Origin: West Africa

The Mother-in-law tongue is "a herb with stiffly erect strap-shaped leaves, best known by its variegated forms. 'Laurentii' has yellow margins and was first found in Zaire. 'Hahnii' is a dwarf non-variegated form. 'Golden Hahnii' is a dwarf variegated form. Most varieties will thrive in full or partial sun but 'Golden Hahnii' prefers a sheltered environment. Propagate by division or leaf cuttings". (My usual reference)

In my little garden, I have the 'Laurentii' and the 'Hahnii', the former in a container and the latter in little containers and on the ground. I do like these 'tongues', not because they 'sindir'  mothers-in-law (not all but only those horrible ones from hell of course), but because of their beautiful nearly 'structural' forms.

Sansevieria trifasciata 'Laurentii'

The weather in July is mostly cloudy, but hot, hot, hot with smog! Not very much rain falls, and even when it does, its only light drizzles. The temperature both day and night average about 33 degrees C. And we in Selangor have our water problems again. Ces't la vie.

Monday, 7 July 2014

Retro: A Trengganu Vacation Album (1999)

Our Trengganu vacation in July 1999 15 years ago was a prize won. Yay! My second time to this East Coast state of Malaysia with family - A, B and my sister CY. I do love Trengganu and it was a fun trip based at the Sutera Beach Resort. We also did get about to see the wonderful sights in Kuala Trengganu and thereabouts and meet up with B's college friend and family.
Note on the trivial: A third time for me in Trengganu was official for a meeting, so not much getting about then.
Note on the not so trivial: These are re-photos, so they are rather so-so ...

A very early dawn arrival in Kuala Trengganu ...

Trishaws in front of Pasar Payang, Kuala Trengganu

Market jetty opposite Seberang Takir

The Sutera Beach Resort at Kg Rhu Tapai, Merang, 35 km from Kuala Trengganu. Beautiful beach front and infinity pool.

A batek shop in the Marang district

A dried fish sundry shop

The fishing village of Rusila in the district of Marang, 12 km from Kuala Tregganu. Famous as an Islamic learning centre for the common folks of the state.

Another batek making place

The Masjid Terapung Tengku Tengah Zaharah (floating mosque), 10 km for KT town centre.

With B's friend and her parents at the Sutera Beach Resort

July 1999