Made in Thailand – An Excerpt

thaiThere was once a beautiful young woman named Mae Nak whose love for her husband, Tid Mak, was undying. One day, while her husband was away at war, she died giving birth to their baby who did not survive either. Due to her undying love for her husband, Mae Nak and the baby returned to the living world as spirits. Everyone in the village has learned of their deaths, but when Mae Nak’s husband returns home from the battlefield he is greeted by his loving wife and their newborn child, unaware that they are spirits. The villagers try to warn him but he doesn’t want to believe them. One night the ghost of Mae Nak is preparing dinner for her husband when she suddenly drops a lime and it falls through a gap in the wooden floorboards. Back in those days, the houses were built a short distance off the ground. Tid Mak watches Mae Nak from the outside of the house as she stretches an elongated, ghostly arm through the long gap to the ground and reaches for the lime. He was aware that no human could reach that far and it was then that he realised the villagers were telling the truth. He runs from the house in terror to a nearby temple to seek refuge where the ghost of Mae Nak is unable to enter. Mae Nak becomes angry and takes out her frustration by terrorising the villagers. There are a few versions of how the story ends. In one, Mae Nak and her baby’s spirit are believed to be confined in a piece of bone from her exhumed forehead and bound into a wristband worn by a monk. In another version, a monk convinces Mae Nak that she will be reunited with her husband in another life at which point Mae Nak, along with the baby, is believed to have voluntarily moved on.

Happy Chinese New Year – The story of Nian

Happy Chinese New Year 2015 to all. cny12cny157As many know, Chinese New Year is a time where majority of those of Chinese descendants, come together with their family and friends to celebrate. It is a festive period involving lots of good company, food, money giving, traditional entertainments, and lots of laughter.cny158And of course, we cannot forget about the Chinese rice balls, which is eaten during festive seasons like Chinese New Year, New Year, and for some, during the Christmas season as well. cny153cny154cny152cny155cny156cyn15110996581_10152697485545662_7816092254273855384_nThe colour red have always been a symbolic colour for Chinese New Year. According to an old Chinese myth that I know, there was once a beast with the body of a bull and the head of a lion called, Nian. Every beginning of the year, Nian would come out from the mountains where it was living and terrorize a village. It would eat their crops, and if there were any villagers in the way, it would eat them too. One day, a strange man came to visit the village and told the villagers that the beast can be defeated by loud noises, bright firelights, and the colour red. So the villagers would hang and display bright red lanterns and fire crackers everywhere. In the end, Nian was terrified that it returned to the mountains and was never seen or heard of again. That is why Chinese New Year is filled with loud noises and firecrackers. And in memory of Nian, there is the symbolic and well known lion dance.

There are several versions of the Nian myth, but they are all similar in a way with how it ends.   cny150cny15

Photo credits to Suzanne Yeang and Irene Soo. Thank you, Ladies, for the wonderful photos, as usual. And special thanks to Irene for always taking mouth-watering photos of the rice balls. I know nobody who can make rice balls as perfect as she can. Looking forward for more to come.

Gong Hie Fatt Choi to everybody.

Other posts on past Chinese New Year and rice balls:

https://puiyinwl.wordpress.com/2013/01/01/happy-new-year-first-post-of-2013/

https://puiyinwl.wordpress.com/2014/02/02/chinese-new-year-2014/

https://puiyinwl.wordpress.com/2013/04/01/how-to-make-chinese-rice-balls/

 

 

Paralyzed (Halloween special 2)

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(Photo credit – The Grudge)

One time, I dreamed I was being dragged along the ground. I didn’t know who was dragging me. All I know was that I was being dragged by the arms. I tried to move my body, but I felt paralyzed. The only think I could do was speak. Everything around me was pitch black. I couldn’t see a single thing.

“Who’s there? What’s happening? Let me go,” I cried out.

But there was no answer. I was terrified. I didn’t know what else to do. And then all of a sudden, the dragging stopped. I fell on my back. I looked up, but I still couldn’t see anything. There was total silence. Even though I couldn’t see or hear anything, I had a strange feeling that I wasn’t alone. I felt a ghostly presence. I tried to move, but I still couldn’t.

“Hello? Somebody help me. Hello?” I cried out again.

There was still no answer. Nothing was happening. I began to feel paranoid. What’s going to happen to me? Am I going to be like this forever? Is somebody going to save me? After what seemed like a long time, I blinked, and woke up with a jump.

I looked around my room. It was still night. My heart was beating and thumping hard and fast. I felt relieved and scared at the same time. The nightmare, or whatever it was, it had felt extremely real. It didn’t feel like a dream, or a nightmare. I’ve had scary dreams/nightmares in the past, and the effect it had on me was nothing compared to the one I had. There were no comparisons.

A Penang Story – Part 2 Haunted home (Halloween special 1)

rigor_mortis_1(Photo credit – Rigor Mortis)

*Actual names have been changed.

The following accounts are real.

First account:

During my time in Penang, which was 11 years ago, I lived in a condominium with two other female flatmates, *Renee and Kate. Renee was also the landlord of our unit. The condominium consisted of two huge blocks. The buildings were very tall, and each floor had about eight units (hope that makes sense). The size of each unit wasn’t big, and it consisted of three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a small kitchen and living room area, and a balcony. Although every unit had a main front door, there was also a main gate to each of the unit, which was good for extra protection. Overall, the condominium was ‘alright’ looking. It wasn’t glamorous either, nor did it have a welcoming look, if I have to be honest. There were times when I didn’t feel safe. Each floor was eerily quiet. Not many neighbours would talk to each other. And the lifts can be creepy, especially when you are alone. Renee and Kate would work all day during the weekdays, and every Friday, after work, they would often go back to their home town, which left me to be by myself until Sunday or Monday, when they would return. At that time, I didn’t go out much during the weekends, except for going out to dinner with my uncle and his family, and I would always be back before 10 at night. After then, I would drown myself in homework. Strangely enough, at exactly midnight every Saturday, I could hear the doorbell ringing, followed by two women’s voices calling out. They sounded polite, too polite in fact.

“Excuse me, good evening.” (Really??? Midnight is not exactly evening)

“Is anybody home? Do you have any newspapers?” (???????)

And then a couple more ringing of the doorbell.

“Hello, is anybody home?”

I never answered the door. Renee had warned me a number of times to never open the door when I was home alone, especially if I wasn’t expecting anyone. So I listened to her. After a short while, there was no more ringing of the doorbell or the voices of the women, nor could I hear them calling out to my neighbours and asking them for newspapers. I then ignored it and went back to doing my work. In the beginning, I didn’t think much about the two women. But as it started occurring every Saturday midnight (yes, seriously, every single Saturday) with the women asking the same exact questions about newspapers, I began to get a ‘funny’ feeling. I was confused, and yet, curious about the women. Why were they asking for newspapers? If so, why did they have to come every Saturday midnight? Why not at other times? And why don’t I hear them calling out to the other units. It was creepy and strange. One night, I was tempted to look through the peephole, but was afraid the women might see the shadow of my feet (there was a tiny gap space between the bottom of the door and the floor). So I covered the entire gap with a shirt. Just before midnight approached, I turned off all the lights, except for the one near the balcony (didn’t want to freak myself out in the dark). I then looked through the peephole and waited. Midnight arrived. The women were nowhere in sight, nor could I hear their voices. Five minutes past twelve, I was about to give up waiting, thinking that they weren’t going to come. I looked away from the peephole, and just when I was about to walk away from the door, I heard the doorbell, followed by them calling out whether I had newspapers. I suddenly felt scared. I wanted to look through the peephole, but I couldn’t. I was scared. I had a bad feeling about looking through the peephole. My instinct told me not to look. So I stepped away from the door and remained quiet. After a short while, the doorbell ringing and calling out stopped. I didn’t hear them anymore. But I didn’t look through the peephole to find out.

Throughout my time at the condominium, I never found out who those women were, nor did I ever see them with my own eyes.

 

Second account coming shortly…………

 

 

A Penang Story – Part 1

So it all began with this photo I saw posted by a friend on Facebook.

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To most of you, this might seem like an ordinary photo. But for me, it’s so much more. It reminds me of my other home, Penang, in Malaysia. The photo is recent, and the location of where it was taken was at a famous shopping mall nearby where I used to live when I was residing in Penang. It was where I used to go almost everyday to have my meals, meet up with friends, and do my shopping. It’s been 11 years since I was last there. When I saw this photo, I immediately became homesick. It sure hit me hard.

There are 13 states and 3 federal territories in Malaysia. But out of them, Penang is the most different state. The people, the community, the lifestyle, the environment, is somehow different from the other states/territories. If you live in one state and then move to Penang, you will automatically feel the difference. A good difference. After being magnetized by the photo, I decided that I wanted to share with you my tour of Penang via my personal thoughts, views, knowledge, and experience, with also the help of some of my Penang friends with the visuals. Instead of presenting everything in one post, I am going to divide them into categories. My tour will include some of my favourite local food where you can’t find ANYWHERE else in the world, famous streets, art, stories and gossips (both local and personal), a haunted hill and war museum, and a history of an Englishman.

Enough said. Let the tour begin.

Malaysia is a multicultural country. There is Malay, Chinese, Indian, Sikh, and Eurasian. Therefore, the food in Malaysia is also multicultural. Some have a combination of Malay and Chinese, while others may have a combination of Chinese and Portuguese. But in the end, no matter how many cultures there are, in food and people, it all comes together as one, Malaysia.

msia24The Penang flag.

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I lived in one of those tall condominiums by the seafront back when I was residing in Penang from the beginning of 2003 till end of that year.

msia6msia20komtar Penang’s iconic tall building.

What I miss the most is the food. Sure, there are Malaysian restaurants around the world. But it is never the same as home. I’ve tried many Malaysian dishes in London (where I am living), and the food never tastes the same. The food isn’t bad either, but it just doesn’t taste like home. It’s not as authentic, even though they say it is. In some restaurants, they even have the names of the food wrong. I don’t know how I’ve survived 11 years of no home food. I’ve even tried cooking some of the dishes, but they just don’t taste the same. I guess I just have to wait for some of my Malaysian friends to come and visit so that they can teach me the authentic way. Below are some of the food that are so authentic that it’s hard to find anywhere else in the world except for home.

msia12Char Kuey Teow, a noodle dish cooked in light and dark soy sauce, with egg and seafood.

msia11Noodle dish with meat or seafood dumplings. Most Malaysians like to have their dishes with iced/hot tea or coffee with milk.

msia22msia8Noodle dish in soup. This is an extremely rare dish to find in any western countries. The closest I’ll ever get to tasting the real deal is a pot noodle version from London Chinatown 😦msia14A typical noodle cafe. msia15A noodle stand.

msia7Not just is this dish rare to find in western countries, but so is the fish. I call this fish the white fish.

msia13When I saw this photo while looking through a friend’s Facebook album, I almost cried. This is my all time favourite Malaysian dessert. It is made out of rice flour and thick coconut milk. It is layered, and I have a way of eating it. I don’t like eating it as it is, or taking a bite off it. There has only been ONE way I would eat it, and that is by layers. I would gently peel off each layer and eat it. I don’t know why. It’s the only way I will eat it. There’s no other way. Every time I see this dessert, I would immediately think of my childhood. msia17Another all time favourite. Biscuit with dried coloured icing on top.

msia16Of course, how can I forget about the rice balls.

My other posts on rice balls:

https://puiyinwl.wordpress.com/tag/how-to-make-chinese-rice-balls/

https://puiyinwl.wordpress.com/2013/01/01/happy-new-year-first-post-of-2013/

https://puiyinwl.wordpress.com/2012/09/20/chinese-rice-balls/

msia1A typical Malaysian breakfast. It is a very simple dish. Bread with butter and sugar spread on top. Bread can be toasted or not, up to you. I prefer it toasted.

msia3Roti Canai, flat bread with spicy sauce.

msia21Traditional prawn curry in deliciously thick sauce. My goodness.

msia23A typical stall selling traditional desserts.

msia10Durians, also known as the smelly fruit to some. Like marmite, either you like it or you don’t. msia5Inside the durian. It does leave a strong odor on your hands afterwards. They are very expensive here in London Chinatown. Crazy expensive.

msia9Chinese buns. It is usually used for celebrations or prayers.

That’s it for the first part. To be continued.

A huge thank you to Irene Soo and Suzanne Yeang for the wonderful photos.

MH17

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(Photo credit – Facebook)

My deepest condolences to those affected. I should have posted my condolences earlier, but I was in total shock and distress since the tragedy happened. I didn’t know anyone on board, but yet, it felt like I did.

“One woman’s body is unimaginably scarred, but the red paint on her toenails is still smooth and unchipped and the skin of her one remaining foot has retained its lifelike lustre. The blond hair of another passenger is in perfect condition, but her body has been split and torn. A young boy’s corpse is nearby. His white Tommy Hilfiger shirt is still clean, marked only by the blood near his head and shoulder. His face is well preserved with a strong brow and dark straight hair. But he has suffered a traumatic head wound.” 

– Text taken from The Telegraph online (MH17 – A scene of horror) 19/07/14

Halloween cupcakes

Happy Halloween!!!

Today, my son and I were at the Dagenham Heathway Centre in East London, making Halloween cupcakes with other children and their parents. Below are some of the fun/monstrous/gruesome cupcakes that were made.

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Meet the brother and sister cupcake monsters made by a girl called Catrina/Katrina (sorry for the spelling sweetie).  cup4

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And these are my monstrous dual.hallo1

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Getting wrapped up to go home.Photo1 (8)

*The Dagenham Heathway Centre is a welcoming place where parents with children, particularly those with additional needs, come together. The centre provides a variety of fun activities, especially during the school holidays. It is also a place where parents meet regular, have coffee, lunch, cook, laugh, sing, zumba, joke with one another, and most importantly, to arise anything that concerns them and their children.

I am a proud mother to a beautiful autistic child, and I would take him to the Heathway Centre almost every Saturday for his playgroup. It didn’t take me long to fit in with the Heathway family. In fact, after meeting the family for one afternoon, I was already fitting in. And by then, almost everybody knew my name. That is how accepting, welcoming, and humble the centre is.