Sunday, November 18, 2007

Roadtrip! (South Australia Leg)

September 16, 2007

We crossed into the state of South Australia by quickly eating the apples we bought and throwing them at the border of Victoria and SA, where they had a specially provided bin (and a huge signboard warning us not to bring fresh produce into the state). We also had to re-set the time on our watches, mobile phones and car clock back 30 minutes. SA is in a different timezone to VIC and NSW.

Rain greeted us into town but it did not make our stop at Mount Gambier any less exciting. If anything, it made it all the more challenging to get good pictures. When we ascended the mountain, there was a stench of raw egg. It was the smell of sulphur the lake was emitting. Lake Gambier, which is atop the mountain, is actually a volcanic crater. The colour of the water changes according to the weather. If you look carefully, you could see the beautiful turquoise/emerald-ish colour of the water.

There were more than one lake but we decided not to stop anymore because we had to reach Hahndorf by nightfall. So on we drove and yes, we did make it to Hahndorf in time for dinner. We were lucky to get the last remaining room in Best Western and learnt that hotel actually means 'the place you eat' and motel means 'the place you live'. Wah... all these years without knowing that in Sydney...

As I was here only in winter, I knew Hahndorf pretty well. Had to bring them to where I had the yummy ribs and German sausages. Dad was very happy with that meal.

September 17, 2007

I was glad I decided to spend the night in Hahndorf and not somewhere in Adelaide city. Why? Because, the next day, we woke up to a very beautiful morning in Hahndorf. Mum and Dad just loved the place. The original architecture, the landscape, the food... aahh...

Not all the shops were open but the lolly shop was so that was enough to leave us with good memories of the place.

When you are in South Australia, one thing which is on your Must Do List is to visit the vineyards. I mean, come on, who cares if it's the right time of the year? It's where all the best wines in Australia (and probably the world) come from! So yes, off we went driving on gravel roads to see hills and hills and hills of endless grapevines! What a sight to behold! Well, they were more or less still bald but still picturesque nevertheless.

In between, we also saw trees with white blooms and Mum concluded that they were pear trees. Those with pink blooms were apples, which there were very few off due to the wrong time of the year. Occasionally, there were the oranges and lemons.

Lunch for the day was curry chicken pie and boy was it good! We had it at a small bakery near Whispering Wall. I totally recommend homemade pies in small towns and villages. Whispering Wall was nothing much - it did not impress Dad as much as I hoped it would. Sigh, architects don't get excited by stuff like that, unlike their offspring.

As I found a lavender farm near Whispering Wall, we headed there.

It was more like a lavender 'showroom', not a farm. It housed 52 varieties of lavender and the smell, wow! But I'd have to admit that I've never seen that many lavender patches in the same place before.

Behind the farm, there was a field of wild flowers of yellow and purple. The contrast of colours was irresistable so yes, it was photo-snapping time! You can imagine how crazy Mum went - she's a flower freak.

Dad felt adventurous and decided to take smaller roads into the city. We got lost and were frantic as we were worried that we wouldn't be able to return the car in time to Europcar. Worse, we were worried that we would miss our flight! However, it was all worth it as we were rewarded with these:

The mustard fields were just a sight to behold!

Finally, it was time to bid Adelaide goodbye. We were extremely lucky as Europcar had a one-hour leway (how do you spell that word?) and we weren't penalised. Also, our flight was delayed due to the bad weather in Sydney. Phew!

Spent some time browsing through Adelaide Airport and I asked Mum to swap seats with me because I wanted to take pictures of these:

Thank you SA for a wonderful time!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Roadtrip! (Melbourne Leg 1)

Warning: The next few entries are going to be really long-winded.

September 12, 2007

DJ888, 8:15pm. I arrived in Melbourne with only one backpack. Amazing? Not really. I've always enjoyed traveling light. All 6 days packed in one backpack. By the time Pei Shin and I got home from Glen Station, it was close to midnight. Or was it past midnight? Don't recall. It was great to be with my cousins again.

September 13, 2007

I think I was at home all day. The girls had something to do in school/church so I was left to my own devices. When they got home, Pei dropped me at the bus-stop for me to catch the bus to Monash. Was meeting up with my beloved CPU buddies for a Mooncake Festival dinner.

Mei was watching Gilmore Girls on DVD when I got home and of course I had to join in the fun! I watched till Pei got home from her friend's birthday bash (around 2:00am). Watched till about 4:00am and we slept in the hall.

September 14, 2007

Mum and Dad arrived while I was having dinner with Cheng Cheng Jie Jie.

Yes, I have yet another cousin in Melbourne. It was a dinner to celebrate the completion of my degree. And she gave me a cute soft toy dog wearing a mortar board and a scroll in its mouth to make up for not being able to attend my graduation. How sweet. She's always been very caring towards me. A friend of hers came along as well. Very friendly fella who drives a Silvia. Damn cool.

Then when I finally met up with Mum and Dad, I WAS SO HAPPY! Finally! I think Dad scared the hell out of Jie Jie when he hugged her. Haha.... As they were hungry, they had makan at a HK cafe (similar to Char Chan Teng) in Glen. And guess what? I bumped into Wil Min! 5 years since we'd left college and we meet in Melbourne! And I don't even live in Melbourne... haha...

After that, Mum and Dad sent me back to the girls' house while they spent the night at bro's. I continued GG and slept in the hall again while Pei 'flirted' over the phone. Man, it's so obvious you're in love la girl...

September 15, 2007

What is it with breakfast places in Glen? Breakfast means morning meal means YOU HAVE TO BE OPEN BEFORE 9:00am!!!! Anyways, we settled for this posh-looking place and I'd have to admit, their food was pretty good! I shared a large omelette (how do you spell that??) with Mei and we still couldn't finish it. So, it ended up being quite worth the money. After bringing Mei and bro back to their respective homes, it was time for us to begin our journey West.

First stop: Geelong. Had to stop to walk around eh? I mean, who wouldn't? So Dad and I bought coffee and we walked around to see the bollards. Very interesting and some were funny! They each have a story to tell. Simple idea but effective. We then drove on to the Great Ocean Road.

Second stop: 12 Apostles. One word: magnificent. Too bad we were in the wrong direction of the sunlight. Made taking pictures slightly more tricky.

We then continued on to London Bridge and Loch Ard Gorge.

To me, it wasn't the sea view and the rocks that took my breath away. It was more of when I was in the car (we rented a brand new Nissan Outback, by the way). It was just unfathomable, the power of a more powerful 'someone' or 'something' up there (sorry for my lack of a more expansive vocabulary). One wide side of the highway, it was the vast and fierce sea. On the other, it was peaceful plains and green pastures.

We took the less trodden paths and we were rewarded with spectacular views. It was the first time I've ever seen a wind farm!

And no wonder it was there - the wind very nearly swept me off my feet! I mean, how can it not when even the four-wheel drive was shaking!!! If you look carefully, you'd be able to tell that I was barely able to keep my eyes open! Scary!

It was a VERY LONG DRIVE from Melbourne to our next stop. After an entire day, we decided to rest in a middle-sized town called Warnambool and stayed at Best Western for the night. We didn't get to see much as it was dark but I do know that it was a place famous for it's seafood and whale nurseries.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Another chapter

It was pretty early in the morning. Mum dressed me in a dark red, burgundy-ish dress with yellow hibiscus prints and yellow round collars. I was to ride in the car with my neighbour to 'school'. That day 20 years ago marked the beginning of my academic life. Unfortunately, I do not have any pictorial proof of those early years with me here in Sydney. My first school was Tadika Bunga Raya in Klang. Later, when the family moved to SK, mum and dad thought it would be convenient to place us somewhere in Desa. Hence, I attended Tadika Desa in the mornings and then walked over to ELC until mum picked us up later in the arvo. I spent a year doing that.

Primary school begun in SK Sri Serdang for me. I was the only Chinese girl in the class. There were three Indians and the rest were Malay. It was pretty daunting. I felt so lost, unsafe and insecure. But that feeling made me strive harder to better myself. The good foundation laid helped me very much with my transition to Desa. I spent the next five years of my primary school life in SK Taman Desa, three of which I was a prefect. UPSR marked the end of 'childhood' and it was time to move up to Form One, and literally move down (the hill) to SMKTD2.

We were Desa 2 for two years. Forgive me but I do not recall which headmaster (or headmistress) it was who changed us to Desa Perdana. High school brought many changes to my life. Friends lost and found, relationships formed and broke. After five years and SPM, it was time to bid adieu to another alma mater.

While some went on to do Sixth Form, many of us opted to continue our studies in private institutions. I chose to do the Canadian Pre-U at Taylor's College Subang Jaya. College was so different. The types of people met, the courage to bend and break rules and the heartache I've caused are still etched in my mind. When I graduated from college, I vowed not to repeat many things.

After taking a 1.5-year hiatus from books, I was off again to academia. This time, it was an eight-hour flight from home in an environment totally alien to me. Well, the place used English so that helped heaps. Macquarie University in suburban Sydney was to be my 'home' for four years.

19th September, 2007. That day was a sacred day for many reasons. It was a day of relief, joy and pride. It was a day of letting go and lifting of burdens. It was a day of celebration.

My smile has never been as broad as it has been on that day.

Nothing I put down in words can convey the gratitude and love I feel for the following people:

Father: Your words of encouragement, your guidance, your friendship. Your subtle 'cynical' reminders to watch my temper and level-headedness. Most importantly, your belief in me.

Mummy: I know you love me. You know I love you, too. We're just too paiseh to admit it. Love all the phone calls and gossips. You never fail to comfort me when I'm down. You are the biggest reason I'm such a hardcore teacher today.

Li'l bro: I know you are proud of me. And I hope you know that I am extremely proud of you, as well. What will I do if you didn't know how to fix everything in the house? And it's funny how some of your 'philosophical' reasoning actually do make sense.

Shaun: Your food, your food and your food. You may not understand my passion for children 100% but you're getting there and I love you for being there for me.

Petra: We so need to meet up for coffee!!! I don't care if we meet up here in Sydney, or if I fly down to Christchurch, or we meet up in KL. I DON'T CARE! I miss you too much to care! Oh, did I mention that I love you heaps for being my #1 fan?

Jeunn Fuh: Love-hate relationship. Sigh... I think that sums it. *Hugs*

Daniel Teoh, Ta Seng, Xin Wen, Jona and Justin Lim: You guys make Sydney bearable and a happier place to live in. Without you guys, I think I'd just rot of boredom. Thank you for the dinners, the suppers, the weekends, the shopping, the window-shopping, the book-browsing, the song-copying, the cooking sessions, the gossiping and the lamenting of life in general.

VK and Josh: Both of you gave me strength and the opportunity to love and to be loved. Thank you.

Dr. Emma Pearson: Couldn't have chosen a better person to be my supervisor. Also a friend, thank you for your constant reminders to stay focussed. You believed in me when I lost all faith in myself. If I ever end up an academic, I want to be like you.

Yona, Stellina, Karina and Hannah: Uni life was so much more fun with you guys! So glad to have travelled together with the brave and different. We are early childhood professionals and WE ROCK!

Monday, November 05, 2007

Malam Gema Merdeka 2007

It all started when Jenny called late one night. This is what I remember of the conversation:

J: Eh, you nowadays free hor?
C: Extremely. Why?
J: I need some help with choreographing a Chinese fan dance. Later I send you the music, you listen.
C: Fan dance ar? How many people? I so far never try to choreograph for adults before leh. Kids then I can la.
J: Never mind. Can one. Okay ar?
C: Okay la.

That was the beginning of three fast-paced weeks. From zero, we had to come up with a full dance for Malam Gema Merdeka. From being an inactive MSA member, I got to know committee members, volunteers and regulars of MSA, MSO, MASA and SUAMS. Very eye-opening as well because I was introduced to many groups of Malaysians (mainly Malay and Chinese) who do not seem to fit into the stereotype I grew up having. The many things I learnt just from getting to know them, having brief conversations with them and observing them was a humbling experience. I now feel that it is such a shame that I did not have even one childhood friend who is Malay.

At first, we were provided the song entitled Mahaguru sang by KRU. But Jenny felt that we needed something more Chinese-sounding. And hey, it needed a grand ending because it was going to be the opening act for the night. We were required to finish the dance with a banner that says "MALAM GEMA MERDEKA". In the end, Jenny found this instrumental song called Glory by the all-girl band from China called 12 Girls Band. I'm sure many of you have heard of this group.

We decided to not only use fans, but also ribbons as those could be loaned from Tourism Malaysia. I was more or less in charge of the choreegraphy for the fan. Of course, Jenny was a big help as well. Angeline, whom I got to know through the dance, also contributed a fair amount of ideas. It was also amazing to watch Mei Fang and Mei Juin strut their stuff. The choreography for the ribbon that they came up with in such a short time was breathtaking. To you girls, as well as the cute Ru Jih, sweet Wan Mit and ever helpful Michelle, group hug! We did a great job!

Everytime I watch this, I feel a sense of achievement (and a tad of embaressment)

Backstage: One shot before the show

On stage: Quickly, before the audience take their seats!

Reception: After the show, with Elaine

Reception: Michelle and I, after the show, with 'Datin' Diane and 'Dato' Bernard (they acted in the Merdeka sketch as Datin Vivien and Dato Bernard respectively)

What say you if we do that again next year? =P