Saturday, December 26, 2015

2015: My Year in Review...

It seems like I have forgotten how to write a blog properly. I have been writing about my trip from last year which can't seem to end. Last week, Facebook popped out 'Your Year in Review' and I thought of writing down my year in review. I know about my year better than Facebook. I've been thinking maybe I should write my year in review according to the month.

My birthday~! I have four celebrations this year with my family and my friends. It finally dawn upon me that I no longer have the stamina for buffet. And there's nothing to shout about regarding the food served. It's just the ambience and how the table and serving platters have been decorated. I'm still waiting for Gracie and my cousin, Juju to cook for me on my birthday.

It's Chinese New Year in an altogether different style. I finally break the tradition of having to drive to another state. This year it's in Penang itself and it will be like this forever~! I like it this way! And hubby got to meet up with his friends from high school and mi casa became the place for meeting up and having chats, catching up with each other and I don't mind cooking up a storm to serve everyone.

I love you Babitto....

My saddest day was in March. Out of so many rabbits, my favourite is my Babitto. I have been busy with classes and when I got home, I did not even cuddle or pat Babitto, I just wanted to lie on the couch and watch my drama and when the hubby went to check on them before going to bed, Babitto slept and never wake up. I felt so terrible for not spending enough time with him. I tell myself not to get too attach with the rest of the rabbits. Or I will have to prepare for my heart to break several more times over. I don't know why I love Babitto so much. He's just so handsome. 

I was still numb from Babitto's death when hubby gave me another blow. The tree decided to crash onto the car. It was one messy sight with glass all over inside the car. I have no eyes to see. I actually planned to cycle to work everyday but I've never cycle out of the housing area before. In the end, we have to make do with only two cars that are still running.

I have no idea what I was busy with in May. Probably cooking more dishes and carrying out a mundane life. I finally figure out which toilet roll to get that is the cheapest. Well, you don't need to get those with colour-scented-floral designs to wipe shit from your ass.


Totally no idea what I was busy with. The entire 30 days from the month of June felt like they have been deleted without a trace. I only remember eating, sleeping, shit-ing and working.

We made a trip to Kuala Lumpur for Paul Ang's conference. My Pakistani friends flew in for the conference and stayed at our place for a visit in Penang. They're great cook but that's not their profession. They have good jobs back in Pakistan but I guess, if you choose to stay in my house, you'll have to slave in my kitchen at least once.

Many things happened in August. Thumper died. It was one heart-wrenching death. He waited until I got home, felt my touch and then left in a very painful way. If all these while you think that rabbits are not as smart as dogs, then you got it wrongly. They're equally as smart and I can tell you that some animals are smarter than humans. Thumper could not breathe because he was suffering from bronchitis. The vets in this island have no experience with rabbits. What have they been studying?? 
My piano exam for Grade 7 was in the third week of August. I just started browsing through the scales and arpeggios book at the end of July. I thought that if I could hit all the right notes I should be okay. My sister came back for a visit with her son. My sister will never change. She only has hurting words to part from her mouth. She said my playing was worse than her students'. To slap a distinction in her face, I cancelled some of my classes and I stopped cooking for anyone, at times I only had bananas for breakfast, lunch and dinner as there's no time to eat or cook, I was on the piano for more than 8 hours everyday. And yeah, I got the distinction, right on the mark. Just nice. But I no longer feel like plastering my sister's face with the distinction. I did it for myself. To prove that I can achieve anything I want. Actually I should thank my sister for her poisonous tongue. One more grade to go....

My holiday trip was coming. I have to tell myself, programmed my mind that I have to drive long hours for this trip. I wanted a lazy trip where others drive me around but in the end, I have to do it for everyone's sake. It took me two months to tell myself I have to drive to Warrnambool for 3 hours plus, but I forgot to tell myself I have to drive back as well. The longest I have ever driver was 5 hours. Living in an island, I have no reason to spend so much time on the road. Anyway. the holiday plan has yet to be hatched out at this point of time. Yeah, I'm a last minute person, a procrastinator. 

Preparing the students for major examinations. All my free time was used in the preparation for the coming trip. 

I stopped work for a month and mi madre and I flew to Australia. We were in Melbourne, Tasmania, Sydney and Gold Coast. Out of the 22 days of such wonderful holiday that no one will ever forget, I seemed to have forgotten everything in less than a month. The only thing that I remembered was that I rammed straight into a pademelon and had a temporary mental and emotional breakdown while driving in Tasmania. That's the only clear image that I have until now of the Australia trip.

Started work while having friends from the Philippines out for a visit. Of course the pastor from the Philippines has to slave in my kitchen as he's staying at my place. After making a round-island tour two days in a row, my dream of becoming a tour guide dissipated. I'm cut out to be a holiday-planner and holiday-maker but not a tour guide. It's just so boring bringing people to the same place over and over again.
I'm going to miss you... will never have the chance to kiss that brown nose of yours...

A few days before Christmas, something awful happened. Loki died suddenly. Loki is a unique husky living in America. Part of my plan to visit America is to visit Loki. Yeah, I know it sounds crazy but if I can plan to visit other countries just to admire the rock formation, what is so wrong about flying to America to visit a dog? So, my heart got broken another round with the death of Loki. 

I'm not going to go to any crowded place for New Year countdown. I dislike crowded area. Few more days before 2015 bow out, my days will still be the same. Goodbye, 2015. I'm not looking forward to 2016 because I'll grow another year older. I feel so old... ancient... I want to stay forever 15...

Love: The Christmas Version...

First Corinthians 13, Christmas Version
If I decorate my house perfectly with plaid bows,
Strands of twinkling lights and shiny balls,
But do not show love to my family,
I'm just another decorator.
If I slave away in the kitchen,
Baking dozens of Christmas cookies,
Preparing gourmet meals
And arranging a beautifully adorned table at mealtime,
But do not show love to my family,
I'm just another cook.
If I work at the soup kitchen,
Carol in the nursing home
And give all that I have to charity,
But do not show love to my family,
It profits me nothing.
If I trim the spruce with shimmering angels
And crocheted snowflakes,
Attend a myriad of holiday parties
And sing in the choir's cantata,
But do not focus on Christ,
I have missed the point.
Love stops the cooking to hug the child.
Love sets aside the decorating to kiss the husband.
Love is kind, though harried and tired.
Love doesn't envy another's home that has coordinated Christmas china and table linens.
Love doesn't yell at the kids to get out of the way, but is thankful they are there to be in the way.
Love doesn't give only to those who are able to give in return, but rejoices in giving to those who can't.
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never fails.
Video games will break, pearl necklaces will be lost, golf clubs will rust ... but giving the gift of love will endure.
.... by Joe Craft....

Monday, December 21, 2015

Day 13: Shakadang Trail, Taroko National Park...

~ 26th March 2014 ~
Looking back at the many photos, I wondered why were we so excited about this place. The volume of water in the river has not increase yet and the amount of rainfall was not enough to make the river water flow at it's top speed. The waterfall dried up as well.
Oh well the walking trail itself was rather fascinating. It looked like the rock has been sliced in the middle to give way for humans to walk through them. Just don't collapse one day... you will never know.
The guide said the slowest tourist took at least 2.5 hours to complete the trail, to and fro. I thought we wouldn't end up as such slow pokes but then I was wrong, we were worst than the slowest pokes. There ain't no fun in a rushed trip right? The camera needed to stay active and be active. The camera liked it that way.
At the end of the walk, reward yourself with a stick or two of wild boar sausage. If we have the cash, I would buy a few sausages to savour. The wild boar sausage was really good. Not every kind of food sold in Taiwan was delicious, you really need to find them. 
And I have no idea why I like structure of bridges so much... just like them enough to stand there and take a few snapshots of the bridge which the name escaped me completely. In conclusion, I guess this wasn't such a nice trail to take. Just try other trails. I was in no liberty to argue with the driver on which trail to take as I am 'Chinese language illiterate'. I have my travel itinerary all written in English but the driver just could not understand a single word of English. 

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Day 13: Qingshui Cliff...

~ 25th March 2014 ~
A cliff. We did not know what expect from a cliff. Looking down into the ravine? The sight of the Pacific Ocean blew us all away. The mandatory spot to take photos and then it was just snapping away time. How I wished the clock would stop ticking and we could just sit there and enjoy the blue ocean. The cool breeze was very welcoming as the sun was too hot. Qingshui Cliff is situated in Chungte Recreational Centre, that much I know. Well, if you're able to read and make your own research in Chinese, it wouldn't be a problem to find the place. If you do not have the opportunity to visit the place, enjoy a few pieces of the shots taken.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Day 13: Chishingtan Beach...

~ 26th March 2014 ~
The next morning, our driver came and pick us together with our luggage. We said our goodbyes to the minsu owner who has fed us our breakfast, lunch and dinner in one serving. I don't know what was our driver's name and I don't know where we were going to. My travel buddy asked but in the end, we gave up trying to look like we know where we're going. Yeah, the name of the beach, that also I just found out by searching through the Internet. Google map is of no help as everything is written in Chinese. So, for the Taiwan trip, we only know where we went  more than one year later.
Our driver took us to the road less traveled. The road was narrow and even if he decided to sell us away, we couldn't do much to save ourselves. The driver couldn't understand English so we could converse in English freely. 
We were on top of a cliff over-looking the famous Chishingtan Beach in Hualien. If I get this name wrongly, I will not bother to find out where we went already. It was getting really hot but the view was just breath-taking. I wouldn't want to leave such beautiful scenery. 
But we were taken to the beach down below. I love the blue sea but I never like sandy beach. This beach is different. It's a rocky sort of beach... no sand.... I like~!!!!! But the stones were burning hot and I got real terrible sunburn. 
Our driver has always wanted to be a photographer. To help him polish his photography skills, we allowed him to be the photographer of the day. He likes to take portraiture photos while I don't have preference. I don't like to limit myself to only one thing. I just snap away. I'm not a professional but I enjoy taking photos. That's a big difference, yeah~!
Someone left a purple bicycle to be the subject of photography. Thank you for the bicycle. 

Day 12: Hualien's Golden Triangle...

~ 25th March 2014 ~
After we have our luggage in the room, we decided to leave the room as soon as possible. Once our butts landed on the cushion or bed, we will never find our way out anymore. The minsu owner was really helpful. The husband helped us to get our slow train ride up to Jiufen for the next day. He searched through the Internet to check whether we can book the tickets online but too bad, the system was not up to date. The tickets can only be purchased by cash through a machine at the minimart. There goes our cash by the thousands.
We started looking for dinner and found a place. The place that the owner recommended looked cut-throat expensive. I will not go to any restaurant where the seafood must be weighed first. I will fled after looking at the price. So to save our faces, we didn't even enter. As long as there's any sort of rice, the travel buddy would be extremely happy. It's written all over her face.
My advice would be don't bother looking for food along the way. Go straight to the Golden Triangle of Hualien where the name of the road Zhongshan can be found in every county. There's so much food there. Yeah, we regretted eating at the more expensive restaurant. The street food looked really good and cheap. 
We went into a few shops and got some boutique cakes to try out from Honey Bee Town. Got ourselves a piece of nice-looking waffle. That's how we spend our money as tourists. The walk was getting boring by the minute in every single turn. It looked almost the same in every county. We have no interest in shops selling clothes, bags, shoes and accessories. There's nothing unique. Halfway our triangle walk, we decided to go back. Fancy finding the way back. We just simply made some turns and found another nice place.
I'm still wondering how did we find Hualien Cultural and Creative Industries Park. The place was brightly decorated like that of i-City in Shah Alam. The phrase that hubby used 'Seen one, seen all' kept ringing in my head. Yeah, every place that I've been to resemble each other quite a lot. That country has it, this country has it but I have to erase the phrase from my head or I will stop traveling altogether. 
Our minsu was opposite a huge shopping mall known as FE21'. Actually I wanted to go there but we never have the time to do so. Maybe we should skip the Golden Triangle walk and went to the shopping mall instead. We went to the mart in the basement as it would only close in the middle of the night and amused ourselves with what's on the shelves. There were many things that we have in our hypermarket and some we no longer on our shelves.

Day 12: The Minsu in Hualien...

~ 25th March 2014 ~
We've finally made our way to Hualien County. The man in the tour bus called the lady who owned the minsu. She was so kind, she drove to meet where the bus dropped us. The bus waited until we were picked up. I was surprised to see that our minsu was also an active music centre. The lady taught piano and there were just so many students walking in and out. There were many rooms in her shoplot as she owned the whole building with four-storeys. Very established business and God is definitely blessing the whole family.
Our room... it's more spacious than this photo.... It's like having a whole living room of an apartment...

Our room was on the top most floor. The son helped to carry our luggage as there was no elevator in the building. We were given a huge room and I still have to say that minsu in Taiwan was way better than a hotel. I had a good time taking photos in the room at night before we called it a day. This was the room which inspired me to create such beautiful rooms in my home but until today, I failed to create one that beautiful because I am a very down-to-earth person and I have no time to dust every corner of the room. No, I'm not lazy I have a job and have work to be done.
Our minsu... if you can read the Chinese name, go Google for the address and phone number...
The lady actually asked what we would like to have for breakfast. I requested for toast and soft-boiled eggs. She asked what we really wanted and that's what I really wanted. I have enough of Chinese breakfast of porridge and more porridge. I dislike porridge especially the tasteless porridge that goes with century eggs. I was shocked when the lady said that such request would make her a rude person if she was to serve me with only toast and soft-boiled eggs. She said it's a must to serve the best Chinese breakfast to her guests. Okay, then don't ask what the guests really want. I really wanted soft-boiled eggs or just toasts with slabs of butter on them. I'm a very simple morning person.
Breakfast for 3!!

The next morning, our breakfast was sent right to our doorstep. I almost fainted upon seeing the huge breakfast fitted for a king. We could not finish everything and we ended up sitting in the room stuffing ourselves with porridge, paos with bamboo shoots!  and more. We mentally cancel off LUNCH from our to-do list later in the day.
That ONE banana is ENOUGH as breakfast...

The room was large, service was excellent but Taiwanese have odd choices in choosing the most comfortable bedding. The pillow was hard as rock and mattress was harder than the planks on the floor. It was just slightly better than Alishan Gou Hotel's mattress which I believed were carved out of stone slabs.