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On the evening of 14th of June, my mother received a call from her cousin telling that my great grandfather, Mohd. Yaacob bin Abdullah (or his Chinese name, Tung Foo Piew), son of Abdullah Al-Yunani was admitted to the Kuala Terengganu Specialist Hospital. My father decided to leave for Terengganu early the next morning. However, we received another phone call half an hour later and my mom’s cousin told my mother that Appa had passed away. The news was a real shock to us because although Appa was over 95 years old, he was healthy and active.

Appa, scouting through the ages…

We left for Terengganu that night after Maghrib and arrived at his house at around 1:30 am. He was buried later in the morning at about 10 am at the Perkuburan Tok Pelam.

My great grandfather was a really fun and jolly man. Everytime we visited him, he would tease my little brother calling him Muhammad Ali, the boxer. He loved ice-cream and chocolate. My father would always bring him ice-cream and Appa would eat his with relish.

And he would welcome us to his little library and sometimes pulled out the books he had recently bought that he knew we would love. He had an amazing memory despite his age.

Appa’s books

The last time we visited him, he took out a book on martial arts for my brother and a book on Astronomy for me. He could remember all of the books I had borrowed, sometimes with their complete titles. And he had given me a few books too, with lovely long notes on the first pages, written in ‘old Malay’. I was always thrilled everytime he gave me a book, particularly because I knew that the special note would be waiting for me.

Appa was really an active man. He was an active member of the ‘Ahli Persaudaraan Pengakap B.P Terengganu’ and two years ago, he joined the scout’s jamboree to Thailand. He was a committee member of the Terengganu Civil Service Pensioners Association.

Appa was a wonderful man and we would all miss him a lot. May Allah bless his soul.

My great grandfather, Mohd. Ya’acob bin Abdullah with his wife, Raja Kalsom

Amin.

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My family and I had just arrived from Penang two days ago. Unlike most of our trips to Penang when we stayed at the Feringghi BayView Beach Hotel on the island, this time we stayed at the Butterworth Palm Inn Hotel which is just across the road to the Dewan Dato’ Haji Ahmad Badawi where we attended a seminar on Sunday.

For my parents, a trip to Penang won’t be completed without having Penang’s special ‘mee udang Sungai Dua’ or ‘Sungai Dua prawn noodle’; so we headed to Sungai Dua for the special dish as soon as we reached Butterworth. In fact, we drove to Sungai Dua again that night where they again had ‘mee udang Sungai Dua’ for dinner at another restaurant! I had ‘keoy teow goreng’ or ‘fried flat noodle’ for both lunch and dinner which I think is much cheaper and tastier. The restaurants are not fancy but both are located in beautiful natural surroundings; we had lunch at a riverside restaurant and dinner at a restaurant facing a large paddy field.The food are very, very good and the price of food is far cheaper than in KL.

On Sunday, we attended the ‘Seminar Mendaulatkan Islam – Agama Negara (SEMAIAN)’ (see here) at Dewan Dato’ Haji Ahmad Badawi across the road from our hotel for the whole day. In the afternoon , I sat down on the floor outside the hall and drew a picture of the hotel which turned out quite nice. My siblings walked around the large field in front of the hall, playing in the wind and watching the pigeons performing airshows and playing ‘guess the plane’. And Ahmad Ali caught a feather that flew down from a flying bird(and decided to start a feather collection) and made such a fuss about it on the car trip back to KL.

We had a lovely time in Penang although we didn’t go to the island and played at the beach. The view from our hotel room is marvelous, especially at night. We snapped lots of photos from our hotel rooms which face the island and the Penang Port.  I hope that one day we could go on another trip to Penang.

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Both mum and I not only have our birthdays in March but also in the same week. I am 16 this year, Alhamdulillah, and my family members had given me wonderful presents.

Mum gave me a lot of her Australian, American, Canadian and New Zealand stamps wrapped in a lovely silver coloured box. My dad bought me stamps at the stamp fair and an A3 sized document file which I now use to keep my stamps in. My sister Aeshah gave me some Vietnamese stamps featuring dolphins that are missing from my collection and lots of odds and ends that I could use for my craftworks. Anisah gave me a number of her drawings and Ali gave me a hairdryer, a ‘Snoopy’ clock and a watch.

My parents gave me a beautiful birthday card with a picture of a flower drawn by mum (the artist), using soft pastels. Ahmad Ali gave me three birthday cards for he enjoyed card making so much that he couldn’t stop making them… Abang Muhammad sent me a birthday card too, all the way from Chicago together with lots of gorgeous U.S.S.R. stamps.

My mother had a marvellous birthday too. Again, most of her presents were stamps from all of us. I secretly looked through her stamp albums and picked out stamps that I own but is missing from her collection. I’m delighted that she was thrilled to receive the stamps that I gave her. I also gave her some Machin stamps (the British definitive stamps with a picture of Queen Elizabeth’s head – mum simply love them, she has a few pages of those lovely stamps in her stamp album and wishes to own as much as she could). Aeshah gave her stamps too. Anisah gave her an envelope with a picture of a cat that she ‘bought’ for 6 stars (our play-money currency) from my little brother.  And Ahmad Ali gave mum a beautiful egg cup and a special Machin stamp(the 1840 Anniversary Machins) with pictures of both Queen Elizabeth as in other Machin stamps and Queen Victoria as in Penny Black.

That night,we had pizzas from Domino’s Pizza for our dinner. Everyone love Domino’s Pizza and we celebrated most of our birthdays with them. It was only last month when we had pizza for my little brother’s birthday!

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A page from my stamp album

 

I had been introduced to stamp collecting since I was a little girl. Both of my parents collect stamps and they both have beautiful collections of stamps from most parts of the world. However, it wasn’t until I was 10 when I started to have a real interest in stamp collecting.

I was reading an article from a magazine at my school library about a girl who had collected more than a thousand stamps by the age of 8. When I went back home, I took out my dad’s stamp albums and look at the arrays of stamps neatly arranged inside them. For the first time, I was fascinated by stamp collecting and decided to start my own.

My first few stamps were given to me by my Indonesian classmate who received letters from her families and relatives in Indonesia. Unfortunately due to my carelessness, I lost them all and I really regretted it.

Nevertheless, it was my parents who helped me a lot in stamp collecting. My father bought me a stamp album two years after I started collecting stamps; it was when he thought that I was already serious with my hobby. He also gave me stamps from his letters.

My mother however, gave me lots of stamps from her own collection and some dated back to her schooldays. She told me how people threw away most used stamps that were very common during those days. Had she kept them, she could have sold them now for a good price. I guess that is the reason why I have more than a page filled with ‘Alophoixus ochraceus‘ (Merbah Beringin) stamps in my stamp album. If you live in Malaysia, it is impossible to miss the stamps since they appear on almost every letter sent by the Malaysian Postal Service or Pos Malaysia.

My good friend, Aishah Salihue (whose parents are from Sri Lanka but is living in the USA), mailed me US and Sri Lankan stamps every now and then. Even her wonderful grandfather gave me lovely Sri Lankan stamps when we met at Aishah’s house in San Jose in 2006.

 

A day with Aishah in the backyard of her house in San Jose. From left: My sister, Aeshah; Aishah; me; Aishah's brother, Ali; and Anisah (far right) in a pink sweater.

My collection consists mainly of Malaysian stamps especially the ‘Birds of Malaysia’ series and the ‘Malaysian Agro-Based Definitive Stamp’ series. Although I haven’t collected the entire set of both series, I hope to be able to collect a complete set of the mint stamps and a complete set of used stamps from both series.

 

Some of my stamps from the 'Birds of Malaysia' series. I have more than a page of these.

In fact, I would like to expand my collection as big as I could. If only I could be as lucky as my mother to inherited a lovely collection of Malaysian stamps from her grandfather and a really wonderful collection of Malaysian and foreign stamps from her aunt when she was about eight…

However, stamp collecting is losing its popularity among today’s youngsters and I suppose it is harder to get wonderful stamps in our mails now than it was during my parents’ schooling days. Perhaps we should start writing more letters instead of sending e-mails; furthermore receiving letters are much more exciting than getting e-mails, at least for me 🙂

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A stamp booklet!

Many wonderful things happened on our birthdays and my brother, Ahmad Ali, told me that his 8th birthday was his best. Ahmad turned 8 only six days ago and many wonderful things happened on his special day.

Coincidentally, he also started his silat (Malay martial art) class on his birthday. He had been waiting for years for the day when he could join my sisters and I to our silat class. He amazed our instructor by being able to do a lot of the simple moves (since Ahmad had been ‘practicing’ with his sisters at home).

Back at home, dad brought him an envelope addressed to him from Abang Muhammad (the letter actually arrived the day before but our mail-girl, Anisah, had forgotten to pick up the Saturday’s mail). When he read the sender’s name and address, Ahmad didn’t believe that it was from Abang Muhammad. He insisted that my dad was teasing him until he opened the birthday card and saw Abang Muhammad’s signature. He was speechless with pleasure and surprise at the thought of Abang Muhammad sending him a birthday gift all the way from Chicago. Ahmad was also delighted with the mint stamps that Abang Muhammad sent him.

A stamp album from mum

Unwrapping gifts had always been the main part of our birthday celebrations. It was fun to look at him shaking his presents and peeking into the openings of the wrappers as he tried to guess what was inside and whom it was from. It is also very rewarding to look at his facial expression when he opened his gifts. His joy and delight was painted all over his face. Amazingly, his best birthday present was a pack of menthol flavoured sunflower seeds from mum, followed up by a DIY model airplane (from me) and a ‘Maisto‘ Assembly Line Enzo Ferrari from my dad which tied in 2nd place. A stamp album from my mum with 132 stamps inside for him to start his stamp collection was chosen as Ahmad’s 3rd best birthday present followed by the mint stamps from Abang Muhammad. However, Abang Muhammad was very lucky because Ahmad chose Abang Muhammad’s card as his best.

He had a beautiful birthday e-card with a cute teddy bear from Aunty Selina who lives in Maryland, USA. That night, we had pizza from Domino’s Pizza for his birthday dinner. And Ahmad (who had been a fussy eater) finished 3 enormous slices of the extra large sized pizza!

Note: For more photos, click here.

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My sisters came running from upstairs yelling, “Rainbow! Rainbow!“. My brother and I excitedly rushed with them out of the front door searching for a rainbow but we found nothing. Actually our father just called to tell us about the rainbow. Thinking that we might get a better view from our bedroom windows, we climbed upstairs but again no rainbow can be seen.

Not willing to give up, we ran past the kitchen (where my mother was anxiously screaming with the fear of us getting burnt) and went straight outside. This time, we’ve been rewarded with not one but two rainbows! One of them is unusually bright that we momentarily gaped in awe.

Hunting for a camera, again we ran past mum since the kitchen is the only entrance to the backyard. Unable to find dad’s new camera (Olympus FE4030), I grabbed dad’s Sony handycam and made my way outside. The second rainbow had now vanished from sight but the first is still amazingly bright. I snapped quite a number of photos and a will show them in my later post

Later, we found out that dad’s Olympus camera was actually with him -click here to view dad’s photos using his Olympus-It was in fact a perfect semi-circle rainbow; like the ones we’ve seen at the Niagara Falls.

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Curry puff or ‘karipap’ is a traditional Malay food usually served during teatime. Pastry is used for the skin and the filling is curry with meat and/or potatoes. Karipap may also comes in  different ‘version’ such as sardine puff, meat puff and fish puff and you can always explore using your imagination to create new fillings of your own invention…

Last month, my mother decided to make some beef and sardine puffs for tea. Mum is an expert in folding the edges of a karipap (the trickiest part). She does them in supreme quickness without any difficulties at all, thus alluring Aeshah, Ali and I to join her. She told us that it isn’t as easy as it looks but let us join in anyway. We excitedly washed our hands, took our place and mum gave us a stuffed karipap each. What we had to do is to fold the edges so that the fillings won’t spill out.

My first badge of karipaps (note: my first karipap was the one in the middle with two little openings where you can see the fillings).

Mine turned out really funny. I folded them the wrong way, the sizes were inconsistent and the shape of each fold is very silly. Ali’s first one came out pretty nice; infact I think his were better than Aeshah’s and mine (if compared to our age difference).

Ali's badge of karipaps. Aren't they nice?

Aeshah’s karipap turned out into a ball of mixed fillings and pastry 😆 . Gone were the shape of the karipap! There wasn’t any folds at all… just a ball.

Aeshah's first badge of karipaps (Note: her first karipap is the one in the bottom-middle ~ a ball of pastry and fillings).

But she made a huge improvement in her second attempt. Mine also came out better by practice. Later, we asked mum if we could make karipaps with fillings of our choice. Mum approves.  Aeshah and Ali quickly rushed to the fridge and took out a packet of shredded mozarella cheese. I took a jar of ‘chunky’ peanut butter and a jar of anchovies and made peanut butter puff and peanut butter and anchovies puff 😀 .

Now, Aeshah, Ali and I are getting better at ‘karipap-folding’ and we are discussing on new fillings for our next project. Ali wants us to prepare some karipaps for a ‘special person’ by Wednesday… can you guess who?

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