Ahmad Ali’s Best Birthday


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.

Happy Birthday Pak Cik Burhan!


Today is my father’s good friend, Pak Cik Burhan’s birthday. They were close friends since their college days in Carbondale.

Pak Cik Burhan is really fun to be with and certainly great to talk to. He always has interesting answers whenever I ask him  simple questions. By the way, he claimed that he has no favourite colour since different colours fit into different things. Coincidentally, my mother gave me the same answer a few days earlier…

From the photos my dad showed me, I believe my dad had had some very good time with Pak Cik Burhan back in USA. Oh, and speaking of good times, Pak Cik Burhan is a barbecue expert. We twice had Pak Cik Burhan over for barbeque parties and they were really fun. My dad said that Pak Cik Burhan loves barbecuing ever since they were in Carbondale!

I hope that Pak Cik Burhan has a wonderful birthday and enjoyed the birthday song from my little brother, Ahmad Ali 😉

An evening at Pantai Rhu Sepuloh… With Uncle Nisar!


We took a trip to Kuala Terengganu on 24th of December, 2010 together with Uncle Nisar. That was his first trip to the east coast of West Malaysia and we were very excited to take him around our hometown.

On the evening of the 26th of December, we went to Pantai Rhu Sepuloh (Rhu Sepuloh Beach – near Bari). According to Uncle Fauzan who is my father’s good friend, there is a special place at the beach where we can buy fresh fishes and other seafood along the beach.

Walking along the sandy beach

After buying some fresh fishes and some tasty big prawns, dad drove us to a stall selling delicious ‘ikang celuk ttepung’ served with ‘air lada’ for tea. Of course they do have other food in their menu but the ‘ikang celuk ttepung’ is probably their most popular dish since their fishes were freshly caught. We also had some prawns, squids and fried noodle. The seafood were so fresh and tasty and not like the ones that we usually buy from the markets. After that we each had a refreshing glass of coconut drink.

Enjoying our ikang celuk ttepung

After tea, we took a walk along the beautiful sandy beach. We found a shipwreck and mum suggested that it may be Captain Jack Sparrow’s ship, ‘The Black Pearl’. Uncle Nisar told us that Captain Jack Sparrow was so popular in the USA that people would dress up as the captain to the cinema to watch the movie!

Is this all that is left of The Black Pearl?

Then we came to an area where the fishermen dock their boats. We met a fisherman who showed us some fish traps. I still could not figure out how the trap works; I really hope that Uncle Azahar can help me 😉

We went to see the fishing boats

Examining a fish trap

Finally we walked back to the car and started our journey back home.

Bedil Hunting


I came back to Kuala Lumpur last Tuesday after a two weeks Eid holidays in Kuala Terengganu. I had a wonderful holiday, doing lots of interesting and even ‘adventurous’ activities; among which were ‘Bedil Huntings‘.

On the 5th day of Syawal, my father drove my mum, sisters (Aeshah and Anisah) and brother (Ahmad Ali) to Bukit Pak Apil. All of us were provided with a camera each to try and snap the best bedil photos.

We arrived at the site rather early and since the view from the top of the hill was breathtaking, I spend the time snapping beautiful photos of it. After a while a ‘bedil’ contractor staff arrived accompanied by a policeman. Since ‘bedil’ is explosive, a policeman is needed to escort the contractor and to supervise the operation of ‘bedil’ shooting.

The contractor staff walking up to the site with a policeman escorting him.

The kind policeman told us about the safety procedures during ‘bedil’ shootings and then directed us to the safe site (just in case the ‘bedil’ did not shoot high up in the air as it was supposed to be; but instead explodes on the ground). He also told us that if that happens the flying debris from the explosion could reach as far as 100m away. There were a few unfortunate accidents in the ‘bedil’ shooting history in Kuala Terengganu. So we went to the ‘safe site’ and waited there excitedly.

The contractor staff walking up to the 'bedil shooting base'.

A few minutes to Maghrib, all of us were busy focusing our cameras towards the blue sky, trying to guess the right location of the ‘bedil’. We were really excited. Then, there was a thunderous ‘explosion’ as the bedil shot up to the sky. It was an amazing sight of a beautiful fiery light shooting up in the dusk sky. I managed to snap a photo of it and so did Aeshah.

The beautiful fiery light shot up in the dusk sky

The fire shot up so high up and went directly above our heads as it exploded into a huge firework display like a gigantic colourful umbrella stretching above us, with an amazing display of colourul lights ‘raining’ down as it faded and vanished into the darkening sky. I was too amazed by its size and beauty and was taken by surprise that I forgot to click on the shutter release. So I missed the shot of the climax! It was just like a dream; it all happened as fast as it ended and left us glaring into the sky speechlessly.

Although I missed the shot of the climax, I managed to get this: the smoky remain

We went back to the Bukit Pak Apil for the next two days until the 7th day of Eid which mark the last bedil shooting of this Shawal. On the second day, the only shot I managed to get was a cloud of smoke after the fireworks display ended and on the last day, I managed to snap a photo of the fireworks before it fully expanded. Anyway, during those ‘bedil’ huntings my dad and my little brother managed to snap beautiful photos of blooming fireworks at its peak.

It was an exciting and adventurous experience for all of us. It was something that when the accuracy of the location and timing is vitally important. Just a split seconds makes the whole difference; we may ended up missing the action and snapping photos of fading smoke in the darkening sky instead of an amazing colourful display of lights in the evening sky!

It was a nice experience to go bedil hunting and I hope that we could go back up there again next year to hunt for more bedil photos.

Karipap


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?

Ahmad Ali’s 7th Birthday


Yesterday, my little brother, Ahmad Ali, turned 7 years old. Early in the morning, we went to Taman Tasik Ampang Hilir for a birthday jog and a birthday playtime at the playground. At the playground, I succeeded to swing on the monkey bar from the beginning until the end for the first time! 🙂 After lunch, we cleared up the dining table and arranged his birthday presents on the table together with his cards. I gave him a 3D butterfly card (I made it myself), a Hot Wheels track with 6 cars (which was previously mine – my 5th birthday present from Uncle Rauf), an Assembly Fun Kit – Forklift (from my mother and I), a personally decorated clock and a turmeric plant.

Altogether, his presents totaled up to 36. His favourite were the Assembly Fun kit ‘Helicopter’ (from dad) and ‘Forklift’. Some of the other gifts were two credit cards, some books, a blue Hot Wheels Chevrolet, a few sets of glittering 3D stickers, Dunkin Donut cookies, chocolate, a set of paintbrushes, a ladybug shaped palette and a pack of ‘Glow In The Dark’ Crayola crayons set. He also received 4 beautiful cards.

After he opened his presents, he started to create his Helicopter but he couldn’t understand the instruction manual (the instruction is really confusing for a child his age). So he left it and generously invite my sisters to join him playing with his Hot Wheels track. They spend an hour and a half playing with the cars. For dinner, we had two Extra Large Meat Mania pizza (bought at Domino’s pizza) at my brother’s request.

That night, he decided to invent something else with his assemble kit and came up with a ‘Hictep ler’. He said that it is a flying machine. He told us that yesterday was his best birthday ever because he had a great time with his Hot Wheels track and enjoyed creating his ‘hictep ler’.

Jogging


Jogging is a very good exercise which benefits our bones (by increasing bone density in the lower body), muscles (by increasing muscular strength and stamina in the lower body) and joints (by strengthening tendons and ligaments in the lower body). It can also increase lung capacity, strengthen the heart, improves blood circulation, increase metabolism, burn calories and the best part is; it releases endorphins (read more about it here) and reduces stress.

However, because of the extra strain on muscles and joints from the repetitive impact may lead to injuries such as knee pains and shin splints. Long term jogging on hard surfaces can play a role in degenerative joint conditions such as osteoarthritis. That is why it is very important to wear good running shoes that cushion and support your feet.

Always remember to warm up and stretch thoroughly before you start. If you have never run before or are very out of shape, don’t overdo it. You could start by walking most of the session and include just a minute of jogging. As you become fitter, you can gradually increase the proportion of your session spent jogging. You will also need to breathe a little harder than normal to get more oxygen into the body but you should still be able to hold a conversation while you jog (a sign that you are not overdoing things). If you find yourself getting too out of breath, slow down or walk until you have recovered. When your breathing has returned to a more comfortable level you can start jogging again.

Yesterday morning, my family and I went jogging at Taman Tasik Ampang Hilir. We jogged around 2.7 km and stopped by a playground, exhausted. It’s the first time (after so long) we jogged and plan to do so every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. We had some fun at the playground with the chain bridge, flying foxes, monkey bars, stepping stones and (my favourite) the swing.

Taman Tasik Ampang Hilir is a beautiful park with a nice small lake in the middle. It has a jogging track, a food stalls, a few playgrounds and some exercising equipments. I once went there before with my family. We had a picnic there with my dad’s friends from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. The park had just been opened for about a month then and it was cleaner too. Yesterday, we saw that the lake was polluted with all sorts of rubbishes. Some irresponsible people must have been too lazy and threw their rubbishes into the lake despite the many rubbish bin that had been provided. How did they managed to even walk back to their car I wonder.