Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Burying 2014

It's been a great year!

So goes Facebook's compilation of your photos and postings for the year 2014. I sort of cringe whenever I read that. This has been a year I've been rather glad that it's coming to an end, with the inane hope that things would get better in 2015, as though replacing 2014 with 2015 would somehow miraculously bring better days.

I started off the year with a fractured ankle and a month long MC just after transferring into my new department. What a way to start new beginnings.

For the first few months of 2014, I had an acquaintance (I'm still finding it strange for being affected by his passing), seeing my friend in agony and helplessness as she watched his life ebb away, a grandaunt and a granduncle pass away. A close friend went through a divorce and battles depressing emotion.

Right after that was the disappearance of MH370, with an ex-colleague's wife, mother-in-law and sister-in-law, Jan's friend's dad and two church members on that flight. The shock, the confusion, the frustration of witnessing how the whole investigation unfolded to no avail. Suddenly, the world felt like a very big place, with unknown depths of the sea swallowing an entire plane to oblivion apparently.

As the nation tried to grapple with the agony, MH17 happened. This time, the conclusion was swift, no one survived. At least there was closure and the nation mourned as the bodies were returned to tanahair

At this point, when I flew to Perth in September, I couldn't help but to take a good look around at the other passengers, wondering if our names and lives would forever be linked together.

Then there was the sudden passing of a Malaysian giant, Karpal Singh. The testimonies that flowed for weeks thereafter were evidence of what an incredible person he was. Malaysia truly lost a great man that fateful night.

In between, disturbing developments in this country were allowed to rear it's ugly head. Extremists were given free reign to say, threaten and do whatever they wanted without consequences, many were even defended by ministers! On the other hand, other people were slapped with sedition for the slightest things that "offended" those in the corridors of power.

In terms of weather, we've had a dry spell which had the capital city on water rationing for months, we recorded a fierce twister in the northern state of Kedah, we've had landslides on Cameron Highlands, and topping off the year, we had 8 out of 12 states on Peninsular Malaysia suffer from floods.

On a global scale, we had Ebola, ISIS, kidnapping of the Nigerian school girls, Sydney Seige, Talibans slaughtering school kids...

As 31 December approached, an AirAsia plane crashes into the sea in the midst of bad weather. AirAsia is my preferred airline and each time the plane goes through turbulence, I comfort and remind myself this is normal, nothing to worry about. I now know that whatever turbulence I will experience next time will be filled with fear.

My family and friends who are flying over the next month or so are having jitters for sure. It doesn't help when another AirAsia flight three days after the crash overshot the runway in Philippines, thankfully with no casualties.

In the midst of all this sorrow, pain and uncertainty to usher in a new year, I can only try and take hope in Prov 3:5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.

To end this post with a little flashback, at the end of 2013, an ad agency came up with this funny video on averting bad luck associated with the number 4 in the year. If only...

Friday, December 05, 2014

Perth Tours

So we were in Perth again, this time in September. This time, we decided to make it a more relaxing trip in the sense that we didn't really have much plans.

However, looking back, we still managed to squeeze in several tours within that few days!

Ok, here are the tours we did:

We arrived on an early Friday morning, which meant we could make it for the Boom or Bust tour which began at 2pm. All we had to do was be at the iCity Information Kiosk at Murray Street. It was being renovated at the moment so it took us a few minutes to locate the temporary kiosk along the same street.
The Millennial Man 
It was an interesting tour. We learned a lot about the history of the buildings around the city, how the city was built because of the mining boom. Later when I told my sis-in-law, Yen, who's been living there for more than 10 years about about what we learned, she was surprised and confessed she wasn't aware of the history of the buildings and city either.

This tour is highly recommended!

What's there not to love about dessert tours, amirite? We stopped over at seven outlets, from San Churros, Ben & Jerry's to Darrell Lea to name a few. 

And we ended with pancakes, by that time we were so stuffed and could hardly take a decent bite out of the many flavours we selected. Being in a like minded group was fun!
Selecting our cupcakes
Macarons, served by a French guy, of course!
However, I felt slightly disappointment as I've already tried San Churros on my own, and Ben & Jerry's were just tasting two ice cream flavours dug with sticks, like tasting the flavours at Baskin Robbins. Considering this is a paid tour, I was expecting just a tiny bit more from the ice cream, not what any normal walk in customer would be able to get on their own.

Tour 3: Whale Watching
This tour departed from Hillary's Wharf with transport provided to and fro the city. The 2-hour tour excludes the ride from the city and because the first place we stopped had little activity, the captain decided to take us to another spot where we saw a little bit more action.

The ride wasn't very choppy that day, thankfully. Or maybe because we took sea sick pills. A poor lady threw up while the boat was stationary for a long period at the first stop while we were trying to watch out for more whales.

It was great to see these huge creatures in their habitats. One tidbit of information, this is also the time when the sharks are most active as they try to snatch the baby whales travelling with their mothers on their way down south.

Anyway, another activity ticked off my to-do list!

Other things we did was to visit King's Park since Jan didn't have the chance to go the last time.

It was also tulip season at Araluen Gardens so we headed there early Sunday morning and were so glad we took the effort to go early! By the time we left at about noon, the cars lining up to get in stretched for miles!


Other things to note for this trip was trying out raw food in Freemantle! Raw Kitchen serves vegetarian, non-dairy and gluten free food where nothing is cooked over 50 degrees Celcius. If you know me well, I hardly take veggies but til this day, that meal was the most memorable!

Dehydrated nachos!
Pizza with a dehydrated base and powdered cashew nuts as cheese. The combination of raw ingredients made this my favourite dish.
Spaghetti made from raw zucchini.
And of course, we were there to say hi to the furry residents of my Yen's home. Meet Cooper and Ah Ngiau!

And it was Red, my dragon's first time to Perth!
Trying to be friendly and do what locals do, sunning your wings...
Hello Perth!
It was also cherry blossom season and the tree at Yen's home was still in full bloom.
I've seen so many plastic cherry blossoms it was hard to believe these were real!
Thanks to the hospitality of Yen and Jason, we had a great time again in Perth. Looking forward to our bi-annual visit in 2 years!