Saturday, January 19, 2008

We're going places (Part 3) - The food

There was one thing that I had exceeds the number I took bath during the whole stay;). It is called Alpokat. Hubby wondered what that was and ordered one and I was hooked. We had 3 Indonesians with us, the driver, a staff from the car rental company and a professor (but he is now Malaysian permenant resident). They explained about the fruit but we were a bit confused. For a while we thought it was apricot until the professor pointed out that the Indonesian has local avocado, I told him it tasted exactly like avocado.

The fruit also looks exactly like avocado except it has smooth skin, not the crocodile type. It is either blended to give the thick texture like milk-shakes (but it tastes better than any milk shakes I had) or scooped and served with blended ice, both come with milk and melted chocolate. I love the latter more. I had it for every meal after our second lunch when hubby saw the menu. Even while watching sunset at Teluk Bayor in our last evening there. Planned to buy the fruit to bring home but could not find the time, remember that was a business trip not a holiday;). Must have it again in Danau Toba, and will most probably make my own at home.

I have been to a few Padang restaurents here but it was never like the real Nasi Padang. Well, the type of food is similar but not the presentation. A huge selection on your table, we got overwhelmed to first time.

There are Ikan and Ayam Percik that tasted exactly like we have here. And there Masak Cili, and Masak Lemak. In Bukittinggi, they serve a lot of beef, all part of a cow;) and the famous one is the Kikil or tendon. We saw a hospital there, specifically for patients with stroke. The driver said it was because of the diet of the people, not very sure if he was just joking.

The kids love the chicken, they are Ayam Kampung, the meat is just lean and nice. See how Bea3 feeds herself, and lefthanded Bea2 still needs practise to use her rightie. Alhamdulillah, he girls were ok with the food. They had a little digestion problem, but I think it was more due to having some junk food that they had once at a stop.

People say everything is just cheap in Indonesia, we are careful in choosing the place we ate so we ended up in a more posh ones. But still, it is cheaper compared to here. One meal of all of us, 5 adults and 3 kids normally cost RM40 in Bukittinggi, but in Padang where seafood is abundant, it cost slightly higher.

What I also love is these restaurants have clean toilets, and prayer rooms. We also found Kuih Kapit that was made of Pulut Hitam, so it is dark purple. And also remember a snack from groundnuts and sesame seeds in caramelised sugar, cut in rectangular shape, we found one with grinded nuts, which tasted better. Both were gone in minutes, so no pics taken;). We didn't really venture much on food yet, since again that was a business trip. But I'm just grateful that the kids were ok, they are always easy with food anyway. On our last day, we just stared at that many choices of lauk pauk before us, and concluded we just had enough and settled for something light.
That's Bea3 exhausted and fall asleep during a lunchbreak.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

We're going places (Part 2)

The best thing about the trip

We started our trip on Wednesday and returned safely on Monday. So much to tell and write, I may not be able to do all. Here's a quick one, with a few pics first.

The girls picked some flowers and placed them on the ears (Bea1's hidden under her hair...ok, I know, I know you think they need hairbands, I just forgot about that). Bea3's was blown by the winds, that really made her upset. Papa picked another one for her.

There she looked better!

Now, she almost smiled!
That all happened on Maninjau caldera, see the background. The girls then helped themselves at a shop selling snacks, drinks and local crafts.

See the bench behind Bea1, the view from the bench is taken here.

Such a humble shop with a spectacular view. We went down the "Famous 44 bends" to the shore of the lake, they even put a signboard for each of the bend. Connection is a bit slow, will put up the pics at the shore later.

Beautiful place, magnificent geology, works done, samples have been taken, notes have been written but still to me the best thing about the trip is having my loved ones with me.
The happy mode of returning safely was dampen by the news of yet another missing girl, from the look in the eyes, Bea1 is still trying to comprehend why bad guys do such thing especially when she sees the pics pasted all over. Pray for her safe return to the family.

Monday, January 07, 2008

My thoughts are with my parents

Whenever I have nightmares,I would kind of try to run away from it, sometimes when I realise that it is only a dream (in between being half asleep, half awake) I would try to wake myself up and once it is over, I'd just be grateful and thank God over and over. Been doing it since I was a small kid.

And for the first time in my life, since my sister's death I still think that I could only be dreaming, and her death is just a nightmare. It may sound silly, but I still try to 'wake up' sometimes. It is different with my BIL who died after battling cancer for 5 years, this happened in just two weeks. We didn't even fight the cancer.

It is heartbreaking knowing that my 5-year-old niece still thinks her mama is at the hospital, despite all that we'd done. Talking to her, letting her see her mom being bathed and prepared for the funeral. Could it be that she is in denial? Someone said to me today, for a young girl that age, it might not be the case. If she comprehends she would accept it.

Anyway, I think what I'm feeling now is minute compared to what mom feels. On the Eid morning, a day before my sister passed away, she was at the hospital. She called me to instruct on what to do for the day, but she broke down and cried and said she thought that she would go first. I said every mom would think that way, I told her just to be a little bit strong for my sister who was still with us at that time.

I've been thinking about both my parents since my return to KL. While my life returned to the normal routine, I wondered what it would be for them. Their grandkids were still there then. Now that the school resumes, it is quiet.

A mother would keep a family together, that's what people say. We tried not to get the kids separated but it just does not happen at the moment. The youngest two are with BIL's sister, one with the other grandma, 2 with the father and they live not too far from one another. One prefers to be with my eldest sister who lives near my parents. That's the best arrangement so far.

A few nights ago, I talked to mom the first time after the kids left. She cried again saying that she saw my sister everywhere. I could not believe it first when she sound like she was asking me for answers on how not to have that images again. Desperate and also in tears, I tried to change the subject. I reminded her about her plan to renovate the bathroom, and I suggested that we move ahead with that fast, said I would bank in some money for that. We were still in tears but we laughed about the current condition of the bathroom. That was all I could do then. Someone told me later that I should have said that she should do the two 'rakaat' prayer and pray for my sister. I'm sure mom knows all that, she just need someone to always talk to her.

And last night, I heard from another sister that life at home almost resumes to normal. Mom gets herself busy with her cooking (for selling), business as usual, that's her passion, we know.

Friday, January 04, 2008

We're going places (Part 1)

Getting 5 passports done

Yup, that's for the all 4 plus a renewal for me. With the help of the babysitter's grown-up daughter, I braced through the immigration with all 4 in tow yesterday. Just a bit of info for those who do not know yet. Now each kid must has own passport (Bea1 asked "what's a passport" I just went "'s a small red booklet'..that's all hehe), RM 150 each for the fee. They giggled when the thumbprints taken, but it is not required from the wee one. But we need to change the pic when he turns 2 years old.

Alhamdulillah, it was a breeze (but tiring for the adults) 11/2 hours, staff were helpful, kids running around while I filled in the 5 forms with a trembling hand. Photo session was actually pleasant and full of laughter, they were cooperating well, inc. Adel. 3 of us have relatively good passport pics. Bea2 has to live seeing her face with a huge rash under her chin for 5 years, and before I could laugh at her I realised mine was even worse. No make-up, shiny face and looked haggard and 10 years older...urghhh, another shitty passport pic!

Well 3 out of 5 is not bad, and the man there said he would blow-up Adel's and paste it at the door, such a good pic for a small baby, he said.

It would take 2 hours, since we went there in the afternoon, we were supposed to collect them today. Well, collecting might not be hard but the staff dropped the bombshell, I have to bring the kids again. Will only go on Monday, I really need some rest from the hassle.

My regular readers may know where we're heading, but for those who are not, I'd show the places in the form of Google Earth:

First to Bukittinggi-Maninjau next week later to Medan-Danau Toba early February.
Later to Aberystwyth (never got the spelling right la this one) in May, plan to travel to Bristol too...tee hee hee. But this one is still subject to the availability of the moolah, and really have to consider a lot of things before spending half of my arm and a leg for that.
And if you think that's for holiday...nope, that's for work, at least to me. And that involves a lot of outing for field observation and sampling. Think I mention many times that I just love my job;).
As for hubby and kids, we will think of some activities for them later, the most important thing now the the first two trips are confirmed.
Will be back for updates!