My new place: Back breaking house-moving, wooden floors, dumpling festival

moving house

I almost died during the weekend. Either that or I’m alive with muscles on top of my muscles. I moved three (3) full carloads of stuff from my old place to my new place. I didn’t get a lorry like the previous time coz all the stuff is unpacked e.g. requires multiple refilling of boxes, of which the contents will be dumped at the new place. smirk

packed car

Luckily, my kind landlord from my previous apartment (!!!) at 10 Semantan Serviced suites helped me move! Thanks for that!

bedroom

My better half also helped me clean up the place and we now have a nice temporary bed to sleep in. It’s mighty comfortable too – new mattress and new bed sheets!

bona sweden

The floor in the bedroom is really hard to clean though – it’s an oiled wooden floor which requires a Sweden made floor cleaner to actually clean. Regular cleaners just move the dirt around. The cleaner was provided but the agent didn’t tell me so we didn’t know until last night. -_-

his hers hibuscus

We’re getting settled into the new place! :) The curtains are done and this is the unit that I really wanted coz it has a nice view compared to all the others. I also set up our His and Hers toothbrushes, which we are *finally* using! Haha.

dumpling festival

We also had our dumpling festival dinner at the new place! My dear had set up a nice dinner on top of the *only* table which I brought over…

pacman table

…which is a custom-painted Pacman inspired table that a friend of mine made back in 2010. Yup, I still have it Jammie! :D

home fibre broadband

The last thing that needs to be done for everything to be up and running is to get the fibre optic connection hooked up. w00t!

spare keys

I also gave a pair of spare keys to my better half for her use. :)

My mom’s funeral

bagpipes

My mom passed on about two weeks ago and the funeral started at our home in Sibu followed by a service in Wesley Methodist Church with a bagpipe band before laying her to rest at Methodist Grace Memorial Park Cemetery.

moving casket

These are the photos from that day. We didn’t think about having a photographer around but one of my aunties kindly arranged to have her friend take the pictures and handed them to us.

home service

My better half flew back to Sibu too, it’s fortunate that my late mom has met her before and I’m glad she managed to take the time to come back. My sister and brother-in-law and my nieces and nephews are all here too – the family is all dressed in white.

home funeral

We don’t wear black for mourning unlike Western funerals, the immediate family is usually dressed in white for Chinese funerals.

coffin van

I went with my dad to accompany my mom’s casket on the van to the church.

church service

There was an hour-long service which a lot of her friends attended and me and my sister gave a speech.

movie

I also made a short movie to commemorate my mom that was screened at the church service.

moving coffin

The coffin was then carried to Methodist Grace Memorial Park to be buried (technically, no caskets are “buried” anymore – they’re double sealed in concrete)…

speach

…and we paid our last respects before coming back again 3 days later. I’m not sure if this is a Chinese custom or a Christian one though.

funeral service

I’m back in KL now after shuttling between here and KL and Singapore, doing the documentation for my mom’s sudden passing. She has been fighting cancer for a long time and a sudden deterioration made her unable to undergo her radiotherapy sessions, and relying on chemotherapy alone didn’t really help as she rapidly went from wheelchair-bound to bed-ridden to oxygen dependent.

wesley

Thanks again for all the thousands of people who came to visit and the others who send messages of condolences and funeral wreaths and food and other shows of support. It is much appreciated, all your kindness, during a difficult time.

coffin church

We will miss you mom. We hope you lay at peace knowing you have raised us well and we’ll do the best we can and be there for each other and dad until we meet again.

called home

Goodbye, mom.

(Called home 6th March 2014)

Dishes of Death: Cultural food for funerals

crispy floss sandwich

My late mom is Foochow while my dad is Henghua and they both have different cultural traditions for food after a death in the family. We’ve just done the 3rd day ceremony where we sweep the cemetery grounds and bring her photo back. It’s customary to eat together after this and the two different cultures have different dishes that you’re supposed to eat.

1. Chicken mee sua with red wine and boiled-fried egg

henghua noodles

This is a Henghua tradition. You’re supposed to eat longevity noodles cooked with chicken stock (real, not from a cube or bottle) and served with pieces of chicken and an egg that’s been boiled before battered and then deep fried.

There’s also locally fermented red rice wine used for cooking in this dish. The dish above replaces the mee sua with hung ang noodles (see below).

2. Fried thick beehoon with boiled-fried egg

foochow noodles

This is a Foochow tradition and we originally wanted to follow this custom since my mom is Foochow. The fried thick beehoon is known as “hung ang” over here – it’s best described as a cross between mee hoon and lou shi fan.

Unfortunately, we drove to three (3) different places and all of them were *closed* so we settled on eating just whatever we wanted, since my dad is Christian and doesn’t follow all these pantang (superstitious beliefs) anyway.

The picture above is a type of Foochow style fried noodles – the next best thing, which most people had.

3. Pork leg longevity noodles

pork leg noodles

I had this with one of my uncles. It’s stewed pork leg cooked with a specific combination of herbs and spices called pek ting yok (usually translated as 8 treasures herb). It’s RM 7 and I found it to be quite good and it fulfils the Henghua tradition of eating longevity noodles after a death and the subsequent visit to the family.

pork mee sua

My grandma was so worried that we didn’t eat this (she’s of the older generation) and cooked dry longevity noodles tossed in lard for us at night!

rojak tambi

As for us, since we don’t really follow tradition, you can even eat rojak tambi if you want. I just thought it was interesting, all the cultural believes surrounding death and I never got a proper explanation on why we eat a certain dish and not another. However, as in all cultures, the consumption of food after a funeral is the norm.

tambi rojak

I did a quick search and found out that the reason we eat after a funeral is to celebrate the life of the deceased…

death dishes

…and we’ve been doing it as far back as 12,000 years (!!!) since the Natufian people in the Stone Age!

My mom’s wake

mom wake

We’ve been quite busy getting all the stuff sorted out for my late mom – we’re heading to the cemetery in a couple of hours for another ritual. My dad practically stayed up for almost two days without sleep when he flew with my mom’s body from Singapore to Sibu.

mom vigil

My better half also came back with me for the wake (which is *different* from a funeral viewing here, the latter is done just before the coffin is buried and the casket is open instead of closed) and all of my relatives came over. A bunch of my friends turned up too, while I was sleeping in the afternoon, so I was a bit groggy when I talked to them – thanks for coming.

food

My uncles and aunties stayed up the entire night too but mostly we took turns to keep vigil over my mom’s casket throughout the two days she was here. We’re lucky to have all the help to meet and greet people – there were a couple of tables at our car porch that a restaurant provided so lunch and dinner can be served to everyone staying over. I was surprised to find out that it’s common practice for them to read the obituaries and offer their catering services.

cross wreath

There’s still a lot of things that require sorting out, so I’ll be updating intermittently and staying here until at least the weekend.

Thank you all for all the condolence messages, funeral wreaths, food and support.

My mom just died

last office

My mom has passed on peacefully at Changi Hospital Isolation Ward 2 at 2:14 pm Singapore time just now. It’s a blessing that all of us were with her when she took her last breath. I’ve been in Singapore for a couple of days now and there’s a lot of procedures involving embalming and death certificates and what not over here.

I just came back from the hospital, she has been struggling a lot with the pain last night and it was heartbreaking to see the blight that end stage cancer brings.

My mom has been real strong though, she has been fighting lung cancer since 2010 when she went for the initial operation in Auckland.

entombing service

We will all be flying back to Sibu with my mom’s body on Saturday night – if anyone wants to pay their last respects, the coffin will be at our home in Sibu for at least one (1) day before funeral proceedings on Monday.

The Christian service will be tomorrow morning at Singapore.

Thank you all for your well wishes and condolences.

You’ll be sorely missed by all of us, mom. I know you’re in a better place now.

7 things we did on Valentine’s Day

1. I gave her flowers that lasts forever

blue roses

I originally ordered a bouquet of blue roses but unfortunately, they looked rather worn down and sad when I arrived to pick them up before going to the airport (more about that soon). I wanted to surprise my dear with flowers at the airport but I didn’t want these miserable looking specimens.

forever flowers

However, the place was pushing flowers that lasts forever (or at least a good 3-5 years). These *forever flowers* are real flowers, not fake ones – they have been freeze dried, which preserves them and makes them keep their scent and shape for several years (more if you don’t expose the flowers to oxygen by opening the case).

roses lasts forever

I thought that was a pretty meaningful gift. I had RM 65 credit at the store coz I refused the flowers so I used them on this. I wanted our relationship to be like this too – something real, which lasts forever! <3

2. My dear flew down to Sibu

arrivals

I was still in Sibu at the time coz of my mom so my better half decided to fly down as a surprise and told me to pick her up at the airport! It was just for the weekend, but I’m glad we managed to spend Valentine’s together – she flew in on Valentine’s Day itself (Friday) – and we both flew back to KL on Sunday.

3. We celebrated Chap Goh Meh and Valentine’s Day at my grandma’s place

chap goh meh

Chap Goh Meh is also known as the Chinese Valentine’s Day. My dad was flying out to Singapore the next day so we decided to go to my grandma’s to eat and only celebrate our own Valentine’s Day dinner the next night.

4. We had ice-cream in the car

ice cream

It’s a simple thing to do but it’s one of the things that’s “ours”. It’s a bit of a tradition and something we both like to do.

5. Valentine’s Day dinner

cafe cafe

I brought her out to Cafe Cafe (they also have a sister lounge called The Queen) for Valentine’s Day. It was a day late but we had a great dinner in Sibu. This is one of the better places to go if you factor in ambiance – just get a seat at the back coz the front is really noisy.

valentines dinner

It was wonderful coz we didn’t have a lot of time together (just slightly more than 48 hours before we had to fly back) and the full day that we had was perfect!

6. She mailed me my Valentine’s Day presents

valentines gift

My better half thoughtfully boxed together a care package containing Granola Maple Pecan cereal and an assortment of candy bars, all with their own messages inscribed on them.

granola maple pecan

It was lovely!

candy

She always takes a lot of effort in putting together something nice. I love you dear! *hugs*

7. I gave her a personalized fireworks show

Yup, I left two of my biggest fireworks cakes till she came back on Chap Goh Meh/Valentine’s Day (which falls on the same date in 2014) and let it off for her to see at night.

sparkler

I also managed to convince her to light a few of the less dangerous ones.

I had an awesome 119 shot fireworks cake that discharges all the bomblets in an aerial barrage lasting probably 10 seconds, which is a pretty intense display.

valentines us

It was a great Valentine’s Day and I’m glad I have my dear with me. :)

Our anniversary: Shark breakfast, Body Shop, iPad mini

vday pandora

I know, some of you might be wondering why we have so many anniversaries. Haha! It’s coz we do the monthsary (monthly anniversary) thing that I think is a great way to show love, affection and keep the relationship exciting! I love the homemade crafts that my better half usually comes up with. I like to cook something special for her too!

ipad mini

Our actual anniversary is coming up though and my dear already gave me a wonderful present – it’s an iPad mini! I had an iPad 2 and was constantly gaming and reading ebooks on it until one day it *stopped working* and my loss didn’t escape the notice of my better half.

ipad 16gb

It’s one of my greatest pleasures to read ebooks on my iPad and I have been missing that coz I don’t like reading on dedicated ebook readers like Kindle, nook etc – I own one and hardly use it – the lack of back-light just didn’t do it for me since I mostly read in low-light conditions.

engraved ipad

She even got it engraved! <3

body shop cny special

I got her something from Body Shop. I saw the Chinese New Year special gift bags, and one was called Oriental Deluxe (RM 128) and featured all sorts of Japanese themed body shampoo and lotions – the cherry blossom (sakura). I thought that it would be nicer than the RM 88 one since we’re planning a trip to Japan!

ling poh

It also comes with a red loofah and it’s more meaningful to us coz of our upcoming Japan trip so I got that for her. I do think that the stuff there is slightly overpriced though – RM 20 for a hotel sized body shampoo bottle! It’s all good though! :)

pandora heart locket charm

Of course, tradition dictates that I give her a Pandora charm. It has become one of our anniversary staples and I want to keep it going since every charm tells a story of our relationship. She had made me this sweet vow exchange in a Pandora box during the previous anniversary – it’s two hearts, she wrote in one, telling me that she loves me and the other is empty for me to write.

pandora ang pow

The Valentine’s Day collection for Pandora is out and there’s a charm in there that’s shaped like two hearts! It’s actually a locket – it’s magnetic and opens up to show a red interior – one says Me and the other You. I thought it was like bringing the wonderful vow she gave me to life, and on a charm!

pandora valentines bag

I also know she’s a big fan of collecting nice ang pows and Pandora has a promotion where they gave out one pack of ang pows for a purchase of RM 888 on a single receipt. I didn’t qualify since the charm I got was RM 295 so I asked the nice staff at Pandora at TCM if they could make an exception.

pandora red packet

They had to call the Pandora Marketing Manager (Mandy? Wendy?) of Malaysia to get her approval and I explained over the phone how my girlfriend was a big fan (maybe it helped that I have a consistent purchase history too – at least once a month) and it would be much appreciated if she can make an exception and release one of coveted the Pandora ang pow packs.

pandora story

She was really nice about it and so was the staff at Pandora in TCM – cheers for that! I reckon this was the best “gift” of all, although I didn’t purchase it coz I had to do so much to get it. Pandora is quite strict about giving them out since it’s tied to the RM 888 promotion so thanks for giving a regular customer one! It totally made my better half’s day!

butter poached shark

I also cooked butter poached shark for breakfast! BTW, these are not the endangered species (contrary to popular belief, 70% of shark species are non-endangered, even according to the most conservative Sea Shepard type estimates and lots of people eat them nowadays in an effort to eliminate by-catch waste). I didn’t think it would be good but the shark surprised me! The meat was surprisingly tender and delicious and it was totally different from the shark meat that I’ve eaten before (either sandy or fermented like hakarl in Iceland).

pandora me you charm

I’ll post up my recipe tomorrow! I’ve got lots to write now that CNY is nearly here, just had my first pun choi session last night too! :D

Let’s Go to the Mall!

cny decorations

It’s Chinese New Year soon! There’s less than a week till my favorite holiday and here’s the little preparations that we’ve done. Yup, the title is a HIMYM reference. :)

two charms

I bought the Christmas tree Pandora charm for my dear – there’s a gold star one without glitter and a silver one with glitter and I asked her to choose which one she wanted, which turned out to be the second one.

pandora wrap

We went for lunch at Goku Raku Ramen and while waiting for our food, she opened the small pouch wrapper and I put it onto her Pandora charms bracelet.

pandora christmas

It’s another new charm to add to our story! I missed both the RM 50 voucher *and* the 40% discount promo but it’s all good.

hot katsu curry

I had the Hot Katsu Curry Rice (RM 25.90) which was a 20 minute wait. It didn’t taste all that good – the creamy Japanese style curry is overpowering but the fried chicken itself it alright. I didn’t manage to finish it though.

ultimate tonkotsu

She had the Ultimate Tonkotsu (RM 23.90) and the Yuzu Honey (RM 6.90) drink.

2tb

I had to get another external HDD on account of the massive amounts of stuff I’m collecting so I found a 2 TB one for sale at Harvey Norman’s (which is actually an Australian company, I still remember their radio jingle from 3AW when I was studying in Melbourne) for RM 459.

sous vide supreme

We also saw a line of Sous Vide Supreme appliances for sale with the MasterChef US Season 1 winner being the product ambassador! I thought she did Southern cooking and don’t remember seeing her even touch the sous vide water bath in any of the episodes but it’s not as expensive as I thought – 3k for the water bath and vacuum sealer.

corduroy shirt

My dear was kind enough to buy me some CNY clothes! I now have two new shirts courtesy of her. <3

vitamin gummy bears

I got some interesting vitamin gummy bears for the kids…

ang pows

…and we saw that the mall has a free exclusive cushion and ang pow packets when you spend RM 188 in a maximum of 2 receipts. We were thinking to get something to add to the clothes when I suddenly remembered that I *already* have spent that much on the external HDD (RM 459)!

new shirts

My dear also thought of the Pandora charm, which I totally forgot about (RM 211) so we managed to get two sets of the cushions and the ang pows (red packets). I thought that was quite funny, how to add on to the stuff we’ve spent when we already have bought more than that earlier.

namechoco sand

Gotta do some last minute CNY shopping for snacks this weekend before I go back to Sibu! :)

The Best Day of My Life

riding bicycles

Greetings everyone! I am back after a short hiatus – major stuff to sort out and everything is peachy now. In fact, I just had one of the best days of my life with my dear and the kids. It was actually quite a simple thing, I wonder why we didn’t do it earlier.

bicycles

We got a bicycle for the little one (second hand, person is moving out of the country) for just RM 40 and the big one got a new (and larger) bike for RM 200. There’s one bicycle at home, which is for adults and one day after work we just took the kids to the park!

happy us

It actually started out with me trying to ride the new bicycle with the little one while the big one is finishing her school. She had a quick dinner after that and we all cycled to the park. The kids kept wanting rides so it was the most exercise I did for to date! I also had to cycle with my dear at the back – we tried it the other way round, but she couldn’t even start cycling coz I was too heavy. smirk

setting sun

I gave so much rides and raced with the big one so much that I felt like puking. It didn’t help that I was still wearing my work clothes so I overheated and was nauseous for a good hour! I had fun though, and so did my dear and the kids. It’s the wholesome family fun that I’ve always wanted to have and I’m glad we did that!

elise dustbin

The funniest thing was watching the little one run with her short legs chasing after her sister. Haha! Too cute. The simple pleasures in life are the best.

It was nice that I could take a lot of awesome photos with just my phone too, which reminds me…

Short mention:

tranfering smartphone data

I’m using my Sony Xperia Z1 [link to my review] now and I’m constantly amazed at the new things that it can do. My previous phone is a Sony Xperia S and I used the Xperia Transfer app to sync everything on my old phone to the new one so it’s up and running.

xperia transfer app

The Xperia Transfer app can be downloaded from Google Play and it works for *all* Android devices. What if you have a Windows or iOS phone? Sony PC Companion and Sony Bridge for Mac (it’s an executable on your new Sony Zperia Z1 smartphone – just connect the microUSB) performs the same function.

how to use xperia transfer

Thus, whatever platform you’re using right now, you can do a direct transfer of your data, contacts, photos etc into your new Sony Xperia Z1 so you’ll be ready to go! :)

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