Archive for October, 2011

29
Oct
11

HALLOWEEN IN PENANG, 2011

At two years old, he was dressed as a pumpkin. The following year, as Count Dracula. And with his 3 years in Preschool –Nursery, Kindergarten and Preparatory, he wore ninja, scarecrow and tiger-chef costumes with appropriate face-paint makeups done specially by Tina.

From his school to malls in the Philippines such as our favorites, Greenbelt, TriNoma and Gateway, Gabby enjoyed collecting candies wearing his costumes we fancied every Halloween. He was even awarded as a student with “Most Creative Costume” in their school parties for 2 consecutive years.

Being abroad with limited budget doesn’t deter him from celebrating Halloween with other kids. Despite the fact that his school here and our appartment do not have similar activities, some malls here in Penang also conduct such events that add to priceless childhood happiness.  Although admittedly, it’s still best and more FUN doing all these things in our own country (read : we miss the malls and almost everything in Pinas!).

29 October 2011, Saturday –We arrived 10AM, so early at Queensbay Mall and headed directly to Starbucks Coffee, not only to grab quick morning drinks and bites but to be strategically near to the venue and stage where the Halloween Costume Contest for kids would be held. As I went to the counter to order a couple of ventis of frappuccinos (chocolate for Gabby, and dark mocha shared by Tina and me) and a plate of sausage roll, Tina didn’t waste any second and prepared her stuffs to do Gabby’s face paint.

If you must know, Tina doesn’t have any formal training, whatsoever on doing make ups. In fact, she only began wearing them few weeks after she first met me (she’ll kill me for this!). Apparently, she’s doing great with her face and with Gabby’s, isn’t she? :) This proves that Tina has many skills and talents. My wife isn’t only a diligent Operating Room nurse, a dedicated mother, a passionate educator herself, but also a creative makeup artist in her own right! :) She even managed to work well with the face paint I bought from Toys R Us here despite it was far from the brands she told me to buy (supply of those things is rare in this part of Malaysia).

In character before he ate his lunch!

Gabby requested one of his favorites, Pizza Hut for lunch. We’re delighted with a pitcher of Mountain Dew, a small loaf of garlic bread, soup of the day and a large 7-cheese-pizza!

Pizza Hut's Seven Cheese Pizza : Romano, Monterey Jack, Parmesan, Philadelphia Cream Cheese, Provolone, Mozzarella and Cheddar. So heavenly!

Gabby remains to be a purist when it comes to pizzas so he wants it nothing but cheese.  This new offerring from Pizza Hut was welcoming to him and in fact, we all found it sublime that I am craving for another slice as I write this. 

We finished lunch a few minutes prior to 1:30PM call time for all participants. We went back near Starbucks, confirmed Gabby’s attendance and got his number-tag. He was contestant # 6 out of 33 (or was it 34?) kiddie participants all in all.

His royal blue Chinese-inspired satin tunic was a hand-me-down costume from his eldest cousin, that was worn at our wedding reception almost 8 years ago. We only added a few accessories that Gabby chose himself from a store also in Queensbay Mall for him to look more like a Chinese pirate (uniquely wearing a Beijing Opera mask).

Each contestant was called, asked to walk on the ramp and introduce themselves a little and greet everyone a “Happy Halloween!”. It was the very first time we saw Gabby became shy on stage (read : he doesn’t have stage fright for he had won and placed in several declamation contests in his former school back home).

They paraded on the entire Ground floor before the winners’ names were announced.

He lost but nonetheless, we’re definite that he enjoyed the experience this year. Tina and I had fun too being with these kids! As token of participation, we’ll be issued after a week, a  free 8R picture officially taken by Queensbay Mall photographer during the event.

Honestly, when Tina and I saw her and her props, we knew she deserves to be the contest’s grand winner, but this 10-year old girl geared as a ‘Halloween dinner table’ only bagged second place.

First place went to…

Tina and I told Gabby that he had done a good job on stage and made him feel our very own champion. He is and he’ll always be, of course!:)

Group shot!

One more time!

Gabby had fun, he even retained his face paint and costumes on until we reached home; except the fact that he only got candies and chocolates from the organizers of the event themselves because the shops and stores inside the mall didn’t prepare sweets like the way it’s done back home and else where.

How’s your Halloween?

Because obviously, we cannot visit cemeteries of our departed, we’ll just utter prayers for our late grandparents and relatives. It’s what we practice back home on top of trick or treating.

28
Oct
11

WHAT HAPPENED IN LOVE LANE

In one of the laterals of Chulia Street in George Town called, Love Lane…

Gabby and I spent an afternoon with this string instrument…

If you think it’s a guitar, look again…

It’s smaller version of guitar, or something like that…

A few Sundays ago, in the company of different nationalities, on a FREE musical workshop conducted by Joshua and his GF, Anne, both musicians from Australia, held in a quaint art gallery owned by Malaysian-Chinese, Clovis & Joey called, Unique Penang Art Gallery located in one charming street, Love Lane, Gabby and I enjoyed something that doesn’t happen on a daily basis.

Can you spot Tina & Gelo

Ukulele.  Have you played one lately or perhaps during your childhood? 

All ukulele were provided (only) during the free workshop session to all attendees which comprised of a group of Asians, Europeans and some other expats and tourists from various countries. We blended in. :)

Josh showed some ukulele videos before introducing the tiny string instrument to us. His girlfriend, Anne, also sang and played the ukulele with him.

Then he taught some basics of the strings, like how fingers should be placed properly arched on the strings, and instructed the audience (including Gabby & me) to play Bruno Mars’ “Just the way you are” which we instantly learned and found ourselves so cool for trying. :D 

But then again, just like any other instrument, it takes practice, hard work, time and dedication to master the craft. Josh offered everyone succeeding classes but with fees already, of course.  We took his flyers home and gave to Gabby’s schoolmates.

I for one, and Amanda, my violin are currently on a “cool-off” stage after an engaging in a 5 month-relationship. However, it doesn’t mean I love her less; I just felt the need for some space, haha! :D No regrets because I’ve learned the basics, a few simple songs and can absolutely continue learning it whenever I find a chance again (who knows, perhaps soon?). For the time being, my family and I have more important priorities. It’s enough for us to spend special times together and have fun with few extraordinary moments. Playing instruments and paying fees to master it can wait in time. :)

I had mixed feelings when I saw this unusual instrument. First thing came to mind : a turtle died or perhaps lost its shell for this.

What musical instrument do you play?

24
Oct
11

FOR THE LOVE OF COFFEE & SNOOPY

As cute and lovely as it gets…

Tina must have been so excited and overwhelmed with all these photos that she borrowed my SD card, copied and  edited them on her laptop, and posted an album on her fb account tagging me and Gabby long before I put watermarks on them and come up with this blog post.  It doesn’t happen usually. And I love her more for doing so, because it affirmed that she appreciates even the little efforts that I do for us to enjoy our days here in Penang. :)

Gabby's hot chocolate from Charlie Brown Cafe

Apparently it’s not only Tina who became happier when I brought them to Charlie Brown Cafe at Straits Quay but more so, Gabby!

It's the first in Malaysia that opened last April 2011. The second branch will follow soon in Kuala Lumpur as told by one of the staff.

Saturday, 22 October 2011.  We hopped on Rapid Penang Bus 101 from Jetty in George Town and got off at the newly opened Tesco in Tanjung Pinang (a enormous supermarket that opened another branch in the island months ago).  We took a 5-minute walk from the bus stop and easily found Straits Quay.

We’re glad that we didn’t get lost looking for it but we all got a bit homesicked. Straits Quay, tagged as “Penang’s First Seafront Retail Marina” reminded us of a lot of places in Pinas. First thing Gabby uttered was, “Mukhang Eastwood!” (“Looks like Eastwood!”).  Tina thought so too. With its facade and its entire structure, it really looks like those upscale condo units in Eastwood City in Quezon City. I had Serendra, Alabang Town Center and Mall of Asia fused in my memory when I first saw Straits Quay. But its lobby and everything behind it told us otherwise…

I don’t know much but every amazing geometric structures incorporated in the interiors will confirm its uniquely Malaysia… Beautiful, is it not?

It aint a quay without these…

and a magnificent looking lighthouse…

I digress. The reason why we paid Straits Quay a visit over those few malls in Penang that became a part of our weekends was to experienced a cartoon-themed coffee shop called Charlie Brown Cafe…

This dining place is more than a coffee shop not only because it serves entrees and desserts too but it’s so picturesque and an eye-candy particularly to kids like Gabby and kid at hearts like Tina and me!

As Tina was more excited than Gabby and me, I gave her the freedom to decide where to sit. And I bet it wasn’t easy choosing a spot because every corner of this cafe is fascinating if you’re a Snoopy fan! Obviously, we all are!

The three of us were all under these gorgeous lights that made us wish we have them too at home. Imagine looking at those colorful Peanut characters before and after you retire to bed. Fantastic!

I knew Tina was really having blissful moments being inside this cafe for the first time because she even got the camera to shoot several photos of the place herself.  Without spoiling her excitement, I got the menu and asked what they want to try.

Spontaneity, I liked it! Even the menu is animated! ...If only we can try everything at the same time, hahaha!

Are you a Peanut-character fan yourself? Did you also grow up browsing anything with Charlie Brown and Snoopy comic strips?
Are you also fascinated with that beagle named Snoopy who sleeps on top of his doghouse instead inside it? hahaha! :P

Snoopy loving Woodstock

Follow those dog paw prints to order! :D
And so Tina had Charlie Brown on her Cappuccino, I had Lucy Van Pelt on my Caffe Latte…

It took us a while before we got our spoons and stir those caffeinated mugs; so wonderfully done you just want to stare at them!

From these chilled display….

yum!

We tried these…

It's so good, i forgot what it's called, hehe!

Gabby wanted a chocolate cupcake with Charlie Brown on top while he enjoyed his mug of hot chocolate drink with Snoopy design.
 Not sure if he’ll able to finish it, Tina requested the wait staff to put it on takeaway cup…
There are a lot of interesting stuffs near the cashier at the counter that will surely catch your eyes and attention and could enticed you more to order, haha!
Everything we tried tasted great! Prices a lot cheaper than other coffee shops. Service was quick, staffs were pleasantly attentive. But to us, the selling point of this cafe over all others around is its entire theme…
Do you play chess? I don’t but I would not mind learning the game with these too-cute-for-words King, Queen, Bishop and Pawns..
This was how Gabby manifested his happiness…
 
We liked the place, we’re glad that we spent our weekend there!
Before leaving Charlie Brown Cafe, we checked out its souvenir shop and got affordable takeaway…

Gabby chose these Snoopy collectibles. Tina and I wanted other versions in various national costumes but just like the chess set, they're not for sale.

Proof that we like Snoopy was this plate that we’re using in our home in Penang; I got a half dozen of this in different theme-countries (Africa, England, Malaysia etc) for FREE from Jusco Supermarket at Queensbay Mall last year.

Even Snoopy barks, "Malaysia, Truly Asia!" hehehe!

It’s definitely not the last time that we’ll be in CBC at Straits Quay! All for the love of coffee and Snoopy, haha! :D

21
Oct
11

OF MUZIUM, LITTLE INDIA & DEEPAVALI

“Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.” ~Confucius.

This scene greeted me when I passed by one of the laterals of Little India, George Town. The Lord said, it's a beautiful day!

I certainly know that not all people would appreciate museumsold mansions, historical or touristy streets. Fascination to anything is such a unique trait that even twins don’t share. As everyone puts it, to each his own. A flower to me may appear a weed to you…

Neither watching movies nor spending lazy day inside a mall interest me lately. Are these signs of aging? haha! :) No, it’s just me.

On a bright and sunny morning, I got off the Rapid Penang Hop On Free Bus that I boarded from Jetty in George Town, a few steps from the most majestic building in Lebuh Farquhar (Farquhar Street), the Muzium Negeri Pulau Pinang or the Penang State Museum

With just one ringgit entrance fee (PhP 14 or USD 0.30), I was transported back in time on different era when history of this Malaysian state originated.

Although the 2-storey fully airconditioned building is absolutely smaller in scale than our very own Philippine National Museum (I love Juan Luna’s Spolarium!), Penang State Museum doesn’t disappoint with its uniquely impressive display of magnificent history and colorful diversities. The 3 Malaysian races -Chinese, Indians and Malays are greatly featured in each rooms and chambers inside the muzium.

Too bad, photography isn’t allowed but irresistibly, I secretly captured this art creation from colored rice grains called Kolam…


“Kolam, (far from the witchcraft that you’re thinking! haha!) is a traditional sign of invitation placed at the entrance floor to welcome all into the home, not the least of whom is Goddess Lakshmi, the Goddess of prosperity. The patterns range between geometric and mathematical line drawings around a matrix of dots to free form art work and closed shapes.” (sourced via Wiki) True enough that when I asked one of my Indian-Malaysian students about Kolam, she mentioned it’s intended to bring good fortune to homes.

And so when Kolam becomes apparent decors on the floors of entrances of homes, malls and establishments, one can easily tell a Hindu festival is approaching.

Colored rice grains in delicately designed beautiful patterns, a kolam on display at Prangin Mall, George Town, Penang

Detail shot of the kolam on display at the entrance of one of the groceries here, Carrefour in First Avenue Mall…

It’s entirety is amazing!

On the 26th of this month, Deepavali or the Festival of Light, a celebration of triumph of good over evil will be observed here in Penang, and the rest of Hindu communities worldwide. Deepavali is one of the public holidays here in Malaysia.

Cookies to share to welcome and celebrate Deepavali

I only stayed less than an hour inside Penang State Museum and via few minute bus ride, I found myself mesmerized in Little India…

With my more than a year of working in Penang, it was only recently that I brought my feet to Little India in George Town. And what a perfect day it was because all stalls and streets are geared up for that Hindu holiday. The mood that morning was so festive even the pigeons looked happy and lovely…

With several interesting things to see, I killed time effortlessly on these streets within this Indian community…

The structures in these streets truly reflect the fusion of cultures…

How timely it is to visit Little India days before Deepavali! The blissful atmosphere radiated throughout the shophouses and almost all corners of this market place…

Bollywood music were played to high decibles that made the sights and sound of strolling and shopping more festive!

There are multiple interesting items to see, hear, smell and taste…
Another feast for the senses!

I personally liked these lanterns in various hues. One day, Tina and I will build a house with lanai with all those colorful Indian, Japanese, Vietnamese, Venetian, Moroccan and Turkish lanterns! *wishful thinking*

Having open houses during festivities like Hari Raya for Muslims and Deepavali for Hindus where every visitor is welcomed to eat and partake on the occasion requires offering of traditional delicacies, sweets and cookies…

Amazing colors and patterns…

Ladies may fancy these…

or these perhaps?

Make the garlands and floral leis ready for Deepavali!

Before Mr. Sun hits high noon, I felt the urgency to fill in my tummy.  I walked towards Lebuh Chulia to sit and order from Kapitan…

And to complete the Little India experience, it was a perfect time to eat that platter of Chicken tandoori and cheese naan AGAIN! :)

At only RM 10 (PhP 140), this Restoran Kapitan’s Chicken Tandoori and Cheese Naan combo is a sure hit for me!

It was more than a year since I’ve first tasted this Indian dish here in Penang. I love Kapitan’s version of the tandoori; the chicken’s very tender with sauces and chutneys that are so flavorful! I asked the wait staff who politely told me about what comes with Chicken tandoori. There’s fish curry sauce, then there’s chili and green mango chutney, veggie sauce served with lime plus onions. These dips and sauces perfectly match my favorite, cheese naan. The wait staffs and other diners were looking at me while I perform my usual ritual of capturing my food before I eat it!  But wait, I just had to take another shot! :D

Ahhhhhh, Kapitan’s Chicken Tandoori and cheese naan –succulent, deliciously marinated, so tasteful!  I washed it down with a mug of Mango shake.

To my students and colleagues and all others celebrating the Festival of Light, have a happy Deepavali!

   ——————————————-

PS : Do you consider all these things on photos a flower or a weed to you? :)

17
Oct
11

TROPICAL PLAYGROUND

Few weeks before Gabby turned 7 last 5th October, he candidly told his mom and I that he’d like to have beach toys as birthday gift. I smiled from ear to ear because apparently, it won’t cost me and Tina our arms and legs. He already had a set which he used when he enjoyed the powdery white sand and turquoise crystal waters of Philippines' Island Paradise, BORACAY a couple of years back, but of course, we didn’t bother to bring those to Penang. Then we thought, what’s the use of beach toys without going to proper venue, right? It’s a subtle way for our kid to utter his wish to take him to where he can play his preferred birthday present. How creative! :D

The 10th floor unit that we’re renting in Butterworth has a priceless sea view, breakwaters actually with white sand too. However, it’s such a “buwis-buhay” (read : life-threatening) to cross the highway (motorway or freeway; whatever suits you!) on foot. Thus, we found time to actually give way to Gabby’s birthday wish.

Glorious sunset view from our living room


8th October 2011, Saturday. Tina, Gabby, my dad and I hopped on Rapid Bus 101 en route to Tajung Bungah from Jetty in George Town. After almost 40 minutes, we got off the bus near Infinity condo building and saw this road sign:

Several steps more from the bus stop via the narrow street, we found the public beach that was recommended by one of my senior colleagues who lives with his family in a nearby condo unit.

PUBLIC BEACH means NO ENTRANCE FEE! One may truly enjoy the sun, the sea breeze, the waters (if you dare swim at your own risk!) without spending a cent other than bus fare and your efforts to go there. Indeed, ‘best things in life are free!’

Those upscale condo units in Penang's premiere location have monthly rental fees that start from 1,300 ringgit or USD 416 (PhP 18K) and can soar as high as 15K ringgit or USD 4,800 (PhP 207K+)!

And the 7-year-old boy became excited for some seashells and sand…
Admittedly, my first impression of the public beach in Batu Ferringhi was unpleasant. Batu Ferringhi has a stretch of beaches that comes after Tajung Bungah. Muddy, dirty, and far from Boracay and Philippine resorts’ qualities. Let me emphasize those initial insights were of public beaches in Batu Ferringhi in 2010. The sand and waters along Penang’s hotels and resorts (Shangri La’s Rasa Sayang, Hard Rock, Flamingo and many more) in Batu Ferrhingi are off topic. Nonetheless, Tajung Bungah public beach, although far from being sublime, is good enough venue to unwind. Tina professed we’re so coming back!

We strolled to look for a spot…
Then the weather became too cloudy that we thought there will be downpour. What’s great about Penang is its strategic location –we’re far from the routes of typhoon, there’s no class-suspension here; no storms yet in my more than a year stay. And so in almost a blink, the strong winds blew these dark clouds away.

A few more steps and we saw people frolicking in the beach, some were having fun on water sports -kayaking and jet skis. I am guessing they’ve availed it from the nearby Flaming hotel…

A closer look…

The place is also perfect for camping; we saw families who managed to bring and set up tents with barbecue grills, tables and other stuffs. No corkage fee here, haha!

Fun with ball games is also a possibility.


And being lazy on the sand until you appreciate the sunset and the stars is also can, can! LOL! (FYI, Malaysians commonly use the phrase, “can, can!” when they want to affirm something).


Finally, Tina removed her rubber shoes and spread our blue blanket…It could’ve been more apt if we brought a plastic mat but we don’t have it, so a soiled fleece did the job before it hits our washing machine.


Gabby followed by dropping his beach toys…

Et voila! Gabby’s masterpiece included Mr. Crab…


We stayed in Tajung Bungah public beach at almost an hour and left the place at 6 in the evening. We headed to a steamboat buffet after, that I will post on a separate entry.

11
Oct
11

MY 2 HOURS AT PINANG PERANAKAN MANSION

*Please make sure you view the ENTIRE post; it’s a visual feast! Thank you!*

Heritage.

Opulence.

Grandeur.

Heritage…Opulence…Grandeur –all in one roof.
Pinang Peranakan Mansion is impressively stunning!
With just an entrance fee cheaper than a venti of Starbucks Coffee, ten ringgit actually (RM10 =PhP 140 or USD 3.16), I took the chance to spend a couple of hours inside this fantastic place with Chinese carved wooden panels, English floor tiles and Scottish ironworks and a thousand and more fascinating pieces. I freely wandered and marveled inside Pinang Peranakan Mansion at my own pace, without time limit. In an instant, my senses were brought back to the bygone era when the Peranakans, also known as Babas and Nyonyas, reigned as a community of acculturated Chinese unique to this part of the world.


Tucked in the heart of George Town, in Church Street or Lebuh Gereja, the mansion in mint green was beautifully restored to its glory meant to be enjoyed by the present and future generations.

The mansion’s second floor boasts of the Bridal Chamber, Family Hall, Glass room and an enormous display of finest porcelains.
But before your steps take you to these lifestyle galleries, must comply….


An ornately decorated bedroom is transformed into a bridal gallery.

Continue reading ‘MY 2 HOURS AT PINANG PERANAKAN MANSION’

06
Oct
11

SUNTOK SA BUWAN!

I’m shooting for the moon and the stars, people! I entered my photo below, taken at Klonghae Floating Market in Hat Yai, Southern Thailand to National Geographic Photo Contest 2011 under People Category. Win or Lose, it’s all for the thrill and the experience! USD 10,000 and a trip to Nat Geo main office in Washington DC, USA to attend a Photography Workshop on January 2012 and a spread of the winning photos on Nat Geo issue are at stake! There will be judges to critically select the winning entries per category but your support will be so appreciated!

So if you’re generous to show support to DOCGELO’s entry, kindly click LIKE his photo via this link -> HERE!!!

It’s difficult to resist the unique charm of the rural life reflected by the fascinating vendors of the Klonghae Floating Market in Hat Yai, Southern Thailand. The ambiance simply radiated their passion to live and to boost the local tourism.

UPDATE : SUNTOK SA BUWAN ito pero I want to WIN!
“The First Place winner in each Category will each receive US$2,500, and his/her winning photograph will be published in National Geographic magazine. One Grand Prize winner will receive in addition to the First Place prize, US$7,500 and a trip to the District of Columbia, USA from Jan. 10 to Jan. 13, 2012 to participate in the National Geographic Photography Seminar. Trip includes round-trip coach class air transportation between a major airport near winner’s home and Washington, D.C.; three nights hotel accommodations in Washington; a behind-the-scenes tour of National Geographic headquarters; and access to the all-day Seminar on Jan. 12, where Grand Prize winner’s winning entry will be projected. The Grand Prize is non-transferable and no cash alternative is available.” -sourced from National Geographic




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