Posts Tagged ‘family life

16
Jun
13

JUNE 15, 2013 : ONE OF OUR HAPPIEST SATURDAYS

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Malacca Strait & George Town, Penang viewed from our little balcony last June 13, ’13, Thursday.

Two days before the Father’s Day weekend, Tina and I arrived home from our office, Gabby from school at late afternoon. We were all greeted by gusty winds and big waves from the Malacca Strait via our little balcony at our 11th floor apartment. Little did we know that scenes in Pulau Pinang were even worse as telecom tower, electric poles and numerous trees already fell to the streets in George Town, Penang. We sat and prayed together and tried to calm down Gabby who was too anxious of the sight and sound of seemingly impending storm. But for three 3 years of stay in this side of Malaysia, I know they don’t issue typhoon signals unlike in our country, The Philippines. And true enough what appeared to last as unfavorable weather for whole night, thankfully ended an hour or so. We were relieved.

The next day, we went to work again, and Gabby to school as usual with a sunshiny climate. The weather was confirmed to be Bipolar, perhaps, even Schizoid. :)  Tina didn’t rely on her instincts but googled the weather forecast online. No threat or warning to spoil our plans for the weekend. We were again relieved.  

Saturday came and we hopped on the bus at around 9AM, boarded the ferry at jetty in Penang Sentral and reached the island safely.

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All smiles aboard the ferry from Butterworth to George Town.

It was almost 10AM and (thankfully) the sun was shining its brightest. We strolled from jetty in Weld Quay to Gat Lebuh Armenian simply to see two of the 11 (soon to be established) new sets of murals with cats as theme.
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Cat mural #2 located at Gat Lebuh Armenian.  How do you like it?

Finally, we met Skippy,  the meow meow of the 11 cat murals in George Town. Have you seen a bigger cat mural than Skippy?

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Skippy the cat and the black rodent mural located at Gat Lebuh Armenian. :)

After few touristy things, we strolled our way to catch the bus at Lebuh Chulia or Chulia Street. We passed by one of the remarkable heritage sites in George Town, the clan house or kongsi of Cheah family with its newly installed gates. It looks grand as ever!

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Cheah Kongsi. Gates are open to welcome tourists at month-long George Town Festival 2013.

Rode the bus, got off Komtar and went up the 8th level of First Avenue Mall in George Town to buy movie tickets for afternoon screening. After which, we hurriedly went down and took the cab, despite the fact that our next destination can be reached by foot, we didn’t want to be late to our 11AM reservation to an eat-all-you-want-Asian restaurant in a mall that we’ve never been to.

Penang Times Square

With only lunch buffet at our initial game plan, we managed to make our weekend memorable again.

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My love. My life. :)

Haven Delights, Penang Times Square

It’s our first time at Penang Times Square and apparently, first time to dine at Haven Delights. Before someone makes a conclusion that everything here’s far from reasonable, let me be defensive in stating that it was Tina’s idea to buy discount-vouchers from groupon.my when she saw online that Asian Buffet in Haven Delights was on promosi. We only paid RM 56 (USD 17.96) for the buffet meals good for 2, and didn’t pay anything for Gabby as per text message of the manager of Haven Delights when he apologized to something I chose not to write about. After all, the misunderstanding was already settled and our eat-all-you-want-lunch turned out better than expected.

Similar to its adjacent buffet restaurant, TAO that we already sampled from another branch, Haven Delights offers a spread that includes free flow of fruit juices and iced green tea. Other than that, the rest is served upon order from their buffet menu. Surprisingly, we noticed Haven Delight’s buffet menu has wide variety to choose from. The interiors and overall ambiance aren’t cheap, although I suggest for them to have a better choice of house music that must go with the buffet theme. Nonetheless, those red lanterns, and cozy lights aptly set the mood for Asian gastronomic experience. To be honest, it wasn’t the best buffet we’ve sampled but for its price, it was an absoulte steal for the three of us! Happy Father’s Day to me! Happy me! :)

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It was also our very first time to purchase voucher at groupon.my and it was indeed a good buy!  At least, our first impressions were all nice. Now, on to business. If you’ve been following this blog for quite some time now, you know that I have been keeping a love affair with Japanese. I like how creative their dishes are; I appreciate how Japanese cuisine provides both art and sustenance. So when Tina told me that the restaurant she chose via groupon.my in Penang features Japanese food among other Asian delights, I gave it a nod in no time! :)

This is the rundown of what we tried from the buffet menu… Drum roll, please! :)

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Miso soup from the spread. Warm and nice.

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Mussels No. 1 as they called it but to us, they’re Baked Mussels. Cheesy. We liked!

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Szechuan Beef. Surprisingly tender, tasteful, everything’s right. Recommended!

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Temaki. Soft Shelled Crab & California Hand Roll. Gabby and I shared these two; thumbs up! :)

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Santen Sashimi. Sashimi, for as long as fresh, remains my favorite so I’m biased with this bowl.

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Motoyaki Scallops. Another must-try, another personal favorite but size of scallops was a bit disappointing.

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Salted Pepper Mantis. Go order this too at Haven Delights. Bite-sized goodness!

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Orange Pork Chop. We frequently order the Crispy Lemon Chicken from a Chinese restaurant back home; this one reminded us of that.

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My world revolves and rotates for Gabby & Tina. :)

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Ebi Sushi, Salmon Sushi. Need I say more?

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Mixed Tempura. There was no Ebi Tempura alone, so Gabby opted for the next best thing.

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Haven Special Maki, Smoked Eel Roll. Improvement on the maki-making would make it better.

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Eat, Pray, Love.

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Lamb Teriyaki over Japanese Rice from the spread. Tina’s plate -she said this combo was fine.

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Motoyaki Scallops, round two : 5 orders. Yum! Yummier if only they’re bigger.

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Ebi Mango Sushi and other delightful things on our table.

 
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Haven delights customers particularly during dinner could eat al fresco with the view of George Town’s streets and diversity. Case in point, the Catholic Church stands almost behind the Hindu Temple with no conflicts, whatsoever.
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Penang, we’ll surely miss you one day! Thank you for everything!

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One more shot, with the mighty, Komatar this time. It’s the tallest building in the island. Iconic, isn’t it?

Lunch buffet starts at 11:30PM with taking of the last orders from diners at 2PM.  We finished past 1PM. Burp! :) Just when I thought we’re heading back to First Avenue Mall to watch the 2:45PM screening of the newest remake of Superman movie, Man of Steel, we saw another restaurant that was featured on groupon.my called, Full House.

Gabby wanted dessert while Tina and I were craving for our caffeine doses. We gave in. We tried Full House too, for the very first time.

FullHouse Restaurant, Penang Times Square

It’s not difficult to be charmed with the space, interiors and menu of FullHouse. It’s a lifestyle store that also sells T-shirts and some novelty items to match the incredibly dainty epicurean experience. We only had coffee and for Gabby, a serving of creme brulee but dining at Full House felt like so fresh and pleasant. I predict that we’ll drop again to sample entrees and other offerings soon.

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Best thing that we do while waiting for orders : freeze the moments via photographs. And when the orders are served, take pictures again! It’s a habit hard to break. Can you blame Tina and I if the cups of our caffeine came with art?

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Latte for me. RM8.90++ (USD 2.85++). The cute coffee art made me smile, the taste made me satisfied.
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Cappuccino for Tina. RM 8.90++ (USD 2.85++). The blend passed Tina’s meticulous taste!
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Creme Brulee RM 10.90++ (USD 3.50++) and Choco Blended RM 9.90++ (USD 3.17++) for Gabby. :)
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We left Full House in Penang Times Square with wider smiles and happier tummies. We crossed the road and took a taxi cab again, in order not to be late at the 2:45PM screening of Man of Steel.

Man of Steel at First Avenue Mall

It has been several months since the three of us last watched a movie together, popcorn (and upcoming movie, Monster University’s) tumbler of Coke are a must! :)

 
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Before and after the Man of Steel movie, Gabby made a statement to us by saying,

Ben 10 is better than Superman; he got more powers!” 

Oh well, he grew up with his breed of animated characters and fictional heroes on screen but seriously, we all enjoyed this action-packed Superman movie. The treatment to the story and twist was made contemporary different from the previous ones.  I didn’t browse anything about it prior watching, so I was stunned to see Kevin Costner, Diane Lane, Amy Adams casted as support to Henry Cavill’s iconic role. I was in awe in every second of the movie. We literally finished our caramel popcorn which unusually happens in other movies. It was that entertaining!

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What else can I say but I was happiest with my family that Saturday! I may not have everything but they’re my greatest blessings! :D

Till our next family bonding! Enjoy your celebrations, everyone!

*Haven Delights | No. 77-L1-34, Penang Times Square, Jalan Dato Keramat, 10150, Penang, My.

*FullHouse |No. 77-G-20-21,61-65, Penang Times Square, Jalan Dato Keramat, 10150, Penang, My.

*This is NOT a sponsored post.

04
Oct
12

OUR FAMILY’S GREATEST BLESSING TURNS EIGHT

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There’s so much to be thankful for! There’s a lot of  reasons to celebrate! 

Happy 8th Birthday, Gabby! We love you very much, anak! -Daddy & Mommy.

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14
Jun
12

CELEBRATING FATHERHOOD

Some of the most worthwhile endeavors in life aren’t easy. Whoever said,  “Any man can be a father but it takes a ton of efforts to be a Dad”  really understood what fatherhood is all about.  As Gabby’s Big Daddy for almost 8 years now, each day is a happy one. In fact, life could never be better; however a constant challenge too.  It’s not simple to offer quality time and devote your entire life with unconditional love to your kid. To someone who would claim otherwise, I am definite he/she has not yet experienced being one, therefore has no right to make accusations or pass judgment. Waking up every morning to go to work to provide for the family is beyond purposeful. It actually transcends manhood.  Being there when your son asks you to be with him, thinking of his condition when he’s sick and you’re at work, listening to every intuitive queries a growing boy has, playing with him when there’s something more to do are very far from being uncomplicated. Things that come with being a parent can certainly take a lot of time to accomplish, even longer time to get things right. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think there’s no school that teaches Perfect Parenthood 101, right? You eventually learn it as you become one. Life is somehow fulfilled no matter how imperfect, if you have your own child. No amount of money, recognition or success however you quantify it, can surpass the joys of raising a kid; every minute is a bliss! :)

And my nose is getting taller each day seeing Gabby grow and spending moments with him is nothing but priceless!

On the other hand, it may not be apparent because we’re not that expressive, I am grateful to my own Daddy. He worked as a (Safeway) Supermarket Manager for nearly 2 decades in most countries in the Middle East (while my mom was working back home as an Accountant/Comptroller) and  of course,  he’s a big part of whatever we (me & my 3 brothers) have become. Despite his own imperfections as a father to us or at least to me, regardless of whatever we’ve been through as a family, no matter how faulty he is, he remains to be our one and only Daddy. And I remain thankful.

On a lighter note,  I snatched this family photo from my paternal clan’s facebook account; the picture was taken some time in the 1960s with my entire paternal family. My Daddy Benruh (reverse nickname of Ruben) seated immediately beside my late grandfather, was noted to be a “pasaway” (insert English translation here) even as early as those days (until now, right Daddy? hehehehe!). Proof to that, according to the comment on this photo by my 3rd brother posted on fb, was the wound on his knee. Although to be honest, I never took any measures to ask him of the cause of that wound he had on this photo, it might be from a pure accident, who knew. ;)

My late paternal grandfather (seated beside my aunt, and my lola or his wife next to my aunt), apparently raised all of his children well (Can you count them all in photo?) and my daddy (and mommy) has reared 4 boys and here I am, I only have one (for now);  I can’t help but imagine how more complex fatherhood was for my lolo and my dad.

Fatherhood, obviously like motherhood to women, is a lifelong commitment. I highly consider it as my greatest blessing! :) It is my pleasure until my last breath and my life’s biggest achievement to be Gabby’s Big Daddy! :P

05
Jun
12

PAYDAY CASUAL DINNER DATE

It was supposed to be a spur-of-the-moment-dinner date with Tina that she thought of, just after we received our pay last month. It’s a RARE and remarkable moment (she’ll kill me for this!) when my wife asked me via our personal emails (how sweet! hahaha!) if we could go directly after office hours to Sunway Carnival Mall in Seberang Perai, Penang (that’s in main land as she didn’t want to take the ferry ride to the island–worried that she might have another vertigo attack). I am too weak to resist! :P

Then, her maternal being melted into bits after she received a phone call from Gabby at lunch time. Our kiddo who’s currently enjoying his 2 week-school holiday asked his mom, “Mommy, pwede ba ako sumama sa date nyo ni Daddy?” (“Mommy, can I go with you and Daddy on your date?”) Tell me, how do you say No to such query?  So, I was like, “OK, Let’s just ask Mommy (my mom) to bring and accompany Gabby at the bus stop so he can instantly hop on the bus (we’re riding from work as it passes by our place in Butterworth), anyway, I’m planning to go out with Mommy the next day (which never materialized).” 

And there you go, we had our Friday-payday-FAMILY dinner DATE at one of our favorites, NANDO’S!

Gabby was only 4 and half months old when we first dined at Nando’s in Botany Mall, Auckland, New Zealand back in 2005. And since our taste buds were accustomed to our local Pinoy love-favorite, MAX’S Fried Chicken and also to one of our default choices, KFC (which Tina and I consider as lifesaver on days when we don’t favor the menu at our present office’s cafeteria and Gabby’s favorite too!), we found this Portugese-South African casual food place, Nando’s as fresh to the palate and uniquely tasteful! Too bad that as of this posting, no one has ever brought Nando’s yet to our beloved, the Philippines. Hypothetically speaking, if money isn’t an issue for Tina and me, we could have pack our bags and luggages and head home to franchise Nando’s or, Old Town Coffee & Restaurant, or Restoran Kapitan or Roti Boy (which deserves a separte post) –those are my family’s favorite food places here in Penang. Oh, well, that’s only me wishing upon a star! But seriously, that’s how we like Nando’s; a bit pricey but money’s worth, definitely! :D

Caramel Cheesecake was the first to arrive on our table at Nando’s, Sunway Carnival Mall. Oh yes! Without asking us, the wait staff delivered the dessert prior to the entrees. Not a problem to us anyway, but apparently, it may spoil someone else’s appetite. Nonetheless, it wasn’t difficult for Gabby to choose this dessert; the boy, like his parents know his palate so well.

For the nth time dining at Nando’s, Tina, Gabby and I opted for Lemon and Herb rather than braved our tongues at their mild, hot or extra spicy Peri-Peri Chicken; we just had Lemon and Herb chicken even as toppings of our Caesar’s salad. But Tina and I savored their Garlic Peri-Peri sauce to spice up our grilled chicken a little….OK, fine, with only Lemon and Herb, kami na ang duwag! :P

I’m such a potato-boy! I like potato salad and those baby potatoes! Coleslaw is also a no-brainer order for me, hahaha! :D

While you can obviously tell who chose corn on the cob and fries, his mom went for grilled veggies and some humongous fries too.

At Nando’s or wherever we dine and the food on our plates are all just secondary. What matters most is the moment spent with the family. Now that’s cheesy! :D

*BEHIND THE SCENES : Tina made another video and pressed FFW to make it chipmunkie; you may want to peek at what actually happened on this dinner. Watch and see how Gabby struggled with his chicken, hahaha! :D

14
May
12

ON RED PLATES

Dining out with a 7-year-old-kid who absolutely knows what his palate wants and a wife who can whip almost everything in the kitchen with her disciminating taste, in Malaysian states where predominant dishes are richly flavored with herbs & spices (read : ultra hot, hot, hot!) may be a little challenge.  Because of this and due to limited budget, we don’t really go out to eat on a weekly basis nor as frequent as others might think.

For someone whose family’s gustatory sense was not accustomed to spicy cuisine, I often bring them to something we’re familiar with. Our priority has always been Gabby’s preferences or something that he would agree where he can also eat and enjoy dining.  Luckily, there are those food places that we all favor that usually reminds of our eating-out-moments back home. One of those restaurants we used to go to in Glorietta in Makati City and Trinoma in Quezon City that has a branch here in Penang and in Kuala Lumpur is T.G.I. Friday’s. ;)

Gabby’s favorites include that Cheesy Macaroni with tomato dip (5th photo above) and Cajun Chicken Fingers with fries and honey mustard dip. He also likes TGIF’s Caesar’s Salad. While Tina’s choices aren’t constant, I am otherwise. My default option if it’s TGIF has been Jack Daniel’s Chicken that’s fire-grilled and basted with that sweet Jack Daniel’s glaze. Sarap!!! :)

*Photos were taken randomly from TGI Friday’s branches in Paragon Mall in Gurney Drive, Penang and in Pavilion Mall, Bukit Bintang Kuala Lumpur.

24
Apr
12

METAMORPHOSIS : PENANG BUTTERFLY FARM

For almost two years of living and working in Malaysia, most of our weekends are spent either enjoying the comforts of the 11th-floor-seaview appartment that we’re renting in Butterworth, our so-called-second home or exploring what Pulau Pinang has to offer. We’ve been to a few heritage sites, clan houses, public beach, various shrines of worship, shopping malls and groceries of course, have dined in local restaurants, some hotels and street hawkers, have gone to some of those must-see-tourist-spots in this island; yet, there’s actually so much more places to visit that are reserved for our Saturdays and Sundays.

Last weekend was no exception. With my 7-year-old son in tow, we celebrated another Saturday the best way we know how (read : family bonding) and finally set foot in The Tropical World’s First Live Butterfly and Insect Sanctuary Penang Butterfly Farm.

Because my wife, Tina had to attend to a weekend medical community service required at work and my mom wasn’t feeling well to leave home, last Saturday, 04/21/2012 was another day of father-and-son-bonding. Incidentally, it was a day prior to Earth Day 2012 so I thought it was so appropriate and timely for Gabby and I to visit a nature’s theme park and passed up killing time on a weekend inside the mall. We’re happy to learn some things about nature and inevitably, ourselves too.

UNEXPECTEDLY, ALMOST IN PANIC

Had I not brought Gabby to this butterfly sanctuary, I would not know that he’s not that comfortable with delicately winged creatures randomly landing on his body. It was unbelievable because Gabby was even more excited than I am to go there and he himself labeled the day as our “Adventure Day” so I was very surprised that he almost panic when butteflies flew over him. I asked him to calm down and assured him that we’re safe with the butterflies and that it cannot harm us. He told me remarkably that he’s more at ease to see reptiles (Me: “What?!!! I usually freak out with the mere sight of snakes!). A couple of hours after, he’s already at home with the butterflies. I thought he was just overwhelmed as it was his first time to experience such. Nonetheless, he learned to appreciate those colorful day-flying insects before we ended our visit.

It was almost 12 noon when Gabby and I arrived at the front office of the Penang Butterfly Farm located in Teluk Bahang, near the tail end of the famous Penang coastline-beaches, Batu Ferringhi.

FREEBIES, DISCOUNTS AND MORE BLESSINGS!  

When I was about to pay the entrance fees for me and Gabby, the male Front Office staff at the window-counter inquired if I am a tourist or a Malaysian (because of different Admission rates), I told him that I am a Filipino expat working as a Medical Lecturer since 2010 in Penang. He then asked for some IDs but I didn’t bring my company ID nor my passport with me. While I was flipping my card holder….

  • Staff : “It’s OK, I saw you have Malaysian cards (referring to my credit cards and rewards-discount cards). Here you go… (He handed me two entrance tickets, 2 souvenir-notebooks, actually they’re DIY-Butterfly-garden-notebooks with a pair of tiny envelopes each containing something you put into the soil of flowering plants for it to bloom and attract butterflies, and 2 butterfly-shaped brochures).”

He only  charged us 18 ringgit for me and 10 ringgit for Gabby instead of the usual rates (RM 27 per adult and RM 15 per kid).

  • Me : ” Wow, thank you for the discount and freebies!  Sir, can i shoot some photos inside? I’ll post photos in my blog and feature our experience here.”
  • Staff : “Sure, no problem! Great! What’s your blog’s URL?” (he got a pen and a sheet of paper and was ready to write)
  • Me :  “Go check out, docgelo.wordpress.com, Sir. Thank you!
  • Me : “And by the way, my blog is nominated in the Malaysia International Tourism Bloggers Awards. You may want to vote too, haha!  What’s your name, Sir?”
  • Staff : “Edzil. Enjoy, pare! (*insert English translation of ‘pare’ here*)
  • Me : “Alright, Thank you!”

After we stayed for 3 hours inside the butterfly sanctuary, Gabby and I headed to the food kiosks just before the exit and ordered Chicken and Cheese sandwich, a bottle of cold distilled water, 2 cups of Mango juice.

  • Edzil : “Doc, I’ve checked out your blog, you take good photos, man!”
  • Me : “Hahaha! :) Thank you for your viewing my blog! What’s your name again, Sir?”
  • Edzil : “Wait, I’ll get my business card.”

Sir Edzil happens to be Penang Butterfly Farm’s Front Office Assistant Manager.

  • Edzil : “Doc, your food is on us! Don’t bother to pay them.”
  • Me : “C’mmon?!!! Allow me to pay for this, please!”
  • Edzil : “No, it’s on the house, if he (referring to the staff at the food kiosk) asks you to pay, then you pay, but surely he won’t, haha!”
  • Me : “Wow, thank you so much!”

With few minutes of chit chat; I learned that he’s actually a Filipino but raised in Malaysia and according to him, there are a few more Pinoys working as tour guides (yes, Penang Butterfly Farm provides informative, amusing and educational tour guiding but I opted to wander around with only Gabby as I took photos). We’re very grateful for his generous gestures.

CHILDREN, COCCOON ISN’T PART OF  THE BUTTERFLY’S LIFE CYCLE.

It’s always amazing to learn beyond books and outside the four corners of a classroom. It’s even more wonderful when one practically acquires knowledge hands on.  You actually get that learning set-up in Penang Butterfly Farm. The actual Science that speaks about the life cycle of these flying insects happens right before your eyes!

So the life cycle only includes EGG (those tiny yellow ones in the next photo) –> CATERPILLAR –> PUPA (not coccoon but CHRYSTALIS / NYMPHA) –> ADULT BUTTERFLY (or IMAGO).  The caterpillar normally thrives in fruity plants like passion fruit and the like, otherwise, it dies and would not metamorphose into pupa and imago.

But as soon as these chrystalis become adult butterflies,

some of its species ONLY LIVE FOR ONE WEEK. :( 

It made me wonder, how would you spend your life meaningfully if you only have one whole week to live?

Back in the Philippines, I remember going to Orchidarium in Rizal Park in Luneta where a small Butterfly garden is tucked. They usually feed the butterflies back home with bananas, here in Penang, pineapples are their favorite lunch! :)

One of my favorite spots in Penang Butterfly Farm is this Oriental gazebo adorned with everything Chinese and an interesting concrete bridge.

Gabby talking on the phone with Tina who attended a medical community service required at work.

Would you not be fascinated if you see authentic porcelain sauce dish, cups, plates and even pitcher were embedded as decors in the bridge?

A couple of Mandarin ducks basking under the bridge

BLACK IS BEAUTIFUL

I must admit, the sun was scorchingly hot during our visit (at least we didn’t have a downpour) so the little airconditioned theater that incessantly shows short films about insects was really inviting; Gabby liked the movies we watched for few minutes.

After watching insect-inspired short films, we walked through the next hallway where Gabby enjoyed another interesting part of Penang Butterfly Farn called, Biodiversity. Here, kids get to stamp their notepads with the park’s mascot prints, play and learn with the interactive touch-screens that feature educational inputs about the environment as a whole. There’s also a part where reptiles and spiders are on display en route to exit towards the souvenir shops.

We went back to the garden where a myriad of butterflies await.

If you must know, I took up BS Biology prior to Medicine and one specimen in Botany that’s hard to forget is the Pitcher Plant. There’s a spot in Penang Butterfly Farm that’s devoted to Pitcher Plant. It’s quite unique for it can trap mosquitoes and other minute insects in its “mouth”, it has somewhat like a prey-trapping mechanism; interesting, is it not?

Then I guess I was lucky enough to be accompanied by two winged friends during our time in the garden. Lucky or stinky already *yikes!*, I do like how Gabby snapped this shot.

Spread your wings and soar! ;)

Just before we had our “free snack” courtesy of Sir Edzil at the food kiosk near the exit gates, we savored Magnum bar (which we paid for, haha!).

never fails to ease up a hot summer day

Nature tripping at Penang Butterfly Farm + Family Bonding + Magnum ice cream bar = simply perfect to end the day. It was another day for family.food & fun! ;)

 

Penang Butterfly Farm exceeded our expectations! We had a chance to commune with nature. It was where I forgot life’s hassles, worries and stress. Four hours spent there were indeed worthwhile; we had fun! :)

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Penang Butterfly Farm. No. 830 Jalan Teluk Bahang 11050 Penang, Malaysia. Tel # +604-885 1253. (It’s accessible by car, taxi cab or by Rapid Penang Bus # 101 from George Town, Penang).

12
Apr
12

THE DAY WHEN GABBY LEARNED ABOUT EARTHQUAKE

The “morning after” edition of the New Straits Times newspaper was distributed to all hotel rooms at around 4:30AM, Thursday 4/12/2012 and my mom was the only one awake among us to pick it up.

4/11/2012, Wednesday was a public holiday for the entire Malaysia because their new King was crowned or in their words, was installed (Sultans of Malaysian states rotate on being a King, as explained by one of my Malaysian students). In spite of the holiday when one has the luxury to enjoy the malls and whatnot in the island, my family and I simply chose to stay at home together. Then at around 5PM, I thought of sitting on our rattan chair in the living room instead in the sofa, and felt the seat was rocking and sliding. In a blink, Tina and my mom came out of separate rooms telling me it’s an earthquake! I knew it’s an earthquake but my mind was in denial for a few sec because for 20 months of stay here in Malaysia, I haven’t experienced any natural calamities, not a single typhoon nor floods, neither anything alarming.

Our very first earthquake felt in Malaysia.

As the four of us walked hurriedly to exit our unit, we saw next door neighbors about to go down too. We didn’t panic except for Gabby who knew nothing of earthquakes before this incident! You cannot blame our 7-year-old boy for it was his first time to experience such. The boy was almost in tears, yelling for us to take the lift. I, who was still plugging out and turning off electrical appliances in our rooms, told Gabby, “We never take lifts during earthquakes, anak, we take the stairs!”  (Good thing is, our unit is located adjacent to the concrete stairs, almost across the elevators and our block has 2 more exits other than what’s beside our unit and the 2 lifts.) Tina held Gabby’s hand and guided him and my mom towards the stairs –11th floor to the ground. I locked our unit, went down with only 7-year-old mobile and keys at hand. Yes, we didn’t panic but admittedly, we’re NOT ready with such EMERGENCY! (Lesson learned : Pack important stuffs such as passports, credit cards, money, keys, things that matter to you the most and those you cannnot live without in an “E” bag with a couple of clothes and toiletries for survival. I know this, actually but honestly was too lazy to prepare.) We went down the emergency-exit-concrete stairs with one of our Filipino colleagues and stayed for about 20 minutes in one of gazebos in the playground.

The aftershock and the tsunami alert.

Twenty minutes after, we returned to our unit. I heard my mom reminding us to pack important things to be ready enough in times as such. I turned on my laptop and browsed online news about the quake; I even managed to chat to my friends in Pinas and Saudi about the earthquake and inviting a few of them over to Penang on one of its holidays. While Tina called her older sister, relayed our situation over the phone. Then, the inevitable happened. An aftershock! This time, Tina brought money  with her in a sling bag and I got my backpack with passports and credit cards, and camera  but still left and forgot my laptop, chargers and other things. We saw more people coming down. A siren was heard all over. Security guards seen actively roaming and advising the tenants to evacuate and leave our units.

Tina, Gabby, my mom and I walked our way to a restaurant-cafe in front of our condo unit. We saw some colleagues and talked to one of them who pleasantly, despite of the stress about the quake and all, kept her composure for her own family. We saw them carrying a few of their clothes and other essentials to their cars. We stayed in the restaurant, watched news on TV even if it’s on Bahasa Melayu and stay tuned for updates. We sat in the resto so naturally, we had to order food. It was a blessing in disguise for we had to fill in as it’s almost dinner. Trying to struggle with panic and anxiety, we heeded to the advice of one of our co-workers to get clothes, bottles of water, toiletries and things we need for the night and leave too. So while my mom and Gabby were waiting for our food, Tina and I went up again our unit and finally got our things. Leaving our unit was an understatement -we evacuated! Tina even joked as she tried to fight her stress, “We’re like refugees now!”  As we rejoined my mom and our son in the restaurant, I saw my mom flipping pages of the telephone book so I began calling our suking (*insert english translation here*) taxi cab driver. Luckily, the cab driver’s available to pick us up and transport us to a hotel near our work and far from the sea.

Tina, Gabby, my mom and I had to evacuate our 10th floor (actually, we’re on the 11th level as Malaysians consider Ground floor as their 1st) seaview unit in Butterworth, Penang because a Tsunami alert was issued.

‘We have issued a tsunami alert. We urge people to keep away from the beach in (the states of) Kedah, Perlis, Langkawi, PENANG and Perak,’ Che Gayah Ismail, Deputy Director-General of the Malaysian Meteorological Department.

‘People are advised to keep away from the beaches. It is not an evacuation order.’ She said she wanted to clarify an earlier statement by a department official who had mistakenly said an evacuation order was issued.

The 8.9 magnitude earthquake struck off Indonesia’s Sumatra island, triggering an Indian Ocean-wide tsunami alert.  Sourced via StraitsTimes.com

Despite the news which I firstly read on facebook, stated it was only a warning and NOT AN EVACUATION ORDER, the sound of sirens screaming long and twice, the sight of our colleagues who also live in the same condo units packing and about to leave, the countless feet that looked like EXODUS of people of various ethnicities whose ages range across the lifespan –literally, there were a lot of babies and grandmothers, all going down the stairs -but some took the risk of taking the lifts, those series of text messages and (missed)calls and brief talks with Filipino concerned co-workers, and worse, the cry and plea of our 7-year-old son who practically learned about the meaning of earthquake first time led Tina and I to immediately decide to go somewhere else too far from the sea.

We left this seaview for a night…

and woke up in Hotel Seri Malaysia with this view on our window…

Renting our 11th  floor fully furnished appartment for 950 ringgit monthly (PhP 13,300 or USD 310) exclusive of utilities and other domestic bills to a very generous and nice Chinese-Malaysian lessor for almost a year now has been a good deal, or at least for us. We know that with such priceless and remarkably beautiful view of the bay before George Town and gorgeous sunsets by the porch, it’d be difficult to find similar cost and perks in Manila or possibly anywhere else. However, it dawned on us that living in a condo unit by the sea has its own downside too. Tsunami risk and earthquakes are difficult to battle. We’re not complaining, just contemplating. In fact, we’re very grateful despite and in spite of everything. Adversities make us stronger and wiser.

On a lighter note, we safely arrived via our reliable taxi cab driver in Hotel Seri Malaysia in Kompleks Dato Kailan, Kepala Batas at around past 9PM, Wednesday. It’s a few meters away from our place of work (and around 40-45 minute-away from our appartment when we take the bus).

Can you spot my mom who's only in her duster seated beside her apo, Gabby? We became evacuees for a night.

If it’s only Tina and I, we could have stayed the night anywhere and waited until the tsunami alert’s lifted, but we’re with our son and my mom.

So I got a Family Room for only 160 ringgit nett (PhP 2,240 or USD 52.13–probinsya po kasi ang Kepala Batas kaya mura kumpara sa iba) inclusive of  buffet breakfast for 3, a spacious room with a Queen-sized and a double beds, cable TV, internet use, hot and cold shower and a clean toilet. It was another steal! God knows that we’re financially burdened and unprepared for these things so He led us where comfort is affordable and reasonable (with its inclusives, it’s even cheaper compared to one of our favorite budget hotels, Tune Hotel!). God is great, all the time!

Facebook buddies kept me posted through the night. Notably, just so timely that the concierge gave me a negative reply when I asked her about English news on cable TV, one of my students informed me via fb that there’s an English news on TV3 at 12MN. Thankfully, we learned that tsunami alert was lifted around 10PM.

My family were all knockout at few minutes after midnight while I managed to stay up until half hour past 2AM.

Morning came with a new promise. We headed down to the Delima Restaurant of the said 4-star-hotel. Delima in English means Ruby or the red gem as told to me by the hotel manager.  Tina and I actually have been seeing Hotel Seri Malaysia almost every week as it’s located right in the spot where Rapid Penang Bus Station in Kepala Batas is, however we never set foot to it before our so called evacuation.

And with no expectations from an unexpected (excuse the term) staycation, we were delighted with the buffet morning spread…

DIY-congee. I stuffed it with dilis, chopped salted egg, roasted peanuts, spring onions, fish sauce and sesame oil to taste. Sarap!

We arrived home at around past 12 noon, Thursday 4/12/2012 and were absent at work and school. Despite the nice stay in the hotel that night and everything seemed going back to ‘normal’, we felt extreme fatigue as soon as we got back.

We kept on telling Gabby to trust and believe in the Lord and that He shall never abandon nor forsake us, not now, not ever.

DEUTERONOMY 31:6 –“Be strong and of a good courage, do not fear, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD your God, He it is  who goes with you; He will not fail you, nor forsake you.”

*”We’re so thankful to those people who were concerned and professed that they prayed for my family’s safety on facebook, twitter and personal calls. Their messages were overwhelming! Maraming Salamat po!”  :D 




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