Wednesday, May 29, 2013

In the news. And putting things in perspective.

There's a new joke in the house. Every time his sisters tell him off, or they fight over who do what chores... Luqman will start rolling his eyes and says " u know who I am?? I am in the news OK?? Talk to me nicely!!" And they will start laughing hysterically.

Yeah. We were in the news quite a bit recently. Here are the links to the write ups.
The only reason I agreed to do the interviews is strictly information sharing. I used to refuse interviews. But then, I started getting messages and phone calls enquiring homeschooling related matters. And it gets more and more frequent.

Believe it or not, I even get somebody asking me to complete a questionnaire which was part of his PhD thesis on homeschooling. I obligingly did. While Mr O rolled his eyes and teased me to change my research topic to homeschooling. Here I am helping out people while my own research is in a mess. So I thought, what the heck. Maybe if I do the interviews, it will get easier. Just post the link eh?? :-P

I think I am soooo done with interviews already. Honestly, I would prefer not to. It does make me feel uncomfortable & over exposed. It does make you feel really crappy when you are in the news for parenting matters and people keep congratulating you and look up to you. And truth be told, you are far from perfect. Truth be told, I just had a nasty tiff with the teenager. Truth be told, I just screamed to the girls. Truth be told, I just asked the kids to leave me alone so I can have my coffee and stalk the FB in peace. So yeah, I don't like that feeling.

I am just a mom. Who homeschool her kids. There is nothing superhuman or courageous about that. It may be different from what most people do. But we are just like most of you. We have our own issues and we struggle as much as you do. And we make the best of what we have. And keep striving for better.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Exploring Perak.

This post is so long overdue. But it's better late than never, right?? We went to Perak few weeks ago to attend a wedding. It was a short trip, but we managed to squeeze some time to explore the state. And we were so impressed!! It's not that I have travelled around the world so much. But I seriously cannot think of any place abroad which has so many variety of things to do in a close proximity. You can get culture, nature, history, animal etc etc all in one place. Aren't we blessed to be a Malaysian? Perak has so much diversity. What a gem. I will try to share as much as I can remember. It has been a while :-)

On Friday, we started our journey from KL to attend the akad nikah after Friday prayer. Since we had a bit of extra time, we detoured to Gopeng. I wanted to visit the Gopeng Heritage House. But I found out it's only open on weekend. Then we went round and round the small town looking for Hup Teck soya sauce factory. Hup Teck is known for its homemade recipe of preservative-free soy sauce. Actually, the factory is right behind the Gopeng Police Station. Look for a wooden house with lots of earthenware jars in their front yard.
They have been in business for more than 80 years. This is one of the few places where they still make the soya sauce the old fashion way.
I love this uncle so much. He's an epitome what a businessman should be. Not only he used the highest quality ingredient, he also told me, don't buy a lot. Buy a bit first. If you like the product, you come back. Such a gem.
After the akad nikah ceremony, we headed to Taiping and spent a night in Sentosa Villa. It's located very near to Taiping Lake Garden.
We stayed in the family villa and it's just nice for our family of 6. We love this place. My only complaint was the breakfast was pretty lousy. But I am pretty sure there are lots of nice & cheap eating place in Taiping.
At night, we went to Taiping Night Safari for a guided tour with the ranger. I highly recommend this tour. The trip lasted about 3 hours. Our ranger, Jayan was very informative and friendly to the kids. I have to say my kids were very sceptical initially as they are usually very disappointed with most zoos in Malaysia. But we were so wrong. Taiping Zoo is really worth a visit.
 And the 15yo dude seems to agree with me. At least for this one :-P
Kids woke up early the next day to explore the surrounding areas as much as they can before we checked out. There were animals. And creepy crawlies.
And birds. We spotted a woodpecker. And few other nice birds that I couldn't remember now. If you plan to stay here, please bring your binocular along.
Kids getting excited over a leech.
Kids were complaining we should stay longer. Aisehh...what to do laaah kids. How would I know it would be so nice?? We'll come again, OK?

Before we left Taiping, we stopped by few places. Throughout this trip, I love the opportunities to expose my kids to history. OK. truthfully, as always, I was more excited than them. But you got to at least give it a try, right? :-P History has never been their favorite subject at school. Luqman thinks the syllabus is superficial and there's a lot of brainwashing. No offence, but I understand where the dude is coming from. Flip through their text books and you will see it's 1Malaysia all over. Hajar is just plain bored. History never intrigued her. Call me imposing, but I really want to prove to them that learning history in context is so different and can be interesting. And I think I am making progress. Small, small progress :-)

Taiping War Cemetery. You can learn more about the history here.
Antong Coffee Factory. I was told they are still processing coffee the old traditional way. Unfortunately, we went on Saturday and the factory was closed. If you would like to see the coffee processing, go on week day.
However, all was not lost. You can visit the house and revisit the history of Dr Sun Yat Sen.
The girls checking out the antiques.
You can also do some shopping here. To be honest, I was actually quite disappointed because they didn't sell any coffee beans. They only sell premixed coffee. And I am not a fan of premixed due to health reason. 
 But this coconut cookies is yummy. I should buy more :-)
After the wedding reception in Ipoh, we checked in The Roots. It's an eco-resort in a fruit orchard. I wanted to try out the tree house but was advised not to by Meena, the owner of the place. All the tree houses were by the road side. And according to her, it can be pretty noisy especially at night. So we opted for the Orchard Villa instead.
The room is pretty basic but spacious enough for us. It can get a bit warm at night as we close the window due to mosquitoes. Thankfully, the air-cond worked. Breakfast was awesome. Their nasi lemak and home made rambutan jam were to die for.
Kids had loads of fun chilling out at night playing with the animals. They claimed they actually calmed down the noisy parrots. Medina tried really hard to get close to the cat and failed. She has to make do with Quentin, the friendly Doberman. And Hajar continuously bugged me to ask Meena to give her a job here. Duh!!
On our last day, after checking out from the The Roots, we explored Ipoh town. You can explore the place yourself using the Ipoh Heritage Trail map. I was told a guided tour is also available.
Ipoh Museum. I asked 3 people for directions. And got 3 different answers. Either this place ain't so popular with the locals or I am just plain crazy about museums :-)
It's practically empty but it's a nice place to get kids started with the history of Perak. The Perak man. The meteorite explosion in Lenggong Valley. etc.etc.etc.

Street art in Ipoh old town.
Old buildings.
Besides old buildings & street arts, Ipoh has a lot of interesting old dying traditions. We went to Jalan Silibin to catch the laundry man who washes clothes the old fashion way. Read more about Mr Supramaniam here. Unfortunately, we were not fast enough. We reached there about 10.30 am and he already hanged all the clothes. Then we tried our luck trying to locate a signboard  engraving shop at Lorong Bijih Timah in Ipoh Old Town.  Hajar wanted to see the craft man at work.And we discovered that most shops were closed on weekend.

But we found Burps & Giggles :-)
Great ambience. Great food. Great music.
Last stop before we headed back to KL. Kellie's Castle in Batu Gajah.
I found it interesting that the castle had so many secret passages. Was it just a normal safety measures or the guy was paranoid? Maybe due to bad experiences?? God knows.
I wanted to proceed to the tin dredge in Tanjung Tualang. But it started raining heavily. And it's getting late. And we were exhausted. So we called it a day. We'll be back. Definitely.