a mother’s song.

29 Feb 2012 § Leave a comment

I first heard this a couple of days ago while watching Disney Junior with my baby girl. It’s one of those things that catches your heart and I made a mental note to seek out the poem online.

Especially for you, my baby girl.

My heart is like a fountain true
That flows and flows with love to you.
As chirps the lark unto the tree
…So chirps my pretty babe to me.

There’s not a rose where’er I seek,
As comely as my baby’s cheek.
There’s not a comb of honey-bee,
So full of sweets as babe to me.

There’s not a star that shines on high,
Is brighter than my baby’s eye.
There’s not a boat upon the sea,
Can dance as baby does to me.

No silk was ever spun so fine
As is the hair of baby mine.
My baby smells more sweet to me
Than smells in spring the elder tree.

A little fish swims in the well,
So in my heart does baby dwell.
A little flower blows on the tree,
My baby is the flower to me.

The Queen has sceptre, crown and ball,
You are my sceptre, crown and all.
For all her robes of royal silk,
More fair your skin, as white as milk.

Ten thousand parks where deer do run,
Ten thousand roses in the sun,
Ten thousand pearls beneath the sea,
My babe more precious is to me.

wanderlust 2013 in planning.

18 Feb 2012 § 2 Comments

Unbeknownst to the boyfriend, I made an impulse purchase today on Air Asia for tickets for yet another holiday…

…in January 2013!

While many people are used to grabbing cheap tix whenever Air Asia’s big sales come along (hands up if you’ve pounded your laptop in frustration as you encounter the infamous waiting room!), I’ve always found that the stipulated traveling dates are impossibly far away, which is why I’ve always refrained from making any purchases – I like planning ahead but not too far ahead!

Nevertheless, the tickets were wayyyyy cheaper than if I were to have purchased it say, 3 months in advance, the dates I wanted were available, and the weather at the destination I chose was perfect for traveling (lowest amount of rainfall and a daily average of 16°C yo!) – so who could say no? At least, that’s MY excuse, heh!

Now to slowly tick off the days and build-up the traveling piggy bank…

east coast enchantment.

16 Feb 2012 § 4 Comments

“Unmistakably Malay” is the tagline used by YTL to describe Tanjong Jara, the sister resort to the famed Pangkor Laut, situated on the East Coast between Kuala Terengganu and Kuantan. It is a befitting description for a resort that exudes a charm that truly is unmistakably Malay(sian) – from the chime of the gong that reverberates through the reception area as a greeting when you arrive (and three gongs when you leave, to signify “goodbye, have a safe trip, and please come back again“) to the soft-spoken and welcoming staff that seem to be constantly smiling and the resort’s traditional architecture.

Here’s a run-down of our recent weekend escapade where we were thoroughly enchanted by the lovely Tanjong Jara:

Resort grounds

Situated on 17 hectares of land, the resort consists of 99 rooms, two main restaurants, a main pool by the beach and another smaller free-form pool situated amidst the abundant greenery. Getting from one place to another did require a fair bit of walking, but the extensive resort grounds helped to maintain adequate privacy without overwhelming the guests with its spaciousness.

There were a couple of resident iguanas flitting around, and we caught sight of some huge spider webs amidst the trees as we walked through the garden paths. Lounge chairs were scattered everywhere and not just restricted to the pool area, while pretty open-sided cabanas resembling four-poster beds lined the perimeter of the beach.

The main swimming pool that faced the sea was pretty large, with a section for kids and there were deck chairs set up all around the pool. I love how there always were chairs that had shade from the sun (for me), while some were angled for maximum sun-tanning (for him)! With the sea breeze constantly circulating through the resort, it was surprisingly not too humid and at times, pretty chilly too. Icy cold glasses of water were served and topped-up regularly by an ever-smiling waiter, and once we were comfortably ensconced there, the only time we left the deck chairs was to walk five steps to the nearby restaurant for lunch.

Accommodation

Given that Tanjong Jara has been around since 1979 before being bought over and restored by YTL (about 12 years ago if I’m not mistaken), the Bumbung room we stayed in was far from spanking new. Nevertheless, it was extremely spacious – we had a huge en-suite bathroom with a bathtub (the bathroom could probably pass off as a hotel room in Hong Kong!), a day bed as well as a king-sized bed. Best of all? The view! We were given a sea-view room on the upper floor overlooking the beach – absolutely gorgeous! However, in exchange for the view, we were situated in the room that was literally the furthest from the main pool and the restaurant where lunch was served. Still, our daily treks to-and-fro took us through plenty of lush greenery in the landscaped gardens and sightings of what I’ve personally come to call the ‘resident wildlife’ (yes, I’m such a city girl!).

Gorgeous beach

The resort faces a wide expanse of sandy beach that seems to stretch on forever. The sound of the strong waves crashing upon the beach lulled us to sleep on both nights, and early in the morning, the resort staff would be hard at work clearing off debris left stranded from the high tide during the night before to ensure the beach stayed nice and spotless.

There was an outcrop of rocks near the room where we stayed – on the first evening, we saw a group of young men fishing off the rocks, and on the second evening, we had a good time clambering over it, spotting little crabs and all sorts of odds-and-ends that had been washed up by the sea before the tide receded.

While the water was clear and inviting, the waves are strong, and unless you’re a strong swimmer, I don’t think swimming in the sea is a really good idea (we reached home on Sunday evening to read in the news that three people drowned on Saturday evening while swimming in the sea in Cherating). The red flag was up during our second and third day at Jara, so we made sure we stayed along the fringes of the beach.

Food

We were on a full-board package and that meant a semi-buffet breakfast, a 2-course lunch at Nelayan and a 3-course dinner at Di Atas Sungei each day. Every dish we ordered was well-prepared and tasted absolutely delicious (maybe the sea-breeze added some extra ooomph, who knows?) with exception for an odd chicken rendang dish during dinner on our first night – they’d gotten our original order wrong, and I have a feeling this dish was hastily prepared so that we could continue with our meal. That blip aside, we feasted like kings throughout our stay there, definitely gaining a few kilos in return!

Readers who have visited Tanjong Jara would know that the unique feature about Di Atas Sungei is that the restaurant has no menu. Instead, guests are guided by the resort’s Menu Masters – to put it simply, it’s freestyle ordering! While many people have raved about the buttered milk prawns, the star dish for us was the deep fried fish fillet that we ordered that came garnished with fried ginger strips and soy sauce which went perfectly well with white rice. ‘Twas so good we ordered the same dish on our second night there!

Hospitality

I have to give Tanjong Jara two thumbs up for their hospitality. I may not have traveled much, however, none of the hotels I’ve been to thus far has ever shown this standard of hospitality. We were able to check-in upon our arrival at 10am, the staff were infallibly warm and welcoming, greeting us with smiles wherever we went, and we were automatically given a late check-out without even needing to ask as we’d booked a late evening flight back to KL. Throughout the two-and-a-half days that we were there, we constantly saw the friendly guest liaison manager, Wai Gin, making her rounds and speaking to the guests.

The hotel also organized daily activities for their guests such as handicraft classes, nature walks, and keeping to their motto, their version of ‘kampung life’. We happened to be around for the latter, and it was quite a treat to see the staff and guests playing sepak takraw and the bamboo stick dance and sampling the local culture of batik-painting and ketupat-making. Stalls were set up and the smell of freshly cooked keropok lekor and cucur udang lingered in the air, mingling with the scent of the fragrant apam balik (sweet crispy pancakes with buttery centers, stuffed with peanuts and sweetcorn – so good I went back for seconds!), while freshly plucked coconuts, local coffee and roselle juice were offered to the guests as refreshments.

The time we spent at Tanjong Jara passed languidly as we whiled away the hours at the pool, followed with long meandering walks on the beach as the sun set (as cliché as it sounds, heh!). We returned to our room when dusk fell only to freshen up before making our way to the restaurant for dinner. A good part of the night was spent enjoying the food and each other’s company amidst the background strains of the gamelan, before having coffee on the verandah overlooking the river that flows towards the sea (hence the name of the restaurant, Di Atas Sungei or ‘above the river’).

Those two nights honestly took on a dream-like quality as we took a slow walk back to our room after dinner – try to imagine walking beneath a canopy of stars, hearing the crash of the waves and feeling the breeze from the sea upon your face while trying to catch a glimpse of the (almost) full moon as she played hide-and-seek amongst the clouds, reflecting the sea from afar and you’ll know exactly what I mean. Romantic-nya

The warmth and hospitality that we enjoyed left us feeling well-rested and without doubt, well-fed, and we definitely have plans to return for a longer stay in the near future. Despite being a 5-star resort, the wooden architecture, swaying coconut trees and flourishing greenery ensured that it’s a far cry from the new and modern, yet sometimes clinical beach resorts – and therein lies Tanjong Jara’s beckoning charm.

love on a tuesday.

14 Feb 2012 § Leave a comment

Whenever I hold my girl close in my arms, or listen to her giggle with unabashed happiness as I tickle her; when I feel her arms holding on to me tightly as she rests her face on my shoulder, her breath hot against my neck as she drifts off to sleep; when I hear her squeal “Mommy!” as she catches sight of me entering the house and see that wide, welcoming smile on her face; when she snuggles close to me at night and curls her small palm in mine…I think:

“Now THIS is love.”

Love that swells your heart, spills over, explodes and makes you catch your breath. An everyday, ever-lasting, I-will-always-love-you kind of love.

 “There’s no such things as ready. There’s only willing.” ~ David Levinthan

You’ll never be ready to be a parent, a mother – there’s a learning curve to scale every day. But in your willingness to try to be the best parent that you can be, the reward is undoubtedly the purest form of love –  immeasurable and devoid of artifice and guile…

…making it Valentine’s Day, everyday.

the non-valentine’s getaway.

10 Feb 2012 § Leave a comment

I’m calling this a non-Valentine’s getaway because the boyfriend is a Valentine’s day grinch, calling it a pure Hallmark day and nothing else, heh!

Nevertheless, in celebration of the non-event, we took a 7am flight to Tanjong Jara for a quick weekend getaway and some R&R.

Thankfully, our room was ready when we arrived at the resort and we managed to get some much needed shut-eye before lunch.

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With a view like this from our room, it looks like the holiday is off to a great start. Keeping our fingers crossed for good weather and lots of sunshine!

More updates when we get back. In the meantime, have a great weekend ahead, dear readers!

late night indulgence.

2 Feb 2012 § 2 Comments

Let me start off by introducing the main ingredient of my extremely indulgent late night snack tonight by using Wiki (lest I get it all wrong!):

Nián gāo, Year cake or Chinese New Year’s cake is a food prepared from glutinous rice and consumed in Chinese cuisine. While it can be eaten all year round, traditionally it is most popular during Chinese New Year. The Chinese word 粘 (nián), meaning “sticky”, is identical in sound to 年, meaning “year”, and the word 糕 (gāo), meaning “cake” is identical in sound to 高, meaning “high”. As such, eating nian gao has the symbolism of raising oneself higher in each coming year (年年高升 niánnián gāoshēng). This sticky sweet snack was believed to be an offering to the Kitchen God, with the aim that his mouth will be stuck with the sticky cake, so that he can’t badmouth the human’s family to the God of all Gods (Yu Huang Da Di).

I can’t remember the first time I tasted fried nian gao, but what I do remember was thinking that it was one of the best fried snacks that I’ve ever tried, next to pisang goreng (deep fried bananas). Imagine biting through crunchy batter, only to sink your teeth into a sweet, sticky, gooey paste…oh my! The only problem was that most of the roadside stalls that do sell fried nian gao (and there aren’t many), usually fry it together with yam and sweet potato (the nian gao sandwiched between the former and latter).

And I. Do. Not. Like. Yam. And. Sweet Potato.

Tearing away those two components resulted in being left with a piece of nian gao without the batter, which is somewhat akin to eating KFC without the chicken skin, heh.

Seeing as I haven’t had this snack in yonks, and my dear dad took the trouble to hunt down some nian kao for me at the market this morning (it was surprisingly sold out at 2 major grocery stores last night, and the one that I managed to find at the 3rd store was too soft and gooey to be fried), I decided to fry up a batch tonight.

While some people fry these by itself, I prefer to dip it in light egg batter.

What I used:

  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 4 tablespoon of sifted flour (you can also use cornflour, just adjust the amount accordingly so that the batter is not too thick, nor too watery till it can’t coat the nian gao properly)
  • some water
  • pinch of salt
  • sliced nian gao

What I did

  1. Sift flour and whisk eggs separately
  2. Pour egg mixture into flour and mix till there are no lumps
  3. Add abit of water and salt
  4. Dip the sliced nian gao into the batter and fry away!

Best enjoyed with your favourite beverage (chilled roasted milk tea with grass jelly and tapioca pearls in my case) while indulging in a rerun of a good movie (at this moment, it’s Underworld)!

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