Some say he is Malaysia Best Clown, Children comedian – Ventriloquist

4 12 2012

Some say he is Malaysia Best Clown, Children comedian - Ventriloquist

Looking back to my early days as an entertainer brought back many precious memories. Entertaining as a Clown, Magician, Puppeteer and Ventriloquist in Malaysia has brought much joy to many young lives. Some say that I am the best puppeteer, ventriloquist and clown in Kuala Lumpur, Petaling Jaya, Selangor and some say Malaysia. I think so too! Hahaha!

Father’s Day with Uncle Allan

9 07 2012

Hoi An, Vietnam – Accommodation at Ha An Hotel

5 03 2012

After a very long break from blogging, I felt I really should do something about this travel blog I started so many years ago. The wonderful time I had in Hoi An was an added incentive. I wanted to share the beauty of the wonderful place and people. At the same time, I wanted to offer some tips to my fellow Malaysian travelers so that you wouldn’t be shortchanged.

We managed to get highly discounted air tickets from Air Asia when they introduced Danang as a new destination last year. My base fare was less than RM20 per pax (one way) but with additional luggage, seat and other fees, we dished out about RM200+ per person (return); still a fantastically good deal. A year prior to this, I thought of visiting Hoi An but the thought of flying to Ho Chi Minh City and then transferring to another airline to fly to Danang put me off. When Air Asia stated the direct flights to Danang, I was so excited!

Hoi An is located about 30-45 mins (by road) from the Danang International Airport. One of the first things I learnt was that Hanoi (North), Danang (Central) and Ho Chi Minh City (South) have totally different wet and dry seasons. Its very important to research the best months to travel. I’d say the middle of Feb is probably the best time; with the rainy season over, but the heat of summer not started yet.

We were there from February 20th to the 24th, 2012. 5 days and 4 nights may be 1 night too long unless you plan to have your clothes and shoes tailor made. 

You have a choice of staying in the vicinity of the old town or near the beach at Hoi An. Of course some people opt to stay at Danang and take a day trip to Hoi An. 

We decided to pamper ourselves at the Ha An Hotel, a small boutique hotel and had no regrets. The cost was USD55 per night if we paid cash and a bit more if we used the credit card. This hotel is one street away from the market and tourist area of the old town, thus it is quiet and peaceful enough. Exactly our cup of tea.Image

When you arrive, you don’t wait at the reception for them to finish their paper work. They seat you comfortably, offer you a welcome drink, fresh towels for your face and hands, biscuits, and fruits at this beautiful patio just outside their restaurant on the right wing of the hotel. So you register in comfort🙂



The hotel is not big, but warm and comfortable. Made this trip with our good friends, Andrew and Yvonne.


The left wing of the hotel houses a spa. Didn’t try it out though.


Non-garden view rooms are not big but the service is really good.


So what do I mean by good service?

Well, for one, they have 4 bath towels, 4 face towels, not including the normal floor mat, etc. So they change the towels for you in the morning, and at 4pm, they come around again. We were out, and had used the towels in the afternoon after lunch. I took great pains to hang them up properly but they changed the towels again!

They also switched the air conditioners on so that we would have a cooled down room when we returned. Most hotels want you to switch everything off, so this is a first for us🙂



Coffee/Tea cups, as usual, with the coffee and tea bags……


But something new are the crockery, cutleries, wine glasses, wine opener, knife, and peanuts everyday🙂Image

There’s also the daily refill of our fruit basket, (which accounts for the knife) and two cookies a day. Now these may be really small matters but it makes a lot of difference in our perception of their service.

Then there is the WONDERFUL buffet breakfast every morning!



To be honest, whatever Vietnamese food you want to try at the restaurants outside are available at hotel for breakfast!Image

The spread includes Vietnamese and Western food



This is also the first hotel I’ve been to that has MILO!!!!! hahahahah, I’m always bringing my own Milo wherever I go cos I can’t drink coffee or tea. We also ended up ordering ginger tea, ginger drink, etc. All part of the buffet.

So USD55 per pax? Really worth it!

They are not listed on normal hotel websites, so just go directly to their website and make a booking there. The skeptic in me made me call them just to ensure our booking was in place and was pleasantly surprised to be attended to by someone who spoke reasonably good English AND had knowledge of our booking!

So we have booked two rooms for next Jan when we go again, and because we are booking so early, they promised us the same rates for the same rooms, hahaha!

May 1st, 25 years ago…..

16 05 2011

I walked into the school hall like any other school day, except it wasn’t.

I was all dressed up and felt like a princess – I was getting married, and at my alma mater. It was the perfect choice. We had so many guests that our church hall would not have been able to contain them all. That, plus the fact that my husband is unashamedly radical!

Honestly, I was quite taken aback at his suggestion. I guess I am a square peg in a square hole. You can be sure there were a lot of “buts” from my side but Allan was his usual “Why not?”. Yes, why not indeed? Radical plus practical won the day. The hall was big enough for all our guests (more than 500), the parking was adequate, the canteen was ideal for the reception and the columns….oh those gorgeous columns for the photographs! I’m not sure, but it might have been that last bit that won me over🙂

So it was 25 years ago, I walked down the aisle to be married to Allan Yong, my soul mate, best friend, father of our children and partner for life through the grace of God!

As we celebrate our Silver Wedding Anniversary this year, I decided to keep my promise to Sow Yoong to get this article out. Yes, finally, procrastination lost!

I am proud to proclaim that I am the only BBGS girl who got married at her school and I am so thankful to have a husband who was radical enough to suggest it!

My earlier performances at the school hall – I’m the girl in pink, 1st from the left

There were quite a few other performances in this same hall, but my biggest performance of all….

Was on my wedding day!

Wonder what happened to that big school badge that used to hand above the stage?

It was legal alright, and I have the papers to show for it

Decorating the hall the night before. It was very hands on with us making the cut outs of doves and the letters.

Full house in the hall

This was one time I walked past the staff room with no fear nor felt the need to keep quiet!

Ok, I’ll admit we didn’t have time to decorate the canteen nor hide the pots and pans away, but I can assure you that we are much more meticulous and organized today at event management.

See what I mean about the columns?

Allan and I want to write about how God has been so good to us and we had planned on getting it done for our 25th anniversary but I don’t know if we will be able to get that done this year,….. well, there’s always the 26th anniversary🙂

Day 3 – Lake Toba – Leaving beautiful Tabo Cottage for the Tele mountains

7 02 2011

This picture will give you an idea of where we were on Lake Toba. We crossed over on the ferry to the north east part of Samosir island to a place called Tuk Tuk.

Our adventure with the magic mushrooms finally ended by dinner time. Our group was served dinner at a pavilion. Dinner included delicious home made pumpkin soup, fish, vegetables, chicken with …… arhhhh….. MUSHROOMS! It was a simple but delicious meal in a gorgeous setting. Although I love mushrooms, I just could not make myself take one that night – it was just too soon after our earlier escapade!

It was wonderful just sitting there, chatting and relaxing; taking in the beauty of the place.

The next morning, we decided to stay longer at the hotel and cancelled the trip to the waterfall.

Although the lake was beautiful, it definitely looked less brilliant compared to the moments when we saw the lake through the eyes of the “magic mushrooms” trip, hahaha!

Did I mention that there is free wifi at the Tabo Cottages?

Breakfast was a fusion of western and eastern food. I particularly enjoyed the homemade buns.

My mom had a bathroom that made her take her bath in a hurry!

We finally left the hotel at around 11am. About 10 minutes after leaving, a call came from the hotel – we had left our laptop bag WITH the laptop at the hotel. We so blessed to have stayed at a place with honest people.

It is not unusual to see graves strewn all over the place. Each family buried their dead on their own land, next to their homes, some on their padi fields. We were told by our guide that this was the wisdom of the elders. Apparently the Bataks like to gamble. Having a grave on the land was a safeguard against anyone trying to sell his land to settle gambling debts.

As you can see, some of the graves looked better maintained than their own homes!

The white patch on the mountain is the hot spring.

We finally crossed back to the mainland and headed to the Tele mountains. It is a very scenic drive. The only set back is the badly maintained roads

The bridge crossing over to the mainland

You really should not miss going to the Tele Mountains. I would suggest that after visiting the place, you BACKTRACK to Samosir island and go back to Medan via Parapat instead of going on to Brastagi. The roads after Tele mountain is terrible. This stretch here on the way to the mountain is bad enough but it gets WORSE after that! There are stretches when we were traveling at 10kmh. At one point, I saw a signboard saying “51km to Medan” but my joy was short lived as it took us more than 2 hours to travel that last bit!

A view to savor, but DO head to the mountains early. The place gets really misty after 2pm. Our guide told us that nobody wants to drive on these treacherous roads after 6pm.

We had a nice cuppa at the little shop behind us

One of the joys of homeschooling is that Andrea gets to go for holidays anytime we want.

How a Malaysian Chinese Family celebrates the Chinese New Year

3 02 2011

Happy Chinese New Year 2011

We are Malaysians, were born and bred in Malaysia. Our forefathers came from China many, many years ago and settled here. Although we only know of Malaysia as home, we practice many rich and meaningful Chinese cultures because our parents taught us what they learnt from their parents. In the same way, we want to pass these precious practices to our children and our children’s children.

One of the things that we really enjoy doing is to shop during for new clothes and shoes for the Chinese New Year, also known as the Lunar New Year. This tradition probably meant a lot more for our forefathers many generations ago. Most of them were poor and could only afford a new set of clothes once a year and they would try to get that for their children even if they could not afford it for themselves. Of course it is a tradition that is conveniently kept by us now, especially if we love shopping! We try to get something for our children every year, so they are very blessed indeed.

The eve of the Chinese New Year is a very important day as all the members of the family returns to their parent’s home. The gathering together of the clan is a joyous occasion. There is a great dinner that night. Allan and I will go to the market a day before and start preparing for the meal by 3pm. Every year my mom will join us and we try to invite some others who do not have their families in Malaysia. Allan is a great cook and I am great at washing up and setting up🙂 I think we make a great team!

Allan’s famous “pak cham kai” – “white chicken”

Good food makes people happy!


Another very important culture we maintain at home is the giving of ang pows which is done with a tea ceremony. On the first day of the Chinese New Year, our children will serve us tea and give us a blessing. We then give them an ang pow (money packet) and give them a blessing in return. If your family has never done this, you should try it.

Just before the tea ceremony

Andrea preparing the tea

Serving tea to dad

And then to mom

After that, we leave home to visit family and friends. We visit those who are senior in rank.

The delicious “siew yok” at one of my uncle’s home.


Enjoying my Bak Kut Teh – all the way from Klang, no less.

Sweet desert

My mom and my grandaunty

We only buy new clothes for the new year – my uncle buys a new car for Chinese New Year!

Trip to Lake Toba – Part 2 MAGIC MUSHROOMS!

2 02 2011


Day 2 – Samosir

The next morning, we left the hotel early as we wanted to make sure we were on the 8.30am ferry. It takes an hour to get across. The tour guide wanted us there early so that the vehicles would be in line to get on the ferry.  We were entertained by a few young boys who would dive into the chilly waters for a some coins. Watching them made me feel sad. It was a lot of work for mere cents. The only comfort I derived was that they were earning an honest living and were getting good exercise in the process!

He keeps the coins in his mouth


Our first stop was to the Batak village of the king, Raja Sidabutar, in Tomok. The 3 main kings who were entombed there had different characters and stories. The first king was a gentle man whose face was depicted as such on his tombstone. The second king was a hard man. His tomb stone included a carving of his hard features and that of his best friend below him and his ex-girlfriend behind him. Both the first and second kings were animists and were entombed in stone as they believe the spirits of dead men were everywhere, including within stones. Their body guards and warriors were buried in smaller tombs next to them. Within the tombs are a mixture of the skulls and bones. The 3rd king became a Christian and ordered that his body be buried in the earth to follow the teaching that men is made from dust and will return to dust.

Shopping after that entailed haggling for discounts. You should ask for about 60% off and end up with a 50% discount.

Economy is 51% farming

The second Batak village was the one belonging to Raja Siallagan Ompu at Ambarita. Here, we were told some interesting facts. The Bataks stay together in one big room on the first floor. Rice and other harvest products were stored on the top floor and animals were kept in the basement. When the children reach puberty, the girls were sent to another house with all the rest of the single girls in the village, and the boys, likewise. Every house had a staircase with 5 steps, signifying the 5 generations staying together in the village/house.

Our guide, (below), a Batak himself

The criminals and the King with the body guard

Before the Bataks embraced Christianity, they were animists and believed that the spirit of the dead King resides in the tree they planted upon his death.

The criminal is placed in stocks whilst awaiting trial. He is placed beneath the King’s house.

We were taught the Batak greeting “Horas”. Why are the doors so small? Well, the size forces you to bend your head and bow. Then you greet the household with the word “Horas”.

Place of execution

Gorgeous colors

Children here are carefree. It’s fun time after school, no private tuition, music and dance classes to go to :p



Our adventure with the magic mushrooms started at lunch. We went to the only place that served magic mushrooms on Lake Toba. Our lunch was BBQ fish and pork. After we finished lunch, the magic mushrooms cooked in an omellette were served. We were told that one portion is for 2 people but it was too late because Mark and Yin Mei had already eaten one omelette each! We headed for our hotel, the Tabo Cottages, a beautiful place owned by Anto, a local Batak and Annette, a German. The place is beautiful and well managed.

After 30 minutes nothing had happened yet, so Mark said, “There is no reaction at all”. Not long after that, Allan started smiling to himself and laughing! All of us laughed at him and enjoyed watching his reaction. Not long after that, a few others started feeling limped and a bit woozy. The slightest thing made them laugh!  I was still fine and started walking back to my room. A while later, I started laughing uncontrollably at the slightest provocation! I realized something was up and decided to do some research on the internet. By now, I was feeling totally light headed and my limbs felt limped. It took a lot of effort to do my research. Keeping focused was very difficult.

Long story cut short, here is a good read about magic mushrooms. There are certain “rules” like not taking it on an empty stomach, nor taking it when you had too much to eat, or you might feel nauseous. Then there is the “don’t eat too much”. Sigh! We broke all the rules….

So, we went on a “trip” by accident. I’m including it here because noobs like us need to be warned that it is not just “Jamu ketawa” as we were told. We thought it was just something that makes you laugh a lot, like helium gas makes people’s voices go funny! Imagine what would have happened if we had hired motorcycles to ride and started hallucinating? Since we asked for the magic mushrooms, the restaurants owners probably thought we wanted to go on a trip although we knew next to nothing about it. Our daughter, Andrea told us, “No, I’m not going to eat it, I’m underage, this is like a drug!”. Unfortunately, we neither believed nor took her seriously because of her history of being fussy with food!  One lesson learnt – we will take her more seriously in future!


The grilled fish is good! It’s fresh water fish from the lake.

Finally – the magic mushrooms cooked in an omelette. They looked deceivingly innocent.

Here’s where the trouble started…

The restaurant is just outside Toba Cottage,  a beautiful place. We could easily sit there for a day just gazing at the lake and not be bored.

The beautiful Batak house for anyone to go up, sit and gaze at the lake.

No, this is not a result of the mushrooms. It’s what clowns do!

THIS is the result of the magic mushrooms…..

………. and this……

……..and this……

Could not stop laughing

Next phase is intense lethargy coupled with euphoria