Two Museums in Ho Chi Minh City and Back Home: 6 and 7 June 2019

6 June 2019 – I stayed a little longer in bed but my tummy was literally rumbling. We got ready at a slower pace than usual and off to breakfast at the Hotel’s cafe. Either we were late or others were early, there was not much left. We had our tea and pastries and then headed for the Daun Restaurant. I ordered nasi lemak and Amelia had western breakfast. Do make this one of your food destination especially for those who are looking for halal food. Since the shops along Malaysian Street is still closed, our plan for the day is to visit a museum and an art gallery – both within walking distance.

Our walk to day was slow and casual since we did not have much to do. We reached a palace-like building painted in grey – the Ho Chi Minh City Museum. We paid an entry fee of 300 VND per person and explored the two storey Museum. . We walked up the grandiose staircase and explored the Museum level by level. and also went down into the bunkers. The Museum used to be known as Gia Long Palace and was completed in 1890 by the Alfred Foulhoux – his other building is the Saigon Central Post Office.

After spending enough time visiting the various exhibition rooms, we continued walking to an art gallery. We passed a cafe but decided it was too early for coffee. We then came across the Taka Plaza and decided to take a peek. There are numerous stalls selling handbags and clothes. We walked a bit more and came across the Subramaniam Swamy Temple. Unlike the Mariamman Temple, this one was more brightly coloured but we did not go in. We continued walking aided by our Google Map and finally arrived at another palace-like building painted in yellow and white.

The Ho Chi Minh City Museum of Fine Art has three three-storey buildings. We paid an entry fee of 300 VND at the gate and entered the main building. This building was previously a villa for the Hua family and this explains the ornate metalworks and light fixtures. We explored all three storeys filled with valuable artworks but the exhibitions rooms were way too hot for me. Amelia visited each room and looked at all the artworks and items on display. On the other hand, I was attracted to the three paintings on the uppermost floor. Because of the heat. I did not enter the other two building.

We then walked and walked and walked in search of the elusive SB cafe that was on our Google Map but not in sight at all. WE needed a cool place to sit in and cool drinks to quench our thirst. Finally, Starbucks New World. The cafe has a beautiful facade and we had our fill of coffee. I went for the hibiscus tea … one to drink in the cafe and one to takeaway. We headed for our hotel and found out that the cafe is within walking distance from our Hotel. We rested, watched TV and then went off for dinner at D’Seria since both of us were craving for laksa. We had a quick tour of the night market before heading back to the Hotel to pack up, make arrangements for a taxi to take us to the airport and promptly fell asleep.

7 June 2019 – we woke up, dressed and was down in the lobby. Since we were told that the morning receptionist would call for our taxi, we went down early. However, there was no one at the counter and I momentarily panicked. The security guy was sleeping nearby and I guess we made enough noise to wake him up. He took our key cards and went up to check our fridge. While Amelia waited, I went out and caught sight of a taxi driver getting his breakfast and called him over. The Hotel cleared us and we left for the airport. The road was clear since it was only 07:00. We arrived safe and sound, paid and headed to the AirAsia counter. They weighed our carry-ons and passed us through to immigration. Inside the terminal, we had a quick breakfast since we did get to eat at the Hotel.

At the departure area of Tan Son Nhat International Airport. Till we meet again Ho Chi Minh City aka Saigon … thank you for the memories

Our flight was on time and we were off. For breakfast, I bought the croissant sandwich that comes with tea. We landed within two hours of leaving Saigon … no baggage to collect, only immigration and I was off for my teh tarik ikat tepi while Amelia headed for her Gong Cha. We decided to take the Jet Bus to Putra Heights and then catch the LRT to Ara Damansara. A short walk to the SRC Restaurant for lunch and then a short walk to home sweet home. Another memorable holiday.

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Historical Buildings and Ho Chi Minh City: 5 June 2019

The first day of the Muslim month of Syawal marks the end of the fasting month of Ramadhan. Amelia and I celebrated this special day with a not-so-typical breakfast of fruits and toast. Deep down I was hoping that we might come across rendang and ketupat … be careful what you wish for ‘cos it might just come true.

Since Amelia is all into building conservation, I decided to take Amelia to the Notre Dame Cathedral and the Post Office. Along the way, we will take a peek at the Independence Palace. We walked and along the way caught sight of the Mariamman Temple which is very near to our Hotel. The Temple was built in the 1800s by traders from Tamil Nadu. Unfortunately I did not take any photographs of the Temple.

We continued walking and arrived at the Independence Palace. The site of the Independence or Reunification Palace was where the Norodom Palace once stood. It was designed by Ngo Viet Thu and was the home to the President of South Vietnam during the Vietnam War. Since I have been inside the Palace before and Amelia was not keen on exploring the Palace, we did not go in but took photos and walked across a park to the Notre Dame Cathedral. Alas, we were unlucky with this one – the Cathedral is undergoing restoration works. I was disappointed since I have never seen the inside of the Cathedral but Amelia was happy since she was able to read about and see the Cathedral first hand. I would have loved to see the stained glass windows and the 2 bell towers with 6 bronze bells. The red brick facade is still there. The Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica is also known as the Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception and was constructed by Jules Bourard in the 1880s.

Just across the road is the iconic Central Post Office. I have seen it numerous times but it still fascinates me. It could possibly the grandest post office in ASEAN. Designed by Andrew Foulhoux, it was said to be constructed between 1885 to 1861 when Vietnam was under French rule. The architecture is breathtakingly beautiful and is well preserved. Whilst Amelia was looking at the structures and the floor tiles, I bought two postcards and posted it to my niece and my granddaughter. I do this whenever I get easy access to a post office. The former loves receiving stamped postcards from every where.

It was a very hot day in Saigon and we decided to drop in for coffee at McCafe which is located next to the Post Office. However, we changed our mind when we came across Book Street just after McDonald’s. There were rows of book stores and a cafe, Dep Cafe. We sat down, ordered coffee and enjoyed the view. The entire street was lined with stores selling books and the stores were beautifully decorated. We wandered all the way down the street and I was drawn towards an exhibition on a plant that were made into straws … organic straws. The bang grass (Lepironia articulata) and the say grass (Phragmites australis) are picked by farmers, processed and made into drinking straws marketed under Ecostrawviet. It is not only environmental friendly but aids the farmers economically.

We walked all the way down and was pleasantly surprise to come across a sign for the Hard Rock Cafe. The Cafe is located at M Plaza and this Plaza has a number of Japanese and Korean restaurants. We went inside the Cage and bought a t-shirt for Azwa (her first ever Hard Rock t-shirt) and a cap for her dad.

We walked on and came across not one but two malls, Vincom Center and Parkson but the latter has closed down. We walked further on and saw beautiful buildings and finally reached the Saigon Municipal Opera House or the Municipal Theatre of Ho Chi Minh City. This is another iconic building that was built in 1898 by Eugene Ferret and the architectural is definitely French colonial. It was built higher than the street level to avoid the outside noise coming directly into the building.

Opposite the Opera House is the Louis Vuitton store and we are definitely in Dong Khoi Street – a high street. Dong Khoi Street is lined with old colonial buildings, high end restaurants, cafes, boutiques and lots of international brands. It is the commercial hub of Saigon. We walked on in search of the Saigon Central Mosque in and reached Dong Du Street and the mosque and a halal restaurant, Restaurant D’Nyonya. I have been here before and back then there were two halal restaurants here but now there’s only one. We went in and was met by a Malaysian Chinese lady who welcomed us and said that she is serving chicken rendang since it is Hari Raya. Amelia and I were all smiles as we had our fill of rice, chicken rendang, fried kangkung (water convolvulus) and Vietnamese tea. The rendang totally made up for what we missed today. We said our goodbyes and went searching for Starbucks – there is definitely one nearby.

Starbucks was at the corner of Dong Du Street. After ordering and receiving our coffee, we went upstairs to unwind. It was raining and I spent my time watching the cars at the crossroad. Once the rain has stopped, we walked out and headed for our Hotel.

We saw the Bitexco Financial Tower from a distance. It’s a really tall skyscraper and after its completion in 2010, it became the tallest building in Vietnam and kept this status until January 2011, when it was surpassed by Keangnam Hanoi Landmark Tower. The architect for this building were Carlos Zapata, Jean-Marie Duthilleul and Etienne Tricaud. The shape of the skyscraper was inspired by the lotus flower, the national flower of Vietnam. The rain and the distance were the factors that prevented us from walking over to the skyscraper. We continued walking and came across the Ho Chi Minh City Hall or the Saigon City Hall. It was previously the Hôtel de Ville de Saïgon. It was built between 1902 to 1908 in the French colonial style. The building is very imposing and huge, painted in yellow and white. One definitely cannot miss this building.

As we were walking towards our Hotel. we decided to stop for dinner at a halal restaurant we came across in the morning – D’Serai Classic Restaurant. It is owned by a Malaysian but operated by his relatives. Amelia and I shared a plate of noodles and we both had teh tarik. The guy who operated the restaurant came in through the front door, wished us Selamat Hari Raya and we talked. He’s from Shah Alam and has been in Saigon for two years. He excused himself and went upstairs , only to come down again with nasi impit, kuah kacang, masak lodeh and chicken rendang – all my favourite. He invited us to eat and said that his wife came over from Shah Alam and cooked the dishes. I ate to my heart’s content – remember me saying be careful what you wish for? His wife came down and we thanked her for the food and talked. We then excused ourselves with a promise to come back.

What better way to end this post
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Hari Raya and Ho Chih Minh City: 4 June 2019

The decision to miss out on Hari Raya in Malaysia this year was made rather hastily. Amelia was “forced” to take her annual leave a day before and a day after Hari Raya. Both of us could not entertain the thought of driving back to Kuantan … the traffic jam to and from Kuantan would drive us crazy unless we drive in the wee hours of the morning. So, it was decided that both Amelia and I will spend our Hari Raya in Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) aka Saigon in Vietnam. Why Saigon and not any other city in South East Asia? Well. Amelia has never been to Saigon and me, I wanted to shop for tudung or head coverings. Saigon? This is the old name of HCMC but I like referring to HCMC as Saigon – it brings me back to those long forgotten days. Saigon, not HCMC, was in my geography book back then and so Saigon it is.

Azwan (son-in-law), Suraiya (eldest daughter) and Azwa (granddaughter) drove Amelia and I to KLIA2 at 4.30 am … yes … we are flying out on AirAsia and the plane will take off at 6.55 am. We stopped at Dengkil R&R for our sahur since we will still be fasting on our first day in Saigon. We arrived at KLIA2, said our goodbyes and went directly to the departure gate since we only had hand carry. I went all the way to gate P3 with no sign of Amelia and I was getting anxious by the minute. She did not bring her usual mobile and the one she carried was highly dependent on free wifi. Suddenly my mobile rang and it was Amelia calling me through Whatsapp (why didn’t I think of that?). She was on the way. What happened was that the tickets I printed had no barcode. So she had to go out and reprint our tickets at the ticketing machine. We boarded and the plane took off. The duration of the flight is about 2 hours (or less I think) and that gave us time to sleep. Unconsciously, I bought food and drinks online but the flight attendants were kind enough to pack them for us – that would be our dinner for tonight.

We landed at Tan Son Nhat International Airport, cleared immigration and customs. Amelia bought a sim card from Viettel for her mobile. We walked out of the terminal and looked for shuttle bus no. 109 that will take us into the city. The bus stand for the yellow shuttle bus was easy to spot as we exited the terminal. We paid 20,000 VND per person and boarded the bus. The bus leaves for the city every 15 minutes and the ride into the city would take about 30 minutes. We landed in Saigon at about 8.00 am local time and so the roads were rather congested with motorcycles and cars ferrying people to work. The bus ride took slightly longer than 30 minutes and we alighted from the bus at Ben Thanh Market. The bus would normally stop in front of Ben Thanh Market but it stopped some distance away since there is massive construction works in front of the Ben Thanh Market (I think it’s for an underground railway line?). So we had to walk quite a bit to Ben Thanh Market and from there walked to the hotel. Our hotel is the Blessing Central Hotel located in District 1 and is about 5 minutes walk from Ben Thanh Market and 15 minutes to everywhere else.

Check-in time was 2.00 pm and we left our bags and headed for the famous Malaysian Street or Nguyen An Ninh. This street is lined with Muslim eateries and shops selling famous names tudung like Ariani, Naelofar, Duck and Bokkitta. It took us 5 minutes to get to Nguyen An Ninh and Amelia’s intuition was spot on – all the Muslim shops were closed except for one – after all it’s the eve of Hari Raya. These shops are mostly operated by Vietnamese Muslims. We went to the one and only shop that’s opened and got 2 tudungs and an inner and yours truly was very confident of getting more inners from the same shop the next day (but the shop was closed as well). We then went to Ben Thanh Market to look for our usual brand of coffee – G7. However, the prices at the usual stores along the perimeter were rather high and so we went to the stores inside and decided to stop at one store for our coffee. We selected a few and the salesgirl showed us many different types of coffee beans. We said we do not have a coffee grinder and she went on to grind some coffee beans. We took a whiff of the ground coffee and we fell in love with the aroma. Our stash was 1 kg of ground coffee, 2 drip coffee maker, 6 boxes of G7 black coffee and 1 box of G7 2-in-1. The inside of the Market was way too hot and we made our way out to Circle K, a convenience store, to buy mineral water and bought some mangosteens along the way. Then it’s back to the Hotel to store our stuff. It was still too early to check-in and so we took a taxi to Takashimaya Vietnam at Saigon Centre. Saigon Centre is a huge shopping mall with designer boutiques and gourmet eateries and Takashimaya is one of them. Just opposite the Centre is Saigon Square. There are numerous stalls selling clothes, souvenirs and many other stuff. Once we have seen enough, we walked back to the Hotel and it was only 12.30 midday. I approached the reception desk with my booking ticket and they checked us in way before 2.00 pm. Thank you ladies.

We were happy with our room – it was big enough for the 2 of us and had all the amenities plus breakfast. We unpacked and slept until it was time to break our fast. I prepared Maggi cup noodles and made coffee – breaking of fast was with cup noodles, roast chicken + vegetables from AirAsia, G7 2-in-1 coffee and mangosteens. Amelia had cup noodles and spirals from AirAsia. We cleaned up, rest and left our room to explore the area around our hotel. Since tomorrow is Hari Raya, we need to look out for halal restaurants for our lunch and dinner over the next few days. We walked down Nguyen An Ninh again and saw a number of halal restaurants like Al-Amin, Osman, Salima, Hajah Basiroh and others. There were also Khadi Sanah and Soleh for your tudung and telekung. As we were walking around the streets, we came across The Daun Restaurant. This restaurant is a halal restaurant operated by a Singaporean and serves Malaysian, Singaporean, Western and Vietnamese dishes. We went in. I ordered pho and Amelia ordered Vietnamese spring rolls and we downed it with tea. The food was good and I especially liked the sauce for the spring rolls. The owner came in and introduced himself. He told us the restaurant will remain close for Hari Raya but will open the next day.

Feeling satiated, we made our way back to the Hotel and stopped at Circle K next to our Hotel for bottled drinks. Changed, watched TV whilst posting Hari Raya wishes on our various social media platforms and I finished off the Vietnamese spring rolls we brought back, mangosteens and drinks. Good night and Selamat Hari Raya Aidil Fitri 2019.

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“Hunting” for Murals in Melaka: Day 2: 5 May 2019: Part 2

If you take a left at the end of Kiehl’s Wall, you will be taken to the riverside. On one side of the river, you will find rows of buildings or rather the back of buildings. On the other side would be the historical buildings of Melaka and further down, buildings. We walked down the riverside and came across a number of eateries. But, it was not clear whether they are closed during the day time or are closed permanently. However, we did come across a few that were opened. All along the way, we came across murals as well as graffiti and many foreign tourists.

As we moved down the river bank. we came across a number of murals as well as graffitti. This could be part of the Melaka River Arts Project. This project was a “collaboration between local painters and graffiti artists, producing eye-catching designs with the city’s shophouses and guesthouses as their canvas” (Lu, Yin Wai,8 August 2017, https://theculturetrip.com/asia/malaysia/articles/the-best-mural-artworks-in-malaysia).

Tummies rumbling, we doubled back to Jonker Walk and headed for Jonker 88, a popular restaurant that serves favourite local dishes like prawn mee, curry mee, cendol and many others. Along the way we came across murals painted on the walls of narrow alleys. The lady in red has a signature on it but I was drawn to the black and white kampung houses. I should have ventured into the alley but did not since it was past our lunch hour and we had not eaten anything since breakfast at the Hotel. We also came across another Orang Utan House – this is where my girls use to get their t-shirts in their younger days.

As usual Jonker 88 was swamped with people and we had to wait for our seats. We managed to share a table with 2 lovely ladies from KL who came down to Melaka for their friend’s wedding. I would normally order curry mee here but since I was nursing a bad sore throat, Amelia ordered fishball noodles and as always, Jonker 88 never fails me. I then hurried on to a shop I came across earlier – Melipoly. I was drawn to the honey lemon combination which is supposedly good for sore throat. I had honey lemon and Amelia had honey lemon milkshake ( I think) – a definite thirst quencher on a hot day in Melaka city. And oh, we also bought the honey lemon ice tubes. If you are in Melaka, do give this a try. The staff manning the store were really friendly.

We then took off in search of the 906 Riverside Hotel and the 8 Running Horses mural. I read and have seen photos of the Hotel all covered with colourful murals. Along the way, we came across the Cheng Hoon Teng Temple. Walking along we came across a huge mural on the wall of the Straits Werk and Cafe at Jalan Kampung Hulu. It has Selamat Datang/Welcome, Melaka World Heritage City, Declared by UNESCO on 7th July 2008 written on the top left hand side with 4 logos below it. Further on, we came across the colorful mural that covers the entire building that houses the 906 Riverside Hotel. It’s colourful and certainly catches your eye if you are cruising down the river. We walked on and came across the Kampung Hulu Mosque. Mosques in Melaka fascinates me because their design still retains the architectural style of old Melaka mosques. Kampung Hulu Mosque is said to be the oldest mosque in Melaka and was constructed between 1720-1728. It was renovated in 1892 and by the look of it, it is being renovated again. “The architectural design of the mosque is a cross between Javanese, Chinese, Hindu and the Malacca Malay” (Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kampung_Hulu_Mosque)

One can spend days “hunting” for murals in Melaka but one will also come across signs of neglect, graffiti and vandalism. Clearly, no one is looking after the murals.

Again we doubled back and finally came across the 8 Running Horses mural but lo and behold, the one we found only had 2 running horses. It was reported in the press that the 8 Running Horses mural was vandalised but it did not say that it was painted over with a new mural. However, the mural was beautifully done with Chinese calligraphy … there was a huge lantern straddled across the road and with the afternoon sun, my photo has the shadow of the lantern … sorry about that. We moved on and came across the Orang Utan House and Bikini Toppings again.

So we went in for another round of coconut juice and at the same time asked the owner about a Chinese calligraphy mural that we were looking for – our last stop. He told us to walk straight on until we reach Heeren House. We did and there it was, our last mural.

Done and dusted, we rewarded ourselves with brownies from the Hard Rock Cafe and was pleasantly surprise by its presentation – big enough for 2. We then said goodbye to Melaka and headed home. Two days – tired but worth it.

A good one to close our trip – my favourite so far
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“Hunting” for Murals in Melaka: Day 2: 5 May 2019: Part 1

We intended to wake up early to avoid the midday heat but we did not. However, we did have a good night’s sleep and all ready to hit the road again. We went down for breakfast at the Hotel’s cafe. There was not much on offer but we ate what was there. I had fruits and porridge and nimbled on the cookies. The Hotel was busy preparing for their Ramadan buffet and I guess they were not paying too much attention to the breakfast spread. We packed and checked out.

Our next stop is Jonker Street. Luck was on our side – we managed to get a parking spot at the entrance to Jonker Street and from there we walked and walked and walked. The heat was not helping … it was really hot. There was no huge crowd all along the Street probably because tomorrow is the first day of the Muslim month of Ramadan aka the fasting month. The Malay community are probably at busy preparing for this.

We had a list of places to go but as we were walking, an entrance to a shophouse caught Amelia’s eyes and on closer inspection, it was the Ven. Seck Kim Seng Memorial Library. Whenever we travel, both my girls will always keep a lookout for libraries. They also love going to museums and art galleries. Back to this particular Library. I have been to Jonker Street so many times and this is the first time I’ve seen this. So, both Amelia and I looked around. The lady who was manning the counter was very friendly and allowed us to explore and photograph the place … I will write about this in another post.

We moved on and turned a corner and was on Jalan Tukang Mas. Amelia pointed out an old mosque. She has visited this one before but it was a first for me. I went in and explored the quaint mosque known as the Kampung Kling Mosque – I will write about this in another post. We thanked the lady who answered all our questions and walked on until we reached the Sri Poyyatha Vinayagar Moorthi Temple. It is said to be one of the few existing Chitty temples in Malaysia and the oldest Hindu temple in Malaysia.

We continued walking and again, it’s very hot. We finally arrived at the Interactive Murals Lane aka the Wells. The murals are painted on a wall along a little back alley off Jalan Hang Kasturi or Jalan Kampung Kuli (I think but I might be wrong and therefore, please check it out on a map). There are a number of murals which are meant to be interactive. You have to be interacting with the mural as you take the photo or else the murals make no sense. Amelia strongly feels that murals tend to “invite” graffiti and vandalism and I do agree with her. We do see signs of graffiti and vandalism on the walls. But, another school of thought feels that graffiti is another form of public art.

Keep an eye for street signs

But one particular mural caught my eye. It’s signed and the details that go into the mural makes it breathtakingly beautiful. It reminds me of the mural at the Petronas Station in MITC. As we moved it, we came across a mural known as The Boat. It takes the form of a Chinese painting showing men carrying cargo off a boat and there is a Chinese poem beside the mural. There’s a rope that ties the boat to a post. This one reminds me of Ernest Zacharevic’s murals. He uses objects for his murals in Georgetown and Ipoh.

We walked further on and took a right and was heading for the famous Orang Utan House. In 1992, Charles Cham founded the Orang Utan House. This was his studio and gallery. He painted a huge orange Orang Utan on one of the walls and it is still there till today. I was talking to the owner of one of the shops opposite the Orang Utan House and he remembered how Charles Cham painted the mural in 1992.

Melaka City was extremely hot. The locals I came across said that it had not rained for quite sometime. So what better way to quench one’s thirst than to drop by at Bikini Toppings. This shop is directly opposite the Orang Utan House and specialises in everything coconut. I had coconut water water and Amelia had ice cream.

On the side wall of Bikini Toppings is the famous Kiehl’s mural. Popularly known as the Kiehl’s Wall, the mural was created by @fritilldea in 2015. Kiehl’s is an American brand retailer that specialises in hair, skin and body care items. Kiehl’s launched the UNESCO World Heritage Trail in 2015. Malaysia has 5 UNESCO World Heritage Sites namely the city of Melaka, Georgetown, Archaeological Heritage of Lenggong Valley, Gunung Mulu National Park and Kinabalu Park.

I’ll end Part 1 with Kiehl’s Wall. This mural itself is very colourful and covers an entire wall. The colours somehow reminds me of Mondrian’s work.

Lived in Paris 1912-14; was influenced by Cubism, which he carried to the point of abstraction. Returned to Holland in 1914 and step by step evolved a more simplified abstract style which he called Neo-Plasticism, restricted to the three primary colours and to a grid of black vertical and horizontal lines on a white ground.

https://www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/piet-mondrian-1651

He evolved a non-representational form which he termed Neoplasticism. This was the new ‘pure plastic art’ which he believed was necessary in order to create ‘universal beauty’. To express this, Mondrian eventually decided to limit his formal vocabulary to the three primary colours (red, blue and yellow), the three primary values (black, white and gray) and the two primary directions (horizontal and vertical).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piet_Mondrian
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“Hunting” for Murals in Melaka: Day 1: 4 May 2019

The funny thing about me is that, when I was in employment, I’m all into planning and organising. I had all my checklists ready before the start of any day. But, nowadays, I throw caution to the wind and can take off anywhere at a moment’s notice. And that was what I did rather recently. I guess being a retiree allows you that liberty since time is on your side.

Amelia and I decided to take off to Melaka last weekend to literally “hunt down” for murals in the historical city of Melaka. This was for her project and I was more than willing to accompany her. We took off on a Saturday (4 May 2019) at about 10.30 a.m. with Amelia at the wheels. We stopped for breakfast at Dengkil R&R. Yours truly had a burning sore throat and so breakfast was rice noodles in soup and hot tea. Amelia had nasi lemak, a typical Malaysian breakfast food. We drove on and made 2 stops – one at Pedas Linggi R&R and the other at Air Keroh R&R.

We left the Air Keroh Toll booth and our first stop on our list was the Petronas Station at MITC. Amelia parked and there is was on one of the walls, a mural I have read about prior to this trip. In 2018, Petronas in collaboration with students from UiTM’s Faculty of Art & Design painted murals on 7 selected Petronas stations themed “Cerita Kita”. The one in Melaka is the 5th in the series and its titled “Where Multicultural Heritage Resides”. This particular mural showcases the unique staircase of a typical Melaka house. It is a huge mural and I dwarfed against it. The other 6 murals are in Selangor, Perak, Penang, KL, Pahang and Sabah. In sya Allah, I will try to locate them as well.

Where Multicultural Heritage Resides @ Petronas Station MITC Melaka – the mural is huge

We then proceeded to Stadium Tun Fatimah at Taman Bandaraya Bukit Serindit. The Melaka Historic City Council organised a mural painting competition and they shortlisted about 28 finalists to paint murals on walls surrounding the Stadium. When we arrived, there were still a good number of participants finishing their artworks and there were also those who have completed the task. The theme for the murals was sports and recreation. Whilst viewing the murals, I realised that there are different styles of painting and different types of paint that one can use for mural painting. There were a number of good pieces and I was told that the first prize for this competition was RM10,000. We stayed for awhile but the heat was getting to us.

Our next stop was Stadium Hang Jebat in Krubong. When we arrived, we were greeted with sounds from lots of motorcycles and when asked, the security guard said that it was a motorcycle gathering. The noise level was rather unbearable. Stadium Hang Jebat is home to the Melaka United Soccer Association. In 2016, a group of students from UiTM’s Faculty of Education from Puncak Alam and students from UiTM Alor Gajah Melaka embarked on the Mural Learning Zone Project @ Stadium Hang Jebat. The students painted several murals on the outside wall of the Stadium and the walls on selected entry ramps. The theme of the murals is football. Most of the murals are still in good condition and we got permission to look at the murals on the walls but not those on the entry ramps. However, we did catch a glimpse of a mural of the late Mokhtar Dahari on one of the entry ramps. This is the first time murals are painted on the walls of a Stadium.

Feeling hot and thirsty, we then proceeded to our hotel – Hotel Sentral Riverview along Jalan Tun Ali. I was rather taken aback by the location of the hotel since I thought it would be by the riverside along Jonker Street but it was not. The good thing is that the hotel has ample parking space. We checked in, cleaned up and walked all the way to Aeon Mall. It was quite a distance from the hotel but we got to walk by a river (I don’t know the name) but saw the beginnings of a beautiful project had it been completed.

The Aeon Bandaraya Melaka Shopping Center at Jalan Lagenda was huge with lots of eateries and we opted for Row Six Melaka, a restaurant that looked rather high end. The food we ordered was good and then we finished off with coffee at Starbucks. We walked back to the hotel as fast as we could since it was a very hot day in Melaka. Once we reached our room, we dozed off.

Hunger pangs woke me up and after a nice long bath, we had to literally “hunt” for dinner. The Hotel does not serve dinner and by the time we reached The Store, the building next to our Hotel that has a food stall, the owner was closing for the night since he had sold out. The other stalls nearby were non-halal. He did however showed us the way to another stall that’s about 5 minutes walk away – Restoran Nasi Kandar Subaidah at Jalan Hang Tuah. I had rice with mutton curry and Amelia snacked on poppadoms. We drank gallons of water and also bought bottled drinks and poppadoms before heading back to the Hotel. We made plans for tomorrow and I’m off to bed while Amelia was typing away.

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Definitely My Busiest Moments Ever

Prior to the last week of March 2019, I was literally pulling several all nighters and up to my neck in work. I’m quite involved with Persatuan Pustakawan Malaysia or PPM ( the English equivalent would be the Librarians Association of Malaysia) of which I’m the current Past President. From 25 to 28 March 2019, PPM together with the National Library of Malaysia organised not one but four events – 2 Pre-Conference Workshops, Persidangan Tahunan Perpustakaan Malaysia 2019 (Annual Conference of Malaysian Libraries 2019), IFLA WLIC 2018 Appreciation Night and PPM’s AGM for 2018/2019. I was directly involved in the Conference in my capacity as a member of the Committee for Conference Papers and Reporting (hopefully I would not be volunteering for this anymore in the near future).

Work began very early on with identifying and contacting presenters. But, we made several changes since the Organising Committee wanted presenters who are directly involved with activities related to the theme of the Conference – #MalaysiaMembaca or #MalaysiaReads. Once all presenters have agreed and in place, the team need to be up and running throughout the Conference – taking care of the presenters, rapporteuring, making sure that the timing for the presenters are spot on, etc. etc. etc. Once the Conference is over, there are reports to prepare, thank you emails to send and news to edit. Finally, tonight, all the reports and news were attended to and sent off the the relevant persons … you could definitely hear a sigh of relief coming from my direction.

The other task that kept me busy was preparing articles for PPM’s journal known as Jurnal PPM : Journal of Malaysian Librarians. The first volume of the Journal was published as Volume 1, 2007 and now we are at Volume 12, 2018 … not bad if I may say so. The Journal publishes about 6 to 8 articles on library and information science for each volume, but it’s not a peer reviewed journal. But, the Editorial Team is rather selective on what goes into the journal. The major challenge faced all throughout the 11 years is getting the right number of articles per volume. However, the Editorial Team has ways of overcoming this. Volume 13 will be published this year (hopefully it will go to the printer by end of November 2019) and I guess it would be the right time for me to pass the baton to a new team. No one is indispensable and 13 is a good number to leave. Sometime in 2006, someone challenged me to continue what others in PPM left off … the publication of a journal. Previously we had the MLG Newsletter (1950s), Berita PPM (1970s), Pustaka (1970s), Sumber Pustaka (1970s) and Berita PPM (1990s till now) again. At that time I was in the final year of my study leave and was looking for a diversion from my doctoral research. So, I took up the challenge and here we are. It started out only as Jurnal PPM but since 2017, it had a subtitle added to it. Maybe I should write an article on this but I don’t have the complete set of publications to analyse. Or maybe I should just write about this for Berita PPM? Let’s see how it goes.

12 issues in total … never thought it would last this long

On another note, I flew down to Kuantan on 22 March 2019 and flew back to KL on 24 March 2019. Come to think of it, this was a rather risky move since the Conference began on 25 March 2019 but I had to attend an event that was preplanned way in advance – a reunion with my schoolmates from the Methodist Girls’ Secondary School Kuantan on 23 March 2019 which was held at the restaurant of the Zenith Hotel. I have however settled all matters pertaining to the Conference and I did need the break. I left KLIA2 with Jah and Emma and was greeted on arrival by Bed. We had breakfast with Siti and then stopped at her house for a bit before checking into the Megaview Hotel (Jah and me) and Hotel Sentral (Emma and Bed). Throughout the 3 days, we ate a lot, met up with friends and caught up with the latest news. The Reunion was attended by 17 of us and personally I was very happy ‘cos I get to meet my schoolmates in person instead of through WhatsApp … a blessing indeed.

Once all the work associated with the Conference are completed, it was back to cleaning the house which I have neglected for a while. I live in a condominium unit … small enough to take care of but big enough to house the family. I moved into the unit in December 2003 and it’s now 2019, time to renovate the place since some items need to be replaced or removed. I do have a contractor in mind and work was suppose to begin in July 2017 and it’s now April 2019 … procrastination took over and work has not started at all. So, it’s back to listing what has to be done and fixing a date with the contractor within this two weeks. Right … time is now spent cleaning the house and paying more attention to Azwa, my 6-year old granddaughter. I then remembered that the Kuala Lumpur International Book Fair is taking place from 29 March to 7 April 2019 at PWTC. So on 4 April 2019, Sue, AZwa and I boarded the LRT at Ara Damansara, changed LRTs at Masjid Jamek and arrived at PWTC. The place was packed but we managed to get the books we wanted. Azwa bought quite a number of books but there were selling at a discount. I managed to get hold of a few books that will take me through the month of Ramadhan.

We went out quite a lot to run errands and do just get out of the house. And … we ate out quite a lot as well. But fear not, we have stocked up our pantry and looking forward to home cooked meals again. Eating out is an expensive affair.

I started writing this blog about 3 days ago (I guess???) and only managed to finish up and publish today, 13 April 2019. What’s in store for the weekend? There is a wedding in Sepang, a meet-up with the contractor and then to the Kimgres Showroom to look at tiles and home sweet home. But my plans alway change. Have a lovely weekend everyone.

p/s: I do need a mobile with better camera … the photos were all taken with a mobile I bought a year ago. It was suppose to be a temp replacement while waiting for a new model to appear on the market but I never got to getting it ‘cos I blew my RM on a tablet that I very seldom use. These photos are so so only when compared to the ones taken with my old mobile before 2018.

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