A KL Incursion into the Caves

25 January 2016 | Hisham | | Family Pics

Then all too suddenly, we were visited upon by relatives from back in the Klang Valley, specifically Irfan's cousins Aiman and Zara and their family. It was the first time they visited Perlis.

As per the standard operating procedure, we took them around the state - the smallest in the country - starting with the bustling, tourist-filled bazaars of Padang Besar. Zara bought new a toy there.  Ain brought them to her vendors of choice.

The duty-free store at the Thai border is also a tourist favourite. Just as it was 25 years ago, I still wished Padang Besar had a decent book store, but I guess visitors here are more concerned with getting a good deal for wares rather than books. In any case, Zara got to ride in a duty-free shopping cart.

The standard operating procedure ensured that we next visited Gua Kelam, where they appeared to have fixed the lights that had been broken in our last visit. There was even a camera crew from some TV studio in the caves. 

Breaking through to the far end of the cave, we came to the picnic and camp ground, but seeing that it's way past noon we figured this would be a very brief stop to enjoy the greenery before we headed back through the cave. A video of the walk back to the car park can be viewed here!

Much later in the afternoon we went to Kuala Perlis to watch the sunset. Irfan and Aiman watched mudskippers and poked at crab holes in the low tide.

The weekend went by fast and they had to drive back to Pulau Pinang to catch a flight home the following day. We hope they would stay longer so we could do more activities together here in Perlis.


A Birthday Dinner Appeared Out of Nowhere

22 January 2016 | Hisham | | Family Pics

What words can I write that would do justice in wishing a happy birthday to a woman who has always been on my side through it all and still can smile and laugh with me?

We found a new place to eat if we need to celebrate stuff

Probably nothing, except Happy Birthday.

You can't go wrong with chicken

And sorry I forgot to take a photo of your burger. LOL! It's as yummy as Irfan's chicken chop up there.


Lighting the Bike

18 January 2016 | Hisham | | Family Pics

Once upon a time, I marvelled at Irfan's then-newfound abilities to reach a light switch.

These days he's repairing the bicycle Atok bought for him last year all on his own. Here we see him attempting to remove his bike's forward and rear lights which he had purchased and installed himself during the weekend. He even bought and installed the batteries for his lights himself.

He even went to the bike shop alone to replace his seat, as 14-year-olds normally do.

Maybe someday he'll even repair communication satellites! I think he's getting older by the second. Snif.


Irfan Goes To An Exhibition

09 January 2016 | Hisham | | Family Pics

Irfan was selected to attend a school exhibition at a prestigious school in Satun, Thailand. 

That's my old jacket. We can't afford another

With a group of 12 other students (all of which are fifth formers), he set out with his convoy from school early Wednesday morning.

Irfan is a visually recognisable blob

He participated in a spelling bee and helped man his school's exhibition booth where they demonstrated various science experiments.

The delegation from his school

Before he returned on Friday, the group also visited Pak Bara.

International Irfan at the beach

Irfan returned home at the end of the day where he had stories of his adventures to tell.


Yet Another Cousin Arrives

24 December 2015 | Hisham | | Family Pics, Recent News

After our inaugural viewing of Star Wars The Force Awakens in Alor Setar, Cikma - who was very far along her pregnancy - was admitted to hospital for blood pressure that went through the roof. So first thing the next morning Ain and Irfan travelled to KL by bus to aid Cikma.

But before their bus cruised into the city, young Rania Sumayyah was decantered into this world. Both mother and infant were healthy upon her arrival.

Aunt and cousin, eh? Thankfully it's not Shub-Niggurath

Welcome to this universe, Baby Rania!

I missed The Force Awakens premiere? That's just nuts

Of course, Irfan is happy because he gets to meet with his cousins!

Irfan, Zara and Aiman go nuts at the hospital! No not really...

A Second Move

05 December 2015 | Hisham | | Family Pics

Last December we moved 500 hundred kilometres to new house. This week a year later, we moved again but this time it was only about 2 klicks down the road. It was gratifying that we did not need to cross state lines for the move.

Thanks to some friends, before I went to my course in Kuala Lumpur we secured a house at a residential estate right beside Irfan's school. We had scoped this area out for months to no avail, until now. Our previous house was nice and comfortable, and the landlord was a great person. We were surrounded by greens there, but I still hoped for a house where Irfan could actually walk to school.

Our former landlord helped with the move by introducing us to some movers. Most of my stuff are still in moving boxes for over a year because we had to place to unpack them out to.

Now I live in a house with a gate! Swanky!

Atok and Opah were present for the move, and we bought the movers lunch.

I have not lived in a taman since Taman Kektus a million lifetimes ago. The effort to make the house comfortable fell to Ain's hands because most of the day I had to be at work, and she did a great job at the cost of her adenosine triphosphates.

I do wish Betty kitty could have made it to the new house with us.


Lost in Translation

30 November 2015 | Hisham | | Family Pics, Recent News

We had two weeks to spend in Kuala Lumpur because of my course. Let's get the unpleasantness out of the way first: I had the flu for two days in the first week, then three in the second. It was unpleasant not just because I felt like a popsicle all day but also because it was expensive, but I did not miss a day of class.

During the weekend that marked the midpoint of our adventure in KL, we spend the night at Kak Nor's house where Irfan played to his heart's content with his cousins! On Sunday, I went to continue the Modesty Blazing Star Wars Edge of the Empire campaign, picking up where we left off 14 months ago when I still lived in the city.

Ain and Irfan bought a Corellian VCX-100 freighter which I put to good use during the game earlier.


So the intensive translation course was pretty outstanding. Not only was it informative and useful to my work but the other attendees were all amazing people from various backgrounds, all coming together to learn the tricks of the translation trade. The instructors were practising translators with a truckload of information which they could recall at will.

The building we were in can see all the way to Taman Seri Rampai.


Set Course For The City

20 November 2015 | Hisham | | Family Pics, Recent News

And so it was that the workplace booked me on a two week course. The course was to be held back in Kuala Lumpur. You know the city: Irfan's kampung. We drove southbound and spent the night in Sitiawan before continuing on to Kuala Lumpur after a breakfast with Irfan's Atok and Opah.

We stopped at Sekinchan at a restaurant where lunch was to be had on what appeared to be a kotatsu. A novel thing, and it helped that the food was delicious.

We arrived in the city and headed for Cikma's place where we rendezvoused with every sibling of Ain (and their family) where Irfan was reunited with his cousin Aiman once more.

Then after, we headed for the building where the course was held way across town from Cikma's place. Ain had discovered that the place had accomodations for course attendees and they were affordable. Because of a communication mix up among the staff there, we had to wait for someone to let us in through the inner security door which leads to the lift lobby.

But all was resolved soon. 

The best part about the accomodations is that it came with a library! There were loads of books that were translated from Malay to English and vice versa. I was soon to discover that I had not one iota of time to read any of the books because of the course workload.

I really wanted to buy that Epic of Hang Tuah book, which was translated from Hikayat Hang Tuah, but in the end I had to spend on other books. So we will return some day for the Epic of Hang Tuah

The room we were assigned to was very comfortable as the boy is glad to demonstrate for us in the photo below. I found the air conditioning unbearably cold though.


Tsuro Picnic

16 October 2015 | Hisham | | Board and Card Games, Family Pics

Once upon a time, earlier today, Irfan came up with the idea of setting up a mat out in the yard so he and other neighbourhood kids can play board games outdoors.

A Tsuro picnic

Later, there were even sandwiches and apple juice!

With food and drinks!

Here's hoping the boardgaming will help Irfan and the other children to improve their social and language skills as they interact with one another.

Perhaps someday there will be RPG picnics?


15th Anniversary Pizza

15 October 2015 | Hisham | | Family Pics, Food, Recent News

Fifteen years since we that day Ain and I got married. We've had a number of anniversaries over the fifteen years. Fifteen years of juking and barrel rolling and Tallon rolling and drop kick Koiogran turn just to stay out of reach of blaster bolts from the rear. Sometimes, we would get it and it would hurt because it would mean I failed to keep my family from hurt and harm. Most of the time, we would pull through by the skin of our teeth.


This was the first year we celebrate our anniversary without anyone attempting to acquire a target lock on us. It was amazing. I felt like it was the first time I managed to get the ship out of the asteroid field and away from the savage squad of pursuing fighters. We were able to spend some on pizza without worrying about the cost killing us like before.

We spent the evening at Shala Pizza.

I got a little Pizza Supreme pan, while Ain got a burger. I did not get enough pictures because the phone ran out of juice.

Irfan had the one slathered with the BBQ sauce.

Even with the last 15 years of running on spit and chicken wire, with oil dripping from the ceiling and everything one step from breaking down into scrap, we kept on fighting the good fight. And we don't plan on stopping to. I would never have come this far if it were not for Ain at my side.

Love you forever, Ain.


Eid Mubarak from Sitiawan

24 September 2015 | Hisham | | Family Pics

Selamat Hari Raya Aidil Adha from us in Sitiawan.

Rassum frassum haze...


Is that 13 Solar or Lunar Years?

23 September 2015 | Hisham | | Family Pics

And just like that, our once-newborn son is a teenager. As Irfan is so fond of reciting, "Masa berjalan begitu saja." Although Atok and Opah had treated us to an early birthday dinner with Irfan back in Sitiawan, we went to Burger Republik once more to commemorate the day.

From the urban inner city streets of Pandan Indah (which we rarely allow him to be on unsupervised) to the more relaxed conditions of Perlis! Happy birthday and may you continue to grow and burgeon with wisdom and positivity.

His birthday present, by the way, is a book.


Increments in Double Zero

18 September 2015 | Hisham | | Family Pics

Fiction is how ideas can be put forward to make one think. I use many methods to help develop Irfan's thinking skills - although I have no clue if they work efficiently.

A lot of fiction for children, when they involve conflict will usually gravitate to an environment with two sides: the right side and the wrong side. You know the cartoon shows. The bad guys make life difficult for the good guys, and the good guys have to surmount this difficulty to achieve some measure of victory.

Mobile Suit Gundam 00 however has a number of sides. Each side has those with a moral conscience and those who are assholes. Even the side that the protagonists are on has factions that are morally reprehensible. So I hope the lesson taught is not to see the person for his uniform or the colour of his skin, but to his intentions and especially his deeds.

And if there is need to act for the betterment of society and mankind, we should.

Meanwhile, Irfan used some of his saved up pocket money (and food sales earnings - a whole another story) over a couple of months to buy the Exia and Dynames Gundams from Double Zero.

Needs moar swords. Seven swords needed

Exia is piloted by Suran Ibrahim. Dynames is piloted by Neil Dylandy, then later Lyle Dylandy.

Is that a Super Substratospheric Altitude Gun in your pocket or are you happy to see me?

Thanks to some tinkering around, he created an Exia-Dynames hybrid Gundam for some sort of nefarious reason.

Ours will be a handsome child!

A Bit Higher Than College Age

14 September 2015 | Hisham | | Family Pics, Recent News
Needs even moar people that matter in this picture

It is nearly impossible for me to form the words to explain and describe the experience of graduating from college with a Bachelor Degree in English Studies at age 42, on top of the multitude of experiences positive and negative I underwent in the last 25 years or so. I know I prefer to harp on the negative, but on the whole it has been gratifying. After all is said and done, I guess here and now having the family, friends and tools that I possess is where I am actually supposed to be.

A big thanks to everyone that pushed me in this direction.


We're Not The Droids You're Looking For

03 September 2015 | Hisham | | Family Pics, Star Wars

Irfan got a present from his aunt last weekend when two aunts visited. He got this great t-shirt filled with droids. There's everything from the demolitions droid, some astromech droids, battle droids, a power droid to protocol droids. But there is no Bollux and Blue Max, sadly.

And there's no Great Heep on it...

So I too wore a t-shirt with a droid on it and took a photo of us. So we would have a photo. Of both of us wearing t-shirts. Of droids.


Visitors to Burger Republik

31 August 2015 | Hisham | | Family Pics, Food

When the visitors formerly from the tenth floor visited, we thought we would take them to some place fancy, namely Burger Republik.


For the occasion, two tables were joined together to form the robot lion.

Oern Jus!

The day the sign was made, they told us that anyone who pointed out the spelling mistake of "oren" got a free orange juice.


So anyway... this is Ciksu's burger. It has all the onions, which makes it more awesome than awesome.


Many ordered the chicken chop, including Ain, which as usual had a great flavour to its gravy.


Cikma ordered the salmon.

Little burro!

I thought I would just enjoy the burritos. Because it should be a burrito day everyday.


Visitors Formerly From the Tenth Floor

30 August 2015 | Hisham | | Family Pics

Over the Merdeka Day Weekend, we received some visitors, two of which lived back at the Tenth Floor with us back in the day

Cikma, Ayah Cik the Younger and Ciksu travelled to the north all the way from Kuala Lumpur to spend time with us. Also, Irfan had some questions about Steam to ask Ayah Cik.

After an afternoon at Padang Besar where no padang besars could be found, we had dinner at the beach in Kuala Perlis, which for some reason I keep calling "Kuala Selangor" by mistake for no good reason.

Maghrib prayers were performed at Masjid Kuala Perlis which was built over water off the town promenade. It was the first time I visited this mosque. Unfortunately it was low tide.


Weekend at Sitiawan

10 August 2015 | Hisham | | Family Pics

Last weekend, we balik kampung to Sitiawan.

Coincidentally, we got to attend my cousin's wedding in Ipoh on Saturday. All except Opah Irfan went to the community hall where the wedding took place. She was unwell. As a bonus, we discovered some nifty new roads heading into the capital city of Perak by way of Batu Gajah. 

Twice the Yongs!

Yong Neni and her newborn with Yong Ain together again. We invited them to visit us in Perlis if time permits. It would be great to have them as houseguests and show them the sights.

Strawberry Cafe is its name

Later that night, Atok and Opah took us to dinner at a restaurant of Atok's old acquaintance. We drove past the restaurant many a time in the past, but failed to notice it. The ambience was good. The food was great. When Vin and Sila return, we should totally come here for dinner at some point.


Homeward Bound Over the Hills

23 July 2015 | Hisham | | Family Pics

Aidilfitri vacation was coming to an end. We left for home from Pasir Mas at 0430 hours and arrived at the eastern end of the mountain roads just in time for Subuh prayers. By the time we reached the Titiwangsa rest stop an hour later, this was what we saw while the cold winds buffetted us:

Travelling the East-West Highway in the dark could be a bit daunting, then the sun rises

We got one amazing view from the top of the hills as the sun peeked over the horizon. If only we could stay up there and enjoy the view forever.

This view beats anything back at the Tenth Floor

The photos here could not do justice to the view because of the low light conditions, as well as the sun coming up right before us. 

...is the love that I've found ever since you've been around

It was like the top of the world, with the layer of clouds were like a carpet of whiteness in the valley far below us and the only explanation I can find...

From Baling to Sik we passed through Kampung Memali

We stopped for breakfast at Baling, which we usually bypass.

Sik, dude

We also stopped for photos at Sik, because Sik.

Then we headed home, safely reaching home base after lunch.

Lunch at Subways.


Hari Raya at Pasir Mas

20 July 2015 | Hisham | | Board and Card Games, Family Pics

This year I was able to take a full week's vacation for Eid vacation at Pasir Mas. I was able to take a vacation because I had a job to take a vacation from this year, which is one of the many things I am grateful for this year. We arrived a couple of days early so Ain could work her magic in the kitchen. There was also a lot of orange soda thanks to Abang G.

Orange and Brown family

Eid was on a Friday. Irfan and I walked to the masjid, and almost missed the Eid prayers but got into the back line just in time.

Tok Bah and Tok Man, also a Tall Boy