Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Mana-Mana Friends ,continuation...Mao & the fruit seller in Siem Reap


After sometime at the fruit seller and feeling comfortable with Mao, as he was polite and humble, i decided to ask him to take me for a tour of the city on his Tuk Tuk. He seems like an honest man  and i was very impressed he could speak English quite well. He would guide me with the history, showing me all the important buildings in the city, even the history of each hotel. He would stop where ever i need to stop and even made recommmendations where necessary.  It was short and quick tour  but i had fun and learned so many things about Siem Reap . It was so interesting that i made a deal to engage him again later in the afternoon. 

Siem Reap is not a big city , tourists prefer to walk and explore by foot. There are plenty  of Tuk Tuk around so sometimes it is not easy for these drivers to get customers and life can be though. Mr Mao lives with his wife and 2 small kids and he is renting only a room. He works more than 12 hours a day.
He gets more during the peak tourist seasons which is from October till May and hardly survives during the low season. He strives to improve his English as he knows it's important for the tourist industry.

After engaging him for a few times , i trust Mao &  i plan to engage him every time i am in the city. If i have more than 4 people which is the maximum a Tuk Tuk can take, he will get a friend to drive for me as well. Tuk Tuk are very cheap and you don't have to bargain actually but check out the standard rates with the hotel before you take one. Don't forget to get a card or brochure of your hotel , just in case you forget the address and you will not be cheated.

Now i look forward to see Mao in December. We stay connected via emails....see, Tuk Tuk driver also "canggih" . He is so sweet, even if its not time for me to visit Siem Reap, he will drop a line and say hello and always wish me & family good health. I feel so blessed to have found an honest, simple & humble man. 

Mr Mao leaving for home after dropping me at the hotel

Mana mana ASk Pipah!

Mana Mana Friends.......With Mao & the fruit seller in Siem Reap

Last December i went with a group for girlfriends or popularly called '' rombongan cik kiah" to Siem Reap, Cambodia. That was my  1st trip with them as i normally meet them only during birthdays, or "khenduris", Hari Raya gatherings or open houses or during our "Kutu nights"
There is only 1 flight on Air Asia to this former French Colonised city, Siem Reap. The flight AK 1481 departs at 0735 am from LCCT  and arrives at 0835 am local time.

The immigration procedure was fast as they don't have many flights arriving at that hour together with us. For foreigners, you can apply Visa on arrival but please read up carefully on the internet regarding the requirements .You have to have the precise photograph size and also the photocopies of documents.
I learned  about this when i went for the second time when Bekhruz & Sitora came from Uzbekistan and together with Tengku Munirah & Rehan Harun we went for short holiday here.

One important thing to remember,  you must always get your entry card from the airplane. Just keep  extra in your bag. I must have doze off in the plane when the air stewardess passed by with the entry cards and i thought i will just pick it at the immigration counter upon arrival. Boy! i was wrong . They pushed me from one counter to another and gave all kinds of excuses and even said they have run out of cards. They even ask for money! I said i can go back to the aircraft if you allow me too, but off course that's not possible. Finally after almost everyone is out of the arrival hall, one officer came and gave me a copy which has been used . That i will never forget and insyaallah this December i will be traveling with some friends again, i will definitely be careful with their entry cards.

I am writing not about my travel in Siem Reap but about my friend i met there. He is Mr Mao !
When i was there the 1st time, we arrived early at the hotel, too early and we could only check in after 2 pm which is quite normal in hotels all over the world. Its free & easy for everyone till we leave for the Angkor Watt tour the following day.

So, i decided not to waste my morning sitting around at the lobby and i set myself to explore the city on my own. When i came out,  this tanned & friendly looking guy was calling for me. Tuk Tuk Ma'am.! City tour  Ma'am. He looked okay to me and i feel i will be alright as his Tuk Tuk is parked at the hotel entrance so he must be a reliable driver. So we agreed on the price, off i went. Guess where??!!

To the market off course! I went to look for fruits of which i know they have lovely sweet pineapples, mangoes, and also other fruits which are familiar to our country. They had mangosteen & rambutans too at that time. But besides these fruits i actually was locally for the cut fruits like we have at home to eat with salt & "sambal rojak"which i have brought from home. Until today i really wonder how i could escape the security check point as they could have just thrown it in the dustbin.  Anyway, I explained to Mao in details what i was looking for. So, he drove me near the French Quarters and found a lady selling it. Wooh! talking or rather writing about it is enough to make my mouth watery now.

OOh! these are really yummy!

Even Sitora from Uzbekistan loves these "Assam"

These lady is clean & neat !

Selangor Pewter Factory Tour

Last monday,  me & Raja Shahrin Shah or fondly called Ku Mah during schooldays decided to visit the Selangor Pewter factory in Setapak. We plan to browse around for appropriate gifts for our teachers who are attending the forthcoming Old GEGS get together scheduled for 24th November 2012.
Ku Mah has been there before to look for gifts and i had been there too when i brought Maude Jackson a friend from Capetown for a tour of the factory. 

I assume there are still many of us who has not been or know about this place. Maybe i am wrong but honestly it is good place that you can consider bringing your children,grandchildren, nieces & nephews  friends from the kampung or from abroad. They are open 7 days a week and admission is free. They have in-house guides that will take you around the workshops with very good explanations & commentary on the history of tin & pewter industry in Malaysia. You can have a hand at making the pewter too. Later you can browse around in their "canggih" showroom with all their products from the catalogue displayed. You can take photos, you can hold and touch the products. They have friendly staffs to help you around.
I love Selangor pewter and i have been giving these items for my foreign friends since i first started working. Its an iconic Malaysian identity . You can get from their outlets in various shopping malls or hotels but with limited choice . But a trip to the factory will most likely suit your budget.Even if you do not plan to make any purchase, the staffs will still smile at you. They have a cafe where you can sit and have coffee & cakes, the price are just like the ones you get in Delicious or Ben's or Plan B. 

Selangor Pewter has bought over Comyns , the British Sterling Silver company many years back and they have a special section just for this selections. I just fall in love with the Comyns selections of Malaysian fruits & vegetables. The price.........take a look yourselves! I like the silver garlic & the gold durian, ha ha ha. Ku Mah, get me the garlic for my next birthday, he he he, i won't ask for the durian, not to worry.
The also have a mini KLCC erected in pewter too! Nice place to take photos for remembrance, that's the closest you can get to KLCC, ha ha ha.
We spent not more than an hour in total as we had to drive to Top Hat to check out the venue & confirm the menu for our high tea for the get together. As we drove out, the buses that arrived the same time as we arrived had left and we saw a few smaller tourist vans coming it. I suppose it is a must see tourist product while you are in Kuala Lumpur. As a local, don't miss out on this. If you go, please share your views.


                                                             Mana mana ASk Pipah!

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Memories of Russia in pictures!

The Red Room in the Hermitage!

He is there to serenade you 365 days in a year, rain or shine
Russian beauty near the metro station

Autumn Headgear

Souvenirs made of amber

That's St Petersburg for you

Taking a river cruise in Saint Petersburg

House of Cartier in St Petersburg

Mother & Son having a great time in Kazan

Beautiful flower bed in Kazan, Republic of Tatarstan

Some delicious sweets of Tatarstan served by the hotel in Kazan!

Door Gifts???

The Gym in the background

Matryoshka Dolls

This statue reminds me of the Selamat Datang statue in Jakarta!

The famous Russian Samovars

Great souvenirs of Uzbekistan!

Antique bowls of Soviet Era
There is a little shop in Buxoro that sells lovely ceramics and some antiques of all shapes & sizes. I like the bowls on the extreme left. As they are antiques i could afford only 1 on my last trip. I told the owner, if the other one is meant for me, i will get it when i go next spring, insyaallah

Got this for myself!

Woman in the cloak

Long time ago women in the cities in the Central Asian countries were cloaked from head to toes in padded robes and wore a dark horsehair veil that made it impossible to see who is inside. Beneath these coverings, well to do women wore layers of brilliant silk & satins and those who could afford wore Ikats.
Personally i have tried using this cloak plus the horsehair veil and i swear you , its not that bad as you may think. I could walk comfortably and i could see well because the lights are outside and those people outside the cloak will not  be able to see because it is dark beneath the veil, simple as that!

The Luscious Ikats of Uzbekistan