Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Babymime (Thailand)

Last weekend, our family went to watch a mime show at PJ Civic Hall. It was a charity performance to raise funds for the poor in the border of Myammar. The event was organized  by 般若学舍 Persatuan Meditasi Prajna KL & Sel., co-organized by ASLI戏剧联盟 Drama Art Community Association KL & Sel. 

The performers, known as Babymime are from Thailand. It was a FANTASTIC performance! Many thanks to my younger sister who sponsored us the tickets to the show.  

The story line encompasses around things that happen around us. They see the world through the eyes of children, they behave like one most of the time :) yet bringing laughter to all the audiences. It is definitely a good show for the whole family, young and old. They are very spontaneous and sensitive to the audience. 

A little "move" or "noise" from the audience would catch their attention and they would definitely do something about it! So, if don't want to get their attention, better sit tight and be quiet ha!   

They have many series of shows and the shows would be tailored to the audience and local delights accordingly. For example, the one we watched encompassed around family core values and things we do with our kids such as visiting the zoo, photographing etc and the highlight of all, The Red Riding Hood to end the great evening. 

After watching the show, I took the trouble to search for some information about the group on the internet. The group comprises of three members, and the crew members are Tongkleu Tongtae, Ratchai Rujiwipat and Nattapon Kummeta.

The Babymime Group has gained success both domestically and internationally with their impressive mime performance for over ten years. 

The core concept of the show is that words can lie but the body and movements never lie. They believe that if people are sincere to each other and do not lie, the society will become a better place.

If we are lucky, they may come back for another round of performance, be sure to give it a try!


Some videos to share: 

- Slow Walk by Babymime

- Babymime Part 2 (Magic Show)
- Babymime in Bangkok Theater Festival  

p/s. The show was so great that I forgot to take any picture during the performance but not too bad, at least got a chance to snap a photo with them upon exiting the theater. 

 My mom, me and my daugther with Babymime (photo taken on 25 June 2011)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

A Very Educational Trip Indeed!

During the last school holiday, we went to Cherating. Great experience, beyond expectations! 

First of all because we had been to Kuantan and Cherating beach during our last trip. For us, this trip is merely to "relax". And because we just came back to Malaysia, we thought we should for once tour our own country instead of spending vacations overseas every year. 

We signed up for a hotel+tour package with Impiana Cherating Resort. The tour package includes 2 nights stay at the resort, 1 firefly watching tour and 1 turtle watching tour. It was priced at MYR798 nett for 2 adults + 2 child. All expenses for the tour including entrance fee, shuttling, tour guide are inclusive in the package.

On the first night of our stay, we went for the firefly watching. It was a fascinating trip. Frankly, for city dwellers like us, even getting onto the motorboat itself or trying to balance on the motorboat were already quite challenging ha! 

As soon as everybody embarked onto the motorboat, the journey began. The motorboat led us into the darkness of the mangrove. The surrounding was really dark we could hardly see our own fingers at times. 

Only the tour guide was allowed to carry a torch light (to lure the firefly out of the trees in order for us to see them). 

According to the tour guide, with more developments taking place, we needed to venture much deeper into the mangrove area in order to find them. 

As we went closer, the sight of fireflies rushing out from the bushes was so magical.  The fire flies even landed on our hands and sometimes it landed on our shoulders too! 

It is definitely worth the trip because seeing and feeling the fireflies, surrounded by them in real life were so much different. Photographs.. just can't elaborate it! In fact, during the trip, we were asked not to snap photos with flash. How would we able to take good photos in such darkness and no flash? So, in the end, we decided to pack our camera away, sat tight and enjoyed the view. And the wind breeze too... 

If you wish to save some money, instead of going through the hotel, you can contact Hafiz at 017-978 9256 or via email at directly to make bookings. For as long as you stay in any hotels along the coastal road (Jln Kuantan-Kemaman), it will be easy to get to Hafiz. Just tell him where you stay and he will be more than happy to direct you to his place. 

The next morning, we went for the river boat ride (through Hafiz too). It was the same boat ride we took the night before except, instead of watching fireflies, we scout for wild animals.

It was a clear and sunny day.

The moment we embarked onto the motorboat into the mangrove area, we hardly notice how hot the weather was. Cool weather, light breeze, it was indeed an enchanting ride. I felt like saying "Wow, Mother Earth's so beautiful! 

A great lesson learned -- we must preserve our forest, our nature and our environment!

Hafiz was good and experienced. He has a great pair of eyes. At quick instances, he was able to identify where the wild animals were taking naps. We saw snakes dangling down from branches just above our heads, colourful crabs, squirrel leaping in between the branches etc, a fascinating experience not to be missed indeed!   

Most of the animals were sleeping during the day. That was why we could get close to them. According to Hafiz, these animals went round searching for preys the night before. They slept during the day instead. My goose bump got "activated" a bit as I started to wonder how many pairs of eyes were watching at us when we were busy scouting for fireflies the night before! 

The river was getting narrower as we entered deeper into the mangrove. The water was calm, the surrounding was really quiet and creepy. Our imaginations went rather wild... wondering if there were any crocodiles! Hafiz comforted us that because this part of the river was close to the sea, therefore the water was a little salty and crocodiles didn't really like it. Unlike if we traveled further into the mangrove, we might get to say Hi to them!!  

The entire journey took about 2.5hours. Amazing ride, this was definitely better than going to the zoo! To the least of it, no stinking smell and no hot sun above our heads and no swelling feet too!! 

We went back to the hotel after, had a rest, strolled along the white beach and had dinner getting ready for the next highlight - Turtle watching. 

Turtle watching was indeed THE Highlight of the entire trip. I always thought that we needed to go to Rantau Abang in order to see real turtle laying eggs. For this trip, we thought what we could see was just some "shows" presented by the rangers from the turtle sanctuary or we probably had to watch from really far ha!  To tell the truth, we even brought binoculars with us for this trip haha!!

That night, we were told to stand by at the hotel around 9pm. They would inform us if there were turtles coming to the shore to lay eggs. Around 9.20pm, the phone rang and informed us that the tour guide was on the way to pick us up. 

Without wasting any more time, we made our way to the lobby and here we come, TURTLE!

The place was approximately 10 ~ 15 minutes from Impiana Cherating Resort. It was quite easy to get there in fact. After parking our car, we need to walk a fair bit to get to the turtle. If we did not engage this tour guide recommended by the hotel, we probably dare not even follow him into the woods as the path leading into where the turtle was located was rather creepy..... 

The tour guide was great. They explained to us what was happening and what was to come, they warned us things we should avoid etc. Definitely no camera flashing! 

When we were there, we saw a mother turtle digging a hole to prepare for eggs laying. After a few attempts, we could see she was really tired. We could hear her taking a long deep breath before she continued to dig again. Soon, the hole was deep enough and she settled into position to start laying eggs. It was difficult for her initially as we were told that this was her first pregnancy (there was no marking on her flaps as usually rangers did marking on the turtle every time they came on the shore). According to the tour guide, mother turtle would return for next laying 10 - 11 days later.  As soon as she finished laying the eggs, she would cover up the hole. Slowly she would crawl her way back into the sea. That night, she laid a total of 116 eggs! 

We were given a chance to have a close up look at the turtle eggs. The egg shelf was rather hard though from the sight of it, it seemed soft. We returned the eggs to the ranger and was told that these eggs would not hatch anymore because of the movements and turnings. We felt so bad! That's why the ranger only allowed 2 of the eggs to be removed from the hole for viewing despite there were over 40 of us there. 

We even got a chance to play with the baby turtle before setting them free into the sea. There were so cute and lovely. The moment we set the little ones on the ground, they started crawling really fast. The ranger told us that it was important to release them back from the same place so they would remember where they came from. Twenty years later, they would return to the same land to lay eggs. 

My girl was very touched and amused. This trip was really "up, close and personal". It was a very memorable experience and educational  trip indeed!

Note: For the purpose of watching turtles, June to August is the best time. Do bring a torchlight along just in case. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Our Way Home 回家的路 - First Week of School

You may want to start from the beginning...

My "fearest" moment had finally arrived.... the first day at local Chinese school! Of so many new schools my girl had gone to, this was the most "stressful" first day at school for both her and me! I could recall when she was in kindergarten, she cried and cried refused to let me go on the first three days of school. She was fine on the forth day onwards. When she was in Singapore International School, I was there for the first 2 days. When she moved to UNIS Hanoi and British International School, I was irrelevant after the first day of school.

But for this Chinese school she is attending now, it took her 1 week to settle in! Now that I recalled, it was a blessing we made our way through. I am truly proud of my girl for willing to and being brave in accepting the new challenge. Whenever I talked to friends about putting her back to local school, all of them looked at me with their eyes opened as if I had done something I should not have done. Some of them were surprised she could adapt in the first place.  

First thing in the morning when we arrived, we were asked to see the deputy principal to get the class allocation. We waited outside the deputy principle office. There were quite a long queue waiting for the allocation surprisingly. Soon, it was time for us to see the deputy principal. The first question the deputy principal asked was: "Is she able to read Mandarin?". My girl said yes. Then the second question she asked was: "Is she able to understand Malay?". I said yes.
She shrugged as if she wasn't sure if we knew what we were talking about or whether we knew what was going to come. To be very frank, I was as worried and uncertain as her but we have to sound confident, look confident right?

After meeting the deputy principal, we were given some forms to fill up. We made our way to the canteen and started filling up the forms. It was a Monday and there was assembly going on. We saw rows and rows of children queuing and listening obediently to the principal. Thereafter, everybody stood and sang one song after another. If I was not wrong, at least 3 songs they sand. Unfortunately, the only one I could recognize was Negaraku :( ... While I was busy filling up the forms, I soon realized that everybody in school had stopped whatever in hands and stood up straight. We were the only few who did not do it. Sigh... After few years staying outside of Malaysia, we sort of forgot how to respect our own country! I felt rather embarrassed myself. On this note, I told myself that of all the challenges ahead of us and nostalgia we had over the luxurious life style when we were staying overseas, this justify our return and in fact this is our home our tanahair, we must come back.

After 10 minutes or so, all the children started marching back into the classrooms like troops.

I soon realized my girl was in panicky condition. It was indeed a total disastrous cultural shock for her. She started to cry wanting to go home. Refused to even look up when I called her. My heart sank miles down to the bottom of the dead blue sea. I felt like pulling her hands and said: "Lets go, we are not staying here!" But, I knew I needed to be strong, my role being there was to help and support her. I could not lose my footing...

The only thing I could do was to comfort her and encourage her to pull herself together. 

After all the kids and teachers had gone into their classrooms respectively, we made our way to the designated class my girl was allocated to. When we arrived at the classroom, there wasn't any empty seats available. She was even more panicky!

We introduced ourselves to the homeroom teacher and I managed to explain to her my daughter's current state ie. cultural shock wanting to go home stage haha!!

The teacher was kind enough to give me her mobile number so I could contact her in case my girl faced any difficulties or I had any questions. I must say that my girl would not have made her way through if not because of this dedicated teacher. It is very rare to find dedicated teachers like her nowadays.

Immediately she assigned some kids in the class to go table hunting and after about 10 minutes, they came back with many sets of tables and chairs. I was delighted to see the kids are just so helpful. As soon as the teacher assigned them the task, they decided among themselves to split the team and start the hunt. Soon, each team came back with a set of table and chair. It was fun seeing such scenario which we do not get to experience in international school because everything is so organized in international schools and children do not need to worry about anything, not even stationaries as they are all readily available within their reach.

Also unlike international school where buddies would be assigned to new comers, ie. a way of helping new comers to make friends so to speak, in local school, you are on your own. My girl had a bit of a struggle initially. My husband and I had to visit her every day during break time just to make sure she managed to find some buddies. In the second week, the situation improved. Every other day I heard new names. She started making friends which was great. Once they have friends in class, everything would be fine.

It is entering 6 months now since the first day of school and she had been through 2 exams already. Things are getting tough but I always remind her to look at things positively, at times put ourselves in other people's shoes. Like some teachers like to scare the kids with cane. I told her to look at the number of kids in the class and looked at some very naughty kids in class, sometimes the teachers just could not help it.

Three months ago, a new teacher came on board and he happened to come from the elite school nearby. As expected, he was strict to the kids and very demanding. She always complaint to me about how boring, how strict, how serious the teacher was... Two weeks ago when she received her test papers, she got 93 points as compared to 80 points before. She progressed. Because of this "demanding" teacher, she managed to get over with 6,7 and 8 time tables. She had been struggling with this for months in international school and could not get over with it! And now she made it through.

These are just ups and downs they will experience in school. I guess instead of pushing her to score higher points, penalizing her for making silly mistakes in exams. The least and the best I could do for her is to encourage her, support her and to nurture her with the right mindset. Somehow, the kid will survive one way or the other.

Today, I look at her. She seem to be more matured now. Many things she does on her own now. She tidies her own school bag and gets her school shoes ready for the next day on her own. She cut her nails on her own. She even started to do revision at night on her own. Unlike before, nothing worried her. She didn't need to bother what she brought to school because there were no text books to bring for a start! There were no homework to do. As soon as they leave their classroom, they leave everything behind. Clear mind ready to play! And, absolutely no issue if she forgets to bring anything to school. Most of the time, she could not even recall what was being taught in school as soon as she reached home. All she could remember was what she played in school and who she played with. Not that she did not learn anything, just different approach, stress-free and more of learning at own pace. Perhaps the learning was so fun that it was hard to recollect exactly what was learned. 

On the other hand, the shortcomings of the local system is of course the teaching method is rather "square" I must admit. Truly speaking, lesser homework would really help nurture a happy and more healthy growing kids, physically and mentally. I wish the government's intention to enrich the education system with livelier content and more activities orientated could materialize soon. This would really help to improve the local education system.

But as of now if you ask me now, I would say I have no regrets sending her back to Chinese school! Thanks to 侯彩风老师 (my girl's homeroom teacher) and Bravo to my girl too!!