Hello again everyone!  It’s been slightly over a year since my last post and it is a shame that those reminders for update I purposely placed in several entries were ignored by the very person who inserted them at the first place. Haiya!

To cut the long story short and to avoid the increasing incidence of broken promises, let’s just go straight to the topic, shall we?  Good, let’s proceed with the entry then…

Last Sunday (May 11th, 2014), the long anticipated VMPGA Family Day 2014 finally took place.  After so much efforts being put in and perhaps 1000 messages on Whatsapp, the team finally saw it through and I am proud to say that it was pretty good.  Honest!  The event went as scheduled, the formalities was kept to the minimum and most importantly the kids and parents had tonnes of fun.  I personally appreciate the event because it gave me opportunities to catch up with other friends.  Indeed, it has been a long time since we had such gathering and credits should be extended to the committee and this year’s host, South Eastern Family Community (SEFC)  for securing a great venue for the event (despite the many hiccups they had to endure) and we are extremely proud with the amount of commitment showered by participating kampungs. They are but not limited to Kampung Victoria North Melbourne (KVNM), Desa Bundoora (DB), SEFC and the Malaysian community in Geelong.

This year, we had to keep the event short as the hall was booked for 5 hours. The beautiful venue is owned by the Bosnian community, equipped with a moderate sized hall complete with cooking area and washrooms. The hall itself is adjacent to a large football field and has a partially covered area at one side which is superb for barbecue.  It has ample parking space, which worked beautifully to cater our needs for the event. I reckon about 40 – 50 families have turned up for the event and none of them were deprived of parking spots. All in all, I give 8 out of 10 stars for the venue.  🙂

Anyway, moving on to the program itself.  The real star of the day were the kids as they had too much fun playing!  During the opening ceremony, they get to participate in a coloring contest and all participants received their share of prizes for the contest, including Iris.  The telematch games were mostly catered for the children’s interest while parents had one game each for mom and dad.  The organizer came up with interesting names for the games that none of us could guess how they were played: Vodafone, Tangan Emas, Kaki Emas and Saya Sayang Papa dan Mama. Who would guess that Vodafone involves 6 children passing water balloons, or Kaki Emas required fathers to become sepak raga stars?  And shouldn’t Tangan Emas be Mulut Emas as moms were put on the spot to say the name of vegetables lah, fish lah, car lah, states in Australia lah and other tasks that required us ladies to use our brain power! Hahahahaha.  With that sorted, I have to say Aman did a great job as the MC of the day. I reckon the smooth running and great timing of the events was attributed to his efficiency and the participants’ quick responses to the needs of the different games.

The celebrated heroes of the day - them kids!

The stars of the day – them kids!

I didn’t stay until the end as I promised to meet up with a cousin who had just arrived from Kuala Lumpur.  Iris and I took a ride in Dr Rahaman’s car to Chadstone Shopping Mall (it is huge!!) and from there we caught a bus to ferry us to Holmesglen train station.  Holmesglen station is about 30 minutes from Flinders Street station and boy, we ran like mad to catch the train! Iris enjoyed it and I kinda liked it too.  Well, you don’t get to run like mad to catch the train with your 6 year old daughter every day, right?

The photo collage that accompany this entry is my FIRST collage using an app called ‘Photo Collage’ recommended by Nadiah. With collages, I can still upload the amount of images that I want to share, without having to stretch my data plan should I upload them individually.  See, you learn new things every day. 🙂  Until the next entry, have a a great day ahead!


I didn’t mention that the weather was not entirely pleasant on the day we went to Malaysian Food Fest (16 March 2013).  It was tad gloomy characterized by showers that came and go.  To shelter ourselves, we entered the Australian Center for the Moving Image (ACMI) located at the center of Federation Square.  There, we learned about the history and evolution of movie making technologies.  Iris was attracted to the Kinematoscope which is a device that holds “…a series of still stereographic images with chronologically successive stages of action were mounted on blades of a spinning paddle and viewed through slits. The slits passed under a stereoscopic viewer. The pictures were visible within a cabinet, and were not projected onto a screen”.  (Credit: http://cotteesblog98.blogspot.com.au/2013/01/kinematoscope.html).  This is how it looks like (courtesy of http://tanjatheawesome.com/capricious/?p=148).

Guess what? We had a go in the time slice cubicle – time slice is the technology used to produce moving images that was so significant in the film “Matrix”.  The cubicle was equipped with camera from top to bottom (I can’t remember the range between them) that enables the film maker to create the movements and trajectories we saw on the “Matrix”.  Here’s a link to the output of our little “experiment”: http://www.acmi.net.au/timeslice/Timeslice.htm?file=ts-20130316-271e7d4efd187a729a959f69634f46d1.flv And this concludes our entry today. Bye bye.

Last Saturday, we decided to accept Dr Rahaman’s invitation to go to a festival dedicated to Malaysian culture and delicacies.  From what I remembered, the event was jointly hosted by the Federation Square, Australian Multicultural Foundation, Ministry of Higher Education, Malaysia and some other sponsoring partners.  Anticipating that it is going to be difficult to locate a car park at the CBD, we decided to park the car in front of my department at Bouverie Street, where we caught a tram at Stop #3.  The journey ended at Melbourne Central as a small segment of Swanston Street was blocked (didn’t check for the reason behind it) and we had to walk nearly one km to Federation Square which located across Flinders Street Station.

The festival was OK – there were performances and about 12 stalls were located at the terrace of Yarra River.  The delicacies ranged from sweet to savory and spicy varieties, priced between $5.00 – $12.00 per set.  Din purchased a packet of nasi lemak and a satay set (consists of 4 satay, cucumber and nasi himpit) for a total of $20.00 – mahalnya!!  Crazy expensive!  I purchased a packet of pasembur for only $5.00 which I was quite happy with – because there were sections of a big prawn embedded in the fritters.  I should have gone to get my second and third helping, hoh?  Iris finished a piece of roti canai, much to my surprise as she is a picky eater.   Maybe she was hungry as well and I was glad that I got it for her whe she requested it (oftentimes, her requests are not genuine – she wants something because the color is nice and the presentation is good but if she doesn’t like the taste, the item is all yours).  She liked the roti canai much that she decided to save a small portion “to be eaten at home”.  OK, that is the message for mummy to start learning how to make home made roti canai, and I am planning to start this weekend.  Let’s see how my girl likes it.

Take care y’all!


Demo101: Cara-cara makan roti canai :)

Demo101: Cara-cara makan roti canai 🙂  See that small portion in the last picture? She wanted to tapau it for home. 

Last weekend, we went for our second visit to Melbourne Zoo.  The first visit took place in January (yep, no update on that coz we forgot to charge the camera! Sangat pandai…).  Well, during the first visit, we signed up for a year membership and with that, we are entitled to visit any zoos in Victoria as frequently as we want.   The membership fee costs us $162.00.  More info on Zoos Victoria website: http://www.zoo.org.au/members.  I think it is worthy because we can take our time going about, without having to rush like a cyclone to cover the entire ground on a single day because you know you can always come back next time free of charge.  Well, the feeling is similar to holding a monthly Myki pass which eliminates the factor of how frequent we can travel in a month.  The key question is: how do we make the most out of it? For now, we will just take one step at a time: finish covering Melbourne Zoo and then moving on to Werribee Zoo in a month or so.  Aim small, miss small – so said Mel Gibson in “The Patriot”.

This membership card has to be presented with a photo ID at the counter.

The member card has to be presented with a photo ID at the counter.

So, what was the highlight of this visit?  A reminder to self: It took place on March 3rd, 2013.  I know that I was eager to see the elephants.  Iris was expecting the Meerkat family after she saw “Meerkat Manor” on TV.  Here’s a glimpse of the iconic family.  That meerkat at the “highest point” responded really well to the fact that he is the center of attention.  Hehehe.

The children were drawn to the meerkats.

The children were drawn to the meerkats.  It’s a family in the exhibit.  I assume the one standing on the pole (in the far right image) is the leader of the pack. Their diet? Worms.

At the entrance of the aquatic “region’ where the seal and penguins are located, there is a huge fish tank which houses a couple of flat rays and another species of harmless shark.  The visitors get to touch the flat ray – I chose not to because I don’t fancy sticking my hand into the water at the presence of a creature larger than my face!   My daughter was more than happy to stroke the fish, and she said, “it is rough like sandpaper”.  My my, this girl has a lot of guts!

First hand encounter with the flat ray(s). Again, kids and adults are crazy about them.

First hand encounter with the flat ray(s). Again, kids and adults are crazy about them.

Next on the list was the seal.  They looked so graceful underwater!  I started to suspect that the shape of underwater torpedo were taken after them!  The massive tank that holds them is brilliantly engineered to create waves to simulate the ocean.  In so doing, the life of the seals are not as mundane and predictable like still water (minus the crocs of course!).  I could see that the cheerful seals were enjoying the “turbulent” very much.

The graceful seals. They move like torpedo, don't they?

The graceful seals. They move like torpedo, don’t they?

Ahhh….. Let’s not forget the carousel that my daughter adores so much, that she wanted to get on it again and again and again… The charges per ride is $3.00 per child and only only one adult can accompany them.  The horse can hold the weight of an adult, so parents can enjoy the ride as much as their kids.  How long is the ride?  Slightly under 3 minutes.  Iris went on twice that day.

The carousel, where both kids and parents can be kids.

The carousel, where both kids and parents can be kids.

After following the elephant’s trail where signage are posted in Malay language, we finally got to see the mammoth family.  In September 2012 when we first arrived, the city was celebrating the birth of a baby elephant.  Probably that is him/her in the picture.  The crowd were excited almost akin to cheering upon seeing the elephant family running about the compound.  Although they seemed happy, I do feel sorry because they are confined in limited space – but that is probably better than having them exposed to the poachers in their natural habitat, no?

The girl and the elephant.

The girl and the elephant.

We also saw a couple of gorillas that looked extremely bored in their man made environment.   The visitors, on the other hand were extremely excited seeing them.  It was indeed a reverse situation.  Nothing we (the visitors) did could wipe away that gloomy look on his face!  Maybe he was thinking, “try staying here for 8 years and see if you like it?”  We saw orang utan as well, but I didn’t put them here because my first encounter of orang utan should have been in Kuching and not in Melbourne.  What an irony…  I was partly frustrated as I had plans to visit Semenggoh Wildlife Center (the orang utan sanctuary in wild) but the plan was never materialize.  More details on Semenggoh Wildlife Center: http://www.sarawakforestry.com/htm/snp-nr-semenggoh.html

Iris and Gorilla. Imagine "Iris and King Kong"... Heheh.

Iris and Gorilla. Imagine “Iris and King Kong”… Heheh.  See the bored fellow over there? Or maybe it was just the hot weather..

After a long walk under the hot sun, we decided to rest next to this gentleman’s “territory”. I wonder how old is the tortoise?  OK, I can sense an abrupt end to this entry… Sorilah, I’ll improve the flow some other time.

At "home" with the giant tortoise.

At “home” with the giant tortoise.

That’s all from me today.  It is already past midnight and I have set a reading target for myself tonight.  Better get on to that task before I regret it.

Until the next entry, bye peeps!

What I know before we arrived in Melbourne is that it is a multicultural city.  According to a Victorian government website (http://www.melbourne.vic.gov.au) dedicated to document the profile of the city, there are approximately 140 nations residing side by side in Melbourne – with a significant proportion of Asian population.  The heart of the Asian community is always boils down to its food.  It is suffice to say that, if there is only one cultural heritage allowed to be brought into a foreign country, it has to be food.  Hence, explains the establishment of Asian continental stores around Melbourne, right from the CBD to the suburbs.

The largest Asian store often highlighted in this city is Laguna, located in QV Shopping Center.  It has a good variety of Asian delicacies, from dry to wet to frozen items.   If you happen to crave for roti canai (and refuse to spend a good $10.00 or so for a dish of roti canai at Pappa Rich), go to Laguna and try to locate them at the frozen section.  If you needed bunga kantan to garnish your pot of Penang Laksa, go to Laguna – chances is you might find some there when the other continental stores fail you.  I don’t really frequent Laguna because it is out of my daily route.  The only reason I frequent Laguna is when I am in dire need to replenish my stock of Maggi chili sauce, and normally I will buy 3 in a go (there is discount when you buy more).

Closer to home in Glenroy, there are two Asian stores that we patron quite frequently; conveniently labelled as “Kedai Asia Has” and “Kedai Asia Din”   – based on who found which.  Both are different in the way that who manage them.  My kedai Asia is managed by a Vietnamese couple and Din’s kedai Asia is owned by a Chinese lady from China.

Note to self: insert images of the two stores.

We have specific items that we buy from each store; frozen squids and Malaysian produced fish balls (and fish cakes) from the my kedai Asia. For Chinese herbs, eggs, canned food and dry stocks (black mushroom, ikan bilis, noodles, spices) from Din’s kedai Asia.  While the Chinese store offers good varieties of spices and food that we normally use in our kitchen, another reason why I love frequenting this store is because I can converse in Mandarin with the owner.  Not that I will get discounts on my purchase, but I like the sense of familiarity (at least in the language) that reminds me of the kind of home I grew up in.  I supposed my upbringing which inclines further to the maternal side justifies this.  Well, let’s have a look at the Asian ingredients that we have at home:

Spot the not. :-)  That bottle of kicap Kipas Udang is always a lifesaver!

Spot the not. 🙂 That bottle of kicap Kipas Udang is always a lifesaver!

Chili sauce, belacan, cili boh, sesame seed oil, and additional two different types of kicap amongst the other ingredients really complete our home.

Chili sauce, belacan, cili boh, sesame seed oil, and additional two different types of kicap amongst the other ingredients; really complete our home.

Not everything “Asian” that we consume comes from  the store.  For fresh items that we normally use e.g. lemongrass, daun kesum, mint leaves (no Gina, I will never ever replace them with toothpaste!), coriander, spring onion (daun bawang) and parsley (daun sup), we prefer to cultivate them and as of the date of this entry, they are doing well in our backyard – except for the coriander as the cat loves to land on them!  In Iris’ words – that cheeky cat!

A limited view of our backyard.

A limited view of our backyard.

The cheeky girl and the cheeky cat.

The cheeky girl and the cheeky cat.

Sprouting coriander - patiently cared by Din.

Sprouting coriander – patiently cared by Din.

Mint leaves aka the crude "toothpaste" left by the previous tenant. Thank you!!

Mint leaves aka the crude “toothpaste” left by the previous tenant. Thank you!!

Our lemongrass - it is hard to grow them in Melbourne's crazy weather.

Our lemongrass – it is hard to grow them in Melbourne’s crazy weather.

Rosemary - courtesy of Nuruzzaman.

Rosemary – courtesy of Nuruzzaman.

Vietnamese mint leaves better known as daun kesum in our culture - courtesy of Rodzy (Azami). Din always says, "daun kesum yang panjang amal..."

Vietnamese mint leaves better known as daun kesum in our culture – courtesy of Rodzy (Azami). Din always relates them as: “daun kesum yang panjang amal…”

The discourses of home suggests that home is not entirely about the physical appearance of the house – it is a combination of the elements that make us comfortable in that space; the household and interaction between them.  As food is an important element that binds us together, we won’t create our home out of something that we are not familiar with.

Moving to a different country doesn’t mean that we adopt an entirely new culture and abandon ours.   We are bound to bring some part of the culture with us and whatever lacking, is compensated and improvised with what the destination country has to offer.  As newcomers, we often try to make the best out of this new environment to sustain the norms and beliefs that shape us.  From the way I see it, the presence of Asian continental stores enables the notion, and therefore making an Asian home in this angmo region is not as challenging as we presumed, as long as we know where to look.

Our helpful Malaysian friends diligently gave us some guides to finding a place to rent in Melbourne.  I am going to unfold them in this entry.

(1)  Find a place within the same zone

If you are going to rely on public transport on regular basis and your destination is located in Melbourne CBD, always lookout for properties located in Zone 1 of Metro service line.  Travelling intra-zone is always cheaper than travelling inter-zones.  The maximum rate charged per day within the same zone is $7.00 while inter-zones is $11.00+.  In our case, we decided not to go beyond Glenroy Railway Station (on Craigieburn line) as it is the final stop of Zone 1.

Zone 1 is marked by the yellow line while Zone 2 is in blue. Source: livinginmelbourne.com

Zone 1 is marked by the yellow line while Zone 2 is in blue. Source: livinginmelbourne.com

(2)  Gas for cooking and hot water.  Gas for heating is an added bonus.

Jo repeatedly reminded us not to go for houses equipped with electric cooking facilities and electric water heating system – no matter how desperate we are to get a place.  The charges for electricity is crazy in this part of the world.  With the added carbon tax, the tariff is higher and the rate increases annually.  Our house is equipped with gas water heating and gas cooking facilities – and we are being charged $90.00 – $120.00 on average for 2-monthly electricity consumption.  Can you imagine how much we need to fork out if cooking and water heating rely on electricity?   It can easily double or triple.

(3)  Wall to wall carpet

We don’t see snow in Melbourne, but the chill in winter is crazy – especially to a non-native who has been living near the equator all her life.  The good thing about wall-to-wall carpet is that our winter experiences will be less miserable compared to carpet free units/houses.  I still vividly remember the unbearable chill every time we went barefoot in our transit room in Malaysia Hall, although it was only in spring.   Can’t imagine how it is going to be like in winter.  Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrr…

(4)  Avoid houses with large backyards

A friend shared this tips with us after he had to mow the grass at his backyard every month.  Failure to do so may trigger the council to go after him.  We have a small backyard, just sufficient to cultivate herbs common to an Asian household e.g. lemongrass, coriander, parsley, mint leaves (Gina always says might as well eat toothpaste!), Vietnamese mint leaves (daun kesum) and spring onion.

That is pretty much what I wanted to share in this entry.  If you have more tips to highlight, feel free to share them here.  Thanks heap for making time to read this post.  Good night everyone.  Wan an.

Prior to our arrival in Melbourne, we didn’t contact anyone assuming that the two weeks residence in Malaysia Hall will give us ample time to negotiate what needed to be done to make this foreign place our new home.  Assuming that we can get on without any assistance, was a huge mistake.  We were lucky to meet other fellow Malaysians who are also residing in the hall.  Some of them have been in Melbourne for a while and two persons in particular, came to attend their convocation.  We received a lot of advice as well as tips on where or what to look out for when finding a place.  One fellow Sarawakian, Jabbar, was kind enough to extend our “plight” to the Penghulu of Kampung Victoria North, Dr. Zakuan Zaini Deris.

We were contacted by Johari the following day.  He is in the second year into his PhD at Uni Melbourne and he was the key person who really looked us through until we finally found our place.  We were truly thankful for all the help extended by the members of Kampung Vic North who involved directly and indirectly in our “quest” to locate a home.  Unlike the ties featured in Matthew Desmond’s article on “Disposable Ties” (2012), I reckon the ties developed amongst us are strong and one character of such ties is allowing us to get on, rather than to get by.

Finding a house to rent is not like going around Melbourne, locating a suitable home and then contacting the owner telling him/her that we intend to rent the house.  There are official procedures that need to be followed, purposely put in place to protect the interest of the owner and the tenant.  In general, these are the steps that we took in order to apply for the current place: (1) identify suitable houses online – we checked realestate.com.au; (2) inspect the house – either follow the dates posted online (only open for 15 minutes, so don’t be late) or if the place is vacant, visit the real estate office and get the key to do the inspection (this involves $50 deposit per key, photo ID and we only have an hour to hold the keys); (3) submit application forms together with requested documents and wait for reply from the agent – this normally takes 2-3 working days if the agent is NOT on leave; (4) if the owner is happy to let the place to you, the next step is to go down to the office, sign agreement and give a month rental worth of bond to the agent (this is like a deposit) plus a month rental in advance.  There is no deposit for utilities.

We utilized realestate.com.au to check out potential houses.  Source: www.realestate.com.au

We utilized realestate.com.au to check out potential houses. Source: http://www.realestate.com.au

The inspection; I reckon is very crucial because you really need to know the location of the house and the state of the house.  You also want to check the utilities provided in the house (will be described in a separate entry).  Although there are images posted online, you would want to check them with your own eyes because images can be deceiving.  Johari helped us a lot during this vital stage by driving us around because getting between inspections can be very time consuming if we relied on public transport.

The rental here is quoted per week (yeah, I was shocked too because it is sooooOOOOOO much higher compared to Malaysia).  For our two bedroom unit, the lease per week is $260.  To get a month figure, the formula is ($260 x 4.3) which gives a total of $1130.  Therefore the amount that we had to cover upfront was $2260.  Wow, that is a lot of money when converted into Malaysian Ringgit!  Friends who visited our place commented that it is relatively cheap compared to what it (the rental market) is used to be.  I remember the housing market performance was rather discouraging when we arrived.  Perhaps, that was reason for the cheaper rental.  We were given a year contract – which may be renewed upon the expiry of the lease.  The possibility for renewal really depends on the owner’s or tenant’s discretion.

So, how many houses we inspected and applied before we heard from the current agent?  If I remember correctly, we submitted applications for 8 houses, and received 3 green lights in total – all in all it involved two weeks efforts.  We chose this unit because it is cheaper compared to the other two units ($295 and $300 respectively per week) although the other two units are just across Oak Park Railway Station.  Residing here implies that I need to travel a little bit to get to the train station.  Oftentimes in the evening, I’ll walk from the train station and it is slightly over 1km between there and home.  Alternatively, I’ll stop at Glenroy Railway Station and take a ride home on a bus – when I don’t feel like walking.  On certain occasions, I’ll call Deen when I feel like doing neither.  🙂

Part 2will be drafted soon.  See ya!

In fact, this was the first house we inspected... Thanks to Jo for locating the unit.

In fact, this was the first house we inspected… Thanks to Jo for locating the unit.