Thursday, May 29, 2014

People will never forget how you made them feel - Maya Angelou

I learned about her departure this morning when my bestie posted her quote in Instagram and wrote RIP next to her name.

At age 86, Maya Angelou published seven autobiographies, three books of essays and several poetry books. But I know her mainly because of her beautiful quotes.

The above quote stays deeply in my mind and I relate it to my hubby's recent experience with Rafa, my sisters' son, during his visit to Melbourne.

"Stand still and look forward. We never know what will happen tomorrow. But for now, we know we are together" - Rafa and Monster Chair

In such short period, he had become a favorite Uncle for Rafa, who just turned 5 yesterday. They had spent quality time by playing, reading book, flying kite, drinking hot chocolate, etc. and had a really great time together.

My hubby was called 'Monster Chair' by Rafa since last year when he came to Singapore. It was because when Rafa sat on my hubby's lap, my hubby would play with him as if he was a monster. And Rafa still remembered it clearly until now.

Hubby told me when he was in Melbourne, he showed Rafa a magic by making the rubber Dinosaur disappear from his hand and made it appeared again from his ear. Rafa was very happy and kept asking him to show it to him again and again. Since Rafa was asking him for many many times, he tried to minimize the frequency by telling him that he could only perform the magic to him three times a day.

Therefore, every morning when hubby woke up, Rafa would come to him excitingly and shouted, "Uncle Lemon, show me magic, magic, magic! It's magic time!" Hahaha... He had no choice but to perform magic everyday, three times a day ^^

So when my hubby had to come back to Singapore, Rafa was really sad. My sister said, once we left to airport, Rafa had his breakfast with tears on his eyes. He didn't even cry when his Godmother left. But he did when his Uncle Lemon went back.

Now after coming back to Singapore, my sister often sent Rafa's voice message to hubby through what's app. In one voice message, he said this: "Halo Uncle Lemon this is Rafa... Yes... Oh ya.. I know ya... I know you... Uncle Lemon... Magic time... Magic time... Magic! Magic! Magic!" And other time he said, "Halo Uncle Lemon, this is Rafa. Thank you for the banana (his mom said, 'the t-shirt'), thank you for the banana, for the t-shirt, the yellow one, yes, no, yes,  no (his mom said 'now we look like the banana in pyjama') yes nanana". Ha-ha... Rafa was referring to the yellow t-shirts that my hubby bought for him and his brother.

The day we said Goodbye. Both were wearing the banana, I mean yellow t-shirt bought by hubby :)

He was sending a voice message too inviting my hubby to his Birthday party and to bring present for him. But too bad they were just too far away from each other. When hubby replied that he could not attend, Rafa asked his mom "Why Uncle Lemon cannot come to my Birthday party?" with a sad tone.

This evening my sister sent hubby the following message:

My hubby felt so touched reading it. He told me that he misses Rafa very much too. He wished that he would stay another week there so that he could celebrate his Birthday....

Find Rafa (hint: blue color jacket) ^^

The above were our pictures taken while traveling together and he always sticked by hubby's side in our photos.

When Rafa can read one day, hope he is able to read this blog and hopefully still remember his dearest Monster Chair that ever made his life full of fun, laughter, joy and happiness. We miss you very much too Rafa... Yes? No? Yes? I know you Rafa. You know me?

Unknown quote

"I've been walked on, used and forgotten
and I don't regret one moment of it
because in those moment,
I've learnt a lot.
I've learned who I can trust and can't.
I've learned the meaning of friendship.
I've been to hell and back a few times, and
I won't ever take what I have for granted.
This is life, live it one day at a time.
You never know how many days you've got left."

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Aussie trip day 4 – 13th May 2014 – Wineglass Bay Lookout, Devil’s Corner Vineyard, Ross Village

Five of us at Wineglass Bay Lookout, Tasmania

Since we had traveled a long journey to Freycinet National Park, it would be such a waste if we were just leaving the place right away. There were few beautiful places around the area that we could take a look. One of it was to have a morning walk trail to the Wineglass Bay Lookout.

Artistic wooden "Saddle Seat" found on our way to Wineglass Bay :)

We drove to the nearest car park and started to walk at 9.45am. It was a sunny day, brilliant and delightful morning, perfect for a hike :) We climbed uphill and took us about 45 minutes to reach the place where we could see the breathtaking view of the Wineglass Bay (see the first photo above). People from different ages should be able to climb this hill slowly as we found toddler and old couple there too :) We didn't continue our journey to reach the Wineglass Bay due to the limited time that we had. Instead, we returned back to the car park.

When we returned back to the car park, there was a couple having their late breakfast at the back of their caravan. They opened up the folded side table and we saw them cutting up bread and cheese on it. (Fyi, it was very common for people to rent a caravan and travel around with it. They treated it as the transport, as well as the form of accommodation).

It enticed our appetite and we started to feel hungry. We opened the car boot, took out our food supply and started making sandwich. Today's menu: two slices of multi-grain bread, smoked salmon, add few squeeze of mayonnaise, plus the fresh spinach leaves. You could add some cheddar cheese on it. Nyummy!!! :)

Glimpse of road view in Tasmania

We departed at noon. Seemed like we were unable to follow our initial plan, which was to walk around the Lake St Clair, which was our next destination. It required 3-4 hour journey to reach and by the time we would have been already too late for us to walk around as the sun set quite early there, around 5pm. Therefore, we just let nature takes its course and drove away.

On the way there, we saw Devil’s Corner Cellar Door on the roadside. Devil’s Corner wines were one of the premium Tasmanian wines, first developed in 1999. We’d tried their Riesling 2013 two nights before and it tasted quite good. They had few different types of red and white wines, plus Riesling. We decided to stop by there as the Cellar was offered with a great view.

Devil's Corner Cellar Door in Tasmania

While my friends were busy taking photos, I was busy tasting the wines inside their Cellar Door he-he… Wine was in my list on what to have while traveling in Australia as the country was famous in producing good wines. And since it was produced locally, the price was cheaper too (compared with those sold in Singapore – after tax, transport cost, labor, and so on).  That’s why I told my friends that I wanted to have cheese and wine session every night, whenever possible. Luckily, most of them enjoyed it too :)

After few sips I found the one that I liked and bought two bottles of Riesling 2009: one for us to share and another one to bring back to Melbourne and to be given to my sister. It had a sweet and light taste. Robert, who usually didn’t drink wine, was willingly to take sips too during our wine and cheese session.

We then continued our journey. Soon the wine had taken its effect on me and I fell asleep inside the car. I was awoken when Aileen was suddenly shouting excitingly, “Wow, it’s so beautiful!!!” I immediately opened up my eyes.

View of Ross Village in autumn - Simply beautiful! :)

We were on the place where everything surrounded us were yellow, yes, yellow leaves. The next moment I knew, SJ parked the car under the tree and she told us that she was very sleepy and had to take a power nap. At the mean time she asked us to browse around the area and then have a coffee at the Café nearby.

Other side of the Church Street, Ross - Beautiful autumn leaves :)

We were all enjoying the beautiful view, which we usually watched it in the movie. As most of us was born and grown up in tropical country, we seldom experienced autumn. So we were all engrossed by it and took many photos.

This place was called Ross Village. We walked and enjoyed our time for a little while and then marched to the Ross Bakery, which happened to serve the world’s greatest Vanilla slice (as voted by all vanilla slice experts) – as a gimmick stated on the board outside the café.

Enjoying our time at Ross Bakery, Tasmania :)

I ordered a cup of Café Latte and a piece of Vanilla slice. All of us sat outdoor despite the cold weather hehehe… Vanilla slice, known as Mille-feuille, was basically two layers of puff-pastry sheet with a thick layer of custard cream in the middle. It cost A$5 each.

Well for me, it tasted good. It wasn’t too sweet like other desserts that my friends ordered (Carrot Cake and Chocolate Cake). They also ordered the Scallop Pie and Steak Pie (common pastry that could be found in Australia). It was perfect to have it in that kind of environment complete with perfect accompanies. At least, I enjoyed it very much! :)

Trio Nyum Nyum with beautiful autumn background :)

SJ had finally refreshed herself. She also took some food and drink to re-energize. Once finished, we continued our journey. She stopped by at petrol kiosk to pump fuel and purchase some snack from there, deep-fried chicken sticks. It’s interesting to see what food they commonly sold over there as each country offered different kind of snacks and type of desserts.

Passing by this beautiful sun ray :)

As predicted, we reached the Lake St Clair Lodge when the sky had turned into the dark. On our way there, our car had accidentally knocked out a Pademelon (a marsupial that looked like a small kangaroo). It hopped across the street in front of us. SJ tried her best to slow down the car. I didn’t see the rest of the view as I was hoping that it had crossed over safely. However, we heard a bump sound after that, and I was just shouted, “Amituofo”, and praying for the poor Pademelon.  I heard from my friend that it was hopping back that’s why it was being knocked out. We were quiet for a while. I guessed everyone was busy praying and still shocked over the incident. Hope you rest in peace, Pademelon, and so sorry for the unpredicted incident.

Photo source:

Actually, it was quite common to see the dead animals such as: wombat, quoll, and pademelon on the road in Tasmania as many wildlife animals were living outdoor freely. And we were considered lucky that SJ managed to control the car properly because there were many cases where the car was overturned, it skid or hit other things when trying to avoid bumping into the animals, and in most cases it would damage the car. Not trying to be selfish here, but in any driving situation, it’s advisable that the safety of the passengers was still primarily important. Again, we learned something in Australia that was not commonly found or happened in our countries.

The reception had already closed by the time we reached there and the staff left the envelope with an access card on the table waiting for us to collect. The area was very dark. They didn’t have lamp post along the road and we had to go few rounds to find our way to the cabin.

Our cabin at Lake St Clair, Tasmania

We stayed inside a two-bedroom cabin (as usual completed with living room, kitchen, dining room and two bathrooms) that was located in the middle of the jungle with a balcony facing directly to the Lake St Clair. From outside, the cabin looked very simple and common. But inside, it was design in a very cozy and comfortable place to live in. All the rooms and bathrooms were prepared in hotel standard. That’s another thing that I loved when traveling in Australia. The kitchen was fully equipped with microwave, fridge, pots and pans, kettle, plates and cutleries, cups and glasses, cooking utensils, salt and pepper, even rice cooker!!! We felt like staying in our dream home, especially when there was an electric masonry heater in the middle of the cabin. Yalama!!! We all stayed warm and secured despite the cold weather outside. Shiok yaaaa.... ^^

Again, we started preparing our dinner once we went inside. This time, we tried to finish whatever ingredients we had as we had no plan to cook anymore on the last night. So, we utilized the giant celery stalk with its leaves, bunches of spring onion, carrots, eggs, fish cakes, etc. And voila!!! We had many dishes for the night!!! :)

Dinner plus wine and cheese session :)

Like usual, after dinner, we continued on with wine and cheese session. We chit chatted, ate fruits, munched cheeses, chocolate, paired with wine and mixed of Elderflower syrup and sparkling water for some.  We took a bath in between – and went to bed at 12.30am.

I’d already fallen asleep. Suddenly, I felt my extra bed moving. OH my!!! Was I dreaming? No leh, I could feel it moving, as if someone was moving it deliberately. I woke up and saw SJ was sitting down on her bed. I asked her, “What are you doing?” She asked me, “Did you feel that your bed was moving?” I immediately answered, “Ya lor. Yours also ah? I thought it’s only mine moving.” Leen at the other side of the bed was awoken and told us that she didn’t feel anything on her bed. Both of us sat for a while. SJ asked me again, “How? Is it still moving?” I tried to feel it… “Hmm… I think no more…”

To prevent me from overthinking, I walked to the toilet and living room for a while to check on my phone charger and returned back to room. I went back to my bed and tried to sleep again. At the same time, I kept chanting prayers so that I could sleep peacefully.

OH, and before I forgot, Happy belated Vesak Day to those who celebrated! There was a beautiful full moon on that night, which I enjoyed very much :) Sabbe Satta Bhavantu Sukhitatta. May all sentient beings be happy! Sadhu, sadhu, sadhu!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Aussie trip day 3 – 12th May 2014 – Kayaking at Freycinet Peninsula

It would be such a waste staying next to the beautiful historic port in Hobart if I didn’t browse the area due to lack of time. I’d stayed there for two nights, while the rest stayed for three nights, and we would leave this place to another place very soon. Therefore, despite staying very late the night before (perhaps we were all sleeping at about 1.30am due to long chat regarding our ol’ good times), Aileen and I went ahead with our plan to wake up early just to browse the Franklin Wharf before we left the place for good.

Beautiful Monday morning at Franklin Wharf, Hobart

It was a beautiful Monday morning. The sun had long risen by the time we went out at about 8.15am, and the air was cool and fresh. Both of us had a walk along the Davis Street and in the Franklin Wharf. We had a good browse of the parked yachts, witnessing helicopter coming down through the water, gazing the surrounding buildings, gawking at the flying seagulls in the sky, and not forgetting to record this moment into our phone camera :)

Actually I would love to walk further to the Salamanca area, but the time was limited and we had to go back to our apartment. As soon as we returned, we made ourselves a quick breakfast. Mine was sandwich made of two slices of multi-grain bread spread with local-made strawberry jam with pan-fried sausage and spinach leaves in the middle, plus a cup of coffee with cream and sugar. Hmmm… what a lovely breakfast!!! :)

We left Hobart in a short while and drove all the way to the direction of Freycinet National Park. On our way there, we passed by brownish and greenish fields on our left and right side, with herd of sheep, cow, horses occupying the area; passed by some lovely and colorful vineyards (usually in yellows); and stopped by at Moulting Lagoon Game Reserve for a short break and enjoyed the great view it’d offered.

Finally, after getting lost for a while (due to insufficient direction in the GPS), we found our way to the Freycinet Lodge. We rented two separate rooms; each was inclusive of a private balcony and no TV available. However, they provided the CD player with CD inside, playing a very soothing, romantic kind and relaxing music, allow us to rest ourselves fully in a comfortable bed provided (as usual, I slept at the extra bed – this time a very big sofa bed only for myself hohoho…).

Our room at Freycinet Lodge

Once we checked in, we headed to the Freycinet National Park office located not very far from the lodge. There, we had to pay A$60 per vehicle (up to 8 people) to entry all parks (including Cradle), which was valid up to 8 weeks. Ohh… I’d never encountered before paying for the entry of the national park, a bit surprised though. But then it’s mentioned there that the money raised from park fees would go directly towards the upkeep of the parks and reserves, also to maintain and upgrade visitor facilities, walking tracks, and information booth. Well, fair enough then.

We had a bit of time before our kayaking’s appointment and after consulting with the staff, she suggested us to have a short drive and walk to Honeymoon Bay. However, we were running out of time, therefore, after arriving at the area, we just stopped at the car park and had our quick lunch there. Hehe… Everything was quick and short. We just finished up our stock by eating everything that was left in our stock, like bread, ham, cheeses, chips, strawberry, and raspberry, just to ensure that we had enough energy to paddle :)

We enrolled the Freycinet Paddle  that last around 3 hours including briefing, about 2-hour paddling and refreshment break on a beach. All sea kayaking equipment and gears were included, such as: warm polar fleece, spray deck or spray skirt (to prevent water to enter to the kayak), spray jacket, lifesaving jacket, and kayak shoes. They also provided dry-bag to put our personal items like camera, hand phone, etc.

Freycinet Paddle in Tasmania :)

Nathan, our instructor, guided us the steps on what to wear first, how to paddle forward, backward, and to stop, what should we do in case the kayak capsized (as a safety precaution), and what the person who sat behind should do when stir the kayak (to the left or to the right). Since there were five of us, Celipu paired up with her hubby, SJ paired up with Aileen, while I paired up with Nathan :)

It’s said that the Freycinet Paddle was listed as the #4 must-do experience in Australia on the Nine Network’s Things to Try Before You Die. Hahaha… Now seemed like I could die in peace :D Just kidding. Anyway, I was eagerly waiting for this day to come as this would be my first time in my life to experience kayaking. I was not often doing the water sport and by doing this, in this place, at this time, was simply incredible experience that you too, should do, in case you come here. It cost A$95 per person, but the experience that we went through was all worth it. Perhaps, we were very lucky as the weather that afternoon was very good. There was a sun, but it wasn’t that hot. There was wind but it wasn’t that strong too. The water was calm and still. Everything came perfectly!!!

Beautiful evening (Photo courtesy by Celipu)

We hooked the paddle to our boat. Put our personal belonging (dry-bag and water bottle) in front of us (secured tightly with the rubber string). We sloped ourselves into the boat, secured the spray skirt properly into the boat, and there we went! Nathan pushed our boats to the water one by one and we started to paddle around to the way directed by him. All of us were trying hard to familiarize ourselves to paddle correctly, also to turn to get fast and to slow down.

Since Nathan was experienced and he could paddle very fast, lots of time we (Nathan and I) were separated from the other two kayaks. We always came first in front while the other two were paddling slowly behind, enjoying the chit-chatting, and I was envy listening to their laughter and they even sang a song. Oh my…. Hahaha… The good thing paddling with Nathan was that I didn’t have to paddle as much as they did since like I said, Nathan was strong and experienced. He knew how to turn, how to control, while I was just helping him to paddle ahead. And many times, we had to slow down or to stop, waiting for the rest to catch up with us.

While waiting, I would just take a rest, take photo, look at the birds flying (such as: white-bellied sea eagle, silver and pacific gull, etc.) or stopping by at the tree’s branch, and enjoy the peace and calmness of my surrounding. I felt very close to the nature. Sometimes I would put my hands into the water, play with the water, feel its coldness, look at its clarity wondering what lies beneath, and just enjoy that present moment of being there. Like I said, the experience was priceless.

Refreshment time :)

We paddled towards the other side of the mountain and stopped by at the beach. Nathan took out the flask and few plastic containers filled with cookies, coffee and cream powder, tea bags, sugar cube, marshmallows, and plastic cup. He asked us what we wanted and he would concoct the beverages for us. We took a rest munching cookies and sipping our tea or coffee while enjoying the beautiful natures surrounds us. We chit chatted too of what they’d seen along their way.

The wooden bridge with birds' view :)

Once the break was over, we continued our paddling journey. This time, we headed to a bridge topped by many birds on it. We headed closer to the bridge and after, Nathan asked us to cross under the bridge, which we hadn’t thought about it since the height of the bridge from the water wasn’t that high. SJ and Aileen managed to cross under the bridge safely, so with Nathan and I. However, Celipu and her hubby weren’t giving enough space while turning. She herself still concerned and gave a warning to SJ to be careful of SJ’s head, not to knock the wooden bridge, which ended up their boat went to the wrong hole. At first we tried not to laugh, but the scene was just too funny and all of us burst out laughing over the incident. It was still vivid in our mind how they crushed their boat to the wrong side.

Finally managed overcoming the hurdle :)

Luckily they managed to control their boat and cross under the bridge safely and in right direction. Nathan gave a comment, “I would give them one out of ten for that,” still laughing as he couldn’t resist it as well.

"What friendships are for? YOLO!!!"

Finally we’re back. By the time we reached, it was almost 5pm, and sunset was arriving.

Enjoying beautiful sunset at Freycinet Peninsula, Tasmania

We stayed put taking some more photographs and witnessed the romantic sunset over the beautiful beach. Many couple were there too enjoying the scenery, some brought their own drink, really knew how to enjoy their lives :) Ohh…. We all were back with sore in the arms and shoulders hahaha…. But it was worth it. Thank you SB for the good weather, good health, good experience, and the fact that we were all safe and protected along the way! Thank you, thank you, and thank you!

Our sumptuous seafood dinner at The Bay Restaurant :)

Since there was no kitchen inside our room, we decided to have our dinner outside. There were only few eating places available in the area. After asking around, we all decided to have our dinner in the restaurant provided by the lodge. It was quite expensive though, but we had a sumptuous seafood dinner resulting a swell in our bellies full of satisfaction ^^

Wine, cheese, cracker and chips of the day :)

After dinner, we went back into our room. We took a bath and like usual, we had our gathering at one of the room, enjoying the cheese and wine plus chat session until we couldn’t stand anymore and went to bed for a very good rest zzz… zzz… zzz….

Monday, May 26, 2014

Angela’s Ashes – A Memoir by Frank McCourt

Angela's Ashes - A Memoir by Frank McCourt

“You have to study and learn so that you can make up your own mind about history and everything else but you can’t make up an empty mind. Stock your mind, stock your mind. It is your house of treasure that no one in the world can interfere with it.

If you won the Irish Sweepstakes and brought a house that needed furniture, would you fill it with bits and pieces of rubbish? Your mind is your house and if you feel it with rubbish from the cinemas, it will rot in your head. 

You might be poor, your shoes might be broken, but your mind is a palace.”
 - Angela's Ashes p. 208

I have finally finished reading it last night. I’d been slowly reading it, enjoying words by words, imagining its situation moment by moment. I read as if I didn’t want the story to end. I was just engrossed by it.  It’s a 1996 memoir written by Irish author, Frank McCourt, the first memoir book that I ever read in my life.

If you read my previous blog post, March Book Photo Challenge by Overcome Life,  the book came under list no. 21, as the book that I would avoid to read. Hehe… Why? Because I thought it would be an old classic story book that would be very hard to digest, just like the Human Bondage (I read first few page of Human Bondage and gave up reading it right away). But then, I was curious what kind of story it was written there, what kind of life that he’d gone through, what kind of poverty and impoverished life that Frank McCourt went through until my friends loved reading this book so much (When I posted this book on my Facebook, many had commented that it was a wonderful book, what a great choice, one of my favorites, and so on). Therefore, I challenged myself into reading it, started reading it beginning of this month.

I was wondering how Frank McCourt was able to retell his childhood story in vivid details, in sequence from the time he was born until he was reaching 19. Being born in Brooklyn, US, spending most of his early life in Limerick, Ireland, he had faced struggles and difficulties since he was very young. The innocent thought that he described and his thinking as the pious Catholic religious believer made the story so natural and amusing at the same time.

Since his father, the drunkard Malachy who always finished his wage money at once inside the pub, went to England to work and only so far sent money once to the family, Frank had always wanted to earn money on his own and started to work since he was only thirteen years old helping his neighbor delivering coal and then a year later working as a messenger delivery boy. He was very bright in study though and liked reading very much. He was able to use his reading and writing ability to earn some additional money so that he could fulfill his dream to go back to US, for a better future.

The story had not ended yet. The journey continued, which could be found at the next sequel, ‘Tis. Hope I could find that book in the library and see what would come next.

"He tells me God forgives me and I must forgive myself, that God loves me and I must love myself for only when you love God in yourself can you love all God's creatures" - Angela's Ashes p. 343

Saturday, May 24, 2014

A story of Bhutanese life in Australia

Last week when I was in Melbourne I finally met up with a couple of Bhutanese who were living there at the moment. They were Karma Drupchuk and Dorji Yangzom, known as Flora.

I knew Flora few months ago through my blog (she followed my blog) and slowly we became Facebook friends. From there I found out that she was staying in Melbourne.

So, when my trip to Australia was confirmed, I thought of meeting her. I mean, wouldn't it be such a good opportunity to meet up with her and to become real friends? Furthermore, we both would be staying in the same city. And at the same time, I would love to know how Bhutanese lived their life there, at the land where most Bhutanese would love to go: to study and to work.

I informed her about my trip almost a month before but we set up our meeting about two weeks before due to match up our schedule and to decide where and how to meet.

Since they were not working that Saturday, they invited us to their rented house for a Bhutanese dinner. Wow, I was very lucky, wasn't I? Even as far as Melbourne (apart from Kolkata and Singapore), I was still being able to taste the delicious Bhutanese food, cooked by the Bhutanese :) But of course, my main point meeting them not because of the food la.

We reached their place at 6 pm. The sky had turned into the dark. There were 4 of us (my sis, her son, my hubby, and I). We were just returning back from our 2 day 1 night trip to Phillip Island and Mornington Peninsula. The houses there were quite dark. Seemed like Australian loved to save the environment and electricity, only used what was deemed necessary. With the help of the GPS, my sister found our way there.

Flora and Karma welcomed us warmly. Girls were hugging each other. For her, I was the first virtual friend that she ever met in real hehe... I was honored, Charo! ;)

They led us to the living room. Their rented house was huge. There were 6 bedrooms in it and all rooms were occupied and rented to Bhutanese. There were 3 couples like them and 3 Bhutanese students occupying each room. The living room was warm and cozy. There were lots of chairs and sofa seats plus coffee table in the middle. It was an old house though but still function well and in a good shape :) It was located near the train station where they used train a lot as form of transport, also not far from the bus stop where they used to reach their working place. The rental fee was reasonable too.

We settled down ourselves and Flora started serving Ngaja (Bhutanese way of making tea with milk and sugar) for all of us. She took out the assorted biscuits that I brought and served it with the tea. (We had agreed that I too, should bring something there as not to trouble them. Therefore I brought biscuits, wine, chips and fruits. And this too, one of the Bhutanese culture that I learnt, to bring something when being invited to their house. Hope I was right :D).

We finally met up :)

After finishing our Ngaja, she opened the wine and the chips, also took out plates with peanuts. We continued our conversation while drinking and munching.

Karma, Flora's husband, used to work as lecturer back in Bhutan. Other than that, he was also working as a Secretary to one of the Princess' husband overlooking many of their business. He went to Melbourne about 17 months ago on his own accord to further his study. (He is currently undergoing Adv. Diploma of Business Management and after completion, by this July 20th, he will pursue Master Degree of Business Administration).

Flora decided to join Karma just about 13 months ago by quitting her just started study in Southern India as Karma needed her and Flora herself would also love to experience life in Australia. (Both of them are in their mid 30s and have a 11-year daughter back in Bhutan).

When my sister asked Karma, "How do you find life in Melbourne?" Karma, who was open and frank, answered it right away without hesitation, "Life here is very challenging, especially for international student like me, who have to study and work at the same time. I have to work and stand up all the time for 8 hours. I have no chance to rest and sit down and I always have to show them that I am working. Cameras are installed everywhere inside the kitchen. If you are slack, you will be out of job very soon." (Karma has to finance himself by working part-time after schooling. He works in the kitchen to assist the Chef in a Greek restaurant). "I am thinking to switch job like what my wife is doing and now I'm trying to get the certificate required to be able to get into the job." (Flora is currently working at the nursing home). "There, from 8 hours working, at least I can have a chance to sit down for 3 hours. Unlike my current job. It is so tiring and my legs pain and tired."

Flora had to travel about one hour journey by bus to reach her working place. Sometimes she had to work at night shift and went back home in the morning. "I've never thought that life will be very difficult here. I'm missing home. I'm missing my life in Bhutan. But it's good to experience this."

Karma also added, "Here, I do things that I never do back in Bhutan. Usually this kind of job is done by very humble people in Bhutan. But it's good, so that I know how they feel."

Later on, we found out what had been their main motivation of insisting to live this kind of life - even further his study and to stay there longer - despite the hardship that both of them had to face in their daily life. "We plan to have our daughter coming here next year to study. She is in class VI now. She is currently studying at Dr. Tobgyal School, one of the best private schools in Bhutan. She is good in Dzongkha, also in English. But we want her to study here so that she can experience the education here, life over here. Most importantly we want her to become more outspoken, learn to be more sociable, dare to talk and express her feelings where in Bhutan, she is more reserved and shy."

(If her daughter happens to read this blog, I hope she can feel how much love that her parents have on her and how much hope they both put on her well being and future. Even I start crying and feel very touched by their statement. In every parents' eyes, they always put a big hope on their child. They want the best thing happen in their child's life, when they themselves have to live in otherwise situation. But for them, it is all worth it. All the hardship is nothing for them).

Delicious Bhutanese dishes cooked by Karma and Flora :)

In a while, Karma offered us to have our dinner at their dining room. Both of them had prepared the Bhutanese dishes for all of us. Even though both of them were vegetarian, they still cooked Shakampa (home made dried Beef) with capsicum and turnip for us, and hard boiled egg fried with butter, onion, and chives. For themselves, they only ate the Bhutanese red rice (they reserved this Bhutan red rice only for us at this opportunity - they really brought this rice from Bhutan) and Kewa Datshi (potato with cheese, onion,  and capsicum). They didn't put chilli on every dishes as they knew my toddler nephew was joining us for dinner. How considerate both of them were!

With my sister and nephew

They both had become vegetarian since they stayed in Melbourne. Flora said she still couldn't eat other food there and only started learning to eat bread recently. Everyday she cooked rice with Kewa Datshi or Ema Datshi for her meals day and night. Even she brought packet lunch filled with it everyday.

We were all very grateful for meeting both of them. Although we had never met each other before, they were kindly inviting us to their home and serving us the wonderful meals that they themselves not even ate. From our meeting, I managed to know how they felt true from their heart. Although not every Bhutanese would experience the same thing, but life as many Bhutanese who lived in Bhutan always saw it otherwise, could realize and learn something from it: "No matter where you are, no matter where you live, life is always full of challenges. It's like a roller coaster ride, full of ups and downs. We need to work hard, we need to be  persistence towards our goal in life, we need to always have our families close in our hearts, but most importantly, we need to take everything in life with positive heart and mind. Not forgetting that we too need to be happy."

Hope this small article, will be able to open your eyes, to learn from other people's experience that life is not a bed of roses. And it's not always about money. Even the wealthy one has their own problem in life. Our attitude toward facing life ahead is very important. Remember to always be positive and never give up towards any situation in life. And you are not alone. At time when you need any help, do voice up to people surround you: your friends, families, even to strangers. Don't ever let yourself fall into depression and think of giving up your life. Life is precious. Be content and treasure it. Live life to the fullest. Always.

P.S. I've been given permission by Karma and Flora to write their story here in my blog. Name same kadinche-la Karma and Flora! It's a great pleasure meeting both of you even only for a while. Keep in touch and who knows we shall meet again, perhaps back in your lovely hometown, one day, at one fine day :) Meanwhile, I wish you both all the best in everything and wish all your dreams to have your daughter study and stay together with you in Melbourne will soon come true. Take care of your good health and be happy always! :)

Friday, May 23, 2014

Aussie trip day 2 – 11th May 2014 – Tasmania Devil Conservation Park and Port Arthur

First of all, Happy belated Mother’s Day! This year, I had to separate with my dear son. However, he sent the Mother’s Day wishes for me early in the morning before we left our apartment :)

It was a cold Sunday morning. The cartoon song from SJ’s mobile had woken me up from my deep sleep. Time shown was 8am. SJ had already been busy preparing breakfast in the kitchen and was helped by Celipu. Leen and I were preparing ourselves and by the time we were done, the breakfast was ready!

Wonderful breakfast :)

Wow! Again, I was impressed with the food prepared by our Chefs hehe… Both prepared scrambled eggs, cheese sausages, pan-fried Haloumi cheese, and spinach salad with salsa. Nyum nyum… I felt like having breakfast in the restaurant rather than at home. Thank you SJ and Celipu for your delectable plate!!! Happy meal lifted up my mood, especially breakfast. Hehehe… ^^

That morning we planned to go to the ‘Tasmanian Devil Conservation Park’ to see the renowned carnivorous marsupial, which would only be found in the wild on the Australian island state of Tasmania. Since we were there, we had to see it!!! Moreover, it’s reclassified as endangered animals in 2009 due to the drastic devil facial tumor disease that attacked them and reduced their populations greatly.

'Taz' (Pic source:

I bet you heard about ‘Taz’ - the animated cartoon character feature in the Warner Bros “Looney Tunes” series) or saw it before. “It was portrayed as a ferocious albeit dim-witted omnivore with a notoriously short temper and little patience. He ate anything and everything, with an appetite that seemed to know no bounds. He was best known for his speech consisting mostly of grunts, growls, rasps, and his ability to spin like a vortex and bite through just about anything. (Source:

Well, to be honest, I didn’t watch that cartoon, but I knew how Taz looking like. However, the real Tasmanian Devil wasn’t look like Taz as reflected in the cartoon. The real Devil didn’t spin like a vortex as it was described. It didn’t have spike hair and big broad shoulder as it was shown in the cartoon character. It looked more like a big version of rat (black in color) for me haha…

Tasmanian Devils at Tasmanian Devil Conservation Park

Don’t be deceived by its look though. In the first instance, they both looked so cute. Not until you walked closer and watched when the staff fed them with a piece of carrion, usually wombat. They were fighting for it noisily, running here and there, trying to eat it just for itself selfishly. They had a very strong jaw able to tear meat and crush bones. They looked famished and starving, as if never eaten for ages. At that moment, they looked scary, like a monster, which reflected their names suitably.

Well, for the time being, enough about the Devil. I felt bad towards them. At the same time, I felt very lucky being born as human being. Hope we didn’t have to behave like them just to satisfy our basic need.

Birdies at Tasmanian Devil Conservation Park

We walked to the bird’s area. There were few birds in the park and they were all inside the cage. They were Cockatoo, Kookaburra, Cape Barren Goose, Green Rosella, Galah or rose-breasted Cockatoo, etc. I felt very grateful being able to see these birds, which was uncommon to be found in Singapore or other part of the world. It opened my eyes to see the diverse type of animals, birds that existed around the world.

Soon after that, we entered into the Kangaroo area. Once we walked in, many Kangaroos were there standing up waiting for the staff to feed them food. They were clever, weren’t they? They knew the feeding time was coming :) It was a big green land and there were more than, I wasn’t sure, 30? 40? And they came in different sizes. However, I couldn’t find any with the pouch in front with the baby kangaroo inside as what we often saw in the cartoon or picture hehe… Too bad :)

Feeding Kangaroos at Tasmanian Devil Conservation Park

Well, they were right. In a short while, the staff came in with two buckets of food on his hands. He started feeding them and letting us feeding them too. I fed the kangaroo before, fifteen years back, and I forgot how it felt like. So whenever I tried to feed them again, I wasn’t used to it. I was scared and my palm was ticklish when their tongue touched into it. Hahaha…. In the beginning, I dropped their food many times as I was too scared. But looking at others on how they were so calm, it made me wanting to try again. After few tries, I started to follow the motion and finally able to smile calmly towards the camera. Lolx!!!

It was a very nice experience, mixed and matched with Kangaroo. They were all tame, friendly and approachable. They didn’t attack you or hurt you. It just felt great! :) We saw some other animals there such as quoll and possum before we left the place and drove toward the Port Arthur Historic Sites.

Port Arthur Historic Sites - Tasmania

“Port Arthur is a small town and former convict settlement on the Tasman Peninsula, in Tasmania, Australia. It is one of the Australia’s most significant heritage areas and open air museum, build during the 18th and 19th centuries within the British Empire.” (Source:

Other than that, it was also the scene of the worst massacre event happened in 28 April 1996, which killed 35 and wounded 23, by Martin Bryant. Read more about the event here.

SJ had informed us about the massacre incident inside our itinerary. I had a good read about it and it made my hair standing up when reading it. So, other than visiting this historic site, we would also love to see the Memorial Hall built and pay our respect to the victims.

We purchased the Bronze Pass at A$35 per person. It included access to the sites area; 40-minute guided walking tour, and 30-minute harbor cruise. Before joining the walking tour, we walked through the basement part of the building where we could find the more details background of the convicts who were sent to this island.

Robert Goldspick, 25 - One of the convicts sent to Port Arthur

We were given a card each person to identify which convict we were looking into. It was interesting. Each people offended different criminality, came from different age (some were juvenile convict, as young as nine), had different background, occupation, received different punishment (also measured in different period of time), had to work in different kind of job while in prison, such as: construction, stone-cutting, shoe-making, cooking, etc.

One of the tattoos meaning

“Most convicts transported to Australia never saw their families again. Many hoped though that one day they would return to their loved ones. As symbols of that hope, they left mementos behind, such as love tokens made of copper coins, and others would tattoo their skin with promises of reunion. Many tattoos would have meaning of hope as they believe that ‘without hope man is nothing’.

Gorgeous autumn view at Port Arthur, Tasmania

We joined the walking guided tour in less than ten minutes as my friends felt boring and weren’t quite understood with his accent. We had to stand up and listen to him all the while. Therefore, we decided to walk on our own throughout the area and took lots of photos of the beautiful yellow leaves’ trees around. Oh my!!! We were very lucky being able to experience the beautiful autumn view at that moment. It was simply gorgeous!! :)

Under the beautiful autumn yellow leaves' trees at Port Arthur

Beautiful fallen leaves :)

While walking, few friends kept recommending the place to have our lunch. “Hey, there was wooden chair and table beneath the tree! What a nice place to have our lunch there!”; “Hey, should we eat there next to the Mason Cove and sit down on the grass?” or “Hey, should we stop now for lunch?” But instead of stopping and sitting down, we kept on walking throughout the area. We just couldn’t waste our time enjoying the beautiful view surround us until it was time for the ferry to depart.

Port Arthur, Tasmania

We ended up having our lunch inside the ferry. Lolx! We brought our own bread, ham, salad leaves, cookies, chips, fruits, and so on and purchased our hot beverage from the small café inside the ferry. I made myself a delicious ham sandwich and had it with chips and café latte. Hhhmm…. It’s wonderful!!!

We didn’t listen to the guide who kept explaining what happened in the past surrounding the area, instead we were too busy having our lunch, and some were taking a power nap on their seats. But we all had taken a good rest there and recharged ourselves for the day.

Port Arthur Memorial Garden - Tasmania

After disembarked from the ferry, we returned back to where we got in. This time, we walked towards the Canadian Cottage. Behind it, there was a Memorial Garden to commemorate the victims of the massacre in 1996. On the stone floor, there was short poem reading like this:


We said our prayers in our heart right in front of the wooden cross. May all sentient beings be born in a better place, live a better life and be happy. Sabbe Satta Bhavantu Sukhitatta.

Magnificent sunset ray on our way back to Hobart city

After visiting this place, we went back to Hobart city passing through the bridge and witnessing the beautiful sunset from afar. We felt blessed that we were alive and kicking, being together with friends and family, and all this wonderful life that was given to us. Thank you, thank you, and thank you.

Home cooked dinner for the day :)

After visiting supermarket and buying more cheese and wine, we went home preparing our dinner, had it together, and continued with cheese and wine session. This time, we talked longer, mostly about what happened with friends during our high school time.

Photos collection by Celipu :)

Celipu brought his album photo from the past and it brought our memories back about what happened during the time. Again, they were talking about me and my ex-classmate whom I always fought with, asking me if I ever fell in love with him. Hahahaha… Kepooooo……. :P

We talked until about 12.30am then took a bath and fell asleep. That was a great day and night together. Thank you everyone!!! Hope you enjoyed it the way I did! :)
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