Friday, 29 August 2008

Of French People, and Crab Legs...




Wow, time flies, doesn't it? I've been in Toronto for 20 days now, and in just a few hours, will be leaving for the airport to meet up with the Trent University representatives for my International Camp.

The weather is getting a little colder now. Last I heard yesterday, it was 23 degrees. When I arrived, it was 32 degrees!



I've finished with my volunteering at the Ontario March of Dimes. It was really great. Can't believe I spent almost 3 weeks in the office!





The Stroke Information Kit...



All done, and ready to be stuffed...




My work was simple work that didn't require too many brain cells. Like putting together information kits that contained 9 sets of info, 2 newsletters, and 2 brochures; Then had to type address labels and stuff envelopes with the info kits, plus a magazine, and a cover letter.


The most 'challenging' thing was to make sure Mr. Andrews' letter didn't go to Ms. Schaffer. And the biggets job hazard would have been a paper cut...Hehe...






Oh Dear...What Did I get myself into??





And Daphne adds her own mess...




I think I put together almost 150 information kits of polio and stroke. When I was done with that, I 'graduated' to editing Word documents for the web, 23 folders in all. And hey, I learnt to use the photocopy machine! Not bad, for an electronically-challenged person like me!



Anyway, my bosses took me out for lunch on Wednesday. On Tuesday, as I was leaving, Marc Sintes asked me:


*He's French, so you need some imagination. They speak so armorously. ;)*


Marc: "Daphne, would you like to join us for lunch tomorrow?"

Me: "Aiyo, no need lar"

Marc: "It's not a request. It's an order".

Me: "I have to, ar?"

Marc: "You don't have to. But we would really like it".


God, these French people...;)


The office even gave me a card...And...They took me to a Chinese Restaurent...Haha!





Sue Jones, the Volunteer-Coordinator...





Marc Sintes, whom I was assigned to help...




And yesterday night, my aunt and uncle took us out for a really nice meal at Red Lobster, since it was my last night here. We tried this same restaurant the other night, but the waiting time for a table was over an hour! So we gave up...

We were lucky last night though, so this is who Daphne was spending her night with...;)






Gotcha!




And my cousin Ee Lynn didn't do too badly too...




And between us, we polished these two plates:-




Mashed potato, coconut shrimp with pina-colada dip, and shrimp linguini...




Lobster, crab, garlic-shrimp (in bowl), baked potato, and somemore shrimp.




Ergh...

I need to go on a serious diet...



Oh well...

Anyway, see you all when I get back from camp in a few days!




Saturday, 23 August 2008

Of Johnny Mathis, Stamped Hands and a Good Meal...



Phew...What a week!




Johnny Mathis (Picture stolen from Wikipedia)...



My aunts took me to a concert by Johnny Mathis yesterday, which was staged at the Casino Rama, in Rama, Ontario. The town of Rama is about one-and-a-half hours away from Toronto. Everyday was pretty surprised I knew who Johnny Mathis is, and even more surprised I could sing along. I was thrilled, because, erm, I thought he was...dead...





Self-explanatory...


We hit a snag at the entrance to the casino, however. Turns out, they didn't believe I was of age, and didn't believe I was carrying a legit identification...Wah, this age thing very difficult lar...



I don't carry my passport around because I was advised against it, since it would cause a lot of problems if I dropped it. And since every other office/organisation here accepts my MyKad as proof of identity (anything which has my name and face together), none of us thought it would be a problem...

Unfortunately, according to the International ID book they had at the casino, they only showed the Malaysian Driving Licence!



I showed them my MyKad, but they wouldn't accept it because they said I could have copied and made it myself anywhere. And since the only thing they had in the book was the driving licence, they would not accept anything else!

Which is quite dumb, because the MyKad comes with a chip, while the driving licence is so much like a piece of high-class paper that is laminated!



I explained to the security guard about the sequence in the IC (YY/MM/DD), and then realised the book explained that Malaysian ID numbers have that sequence! Since driving licences carry the MyKad number as well...



She dismissed me completely!



Anyway, the security guard barred me from entering, and she called her superior, which was pretty crude. He came, said it wasn't in the book (MyKad), and said I wasn't allowed to enter, there would be no discussion, then just left.



We weren't happy, since we came all the way, and like my aunts said, we were going for a concert and were not entering the casino to gamble, and morover, they were being ridiculous to say that they only accept the driving licence or passport! Especially when I produced quite a few cards that showed my name/face/age...


They demanded to see the even-bigger-superior who came about 10 minutes later.



My aunts explained to him what was going on, and that it was quite obvious we were here for clean fun since I was accompanied by 3 'older' ladies (2 aunts and a grandma), all holding a ticket to a Johnnay Mathis concert...


Aunt: "Three generations here, to see one singer!"



He told them they only had seen the driving licence, and after a while, he asked to speak to me alone.



He told me he understood that international students are cautioned against carrying their passport because of security issues. He also asked if I had other cards with me, and I produced my CreditCard which he swiped and which showed my name.

Then he casually flipped through some files while (even more) casually asking me questions:


Officer: "So, when were you born?"

Me: "27th January, 1986"

Officer: "How old are you?"

Me: "I'm 22"

Officer: "So, will you be turning 22, or are you already 22?"

Me: "I'll be 23 in January"

Officer: "That's enough for me. You don't have to carry your passport anywhere else, but if you go to another casino, bring it along, ok?"






Stamped Hands!...



He stamped my hands to show my ID had been checked. I asked that both hands get stamped in case one washes off ;)




So, yay! Johnny was splendid, despite his age! We were in the ninth row, which was pretty cool. He sang his hits like 'Gina', 'It's Not For Me to Say' and my favourite, 'Chances Are', and also crooned songs like 'When I Fall in Love' and 'Moon River', and when he hit the last "...Moon River and me", I could feel my goosebumps doing a jig...

Was pretty disappointed he didn't sing 'Wonderful! Wonderful!' and 'A Certain Smile' though...=(





At the Casino: Grrrr...Big, ain't it?



But, all's well, that ends well...Had a good time anyhow...They were just doing their job...Not that I looked underage!



And today, barbeque!



Ikan Pari (Ray Fish) all juicy and succulent...Who said Canada don't have? ;)



My Aunt's unskewered satay, and sauce, which tasted heavenly...Even for someone who doesn't exactly like satay, like me...





Good food, good company and good weather...



It was a good meal...The only thing missing was Mum, Dad, and Bro...But having aunts, uncles, cousins and grandma here makes home a whole lot closer...

=)




Tuesday, 19 August 2008

"You First, Dear. Go On"...



You know how we always talk about the importance of good manners and being polite?

And you know how Malaysia ranked somewhere in the last spots in some survey on the above (conducted by Reader's Digest, I think)?


Well, honestly, when I saw the results, I was thinking that although we obviously aren't very polite people, we can't possibly be thaaaat bad to rank so very lowly...


That was until I actually experienced Canadian politeness.



My First Day volunteering at the Ontario March of Dimes:-


I walked into the department I was attached to and introduced myself to the person I was to assist. After exchanging pleasantries, he brought me a chair and asked if he could get me coffee.

I'm like whoa...You're getting me coffee?


Wait a minute...Shouldn't it be the other way around?!?




My Second Day volunteering:-


I was about to leave the building and had just put my hand to the door for a push when the guy on the other side of the glass door gave it a huge pull and walked through. Obviously, he didn't see me.

Only after walking through did he realise I was standing there:


Him: "Oh pardon me, I didn't see you".

Me: "Oh, no worries!"


He walked back through the doors he just came through, held the door open, and said:


Him: "You first"...


I'm like ??? You already came through, it's really ok...You don't have to go back!!!




Today at the road intersection, near the grocery store:-


I walked onto the curb, where seconds ago, a car had reached. She was about to make a turn, and since she came first, I waited for her to turn before I crossed the road (no zebra crossing)...

The dear old lady inside, wound down the window, and said:


Dear Old Lady: "You first, dear. Go on"...

Wahlau...




Are these people polite or what?


This pretty much makes up for the not-so-polite immigration officer I met...;)


Sunday, 17 August 2008

Of Awe-Inspiring Falls and Hershey Chocolates...




A child getting some powerful inspiration...





I saw an amazing thing today! Probably the most amazing thing since I came to Canada...


I'm sure many of you would have guessed by now what I saw...My aunt and uncle took me to see the Niagara Falls!





W...O...W...




We left early in the morning to beat the crowd, and I was hoping we would have good weather. We did! It was very, very hot, and I think I got a tan, something I've been avoiding in Malaysia (Ended up coming to Canada to get a tan?!?), but it was a bright and sunny day, and the falls were really pretty.


The parks were gorgeous. It was summer, after all, and the flowers were in bloom. There were also bees buzzing around, and birds enjoying the grass. Hey, people even brought their dogs for a picnic!




A man and his dogs in the distance, sharing water...Pretty doggies, huh?



We also had a walk down the streets to have a look at the shops nearby. We visited the Hershey's Chocolate Shop (They even had a 5-Pounds-Chocolate!!! That's even heavier than me when I was born!!!), the Coca-Cola Merchandise Shop and a number of souvenir's shops...We also browsed the outside of the Guinness World Records, the Ripley's Believe It Or Not ?shops? and the Casinos...It was really like Las Vegas town, actually...






My cousin, Ee Lynn, perhaps the world's greatest Coca-Cola fan...;)




Check this Out:-

Looks like a real person, huh? It's a dummy!





Dummy Climbing...



And more pictures from the falls:-





Maid of The Mist 'cruise' at the bottom of the Niagara Falls, which we skipped because my elderly grandma was with us...



It's ok...There will be plenty of time to take that ride in future...=)





Apple Tree overlooking the falls...






And the Hershey Man himself!!!





Yay! I practically chased the Hershey Man down...Hehe!

Everybody who knows me well knows I have a very child-like part inside me who will get more excited about getting a new giant teddy plush toy and meeting Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs, than say, meeting Ricky Martin and getting a new prom dress...;)


Oh well, if it makes me happy, right?



Wednesday, 13 August 2008

"Oh...That Smells Like...Skunk!".


Ah...

I've been in Toronto for the past few days, and although so many things are very different, there are so many things which seem so familiar too...



I smelled my first skunk on Monday. We were passing this area, when I remarked out loud: "Oh...that smells like..."

Before I could finish, everybody in the car said: "Skunk!"

I was going to say: "...smells like very strong 'Bunga Tahi Ayam'..." ;(


Haha! Oh well, it didn't smell too bad actually...Hehe...



Anyway, the first day I was here, I saw this:-



Wheel-Trans...




I was told that
Wheel-Trans is a "specialized accessible transit service provided by the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) within the City of Toronto, Canada". I managed to get a photo yesterday when it came by the place where I was staying. Turns out, they offer door-to-door pickup services! I was thrilled to see that they actually have such a service...




I was even more thrilled when my uncle told me that right in front of their neighbourhood is the office of the Ontario March of Dimes, a charitable organization aimed at improving the lives of special people by helping them gain independence. And right next to that? The main office of The Salvation Army!



I went there this morning (March of Dimes) to see if there was anything I could do. Must have looked really comical all zipped up with my hood and jacket as it was raining slightly. Everybody I met there was lamenting about the rain *Oh geeeez, has it been raining?!?! What a shame* and how 'un-summer' it is, and there I was thinking, 'Oh hey, it's just rain!'


Although it was a short walk from my aunt's place, I have to be very careful when crossing the roads here, as it is so very different than Malaysia. The traffic rules are very very very different, so I have to be extra careful just walking. Morover, there are street signs for pedestrians everywhere! *I will do a post of traffic here soon...Some are pretty cool!*


Anyway, I'm here in Toronto for too short a time (before term starts), so all the only opening they have is to do some office work, and they asked if I minded helping out there. I'm ok with it (like stuffing envelopes, typing documents etc), so I start my volunteering this Friday! Helping, is helping, right, whatever the area?




I'll leave you all with some pictures I took during my walks...Just a few lar...



Some Stuff Canadian: Same, yet Different...:-




Eggplant! Bigger than my palm!




Pepper aka Capsicum...Some bigger than my palms too!




Red radish are all over the place!




Fresh tomatoes, also huge!




Roses in my Uncle's garden...Size of my palm...




Neighbour's patch of garden...




Geese frolicking in the sun...I heard traffic was at a standstill in one part of town today because a flock of geese decided to cross the roads during rush hour!




And All Things Which Remind Me of Home:
-




Durian!!! My cousins swear they're good...




Baba's Curry Powder...To see Baba's being sold is one thing, but to actually see the ad in Malay?!?




Nasi Lemak, sold by a lady from Ipoh in one part of Toronto! It's good her nasi lemak...Verrrry lemak...




Rambutan! Fully imported, and looking very miserable...;(




What fusion they have here...Amazing ain't it? Just round the corner from my aunt's place, I have seen shops selling everything (mostly food) from Greek, to Filipino, to Chinese, to Western, to Viet, to Mediterranean, to Malaysian, to Japanese, to French...

In the community mall, I see a mixture of Persians, to Arabs, to Africans, to Chinese, to Hispanics, to Greeks (Ate their food and spoke to them too) to people I've never seen before in my life, speaking languages which sound, erm, Martian...


And we thought we are multi-cultural?!?



Sunday, 10 August 2008

Hello Canada!



And Hello Canada!


Oh wow...I boarded the plane at about 9.15 am (Saturday), and I only reached Canadian soil at 11.00 am the next morning (Sunday, Malaysian time)! The Canadian and Malaysian time zone is exactly 12 hours apart, with Canada behind. By the time I got through Immigration and got my student permit and all, it was nearly 1.30 am, Canadian time.




My flight to Hong Kong took about 3 hours and 29 minutes. It was a very long time to pass because my ears didn't behave very well. I was then stuck in Hong Kong airport till about 5.20 pm because my flight was delayed for an hour (not too bad if you're not tired, and have a long way to go). And not only that, *grumble grumble*, they had to change the gate from Gate 24 to Gate 61, and only made the changes known when I had reached Gate 24! *Grumble Grumble Grumble*





The guy I sat next to on the plane from Hong Kong: Kang Ji Heon, from South Korea, here to study English...




My next flight to Anchorage (Alaska) took about 9 hours and 30 minutes, where we transited for about an hour, before boarding my final flight to Canada, which took about 6 hours in all.



All I can say is, Thank God for international roaming (so I can inform my parents about the change in schedule), for credit cards (because I didn't carry any Hong Kong Dollars and the shops accept Canadian Dollars on conditions I took change in HK $) and for wireless service in airports...


The Canadian weather is beautiful at the moment. It was 14 degrees Celcius when I touched down; chilly to the skin, but darn, it was refreshing after being stuck to the chair for hours in a very dry (and warm!) cabin...In fact, I was quite surprised to find that it wasn't as cold (Grrr...Blame all the people who kept telling me how darn cold it is here) as I thought, and hey, I walked around without a jacket!


My cousin and I took a nice walk to the nearby community mall this afternoon after I had a nice good sleep, but we had to double back for the car because it started to rain.



I have a lot of getting use to here. For starters, cars actually do stop when you put your foot on the pedestrian crossing. Secondly, you can turn right on a red light. Thirdly, three lane roads actually mean three lane roads, no matter how in a rush you are or whether you drive a tiny car...Fourthly, you need to pay for plastic bags when shopping for groceries to encourage you to recycle. Fifthly, everything comes with a tax. Sixthly, everything comes in bigger sizes here...




Everything is bigger here: Check out the 2 litre bottle of coke!



I'm sure I have a lot more to discover. After all, this is only my first day here and I'm already getting all confused with the roads!


The air here is very much cleaner than in Malaysia. Maybe because it's colder here so you don't find so much dust like in humid conditions, I really don't know. I think my allergic nose and eyes are really gonna like it here ;)

But one thing I have to say is that Malaysians generally have mulut's that are more ringan, if you get my drift. I guess we have this whole ramah-mesra (ok, fair enough, a big part is because they are more busybody also) culture...



I think I'm gonna like it here. For starters, the weather's cool (even in summer), so you're less prone to lose your temper and feel geram. And dogs are very part of the life of the community, which I am very happy about...I have yet to see cats, but I'm sure I will love them too...


Meanwhile, this is what I left behind. Wish they were here too...



From left: Nick, Me, Mum and Dad...





Me saying goodbye to Hazel who was sent to the vet for boarding when we left for KL...I said goodbye to Sheba at home, and she was too hyper for a proper photo...





I will answer emails and blog more once I have settled in a bit better...Meanwhile, stay tuned!



Thursday, 7 August 2008

Goodbye Malaysia!...



Gosh! Today was my last full day in Ipoh. I'm leaving for KL tomorrow to put up the night near the hotel, before flying off at 9.25 am on Saturday. Gosh...Time flies, doesn't it? Like I have been telling people, time should learn to take the public transport every now and then...;)



My last week here has been hectic. There were some last minute shopping to be done, some last minute meeting ups (my friend Malis drove down from KL to spend time with me last Sunday), some goodbyes to say, some shots to get at the clinic (yay, I'm done with my vaccinations!), getting a new camera (Dad won't let me take his semi-pro one cos it's bulky =( "Girl, compact camera easier to travel with" ) and a lot of banking transactions to settle.





Me and Sister Kalwant, Sister-in-Charge of the General Paediatric Ward (Picture from two years ago)...




I also managed to run down to the hospital to say goodbye to the staff there (Gosh, it was 3 years ago when I first started volunteering there), both at the General Paediatric Ward and the Neonates Ward. Managed to squeeze in a short meet with both wards' Sister-in-Charge, and thankfully got to see the (former, as she is now in-charge of another area of Paediatrics) Paediatrician-in-charge of the ward where Chee Keong was warded. Dr Sheila was sweet enough to stop her work at the clinic for a while to spend some time with me.


Also managed to say goodbye to the people at RDA Ipoh, the Riding For The Disabled program where I volunteer once a week...




And just barely 2 hours ago, my teacher Ms Pushpa called to say she was in front of my house. She had come to say goodbye *"I was thinking how can I let this girl go without seeing her
?
", she told my mum*
, and there I was, just minutes earlier thinking I wouldn't be able to see her before I leave because of her busy schedule.


I also got to see my other teacher, Pn Nalini slightly after dinner to say goodbye. Pn Nalini keeps in touch with many of her students. In fact, she's on Facebook!


And just after Ms Pushpa left, my Psychology lecturer in Penang, Dr Laurel Kimura, called to "hear your voice before you leave"...


Awww...I do have such darling teachers, don't I?





From left: Kak Yatie (Aisya's mum), Aisya, and Me...





I also managed to squeeze in a visit to little Siti Aisya...The dear has not been well lately (her body isn't tolerating her milk very well) and has lost quite some weight, but she was pretty much in a good mood...




Anyway, on another note, my bags are packed and so is my carry-on luggage, which took a significant amount of time to do...

You see, my main worry is the pressure in my ear, which acts up whenever I'm in the plane. In fact, it acts up anytime there is a change of height (like driving up the hill, and down again), and change of pressure.

I went to see my ENT doctor today, and he said he foresees problems as there is still a slight bulge in my eardrum, and my hearing on both sides isn't completely equal due to the differences in pressure. Darn...And I'm still on the ground...



Once, when I flew, the pressure in my ear built up so much (it didn't *pop* back) that I was left with one ear that could barely hear, a horrible headache on one side, and a loud ringing in that affected ear. The result was me walking with my head cocked to one side, and feeling quite dizzy for almost half a day...



Any surprise why I hate long flights? Because the faster I get down to normal atmospheric pressure (yeah, yeah, I know, the cabin pressure is supposedly the 'same as down here'), the better for me...



So anyway, I'm prepared for the worst (The doctor and I have covered as many angles as we can think of)...I hope...

But there is a silver lining! My parents have bought me lotsa chocolate to keep me munching along the way to ease the pressure!



What a lot of drama huh? What to do? I am fine with heights, fine with flying because I'm not motion sick (I can read in cars etc), but my nose and ears don't fly well. And when they act up, I can't sleep. And on this trip, I can't afford to not sleep because the flight is about 20 hours in all...


Oh, if anyone has a prayer to spare, please say one for my nose and ears...Thanks!



Ciao people! I won't have time to go online tomorrow, so this is goodbye Malaysia...I'll blog from Canada once I have had my sleep ;). Take care, everyone, thanks for everything, and do keep in touch!




Monday, 4 August 2008

Piiter Pupper Pit a Pat of Pitter Pepper...



Braces was tough and very uncomfortable, but after a while, you get used to it. I thought the worse was over...And I thought (Hawley) retainers were no biggie...

Until I had to wear them...

Argh...



First Day:


"Mum, I feel like vomiting..."...


First night, I woke up once feeling like my mouth had suffered a terrible boxing. Put some ice to my cheeks, and went back to sleep. About 2 hours later, I woke up and realised both my retainers were lying inside the container I carry, on the chair beside my bed. I don't remember removing them, but I must have, because they were both inside the container. I put them back into my mouth after washing them.



An hour later, I woke up and one was lying on the bed in front of me...Ewww...

They must have popped out...


Altogether now: Ewww...




Second Day:


Tried saying the tongue twister, 'She Sells SeaShells by the Seashore'...

It came out: See sells seee sells by the seee sore...


*Rolls eyes*


Tried another: 'Peter Piper Picked a Pack of Pickled Peppers'...

It came out: Piiter Pupper Pit a Pat of Pitter Pepper...


*Smack head*



My dad nearly fell out of his chair laughing...


My brother said: "Jie, just don't talk at all. You sound like a cartoon character", while another family friend said I sound like Elmer Fudd.




Third Day:


Talking to dad, while he was driving: "Diii, did you see the butterfly flying there?"...

...came out: "Diii, di you see the bukkerfy fying lair?"



Dad: "What fly again?"

Me: "Bukkerfy"


He roared with laughter...




Now:


Mum, Dad, Brother: "Daph, stop putting your teeth (the retainers) on the table!"



But I have to remove them when I eat!!! (I put them nicely in a container lar...)



Anybody needs a Daffy Duck or Elmer Fudd impersonator? You know who to call...But if you need a Daffy Duck who spits, don't look for me...*Grins*