Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Road Trip Dos And Don'ts

If you are planning on a road trip, here are some dos and don't based on my experience.

Do:

  1. Make sure your car is in full working order before you start your journey so you won't be stranded in the middle of nowhere
  2. Go in a convoy of cars with other friends if you can. It will be fun and  you can help each other in case of trouble
  3. Do fuel up and watch that fuel gauge. If you use a particular brand of fuel, make sure you have enough to last you till you find another petrol station with the same brand. For example, you will find less Caltex and Shell stations and more of Petronas stations along the East Coast route.
  4. Plan your route so you won't get lost
  5. Book your hotel so you won't end up without a place to stay
  6. Use waze, gps and internet to help you get around
  7. Do make sure you have your smart phone charger around so you can charge your devices especially if you are using them for directions. However, do note that internet connection can mostly be found in and around town areas only
  8. Ask questions. Most people are really helpful if you ask
  9. Request for a map of the area or activities from the hotel you are staying in
  10. Bring enough snacks and water in the car for your journey. Sometimes you may end up eating your meals late
  11. Have an adventurous spirit. Keep yourself open to anything and everything and you will enjoy yourself more
  12. Get enough rest especially if you are the driver
  13. Bring along your medication 
  14. Try local food but don't over do it
  15. Keep some plastic bags handy if you are travelling with kids in case they get car sick

Don't:

  1. Go on a long road trip with very young kids. You will tire them and you. Wait till they are older.
  2. Park your car carelessly. You may end up with a compound!
  3. Quarrel with your travel mates, not even when you are tired
  4. Don't forget your camera or smartphone
  5. Don't leave anything behind
  6. Don't drink too much liquids if you know it will be a long while before your next stop
  7. Don't over rely on technology like waze. Sometimes the old paper maps are still useful

Below are pictures of our East Coast to West Coast Malaysia road trip. You can read about it from the following links:


Dungun, Terengganu



Kota Bharu, Kelantan
Ipoh, Perak
Ipoh, Perak

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Road Trip East Coast To West Coast Malaysia - From Ipoh To Bidor To Kuala Lumpur


After our cave temple hopping we headed on home from Ipoh, to Kuala Lumpur.

We decided to stop by Bidor to have the famous Wanton mee at Pun Chun Restaurant along the way.

We bought some snacks and siew pau from there too. Travelling should have been easy along the North South Expressway compared to the East West Highway but it rained cats and dogs so it was more challenging.

Today on the 4th and last day of our trip, we travelled 244 km for 2 1/2 hours.

Overall, we travelled over 1200 km just to get from town to town, not counting the travelling within the town itself.

We travelled from Kuala Lumpur to Kuantan and Cherating in Pahang to Kerteh, Kemaman, Dungun and Kuala Terengganu in Terengganu, to Kota Bharu in Kelantan in the East Coast before crossing the Titiwangsa Mountains to head back to the West Coast passing Gerik Perak before reaching Ipoh, Perak and stopping at Bidor, Perak before heading back to Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan.

We spent 4 days 3 nights for our holiday, staying in Tanjung Jara in Dungun, Terengganu, Hotel Perdana in Kota Bharu, Kelantan and Weil Hotel in Ipoh, Perak.

We ate, Malay food, Peranakan Food and Chinese Hawker food and desserts. We had Nasi Dagang, Keropok Lekor, Mee Jawa, Ipoh Kai See Hor Fun, Ice Kacang, Wanton Mee.

The children had a history and geography lesson along the way. They saw rivers, lakes and mountain ranges, rubber trees, rice fieldss, oil palm plantations, limestone caves, rain forests and power stations. They saw turtles,  cows and goats and monitor lizards. They saw the different cultures, people, food and flags of Pahang, Terengganu, Kelantan, Ipoh and Selangor. It was truly a memorable trip for all of us and something we will remember and talk about for a long time to come.

Map from Ipoh to Bidor to Kuala Lumpur.

Monday, June 22, 2015

20 Questions To Ask During The Parent-Teacher Conference


This post is specially for those attending the parent-teacher conference for the first time. However, if this is not your first time attending a parent teacher meeting, you can use this checklist as a reminder to you to ask the important questions that may slip your mind.

In Malaysia public schools, the parent-teacher conference is typically held once a year, usually in the middle of the year after the mid term exams. Some schools have one or two exams before this meet. During the meeting, the teacher will handover your child's report card and you may have a short chat about your child's progress in school.

Be mindful that some schools have up to 40-50 students per class so the teacher may not have that much time to chat with you. She or he may appear curt or rushed but that is to be expected. However, many teachers actually handle it really well. They are calm and professional and you should be too. Do dress appropriately for the occasion. I have seen many parents coming in shorts and tees. I think that is a tad too casual for a parent-teacher conference. While you should not rush out to buy the latest outfit or dress up to the nines, it would be respectful of the teacher and the school for you to pay extra attention to your outfit. That is my humble opinion.

Remember, your time is short so be prepared. Plan ahead.

Here is a checklist of 20 Questions You Should Ask During A Parent-Teacher Conference to help you along.

  1. How is my child's academic progress in school?
  2. Is he passing up homework on time?
  3. Is my child a slow learner or fast learner?
  4. Is she able to catch up with what is being taught in school?
  5. Do you think he or she needs extra help outside of school eg. extra tuition?
  6. Can you recommend any extra books (reference books or story books) that will be useful for my child?
  7. How is my child's behaviour in school?
  8. Is he able to mix around with friends? / Does she get along with her friends?
  9. Is she quiet or talkative?
  10. Is she able to take instructions well? /How does she behave with teachers? Timid or otherwise?
  11. Is he well behaved?
  12. Is she helpful?
  13. What is my child's strengths and weaknesses?
  14. How can I help my child to open up? (if shy) or How can I help my child to calm down?
  15. Can you tell me a little bit more about the school syllabus?
  16. Will there be any changes in the syllabus that I need to know of?
  17. How much time should my child be spending on homework?
  18. What can I do to help my child do better in school?
  19. What can I do to support his academic performance in school?
  20.  How can we communicate? Is there a whatsapp group, email or phone number or do you prefer to communicate via the school communication book?
You may not have a lot of time to ask questions so these are just guidelines to help you. I feel that question no. 8 is important to weed out and nip in the bud any bullying issues. Question 18 is probably the most important because you want to work with the teacher to bring out the best in  your child. Don't forget to ask question 20 as well. You will need to stay in touch with your child's teacher. 

Lastly here are a few things you should take note of during the parent-teacher conference.

What Not To Do During A Parent-Teacher Conference
  1. Don't be late
  2. Don't accuse, especially if you have something you want to bring up
  3. Don't be defensive if teacher brings up something negative about your child. You want to work towards problem solving and helping your child, not damage relationships with your child's teacher
  4. Don't hog the teacher's time. There is a whole line of parents waiting for their turn
Besides academic performance, the parent-teacher conference is an important gauge of your child's behaviour in school which may be very different from his or her behaviour at home. The best person who knows this is his or her teacher. So have a good chat with the teacher. If there is something you wish to bring up to the teacher, for example an issue about homework or friends, this may be a good time to bring it up but do not accuse or hog her time. Be polite and tactful.

If your child is weak in one or two subjects, you may request to meet up with the subject teachers on this day as well. When meeting subject teachers, you may want to limit your questions on the areas of weaknesses and what you can do at home to help improve your child in that subject as well as ask the teacher for recommendations for reading material.

Here is wishing you a fruitful Parent-Teacher Conference. Don't forget to thank the teacher.

Road Trip East Coast To West Coast Malaysia - One Night In Ipoh


After our Kai See Hor Fun, we looked for a place to stay for the night. We wanted to stay right in the heart of town so we ended up at Weil Hotel which is adjoining to Ipoh Parade. We discovered that Weil was just 6 months old and owned by Liew who founded Pagoda Peanuts. Weil was actually Liew spelled backwards. There were two complementary Pagoda assorted nuts in every room. Cool.

The hotel is very new, very modern and very nice. After checking in, we went for a swim on the infinity pool at the rooftop. For dinner we went to the Tong Sui Kai Night Stalls and had ABC, wanton mee, fried kuay teow etc. Everything tasted good, much better than hawker fare in KL.

Then we went to the Ipoh Railway Station Square. It was filled with people, like being in a huge street party with live music from a few young people playing near the fountain and lots of young people skating, riding motorized bikes, zooming along scooters and the little ones in small battery operated vehicles. Amazing.


The next day, we went to Taman Rekreasi Gunung Lang. We took a short 5 minute boat ride to the park and climbed up the observation tour. Nothing much there but we promised the kids we would take them to a lake after we missed Temenggor lake and they felt disappointed.

Then we went to the nearby Perak Cave Temple. (There are many temples built within the limestone caves in Ipoh, Perak).

It was quite a long way to climb up the Perak Cave Temple or Perak Tong. Unfit me had a headache and palpitations and had to stop for rests while the kids and the spouse walked up ahead of me.

After that we went back to the hotel to use the lovely shower again before check out and heading to the Sam Poh Tong or Triple Treasure Cave Temple. Despite the better name, we found the Perak Cave Temple to be more interesting. There was one more cave temple nearby but we decided to leave that for another day and headed home.


Friday, June 19, 2015

Road Trip East Coast To West Coast Malaysia - From Kota Bharu Kelantan to Ipoh, Perak

We weren't sure which route to take from Kota Bharu, Kelantan to cut across the Titiwangsa Mountains or Banjaran Titiwangsa to Ipoh, Perak. Finally we took the drove to Rantau Panjang right up to the Malaysia/Thailand border and travelled all along the border on the East West Highway. It looked more like a trunk road than a highway. Most of the route was single lane, windy and going up and down as one should expect when travelling on a mountainous road. The children were happy to see rubber trees with latex cups lining up on both sides of the road.

We made a toilet stop at the Hentian Puncak Banjaran Titiwangsa which had a beautiful view of the Titiwangsa mountains.

The road became easier to travel after Gerik. We were never sure whether it was spelled as Gerik or Grik as road signs in both spellings could be found. We even saw a Grik and Gerik road sign within 100 m of each other. After Gerik, the road was fairly straight again.

We wanted to make a lunch stop at the Temenggor lake but never got there because there were no road signages. Waze took us to the middle of nowhere and said that was Temenggor lake. We regretted not stopping for lunch at Belum Rainforest Resort which is located at Banding Lake because of our pursuit of the illusive Tasik Temenggor.

Finally, we arrived in Ipoh at 3-4pm and headed straight for our "lunch" at Thean Chun which was touted to have the best Ipoh Hor Fun. It was good but we had to wait a good one hour for it!

Today, the 3rd day of our trip, we travelled over 5 hours over a distance of 344 km.

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