#28 Summer Breaks in KL & Laziness as an Adult

Tomorrow I leave for La France again. And the chart below sums up most of my summer vacations in KL:

Relationship Between the No. of Outings with Friends and the No. of Days Back in KL, 2015 and before

imageExcept this time, it was more like this:

Relationship Between the No. of Outings with Friends and the No. of Days Back in KL, Summer 2o16

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I’d attribute it to factors like:

  1. Being a grown up / Having friends who are grown ups
  2. Rationing more time for family
  3. Aversion to driving + No valid license
  4. Overseas trips to Penang (literally over the Straits of Malacca yah) and Singapore
  5. Food poisoning
  6. Laziness ??? Yeah most probably

Anyway, time to pack and plan my outfits properly so I don’t accidentally leave the country with my fav essential / underwear in the wash.

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#26 老夫子 Classic Comic Book Series from H.K.

I wonder how many of you who grew up in Chinese-speaking families in Malaysia know about 老夫子?

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老夫子 (Lao Fu Zhi) or aka Old Master Q is an old comic book series originating from Hong Kong. The comic strips portray the simple and often hilarious daily life of Lao Fu Zhi and his friends or sidekicks in Hong Kong during the 1960s – 1980s. Of course I didn’t know that when I was young but I just remember reading this comic book as I had them lying around my house. They were probably my siblings’ and most of the strips don’t have too many Chinese kanjis so it was easy for me to understand it by just looking at the pictures. It was good for my Chinese practice, too when I did try to decipher the kanjis one by one and guessed the meanings of the harder looking ones.

And I recently came across an old comic book (they are still publishing new ones, apparently! I wonder if they modernised the background and setting?) in the house and laughed out loud at some of them so I thought I’d like to share them with you here.

You can’t tell from the scanned pictures below but they are actually printed in those really thin brown paper that crinkles when they get wet so it has an even more retro feel to it irl.

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I especially like this because the dogs he draws look like my pet dog at home.

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As I understood from this interview with the artist on his official website, Lao Fu Zhi is actually man of traditional values caught in the era of modernisation in HK, hence the old-fashioned looking Chinese clothes (shortened for more hilarity) and hat whereas the rest of the people in the strip are usually in more modern and “trendy” clothes like bellbottoms hehe. When reading his comics, he always struck me as a righteous but rather foolish old man – old because he has almost no hair left on his head although there are some comic strips in which he courts young women with flowers.

So when my friends were reading Archie comics or Marvel (? I’m not sure lol) as a child I was actually more exposed to comics from Asia like this Lao Fu Zhi, Japanese manga, Doraemon, Crayon Shin Chan, etc. I can’t really name any Malay comics off the top of my head, but I do remember reading “It’s a Durian Life” on the newspaper. These were always so funny because they were true.

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Don’t they just make you chuckle? I wonder if they still exist.

#23 Le Moucherotte

More hiking! Because this is what you do in Grenoble when sumer’s here: Climb different mountains every weekend to look at the city from different angles.

So previously I have climbed the Chartreuse, which is behind my house in the north. This time, we went to the Vercors mountain range on the left side of the city to look at it from the West! This is my first time setting foot on these mountains; none of my previous ski trips were on this mountain range.

Schedule
9:55 Left the main Grenoble bus station on the TransIsere Bus 5010
10:25 Got off at Pariset Station
12:30 Lunch at (what remained of) the ’68 Winter Olympics Ski Ramp
14:45 Reached the peak of 1901m
15:30 Start of descent
18:10 Pariset Station
18:40 Milkshake at Mcdonald’s
19:00 Home

Total Hike Time from Pariset Station: 4.5 hours up and 2.5 hours down

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Interesting Checkpoint #1: Les Trois Pucelles (The Three Virgins)
Legend has it that three virgins were in love with a man, but the man died and the three girls wouldn’t stop crying that they turned into three huge rocks, lol.

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Interesting Checkpoint #2: Ruins of the ’68 Winter Olympics Alpine Ski Ramp

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It was hard for me to imagine what was what, but I think the part in the middle lined with lampposts was the track, the structure on the left was the judges’ booth, and the one on the right was the audiences’ stand. So I googled it and found this picture:

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Pretty cool! And look, the skiers had to carry their own skis up the stairs to the top of the piste. These are the stairs today:

Which picture’s going up and which is going down?

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Interesting Checkpoint #3: The peak, and where Le Moucherotte Hotel used to be

There used to be a famous hotel up here in the 60s only accessible by cable car and people could ski into town in winter! But all of has been demolished so what’s left is a huge patch of empty land on the top of the mountain where dandelions and other mountain flowers grow.

View of the mountain ridges continuing into the south

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View of the city to the northeast. And we can see the Fort of St. Eynard on Chartreuse below us in the middle of the picture!

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Flowers and Birds:

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These three ravens were being friendly to us because they wanted our food. Luckily for them, I had some over-ripe parts on my apple so I threw some at them and they so effortlessly flew around us to pick up the pieces. We contemplated to throw the apple core right off the cliff to see if they would dive headfirst to catch it but we didn’t because that seemed a bit mean lol.

#21 Wild Flowers of Springtime France

This is going to be a very pretty post.

I went hiking at Chartreuse again yesterday and on the way down I really just couldn’t resist collecting some flowers because they were everywhere! In total I think I collected about 20-25 types of different flowers; those growing on the ground, on trees, on bushes, you name it.

I’m starting to understand now why a number of the biggest artists originated from France or decided to move here to pursue painting. It’s the countryside, the nature, the flowers, the stone buildings, the ivy. When I was young, I had a puzzle in the picture of a country house painting that looked something like the picture below. I think sceneries like that had been subconsciously imprinted onto my brain as a romantic dreamlike place, a place from Disneyland a fairy tale, and I wouldn’t have believed you that these places existed or even if it did, they were in Disneyland fairy tales.

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But THEY DO. In France and maybe in other parts of Europe I have yet to visit. On my first hiking trip to Chartreuse I remember telling E, “Wow I’m living in the region of the world that inspired the people who have created all the things I believe to be pretty. Gosh, I’m dating someone from a postcard world,” which to he replied, “Well, you’re like a character in the postcard for me, too.” #<3

So here’s my stash↓ I have no proper vase so I’ve used a cleaned jam jar and a plastic cup. The class.

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And because I like documenting and listing things, I’m going to introduce the flowers. Actually a lot of them fell apart when I tried to do the photoshoot (lol, listen to me) so I only managed to photograph some of them, sadly.

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① The KENZO Poppy

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Yesss the iconic flower by the perfume maker! These flowers were sooooo fragile it’s a miracle the four petals didn’t drop off by the time I reached home. Scentless, ephemeral, but so simple and pretty. Sometimes when I’m in the bus going to town I see some by the roadside I’m like “dammnnn I wish I could go pluck them without looking like a fool standing by the highway.” Also I think it’s illegal to walk on the highway anyway lol.

② Gold Buttons, White Daisy, Fraises de Bois

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This photo turned out so well I was surprised myself. Doesn’t it look like a realist painting?? The best part is the unintentional (trust me) yellow petal of the Golden Button, or in French, “Bouton d’Or”. There are two white flowers in this picture; the lower one is a common daisy, they are EVERYWHERE by the road; and the higher one is the flower of the red fruits you see on the right, the “strawberries of the woods”, or “Fraises de Bois”. These are strawberries a lot smaller than the normal ones and they grow on the ground. Because they’re so small it’s not profitable to cultivate / sell them and they generally grow in the wild. E used to eat them all the time as a kid. I felt like Hansel and Gretel when I was gobbling as many wild strawberries as I could. 食べ放題だよ。

③ Pretty White Flowers and Wild White Roses

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Yeah.. they couldn’t stand nicely in my jam jar so I had to lay them down like that. Haha. These white, mildly scented flowers grow on trees whereas the roses on the right were almost scentless and extremely fragile.

 

④ Moving onto the yellow flowers

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The gigantic yellow flower grew on a hedge by the roadside so there’s a possibility it wasn’t exactly “wild” haha but it was wildly beautiful so we had to pluck it. The smaller flower on the right is a dandelion that is very very wild and grows far and wide in literally every nook and cranny. You know why? Because of their frigging pollen. It was like snowing here when they started to “shed”. Seeing the pollen, my Japanese friends actually thought it was the season for the pigeons to shed and change their feathers and got totally freaked out lol. The last flower on the right is the very fragrant “Chevrefeuille” or the Honeysuckle. I would never have known this without the country boy E lol.

⑤ Red Flowers from the Hedges at the Corner

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Yeah, the extent of E’s knowledge had to reach somewhere, and it stopped at no.④. Here are some red flowers we plucked from the hedge at the roadside corner lol (it was in full bloom, nobody would miss one or two missing!)

⑥ Purple Wild Flowers

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Such unnatural colors, yet completely natural.

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And here’s my final “cup” of flowers that survived the photoshoot! ↓

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Oh and to join the pretty party, another “jar” of flowers I collected back in early March↓

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#20 Bokete

Today we will take a look at some of my favourite pictures and captions from Bokete, a Japanese app where users propose some random pictures and invite other users to caption them into, in my opinion, the most ridiculous and funniest things. It showcases my favourite sides of Japanese humour, the シュールness (shu-ru, meaning surreal) and the バカ ness (baka, meaning stupid). In Japanese, there’s a word called 吹く (fuku) which refers to something like “to burst out laughing when drinking, so spraying your mouthful of drink everywhere.” Below are the Bokete pics that made me do just that.

Translation: “Hmm, I wonder if the cement has dried?♪”

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Translation: “WHY DIDN’T YOU TURN OFF THE BURGLAR ALARM!!!”

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Translation: “You asleep~?” “Nah, still awake.”

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Translation:
Question: What’s a useless feature that comes with the newest model of Roomba?
Answer: Making an annoyed “tsk” sound every time it hits something.

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Translation:
Pilot: “ARGHHHH!! My Chupa Chups!!!”

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Translation:
Doctor: We’re going one more round!
Nurse: Yes, doctor!

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Title of a book: “My father is a _______. (Fill in the blank)”
→ “My father is a just too tired.” with an illustration of him standing in front of a train…. lol sorry not sorry for laughing

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Translation: What do you mean by “Hot Dog”?

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Translation: Hahahahaha hahahaha

#19 Some Food-related Habits in France

Documenting some French habits that seem strange to a mere Malaysian like me:

①Using a Scotch-brite sponge to wash dishes AND wipe down tabletops and counters

You know what a Scotch-brite sponge is right? It’s the sponge with a yellow soft sponge side and the other is the harder, dark green side. So, before I came to France I’ve always used this sponge to wash my dishes; the yellow side for plates and things that can be easily cleaned and the green side for harder scrubs. But over here, they use this same sponge to wash the dishes AND wipe the table after each meal. I have to say, it’s quite efficient as the sponge absorbs most of the liquids on the table easily but it still makes me kinda queasy to think that the same sponge is used to clean the table AND the cutleries which I put into my MOUTH. But I just try not to think about it. When in Rome, I guess.

②Not snacking between meals

I think this is definitely the reason why most French girls are slim. You may think it’s all about discipline and self-control but French people have a leg up because they were taught to do this from a young age. You’re always hungry right before mealtimes, and during each meal, you can eat to your heart’s content, but no snacking. I try to practise this but always fail due to my slack schedule and tendency to grab something sweet during my mid afternoon slump.

③Eating chocolate with sliced brioche like this:

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④Plucking flowers off trees on the side of the road and adding them into pancakes

These are acacia flowers plucked from the sides of the road by le bf. It’s his mum’s recipe and apparently it’s a legit thing to do and people cook it like this all over Italy. By the way, the flowers were not mashed up or anything, you fried them whole so you could taste each delicious flower petal. They kind of smell like jasmine to me.

⑤Eating cakes with a spoon

Over here, you eat every kind of cake / tart / dessert with a spoon. I find that instinctively weird for several reasons: Spoons sometimes scoop up too much sauce than intended, spoons lack the grip that I need to hold on to my piece of dessert, spoons require you to taste the bottom of the spoon every time you put a spoonful in your mouth hence affecting the experience, when you cut a bite with a spoon you leave a curve. Therefore, in conclusion, forks are the much better option. I found out through conversations with friends that they use spoons in the US too, but forks triumph in Asian countries.

⑥Stacking plates on top of one another when eating

I’m not even talking about saucers here. So when you eat a meal in a French home, when you’re done with the main course, your plate with whatever leftovers stay on the table, and your dessert plate goes ON TOP of the main dish plate, and you eat your dessert like that. Bravo, it makes the bottom of your plates dirty and now you gotta clean the other side, too. But I have to say that most of the time their main dish plates are usually not dirty because they use their bread as a sponge to “clean” up all the remaining sauces on the plate, leaving a sparkling one.

⑦Placing bread on the table instead of on a plate

And get crumbs all over! At home, I try not to get crumbs or anything to drip outside of my plate but here, you can party all over that surface. And after every meal at my home it does always look like a party happened but it’s OK because then we use our Scotch-Brite to absorb and wipe them up.

 

 

#18 Animals acting like animals

So today’s post will be about some of my fun experiences meeting animals in their (almost) real habitat, in nature! All my life I’ve been a city girl and any knowledge of animals were from books, movies, domestic pets or stray animals, and zoos. I remember going to the zoo in Ueno, Tokyo and associating animals to movie characters like “Omg those are the move-it move-its” when referring to lemurs, “Looks just like in Tarzan!” when referring to a gorilla, “Nemo and Dory” when looking at clownfish and.. dory?, etc. To  be honest, the episodes with animals  in France documented below have been, for lack of a better expression, extremely eye-opening for me.

■Iris The Household Cat

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I will start with the most familiar animal: the cat. To be more specific, her name is Iris, the cat of E’s mother. It’s a a bit embarrassing to say this (or is it?) but I have never seen a cat climb a tree before… hahah! I’ve seen cats in comics climb trees and getting stuck that the firemen have to come rescue them, etc. but in real life?? NO! So here I am posing in front of this epic scene (to me) worthy of a picture of me standing in front of it grinning like a proud tourist. Don’t worry, she didn’t pounce on me after the picture was taken although she looks as if she is going to.

■Horses

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I’ve seen many stationary horses in my life (at the zoo, farms, and tourist spots) but I’ve never seen horses running so majestically as if they were in a Degas painting. These horses were at an equestrian club next to the forest with plenty of space for them to run and frolic. They were running round and round the compound so many times it warmed my heart. These are some lucky horses.

■Swans (and some ducks)

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Before this, when you tell me “Black Swan” the thing that would come to mind would be the thriller starring Natalie Portman (in fact that’s what Google seems to be pulling up, too) but in the past four months I’ve seen a total of FOUR black swans! There are two famous ones in the park at Vizille (40 mins south of Grenoble) and here in this photograph are the black swans belonging to Park Bueno Retiro in Madrid. To quote Alexis, they look like “villain pokemons” and yes I agree but I still think they look cool. Also check out how the gang of ducks are coming to chill with them in formation.

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There are also plenty of normal swans in the Isere and Drac rivers here in Grenoble. Here is one dipping his head into the water to catch, I want to say, worms?? But it’s funny how his butt sticks out every time he does it. Reminds me of Donald Duck. See, it’s hard to stop with the cartoon references.

■Chickens 

Chickens lay eggs. Every person above kindergarten age knows that fact. But how many of us city kids have actually SEEN a fresh chicken egg?? I know I haven’t!! Here is a video documenting us collecting the ova of E’s mum’s chickens she rears in her backyard. And by the way, eggs like these do not become baby chicks (so we are not in fact killing could-be baby chicks) because they are unfertilised i.e., because these chickens did not have sex with a rooster. It’s strange but now when I eat chicken eggs, I feel more grateful to chickens and Mother Nature for allowing chickens to have their periods.

■Lizards

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City lizards are kinda icky but tolerable. But this  country lizard (can you spot it?) was so cute. It’s called a “lézard vert” (green lizard) and it has a tinge of blue near its neck. We were chilling by the lake and he popped out his head to stare at us (about 2m) away and just continued to stare. He was either greeting us or cursing us for trespassing on his territory in frequencies inaudible to us mere humans.

■Dogs

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Here is a dog swimming in the lake to pick up a stick his owner threw. Just like in the comics / cartoons!!! Country dogs are blessed; I even saw one digging around for moles (I have yet to see one) at the park the other day. Dogs digging and getting dirty, like real dogs! Lol

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And here’s my personal favourite. A relative’s pet dog Africa cornered poor E at his grandpa’s pond. Dog: “Why don’t you love me?!”