Friday, April 27, 2007


Read a book again about unfortunate woman having their unfortunate life in the middle east.

Zana Muhsen and Nadia Muhsen are two British girls, went to a suppose vacation in Yemen, their father's home country, just to realise that they were SOLD by their father to his friends and forced married to his friends'sons. Then it begun their miserable life in the country side of Yemen. After several years, Zana has one son and Nadia has one son one daughter. They managed to contact their mother, who didn't know of their situation, and came to rescue them by involving the medias. Eventually Zana was able to go back to English, with the condition giving up her son and left him with Nadia, who will wait for the rescue after her sister went back to English. But until today, Nadia is still living in Yemen. All these are written in the book "SOLD", and Zana wrote another book "The promise to Nadia" years later.

The controversy is that the medias tried to contact and interview Nadia, who said she has a happy life with her husband and children in Yemen. She is sueing her sister for publishing the second book and telling lies about her life in Yemen. She said that she knew from the beginning that she was going to get married in Yemen and live there. She would like to visit English one day, but not now.

All these really confused me. While Zana is trying to get her sister Nadia out, Nadia refuses to go home, saying that she has all the independence to go anyway and love her life in Yemen. I don't know who is telling lies, and no matter what the damage is done: women's life in middle east is horrible.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Immigrat to China?

I met two Chinese for the muguet picking, and both of them are very confident about the future of China. One of them keep telling me about the job opportunity there and the salary they offer. She advised me to try to find a job in China.

The other girl has a French boyfriend. Her future mother in laws saw a report about the bloombing China, that a lot of young French moved to China and built up companies there. She is afraid that her own son will move to China with this Chinese girlfriend, so she exactly disencourage him to go to China even for a short visit.

So, all these days the Chinese immigrat to every corner in the world. Has the trend changed now? Are more and more foreigners actually leaving their own countries and move to China?

Tuesday, April 24, 2007


The supervisor announced at 12.30pm that it was the end of the muguet season. That means that the work for collecting the muguet and the leaves are finished. For me, I still got to go back for the packaging.

So, for people who didn't assign the packaging job, they worked only from 6.45am to 12.30pm for 5 days. Then we had pause between 9.30am to 10am, unpaid. The minimum pay in France is 8.27 euros an hour, after tax would be around 7 euros. Let see how much they earn:

5 hours 15 minutes x 5 x 7 euros = 183.75 euros

So not worth it!!! Had to wake up so early in the morning, bend the body for such a long hours, plus being treated like a dog in the field!

Man it's so hard to earn money. When I see those old men, I wonder how this money going to help feed their children and support the family. Plus, you need to have legal status in France to do this job. So, how about those work in the black market? It must be miserable for those illegal immigrant. :-(

Monday, April 23, 2007

More on works

On Sunday I worked until noon then we went home. I was really to give up if they would have told us to work in the afternoon. My back was hurting so much and the weather was hot, I don't think I could still work at that point.

In the afternoon we visited a farm who grows bio products. It will be our supplier for vegetables in the next couple of weeks. I couldn't enjoy the visit at the beginning as my hand was hurting backly. Yeah I still didn't go see a doctor as I don't know my working time schedule, so I'm not motivated to make an appointment with any doctors. The work will end anytime soon so will do that after.

There are a lot of black and hispanic working in the farm. I feel like people are fighting to work more hours. Today I was called again to work in the factory, but later they open up another line to wrap the muguet. So more workers coming in. My friends asked to be in the factory in the afternoon. When we arrived there, people who were in my team asked me whether my friends were joining our team, they seemed to not welcome any newcomers... Anyway, at the end we finished earlier then others, such as my friends who work with the machine. So, one of my teammate said that we shouldn't have worked so efficiently, we should have tried to slow down the process so that we will work more hours and earn more money!

Saturday, April 21, 2007


So, I worked from 6.45am to 12.30pm yesterday, and today from 6.45am to 6.30pm.

Collecting the muguet is an easy job in the sense that it doesn't require high IQ, but physically it can be exhausting. We are not allowed to sit down, so the whole day bending the body collecting the 5-6 inch flowers is tiresome. Also, it can be quite dangerous as the muguet is covered by glasses. On the first day already, I cut my hand, quick backly. The alley between the row of flowers are very tiny, and I had the chance having a fat lady working back against back. So when she turned, she pushed me forward and I pushed into the glasses and the glass broke.

Anyway, right now most of the French supervisors know me. I don't know whether she keep noticing me or what, they seem to appreciate my work attitide so they "promoted" me to work in the packaging factory. They selected only 5 of us. I'm so glad bcos I can't stand anymore bending down picking muguet and it's leaves. However this "promotion" seems to be temporiraly, tomorrow I will be out picking again I think. :-(

Hopefully by the time I come home tomorrow, the presidental election result will be out. I don't support any candidates in particular, but anybody who can stimulate the sluggish economy is welcome.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Muguet: Lily of the valley

It's the muguet session again. The late April in France is the collecting and selling session for muguet. People buy it to offer to friends, family and colleagues on the labour day (1 May).

Well, this year I'm going to join the collecting activities. It's a contract for 5-7 days depending on the weather and the progress. It's cool to have a job that you just call, and they asked you to come in with the necessary documents, without asking about your experience. The farm is one hour from my place, so have to wake up super early in the morning. I hope my old body can support the work in a farm.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Not Without My Daughter

I finished this book yesterday night, using only 2 days, in French version (Jamais sans ma fille). It's a book written by Betty Mahmoody. It describes how an American woman, Betty, who married an Iranian, went to Iran with her husband and daughter for a 2 weeks vacation, later realised that she was keeping hostage and might never leave Iran. Over 18 months in Iran, she was planning on her plan to escape with her daughter, in which she succeeded by crossing illegally to Turkey, and returned to US from there.

I have a lot of doubts about certain things she decribed about Iran. But the most unbelievable fact is that the Swiss Embassy, representing also USA, or even the US government, didn't manage to help her returning to her own country from Iran. She was not being kept by any terrorist organization, but by her husband. The family managed to call her and send letters to her, so they know where she lived. I remember a teenager American was littering in Singapore, and the Clinton government was making a fuss about the punishment imposed by the Singaporean government to him. And when their citizen was kept under hostage, they could do nothing about it?

Anyway, this book led me to understand how crazy a muslim country can be. I'm so glad that Malaysia is not like that. We have like 55% muslim population, already the constitutions are there to ensure respecting each other's religion and culture. The muslim population in Malaysia do not force the non-muslim to cover themselves like them. The Islamic laws do not apply to non-muslim. In fact, a lot of us non-muslim like to wear the Malay clothes. The school uniform for muslim and non-muslim are different, but you can see the non-muslim wearing the muslim uniform, by choice, but without the veil. In certain occasion we are asked to wear the Malay traditional clothes, like when meeting the Sultan or the royal family or during public Universities' commencemence. But in all of these occasions, a veil to cover the hairs is not imposed.

We were laughing and even enjoying some of the jokes the Islamic party leaders said. From time to time, these leaders want to execute Islamic rules to our daily life, but we always treat them as jokes. For example, one of the leader mentioned that employers should hire ugly women Vs the beautiful one as the later will be taken care of by their husbands. Then one suggested to change the Malaysian Airlines' stewardess' uniform, as sometime the male passengers accidentally see their breasts and this leads to sexual desire which will result in girls being rapped once these passengers touch down in somewhere. Ever time these kind of comments are published, we doubted these leaders are well equipped with enough intelligence in this rich Malaysian culture.

I hope Malaysia will never go under these stupid fundamentalists.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Last Day: Massage and tea tour

In the morning, I brought the French to try out Dim Sum. Some of them appreciated it some of them no. Well, it was already a huge progress for them, from only eating bread to trying different foods for breakfast.

The lady presented us different kind of Dim Sum to choose.

All the buns and Dim Sum to choose from.

After Dim Sum, we went for Bali style massage. We continued our day by tasting some teas and of course bringing some back to France. We then joined my brother in laws for lunch.

During the night while I was busy packing my luggages, they went for bah kut teh with my brother in laws. At the end if was time to say goodbye, and it was very hard for my mother and me. I don't know when I will go back to Malaysia, but I'm glad that some of my family members are coming for the French wedding in September. This time will be their round to taste the French foods and enjoy the beautiful scenery!!

Day 34-36: Taman Negara National Park

The next three days we ventured into the jungles in Taman Negara, the oldest tropical rain forest.

We departed from Jerantut jetty, taking this wood sampan, cruising into the national park. It took us 3 hours to arrive.

While we were enjoying the quiet scenery around, we saw this boy rafting with a simple wood sampan.

We stayed in this Woodland Resort, where during the second night, it experienced electricity failure. Well, no electricity in this primitive environment, it sounded right.

We had lunch and dinner in one of this kind of floating Malay restaurant.

We had some problem with the tour guide, who was supposed to meet us after lunch, but he didn't show up. Eventually we had someone coming to lead us to Gua Telinga, the Ear Cave.

Inside the cave is full of bats, you can see them from a very close distance.

More cave venturing. I think after Gua Tempurung (Coconut shell Cave) we were all well trained.

Along the way we passed by this indigenous village.

We had night safari walk during the night to observe the wildlife and the insects inside the jungles.

The second morning we trekked inside the jungles.

Observing the plants around us.

Enjoying the flora and fauna inside.

The view when we arrived at Teresek Hill.

Taking the canopy walk.

In the afternoon we did the rapid shooting, everybody got drenched, bcos the tour guide pourred us jungle water!! On the way we visited the Orang Asli (indigenous people)'s settlement.

The villager showed us the primitive way to make fire.

The young kid learn how to use the resources in the jungles.

Our tour guide was explaning the equipment used by the indigenous people for hunting.

Some of us bought this as souvenir, and hopefully it will help the people.

We use this kind of small boat (sampan) to transport around places. I really enjoyed the quietness in the jungle on the boat.

On the third day we were cruising to Data Bekoh, a natural water fall.

Swimming in the nature.

On the way back, we saw a green snake!

We checked out around 1pm, our travel agent came to pick us up and sent us to Jerantut, where we took a bus back to Klang. It was a very lousy bus, with leaking air conditional and dirty seats. It took us around 5 hours to arrive Klang. We were so tired when we arrived, luckily we got to eat Nasi Lemak as dinner.

Day 31-33: Redang Island

We started our 6 days trip outside of Klang. Two destinations: Redang Island and Taman Negara National Park. We were extremely lucky to be able to go to Redang during the Monsoon season, and had wonderful sunny days except a couple of hours of rain on the second day after we arrived. We also enjoyed the early bird package, paid only RM298 (around 66 euros), which included 2 night stays, 2 breakfasts, 2 lunchs, 2 dinners and 3 snorkelling trips in a comfortable hotel. Besides, the beach was deserted most of the time.

Arrived at Laguna Redang

The Laguna beach

The surrounding

The blue sea

The Laguna building is directly facing the sea

This is the More more Tea Inn, appeared in the Hong Kong movie "Summay Holiday"starring Richie Ren and Sammy Cheng. This movie has made Redang Island famous and attracted tourists from Hong Kong, Taiwan and Mainland China. When I came last time in 2002, the Lagune hotel wasn't existed, it has only this Inn.

The Laguna swimming pool

We are going out for snorkelling trip

The island around where we snorkelled

Overall I was disappointed with the snorkelling trips as they were less fishes compared to last time. However, the marine park still have excellent pool of fishes, just that a lot of corals have died. Actually, the most I enjoyed was their budget lunch and dinner!! Lots of excellent foods! With the price we paid, I will say that this trip is really money worth.

On the third day of this Redang trip, we checked out at 1pm and arrived at the Merang jetty at 2.30pm. We rented a van to go directly to Jerantut, as there is no direct transport between Redang Island and Taman Negara. The whole journey took us around 7 hours. We were exhausted.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Day 30: Kuala Lumpur et Tian Gong Festival

Since Fabien knows Kuala Lumpur better than me now (yes my sense of orientation is horrible), they ventured into KL without me. So 7 French in KL, what would they do and what could happen?

They went to visit the Petronas Twin Tower, the landmark of Malaysia.

They took sometimes doing shopping.

This time they chosed what they want to eat.

An incident happened in between, that almost changed our plan for the entire remaining trip. However, thing got settle in a nice way and they managed to continue their journey.

This time they managed to visit the Indian Temple. At this point they have seen the Buddhist and Taoist temples, the mosques and now Sri Maha Mariamman Kuil.

They can't have passed the famous Chinatown (Petaling Street), it's a must place to visit in KL.

During the night we started the praying for Tian Gong Festival. My neighbore bought a roasted pig and later distributed it to friends and neighbores around.

Fireworks again, remember the Chinese love noises.

Enjoying the roasted pork.

The festival finished at around 2am and we went directly to LCCT airport for our 7am flight to Kuala Terengganu. My brother and brother in laws were the assigned driver. It would be a turture to want them to sleep at 2am and wake up at 4am to send us to the airport.

Day 29: Kuala Lumpur & sayonara to the family

My French family has visited Kuala Lumpur once, today's trip was to go visit other attractions there with the other French who arrived later. Last day for the family, 8 days leave for all of the rest.

The day after was the Tian Gong (one of the Taoist Gods)'s birthday. The Malaysian Chinese who are originated from Fujian, China celebrate this day with larger scale of celebrations compared to the first day of Chinese New Year. So, early in the morning, my sister drove my mother, a neighbore and my French family to the market for praying ingredients and accessories.

The market is full of Tian Gong festival praying stuffs: pineapple, pamelo and mandarin orange.

Is Tian Gong Festival, sugar cane is one of the main praying ingredient. The story behind was that the Hokkien clan was being attacked during the Tian Gong Festival, and they managed to escape the attact by hiding in between sugar cane. From that day on, the Hokkien pray with sugar cane during Tian Gong Festival.

Isn't the crab in Malaysia look differently compared to those in France? We hardly see snow crab in Malaysia. The Malaysian crab is quite meaty.

This prosperity cake (huat kuih) is mandatory for Tian Gong festival. It's true that the Chinese like money, all the pray about is getting rich. That's why during Chinese New Year we eat several types of prosperity cake: nian gao for promotion, huat kuih for getting rich and we wish each other "Gong Xi Fa Chai"= congratulations that you are getting rich. I guess the Chinese were suffering from poverty for centuries that they really wish one day they don't have to worry about money.

Is the year of golden pig, so we pray with pig cookies.

We finally departed for Kuala Lumpur, first stop the Menara Kuala Lumpur (KL Tower).

From KL tower you can see Kuala Lumpur skyline, including the famous Petronas twin tower.

The monorail has finally on operation. It was under construction for many years.

Later they visited the Butterfly Park

It was time for the family to say goodbye. On the way to the airport, we stopped by Putrajaya, as I heard the night view is excellent as well. At least it pleased my FIL a lot.

Sayonara ma famille! I hope this visit will give them an unforgetable memory. I wish I could done more with them, for example visiting the Port Klang, but time is so short that it's impossible to visit Malaysia in 2 weeks!