Why do we blow candles off on our birthdays?



To start off today’s sermon, the preacher cheekily asked us who hasn’t celebrated our birthday yet this year, and at that moment, my hubby asked me a very interesting question. 

Why do we blow candles on birthday cakes? 

That question never crossed my mind before. And when the preacher asked the same question, I waited with great expectation for the answer. 

So why do you think we blow candles off on our birthdays?

Apparently it is because another year of our lives has passed and we have one year shorter to live. 

It certainly does not sound like a very happy thing, does it? 

And maybe that is why we instinctively don’t celebrate birthdays anymore when we get older. 

pearlie

An extremely worried mom



I posted this picture last week and today I’m posting it again. 

I’m thinking more and more about how this big turn in my life will be and it’s scaring me but it saddens me even more. 

I spent some time today checking out the place and I am feeling a little better but it still worries me. 

And my good friend was telling me her mom cried for months when her brother left home and I think I will be just as bad. 

Oh dear...

pearlie

Are password manager apps safe?



I am on leave at home and with all my devices with me I suddenly realize they all carry different passwords and I keep keying the wrong ones for the different devices and applications. 

Our lives are so full of passwords these days that I have no choice but to use a password manager app. 

But a very important question is how safe is it?

Check out these articles and let me know what you think:

I think it is both good and bad but where we are now we really have no other choice. 

One of the articles claim that “Despite fears, most experts in the field agree that password managers are still the safest way to secure online accounts.”

pearlie

What on earth is expensive junk?



Someone said something to me today I am still trying to figure out what it means. 

He said something along the line of stop eating expensive junk. 

But what is expensive junk? 

I don’t eat much junk food and so Dorito’s is out of the picture and therefore what on earth is expensive junk?

Are all the expensive food—and food is very expensive these days!—I’ve been eating junk?

So pray tell me what is expensive junk so I can stop eating it. 

pearlie

2017: My Year In Books

I’ve made reading challenges for the past few years and I’ve read 30 in 2012, 37 in 2013, 56 in 2014, 41 in 2015 and 30 in 2016. 

I’ve read the least this year since I’ve started the challenge. 

I’m not sure if I really did challenge myself—because I’d put it at 20 books every year, that is, I must at least read 20 a year. 

I’ve done well from 2012 to 2016, but not this year. 

I literally had to get myself to sit down today to complete the book I’m reading so I can complete the challenge, if I can call it a challenge. 

And if you take a look at the books I read this year, because of my interest in the Korean language, I’ve been reading a lot about the country as well, and it is a fascinating country. But that’s another post. 

And I better get back to more reading for 2018. 

But even though I’ve only done 20, I’m proud to be part of the mere 1% who have completed their challenge. 



And for those who haven’t been reading much, I challenge you to start. Create an account in goodreads.com and use it to motivate you to start and keep reading. 

And add me as your goodreads friend!









pearlie

A great family day



My nieces (my husband’s nieces actually) came to visit from the UK. 

Aren’t they precious and gorgeous?

We spent some time with them in church yesterday followed by shopping for clothes (first time my hubby spent so much on clothes for so many girls, i.e. two nieces, a sister and a wife), and then we were all in the cinema watching Star Wars, The Last Jedi, which is not bad I’d say though my hubby would beg to differ. 

But a great family day it was. 

pearlie

Why was Jesus born?

We celebrated Christmas Eve today at church and it wasn’t the usual Sunday service. After praise and worship, there was a short skit where three men talked about what Christmas is in Starbucks...



...followed by the same three guys playing the three wise men having a discussion about the birth of Jesus in Starbeth Cafe in Bethlehem. 



Then pastor gave a very good sermon about Christmas. 



I didn’t get the chance to take any notes but I remember a couple of new things I learnt from him:

1. The Jews knowing that the prophecy of the coming of Messiah was about to be fulfilled did not welcome the birth of Jesus but the magi who weren’t Jews were so excited about it they wanted to not only go and visit and give gifts, but to worship him. 

2. The virgin Mary was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit, not by sexual relations with a man, and with that  Jesus did not inherit the sinful nature of man. And what the Holy Spirit did to “overshadow” Mary—the same way he overshadow the world when it was created—was when he prevented the sinful nature of Mary to be passed on to Jesus. 

The birth of Jesus more than two thousand years ago marked the history where God became man to save us from ourselves, from our sins.

Even if you do not believe him, this happened in history and therefore you do need to ask the question, why?

pearlie

Mary Did You Know?

We were practicing the song Mary Did You Know for worship service tomorrow and I found this version by Anthem Lights that was very well done. 

Mary Did You Know, Anthem Lights


pearlie

The problem with learning a new language



I am really finding it so hard in my language learning recently, especially when I feel I am not progressing at all and being fluent seem so distant it’s beginning to feel impossible. 

It’s so frustrating. 

And I found this article that says that I am not only hitting one wall but nine!

1. My vocabulary is too basic to hold a conversation. And isn’t that so true. 

2. When I learn a new vocabulary word, I still don't understand it when a native uses it. I can only understand bits and pieces here and there. 

3. I can't speak fluently, even though I understand the language when I hear it. Not a wall I’m facing yet since I don’t understand much of what I hear. 

4. I don't know how to stop making the same mistake over and over again. This is what has been frustrating me lately. I keep mixing up words and grammar rules. 

5. I can understand the language, but I just can't speak it. I can only understand bits and pieces and obviously can’t speak it at all. 

6. The language I'm learning has too many words that all mean the same thing. And the same words with many, many meanings. 

7. I want to sound smoother, more native and more eloquent. But I just sound weird. 

8. I learned a new language in school, and I just don't sound like a native speaker. At least I think I don’t have a problem with the languages I learnt in school. 

9. I've been learning a language for years, but I'm not getting anywhere. I’ve just been at it for a year and I’ll not get anywhere even after a few years? 

Oh dear...maybe I should just give up?

pearlie

When the unexpected happens



There is only one kind of shock worse than the totally unexpected: the expected for which one has refused to prepare. 
~ Mary Renault, The Charioteer

There is a feeling of disbelief that comes over you, that takes over, and you kind of go through the motions. You do what you're supposed to do, but in fact you're not there at all. 
~ Frederick Barthelme, Elroy Nights

I drew a deep breath, trying to think of something to say, then pulled a handkerchief from my pocket and gave it to him. "Are you breathing, Ian?" His mouth twitched a little. "Aye, I think so." "That's all you have to do, for now. 
~ Diana Gabaldon, An Echo in the Bone (Outlander, #7)

God has mercifully ordered that the human brain works slowly; first the blow, hours afterwards the bruise. 
~ Walter de la Mare, The Return

pearlie

Emergency Bypass on your iPhone



Now that I have used my Mi Band 2 for about a week, I realised one very important thing about emergency calls. 

Ever since I started using it, I have switched off all sound and vibration in my phone in order to prolonged battery life, since I’m going to get notifications on my Mi Band anyway. 

Except when it’s on a Do Not Disturb mode, which I have set to turn on when I’m asleep. 

I then thought—what if I were to receive an emergency call in the middle of the night? 

Even without my Mi Band with the DND mode, my phone would have been on silent anyway and I wouldn’t have notice it vibrating when I’m sleeping. 

Gone were the days when family members can call the house phone that will ring so loud you can hear it from anywhere in the house at any time of the day or night. 

I googled and found out that I can switch on an Emergency Bypass for any selected contacts. 

Do this on your iPhone:
1. Open your Contacts app
2. Search for the desired contact
3. Tap Edit on top right of he contact card
4. Tap Ring
5. Enable Emergency Bypass
6. Do the same for Text, if desired

When the Emergency Bypass is switched on, your phone will ring and vibrate even if your DND is on. 

Do it. Your life or someone else’s may depend on it. 

pearlie

Taipei Day 5

It’s finally our last day in Taipei. 

We didn’t do much today. I had wanted to drop by Ximending again but my mom refused. 

So we practically spent the whole day on the way to the airport...



...where we had our last Taipei bubble tea, though this is the grass jelly one...



...lined up to check in...



...caught up on shows I’ve downloaded into my iPad to watch, and arrived safely in Kuala Lumpur. 

I know...a total waste of a day, but it’s still a good slow day to slow down and reminisce to remember the good trip we just had. 

pearlie

Taipei Day 4

It’s our fourth day in Taipei and by now, I am feeling quite exhausted with all the walking. My legs were very much in pain and as a result I began to walk really very slowly by now. 

As such, I did not have the mindset to take any pictures and what saddest is that I met up with my italki language friend, Yi-Jung, but we never took any pictures! I felt so awful about it when I realised that. 

Yi-Jung brought us to Dansui Old Street. It was a 30-minute MRT ride. 


Photo from guidetotaipei.com

All was good except it was raining quite bad. I felt quite miserable today. 



We didn’t stay too long in Dansui and got back to Taipei Main MRT station. Yi-Jung showed us around as we will be taking the MRT to the airport tomorrow. 



pearlie

Taipei Day 3

For our third day in Taipei, we started off with a late breakfast at this recommended place for four herb intestine soup. Yum yum. 



We then walked to Datong for lunch and on the way there were rows and rows of shops selling dried foods, nuts and tea. And I guess I was too engrossed in observing the sites I didn’t take any pictures!

Time passed by too quickly and we were soon in another night market called Shilin. 

Shilin night market is all street food...



...and my favourite so far is the popiah ice cream. (And I was obviously too busy enjoying to remember taking any pictures. LOL. I got these photos from ah-hong.com.)

The seller will first scrape the peanut block with lots and lots of energy and rigour. 



The grated peanuts will be placed on a popiah skin where two scoops of ice cream will be added with some cilantro. 

Cilantro with ice cream? Oh yes!



It’s then rolled up and you can ask it to be cut in halves or you can have it whole. 

Mmm...the yummiest dessert, ever. 



We were so tired with all the walking and decided to take a cab back to the hotel but it was only 6:30pm, though it did feel like it was 8:30pm. 

My mom have had it for the day but my niece and I felt the night is still so young and so both us decided to head off to Taipei 101. 

We walked to the Zhongshan station and on the way there we visited the elongated stretch of the underground Eslite bookstore. 

The only thing is that 99% of the books are in Chinese. 



We bought tokens via the MRT ticketing machine and took an MRT ride...



...and arrived at Taipei 101. 

Our necks ache just looking up. 



At the entrance was Din Tai Fung, with a long, long queue. The expected waiting time to get a table was 100 minutes. So, no thank you. 



I read somewhere about having coffee at the highest Starbucks in the world, but when we got to the observatory ticketing counter, the fee was NT600, which comes up to about RM85 per person. 



My niece and I decided it’s not worth the money going up and moreover, we will not be able to know any of the places looking out into the Taipei skyline. 

It’s not like “oh, there’s Cheras or oh, there’s Old Klang Road, or oh, there’s my old school.”

And so we went to the not-the-highest-in-the-world Starbucks at the lower ground floor. 



And after that we went out of Taipei 101 and started walking along the streets where the trees were mostly lighted up. It was a lovely atmosphere. 



And I had to have this picture taken. LOL



We then stopped by at ATT 4 Fun mall before heading to Ichiran Ramen for our late dinner, or supper or whatever you call it. 

We ate so many times, we don’t know what we are having anymore. 

But when we arrived at Ichiran Ramen, we realised we should have came to the restaurant first because shopping because the wait was to be at least an hour! 



But my legs were so tired and painful we just sat there to wait. 

Our numbers were called after half an hour of wait, earlier than expected, and we got into the restaurant...



...to queue up. 

What’s interesting about this restaurant is that you have your food in a cubicle. 



It’s philosophy is that when you eat, you focus on your food to fully savour the taste and aroma. 

No talking or socializing with anyone, just your food. 

So at your cubicle, you mark your preference on the order chit.



My preference was: Dashi-Medium, Richness-Rich, Garlic-Medium, Green Onions-Yes, Chashu-Yes (of course!), Chili-Mild, Ramen Texture-Firm. 

I ring the bell, they take my chit, they prepare and serve me my bowl of ramen and they let down the mat-curtain to give me privacy to enjoy. 



It was absolutely fantastic - the best ramen ever. 

We started waiting at 9:30pm, got in at 10:00pm and finished at 10:15pm. 

We took a slow walk back to the 101 MRT station and got back to the hotel at 11:50pm. 



I have never walked so much in my life. 

pearlie

Taipei Day 2

Our itinerary today is to Jiufen, Shifen and Miaokou Night Market in Keelung. 

And I thought we hired a tour guide for one day but I must have misinterpreted it. 

Turned out that I only hired a driver. 

It was disappointing but on the bright side of things, my mom wouldn’t have preferred a stranger prodding us to go here and to go there and by the end of the day, we have agreed that we didn’t like the guy anyway, so all is good that he isn’t our guide. 

The day started when our driver brought us to this place for breakfast. 



My mom’s first reaction was classic—why? Why such a lousy place and not a proper restaurant—my niece and I laughed it off telling her that these are the places where we should be for food in Taipei. 

We ordered fish soup and fried meehoon. In the end, my mom liked the meehoon so much, she had second helpings!





After breakfast, it was a 30-minute ride to Jiufen. The only problem was this: it was raining. What a bummer. 



Jiufen, meaning nine portions, is in a mountain area in Ruifang District, northeast of Taipei City. 

Its name originated from the Qing Dynasty period in the 18th century when the isolated village housed nine families and when the shipments arrived, they would request for nine portions of goods. 

Apparently it became popular in 2001 because of its resemblance to the downtown area in the anime movie Spirited Away. 

We donned our raincoats and started exploring the old streets lined with stores selling food, drinks, tea, souvenirs, clothes and shoes. 

As we trod along the narrow streets, we soon got lost and began wondering how to get back to the spot where the driver will pick us up. 

I then saw this flight of stairs going down. It looked more interesting but my mom was reluctant fearing that if it’s the wrong way, we will have to climb all the way up again.



But my instinct says to go.

And I am glad I listened. The alleyway led us to the very site that attracted me to Jiufen and Taipei for that matter in the first place—the site that marked Jiufen as the Santorini of Taiwan. 



And I like this shot my niece took:


The flight of stairs we took turned out to be the most picturesque place in Jiufen. You will see this on most travel sites on Taiwan, and my shot here is a rainy day one. 



Our next stop was to Shifen. This place is where you can light a lantern into the sky. 



And all this happens right in the middle of a train track. 

My mom asked if trains do ply the tracks. My niece and I replied, “Of course not!” 

And right at that very moment, we heard a whistle and we had to get off the tracks...for the train. 



My mom had a good laugh. How wrong we were...and how dangerous this can be. 

And yet, hoards of people stand on the tracks taking pictures and flying lanterns up into the sky. 



Next stop: Miaokou Night Market.



It wasn’t night yet but the stalls are slowly being set up. 

We soon realised it’s time they set up anyway because it begins to get dark from 4:30pm and by the time it’s 5:00pm, it feels like 7:00pm in Kuala Lumpur!



It’s mainly just street food here. 

Look at the yummy oysters...



...and how I wish I can bring this pig back. 



We got back to the hotel at 7:00pm and even though it was still very early, we were quite tired and decided to call it a day. 

pearlie