One random night, I sent an e-mail to Lepak Live, asking if they are still looking for a stagehand. Promptly, they replied and in December, I attended my very first meeting with them and others.
This was my second time to work in a theatre production. The last time I did when I was probably 18 or 19 years old.
Who doesn’t know Bonda Bedah and Mak Temah? The comedy duo Hafidz Rahman and Zuhairi Idris.
Rehearsals started in the mid of December but stagehands came in only in January. So we had 1 month to rehearse and brainstorm on how to carry this and that on stage and such. (also, i got to make new friends) On our last rehearsal at C42, I suddenly had an emotional breakdown in the toilet and on the bike. It happened so quick, I even tried to avoid everyone.
Kudos to Hafidz and Zuhairi. They deserved all the credits, applause and everything. The hard work they have put in for their 3 nights show just for their fans – is superb.
I was there throughout their 12 sketches rehearsals. I witnessed everybody’s stress, I even had mine too.
There were 11 sketches altogether and my favorite? Definitely Siti No Hal scene. Why? Because all departments contributed on that scene and good job to the wardrobe team for making the outfit happening!
I had a talk with one of the wardrobe crews and he told me he improvised so many things in that outfit. First take – it took about 7 minutes for Zuhairi to wear the whole set. Then it went down to 5, went up again to 7 and on bump-in – less than 3 minutes, or lesser than that. (team effort!)
On our last rehearsal at C42, I woke up with unstable emotions and scrambled thoughts in my head. Headed to office to grab couple of newspapers and then, I started to cry while setting up things in the rehearsal room.
My second favorite sketch – Funeral. One thing for sure throughout the whole 3 shows, I clearly remember the corpse (one of the dancers) was giggling underneath the kain batik and Zuhairi went off “Mayat ni kesejukan ke?” and he looked underneath that kain everybody started to laugh. It was so spontaneous and I did not expect that to happen.
There was this one particular day, I sat down with Zuhairi and another stagehand, Saffy and I asked “Why Tampines Hub?”
“Esplanade has around 1500 seats and we’re afraid we won’t be able to sell all the tickets out…” and the conversation goes on. I told him (not sure if Hafidz was around, i was facing the other side) “Zu, this theatre has 400 seats, right? And you are doing three shows and you have sold 1200 seats, am i right? You guys are well established – people know Bonda Bedah Mak Temah and you have so many fans out there not only in Singapore! You have fans in Malaysia, in Indonesia! These people are dying to see both of you perfoming live. Do not be worried about if tickets dapat jual ke tidak. I can assure tak sampai satu hari all tickets sold out cepat. Look! Kita buka at 9 am around noon je tinggal sikit, right?”
I have faith in these two guys. Ni bukan bodek. Everything that is written on my blog is all real. Not paid review and such.
These guys can go way much more farther, but I hope they don’t join Maharaja Lawak. I believe in their talents and original contents.
I am definitely gonna miss this moment. Every sweat, every tear, every argument, every stress and every journey I went through with this team is definitely worth it. Knowledge is unstoppable and this project has given me so many experiences in just three months.
InsyaAllah we will able to work together again in the future. I love each one of you!
Still feeling jet lag. The longest journey I have ever had, sitting in a plane was my umrah trip – 10 hours. Singapore to Chengdu is roughly about 4 hours 15 minutes.
So my brother got married last year on May 31st 2019 (solemnization) and he and his partner had their wedding ceremony back in Sichuan. My family and I traveled all the way from Singapore to Chengdu to witness this special event.
Now beforehand, I would like to emphasize on one important thing – most of the places are planned by both my brother and his wife, so there are a few makan places I don’t get to jot down the address and location.
Flew off on 30th December and reached there about 8.30 at night. Unlucky us, one of the cars had some troubleshooting so we ended up taking Grab to reach to our hotel. (we stayed at Ji Hotel nearby Yopindo Plaza).
First stop! We had like a so called barbecue for dinner. In Singapore we call it lok lok. I didn’t know what to grab so I took mushrooms, long beans, tofu, chicken joint and more mushrooms. We had spicy naan too, which was delicious. Anything that has sesame is delicious (to me).
We did not stay up long as we had a long road trip to ride the next morning. By the way, I woke at 7ish and the sun is yet to rise.
We had our breakfast along Yopindo Plaza, and it’s a halal restaurant that serves not only beef la mian, but also beef pie, dumpling and other local traditional food.
The amount of noodle is so generous that you could actually share with another person (or probably it’s just me. i don’t really eat that much).
We walked around Yopindo Plaza for some coffee/tea before starting our road trip back to my sister’s kampung. The journey was around 4-5 hours. I binged Netflix most of the time while we were in the car and kept falling asleep.
Anyway, we reached Huangjia Town (i think that’s the spelling) around late evening. That’s when I got to meet my sister-in-law’s family, including her mom. Oh! Forgot to mention that my sister’s dad & didi (little brother) along his girlfriend fetched us at the airport.
My sister’s family is so welcoming and happy upon seeing us. My parents and I stayed in a hotel where the wedding took place. That night, we had our dinner at a local restaurant and also, it’s halal.
The owner, I assumed is an old lady, was shocked to see us (my family) as she has never had any customer from other places to dine in. Told her we are from Singapore and my mom’s a Muslim. She said, “I am a Muslim too but I don’t wear scarf (hijab) like her (pointing to mama).”
Apparently she was a bit skeptical to serve us probably the way we dress. We told her it’s okay, we know you serve halal food and we know you are Muslim. Then, our food arrived. We had beef soup. A big ass beef soup.
Right after dinner, we went to sister’s house to chill and kill some time before getting to bed early. I had to sleep early because I was a bit cranky (suddenly, probably missing my boyfriend)
1st January 2020 – the day where everyone gathered around for a special occasion. The day my brother and sister got married and yes, albeit we both come from a different family, different country; if love says “I do”, then there is no way one could avoid it, right? And I wish I owned a DSLR so that I can snap beautiful memories for everyone. Too bad, I only have an iPhone.
Right after my brother’s wedding, my family and I along with two of my brother’s friends headed back to the halal restaurant to grab our lunch. We ordered Chinese food that consists of fried stir fry beef with potato. bean sprout, fried potato, corn rice and I think we ordered egg soup.
I like their stir fry beef with potato. Tastes very yummy. The owner of the restaurant was so happy to see us again and before we left, she asked “Can I take photo with all of you?”
This is the name of the restaurant and along the stretch, the is the only halal restaurant you can ever find in Huangjia Town. I will definitely miss their stir fry beef & potato and of course, their hospitality!
Up next, the next day we headed back to town and this time we stayed at Qingyang District. Ji Hotel is everywhere (that’s pretty much convenient) and our hotel is 15 minutes away from R&F Plaza. And upon reaching, we quickly unpacked our luggages and headed out to grab dinner.
This is another halal restaurant my sister & brother brought us to. I believe it’s called “Huangcheng Old Beef Meat” something like that. This place is located nearby Holiday Inn Express (there are two Holiday Inn Express, if you see in map, just find the one near Family Mart). And since I captured this photo by using iPhone, it says this place is at Taisheng Rd.
Our dinner. Dad was literally laughing at me because I stopped eating beef right after they serve the fish. This is my another favorite place to makan (because they have fish!) and I am so gonna learn how to make this at home one day! We had sea bass with oyster gravy, stir fry beef, garlic beef, two plates of vege and beef satay.
It was Friday and we walked around Wenshu Monastery, another tourist attraction that’s well known for sightseeing and souvenirs. This place somehow reminds me of Yanxi Palace tv series.
As we were minding our own business walking around Wenshu, an old couple passed by us and suddenly said “She’s Malay”, pointing directly to my mom. My sister and I were laughed. Okay lah at least my mom got that superstar feeling lah kan.
Next stop – Tianfu Square! I didn’t get the chance to snap their MRT station because I was hangry (hungry + angry). And here’s mama & daddy, fooling around at Tianfu Square. They were imitating Mao Zedong statue behind them.
Also, this is where Huangcheng Mosque is located at (behind Tianfu Square). We’re lucky we went there on Friday – get to taste some of their local street food! I bought 3 beef pau for myself (I don’t take lamb/mutton).
Basically I am my parents’ translator. I had to be with them wherever they went because I can communicate in Mandarin and understand their dialect. We split into two groups most of the time, hence I am always with my parents.
I was still hungry. So I told dad I’m gonna grab something at the convenient store. That’s where I found toppoki and lobster king. I SWEAR I AM IN LOVE WITH THAT TOPOKKI!
They have 3 different flavors for toppoki – original, cheese and kimchi. I bought the original one and shared it with my dad and he even loves it! And for lobster king, it comes in two different sizes. Of course being me, I took the large one since dad is the one that paying for everything.
That night, my sister told us to sleep early as she has bought tickets for us to go to Chengdu Research Base of Panda Breeding. And Chengdu is of course famous for pandas!
Woke up as early at 5 in the morning, showered & get ready and breakfast, again we split into two groups. I was with my parents the whole time and that Grab driver used the wrong highway to drop us. Upon reaching, we had to walk about 1km to reach the entry point.
Up close of me and little clumsy panda! I wish I could smuggle you home oh you cute little boy!
We didn’t get the chance to see red pandas but I got to witness a sulky panda busy eating bamboos.
Up next! I think everyone was tired and hungry, we went to Niu BuBi (around 30 minutes away from Panda place) for lunch. This restaurant is famous for their hotspot and of course, their meat since niu means cow.
It’s halal by the way. And I fell in love with their interior design.
Mom and I don’t take spicy food. I mean we do, but we have our own spicy level. But me, I can no longer take extra spicy food anymore due to the food poisoning I had 2 years ago.
Anyway, this is just half of our hotpot stuffs. There are two types of soup – spicy & mushroom. You see that tiny little hold in the middle, fill with mushrooms? That’s the non-spicy soup. They have a special tiny area at the back where you can make your own dip sauce.
Anyway, I am a seafood lover but probably because I was too tired from waking up so early, I only had a few slices of fish and eggs.
My sister ordered a plate of dessert for us. It is called hong tang ci ba, or known as sticky rice cake with black sugar. If you still have no idea what it is, just imagine kuih keria with peanut powder on top plus gula melaka.
This is my new favorite snack in town! I had two plates of this. You gotta eat it while it’s hot. Like how I wish I could tapao this back but we still have somewhere to go.
My sister told me every hotpot place sells hong tang ci ba. It is like a must to have it everywhere you makan hotpot.
We then headed to Kuanxiangzi Alley. This is our final last spot and place to buy souvenirs. We did our shopping mostly here. If you know how to communicate, you will get discount – which I did get discount of course la kan!
I bought key chains, fans, bookmarks and a few other things. Actually – can’t recall that much.
And this place is famous for their Starbucks infrastructure too. We didn’t get the chance to go there because it’s super crowded, so we ops for Ding’s Coffee.
Me being me, I am lactose intolerant – I didn’t get to drink coffee for like 4 days (i think). I was pretty much excited to find out Ding’s Coffee has an alternate milk for people like me – oat milk! YES! They have oat milk! And because I was excited that I finally got to drink coffee, I treated everyone for one!
I had a cone of ice-cream too. Too cute, had to buy.
Our final day in Chengdu, my sister’s parents and didi and his girlfriend came and joined us jalan-jalan at Taikoo Li. Basically Taikoo Li is like Pavilion KL/Marina Bay Sands except their infrastructure designs are more to Qing Dynasty buildings.
We can only afford to jalan-jalan and cuci mata at Taikoo Li. I saw Zara and Gucci but dad was around, so I couldn’t do any shopping. Can only say hi from the window. But I did buy something for meimei and my sister’s mom. They have been so nice to us so the least I can do is buy them something.
Anyway, the reason why I was wearing that reindeer scarf because while visiting Panda place, I had a sudden nosebleed. I have never had one. Due to the cold weather and low humidity, I tend to get headache, dry skin and nosebleed. I cried in front of everyone (again, never had nosebleed before)
We had our lunch at Spize Bazaar, located at Taikoo Li. It offers Uighur and some sort like Samarkand food. And me being me, they serve us in a big portion albeit for one person serving.
Sad to say, I wish I could stay there a bit longer. But I gotta get back to reality.
You see, my first day in Chengdu has somehow opened up my eyes. We always see them being a bit loud and uncivilized in Singapore, right? The way these people treat others and such.
So… China is big. Like super huge. So maybe the people we see or meet in Singapore are not from the same province. They could be from province A or B or C but all I can say, people in Chengdu is different. They are full with smiles, manners and pride.
The housekeeper in our hotel is super friendly and nice too! She even thought I was from Xinjang just because she has never seen people like me or my mom. She even praised me for being able to speak her language quite well.
And now I miss the food there, especially hong tang ci ba.
Anywhere, do not be afraid to approach for help. Their police and passerby are super friendly.
*** a little guideline: don’t be shocked/surprised if you enter their halal restaurant. normal for them to have beer in their store as they not only cater for muslim customers, but also other religion & races. and their food is 100% halal, so don’t worry!
2019 is about to come to the end. Throughout this almost one year, 2019 has taught me more about humanity & empathy.
The first 3 months, I lost 4 people who were dearly to me. And then mom fell sick for months, in & out hospital; had to be there all the time. I skipped work plenty times but i don’t owe anyone an explanation for it.
Mid year was okay, alhamdulillah. But mom fell sick again. For 2 months I stayed morning & night to make sure both mom & dad had their needs done.
Mom could finally walk again. A week after her last therapy, I fell sick & couldn’t move around. I cried so hard in the ambo thinking, why me? It took me at least 1 month for me to get back on my feet again, had to rely on painkillers (hate it). I mean I can still walk but the recovery process (swollen bones and chest pain, overall) took at least one month.
Not to mention I had my very first big argument w/ my partner. But that big argument taught us to be more sabr & stronger.
I am still running on endless prairie, chasing my dream. This year, I seized every opportunity i was given; from Chinese series to English web series. I’m proud of my own outcome. It might be small but like i said, still running on endless prairie.
I told my dad my body can no longer take the air I’m breathing, working at night. Yes, I was a dumb young girl a decade ago. I didn’t think of my own future. I threw the opportunity I was given to continue study in the education industry; but if I didn’t make that choice, I wouldn’t be where I am now. I wouldn’t be able to play kites with the things I love.
The highlight in 2019, I finally got to operate a live show that is happening soon in Feb 2020. Not that much, but as a stagehand. I’m proud of myself.
It took me years to convince my parents about doing things I love. One day I surprised my mom to watch a movie with me. She was clueless & after she saw me on that big screen, she hugged me. She told my dad about it that night.
Yes, I regret for not seizing the opportunity to continue study 9 years ago but I don’t feel regret with the journey I went through. Here’s to more great opportunities coming soon in 2020! 2 dramas will be aired in January and i can’t wait for that too!
Oh also… I spend most of my time giving back to the society now. Chasing jannah too.
After three times going back and forth to Bangkok, I now have the gut to actually blog about my trip.
My first trip to Bangkok was in the mid of August, 2016 with my colleague, Insyirah. It was our first time traveling together and I couldn’t recall how many days we stayed up there. We stayed at a CBD area, i Residence Hotel in Silom. Quite convenient for us since our hotel is opposite Chong Nonsi BTS station.
Didn’t do much since it was our first time and also we couldn’t go anywhere that much due to bad weather. I remember clearly our second last day, we went to Chatuchak Market in the morning and two hours later, we were greeted by a stormy weather.
We managed to get a few items like food and clothes and had our brunch at this halal chicken rice shop somewhere in Chatuchak Market.
Second trip was in March 2018, with my fellow friends; Ain, Syai, Khai and Hazwan.
Many things have changed in just two years and we stayed at Citin Pratunam, a-three-star hotel with great hospitality and people. Because this is my second time to Bangkok and few times for them, they did all the plannings from food to whereabouts (even hotel too!)
Our first pit stop was Talad Neon, a walking distance from Palladium IT Pratunam.
Citin has two separated buildings, the old one is located in front of a massage spa shop and the newest one located in front of 7-11, nearby to train track station (don’t worry, both buildings are a walking distance like… less than 15 seconds).
We took cab from Suvarnabhumi Airport since everyone had big luggages with them (except for mine!). But you can spend less than 350 baht (SG$16.00) and take Airport Rail Link (Suvarnabhumi to Ratchaprarop Station). By the way, 100 baht is around SGD$4.50.
For Muslim travellers, you don’t have to worry as Pratunam has so much to offer when it comes to halal food and restaurants! You can even find halal street food around the corner.
First stop was Talad Neon. Basically Talad Neon is like Chatuchak, except hipster version. But here is something you might want and need to know – their seafood stalls ARE NOT HALAL (even though they have the HALAL sign). They might just go ahead and say “yes halal halal” but look through their menu carefully (found out about this on my third trip, this year).
There are a few halal stalls, but more to finger food like cheesy fries, quails and some potato.
Next day, we had our brunch at Maedah Restaurant. This is one of the best halal restaurants that can be found at Pratunam.
Ain was sick and so she didn’t join us for our second day trip. Syai stayed back in the room to take care of his wife (so sweet).
That night we had our dinner at Yana Restaurant. A bit distance from Siam Paragon and Khai, me and Hazwan tuktuk to get there.
I’m not really a big fan of eating many stuffs in a restaurant so I gotten myself a plate of pad thai. The food was nice and delicious and affordable.
This year, a week after Eid Mubarak, I went to Bangkok again but with Tasha.
Stayed at Citin Pratunam again (because why not! and affordable!) and this time around I went there with a limited budget, I did not bring my ATM card, paid everything in cash including make-ups.
Took SA City Line to our hotel and right after a few hours resting, we had our late lunch/early dinner at Al-Sana Restaurant. They serve Pakistani, Arabic and Thai food.
We then headed to Palladium Mall to do some shopping but to our surprise, the building closes early, at 8pm. So we walked around and took photos at their famous bridge.
Walked to Talad Neon and here’s the best part – this is where I found out about the fake halal food. I started to feel hungry and thought of getting some tom yam soup but when I looked around, I saw a few photos of pork. Asked one of the owners and she kept saying halal.
Then I decided to settle down with Thai milk tea first. The fellow man that sells drink is a Muslim man (i believe he’s a mixed of kelantanese & siam because he spoke to me in Malay). Asked him about food around Talad and he told me those seafood stalls are not halal. It is just to attract customers.
And what I meant by fake halal food is they serve and cook pork too. To play safe, better not have your seafood there. I will list down a few places where you can get halal food okay!
Next day, we went to Siam to shop some make-up. Eveandboy is haven for make-up lovers.
Also, we had our dinner at Zaabver Restaurant and I can say the price is a little bit pricey. Note: not complaining, but I was expecting more things on the menu. Had tom yam fried rice but not to my liking. Still prefer the street food nearby my hotel area (50 baht and have many prawns!).
My this trip is all about budget. We took tuktuk to everywhere we go. Even to Chatuchak! Worth the price for 200 baht and the driver even stopped us at this one place to let us try honey for free! But tragically, many shops closed due to fire breakdown.
We went there around afternoon and had a very light brunch in our room. We roamed quite long to find food in Chatuchak but again and we both became hangry. Then we found halal street food inside the market itself! I had pad thai for only 40 baht and ice coconut for 50 baht! My tummy smiled.
Had to have a dessert right after a delicious meal. This ice cream costs only 5 baht. I had mine in sarsi flavor (wanted thai tea but aunty heard wrongly).
Tasha didn’t believe me when I said Bangkok is a place for you to spend your money like a crazy person. She bought a lot of things especially snacks because Thailand has the bestest chips in 7-11!
So here are a few tips that I can give you (from my own experience): ALWAYS ALWAYS smile because Thai people are rich with smiles and courtesy.
Never ever bargain too much and walk away. They don’t like to entertain people who keep on bargaining. Make sure know what you wanna get. Buy more than 2, you will get at least 50-100 baht off. For snacks, buy 5 free 1 (if you are lucky enough).
Speak their language – learn to speak Thai and they will enjoy more talking/give you discount. It works on me.
Be humble (ALWAYS)
Tips their hotel employees (they deserve because they are really helpful and patient with silly tourists).
For halal food: Maedah Restaurant Al-Sana Restaurant Zabveer Restaurant Halal street food, Palladium IT Mall Yana Restaurant Royal India (Siam Paragon) Sinthorn Steakhouse Yusup Pochana Busaba Restaurant Usman Thai food AYA Japanese food
I am rewriting my Umrah trip. Not because I missed a few points. Nope.
Because, I feel much more contented and better now.
My life changed ever since my Umrah journey started on December 2, 2017. I felt petrified and overwhelmed at the same time. I had so many things on my mind; like… what did I do to deserve this?
Months before the day of my departure, I gave lame excuses to my parents. It took them at least 8 months to plan ahead for everything. Or maybe more, I don’t know.
Like others, I told myself “I don’t deserve this. I am a sinner.” But Lord is Merciful, He loves his أمة (ummah). According to my ustaz, “He chooses you. He chose you for a reason. You may think someone else deserves this, but He wants you to be there for a reason.” That’s where I realized – I should be thankful.
I was surrounded with mixed feelings and emotions. I asked and told my closest friends, “What if I can’t do it? I’ve never prayed, will God forgive me? Will God give me a second chance?” & etc.
Two months beforehand, I self-studied how to pray. Started from the bottom.
I was lost in my own religion. I wanted to give up. I did not know what to do. I wandered about life a lot.
The day arrived. Friends and relatives all came down to send my mom, dad and me. We were supposed to take off at 4.35 pm but things happened. Our flight got delayed. 7 hours later, we flew off.
We reached Jeddah safely and I had butt sore from sitting in the plane and bus for more than 16 hours. We chose Afandi Travel to make this worship journey happen.
We had our stay at Leader Al-Muna Kareem Hotel in Madinah. It is 5 minutes walking distance away to Masjid Nabawi. My heart pounded real fast.
“Is this really happening? Is Nabawi really in front of me? Am I dreaming?”
When I first stepped my right foot at gate 26 Nabawi, I had tears of joy rolling out from my eyes. I was surrounded with peace, birds chirping here and there, beautiful voices from people reading the Koran and of course, beautiful windy weather.
That night, I got to visit Ar-Rawdah with my dad’s wife and her relatives. Such a wonderful place to be. They say أخضر is green, and so is Rawdah.
My days in Madinah was amazing. We got to visit Green Dome, Jabal Uhud, Masjid Quba’, Masjid Qiblatain, Shuhada’ Uhud and a few other places. But due to the cold weather, I fell sick and caught fever on my second day of ibadah.
6th December; the day where I was feeling extra nervous and excited at the same time. I was so nervous that I actually slept the whole entire journey to Mecca.
We reached Mecca almost 11 pm. Quickly had my dinner and then, my journey of hijrah began.
Unbelievable. Astonished. Indescribable.
Those were the words that I had in my mind when I saw Kaabah.
My heart pounded real fast that I thought I was gonna get asthma attack. I cried while tawaf. I couldn’t believe the big black box in front of me is Kaabah.
Tears of joy, tears of forgiveness.
I hugged my mom so tight. I couldn’t express or tell how sinful I was back then. I wondered why was I been given a second chance?
26 years (2017) of living, I finally found myself. God is real and so is everything on this earth. I felt so peaceful and my mind was as clear as the ocean.
For all this time, I have always asked God to lead me to the right path, show some guidance though I didn’t sujud at Him before my Umrah journey.
And He did.
I was so excited to perform my prayers at Al-Haram Mosque. Mom and I did our prayers at Tower 2 (if I’m not mistaken). And usually after Isyak, we would hang out at Zam Zam to either eat supper or just walk around.
Indeed, God is real and He is Merciful. I was prepared for new changes but I did not expect it to happen real quick.
When I was at Tower 2, I kinda challenged God. Within minutes, I gotten my answers. Like I said, I was prepared but did not expect it to happen real quick.
I accepted my fate.
But at least I got my parents back. We’re back as one.
My journey in Mecca didn’t end there. We visited Jabal Rahmah and Mount Arafat too!
I actually prayed for my love life at Jabal Rahmah hehehe.
When I was there, I knew I had to leave my past behind and start a fresh. Slowly but surely.
Before we end our journey, we went back for tawaf wada’ and this time around, I wish don’t have to go back home. A part of me just wanna live in Mecca because it is so peaceful there.
And you know what’s more incredible besides this whole journey? Right after I landed back in Singapore, I wasn’t feeling sick anymore. My cough and fever disappeared.
And my life has changed ever since then. My appearance may have changed but my personality remains the same.
I am like a reborn child; that my new journey starts at the age of 27.
As I slowly crawling searching for answers, I too, never stop looking for Him.
And as days go by, minutes turn to hours; many things have been happening to me lately; which I will break them all soon enough. (I just need to find more time to blog!)
I can never thank God for giving me a second chance to breathe. And also for making a few of the things I prayed before, came true.