Where I Grew Up

posted in: List of 10, Memories 0 comments

Nearly 200 years ago, a little village sprouted up near the banks of the Kinta River, west coast of Malaysia. A village named after a tree, it was called Ipoh (pronounced ee-poh, loud ‘h’).

I grew up in this little village. By the time I was born however, it was a town whose famed tin mines were closing, tin prices were falling and it became known as a ‘dead’ city – one where people started heading to retire.

Yeah, my childhood was exciting.

In the ’80s and early ’90s while I was growing up, there wasn’t a MacDonald’s in town until I was in my tween years; 7-11 only came to town much, much later and we only had 2 or 3 major malls. If you can call them that.

However, Ipoh is not without its small town charms (I still like to think of it as a small town, although it earned its title as a city in 1988).

I left Ipoh in 1994 when I headed off to further my education. I’m only 2 hours away now, and really, I should head back more often.

This is why.

1. The food. Ask any Malaysian what they know about Ipoh, and food will be the first thing that pops out of their mouths. The famous ‘Ipoh Sar Hor Fun’ – flat white noodles served in soup with shredded chicken and prawns, is a must-have. I know, that sounds weird to many of you with Western palettes. but believe me, this stuff, is GOOD.

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2. Ipoh white coffee. ‘White coffee’ is an oxymoron isn’t it? You’d be saying, dude, coffee is BLACK. Not Ipoh coffee though. The coffee beans are roasted with palm-oil margarine and served with condensed milk. The name derives from a direct translation of its Cantonese name (yes, we are pretty literal in these parts). The term ‘white’ is used to describe the roasting process (adding nothing to it), rather than its appearance. People? This is delicious. Just sayin’.

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3. The architecture. It’s just amazing. Looky here, the railway station.

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4.  The limestone caves. They are truly stunning. I’ve been many times, and it’s never failed to make me go wow, each time.

The Sam Poh Tong Buddhist Temple, built within the limestone cave. Image Source

5. My school. I had  a lot of fun. Well, most of the time. Oh, and I learned a few things here. I think. Ahem.

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6. Michelle Yeoh. You may have heard of her. You know, that martial arts lady in films such as Tomorrow Never Dies, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon Memoirs of  Geisha, and The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor. I met her in 1983 when I was 7, and she had just won the Miss Malaysia beauty pageant. For some reason, that memory has burned itself into my mind. She’s inspirational, kick ass and gorgeous. She’s put Ipoh on the map.

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7. Ipoh Swimming Club. I spent many hours here, the local family club. We swam, played, ate, hung out, grew up here. Good times.

Image Source (this is the only picture I could find of the club, back in the early ’60s – it looks much the same still!)

8. My late grandmother. My childhood is filled with memories of my grandmother, and much of my early life, defined by her presence and how much she was a part of it. When I think of Ipoh, I think of my grandmother. I remember visits to the market with her, watching her cook, and allowing her to slather rice powder on my face (she believed it would give me beautiful skin). Alas, I don’t have digital pictures of her to share.

9.  Our dogs. My parents replaced us with dogs. Just kidding. Okay, half-kidding. I love that they keep my folks company and happy. And they’re pretty awesome, and always a good reason to head back for a visit.

10. My parents. No explanation needed.

A Monday Listicle with The Good Life, topic of hometown, given by Amanda of Lilahbility.

One interesting fact about your hometown. Go!

Alison

Alison

Alison

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  • December 12, 2011 Erica M

    That noodle dish is giving me craving fits, along with the white coffee. Your hometown is beautiful.

    The RSS feed won’t pick up my MListicles post. Do you mind if I override Comment Luv? This is the link.

    • December 12, 2011 Alison

      Since I found that picture, I’ve been hankering for them noodles!

  • December 12, 2011 KalleyC

    That noodle dish looks really yummy! And the architecture is stunning. It seems like a really great place and all wonderful reasons to visit more often (and in my case visit).
    KalleyC recently wrote…Sunday Prayer: LifeMy Profile

    • December 12, 2011 Alison

      It IS really yummy!! It’s a quiet place, but lovely all the same.

  • December 12, 2011 Dominique

    I love ipoh hor fun too.. that together with Penang Laksa are my favourite Malaysian dishes.
    Dominique recently wrote…Christmas Jingle Bell Rock Music Moves MeMy Profile

    • December 12, 2011 Alison

      You have good taste!

  • December 12, 2011 Greta

    Oh, wow! Ipoh looks incredible.

    Where I grew up? We had the annual Threshing Bee. Yep, it’s all about farming. Exciting stuff. 🙂

    • December 12, 2011 Alison

      It is pretty incredible! Okay, I need to Google Threshing Bee 🙂

  • December 12, 2011 Stasha

    It looks so pretty, the White wash buildings I always loved against the rich vegetation. I want some White coffee!! It is so lovely to learn things about you through your posts.
    Stasha recently wrote…Monday ListiclesMy Profile

    • December 12, 2011 Alison

      If you didn’t try white coffee when you were in Malaysia last, it just calls for another visit!

      • December 12, 2011 Stasha

        Will visit next year to meet the new baby, OK?
        Stasha recently wrote…Monday ListiclesMy Profile

  • December 12, 2011 Hopes

    OH it looks like a beautiful place! I’m sure you made a ton of wonderful memories there!! Wonderful!
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    • December 12, 2011 Alison

      I sure did!

  • December 12, 2011 RoryBore

    the architecture is stunning…..and that noodle bowl is definitely giving me late night munchies! I think it is also safe to say I’d drink pretty much any kind of coffee. Beautiful hometown.
    RoryBore recently wrote…Advent Sunday: JoyMy Profile

    • December 12, 2011 Alison

      Thank you!! I’m glad you didn’t find the noodles a turn off 😉

  • December 12, 2011 Amanda

    What a gorgeous place to grow up. And #1? YUMMMMM!
    Amanda recently wrote…Where the Heart IsMy Profile

    • December 12, 2011 Alison

      I want some noodles now – you? 🙂

  • December 12, 2011 Ann

    The food sounds amazing (as a foodie you knew I had to address that first!). What a charming town you are from and it’s simply stunning! I’m glad you shared it with us – it’s always nice to remember your roots.
    Ann recently wrote…Christmas Giveaway~My Profile

    • December 12, 2011 Alison

      Thank you Ann! If I can track down a recipe, would you try making it? 🙂

      • December 12, 2011 Ann

        I would LOVE to! The only thing is – I’m allergic to shrimp….actually, I’m allergic to ALL seafood! But if there is a way that I can adapt it, I will. The allergies are only about 9 years old, so I’m WELL aware of what I’m missing!

        But please – I’d LOVE the recipe and we’ll see what we can do – because it sounds delicious!
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  • December 12, 2011 Kimberly

    I need to come try white coffee. We can drink it with our Oreos.
    Kimberly recently wrote…Life Is Full Of ChoicesMy Profile

    • December 12, 2011 Alison

      That would be heavenly.

  • December 12, 2011 crittersandcrayons

    That white coffee sounds delicious!!!!! Malaysia looks absolutely stunning and I had no idea the star from Crouching TIger Hidden Dragon was from there. Very nice post-
    crittersandcrayons recently wrote…Monday Listicles: My Christmas Wish ListMy Profile

    • December 12, 2011 Alison

      Thank you! Malaysia has many charms, yes, Hollywood stars included!

  • December 12, 2011 Mama and the City

    So craving that soup right now. And not at all weird to me.

    Coffee – delish. I love condensed milk and I don’t drink it enough, I should make my next java with it.

    And that woman, Michelle, is gorgeous!
    Mama and the City recently wrote…The Ghost of my Christmas PastMy Profile

    • December 12, 2011 Alison

      That’s great to know everyone seems turned ON by that noodle soup! And yes, Michelle Yeoh is gorgeous. I’m so lucky I’ve actually met her.

  • December 12, 2011 Mirjam

    Ipoh sounds wonderful.
    And I have a thing with ‘Asian’ movies, Michelle Yeoh
    is amazing! And she’s from your home town? Wow!
    Great pictures to compliment your story, I think you are a very lucky girl.
    Mirjam recently wrote…StormMy Profile

    • December 12, 2011 Alison

      Thank you Mirjam, I am lucky indeed. 🙂

  • December 12, 2011 Barbara

    I would love to go just for the food and the coffee! Your hometown sounds wonderful!
    Barbara recently wrote…Home is where the heart is…My Profile

    • December 12, 2011 Alison

      Everyone goes to Ipoh for the food and coffee 🙂

  • December 12, 2011 JDaniel4's Mom

    When I look back on my childhood, my maternal grandmother fill many of my memories too. You had such a great place to grow up!
    JDaniel4’s Mom recently wrote…Muffin Tin Monday- A Snowman’s Buffalo Chicken LunchMy Profile

    • December 12, 2011 Alison

      I did, I am lucky and blessed!

  • December 12, 2011 KirI

    I love learning new things about you..these little glimpses into who you are and where you come from is like reading a good book..one I can’t put down. You are so interesting and fascinating to me…so awesome as far as I am concerned. Xo
    KirI recently wrote…The Comfortable Seat: Spilling it with ShellMy Profile

    • December 12, 2011 Alison

      You flatter me so, Kir!! You are pretty awesome too 🙂

  • December 12, 2011 Liz

    omg, I love stuff like this. I find it completely fascinating. That train station’s architecture is unbelievably beautiful, and the limestone caves are too!

    Memoirs of a Geisha is one of my favorite movies – she was the mean one, right?
    Liz recently wrote…I Would Rather Take A Severe Beating…My Profile

    • December 12, 2011 Alison

      Yes, I believe she was the mean one!

  • December 12, 2011 Galit Breen

    Love this, Alison! So very much- such a glimpse into your story.

    {And yes, the coffee looks divine!}

    xo
    Galit Breen recently wrote…By Word of MouthMy Profile

    • December 12, 2011 Alison

      Thank you Galit!! xo

  • December 12, 2011 christina

    wow, what a great review of your hometown!!! that coffee looks and sounds divine. it all sounds so very lovely!
    christina recently wrote…a day in the life of (when we’re home): The ListicleMy Profile

    • December 13, 2011 Alison

      Thank you. The coffee IS divine.

  • December 12, 2011 Miss Marina Star

    It’s wonderful that you lived in such a unique place for so long. I am jealous, we bounced around far too much. I bet you’ll be spending more time there as your little one grows older, you’ll have a lot to show him!
    Miss Marina Star recently wrote…Marchin OnMy Profile

    • December 13, 2011 Alison

      Yes, hopefully we will be spending a little more time there when he’s a little older 🙂

  • December 12, 2011 KLZ

    I would REALLY like some of that food.
    KLZ recently wrote…On InducementMy Profile

    • December 13, 2011 Alison

      So would I!

  • December 12, 2011 tracy

    It looks so incredibly beautiful there.
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    • December 13, 2011 Alison

      Oh it is very pretty!

  • December 12, 2011 Kiddothings

    Hehe, you really did justice to Ipoh with this post. And had me salivating at that hor fun picture! Hey, I grew up playing and swimming in ISC too! How come we never met?!
    Kiddothings recently wrote…The First 2 MonthsMy Profile

    • December 13, 2011 Alison

      Why, thanks! We may have seen each other before at ISC, we just never knew it!

  • December 12, 2011 Ado

    Okay, gorgeous. That train station slayed me! The white coffee, the swim club, all of it! The one thing I didn’t understand was how the heck you can pronounce a hard ‘H’ at the end of Ipoh!?
    Tell your parents I’m coming to visit!!!
    PS: I went to girls school too…but it was catholic so we were probably more misbehaved than at your school. (-:
    Ado recently wrote…I Want It All NowMy Profile

    • December 13, 2011 Alison

      I think it’s a hard ‘h’ – you have to say poh, like pooh. Is that a hard ‘h’? Oh I don’t know!

      Hah, girls schools are notoriously naughty.

  • December 12, 2011 Eve

    What an awesome post, Alison! I love seeing where people are originally from. White coffee? I want some!!

    • December 13, 2011 Alison

      Thank you Eve! You know, I wouldn’t mind some white coffee either.

  • December 12, 2011 Alexandra

    I don’t know why I’m so interested in anything that is abroad.

    This was wonderful.

    I can’t wait till my boys are home so I can show it to them.

    The different lifestyle you’ve had…so sweet but stills so much more worldly than I think American children have.

    Somehow, in that small atmosphere of yours, you were raised to realize the world is much larger than what you see.

    This is a wonderful post for your children to sit on your lap and have read to them, don’t you think??

    I really liked it, A.
    Alexandra recently wrote…Therapy PostMy Profile

    • December 13, 2011 Alison

      Thank you Alexandra. You’re right, I was raised to be aware that the world is larger than what we knew then.

      I was lucky in that my parents opened our eyes to the world beyond our little Ipoh.

  • December 12, 2011 A Mother's Thoughts

    What a beautiful village! There is SO much history from where you come from. Do you get home often? Two hours away isn’t that bad. Thanks for sharing your wonderful heritage. 🙂

    • December 13, 2011 Alison

      I used to go home often, now, not so much. I should, really!

  • December 13, 2011 Natalie

    I want to try some of that coffee! Looks like you grew up in a pretty amazing place!

    • December 13, 2011 Alison

      The coffee is delish!!

  • December 13, 2011 Bridget

    It sounds magical. I want to go there and drink white coffee and eat noodles. Yum, now I’m hungry and it’s only 7 AM here:)
    Bridget recently wrote…Monday ListiclesMy Profile

    • December 13, 2011 Alison

      Oh me too – let’s go!

  • December 13, 2011 Carri

    It looks beautiful! And the food? YUM. I’ll take some of that coffee, too.
    Carri recently wrote…One Martini at a TimeMy Profile

    • December 13, 2011 Alison

      It is rather picturesque. And the food is to-die-for.

  • December 13, 2011 liz

    I would absolutely give white coffee a try! I think it sounds yummy.
    liz recently wrote…My List for a Merry ChristmasMy Profile

    • December 13, 2011 Alison

      It is absolutely yummy.

  • December 13, 2011 Elena

    I love these posts where we get to take a dive into your past – I love all the things I learn about Malaysia. That food looks to die for – not disgusting at all. I would love to explore those caves someday. I think I need to put Malaysia on my list of ‘must see’ places.
    Elena recently wrote…All Things CooperMy Profile

    • December 13, 2011 Alison

      You absolutely should. There’s so much to do here!

  • December 13, 2011 Jessica

    I love this post because through it, I feel like I know you just a bit better. It sounds like you come from a wonderful. That would explain why you’re such a wonderful woman.
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    • December 13, 2011 Alison

      Aw, thanks Jessica.

  • December 13, 2011 Suniverse

    My hometown has amazing olives.
    Suniverse recently wrote…Where I Tell You What To Do. Yes, You.My Profile

    • December 13, 2011 Alison

      My husband would love to know where your hometown is and can he go visit 🙂

  • December 13, 2011 By Word of Mouth Musings

    Its on the list for a ‘school field trip’ – for sure … and what a list you made here. Just lovely!
    Wiki is now Googling – lol, guess she is ready to pack!
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    • December 13, 2011 Alison

      Hee! Come on over!

  • December 13, 2011 Mama Track

    I love these posts–it’s so wonderful to learn more about your culture. Thanks for sharing with us!
    Mama Track recently wrote…Sibling PrideMy Profile

    • December 13, 2011 Alison

      Thank you Natalie! I should share more of these things, right?

  • December 13, 2011 Kelley

    I loved that! I learned so much. Before your blog, I knew hardly anything about Malaysia. It is gorgeous, just like Michelle Yeoh.
    Kelley recently wrote…Historical WhysMy Profile

    • December 13, 2011 Alison

      I’m so glad my blog is doing some good 😉

  • December 13, 2011 Charlotte

    Your hometown sounds absolutely incredible! I have had Malaysian food and loved it, but have never tried white coffee. I would love to see the limestone caves, too. Those sound pretty amazing 🙂
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    • December 13, 2011 Alison

      Oh you absolutely have to try the white coffee. Make a trip some day!

  • December 13, 2011 jacqui

    This definitely makes me want to visit your hometown. Especially the limestone caves…I love stuff like that and those look beautiful! Great list.
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    • December 13, 2011 Alison

      They are quite amazing, you should totally visit!

  • December 13, 2011 Rachel (Totally Ovar It)

    Beautiful list. And I *love* white coffee!

    • December 13, 2011 Alison

      Thanks Rachel!

  • December 13, 2011 My Inner Chick

    —Mama, A,
    Beautiful Photos.
    I love where you live…
    I wish I could get some of that “White Coffee” IS is strong? Sweet?
    –your school looks groovy. Xx
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    • December 13, 2011 Alison

      It’s strong and as sweet as you like it!

  • December 13, 2011 Nicole DeZarn

    GORGEOUS!!!! Seriously? Gorgeous. *sigh* my biggest regret in life is not having traveled more. Since some of my kids will probably never be able to leave home, I need you to write more posts with pics like these, I’ll travel with you in my grounded wandering heart!!!!
    Nicole DeZarn recently wrote…One Mama’s tales of Minion Mayhem: Mama’s Top 5’sMy Profile

    • December 13, 2011 Alison

      I will do my best! 🙂 And thank you, glad you enjoyed the post.

  • December 13, 2011 Not a Perfect Mom

    it looks gorgeous! and I would love to try that coffee! yum….
    Not a Perfect Mom recently wrote…The Best Most Exciting Most Crazy Most Excellent News Ever!!!!My Profile

    • December 13, 2011 Alison

      Thank you. The coffee is really good.

  • December 13, 2011 Leslie

    What an amazing place! It makes my little suburban upbringing seem so bland. That architecture really is gorgeous…and your description of the Ipoh Sar Hor Fun has me drooling! (Do you think it ships well across continents?)
    Leslie recently wrote…Guest Posting at Darling DoodlesMy Profile

    • December 13, 2011 Alison

      If you’re adventurous, you can try cooking it yourself! 🙂

  • December 13, 2011 Rach (DonutsMama)

    Those are great pictures. Do you get back often? I love trying new foods and the coffee & ‘Ipoh Sar Hor Fun’ sound so good!
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    • December 13, 2011 Alison

      I used to go back quite often, but haven’t been as much lately. I really should!

  • December 13, 2011 Robin

    Wow, what a stunning place. I want to come and visit!
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    • December 13, 2011 Alison

      You absolutely should!

  • December 13, 2011 Just Jennifer

    One fact about my hometown of Everett, WA is that it’s home to Boeing, the major airplane builder. And the Boeing building is the largest single structure in the country (or the world, I can’t remember).

    I loved this post! That coffee sounds wonderful and the temple in the limestone caves is so cool. Thanks so much for sharing!
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    • December 13, 2011 Alison

      That is a fascinating fact!

      And thank you, for loving the post and reading.

  • December 13, 2011 Corinne O'Sullivan

    Maybe I’m just hungry, but that food looks so appealing right now! Malaysia looks beautiful. I’ve never been. I grew up in rural England, in a tiny, itty-bitty, 1 mile square village, so I completely understand what it’s like to grow up in a place nobody has ever heard of.

    I always find it amazing to see how other people spent their childhoods, to me, mine seemed so dull and boring, albeit with fond memories, but it’s probably fascinating to someone who had such a different one.

    Thanks for sharing your past, I was completely enthralled 🙂
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    • December 13, 2011 Alison

      Malaysia is beautiful, even the small towns.

      My childhood seemed boring too – but like you said, it’s definitely more fascinating to someone who lives halfway across the world 🙂

      Thank you for reading!

  • December 13, 2011 chinnee

    jumped over here from http://www.kiddothings.com/2011/12/my-hometown.html.

    will be going to Ipoh during Christmas. Will take note of Sam Poh Tong Buddhist Temple!

    • December 13, 2011 Alison

      It’d be packed at CNY, but worth a trip! Thanks for coming by.

  • December 13, 2011 Jessica

    When I visit I want to see the architecture and the limestone caves.
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    • December 13, 2011 Alison

      Not try the food? 😉

  • December 13, 2011 Danielle

    I have never heard of white coffee but now I really want to try it. Those pictures are stunning, it is really neat to see places outside the U.S. but to see them through someones eyes that lived and experienced it first hand is simple wonderful!
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    • December 13, 2011 Alison

      Thank you Danielle! White coffee is worth a try.

  • December 13, 2011 audre

    Your hometown looks beautiful!
    audre recently wrote…Monday Listicles – My HometownMy Profile

    • December 13, 2011 Alison

      Thanks Audre!

  • December 13, 2011 Sara

    I’m hungry now! That first picture looks delicious! All the other pictures are great too!

    • December 14, 2011 Alison

      Thanks Sara!

  • December 14, 2011 Christine

    Pretty sure my husband has a crush on Michelle Yeoh…don’t blame him! This post makes me want to travel!
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    • December 14, 2011 Alison

      Who doesn’t? 🙂

  • December 14, 2011 Roxanne

    Ipoh looks BEAUTIFUL.

    Interesting fact about Fremont, CA: The Charlie Chaplin movies were filmed in the Niles District. There is a Charlie Chaplin festival there every year. I went once as a child, but don’t remember a lot about it. I didn’t start to love old films until a short while later. 🙂
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    • December 14, 2011 Alison

      I think that is fascinating. 🙂

  • December 14, 2011 Cindy

    Your hometown looks beautiful! Such an adorable village. I like the gorgeous building of the railway station. How big is the town? I don’t think that a small village would have a railways station like this.
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    • December 14, 2011 Alison

      It’s a pretty big city now – no longer a village 🙂

  • December 14, 2011 Julie

    The soup! Oh my gosh. Recipe?!

    And Michelle Yeoh is one of the most beautiful women on the planet. She manages to seem soft and strong at the same time. Love her.
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    • December 14, 2011 Alison

      I’ll email you the recipe!

  • December 14, 2011 Lady Jennie

    Woooooooowwwwww! The picture of that delicious dish made me click on the link right away but I love every single aspect of your childhood home. Simply lovely.
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    • December 14, 2011 Alison

      Thanks Jennie! If you’re ever up to it, I can email you the noodle soup recipe 🙂

  • December 14, 2011 Sweaty

    Oh wow, that fourth picture is really stunning! Seems like Ipoh is a quaint, nostalgic place. And it’s obvious that you are fond of it. I think it’s admirable that you’re proud of your roots and heritage. Amazing post!
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    • December 14, 2011 Alison

      Thank you Sweaty! I’m beginning to realize my roots are interesting 😉

  • December 14, 2011 Tina

    WOW, stunning! I still live in the same town I grew up in 🙂

    • December 14, 2011 Alison

      You must love it!

  • December 14, 2011 Marta

    That looked gorgeous! I definitely want to go now and I certainly want to eat!
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    • December 14, 2011 Alison

      Please do visit!

  • December 16, 2011 Cookie's Mom

    You really are making me want to visit Malaysia. I would LOVE that noodle dish!
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    • December 16, 2011 Alison

      You should really!

  • December 21, 2011 Andrea

    I would have to think that adding condensed milk to any coffee would be good, it’s like your milk and sugar all in one!
    BTW – your town is absolutely beautiful!
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