30 Jun 2011


After the graduation ceremony we all decided to go to Moscow - Repin and I will take a flight back to KL from there and Sarah and her room mate, Zakiah will go for a short trip to St Petersberg, Helsinki, Copenhagen and Stockholm, after which they will fly back to Malaysia, tghis time for good, with Bear Bear in tow. Bear-bear's permit and visa had been prepared months ago and he will travel back to KL with Sarah on the plane! I wonder how he will take it, he being so shy and a bit of a scaredy cat.

From Nizhny Novgorod we all boarded the train at around 10.30pm. Sarah had booked two compartments - one for us and the other for Dr Mansor, Zakiah and her sister Zawiah. The train was quite okay - maybe bigger than our KTM and smoother too. It was very punctual and left NN exactly 10 minutes after 10.20, which was the boarding time. We all had sleeping berths so we quickly settled in and soothed by the swaying movement of the train, I nodded off soon after!

a tired looking Repin at the railway station

Before we knew it, it was already dawn. Here in Russia, dawn comes very early in the summer (as early as 3.30am) and dusk is as late as 10.00 pm! I had slept the whole way and soon at 6.00 a.m we could see the outskirts of Moscow already. It was rather like any other large city in the world - buildings that have not much character, industries and manufacturing areas, bits of farm land and by 6.30 we had already reached the station. There are 3 main railway stations in Moscow and this one, where we are is supposed to be one of the largest and the beginning of the Trans-Siberian Railway. As soon as we could we left the train and dragged our bags out. Together our bags numbered 11 - more than our group of six! This was why we took the train anyway - because we could never go on the S7 which had a baggage limit of 15kg.

Sarah then called the apartment but the landlady said we could only go in at 11 am so we decided to stop at the railway station and have our breakfast, which consisted of buns and a cup of coffee each.

view from our bedroom
By the time we could check into the apartment, it was already 12 noon! But the apartment was quite nice - fully furnished with 3 bedrooms and a kitchen which had a stove, an oven, a fridge and a washing machine! Now we were all set! First thing to do was explore the area so after putting away our stuff we all trooped down and took a walk. It seems the train station is just across the river which has a lovely covered walk way. The view from our bedroom is quite fantastic!

Giant Matrushka

Sarah at the walking street

We took a walk across the covered bridge and discovered that there were shops along it. Right across was a huge new shopping centre which had the giant matrushkas ( Russian nesting dolls). Zakiah and Sarah were so excited they ran all over the exhibition area to view the different matrushkas. They were simply gigantic and really beautifully painted.

The Kremlin at the Red Square

29 Jun 2011

Russian sojourn

Finally after six long years of slogging and a lot of heartache, pain and sickness suffered alone, joy and withstanding the bitter cold of a Russian winter, my youngest Sarah has graduated with an M.D! She worked hard for it of course even though critics here in Malaysia say that overseas trained graduates, especially Russian doctors are not as good as the locally trained ones! Just because many of them were not pampered government scholars who rely on the government for everything, they are looked down upon. Anyway Sarah had a grand occasion yesterday. They looked splendid in their red and black gowns and black graduation caps with red tassels. The ceremony itself was quite simple - it was presided over by the Rector of the Nizhny Novgorod State Medical Academy (NNSMA) and went without a hitch. It began with the Russian National anthem sung by a really good choir who went on to sing the university song.

The morning started with a grand gesture from the students - they had hired for themselves a limousine to go to the convocation venue- a really huge, white limousine that could take 10 of us easily. So we went to the hall in style! There they quickly dressed in their graduation robes and I noticed that there were a lot of Malaysian parents on hand to help their children. Eighty students - all from foreign countries- would be graduating this year. Almost 80% of the students are Malaysian , the rest coming from some African countries (Kenya, Tanzania and Morrocco). There were also some students from Sri Lanka and one from Indonesia.
After the ceremony we all went for a celebration lunch - at a Japanese restaurant, booked by Sarah and her friends but paid for by parents (lol).

The four young doctors

22 Jun 2011

Renovation project (2)

After the initial work (the breaking of the arches and the floor), they put up the windows for the side area. The door will be moved to the front too and will be bigger than the present one. Tomorrow they will put up the window ledges and the door but they have to plaster the walls first, which is still not done. According to the window man the walls need to be plastered and painted before he can put up the windows? Our contractor Lai Ah Yee has not even plastered the walls! And he didnt come at all today, yet he promised us he would finish it by the third week, which is this week! Sigh...

Finally after a lot of  waiting, Lai the contractor (who happened to also be Repin's cousin!) came and in one day worked his miracle. A whole crew came and fixed the plaster, put up the windows and fixed the ceiling. However  he couldn't do anything about the doors because the door man was in KL doing some other work and would only be back in Malacca on Monday! Talk of exporting our talents! Can't KL find their own door making experts? The following pictures show the transformation.

The finished product does look nice, even 80% completed as it is now. Next will be the floor and the wiring as well as the outer door.

5 Jun 2011

Renovation project in Malacca (1)

After the wedding was over Repin and I decided to continue with our planned renovation of the Malacca house - we needed to increase the floor level to prevent flooding and this can only be done if we did some major changes to the outer verandah - cover the verandah, increase the floor level, add windows. I love bay windows so this is my chance to have one!

After a lot of discussion and looking at pictures on the internet, we decided to increase the floor level (by 8 inches) and cover the wrap around verandah that is already there. We would close the verandah area and build windows instead so the verandah will be an extension of the living room. Repin intends to have large windows that look on to the yard so that he can be as close to the garden as possible, without actually going to the garden! (LOL) He also wants to set his study there! For now, its dust, and noise every day - while they skin off the outer layers of the walls and add bricks to the lower level. The following are the while renovation pictures. I'll post some after pictures once renovation is complete!

The front door that will be added