Review: Water Into Wine by Joyce Chng

WaterintoWine_300WATER INTO WINE

By Joyce Chng

Publisher: Annorlunda Books, ebook

[Some minor spoilers ahead]

Xin inherits a vineyard and decides to embark on a new life (and career), packing up and moving, with her mother and children, to Tertullian VI.

I found the story an easy read, and I was eager to turn its virtual pages as I found Xin an interesting, intriguing character, and I was eager to find out more about her … him?

Sadly, when the book ended I still had lots of questions about the character. Read More »


The Back of Penang

During my recent trip to Penang island, we went to Bukit Pulau to visit the Saanen Dairy Goat Farm. Balik Pulau is an agricultural town on the south-west of the island. Its main products are cloves, nutmeg and durian.

We took the windy (i.e. lots of curves and bends) coastal road, which, as I was in the back seat, made me feel pretty queasy. However, the scenery was gorgeous. Unfortunately, most of it was seen rushing by, from the window of a speeding car, with my aunt reminding her daughter to ‘Slow down’ and ‘Mind the corners’. I would like to return one day and spend more time looking round.

So, we rushed to Balik Pulau, had lunch, and then hurried to find the farm as it was near closing time. The place smelled over-poweringly of goat (as expected), but I was happy, nevertheless. The goats had either poker faces or cynical expressions. There was one big billy whom I wanted to take home with me.

There were also lots of dogs, cats and chickens. The kittens and labradors were adorable, the chickens and poodles less so.

‘Balik Pulau’ means the flipside (balik) of the island (pulau). It is separated from the commercial and administrative centre of Penang, George Town (in the north-east), by hills. The coastal road has views of the sea on one side and lush green jungle dotted by streams and waterfalls on the other. As we neared the town, we saw some beautiful old kampung houses. Once again, it was all a rush, but I still managed to get a good shot or two from the car.

Datuk Gong: Men of Great Importance

Datuk Kong Gat Lebuh Melayu
Datuk Gong shrine on Gat Lebuh Melayu in George Town, Penang.

I’ve seen them all my life, but never paid much attention to the little red ‘houses’ that sit in back alleys, under trees, or street corners around Malaysia. They are shrines to Datuk Gong, or Na Tuk Kong, guardian spirits of the land.Read More »

And just like that, four months have gone by …

I recently realised that I’d gone four months without writing a WIP report that I usually update every two months. It helps me and my higher-up keep up with mss that I’m working on, but of late there’s been not much happening except a lot of reading and commenting, and then more reading of re-writes. Anyway, I could have sworn that it wasn’t more than a month or so that I’d last done a WIP spread sheet, but actually, the last one was for April/May 2017. Oh the horror.

Time is passing by too fast. That is the way it is when you’re a grown-ass woman with responsibilities. But maybe it’s also the case if you’re drifting, sleeping the days away and letting each day fade into the next so that they end up being indistinguishable. (One day I shall take a three-month holiday to do just that.)

I’ve been busy. Reading and assessing mss take up big, fat chunks of time and yet it feels like you’re not doing too much and you end up thinking that you should be more active and productive. Then there is all the usual management of the household, which is exhausting and takes up so much time and leaves me feeling totally zonked.

Then I went to Penang for four nights, and it was mostly lovely, but also stressful because I spent a great deal of time with family, and let’s just say that a couple of them brought out the worst in a couple of others. Also, there were two under threes present and just looking at children that age makes me tired.

I spent my final night at an airbnb, alone, and had two half-days pottering about George Town, which I loved. I was thinking of going to Hanoi, but I’m now thinking maybe I should go to George Town again.

I need more time alone, to do nothing but wander and wonder, and read and think about the million things I want to do.

Coming up, a post on my visit to George Town.

Movies Galore

I watched eight films this month. Considering how expensive tickets are (RM16), it’s not something I would be able to do on a monthly basis, even if there were that many films I would want to watch every month.

This month, the Freedom Film Fest (FFF) as well as the Japanese Film Festival (JFF) combined to offer me lots to choose from. In fact, there were several short films screened as part of the FFF that I didn’t couldn’t fit in.

(I also watched IT.)Read More »