Friday, April 26, 2013

Crafted By Mei ... Living the dream...

I have a confession to make: I have been seriously indulging in online shopping for the past month. You'd think that constant traveling would lessen it, but NO. Traveling encourages it more! What's with the constant long lonely hours in the hotel room and strong Internet signal ... a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do. Right ladies?

My point is: I've discovered another site for my trinket collection. Actually this site has been there awhile, I've browsed through the entries many times and even contemplated on buying something, but usually ended up didn't. So by 'discovered', I meant I purchased something from there just for experiment sake. And voila! What a delight the whole experience turned out to be!

Quite like my previous passion with romance novels which has now slowly dwindled due to my own er private emotional life steadily taking off. But that's another story. Oh how I can go on and on!

So anyway lovelies, have you ever heard of Crafted By Mei? If you haven't already, you should be.

Last week I got a little brave and made contact with Mei, inquiring about her latest charm bracelets. Her First Steps series kinda caught my fancy so strongly that I just couldn't help myself. (Hello, sounds like an online-shopaholic ho...). She responded promptly and her tone was quite cheerful but at the same time, professional. To cut the story short and a few emails between us later...

TADAAA! My First Steps bracelet. Made of (ok here comes the fancy cute names) Flower Cabochon, Padparadscha AB Swarovski Heart, Matte Orange Flat Oval Chinese Crystal, Coral Red Faux Pearl Bead, Light Peach Chinese Crystal Doughnut, Footstep Charm and Live Your Dream Charm (as seen below on my chubby wrist).

'Live your dream' it says, as if I have been neglecting just that lately. 

 Complete with the necklace series ...

I'm a sucker for sweet wraps and lovely creative packaging. Even if the inside sucks (which this one totally didn't), the outer part would always make up for it a little. This lady is serious.

Packaging was really nice ... really really nice...

 This is how a woman who means business makes a deal that really impresses...

And you know what sealed the deal? Her really big dreams and her courage. I followed her on Facebook after this initial purchase, and what I discovered totally changed my perception of her. (Sorry Mei, I am going to borrow your Facebook page a bit).

I discovered lovely Mei is actually wheelchair bound, as was mentioned in a Magazine article and her previous post (read here to know more) .I emailed her to say I was sorry about her condition and guess what she replied?

In her own words to me: "... One is not defined by whether he sits or stands. I am truly fine..."

Pretty girl with big dreams living it everyday...

I was touched by how positive she looks at life, and I reflected on myself and how different I am from her in so many ways. I can be quite a whiner sometimes when things don't go my way.  Or silently going through a series of passive regression, like a time bomb, when encountering a negative experience.

But this girl? She got back right up, and I don't know how she did it, but she did and she's doing something that she loves right now. Very good at it too. She can be ok with her condition, while I was swamped with guilt and sympathy. (Not a good combination sometimes especially when dealing with someone of less advantage than you). Girl, you'd make a good role model for all these able-bodied youths out there. And to some of the older ones with diminishing dreams.

So now I'm here to stay! Wohoo! Her handcrafted jewellery is perfect for birthday gifts to BFFs, parting souvenirs, or simply for your own wear to match with party or function attires. They're quite an eye-catching stuff.

Thank you Mei. :-) God bless your online business.

NOTE: Lesson learned for the day: I should start on that novel project already. Live MY dream for once!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Lawas Adventure: That precious native appeal ...


So a month back I revisited Lawas on an official visit, after a two year hiatus from the place. If you don't already know where the place is, hey do a quick Google.

My sum on the place: Lawas is this small quiet border town in Limbang Division of Sarawak. A whole day and a half journey by road crossing via Brunei, or 45 minutes flight on a Twin Otter transiting via Miri. Or you could also fly to Kota Kinabalu and then take a 3-hour road trip via Sipitang to get here.

 Lawas Airport...

For a small town -- the folks consisting of majority native Lunbawangs -- Lawas is quite lovely and the community are hospitable to bits. I've been here like 5 or 6 times in the past and the native charms never fail to amaze me.

There are many small wonders to this place. I don't even know how to keep writing this entry without sounding any less delighted or if I could recapture that brief Oh-Wow moment when I discovered what I had been subconsciously looking for. Eh I found them quite by chance, in Lawas.

Did I ever tell you that I have quite an extensive collection of trinkets, lockets, bangles, earpieces? My favorites are the natives'. Do I wear them? Not usually. Not all the time anyway, depending on the occasion. I just like to collect them. I supposed you could say I'm a normal girl in that aspect.

Adding to my collection is this beautiful awesome piece: a ceramic bead necklace embedded with a native 'bunga terung' motifs. Bunga terung or eggplant flower motif is a popular Iban tattoo design, the most basic tattoo art usually inked on a coming-of-age Iban male to mark his err manhood. (So help me Wiki...).

Hello baby... you're mine at last! 

This lady, Ms Mirit Tai, a small-time craft entrepreneur manning the booth, explained that she herself is a Lunbawang of Lawas origin, but she uses this design a lot on her crafts because like she put it and I quote: "It sells. People signifies it with Sarawak, and its popular with the tourists and natives alike. What better way to associate yourself with the homeland you love the most?" I couldn't agree more. I mean, I'm a Bidayuh and I find this knowledge a unifying force of Sarawak, the land of rich tribes and cultures.

The Lunbawang tribe (or also known as Orang Ulu in a more generic sense) are famous for their beadworks, and their creative skills with ceramics beads are legendary. According to Ms Mirit, they produce the ceramic beads themselves. It's a few days job producing the perfect clay beads. The village where she comes from, Long Tuma, is quite known among the locals for craft products. The Lunbawang designs are normally painted in yellow and black on the beads, but she gets to experiment with other bright colours as well, just for variety.

Well hello. I love it when I keep discovering secrets about my own backyard.

I lurvvvee my native ceramic pendant necklace...

That lovely piece is priced at RM10 each. Cheap weh ... considering I could easily get that for between RM20 - RM40 here in Kuching. I bought three other designs from her. Why not, right? By the time she ships them to Kuching or other places to market, it won't cost the same anymore.

The soft spoken Ms Mirit rolled up twisted and pulled a few tricks on this sturdy string made up of err (man I forgot to ask!) and expertly assembled three other native necklaces using the designs I just picked.

 Ms Mirit Tai stringing up a new necklace piece...

And tada! They're awesome to wear with a dinner dress, or to match a working attire. Or simply with a casual wear. Don't mind me. In fact, some native boys were known to fancy these too. And sometimes I kinda think they look sexy on a guy too, of course, providing they pick one that suitable for a guy.

Ceramic bead necklace, like native charm medallions...

Ms Mirit also sells these lovely earrings made up ceramic beads. Imagine that dangling sensation. I don't really normally go for these but they would make perfect souvenirs. 

Fancy native earrings...

And native bracelets! A girl must at least own one of these in all her life. They're normally tied together using an elasticized band so don't worry if your wrists are a little chubby, like mine. These too would be nice as souvenirs (for those people who hound you about giving them something from that place every time you go somewhere). Neat what. They're mostly unisex.

Ceramic bead bracelets in many designs

I have a lot of these in my treasure box too. Haha. They're like friendship bands except they lasts much longer than that. :-)

String bead bracelets

I actually wrote this entry with the lady in mind. Wasnt planning on it but sometimes I believe some good things must be shared, and besides, although I made no promise, I was hoping I could help her expand her business. Didn't I read somewhere that there's a special place in Heaven for women who helped other women? Amen.

 Ms Mirit Tai (right) with the hardly-photographed Coffee Girl ...

Ms Mirit takes up personal orders, group orders, corporate orders, special orders or any custom orders for her beadworks or other handcrafts. She promises fair and reasonable prices for orders made directly to herself. And so help me God because I am writing this with no charge.

For enquiries, you may contact:
Ms Mirit Tai
Handmade Ceramic Beads
Long Tuma
PO Box 319
98850 Lawas
Mobile: (I haven't gotten her permission to publish, but wait ah... let me find her business card first)

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Home at last!

Oh hello lovelies. I'm back!

Lapsed a month, didn't I?

I barely know where to begin, or how.

I have so many incredible stories to write, including the ones I owe a few people.

About the places I've been to (no matter that they are my own backyard), the people I've met, the adventures (and misadventures) I've had, the FOOD I ate (oh trust me, there are many new ones to be discovered everyday), and all the little stuffs that make the journey bearable.

After weeks on end being away on tour of duty ... right now, I'm just happy to be home. JUST RIGHT WHEN THE PARLIAMENT IS FINALLY DISSOLVED! Talk about!

Ok I shall get right back to writing after I post this entry.

I shall leave you with this remnants of memory in Lawas, a small quiet hospitable town in Limbang Division. This little food is called Ambuyat (in some parts of Sarawak) or Linut (in another part of Sarawak) or you may just call it Boiled Sago for what it actually is. One of the most addictive food I've ever eaten.

These folks in Lawas eat this with spicy watery sweet prawn paste (sambal belacan cair manis). However I grew up eating this with fermented durian soup (sup tempoyak). Both ways are acceptable, and both ways are pretty potent, if I say so myself.

Ok bye! Be right back!