Akwabaa to Accra

AKWABAA means “WELCOME” in Ghana’s local dialect Ashanti which is part of the Akan language, one of the many languages in this western African nation of 24 million people.

Today marks our one-month stay in Ghana’s capital Accra, and we’ve indeed been made to feel very much at home. Other than the kids missing family, friends, teachers and neighbours back home, everything else here feels like home.

The weather is just like home – hot and sunny, a little windier; the people are warm and friendly, just like home; the houses here too look like what we have back home; even the traffic congestions are just like home 🙂 Ghanaians love spicy food too.

Driving through its city areas, there are business centres, five star hotels, highways and a spurt of high-rise buildings. There are supermarkets and malls, but there’s only one mall in Accra that has escalators, to date – Marina Mall was opened just last year. Everything appears to be just like home… perhaps in the ‘70s.

But where we are staying now, the sceneries are reminiscent of a drive through our kampungs back home. Banana trees and coconut trees are visible everywhere. I wake up daily to the chorus of chickens’ crows.

Dirt roads are common and wooden shacks (like our squatters) are prevalent too, cramped between luxurious brick homes with huge compounds.

I am sure there are more to Accra once I get to explore it better, but for now, these are my encounters with “All things Ghana”…

Its currency called Ghana Cedi.

Its currency called Ghana Cedi.

Its newspapers.

Its newspapers.

Marina Mall in Airport City, opened in 2013 and is the only shopping mall with escalators, to date!

Marina Mall in Airport City, opened in 2013 and is the only shopping mall with escalators, to date!

Ta da…eyeing over its escalators!

Ta da…eyeing its escalators!

In Marina Mall, we got out first meal of KFC (23 April 2014).

In Marina Mall, we got out first meal of KFC (23 April 2014).

Ghana’s locally-made ice-cream, sold at Marina Mall Supermarket for GHc16.25 (RM20) for a 2-liter tub.

Ghana’s locally-made ice-cream, sold at Marina Mall Supermarket for GHc16.25 (RM20) for a 2-liter tub.

The first of its kind in Africa - an aeroplane-turned-restaurant, the Ghana Airways DC-10 plane is grounded across Marina Mall. The national airline went bankrupt in 2005 and according to reports, this "Green Plane" as it is known locally, was left impounded in London's Heathrow. It was finally brought back and turned into a restaurant "La Tante DC 10 Restaurant” which has proven to be quite a hit since its opening in November 2013.

The first of its kind in Africa – an aeroplane-turned-restaurant, the Ghana Airways DC-10 plane is grounded across Marina Mall. The national airline went bankrupt in 2005 and according to reports, this “Green Plane” as it is known locally, was left impounded in London’s Heathrow. It was finally brought back and turned into a restaurant “La Tante DC 10 Restaurant” which has proven to be quite a hit since its opening in November 2013.

A scenery reminiscence of our “kampung” (village) - banana and coconut trees abound! And it’s my kitchen window view! (30 April 2014)

A scenery reminiscence of our “kampung” (village) – banana and coconut trees abound! And it’s my kitchen window view! (30 April 2014)

A local meal at Afrikiko’s TamTam… (Top, L-R) Red Red (beans stew with a choice of beef/chicken/smoked fish), eaten with plaintain; jollof rice (spiced rice); (Bottom) Fried tilapia seasoned with local herbs eaten with jollof rice. (10 May 2014)

A local meal at Afrikiko’s TamTam… (Top, L-R) Red Red (beans stew with a choice of beef/chicken/smoked fish), eaten with plaintain; jollof rice (spiced rice); (Bottom) Fried tilapia seasoned with local herbs eaten with jollof rice. (10 May 2014)

Homes and offices are surrounded by high brick walls, topped with barbed wires or electric wires and metal gates, much like this one. (29 April 2014)

Homes and offices are surrounded by high brick walls, topped with barbed wires or electric wires and metal gates, much like this one. (29 April 2014)

A prevalent scene of peddlers making a living on the streets, selling items off their heads, especially at traffic lights junctions. (Along Spintex Road, Accra, 3 May 2014)

A prevalent scene of peddlers making a living on the streets, selling items off their heads, especially at traffic lights junctions. (Along Spintex Road, Accra, 3 May 2014)

Water tankers such as this one come to the rescue (at a price, of course) when residents run out of water, and water shortage is a common occurrence here. (27 April 2014)

Water tankers such as this one come to the rescue (at a price, of course) when residents run out of water, and water shortage is a common occurrence here. (27 April 2014)

Alas, the high cost of living too… (front page of Daily Graphic, Wednesday 30 April 2014)

Alas, the high cost of living too… (front page of Daily Graphic, Wednesday 30 April 2014)

Air THAMAL

I WAS ONCE promised a “free ride” for a job well done… little did I know it would be in an army plane!

On this date 21 years ago (9th Feb 1993), I found myself on an army plane en-route to Haadyai for an assignment. I was the only girl among the 12 journalists and TV crew who went to cover the opening of the 12th Malaysia-Thailand air exercise in the southern Thai city. Also on board was the Army Chief.

thamal_1

thamal_2

Our mode of transportation to and fro KL-Haadyai, that brought us home within the day.

First Trip to the Beach

WE TOOK M on her first trip to the beach on this date in 2003, thanks to a contest we won.

Part of the letter bearing the good news, dated 11 October 2002.

Part of the letter bearing the good news, dated 11 October 2002.

M’s first time at the beach was indeed unforgettable – she refused to step on the beach, screaming “spiders” incessantly!!! – no thanks to the army of tiny mud crabs that emerged by the droves at low tide; she was happier in the pool! (11 Jan 2003)

M’s first time at the beach was indeed unforgettable – she refused to step on the beach, screaming “spiders” incessantly!!! – no thanks to the army of tiny mud crabs that emerged by the droves at low tide; she was happier in the pool! (11 Jan 2003)

The next day, it took some effort to cajole her to get off Papa and enjoy the sandy beach. (12 Jan 2003)

The next day, it took some effort to cajole her to get off Papa and enjoy the sandy beach. (12 Jan 2003)

She finally did, and even built a sand castle.

She finally did, and even built a sand castle.

Having a sibling certainly doubles the fun at the beach… sisters in Cherating (12 Feb 2012) and in Port Dickson (29 Sept 2012).

Having a sibling certainly doubles the fun at the beach… sisters in Cherating (12 Feb 2012) and in Port Dickson (29 Sept 2012).

Even better as a family (Batu Ferringhi, Penang, 2 Aug 2013)

Even better as a family (Batu Ferringhi, Penang, 2 Aug 2013)

Xmas Weekend in Malacca, 2012

LAST YEAR WE were in Malacca during the Christmas weekend. It was yet another memorable time for the kids (reminiscent of our previous time together in Hong Kong, December 2009).

Arriving late on Saturday afternoon, we went on the Melaka river cruise. After dinner of Peranakan cuisine, we walked to a church nearby where a mass was being held. St. Peter's Church (built 1710) is said to be the oldest operational Catholic church in the country. We then proceeded to the Portuguese Settlement to view its famous Christmas lightings. (24 Dec 2012)

Arriving late on Saturday afternoon, we went on the Melaka river cruise. After dinner of Peranakan cuisine, we walked to a church nearby where a mass was being held. St. Peter’s Church (built 1710) is said to be the oldest operational Catholic church in the country. We then proceeded to the Portuguese Settlement to view its famous Christmas lightings. (24 Dec 2012)

Christmas Day at the Stadthuys. (25 Dec 2012)

Christmas Day at the Stadthuys. (25 Dec 2012)

A little snack at the stalls opposite Stadthuys. (25 Dec 2012)

A little snack at the stalls opposite Stadthuys. (25 Dec 2012)

(Top, L-R) Statue of St. Francis Xavier atop St. Paul’s Hill; inside St. Paul’s Church ruins (built 1521); (Bottom, L-R) The famous A Famosa; hubby and his friend.

(Top, L-R) Statue of St. Francis Xavier atop St. Paul’s Hill; inside St. Paul’s Church ruins (built 1521); (Bottom, L-R) The famous A Famosa; hubby and his friend.

Lunch of chicken rice balls here. (25 Dec 2012)

Lunch of chicken rice balls here. (25 Dec 2012)

A meal of satay celup before heading back to KL by evening. (25 Dec 2012)

A meal of satay celup before heading back to KL by evening. (25 Dec 2012)

Little Em with some Xmas decos in a mall and at the hotel. (25 Dec 2012)

Little Em with some Xmas decos in a mall and at the hotel. (25 Dec 2012)

The Christmas before, we were also back in Malacca, and took the evening river cruise on 26 Dec 2011.

The Christmas before, we were also back in Malacca, and took the evening river cruise on 26 Dec 2011.

Malacca River (25 Dec 2012)

Malacca River (25 Dec 2012)

Tan Kim Seng Bridge across Malacca River, with Stadthuys on the one end and Jonker Street on the other. (25 Dec 2012)

Tan Kim Seng Bridge across Malacca River, with Stadthuys on the one end and Jonker Street on the other. (25 Dec 2012)

 

Hong Kong, 2009

WE HAD AN especially memorable time in HK back in December 2009.

Playtime at AMC on 4 Dec 2009.

Playtime at AMC on 4 Dec 2009.

A yummy dinner at Yung Kee Restaurant, Central on 5 Dec 2009.

A yummy dinner at Yung Kee Restaurant, Central on 5 Dec 2009.

Spent a full day at HK Disneyland on 6 Dec 2009.

Spent a full day at HK Disneyland on 6 Dec 2009.

Together, the kids enjoyed the Christmas parade, a tea cup spin and cotton candies.

Together, the kids enjoyed the Christmas parade, a tea cup spin and cotton candies.

(Bottom, L-R) Together, they tried to extract The Excalibur and held up Tomorrowland.

They were apt students learning to draw Mickey Mouse.

They were apt students learning to draw Mickey Mouse.

(L) At the wishing well… may what they wish come true; (R) Saying farewell to Disneyland.

My wish is for them to remain fabulous friends forever.

My wish is for them to remain fabulous friends forever.

The kids when they were younger… 9 Sept 2003, 2 Feb 2005, 8 April 2005.

The kids when they were younger… 9 Sept 2003, 2 Feb 2005, 8 April 2005.