The School of Hard Knocks and Other Adventures


Hey, Cate here. Just so you know, Mom and Dad have not gotten into serious debt and sent us off to be foreign child labourers. The “School of Hard Knocks” is the clever name of a workshop at Royal Selangor, a famous company that sells bowls, plates, picture frames and trinkets made out of pewter.

After a tour of the gallery, where we learned about the history of tin mining and pewter production in Malaysia, as well as how Royal Selangor was established, we entered the “school.” We were given a small, flat disc made of pewter, two wooden molds, metal letters and a mallet. Our task was to create a finished bowl.

After using the letters to imprint our names on the bottom of the flat metal disc, we got to work, hammering down on the plate and creating sides and edges, with the help of our tour guide. It was cool, and the bowls turned out awesome!



Another day, we visited a Craft Batik store. Batik is a style of fabric painting, common in Malaysia and Indonesia, using wax and dye.

The shop had dresses, shirts, skirts, paintings and even stuffed animals. But rather than buy the crafts at the shop we decided to make our own Batik handkerchiefs! We had to make an appointment for the following day (they were closing early due to Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting), but we were able to see the workers stamping designs on the cloths and the artists painting them.

When we returned the next day, we were each given plain white canvas napkins with designs on them; Meskie and Cen chose an underwater design, I decided on butterfly. To color the handkerchiefs all you had to do was dab a little bit of paint on the cloth, and it would spread, stopping at the waxed edges on each section of the design. You could even mix colors or add water to make the paint lighter or darker.






The handkerchiefs turned out beautiful, even better than we thought. Plus, it was fun seeing the professional painters design the clothing in the outdoor workshop while we painted!

Man stamping wax patterns at Craft Batik

Man stamping wax patterns at Craft Batik

We finished off a crafty week by taking part in yet another popular Asian “art” — Karaoke! When people think of karoake, they probably picture bars with twenty-something adults holding a microphone in one hand, a glass of beer in the other and dancing to some pop song (at least that is what Mom says; I, being a ten-year-old who has only heard about bars, did not know this).

But Red Box karaoke is different. They have dozens of private rooms for families, friends and large parties, complete with TVs, microphones and comfy couches.


There are tons of songs to choose from, in English, Malay, Korean and Chinese! It was really fun, and although Cen, Meskie and I were usually the ones with microphones in our hands, a few times Mom and Dad snatched them up and starting grooving to some old songs I don’t know the names of. We were not overly impressed with their song choices (they’re from, like, the 1800s!) Thank God Dad didn’t manage to find the song, “Leaving on a Jet Plane” which he’s been serenading us with of late.


It was tons of fun!

Anyways, that’s all for now! Bye!

Categories: Kids Only, Malaysia | 7 Comments

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7 thoughts on “The School of Hard Knocks and Other Adventures

  1. Gloria

    Come on, Cate… The Final Countdown is a classic!! And it was from the ’80s, not the 1800s! Love, Mom

  2. Cate

    Yeah, right, whatever you say.


  3. Sung

    It sounds like you guys had lots of fun! 😉
    -Kiban and Sung from Seoul

    • Hi, Sung and Kiban! Thanks for following the blog. Hope you are having a great summer,and enjoying time in Seoul. Would have been cool to meet up if our travels included Korea! Cheers, G

  4. grandmaandgrandpa

    Hi great posting Cate – wow you are having so much fun ‘hankies’ look gorgeous.
    Karl -“Leaving on a Jet plane” was playing in 1969/1970 when I left UK for Canada so that is old!! Mom

  5. Hi, Grandma and Grandpa… thanks for reading! Hope you’re having a great summer. Love, Cate

  6. Angela K.

    Neato! I love the crafts, and Karaoke is a great family thing to do! We did the same with my parents when they came to meet Baby Elijah in Japan. My parents were choosing songs from the ’60’s!

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