Sunday, 28 August 2011

LIFE OVERSEAS : Guiding Light

Emily Tian Pei Yi (left) and the writer enjoy the Irish landscape

AUDREY CHEW ERNERN plays guide but it proves to be just as illuminating for her as well as the tourist
AN emigrant often hears cries of “I will come to visit you soon!” from friends.

But typically, words remain words and rarely become actions.

However, my friend Emily Tian Pei Yi from the University of Bristol, England did visit my turf, Ireland.
And because I was no longer a stranger to the country, I became her tour guide.

Our first stop was King John’s Castle, Limerick as we explored the grounds and narrow spiralling staircases made of stone.

It is intriguing to imagine how the maidens of old walked in gowns and high heels.

There is a section in the fort where visitors can experience how it felt to be a prisoner in medieval times, restrained with wooden stocks.

As Ireland is famous for its green pastures and picturesque towns, taking a stroll by a lake and witnessing the battle of seagulls versus ducks for breadcrumbs is a must.

Our next destination had something to do with FarmVille, the well-known game on Facebook.

But instead of staring at an LCD screen and clicking away with the mouse, we experienced it first-hand.

We were given the golden chance to ride behind the wheels of a tractor.

That was just the start of the tour. Later, the farm owner handed us a bag of scrumptious biscuits and we were left in a field of starving animals.

The sheep were most peculiar as the average sheep would make a break for it at the sound of a human. But these ones came running at us with mouths open wide with only one thing on their minds — get the biscuits.

Fun and laughter aside, a farmer’s job is a challenging one.

After all the petting, the owner’s eyebrows began to furrow as she said: “There is one sheep short.”

After recounting several times, she let out a relieved sigh. “All 26 sheep are accounted for.”

What astounded me was that she knew all of them by name.

As for us, we got to enjoy ourselves for the day — we petted the sheep and fed the donkeys — but the hard work is the upkeep of the animals.
Our next stop? Limerick Milk Market.

Giggles and snorts were in the air as we compared it with the pasar malam.
In Limerick Milk Market, stalls sell multicoloured cheeses, hand-knitted teapot cosies and steaming cups of hot cocoa, for example.

In Malaysia, we get crispy fried chicken, refreshing lemonade jelly drink and delectable apam balik.

Both markets are special in their own way with their unique aroma and charm.

But sadly, the holiday had to come to an end as Tian had to return to Bristol.

She wrote a card expressing her gratitude for my hospitality and appreciation for the tours.

Reading her note made me feel like I should be the one to thank her.

This is because as I walked through the streets, visited the towns and different parts of Ireland, I too learnt that there is always something new to look forward to.

When Tian arrived in Ireland, I thought that I would show her what I was familiar with.

Never did I know that I would one day stroke sheep without them running away or that there are multicoloured cheeses just a stone’s throw away.

The writer is studying at a high school in Ireland. She loves to try all things but is a Malaysian at heart. Email her at

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