Monday, 20 April 2015

Q&A Episode 6 & 7 Throwback: Balik Kampong

Episode 6 Throwback: Balik Kampong aka The One with the Peanut Farming - if the above embedded video doesn't load, go view the episode at this link on

So, I asked for some audience participation again, seeing if the loyal viewers of ours (mostly our dear friends and relatives - THANKS GUYS!!!) if they had any questions I could help answer. They posed some tough questions which I am going to do my best to answer, without contravening any confidentiality obligations that we have. So please forgive me if I conveniently forgot to answer your question, I know you wouldn't want to see me in trouble right? :p

Q:Why is this family friendly show telecast at 930pm to 1030pm - when it is a school day the next day. Why can't they show at an earlier time slot (not sure if you are in the position to answer this though)?
A:  You're right! I can't answer that at all. You'd have to ask MediaCorp Channel 5 about that. All I can say is - thank goodness for then! You can now watch it here, or on Toggle. A far cry from the days in which we had to use the VCR to record a show!

Q: Did the producers purposely give the Awad Family 3 papayas so they can share with each family?
A: Nope, as far as I know, the producers wouldn't have known what Mrs Azimullah would choose for the Awad Family as a prize. The fruits have been sitting on the stall shelves since we came to the kampong. It was just very kind of the Awad Family to share the papayas with us all. But I suppose that's what we have all been doing from Day One. We shared our biscuits with the rest. Awads shared their Milo with us by making Milo for us to drink when we go to their house. Azimullahs shared their fish burgers with us. It's a culture of sharing! :)
The Tan Family kampong boys - Asher & Isaac!

Q: Did you really still have to build fire from scratch? Are you at least provided with match sticks? 
A: Yes, we did have matches provided. But we also had to go around gathering our own fire wood, and setting up the fire from scratch each time we needed the fire.

Q: Do you know the activities for each day in advance? 
A:  No, there is no schedule provided, and we are not told of the day's activities in advance. We were told this is because it is a reality TV show - so they wish to capture our reactions on screen each time we are given information.

Q: What do you all do when not filming?
A: The filming schedule is usually quite tight and we are often shuffled from place to place to film different segments. We start filming as early as 9am (and even earlier on special days), and usually end at 9 plus at night (and occasionally 11 plus). Before filming starts for the day, we have to wake up, brush teeth, clean up, bathe, eat breakfast. After filming ends, we need to clean up to get ready for bed again. Matthew and I usually bathe again at night as it is really hot and humid. We are afraid the kids will catch a cold bathing in cold well water at night, so we usually just wet towel them before they go to bed. Due to the grueling film schedule, the Director/Producers are sometimes unable to provide us with a longer lunch time so that the children can take their afternoon nap. This explains why you see Asher & Shawna sleeping, some times. 

Episode 7 Throwback: Balik Kampong aka The One with the Kite Flying & Quiz Show - if the above embedded video doesn't load, go view the episode at this link on

Q:Why did you help Mrs Awad? You guys might have won, if you didn't help her.
A: Hannah is one slim girl, but she is tall, and so quite heavy for her mum to pull her all by herself. I saw that Mag needed help, so I went to help her out. We always tell our kids that we need to help people out when we see that help is needed. So when I saw that help was needed, I helped! To Matthew and I, winning is not as important as our relationships with people. To us, friends are more important than contests.

Q: Where can we get those cool rubber band guns?!
A: You can get them on - Mr Patrick Tan sells kites too, go check them out! We are also ordering a batch of the guns to sell on my own shop at My First Games - shall create a Kampong Games category! :)   

Q: What were you thinking?! How could you check the book for answer during the quiz show?!
A: We certainly had no intention to "cheat" at all. For as Rozz pointed out, we took out the book in full view of everyone and proceeded to check out notes, as though it was alright to do so. This was  because before the quiz started, we asked the director if there were any rules and we were told "No rules, just get the answer right." However, now, looking back, we can definitely see why the Awads and the Azimullahs would be upset - we would be upset too, should the situation be reversed. 

Q: You guys said "We are hardworking!" - are you implying that the other two families are not?!
A: Oh, no, of course not! Anyone who watches Throwback: Balik Kampong can see that the Awads are extremely hardworking at whatever they do, be it keeping their house in order, cooking, or the challenges. Mrs Azimullah is also very hardworking at keeping the girls clean, neat, tidy and well behaved. Everyone is very hardworking in the kampong, how else would we survive?

Q: How many more episodes will there be?
A: There are a total of 10 episodes. 7 have been aired. So there are 3 more episodes to go. Voting for the families through the ToggleNow app ends tomorrow, Tuesday 21st April 2015, at 10.30pm, though. This is your last chance to show your support for the family of your choice, and register for the lucky draw to win S$200!

Q: How do we cast votes for the family whom we think should be crowned Ultimate Kampong Champion?
A: Here are the steps to voting, which will end on Tuesday, 21st April 2015, at 10pm.
  1. Download "ToggleNow" App (NOT the Toggle App) to your smartphones/tablets/devices
  2. Choose Throwback Balik Kampong
  3. Choose Throwback Voting Episode 7
  4. Choose the Family you wish to vote for
  5. (Optional) Register your Name, Contact & Email
The Tan Family of Throwback: Balik Kampong!
 Stay tuned to Channel 5, this Sunday at 9.30pm for the next episode of Throwback: Balik Kampong!

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Q&A Episode 5 Throwback:Balik Kampong

Episode 5 of Throwback: Balik Kampong aka The One Where They Go Fishing. If the embedded video below doesn't work - try this link at To read all blog posts on Throwback: Balik Kampong, click here.  

This post was a difficult post to write in the sense that I didn't have much questions to answer. Got some friends who kindly obliged me when I asked them to pose me any questions that they had about Episode 5 and these are the questions that they asked... 
Love this shot of Asher & Shawna looking out to sea. Photo by me, Pamela Tan! #nofilter !
Q: Who looked after the kids when the adults went to sea?
A: Both times, when we were fishing out at sea, there would be at least one or two adults from the production crew who would help us watch over the kids. This is usually the case when we have to do a challenge where only adults are needed. The boat fishing trip, Mrs Awad was on shore as well, so she was there to watch over the kids too. 

Q: Are you worried about the kids when you head out to fish? 
A: No, I'm not actually. I trust the adults who are on shore will take care of them. Besides, for both fishing trips, it would have been even more dangerous for the kids to be with us. For the first fishing trip, I would have been worried that the kids stand up on the boat and fall out of it while we're in deep waters. For the second fishing expedition, the water came up to my chest for me! If the kids were there, they would have to thread water to survive - and they don't know how to thread water yet. So, no no no, I rather they were safe on shore. It was much more dangerous for them to be with us on those two occasions, than they would be on shore with adults watching over them. 

Q: Were there leeches?
A: No, we didn't see any leeches, nor get bitten by any. Thank goodness!!!
Lovely shot of Matthew and Asher at the shore during low tide, taken by Rozz :)
Q: So Rozz says you get seasick but the Chinese subtitles had Matthew saying that he is the one who would vomit when seasick? So who gets seasick - you or Matthew?
A: Actually it's Matthew who would get seasick. Before we had kids, there was a trip where we went to Australia with another couple, good friends of ours. We took a boat out to sea to see the Great Barrier Reef - but Matthew and our friends got so seasick due to the choppy seas that the three of them were puking non-stop. I was actually alright the whole time and enjoyed snorkeling out there in the open waters. Matthew came into the water, determined to make the best of the trip. Instead, he puked into the sea. We then witnessed fish coming to eat his vomit! :p Hence that comment of his on the episode where he said he'd vomit in the sea, while I catch the fish that come to eat his vomit.

Q: What prompted you to be so poetic while fishing? It's almost as though you went crazy and started singing?!
A: We had a huge net which was all tangled up when we got it, and was impossible to untangle even after some kampong men tried to help us. So it seemed to me that our fishing trip was doomed from the start. But instead of being stressed out by things not within our control, we decided to just try our best to untangle it, while having fun! Okay so Matthew tried harder at untangling it. I was just having a good time wading in the water, not having the kids around to worry about. I did have to swim after my slippers when they got away from me though - thank goodness they float. Other than that, we were quite idle out there, because there wasn't very much we could do about the tangled, gigantic net. So I was trying to think out of the box you know, inspired by my escaping slippers - we could slap the fish underwater! Hahaha... Now, that obviously didn't work. So I decided to just enjoy the water (like swimming, you know), enjoy the scenery (the sun, the sand, and the sea coconut trees), enjoy the company (my darling Matthew!) - I was just having fun in the sun! Hmmm... maybe Fuzz is right, heat stroke made the nonsense seep out of me!!! :p
Asher & Shawna jumpshot pix taken by Rozz (instagram @heyrozz) - who's fantastic with all the kids!
Q: Did your singing frighten all the fish?
A: Alamak. On hindsight... maybe huh. I must have scared all the fish away! Urrghh! All MY fault!!! hahahahahahahaa... Actually huh, I wasn't singing at all?! Why does everyone say I was singing? More like a poem recitation perhaps. Singing? Maybe I am more melodic than I know... hmmm...  :p

Q: How's Mr Awad, is he okay?
A: Yes, Mr Awad is a strong man, he recovered fine and was his lively self by dinner time. Hannah and Danish also recovered well and were actively playing with the younger kids too. The younger kids love playing with the Awad twins, and they were excellent with the kids too.

Q: How did you feel about having Mr Azimullah join in with his family?
A: We thought it was great! It just made it seem all complete now, you know. Before, when he was unable to help his family with the challenges, it always seemed a little unfair to the Azimullahs because they were at an obvious disadvantage. And he's such a funny guy with his hilarious quips delivered with a straight face. You can also see how he centres Farzana and makes her more calm. Definitely very good! :)

Q: Did you guys only have BBQ fish for dinner?
A: We had our dinner before we filmed the BBQ scene. We really did eat the BBQ fish though - jiak tek tor as my mum would say in Teochew - 'eat for fun'!

That's all we have for now. Feel free to ask more questions and I will add them on in here. Stay tuned to Channel 5, this Sunday at 9.30pm for the next episode of Throwback: Balik Kampong! :)

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Q&A Episode 4 Throwback: Balik Kampong

Our very own Tan Family Throwback Balik Kampong poster! Courtesy of Channel 5, MediaCorp Singapore
Throwback: Balik Kampong Episode 4 - aka The One Where They Make Kueh Kueh - was aired last night at 9.45pm. If the video embedded here doesn't work, please hop on to this link to watch Throwback: Balik Kampong - Episode 4

Q: Why were Asher and Isaac screaming and beating their chests while bathing by the well?
A: Isaac was actually trying to control himself and not scream. He was like that, and Asher was screaming, because they were bathing with water straight from the well - which is very cold. Back in modern day Singapore, they are used to bathing with warm water. But we had no such luxury in the kampong. It was too much of a hassle to set up a fire in order to warm the water for our baths, so we decided to bathe the kids during the day when the cool water is welcome because we were all hot and sticky due to the heat and humidity. Furthermore, the kids were bathing in the open, where it can be cold if wind blows. So it helps to bathe during the day when the sun is still shining, so it's not too cold.

Q: Did you bathe with the poncho the whole time you were there?
A: No, I only bathed with the poncho twice, actually. The time they caught on camera was the second time I did it. The poncho was already a bit torn, and after that filming, someone actually accidentally tore the whole thing. So I didn't have a poncho to bathe with. After that, I bathed in a public toilet which was just a few steps behind the well. The public toilet is just a concrete structure with a jerry can in it which I still have to fill up with water from the well. But it is a concrete structure with a door that I can close - so that beats bathing by the well naked or half-naked! We sometimes also use the toilet we constructed, which is actually nicer than the public toilet. However, the thing is, we stuill have to fill up the receptacle with water from the well, and  it is about 20 metres away from the well!!! I really do not fancy making 15 trips x 20 metres to the well to get water for one shower, so public toilet's the default.

Q: What about Shawna, where does she bathe?
A: Shawna actually bathes by the well together with her brothers the same way you saw on TV.

Q: Weren't you afraid that your towel might fall?!
A: I was! That's why I held on to it all the while! :p
Azimullah Family Poster! Wooohooo! Courtesy of Channel 5, MediaCorp Singapore

Q: Is Mrs Azimullah okay after the insect sting?
A: Yes, thankfully! She says that after applying the cream, and taking the pain killer, the pain and swelling went off after about 4 hours or so. Thanks for your concern!

Q:  Did you guys really wash dishes with the well water?
A: Yes indeed, we do. So do the villagers. In fact, we sometimes borrow their modern day dish detergent which is much better than the bar of (circa 1960s) soap we were provided with.

Q: Why were the twins sleeping in some scenes, in some episodes?
A: In modern day Singapore, the twins go to full day childcare where their nap time takes place immediately after they have lunch. However, the filming schedule we were subjected to while we were in the kampong was so packed and busy that it wasn't always possible for the producers and director to allow us time to let the kids take their nap. Thus, the twins often fell asleep on the set, and when they do, either Matthew or I would have to carry them.

Q: Does Isaac really cry all the time?
A:  During the first four to five days of filming (roughly episodes 1 and 2 to you), Isaac really cried quite a lot. But after our family conference which you saw in Episode 2, he more or less stopped complaining about being in the kampong. The crying you saw in Episode 4 - well, the kids do quarrel with each other from time to time, as most siblings do. Normal sibling squabbling. But as Danish (Awad son) said on camera, Isaac is usually cranky whenever he is sleepy or tired. and I would add - hungry. And given that Isaac isn't used to the food at the kampong, he didn't eat as much as he needed to - he was often hungry. Given our accommodation, the lack of proper beds, and insufficient nap time - Isaac was often sleepy or tired. Hence, overall, it made him very touche and it was easy for something trivial to set him off. Isaac didn't cry all the time, but it was often enough for the cameras to catch him doing so.

Q: Do you have the recipes for the Asam Pedas paste and the three desserts Jemput Jemput, Belebat Pisang (Nagasari), Ketuk Ubi?

I didn't have the recipes, so I asked Mag (Mrs Awad) if she has the recipes. She replied almost immediately with the recipe for Asam Pedas. She says it is a staple food for her family, a dish which she has to cook at least once a week.

The Awad's Asam Pedas Paste
  • 6 slices of fish 
  • 10 to 20 Dried Chillies (depending on desired spiciness) 
  • 2 onions (1 for sauté 1 for grinding) 
  • 2 Garlics 
  • 2 inch Tumeric 
  • 20 pieces of Black Pepper (depending on desired spiciness) 
  • 1 inch Belacan 
  • Asam (Tamarind) - 1 ball / extract the juice 
  • 3 to 4 sprigs of Laksa Leaves
All grind except for asam & laksa leaves. Sauté the 1 onion (sliced) once fragrant, add the grinded ingredients. Wait till fragrant. Once fragrant and dry add the asam juice and some water. Add fish slices. Add salt to taste. Bring to boil. Lastly add the laksa leaves for flavour and fragrance. The dried chillies must be soaked first before grinding.

The three desserts, unfortunately, I have no directions for. Perhaps you can Google them! 
Awad Family Poster! Yums!!! Courtesy of Channel 5, MediaCorp Singapore

Q: Wow you look really annoyed with Mrs Azimullah winning the challenge!
A: Yes, the annoyance was real - BUT it wasn't directed at Mrs Azimullah (nor Mrs Awad) at all. I am unable to reveal the circumstances of what really happened, due to confidentiality agreement we have signed, but suffice to say Farzana (Mrs Azim) knows my comments and eye-rolling was not directed at her, and we're definitely still good friends :) 

Q: So how do you really feel about the Azimullah Family winning this challenge?
A: We are very happy that they have won the challenge, since they have not won any challenges since the beginning. Winning challenges is really more for the kids. As adults, we know that this is all for TV, but the kids think it is for real and take it very seriously and personally. Especially for our Tan Family and the Azimullah Family, our children are much younger and correspondingly not as understanding about not winning challenges. And since we have already won one challenge at least, it's high time the Azimullahs get to win a challenge as well.

Q: How do you feel about Mr Azimullah joining his family for challenges now?
A: We think that's fantastic! It's really not easy for Farzana to handle the girls all by herself during the day, on top of doing challenges as well. It would also even the playing field somewhat, now that we have two adults per family for the challenges that Azim can join us in. We think it is really wonderful for Azim to be able to join us - the girls and Farzana really missed him very much! It hasn't been easy for the girls to see the other kids having their father there for the challenges, whereas they didn't. We're truly happy to welcome Azim on board - now he can suffer along with us all!!! :p

Q: We have heard so much about this Throwback: Balik Kampong series, but we haven't seen it yet. How can we see it? 
A: First link below leads to 's Throwback Balik Kampong menu page where you can select the episode you wish to view. For every episode, I will attempt to write a companion blog post, addressing any frequently asked questions.

So remember to catch the remaining six episodes of Throwback: Balik Kampong on Sunday 9.30pm at Channel 5!


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