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!


  1. Nothing to comment/ask but want say your blog is awesome .

    1. Thanks for your compliment, Firegold Flames! :)


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