Friday, April 29, 2011

Songkran, Thailand's water festival

So this is a late entry. I haven't had to time to get down to writing about our trip to Thailand for 'Songkran', the Thai New Year, or Water Festival. I thought I'd better get it done before Sidekick goes for her holiday back home in Bandung.

So anyway, Songkran is celebrated every year in Thailand from 13th-15th April. It is their Thai New Year, and they celebrate with the usual family reunions and also some water play! Around Bangkok, especially along Khaosarn Road (backpackers' hangout) and Silom Road (I think. This is why I should write before I forget everything!), people will throw water at each other and also smear each other with a powder and water concoction.

This was mainly what we went to Bangkok for and it was indeed the most fun part! But we did take in plenty of other sights, and had plenty of time for shopping as well. Bargaining at night markets and occasionally getting ripped off is all part of the experience of Bangkok!

It is very easy to get around Bangkok with affordable taxis (though do make sure your driver turns on the meter, otherwise be prepared to get fleeced!) and a very efficient subway system which Hubby and I found simple to use. It was very fortunate indeed that we were there during a major holiday which meant that many people had left Bangkok for their hometowns. So we managed to avoid the other infamous feature of Bangkok, which is it's massive standstill traffic jams!

Well, here are the photos then...

Straight out of Suvarnbhumi Airport, we were brought to Sompong Seafoods, Paknam Branch for a lovely dinner and the best glutinous rice with mango dessert!

That night, while the others called it a day, Hubby and I ventured out to Patpong Night Bazaar. We later learned that it was a tourist  trap and we should have bargained more!! But like I said, you have to be prepared for the occasional rip off! :)

It was your typical night market, except that it was also the red light district! There were girls, boys, and 'in-betweens' beckoning at doors! An array of 'shows' were available for those interested!

There was an abundance of tempting street food, but Hubby's memory of his last food poisoning in Bangkok was still fresh on his mind, so he wasn't taking any chances...

We visited a temple the next day. The Thai are very spiritual and Buddhism is their main religion. Besides the many temples, you can see shrines everywhere around the city, along roads and in shopping malls and hotels... There will be drinks, food, flowers and joss sticks offered up and a container of water for devotees to pour over Buddha figures.

After a lovely steamboat lunch at a Coca restaurant, we went for a regrettable boat ride down the Chao Phraya river! The main river was pleasant enough, but as we went through ever-narrowing canals, (like water back-alleys) the smell told us we were pretty much going down a drain!! :) To make matters worse, we were a bit overloaded and the putrid water was constantly splashing on our faces!! It was an experience... to say the least...

And then.... we got ripped off again at "Yin Yang The Original Massage & Spa"! An hour-long foot massage there cost us around RM120 per person, as opposed to the usual RM20!!!
Like I said, part of the experience... all's good...

Well, the next day was more about shopping. We went to Platinum, which had plenty of clothes and accessories which were very affordable, and they give further discounts when you buy three or more pieces of the same item. It is a wholesale shopping complex, so many people come here to buy their stock and lug home huge bags of clothes!

Annie would have loved the hair accessories and costume jewellery section, especially the handmade ones!

Then we went to the ginormous Paragon shopping complex which was just way too huge to finish exploring in a day. The best part was the food court which had hawker-like stalls and we had a great time checking out all the different types of food on offer. Here, we were less worried about salmonella or rotavirus! :)

The gourmet supermarket was equally superb. Hubby especially loves the colourful fresh fruits section.

 That night, our friends Sally and Allan brought us out for dinner at the Baiyoke Tower. We had an international buffet, then went up to the revolving viewing deck. It was on the 83rd floor I think.

This was followed by some drinks at Sukhumvit, soi 4, which is a happening night spot area. I found out that Bacardi Breezers are dangerous, they taste deceivingly like Ribena, but...

The next morning, we got ready to get wet! Hand phones and money were stored in plastic sling packs which we had bought beforehand and our camera was placed in its waterproof casing. We were ready for war!

We took a cab to Khaosarn road, where all the action was. First, we had to choose our artillery!

You could choose a big gun....

a cute gun...

or forget the gun... (FYI: that's freezing ice water!)

Or a commercial, pressurized water pump perhaps?!

It was fun to be able to play like kids for a day! :)

After hours of non-stop war, we took the tuk tuk (three wheeled taxi) back to the hotel. Even on the tuk tuk, we managed to shoot at other commuters!

Then, the driver purposely stopped along a road and we got ambushed by a bunch of kids who dumped pails of water on us!

After a tiring day, Allan and Sally brought us out for a lovely seafood dinner with plenty of yummy crab! :)

Then we went to a place called Spring and Summer which was a really cool place. They had huge bean bags laid out on a gorgeous lawn. You could just have drinks and lounge about there, right under the stars!

We ended the night with a visit to Sally's uncle's night club. It was humongous, with three clubs for different music preferences, all under one roof! Thanks so much Sally and Allan for bringing us around town!

So that was it! Bangkok; a huge city with plenty to offer! There's still a lot we have yet to see, and I bet we'll be back one day :)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


 We're home! Home sweet home! :)

The doctor did give the green light, and  we caught the next flight back. We were missing the kids and home already! :)

So the reason we went to Singapore was, of course, for Hubby's cornea transplant, but we managed to squeeze in some shopping, lovely dinners, and also meetings with cousins.

Big thanks to Sis no.4 and Richard for letting us crash at their place!

They brought us for yummy Japanese food...

at Robinson Quay was it? It's a very nice, chic area with plenty of al fresco dining options.

Big Sis and CM also 'chia'ed dinner, at Crystal Jade, a Chinese restaurant at the airport! Yup, I find it unusual, but it's common practice there to go to the airport for dining and shopping, since they have such a great variety of shops with reasonable prices. Little brother Polycarp and Daphne were there, as well as my cousins Sylvester and Nana.

We also met Baby Dominic and Baby Garnet for the first time. The mummies say that both of them are terrors at home, but all throughout the dinner they slept like angels!! :)

Benedict koko calls him Domimic!

Baby Garnet is very pretty...

Cousin Sylvester also brought cousin Alex to the house. We haven't seen Alex since he was 4! (he's sitting in the middle with a checkered shirt... as you can see, he's grown since! hahaha..) He was on his way back to Vancouver after a long holiday to Malaysia.

Well, Hubby and I had plenty of time to kill, since he could not fly until his eye had healed properly. So we also went shopping at Orchard Road, and I managed to squeeze in a trip to my favourite (actually the only one I know) bakery supplies store at Kallang Bahru as well. Oh yes, I bought plenty of gorgeous books from Kinokuniya. If only we had a big Kinokuniya here.... sigh...

We visited the Marina Bay Sands casino, and all I can say is that jackpot machines are money eating machines, full stop! Stay away... :)

Clarke Quay was also nice. We had dinner at Freemantle Fishmarket and then watched a cute old guy showing off his dance moves on the bridge (he was busking... with a license of course... we're talking about Singapore here...)!

So anyway, now it's back to work and school runs!

Sidekick is going home for the first 2 weeks of May. I'm so not  looking forward to that, but she deserves to go home and see her kids. I was only away for a week, I can't imagine being away for 2 years!

It's not going to be fun, but I have some backup plans in place, namely; laundromat and take-away!! :) May the force be with me...

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter everyone!

Hubby and I are still in Singapore. He had his left eye cornea transplant on Wednesday, so we're here to wait for the eye to heal properly before he can fly back home. His next appointment with Prof Donald is tomorrow (Monday) morning.

Hubby relaxing before surgery... (i.e.: Angry Birds...)

Right now, there is a contact lens of sorts over the eye to act like a plaster to protect and allow the cornea to heal. That will be taken off tomorrow and the doctor will then be able to assess  the healing of the eye. If he gives the green light, Hubby will be able to fly home. It is most likely though, that he won't be allowed to fly yet, cause they usually do not allow flying for at least a week after operating. This is because tiny air bubbles may have gotten into the eye during surgery and if exposed to extreme low air pressure, the air bubbles might expand and go 'pop'!! They even advised not to go up buildings which were too high!

Taking off the bandages

Anyway, on the whole, everything seems to be on track. The eye is only slightly red and swollen now. The healing is much better that his last op on his right eye 8 years ago. Then, he had a different, older kind of surgery, which required more healing time and he had bandages on his eye for about a week! This time, the bandages came off after just a day, so he didn't even have to use the eye patch like last time (yes, think Captain Hook)!

Well, let's hope we have more good news tomorrow...

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Aiport again

So Hubby and I are at the airport again waiting for our flight to Singapore. We are going for Hubby's cornea transplant which I mentioned in my earlier post.

Well, we've been on standby since last night; waiting for the eye centre to call to let us know if a viable cornea is available. There's quite a lot involved in preparing a viable cornea. Firstly of course, we have to wait for someone to die (Doesn't sound very nice right? But don't get us wrong, we are indeed grateful for that generous person), then blood tests have to be done to ensure that the cornea is healthy and free of diseases, then it's condition has to be inspected by the doctors and then cut to remove a thin layer of cells. Somewhere along the line it was also sent from another country, most likely USA. I'm not too sure of the sequence of events.

So anyway, we've been waiting since last night to find out if it's a go for the surgery. They still could not give us an answer last night and told us to wait some more. I had to prepare the kids and let them know that I might not be able to pick them up from school and all their things were packed and ready to be shipped to Granddad's once the ball dropped.

So when this morning passed without news, we kinda thought the surgery would be cancelled and re-scheduled. And knowing the professor's tight schedule, that wouldn't be until at least another month's time! Thus I decided to get my hair washed at the salon!

In the middle of a fabulous shoulder rub, Hubby called to say that the surgery was on and he was checking out the next flight to Singapore! He found that the next flight was 5 hours away, hence the 'Amazing Race' began.

I picked up Solomon from playschool, then Annie who is having exams so is only in school till noon, then Claire and Eva from kindergarten. Then it was off for a quick lunch at Kung Kung Titus'. After lunch we went home to pack and basically move house! If you don't audit the things the kids pack, they will move the entire house to Granddad's! :)

Finally, we sent the kids to Granddad's, and he brought Hubby and I to the airport.

So here we are at Coffee Bean at Gate 9, me on my laptop blogging and Hubby on the sofa snoring :)

Pray everything goes well for Hubby's surgery tomorrow morning!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Election day

Hubby and I have just gotten back from a wonderful holiday to Thailand. Will write all about it in my next post. For now, the most exciting thing happening is the elections in my beautiful home state, Sarawak.

Hubby and I were back in time for the final opposition party's rally and also voting the next day.

Well, this election is going to be an interesting one indeed. We have a Chief Minister who has 'reigned' for 30 years!! Yes, so long that he has become like royalty! There are so many allegations about him and his family. They are reported to be richer than the Sultan of Brunei! With a chief minister's salary of RM20,000 a month, one can only guess where his wealth comes from...

So anyway, with the advent of the internet; blogs and Facebook, etc.. have played a large part in informing the public about what is going on behind the scenes in our country. The government controls the media here, but they are having a hard time controlling what goes on in cyberspace. They do try, with hacking attacks of a level which even blog hosting giants have never seen before!

Now that the public are well-informed, they can tolerate this 'dictatorship' no longer. Many are asking for change. However, the ruling government is powerful and have financial resources beyond our imagination. They will pull out all sorts of tricks from their hats. Bribery, threats, buying votes, tampering with votes... etc.. Too much is at stake for a fair fight. 

So anyway, last night Hubby and I went to the final opposition party's rally. The turnout was incredible. Some estimate 30,000 over people were there to listen and show support. Before the rally began, the police and town council tried to dismantle the stage! Then, while we were at the rally, the police came on stage and tried to stop the proceedings! They said that they had been given orders to stop the rally, even though the opposition had a valid permit!

Everyone was livid and booed the police. The opposition leaders however asked for quiet and then informed the police that they acknowledged the directive, but would still continue with the rally. They then requested the crowd to let the police leave in peace as they were only carrying out their duty. Even the police could not do anything with so many people who were, moreover, orderly and peaceful.

Freedom of speech?

It was an interesting experience, and today, for the first time in my life, I voted. I've never been interested in politics. I find it boring and frustrating. I barely even read the papers. But, I'm thinking now, more than ever, my state needs me to do my part as a citizen. I vote because I do not want my children to live in a country which is heading in the direction the current government is leading us. I have a lot of friends who today, have also voted for the first time, and we all feel proud to have done our part. No matter how insignificant our little vote feels, in the face of a giant of an 'enemy' it still counts and contributes.

There are reports of ballots being tampered with, of polling stations in the interior closing half a day earlier, of voters being offered hundreds to thousands of ringgit for votes! We can only pray that our votes will be enough to pull through.

Tonight will be a pivotal night for Sarawak. Will there be change?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Project headband

Some friends of mine are going crazy over Sereni & Shentel headbands. You can look at their gorgeous creations here. Sereni Linggi and Shentel Lee are from my hometown, Kuching, and they really make us proud! They sell these incredible hand-made headbands online and are making their mark in the fashion industry in Malaysia and Australia.

Taken from the Sereni & Shentel Look Book 2010
It helps that these two girls are as gorgeous as their creations and really rock their headbands. They have an edgy confidence which could make anything they wear look good! Now imagine me wearing these bunny ears headbands, I'd just look like a mental asylum escapee!! Hahahahaa.... seriously....

By the way, these are the more avant-garde designs, they do have more safe, traditional designs for the not-so-adventurous like me! :)

Anyway, recently I got a really devastatingly lousy haircut. My usual hairdresser, Ah Chap at Hairdo was not in, and I was already determined to cut my hair that day. So, I went over to Show Salon, near my shop, thinking he could be good, never know till you try... Wrong move. I have learned now, never ever to take chances with your precious hair!!!

So anyway, he made my hair like all puffy on top in a so not nice way. The only way I can make my hair look decent now is to wear a headband while I wait for my hair to grow out. That's why I went to look at the Sereni & Shentel headbands I've heard so much about.

Well, their headbands are definitely beautiful, that's for sure, but they are a bit pricey. Prices start from US$17. I guess it's all about priorities; I'm not one to spend too much on fashion, but will, in the blink of an eye spend plenty on children's books or cake decorating tools and such. ( I must learn to be more fashion conscious, now that I am no longer "constantly pregnant") Also, the crafty side of me would look at the headbands and think, "I can make these myself, if I had the materials!"

So, I ended up searching for materials to make my own headband in the end. I found some old, skanky headbands which were selling for 50 cents at 100% Discount Store, a shop selling cheap, China stuff. I already have a collection of satin ribbons (I just love their colours), and from a previous project, I found out that double-sided tape works well with satin ribbons.

So that is all you need for a simple headband; an old headband, ribbon, double-sided tape and a pair of scissors.

Using double-sided tape, stick short lengths of ribbon on both ends of the headband like so, then fold the edges in and secure using more tape.

Place tape all along the headband and wind ribbon round the whole length.

Then, make two loops of ribbon, one longer than the other, and attach with more tape.

Attach the loops to the headband with a short length of ribbon and tape.

And there you have it, a simple and sweet, olive green bow headband. I'm gonna source for some bling to dress them up! :)

 Eva has claimed this as hers... :)

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Grandchild no.17!!

Remember I said in my last post that we were all waiting anxiously for Sis no.2's baby arrival?? Well he arrived a couple of hours ago!! Finally! 6 days late! :)

Congratulations Allan & Mei!

This is Kung Kung's grandchild no.17.

He was born at 11:24am today, Sunday, 3rd April 2011. He weighs 3.76kg and hasn't got a name yet. They're thinking of names starting with "C" and might go with Christopher. Any more suggestions??

Friday, April 1, 2011

Magic baby boy

Meet the "Magic Baby Boy"!! Cute lil' bugger ain't he??

Mum-in-law bought two of these little ceramic bubs on one of her trips to Miri, I think, a few years back. She gave one to me, I'd had three gorgeous little girls by then (self-explanatory) and one to Sis-in-law who was just about to get married.

I think SIL's Magic Baby Boy was put on the marriage bed, on the day of the wedding, in place of the little boy that's supposed to jump on your marriage bed to ensure that your first-born is a boy!!! Yes, this is a real Chinese custom, and since we didn't have a real little boy conveniently at hand, I guess a ceramic one was the next best thing!! Hahaha....

Anyway, as for me, I put my Magic Baby Boy on my bedside table, without giving it much thought. So, the little bub and his little ceramic part was the first thing I saw every morning!! I call this forced visualization. I do believe in the power of positive thinking and visualization, and to a certain extent, the law of attraction.... so I suppose you can guess what happened next...

Well, I got pregnant first, with Baby no.4, who had a little something extra (like, literally) compared to his 3 sisters before him. Thus, I got my boy, Solomon, and also the license to "shut factory production"! :)

But honestly, I don't really mind whether  I have boys or girls, like they say, as long as they are healthy. That said, it is still nice to have some variety, if you know what I mean.

Anyway, about half a year later, SIL also got pregnant with her first child, baby Hughie... a boy of course...

So since I had no more plans for a no.5, little Magic Baby Boy was passed on to Big Sis in Singapore.

Big Sis says she put him on the table next to her telephone, so every time she talked on the phone, he was staring her in the face!

A few months later, Big Sis too got pregnant and little Benedict came along...

Meanwhile, back in Kuching, Sis no.2 had already had 4 lovely girls and so was the obvious choice as heir of Magic Baby Boy! :)

Sis no.2 just left Magic Baby Boy on a shelf behind her bar counter. If I'm not mistaken, she did say once that the bar was at the part of the house which had the best Feng Shui.... I wonder if that played a part.... hmmm... (BTW I don't believe in Feng Shui, only that some methods of arrangements are more practical and/or pleasing to the eye, that's all)

Sure enough, Sis no.2 is now pregnant with Baby no.5 who comes, of course, with extra bits!! :) She was due to deliver 4 days ago but there's still no action, so we're all still anxiously waiting here!!

So anyway, now, I think we are finally no longer in need of Magic Baby Boy's services. If any of you would like to inherit him, do let us know!!

First come, first served!!
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