Sunday, October 31, 2010

I just had to share these...

I was uploading the photos in my camera when I realised that I had missed sharing these few photos from her birthday celebrations (I'd taken yet another series of 10,000 photos, so it starts from IMG_0001, and was in another folder, that's why I didn't see these).

See how much she enjoyed feeding herself her birthday cake - if only she can down all foods with such relish...
My sweet little小花猫脸...

Classes in a row!

This is a relatively backdated post (not as backdated as my last post still owing on the wrap-up of my June holiday trip in Singapore!), as I want to share a hectic week we had going to three different classes over the week…

On Tuesday, I signed her up for a demo class for
Music Together after reading raving reviews about it on Beijing Mamas Forum. I was quite excited as from the website information I gleaned, it seemed like a promising and exceptional program unlike other. It was at a private apartment (Jingda) near Chaoyang Park, so Wayne drove us there in time for our 10am session. Unlike Kindermusic, the class is for a variety of ages 0 to 4, so there were kids from a few months to more than 3 years old. It was a home set-up, very minimalist, and there were about 8 other mamas/Ayis with their kids there. During the 45-minute session, we sang/danced/finger-played a lot, and there was very little use of the stereo (except for one song) as the teacher, a local called Michelle (she picked this up in the States) led us along. She was a very warm person and I could see she took her teaching seriously, but something just did not feel right. Rosabelle did listen attentively and join in, especially when the kids had a free-for-all with all the instruments.

I don’t know, but the apartment looked somewhat gloomy (not enough kid-friendly décor?), and the folks all looked rather serious, and the air/atmosphere certainly isn’t as light as that at Kindermusic classes. The take-home package also looks all very home-made (photocopies of materials and copies of music CDs, not originals…, packed into a birthday goody bag). I guess the litmus test is when Rosabelle made little mention of the class/Michelle/the activities after that… So, I figured that since I already have her signed up for one music-related class already, I will just give this a miss – the cost is similar, but of course she does not get to enjoy the facilities like those at Familier. Unless you count the rather run-down playground in the yard area that I brought her down to play after class as a facility…

After that, I wanted to head to Jenny Lou’s to pick up some peas, but even that was closed for renovations. So telling of signs to not sign up for the class, heh…

The next day, we went for our usual Mommy & Me session at 3e, and I still have photos from last week where she was playing outside whilst waiting for class to start (since we got there early).
The facilities are indeed quite good and well-maintained, but of course she had more fun playing indoors in the classroom, and this week, we saw old faces, as well as made friends with folks we (or I) had deemed as weird previously, haha! Guess they also decided to be friendly, seeing that we’ll be a regular in the class anyway.

After that class, I brought her to Lido Square for a look-around the shops, and just as I was looking for a place for lunch, our girl was attracted to a shop she spied – just what I was looking for, the Big & Little Bookshop! I’d read about this place and was thinking it’s around the corner, so I never actively went to search for it, but wow, they were having a ‘Buy One Get One Free’ promotion for many of their English books, so I basically went crazy and let my girl entertain herself with other books as I picked (I needed to coordinate the books to make sure I got two of the same prices, so it was quite a hassle…). In the end, I ended up with about 10 books, two of which were meant for Rachel for her upcoming birthday (October 25th). I also got Rosabelle a set of 3 child-safety craft scissors which she has been having fun cutting up paper with, nice…

Happy with my loot, I had little time to look for a restaurant as it was already past one, so I made the bad mistake of going to the hotel restaurant for lunch. They advised that I take a buffet rather than spend on ala carte but I figured it would be troublesome for me to leave Rosabelle at the table to go get food, and I don’t like buffets as I am not sure if the food is fresh. So I ordered ala-carte, and had to wait about 20 minutes to get food as Rosabelle munched on, and finished up a whole cold bread roll. The borsch I ordered was really quite bad, the spaghetti with meatballs kid’s set was passable, and the salmon for me was only so-so… yikes… and it definitely wasn’t cheap! I really should have known – who orders ala-carte from hotel restaurants serving a buffet, and this restaurant was the kind that folks go for their complimentary breakfasts, so the food can’t be that good…sigh…anyway… luckily the books haul made me a happy girl that day.

Even Rosabelle loved the books, wanting to look at them in the car. I’d actually gotten ‘Moving Day’ and ‘I want my potty’ for Rachel – apt books for her situation, and let Rosabelle look at them first. Turns out she loves them so much that when I went for Mommy & Me classes this week, I went to the bookstore again and yes, bought yet MORE books!

For classes this week at 3e, Rosabelle was strangely clingy to me in the beginning, wanting me to carry/sit on my lap as she looked quite fretful, so much that I thought she was unwell. So I followed her cue and just played finger puppets or read to her, until she slowly let herself loose and was her usual self soon, more so after I offered her her favourite Yakult drink after class. We had a hectic schedule after the class ended at 11am – I’d made an appointment at 11:30am at Amcare for her vaccination, so I carried her all the way from 3e to walk towards the hospital (my arms almost broke, but I know if I let her walk at her own place, we would miss the appointment).

Once there, we saw the doctor after about 10 minutes of waiting, and the doctor declared her fit and healthy (she’s now 12.2 kg -75th percentile, and 87.5cm – 90th percentile), and reassured me that her heart murmurs were normal (like how some people walk with louder footsteps than others, she has a heart that beats with murmurs). However, she advised that if the weather is too cold or too windy, we should keep her at home as children below the age of 4 are most prone to respiratory allergies, and sometimes they have flu/cold-like symptoms that are actually allergies. She also asked that I check back with KKH to see if she already had her HIB booster, as that is not recorded in the vaccination booklet. Strange, how could I ever miss any single vaccination? So we took the Japanese Encephilitis shot that day, where our girl only cried briefly when the needle jabbed into her thigh, heh heh! (I tried calling KKH for two days in a row after to see if I could enquire about the HIB jab – no luck – their clinic was perpetually busy with nobody picking up the phone; I might have to resort to email as her next shot’s due next month for Hepatitis A booster

It was actually my first time bringing her to the doctor’s alone (previous times were with Wayne when he was not working and able to drive us there), but it was more manageable than I thought, though one of the doctors was a bit too tough and manhandled her till she fell onto the floor as she was trying to go to the other side of the hospital, the one for children’s illnesses. The doctor was actually well-meaning as there might be infectious diseases over there, and she also apologized to us when Rosabelle fell, but I thought she was too rough – thank goodness our girl did not cry.

Seeing that she was such a good girl, we went for our lunch treat at Element Fresh. Again, I had to carry her a distance as I was quite famished and did not want her to waste time dawdling around. We did not have to wait long for a table, and her colouring activity placemat/crayons kept her busy as I placed orders for a nice lunch of mushroom soup (she loved the soft breads that came with it and kept dipping them into the soup), her mushroom mac ‘n’ cheese, as well as my steak sandwich. She even stole sips of my blueberry smoothie, yummy… AND we had ice-cream with our hot apple pie after. She’s unlike most kids, rejecting the ice-cream only after a few spoonfuls, which is just as well, since I have a sweet tooth, and I don’t want her to develop one so early on!

We finished lunch quite early on (great service, by the way, I can have lunch here every week!), so that I could go to the bookshop again, and bought three books for Rachel this time, which meant that Rosabelle also had another 3 books – nice… She loved the ‘Quick as a Cricket’ book, which I did not think much of, but as I read more of it, I love the illustrations, the opposites she learns, and the feel-good factor in the book (it’s the de facto book now as she sits on my lap and drinks a warm cup of milk before brushing her teeth every night).

The next day, on Thursday, we went for our usual Kindermusic class (classes resumed last week after Yuliya came back from India, and it was quite hectic with kids running all over the place, haha), and after revisions the previous time round, she can sing the ‘Pease Porridge Song’ now (and even loves ‘Somebody’s Knockin’ on my Door’ from CD No. 2, a song that we have yet to learn in class), using the stir xylophone whenever she hears the song being played at home. That’s what I mean about the vibes I like about Kindermusic class – I can see our girl genuinely looking forward to the class and meeting her classmates (or maybe I psyche her up a lot as well), and it’s a lot of fun and feel-good in/after the class. Although we stayed on for lunch last week, I decided not to this week, which was just as well.

See, I had bread that morning, and during class, I started having a queasy stomach, so much that I had to pluck Rosabelle from class (she told me she wanted to pee after hearing I had to go to the toilet), and basically dash to the toilet, AND let her pee first before I did my thing.

I felt better after, and came back to see the ladies doing Zumba as the babies looked on, heh! Fun but most tiring! Class ended soon enough and I did not mean for her to stay around so long to play, but one thing good about Familier is that they add on new toys/books/activities every once in awhile, so that it’s refreshing for the kids. This time round, they had a new stove/kitchen set, so you can imagine Rosabelle getting busy…

I was feeling hungry in spite of my queasiness, so I ordered some popcorn chicken and a vanilla latte for myself. Bad move… first of all, they did not put in my order the first time round, so what was supposed to be a quick snack to appease my hunger pangs turned into a 20-minute wait (our girl was most happy at not having to leave, of course), and for a queasy stomach, deep-fried greasy popcorn chicken and caffeine-loaded latte are certainly NOT good companions.

When I sat down to eat, of course Rosabelle wanted to eat, and she was more attracted to the saucer of ketchup that came with it, only eating at most one popcorn chicken, which was just as well since it’s not exactly healthy anyway. That meant that I finished everything up and almost immediately, my stomach went haywire – I had to run to the toilet again (with Rosabelle clamouring to pee again as well), and I could feel my stomach churning and twisting inside as I went back into the centre.

I did not even have the energy to ask Rosabelle to hurry up and get changed – I just sat there with my jacket and boots on already, and asked the assistants to help me catch her to put on her shoes. After that, I psyched my girl up and asked her to be very obedient and help take care of me as ‘Mummy’s stomach is very painful’. She did well, kissing on and patting my stomach in the taxi, so sweet of her, and thank goodness nothing else happened throughout the journey.

When I reached home, I took some charcoal tablets and applied some nutmeg oil, but basically did not eat any foods for the rest of the afternoon save some biscuits and instant cereal. Wayne had also eaten the same bread that morning and was perfectly fine, so I put it down to my weak stomach.

We spoke too soon.

That night, he felt weak, cold and feverish as well and woke up to squat at the toilet for awhile – he woke up the next day with a 38.4 degrees fever, probably in reaction to the bread as well. Now we know that we really should not eat expired bread – it looked/tasted ok, but was two days overdue, so no more next time! Poor Wayne had to take a day off work and take medicine as well – thank goodness he (and I) recovered soon enough. It’s either it’s because he’s stronger and it took longer for the bad food to get at him, or it’s because me being me, get hungry easily and so the food metabolized really fast, too fast for me to feel sick so quickly.

Oh well… so that’s us and our hectic days of classes for our girl!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The right Commune

After not making it to the Commune of the Great Wall on a previous trip, Wayne and I were adamant (or at least I) to go there before the weather turned too cold, and so we brought our girl on a journey to celebrate her birthday weekend. On Saturday October 23rd, we set out close to 11am as Rosabelle had a late night on Friday, refusing to go to sleep until I was forced to go to the living room and sleep (and leave her with Wayne, crying on the bed as she wanted me to go in). When I went back in, it did not take her long to settle down and sleep, probably tired out from all the sobbing.

And so we made our way there as she sat (thankfully) in her car seat, and we reached about an hour and a half later. I’d received word (obviously from unreliable sources) that it would be raining and blowing cold winds over the weekend, so I (and had our girl) dressed up in my winter down jacket, but when we got down the car, it was apparently warmer than I thought, so just as well, I just donned another hooded short-sleeve for her, whilst I kept warm with just a sports jacket and scarf.

We were there past one, so we headed to lunch first at the Terrace Café (alternative was the Chinese restaurant, which was booked for a private function), and I felt rather inadequately dressed for a Kempinski Hotel lunch. In any case, thank goodness we managed to get a seat immediately even though we did not have a booking, and got one near the entrance. As I sat down to order when Wayne took Rosabelle out for a walk first, I was telling myself that my girl had better not spit out/throw her lunch onto the floor – not because of etiquette reasons, but because a normal main costs RMB100+ (before 15% service charge…).

I ordered a Mongolian Beef Burger and a Shitake Mushroom Risotto, as well as a pumpkin soup and an apple tart. The mains were quite good – that’s us tucking in…
But the soup was rather watery, and the tart was bleah (so not worth the RMB48 charge). Think our girl most enjoyed the tomato sauce treat that she licked up with a single cold fry, haha…
After lunch, we headed out to explore the place, and was greeted by nice, cool weather, and best of all, good, unpolluted air since we were in the suburbs. I swear even the grass looks greener and the flowers look more vibrant, as we respectively made our ‘2’ signs in the photos…
Rosabelle loves to walk/balance on ledges now, and had fun running alongside the flowers, stopping to admire (and get precariously near to) bees flying from stalk to stalk of flower.
We then walked down and towards Commune of the Children, a double-storey terrace that had play facilities for children (and they also conduct cooking/baking classes at times for older children in a kitchen there). Our girl had fun posing as cartoon characters, though Wayne was trying hard (albeit unfruitfully) to hide himself behind her since he had to carry her to reach the head area.
We then headed in and upstairs, where kids can draw/colour on a variety of canvases like paper/blackboard, and I penned a personal note for our girl that may very well still be there the next time we go!
There was also a TV room (with sinful kids’ DVDs!) and a rack of dress-up cupboards – the costumes representing different nationalities looked interesting but way too big and complicated for our girl, so she was content to be a ‘Yeehah!’ cowgirl for a day…
It was after 4pm by the time we started on our journey around to explore the different blocks with their unique architecture, and we made a slight mistake of walking the opposite direction to see the buildings. See, we were around the main lobby area, and we should have just ventured out to see the few buildings around us first, as they were the unique ones, and the rest are just replicates of a few of them, so we had to spend quite a lot of time on foot looking at basically the same buildings (Wayne drove half-way up and we started from there). Our girl was quite a sport and walked around a fair bit on her own before clamouring to Daddy to carry her at times – that’s her at the Bamboo House.
This time round, as opposed to our visit eons ago, we could not go into the houses to view the amenities/furnishings (they are all very nicely designer-made, in case you are wondering why would we want to see normal hotel fixture and fittings…), since a lot of them are being rented out. We could at most look around the house (and risk looking like burglars), and did not venture in even though most of the houses were strangely unlocked.

However, we DID go into one of the houses, due to an unfortunate turn of events. We were basically lying outside the balcony on the deck chairs (like below), and pretty much were ready to go when I made a silly suggestion of asking if Rosabelle wanted to walk on the ledge to head outwards. Bad move. It was a broad ledge, looked clean and dry, and had a railing next to it. We were also walking next to her, so she could not fall off it, right?
Right. Except she fell backwards onto it, and when I carried her up, I saw paint all over her back – she had stepped on wet paint and gotten it all over her hair, clothes and shoes – oh dear!

Thank goodness it wasn’t a bad fall and she did not cry, but kept asking ‘玥玥干什么呢?' as Wayne and I used wet wipes to clean her up as much as we could. However, there was still paint on her hair and scalp, and we wanted to head back to the main lobby area to see if we could get some warm water to rinse the paint out – can’t imagine having such chemicals bleaching her scalp and hair for such a long period!

Wayne then decided to try his luck as he saw some service staff inside the house, and asked if we could borrow their bathroom to rinse her hair out. Luckily, it was just a showroom, and there were no guests – the service staff were really professional and most warm and helpful. They tried out the water in the kitchen sink and made sure it was warm before Wayne carried Rosabelle over the sink as I tried to rinse the paint out with a clean face towel they had nicely found for us. They even prepared a hair dryer ready as we dried her hair up. Throughout all this, our girl did not cry/resist at all – such a good girl she is, even thanking the service staff who were very nice, even when we got water all over the floor as one of the pipes was apparently leaking. Thankfully they told us it was just some plaster, and not paint, so there was no foul smell, but I was sure glad to get it out of the way as I used the wet towel to also clean her clothes up better.

After this ordeal, we went on our way, and saw a group of 4 young folks who asked us to take their photo in front of the Bamboo House, and they returned us the favour. We even went into the house to look at the common areas – the living room and kitchen – all very nice and swanky…
After that, I let Rosabelle eat some biscuits as we waited for Wayne to fetch the car to drive us back down to the main area, where we ‘toured’ the rest of the nice houses from the comfort of our car, getting down only if we spotted anything interesting. We went into the Airport house, and found out it costs RMB15,000 to block-book the house, or RMB2,000 per room. Ok… we need to get some special offers or pull some strings to be able to afford such swankinesss…

I think our girl wasn’t keen on seeing house after house, and was content to sit in the car and nibble, no, gorge, on her biscuits…
It was a tiring day for her as she skipped her afternoon nap, so after I nursed her as we headed back (and she surprisingly did not sleep), I let her sit in the car seat. Within 3 minutes, after some ramblings, she fell asleep on her own accord close to 6pm, for about an hour and a half, interrupted only by loud horns or sounds (but very soon going back to sleep on her own). It was a late dinner that night at home, but no doubt fun and memorable (at least for us adults?) to celebrate the eve of her coming of age!

She's TWO!

A few days before her second birthday, Rosabelle perfected the victory ‘V’ sign with her hands, flashing a ‘2’ with her fingers proudly at us during lunch. How apt.

She got up early on Sunday morning (Oct 24th) to very wet weather, but it sure didn’t dampen hers or our moods as she got dressed for breakfast as I laid out her birthday presents – a Lego set from us (I’d bought this convenience store set quite some time back but did not take it out for her till now, deciding to present it to her as a special day’s gift), a sweater top from Gao Yiwei’s grandma (we gave her some nice scarves for her third birthday so she returned the favour), a doll from our neighbor, as well as a ‘This Old Man’ book I got last week from a bookshop in Lido Hotel (got many others as well, but this looked nice and big, so it got selected to be part of her ‘birthday package’ as well). She was very pleased and surprised when she came out of the room…
After her breakfast, we then got her dressed up in a Princess outfit (Think it was originally Pauline’s? And think it’s meant to be PJs? Hahaha…), and let her explore her pressies.
I also hastily drew up a ‘Happy Birthday’ signage for her at the easel, acting as a backdrop for some shots…
She loved the book most of all, and kept wanting to hold onto it to pose (whilst I worried about her blocking her nice outfit with the massive book, haha…), and flipping through it as she asked us to sing to her (she has been hearing this song a lot on the CD, so she was keen to read through it).
We then headed out to first collect her cake from UBread – we’ve always been loyal fans of 21cake (and rightly so), but upon an ex-colleague’s recommendation that this shop also sells nice cakes, I saw a very nice teddy bear face cake for Rosabelle, but only bad thing was they do not deliver (or they do, for a fee, and they take the subway/bus… erm…). So I actually called them on Monday to confirm I wanted a cake to pick up from their Soshow branch. On Tuesday, I called again to change the timing to before noon. On Saturday, I called one last time to confirm my order, and also to find out their exact location. When Wayne stopped by the roadside for me to get down in the rain to pick up the cake, I was expecting a 5-minute affair.

Expecting.

What happened next wasn’t something I was counting on – I went into the store happily and said I was there to pick up my 小熊 cake, and when the staff had to look around awhile, I sensed something amiss, especially when they asked if I had paid for it already. Turns out there was no cake waiting for me, and I did not take down the name of the person who took my order, but could only say that I had already called the day before to confirm in the morning, so the guy said it was 贾经理 who was on duty, and he did not know anything.

I was seething.

And when they said I needed to wait 30 minutes for the cake to be done, I basically barked at them and got my cake in 15 minutes flat. During this time, I was a statue of fury, as the guy (he’s quite nice really) tried to get me to sit down, and asked if I wanted water. Later, he helped me investigate a little and said that the kitchen actually got the order, but they misplaced the chit. By this time, I was too pissed off to talk or find out more, but just told him to get the plates and candles ready. Then out I went with a freshly-made cake, made with the trembling hands of the lady behind the glass window who had to bear with my eyes burning into her flesh…

Not willing to let this hiccup spoil this special day, I was glad to see my girl’s face brighten upon seeing the cake – she could peek through the transparent film at the top of the cake box. She basically did not want to let go of the cake all the way to Joy City, where we headed for lunch. We’d originally wanted to go to Prima Kitchen, as that’s where we had her birthday dinner last year. However, seeing that it was still raining and there was no shelter (as well as not much else to see/shop/play around there), we changed our meal destination instead.

Once there, we were also not decided as to where to go for lunch. Just as we were heading towards Bellagio, I saw this new restaurant called Tasty, that sells Western set meals, and if you get two sets of RMB100 and above (comes at RMB68 and RMB138), you get a kid’s set for RMB18 (usual price of RMB48). When I asked, they said they also offer free cocktails and popcorn if we are celebrating a birthday – wowee.

So in we went and ordered 3 adult sets and a kid’s meal, where our girl ate some 长寿面 (aka 凉面 offered in the set), the chicken and vegetables that came with it, and accompanied it with fruits and tomatos along the way. Quite a good meal, as we had lunch quite late (no thanks to the Ubread idiots…) and she was quite hungry. Wayne thinks we should let her be hungry once in awhile so that she can eat her meals quickly, but I regret not offering her a small banana whilst in the car – it’s a healthy snack, and if it makes her eat less of lunch, it’s not a biggie because it’s good and healthy anyway… right? Last thing I want is a hungry child having a melt-down and then gorging away till she suffers from indigestion, haha!

Our complimentary cocktails then came – since there was a slight tinge of alcohol in them, our birthday girl could not enjoy it, but still liked the experience of drinking plain water from the nice long-stemmed glass, heh!
Since all our set meals came with drinks and dessert, we were basically stuffed and could not down any more cake. That’s when we decided to bring the cake home to cut that night. I told the waitress to keep the popcorn for last until our girl had finished her meal, and if Nainai/Wayne did not take it away from her to hide, she would have continued stuffing herself with the popcorn. The food wasn’t that excellent, but the service and ambience was nice, and the staff most sweet and accommodating, so it’s a nice choice next time we are in the area.
After that, we brought Rosabelle to the kid’s play area where strangely enough, she did not really enjoy riding the kiddy rides (i.e when I put in the tokens and the rides moved, she wanted to come off them) – just as well, saves us some money!
So she went around just sitting in some of the rides for kicks, me included…
The last ride was on the carousel, where she seemed more distracted by the things around her, and ended up waving to all of us throughout the ride.
By this time, it was already quite late so off we went for our Sleeping Beauty to get her rest. Birthday or not, a girl needs her sleep!

After dinner that night, it was cake time! There it is, the cake that we almost never had, no thanks to Ubread… it was a nice ‘2’ candle, and I suspect they gave me a special candle to appease my anger, I don’t know and I don’t care, I am sticking to 21cake in future. From now. And forever.
There she is, my little girl all grown up. It seems just like yesterday that she was just 2.74kg, measuring 48cm, and being all puny and wrinkled. Love you to bits, my darling daughter…
And we hastily took a family shot before the candle burnt away…
Rosabelle was elated with the birthday song we sang for her, and also tried to blow the candle out and help cut the cake (i.e. disfigure the poor bear’s face).
After that came a night to remember for her – her first taste of chocolate – as I let her devour the bear’s eyes, ears, nose, and mouth of white and dark chocolate. She was focused on her caffeine fix and did not utter a single word as she chomped on it.
With her eyes and hands fixed on her cake/chocolate, she was trying to give me the ‘Thumbs up’ sign and hold the pose as she continued eating her cake. The healthy parts of the cake – the blueberry fruits in between the layers – were spat out by her as she has since found something better, and we quickly kept the rest of the cake away as she devoured her slice.
Guess she wills this happy scenario to replay again and again, as she has been taking the cake and figurines from her Lego set and placing them on the dinner table as she claps and sings ‘Happy Birthday’, telling me that the Jiejie is 两岁and the Gege is 十月. We had actually set up the Lego to duplicate the supermarket scene on the box, but I then decided to pull the pieces apart after seeing how little interest she took in the rest of the items (only likes the figurines). Now, with the parts all over, she has constructed a table/chair, a see-saw, a robot, and stacked the pieces to form a long stick etc – it does not inhibit her imagination anymore and she can use the pieces for whatever her little mind wants it to be. Quite fun!

Happy Birthday my little baby girl, glad you liked the present, cake, and your simple birthday celebration – people say you really wonder at how fast kids grow up. Now I know what they are talking about. I’ll be blogging about her third birthday before I even know it…

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Till the next post...

I haven't disappeared for our daughter's two year old birthday on Sunday, the 24th. I've been busy as we went to Commune of the Great Wall on Saturday, the 23rd, followed by celebrations the next day. I've changed some of the things on the landing page of this blog, to mark the coming of age - the Lilypie trackers of her birthday and our anniversary, the blog counter, and obviously the header picture at the top.

Hope these will keep you entertained for awhile until I get the next post in... stay tuned!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

I'm glad we did it...

Following on from my post about our June Malacca trip...

The next morning on 22 June, I took a shot of my daughter’s lips and also sent Daddy a MMS (and broke his heart, though he did say she looks like Angelina Jolie…).
Thank goodness the injury did not affect her appetite for a good buffet breakfast at the hotel as she helped herself to eggs, muffins, and bread, though when she hit at it at times with a spoon, it still hurt. When she told me it was painful to drink from the cup, I had the waitress help bring us a straw. Poor thing…
So she was extra careful that morning as she played ‘choo choo train’ with Simon as the kids waited for the adults to get ready to head out.

We sneaked in a few shots as I also made a call to reception to get them to make up the room. This time round, I asked to speak to the manager and let go my steam with rantings of the no extra pillows/no blankets (they brought them soon after), the aircon that was so noisy (and the elusive maintenance guy), and of course the shit in the toilet bowl. I told him that he has to make sure the chamber maids did their jobs well – obviously they had seen the poo (if not why would they cover it up), and did not bother to clear it. If they did not see it, it means they are not cleaning the toilet bowls after the last guest checked out. In any case, I made sure the poo man heard my case loud and clear (and thankfully we came back to an unclogged, and poo-free, toilet bowl that afternoon).
I got Rosabelle dressed in a summery halter that day since the sun was really hot that morning (luckily the rains cleared), and got a taxi from the concierge (a personal van actually) that brought us to Jonker Street. Glad she takes well to Gong Gong – at least I can be relieved of my duties at times since she likes to stick with Gong Gong too.
It was a short ride to the main tourist/sightseeing/eating area in Malacca, which I remember visiting over CNY 2007 with my family as well, and I’m glad our girl’s tribulations (and my lack of sleep) did not affect our happy moods this morning as we took in the sights. Me being me, I had already planned our stops last night (whilst waiting for aircon man to come…)
Malacca has somewhat managed to retain its old charm in spite of being all touristy, and you can see influences of the Chinese, the Malays, and the Europeans in its architecture and shops.
We went into quite a few shops to check out their foodstuff and from the start, poor Dad had to start lugging around two big bags of foods (they refused to heed my advice that such shops are a dime a dozen and can be bought before we head back to the hotel – Mum thinks ‘since we are here, let’s quickly just get it…’). So here we are, sitting and waiting in one of the shops as Mum unleashes her shopping frenzy of local delicacies…
We then came to the oldest temple in Malacca, and went in (my parents are staunch Buddhists so they made a token donation and lit some joss sticks) as well. Luckily Rosabelle was distracted enough by the pear I brought for her to let Popo take over from me and carry her (refuses to let my mum go near her, for strange reasons we can’t fathom…). Thankfully she could still bite from/off it despite the swelling on her lower lip.
We then made our pilgrimage to Ah Meng shop selling T-shirts (nothing suitable for kids), and also took some photos there (though Simon was adamant that I was committing felony by taking photos even when the shop signage explicitly told us not to…)
We had to take a photo of the Jonker Street sign, and stopped for a dessert of durian chendol (Rosabelle also had some).
We then headed to the usual church area for some camwhoring…
By this time, Simon had spotted the many tourist trishaws milling around and wanted a ride in it, but I was waiting around and hoping they could reduce the prices (by walking away) – they obviously did not, since they did not bother to call us back. I took my time then to walk around and explore other parts of the area, with an increasingly impatient Simon wanting his ride…
Our girl had the mood to pose for more shots, giving me a collage of her sweetest smiles ever (in spite of a painful lower lip…ouch…). She liked wearing her hat, which was just as well, given the hot day it was.
Finally, Simon got his wish when we settled on a 45-minute ride for 20 ringgit (about SGD10, or RMB50) with a young trishaw rider who blasted music from his MP3.
Our girl was contented to take in the sights as Simon sat on Popo’s lap (my Dad did not sit as it could not take as many people, so he rested somewhere else, closely guarding Mum’s treasures of Malacca’s delicacies…), and you can clearly see shots of her swollen lip from these angles.
We went around the area on the trishaw as the young rider offered to take family photos for us – see if you can spot us in these? He was taking many photos from different angles, and looked professional enough, since he has probably taken countless snapshots of tourists. However, after I browsed through the photos in the camera, I had a hard time finding the humans – guess his focus was on taking a panoramic shot of the whole aeroplane/train/ship…
Luckily I took my own photos as we stopped at forts to pose with cannons…and the whole trip lasted for only 30 minutes – maybe he wasn’t counting on us wrapping things up so quickly at each spot – guess 40 minutes includes lingering time at each stop.
We then ate chicken ball rice at one of the shops (didn’t go to the famous one as there was a long queue) – it was certainly nicer and cheaper than that at The Chicken Rice Shop yesterday. Simon was very pleased as chicken rice is his staple food…
After that, we headed back to the hotel and rested, though Rosabelle slept for only an hour (and Simon was strangely wide awake and did not want to sleep at all). We then headed to Dataran Palawan by taxi, a huge shopping mall with a strange medley of different small shops with nothing much to buy (except nonsensical knick-knacks), so the kids were more attracted to the rides and even drove some toy cars around… (as Rosabelle chomped on some muffins Mum smuggled from the breakfast table…).
By the time dinner time swung around, we realized there wasn’t any proper restaurants around, so guess where we went to again? Yes, the all-convenient Mahkota Parade Shopping Centre just opposite our hotel. I wasn’t very happy that Mum almost relented when Simon insisted on going to The Chicken Rice Shop again – one more time I hear ‘chicken rice’, I will seriously flip. So we compromised and went to Kenny Rogers instead where they have side dishes of rice, and yes, chicken. So effectively, he can get his chicken rice fix there too whilst we normal people ate OTHER things like mashed potatos, soups, vegetables, salads…

That night in the hotel, I made sure to watch Rosabelle well, and when I again heard her cry unusually, my Dad was again looking after them (or not?). I did not witness it, but she tripped in their room and fell on her swollen lip, making it bleed slightly again. Aiyo, so poor thing… so my Mum gave my poor Dad a telling-off (negligent as he may be at times, I’m sure he did not want Rosabelle to fall again, and kids being kids, it really is hard to watch over them, especially two of them, at times…).

I was very careful to not turn on any lights on the table since they are all exposed lamp shades – the last time Simon was here, he burnt his fingers touching the light bulbs (and yes, Dad was the one watching him), so I really could not afford another mishap! Thankfully it was an otherwise uneventful night (other than when I was harsh on Rosabelle and made her apologise for pushing Popo when Mum was trying to remove her diaper for her before bath), and I could finally get a good night’s rest.

Thinking that everything was a-ok, I did not count on it to actually rain heavily again that night and disrupt my sleep… drat.

The next morning, it was still pouring heavily, so we had a large breakfast first in the hotel.
I then went to borrow two large umbrellas from the concierge first (for free…) and we walked around the hotel, trying to wait out the rain. We visited the souvenir shop, where I saw a lady wanting to purchase the same umbrella for RMB60 (I whispered to her that she could borrow one from the concierge and she was most grateful). Seeing that there was no signs of the rain letting down, we went back to the hotel room first to pack up as much as we could before heading out for lunch.

Luckily the rain was less heavy by then as we went opposite to yes, Mahkota Parade, again, for lunch. Adamant that our last meal in Malacca was NOT to be at The Chicken Rice Shop, I lured Simon to Secret Recipe on the pretext that they were giving out free Ben 10 cups with every kids’ meal – he enjoyed the spaghetti as well. Our girl was munching on a breakfast muffin all along, so obviously she did not take much of the lunch I’d ordered for her.
When we got back to the hotel, we then returned the well-used umbrellas as the kids played around the stair area…and we then headed back to collect our luggage and wait at the lobby.
Somebody was pretending to sleep as she waited on the sofa…
Apparently there were two Konsortium buses that afternoon, and the one that came earlier refused to take us as there was another fetching us. Oh well… the second one came soon enough and we got on. This trip round, Rosabelle was adamant on harassing Simon, and kept wanting to sit next to and press at his remote control. I had to let her eat Ribena sweet and prawn crackers to keep her occupied – thankfully she managed to catch 40 minutes of sleep after some time and woke up just as we pulled into customs.
The bus ride back was very fast, but we had some hiccups at the causeway. Simon’s passport had actually expired (well, technically not so, as it’s less than 6 months from the usual grace period passports expire – something I can’t figure out), and my brother-in-law had to bring him to the Immigrations & Checkpoints Authority just a few days before our departure to get them to help issue a one-time permit. At the Singapore immigration on our way back into Singapore, the lady spent some time perusing this document (a trainee perhaps?), and after we left, she actually called us back when we were at the bus waiting area, to go into the office. Turns out my mum needed to sign some document to certify that she had surrendered the piece of paper to them – chay, so inexperienced, she should have asked her to do so there and then – what if we had left?

Obviously we had not, as we had to wait another 15 minutes for our bus to clear immigration. The folks were checking very thoroughly for things in the bus, and at one point, I was warning my mum that it must be her many bottles of water that they thought were alcohols, haha!

When we reached Golden Mile, luckily it was easy to catch a taxi back home to Simsville as my parents headed out to get dinner, thankfully bringing both the kids along as I unpacked. Mum told me Rosabelle was harassing Simon so much in the car, wanting to sit on his lap, that Simon was getting quite exasperated, haha!

That night, after a good dinner (no chicken rice for me, as you can expect), poor Rosabelle suffered from her misadventures in Malacca as she could not enjoy her favourite orange slices properly as her lips were smarting from the citrus juices. I had to help her place the slices gingerly into her mouth, carefully avoiding the lip area… After dinner, we even paid a visit to our neighbour’s house as she spotted Naomi Meimei and Gabriel Ge Ge at play, and she enjoyed playing with their toys.

I’m glad that we made the trip despite all the hiccups and mishaps, as she let Popo bathe her for the very first time that night – hopefully it’s because of the trip that has led to her developing a closeness for family, heh! But lesson learnt – next time, we’ll book earlier, and next time, I will try and watch over Rosabelle more myself, haha!