Monday, December 13, 2010

Crossing out the ‘To Go’s!

We had a rather packed weekend, and I still have the remaining days of the Guilin/Yangshuo trip to blog about, and I am going to start planning/preparing for our Christmas weekend getaway – yaay! As Wayne has 4 days off in a row, we will be driving up to Pingyao, an old city (just one of two in the whole of China that has been accorded a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage status) I’ve been wanting to visit. This, along with a rather expensive hotel, Jing’s Residences (comes highly recommended by my brother), so I am considering hard whether we should splurge on the lodging…

In any case, the last weekend came and flew past, where we first headed to another place on my 'To Go’ list – Today Art Museum near Pingod Residences just a 5-minute drive down the road from where we stay. It was exceptionally cold that day, with gusty winds, and our girl who does not normally like to don hats, actually asked to 戴帽 – she looks slightly strange here as the woollen hat is supposed to be pulled back slightly to expose some hair so she doesn’t look like an egghead, but choosing between fashion and keeping her practically warm, the conscious mother in me took over… (She's also sporting a new pair of Nikes, a tad too big, but she insists it's comfy after she saw me take them out for her...)
It was a 5 minute walk from where we parked – which could have taken 2 minutes instead, but remember, we’re with a straggly toddler? – and was littered with small shops and cafes that were not opened yet as we were quite early. Along the way, there were also some interesting exhibits, and I can just imagine this place hustling and bustling with life with a lot of quirky/art-farty types on a busy afternoon…
And then we reached the museum, which has its trademark row of men looking down, and the circle of men standing outside. Rosabelle even walked in the cold weather after our trip to scrutinize every single man within the circle.
We then went into the museum and was surprised to see at least 5 other families with kids during our time there – I wasn’t expecting so many people to have the same idea and make this a family outing. The place wasn’t very big, just 4 levels, of which only two had exhibits on them, but it was all for free, and all very nice – even the signages look so chic (if you'd ignore the English...)!
Rosabelle seemed to enjoy looking at the various exhibits and films, and even though Wayne and I aren’t that into art, it was good to expose her to various elements and forms.
There was an interesting mix of artists and exhibits, and no doubt if we had better appreciated art, we might have stayed on longer and/or explained more to our girl, but it was still a nice ‘to the museum’ experience nonetheless.
Since it was still early, we then headed to Jianwai SOHO where I had another place I’ve been wanting to visit – Kids’ Republic Bookstore. It was a really small bookstore but held a lot of books, mainly Chinese, though they had some shelves of English and Japanese books as well. We only stayed on awhile as I wasn’t really sure how to select Chinese books, and the assistant’s recommendations weren’t really what I was looking for. Think I might go back on another day when I have more time, and Rosabelle can just spend the time browsing through whatever catches her fancy as I do my book-shopping (or I can even go onto Taobao as there are online bookstores, but I just need to know what I am looking for or it can get overwhelming).

We then left to be on time for our 1pm brunch appointment at Chef Too, again another restaurant I’ve been wanting to visit. I read about their great brunch and complimentary meal for the kids, so we went with high expectations. Too high, I think…. The steak and eggs I had was passable, whilst Wayne’s recommended eggs benedict was so-so. Maybe the best thing was the two free pancakes (very nice and fluffy!) that Rosabelle had, which came with a slice of bacon that she ate half of. I wasn’t very keen on having her chew on the over-salty, processed bacon, but oh well, it’s only once in awhile and she’s already big enough to try this, I guess.
Our bill turned out to be about RMB400, as we had three drinks amongst ourselves, and had to order a chicken salad to share as I wasn’t very full, and Rosabelle wasn’t eating much of the eggs and potato I was sharing with her.

Seeing that she had such a late lunch, we asked if she wanted to ‘go home, milk milk time and sleep’, or go shopping. Of course, she’s my daughter, and she started chirping ‘shopping, shopping!’, so off we headed to Solana down the road for a walk.
We weren’t planning on buying anything, so it was more to just look around and work off the lunch, as Rosabelle had fun playing with some chair and cushion displays outside a shop, even picking up posing tactics from her
last photo shoot as she propped up her cheek with a hand, and also peeked out sideways from a signboard and asked me to take a shot of her.
She was tired out on the way home and slept for about 10 minutes as I carried her from the car back home, waking up as we were taking off her shoes. Thinking she would be tired out, we quickly went through the rites and got her ready for her afternoon nap but nope, she had other things on her mind. She was making up the same delay tactics of going to the toilet, asking for water etc, like she does at night to put off sleep time, so I just laid down next to her for about 45 minutes and asked her to be quiet. When I woke up at 6pm from my 40 winks, she was still wide awake and was delighted when I told her to wake up since she was not sleeping already – guess her 10-minute power nap earlier must have recharged her fully!

So we pushed the schedule ahead and had her eat an early dinner, have an early wash-up, drink an early milk, and by the time she slept, it was indeed an hour earlier than usual – 11:30pm. Haha, it’s still late by anybody’s standards, but hey, she did not sleep for almost the whole day man…

The next morning, she sort of slept in as she got up ‘late’ at 9:30am (usually 8:30am), which was fine, since Wayne was heading out first to get some paperwork sorted for his暂住证 (turns out we still need to get some paperwork in place done by some folks here, so it was a wasted trip anyway – I REALLY miss Singapore’s efficiency at times like these), so we stayed at home till he came home to bring us out for lunch.

Lunch time was a date at 陶朱公馆with Wayne’s colleague Jon and his wife, Gloria. Both of them are Canadian Chinese and extremely nice and friendly, so it wasn’t long before Rosabelle warmed up to them, especially Gloria whom she was seated next to. Our girl was really on her best behavior throughout, feeding herself well (i.e. no mess, eating most of the things put on her plate/in her bowl), and even wanting to try most of the things. Whenever a new dish came onto the table, she would say ‘玥玥要try try这个', and provided it’s not spicy, I will usually offer it to her as it encourages her to always try new things and be adventurous. Some times, she will reject the food after one bite, but I praise her for trying (like how she scrunched her whole face up when she tasted a spoon of vinegar), and at other times, she will say ‘这个好吃' and go on to finish up a whole siew mai by herself.
Lunch ended quickly enough and we then headed to a hotel near Wayne’s office to look for Dr. D, the chiro. He had come back from the States and was commissioned by the corporation to be in charge of a new branch, so just as well as this new place had much nicer facilities/surroundings than the previous clinic, was cheaper, and we were the only ones there since not a lot of people know about it.

Wayne had a shoulder/back pain so I carried Rosabelle as we watched Dr. D massage/knead him and do scraping/cupping on him. I must admit it did look quite painful and terrifying, as our sweet girl would endearingly call ‘Papa, Papa…’, then go up to him and rest her head on his arm, as if comforting him. So when time came for Dr. D to massage her, boy did she scream! Naturally, of course, as she must have thought she would also have to go through the motions of the scary scraping and fires with cupping… So I carried her as she still resisted whilst Dr. D lightly felt her back and pushed some parts. Nothing intensive as there wasn’t anything to fix, but luckily she stopped screaming after awhile.

This day’s afternoon nap was settled in minutes as she dozed off whilst nursing, allowing Wayne and I to sneak out for a once-in-awhile date – shopping this time round! I wanted H&M, he wanted Zara (spotted a wool coat on Saturday at Solana) so we went to Raffles City, one of my favourite places, mainly also because it has my favourite snacks/drinks at the basement level, haha!

What followed was about two hours of retail therapy – did I forget to mention I was suffering from a nagging headache since Friday night and this strangely went away when I started shopping, wahahaha! I was grabbing at least 15 different items at H&M and dropping them into the in-store shopping bag, and they weren’t even having a sale! As the queue for the changing rooms had formed, I took heart in the fact that the camisole and chiffon top I was wearing were thin, so I could just layer them on as I dumped my bags at the side of a mirror and started trying on the larger knit tops. An ugly-looking ang mor woman came by and asked me in Mandarin as she held out a paper cup in front of me, ’请问垃圾桶在哪里?', thinking I was the service staff sorting out clothes, sheesh! I told her in English, ‘No idea, go ask the service staff over there…’ and pointed her in the direction of the cashier.

I ended up buying about RMB900 worth of clothing (and got one top in two different colours after I decided that it was so comfortable and fitting, haha!)…

Then it was Wayne’s moment as we headed to Zara, and he got close to RMB2,500 worth of things (just as well, it would be his belated birthday package, haha!), getting two additional items upon his fashion advisor’s (ahem, me) advice, heh! In between, I managed to get a cup of my favourite Happy Lemon bubble tea and Tip Top curry puff – delish.

By the time we reached home most satisfied with our purchases, it was close to 7pm and time for dinner, with our girl giving us the sweetest, warmest welcome when we came through the door. Ah, the bliss of a family weekend, especially if you combine it with my first loves of eating and shopping…

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