Thursday, September 14, 2006

Inka and Irza's Journeys in Brief: August 2006

This is a brief of Inka and Irza's journeys for the month of August 2006. Apologise, I didn't have the time to update this blog quite often. Kindly visit my site at Multiply for the latest updates on Inka and Irza's journey. I will usually post all the pictures there.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Mama's Birthday

Saturday, 5th of August 2006, is Mama's birthday. However, a lot of things to do on that day caused us to be not able to celebrate her birthday on that day. In the morning, I needed to go to the apartment's management office, to report our key access cards, which were not working. I took Inka and Irza there, and on our way back, they wanted to play at the children's playground near the management office. In the end, they were having a great time playing there. The pictures can be found here.

After lunch, we went to a Sport's Day event, conducted by YWMA Kindergarten, Irza's school, to celebrate Singapore's National Day, which is on its 41st birthday this month. This event is held at the Bukit View Primary School site in Bukit Batok, and it started at... 2pm! Yes, you read it correctly, it was started at 2pm, under the hot baking sun. I don't quite understand, why they have to conduct a sports event in the afternoon, not morning or evening. The kids were really being baked under the hot sun!

Yes, there were two tents provided, one for the students and another one for visitors (parents and families). But the activities would still be conducted in the middle of the field, under the hot sun. The tent provided for the visitors were also not enough to cater for all, so some parents chose to wait and watch from the far end of the field, covered by some trees, but quite far from the centre of the activities.

The event started with all the students performing aerobics. Immediately, all the parents were surrounding the field to take pictures, causing us who sit on the visitors seats under the tent, not able to see the kids in action. Walau le! So no choice, I also had to brave the hot baking sun to find a spot to get good pictures of Irza.

There were also some race events for the students. Each class had different type of contests. For Irza and his team, they needed to run carrying a pail, loading and unloading some stuff into/from the pail, and also go under a barrier. Well, we can say it's a small scale of a triathlon. And it turned out to be that Irza's team, K1E Tazmanian, become the first winner! Congratulations! :) :)

We also met Om Haris and Tante Inong's family there, since their son Zidan also took part on the contests. And the contest Zidan's class took part is gunnysack race. After all the contests were completed, there were gift presentation ceremony for all the students who took part, and all of them together sang the "We are Singapore" song, to celebrate Singapore's 61th National Day. We left the place at around 5pm, and the kids were also very tired. So it was not possible for us to celebrate Mama's birthday on that day. More pictures during the event can be found here.

The next day, we went to Parco Bugis Junction to buy a birthday cake for Mama, as well as to have our lunch. We intended to have lunch at Seoul Garden, a Korean buffet restaurant there, however it was closed due to a private event. So we went to Ngee Ann City, and had our lunch at the Seoul Garden outlet there. It's one of our favourite restaurants, serving halal Korean-style marinated chicken and beef (bulgogi) which we cook ourselves on the grill provided in the middle of the table. They also provide steamboat for us to boil the vegetables, sausages, prawns, and many more. Tips for family with kids: come on Sundays, since kids can dine for free (one kid per one adult). The pictures can be found here.

After finishing our lunch, we went to the basement hall of Takashimaya, since it was the last day of the 10th Craziest Toy Sale. We also went to the Bengawan Solo outlet there to buy the birthday cake for Mama. During our way home, Irza was very tired and slept, and his sleep continued past evening, so we were also not able to celebrate Mama's birthday on that day.

Eventually, we managed to celebrate Mama's birthday the next day, Monday 7th of August 2006, after I came back from the office. As usual, we prepared the birthday cake with some candles to be lit. Everyone sang the "Happy Birthday" song for Mama, and then the kids helped Mama to blow the candles. The pictures can be found here.

Happy birthday, Mama. :)

[Indonesian version]

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Singapore Botanic Gardens

On a Sunday evening, 30th of July 2006, the whole family went to Singapore Botanic Gardens, on our way back home from Orchard. We entered the Botanic Gardens via the Taman Serasi Food Garden, a food court which has just renovated recently. This food court is located on a building along Cluny Road, near to the junction with Holland Road.

We walked past the food court to a newly renovated garden, just behind the food court building. From there, we continued our journey towards the Swan Lake. The lake is called Swan Lake because there are quite a lot of swans there, fed by the visitors. There's also a giant swans sculpture in the middle of the lake.

We then continued our journey towards the Symphony Lake, passing though the Bonsai Garden and the Vanda Miss Joaquim, Singapore's national flower. There are many people strolling around the area, having picnic and exercising. There are also some music and dance performances being held at the Shaw Foundation Symphony Stage, which is located on the Symphony Lake itself.

We then proceeded to the Singapore Botanic Gardens' Visitor Centre, and the kids bought some ice creams from one of the kiosks there. From there, we traced our way back to the carpark. We passed the Symphony Lake again, and we went to the back side of the lake to avoid the crowds and take some pictures there, before proceeding to the Ginger Garden.

Ginger Garden is located near the Orchid Plaza, next to the National Orchid Garden. The kids love to go to Ginger Garden because of its waterfall. Well, it's just a small man-made waterfall, however the kids can play around and even go to a small cave behind the waterfall. We also took some pictures there.

From there, we then went back to the carpark at Taman Serasi and going back home. More pictures can be found here.

[Indonesian version]

Saturday, August 12, 2006

NDP Preview 2006 and Tante Mela's Farewell

On Saturday, 29th of July 2006, Inka, together with her parents, went to the preview of the National Day Parade for this year. For this year, the event is being held back at the National Stadium, after being held at the Padang last year. This year will be the last year the NDP to be hosted at the National Stadium, since the stadium will be demolished this year, to make way for a new sports centre to be built at the existing site.

This is actually a "preview" of the NDP event which was held yesterday, during the National Day itself. However, this preview actually shows almost the same performances as the actual event itself. Except the president and the prime minister, which are being passed for by someone else, all the other performances are real, such as the marching band, the choir, the paratroopers, the jet fighter planes, and of course, the fireworks.

We actually have four tickets, and Irza was supposed to go as well. However, after I told him that there'll be jet fighter planes and fireworks display, he refused to go since he doesn't like very loud noises. So, only the three of us going, while Irza chose to stay at home. We parked our car at the Gateway on Beach Road, since we were not allowed to park within the National Stadium complex itself. From there, we continue our journey to the stadium using the bus services provided. After alighting from the bus, we still need to walk to the north entrance of the stadium.

The queue is quite long while entering the stadium, because although they didn't check our bags, however they are giving fun pack bags which is quite big, containing all the goodie bags for the event, including some snacks, drinks (including the Newater), a torch which looks like a Nokia handphone, a Singapore flag, a hat which is being decorated with an illuminated Singapore flag, and some baloon sticks which we can use to give applause.

The event started at around 5pm, and finished at around 8pm. Some of the performances include some trapeze artists who are being lifted by balloons, Gurmit Singh and other hosts who were sliding to the field using a rope, paratroopers, jet fighter planes flying above the stadium, and other performances in the field itself, such as marching band and soldiers performing ceremonial gun salute.

On top of that, of course, the fireworks display is the main attraction all the spectators were expecting. Inka were really enjoying her time there, especially when all the spectators were making some noise and even creating some waves around the stadium. More pictures can be found here.

To avoid the crowd while leaving the stadium, we decided to get out of the stadium prior to the end of the event. So, we watched the final fireworks display from outside the stadium, on our way back to the bus stop. It's because on the same night, we would also need to go to Tante Hany's house at Braddell, to attend the firewell party of Tante Mela and family, who are leaving for Batam the next day.

The bus took us back to the Gateway carpark, and then we proceeded to Braddell. We reached Braddell at around 9pm, and fortunately, there were still some friends hung out there and there's still some food left ;) including some of the famous Braddell satay, which were grilled at the last minute for us. :)

Inka then joined their friends there and play. Some of them, who were still around that night, are Kakak Fira and Adam, who are leaving for Batam the next day, Abang Dzaky, Athaya and Alita, Aily and Algo, Dandy, and of course, the host, Hanan and Haifa. Surprisingly, all the children could still stay put and hang out until late night, and we only left Braddell at around 10:30pm. More pictures can be found here.

The next day, I and my wife went to Harbourfront Centre, to say goodbye to Om Ambar and Tante Mela and family, who are leaving Singapore for Batam. Unfortunately, Inka and Irza chose to stay at home and didn't want to go along, although there were quite a lot of their friends also coming to Harbourfront and saying goodbye to Kakak Fira and Adam. More pictures of the children at Harbourfront (without Inka and Irza, unfortunately) can be found here.

[Indonesian version]

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Quicklink: Photos of the Week - 3

Some pictures taken at:

[Indonesian version]

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Art Museum and Small Birthday Party

After attending the BTPS Fun Day, I and Irza went t.. umm... near Bras Basah area. The first destinati.. umm.... target *phew!!* is the NTUC building, where I can get my birthday gift given by NTUC (thanks NTUC!). :) After leaving the NTUC building, I saw the Art Museum just beside the building, and after reading my friend's experience with her kids in a museum, I felt like wanna take Irza visiting a museum as well. Thus, we went there. :)

This museum is using an aged building which have since been ren... umm.. refurbished. :) Actually, there's an entrance fee visiting the museum, but we were given free entrance that day. :) There are galleries at the 1st and 2nd level, as well as in the bulding's 2 wings. Myself wasn't really agree if it's called a "museum", since all the paintings displayed are made by painters at the present. Unf.. umm... sadly, we weren't permitted taking pictures inside the galleries. The pictures are here.

We then went near Bugis, and having cakes and ice creams during tea time at Delifrance. The pictures are here.

Same day itself, my wife has actually updated the kids that my birthday was the next day. Nevertheless, the D-day itself, we didn't plan anything in celebrating the birthday, and my kids was a bit disapp.. umm... dissatisfied. :) As a result, we decided that we shall celebrate the birthday the day after (24 July 2006). Well, it's better be late than never, right? :)

The next day, after werk (hahaha, maksa! - red), I went West Mall buying a Swensen's ice cream cake. And there we are, celebrating my birthday, with all the kids' happy faces while they (helped me) blew the candles and cut the cake....

The pictures are here.

[Bahasa language]

Friday, July 28, 2006

BTPS Fun Day and Open House

On Saturday, 22nd of July 2006, Bukit Timah Primary School, Inka's school, is conducting a Fun Day and Open House event. The event was open not only to its pupils, but also to the public, especially those parents who are considering sending their children there for school, so they can find out more about the school's facilities in details.

The "Fun Day" event itself is really fun, because it's really a "from pupils for pupils" event. All the stands are manned by the pupils themselves, and each class have its own stand. I really don't see any teachers helping them to man the stands. So it looks like the pupils have been trained to do everything by themselves.

We can purchase some coupons sold by the teachers, and use the coupons to pay for the purchases we make at the stands, or to play many games provided by the stands. Some of the games provided including "throw the ball" game and mini golf, and they also provide us with some gifts for the players.

Inka and Irza were having a great time there. We also spent some time to have early lunch in the school's cafeteria, which provides quite a lot of Singaporean food with incredibly low fares, before going back home.

More pictures during the event can be found here.

[Indonesian version]

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Visiting Aunty Natalia's Family at Cashew Heights

Last Sunday (16 July 2006), I took Inka and Irza to visit Aunty Natalia and Uncle Eric's new apartment at Cashew Heights, around Bukit Panjang, Singapore. They just moved from Choa Chu Kang to Bukit Panjang last May, so this would be the first time we visited their new apartment. It's just about 10 minutes drive from where we live currently. Aunty Natalia and Uncle Eric are both my ex-colleagues in the present company I'm currently working for.

We reached their place at around 4:10pm, and was surprised to see the size of the apartment. It's very big, with quite a sizeable living room for the children to play. Inka and Irza immediately joined Nigel to play together, while Ernest (Ernie), Nigel's younger brother, joined shortly after he woke up from his nap. There were quite a lot of toys, all belong to Nigel and Ernie, accompanying them while they were having time playing together.

All the kids then put on their swimming gears, and headed on to the swimming pool within the apartment complex. It's quite a big swimming pool, with a smaller kids pool with quite a big slide. Inka and Irza were having the great time using the slides. They were also playing with Ernie, using all the swimming toys Ernie and Nigel have, while Nigel chose to use the bigger swimming pool for him to improve his swimming skills.

All of them then went back to the apartment and had shower. After changing their clothes, they proceeded to the dining room and we had dinner together at the dining table. Aunty Natalia prepared a very nice barbequed chicken wings for the kids, served with breadsticks. On top of that, she also ordered some pizzas from Canadian 2-in-1 Pizza. All the kids enjoyed their dinner very much, especially Inka who finished about five pieces of the chicken wings.

After dinner, they went back to the spacious living room and continue playing. They still played for around half an hour, before leaving their place at around 8:30pm to go back to our home. They were really having a great time, and we'll surely come back again some time later. :)

More pictures can be found here.

[Indonesian version]

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Bukit Batok West Shopping Centre

Yesterday (Saturday, 15 July 2006), I took Inka and Irza to Bukit Batok West Shopping Centre to have breakfast at the McDonalds restaurant within the shopping complex. This is actually not a shopping mall, but a row of HDB shopping blocks which we usually find at most Singapore's heartlands. Such shopping complex is usually also equipped with a hawker centre and a wet market.

This shopping complex is located around Bukit Batok West, near the junction of Bukit Batok West Avenue 6 and Bukit Batok Street 11. The McDonalds restaurant is located in Block 152, facing the West Ave 6. There are row of shops selling many products, which usually are cheaper than those in most air-conditioned shopping malls. Such these places are where most Singaporeans do their shopping. There's also a food court (hawker centre) at block 155, serving the usual Singapore cuisines. At that time, the place was packed even though it was a bit raining.

At McDonalds, Inka ordered the hotcakes while Irza ordered his favourite big breakfast. I used the coupons I got from Strait Times, entitled us with a free breakfast (hotcakes or egg McMuffin) for every breakfast meal ordered. Not bad! :) After breakfast, we went to a playground near the food court, next to block 164, and Inka and Irza were having a great time playing there. More pictures can be found here.

As what muhnur has pointed out (in bahasa Indonesia), it's quite easy to find playgrounds around Singapore's heartlands. You can find a playground at almost every corner of Singapore's HDB blocks, and most (if not all) of all private apartments and condominiums are surely equipped with one. This is one of Singapore's effort to provide free facilities for its young generation to play and learn. Wish Indonesia could do the same as well...

[Indonesian version]

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Indo-Sing Gathering at Ayam Bakar Ojolali Restaurant

Last Sunday (10th of July 2006), I took Inka and Irza to the Indo-Sing gathering cum lunch at Ayam Bakar Ojolali restaurant, located on the 3rd floor of Lucky Plaza, Orchard Road, Singapore. We reached the restaurant at around 1:30pm, about half an hour behind schedule. We were greeted by Uncle Sigit and family (Aunty Narind and Max), Uncle Ikhsan, Uncle Willy and Uncle Emir Faisal. Aunty Ekky and her daughter Theresa followed shortly after.

Inka and Irza were having a great time playing with Max, Uncle Sigit’s son. They were also enjoying their fried chicken and rice for their lunch. They also ordered their favourite drink, milo dinosaurs, which is – surprisingly – sold there.

More pictures during the gathering can be found here.

[Indonesian version]

Friday, July 07, 2006

Kuala Lumpur Trip

On 24-25 June 2006, I and Irza went to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for a short sightseeing during the weekend. My company was organising a weekend trip to Kuala Lumpur using bus/coach, so I and Irza went along together with my colleagues from the office, while Inka stayed at home with her mother.

On Saturday morning, 24 June 2006, we left home at around 6:30am because we needed to reach the office by 7am. Note that in Singapore, sunrise is at 7am, so 6:30am is still considered dark here in Singapore (equivalent to 5:30am in Jakarta). The super-VIP coach bus, with Singapore registered number PZ 1257 T, left my office at Science Park at around 7:15am and hit the Ayer Rajah Expressway (AYE) towards Tuas checkpoint, which is Singapore's gateway to Malaysia on the west side of the island. The queue on the bus lane was quite long (despite that we have reached the checkpoint quite early), and the bus only left Tuas around 8am.

The bus then cross the Tuas Second Link bridge before hitting the North-South Expressway towards Kuala Lumpur. Bus made a brief stop at Yong Peng, to allow those people who haven't had any breakfast that morning, to have some light breakfast. More pictures during the bus journey from Singapore to Yong Peng can be found here, while pictures in Yong Peng can be found here.

From Yong Peng, the bus continue its journey towards Ayer Keroh area, Malacca, and stopped at Restoran Lee, a halal Chinese restaurant. We reached the restaurant at around 12 noon, just in time for lunch. We had a nice lunch there, which cost was absorbed by the tour company since it's part of the tour. The Chinese food was delicious, and the pictures can be found here.

After lunch, we continue our journey to Kuala Lumpur. We reached Kuala Lumpur at around 2pm, and we went to the hotel to check-in. We stayed at the Istana Hotel, a nice five-star hotel around Bukit Bintang area, specifically along Jalan Raja Chulan, not too far from the Raja Chulan monorail station. I and Irza got a room on the fifth floor, with a view towards the monorail track along Jalan Sultan Ismail. Irza was really excited with the view, since he could see the monorail moving on its track. More pictures at the hotel room can be found here.

We had time for our own after checking-in, because the city tour would only start the next morning. After taking a short break in the hotel room, we then started our journey in Kuala Lumpur. Our first destination was the Berjaya Times Square, a shopping mall which is located along Jalan Imbi, which is not far from the hotel, only two monorail stations away. So, from outside the hotel, we crossed the Jalan Raja Chulan towards the monorail station, and from there, we took the monorail to Imbi station, which is located in front of and directly connected to Berjaya Times Square. Irza wouldn't need to purchase any tickets for the monorail, only adults are required to purchase tickets. The system is similar to Singapore's old farecard system before migrating to the new EZ-Link system. While passing the gate when entering the station, we would need to insert the ticket, and take it back. Once we reach the destination, we need to insert the ticket again while passing the gate upon exiting.

Berjaya Times Square is a big shopping mall, which is equipped with two indoor theme parks, one for children and another one for adults. It's similar to Bandung Super Mall, but in a much bigger scale. Last time we also had visited this mall couple of times when we visited Kuala Lumpur. However, Irza (and also Inka, last time) didn't like the environment inside the theme park, which can be very noisy, especially when the roller coaster is running. I know that Irza won't be comfortable there, so I decided to take Irza to Mines Wonderland instead, a small evening theme park which is located around Serdang, south of Kuala Lumpur.

We took the monorail from Imbi station to KL Sentral station, which is the biggest interchange station in Kuala Lumpur. The KL Sentral monorail station is located outside the main KL Sentral building, so we needed to walk through a market alley, similar to Bugis Village in Singapore. Inside the main KL Sentral building, we looked for the ticket counter for the KTM Commuter train to Serdang. Different from the monorail, for this commuter train, Irza needed to pay the child fare.

After buying the tickets, we went straight to the gate towards the KTM Commuter train platform. After checking the map displayed, we found out that to go to Serdang, we needed to go to platform 6 to catch the next train to Seremban. Once we reached the platform, there's a plasma TV display showing that the next train would arrive at 17:24hrs. It turned out to be that the train only arrived at around 17:35hrs, more than 10 minutes behind its schedule.

The train was very very crowded. I immediately put all my wallets and mobile phone inside my bag, since KL public transport system is very infamous for the pickpocketing activities. Luckily, someone gave her seat for Irza so he could sit down during the trip.

The train journey from KL Sentral to Serdang took about 20 minutes, passing through Mid Valley station, which is located just in front of the Mid Valley Mega Mall, a famous mega shopping mall around the area. Serdang station itself is a small and open-air station, very much looks like those small stations we can find along Jakarta-Cikampek train line in Indonesia. After exiting the station, we took the overhead bridge crossing the Sungai Besi Highway, towards the water taxi stop which is located opposite the station. We then took the water taxi, through a small lake and into a canal which goes straight to the Mines Shopping Fair, a Venetian-themed shopping mall with a big canal equipped with boats inside the mall. More pictures during our journey from the hotel to the shopping mall (the monorail, KTM Commuter train and water taxi rides) can be found here.

The entrance of Mines Wonderland is located just beside the shopping mall. The admission tickets were very expensive, RM 32 (around S$13 or 80,000 Indonesian rupiah) for adult, and RM 21 (around $9 or 52,000 rupiah) for child. Wow! But since we're there already, we decided to give it a try. Fortunately, I can save around RM5 by showing a 10% discount coupon from one of the Mines Wonderland brochures we got from the hotel, so I only needed to pay RM 48 (instead of RM 53) for one adult and one child.

Mines Wonderland itself is a simple and small theme park, much smaller than Jakarta's Dunia Fantasi in Ancol, or Kuala Lumpur's Genting Theme Park in Genting. However, it doesn't stop Irza from having a great time and enjoying all the attractions. We tried the Unity Train, Road Tram and the Vintage Car, circling around the park. We could even see the white tiger inside a mini zoo found along the Unity Train track. Irza also tried the small roller coaster there, and we also watched the Musical Fountain show, a fountain show with light and laser similar to the one in Sentosa. After having a great time there, we went back to the mall to buy back some KFC chicken for our dinner at the hotel. We then took a taxi ride back to the hotel. The taxi fare from Mines Shopping Fair to Kuala Lumpur downtown is RM 30, which is fixed and not using the meter. More pictures at Mines Wonderland can be found here.

The next morning, after having breakfast at the hotel, we started our city tour around Kuala Lumpur by visiting a chocolate factory around Jalan Imbi area, not far from the hotel. Here, we could sample some chocolates and listened to their presentation on how the chocolate was being made. Unfortunately, the chocolates are quite expensive, so I only bought one box of chocolate for Irza to bring home. More pictures can be found here.

From there, the bus took us to Istana Negara (the Palace), which is the official residence of the King of Malaysia, the Yang Dipertuan Agong. Of course, we could not enter inside the palace complex, so we only took pictures in front of the gate. The pictures can be found here.

We then continued our journey to the National Monument (Tugu Negara). which is located inside the Lake Gardens (Taman Tasik Perdana), not far from the Parliament Building. The monument was erected to commemorate the Malaysian soldiers who gave up their lives during the Japanese occupation between 1942-1945. One of the monuments depicts 7 Malaysian soldiers symbolising the seven quality of leaderships, surrounded by a small pond with dancing fountains. Irza was having a great time there. More pictures can be found here.

The bus then took us to some other historical buildings around Kuala Lumpur, such as the old railway station, the Merdeka square and the Sultan Abdul Samad building, although we only passed them through inside the bus, and did not get off the bus to take more pictures. The bus then continued the journey to the Mid Valley Megamall, and after some rounds around Bangsar because the driver missed a turn, we reached Mid Valley Megamall at around 11am.

We are given about 3 hours, until 2pm, for us to spend some time in the big shopping mall for shopping and lunch. I decided to bring Irza to the MegaKidz in the third floor. MegaKidz is a big indoor playground site with slides and steps to climb, similar to eXplorerKID at Downtown East in Singapore. Irza was having a great time there. We also had our lunch at the Food Junction, a food court on the same floor as MegaKidz.

After finishing our lunch, we went to the basement floor to buy some doughnuts from Dunkin Donuts, which we cannot find in Singapore, and also some breads from Bread Talk, which is surprisingly halal in Malaysia. We then go back to the bus, and continue our journey back to Singapore.

All the pictures during our trip to Kuala Lumpur above can be found here.

[Indonesian version]