Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Qurrata's Birthday at Pasir Ris Town Park

Last Sunday, 29 January 2006, which is the first day of the Chinese New Year, we went to Pasir Ris to attend the birthday party of Qurratayun, the lovely son of Mas Iman and Mbak Wanti. The party is being held at Pasir Ris Town Park, a nice park within the vicinity of the Pasir Ris Town, just next to the Pasir Ris MRT station and the White Sands shopping center. There's a big pond where people can fish hoping for their big catch, and the playground can keep children busy playing for hours.

We went to Suntec City first to buy present for Qurrata (Suntec City is one of only a few malls which were still open during Chinese New Year), before heading to Pasir Ris. We reached Pasir Ris Town Park at around 3:45pm, and it turns out to be a very enjoyable moment for us and the kids. The kids enjoyed their time by playing at the playground with their friends, while we had traditional Sundanese servings such as nasi timbel, sate ayam/kambing, lotek, rujak, tempe and tahu bacem, etc. There was also a "blow the candle" session for the birthday boy, and the kids also got their goodie bag before we left the party at around 7pm.

More photos of the kids at the party can be found here, as well as here (thanks to Mbak Mela), here (thanks to Mbak Hany), here (thanks to Mas Judhi and Mbak Ami) and here (thanks to Mas Ambar).

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Ernest and Alex's Birthday Party

Last Saturday, 21 January 2006 was quite a busy day for all of us. In the morning, we went to the Singapore Polytechnic Graduates' Guild (SPGG) at Dover Road, to attend the 3rd birthday party or Ernest (Ernie), the son of Uncle Eric and Aunty Natalia. We reached the SPGG clubhouse at around 10:30am, about half an hour late, and we went straight into the bowling alleys where everyone gathered. Inka and Irza was enjoying their time bowling. Ernie also blew the candles at the bowling arena.

After finished bowling, we went to the poolside to have lunch. Since the food is not halal, Natalia specially ordered KFC for us to eat. After lunch, the kids still had some time to play at the playground inside the clubhouse before we went back home. They were really having a great time. More pictures of us at the birthday party can be found here.

Once we reached home, the kids again ready to attend another birthday party. It's also the 5th birthday of Alex, Inka and Irza's friend, living just next door. Luckily the party is just next door, and we just sent the kids there while we had some rest at home.

There was actually another event we planned to attend, which is my wife's ISM club gathering at Siloso Beach, Sentosa. However, we noticed that the weather was not too good at that time, so we decided not to go. And what we expected came true, it was raining very heavy in the evening...

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Escape Theme Park Trip

Last Sunday (14 January 2006), our family took Pras' family, who is visiting Singapore, to Escape Theme Park in Downtown East, Pasir Ris, Singapore. We left home a bit late, almost noon, so we decided to have lunch first at Sarpino's Pizza, East Point Mall, Simei. We chose Simei because it's nearby Pasir Ris, our destination for the day. So we drove along the PIE all the way to Simei town, and parked our car at the basement carpark of East Point.

The restaurant is on the first floor, on the other side of the building facing the road towards the carpark. East Point is one of the malls with quite a lot of halal eateries. Just beside Sarpino's, there's another halal restaurant serving waffles (can't recall the restaurant name), and there's also Banquet Halal Food Court on the fifth floor. More photos of us at Sarpino's Pizza restaurant can be found here.

After having pizza, barbequed chicken and garlic bread as our lunch, we directly went to Downtown East, Pasir Ris. Amazingly, the carpark was not full, and we could park on a lot closest to the entrance of the theme park. It costs around $75 for all of us (4 adults and 3 kids) to enter the theme park. Furthermore, some of the rides were closed on the day, including the ferris wheel and our favourite family roller coaster. However, because of that, we got the tickets revalidated after we enjoyed the ride, so we can use the tickets to visit the theme park again for free. The tickets valid for 3 months. Not bad. :)

The kids loved the Go-Kart ride. My wife didn't dare to drive, so I drove the Go-Kart with Inka, while Pras drove the Go-Kart with Irza, and Riva drove the Go-Kart with Ristyo. The adults enjoyed the ride on the Pirate Ship, while the kids was having a great splashing time on the Bumper Boats. My wife and Riva also enjoyed their ride on the Kite Flyer, which made them fly like a Superman, erm.. a Superwoman... :)

More photos of us at the Escape Theme Park can be found here.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Lunch with Dini's family

Last weekend, my wife made an appointment with our neighbour Dini to have lunch together at The Rice Table Indonesian restaurant, Cuppage Terrace (behind Centrepoint shopping mall) in Orchard. Total, there are eight of us: myself, my wife, Inka, Irza, Dini, Mas Pam and their two children, Ilma and Nadya. We parked at Starhub Centre carpark and walked towards Cuppage Terrace. It was raining, in fact, it had been raining for the consecutive five days.

We had our buffet lunch there, except Inka, whom -- for some reason -- didn't want to eat or drink anything. The food is very nice, they served almost all types of Indonesian dishes, such as satay, beef rendang, grilled chicken... :)

After lunch, we shop around the shopping malls at the area, namely OG Orchard Point and Centrepoint. We met Pras and family at Centrepoint, and after buying some toys for the kids, we went back home.

Inka and Irza's new school

3 January 2006 is Inka's first day in Primary School. She studied at Bukit Timah Primary School, only 15 minutes ride from home. On her first day, my wife is allowed to accompany her throughout the day. Primary 1 is an afternoon/evening class, so she starts at around 12:30pm and finishes at around 6pm. Her school bus would pick her up at around 12 noon, and send her back at around 6:40pm in the evening.

Irza started his K1 a bit late. We registered him to enroll him at the Young Women Muslim Association (YWMA) Kindergarten (Taman Asuhan PPIS - Persatuan Pemudi Islam Singapura) Bukit Batok Centre on 11 January 2006, and he started his school on 12 January 2006. We also managed to arrange for his transport today, and he starts to use the school bus to go to his school today. His school bus would pick him up at around 10:30am, and will send him back at around 2:20pm. The school itself starts at 11:15am and ends at 2:12pm, it's the second afternoon session.

Sentosa Luge

On New Year's Day evening, I took my parents to Sentosa so they can try Singapore's newest attraction: Sentosa Luge. We parked our car at the Cable Car Plaza carpark, and bought the $20 family tickets for four. The queue was quite long, and once we reached the end of the queue, it was raining very badly. But since we have bought the tickets and have queued for quite long, we decided to just go for it.

I shared the luge with Inka, while Aki was taking Irza. On a rainy day, we enjoyed riding the luges down the hill towards the Siloso Beach. Reaching the base of the hill, the rain continued so we decided not to take the chairlift back up, too dangerous. I checked with one of the staff, and he suggested us to walk to the new Beach Station bus stop nearby, and catch the Blue Line bus back to the Cable Car Plaza.

We walked there under the rain, and found out that the queue for the Blue Line is very very long. So we decided to take the Beach Tram towards Siloso Beach, and took shelter at the Delifrance cafe there. While they were waiting at the cafe, I took the Green Line bus to Cable Cark Plaza, fetched our maid (who waited there) and our car, and I drove back to Delifrance to picked them up. We then went back home.

2005 Journey Recap - Spending Year End in Singapore

My parents are spending the last week of 2005 in Singapore, and there's only one main thing they do: shopping. They went to Orchard almost everyday during the weekday between 27 and 30 December 2005.

On the last day of the year (31 December 2005), we went to Bugis Junction and had lunch at the Swensen's Restaurant there. Inka and Irza are having a great time with their ice creams. As usual, Inka never wants the ice cream from the kids menu, and always want the one from the adult menu.

At night, we went to Esplanade to see the fireworks display. Inka was not feeling well, so she stayed at home with my wife. So only myself, Irza, Aki and Ene went to Esplanade. I recalled parking at Esplanade is very expensive, so I chose to park at Raffles City shopping centre instead. Luckily, we still can get a parking lot there. From there, we walked towards Esplanade.

Prior to the display, we visited the Esplanade itself and saw some of the artworks presented there. Irza and Ene is taking picture in front of one of the artworks (see left picture). After which, we went out to the Esplanade Bridge to find the right spot to view the fireworks display. Oh My God, the road, which was closed to traffic, was full of people. We couldn't even hardly move around. So we decided to just wait there and wait to watch the firework display.

The fireworks started just before midnight, not too sure why. Unfortunately, I was very busy watching the fireworks as well as carrying Irza (so he could see the display) so I didn't have the time to take pictures of the fireworks display. Last SMS with my friend Pras indicated that Pras and his wife, Riva and son, Ristyo, should be around there also somewhere, however I was unable to reach him by phone.

After the fireworks display ended, we walked back to Raffles City, and went directly into the carpark. Took us more than 20 minutes to leave the carpark due to the jam, and only after I almost reached the CTE tunnel entrance near Clarke Quay, then I managed to call Pras. I told him to wait at the bus stop along Hill Street, and then we fetched them and went straight to Bukit Timah.

We had our supper at the Al-Azhar coffee shop in Bukit Timah (opposite Beauty World Centre), amazingly both Irza and Ristyo were still awake despite spending quite some time there until around 3am in the morning. After finishing our supper, we sent Pras and family to their apartment in Bukit Batok, before we went home and called it off for the day.

Happy New Year 2006!

2005 Journey Recap - Malacca Trip (3)

The next day, for some reason, Aki suddenly wants to go to see KL. So in the morning, we changed our plan and after having the breakfast at the hotel, we set off to KL instead. We took the route 19 to KL, meaning we retraced our way to A'Famosa by taking the route 5 - M7 - 19 via Alor Gajah, before joining the North-South Expressway (E2) at Alor Gajah. The journey from Malacca to Kuala Lumpur was about 1.5 hours due to the high volume of traffic around Seremban.

Once reaching KL, we immediately went to Central Market (Pasar Seni), near Chinatown and drop my wife and my parents there, to do some shopping. Meanwhile, I drove the car with the kids to Berjaya Times Square shopping mall, on Jalan Imbi. I intended to take the kids to the indoor theme park there, however it turned out to be that they couldn't stand the noise there, especially the noise generated by the indoor roller coaster. So I took them for a monorail ride to KL Sentral and back, and guess what, the kids enjoy the ride very much, especially Irza. Especially, since we were seated near the driver so he can look around and also watch the driver drive the monorail.

We met my wife and my parents (they took cab from Central Market to Berjaya) and then we had lunch at the food court on the 10th floor of Berjaya Times Square. We then took the opportunity to do some shopping at the huge shopping mall after lunch, before going to the car park and ready to set off for a return journey back to Singapore.

We left Berjaya Times Square at 4pm, and reached Johor Bahru at around 8pm. Again, I decided to try our luck by taking the causeway instead of the second link, and guess what, there's almost no traffic along the causeway. It was so smooth that we even reached the Singapore immigration checkpoint without queueing! Alhamdulillah... In less than half an-hour, we were already finding ourselves on the BKE towards our home.

It was a great trip, and we will surely come back again.

2005 Journey Recap - Malacca Trip (2)

In the evening, we went to Malacca town. While I and Irza waited in the car, my wife and Inka took my parents to see the historical buildings around Dutch Square, such as the Christ Curch and the Stadhuys. They are having a great time taking pictures here and there, including the famous trishaws which are being decorated nicely to attract tourists. After visiting the tourist attractions, we headed to Mahkota Parade shopping mall, the biggest mall at the heart of the Malacca town. We took a walk around the big mall and had dinner at the new food court on the top floor, before heading back to the hotel.

The next day, after having breakfast in the hotel, we went to A'Famosa Water World, near Alor Gajah, Malacca. From the hotel, we took the normal route 5 highway towards Malacca, and once after passing the Klebang Beach, we turned left and taking the M7 route northwards, before joining the main route 19 to Alor Gajah. There's a new road bypassing Alor Gajah so we actually didn't pass the Alor Gajah town itself. We turned right at Simpang Ampat junction and after driving for several minutes, we can find the A'Famosa main complex on the right side of the road.

A'Famosa Resort complex is a very huge resort complex, with several theme park attractions, hotels and bungalows. The Water World complex is still around 10-15 minutes drive inside the complex, and we found ourselves inside a flood of cars towards the Water World complex. It's Christmas day, and a lot of Malaysians from different parts of Malaysia coming in to Water World to spend their holiday.

After buying ourselves the tickets, we joined the queue to enter the Water World complex. It's quite a big water theme park, definitely bigger than Singapore's Wet and Wild, even though it's not as big as Kuala Lumpur's Sunway Lagoon. The kids were enjoying their time taking the "lazy" river with the float we rented. Unfortunately, they were screaming very badly when we took them to the wave pool. :P

In the evening, we had seafood dinner at the Klebang Beach food court. The mood was a bit ruined due to delay in serving the food and the rain, but overall it's OK.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

2005 Journey Recap - Malacca Trip (1)

Just before Christmas, my parents are visiting us here in Singapore. They arrived through Batam, and I took one day leave on Friday, 23 December 2005, to fetch them from the Batam's Hang Nadim airport and brought them to Singapore. As usual, the kids are very happy to meet their grandparents (Aki and Ene) and the kids welcome them more than we (me and my wife) do. And I took this opportunity to take them to Malacca, during the Christmas holiday.

On Saturday morning, 24 December 2005, we set off from our home for Malacca. I chose to drive via Woodlands checkpoint, since during this kind of long holiday, I expect that the Tuas checkpoint will also be as jammed. As expected, there's traffic jam along the causeway, however the jam is still acceptable, and we could clear Malaysian immigration just over an hour after we set off from home. Quite OK...

We followed the federal route 1 to Senai, before joining the North South Expressway (route E2) towards Malacca and Kuala Lumpur. We reached the Ayer Keroh exit just after noon, and after taking a break along the highway, we decided that we need something to eat. While we have reached the route 5 towards Tanjong Kling, we came across a nice food court just by the seaside at Klebang Beach. So we decided to have our lunch there before checking-in at the hotel in Kling, which is still another 5-10 minutes drive from Klebang.

We checked-in at the Riviera Bay Resort Hotel. It's a very big hotel with spacious room, however the hotel building is quite old and we felt like it's a bit run down. However, we can see that we enjoy our time there, especially the kids, who can run around and appreciate the spacious living room. The swimming pool is surprisingly very small for such a huge hotel, so we were not actually tempted to try swimming there.

We walked along the beach, which you also cannot compare with Desaru or even the Siloso beach in Sentosa. Well, what can you expect from a beach facing the Straits of Malacca, the busiest shipping line in South East Asia. However, even though there's no way we can swim there due to the dirty water (even though I still saw some tourists daring themselves to swim there), however the athmosphere at the surrounding area is impressing. We walk towards the western end of the beach and found a "mini" sand-made island, which the kids like very much. We were also busy taking pictures there. More pictures of us during our trip to Malacca can be found here.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

2005 Journey Recap - Inka's Birthday

On 11 December 2005, we celebrated Inka's birthday at McDonalds King Albert's Park, Bukit Timah. The party is organised by McDonalds, so we just need to sit back, relax and of course, taking pictures. We invited some of Inka's school friends at MMI, including her best friend, Gail. We also invited some of my and my wife's friends' kids, such as Nonong's family, Shinta's family, Natalia's family, Angeline's family, and also the kid next door, Alex.

More pictures of Inka during her birthday can be found here and here (password: inkairza, thanks to Mbak Hany).

Saturday, January 07, 2006

2005 Journey Recap - Dunia Fantasi and Indonesia Trip during Hari Raya

End of October 2005, we went back to Jakarta to celebrate Hari Raya Idul Fitri with family and relatives there. I also made this opportunity to take the kids to visit Dunia Fantasi (Fantasy World), a Disneyland-style theme park located in Ancol Dreamland, Jakarta.

The kids really enjoy all the rides inside Dunia Fantasi. We visited the Monkey Theatre and the amazing Istana Boneka (Doll's Palace), and the kids are having a ball in the big playground there.

More photos of Inka and Irza in Dunia Fantasi can be found here.

We celebrated Hari Raya by visiting our family and relatives in Jakarta, as well as in Tasikmalaya and Bandung. During Hari Raya period, traffic jam especially on our trip to Tasikmalaya is a nightmare, however we really enjoyed the trip very much. In Tasikmalaya, we stayed at Abadi Hotel, which has just renovated recently with a nice swimming pool, and we had a very big time swimming there.

Monday, January 02, 2006

2005 Journey Recap - MMI Concert

October 2005 - It's time for the concert again. An annual event conducted by Modern Montessori International (MMI), Inka and Irza's school, this concert is also special for Inka since it's her Kindergarten graduation ceremony. This year, the event is held at the 7th floor of the NTUC One Marina Boulevard building, overlooking the Marina Bay. Inka dances the Mongolian Dance, while Irza dances the Garden Song.

More pictures of Inka and Irza during the event can be found here.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

2005 Journey Recap - Sentosa Trip

Also on the same month, September 2005, we went to Sentosa, Singapore's only island resort. We went there to try the new attraction: Sentosa Luge, a gravity-controlled go-cart which we have to drive down the hill of Imbiah Lookout to Siloso Beach. From the beach, we took the chairlift back to the Imbiah Lookout hill, and have dinner at the Sarpino's Pizzeria there. Inka and Irza loved the crispy pizza. At the same time, they are also enjoying their time playing with the water play around Imbiah Lookout.

More photos of Inka and Irza can be found here.

2005 Journey Recap - Pendas and JB Trip

Also on September 2005, we and Aunty Shinta's family went to Pendas, Johor, to have lunch at a seaside seafood restaurant there, built on stilts. In fact, it's actually not a "seaside", but an "over the sea" restaurant since the whole restaurant building is built on stilts over the sea water. We need to walk over a bridge from the shore.

The restaurant is called "Saujana", and it's a muslim seafood restaurant, so it's halal. It is located at Persisiran Pantai Tanjung Adang, Gelang Patah, along Kampong Pendas highway (route J4) in the Johor state, Malaysia. There's no public transport, so you'll need to drive there. From Singapore, take the Tuas second link, and after passing Malaysia immigration and the toll booth, take the first exit towards Tanjong Pelepas port. Turn right on the first T-junction and once you have reached another junction, turn left and you will hit the route J4 towards Pendas. Alternatively, take the second exit to the Gelang Patah town, and once you have passed the town centre, turn left at the T-junction to enter the route J4 towards Pendas. Follow the road and you will pass a concrete underpass (the road will go under a concrete bridge) and once the road deviates left, there's a small road on the right side. Take the narrow road towards the sea. There are two seafood restaurants there, one Chinese and one Malay restaurant. Saujana restaurant is the Malay one.

The food is OK, and the price is, surprisingly, very cheap compared to in Singapore. I think it's worth paying for the toll fee in lieu of the cheaper food, especially if there's a lot of you going. We've been there several times and definitely we will go back.

After lunch, we went to Johor Bahru to do some shopping. We went to Holiday Plaza and then to Pelangi Plaza, before driving back home to Singapore via the causeway.

More pictures of us at the restaurant can be found here, thanks to Aunty Shinta.

2005 Journey Recap - Lantern Safari, Chinese Garden

On September 2005, I took Inka and Irza to Chinese Garden, to see the Lantern Safari festival. It's an annual lantern festival held at Chinese Garden, next to the Jurong Lake, west of Singapore, and for this year, animal safari is the theme. A lot of animal creatures made of lanterns, and they are all beautiful. Inka and Irza couldn't take their eyes off the spectacular pieces of art. Especially, when Inka met his favorite creatures, the dinosaurs...

You can view the complete photos of Inka and Irza here.

2005 Journey Recap - Irza's Birthday

22 August 2005 - the 4th birthday celebration for Irza was conducted at MMI (Modern Montessori International, Irza's school) at West Coast, to allow him to share his joy with his school friends. His teachers arranged for the birthday party, while we just need to prepare the birthday cake and be there during the party.

2005 Journey Recap - Desaru Trip

On May 2005, we went to Desaru, Johor. Desaru is a beach resort on the eastern part of the Johor state, and even though you cannot compare the beach with the ones in Bali or Phuket, but at least the beach is better than the ones in Singapore.

We drove from Singapore to Desaru via Johor Bahru and Kota Tinggi, and the journey took about 2-3 hours, including the time spent in causeway. Different from the road to Kuala Lumpur, which is expressway all the way, the road to Desaru goes via normal two-way single-carriageway highway, except the roads around Johor Bahru which usually are dual-carriageway highways. Once we passed the immigration checkpoint, we immediately U-turn back to the busy Jalan Wong Ah Fook, before taking the route 3 highway towards Kota Tinggi. After hitting the Kota Tinggi Bypass, we turned right on the traffic light junction to hit the route 92 highway towards Desaru. It's quite an exciting ride passing through oil palm plantations along the route 92 between Kota Tinggi bypass and Desaru.

We checked in at Desaru Golden Beach Resort, quite OK for accommodation even though we were a bit dissapointed since it's a bit run down. We encountered bad experience when Irza inadvertently closed and locked the door while we were all on the balcony and was shocked to find out that we were not able to open the door from outside, causing all of us to be trapped in the balcony. We had to ask the hotel's staff to open the door for us, and it took more than an hour before the hotel staff managed to get us out of the balcony trap. What a day!

However, we found out that the beach is good, in fact we found that Desaru is one of the best beaches we have visited in Malaysia, and it's definitely much better than the beaches in Singapore, such as Sentosa or East Coast Park. It's quite fun and exciting to swim on the beach, and the kids were also having fun swimming and playing with the sands, including sand-castle building.

We also made some tour around Desaru. We visited Sungai Rengit, a small town south of Desaru and had a lunch on a food court (medan selera) there, despite having it under a heavy rain. On our way back to Singapore, we also visited Desaru Fruit Farm, a fruit plantation along the route 92 just near the T-junction to Desaru.

We really enjoyed our trip to Desaru. Even though were were a bit disappointed with the hotel, we might just want to come back there again, to enjoy the beach. Anyway, this is the closest "good" beach we can get near Singapore. Next time, we might want to stay in Pulai Desaru Beach Resort instead, which reports said that it's one of the better hotels there in Desaru.