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]

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Going to Jakarta and Bandung - 2

(Continued from Part 1)

The next day, 8 June 2006, Inka and Irza went to Jalan Rancabolang with their father and grandfather; to buy the famous “Amanda” baked brownies, which is one of Bandung’s specialties. It’s located quite far from Bandung city center, at the south-east outskirt of Bandung, near the Jalan Soekarno-Hatta highway around Buah Batu area. Actually the brownies can also be bought from many stalls scattered around Bandung, however the price is more expensive.

In the afternoon, after checking-out from the hotel, they made another round of sightseeing around Bandung before going back to Jakarta. They went to “Rumah Mode” outlet store in Jalan Setiabudhi, before passing by the famous Jalan Cihampelas and visiting the Cihampelas Walk (CiWalk). As usual, Inka and Irza immediately went to the Timezone amusement centre there, while their mother, grandmother and aunt window-shopped around the mall. They also bought the famous J.Co Donut, which is reputably the best doughnut in Indonesia.

From Cihampelas, we then went to Jalan Pasirkaliki. Our destination is the “Bumbu Desa” restaurant where we bought food for dinner the previous night. Almost everyone was satisfied with the food, so we decided to go there again for lunch. This restaurant is located along Jalan Pasirkaliki, just south of the Pasteur junction, not far from Istana Plaza, one of the biggest shopping malls in Bandung.

Actually it was already past 2pm Indonesian time (or 3pm Singapore time) when we reached the restaurant, so it was actually quite a bit late for lunch. However that doesn’t stop us from enjoying lots of variety of Sundanese food, such as grilled chicken, pepes tahu, pepes oncom, kangkong belachan, bandeng fish, and the most important, lalapan (raw vegetables) and sambal (chili). There are three types of sambal provided, and all are good. With Teh Botol (Indonesian famous ice tea) for drink and es cincau hijau (green grass jelly ice) as dessert, it’s simply delicious.

More pictures at the Bumbu Desa restaurant, including the food – you have been warned!! :) :) – can be found here. After finishing our lunch, we then go straight towards Terusan Pasteur and hit the Cipularang expressway to go back to Jakarta. We reached Jakarta in the evening.

The next day, I took Inka and Irza to Depok to visit a new shopping mall around Margonda, Depok. The new shopping mall is called Margo City, and it’s located just opposite Depok Town Square (Detos), another shopping mall in Depok which we have visited earlier. At that time, this Margo City was not yet finished and still on the last stage of development.

Since the shopping mall was quite new, most of the units were empty. The only “life” of the new shopping mall is the J.Co Donut stall, which always can make people to queue for very long time to get the (reputably) best doughnuts in town. As usual, Inka and Irza went to the Timezone amusement centre (agaiiiin, *sigh*) on the second floor.

Since nothing much to see and do there, we went to Detos, which is just opposite the road, and we had dinner at the Popeye restaurant on ground floor. Inka chose the fried chicken, while Irza chose the chicken strips. More pictures can be found here.

The next day, in the afternoon, we went to Cilandak Town Square (Citos). We did another round of shopping at the Matahari department store, and as usual, Inka and Irza also dropped by at the Timezone on the ground floor. During tea-time, we also went to Kafe Pisa and had some ice creams. More pictures at Kafe Pisa can be found here.

On Sunday morning, 11 June 2006, the whole family was very busy attending the aqiqah ceremony for Adyarafa Almefty Priguna, a.k.a. Rafa, which is Inka and Irza’s youngest and newest cousin. Rafa is the first son of Uncle Firman and Aunty Ria, and was born on May 2006. The event was held at Uncle Firman’s house in Puri Cinere, Depok. The event includes prayers for the baby’s health as well as shaving of some of the baby’s hair. More pictures at the event can be found here.

In the evening, we went to Bakmi Japos restaurant in Pangkalan Jati, Cinere, to celebrate the birthday of Nenek (Inka and Irza’s grandmother). The restaurant is located next to the Pangkalan Jati golf course, and we loved the ambience of the restaurant. Some of the tables are located facing a park with a small pond, with live music provided every night. The food itself is OK, not really great. The pictures can be found here.

Inka and Irza were staying for another week in Jakarta, before going back to Singapore on the 18th of June 2006. Inka even had the chance to go to Bandung again with her grandparents, and visited Rumah Strawberry, which is a nice strawberry theme park located along Jalan Cihanjuang, Bandung. Unfortunately, there were no pictures available.

(The End)