Wednesday, December 31, 2008

15 years

Tomorrow marks a very important milestone in my life calendar. It's the 15th  year of my being married to AZ. This special posting is dedicated to him, my one and only.

AZ & I are so different from each other. Where I talk incessantly most of time, he speaks only when there is something important say. He is a very private person who prefers his own quiet space. In contrast, I am a people's person. Coming from a large family comprising of girls mainly (& growing up with Mak who loves to organize gatherings, kenduris & parties), I am comfortable being in a crowd. 

AZ is a thinker & most of his ideas and thoughts goes way beyond my wildest imaginations. I sometimes struggle to understand some of the concepts or ideas that he has in mind (although I try hard not to have that blank look when he explains the ideas to me). I'm a planner. I like to plan things & execute them immediately. Sometimes I tend to be too result oriented that I become impatient when I don't see immediate results. AZ, on the other hand, is one of the most patient person I know. There are many things that he does, knowing that we won't see the results now, but necessary to ensure a better result much later - A case in point is the flowering plant for our pergola at home. When we bought the plant, I was shocked when he cut most of the branches & flowers (there were many!!) except for the main branches (only 2 left!) which he carefully positioned to climb over our pergola. He said this will ensure that the main branches would grow thicker & stronger. 4 years later - look at our pergola now (see picture at the top of this homepage) - the orange flowers are so lovely & flowering almost all the time.

I am a neat freak. I like all my things in place. I know exactly which files are on my desk & which one is at the bottom or top of the pile. At home, I prefer my clothes to be hanged according to colours; baju kurungs, blouses & suits must be placed in their own separate compartments. T-shirts should be folded correctly so that they are all the same size when stacked in the shelves of the wardrobe. AZ's working area looks like a disaster area. The top of his desk looks like it's been hit by a hurricane. At home, he will yank the carefully arranged t-shirts from the middle of the pile, leaving half of the t-shirts toppled. Don't get me started on the dirty clothes left on the floor 2 inches away from the laundry basket, & not IN the laundry basket (I've been informed by most of my sisters & aunties that this comes standard with almost all men!). 

I am so bad at anything called sports. Pendek kata: Kaki bangku in everything. AZ on the other hand is good at almost all sports: actively played soccer, rugby & cricket in his younger days & badminton & golf up to now. Where does he get all the stamina? I get so tired just thinking about badminton! He is planning to climb Mount Kinabalu in one of our future trips (!!). I'm a creature of comfort - a holiday to me is having a nice cosy bed, lazing by the pool & strolling around slowly (preferably along shopping areas..).

But despite our differences, he completes me. AZ has taught me so many things in life, about life. He is kind and generous almost beyond comprehension. He is a great father. The most supportive & wonderful husband. My best friend. He understands me. Really.

My dearest, thank you so much for everything that you are to me. You are my strength, my heart, my soul. I feel I am nothing without you. Happy Anniversary & looking forward to a lifetime together..

Friday, December 26, 2008

An Afternoon at Spa Village Malacca

Strictly following Doctor's orders (so I keep telling myself!), I made a reservation for Buttercup (my dearie sista) & me to have a de-stressing body massage at the Spa Village, Malacca. We have never been there before, but we thought that we deserve to reward ourselves after working so hard the past few months. And what an amazing experience we had this afternoon!

The Spa Village, Malacca is situated within the Majestic Hotel, a 5-star boutique hotel which was recently refurbished from an old mansion built in the 1920s. As we walked into the hotel for our afternoon of indulgence, we accidentally bumped into my client (who is one of the owners of the Hotel) and his wife at the lobby. We were informed that they came down from KL as the Hotel is receiving an award for the best boutique hotel in Malaysia - and we were not surprised. The place is so elegant & posh, & yet warm & inviting, with very friendly & accommodating staffs, all ready to serve you. We were then shown our way to the Spa.

The Relaxation Room - memang oh-so-relaxing!

We were immediately pampered from the moment we stepped into the Spa. In the Relaxation Room, we were seated on Balinese Day Beds facing the swimming pool, & a young lady served us mandarin oranges with water and ice-cool face towels. We then changed at the luxurious changing room & were brought to the hair treatment room. While our hair was being washed with fresh lime water, we watched P.Ramlee music videos from a screen placed right above us on the ceiling! What a clever idea! At the end of the treatment, they combed our hair with a wooden comb (which they gave us to take home later) & put fresh jasmine flowers in our hair (can you beat this!). I already felt so pampered & de-stressed by this time. But this was only the beginning..

After serving us some fresh hot ginger tea, we were brought to the massage room. The ambience was so cosy. The fragrance from the aromatherapy oil was so lovely I felt like sleeping as soon as I laid down on the massage bed. The masseurs assigned to us were 2 young Balinese ladies who spoke immaculate English. They may look small & slender, but their hands were strong & firm! The massage was too wonderful for words - let's just say that the painful knot behind my neck is totally gone & my tense shoulders are now no more. Sigh... So relaxing... 

One hour was over too soon. Where did the time go? As we changed back into our clothes, we made a promise to come back & bring our other half along. This indulgence is a MUST for every person after working such long hours - day in, day out... Once in a while everyone deserves to be pampered like so.

As we went to the counter to settle the bill, we were given the BEST surprise of all: Our whole wonderful experience was complimentary of my client!! YAAAYY!! Had a Great time & for Free!! It's too good to be true!! Buttercup & I celebrated this by having a nice little high tea at the hotel, complete with scones & clotted cream :-)

I highly recommend the Spa Village to everyone. I am totally de-stressed & ready to go out there to conquer the world! Heehee.. (^_^)

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


Been having severe headaches recently. Never had this kind before. The ones that you get with the occasional flu and sinus are of course quite normal. But these ones come with unbearable throbbing which is excruciating.

Had another one 2 days ago. It just started without any warning during a meeting at a client's office & the throbbing progressively worsened. It got to a point where I had to request for some panadols from my client. Unfortunately, the panadols didn't actually stop the pain. Strange.

The headache persisted. So, I went to see a physician yesterday. He said that I may be developing a migraine which is stress related. What? I don't feel stressed. Really. Yes, work has been piling - but nothing out of the ordinary. Yes, most of the work comes with unbelievably urgent deadlines, but I believe I can cope. I don't know. Maybe I just don't think it is stressful but my mind and body are actually crying out for a timeout. Probably true I guess.. Sigh..

Came back yesterday & felt a sense of relief when Adlina and Anas stayed with me in bed. I held them really close as they slept with me. The whole troupe camped in Mama's room last night as Papa was away in Kedah to settle a small project. Adlan & Hakim were sleeping on the mattress on the floor, but not before Adlan reminding everyone to be quiet and peaceful for Mama :-) 

In a world full of uncertainties and chaos, with so many people around you demanding for your time and energy, it is so calming to be with your kids.  I am comforted by their unconditional love and warmth. They are my source of strength. Ya Allah, thank you for giving us such wonderful kids. I felt so much better last night. 

This morning, the headache was gone. Just hope that it won't come back.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Cuti-Cuti Malaysia - Malacca City Chapter

The residents of Danau Kaseh had a quiet weekend playing tourist in the City of Malacca. We decided to use up the voucher for a free night stay in Equatorial Hotel & had a fun and relaxing time winding down..

The city of Malacca has changed tremendously in the past 5 years. It had recently been awarded the World Heritage City status by the United Nations. This is a huge honour for Malacca and the City deserves this honour. 

As you walk along the streets in the City, you will observe that it is very clean everywhere. The City Council has done a great job keeping the City free of rubbish. Shrubs and plants are kept well-trimmed and flowers are blooming at every corner. If you go on the observation tower called the Menara Taming Sari, you will see the City in all its glory & the sight is wonderful!

The view from our balcony - the Sultanate Palace

Malacca is where Malaysia started. Being a Malaccan, I am very proud of this. If you are a tourist in Malacca, you must visit the Sultanate Palace where you will learn about the history of Malacca dating back more than 600 years ago. The City is a melting pot of many cultures as Malacca was once the meeting point of traders from the East and West, from China to Europe.

Eye on Malaysia by the Straits of Malacca

The City recently acquired the Eye On Malaysia which is a huge ferris wheel placed by the sea. We didn't have the chance to go on the Eye this time, but made a promise to go on it one day soon :-)

The delectable Malacca River

Get the Cruise with Bernard as the Guide! He's amazing!

One of the things that you must do while in Malacca is the River Cruise. We went on the cruise this time and it was glorious! You must take the boat with a guide called Bernard. He is a wealth of information! He can tell you the details about each and every building along the river, when they were built, what they were used for, how much did each window cost and who was the owner! He would tell you about the bridges along the river & the history behind each bridge. He would also relate to you amusing stories about people who have used the river throughout history. The kids thoroughly enjoyed the river cruise. If you wish to go on the cruise, just go over to the Clock Tower near Stadhuys. There is a post office near the Clock Tower; the river cruise can be taken right across the street from the post office. 

Menara Taming Sari

You cannot miss the Trishaw Ride!

Evening Scene

The evening scene of the City is stunning. There are lights dripping from trees and lined along building facades. The best way to enjoy this is by a trishaw ride. It is an experience not to be missed. I love trishaw rides! You will learn many things from the trishaw rider, about the history of Malacca and the wonders of the City - but most of all, you will learn about perseverance. Its tough cycling the trishaw with 2 people riding in the trishaw, especially uphill! But they do it every single day, to put bread on the table. I had a good chat with the trishaw rider that night - I had a shock to learn that she is my age! Her eldest son is already 20. It seems surreal.. I quietly said a prayer of thanks to Allah for crossing my path with the lady trishaw rider. It was such a humbling experience..

Malacca City is a great place to be (^_^) 

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Cleaning the Wardrobe

It's Sunday morning but woke up early at 5.30am as I couldn't get back to sleep after being startled by Anas's loud snore (yes, the big baby still "sleep-walks" to our bed in the middle of the night!). So, after Subuh I decided to clean up my wardrobe - something that I've been telling myself I had to do for the past 6 months!

Wow! What a revelation! I discovered that I had clothes in these various categories which have not been worn for years but kept in the wardrobe somehow:-

1. Clothes that haven't been worn for years but kept for sentimental reasons (eg: baju made from kain bought by my dearest more than 10 years ago in India - must keep of course.. sayang sebab that was the last time he bought me kain!);
2. Clothes that haven't been worn since the day they were bought (masa beli takde size, so bought a smaller size with the promise to shed some weight to get into the baju - of course THAT never happened!);
3. Clothes that are far too big but kept in anticipation of putting on some weight, just in case (this category of clothes biasanya beli lepas beranak sebab semua baju tak muat masa tu);
4. Clothes that were given to me as gifts from family & friends, but never worn because they are just not me (there are some from this lovely client of mine who lives in Cambodia & she always comes by to my office every time she's in town bearing gifts - but, man - most of the clothes are figure hugging, bright RED or dripped in sequins!);
5. Clothes that were bought in a sale because they were too cheap to resist but never worn as they are actually horrible (I hope I'm not the only woman who does this stupid thing!!);
6. Clothes that are really beautiful but hardly worn as they stain easily (especially kalau berpeluh); and
7. Clothes that haven't been worn as they were tucked amongst the other clothes & somehow overlooked!

I guess it's time to let go.. with a heavy heart I packed of some of the clothes to give away, relocated some of the sentimental ones to the spare wardrobe in the guest room & made another silent promise to myself to wear the rest that have been overlooked.

The wardrobe is now much neater. The hanged clothes are sorted according to colours. Hey! There is some room for new clothes :-) heehee... (women just can't resist new clothes!).


Monday, December 8, 2008

Cuti-Cuti Malaysia - Kuala Lumpur Chapter

The residents of Danau Kaseh just played tourists in Kuala Lumpur, and WOW, it was loads of FUN! It's true, Malaysia has so much to offer. Since our Bangkok trip had to be cancelled, we decided to have Cuti-Cuti Malaysia - & what better way than to start with the glorious capital of KL!! 
Highly recommended for all mothers!

I got this really useful book called "KL for Kids" which gave a very objective view on the must-go places in KL. Written by a few Mat-Sallehs who lived in KL for some time, the book is excellent as a guide with honest tips. We have taken the kids to some of the  Top-10 places recommended by the book, so I could see that the comments they made about those places were spot on. 

The walking path to Concorde & Hard Rock Cafe

Our holiday started on Friday, with the kids getting excited as we check into Concorde Hotel on Jalan Sultan Ismail. The Premier Rooms we booked were fantastic - the kids had 2 Queen Beds in their spacious room & we had a King in ours. We had access to the Premier lounge & the kids helped themselves to the complimentary bottled juices, snacks & candies from time to time throughout our stay (memang buat muka tak malu...). Breakfast was cosy in the intimate Spices Restaurant, away from the crowd (needless to say, our table was the loudest..). I thought it would be good to pamper the family once in a while, & it was really worth it :-)

World's largest Walk-In Free-Flight Aviary

We were up early on Saturday morning to start our adventure. Our first stop was the Bird Park which is the World's largest free-flight walk-in Aviary. The kids loved it. The park is just the right size. It's not too big (Jurong Bird Park in Singapore is just too big to cover), so about 2- 3  hours spent in the park is just right, without any of the kids complaining about tired legs!

The birds posed for the picture!

There were hundreds of species of birds - roaming free! Most of the birds are friendly. Colourful & pretty! The peacocks are beautiful - one was a real show-off & danced around to make sure everyone had a full view of its lovely feathers! 

Proud Mr Peacock!

Adlina feeding the birds

Don't miss feeding the parakeets & lories. Amazing experience! I highly recommend the Bird Park if you are planning a trip to KL with your kids! It's really lovely :-)

Next on the agenda was the Butterfly Farm. After the excitement of having pretty friendly birds sitting on their heads and feeding from their palms, fluttering and elusive butterflies seem to be a real let-down to the kids. The setting of the Farm is quite natural with koi ponds & bigs trees. But the kids were more interested in the lazy terrapins, the huge ugly frogs croaking  & the strange stick bugs camourflarging in the gallery. If it weren't for these other attractions, I would give the Butterfly Farm a miss if you asked me..

By then the kids were hungry. Anas was already starting to complain about being tired. So, off we went to Central Market. The last time I went there was 20 years ago & it is so MUCH better now! What a great collection of gift ideas! I love the place!

Makan-Makan at Old Town - the iced coffee was delicious!

We ended the day the way it should be: by having fish eating the dead cells on our feet! Haha :-D What an experience! Ticklish to the maximum at first.. then eventually we got used to it. We all loved it without exception & made a promise to come back. Our feet felt so clean and refreshed after the treatment. This is extremely recommended!

Zaharim's not ticklish at all!

After breakfast on Sunday, we went up Menara Kuala Lumpur by cab & walked down the trail in the forest reserve at Bukit Nanas. It was quite a pleasant walk especially after the rain. The forest is surprisingly well preserved with huge trees everywhere. At the bottom of the trail is a Batik shop. Unfortunately, we were there too early & the shop was still closed.

The weekend ended far too soon for us. It was time to say goodbye to our little Cuti-Cuti in KL & for once, I was quite reluctant to go out of KL! We had so much fun and spending time together as a family was really great. Loads of warm & fuzzy feelings & special moments..

So, our conclusion? Tak payah pergi jauh-jauh... Cuti-Cuti Malaysia pun BEST!! Seriously..


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Cancelling Bangkok

We decided to cancel our Bangkok trip. What with the demonstrators getting more violent & the main airport being declared as a war zone. Better be safe than sorry. I checked with Airasia & was told that we have to go to LCCT to cancel if we want a refund... Leceh betul :-(

So off we went to LCCT yesterday & you wouldn't believe what we had to go through!!! The airport is under construction & the carpark was filled to the brim. The airport looked like Puduraya on Hari Raya eve, seriously. Ramainya orang! Stranded tourists & mat sallehs were sleeping on the floor (sebab flights to Bangkok were cancelled & they had nowhere to go), some tourists were sitting on trolleys & their own luggage (tak cukup tempat duduk in LCCT), queue semua paaaannjaaaanngg sangat-sangat with impatient travelers waiting to check in; People, People, People everywhere. It was hot & stuffy as the aircond could not support the crowd. Sigh...

The queue to Counter 68 (Service Counter) was long, as expected. Waited for a good 30 minutes & when my turn came, the guy at the counter had the cheek to say: "Flight ni belum declare cancelled by Airasia. So, kalau akak cancel tak boleh dapat refund." WHAT?? Of course, Singa Lapar terus TERKAM la kan and I replied in my very dangerous tone "Dik. Are you saying that I should take my children to Bangkok in this situation? You tak tengok TV ke? Diaorang dah start tembak-tembak orang tahu tak? Kalau Airasia tak nak bagi refund & I'm forced to go to Bangkok, if anything happens, Airasia will be fully responsible. You faham tak?" He immediately nervously called his officer.

The officer, Mr. Xavier handled the situation better. He was very understanding & before I could say anything, he was already explaining to me the cancel procedures. (Agaknya the guy who attended to me earlier dah warning awal-awal ada Makcik garang kat counter!). So, to cut the long story short, we were allowed to cancel & were given a "Credit Shell". What this means is that we could use our money for any other trips with Airasia but we need to book in the next 3 months. Travel period takde time limit. Thank God for that.

So, it looks like Cuti-Cuti Malaysia for us this December. Yang pasti: No demonstrations, No tembak-tembak, No bom-bom. It's safe to be in Malaysia :-) Wonder where to go...