Thursday, January 29, 2009

Bangkok - The Jim Thompson House

When I first read about the Jim Thompson House in our Lonely Planet guidebook, I thought that the  kind words used to describe the House must be exaggerated. I expected the place to be touristy and tacky. Nevertheless, I was intrigued by the story of the remarkable man and marked it in the schedule for our second day in Bangkok. As we walked into the lush gardens of the House, I realized how wrong I was. The Jim Thompson House was really way beyond my expectation.

The view from the Art Gallery

Jim Thompson was an American architect who was enlisted in the army during the 2nd World War. He arrived in Thailand in 1945 and immediately fell in love with the people, culture, art, handicraft and everything else that was Thailand. So much so that when the war ended, he decided to permanently stay in Bangkok. He built his home, incorporating European elements into the traditional Thai Teak House. Jim Thompson loved Thai Silk and made it world-famous especially after demand for it expanded following the extensive use of the material in the stage and film version of "The King & I". Sometime in 1967, Jim Thompson mysteriously disappeared whilst on a holiday with friends in Cameron Highlands. His body was never found. His home is now a museum kept in memory of the man who loved Thailand so passionately. 

Tea at the Terrace

It is difficult to describe the House in a single word. When something is created from the heart, with so much thought and love, the result is just too special for words. The Jim Thompson House is an experience of a man's life journey. It is truly beautiful and serene, in stark contrast to the ultra modern, cold metal structures that is Bangkok surrounding this sanctuary. The ambience of the whole area is one of warmth, peace and tranquility. The Main House is so graceful and elegant, with carefully selected ancient ornaments displayed thoughtfully on the walls and corners. When I looked out the window of his study, I could see why he made Thailand his home. The view of the tropical garden was breathtaking! Heliconias and orchids were flowering everywhere. Pink and white Lotus floated in huge ceramic vases at every nook and cranny. 

Gorgeous Lotus everywhere

The pond adjacent to the terrace is home to 
a giant stingray which delighted the boys!

Under the Main House

Kids waiting to go :-)

Wish I could take the Orchids home

Hakim wondering why the heliconias
were much bigger than ours at home

There is a gift shop at the entrance, quite unlike the usual touristy ones that you would expect of Bangkok. I fell in love with almost half of the stuffs there instantly but unfortunately most of them were pricey. I bought a few cards and notebooks and they were all carefully wrapped by the cashier in classy gift envelopes, complete with gold stickers! In case you miss it, there is another Jim Thompson boutique at the airport & the prices are 15% cheaper. Don't miss that one :-)

For me, the Jim Thompson House was the highlight of our trip.  If not for the kids (who couldn't really see why the House was so interesting apart from the giant stingray), I would have begged AZ to stay there longer and would have had tea and scones at the terrace. 

This place is a must if you are ever in Bangkok (^_^)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Bangkok - Chapter I

One of the many beautiful buildings in the Royal Palace

The residents of Danau Kaseh had a wonderful time in Bangkok with AZ's staffs last weekend. I had such a misconception about Bangkok before - it is not what I imagined it to be. Bangkok is totally beyond my expectation!

Bangkok is surprisingly modern, clean and quite well planned. Impressive buildings and structures are aplenty. Skywalks and bridges are built to connect shopping malls, commercial offices and BTS stations which makes it easy for pedestrians. Walking through the interconnecting malls & walkways is pleasant and safe, above all the traffic. All these cosmopolitan amidst centuries old palaces and temples make Bangkok a modern city rich in culture and tradition. 

The very modern Central World

We stayed in Arnoma Hotel which is in the center of the shopping district, right in front of a mall called Central World, an  impressive building by any standard. Bangkok is a shopper's haven. There is something for everyone, whether you are on a string budget or otherwise. You can buy from stalls by the roadside and markets, or from branded boutiques in first class malls. Night markets are open until midnight. What I find most pleasant about shopping in Bangkok is that both the shopping malls and markets are not congested. The malls are huge, with wide corridors & bright lights. They are very well spaced out. This is quite unlike Jakarta which is crowded almost all the time, both outdoors and indoors. You can get good quality leather products at very reasonable price in Bangkok. Bargaining is essential and expected of course, and unlike Hong Kong, you won't be frowned upon for haggling! 

The Golden Temple

The field at the front of the Royal Palace

Our first stop after checking into the hotel was a tour of the Royal Palace. The ground covers an area of about 61 acres and the structures in the compound are all opulent and stunning. The main temple in the Palace compound is covered in 18-carat gold plates. 

Adlina touching the 18-carat gold plates

Another temple houses a Buddha sculpture from the 10th century sitting on a solid gold throne covered with rubies and diamonds. All the buildings are well preserved and beautifully maintained. The whole experience was breathtaking! The kids were enthralled by the myths and legends explained by our guide about Siam, Buddha and Ramayana. The tour was really awesome and cannot be missed if you are ever in Bangkok!

The legend of Ramayana is hand-painted 
in detail on a 100-foot mural

The walls covered in ancient Chinese ceramics

There is so much to tell about our trip, but I will write more in my next posting. Meanwhile, I hope Hasanah, Hajar, Thony, Azim & Azmin had a good time in Bangkok with us as we did with them :-)

Sawadee Kap (^_^)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Saying Goodbye..

It's always difficult to say goodbye especially to something that has been so much a part of your life, something that you have come to love so much.. but as the saying goes: with every Hello, there is a Goodbye.. Nothing lasts forever except for the AlMighty..

I've been rather down the past few days as I have to let my car go. It has served me well for the past 4 years but lately, it's been giving us quite a few problems. Pendek kata: asyik keluar-masuk workshop memanjang.. During it's long absence (masuk "klinik" sampai 9 hari last week!), I realized how difficult it is not having a car. Moving around was a pain & I had so many of my meetings cancelled!

I've had to borrow my sister's car to go to office & to attend several meetings (thanks so much Buttercup.. so sorry to inconvenient you..); borrowed my staff's car for one urgent meeting (thanks Eyta!); had my client fetch me to the meeting venue (they insisted that I had to be there even if it meant fetching me!); had my client's driver drive me a couple of times too (seriously!); and the other times, I had to stay home & do work. We are so dependent on our cars to move around, especially in Malacca where public transport is almost non-existent.  

I was so mad with my car for all the inconvenience it had caused me the past month. But when my sales agent told me that he found a buyer for the car who wants it for the Chinese New Year, I felt so sad & teary.. I wasn't ready to let it go just yet..

I have so many precious memories of the car. It's my first BMW & I bought it after working so hard building my Firm. I spent a lot of time thinking in the car & many ideas were thought up in the car. Many conversations with AZ were carried out in the car & many decisions were made in the car. I love my car... and tomorrow, I will have to say goodbye..

Sob* Sob (@_@)

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Online Shopping

Have you shopped online before? AZ has been making purchases online - mainly buying books and documentary videos from - for the past 5 years. Apart from purchasing Airasia tickets, I never tried online shopping myself. In fact, I never even considered it, until last week when Anoi introduced me to some websites selling handbags - Wow! What an eye-opener!!

From what I have seen so far, most things sold online are so much cheaper than in department stores. In more established sites, payment methods are very safe. I tried to purchase a Coach handbag (at an extremely discounted price) on a website using AZ's creditcard (he suggested it!). The website didn't approve the purchase as the creditcard billing address is not the same as the delivery address (!). Well, that's interesting, I thought. Online shopping must have evolved so much in the past few years that they have tightened up the payment methods to reduce fraud & creditcard thefts. I felt comforted by this (boleh la shopping online - heehee..).

Kak Long advised me to try out the Global eShop which facilitates Amex card holders in Malaysia to shop globally. I tried it out last Friday evening & OMG - I couldn't believe it - I was shopping in Macy's from my bed in Malacca!! Just as a try-out, I bought an Aigner handbag which was only USD20.99 (unbelievable!) + USD5.95 delivery charge from Macy's. Imagine that - an Aigner handbag for less than RM80. Let's just see if it's really trash or real when I receive the package in 2 weeks :-)

The world is so much smaller with technology..

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Growth Chart

Our Growth Chart

There is a very important wall in Danau Kaseh. It's a narrow wall behind the bedroom doors between Adlina's & Anas's rooms. This wall records the heights of all our kids from 2005 onwards. Every year usually in January, we mark everyone's heights & see how much each one of them has grown for the past year.

As you can see, they have all grown tremendously! 

Hakim & Adlina grew so much in 2008!

Adlan grew the MOST. 
He is now taller than both Papa & Mama..

Anas has grown a lot too :-)

I love this wall. It's very sentimental to me. Every time each of them stand by the wall to record their heights, I feel a lump in my throat. They grow so, so fast. When Adlan's height was marked this time, he didn't see the tear I had in my eye. He has grown so much, he is now taller than both of us. I thought to myself, this is the boy who was 2.5kg when he was born & his feet easily fitted into the palms of my hands then. Now, he's 13 & wears size 10 shoes. Before we know it, the time will come to let them go, spread their wings & fly... sigh...

Getting old & emotional la.. (^_^)

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Happy Birthday to Papa

Papa's Birthday Brownie 
(Adlan helped Mama bake it & Adlina decorated with love)

Papa & the Gang

Happy Birthday to the Best Papa in the world! You are the coolest Dad ever & we love you so... much (^_^)

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Adlina is 10

Our lovely little princess is little no more. Adlina turned 10 today! Happy Birthday, my darling. You are so special & we are always proud of you. Papa & Mama love you so, so much (^_^)

(Pictures of our little birthday celebration will come later. It's in Papa's camera!)

Monday, January 5, 2009

First Day of School 2009

Everyone in their uniform!

Nice & cheerful :-)

It's the first day of School 2009 & Anas is in Standard 1!! I just can't believe my little baby is all grown up & going to REAL school! So, like all other parents of Standard 1 students in the country, AZ & I too took time off from work this morning to experience the 1st day of primary school (this is our 4th time - so we are rather pros at this..).

As expected, traffic was a nightmare. All parents in Malacca must have been on the road this morning to send their little ones to school! Thank goodness Adlan is in Form 2 & just needed waving off :-) so we sent Bang Long first. We then headed for SK Ayer Keroh - the back gate of course, as we knew that going through the main gate would only raise our blood pressure.

We went straight to the school assembly where hundreds of pupils had already gathered. After 4 patriotic songs (when we were in school, we only sang Negaraku & Melaka Maju Jaya!) & 45 minutes of lecturing by a few teachers (Come on! It's only the 1st day of school!), the kids walked in lines to their respective classrooms. 

Anas looked nervous but he was ok - until I told him that I had to go & would come back later to fetch him. The tears then flowed and flowed quietly... He wasn't wailing, but just crying quietly. Parents were not allowed to go into the classroom, but I walked in anyway to give him a big hug. I guess I was just as reluctant as he was to let go.. 

Happy New School Year to all parents (^_^)