Bali in September 2012

15th September 2012 to 18th September 2012
Bali, Indonesia

The last time I stepped foot in Bali was in 2006. That was six years ago. That time, Jakarta had a bombing at JW Marriot. We were cautious on whether to proceed but we went anyway because all had been paid for. That time, Bali was eerily quiet and crowd free. Since we went during Chinese New Year, we had the entire Bali to ourselves! Everywhere we went, there were only two of us. Restaurants, temples, dances, etc.

This time round, Bali has bounced back to life! It is hustling and bustling with sounds, smells and sights. Everywhere is packed to the brim. Even parking was horrendous. Jams worsened as they were reconstructing several main roads in Kuta town centre. I guess it’s a good sign that, this tourism giant of the south has regained its popularity. This time, I still chose to stay in Kuta as I was rather familiar with the area. I wish I had stayed in Seminyak though – it is more happening and has much more to offer. I stayed at Bali-Kuta Resort by Swiss-Belhotel along Jalan Majapahit. It’s rather secluded with a big swimming pool. However, we didn’t even had the chance to use it because our itinerary was packed to the brim that we only got back to the hotel by 12 am every night! Fave Hotel along Seminyak offered good price for hotel as well as a more, outgoing night. I heard from guests that, it could be rather noisy and rowdy at night because it’s a party street. We booked it for our friends from Hong Kong because they would love to sit down to have a drink. Perhaps, the next time, I might stay in Ubud. Ubud is about 1.5 hours from the airport, it’s a little quaint town with little shops. Prices aren’t cheap though but, I guess, it’s going to be a relaxing trip the next round I am in Bali.😀

Well, I won’t be blogging about the sights, food or shopping as I am sure most of you have been to Bali. I just would like to share with you some photos taken during this trip. I was there for Kat & Rob’s wedding actually (probably the most beautiful wedding I’ve ever been to!), at the same time, went sight seeing – to revisit my favorite temples and shop, shop and shop for old batiks and paintings. I got my driver from this website. The boss is Nengah Polos. We had this guy, Kadek driving for us and he’s most courteous and punctual. We don’t have to worry about anything while with Kadek. The price they quoted was also reasonable too. So I guess if you want a driver in Bali, you may contact Mr Polos here.

Kecak dance. Didn’t manage to catch it the last round, so made do this time. It was worth it!

Kecak dance

In the end, fire! fire!

Breathtaking view at Lake Beratan

People and ducks alike, enjoying the sunset at Tanah Lot

The walkway to the wedding altar, paved with pretty white fragipanis

The awesome and beautiful couple, Kat & Rob

On our way to Ubud, we witnessed a cultural procession

For more photos, look here.

Birthday Note For Ern Ern

15th September 2012, Saturday

Today is your 2nd birthday. It has been a great two years watching you growing up to be a healthy and happy toddler. Yi Yi is very happy that you managed to pull the cleft surgery with flying colors! You have been a brave little girl. I am sure in your infant’s mind, you wouldn’t understand why did we subject you to such tremendous pain. You were born with cleft palate, thankfully, it was a minor case. When you were still in your mother’s womb, we received news of anomaly that had all of us in the house crying and praying for the betterment. Doctor said, they suspect anomaly on your part, perhaps you might have Down’s Syndrome since the probability of your mother’s blood test came back to be highly risked. We were surprised because your mother was still fairly young and we didn’t have such genes in our family. Your mother couldn’t sleep for a week, while waiting for further blood and DNA tests. We prayed, cried and having endless sleepless nights since we got the news. I thanked God that you turned out to be fine, with a minor cleft palate. We didn’t know you have cleft palate till you cried your lungs out on your second day on earth during check-up and the doctor saw the hole in your upper palate. Of course, tears were shed but somehow, we thanked God that it was not major!

You tend to exhibit extraordinary concentration for a toddler your age. I was really surprised with your vast vocabulary (I was still in shock when you told us “Lizard behind the door!” when I was having a haircut! And you said “Pinnochio” yesterday when I asked you what show you want to watch! I don’t even know there’s a Pinnochio DVD on the shelf so we settled with your favorite Dora!) and you seem to understand what is going on. We can’t even speak hokkien in front of you now! Whenever we want to take you for your afternoon nap, you would be protesting violently and insist to do something else more productive. I wish you would be this eager as you grow older. You know your Yi Yi, sleep is always number one. Haha. You have become alert and would demand to play or go out whenever you see us dressing up, and insisted on going out with us. You know, you can’t even sit still in the baby seat in the car, how to even take you out on my own?

It’s a joy to be with you.. at times. I do hope, you would snap out of your “hitting” phase now. From baby center (yes, which I read occasionally to pick up some tips on how to handle you!), it seems you don’t know what is wrong or right now and you would hit or throw a fit, to get attention. I pity your dad whom you bullied to the max because he is just too lenient towards you. And stop running around when your Ah Mah is feeding you food! You would only sit still when Yi Po is feeding you but not Ah Mah because you know, you can act on whim and fancy with your Ah Mah. And please don’t be so greedy and swallow your food without chewing!

With your vast vocabulary, I just wish that you would be able to tell us if you want to take a dump. Hey? If you can remember so many words in such a short time span, am sure it’s much easier for you to say “Poo Poo” to us when you want to poop, right?

Ok ok.. Yi Yi is ranting here. All Yi Yi wants to say to you is, I love you very much. So much that you can’t even imagine how deep is my love towards you. I hope and pray that you would grow up to be a level headed, down to earth, smart and most of all healthy, girl. And also, I hope you know everybody in your family love you very much and would do anything in the world for you, and you would learn to appreciate them, try not to talk back so much and give us heartaches (I know! I should save this for you when you turn into a rebellious teenager. Lol!) and learn to be filial – that’s a quality that the current generation lacks.

By the way, Yi Yi is very sorry that Yi Yi couldn’t attend your birthday party as Yi Yi will be going to Bali to attend a good friend’s wedding. I know, I know! Yi Yi totally forgotten about your birthday till Yi Yi agreed to go to the wedding and bought air ticket! But, Yi Yi will be making you a carrot cake for your birthday and also scones for your party friends and hope you will enjoy yourself on your birthday.

Happy 2nd birthday, my little rascal.

Weekend at Awanmulan

31st August 2012, Friday

Since it’s a long weekend, we decided to visit Awanmulan, just to relax, swim, read, sleep, etc. When we booked, we totally forgotten that it’s the seventh month of the Lunar Calendar! Haha! My house was too busy cooking up a feast but this year, I didn’t spend time cooking with them, except, I made some scones and broccoli casserole as offering to the ancestors. My family was joking, this is the first time, ancestors will be having western food, not sure if they know how to eat it or not! That was hilarious!

My deliciously looking broccoli casserole!

To cut the long story short, here are some of the photos taken. It was a good, short getaway, just about 2 hours away from KL. Awanmulan is not open to public. You have to be a patron to visit, so you can book your accommodation here. Both Uncle Tang and Auntie Anne are gracious hosts, we would definitely be visiting again!

Our view from the room

View of our chalet, with adjacent units

Purple lalangs!

Mr Toad

Sunset from the swimming pool deck

Sunset from the swimming pool

The very full moon!

Another shot of the moon with clouds

Yummy breakfast!

Sailor Boy relaxing on hammock

Misty after the afternoon rain

Happiness Index

Recently, the government is asking the rakyat on what makes them happy, I guess each of us should have our own list! So, here goes my list!

1. Reducing alarming crime rates

I think the govt should stop painting rosy pictures that the crime rates have fallen. Please. It doesn’t take a genius to figure this out. In my Selayang area, there has been rampant robbery with violence. Some caught on cctv and yet, the police has yet to catch the culprit. It doesn’t help either when my colleague who lived just opposite my house was hacked by parang while he’s sleeping in his own home in a robbery with violence. He was lucky to be alive! So now he’s too paranoid to stay in landed property that he has to rent condominium in a gated community. Imagine, a bright young fellow, hacked with parang and now, has to subject himself to endless medical check up, in case for HIV. What if the parang has been used to hack numerous people, and there’s a blood contamination? How could anyone accept this? It has created uncertain future for him. It’s good that he’s a rather optimistic guy, life has to go on, no matter what. And for God’s sake -clean up the police unit. End corruption!

2. Better Transportation System

I pity my colleagues who live far away from office and had to wake up at least 2 hours earlier to get to work just in time. Further compounded by fear of getting out from the house wee hours in the morning, they have to be subjected to unreliability of the public transport system. There was once, when some idiots rescheduled the bus routes, instead of taking two buses to reach the office, she ended having to take 5 buses! One from Selayang to Warta, then Warta to Titiwangsa train station and to KL. It’s so damn stupid! It was a lucky thing that after a year of endless torture (It’s amazing that these people can still work more than 30 km away from work place taking the bus!), they revert to the usual bus route, one bus from Selayang straight to KL! So, don’t blame the people for causing traffic jams because all of us have to buy a car because of the inefficiency in transportation system.

3. Pricing of Things

I don’t see the point of having the govt’s shop -1Shop, or 1 this 1 that. What is so difficult to reduce prices as a whole? If you could control prices of groceries at national level, I believe all shops should be allowed to put up reasonable prices for all. Cut down the middle men in handling the purchase, hence it would reduce prices. Go straight to the manufacturer to cut a deal instead of going through middle persons. I am not very well versed in economics but I think, the root of all problems leading to exorbitant prices is the middle man. (I learnt his from the series “Breaking Bad” Haha! Not a good role model series but.. you get the gist)

4. Healthcare

I believe a developed nation should have a good healthcare in place. Since health is utmost important to a better quality of life – if you don’t have good health, you can’t earn good money. No good money, no health, nothing. Each and everyone should have minimal health insurance. On top of that, the govt should control prices of the hospitals. Like how they control the sugar prices or eggs/poultry, why not also have a guideline for hospitals to follow? Prices charged should not be more than 20% of what prescribed, otherwise a penalty should be in place. A good healthcare should be accessible to all – and giving privilege to the elderly, single parents and children. In Siem Reap, they actually have a free hospital for all children! If a developing country like this could have such a medical facility for children, why not here? No bullshit flashy, big buildings please. Take the money to improve healthcare in govt hospitals. It would help if the doctors in the hospital be rewarded for the good things they do.. and not holding up the queue at the pesakit luar’s unit. Imagine, I sent my dad there due to stroke a few years back and he was made to wait for almost 6 hours before admitting and he’s a retiree from the army! When my friend was hacked by parang, he was told if he couldn’t wait, he should go to a private hospital! With his finger almost severed and bleeding profusely, the people there just let him bleed and did nothing.

5. Education

I think I was quite unlucky to be the first batch for KBSR/KBSM. We merely studied for passing a paper but was never taught analytical thinking. Save for those who have undergone STPM, through Pengajian Am, they were sort of forced into having critical and analytical thinking. I wasn’t really “using my brains” till I started working. Everything was like, you read, you study and just regurgitate whatever you have “memorized” into your exams. It was a good thing, right after college, I took a professional degree, and was sort of “forced” to think for some of the management papers. I understand that the USA education model encourages one to be creative and analytical. Instead of merely passing exams, they have a module to develop your skills and talents in Arts, Music, Science, etc That is how you ended having talented people as writers, performing artists, scientists, and first man on the moon! I was told by a friend who is taking masters in Taiwan that, he is awed by the creativity that Taiwanese shown in his class. Many students from other countries were very analytical and critical in their thinking and are not afraid to voice their opinions. He is one of the foreign students with the least ideas and he’s ashamed of himself of not being exposed. However, he takes this in his stride and considers himself lucky to be given an opportunity to learn from these creative people.

6. Civic mindedness

I find the more developed we are, our minds have been narrowed further and selfishness sets in. There’s lack of civil mindedness in the present generation. At work, since my office is near a school, you can basically see a bunch of students playing truant, vile their time away, sitting behind abandoned shops to smoke glue, play cards and even riding motorcycles without license. It’s sad that some parents don’t even know what their children are doing while they are busy at work, making money to put food on the table. The school itself don’t even bother to write to the parents of problem students to highlight the matter to them. I believe before KBSM, there is a subject called Sivic or Civic in English being taught in school. To replace it, I think they came up with Pendidikan Moral – which is truly, a waste of time, really. Perhaps Pendidikan Moral’s syllabus should be altered to creative thinking class and not merely taught to memorize 100+ “good qualities” in the book, only to be regurgitated during exams. Look at the vandalism happening in Penang where the world renowned artist painted a few nice graffitis on walls only to be tarnished by acts of hooligans! I think, there should be a strict law against vandalism!

7. Animals’ Rights

Animals should be treated with respect and compassion, irregardless if they are strays or pets. A strict law should be enforced to put people who commit unspeakable cruelty to animals to book! No exception, no biasness. Cats and dogs should be equal! Give grant to animals’ shelter and perhaps, set up a govt dept to monitor scrupulous pet shops which inhumanely breed pedigrees for sale. Everybody should play a part in this. If you stop buying pedigrees, the breeding will stop! Start by educating the people around you!

8. Preserve Our Heritage

I simply couldn’t understand why the govt refused to preserve a heritage. I think the buildings in Petaling Street are pretty on its own. If you visited Singapore, you could see Chinatown was being preserved like the old days, with old buildings repainted and restored properly. I do think the Pudu Jail should be relocated as well, and not placed right in the middle of a busy city. However, certain parts of the Pudu jail could be preserved to serve as a tourist attraction place. I believe all schools should conduct a visit to the jail to bring awareness to our children and youngsters that, crime doesn’t pay. And what’s with the building of souvenirs kiosk at the pristine Taiping lake garden with the 100 years old raintrees??? I believe by just taking photos of the place is good enough as souvenirs! Don’t need any ugly stalls or kiosks to be built!

9. Reduce Prices of Properties

With so many properties flourishing in the market, it’s indeed irony to think that there are still so many people made homeless due to increase in price of properties. Govt should step in to curb property market speculations to bring down prices of homes in order to encourage people to own their own homes. Perhaps, instead of only giving low costs apartments to low income people (which sometimes could be manipulated), govt could use the low costs apartments to charge lower rentals to people who couldn’t afford to buy a house.

10. Curbing Pollutions

It’s almost appalling to read that, a company has been given temporary operating license today to go ahead with their rare earth processing operations eventhough there are so many cases and documents supporting the dire consequences of the waste. A thorough study should be conducted on manufacturing of any kind before proceeding to grant permission. Also, recycling items should be made compulsory – to separate organic wastes from recyclable items, to reduce land fills and save earth resources.

Geez.. I just wanted to put everything in point form, short and concise.. and somehow, ended up so long winded. Haha! I hope my happiness index could be taken into account lah. So what’s your happiness index?