Thursday, May 30, 2013

3D/2N at Banyan Tree Bangkok

If you’re planning a quick getaway with your loved one, try the Banyan Tree in Bangkok.  Their 3D/2N “Bangkok Romance” package is well worth every RM spent.

I was there last weekend with my husband. A nice break after such a long time. The last time we went away together was in 2011 (Krabi). So, this trip was much anticipated by both of us.

Why Banyan Tree? I’ve always wanted to stay at the Banyan Tree for its sheer luxury and spa experience. My husband had previously stayed at the Banyan Tree Bintan and Phuket with his late wife, and he always talked about how great they were.  

Obviously, I avoided these two places for I’d rather reserve them for his memories with his late wife. I wanted to make new ones so he remembers us in a different way. Hence, when choosing the hotel in Bangkok, I said no to all the hotels that he had previously stayed with his late wife. He concurred and we agreed on the Banyan Tree Bangkok.

We arrived at Sukabhumi Airport at 10.30am on Saturday via Malaysia Airlines. There was a car waiting for us - a BMW 7 Series with a driver in white suit. Wah.. rasa macam dalam “Pretty Woman”! I had asked my husband earlier on, “You want to travel in style or budget?” He said, “In style lah B… kita bukan selalu holiday berdua..“ Hence, the BMW. Hee.. Hee..  

Banyan Tree Bangkok


Car pick-up at the airport


When we reached the hotel, we were immediately whisked to our room on the 27th floor. It was a one-bedroom suite with access to the Club Lounge. You should take the rooms on the Club Floor because it gives you access to the Club Lounge which offers drinks and snacks all day long, plus breakfast every morning. This way, you don’t have to compete with the rest of the hotel guests for food at the coffee house.
After unpacking our luggage, we went down to the Club Lounge for a light lunch. Then at 4pm, we had our massage at the famous Banyan Tree Spa, which was part of the package. The massage was heavenly… My husband slept the moment the masseuse touched his body because I could hear him snoring (he does that when the massage was really good). He must be very tired… but he enjoyed it very much, he said. I did too.

That night, we had dinner on the Apsara, a boat that sails along the Chao Phraya river. It was so romantic but I didn’t really enjoy it because I was very tired by that time. My contact lenses were drying up, I could barely open my eyes.

At the end of the cruise, they took a photo of us together near one of the famous Wat and gave us a copy as we disembarked from the boat. I thought that was a nice gesture.

That night, I slept like a baby.  The bed was so comfortable you just sank in the moment you hit the pillows.

 Dinner on the Apsara

 We had Thai food on the boat

Rice packed in a banana leave parcel


The next day, we took our time eating our breakfast. The food selection was fantastic. They had about 20 types of cereals, fruits & nuts; 10 types of jams and preservatives (mostly locally made), Japanese section, eggs (cooked to your liking), bread, cheese, noodles, porridge etc, etc. We sat there for quite a while trying out all the different food. It was awesome.

After breakfast, we went out to do a little shopping. We took a cab to MBK to buy some t-shirts for the kids back home. My husband wanted to buy the “fisherman pants” which could only be found in Bangkok. He wears these pants at home most of the time because they are so comfortable. The last time we were in Bangkok, he bought several pieces at 199 Baht each. Now, the price is still 199 Baht and the quality is still the same (better, in fact). No inflation ke in Thailand??

I bought a few t-shirts for myself, 2 pairs of jeans and that was it. We returned to the hotel to rest because later that night, we planned to visit the Asiatique – a wholesale market that opened at night only.

After a quick rest and shower, we headed up to the Moon Bar, which was located on 61st floor of the hotel. We had complimentary drinks at the Moon Bar as part of the package and so we decided to check it out.

I didn’t know what to expect but when we reached the top floor, I was taken aback because the view was simply stunning. I could see the whole of Bangkok from where I was sitting and it was incredible! We watched the sunset from the bar. My husband, who is not such a great fan of heights, was looking rather nervous up there but he stayed on and I love him for that.

We had dinner at the Vertigo Restaurant, just below the Moon Bar. It was one of the most fascinating dining experiences I’ve ever had.  Stylish and sophisticated, we dined under the skies of Bangkok while enjoying the panoramic views of the city. We forgo our midnight shopping at Asiatique for the awesome experience at the Vertigo.

As I’m writing, I am still imagining myself sitting at the Moon Bar, contemplating the heavens and admiring the beautiful city lights down below while sipping my favorite drink.  Ahh… what an unforgettable experience!

Me & him at the Moon Bar

He does look nervous, doesn't he? 

 
View from the top

Romantic dinner at Vertigo


When we got back to our room after dinner, we were suprised to find that the room had been transformed into this really romantic setting - lights down, soft music, candles and incense in the bedroom and roses in the bathtub. I didn't know when they had set up the place, but it was a nice surprise. They called it "Intimate Bath", which is essentially setting up the mood for intimate moments with your partner.

I need not go into details but that was one of the most relaxing experience I've ever had. Usually I found it hard to relax in a bath tub, but this one made me forget about everything. It was total bliss.

Rose petals and lotus flowers in the bath tub 

 Strawberries and cream

 The heavenly bed

Perfect setting for intimate moments

I must say the 3D/2N we spent at the Banyan Tree Bangkok were truly remarkable. The Banyan Tree experience was one of a kind and the things we did together do bring us closer as a couple. 

When I asked my husband "What were your best moments during the stay?" He said, "First, the massage at the Spa and second, the intimate bath." As for me, the Moon Bar takes the cake and the bath came a close second.

Now I'm checking out other Banyan Tree destinations for our next rendezvous.. :)

Monday, May 20, 2013

Help!

Nizzar Nordin is sitting for his first real exam this week. Today is the BM paper.

Actually, the school had an assessment in March when the kids had to do some sort of mock exam, but my son only sat for 1 paper as he was down with a viral fever. The rest – “Tidak Hadir”.

So, I am very nervous. My weekend was spent teaching him, or rather, coaxing him to do some work for BM. It was tough. He was very slow. He didn’t know how to spell some words, didn’t know the difference between "kita, kami, mereka".. didn’t know how to form sentences.

I lost my patience.

Itulah! Masa cikgu mengajar, you main-main dalam kelas! Sekarang, satu apa pun tak tahu! How are you going to do your test tomorrow?”

He stared at me blankly.

Don’t look at me! Look at your book!”

Sometimes, he put up a strong protest and sometimes, he cried. Sobbing as he worked his way through “kata hubung” and “kata ganti”. Kesian dia.

But I had to be firm, otherwise we won’t do his work.

Each time I sat down with him for revision, I could feel my blood pressure shot up to 200! Very stressful! And after each session, I would take a breather and de-stress in the bathroom to calm myself down.

My husband said, “Don’t be so hard on him..”. I tried not to, yang… but most often than not, I would lose my cool.

As I’m writing, my little boy is just starting to do his BM paper. I wish you well, darling... I hope you will remember your spelling, huruf besar, huruf kecil, etc. Mummy loves you, no matter what.

See you soon!

Latest Update:

His class teacher called right after the BM paper. "Puan, si Nizzar jawab soalan main tembak saja! Semua dia jawab A! Dia tak nak fikir langsung! Saya suruh dia buat semula. Boleh pulak jawab..."

Please, help me God!




Thursday, February 21, 2013

Torn

Ever since Nizzar started going to school, my life has gone haywire. When previously I could happily wake up at 7.30am, now I need to get up by 6am. By 6.50am, dah keluar rumah. Dulu, 8.00 am I was still at home.

At night, I’d be in bed by 9.30pm. “I will only sleep when you sleep, Mummy!” So, nak tak nak, terpaksa tidur cepat. If not, I would have trouble getting him out of bed in the morning.

The moment I hit the pillows at night, I would straight away doze off although in my mind, I thought I would get up again later. Unfortunately, this hasn’t happened yet.

I feel that my life is being controlled by the little boy. My mind is constantly thinking about him: Does he has any homework today? Did he do his work in class today? Did he lose his pencil again? Is the eraser still in the pencil box? What books to bring tomorrow? What food to bring for bekal? Where are his shoes? His tie? His baju sekolah? His watch? Arrrrggghhhh!!!

The constant worrying about the boy who-doesn’t-want-to-do-work-in-school is turning me into a nervous wreck. I worry most of the time, especially in the morning when sending him to school. I don’t even have time to care for myself anymore. I would just grab whatever baju I see in the cupboard to wear in the morning when previously, I would plan what to wear to office. Make up – sometimes sempat, sometimes tak sempat.

The worse thing is - I don’t even have time to do my hair! And that is just horrible! Before this, I need at least one hour in the morning to do my hair. Now, I don’t have such luxury anymore. I have to wash my hair at night now which is quite a hassle because after you sleep on it, the style would be ruined.

I did try to wash it in the morning recently. Memang tak sempat nak blow dry! It was wet and disheveled when I reached the school. And my son had the cheek to tell me, “Mummy, never mind … on your way to work, you can wind down the window and let the wind blow your hair. By the time you reach your office, I’m sure your hair will look nice and beautiful!” Ha ha… wishful thinking, Nizzar. It didn’t happen as you wished.

The constant worrying over the 7 year old has led me to neglect the other important person in my life, ie. my husband. Dah lah dia kerja di JB. Whenever he’s back, I wouldn’t bother so much about him because I would be busy organizing the little one. Kesian dia.. sometimes I feel bad for not giving him much attention.

Well, he does not complain lah.. but deep down I’m sure he feels neglected. But what am I to do? I only have 3 hours to spare after work! I can’t even allocate time for myself, what more to give attention to 2 persons?

Balik kerja, letak beg, shower and terus sit down with the little boy to do his homework. (This is when I don’t have to cook dinner. If I cooked, I can forget about homework with Nizzar). Homework would take one hour, at least. Then I’ll have my dinner. By the time I finish dinner, it would be 9 o’clock and that means, bed time is in half an hour.

By this time, my husband would probably be home already, if he’s in KL. He would just eat whatever that’s left with the older kids while I sort out budak kecik tu. By the time he comes up to our bedroom, I would be in bed, reading bedtime stories to the little kid. He insists I read to him 3 books every night! Lepas tu baru dia akan tidur. After reading, I would be so bombed out already and would fall asleep together with him.

How to layan husband? Plus my husband sleeps very late every night. Sorry lah… cannot wait!

Luckily the 2 older kids can look after themselves. And I’m so glad bibik is around to help with the cooking, cleaning, washing & ironing clothes. If not, can die lah!

Am I over focusing my attention to the little boy? Should I just let go a bit and focus more on my husband? Like, leave the kids and go for a much needed week-long break with my husband in Zurich? (like some people I know…)

Thursday, February 07, 2013

I Am English

I received a phone call from Nizzar’s class teacher the other day. “Puan, anak puan ni tak nak buat kerja. Buku pun tak de!”

Adoi.. and that was on 7 Feb 2013 – a month after school started.

So, I went to the school to meet the teacher.  I kind of expected this would happen because ever since he started schooling, I’ve only seen him doing homework twice. Whenever I asked him, he said “No homework.”, or, “I’ve done it in class.”

Tak kan tak de homework? I tengok budak kelas lain, ada je homework. Tak kan he’s so efficient semua boleh siap in class?

Books – he took them all to school to keep in a locker, he said. So, I really had no clue what he had been doing in class until that day.

When I arrived at the school, I waited for the little rascal outside the pejabat gurubesar. At 1.15pm, I saw him walking towards me smiling, “Hi Mummy!”, he said (as if nothing happened). I told him that I was meeting his teacher because she said you have not been doing your work. He said, “Ok!” (mode: indifferent).

At 1.30pm, the teacher came to see me. Happily, the little rascal introduced me to the teacher, “Mummy, this is my teacher, Puan Suraya!” (mode: happy). Again, as if nothing happened.

The teacher was very nice... She wasn’t angry or anything, she just informed me what my son had been up to.

It seemed he has not been doing any work in class. He just refused to do his work! When teacher told him to copy what was written on the white board, he said, “I don’t want to do! Budak lain semua dah tulis 10-12 pages, buku dia kosong! Satu page pun tak de tulisan! Tak tahu apa dia buat in class!

Activity book – some ada buat, some tak de buat. Some of the text books are missing, the same goes for his exercise books. Aiyo… how lah?? The best thing is, every day I would discover something missing from his pencil box. Pensil hilang, eraser hilang, sharpener hilang.. tapi kerja tak buat! Mana pegi benda2 tu semua??

All I could do was just shook my head in disbelief.

Fortunately, the teacher was quite helpful. She asked me to go to the classroom and look for his books with her. Then she showed me how far the other kids have done in the exercise books and what Nizzar needs to do to catch up. So, I borrowed those books and made photocopies so I know what my son needs to do.

I tell you, those are easy work which he could have easily finished in a snap. But the thing is, he’s just too lazy to do it. I don’t know why he didn’t want to do it. Is it because he doesn’t understand what the teacher said, or because he doesn’t like writing? Or is it because he just doesn’t want to get penalized for doing a poor job?

That was the BM teacher. I also met the English, Maths and Science teachers who all told me the same thing: “Nizzar tak nak buat kerja!” And they all gave me work samples of what he had missed out to do at home.

It was very embarrassing, you know. But one consolation, they said, he’s not the only one. There are other kids who are in the same boat! Hee.. Hee..

When I got home that night, I sat down with him to make sure he did as much as he could. True enough, sekejap je dah siap. My question is, why kat kelas tak nak buat?

So, I’m not surprised if the teacher scolded him in class. Cakap bukan main pandai. That morning when I sent him to school, he told me, “Mummy, I really like school you know?” When I asked why, he said, “I like my class.. my friends.. and I want to get A+ in my work!

Amboi… what a proud moment! At that time, I was truly convinced that my son was very into this school thing. Unfortunately, at 10.30am that same morning, the teacher called me saying my son has not been doing any work! How to get A+ like that?!

But one funny thing happened when we were looking for his books in the classroom. I was with the BM teacher at that time and Nizzar was talking to me in English. The teacher asked me, “Nizzar ni boleh cakap Bahasa Malaysia tak?” I said, “, “Boleh… sikit2..”. “Dia faham tak?”, tanya cikgu tu lagi. “Faham… “ i said. Then, the teacher told me, “Hari tu saya tanya dia, awak ni Melayu ke? Dia jawab: "I am English!!”  

Nizzar… Nizzar… what am I going to do with you..??


Friday, January 18, 2013

Cry Baby

It’s coming to the end of week 3 of schooling, but Nizzar still cry sometimes when I drop him off at school.
The worst is Monday morning. Big drama! Nak kejutkan sikit punya susah. Then he’d start whining, “I don’t like school! Hari ni lambat balik! 1 o’clock! Banyak kerja!”
And he’d refuse to wear his baju sekolah.
I would often lose my temper upon hearing this and would scream, “NIZZAR, GET UP ALREADY!!” and drag him out of bed.
Mummy ni, asyik2 nak marah!”, he'd protested.
Ya lah! If I tak marah, you tak nak bergerak! Mummy cakap elok2 you tak nak dengar. Kena jerit baru nak buat!”
Mummy ni! Asyik2 cakap macam tu! Asyik2 cakap macam tu saja!!”
Then he would stomp his feet and cry.
By this time, my husband would come out of the bathroom screaming, “Apasal  ni Nizzar…?!!” And he would stare angrily at his daddy.
In the car going to school, both of us would be very quiet. He would be sulking and I would still be angry at him.
But nearing school, “Mummy, hold my hand, please..”
Masa tu lah rasa nak turn back and start all over again from home! Masa tu jugak lah rasa kesian pada budak ni,.. pagi2 lagi dah kena bangun, mandi, pegi sekolah while everybody else is still sleeping. Then I would feel very bad for yelling at him.
Sampai sekolah, he would hesitantly get out of the car. I would tell myself, “Be patient, be very patient. This is not easy for him, so don’t make it worse.”
Mummy, please walk with me to school…”
At that cue, I would be betting, “Would he cry or not?”
So, I would take his hand and walk with him to the assembly area.
There are many parents going in and out of the school gate after dropping off their kids. Some would say hello to us and say, “Wah… you’re a good boy today, Nizzar… Don’t cry, ok..”.
But my little boy would just hold on to my hands tightly and not look up to the stranger’s face.
When we reach the spot where I would normally leave him, he would quickly hug me and won’t let me go. And he would start to cry..
Mummy… I don’t want to go… I’ll miss you Mummy…” Sob, sob..
No Nizzar, you have to go to school. Mummy have to go to work. It’s only for a while. Later when Mummy come back from work, we can play, ok.” I tried my best to calm him down. “Take a deep breath and stop crying.” , I added.
He would continue sobbing.
I have no choice but to push him away from me before it gets worse. Sometimes, I would ask one of the prefects to take him to his class, sometimes I would just leave him there so he’d make his own way to class.
It’s hard to let him go but if I stayed on, he would continue crying.
But there were some good days. Days when he would cheerfully waved at me as I took my leave. These would be happy days for me.
Now that he knows how to call me from the public phone, I’ve been getting his calls every morning at 9am when he breaks for recess. He would call me twice; once as soon as he comes out of class and the second time after he finished eating.
It’s quite nice to hear his voice like that. I just hope the teachers won’t disallow him from calling me every so often.
Next week, real class will start. I hope Nizzar can understand what is being taught and will be able to do his work well.
I have faith in you, my dear boy...

Monday, January 07, 2013

Finding Nizzar

First day of school is always traumatic for parents, especially mothers. My little boy, Nizzar, started Standard One this year and boy, I tell you… it’s very distressing!

Day 1 – he went to the wrong class.

You know how it is on the first day of assembly? There were so many kids from Standard 1 right up to Standard 6. In Year 1 alone, there were 150 students - all seemed lost and terrified in the big crowd. Combined with the other classes, there must be close to 1,000 students at the assembly area that morning.

I was nervous, and I’m sure all the other Year 1 parents who were waiting at the assembly area were anxious as well.

My son was seated right at the back row because all the other kids had arrived earlier than us. I was watching him from far and he seemed just fine although he looked somewhat lost at times. That was understandable given the new environment and such.

After all the announcements and speeches, I heard the Headmistress announced, “Semua murid Tahun 1 diminta berdiri…!”

None of the Std One kids stood up. All the parents rushed to their kids and coaxed them to stand up.

I just stood there and continued observing my son from far.

Then the group started moving out of the assembly area towards the classrooms. I stood vigil and watched each and every one of the kid that passed by so I didn’t miss my son.

One by one had walked on by, but I didn’t see my Nizzar.

Murid Tahun 2 di minta berdiri!”

Alamak.. dah masuk Tahun 2? Where’s my son?

Ok, maybe I’d missed him in the crowd… he’d probably had reached his class now.

So, I went up to his class. But when I got there, he was nowhere to be seen. His seat was empty.

I panicked! Where could he be?

I asked the teacher, “Anak saya, Nizzar, tak de disini, Cikgu..” Non-chalantly, the teacher replied, “Ohh.. tak apa.. hari pertama ni memang macam ni… Ramai budak2 masuk silap kelas. Nanti kita jumpa lah dia..”

What? Nanti kita jumpa dia? How long do I have to wait?? What if he had gone outside the school compound? What if he had gone elsewhere looking for me? Even I didn’t know the whole school compound!

So, I went to look for him myself. I went to all the Std One classes but he was nowhere to be seen. Then I went to the Std Two classes – still, he wasn’t there (although there were a few Std 1 kids found in those classes).

Then I went back downstairs to the assembly area – it was empty except for a few parents mingling around.

I felt my heart dropped. Have I lost my kid on the first day of school?

I ran up again to the class area and stumbled upon the Headmistress. “Cikgu, anak saya hilang. I cannot find him!”

The Headmistress just looked at me and said (without any sense of urgency in her voice), “Tak pe… dia mesti ada kat kelas lain tu..”, and walked on by entertaining the other parents.

I was mad! What if it had been your son? Wouldn’t you be worried? Wouldn’t you be alarmed?

Sweat was trickling down my face but I told myself not to give up. I went to each and every Std 1 classes once again to search for him, but still I couldn’t find him. In the end, I went back to his class and decided to just wait for someone to find him...

As I entered the class, I saw him. Sitting in the front row, head down. The teacher whispered to me, “We found him at the corridor. He went to Kelas 3.” (when his class is Kelas 2).

Phew... what a relief!!

The moment he saw me, he started to cry. I saw tears rolled down his cheeks and I could feel that he was so relieved to see me. Poor baby...

I ran up to him and gave him a big hug. “Where did you go? Mummy looked for you everywhere but I couldn’t find you. I was so worried about you, you know…!” Huu… Huu… now both of us started crying in the classroom!

Hee.. Hee… now you know why he didn’t want to go to school...

It was very trying for me to get him to go to school the next day and the days after. Every morning he would cry and come up with all sorts of excuses to stop me from sending him to school. Kasut panas lah, beg berat lah, the class is lame lah, he’s not well lah… macam macam!

It broke my heart to see him like that… but I had to be firm and continued sending him to school despite his pleadings. I knew for a fact, once he got into class, he would be okay.

Today, when I got home from work, he told me the best news ever - “Mummy, I am the Class Monitor!”

Alright!!

And he said, he volunteered for the job.

That’s my boy…:)


Nizzar on the first day of school

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Of Van Gogh and Rembrandt

I am not much into art appreciation and don’t even know the difference between a Van Gogh or a Rembrandt. But a recent visit to Amsterdam has opened my eyes to the beauty of such paintings, how they evolved, their stories, and what made them so remarkable. Below are my favorite picks:

1) Van Gogh

Do you know there are 7 versions of the Sunflowers? I always thought there was only one…

This is the first one, painted in 1888 by Van Gogh when he was 35. It's known as "Three Sunflowers in a Vase". The background is turquoise. Currently owned by a private collector in the USA.



The fifth version, painted in 1889. "Vase with 12 Sunflowers". Currently located in Philadelphia, USA. Notice the different coloured background.


This is the last one - "Vase with 15 Sunflowers", painted in 1889. Background yellow. Currently on display at the Museum of Art in Sompo, Japan.

Van Gogh first painted the sunflowers to decorate his friend, Paul Gaugain's, bedroom. Since then, he painted 7 versions of the sunflowers, one of which was sold for USD81 million at an auction in 1987.

Another one of my favourite pick for Van Gogh is the "Starry Night Over the Rhone". Splendid....

Starry Night Over the Rhone (1888)




 The actual landscape for Starry Night Over the Rhone


2) Johannes Vermeer

Vermeer was another famous Dutch painter. I saw his paintings at the Rijksmuseum and straight away fell in love with it. There’s just something about her facial expression and the way she pours out the milk that captivated my attention.
The Kitchen Maid (1660) - Vermeer

Description: A maid concentrates keenly as she pours milk from a jug. It is a quiet, tranquil scene. The only movement is the flow of milk. Vermeer turned a simple composition of a prosaic subject into an intense work of art. It is in the rendering of light that Vermeer truly excelled, painting tiny dots for highlights as on the bread and the blue cloth. (Rijksmuseum)

Girl with a Pearl Earring (1665) - Vermeer


3) Rembrandt

The Night Watch (1642) - a masterpiece. This is considered one of the most famous paintings in the world.

The Night Watch is renowned for three elements: its colossal size (363 x 437 cm ~ 11 ft 10in x 14 ft 4in), the effective use of light and shadow, and the perception of motion in what would have been, traditionally, a static military portrait
This painting was completed in 1642, at the peak of the Dutch Golden Age. It depicts the eponymous company moving out, led by Captain Frans Banning Cocq (dressed in black, with a red sash) and his lieutenant, Willem van Ruytenburch (dressed in yellow, with a white sash).

With effective use of sunlight and shade, Rembrandt leads the eye to the three most important characters among the crowd, the two gentlemen in the centre (from whom the painting gets its original title, and the small girl in the centre left background. Behind them the company's colours are carried by the ensign, Jan Visscher Cornelissen.
In 1715, upon its removal from the Kloveniersdoelen to the Amsterdam Town Hall, the painting was cut down on all four sides. This was done, presumably, to fit the painting between two columns, an all too common practice before the 19th century (see below).

This resulted in the loss of two characters on the left-hand side of the painting, the top of the arch, the balustrade, and the edge of the step. This balustrade and step were key visual tools used by Rembrandt to give the painting a forward motion.

The picture below shows how it originally looks like. (Source: Wikipedia)

The un-cut version

I saw the Night Watch at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. It was awesome. The painting was huge, it occupied the whole wall of the building. It just made me wonder how on earth did Rembrandt paint that, given its enormous size.

And that was in 1642, the year the Dutch conquered Malacca from the Portuguese. Such amazing talent...

Will write more!