Monday, August 30, 2010

Happy Birthday Min!

After 29 wondrous years of living, I still cannot fathom how Min ( my sister) and I are SO different, but yet we came from the same womb. We even look different - so many friends and classmates who've met us in the streets and couldn't believe we're sister. It's funny that they think we're just friends. Even funnier when they find out we're sister and think she's the older one. Lol!

I'd say, if I could choose to start my life over again, I wouldn't change a single thing. There are truly times when I really wanted to rip Min's head off, like the many times in our childhood when she rattled to my grandmother of our plans to sneak out and play while she went to take her shower, or the times when she'd like to scream as if she got scalded by boiling water when anyone so much as accidentally bumped into her while playing (don't even remember Min screaming this loud when she got all four of her wisdom teeth extracted), or the times in our pre teens when we would fight over the phone, or fight over clothes, bags, shoes - anything we could think of to fight over, we did.

But all this is nothing compared to some of the funniest and most embarrassing moments we've been through together too. Creating our big playhouse with the sofa cushions and having tea inside, playing little mermaid with the patchwork blankets my grandmother made us which we still keep till today, how she almost ate a cockroach egg because she thought it was a chocolate that fell under the washing machine, how in most of my grandfathers birthday pictures everyone looks at the camera while she look at the cake (for her benefit, it really did look like a chocolate). When her lips shiver and her teeth chatter when she cries. The crazy confessions of our boyfriends (the most memorable being "Messiah boy") that we laugh over and poke fun at now, how the nicknames skitty and yeast were birthed, when we bugged my mother to take us for ear piercing but she chickened out after one ear was pierced and she didn't want to do the other cos it was too painful and the doctor ended up having to chase her round his desk. When she started on braces at 13 and had perfect teeth for a while until they went back to their original state because we didn't do the retainer program (never too late to start again btw!). So on and so forth. The list goes on!

I personally think it's a huge misunderstanding, but as we all got older, my parents probably thought that we like to spend our birthdays with our friends and boyfriends, so they stopped celebrating. Much to Min's disappointment of course. This year, I got news from the grapevine that she was going to just go out with my Mum for dinner if we all "forgot" her birthday again.

I love my family a lot even though we don't show it or express it that much to one another. We know we love one another and will be there for each other. I trust my sister. I know she will do her best for me in everything and vice versa. The proverb "Blood is thicker than water" is proven to me time and again in different seasons of my life. The latest being our wedding. So when I heard that she was prepared to be let down on her birthday, something stirred in my heart. I felt sad that she felt neglected, even forgotten and there was a part of me that really wanted to protect her from feeling that way. She is after all my younger sister. So I decided that this year would be a great birthday for her and I wanted her to feel special. She is anyway, to me.

We all started a string of emails discussing and deciding on what we should get her. We agreed on a big seafood dinner (suggestion from my dad), and a watch as her present. She's been wearing her current watch for over 10 years now, and it's all scratched. Yet she never thought to ask for a new one. This incident showed and taught me as well that everyone in my family's truly willing to drop everything we're doing to come to the "rescue" of one. And that's incredible! We arranged a time and place to meet up to buy her present together - Mum, Julien, Andy (Min's boyfriend) and I. It was a really good way to get to know each other better too. Andy's been pretty reserved usually, and he takes a longer time to warm up to someone new, but he's starting to be a little more chatty and more himself after that day. It was a really good day! We all even had dinner together after. This was the watch we bought for her. Without the diamonds of course.
The plan was to get Andy to take Min out for the day, and come evening to take her to the dinner place at east coast by the beach where we would all be, for her first surprise. What an event! The precious look on her face when she saw us all as we screamed "SURPRISE!" was priceless! The next surprise for her came when we presented her the box all nicely wrapped up for her. It was funny because when my aunt saw it, she thought it was make up products that we bought based on how it was wrapped. My dad thought it was the cake! Lol! When she finally unwrapped her box and saw the balmain logo, she didn't believe it. She thought we were playing a prank on her and that it was just chocolates in the box. Another big surprise for her when she saw the watch. So we had a great dinner as a big family, and towards the end, we came out with her cakes singing her the birthday song. I said cakes because, we bought 8 tiny cakes and put a candle in them each. We figured it's easier to have a small cake each after dinner then to buy a big cake and wonder what to do after with the leftovers. =) Overall, a huge success and one very happy little sister! It made me feel really good on the inside.

HAPPY 28th BIRTHDAY MIN! Hope you enjoyed your surprise birthday party we all put together for you to remind you how SPECIAL you are to all of us!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Changi Beach and Steamboat for the Soul

Julien was really nice to take me out Saturday afternoon even though he would rather sleep in - he had gone to a party without me Friday night, and came home in the wee hours of the morning. So technically, he only had about a coupla hours sleep. I felt like a Princess! He didn't have to, but he did anyway.

He told me it was going to be a surprise. So okay, I just followed. Apparently he had heard about a Bistro at Changi Beach and wanted to take me there for lunch, since I had missed a great party the night before, AND my french classes the next day too (there was a 1 week break). It was Ting's day! When we arrived, we realised we had just missed the kitchen closing time, and we were only allowed to order from the finger food menu. We were getting more hungry by the minute as we looked around and saw others chowing into their pastas and burgers since they ordered their meals on time. No biggie. I wasn't gonna let something small like this rain on my parade that early in my day. So we ordered a basket of mixed platter. I had in mind a version of how my mix platter would look like, since there was no description on what was actually in the platter - an assortment of calamari frittered rings, fish fingers, french fries, 2 chicken hotwings, and maybe one or two other knick knacks. When it finally was served, our jaws dropped. It was a tiny oval basket that was served to us small enough to fit about 5 eggs. In it were 2 samosas, 2 spring rolls, 2 chicken nuggets, and a few strands of french fries littered all over - Pathetic. We ate it still since we were famished. By the time we were ready to leave, since we arrived late and took our time still, it was already 4pm.

Still hungry, we decided to ride up to the Changi Village Hawker Centre to grab some real food. I had really wanted chicken wings while at the Bistro, and was really disappointed that it didn't come with our little basket. So I thought, hey why not get some at the food centre, and throw in another plate of gong gong.

gong-gong /gong gong, ɡɒŋ ɡɒŋ/ n. [Mal.] The pearl conch (Strombus canarium), an edible mollusc which is usu. cooked with chilli or deep-fried as fritters.

On a side note here, it's awesome that someone came up with a Singlish Dictionary! Way to go Singapore lah!!!

Back to my story, what we didn't know was that it was still too early and the seafood stalls have either not been set up, or are not even open yet. I walked around for a while, and was about to give up, when I found a stall that does BOTH chicken wings AND gong gong! Who was feeling a rush of satisfaction? Me! My lunch ended really late, but at the same time, really fulfilling.

With bloated stomachs, and a big smile, we decided it was good to walk off that meal. And what a good walk we had by the sea! I love Singapore for this!

I've seen many different trees in the tropic but this one really caught my eye. It's fruit looked like little chinese lanterns hanging off its branches. Oh Singapore, you never fail to amaze me!

And our day gets better. Come the evening, we decided on our favourite fish steamboat stall at Moonstone Lane, a 10 minute walk away from my parent's place. It's really old school - a tiny space with 3-4 other food stalls in operation. I have to admit it is a little run down and shabby, but this is also why I like it, because it represents the authenticity of how local food is prepared and served back in the good old days. And I love it!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Blur Like Sotong

Since I've started French classes, I've been unable to attend on time. We work hard here, so weekends are really precious to us, and hence we also play hard. I didn't want to take night classes on weekdays because I'd be too tired from work to really concentrate. But come the weekend, all I wanna do is let my hair down and party the night away! Which explains why I can never wake up on time too.

Then I tried another approach. To go to the parties with Julien but leave early myself so I can get the sleep I need. That didn't work out either. Once you're there, it's hard to want to leave alone when everyone else if enjoying themselves. Just yesterday, I decided to be a responsible adult and forgo a party. I felt really abandoned when Julien went without me, but hey, it's for a better cause. I need my brain juices when I'm in french classes. The teacher speaks only french to us, which is good. That also means I need to be alert to catch what she's saying.

Woke up this morning feeling really good! For once I will be on time! All the way there, I was imagining the surprise on every one's faces when they walk into class and see me there first! As I made my way to the lift, someone called out to me. Classmate? I arrogantly grinned to myself. Turned out it was the receptionist.

Receptionist: You here for classes?
Me: Yeah! Room 312 (I volunteered).
Receptionist: There are no classes today. It's a one week break.
Me: ........................ !!!!!!!

WHAT??!?! You mean I could've been at that party last night and it wouldn't've mattered??!?!? I was so devastated I decided to share this news with Julien immediately, who came home at 5am this morning? Unfortunately for me, he was so deep in sleep he didn't hear my call. Dang!!! Went home and first thing I did was pick up my phone to call the sleeping Yeti's hp with the sleeping Yeti SLEEPING in plain sight right in front of me. It was an experiment I wanted to conduct to see if a human could actually sleep through a loud noise. This time he actually moved to pick the phone up. So I told him what happened. And he LAUGHED! He wasn't even empathetic towards my plight! Well, at least he's awake now... I hope. Because I definitely cannot go back to sleep after sleeping a good 9 hours. Baaaaaahhh!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

1st Wedding Anniversary Holiday

Krabi, a town located on the west coast of southern Thailand at the mouth of the Krabi River leading into the Andaman Sea. It's like what one of our friends mentioned, Paradise in Paradise. I have to admit, it was raining quite a bit, since it's the monsoon season in the tropics right now, but that didn't stop us from taking some really nice pictures. Having said that, despite the rain, in my heart, the sun was shining. Krabi is amazing.

The Boos:
  1. The rain! It rained at some point or other every other day that we were there. Oh well, so much for saving SGD$100 on the airfare.
  2. Disappointed when we went to one of the waterfalls. We couldn't swim in it! Not like in Langkawi. And there we were adorned in our flashy swimwear only to realise that we didn't want to swim since the water wasn't clear. That made me really regret that we didn't take the longer route (1.5 hr bike ride) to the other waterfall, where the hot springs were as well, along the way. This will remain a mystery to me until we go back again.
  3. It continued to rain on the way back from the waterfalls and we got lost and drenched to the bones. Because of that, Julien almost fell sick (thank God he didn't). Just a light sore throat.
  4. We wanted to check out the monkey trail. Apparently there was this section close to the beach where there were hidden steps leading to a monkey trail kind of trek that we wanted to explore, but couldn't because of the rain.
  5. We didn't really manage to snorkel or swim on the 2nd Island (Chicken Island) that we went to because it started to rain a little and the water was shallow, and littered with rock where the crabs hid, so it wasn't easy wadding out into deeper waters either. Got nipped in the ankle twice by a small crab. Thank God we didn't wade out that far because we realised after that there were many sea urchins.
The Regrets:
  1. Not braving the pelting rain to walk out and have my last bowl of beef ball noodles before leaving, and buying that chicken on a stick to have on the way to the airport.
  2. Not buying that massage we were saying we should do since the 1st day we arrived.
  3. not visiting the hot springs and the other waterfall.
  4. That our vacation had ended.
The Nice:
  1. Great resort. It's absolutely beautiful here.
  2. Great food. Tom yam seafood soup on the 1st day and they served it with white rice in the shape of a heart! Great street food. The barbecued chicken on sticks was delicious! All 4 of them.
  3. It was nice to rent a bike and explore the town. I like to do these things. Did a little trek as well on the way up to see the waterfalls.
  4. Back on food (I almost forgot) - the beef ball noodle soup by the road. So good we kept going back for more!
  5. Everyone's friendly, not just to the tourists, but among the locals as well. We got lost on our bike and the locals were more than happy to help direct us back to our resort. They didn't have to. But they did.
  6. We went Island hopping! Poda Island and then Chicken Island. Spent a good 4 hours at sea! Even if we didn't really snorkel in Chicken Island, the water was clear enough for us to have a great view of the corals below. The boatman was also very obliging and took us further out into deeper waters where we could at least jump in without worrying about the sea urchins piercing our bottoms.
  7. We met two nice Australians in time to sign up for the Island hopping package. It was for a minimum of 4 people, and we didn't know anyone who was wanting to go, so we almost took a really cheap ticket to go just across to one of the nearby Islands to spend a day there. Honestly, I would have been pretty disappointed, I really wanted to Island hop. It would be my first time doing that in the 29 years of my life, and we eventually did!
  8. 4 hours out at sea works up a huge appetite. We bought those nice chicken on sticks on the way back to our resort and were initially intending to take a quick shower so we could sink our teeth into the crisp barbecued surface, right down to the juicy inner meat, then we had a better idea! Prepare a bath and eat in the tub! Two pleasures at once. My 1st time trying this, and I'm hooked.
  9. Night stroll along the beach.
  10. Visit to the night markets. Sights, smells, tastes, colours, you keep soaking it all up.
  11. Ooh Ooh!!!!!! I just remembered. The fried bananas with ice cream. Simply heaven. It's almost like goreng pisang (frittered banana) Singapore style, but with ice cream.
  12. Big Big Breakfasts. Julien always amazed at how much I can eat. And where all that food goes.
  13. Nice swim in the pool overlooking the natural rock formations.
  14. Great Anniversary dinner.
  15. The road side stall we took shelter at when it started to pour. Run by a lady and her mother. Her mother was barbecuing chicken wings and the aroma that filled the place on a rainy day, is another simple pleasure that I enjoy. They did Thai salads as well, but we were too chicken to try. Didn't want to upset our tummies.
  16. The young mother cat we would feed at breakfast and her 3 kittens.
  17. The pandan leaves weaved into the shape of roses that came in our complimentary welcome drink. They are right now on our bookshelf. Our house now smells of nature.
  18. An organised row of identical little houses that I endearingly nicknamed 'smallville', where each house had a different coloured satellite dish. We had passed it briefly on our bike, but that image stuck in my mind. Little dished of reds, yellows, greens, pinks, purple, orange, blues.... cute.
The Funny:
  1. Tiger painting we saw - a white tiger with luminous orange nose and paws. Ridiculous!
  2. The massage lady who would call out to us 'Massage for you, Sir, Madam, manicure, pedicure?' Somehow her pitch rises as she speaks. By the time she got to Manicure and Pedicure, she was hitting the high C octaves.
  3. The shocked, realisation of defeat on Julien's face when I managed to mouth squirt him with water at the pool. Of course, this was my first successful attempt after countless failed ones, which would also explain why he was so shocked, since he wasn't expecting to be successfully attacked.
  4. Then he took his revenge by splashing a huge jet of water right into my eyeball. This officially was the end of our water squirting game. But it's still nice to be able to play like children. It's even more fun to play like children when you're 29!
  5. We were taking a night stroll at the along the beach away from the shore line where the tide comes in, when suddenly a strong tide came in and we had to jump away to avoid getting our feet wet. I was wearing slippers, so I wasn't too bothered. Julien for some reason, loves to wear shoes. Correction. He wears shoes because he cannot walk in slippers. He trips himself when he wears slippers. So as the tide came in, instead of jumping away, he truly believed that he could jump high enough so that he would be able to stay up in the air long enough till the water resided. The look of disappointment on his face as both his feet landed in the water. Priceless.
  6. We looked like those bobbing head figurines with our helmets on. Absolutely stupid. The guy at the bike rental was advising that we put on these helmets. It was 'safer' but more because it was the law and we would be fined if the police caught us without our helmets. What we realised after half a day of riding was, NO ONE wore helmets. Not even the other tourists who rented the bikes. We were the only two buggers who had on the helmets. They were probably having a good laugh as we left. The helmets were slightly bigger than our heads, so it didn't sit very well and it wobbles while we were riding. So we DID look like those bobbing head figurines!
  7. We feed this young mother cat and her kittens during breakfast and one morning, we saw the mother cat walk by our table with the kitten biting on to her tit still. Breast milk rules.
  8. The bike we rented cost us around SGD $6 for a whole day, almost the same price as a bicycle rental in Singapore at east coast for less than half a day.
  9. The only transvestite we saw in Krabi at the beef ball noodles snack shack who couldn't take his eyes off Julien, whom we saw again at one of the night bars dancing like a pro. I personally think it's not easy being a guy, dressing up like a girl, and still being able to dance better than a girl. Too bad he didn't look too much like a girl. Don't think anyone attempted to buy him drinks, but he's really good at the pool table.