Tuesday, November 27, 2012

When MamyPoko is not the SAME in China!

We were excited when we saw it...we have found Mamy Poko in Carrefour in Beijing and for 100 pieces (M size), the price is only RMB129 or RM64.50. That is RM0.645 per piece, almost the price of which we will hunt for during bargains back in Malaysia!
And we were afraid that either we could not find any in Beijing or the price would be exorbitant. We actually shipped 5 packets via air which arrived yesterday with another 10 packets on the way via ship shipment, just to make sure that we have enough for Chenya.
So, we bought a packet home to try (which was rather smart of us I think) and fortunately we did. Not only are the diapers thinner but they actually do not absord as well as the one we used to use back home in Malaysia. We changed to Mamy Poko after trying out Pampers and Huggies because Mamy Poko has provened that leakages are far and few in between, even after long hours of use.
The same however, could NOT be said about the Mamy Poko here in China.
The first day we put them on Chenya, she sprang a leak only after 4 hours or so. Either she wee wee more here or than Ryan or the quality is simply not there, and we would like to think it is the latter.
We used to be rather confident when we bring Ryan or Chenya out with their Mamy Poko on, but with those made in China, we simply do not know when it will leak!
We are glad that we did ship those five packets and the other 10 which are on their way to our home in Beijing. It looks like, Mamy Poko will be another item for us to bring over each time we go back to Malaysia for a visit (until Chenya outgrows them).
The other item incidentally, that we shipped in volume (with restriction) over to Beijing are Pedisure, milk powder for Ryan currently and probably soon for Chenya too. The price for Pedisure here in Beijing is truly exhorbitant. We could get a can of 1.8kg for about RM138 back home but it cost RM128 for a smaller can here! The price is almost DOUBLED!
With the restriction that we could only ship a max of 10kg with our sea shipment, we max it out besides carrying two can each in our luggage. With Ryan's consumption of one 1.8kg can every two weeks, it also seemed like this would be another item that we would have to buy and carry over for every trip we made back to Malaysia ....or......
.....to any visitors who would love to visit us in Beijing.....
.....we promised to provide lodging (HAHAHAHA)....and Pauliner (if you drink) .....

Friday, November 16, 2012

His teacher has been `Unclefied!'

Ryan's new class teacher in Beijing, Jeff walked in, greeting us with a smile.
It was an impromptu arrangement and we were glad that Ryan (yes, he shared the same name as our cheeky Ryan), the Campus Director made that last minute meeting so that we could hear what his class teacher has to say about Ryan after a few days at his new school.
After all, we were a little worried as to how he has been adapting to his new environment, friends, routine and teachers.
For a start, he has started to take the school bus to and from school everyday instead of being fetched by me. To an extend, I think he likes it because there are other friends on board as well.
"Hello. I'm Jeff" Jeff extended his hand for a handshake...."and I am the UNCLE" with a smile.
For a moment, I could not comprehend what he meant.
"I am the UNCLE!" Jeff repeated.
And then, it dawned upon me that that was what Ryan has been calling him, his very own teacher "Uncle!"
He has managed to bring something very Malaysian over to Beijing China and introduced that to his school because it is customary for us back in Malaysia to teach our children to politely address an older gentlemen as `Uncle' and a lady 'Auntie', although not every lady would take to being called an `Auntie' happily as it suggest that they are no longer qualified to be categorised as sweet and young.
Well, at least, he was smart enough to only address his male teacher as Uncle and has not called his sweet looking assistant teacher as "Auntie".
We are glad that we have been told that he has been adapting well in school and getting along with his friends and teachers. With that anxiety finally put to rest, we know that our settling down process is taking shape quite nicely and soon, we could start exploring this new land and adventure.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Ryan's Farewell Speech

"Good morning children" Ms Mary greeted the children in Ryan's class.
"This morning we are here because Ryan Looi leaving you and will be going to China already. And he wants to say Good bye to all of you.." she continued.
We were having a small farewell gathering for Ryan Looi at his school before he flies off to Beijing to start his new adventure. Over the last two years, he has made quite a number of friends and he has several favourite teachers who in turn adores him.
As the day to leave drew near, we were told by the teachers that he has been going around telling his friends and teachers that he will be leaving soon and that he loves them. They were obviously very touched.
"Let's get Ryan Looi up here to say to few words, ok." Ms Mary, his class teacher went on.
"Come Ryan Looi..." she gestured Ryan to come forward.
In my heart, I was apprehensive as to what this hyper active and talkative son of mine would say. After all, this is going to be his first farewell speech in front of his class of about 20 other children.
"Now..what is he going to say?" I thought to myself.
"Is he going to say something totally stupid and make a fool of himself?"
As parents, we always wanted them to make us proud and I was just hoping that he would not go on rambling something about dinosaurs and Ultraman saving the world.
He got up the front of the class, stood there, looking very serious and composed. There was not a single iota of the ever playful and unfocused Ryan that he is.
He looked at his class for a second and two and said the most appropriate, beautiful and meaningful words that could come out from a 4 year old boy, saying farewell for the very first time to his classmates, words that totally knocked me off my senses and for one moment, he is a very mature, grown up boy.
"I LOVE YOU ALL VERY MUCH!" he said and bowed.
With these words, he left behind his pre-school days chapter in Malaysia and embarks on a new chapter, new adventures, new friends, teachers, culture and environment in Beijing China.
We are so proud of him.

Monday, November 12, 2012

First day to school in Beijing

The weather is 3 degrees outside but the sun is shining brightly and the skies blue and clear.

This is the day. This is the day that Ryan starts his first day at Ivy Academy at Beijing China. This is also his big adventure. This is also his next milestone, just like us, who are starting our life from scratch in this new land, new culture, new faces and un-chartered with unexplored territories.

Honestly, we were rather fearful that Ryan would not want to go to his new school as he was very very comfortable with his school back home in Malaysia. He said that he only want to go the school for only ONE day and he would want to return to his school back home in Malaysia.

But he got up without a fuss. We changed him and got him to wear so many clothes that he has never worn before. He was excited.

We were not quite sure what to pack for him today. We just packed what we thought was necessary. He looked dashing in his blue winter jacket.

While waiting for our rented apartment to be ready, we are currently staying at a service apartment which is just 10 minutes walk away from the school. Since, we have not arranged for the school bus to pick him up for this first day, we have to walk him to school and the experience was nothing short of memorable ….walking in freezing temperature in a country we hardly know, in winter clothing so thick that we all looked bloated up but surprising, pleasing to the eyes.
We were glad that he took to his new teachers rather well and was soon off to his class on his own while we wait at the administration office to settle all the necessary documentations and payments.

We are slowly settling down with our life in Beijing and getting Ryan to his school is just another step forward.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

This is How Much She STOLE!

We finally got our stolen stuff back from the maid agency a couple of days before we left for Beijing. They were keeping it for a while to painstakingly take pictures of every piece as evidence.
Since we have no pictures of the stolen item as well, I laid them out one piece at a time and grab a picture. Believe me or not, I took my wife and I a full one hour to unwrap and photograph them.
And once I was done, this is how much she has stolen (or attempted to steal from us since she was caught) ....
Yupe. We were careless and we were too trusting and we were also too busy in the last couple of months leading to our decision to relocate the family to Beijing.
But it has never occur in our wildest imagination that we could have employed such a dastardly character to stay with us in our home for the last five months. Does she not feel guilt when she give those clothes that she has so conveniently stolen from us, to her youngest son named `King'. How can she look her son in the eyes and gave him the very shirt that we have bought for Ryan, knowing fully well, that that shirt was NOT meant for his son. How can she honestly gave out those stolen items as Christmas presents?
How can she began to tell her children to live a good and honest life and that stealing or taking things from others without permission is VERY wrong, a crime and could lead them being branded as a criminal.
We could not comprehend what she was thinking of when she wrapped and labelled those items so meticulously and honestly, we are right now, too angry and disappointed to really care.
And to rub salt to the wound, the agency actually told us that we still have to pay to her, her balance salary and to get her an air ticket to send her home. We practically told the agency off and reiterated that she could get her salary and her air ticket from us at the police station, if she so wishes.
Needless to say,the agency left the issue as it is and dare not pursue any further.
Well, after having lived with the help of a maid over the last 4 years, it can be difficult adapting. It is in time like this, we are thankful that we have our moms and in our case, my dear mother in law who not only helped us out when we were busy packing and shifting but also followed us to Beijing.
I am still coping and my daily routine has been drastically changed to accommodate the additional chores without the maid. In a way, as we slowly settled down into our life without a helper, we sort of enjoy the extra privacy of not having a stranger in our home.
Well, enough said about this maid. It's good riddance to bad rubbish.
For now, several baby bottles awaits me in the basin to be washed before I proceed to put our clothes in the washing machine to be washed. Life is SO MUCH FUN!

Friday, November 9, 2012

The Performer in our Home ....

“It’s 7:30am already! Ryan…wake up! Wake up! Or you will be LATE!” I repeated over and over again like a broken down recorder.

I sounded more excited than he was and so was mommy who purposely flew back from Beijing the night before.

Yes. It’s that time of the year again. It’s time for his year end concert and this year it was held on the 20th October.

Being parent, I must admit that we get all excited to see our little ones dressed up in some funny costume, with make up that transform them into little super stars and getting all ready to go up the stage to do what they have been secretly practising for weeks at the school or day care.

I can still remember Ryan’s very first concert when we could not believe our eyes when he went up the stage, all dressed up as little Simba, the Lion King! When he made those moves, GOD, we went ballistic, especially mommy who just could not believe her eyes, seeing her little one swinging and twisting to the tune of “The Lion sleeps tonight”

Two concerts later, we were still equally excited to see what he was going to do or perform for this year although his teacher has assured us that he has absolutely no trouble following and remembering all the moves, especially since he has been absent from school with all his recent travelling to Beijing and Disneyland.

We knew that he would be doing two numbers. One from his class and the other from his Day Care After School Program (ASP) class. When the first show was announced and that it will be from the ASP children, I strained my neck to try to catch a glimpse of him, not knowing what exactly to expect. Pushing and struggling (sorry to the other parents), I positioned myself right in front just below the stage to get the best angle I could to grab some pictures. I will be dead meat if I reached home without any good pictures and would probably get an earful from his mommy. Times like this, I really wish that I have the super 70-300mm f2.8 lens but to be realistic, why would I want to spent over RM7000 for this lens just for a concert. So, my simple reliable Nikkor 18-105mm kit lens would have to do.
And suddenly, I spotted him, in his orange costume dancing and jiggling to the lively tune of “Let’s Get Loud” by Jennifer Lopez. With his hair gelled, I must said that he looked dashing to say the least (something that he must have picked up from my genes…HAHAHAHA)

He was going through his silky smooth moves with ease and for that moment, there was a deep sense of pride and a compelling urge to shout “Hey..that is MY SON!"

But then, I guessed every parent there was feeling the same pride and the same urge as me. Which parent would not?
For his second number representing his class, he came out dressed as a Life Guard, dancing to the tune of “Under the Sea” and God, was he agile or what. He was simply awesome, going through the moves with such flexibility. No wonder, the teacher kept on assuring us that we have nothing to worry about.
He nearly did not make it for this year concert since our original move to Beijing was supposed to be early October. However, the complications with visa and the securing the right apartment in Beijing pushed the date back a month, which then allow Ryan to take part in his school’s concert for one last time, and we are definitely glad that he did.
The next concert post will be from Beijing!

Club Med Kani Maldives - Paradise on Earth

A school of five silver color fish slowly makes their way to where I was sitting, a small little wooden platform at our lagoon suite villa, my legs dipped in the icy cold water, inches away from the green, oh so green seaweed on fine white sand, waving gently under the magical spell of the sea current.

Meters away, a lone black tip baby shark of a meter long, cruises by oblivious to my presence. A sudden disturbance in the seabed caught my attention. A grey mantra ray of almost three feet in diameter glides by.

The sound of waves beating against the concrete pillars of the villa coupled with the gentle sea breeze blowing onto my face and the dancing sunlight reflected on the clear blue seabed has almost an hypnotizing effect. For a moment, you are in complete total peace with yourself, with mother nature, with God. For that one moment, the world you know and left behind does not seemed to exist or matter.

There is only you, the sea, the blue skies with fluffy white clouds drifting by and the wind, blowing and singing her gentle soothing melody.

This is Maldives.

Read the full story and more pictures at Clud Med Kani Maldives - Paradise on Earth (myNikon&I)

Thursday, November 8, 2012

A New Chapter Begins in Beijing

The phone finally rang at approximately 9pm.
“Hello. I am your pet relocation agent. Your Zoewe has arrived. We are now downstairs at your service apartment.” the voice on the other side of the line said.
“OK OK.” We jumped to change and put on some thick clothing and rushed down to the lobby.

After all, we have been worried sick since she was taken from us 2 days ago by the agent in Malaysia to prepare her for her flight to Hong Kong, then to Shenzhen and from there, ultimately to Beijing, her new home for the next two years.

After all the formalities, there she was, finally with us in the living room, clinging on to us. I guessed she was fearful that she could be taken away again.
With her joining us, our family is now complete in Beijing, our new home for the next two years. The thought is only slowly sinking in that we have left Malaysia for our two years adventure in this land of the Dragon.
Events leading up to this week has been rather dramatic and stressful to say the least. With so much to pack  and not knowing what to pack, the discovery of our maid stealing from us and her sacking at the last hour, just before we proceed to process her visa to China, and arranging for my mother in law to step in for the next three months at least to help out in our new home, have certainly been a contributing factor to the additional few strands of white hair.
We thought that we would have little to pack. After all, we are only shifting our master bedroom king size mattress, a sofa bed and a single bed over. How much could that be? Right? WRONG!

Wrong for the two reasons. Firstly, we are shifting with two toddlers. Their clothes, winter clothing, toys, milk powder and diapers have already taken up several boxes.

Secondly, we might be shifting for good. Although we are expected to be here for the next two years, there is every possibility that we might either stay longer or move on to our next destination. Hence, if we do not pack those stuff now, what if we do not come back after two years. And we still have to pack the pots, pans, cutlery, pillows etc over, right? I am not going to spent money buying all these and leave them behind when we leave Beijing.

In the end, the final count was a STAGGERING 113 BOXES! But, we were glad that we got that done. The professional movers were a great motivating factor. They were literally behind our back, pushing us almost every minute to decide what to take and what to leave behind.
We were still packing our luggage just 3 hours before we left for the airport and my wife was so stressed out! Being a meticulous lady and a self claimed perfectionist, this move was ANYTHING but perfect and meticulous so to speak. I thought that at one point in time, she almost burst out in tears and that was when a totally random, careless and last minute guy, yours truly, stood in and took charge. I just told her to pack what she can remember, take it as a adventure, part and parcel of an experience and anything that we have forgotten to pack, we would just either have to make do in Beijing or buy them. After all, we are not moving to the Sahara desert or the interior jungles of the Amazon. We did just that!

We were glad that our flight into Beijing was only half full, and hence, we could have the entire row of seats to ourselves. Ryan was his usual irritating self, switching from games to movies to TV shows on board and wanting attention. Chenya, being her first flight was just as curious and refused to sit still for a good 2 hours!

They finally settled in half way through the flight and slept which gave us all, a time to rest and me, to enjoy my beers and wine.

We are fortunate that we still have the service apartment provided by the company till the 24th Nov and hence, we do not have to worry about going straight into our rented apartment (although fully furnished) with no pillows and no cutlery. We still have the next 2 weeks to wait for our air shipment to arrive and prepare ourselves to shift into our new apartment.
Ryan will be going to his new school on the 12th Nov which is next week and I will have to work out my new daily routine, but I am excited of the new uncharted path ahead. It’s not going to be rather that easy for a 50 years old man like me, but nothing is impossible and insurmountable. I am not a perfectionist and neither am I meticulous but I guess that those traits are playing to my advantage now.
To get myself right at home and to help everyone settling in into this new chapter of our lives, I do what I do best….I cooked our very first home cooked meal for dinner. A simple meal of Chicken Drumstick marinated with soy sauce and black pepper, fried with shallots, garlic, ginger slices and broccoli....that is the least I could do at this moment in time....

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Temptations @ Ara Cooked her last meal

It all started with just this two books .....
I bought these two confinement recipe books way back in 2008 after my wife gave birth to Ryan. The original idea was to get the confinement lady to cook some of the dishes listed in these cook books instead of the one or two standard dishes that she would cook everyday. She was accommodating enough to try some of the dishes we asked her.

After the month was over, I took over the cooking, trying out some of the recipes listed in these two cook books. Now, I have never really cook before and the best I could do before this were probably frying eggs and rice. So, it was quite a challenge to me then but I was determined to try and learn. I would faithfully follow the book to the letter and whipped out dishes after dishes, and my wife was gracious enough to be my guinea pig to try them out. (Anyway, she does not have much of choice does she). I remembered one of our good friend (Winnie) commented that I looked funny running in and out of the kitchen with the recipe book in hand while cooking.

Over time, I began to get comfortable cooking and does not find the task daunting. In fact, I find it rather interesting and began to experiment with different ingredients. My passion for photography fueled my interest in cooking further because I delight to making sure that my dishes are `visually delicious and inviting'. Hence, my cooking adventure takes shape .....

In the last four years, some of our close friends and my sister have been kind enough to partake in most of my `food experiment' and Temptations @ Ara takes form, only opened to serve my lovely wife, my sister, family members and friends, sharing food, wine, beer, laughter and a good time.

Well, Temptations @ Ara served her last meal on 30th and 31st October 2012 with our shifting to Beijing in next several days. And who better should her last guest be if not, the very same person that prompted her very existence....my wife....

With the ingredients left in our fridge, Temptations @ Ara served the following:-
I missed my kitchen here but our life and adventure beckons us else where.

With these four dishes, all the pots and pans have been packed to be shipped to Beijing, and hopefully Temptations @ Beijing will open soon to cook for her number one fan....my wife....and whoever, who happen to drop by for a visit in the future and daring enough to try ....Till then, Tempations @ Ara signing off.....:)
More Pictures on Jeju Island Coming up NEXT!