Friday, 29 April 2016

Pompompurin Cafe for a Birthday Celebration

It was nearing Coco's birthday. I am not a Sanrio or any character fan usually but I thought it could be fun for the teenager to have her birthday at a themed cafe, so I suggested going to Pompompurin Cafe for her birthday celebration. For a second, I'd thought she might dismiss it as being 'childish' but she said yes readily.

For the uninitiated, like me, Pompompurin is a Sanrio character in the form of a golden retriever wearing a brown beret.
When I reached Level 4 of Orchard Central with William and Baby at 5pm on its opening day, I was quite surprised to see a snake of people making a beeline for the entrance even before dinner's time.

It was a one-hour wait before we reached the threshold of the cafe.

A peep into the cafe

When we settled down, one of the staff brought us a Pompompurin plush toy 'to take photo with'.
We cam-whored with the toy for at least 15 minutes just for fun of it!
And I must commend the patience of the staff. 
Not once did they interrupt to ask if we were ready to place our order.

Baby's order: Puru Puru Pudding Shake at $12.99
It was a glass of broken-up pudding with some sweet drink.
Baby and I did not take to it at all. It was left two-third un-drunk.

Coco's Love Love Hot Marshmallow Latte at $12.99
I did not ask her but she seemed to love it.

My Cookies & Cream Caramel Latte at $11.99
It tasted like ... passable, iced cappuccino?

Before we could place our order for our main course, the serving crew informed us that their signature Taco Rice in a Cup of Friendship was finished for the day:
I had wanted to try this. A major disappointment there but could not be helped.

Baby and William shared Mushroom & Bacon Carbonara ($26.99). 
It comes with a free Pompompurin mug when you make payment later.
A little funny episode ensued when William requested the staff to wash up the mug on the plate to bring home and the staff assured him a clean one would be given to him later.

Both Coco and her cousin had Pompompurin's Beef Stroganoff ($18.99).
Coco liked it but could not elaborate on the taste except telling me that "It was nice."
And mine's Pompompurin Coconut Milk Chicken Curry ($17.99).
It looked cute but the taste was at most passable.

I told the kids and William that we were not there to pay for the food but rather the ambiance and novelty.

Coco and her cousin had a pudding that went by 'I am Purin. Pompompurin' ($9.99).
They enjoyed it.
I tried it too and I have to say that was the only item that was the closest resemblance to some nice pudding.
We had to take a picture of our food and ourselves since I am not sure if we would ever be back!

I had called and checked that I could bring a cake in and the crew sang "Happy Birthday" song to Coco as the manager placed the cake on the table.'
We were pleasantly surprised!
And we had the must-have picture of every patron before leaving the cafe!


The presentation of the food was cute and novel but the tastes were nothing out of the ordinary. We did not expect spectacular food at cafes like this though so we were not disappointed. However, we enjoyed our dinner very much as the service was great. Being the first night of their business, the crew were quick on their feet and rather attentive and patience. 

Will we be back? Not likely to be in a big group anymore since an ordinary meal for 4 adults and 1 child cost a whopping $165.85. But if you haven't been there, it will be fun to have a cosy meal there with a friend or someone close for novelty's sake.

Saturday, 23 April 2016

What kind of siblings do you have?

Wonder how my poor aged father would feel if he knew that out of his six children, only one thought he was worthy of sending to a hospital for treatment when he was ill  ...

And yes, it's about the money.

One said,"I knew I couldn't afford it, that's why I suggested sending him to a government hospital." even when the doctor at the government hospital was unsure if he could do it.

Another said,"I am not the one who wanted to send him in and out of the hospital! Not my problem."

Yet another said,"Why need to go A&E again? Anyway, the doctor at the government hospital don't know how to treat him (so no need to send him anywhere)."

The rest ask for the amount $3288 to be split among 6 people, knowing that at least one of them will not pay. And no one wants to be the one who sends out the cheque.

Yes, they are waiting for me to do it.

Because I was the one who wanted to send my father to the hospital.

Because I am the richest, even though I am not working, and can afford a few branded bags, travelling and a Pandora bracelet for my daughter's birthday gift.

Doesn't matter the rest have full-scale reno for their flats (which I don't) and cars (which I don't) and travel without our parents.

I earn the most, so I should pay the most - that seems to be the suggested motivation for me to be the one paying the bulk.

I find my siblings pathetic, to say the least.

Their arguments reek of jealousy and inferiority complex.

What has what I have, or what I can afford, or what I earn got to do with my father's hospitalisation bill?

Is he not OUR father?

Was he not a responsible father who tried to give us everything he could?

I am simply disappointed with my siblings.

When I watched those cheesy local drama serials about siblings pushing their parents' hospitalisation or medical bills to one another, I thought that was an exaggeration.

I thought: that will never happen to us.

What a joke.

It happened. And so badly at that. It's even worse than what the TV had portrayed.

It's not as if I am not paying more than I should. I did not ask for a single cent when I spent a thousand dollars to rectify my father's cataract surgery.

Neither did I ask for reimbursements when I spent more than a thousand dollars on a private specialist for my father's Lupus.

I did not, because we are siblings. And I did not want to burden them further with additional medical expenses.

But this is SGH.

This is the hospital that they claim we should send him to as it is affordable. And it is affordable if everybody does his or her part and chip in.

But everybody keeps quiet when it comes to the bill, even when I asked to split among 5 people, since my elder sister is not able to pay without an income.

I am very disappointed.

I really am.

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

A Two-Decade-Old Apology

I was 13 and was a fervent church-goer.

He was a Roman Catholic who had a lot of philosophies in his head.

As typically foolish, obstinate young teenagers, we often insisted on our own beliefs and had debates about Christianity to no end.

He didn't attend any church so I invited him to mine.

He was convinced immediately by the charismatic pastor and converted to being a Protestant.

He became a zealous Christian who went to church a few times a week attending prayer meetings, cell group meeting, Sunday service and other ad hoc meetings.

The parents were unhappy that he was spending so much time in church. They demanded that he made a choice between going to church and going to school.

He chose church-going.

His parents withdrew him from school at a young age of 14.

I felt that I had to bear part of the responsibility since I was the one who introduced him to the church.

But I did not have the chance, nor did I have the courage, to speak to him.

Ten years ago, I met him near my parents' place. I was too surprised for words. Besides calling him by his name, which he acknowledged by nodding his head, I did not know what else to say. We walked past each other. I confided in William who was then with me, about what had happened and told him about the guilt I felt. He comforted me that the guy's life might not have turned out as bad as I had imagined and I had received my retribution for the rough times in my life.

But meeting him that day had always been something that hovered in my mind.

Today, I met him on a bus.

I asked if he was him and he nodded, as usual.

I took my seat beside him and asked if he lived around the area. He replied me that he had been living there since 2004. He also mentioned that he was working in an electronic factory near the area.

I asked if he did continue to pursue his studies after he was withdrawn from school. He said he did complete his secondary school education 'from outside'.

I continued to ask if he was married and he said yes, and he was on his way to pick his children, 7 and 12, up.

We were quiet for a while.

Then I spoke,"I have always wanted to apologise to you ..."

And a tear appeared out of nowhere and landed on the side of my nose. I had not meant to be dramatic or had predicted that tears would stream down. It was something that had passed and I did not think it would still strike a sensitive vein in me.

He looked surprised and quickly said,"No, no. You think too much. It had nothing to do with you."

I continued with tears welling up in my eyes,"If I had not taken you to church ..."

He interrupted,"No. They were family problems and personal problems. My family members took things to the extreme. It was a personal problem. You think too much."

Then he had to alight. Before he did, he continued to assure me that it had nothing to do with me.

It was a guilt that did not go away for close to three decades. After what happened to him, I did not try to invite any friend to church again. I had felt responsible for ruining a peer's future. Most of the time, I was able to forget about the matter but occasionally, the guilt would creep up to remind me of the crime I had committed and it would leave me wondering the whereabouts of the guy and of course, the usual cliff hanger 'if only I had not taken him to church ...'

I was fortunate to have the opportunity to say my sorry to someone I felt I had done wrong to. A burden that had weighed on my heart for so long. Today, I finally lay it down.

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Kidz Amaze Toa Payoh - More Kids, More Fun, More Bullies!

A couple of days after her experience at Kidz Amaze Jurong, I decided to take Baby to the newer Toa Payoh branch to better utilise the $65 membership my youngest sister gifted Baby with. The place is not as secluded or desolate compared to Jurong Safra. It is nearer to where we live and it is more accessible. However, on our way there, Baby sulked and insisted on going back to Safra Jurong claiming that it was 'more fun' there. *exasperated*

But her opinion was soon changed

The configuration and design of Kidz Amaze Toa Payoh is quite different from the one at Jurong in that it covers a wider area on the ground while the Jurong branch extends itself upward. 
It does not have a 3-storey high slide
but what it made the little girl go ecstatic with joy anyway
"Mum, it's fun!"

It has a ball pool which children sit in to wait for the avalanche of soft sponge balls to cascade on them
I was quite amused by machines like this that suspended balls in mid air using concentrated gust of air coming out from the air vent
The only thing that marred her experience slightly was meeting some rowdy boys who shouted at her to 'get out' of their 'house', a tower-like area accessible by a netting route. 
The boy in blue was extending his hand to his kaki and asking him to 'come up' while chasing Baby away.

Poor Baby bullied and left

Like its Jurong counterpart, Kidz Amaze TPY also has birthday rooms for different capacities

Not sure what I was thinking but I told Baby this could be her birthday party venue this year!

A birthday party going on with the children entertained by the staff at Kidz Amaze!

Unlike Kidz Amaze Jurong, this place caters to younger children too!
This is the Infant Zone.

Toddler Zone
Another improvement from its predecessor: a bean-bag lounge area for the parents within the play area itself!

More waiting area just outside the play area for parents who do not want to pay the extra $2.15, equipped with a TV and tidbits and drinks dispensing machines too!

It also has more pigeon holes for the large crowd compared to the one at Jurong

The only thing I am slightly put off with is the 'leather' smell the moment I stepped in through the door. It was the smell that made me nauseous when I sat in my father's second Mercedes when young. From the looks of everybody else, I suspected I was the only one who picked up that smell. I convinced myself that after 20 minutes, it would not register anymore. It worked but it would have been almost perfect (sans the bullying) without that smell. 

Baby actually remained in Kidz Amaze from 1.30pm to 6.30pm! 

Getting there:

Toa Payoh Safra
293 Toa Payoh Lorong 6 Singapore 319387
Tel: 6355 4550

Operating hours:

Mon-Thu: 1 -7pm
Fri: 1 - 9pm
Sat, Sun and Public Holidays: 10am - 9pm
School Holidays (Mon - Fri): 10am - 7pm
(Closed for maintenance every first Monday of the month - different from Kidz Amaze Jurong)

Ticketing information:

Kidz Amaze member:
Mon to Fri - $7.50
Weekends and public/school holidays - $10.70
* Each membership can admit up to 4 children at the member's rate per entry.
Family package (2A2C) (only applicable for weekends and public/school holidays) - $23

Safra member:
Mon to Fri - $9
Weekends and public/school holidays - $12.85
Family package (2A2C) (only applicable for weekends and public/school holidays) - $26.75

Mon to Fri - $12.70
Weekends and public/school holidays - $18
Family package (2A2C) (only applicable for weekends and public/school holidays) - $38.80

Accompanying adult - $2.15

Socks - $2.50/pair

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Kidz Amaze Jurong - A Secluded Children's Haven

Baby and I had one-and-a-half hours to kill waiting at Westgate Mall for Coco before we went to Snow City last week. The Westgate Wonderland had become boring for Baby and the sheltered playground at JEM was too uninspiring a play for her. Out of the blue, I remembered the existence of Kidz Amaze at Jurong Safra! In fact, Baby had a Kidz Amaze membership card gifted by my youngest sister when Baby was just four and she had never used it! And we had socks with us!

We whizzed ourselves there in a cab right away!
The Safra was very quiet. The stalls at the first floor were closed. Only Jack's Place was quietly opened. But we could hear children's shouts from outside Kidz Amaze!

As it was a school holiday, Baby's entrance fee was $10.70 while mine was $2.15.

Children were climbing and running up and down the three-storey high structure.
I tried to follow Baby for safety's reason but I soon found my back wet with perspiration and slightly out of breath! Age has caught up with me!

Some fun she had by herself.

Her favourite activity: picking up balls ...

for shooting!

I encouraged her to slide down this three-storey high slide.
Very proud of herself when she did it, but came down telling me,"Very fast ... very fast ..." while patting her chest.

Was it fun? Baby said yes! In fact, she bugged me to return after our Snow City trip which I had to cruelly turn down.

Getting there:

Jurong Safra
333 Boon Lay Way Singapore 649848
Tel: 6686 4321

Operating hours:

Mon-Thu: 1 -7pm
Fri: 1 - 9pm
Sat, Sun and Public Holidays: 10am - 9pm
School Holidays (Mon - Fri): 10am - 7pm
(Closed for maintenance every last Monday of the month)

Ticketing information:

Kidz Amaze member:
Mon to Fri - $7.50
Weekends and public/school holidays - $10.70
* Each membership can admit up to 4 children at the member's rate per entry.
Family package (2A2C) (only applicable for weekends and public/school holidays) - $23

Safra member:
Mon to Fri - $9
Weekends and public/school holidays - $12.85
Family package (2A2C) (only applicable for weekends and public/school holidays) - $26.75

Mon to Fri - $12.70
Weekends and public/school holidays - $18
Family package (2A2C) (only applicable for weekends and public/school holidays) - $38.80

Accompanying adult - $2.15

Socks - $2.50/pair
Lockers - $4

Monday, 21 March 2016

Too Much Coffee for a Sprain

I was having my leisure breakfast at a Starbucks joint last Saturday, eating the recommended Rosemary Chicken with Cheese Croissant and sipping my favourite hot Cuppaccino - only because a breakfast set cost $6.90 compared to a cup of Cuppaccino that already cost $6 itself. Not fantastic, so I left the croissant half eaten.

Then the unexpected came.

I had a stomachache.

I hadn't had a stomachache right after I sipped a Cuppa ever since I switched to Starbucks from Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf.

Die liao. I am not familiar with the place and I would need to find a toilet quick!

As I lifted my leg out of the joint while pushing the door out, I jolted down a step and a sharp pain shot through my right ankle.

It's my old sprain! And I have done it again! Darn that drop-down!

The shock of the sprain must have done something to my stomachache. It was gone in that second when I had to deal with a greater pain.

I limped away to cut short my embarrassment.

After some slow walk, the ankle pain was gone. I had thought all was well. Until I got home.

The pain seemed to intensify as the hours passed, till I felt I really could not bear any weight on my ankle.

I read up the internet and did the RICE thing, in particular, icing the sprain. It helped with the pain.

My little helper busied herself running to and climbing up the freezer to get me the frozen cold packs interchangeably and placing them nicely on my ankle. Not once did she complain too!

She must have been tired out though. She fell asleep at 5pm and did not wake up till the next morning at 8am!

After a day, the pain was almost gone and I could walk with a stick. When her sister returned, my little helper said this to ensure her sister hear it,"Mum sprained her ankle! Mum sprained her ankle! Mum sprained her ankle!" but apparently, the sister did not pay heed to that.

By Day Two, which is today, I can bear a little weight on the ankle.

Hope it recovers fully, quickly!

Saturday, 19 March 2016

A March Snow Holiday

Snow City as a place to visit was something that crossed my mind but for a fleeting moment.

Coco was an asthmatic child so I always struck it off the list thinking that the sub-zero temperature environment would trigger her asthma. I am also not a winter person so I had never been very keen on visiting a snowy place.

This March holiday, I decided to take the two girls there. I had not visited the place either so I was naturally curious about it too.

I had imagined that it was a huge place, given that the website broke the place down into zones.

After reading the Visitor Guidelines on the website, we wore long pants and jeans, brought gloves and socks with us and thought all was set. The jackets would be provided at Snow City.

I was a little shocked at the condition of the place when we got there.

Firstly, the lockers required two OLD $1-coins. It has been quite a few years since the new ones are minted and the lockers are still asking for old ones??

I could not find the second old coin in my wallet so I aborted the renting of a locker. To my dismay, the system confiscated my first coin! I gave my feedback to the lady minding the boots counter and she kindly advised me to change for an old coin at the cashier's, after which she would help me open and relock the locker.

Secondly, the lockers locked for a one-time use. Most places of attraction have, by now, changed their systems so that lockers can be reopened multiple times in case the owner needs something from the locker. I was unluckily lucky that my first coin was confiscated and so the lady offered to help me the second time when I told her I forgot to get our gloves out from my bag.

Thirdly, the adult jackets were only in sizes starting from L onwards. The remaining sizes were XL, XXL and XXXL. And there was only one L which I gave to Coco while I put on an XL. Hello, we are XXS and XS by Mango's and H&M's standards.

Fourthly, the jackets were poorly maintained. Quite a few were torn here and there, and their zips were either torn or gone.

Fifthly, the boots were rather sad-looking. I am sure they were never cleaned. And my first pair also had a defective zip.

Overall, I felt that the place was poorly maintained based on the necessary apparels and equipment even before I stepped into the snow area.

After about 15 minutes of choosing the jackets, putting on the socks, gloves, jackets and boots, we were finally ready to step into the sub-zero environment!

I was half glad that we were not allowed to bring our own camera into the area since I could concentrate on playing but it would also mean I could not capture pictures myself.

Zone 1 was an area with an ice-sculpted igloo and some winter animal sculptures, namely a husky, a fox, a polar bear and an owl.

A photographer helped to take pictures of families he fancied taking pictures of.

Out of the blue, Coco picked up some snow, molded it into a ball and hit Baby on the back of her head. It caught Baby by surprise and it was not very unpleasant when the chunk of snow got trapped on the back of her neck! She told me that she was in pain and I ran out of the snow chamber with her to take the jacket off her to remove all the ice bits and chunks stuck on her back while tears streamed down her cheeks.

We returned to the sub-zero environment after she recomposed herself. I told Coco what had happened and cautioned her not to do that again.

We locked our arms to slide down a 60 metre, 3-storey high slope on individual tubes. 
It was hardly a glamorous sight as we slid down so we did not buy that picture.
Quite fun but a little scary, I felt.
Lastly, we went to the last zone where I read we would get to try ice-fishing but found nothing like that. This artificial igloo has a TV (hidden behind us) that features some educational talks which we did not pay much attention to.

We were asked to fling snow into the air!

After this antic, I realised that I had underestimated how cold snow was. Baby's and my gloves were all wet and our fingers were freezing! We retreated to the gloves counter and requested to have two pairs of gloves which I would pay for the rental afterwards.

Then we returned to the snow chamber where we took turns to slide down a short ice-slide. 
Quite slide-able, but our pants were all wet on the rear! 
We should have rented their waterproof pants but well, we heeded the advice of the cashier and thought our pants or jeans would do fine.

Snow City was really a small area that one could cover in less than an hour. I quickly understood why the cashier had advised me to pay for the one-hour ticket.

Very few visitors were there and many left rather quickly after covering all grounds.

I feel sorry for Snow City in that it must be a very costly environment to maintain and by right, it should have been an interesting place for the locals who have never been to a snowy environment to visit. However, it lacks interesting concepts to attract visitors, much less second-timers. The only way it could earn any revenue would be from the purchase of photographs. It charges $20 per photograph and $55 for 5 photographs, so naturally, we opted for the latter.

Snow City is good for a one-time visit and it was a rather good experience appreciating a sub-zero environment.

Ticketing info:

$12 per child (Singaporeans and PRs)
$15 per adult (Singaporeans and PRs)
$18 per adult (Foreigners)

The admission charges include complimentary use of winter jackets and boots.
Gloves and waterproof pants are available for rental.
Gloves rental: $1.60 for child and $2.10 for adult
Socks purchase:  $2.60 for child and $3 for adult