Thursday, 6 April 2017

Day 1 in Melbourne CBD (1 December 2016)

We took a 30-minute bus-ride from the airport to Southern Cross Station to take a city bus to our hotel. I had read from online that the buses were just outside Terminal 3. We were touching down at Terminal 2 so with our Changi Airport as reference, I had imagined that their Terminals were like ours - very far apart from one another. However, no amount of research on how to get from Terminal 2 to Terminal 3 could answer my question because everybody just said,"Go to Terminal 3 and take the bus outside."

To my relief, it turned out that their Terminals were just next to each other! We walked out of Terminal 2 and the buses were just outside.


When we reached Southern Cross Station bus terminal, I enquired at this little booth and a composed but friendly man asked me for the hotel we were going to and the number of passengers taking the bus before assuring me that someone would call for us if we would just wait beside the booth.
 True enough. After waiting for about 10 minutes together with other tourists going to different hotels, our hotel was called. We went forward and followed a guy who led us to the hotel-transfer Sky Bus.

We placed our luggage on the rack and took our seats.
The journey to our hotel took about 50 minutes.
It's more of a service apartment than a hotel, but it served our needs.

Coco and my mother took this bedroom 
while William, Baby and I had this 
A huge bathroom
Photographs do not justify it. For some reason, it does not look very clean due to the colour tone but it was bright and clean in reality. It came equipped with a washer and dryer just directly opposite the toilet bowl. Very handy for us who needed to wash our jeans for the cold weather! 
Spacious living area 
Nice kitchenette
My call for our first meal: the famous Chin Chin restaurant 
Silly me didn't know that it was a fusion-Thai restaurant 
Pork 'Roll Ups' (AUD 23.50)


Pad Thai Noodles (AUD 26.50)

Fried Rice 

I decided to ride on an Inner Circle Tram to get a feel of the city and at the same time, catch Kanghastan while William returned to the hotel to nap and my mother, sister and Coco went for a coffee.
The ride to-and-fro the same stop took 45 minutes

"Our Burger King is their Hungry Jack's!"

After the tram ride, we met up with my sister and company to take a horse-carriage ride!
Quite an expensive ride. AUD 100 for 6 pax
As we trotted back to our hotel, we chanced upon some awesome graffiti in an alley which we stopped to take pictures with.

We rested for a couple of hours in the hotel before heading out for dinner, but by then it was 'late'. 
We had some problems finding a place to eat as we did not want to eat an ang moh meal but most eateries were closing at 8pm or 9pm, even in Chinatown!

Our dinner was at City Orchid Garden in Chinatown.
Fried rice was tasty. 
Honeyed chicken
Fried pork knuckle


Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Off to The Land of Kanghastan (1 Dec 2016)

For the PoGo-uninitiated, Kanghastan is one of the virtual region exclusives that can only be found in Australia and New Zealand.

So this trip was made in December last year. Obviously, it was not an exactly thrilling trip despite the magnificent landscapes and scenery, which explains why I did not even start blogging on it excitedly the moment I returned to Singapore.

However, I did try to document it as it would probably the only Australia trip I would ever make. I don't foresee myself going back there anytime soon for sure!
The first day in Melbourne didn't look like a promising start.

I had enquired from a fellow PoGo trainer who had just returned from Melbourne about his wifi access and he had kindly recommended Changi wifi which one could rent from Changi Airport for $12 per day (without a DBS debit or credit card). I had bugged William about it but he was not keen on it until we were about to board the plane. 

After checking in the luggage, we enquired at Changi Recommend booth, a small booth right next to Scoot's check-in counter, about Changi wifi. Unfortunately, the device has become extremely popular with Singaporeans going overseas for holidays and one would need to place an order for a unit at least 3 days in advance!

We were left with no choice but to get a local SIM card when we reached Melbourne.

The drama did not end there. 

At the Melbourne Airport, there was a sizeable crowd waiting at the Optus counter to get a local SIM card! The waiting time didn't look optimistic. My elder sister felt that Telstra, another Australia TelCo, would provide better connection and so we left to make our purchase of the Skybus tickets which would take us to Southern Cross Station.

At Southern Cross Station, my elder sister spent an hour searching for a SIM card and trying to get it to work unsuccessfully as the convenience store staff appeared to be unfamiliar with installing a card into a mobile phone.

When we finally reached the hotel, we conducted a massive search for a TelCo shop! Apparently, TelCo shops were not as rampantly distributed in the large Melbourne city as they are in tiny Singapore. We asked around to no avail. An unsure personnel at the Visitor Centre pointed us to the right direction though.

When we finally found a TelCo shop and asked if the staff could help activate the cards, William didn't bring our passports along, which rendered the operation impossible!

We had reached Melbourne Airport at 10.15am, about 45 minutes earlier than scheduled, but by 4pm, a simple SIM card was still elusive to us! I finally exploded,"How much more would we have saved if you had listened to me and got the Changi wifi earlier?!! Look at the amount of time and money we have lost!" 

We only had access to the Internet after we returned to the TelCo shop and got the staff to activate the cards with our passport details. 

Each card cost $2 and a top-up of $20 was required for 2GB of data usage over 10 days. Four days later when Coco's and William's needed additional top-up, each card needed another $7 for additional data.

Learn from us. Don't be a cheapskate. Get the Internet or wifi issues settled right here in first-world Singapore before flying!

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Cat Cafe for a Cat-Fearer

A very belated post dated back to 15 October 2016! I must have forgotten to publish it!

After Baby's mini party in school, I tagged along with Coco to meet her friend whom I also knew.

They were heading to The Cat Cafe in Bugjs Village.

After a little search on streetdirectory.com, I found the location. 
 

It was a shop on the third floor of a shophouse just opposite Bugis Junction.
 

I am not a big fan of cats but decided to peek into the shop just to know how it was like.
 

The shopfront was a cosy food and beverage counter.

The cafe charges by per entry.

$15 per entry, inclusive of a soft drink. If you want other drinks such as orange juice, a top-up of about $3 is required.

Before entering the cafe-room that was separated from the F&B counter by a sliding room, we were briefed on the dos and don'ts: 
1. Pat the cats on their head, not their body (as cats are defensive animals). 
2. Do not enter the cats' resting area. They are there to nap and rest.
3. They are sleepy after their first meal of the day so do not force-carry them. If they want to come to you, they will.
 

It was a bright and cosy place. Wooden structures were set up at different parts of the cafe for cats to climb or move around.
 

Cat lovers may sit at tables with floor cushions to be in close proximity to cats.
 

We were given a table seat by the window in a corner when the server sensed that I was fearful of cats.
 

Soothing music was played to create a calm and comfortable atmosphere for the cats and patrons alike.
 

The cats were very docile. They didn't flinch even when patrons waved silly toys in their faces.
 

I saw that the cats didn't stir even when they were patted on their heads.

I thought it a shame not to have pictures taken at a place like this.
 
I may not return if I miss the photography opportunities!

 

Better cam-whore with the cats before I regret it!
  

The cafe hung their resident cats' portraits on the walls and did a write-up on the temperament and behaviour of each cat.
 

Even the tables had reminders about the dos and don'ts.
 

A thoughtful cafe with thoughtful cat-loving patrons who were almost equally quiet as the cats so as not to frighten the cats.

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

I Am Back, With A PoGo Story

After a l-o-n-g hiatus, I am back.

I have been preoccupied with playing Pokemon Go, if you are wondering.

I realised that most of the last posts were about my PoGo experiences and I didn't want to turn my blog into a PoGo blog!

However, playing PoGo has been an interesting journey and it has shown me my dark side in a few instances.

One of the most unforgettable experiences was the time when a 97IV Chansey spawned in a power plant.

Many of us reached there just to realise that Chansey had spawned far too in and most of us could not get Chansey on our phone screen. However, none of us was willing to leave without getting her as that was the highest-IV ever in the whole history of Singapore PoGo then.

Then something happened. One of the ladies was swinging her arm upwards as she spoke when Chansey appeared on her screen!

Everybody started swinging his arm like crazy! One of my friends got it too! And the rest of us swung our arms even more frantically!

The lady who caught Chansey first stood a few feet away from us and remarked,"If the monkeys at Upper Thomson see us, they will laugh at us!"

It really was a silly sight!

Then someone managed to play with the WiFi and got Chansey on his screen!

Everybody started crowding around him and asked him how to do it. Then subsequently, people simply pushed their handphones to him and asked him to do it for them!

Seeing that I had no hope of getting any help, I continued to stick myself to the fence and tried to get close to Chansey who was spawning within.

Then suddenly, a guy came over and told my friend and me,"Eh, I got it already." When quizzed how he did it, he said he went in through an unlocked gate and came out from it!

The gate had always been there but everybody had assumed that it must have been locked.

Someone had tried his luck and realised that the gate was unlocked!

Everybody started streaming in quietly and caught Chansey on the quiet.

I had reached the place with 16 minutes to spare but by the time I sneaked into the premise, I was left with 4 minutes!

After Chansey despawned, we left the place and latched the gate.

Then another friend who had gone by the front gate released her exasperation on a group chat, saying that a forklift guy stopped her and 3 other trainers from entering the premise while a group of trainers had been allowed inside.

It suddenly dawned on me that I had trespassed a private property!

The law-abiding me trespassed a property for a Pokemon! Under normal circumstances, I would never have done so, but I had broken the law even without myself realising it!

However, this experience remains one of the most unforgettable in my PoGo journey. Just about unrivaled.

Saturday, 22 October 2016

The Most Difficult Job in the World

There have been much online discussion about the boy who jumped because of his failing grades.

I am disturbed that people blame the parents for expecting certain grades from their children.

Are parents not supposed to expect some effort from their children? I believe most parents are able to gauge the intelligence level of their children and we demand a match in their grades to their intelligence level. I got very upset when I saw F9 on Coco's result slip because I saw how unprepared she was for her exam. I saw her on her phone throughout her exam preparations. I didn't see any evidence of any form of diligence in studying. I didn't expect her to do well but getting F9 was too much, don't you think? 

On the other hand, if I had seen her completing all the past year papers and attempting every question, memorising what she could (rather than telling me there is nothing to memorise), and yet failed, I would have comforted her that she had tried her best and that was all that mattered.

No parent wants to drive his or her child to death. The fact is, we do not know how our children would handle failures. 

If one finds it alarming that the mother of the boy was lamenting,"I only asked for 70 marks, not 80 marks.", he or she has not been a parent of an average student, or even a parent at all.

I am ranting in this post because I am so sick and tired of people pointing fingers at parents and blaming them when children jump to their deaths.

Who are the ones who suffer most when the children kill themselves? Are they not the parents who lost their children? Who would expect the children to jump off the building when being reprimanded? Are parents not allowed to chide their children when they don't live up to their expectations?

Of course, I do not know the details of the case and I am not discussing the case as a stand-alone incident, but I have an issue with people questioning if the parents had scolded the child for performing badly. It is totally befitting for a parent to berate her child for doing badly, whether the child has put in effort for his studies. I would question what kind of parent you are if you are fine with your child failing in school, and molly-coddling him that all will turn out fine. 

I was a slow child. 'Slow' as in an average to below-average student. I failed my Maths and Science very frequently. My elder sister never hesitated to dish out a barrage of 'why are you so stupid?!!' and 'so easy also dunno!' on a daily basis when I asked her for help in Maths. My father once pushed my failing Science paper back to me and said curtly,"I am not signing!"

I didn't go jump off the block of flats.

I knew it was unacceptable. I knew it was my fault that I failed no matter how slow a learner I was. We all knew failing grades were unacceptable, but very few of us, if any, went jumping to our deaths.

Why don't we blame the media or the Internet for the lack of resilience in our children as compared to the children of yesteryear?

Those are the things that seem to set the generations apart.

I am not sure how many parent feel like me - the father and son who had too many people telling them how to bring their donkey to the market.

Too many people and articles are teaching us how to parent our children and pointing their fingers at us when things go wrong.

We wish to be God too. 

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

A Personalised Book

I bought a book online as Baby's birthday present recently and it arrived today.
 
Buying a book from the Internet is no big deal. What's special about the book is that it is a book about the birthday girl's name.
 
Titled 'The Little Girl Who Lost Her Name', the story begins with a girl who wakes up in the middle of the night to find that the name tagged on her bedroom door is missing. She goes an adventure to find her lost name which she herself can't remember.
 
She meets different animals who might be in need and offers her the first letter of their names each time before they say goodbye.

Eventually, the girl gathers enough letters to spell her name.

Although it is recommended for children four to six, I decided to place an order for Baby to give her a surprise. While it could have been too easy a book for Coco when she was eight, Baby still enjoys picture books immensely although she is capable of reading wordier books.

Baby was intrigued by the book which set her name in print.

She showed it to everybody she met today and asked me to read it to her as her bedtime story.

After reading it, she asked if I could read it to her again!

It was quite many pages for a children's book so I told her I would do it again tomorrow.

She loves it!

I am delighted to have made her a happy girl.

I keyed in the details on 4 October and I opened my mailbox today to a pleasant surprise. I had forgotten all about the book!

The original price is $48.99, inclusive of a $5 Monkey wrapper. With a first-order discount, I paid $41.64.

You get to choose your character from a few choices. My choice was a no-brainer. An Asian little girl would have to have short, black hair.

If you have a little one, do explore this unique option of gifting him or her this personalised book. I didn't think it would be an exhilarating experience for the birthday girl but it made her very, very pleased! She can't wait to show it to her classmates when she goes back to school this Friday!

Thursday, 13 October 2016

A Surprise in Waiting

I have been telling Baby that we are not going to have a birthday party this year.

I don't want the "party" idea to be ingrained in her and cause her to feel entitled to lavish birthday parties every year.

She voiced out a few times that she would like to have one but each time I said no.

And I started feeling a little bad.

Birthday parties cost a lot more these days than when it was during Coco's time. I recall her eighth birthday party at Wild Wild Wet was no more than $500 in all, with the 2-hour charge of about $250 for ten to fifteen children, with unlimited number of accompanying parents, if I remember correctly. Food and cake were self-prepared and ordered separately, respectively.

The last I checked, Wild Wild Wet has a basic package that cost $450 now, and only two accompanying adults are allowed in the premise. The other adults' entry is chargeable. 

Really expensive.

A birthday party these days easily cost $1000, as I found out while preparing for Baby's last year. 

I feel that it's too extravagant to spend such an obscene amount of dough on a child's birthday party.

The cheapest I had enquired was KidzAmaze but the slot was quickly snapped up. 

I started drumming into Baby about our own private party, that we would celebrate it ourselves, until I saw on Facebook about a mother's preparation for her young son's party at school. 

For all the Pokemon Go I have been playing, it is such a shame it didn't occur to me to give Baby a Pokemon-themed party!

And it occurred to me that I could just give her a quick celebration at her school canteen, during recess! She has expressed a few times that she wants to celebrate her birthday with her friends. 

Stupid mummy!

So last night, I started sourcing for Pokeballs with Pikachu figurines.

My goodness! Tough. Tough. Tough.

Aplenty as they were on Carousell, these sellers kept replying that their Pokeballs were sold out!

I started to feel discouraged.

William said we could check out the Toy Outpost shop in the morning.

What gave me hope was the cake makers.

Super last minute as I was, two cake makers were willing to accommodate my one-day-in-advance order!

And those were popular cake makers - Cake Avenue and Sensational Cake.

I will always be grateful to them.

I chose Cake Avenue for the lower price and being a perfect alternative (will show the cake in the next post).

After the most important part of the celebration was settled, William and I continued to search for Pokeball sellers.

I sent messages to eleven Carousellers and finally narrowed down to two.

 
Eventually I bought them from whom I thought sounded helpful.
 
I was so disappointed with the figurines that come with the balls that I started sending enquiring messages to other Carousellers to check if it was possible to buy Gen 1 figurines from them.

However, they didn't seem helpful. 

Then William said,"I found out that these are later Gen's mons! You could be chasing them next time."

I was skeptical and asked him to find out the names of these mon-figurines.

And he did.

Then he said something that made me turn around,"But the children will like the ball."

Ya! It's the ball that matters. The figurine was just a bonus. What was I thinking!

Baby doesn't know she has a cake or is celebrating her birthday during recess. I told her I will be bringing her goody bags to school so that she could give them out to her friends.

I hope she would be terrifically surprised!