Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Death Exonerates

My friend's mother passed away yesterday.

She died quite a painful death, and had led quite a painful life.

She brought up her three daughters all on her own by working 2 or 3 jobs a day and sleeping for 4 hours every day.

Her useless husband left her to fend for herself and the kids.

My friend had to start earning her own pocket money and school fees when she was in Poly.

When she first told me that, I stupidly wondered why she had to do that. The poverty fact hadn't sunk into me yet then. Compared to her, I was like a frail plant in the nursery.

When the daughters are all grown up, and well-educated, ready to make a living, the useless husband-cum-father returned to ask for money from the children.

She finally divorced him in her fifties, just a year plus ago. Sold the flat to split the money (when that bastard hadn't contributed a cent). All ready to start life anew in the new flat.

Then she went into a coma. Diagnosis: breast cancer cells spread to the brain.

Brain had a tumour that needed to be removed, but could not be removed 100%. The doc removed 80% of it, and said that she had haemorrhage. Brain damaged.

From then on, she lie in bed all day, could only make audible but senseless sounds. My friend felt that her future was bleak and grim and was depressed that she had a mother she had to tend to for at least 8 hours a day, to clean the private parts, bathe her and change her diapers.

They spent $100, 000 on her first hospitalisation.

The second time she went into a coma was half a year later.

She couldn't breathe on her own anymore. They had to get an oxygen concentrator for her.

The moment my friend went to the reception, she was $5000 poorer.

She looked relieved and happy when I met her at the wake.

I understand. Chinese have a saying,'久病床前无孝子' ('there is no filial son when you are sickly for too long a time'). My favourite authoress mentioned that the love for the parent would have been thoroughly drained during the time when the child looked after the parent.

There was only resentment.

She wished to go shopping and be around town almost immediately.

I understand. Some people may feel that she is unfilial, but I can sympathise with how she feels.

Her mother's death has exonerated herself and her daughters.

Rest in peace, Aunty.

Monday, 29 March 2010

Jurong West Swimming Pool

The last day before the school closed was Coco's school swimming day. They have this swimming pool event at Jurong West Swimming Pool, the one near Pioneer MRT Station, once a year just to let the children's hair down.

Last year I didn't go along with her and she didn't even have a sip of the hot milo I made her, let alone put on sunblock! So this year, I decided to tag along. Got my childcare leave (with a few of my colleagues asking me how I did it) and went with her!

Parents were not allowed in the pools as the event was meant for the kids. Last year they did and I guess the parents must have created more than a crowd in the pools and spoilt some fun and thus the restriction.

Everything went well. Weather was sunny and perfect. Events were well-organised and everybody, except the deejay boy and the work-to-death teachers, had fun!

I met her best friend's mum and she's been an angel from day one. She shared with me alot of knowledge about the school I never knew and offered to take Coco to her enrichment lessons with her kid since they are attending them on the same day. She lived in one of the most expensive district and didn't put on airs. I'd never have guessed that that was a rich man's wife except that she looked much younger than her age.

The swimming pool is relatively new and is a smaller and kiddier version of Wild Wild Wet.

It features:
  • Playground pool
  • Baby pool
  • Jacuzzi pool
  • Lazy River
  • Long-slide pool
  • Middle-size Leisure pool
  • Competitive pool
  • Manmade gysers
Even their packed food looked and tasted good!

Manmade gysers

Playground pool

Jacuzzi pool

And a series of girl division pictures taken using the continuous mode:

Loads of crocs!


It's a kids-friendly pool. The waters are generally shallow with the exception of the competitive and leisure pools. The long slide does not end in a deep pool of water as most pools do. Instead, it has a small tub with shallow water to catch the zoom-down kids. However, Coco hit her back precisely because it was shallow. So need to be careful when you're coming down.

The Lazy River was shallower than the one at Wild Wild Wet and Jurong East Swimming Complex (I suspect), and thus safer.

The Playground's slides were gentler with surrounding shallow water. Great for toddlers! One of these days, I have to take the babe there!

And this time, Coco didn't get sunburnt!

Sunday, 28 March 2010

First time Kite-flying experience

We made use of the previous post's directions to get to the bus-stop. To be exact, we didn't get to that bus-stop. We walked what seemed to be more than 5 minutes to reach a bus-stop full of Mainland Chinese and Bangladeshi foreign workers. We missed the shuttle bus and bus no. 400 and waited for at least 15 minutes before a cab came along. There was alot of dust as lots of constructions were going on around Marina Bay MRT station.

As we discovered when we were on the cab, the bus-stop shown in the directions provided in pictorial form was one stop down the one we waited at, which means we would have to walk a further distance to get to the supposedly designated bus-stop.

By the time we reached Marina Barrage, it was about 7.30pm.
Many kites were in the dusky sky. A beautiful sight

She bought an $11 'mini kite' and $2 string 'for mini kites'
We bought the smallest (and cheapest) kite possible at this shop (in case we couldn't get it up into the sky, I wouldn't feel the pinch).

The cashier helped to tie the string to the kite. We tried for what seemed like an hour to get the kite up the sky

Unfortunately, our thrill and happiness was short-lived as our kite became entangled with two other kites and had to be brought down to disentangle the strings. Our string had to be cut short to free other kites from ours.

We tried for another what seemed like an eternity to get the kite up again.

Coco feeling easy-peasy flying the kite
An expanse of grass for a baby stroll

We left at about 9.30pm. We were racking our brains on how to get home, as the place was quite remote, when we bumped into my youngest sister and her fiance!

This was probably the 2nd or 3rd time we ran into them and getting a lift home. What a coincidence!

The trip left me thinking perhaps we might have fared better with a larger kite. From what we saw, it seemed to us that larger kites take to the wind easier than smaller kites. We also needed to release the string quickly the moment the kite rode on the wind.

It was very dark on the grass rooftop as there was no lights. Only soft, dim lights were available along the sidewalk around the huge grasspatch. You wouldn't be able to identify your friends even if they were right in front of you. Sometimes, the kite strings were across the grasspatch, just above it at your face, body or calf level. It can be a hazard for people walking on the grass. It might have been perfect for a kite-flying night against a backdrop of city skyscrapers if there were lights around.

It was a frustrating experience to take photographs even with a D90. Coupled with only a kit lens, I was not able to capture any decent pictures with it. It was all black when I tried capturing images of the abundance of kites in the sky. And if I ever managed to get any picture, it would be blurred due to the low light.

I'll leave photography to the next Barrage trip - in the daytime definitely!

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Thoughtful directions

Found this while searching on directions to Marina Barrage.

I thought it very thoughtful for the person to take pictures of the various directions leading to Marina Barrage.

In case the link is lost, like some of the links I attached in other posts due to its age or the need to clear them for more cyber space, I copied the thoughtful how-to-get-there below:

'It starts with a step-by-step pictorial guide to Marina Barrage by public transport, followed by a map and driving directions to the island.

Take a train to Marina Bay MRT Station. Leave the station by Exit B.

Walk towards the main road – Marina Way.

Turn left upon reaching the main road.

Walk along Marina Way until you reach this bus stop – B02 MARINA ST.
You can either board the above free Marina Barrage shuttle bus at the bus stop (view bus schedule) or take Bus service 400.

After 5-10 mins bus ride, you shall reach Marina Barrage'

Search words to my blog

One of the searches that led to my blog was 'Can Dr William Tan have sex'.

I can't help but think that the person who did the search must be rather sex-obsessed.

The newspaper articles were about his credibility being doubted, based on what Dr Chee had reported him on.

William Tan had insisted that he shared a romantic relationship with Dr Chee and claimed they had sex so as to prove that the money Dr Chee 'lent' him was a love gift.

But what struck the searcher immediately was obviously the sex factor.

Yes, I do admit that I did wonder how they had sex for a fleeting moment, but it didn't come across to me as so pertinent that I need to run a search on it.

The wonders of a human brain. Or should I say '一种米养百种人' ('All kinds of people exist on the surface of this earth')?

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

No love. No faith.

We fought again.

I was asking him to return me some money over the reno loan and baby's clothings - something he's been defaulting on since January this year. We had agreed to pay a certain amount for the repayment of reno loan each, and he is supposed to shoulder the responsibility for Baby's expenses mainly since I am shouldering Coco's.

Ever since he started full-time on tuition, he has not been able to bring home money. Not that he did before he quit teaching. But at least before he quit, I could chase after him knowing fully when his pay day was. Now that he goes into tuition alone, he can give me all the crap excuses about his money being stalled by students' parents.

He shouted at me for sending Coco to the high-end enrichment centre. He said that very few people send their kids for enrichment, especially piano. Meaning I should stop sending her to enrichment classes and use the money for his benefit instead.

I ask myself if I want to continue to live like this forever. Always fighting over money. Always quarrelling loudly so that the whole block of neighbours can hear our quarrel contents ie. money. No love. Only mistrust. No faith. Only disgust.

I ask myself if I can cope with the financial demands after a divorce.

I really don't know.

But do I want to succumb to this lousy marriage, for the rest of my life, and see myself rotting away, because of financial reasons?

A chatter was telling me that we should think about our mental and spiritual well-being first, not the physical. That does make sense. And it seems to make things a lot easier.

I'm just so tired.

Hong Kong Air Pollution

Oh dear! A piece of bad news on yahoo! today:

Hong Kong air pollution hits record levels

"Today's API is at record high levels," an agency spokeswoman said in an email to AFP.

Hong Kong's famed skyline and harbour is often shrouded in a blanket of haze which has been criticised as a public health disaster and blamed for driving some expatriates away from the international financial hub.

"As the sandstorm from northern China is moving southward with the northeast monsoon and is now affecting Hong Kong, the Air Pollution Index is expected to reach the 'very high' or 'severe' level ..."

On the API index, people with heart or respiratory problems are advised to stay indoors at a reading of more than 100.

... the city's smog "kills three people a day" and its air is "three times dirtier than New York City's."

A study by the Civic Exchange think-tank last year said that Hong Kong's own road emissions were the dominant source of air pollution in the densely populated city of seven million.

Will this affect our June trip?

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Why I am not ashamed to be from Singapore

I did a google blog search on my original title of 'Victims turned Villains' and found that it came up first on the list. Had to change it to be more inconspicuous. It's not my wish to have the public discussing my blog and judge my character based on my blog.

Of course it's nice to become xiaxue the second ie. have sponsors for trips and facials and even ROM, but I'm not ready to have my marriage and kids in tow and even myself to be under public scrutiny. I'm not a professional blogger and I hold a full-time job. It'll have repercussions, and definitely negative ones, on my full-time job should my blog undergo public scrutiny.

I was just looking at the list of the blogs under the original title of my previous post and going into a few to take a look.

Something struck me and I thought I needed to blog about it.

The post is about being ashamed to be a Singaporean.

I'm not a Singaporean. But I am bred here. Grow up here.

I may sound mountain-tortoise or I have been living under a rock, but I like Singapore. I don't think I will ever change my citizenship to 'Singaporean' - that's another issue, but I have enjoyed Singapore in many ways.

I am thankful for the education she gives me. I am thankful that my father decided that Singapore was the place his children would be educated and grow up in. I am thankful of the meritocratic system. I suspect it does discriminate foreigners to a certain extent, but I am really quite sure it's not a big deal unless you want to climb the governmental corporate ladder, and it's only right that a country discriminates foreigners to give her citizens more opportunities.

I enjoy the stability it provides ie. economic stability, social stability and political stability. Yes, yes, I know. It's dictatorship, not democracy. But looking at some countries that are really democratic, I feel that there are dangers lurking in some corners of democracy as well. Look at America, do I want young kids or crazy people running amok the streets with guns in their hands? Do I want people defaming or discriminate others outrightly out of free will and give rise to protests and strikes every other day?

Some people will say that I'm trained to be small-brained, as a result of being cooped up in this tiny island, and being educated as such. That I admit, that it's true. But as a weak woman with no ambition to become big, I really don't mind being bossed around and being told what to do. I just want to be safe, like what our education system has always trained us to be, and lead a peaceful life.

Like I've said before, I am grateful for the bilingual education system. I feel empowered to have at least two (actually there are only two) languages at my finger tips. I think it's ingenius to have this bilingual system.

I am grateful for the job she offers me via the route of her education system. That said, I am not sure how I would fare if I had remained in my own country and be educated there. I might have 'achieved' the same thing, but growing up and living in Singapore has been a set of experience I would never have if I had stayed in my own country.

I like the people in Singapore. Most Singaporeans are civilised, polite, helpful and nice (read: warm). I feel that we are moving towards the direction of being Japanese, who are all of the above. Our culture (note that I keep using 'we' and our') is brought down only by the influx of foreigners who are mostly not as civilised or trained in the same culture. In recent years, I found that Singaporeans don't seem to be as helpful as compared to previous years and I greatly suspect it's because their behaviour is influenced or affected by foreigners who have been rather unkind or uncouth. However, there is still a good number of Singaporeans who still make the effort to be kind, especially on the MRT ie. giving up of seats.

When I travelled to Taipei, I found myself saying with a tinge of pride that I am from Singapore. They asked me where I am 'from', not where I am born. So it's only right that my answer was 'Singapore'.

So all in all, I am not ashamed of being someone who is 'from' Singapore.

The only thing I am unhappy about Singapore is her men.

Women being small-brained, petty, calculating - that's forgiveable. Men being small-brained, petty, calculating - that's unforgiveable. I quote out of quote from what I once read on a female magazine: 'Fats on old women are forgiveable but fats on young women are not", obviously quoted from a man's mouth.

Victims turned Villains

This is an afterthought about Jack Neo girls.

A few other girls have come forward to point out that Jack Neo had made advances on them a few years ago when they started out in the showbiz.

However, these girls have been criticised as trying to infame or draw attention to themselves under the pretence of being Jack Neo's victims.

I thought the societal train of thought is somewhat warped.

I had appreciated these girls for coming forward to expose Jack Neo's real persona - a wolf in sheep's clothing. If not, the public would have thought that ... whatshername ... Wendy Chong? ... is the only girl he had an affair with, and that it's a one-time affair thingy. We would probably think that it's entirely forgiveable since it's the first and only time he did this.

We can only know the extent of his unscrupulous preying of young girls who aspire to be rising stars in the acting industry if and when other victims come forward to expose him.

They have to show their faces to the public. If they had remained anonymous, Jack Neo would certainly have challenged them to show themselves to be real. As it is, he asked for 'evidence' of his illicit behaviour from them. How can you prove that someone had tried to make sexual advances on you verbally and physically unless you had made plans to trick the person into doing so and taped them down? Ridiculous, mindless demand! His asking for evidence actually makes me feel all the more that he's guilty of the acts. Knowing that there can be no evidence, you're asking for it. '做贼的喊捉贼' comes to mind, loosely translated as 'the guilty one pointing finger at others'.

It's not fair for the society to judge these potential victims so harshly.

I do not deny that they would inevitably draw attention to themselves and these reports would give them a good amount of 'publicity', but these are part of the package.

I'm not sure if it's human or just Singaporean to be so skeptical or cynical. I don't understand what's so difficult about taking things as they are. They have come forward to point him out as a big wolf. The conclusion is: Jack Neo preys on young girls aspire to be stars. Full-stop.

Why must people always go into the in-betweens? 'They must have done this so that they can be famous.'

I think it's great that the society is not as obedient (read: stupid) as we think. The unkind comments do show that our society is discerning and do not accept answers readily. However, I feel that we can afford to cut these girls some slack. Which one is more important - exposing Jack Neo's 'good man' facade or having the girls draw attention to themselves? In any case, I really don't think the attention is 'good' attention.

Typing this makes me think of something related: sometimes I find it disgusting that many people are so skeptical of others' achievements or success, and I am guilty of it too, that we attribute their success to luck and our own, hard work. I know Psychology has already stated this, but I still find it incomprehensible sometimes.

She knows what she wants

Coco was tasked with completing a composition on robbery by her beloved enrichment centre.

Guidance sentences were provided. However, Coco insisted on writing her composition her way. She had at least 6 dialogue sentences in the first paragraph. I was dismayed and told her that she was supposed to use the helping sentences instead of doing it her way, she said she needed to show the enrichment centre how she was like first. I took 'how she was like' to mean her 'writing style'.

I am very surprised that at this age, she wants to develop a writing style of her own. However, as an anxious mother who was more concerned with academic improvement - and I had sent her for an enrichment class solely because I am worried about her Creative Writing skills, I asked her to follow what she was given.

She continued to surprise me by insisting to show her enrichment teacher her own work first. She said that she had asked the teacher if she could have 6 dialogues in a paragraph and the teacher had approved it.

Coco had exhibited this determination trait in her since a young age.

Even when she was 4 or 5, given many choices, she had chosen a purple-jellied ice-cream. I didn't think it would taste great and had asked her to choose another one. I gave her other options,"Do you want this? Do you want this?" She insisted on her original choice.

The ice-cream seller remarked,"She has very strong character. She knows what she wants."

I hope I will not ruin this wonderful trait of hers in my bid to get her to be academically-driven.

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Reward after Work

On Thursday, Coco managed a feat never known to her 10 years of history in life.

She completed a Science and Chinese CA1 papers from other schools within a few hours. In less than 3 hours I think, after which I went through the answers with her.

Thereafter, I allowed her to do whatever she wanted.

It was raining, and we couldn't go to an outdoor place like Sentosa which she really wanted.

When the rain ceased, she asked if we could go to the library.

I said,"Yes." and off we went.

She wanted to borrow 4 English books. At first, I wanted her to borrow 3 Chinese and 1 English books, but she so wanted the 4 English books. On account of her finishing her work quickly, I said,"Yes."

On our way home, she commented that she felt 'free' that she had completed her work and could do whatever she liked.

She asked if she could play computer game later on.

I said,"Yes."

She asked if I could play some games with her before bed.

I said,"Yes."

She looked at me with her eyes wide-open, and with a tinkle of wonder, she said,"You're saying 'yes' to everything!"

I am glad that she finally realises the feel-good feeling of getting rewarded for finishing her work, and quickly at that.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Inspirational Facade

Just last week, before school closed, the teachers were shown a video on Dr William Tan, a 'prominent paraplegic athlete', 'Singapore's wheelchair marathon champion' (as quoted from various internet sources that cover him for his exploits despite being paralysed waist down since 2 years old as a result of polio).

The video showed him as an inspiring, perservering, determined persona who focuses on what he can do, instead of what he can't do. And it suggested that that was the essence and reason for his success in life despite his handicap.

However, this week, the news has been about him cheating a huge sum of money from a certain Dr Chee.

I first read it on yahoo! and didn't give it much thought at first as it didn't mention that it was THE Dr William Tan who won the wheelchair marathon champion, or perhaps it did but I overlooked it.

I just dismissed it as another white-collar crime and cheating doctor.

As I read the Chinese evening newspaper just now, I realised that it was the William Tan I watched on video last week. An English version of the article, although hardly a word-for-word one, can be found here.

The article in particular was about Dr Tan arguing for his case - that he was in a romantic relationship with Dr Chee, who gave him $400k as 'love gift'. To prove that the relationship was indeed a romantic one, he even told the reporter that he once made love with Dr Chee in her bedroom and her moaning was so loud her 10-year-old daughter came knocking on the door to find out what had happened. As a result, they had to counsel the daughter after that!

I thought it disgusting, and despicable, that a man stoop so low to 'prove' his relationship with a woman over a sum of money he took from her. How will this article reflect on Dr Chee or affect how her family members or relatives or friends look at her?

I can't help but wonder if men by the name of 'William' think nothing of taking money from women, supposedly the 'weaker' sex.

Dr Chee's lawyer listed a few points that he has observed so far:

1) Dr Tan has never written the word 'love' in his emails to Dr Chee. It's only when he needed money from her that he would write a long email to her.

2) He has never forked out a single cent to support Dr Chee and her daughter though he claims to be a father figure to the 10-year-old.

3) He did not report his annual income of $120k when filing income tax which indicates dishonesty or a lack of integrity.

4) He is sly and crafty.
He would compliment Dr Chee before he loaned money from her, and asked her not to let her daughters know he borrowed money from her.

5) He is conniving and scheming.
He helped her strategise to fight for her late husband's inheritance.

6) He puts on a facade.
He had urged Dr Chee to nominate him for several prestigious awards, including the National Day Award and asked her to write glowing testimonials for himself.

From the reports and articles I read, I do think that a romantic relationship between the two is highly possible. However, I don't think it's ever right to take money from a woman, especially when she is not your mother. Even if she is your mother, you are obligated to return the money to her. No one owes you a living. Everybody should earn his own keep, especially a man. Even if you are not able to earn your own keep due to some handicap, you ought not accept such a large amount of money from a woman. I have seen handicapped buskers selling their music or their tissue papers. What makes you so special that you need not work for that kinda money?

And it's definitely despicable to expose your romantic relationship because you do not want to return the money. It's quite clear to me that he is reluctant to admit the romantic relationship while being in it since he had not expressed any form of romantic affection to her apart from having sex with her. However, now he makes known the relationship to avoid repaying her the money he took from her.

As far as I am concerned, this man's name, reputation and integrity have gone to the dogs.

Which honourable man would take money from the woman he loves? Name me a great man who lives off a woman.

Winter Solstice

After what seems like many months, I still miss the glutinous rice dumpling (汤圆)my mother made for winter solstice (冬至)last year.

I had never fancied these soft, round stuff since young and had felt forced-fed all along. I always saw it as a chore to gobble them down as I never thought them delicious.

But last year, my mother used a different brand for the glutinous flour, and she herself could not believe that she made such soft and yummy dumplings.

I wolfed down one bowl of them (shown below) on the spot and packeted a small pot of them home.

Gifted because of Enrichment Classes?

While waiting for Coco's enrichment class to end, I happened to cast my eyes on the giant photo-poster of a Chinese girl on a Chinese enrichment centre.

And I thought she looked familiar, like Coco's ex-classmate who is now in one of the GEP classes.

When I commented that to Coco, she replied,"She did tell me that she went there for classes."

It made me wonder if these enrichment-hothoused children would have gotten into GEP if not for the enrichment classes they attended. From what I know, at least 3 other Coco's friends who made it into GEP attended enrichment classes on the academic subjects.

William's sentiment is "Money buys exposure" and he feels that the rich kids have an edge over their similarly-clever peers because their parents are rich enough to send them for all these enrichment classes since a young age. They are thus given lots of opportunities to be exposed to different types of problems in theory and higher-level thinking questions since young.

That sounds logical.

When I proposed that he sends Baby to enrichment classes when she reaches K2, he said no, because it's too expensive.

All the more I feel that it's important to marry a rich man so that your children can have an edge over their peers since young.

High-tech Enrichment Centre

It was Coco's first day at Learning Lab.

I was not impressed with the admin as they bungled up a few times ie. they keyed in Coco's level wrongly and didn't realise the mistake until the 3rd or 4th time I called them up, they also got my handphone number wrong and didn't check with me although I called them a zillion times. When we got there, we went to their reception counter to check for the class Coco ought to go and the system apparently wasn't very efficient. The guy who was supposed to attend to Coco actually attended to an older girl, and then a parent, all the time with Coco standing right in front of him and having her query held on! I had to ask another lady at the counter to check for us and she took close to 10 minutes, after making phone calls, checking the computer system and checking against the hard copy, just to find out which class Coco was in.

They said that they needed 3 weeks to give Coco her membership card. I'm abit 'Duh'. You mean you take so long to make a card? This is Singapore, you know?

What I was impressed with was the high-tech stuff they had.

One of the doors to the classrooms (below) opened by a sensor.

It looks innocently like just any other kinda wall

Coco putting her hand over the sensor

And lo and behold ... the door slides open, showcasing the futuristic interior which has yet another mirror-door that leads to classrooms

It closes again

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Quiet Frustration

I must admit that I feel frustrated.

It frustrates me when I see pictures of a loving husband, taken together with his family, a happy and loved wife, beaming children.

I am not sure if that's jealousy. I have no liking for the man in the pictures, but it makes me angry, quietly.

I don't understand why a good man for me is difficult or impossible to come by.

I yearn to have a beautiful family picture like those women do. A picture that tells of family warmth and love. But I cannot have it. Because I only have bastards for husbands.

I had a dream this morning. I dreamt that a young Coco crying for a father on a bus.

It broke my heart. When I woke up, it troubled me.

I ask myself when such days will end.

I will divorce one of these days.

I don't know when, but I will.

I don't want to live like this forever.

To hell with all the Christian doctrines that say that divorces are not God's will.

To hell with all the longsuffering talks about how a virtuous wife should be.

I just want to live like a human being.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Eliticism in the flesh

I took some kids to a debate competition today.

We didn't win, except for the 'Best Speaker' Award for the 2 rounds, which was expected for that dramatic and outspoken child.

I, rather than they, was disillusioned, over a different issue.

My kids pitted against Coco's school. Some GEP kids.

One of them was visibly arrogant and spoilt.

She interjected my kids' speeches, all of them, without asking if she could. I had observed that those who wished to interject ought to have raised their hand and said,"Point, sir!" but not this girl.

Whenever she heard something that she wished to clarify or rebut, she simply stood up, with her plastic chair making such a din, and raised her hand as she spoke.

As a result, my first kid was startled and intimidated. He continued to speak, but in a softer and quicker voice, and forgot to make eye contact with anybody from then on.

When she couldn't quite hear him, she would demonstrate her inability to hear him by putting both hands behind her ears, outstretched her fingers to show that she couldn't hear him, or to 'help' her hear better. As if that really helped!

Coco happened to be in the same Mother Tongue class as this spoilt brat's brother.

She commented that her brother was equally annoying. Unco-operative, aloof and thought a world of himself. "Because they are rich!"

I have heard people mentioning just how great these GEP kids think they are, but I always thought they are a few in a million. Today, I saw one truly spoilt and arrogant kid right before my eyes.

Insufferable, I thought.

Is Coco's school full of such brats? I had met quite a few nice parents from her school and I made the assumption that truly rich people are humble and nice.

Boy! That girl just turned everything over. I saw for myself what 'elitist' truly means. All the posts that I had written about myself being elitist is nothing compared to what this girl thought about herself. She's positively 'elitist' and 'arrogance' in the flesh!

It made me wonder how she will be like when she becomes an adult and how many people would put up with her eliticism and arrogance.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Adding Vignette Easy

I found a quick way to vignette pictures here.

Basically, these are the steps, really simple:

1. Open a picture that you want to add vignette to.
2. Apply the vignette filter to the picture.
Filter >> Distort >> Lens Correction…
3.Mess with the “Amount” and “Midpoint” sliders in the “Vignette” section.
4.Press “OK”, and now you have art!
5. Save the picture under another name so as to keep the original.

I cropped the above picture to remove the unwanted clutter using the 'Crop' tool.

Then I used the the 'Lasso' tool (3rd icon on the left vertical row) to circle the oily and shiny cheeks.

Went to 'Filter' on the horizontal tool bar above, 'Noise', 'Dust and Scratches' to adjust how much I want to blend the skin tone and thus removing the shine.

After that, I added in the vignette as above.

Ta-dah! A technophobic at work with Photoshop!

Blogging as Feedback

A few days ago, I stumbled upon a student's blog.

In it, she expressed her resentment about me complimenting a better class and downplaying my own class which she is in.

She also commented that English lesson is boring.

I went back to class and discussed the reasons behind my compliments to the other class ie. to let them know that they too are capable of being equally good, if not for their lack of diligence. The better class is not better simply because they are smarter and I didn't state that I liked them because they are 'better'.

I also discussed with them why English lessons are boring. Almost all the time, it's about doing worksheets and going through answers. I told them that I felt even more bored than they do. I wish to do something else with them, but these worksheets are mandatory and have deadlines to complete them for the benefit of their assessments.

The girl was quiet throughout, as usual.

After the lesson, I asked for 2 helpers to help me carry the books to the staffroom, with one of them being the blogger.

At the staffroom, I dismissed the other helper and spoke to the blogger. I asked her if she knew I was talking about her blog. She nodded her head.

I asked,"Are you worried?"

She nodded, and gave an awkward smile.

I assured her that I was not angry or upset. In fact, I was glad to read her comments on the lessons and her unhappiness about me. I felt that I got to understand her better and it served as a good form of feedback for me. I also educated her about the confidentiality of certain matters versus the publicity of a blog and she might want to be more careful about what she blogs from then on.

At this point, you might think that it's such an irony that while advising my students to be mindful about what she blogs, I'm less than careful about what I blog.

Part of me is prepared to shut down the blog if I'm ever asked to. Another part of me decides that if I'm ever so careful about what I blog, then it defeats the purpose of blogging.

That said, my student is only a child, all of 10 or 11 years old on the face of this earth. An adult will have problems handling issues or complications arising from blogging if his blog is ever worthy of a controversy, much less a child at that tender age. And a teacher is obliged to educate her students on the don'ts, more so than the dos, just like my favourite authoress who has the social responsibility of asking her teenage or early-twenties readers to focus on their studies instead of being in love although she genuinely feels that youth is the best time to fall in love while studying diligently ought to be reserved for an older age when one is more settled and mature in his thinking.

Rekindling of fire

I talked to Coco yesterday morning and asked her why she has stopped drawing or painting. I wanted to find out if I am the cause of suppression of interest, as William has suggested.

She confided that some boys in her class have commented that her drawing was ugly, and it has discouraged her from continuing to draw.

I encouraged her by relating to her my own experiences:

When I was in primary school, a drawing on Sports Day was due and I submitted a piece of drawing depicting children doing a relay from the top view. Only the children's heads and outstretched hands to touch their friends' hands could be seen. My art teacher asked me if the heads were stones as they were black and oval-shaped. I was so embarrassed I didn't answer her.

Another drawing with the title 'At the road' had the teacher humiliating me in front of the class. He raised my drawing and showed it to the class. He commented aloud that the pedestrians standing along the pavement looked like they were flying when I had meant to show the distance they were standing away from one another.

I didn't do well in primary school art.

Come secondary school, my interest in art is dramatically deepened by the amount of knowledge about art acquired. The more I was educated in art, the more interested I was in it, and I did quite well in art, among my classmates in the Art Stream.

I encouraged her to continue to draw as your level or standard of drawing will stop at where you stop learning. I told her that I will teach her how to draw or paint if necessary or if she so desires. Better yet, she can do art right after she finishes her homework.

She nodded her head and asked,"Or play badminton?"

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Love Gone Awry

William was commenting that Coco is unmotivated in her studies or doing anything for that matter and he surmised that it could be because I have been suppressing her interest.

She loves painting as a child, but I told her she can't do art. Whenever she wants to draw or paint, I would ask her to do her academic work first before embarking on the painting. However, due to her lack of motivation and interest, she doesn't finish her work quickly, and so by the time she finishes it (if she ever does), it was time for bed.

I was telling a chatfriend about this, and I asked myself why I am depriving Coco of the things she likes to do when I love her so much.

And I realised that deep down, I have this great fear that she might become another me, or trod the path that I had taken, and suffer the way I have.

In the heart of hearts, I greatly despise myself.

I have never been clever. In fact, I genuinely feel that I am stupid. Although a friend doing his master's in phychology did a 'very refined' intellligence test on me and concluded that I was smarter than 83% or 87% of the Americans, I was never convinced. I am able to remember the figure/s although I am never a number person only because I thought the result ridiculous and I have to remember it to remember how ridiculous and laughable the test was.

For all the love I have for her, I cannot allow her to be like me, or go through the things I had.

That is why I distant her from art - a subject that I had loved when I was a student.

I did Art at O level, not because I was fantastic in art, but because I was weak academically. I couldn't do Science or Home Economics, so I was placed in an Art class.

I only appeared good in Art because most of my classmates were mediocre in it.

Even then, I didn't get an A for Art at O level.

At NIE, I chose Art among Art, Music and Social Studies to study as a non-core subject because I wanted to do well at the Diploma level. I knew very little about music and between Social Studies and Art, Art was the obvious choice.

Art is very time-consuming. But because I liked it and enjoyed it, I was willing to spend a lot of time on it.

I don't want Coco to spend so much time on Art and neglect her studies. I cannot turn a blind eye to the fact that she is walking towards the cliff.

However, I find that Coco doesn't seem to have any salient interest in anything.

I find that quite scary. To live a life without passion.

And I don't want to be the reason that ruins her life.

I did a scrapbook for her. One of the pages had a self-made tiny envelope. In it was a card that had these words,"For all the things I'd like you to be, my greatest wish for you is to be what you want to be."

In my anxiety to give her the best, I have forgotten what it meant to be a mother, and be there for her only when she needs me. I have attempted, unsuccessfully, to take over the driver's seat and direct where she should go for her.

I truly love her. And my love comes so close to destroying her, because of a lack of love for myself.


Last night, I dreamt that I had a baby at Thomson Medical Centre again!

It was a nightmare. I was so glad it was a dream when I woke up.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

No big deal

A colleague brought today's New Paper and showed me Jack Neo's article - on whether the wife should forgive him so readily.

I told her, without batting an eyelid,"I would have forgiven him instantly."

She had a perturbed look that suggested that my response was ludicrous.

I went to her cubicle which was a few steps away and told her,"Jack Neo is a responsible man. He provides for the family and supports the wife. The wife doesn't even need to work! He is just being unfaithful. Would you rather have a faithful husband but who doesn't bring home the money? He asks you to support the children and asks you for money. You want that? Compared to such men, I think Jack Neo is a very responsible man. I would forgive him immediately."

Yes, I'm speaking from my personal experience. Yes, it sounds warped to some people. But comparing both types of men, which is the less of the two evils?

The two other colleagues who were in the next cubicle overheard our conversation and joined in the discussion. They too were married and with children. They concurred with me. One said,"I would definitely forgive him! I've been through shit with him. Why should I let him off and let him go scotfree with another woman? That's stupid! ... And forgiving does not mean forgetting!" The other said,"Yeah, we still need to work."

Another colleague who was just a fresh 20-year-old agreed that having children and being married for years perceive the same issue very differently from someone who is not married, or who does not have children. She concurred that if she had children, she would probably stay and forgive an unfaithful husband too, for the sake of the children.

That brings me back to when I was much younger and before I was married or had children.

I remember watching a Channel 8 drama serial about an unfaithful husband and I commented,"Just divorce lah! I won't want this kinda husband!"

My father educated me there and then,"It's always easy to say that when you are not married. After marriage, you don't just say,'Let's divorce' and get a divorce. You'll start to consider other factors. You don't say it and execute what you said immediately anymore. Most people don't divorce even if their husbands are unfaithful."

At that time, I thought my father was being silly. And I told myself I would never be so unprincipled.

After more than 10 years, I finally understood what my father said.

Honestly, I don't see what the big deal Jack Neo's adultery is. He is just another chi-ko-pek, and really a 'pek' since he's already a 50-year-old old man, preying on young girls who aspire to be famous actresses. I believe it is a common practice for directors to ask for sex in exchange for beefy roles for the actresses, just that most people in the industry do not loudmouth this fact.

The younger and more naive me used to believe that faithfulness is the foundation of a marriage. I only realised that a marriage is not only built on one ground alone. There are other 'stones' that contribute to the foundation ie. money and trust are two vital 'stones' that determine how strong the marriage is. Any mature adult would know that without money, a marriage will not work. In Chinese, we have a saying:贫贱夫妻百事哀, loosely translated as 'Poor couples have the odds against them' or in singlish 'Poor couple, everything also no good'. It suggests that a marriage in poverty is destined to fail. You don't hear any saying about marriages failing because the spouse is unfaithful '不忠伴侣婚不续'.

On a side note, I find it ludicrous that Jack Neo's family affair has become a national concern. Even an MP urges the public to rally support for the Neos. I believe that most married women with children would see eye to eye with Mrs Neo's decision to forgive. I, for one, support Mrs Neo in forgiving Jack Neo. For a woman in her 40s, a man's fidelity may not be the most important thing in her life anymore.

Punctuation: Vulgarities

Last night, Coco and I were eating at a coffeeshop in Yishun, at the back of the coffeeshop in fact, as the tables in front of the shop was packed with patrons.

We had two tables of teenagers beside us and they were punctuating their lines with hokkien vulgarities.

Coco could understand the 'language' and she was bothered. She said,"They are using vulgarities."

I told her to finish up her food quickly so that we could leave the place asap.

The only girl was apparently an Ah Lian. She was speaking on the phone,"Don't say I always change boyfriends. My boyfriend's and my relationship is turning one month soon."

Her boyfriend, upon sitting down, starting lapping up his friend's leftovers. The girl remarked,"Dogs will always be dogs! Fancy you eating someone else's leftovers."

I was surprised by how I felt about these teenagers actually. I was once a teenager, and had friends who were Lians and Bengs, although they didn't use vulgarities as freely as these bunch of kids did.

I felt even a little disgusted by the language they used as I thought the vulgarities were overused. Every line, every exclamation had to be accompanied with a vulgar word.

I thought it could be a teachable moment then and I cautioned Coco,"You could end up with such friends if you go to a neighbourhood (secondary) school."

A chatfriend criticised me for being 'elitist' and told me that my approach was all wrong.

Coming from a totally neighbourhood school, I am aware that not all neighbourhood school children are like that. At this moment, I just want to set a goal for Coco. She is rather unmotivated to do her school work, much less assessment books, and we all know that doing school work is not enough to do well at PSLE. Although she has a dream school in mind, I feel that she may not know how tough it is to get into it and how much effort she needs to commit to match up to it. Thus, I resort to proposing the anti thesis ie. "If you don't do this, you will get that." At this moment, the idea of neighbourhood schools must not appeal to her. So I need to let her have a mental picture of how her potential friends are like if she ends up in a not-so-good secondary school.

Call me a selfish or elitist mother if you like. I do aspire to be a selfish mother. A selfish mother is the best kind of mother possible to her own children. She will give the best, and only the best to her children, and she will do everything possible to protect her children from any impending harm.

I have educated Coco at the expense of the dignity of neighbourhood secondary schools (how serious I put it!). Never mind that. I just want her to be acutely aware of the differences of students in different types of school environment.

Anybody can tell that I am a very anxious mother. With all of my heart, I totally, utterly believe that the secondary school phase is the MOST important phase in a person's life. It shapes or breaks the future and affects the rest of your life. It is the place where your values are moulded and cast into stones. It is the place where your all-important friends become the most influential people in your life.

I really cannot afford to have Coco treading the path I walked on. Of course, I can't guarantee that she will go to a good school. She is the one who is taking PSLE. I can only do my best in inculcating values and beliefs in her in the hope that these values and beliefs can drive her to do her best and get into a better school than an lian-and-beng school.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Marriage and Adultery

Last night, I was reading the Chinese evening paper.

The headlines have been about Jack Neo's adulterous affair.

A columnist wrote that experts said that adultery is NOT the REASON of a broken marriage. Instead, it is the RESULT of a broken marriage.

Call me biased or feministic, but I think that line applies to women, not men.

Men are supposed to be the head of the household. That would imply that men ought to take the lead in most, if not all, things as far as a family is concerned. And that should include romancing his wife, not his wife trying to humour him and romancing him all or most of the time.

If a man stops romancing his wife, it could mean only one thing: the man no longer loves the wife, and that is the reason a marriage breaks down. However, men take this as a valid reason to fool around. Women, despite the marriage that's broken down, often continue (stupidly) to abide by their marriage vows.

By and by, when the woman's heart finally concedes defeat and she decides to look for love from another man, she is labelled as 'unfaithful' and 'adulteress'.

For women, adultery is definitely the RESULT of a broken marriage.

For men, not necessarily so. Very often, their adultery is the REASON for a broken marriage to take place.

Booked liao!

I finally settled all the necessary bookings. I just made my payment for Jetstar at an S.A.M. machine.

I had initially planned for a 5-day trip and had booked the hotels for 4 nights in all. After I received my confirmations from both hotels, I decided to extend my stay by one more day in case we don't have enough time to enjoy the good food in Kowloon.

I'm so glad I've been reading great reviews on Cityview Hotel which I booked 2 rooms at. It seems to be a fantastic hotel ie. good service, clean room, good location (3 minutes to Yau Ma Tei MTR Station) and great rates. I'm paying about $118 per room per night after a 15% discount for 14 days' advance booking.

For a Superior Room, we get to choose the bed we want (Twin or Double), and there's a bathtub for Coco! She had been asking me repeatedly if there is a bathtub and I told her it didn't because it wasn't stated on the website, but it's stated as existing in the confirmation email. :)

So far, Cityview Hotel has been quite prompt and patient in their replies. Before the promotion kicked in, I had read good reviews on it and made enquiries about cab fare to Disneyland and asking them for a quotation in the hope that they would give me some form of discount. After I had booked the rooms, I asked if they could give me adjoining rooms, cab fare from airport to the hotel, and about the possibility of extension. I sent them about 5 emails just to make enquiries I believe.

Disneyland Hotel has given up on me I think, for asking too many questions. I had requested to change the date of checking-in and they referred me to the website for amendment of dates. But the parting message seemed to suggest that I had booked the room for another day. So I asked for an email to assure me that it's an amendment of the dates, not an extra booking. The last I enquired was whether we could leave our luggage with the hotel on our departure day since our check-out time is 11 am but our flight is at 8.15pm and they have ignored me since.

I chanced upon a simple travel blog created by a Malaysian girl and she did a great job writing up her trips in detail.

She makes Hong Kong sound fantabulous! It makes me look forward to the trip!

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Asserting her baby rights

A friend visited me yesterday and we had a long chat.

While I was seeing her off, at the gate and still standing to chat for a while more, Baby tottered to the stroller, dug into the diaper bag, took out her milk bottle and milk powder container, and gave them to me!

She wanted to drink milk.

My friend and I were shocked by her cuteness and intelligence. My friend remarked,"Breastfed babies are really more intelligent!" and she was about to make her exit when Baby closed the door on her!

After that, Baby grabbed my hand and led me to the kitchen to prepare milk for her!

Planning in Progress. Lots of Thought Flows.

Strange as it may sound, the day after I entered my last post on Hong Kong pre-trip on my wish to get a credit card because of a promotion, I found that there were promotions on both Disneyland Hotels and the hotel I had been eyeing.

I had booked both hotels for a 5-day trip. However, on second thoughts, I think we would need 6 days if we are going to Macau for 1 day.

A rough sketch of the itinerary:
Day 1 - Arrival. Ladies Market, Victoria Harbour, Symphony of Lights, Temple Street
Day 2 - Macau
Day 3 - Ocean Park
Day 4 - Disneyland
Day 5 - Giant Buddha + Tung Chung MTR area shopping /Disneyland/Return to Kowloon for last min shopping. Departure

We virtually don't have time to explore the eats and shopping.

Originally, I had planned Macau to be something optional or half-day. I had even toyed with the idea that my parents might be able to travel to Macau on their own while Coco and I go Ocean Park, but I'm quite worried that they might feel lost if I let them go on their own. Even as I type this, I'm still wondering if it's plausible. We'll KIV on this first and see how it goes.

If it's a 6-day trip:
Day 1 - Arrival. Ladies Market, Victoria Harbour, Symphony of Lights, Temple Street
Day 2 - The Peak, Madam Tussauds Wax Museum, Granville Road Factory Outlets.
Day 3 - Macau
Day 4 - Ocean Park
Day 5 - Disneyland
Day 6 - Giant Buddha + Citygate Outlets shopping /Disneyland/Return to Kowloon for last min shopping. Departure

Someone in a forum had suggested a brief 5-day itinerary (for another forummer):
1 day - ocean park and victoria peak
1 day - macau
1 day - tsim sha tsui and mongkok
1 day - central, causeway bay, wan chai
1 day - disneyland and lantau island (big buddha, ngong pin)

At first glance, it looked impractical and rushed, but at a second look, it does look somewhat plausible. Ocean Park and The Peak are at Admiralty and Central MTR respectively and The Peak is open till midnight, with the exception of Madam Tussauds (till 10pm) and Sky Terrace (till 11pm). If we leave Ocean Park at 6pm and reach The Peak at 8pm. We can visit Madam Tussauds Musuem for 1.5 to 2 hours and go up to Sky Terrace till 11pm and back to the Peak Tram.

Planning for a trip is never an easy feat, even with all the help you can get from the internet, as each family's needs are unique. Take for example the Ocean Park & The Peak Day, I may have planned it this way, but my parents and Coco and even myself may be too tired to go anywhere else after the Ocean Park.

I would like to try out the eating hotspots in Kowloon recommended by the forummers, but looking at the itinerary, we are practically out of Kowloon after the first day. I've calculated: if I extend the stay by one more day, I'll need to pay an extra $237for the hotel stay. I thought it is kinda worth it. Meanwhile, I'll wait for the reply from Disneyland to confirm the change of date of stay.

Talking about Disneyland, on hind sight, it seems quite impractical to book a hotel stay in there as it plucks us out from Kowloon and it is a hassle to travel back to Kowloon to have our dinner and back to Disneyland hotel for the night. The 'Character Dinner' at Disneyland cost a bomb. It works out to be about $74 per adult! I can almost foresee my thrifty parents stopping me from taking out my purse to make payment.

But staying in a Disneyland Hotel (not the Hollywood one) has always been something I have always wanted. I really want to experience for myself the luxury of zzzing in the land of wonder and my childhood much-loved characters. I want to scrutinise the beauty of the room decorated in Mickey Mouse theme, every nook and cranny. I imagine it will be a beauty to behold and the pictures will be something to cherish for a long time to come.

I'm not exactly a food person. I only like food that are cheap and good. It's only reasonable that food that are expensive are good. So most of the time, I'm not willing to spend on food. However, my father is a foodie. I really have to keep that in mind and be more willing to splurge on food this time.

As I've said, planning for a trip is never easy, even if it's for a simple trip to Hong Kong. The things to do, see, shop and eat are quite clear but still, to try to contain them within a short span of a few days is very challenging.

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Complaint will do

Recently, I had a run-in with a Japanese photo-imaging and product company.

I went to one of its shops at Causeway Point at basement to get my pictures printed. I wanted to print copies for my family, friends and colleagues as well and I ended up printing 210 copies of them.

It cost 35 cents per piece after you hit 31 pieces.

That comes up to $73.50.

When I was making payment for the pictures, I read this 'clause' at the counter, to the effect of 'No exchange or refund of merchandise', and I happen to see two sample prints - one was glossy and the other was matte.

I was curious and asked,"Why does this one (matte) look darker?" since my prints have always been uniform in their quality - what I see on camera is what I get on print.

The counter guy replied,"But it is sharper."

Oh, okay, I thought.

The next day when I picked up the photos, I was shocked as I looked through them at home.

Many of them have a heavy yellow tint on the subjects. My colleagues and family looked like they have yellow fever! And my darker-skinned colleagues looked unusually dark, with their eyes and mouths not visible to the naked eye!

I was very upset and didn't know what to do for a moment since the shop had clearly stated that no refund or exchange is possible - I now understand why. Then it struck me that I could lodge a complaint to the subsidiary company in Singapore. Even if I couldn't get a refund or reprint, it would be good to serve as feedback.

The response came promptly and promised to follow up on the case. However, one week passed and I still didn't get any satisfactory reply from the company. I emailed the company and told them that I would distribute the inferior pictures to my 'family, friends and colleagues' and let them judge for themselves the quality of the prints.

A reply email came prompt and good right after that, promising to give me a reprint at no extra charge.

So I went down to Causeway Point to another of its shop to get my pics reprinted.

I am glad to say that the prints are almost as good as, if not as good as, the digital imaging shop I have always preferred. And I realised that this shop offers a better price than the shop printing dark photos. I could have save about $11 printing the same number of photos at this shop!

When Coco knew about the run-in, she remarked,"Oh, so if you want to get something free, just complain and you will get it!"

(Tentative) Pre-trip thoughts

For some reason, my parents have called me and told me that they have no wish to travel.

I suspect it's because they don't want me to spend money on travelling.

In any case, I realised that the online travel agency Expedia.com does not allow Singapore usage, as it's only restricted to a few countries, and flights in March holidays are fully booked at travel agencies.

I have sourced for alternative flights in June. I hope my parents get to go somewhere at least once a year, although I must admit paying for 3 adults and 1 child is no mean feat for me.

I really don't want to disappoint Coco as I have already told her that we will go on a Hong Kong trip. Later as it may be, better late than never.

Shocking as it may sound, I haven't got a credit card to my name. I'm aversed to credit cards because of William's credit card debts, but recently, I realised that there are perks to having a credit card. One of them is the credit card promotions. However, I have problems applying for one because of the lapse in our reno loan. Although I'm making sure that the loan is systematically cleared on a monthly basis now, I believe the record of lapsing on the loan repayment has tainted my ability to pay off bills and that's why two banks I have applied a card for have rejected my application.

I hope to get a card this time round because of the citibank promotion at Disneyland, but I am not particularly optimistic about it. Let's wait and see.

Monday, 1 March 2010

Planning for a HK trip

I'm planning for a Free & Easy to Hong Kong in the March holidays. :)

I'm in the process of sourcing and asking the hotels for quotations and rates.

I don't know why I actually love F&E. It's a lot of hassle on my part to plan the itinerary and source for places to stay at, and places to go for sightseeing, shop and eat. Perhaps I feel that it is only through the planning that I will know about the country and by travelling on foot, on our own, that we'll know about the country's transport system, which is part of the country's culture.

If I go to a country, there's more satisfaction in planning my own trip, and finding the way about.

Like what a trainer at a workshop said,"You don't even need to bring your brain when you go on a packaged tour." I think that's what stuck in my mind.

Perhaps when I get tired of the planning, budgeting and scheduling, I'll opt for packaged tours.