Sunday, 27 March 2011

What we fight over

We have been fighting over who should look after Baby.

The current babysitter doesn't cut it. I want Baby to be away from her as soon as possible, but William is delaying it, because it's cheaper for him. Damn him!

I want my mother to look after Baby, but he wants his mother to look after Baby.

The reason I don't want his mother to come over to look after Baby is because I don't want the issue of house cleaning or Baby to create friction between us.

I remember how his mother didn't like me putting my bag on the dining table when I went to their place before we got married.

Just one bag and she was not happy already. I cannot imagine what she would say when she comes over - our house is messier than East Timor by her standard.

My mother was asking me to give in to him, to let his mother look after Baby. And she said this,"I don't want you to quarrel because of me."

I quipped,"Do you think we'd quarrel because of you?"

I pointed to the crumb of cake on the knife I was holding and told her,"We would quarrel over this ... and garbage."

We quarrel over everything, literally.

A chatfriend was just telling me that he did not want to create trouble for me, meaning he did not want himself to be the agent of quarrel between us.

I find it very laughable.

Everybody is saying the same thing, that they do not want to cause us to quarrel.

My take is this: if the relationship is unhealthy or rocky, the couple will quarrel over every damn thing. It has nothing to do with anybody else.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

A wish come true ... with a price to pay

I've been feeling extremely tired these few weeks.

I was even late for work three days in a row. Sometimes I woke up and sat by the edge of the bed and felt like not going to work, yet I knew I had to.

I am literally dragging my feet to work.

Some beginning comrades have asked how I managed to stay for so many years when they feel like throwing in the towel 6 months into the job.

I said it's the money. It pays the bills and supports my elder kid and me.

If not for the job and its pay, I don't know where we would be.

But recently, I feel that I am losing out on time spent with the kids.

They need my attention.

But I really don't have the time, or energy.

Like yesterday, I got home at 7pm. I had my quick dinner. Went through my elder kid's Chinese spelling with her, and by the time we reached Dictation, I was sprawled on the bed and was knocked out by 9.30pm, with Baby all naked beside me because she was pestering me to take her for a bath.

Yet I was late for work this morning. I dreamt that I was running late and woke up with a jolt! And true enough, I was late!

I am very tired.

Today, my First Boss shared that there was a position created for mothers who take no-pay leave. They could work on a relief basis, like I had hoped and enquired some months ago! I just felt as if it was a wish come true, and I wonder if this is God's way of telling me that there is a way out.

I won't get paid during the holidays. I will only get paid for the days that I work for. That will mean quite a few things: firstly, I won't get to go on trips naturally; secondly, finances will be tight.

But it also means a few good things: firstly, I won't be ranked during the appraisal; secondly, I won't need to be observed for my lesson; thirdly, I will have more time with my kids; fourthly, I will have time for my photography interest.

Sometimes I feel I am too old to let time pass me by.

Yet sometimes, it's precisely I'm too old that I wonder if I can afford to give up the stable pay.

Time for a decision again.

Monday, 21 March 2011

Baby's speaking much

I feel stressed over work, thus the explanation of why I am here at this hour.

Today, Baby was playing with some white playdough, standing between Coco and me at the dining table.

I was babbling together with her, saying and asking things that I can't remember now.

Suddenly, she asked,"Are you baby?" in a deliberately lowered voice.

I was shocked. I asked Coco,"Did she say that?" to which Coco promptly replied,"Yes, she said (I joined in at this point),'Are you baby?'"

And we laughed!

When I posted the question to Baby, she said,"No!"

She's such a cutie. She's starting to talk alot. Comprehensible stuff. Coherent sentences. Thanks to the one-week holiday that I could spend time with her.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Day 4: Damnoen Saduak Floating Market

If you want to go to Damnoen Saduak Floating Market, which is about 100 km from Bangkok, and is one of the 'main' floating markets, you must read this post.

Pay attention to the pictures.

Look for these signs:

1) If your cab driver charges you 1500 to 2000 baht for the journey to and fro the Floating Market, be on the alert.

2) If he takes you to this place (taken from the 'pier'), beware ... because you are about to be 'chopped'. You will see many other cabs parked at the place - a sure indication that other 'carrots' are already there.
3) You will see a boat-providing monopoly. The only one there, so you have no bargaining power.
4) You will see this loser ang-moh who resides in a comparatively less developed country than his native country and prowls around to cheat his own kind.
5) He will show you this 'floating market map' and tell you where the boat is going to ie. the Coconut Sugar Farm first, then the Floating Market. He tries to 'value-add' the expensive service by 'advising' you not to get out of the boat 'no matter what'.
6) This is the ultimate conman who issues the '1000 baht' ticket and shows you he is not going to bargain with you no matter what you say. He just backs down and keeps quiet until your companion eggs you to give in.
7) Within 4 or 5 steps to the boat, there will be another man collecting the bogus ticket from you so that you cannot bring the ticket out of the 'pier' as their incriminating evidence.

The 'carrot-chopping' boat

And so we began our journey

As part of the 'package', we got to see some dilapidated houses by the canal.

We paid 2000 baht for the boat ride, so we should 'eat' everything in the 'package'. Got Coconut Sugar Farm, so we just got down to see what there was.

Just some locals arranging the lumps of sugar

After being conned of 2000 baht, instead of the 300 baht per boat, we became extra careful. Before drinking the offered sugar drink, we checked that it was stated 'Free'.

Might as well take a picture on the pirate ship Things sold at the artificial architectural structure by the river
Finally, we saw an indication of a 'floating market', selling coconuts - we felt like one.
They sell drinks too
Hats ... we are about there
We reached the Floating Market

More coconuts - like the many tourists there, all ready to be 'chopped'
Damnoen Saduak Floating Market
At 11 - 11.30am, there were more tourists than locals or sellers

End of Floating Market. The sign was misleading.

We thought even their dogs look different from the ones in Singapore
We felt like these - coconut husks - chopped and done with.

Review on Damnoen Saduak Floating Market:

Unless you are travelling on your own there, I feel that it is not worth it taking a cab there, especially when it is past 9am. It appears that the Floating Market starts as early as 6 or 7am, so if you reach there past 10am, it is considered late. I heard that it closes at 1pm.

It was a last-minute decision to go to the Floating Market. The shopping in Bangkok was disappointing, so I thought I might as well have a dip in the local culture, but more disappointingly, as we found out, 'floating market' is no longer a genuine culture, but more to entice tourists or rather, to cater to tourists to earn their monies. Like I captioned above for some of the pictures, there were artificial structures set up just so that the locals could display goods by the river to sell to the tourists. I thought any other places could have that easily. Not just Thailand.

I had read that hotel staff in budget hotels could collaborate with cab drivers to bring tourists to expensive places to cheat their money. Like many unsuspecting tourists, I did not think we would be so unlucky. The hotel staff appeared really helpful. Although I told William I did not have a good feeling about the arrangement - the hotel staff volunteered to arrange for his friend's (Charlie) car to take us to the Floating Market for 800 baht (to and fro) - I went ahead with the arrangement despite multiple delays because it was the last day and I thought it would be such a shame not getting a whiff of the local flavour.

The driver was supposed to pick us up at 8.30am, but he came at 9.30am. I thought it suspicious when the hotel staff kept walking away from the counter and using his own handphone to call the driver. But by then, we did not have much choice unless we cancelled the trip.

The driver turned up in his own car and appeared to be a Chinese. He did not speak much except to tell us we would reach the destination in 10 minutes' time.

He stayed at the pier while we went on the boat ride.

I supposed he would have split the profit earned from us with the pier-owners in our absence.

Knowing that there is another pier with multiple boat companies, he brought us to this carrot-chopping pier, I feel the act was despicable and low-down.

If I were there alone, I would have walked away. I had done my research online and read that each boat ride cost 300 baht (per boat). A jump of 1700 baht (S$71) was too much. Unfortunately, my companion immediately remarked,"Your research is ALL WRONG! Look at his tickets. They are priced at 1000 baht. How can your research be right?"

Before I had more time to think, he continued,"Let's just pay them. We've come so far. You're not thinking of not taking the ride, are you?"
So paid we did.

Upon arriving at the actual pier where the Floating Market was, everything came together: we should have come to that pier instead. There were different boat companies there and that was where we could have bargained. It was later when we were having lunch at Nam Sing (Yaowarat) that I called up my tour guide to check with her on the rate to pay that I realised each motor boat should charge just 200 baht per pax.

We hopped on another cab to return to our hotel. The driver saw us and knocked on the car window. We ignored him. When we reached the hotel, I confronted the hotel staff and told him I could not pay him more. He nodded his head and said,"Okay okay ..."

The more exasperating thing was: the hotel staff pretended to be ignorant. He said he only arranged for the transport and he knew nothing about the boat ride. When I told him what my tour guide told me, he asked me if I have instructed the driver on which pier to go. How idiotic of him to feign ignorance still!

If you do not mind going to the Floating Market yourself, instead of subjecting yourself to the cheating drivers and hotel staff, try these directions I got from online:

How to get there:
1) From Khao San Road, take Bus 124 at Phra Athit TAT or Bus 78 to Sai Tai(Southern Bus Station).
2) When in Sai Tai, buy bus ticket at window 2, Airbus single trip 72B(Bus 996, 78),non-air bus 41B(different selling spots).
3) Boat hiring
When arrived at District Centre Bus Station, You can hire a boat (1 hr 300B/boat, can seat 6~8 people, need bargain) or walk to the floating market. There are two other floating markets -Khlong Hia Kui and Khlong Khun - that are only accessible by hired boat.

Day 3: Spring & Summer Restaurant

I read about this beautiful restaurant: Spring & Summer Restaurant and told myself I must go.

The restaurant belongs to a Thai actor, Phol Tantasanthien. It was first opened in mid 2004 and serves fusion food.

I made an email reservation just before I left for the airport. I wanted to book a table at Spring Dining Room at 7pm for the main course and change to Winter Bar or Lawn at 8.30pm for the dessert. I figured Baby would love to run on the grass.

It was as beautiful as I had read. A bungalow made of glass.

Summer section

Before I could take any picture at Spring, Baby was grouchy and needed to sleep. I requested to shift to Summer for the couch there, and the staff obliged.

The chandelier was equally beautiful. It was the perfect place for a romantic date.

Grilled lemongrass chicken skewers with tamarind sauce
Mushroom and chicken samosa
Grilled snowfish. Yummy!

Chocolate Crepe Cake

Chocolate pudding

C Cup Malt

Review on Spring & Summer Restaurant:

The architecture is breathtaking. The service is good. The staff speak comparatively comprehensible English. I could communicate with them in broken English ('What food is good? No spicy'). The ambience is unbeatably romantic. But the food does not match the ambience. The food is passable at most. In fact, we found the samosa awful. The mushroom taste was too strong. The leaf-wrapped chicken was ordinary, as plain as it got. The only thing that was good was the snowfish (codfish), but even then, the fish itself is great no matter how you cook it as long as it is not stale.

Spring and Summer sections are for main courses although Summer was meant to be a place for lounging out with chocolates, cakes and truffles (and that's why the brown and earthy tones), while Winter has a different menu from the other two areas. It serves desserts.

We had our main dishes at Summer. After that, we asked to transfer to Winter for the dessert.

Baby loved the giant beanbags at the lawn. She threw herself down into the beanbags over and over again. She went over to this beanbag to jump on it, then climbed and crawled over to another beanbag to lie down on it. She had loads of fun with the beanbags! It was a beautiful concept - having beanbags around a wooden squarish table, with a dim tealight as the ambient light. Very loungy and relaxing feel! For the ambience, we did not feel like leaving.

Alas, the dessert was too sweet. I liked the crepe cake, but still, just like too many cooks spoil the broth, there was too much sweetness to bear. There was a sponge cake in my C Cup Malt. It was so sweet my tooth hurt!

We could not finish the dessert at the Winter area for the simple reason that it was too sweet.

The bill came up to 1800+ baht - the most expensive restaurant out of the few we went to.

It was a good experience nonetheless. Sigh ...

Spring & Summer
199 Sukhumvit Soi 49 (Promsri), Sukhumvit Road
Klongton Nua, Wattana, Bangkok

Spring Dining Room: 11.30am - 2.30pm, 6pm – 11pm
Winter Lawn: 7pm - midnight
Summer Chocolate House: 12am – midnight (??) - as shown on the website

Spring Tel: (66) 2 392 2747-8; Summer Tel: (66) 2 392 2757
Email for reservation:

Nearest BTS: Phrom Phong (but it is not within walking distance)
Direction: Taking the BTS/Train is not recommended. Download the Thai map and show it to the cab driver.