Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Repeat After Me....It's All Gooooodd

I received some good news today. I finally got my new job grade, which of course translated into more money. Not much, just RM200 more but oklah. It didn’t come as a surprise to me; actually I had been waiting for it for over a year.

I know I should feel thankful, but for some reason I feel slightly bitter. When I got the news and confirmation letter, I had to listen to a lecture from a certain person, on how it was hard for him/her to fight for my new grade, how he/her had gotten in a argument with the CFO about it, how the CEO was pressuring him for rewarding staff who failed to deliver.

Failed to deliver??!! I beg your pardon!! You’re saying for the past 3 years, I’ve been sitting on my ass doing nothing? That I haven’t been heaving myself to numerous meetings, putting up with partners’ kerenah mak nenek, hauling myself to events, missing out on time with my family….macam-macamlah!!

Urghhhh. Seriously, if it wasn’t for this bloody ½ million bond on top of my head, I would just blow this joint. Having a boss from hell really dampers my mood at work. There are times I dread waking up, especially on Monday, knowing that I have to survive 5 long days until the weekend.

Because of this, I’ve decided to try and make my time at work more enjoyable. I’ve joined the aerobics classes, which is great coz it gives me an outlet to let off steam. I’ve signed up for the bowling tournament. I take my lunch time seriously and refuse to answer any phone calls while I’m eating.

Tomorrow’s Thursday. Just one more day until the weekend.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Langkawi Trip

Sigh. My blog has been abandoned for so long, I’ve lost the touch to write. I have many stories and pictures to share. My Bali trip Day 3 and 4 entries are half written but I’ve chosen not to continue coz details are a bit hazy. Maybe if I’m out of ideas, I’ll write more on my Bali trip and share some interesting facts about the place and the people.

Last week was a short one for me in the office. I took leave from Tuesday until Friday for our family much-postponed trip to Langkawi. We all spent Tuesday night at my parents’ place as we intended to leave for Kuala Perlis early the next day. We left home around 8.30am, a groundbreaking record as previous plans for “leaving early” for previous family trips meant “anytime before 12 noon.” This usually meant 11.59am.

The road trip up north took us around 6 hours. Fortunately the girls were complete angels, hardly complaining at all. Once we arrived at the Jetty, we parked our car at the covered parking lot. Charges were RM8 per day per car (we had 2 cars) so that added up to RM64. Our only concern was that we had to give our car keys to the attendant, which turned out to be untrue. We booked tickets (8 adults and 1 child; Dina got on for free) for the 3pm ferry so while waiting we negotiated with a Mr. Rosli for a rental car and an Island Hopping outing. We wanted a Toyota Estima or similar but all they had was a Serena, so we took that. Ayah negotiated the price to RM90 per day so we got a great deal. We decided to book the Island hopping at RM35 per person (regular price is RM45) and put down the time as “open”.

The ferry ride to Langkawi Island was extremely exciting for the girls. I feared that they might get seasick but they were thrilled by how fast the ferry was going and commented on every little thing they saw on the way.
We reached the island around 3.45pm and called the guy who was holding our MPV. We found out that the previous renter was still holding the Serena so we had to use their Mitsubishi Space Wagon. It was a tight fit coz everybody had their own bags, plus we brought Dina’s stroller and bottle carrier, but we managed to squeeze everybody and everything in. Luckily everybody in my family is quite slim, heheheehe.

It was a 20-minute drive from the jetty to our hostel. It had started to rain so while unloading all the bags, we all got a little wet. We were given the two units on the far end of the grounds so we had to make a dash across the volleyball court to get to them. The units were OK, but needed some maintenance. Paint was seen peeling off in some of the rooms, while in my unit, the dryer was not working. The hot water wasn’t working in Nisa’s room, or in my brothers’ room. However, the rent was cheap (RM660 for 2 units for 3 nights; each units had 2 rooms) so we didn’t complain much.

Since we had had a long journey, not much was done during the first night. We went out at around 8.30 for some dinner. After driving around, we decided to eat at a nice looking restaurant called Rasa.
BAD MISTAKE!! The food was terrible and overpriced. We ordered white rice with steamed fish, mixed tomyam, kangkung with fried belacan, lala cooked in soy sauce and chicken percik. The serving was supposed to be for 4 people but when it came, it looked enough for just one. My youngest brother alone devoured the chicken percik; it cost us RM15. Most of the lala dish was the empty shells; even those that had some flesh in them were minuscule. The tomyam was actually watered down ketchup, it was that bad. The fried mee we ordered was too salty and the drinks were too sweet. We ended up paying around RM140 for a very bad dinner. I just had to add in a picture of the place; you have been warned. If you eat here, be prepared to eat bad food for exorbitant prices!!

It rained slightly the following morning but by 9am, the rain had let up. We decided to go out for some breakfast before going for our Island hopping outing.
I called up the lady at the jetty (it was right behind our hostel) to let her know we were coming at around 10am. Fortunately we were a large group, so we didn’t have to share out boat with anyone else. Although Dania was excited by the boat ride, Dina was a little freaked out at first. The strong wind and the sound of the engine made her a little anxious but after a while she relaxed and started pointing to all the fishing boats we passed by.

Our first stop was at the Tasik Dayang Bunting (Lake of the Pregnant Maiden). Legend has it, the pregnant maiden used to be a princess from the heavens. On one of her trips to earth, she met and fell in love with a local fisherman. Because of their differences, their relationship was doomed a failure but somehow, the princess found herself pregnant with the fisherman’s child. The princess’s family forbade her to return to the heavens, so the princess had to stay on earth. The fisherman also married another woman so the princess was left heartbroken. As she lay down to weep, her body turned to stone and her tears formed the lake. Legend goes on to say, barren women who drink from the lake will become pregnant within a year or so.

We spent an hour or so at the lake, enjoying the sights and playing with the semilang fishes reared there. The fishes were so tame, if you put your feet in the water, they would come up and nibble your feet. It felt ticklish at first but after a while it felt like hundred of tiny suctions giving your feet a massage. Very nice!! Beware of the monkeys though, especially if you’re carrying plastic bags as the monkeys assume you have food on you. Dina was fascinated with the monkeys and tried to make friends with them. We had to hold her tight for fear the monkeys would accidentally bite her.

After that, we headed back to the boat. Our guide took us next to Pulau Singa (Lion Island). Of course, there weren’t any real lions but there were eagles. Hundreds of them. We watched them fly over us as our guide threw chicken skins in the air. It was a wonderful sight.

After spending 30 minutes just gazing at the eagles, we headed to Pulau Beras Basah. Loosely translated it means Island of the Wet Rice, whatever that might mean. Again, the name didn’t reveal much of what the island had to offer but the kids had a blast just playing and swimming in the ocean. Alang and hubby tried parasailing, pictures as below. It looked like fun but the cost was quite expensive (RM80 per person) that I decided to forgo my chance. Maybe next time.

After 4 hours of island hopping, we decided to head back to the hostel. Everyone felt rather sticky from the seawater so we all decided to freshen up before heading out for lunch. We had lunch in Kuah, the main town. After filling up, we walked around the town looking at the shops. We bought a few souvenirs and checked out the prices for chocolate. We shopped till we dropped (literally). Ibu was raring to shop some more but the rest of us had had enough. Ayah was ready to just sit on the sidewalk and wait for us to finish spending everything we had.

As luck would have it, our hostel experienced a blackout at around 10pm. Great!! It got rather hot and stuffy so we opened all the windows and doors, trying to get the sea breeze to cool us down. We got attacked by mosquitoes so it was a great relief when the electricity came back two hours later.

The next day, everyone woke up late. We headed out for brunch at around 11am. We headed back to Kuah then drove to the place where they had the cable car. We had to stop for directions twice (need better signage!!) and another time for the guys to perform Friday prayers.

When we arrived at Macincang Mountain, it has just stopped raining. Mist was surrounding the top of the mountain, giving it a mystical view. After buying tickets (RM15 for adults, RM10 for children 3 and above), we took 2 cable cars up. The ride took about 20 minutes but my mom’s maid felt like it took forever. Being terrified of heights, her knuckles were white by the time we reached the top of the mountain.

The view was astounding. The temperature was just cool enough to walk around without a jacket. Ayah even bought ice cream to enjoy while taking in the view. At the topmost place, the height was about 705 meters above sea level so you could see most of the bay and the surrounding islands. Beautiful pictures as below.

We headed next to Underwater World. We arrived at around 5pm and were told that the aquarium closes at 6pm. However we were assured that once we had tickets, we could spend as much time as we wanted to inside.
Ticket prices were a bit steep (RM28 per adult, RM18 for children 3 and above) but we had already put this as part of our itinerary so we decided to head on in.
It wasn’t a waste. Dania had a blast, often shouting “Ibu, look at what I found.”, while pointing at the many fishes and other aquatic animals exhibited there. The highlight was a giant tank housing large marine species such as sharks, stingrays, groupers and green turtles, with a 15-metre tunnel for visitors to walk through and enjoy a spectacular view of the exhibits. We took in a movie on whales and sharks at the 3D theatre, much to the kids delight. After taking tons of pictures, we left the aquarium at around 7pm. We had a late night dinner at one of the warongs nearby, thank god the food was delicious. We played cards until 1am and then retired for the night.

The day we headed back to KL, it rained heavily. We had decided to do some last minute shopping so everyone had to dash from the car to the shops to avoid getting wet. I bought a bunch of kitchenware, including that thing that has the bowl for soup in the middle and six smaller bowls around it. I have no idea what you call that. I bought one for my mother-in-law. Hehehehe, you gotta score points wherever necessary.

The ferry ride back to Kuala Perlis was chaotic coz we had to take the same trip as a tour company. I was counting the minutes until we reached the jetty. Once there, we called up the guys from the covered parking lot and hauled ass back home. We had dinner at the Sungai Juru R&R. We reached my parents’ home at around 12am. Poor ayah had a golf tournament the next day. I have no idea how he fared on the green.

All in all, our Langkawi trip was a great vacation. Despite a few hiccups, we all had fun and really enjoyed ourselves.

Next trip, Beijing?!! Ahhhh…where am I going to find the money for this?

Friday, June 09, 2006

International Islamic Fair at PWTC

I haven't much time to update anything coz I'm heading off to Ipoh for an event in Ipoh in like 30 minutes (God, I hate my job!!). Just a quick note on an event in PWTC this weekend.

International Islamic Fair adalah antara usaha pertama dan ulung dalam memartabatkan produk dan servis Islam melalaui pamerannya dan melalui konferens yang diadakan dengan tujuan untuk menyentuh isu-isu yang berlegar di kalangan umat Islam semasa dan juga konsert yang diadakan untuk tujuan amal mengumpul dana untuk membekalkan tafsir Al-Quran kepada hotel-hotel.

Namun begitu, tinggal beberapa hari lagi untuk program berlangsung, jualan tiket untuk konsert, konferens amatlah sedikit sekali. Tidak sampai 10% tiket yang telah terjual. Begitu juga dengan pameran percuma yang diadakan. Masih ramai belum tahu kewujudan IIF ini.

Dalam usaha untuk meyakinkan exhibitioner untuk membuka booth pameran, kami menjanjikan kehadiran lebih dari 50 000 - 70 000 akan hadir. Namun dalam keadaan begini, kami kurang yakin untuk mendapat 10 000 pengunjung pun.

Apa yang merisaukan kami, sekiranya program ini tidak mendapat sambutan, tidak ramai pihak yang berminat untuk menyertai program sebegini pada masa yang akan datang, sekaligus ruang untuk memasarkan produk dan servis Islam, serta platform untuk mengumpul dana dan konferensi untuk membincangkan isu isu Islam, tidak lagi dapat dijalankan.

Oleh itu, bantulah kami untuk menyebarkan maklumat mengenai program ini, sama ada melalui e-mail, yahoogroup, sms, bulletin frenster, blog dsbnya.

Tarikh : 9 - 11 Jun 2006 (Jumaat- Ahad)

Tempat : PWTC, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Masa : 10 pagi - 8 malam setiap hari.

Kemasukan : Pameran adalah percuma, konsert dan konferens adalah berbayar.

Jasa anda dalam menyebarkan maklumat hanya Allah yang mampu balasnya.

Untuk maklumat lanjut, sila hubungi Azmil di 012-226 7769.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

A Birthday Post for Dania - 4 Years Old

My Dearest Dania,

How time flies. Ibu just can’t believe that you’re four years old. How grown up you seem to me. It seemed just yesterday you were learning to walk, then learning to talk, then talking non-stop. What will you be like by your next birthday? Will you still love the Powerpuff Girls? Would you still be afraid of the dark? Will you still enjoy sitting on my lap as we watch cartoons or animal documentaries from Animal Planet? All your questions; Why did the monkey fall down? Why did the elephant cry? Why did the bird die?, all needed answers that made sense. In fact, I learned a lot from you too as I would sometimes listen to you explain stuff you saw on TV to me when I got home from work.

Your birthday party today was small but meaningful. Ibu apologizes for not being able to buy a Powerpuff Girl cake like I knew you would have liked, but you were excited enough seeing The Incredibles instead. To add more birthday cheer, we bought party; green for you coz that’s your favorite color and yellow for your sister, coz according to you, that’s her favorite color. The look on your face as you blew out the candles and as you cut the cake was as amazing as looking at the Grand Canyon for the first time. You awed me with your sincerely thankfulness for everything, eventhough it was just a small cake with four, small candles on top. You never seem to amaze me with your antics; sometimes being so hard to please, yet at times even the simplest things like seeing a little bird land on our porch would send you into an overexcited frenzy.

My Dearest Buttercup,
Can I mention again how much you’ve grown since last year? Your favorite TV shows are no longer Bob the Builder or Jojo’s Circus but Hi-5 because of the cute uncles shaking their booty to the songs. Hahahaha. You even love watching CSI with me, even though you always have 2,310,897 questions about the show.

You’re so independent now; it freaks me to think ahead to the time when you’ll no longer need my help. As a mother, I need you to need me, but I guess as time goes on, I'll have to adjust too and learn to let you go. Until then, I'll cherish having by you my side everyday.

You’re such a big girl now; so eager to help with “grown up” chores. Can I water the plants, Ibu? Can I help with the lawn, Wan? Can I play with the computer, Abah? Can I help sweep the floor, Kakak? But trying to get you to tidy up your toys is like trying to pull teeth from a raging bull. Torturous!!

My beautiful Flowergirl,

Thank you for providing me with so many wonderful memories. Thank you for all the hugs and kisses you’ve given me. Thank you for all the “I love you” and “I love you, too” whispers we give each other during bedtime. Thank you for all the back rubs and hair combing sessions, giving each other makeovers and putting on pretend fashion shows.

Most of all, thank you for being in my life and for being such a wonderful daughter. I hope for this birthday, all your fairy wishes come true.

You are, and will always be, my little princess.

Love, Ibu