Saturday, May 28, 2011

An Eulogy to Ko Tiu Lau Wu

"The angels are always near to those who are grieving, to whisper to them that their loved ones are safe in the hand of God."

 ~ Quoted in The Angels' Little Instruction Book by Eileen Elias Freeman, 1994 ~ 
This is indeed a very gloomy Saturday. After learning the news of my uncle's passing yesterday evening, I was so devastated and apprehensive. I could not sleep well last night thinking about my late uncle and the family that he left behind. I am gravely sorry for my Third Auntie, cousins and baby Jennifer back home for my uncle's demise.

Heartbreaking and tearful: My Uncle's death declaration letter from the Doctor

All of sudden, my mind is so full of the flashbacks of my Uncle's life. His face, his patience, his voice when he answered the phone, the way he walked, the memory of him visiting my house to borrow my Dad's motorbike and the last one was the moment when he talked to my husband and me on my husband's first visit to Indonesia. That was the very last time we both saw him was still able to walk and talk although his body and mind's condition had already deteriorating. He was a good man, father, husband, grandfather and friend; known best for his patience, and will be reminisced as so.

We were not so close due to his reserved and quiet dispositions. He hardly attended family events either, hence I do not really have a photo of him. Notwithstanding, I still feel so regretful of his departure. I am remorseful for the fact that I didn't really pay him a visit when he was lying in his bed during my frequent visits to his house. My auntie always told me that he was already asleep so I thought of not bothering him. I should have, at least, just checked him out personally.

Like everyone else does, I have a slight disappointment of his sudden passing yesterday. After being treated in the hospital for about a week, my Uncle got better and my Auntie finally brought him home at about 11am yesterday. No one ever thought that she brought him home just for him to go forever in the very evening. Just after taking in two spoons of his last meal, he drew his last breath surrounded by his loved ones at his beloved place.

Indeed, man proposes, God disposes.

I had a chance to speak to my Auntie this morning to give my sympathies and after our conversation, I felt a little bit of consolation to understand that she is now coping with her loss all right. She had let him go. My cousin who is still sailing around the world will be flying back to Indonesia from Boston to see his Dad for the last time. I do hope he reaches home safe and sound on next Monday. My heart breaks whenever I imagine him coming home just to find his lifeless father at the funeral home.

Sometimes I hate being so far away from my family. I cannot always be physically there for them, primarily when sorry things happen.

My deepest, heartfelt condolences go to my Auntie, cousins and Baby Jennifer back home.

RIP Ko Tiu Lau Wu.
"For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten. Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun."   
~Ecclesiastes 9: 5-6 ~

Double Date Dinner at Cafe Bunga Bali, Malang

During my holiday, my husband and I had the chance to casually meet up with the newlyweds/best friends, Astrid and Michael, sometime after their wedding celebration. I was literally jubilant to see and have some good chat again with my BFF, Astrid, after the last time I saw her last year. Initially, we headed to a steak restaurant in MX Malang Square, but after some considerations, we chose to leave the place.

Astrid and Michael decided to take both of us to their favorite restaurant in Malang instead, Cafe Bunga Bali. It's an upscale, classic and romantic restaurant in Malang that serves western cuisines. Their food is really worth the price and the restaurant's ambiance is really suitable for a romantic dinner, thanks to the live music too. I recall that once upon a time I had my debut visit to this restaurant, say like 10 years ago, to celebrate a friend's sweet 17th birthday party. It was really long time ago. Pathetic, isn't it? I am technically a Malang resident, was born and grew up there, but don't really know much about the good food there other than the food from regular dining places that my family has been enjoying for years.

A glass of succulent Strawberry Milk Shake: Sinful but heavenly.

Nice painting, eh?

Both Astrid and Michael introduced Cafe Bunga Bali's Rösti to me, their favorite dish. They were right, it was scrumptious. Too bad I can't remember this dish's exact name by now but the Rösti was served with spinach, cheese and shrimps. My husband opted to try their beef lasagna. The food was really good and I'll definitely come back for that one again next time.

My Spinach and Shrimp Rösti: Delish.

The double date memorabilia.

Gee, we talked and talked and talked during the dinner. We were, as if, updating each other with summaries of our one-year lives over a two-hour dinner. It was a really nice catch up though and we should do it more, especially Astrid and me (just like our crazy university years). 

Hey, Astrid and Mike, thanks for the dinner treat! The dinner was really good and you both were really kind to us. Hope to see you both dropping by to Malaysia soon, We'd love to take you around and introduce you some good local food too here.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Getting Ready for the Wedding Day in Indonesia: Two Months to Go from the D-Day

When I went home to my hometown earlier this month, I was determined to settle my wedding preparations as much as I could. With my parents' constant assistance, my husband and I tried to tie some loose ends with several wedding vendors so the next time we fly to Indonesia, which is for the Wedding Day itself, everything are pretty much under controlled. We rely so much on my parents to get all the things done.

Step 17. Collecting and Double Checking the Wedding Invitation Cards 

A glimpse of my wedding invitation card.

Before I came home, my Dad has sort of rushed the wedding invitation card supplier to finish the cards ASAP as I needed to bring some of the cards back to Malaysia. Thanks to my Dad, few days after my arrival to Malang, my invitation cards were ready for collection and we picked them up. When we collect the cards from the supplier, it is best if we double check the final products first before carrying them home and also confirm whether other additional cards that might be needed for the wedding day itself are already packed. These additional cards can be in the form of a simple map of the wedding venue, tea ceremony invitation cards for the family, pass gate cards to prevents uninvited people having some free-dining experience at our wedding celebration and thank you cards for the souvenirs. Generally, all these additional cards would be given to us without additional charge.

Next to-do-list:
  • Collect the prearranged additional cards from the printer
  • Finalize the guest list, make sure all the guest information is correct and insert additional cards into the wedding invitation card accordingly
  • Distribute the wedding invitation cards (usually 2-3 weeks before the actual wedding day)
    Step 18. Dress Fitting, Make-Up and Hair-Do Testings with the Bridal House

    As per initially arranged, I came back to the bridal house with my high-heel shoes to do the wedding dress fitting again. It is important to bring the shoes that are sure going to be worn on the wedding day during this dress fitting session thus the bridal house can do the necessary alterations with the dress, which hopefully would be the final one.

    Choosing the color of my eye shadow for the wedding day.

    I also utilized this opportunity to do the make up and hair do testings. For bride's make-up, the most important thing is actually in the eye's part. The make-up artist put two different colors of eye shadow on my eyes and asked me to choose which color I prefer for the wedding day.

    Doing the Wedding Hairstyle Testing.

    The appointed hairdresser also did the hair-do testing on me to confirm on the hair style that I want to have on my wedding day. I was also made to choose few hair accessories that suited my preference, chosen wedding hair style and dress. During this time, it is important to give feedbacks and share our vision of the bride's look to both make-up artist and hair dresser. The whole ordeals at the bridal house can easily consume 3-4 hours. Therefore, it's good to prepare our partner or whoever accompanying us to the bridal house to bring some entertainment tools like comic books, PSP, etc. Also, it is best to take photos of the color of the eye-shadow and hair-do that we have chosen since chances are the make-up artist and hair-dresser would forget the details that we have selected a month or few weeks before our D-Day.

    Next to-do-list:

    • Maintain my body weight so my wedding dress would fit just nice like the last time I fitted it

    Step 19. Preparing the VIP guest and Family-in-Charge list for the Wedding

    In Chinese custom weddings, Tea Ceremony is one of the significant parts of the wedding celebration. Both bride and groom are expected to serve tea to some elderly members in the family as an official introduction of the new family member and a sign of respect. To ensure that this ceremony runs smoothly and in order, we have to create a list of family members' names to be invited for this tea ceremony and pass this list to the Wedding Organizer. On the D-Day, this Wedding Organizer will make sure that all the invited family members come earlier for the Tea Ceremony and call their names in an orderly manner as per stated in the name list during the session.

    Other lists that we need to share with the Wedding Organizer are usually the names of the family members to be seated in the VIP table with the bride and groom (20 names), names of family member who is in charge to greet the guests before the wedding celebration starts (2 couples), names of the persons who will stand by the reception table (numbers vary in accordance to the size of the wedding celebration), name of the family member who will be the contact person of the Wedding Organizer during the Wedding day (1 name), name of the person who will be involved during the Tea Ceremony (1 name) and names of the guests who will be called for the photo session with the bride and groom at the event. It's important to be in touch with all the family members that we plan to involve at our wedding proceedings before we assign their names to any particular task. Make sure they are available and willing to do the roles.

    Step 20. Proofreading the Wedding Itinerary from the Wedding Organizer

    When I passed the required name lists to the wedding organizer, I actually went to their office directly to give the list, discuss all the pending issues and check on our wedding preparation progress so far. After I passed them the name lists, few days later, the wedding organizer sent me my wedding itinerary to give me some insights on the wedding celebration's proceedings. At this point, my tasks were to double check and inform the Wedding Organizer on any typos, orders of the proceedings, time table, vendors involved and so on, before they finalize the itinerary and distribute it to the related parties.

    Next to-do-list:
    • Attend the technical meeting with the Wedding Organizers, both sides' parents and all wedding vendors on the set time few days before the actual Wedding Day.
    • Finalize the seating arrangements for the guests, especially for the family members
    • Bring the original DVD containing the pre-wedding photos for display at the wedding (although I've submitted the DVD copy for the wedding organizer)

    Step 21. Getting Back in Touch with Other Wedding Vendors

    Just to make sure that everything is in order, it's advisable that we get in touch with all the wedding vendors once in a while. My parents, husband and I purposely made an arrangement to meet the sales manager of our wedding venue again to ensure that everything was okay i.e. guest rooms are booked, catering is settled, wedding time is fixed, venue for tea ceremony is confirmed, etc. 

    Furthermore, few weeks back, I often had this weird feeling over one of my wedding vendors. I just felt worry and uneasy all the time about his preparation. I decided to give him a quick call and during our conversation, I discovered that there were some logistics issues that I was not made aware beforehand and they would incur me additional costs. I was not happy with that news and decided to end the working relationship with him on that very day. In only two months time before my wedding day, I had to vigorously seek another vendor to replace him and fortunately, I got one! If this case happens, do not hesitate to fight for the down-payment money refund, especially when there is no prior black-and-white agreement on the job and payment terms. 

    There was drama, indeed, during this preparation but I guess it happens and could not be helped. All we need to do is to focus and think forward on how to get all the things done and in order. It's our wedding anyway and we don't want anyone to mess it up.

    Two months to go and this wedding is getting on my nerves. Nonetheless, I'm still enjoying the ride in preparing my wedding as it only happens once in a lifetime.

    Checking Out the Batu Secret Zoo, Malang

    I have never been so enthusiastic in checking out animals before recently. I thought I had known them all from books, Animal Planet or Discovery Channel hence never found any interest or the need to check them out live. I don't know why these days I am so fated meeting with animals both in the wildlife and within the enclosures. In about two years time, I've visited Taman Rama-Rama in Malacca, Kinabatangan River, Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary and Orang Utan Rehabilitation Center in Sandakan - Sabah, Ostrich Farm in Seremban, Sentosa's Underwater World and Jurong Bird Park in Singapore, Museum Satwa and Batu Secret Zoo in Jatim Park II Indonesia.

    Anyway, turned out that going to a zoo or something like that is actually a not too bad outdoor activity. I could better appreciate the animal's existence on this planet earth and definitely learn more about the great animal kingdom.

    The Batu Secret Zoo.

    When I visited Jatim Park II with my husband and friends earlier this month, part of the entrance ticket bundle was to visit Batu Secret Zoo. Few days earlier, my brother had already recommended me to see the animal collections displayed at Batu Secret Zoo as they are quite unusual compared to those at the normal zoos in Indonesia. Most of the part of this zoo are open concept so we had to use our umbrellas almost all the time when checking out the animals as that Sunday afternoon was still pouring hard.

    True enough, when we first stepped in the Zoo, we were greeted by two large semi-aquatic rodents which we never saw before.

    The comparison of normal rat vs. Nutria, the giant rat.

    So big.

    Moving on, we saw a huge collections of New World Monkeys, from the cute little ones to the super noisy one.

    Common Marmoset from Brazil.

    Golden-Headed Lion Tamarin from Brazil.

    Then, we were shocked to witness the Flying Lemurs in their "Office".

    Ring-Tailed Lemurs from Madagascar.

    The area called Batu Secret Zoo A has various animal collections like birds, mammals and other primates confined in open areas.

    Albino Kangaroos: No need to go so far to Australia to see them.

    Below is one of the random quiz boards planted all over the zoo.

    Guess, whose eyes are these? Not as easy as we thought.

    And then we checked out the Aquarium. Again, we took a lot of photos of the fishes but I can't upload them all.

    The frogs.

    Petting the Binturong or Bear-cat.

    The Polka Dot Stingray.

    The Sea Turtle.

    In front of the Fantasy Land, a theme park for children, we can also ride a horse (Kuda Tunggang) at only Rp. 10,000 (about SGD 2) per ride. Both adults and children can ride the horses.

    First time riding a horse: My Husband was obviously bigger than the horse.

    We also checked out the Tiger Land, a home of various tigers and lions.

    The Eurasian Lynx. Handsome?


    The White Lion.

    Taking photo with the Baby Tiger.

    At this Zoo, there are a lot of cute real animal and animal cartoon statues to pose with. In the below photos, my husband voluntarily modeled with the statues for me.

    Acting with the Shark at the Aquarium.

    Acting with King Kong at the Fantasy Land. 

    Again, acting with Tiger at the Tiger Land. 

    This place is really huge. We better come a little bit early to see all the the animals and enjoy the provided facilities. This zoological park is clean, fun, very beautifully organized and educative so bring children along when visiting this place. It should be more fun with them around.

    Wednesday, May 25, 2011

    Checking out the Museum Satwa, Jatim Park II

    Museum Satwa (Animal Museum) is a new recreation center located in Batu, East Java - about 1 hour drive away from my hometown, Malang. As part of Jatim Park II, together with the Batu Secret Zoo, this place is kind of iconic for tourism spot in Malang area.

    During my holiday, I had a couple of close friends, Lukas and Ayrin, visiting Malang thus on one Sunday morning, four of us took the chance to visit the much-buzzed Jatim Park II. After getting lost in Batu for quite some time and stopping by many times to ask directions of Jatim Park II from the local people in Batu, finally we reached our destination. On weekends, the entrance ticket for both Museum Satwa and Batu Secret Zoo is priced at Rp. 50,000,- (about S$ 7) per pax. Not that pricey, right?

    The ticket counter at Jatim Park II.

    From outside, complete with those white tall pillars, the museum building looks so majestic and resembles the American Museum of Natural History. Shame, we didn't take photo with the museum building since that Sunday as the sky was pouring hard like mad for hours. Museum Satwa hosts preserved animals and replicas of animal kingdom from various continents, including the prehistoric animal skeleton replicas. The preserved animals are kept in dioramas. Each diorama gives the glimpse of the original habitat of some particular preserved animals.

    My husband and I took tons of photos of the animals and us with the animals. I had a hard time filtering the photos and deciding which ones to post in this blog. I managed to make up my mind and here are some of them:

    Husband posing with the collection of various Australian birds.

     Replica of Stegosaurus' skeleton.

    The preserved Ostriches and me.

     This is not a painting. 
    This is a preserved moose with a forest painting as the backdrop.
     Preserved beavers with their dams. 

     Can't remember the name of these animals.

    The Insectarium: Preserved butterflies.

    A really pretty preserved butterfly that caught my attention.

    A preserved reptile from Australia.

    One of the preserved aquatic animal collections: Arapaima Gigas.
    Creepy: Don't you think the face looks like a ghost? 

     Me and the Komodo Dragon: Never been this close.

    Arctic Collections: The Polar Bears.

    Seen X-Men before? This is the real-life Wolverine.
    Some information about this museum that I read from their official website: This museum was built by Lembaga Konservasi Ex-Situ Satwa Liar. Therefore, all the preserved animals available in this museum are not from animals which were purposely hunted then killed for the displays. Instead, this museum preserves the already dead animals.

    All in all, I thought visiting animal museum would be generally boring but my prejudiced perspective was wrong. This museum is presented in modern, organized, educative and recreational manners. I was kind of impressed and proud with the fact that my hometown hosts this international-scale museum. Old and young can have fun whilst enriching their knowledge about the glorious animal kingdom.

    No wonder this place is always packed with visitors.

    Monday, May 23, 2011

    Baby Jennifer at 2.4 Years Old

    One of the things that I really looked forward to do when going back to my hometown was to see my niece, Jennifer. Baby Jennifer is now two years and four months old. Not that small anymore but still utterly cute, smart and sweet. Everybody loves her.

    May 4th, 2011: Baby Jen when she followed my parents to Surabaya to picked me up from the airport.

    It's been two days since I last saw her on last Saturday morning and I think I am lovesick with her. For the past two weeks, I was so used to see her around whenever I opened my eyes in the morning, hear her funny babbling all day long and have her run around in parents' house everyday, for almost 8 hours a day. It's just so weird to be away from her and don't witness all these little things anymore.

    Now that I terribly miss her, there is nothing more interesting stuff for me to do than blogging about my little niece back home.

    May 11th, 2011: Throwing that sweet smile in my Mom's garden.

    Doing the routine: Morning gardening with my Mom.

    See that cheek. Chubby or what?

    Busy body in the garden.

    May 14th, 2011: Jen and my Dad.

    May 17th, 2011: Jen and her Dora hair style.

     May 18th, 2011: Can't stop munching meringue.

    May 21st, 2011: Bidding farewell with Baby Jen before I left Malang.

    Anyway, here are some developments on Baby Jennifer at 2.4 years old that I noticed. Some people, including myself, don't believe that she is not even 2.5 years old by now. She has grown up so much.
    • She is a little too fat for a baby at her age but she's too cute. She currently weighs around 16-17kg!
    • She is very active and sweats a lot
    • She knows a lot of vocabularies, is super chatty and occasionally loves talking on the phone.
    • She has very good appetite especially on sweets, cakes and cookies
    • She loves gardening, especially the 'pulling out the grass' activity
    • She shows interest in books
    • She quickly gets bored with toys
    • She loves watching and listening to Mandarin karaoke DVDs and plays one particular song that she likes the most over and over again
    • She doesn't really watch cartoons
    • She loves sweeping the floor or playing with the broom, at least
    • She does her eye shadow, lipstick and blush her cheeks on her own with my Mom's cosmetics everyday. She loves putting make up on and being pretty! 
    • She is obsessed with wedding stuff, especially the bride
    • She is very photogenic
    • She is still glued to my parents like my parents' tail
    • She starts to scream a lot recently, especially when we don't give her what she wishes
    • She hates noisy places
    • She fears doctors to the max and always associates doctors with syringe
    • She still cries whenever she notices nobody is in the room when she wakes up
    • She is a really quiet and well-behaved baby when we take her travel around the town or out of town by car
    • She has a really good memory and is able to mimic lots of the habits of the adults surround her
    • She can't wait to go to school
    I miss her a lot and can not wait to see her again this July!