[BALI revisited – June 2016]

More than 2 years after our last trip to Bali, we are finally back to the Isles of the Gods. This time around, with Po2 & Kong2, the girls were excited to show them all the sites and especially the novelty of the private villa – this time with 2 Bedrooms! They were beyond thrilled….

We ate and drank and swam and ate some more, here are some selected pix. It was as magical as ever!

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2 Bedroom villa at a very nice and very central villa [b villa seminyak]

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Highly recommend this for any Yoga enthusiast! V’s 1st time and he was sold!

The girls loved the pool! And the daily breakfasts that were cooked in the villa.

G looking so grownup!

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Walking around in HOT HOT Bali! And shopping!

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Brought the folks to new to us tapas restaurant – Barbacoa – it was as good as the reviews were! We loved it so much we went back again on the last day!

The food, presentation, and location was just superb! Next time will try to head back for dinner and have them Babi Guling! The meats are highly recommended. G & K loved the chicken and beef.

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With mum & dad around, we were able to sneak out to grab some quiet time and to check out some newly built interesting architecture / interiors

As the girls grow older, it is so nice to see them enjoying the same things, girly stuff, goofy stuff, angsty stuff😛

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Sharing a joke (usually at their parents expense!)

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Goofy girls

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Sketching before the food arrived

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Complaining about being in a temple (boring!)

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Learning from Grandpa

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Making (unfortunately B creative which the girls loved has closed down) this was a stumbled upon poor (and expensive!) substitute

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Charms and Beads galore! Got me hooked back onto macrame bracelet making….

Lastly, it was really nice to have a joint holiday with my parents. Hopefully it was as relaxing for them as it was for us!

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Biku for their yummy high tea sets (and G’s new discovery – the amazing water expandable face towels!)

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The ever obliging grandparents

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Learning Chess from Kong2

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The girls perfecting “grumpy cat” faces

Food and other random shots!

 

Adios Bali! We will be back again soon! Maybe to UBUD for a more crafty and perhaps less HOT holiday!

 

[G’s 11th bday]

Since I’ve always been the one to pen the birthday messages, I thought for her 1st year in her “teens”, Daddy can start his messages to her….. Here’s what he has to say:

Dear Grace

It has been 11 years since the day you arrived into this world, into our lives. I look back at the times we have spent together, times filled with joy, anguish, pride, exasperation and above all, reflection.

Joy is when I see you spare a thought about the people you love; your mum, your sister and myself, your grandparents, your friendships, in the hospital beside your sick granduncle. In my joy I see a deeply affectionate being, one who is incapable of not loving.

Anguish is when I feel the pain and sorrow for the things which didn’t work out for you; your constant squabbles with your sister, your impatience with mum, your defiance for authority, your succumbing to insolence. In my anguish I see a child who many a time cannot understand another point of view, yet one who is capable of saying sorry when it’s all over.

Pride is when I learn of the many things you have achieved; your ease of learning, your love for math, your determination towards the piano, your desire to read. In my pride I see a gifted you, one that is incapable of not enjoying.

Exasperation is when I think of your indifference to attitudes which we are bothered with; your self-absorbed laziness, the incessant inventing of silly terms of ‘non-endearment’, the boisterous behavior. In my exasperation I fear a looming teenage years brewing, yet always you remain capable of being true to the energetic free spirit that you are.

But above all, reflection is when you show me the ways I can be a better parent; giving you and your sister my impartial and undivided attention, seeing things from your point of view, recognizing your needs, being there for you always. A father that will be incapable of living without you.

You did have a rollercoaster of a birthday celebration. Thank you for giving me that too.

Happy 11th Birthday, G.

Love, Dad.

I teared reading the message from V to G. We have always tried to be consistent in our parenting to the girls, so it is without a doubt every bit of my emotion as well as V’s in the above message. Happy Birthday G from Mummy too! My contribution to this birthday post will be the accompanying photos that follow:

 

[CNY 2016]

It has been a REALLY long time since I last posted on the blog! So much has happened… and yet it seems like it’s just a blink of an eye since we just had CNY (Chinese New Year). Last year’s CNY was bittersweet, as I was scheduled for the operation to take our my Thyroid just the week after the celebrations (more on that later). I remember all the different emotions that coursed through, it was an emotionally charged CNY for sure, not just for me but for everyone in the family. This year’s CNY is hopefully a little more carefree and upbeat… here’s some precious photos that captured the mood (and to document our ever growing kids!):

This CNY also marked the 10th year of our car…. The girls (esp G) was inexplicably sad to give up trusty ‘beemer’, which have had it’s run as being the solid and dependable ride of choice ever since they can remember! Hopefully this new acquisition will prove to be every bit as worry free and robust as it’s predecessor.

Times have changed and we’re glad that they are still young enough to be cajoled into following us wherever we go. Even though CNY has lost it’s traditional appeal (was it even there?), it was a joy to see the growing cousins, whom unfortunately we don’t get to meet as often as we would like, and to partake in a collective fashion show!😛

It’s a bit late, but Happy Chinese New Year of the Monkey everyone!!

[oldies but goodies]

Dedicated to my girlfriends – in sickness and health, in joy and sadness, for rich and poor, for good and bad. Thank you for always being there. Here’s to our decades long friendship. ☺️



10 years ago….



M&G : super cute!



[G: HAPPY 10TH BIRTHDAY!!!!]

WOW! A Decade birthday!!! Our first born is in double – digits. Gosh, I still remember when all I wanted to do was snuggle into her little baby fats and watch her giggle and cuddle. We have been blessed with very affectionate children and even now, our little (or not so little!) tween still loves to cuddle up in bed and have bedtime stories read to her🙂

Here’s a 10 year roundup of G:

Newborn G!

Newborn G!

1 year old.

1 year old.

2 years old (and those big mischievous eyes)

2 years old (and those big mischievous eyes)

3 years old (our little miss sassy)

3 years old (our little miss sassy)

4 years old!

4 years old!

5 years old! And shooting up like a long bean!

5 years old! And shooting up like a long bean!

6 years old! Super tall and skinny at K2 :)

6 years old! Super tall and skinny at K2🙂

7 year old.... our Primary school journey begins

7 year old…. our Primary school journey begins

8 year old.... happy child!

8 year old…. happy child!

9 year old (losing all her baby features ... )

9 year old (losing all her baby features … )

Dearest G:

It’s an amazing journey that we have had so far, you and I. We are so similar in temperament, so similar in likes, dislikes. As I have always maintained, you are the best and the worst of me (magnified!!) and through you, I have learnt so much about myself! You have always been the sweetest little girl, albeit with a super fiery temper, and usually merciless words (which we are trying to curb!) We have gone through so many ups and downs in our journey of Mother and Daughter. From intense, inane conversations, to loud, often inconsequential battles, I always have so much to learn (and more!) about myself and you. You, at 10, have the most brilliant mind, capable of dissecting a music score into a computer game script (?) and lap up the increased workload with the most enthusiastic yearn of learning, and yet, can dissolve into an epic tantrum of crazy proportions, if only any little thing does not go your way. You, are so independent about everything, yet cherish the nightly cuddles and love nothing more than snuggling in bed to “talk”. You are a such a quirky contradiction, and that is why we love you so our little tween….. we hope you’ll enjoy your birthday!! Happy 10th Birthday sweetheart!

Love and Hugs, Mummy and Daddy

[Nagoya/Takayama : Day 06-09]

The Nagoya leg was more for some city activities – shopping predominantly! haha – and also to have a different experience for the trip. We booked a hotel in the Sakae district, supposedly the hip and happening location of Nagoya. It was also the quieter part of the trip (surprisingly – being a city and all!) but the time we were there contributed to the sleepiness of the city during the days we were in the city.

Bus ride from Takayama back to Nagoya.

Bus ride from Takayama back to Nagoya.

K ate a lot of onigiri. Her favorite - the tuna mayo flavor.

K ate a lot of onigiri. Her favorite – the tuna mayo flavor.

The hotel in which we were based for the 5 nights in Nagoya. Very reasonably priced, about 5 min from the nearest tube stop, it was a very new and spacious (by Japan standards) hotel, with it's own onsen and a breakfast buffet. The amazing thing was throughout the 5 days, we only met local Japanese tourist in our hotel!

The hotel in which we were based for the 5 nights in Nagoya. Very reasonably priced, about 5 min from the nearest tube stop, it was a very new and spacious (by Japan standards) hotel, with it’s own onsen and a breakfast buffet. The amazing thing was throughout the 5 days, we only met local Japanese tourist in our hotel!

We hit the shopping streets on the day arrived in Nagoya - 1st up - the Osu area. Wonderful candid shot that V caught of me and the girls trying to photobomb the picture!

We hit the shopping streets on the day arrived in Nagoya – 1st up – the Osu area. Wonderful candid shot that V caught of me and the girls trying to photobomb the picture!

One of the mornings, we visited the Nagoya Castle and it's surrounds. This day, the girls were super cute, playing on their "iphone" - fake plastic toy ones given as a kid's meal pack - they walked miles and miles for at least 2 hrs inventing games together.

One of the mornings, we visited the Nagoya Castle and it’s surrounds. This day, the girls were super cute, playing on their “iphone” – fake plastic toy ones given as a kid’s meal pack – they walked miles and miles for at least 2 hrs inventing games together.

Love the colours of the playground we discovered. K didn't want to play, content to just sit / stand on rocks and write in her journal.

Love the colours of the playground we discovered. K didn’t want to play, content to just sit / stand on rocks and write in her journal.

K took this photo of me

K took this photo of me

We had fun picking up leaves and sticking them into her journal

We had fun picking up leaves and sticking them into her journal

V caught this beautiful photo of the girls on the banks of the Nagoya Castle moat.

V caught this beautiful photo of the girls on the banks of the Nagoya Castle moat.

Nagoya castle

Nagoya castle

Playing with their pretend phones. Super cute!

Playing with their pretend phones. Super cute!

Information and Links:

Hotel : We stayed at the AB Hotel – they have hotels all over japan, I would definitely check them out again in the other cities!

Transport :

We took the Meitetsu Bus from Takayama back to Nagoya – the next trip I visit Takayama or anywhere in the Gifu / Mie district, the bus option is about half the price of the train option, so will definitely consider. And all buses are equipped with toilets, so it was perfect for those with young children.

We took the public underground within Nagoya. Prices vary between 200-240 yen per trip, if you are considering more places to visit in one day, the day pass is only 500 Y, so that is a very budget friendly option.

Train to Airport – we took the SKY train to the airport. Being quite close to the city (only around 45min), the sky train prices were very affordable – we splurged on the 1st class reserved seats, at approx 1500 Y pp (and children at half price).

Sites and Things we did in Nagoya:

It was a super unplanned leg of the trip! Mostly due to most of the places being shut in the days coming up to the New Year. But the girls enjoyed the places that we visited – very little complains of bored / tired / hungry etc. I suppose shopping with a daily budget helped keep them interested to spot the Happy Bags!🙂

Nagoya Castle | Osu Kannon Shrine and Shopping | Sakae Shopping (tokyu hands!) | Seto Pottery Walk | Atsuta Shrine Hatsumode

[Nagoya/Takayama : Day 02-05]

We broke this trip down to 2 main accomodation stretches : 4 nights in Takayama & 5 nights in Nagoya. Can’t say enough of the Onsen Hotel we stayed in – Takayama Ouen – marvellous breakfast buffet, lovely private onsens (they had a stone one, a brick one and a cypress one), so the whole family could onsen together. Of course, being nestled in the alpine valleys, the Takayama stretch was a great base to explore the neighboring towns and to also let the girls have their first taste of skiing.

Walking in the old streets of Takayama. We were trying to find the sweets shop we tried on the previous trip, but I think it might have closed down.....

Walking in the old streets of Takayama. We were trying to find the sweets shop we tried on the previous trip, but I think it might have closed down…..

Beautiful quiet Hida Folk Village. Due to heavy snowfall, the buses did not run in the morning, so it was after lunch that we managed to catch the bus for the 15min journey uphill to this lovely attraction.

Beautiful quiet Hida Folk Village. Due to heavy snowfall, the buses did not run in the morning, so it was after lunch that we managed to catch the bus for the 15min journey uphill to this lovely attraction.

More beautiful whiteness

More beautiful whiteness

Snow snow snow.....

Snow snow snow…..

Christmas portrait in Hida Folk Village. The little dollies we were holding are called "Sarubobo", little charms that ward off evil spirits. Girls were so enamored with them and insisted on buying quite a number!

Christmas portrait in Hida Folk Village. The little dollies we were holding are called “Sarubobo“, little charms that ward off evil spirits. Girls were so enamored with them and insisted on buying quite a number!

We passed by this Crepe stall on the way back to the hotel - usually by about 4.30pm, the skies are dark and we are looking for a place to have dinner!! haha.

We passed by this Crepe stall on the way back to the hotel – usually by about 4.30pm, the skies are dark and we are looking for a place to have dinner!! haha.

We tried skiing for the very 1st time. This is the super local, super busy ski slope of Honoki Daira. It was between this and another local ski slope, but our hotel reception recommended this for it's variety.

We tried skiing for the very 1st time. This is the super local, super busy ski slope of Honoki Daira. It was between this and another local ski slope, but our hotel reception recommended this for it’s variety.

We signed G up for a half day beginner's lesson. Lucky her the ski instructor spoke a little english, and it was only her and 1 other girl in the class, so it was almost a private class! :)

We signed G up for a half day beginner’s lesson. Lucky her the ski instructor spoke a little english, and it was only her and 1 other girl in the class, so it was almost a private class!🙂

G and her very pretty and young instructor!

G and her very pretty and young instructor!

Happy girl! She was so good at the skis.

Happy girl! She was so good at the skis.

Me in my new winter snow jacket - thanks V! :)

Me in my new winter snow jacket – thanks V!🙂

The little one decided she did not want to try ski school yet, so we spent the afternoon sledding down the baby slopes. And had lots of fun building a snow bear!

The little one decided she did not want to try ski school yet, so we spent the afternoon sledding down the baby slopes. And had lots of fun building a snow bear!

It was freezing cold! Us in front of the Teddy Bear Museum while G played with snow.

It was freezing cold! Us in front of the Teddy Bear Museum while G played with snow.

Such beautiful winterscapes. Missing it lots!

Such beautiful winterscapes. Missing it lots!

Information and links:

Transport :

To get from Takayama to Hida Folk Village, we took the Nouhi Bus – Sarobobo line – that leaves every hour (provided it does not snow!) The good thing was that this trip is covered under the Day Pass, so if you are in Takayama for more than 1 day, the 2 day City Pass is an excellent deal! On the 2nd day, we took the girls to the Takayama Eco Bear Village– it was quite touristy, but also fun for the girls. Very quiet, we had the whole place to ourselves!

To get to Honoki Daira, take the Nouhi Bus bound for Shin Hokata (for the Serious Skiiers, this has to be a wonderful destination!) and get off on the stop. It brings you to the doorstep of the ski resort, so it was perfect!

Hotel : We booked our hotel from the Japanican Website. This is the first time booking from that website, and I must say that it is an excellent booking website, with prompt replies for any questions (we asked about transport and travelling in the snow and they were very helpful!)

Skiing :

Most of my info on the Ski Schools are from HERE, HERE and HERE.

Skiing is an expensive holiday, so we wanted the girls to be sure of it before we tried an all out skiing holiday. G needs no further convincing but I think the little one might need a bit more encouragement before we embark on a 5 day ski holiday!

[goodbye 2014|hello 2015]

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It’s the last day of 2014!!
Hope everyone that’s reading this is enjoying their holidays… We certainly are! Looking forward to a brand new year, with lots of exciting new projects work wise, and for the kids – a brand new year in school (with lots of new stationery :))!

[Nagoya / Takayama: Day 01]

As with the usual custom, this is the time of the year that we ship the kids off to somewhere wintery, snowy and cooooold for that quintessential white christmas and new year. This year, we are back at the very first place that they encountered snowy landscapes, the winter wonderland that is Takayama.🙂

Booked the flight tickets through a travel promo at CAX, but it was quite a long day of travelling, due to the stopover in Hkg. The girls were also quite sad that they don’t do their kids pack anymore (well, at least not for the short haul flights)! Arrived at Nagoya, where we stayed in the cutest little hotel (very new and very recommended if it was just for a couple!) and left right after for Takayama. Our 1st full day was in Takayama, where the girls got gradually more and more excited as the train went higher and higher into the mountains. Luckily for us, the weather has turned sunny, and we were very relieved that the heavy snowfall that was just in the mountains a week ago has abated and public transport has returned to “almost” normal.

Selected Pix of the day (can’t make it upload in order!)

hint of sun

hint of sun

Fantastic cafe we stumbled upon in the old streets of Takayama (while looking for soba noodles)

Fantastic cafe we stumbled upon in the old streets of Takayama (while looking for soba noodles)

Organic Hida rice with farm veggies

Organic Hida rice with farm veggies

Set lunch. Girls didn't really like this

Set lunch. Girls didn’t really like this

Photobombed by G

Photobombed by G

On the train

On the train

Shot by K

Shot by K

Looking at the snow

Looking at the snow

Beautiful scenery on the train ride up

Beautiful scenery on the train ride up

K with her snow baby

K with her snow baby

Just before leaving Nagoya

Just before leaving Nagoya

Us and our bags!

Us and our bags!

The young and the old

The young and the old

Takayama!

Takayama!

Me and K selfie with her snow baby

Me and K selfie with her snow baby

[K’s 7th My Little Pony Birthday]

K is SEVEN! Wow, how time flies, she was this little chubby baby that drooled a lot, laughed a lot and cuddled with me a lot. She still cuddles, but she has shot up like a weed and is no longer chubby! In fact, she now has the dubious honour of being the skinniest in the family!
Dearest K, you are finally 7. I remember how you would look forward to your birthday with great anticipation, every year, and this year is no exception. Especially since you single-handedly planned, orchestrated, and hosted your birthday party! At 7, you have just started Primary School. You have taken it all in stride, loving the school routine, making friends easily and being super conscientious with your schoolwork. Reviews from the teachers and friends noted you as being very quiet and shy, but generally a very cheerful and helpful little girl. Little do they know the cheeky you, the one that sometimes makes silly little jokes and loves bopping around the house playacting with her toys. You are a precious little girl and we love you to bits! Happy birthday sweetheart, and may your year ahead be filled with lots of laughter and joy!

Party decor - we booked our condo's function room, it had a nice big wall where we pinned up homemade decorations and also the "pin the pinkie mark on the pony" game.

Party decor – we booked our condo’s function room, it had a nice big wall where we pinned up homemade decorations and also the “pin the pinkie mark on the pony” game.

Homemade pinata - K was especially delighted as we couldn't find a nice Rainbow Dash pinata anywhere.

Homemade pinata – K was especially delighted as we couldn’t find a nice Rainbow Dash pinata anywhere.

K planned all these little toppers, we selected the images from the web, I printed them out and she stuck them all herself with toothpicks all ready for the brownies :)

K planned all these little toppers, we selected the images from the web, I printed them out and she stuck them all herself with toothpicks all ready for the brownies🙂

Little 7 yr old so thrilled that her classmates all arrived to celebrate her birthday with her!

Little 7 yr old so thrilled that her classmates all arrived to celebrate her birthday with her!

Family pic

Family pic

Wonderful cake from Bengawan Solo

Wonderful cake from Bengawan Solo

Pinata Time!

Pinata Time!

With her friends

With her friends

This class is so affectionate, they hug each other all the time.

This class is so affectionate, they hug each other all the time.

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