Monday, December 31, 2007

7 Wonderful 2007

Even at the tail's end of Year 2007, the unfortunate events still take place throughout the world.

From the cowardice assassination of one V.I.P soul in Pakistan, to the death from mud slides of dozens of poor souls in Indonesia, this year pretty much like the previous years before... with a shocking bang!

Believe me, no pun intended.

Beautiful things happened too and I am very thankful for. Of the many good things that have happened, the 7 most are the personal highlights of my life this year:
  1. My Son, the straight "A" student.

  2. My Mom gets her clear vision, even better than mine.

  3. My Dad gets a clean bill of health.

  4. My Family and our bond.

  5. My Home and the serenity it contains.

  6. My iMac and all its glory in one white flat-pack.

  7. My Job, all chaos and security it offers.
I thank The Almighty for keeping the peace within me and my surroundings, within my family and friends, within my life because I am passionate about life.

Hope you all are doing fine too. A blessed 2008 everyone!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

A Perfect Shoe-in

Kallang Leisure Park

The year is going to an end soon.

Oops! No, I do not mean Armageddon. No power to know the future. What I mean is the count-down of year 2007.

With the new year commencing, so will our Son in his Secondary One when schools re-open on 2nd January 2008.

Nike, Just Did It...

We purchased his school uniforms and books last week, now for his white school shoes. Since he is all grown-up and that Dunman Secondary School allows white sneakers to be worn from the common white canvas school shoes, he wishes for sneakers instead, Nike to be exact.

Well, all is good with his request, since sneakers are lasting and need no white-washing every week, hope this favourite shoe brand of mine will benefit him as well when it comes to using it for sports.

I know I got my edge with my army IPPT - Individual Physical Proficiency Test from a good pair of Nike running shoes. The shoes pay for itself and over again year after year when I get monetary awards for the test each year.

So, yes, I am for the Nike sports shoes... it only has to be totally white. We went to several stores around Singapore, lead by the many sale adverts in Saturday's The Straits Times newspaper.

The car-park sale at Ubi Crescent in Ubi Techpark was disappointing for our Son, but was great for Wifey and me, for we bought ourselves a pair of great looking biking shoes for S$10.00 a pair instead.

Once we realigned our focus to buy our Son his school shoes, we left for Kallang Leisure Park for "up to 80% knock-down prices" for branded shoes at Sportlink which was next on our list from the cut-out adverts Wifey brought along.

We found the only totally white sneakers from Nike that our Son likes at S$49.90, down from S$129.00 originally. Not an 80% discount as hoped, but that should do. We bought another from Cambridge, a brand unfamiliar to me, but he likes the feel when he tried them on, that's important.

My Family Cycles...

As envisioned, to start another of our family activity together, we set out to get each of us bicycles for your weekend family time outdoors.

The S$55.00 mountain bikes at Carrefour in Suntec City that we looked at and decided to buy the next day were already sold-out when Wifey inquired over the phone.

So our next choice was the S$69.00 at Giant Hypermart in Tampines.

It was great that they were selling their new arrivals for S$58.00 each, but the ones that caught our attention were the S$79.00 Aleoca AB2618-CT Catania 26 Inch. I got the metallic orange while our Son wanted his in metallic blue.

Wifey settled for a dark green Aleoca AB2618-JD Contatto 24 Inch for S$69.00.

The delivery will be on Monday, 31st December between 3:00 and 8:00PM. Upon which, we will celebrate the new year with an outing - cycling!

Maybe start in the morning and ride to our Son's new school to scout and chart the route just in case if he chooses to ride his bike to school over taking the bus.

There are so many places around our vicinity to roam about - Bedok Reservoir, Sun Plaza Park and maybe the dirk track off Tampines Avenue 9 later. We will ride farther when everyone has trained enough with stamina.

Like I said before, I cannot predict the future, but I know that we are going to have lots of family outings together with these bikes.

There are just so many places to explore, so many photo opportunities, so much family time together that will get this old heart pumping with excitement again.

This should be a great start to 2008!

Friday, December 28, 2007

My 8 Wanders

I have been tagged... well should be considered tagged by Carol from A Revision and then Ellen from Coffee Granules of the 8 things that should reveal more of me. Yikes!
  • 8 things that I am passionate about
  • 8 things before I pass away
  • 8 things I always say
  • 8 books I've read
  • 8 songs on my iPod
  • 8 things that makes me attractive to my friends
  • 8 people who should do this...
It is interesting to read of others' itemized stuff and learn more about them, but I was struggling to chart-up mine. Anyway, being as honest as possible, here goes...

8 things that I am passionate about:
  1. Wifey & Son
  2. Mom & Dad
  3. Home, we call heaven
  4. Gym workout
  5. Camping at the beach
  6. Traveling
  7. Tom Yam Noodle Soup
  8. Blogging
8 things before I pass away:
  1. Pilgrim to Mecca with Wifey & Son
  2. Own a shop with Wifey
  3. Celebrate my Son's convocation
  4. Be one, proud Granddad
  5. Travel to all Wonders of the World
  6. Scuba dive & Sky dive
  7. Learn about myself
  8. I know I have contributed
8 things I always say:
  1. "Wow!" I am still very impressionable.
  2. "Good morning!" I am a morning person.
  3. "Wonder how it is done..." logic must serve me or bust.
  4. "Hello" To everyone who shares a smile.
  5. "Where's the remote?" Because my butt is paralyzed.
  6. "Let's go out today!" Bid to lengthen days off work.
  7. "Why not? Let's do it while we're young!" Too few years left.
  8. "I love you." When I kiss Wifey before leaving for work
8 books I've read:
  1. Inside The Walls Of Alcatraz by Frank Heaney
  2. One Minute Millionaire by Mark Hensen & Robert Allen
  3. PC Magazine Singapore
  4. Cisco Networks For Dummies
  5. Professional Web Designs
  6. Indonesia Handbook
  7. Australia - Wonder Down Under
  8. Health Guide - Your Complete Guide
8 songs on my iPod:
  1. Superman by Five For Fighting
  2. Too Little Too Late by JoJo
  3. Dare You To Move by Switchfoot
  4. Boston by Augustana
  5. She Will Be Loved by Maroon 5
  6. I Think God Can Explain by Spender
  7. You Were There by Southern Sons
  8. I'm Not Giving Up On You by Gloria Estefan
8 things that make me attractive to my friends:
  1. I honestly care
  2. I am a good listener
  3. I have a good sense of humor
  4. I share lots of good & silly ideas
  5. I give and take
  6. I love latest movies & songs
  7. I am not rude or judgmental
  8. I will be there for them
8 people who should do this:
  1. Andrew of Past Tense
  2. Wandi of Wandi Bear
  3. Tanie of Pink Icing
  4. Mompoet of Words From the Burbs
  5. Crashy of Crashed Site
  6. Liz-P of Supercharged Mommy Power
  7. Anne of Lopez Island
  8. Rhiannon of Inner Journey Writings

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Season's Greetings Everyone!

To All My Favorite Blogger Friends

May you have a blessed Christmas
The joyous of days with loved ones
In good health and a peaceful mind
Into the New Year
And beyond

Monday, December 24, 2007

A Holiday Prelude

Oh great! I missed the bus.

I thought to myself when I saw bus Service 72 left the bus stop as I was approaching it to get to work this morning.

So I had to catch the next one and was late for work. My bad.

I spent a lot of time with my morning gym workout and left the house a little late than usual. I guess I deserved it, but somehow was not feeling all that guilty for my lateness. I felt refreshed body and mind instead.

Body, because of the extra bursts of energy I seemed to have during the workout that got me late of all mornings, and mind, because it is the eve of a Christmas holiday! My spirits was high and I was happy.

It dawned on me...

The next bus came a tat earlier than usual. Yes, I have been late before, but come to think of it, so did that bus that I missed!

I believe it was because the usual morning crowd was not present. Many have left for vacation and many more must have taken leave off work today and most probably on Wednesday too, to stretch the weekend-holiday days to 5 solid days!

I realized this when the bus I boarded was almost vacant.

I got to choose the many empty seats by the window which I would be only happy if I got a seat at all on a normal day, by the time the bus had traveled and picked the morning commuters before my stop.

I am in "I am legend" scene...

The scene was also all too familiar when I reached the office. It was quiet and cold.

Again... quiet, because only a handful of us were around and cold, because there were not enough human body-heat to defeat the air-conditioning blast.

The canteen was bare too. The usual familiar faces in clusters in their own groups that normally flocked for morning break were left with a few, scattered across the canteen.

Too small in numbers, too depressing to be alone, 3 groups became one when the 5 of us sat at the same table today... like the usual, unofficial ritual during festive periods.

We made a day's pack together to drive out to a nearby Cheng San hawker centre for lunch too.

And like unofficial tradition too, there was this nagging need by dwindling staff to leave early than the stipulated 5:30pm. Some were aiming for 3:00pm to call it a day, while others gave it by 4:30pm latest.

Understandably so, unlike MNCs, our company does not practice early release or half-day work-hour on eves of major holidays or New Year.

Most of our Customers and vendors would have closed for the holidays, so there are limited things left for the office people to do... and if there were tons to do, I think it would be a rather unproductive time to be doing work at all, for there would be very little mood to concentrate on work.

My electronic spring-cleaning...

To stay positive, I thought it was a great time to take full advantage of the quiet time in the office for me.

While some became zombies, sucking-up air with their chats, I managed to tie some loose-ends with some work matters and did an extensive spring-cleaning with my emails. Cleared and filed-up softcopies on my PC... compacting and defragmenting my harddisks.

Cleared my desk of the clutter that had accumulated during the year and was satisfied of the job done as if ready to bring-in the New Year.

Like Spongebob, I'm ready, I'm ready...

As if on cue, Wifey read my mind and called my cell phone just after 5:30pm to ask me where I wanted to go for dinner. Yes, some braved the guilt and left earlier, I worked until 5:30pm.

Anyway, going out on the eve of a holiday or the weekend makes the whole rest days seem that much longer. It is my unofficial way, well customary nowadays to make the most out of it. Yeap! I am that desperate.

"Changi Beach Park!" Was my answer as it has so many choices of great-tasting Malay food.

"I have about a 40-minute bus ride, so you guys get changed now and be ready to leave the house when I reach home." I told Wifey.

Wifey was a step ahead. She suggested we brought along our tent to set camp at the beach after our dinner. Excellent idea! Love that woman.

That moonlight-walk by the beach...

Once I pitched the tent, all 3 of us set down eating Rojak Bakar, our version of desert, well supper was more like it.

Looking at the sea with the moonlight glistening on the water, it was a perfect time. No rain amid this December monsoon season. Instead, clear skies that let the moon to shine so bright with a cool sea breeze.

Reminiscent of our romantic courting days, Wifey and I walked along the beach under the moonlight... just talked and enjoyed our time alone. As always, there were many Malay campers already setting up camps and barbecuing. Lots of children running and playing about.

This park is popular with Malay families, while a few Chinese families even had log-cakes to celebrate Christmas there.

Our son stayed in the tent with his closest buddy... the notebook; frantically pressing the keypads trying to go to the next level with his online game.

Obviously, the island-wide free Wireless@SG access was available at the beach too. A surprising 4 out of 4-bars reception strength! Shish!

Our childhood revisited...

Our courting-couple's walk led us to being children instead of being in our early twenties again. It led us to the children's playground.

To our surprise, we spontaneously got on the swings and had a blast of a time!

It had been that long a time since I last sat and played on the swing, I could not remember when. Then again, I do have very bad memory.

Anyway, Wifey and I swung hard and high. Higher than the children there. I laughed so loud, I had no idea why. I only knew it was so fun.

We were children again. I liked it.

Good thing that our Son was not there, or we would have embarrassed with our childish escapades.

Laughing hard while swinging, somehow exercised my stomach muscle too. Fun gym workout, it turned out to be...

We left the beach an hour before midnight and reached home all spent, 20 minutes later. This short Christmas eve outing was like an extraordinary "out-of-body" experience for both of us.

Yes, we will have body aches tomorrow...

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Cameron's High Tea

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Cameron's Tea Time

I know I have been talking so much about my vacation, and would probably be stale by now after all, it has been two weeks since we came back... but I will talk about it still, until I get myself bored too.

Anyway, I have tons of pictures that I have taken on the trip to show... and with my poor memory I think I better keep it in writing before everything becomes mush in my head.

So, here goes...

After our interesting Strawberry Farm tour, Jaz brought us to the famous man-made landscape in the highlands... the Boh Tea Plantation and its factory.

That was after driving through endless winding roads and several hundred honks at every corner later, we reached the ever famous tea brand, this side of the world... Boh Tea.

Never thought I would actually set foot on its origin... all I did as a child was to buy a pack of Boh Tea when my Mom asked me to from our village shop... just because we were expecting guests.

Though I am not a tea person, more of... well a coffee addict actually, setting foot in that place was very interesting for me and I am sure for Wifey and our Son, just the same.

Our good luck to get Jaz as our tour guide for the day brought us right up to the factory entrance since Jaz is a familiar face there. We were allowed to drive into the factory vicinity to park instead of down the hill at the visitor's carpark like everyone else.

We really did not mind to walk a bit since the scenery was fantastic and the weather just right - cool and bright. Well, more time at the factory and cafe later.

We learned from Jaz that all the tea plants there were planted in 1929, brought in from India onto the thousands of hectares of hills and valleys... and are still being harvested today.

Also, most of the Indian workers there are descendants of the migrants the British brought in to work in the plantation. The place was like a self-sufficient Indian community in itself.

Having its own village quarters, Indian school, a clinic and an impressive looking temple too. The statues were hand-crafted in detail by temple-building experts from India paid to come and build them for 6 to 8 months at a stretch.

"It is just like one big green carpet..." quipped Wifey when we stopped at one of the panoramic views overlooking the undulating hills as far as the eye can see.

She was right, the place really looked like somebody was sunning carpets to dry... except that instead of stale air, it was fresh.

The factory tour had an interesting fact too.

The tea-leave grinding machines and several of the gunny-sack packing machines were from that same year too... and still are functioning to this day. Awesome engineering.

We got to sip tea at the cafe, after going through the standard souvenir shop at the path's end of the tour. Being the true tourist that I am, I bought a Boh Tea mug for my hall of fame at home.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Dunman Secondary School

Right after the Eidul Adha holiday, it was time for our son to report to Dunman Secondary School at Tampines Street 45 this morning, wearing his Saint Hilda's Primary School uniform.

I took leave off work to go with Wifey and him to his new school, to have a look-see and buy his school uniforms and books.

It was very interesting to both Wifey and I to see how the school was like, being famous and popular for academic excellence that became the school of choice in the eastern part of the island.

Here We Are...

Reached at 8:30am and discovered that the school is closer to our home than we expected. Good for our son. His journey to and from the school will be short; even shorter if he was to ride a bicycle to school.

It would take him about 10 minutes to reach his school riding along Tampines Avenue 9, as it is the most direct route from our home. All he needs now is a bicycle once he is more settled-in.

Once we entered the school's main gate, we were greeted by the upper secondary students who were lined-up along the covered walkway all the way towards the canteen, where the registration was held.

That 3-Step Queues...

The registration desks were tended by the students themselves while the teachers provided guidance and crowd-control.

Next stop was the queue for school uniforms. It was a long queue, but a bearable one since the students provided long benches to parents queuing to provide some relief. It was also nice of the school to hand out bottled water to us parents in the queue.

I observed that the Dumanites showed genuine interest and very curious as they approached and made conversations with their new little charges... looking at their badges from different primary schools these sec-one-to-be were from.

Knowledge Is An Investment...

It cost S$65.00 to get 3 sets of school uniforms - white shirt to wear with a dark-brown neck-tie and white shorts. The shirt has an ironed-on Dunman badge in Malay and Chinese slogans - Pengetahuan Suloh Hidup or Knowledge Is The Torch Of Life.

The cost also included a piece of dark-brown Dunman T-shirt... practical color and design for rugged teenagers who normally have trouble keeping themselves looking clean.

Next queue was the school text books purchase.

It cost S$296.00 for a full-set of books and writing materials, including a scientific calculator for math, drawing set for arts and aprons for the now-compulsory Home Economics subject for lower secondary 1 and 2 students.

The literature reading books are "I am David" by Anne Holm and "The Good Earth" by Pearl S. Buck. I got to read a few pages from "I am David" while on our way back from the school... should be an interesting topic of discussion for the students.

It can never be anymore convenient as far as traveling to and from school is concern. Our son only needs to take Bus Service 293 from right in front of our block, directly to the bus stop situated right in front of his school!

December Is For Spring Cleaning...

Tomorrow will be the day to do some spring-cleaning to our Son's room.

Off with his primary school books to make way for his secondary. Wifey will be the enthusiastic one and will keep herself busy with binding each of our Son's books with plastic cover with passion.

All the children will have another week of December school holiday before all primary and secondary schools open next year after new year's holiday.

New Dunmanites will instead report to the school again on 28 December 2007 for an orientation together with at least one parent, before all Secondary One students go on for a 2-day 1-night camping organized by the school at Yio Chu Kang park on 3 and 4 January 2008.

The years have passed so quickly it seems.

Our Son has now grown to be a young teenager... from a tender sapling, we nurture him to be deep-rooted in sense of responsibility to himself, his family and society at large.

Ever hoping him to mature like a hardy tree bearing fruits of success in his studies and career, and someday his own family... helping to shade the underprivileged from the harshness of life.

As excited as Wifey and I are, we cannot help but feel older this year especially...

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Joyous Eidul Adha

Wishing my Mom & Dad
A joyful day of triumph
Of blessed Haj
And sacrifices to The Almighty
Being surrounded by your children
Who love you both dearly

Wishing all Muslims a peaceful celebration

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

He is Dunmanite!

At 11:00am today, the nationwide results of Secondary One Posting for 2008 was announced in the Ministry Of Education or MOE website, after parents and student chose and "bid" for the school of choice base on their aggregate scores of their Primary School Leaving Examination or PSLE results.

We chose Dunman Secondary School and Temasek Secondary School as first and second of the six choices given respectively.

We are fortunate to learn today that our son got his first choice school!

He is going to be a Dunmanite next year to start his secondary school years towards his GCE "O" Level exams when he reaches 16, after his 4 years there.

The first 4 choices being the best and famous schools in the east, Dunman is also convenient for our son to commute to and from our home.

He needs only to get on one of several direct bus services available from our home for a 20 minutes ride that saves a lot of journey time and his personal time too, now that he has 8 subjects in secondary school than the 4 in his primary school days, plus lots of extra-curricular activities and clubs that he needs to join for the extra credits.

The emphasis by MOE is the all roundedness of students from academics to sports, creativity to computer-based knowledge. Independence and filial piety... make for a responsible and successful adult.

So, apart from the many new subjects he is being exposed too, the activities and the expectations from secondary school students, our Son, like many other children of his age will undergo his culture shock next year.

Nonetheless, we will be with him to give moral and academic support whenever we can without suffocating him... a first time teenage parents, we have a lot to learn about parenting a teenager as he has with his all those subjects.

In secondary school, friends will be the strongest bond that he will forge and the lesser dependence he will be on us.

Our little chick will start to practice flapping his wings in the nest to prepare himself for flight. While doing that he will ruffle a few of his parents' feathers in the process as he practices his opinions and new-formed principles.

Whatever happens, the only thing we cannot break is the communication with each other. I believe that good communication strengthens the family bond between us as we learn from each other.

Family time is important. I will get those bikes for all 3 of us as a start, to ride our way into 2008 realm of our lives' journey.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Monday, December 17, 2007

Cameron's Strawberry Fields

Continuing my show and tell week-long vacation in Cameron Highlands, after our Cactus Valley tour, our next stop was the Strawberry Farm.

That was interesting for us all simply because we had never seen strawberries still attached to its plant. Like most people, we only see these fruits nicely packed in a plastic packages in supermarkets.

As we ascended higher into the highlands, and after what seemed be endless but interesting maneuvers of corners after corners along the edges of the lush hills, we reached the farm. The fresh air was obvious to the senses.

Interesting because, honking would be considered rude in Singapore, but in the highlands, it was essential for the purpose of safety. With many blind-spots around corners and a one lane road going both directions, all drivers would honk to alert the oncoming vehicle that they were coming.

Even more interesting was the fact that people the thought that it was tougher to drive in the day then at night as Jaz, our Tour Guide for the day explained.

At night, the drivers switch on their headlights high to make themselves obvious to other vehicles from the opposite direction and especially visible around corners.

I could never imagined that was so until we actually took a cab and went out at night the day after to go the night market... but that is another story and tons of photos later.

Cameron Highlands is synonymous with strawberries. Thus, the famous Holland architecture -hotel name Strawberry Park that we were staying while we were there.

Truly so, because when we reached the farm, there were already a lot of visitors there, even though there were so many other strawberry farms everywhere, dotting the highlands.

With narrow pathways in between the rows and rows of propped-up strawberry planters, we had to take turns to be let-in to the farm.

They sectioned off parts of the farm and closed them once visitors had picked their strawberries themselves to purchase.

With the chilling climate, we braved ourselves to order and drank the strawberry shakes and ice-cream waffles there, made fresh from their morning pickings.

Fresh strawberries and dried ones were each sold for RM$6.50 per pack. There were lots of visitors there grabbing the packs like they were free.

There were pure strawberry jam in jars and strawberry syrups in bottles, to everything strawberry in the form of souvenirs could be found at Raaju Strawberry Farm shops after the farm walk-abouts.

Again, I was not the one to walk out of a tourist spot without getting a souvenir for myself.

So, I bought a mug with Cameron Highland and strawberry pictures on it for my touristy-mugs collection rack at home.

Strawberry fields forever.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Time For Three

After coming back from our vacation, the same mundane routine kicked into daily cycle.

Me, going to work... trying hard to get up to speed with the going-ons and clearing tons of emails that have piled-up since I activated my "out-of-office" auto-replier the Friday before the trip.

Nothing much has changed, except the office found itself cold and solemn... yes, extra cold because there are not enough human body-heat to warm-up the place; solemn, because many of the people have started their long-away-from-office leave for their own vacations.

Wifey started her usual house chores... laundry was the priority here after we amassed a heap of dirty clothes to wash and iron. She had been at it for several days already... and she had completed her quest to have things back to normalcy.

Our Son, having his cake and eating it too... now turns on both his desktop and notebook in his room. Busy with his website building and forum administrations, oblivious to the outside world... outside his room and beyond.

Sometimes, I wonder if I did the right thing to award him his notebook for his PSLE exam achievement... feeling I gave him more opportunities to being a recluse in his cyber-world. Sigh!

He has been wanting a bicycle... a good request to get him out of his chair and into the outside world... sun, fresh air and "non-electronic" social life.

Wifey felt she needed to venture outside the home with some exercise too... the house chores did not give her that rewarding a workout and definitely a good idea to loose a few pounds after the good week-long feasting-cum-relaxation during our vacation.

As for me, I love spending time outside. Being close to nature as oppose to the office cubicle 5 days a week is an obvious choice to a slacker like me.

With all that, came a beam of light from the newspaper... a calling from Carrefour, having a Christmas sale of dirt-bikes, amongst other thing, for just S$55.00 each. Wow!

Surprisingly, the bikes were light-weight. Perfect!

"What is that sound?!" I asked Wifey as I went to the kitchen to investigate.

"It is time for a new washing machine, Ayah..." Wifey concluded, "situation is getting worse... after the third repairs, the repairman was saying it was time we retire this 7 year-old washer."

More money that needed to be spent, right after the vacation. Ouch! Money to spend... not so perfect.

It finally hit me why Wifey had not washed the clothes in the evenings anymore... the hour-loud sound of the washing would disturb the neighbors. It sure irritated me... too embarrassing too.

So we headed to Courts MegaStore at Tampines too look for a new washer, after having a meal at Courts Box Bistro and walking around at IKEA.

We set our eyes on the new LG Steam Washer & Dryer that was priced at S$2,799.00 by the manufacturer... with some free-gifts thrown-in with the Christmas sale on by Courts.

We scouted around for other offers at Best Denki too, but finally settled for a good bargain at Harvey Norman in Millenia Walk... inclusive of extended warranty to 5 years plus free delivery and installation... foregoing a free vacuum cleaner, we got the dry-cleaning capable LG Steam Washer & Dryer for S$2,599.00 for an 11/6Kg washer/dryer set.

In the long-run, it will save a lot of dry-cleaning bills... and Wifey will not need to iron as many clothes as before, since the steam washing takes care of it, hopefully as promised by the product, among saving water and electrical bills as well.

Now! For the family time... the S$55.00 bicycle each for us three seemed inviting when we reached Carrefour and saw the bikes for ourselves.

I set my eyes on these bikes simply because it will mean family time outside the house together. We only need our Son to see the bikes before we buy them.

He was not with us... spending this few nights with 10 of his cousins at my Sis' place in Sengkang, going to movies and bonding during this school holiday.

Wifey set for the red-colored bike while I stamped my name on the black and gray, our Son will need to agree on the blue one and we are set to get them.

The family time cum exercise will then commence from next weekend onwards. Yes!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Cameron In Summer!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Cameron's Cactus Eden

For RM$25.00 per adult and RM$15 per child, the 3-hour Flower Tour was an interesting outing for all three of us indeed.

We got Jaz - the hotel's tour guide for our exploration of what Cameron Highlands had to offer.

First stop, Cactus Valley.

After a 10 minutes ride down the winding road near the edges of the hills from our hotel, we were the first few visitors to arrive at the nursery that morning.

After paying an entrance fee of RM$4.00 per person, we got to see the hundreds of varieties of cactus we would probably ever see in our entire life in just one place. Totally awesome sight!

The cactus and flowering plants nursery-cum-garden really made us gawked in awe.

Already, we were amazed by the strange and unique shapes the flowers we saw there, now the variety of cactus, each with its own uniqueness... funny shapes even, was equally mind-boggling.

The Almighty's creations is totally mind-blowing!

The nursery was actually vast! It sure fooled us earlier.

Due to its hilly terrain, it looked manageable from the entrance, but once you passed the little potted cactus that were on sale for RM$5.00 for 3 pots, the way to go was up and up the hill.

If Deserts Were This Cool....

From on level to another, the cactus gardens never failed to amaze us all.

Being in the garden, it reminded Wifey the sight we saw when we passed by the desert in Nevada while heading for Las Vegas a few years back.

Instead we were in the cold Malaysian highlands... only difference was, this place was a little more exotic minus the usual skin-burning desert heat.

We we told by Jaz earlier before we entered the nursery, to be back within 40 minutes, but we ended-up spending time exploring the nursery a little over a hour. We were having a good time there.

The spectacular view once at the top of one of the peaks was breathtaking.

Even then, there were more places that we could not cover, simply because it was quite taxing, especially for Wifey to climb-up all those steps, some quite steep too.

A wonderful way to start the morning, amid the beautiful flora to enjoy, we got some exercise done too! Just perfect!

We ended-up buying 3 potted baby cactus for RM$5.00 which was packed neatly with a 3-in-1 plastic carrier for our home.

If I had my way, I would have bought even more variety and start a mini cactus garden in the empty fish terrarium for our home. Should be easy as cactus needed little maintenance.

Wifey thought otherwise. We would have the hassle of bring the cactus back together with all our luggages and purchases later.

She was right... 3 pairs of hands were not enough when we headed home after our vacation.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Cameron In Spring!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Cameron's Colorful Surprise!

Once the sun casted its light to the highlands, the whole place cheered-up to beautiful colors.

As if the scenic undulating hills did not take my breath away, the most prominent thing that captured my eyes and surely everyone else' there was the vibrant colors of flowers... flowers everywhere!

The Hills Are Alive...

Strawberry Park Hotel did a great job with its landscaping. The whole place was practically bloomed with rainbow-colored flowers. The variety was just incredible.

Not to be out-done was the nature too, blooming with wild flowers dotting the green carpet-like background with bright colors and unimaginable shapes and sizes.

Nature was showing-off and rightly so, as it was at its best.

We were fortunate to witness its beauty. Though my horizon is not vast, I regard Cameron as the Eden in the East as far as I am concern. Simply stunning!

I was at the perfect place to indulge myself with photography. Not that I am any good at it, the real work was done by my trusted Panasonic Lumix FZ10 digital camera. Can never leave home without it... when traveling.

I must say that during this vacation, my camera dial was set mostly to "Macro" than "Auto" because of the hundreds of close-ups I took of the flowers there... lots of flowers.

I was enjoying myself so much that I set Wifey and Son aback too often... they waited for me as I inched my way while snapping the interesting flowers after flower. I was the busy bee.

The hotel receptionist suggested that we go for a short 3-hour farm tour then wait for our rooms to be ready about noon.

With the preview of what nature had offered within the confines of the hotel alone, we took up the suggestion to explore the wild and what Cameron had to offer its excited concrete-jungle visitors from Singapore.

We booked the morning Flower Tour at the hotel Tour Office which was to start at 9:00am.

I cannot wait! I was more excited than my Son.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Cameron Highlands, Pahang

The night coach ride was uneventful.

The long, dark ride was just uninteresting once we passed the Malaysian immigration, as we whooshed past acres and acres of oil-palm plantations. Soon enough the whole coach became totally silent.

I dozed off unrealized. The plush seats were exactly the perfect companion to while the journey.

Very good seats, 10 times better than on an airplane... yes, the coach seemed to move so fast, the wheels might have barely touched the tarmac... we were practically flying!

The Awakening...

The coach made 1 pit-stop for half an hour, just before Air Hitam, I believe.

That was not before we were rudely awakened by the biggest bump of all that flung everybody up in mid-air and gave everyone the feeling of weightlessness for a split second.

"I thought we were in Genting for a second there." I joked to my son as he regained his composure. He gave a weak smile, still sleepy as it was way past midnight. We would be going to Genting Highlands' theme park the next night after Cameron.

Everyone was already awakened and timely so too, seemed ready for the restroom. The bumpy ride may have something to do with it.

The pit-stop was a welcomed sight. The restroom however, was not!

All that long-lost memory of the terrifying restrooms of Malaysia that haunted me way back from my early teen years came back to me vividly with its overwhelming stink.

The wet floors , the dim lights and the oh so crusted toilet hole greeted me when I entered the toilet. There was not a flush handle, one needed to wash it down with a pail of water!

I could have sworn time stood still there, if not for the long tiled washing basin and the long mirror across the length of the basin.

The female restroom was not spared either, Wifey came out disgusted. "Just order for me a hot Milo, please," she looked at me, wiping her hands dry "I don't think I want to eat anything."

I told myself not to be such a woose! It was like going back to nature... to the basics... to my teenage years when I went to Segamat with a group of friends to climb Mount Ophir... a long time ago.

When in Rome, do what the Romans do!

Yeah! Just find a Roman hotel and I would use its restroom, just fine!

I was wide awake for the rest of the journey to Kuala Lumpur, where we departed from the coach after a 5-hour ride and changed to a 10-seater tour-van.

The journey continued for another 3 hours up the winding highland roads. At one point, the driver asked if anyone was car-sick. It was thrilling for me though.

Since it was dark, the journey was very quiet except the sound of the van humming as it climbed the slithering road.

From time to time, I could feel the pressure in my ear building up. Popping sound in my ear as I swallowed, telling me that the altitude was greater; and even greater was my excitement to reach our destination.

It got cooler and cooler, and the headlights from the van showed foggy morning that promised a very cold weather out.

"Can you lower the air-con, please... my legs feel so cold?" The auntie seated behind me asked the driver. The family of 5 was going to Cameron Highlands too, but was staying at a different hotel.

Morning Has Broken...

We reached Strawberry Park Hotel about 6:00am, an hour earlier than expected. The place was pitch-dark except for the blurred lights coming from the Reception Area enveloped by a thin dawn mist. Cool! All sense of the word.

We checked in, but had to wait at the lounge area until our room was ready at about 9:00am.

The receptionist suggested that we take our complimentary breakfast that same morning since we were staying for only one night and had to leave the hotel at 7:30am the following morning.

The buffet breakfast at Jim Thomson Terrace started at 6:30am till 10:30am and was heavenly, indeed. The food spread was plenty and varied. Hot coffee never tasted so good in my stomach in that cold morning and after a long journey.

Nasi Lemak, Malaysian's famous breakfast was nice. Wifey can vouch for that too.

As the dawn broke, the first light hit the mountains behind the hotel to greet everyone with a breathtaking view of the valley below. Stunning!

The morning promised us a wonderful day ahead!