Monday, December 29, 2008

The Most Magical and Meaningful X'mas of My Life!!

I'm back home in KL!!! It has been an amazing 5D4Ns away in Jakarta.

24 Dec 2008 (Wednes n X'mas Eve)

We left our house as early as 4am to catch the Air Asia flight to Jakarta at 7am. Thank God there was no famed delay (only 40mins :P) and we got to our destination at 8+am. Lester's driver came to fetch us and we were carted to the office Jakarta city.

Alan had an interesting time as we were both shown around the 6 storey building. I tried to look interested and stifle yawns though, from the lack of sleep (we had slept from 12am - 3am the previous 'nite'). We learnt the ops in Indonesia and Alan was inspired to do likewise for his office in Malaysia. Looks like I will have to live in KL for the next 20 years :P

Lester treated us to a nice Chinese lunch at the nearby shopping mall. When I say "nearby" , I meant only in distance - it took us a good 20+mins to get there by car, even though it was a stone's throw away. *sigh* the jams in Indonesia are HORRENDOUS. KL's seems like a piece of cake as compared - and please, Singaporean drivers, DO NOT COMPLAIN about the peak hour traffic in sunny Singapore anymore!!! People drive recklessly, as if lives are worth 200RP a piece and no one follows the traffic lights!!! Traffic seems to move when the lights are red - as Alan commented disgruntlely.

Anyway, once lunch was over, we were carted to our hotel in the city called Orchardz. I called Hema to arrange for a meet-up then and we decided to meet at Grand Indonesia for a hair spa experience. The 'sistah' and we grabbed a bite at oh-lala and then went to a hair spa recommended by Lester. Alan and Hema both did the traditional hair spa (which involved masking and massaging and blowing dry their tresses) whilst I decided to colour my head red for X'mas. After two hours, all of us emerged feeling and looking new...

Next on the list was a body spa experience in Surinah. This parlour was recommended online as well as by Lester. Barsih Sehat was the place's name. The massage was 120,,000RP (approx SGD$16) / hour and all three of us booked ourselves for 2 hours straight! Alan and I had a ramen dinner before that whilst Hema (on her prenial diet) had a tuna salad.

The therapists stepped on Alan and my backs, we resisted the urge to regurgitate the Ramen. I fell asleep after a while.... It was pretty late, 10pm I think, when we were done. The driver sent Hema back home and Alan and I visited her cubicle. She lives in a small little apartment thingie where (and I quote) when she steps inside, if she reaches out her right arm, it would touch the kitchen and if she reaches out her left, it would be her living room, and if she walks 5 steps, she would reach her bedroom....errrr.. she wasn't exaggerating. hahaha. At least she's moving to a better place soon!!

By the time Alan and I got back to our hotel, our long day (coupled with the lack of sleep from the previous night) aided us in immediately falling asleep.... Zzzzzzzz

25 Dec 2008 (Thurs)

Our driver came to fetch us from the hotel to Mama sayang orphanage at 11am. The journey took 2+hours and by the time we got there, Alan and I were zoned out. However, the excitement (and apprehension) at meeting our daughter, Melisa and the rest of the kids in the orphanage, plus the founders, Mike and Jev and really fantastic and lovely couple , woke us both up. We were immediately engulfed in hugs from both Mike and Melisa. :)

The boys got our bags and we were shown to our room. Wow. The whole interior of the house (which shares the compound with the girls' dorm) is nothing like what you'd expect of an orphanage. It's beautifully decorated - Jev's very into ID and also all the stuff was either brought over from Scotland (the couple lived there for years before moving to Jakarta in '02) or bought in Indonesia.

Our room was AMAZING. The huge and comfortable bed...beautifully designed. the whole room was decorated with a warm X'mas feel and we even had a 'welcome fruit platter' served! How very thoughtful!!

We were brought on a short tour of the premises by Melisa before settling down to a delicious (I put on weight in the orphanage!!!) lunch. Jev used to own a restaurant serving Indonesian food in Scotland and the food served was yummy! Mike and Jev engaged us throughout the meal, telling us all about Mama sayang and how it came about and also stories about the children. It was very heartening to see that all the children were very well taken care of and treated like family by the elderly couple in their 60s.

After the lunch, we decided to walk it off with Melisa. We intially had wanted to walk to the nearby lake (15mins walk away) but upon seeing Melisa looking for tired and exhausted from staying up the night before baking goodies for X'mas, we turned around halfway in our journey and went back to the orphanage.

Alan and I were then introduced to a resident dog named Cici. As we petted her , we realised how pathetic she was . Her whole body was covered with FLEAS and TICKS!! YUCKS!! We started plucking the parasites off her brown fur with a vengeance and soon, many young children (boys) crowded around us... I promised them a X'mas present each if they each plucked and killed 3 ticks from Cici and they started their killing spree with great dedication and excitement! Soon, the massacre was evident with the ground filled with bloody carcasses.

Deciding that the children were certainly very nice and sweet and loveable, Alan and I decided to treat them with chocolates bought from the nearby supermart. Melisa walked with us and showed us around the vicinity. We bought bar after bar of chocolate wafers and an icecream for Melisa and then returned to Mama Sayang to distribute them. The children politely accepted and said "Thank you Auntie / Thank you Uncle!" They are indeed very well brought up! :)

We badly needed a siesta and retreated to our bedroom to snooze from 5-7pm.

At 7pm, dinner was started and we hurriedly dressed and got ready. It was a huge affair (did I mention they have 2 Xmas trees ,1 in and 1 outside the house?) Everyone sang some songs first before dinner commenced. Alan as usual was trigger happy and he managed to capture some very beautiful shots (which I will upload when I am less sleepy).

Dinner was delicious. Jev served up a mean Xmas dinner and Alan and I both enjoyed, for the first time in our lives, a true-blue traditional X'mas dinner. Roast turkey, salads, veges, macaroni etc etc. I was as stuffed as the turkey when I stopped chewing at last!

Mike was a great host and we chatted with him post-dinner. We also gave Melisa our presents for her. We had bought her a couple of items from America - a Fossil watch (a belated pressie for her bday), a tinkerbell t-shirt from disneyland, a book (1 for Melisa's friend, Esther too), a key chain from Disneyland and one from Malacca and also a yellow wallet from Forever21. She was certainly overwhelmed.. haahha

We also passed Stephanie (an 8 year old girl who was originally the candidate for us to sponser) a little note book as an Xmas present.. We then invited her and her friend Anna to join Melisa and Esther and Alan and myself out on a day trip the next day to Dufan.

When all the tables were cleared, the hall was made available for the most important segment of the night - the Xmas presents distribution!! All the presents were moved into the small green hall. Alan and I had bought each of the hundred children some stationery which Mike and Jev had gotten prior to our arrival from Mangga Dua. They also had gotten the older children to wrap the gifts up individually.

It was fun to distribute the presents to the children who excitedly and politely received them and thanked us for them. In each package lay a pencil case, some pencils, 4 small note books, 1 bigger A4 note book, an eraser and etc.. I had help separating the pencils into those for the girls (Winnie the Pooh, Tinkerbell, Barbie Doll, Mickey Mouse) from those for the boys (Batman, Ben10, Kungfu Panda ). By the time all the gifts were distributed, beads of sweat had gathered on my brows. Another kind donor had also coughed up some money for a pair of black sports shoes each for the children. What a thoughtful gift! Unfortunately, he paid for only 50% of the shoes and Mama Jev had to come up with Rp for the other 50%!

The children's arms were filled with presents and tidbits and the younger children were grinning in glee. The older ones were more reserved but you could see the appreciation on their faces. As jev and mike gathered all of them for a last prayer, I could see my tears well up in my eyes. All the children had their eyes closed and were fervently praying to God to thank Him for his benevolence. Alan and I were not forgotten in their prayers as well.. :)

26 Dec 2008 (Friday)

We had originally decided to go to Taman Safari (to feed the lions / giraffes etc) but I decided against it because the kids wanted to go to Dufan (a huge amusement park not unlike Disneyland). We commenced our journey by car (with Melisa, Esther, Stephanie and Anna in tow) at around 745am and got there by 930am.

We queued for the tickets which cost 120,000Rp per pax regardless of age and then entered at around 10am. We took the carousel and went to queue for the Viking (which Anna and Stephanie bravely agreed to sit on). Almost towards the end of the Viking experience did Stephanie start brawling...for her tears rolled down her cheeks, I tried to comfort her but she could not stop crying until her feet were firmly planted on the ground again. It was very sad to realise that a young child will cry for her mum when in fear no matter how badly her mum has treated her. [ side story: Stephanie was our original choice for sponsership but her mum came back to Jakarta and wanted to bring Stephy away from the orphanage and that was why Alan and I lost that opportunity to connect with Stephy on a deeper level. Apparently, and according to Mike, after Stephy's mum had come and proclaimed her sudden & new-found interest in her daughter and yet left her high and dry (and till this day has not claimed her), Stephanie's character has changed somewhat for the worse. She has become moodier and keeps to herself more. Sad isnt it?

Anyway, after we disembarked from the Viking, we went for something safer - peddle boats! We rented two peddle boats (Melia, Esther & Anna in 1) and myself and Stephy in the other. It was fun! And stephanie was a very determined driver who wanted 100% control of the wheel.

A ride on the ferris wheel was next and all 6 of us got to enjoy the beautiful scenery and delicious breeze. The weather was heavenly that day and as the wind whipped through our tresses, Alan and I savoured parenthood...

Esther, Melisa and I wanted to have a go on the Tornardo next. Ahhhh for those uninitiated, the Tornardo is one helluva scary ride. It will fling you into the air and twist and turn you 360 degrees. We queued for approximately 20mins before it was finally our turn. Alan was nursing a weak heart and taking care of the two underaged children. hahaha.

It was so FUN! I shall cease to describe here but provide you with more photos soon...

After the ride, Stephanie was starving as she proclaimed and we quickly brought the girls to fill their bellies. Stephanie eats very well and finished the whole plate of noodles. She even helped Anna with some of hers because Anna didn't quite fancy what was served to her. Conversely, Melisa eats like a chicken and pecked at her hotdog- leaving half still on the plate by the time we were about to leave. She constantly grimaces at being asked to eat / finish her food as well. Weird huh?

Anyway, after the late lunch, Stephanie renewed her vigour and wanted to sit on the small little roller coaster (especially meant for children). The four children then sat on it whilst 'ibu' and 'papa' stoned on a stone beach whilst waiting. We promised to bring the kids shopping if they turned up without a tear in the eye after the roller coaster ride.

True enough, for the 'belanga' Stephanie and Anna emerged from their ride (they sat on the first seats ok!! gutsy kids) all smiles. We then took the teacup (revolving ride) before leaving the very packed Dufan for the Mall Malathir Gading.

Waking from our power nap, we headed into the mall to feed the kids first. We brought them to A&W to have cheese n curly fries and waffles with icecream and also rootbeer floats. Stephanie, as usual, had alot to eat. We were amazed at how a little girl of 8 could eat so much!

We then shopped for some clothes. First, the two little girls had their pick of tops and jeans and skirts and then the two teenagers grabbed some tops and jeans as well. Alan and I picked out 10 shirts for the boys back in the home and 10 for the girls which we were to give out the next day.

After that, we walked aimlessly until we decided dinner was in order and so we had some local food in a small little cafe. (the food would later give Alan and myself the runs...) after that, we picked up some chocolates for the kids in the supermarket , together with a sack of 20kg rice and then called the driver to bring us all the way back to the orphanage.

The kids were still waiting a movie in the hall when we got back (part of their Xmas period package) and Melisa distributed the chocos whilst Alan and I retired upstairs into the comfort of our bedroom.

27 Dec 2008 (Saturday)

We woke up later today and packed to leave. We showed Melisa the pics from the day before and then had our oily fried egg breakfast before leaving for Bandung. We said our goodbyes to the children sadly and I gave out the t-shirts. The younger children were so cute and I promised them to buy them some clothes when I next visited them- hopefully it would be soon.

I also entertained them by letting them play the games on my iphone and also scribble their names on it. I learnt names like Charise, Kevin, Kelvin, Darisito, Feri, Ardo, etc etc.. all in one seating. before I left, I also made the boys to pluck 'kutu' from the doggie everyday and 'sayang' the 'anjing'. hahaha. They fervently agreed. hahaha. How cute!

We bade goodbye and went our way and the journey to Bandung almost killed us. Hour after hour, the clock ticked and we still hadn't reached our destination. By the time we got to our hotel, it was already after noon. We decided to then head to the volcano tungkahan perahu- widely acclaimed and recommended by 2 of my friends.

The jam almost made us give up and head else where. We took HOURS to get from the city to the top of the volcano. The scene wasn't worth it AT ALL. Everyone was crowded around a little crater and yes we could still see the sulphuric fumes emitting but it wasn't the grandest Natural sight I had seen in my life. The touts were irritating as well and the car park was packed. After at most 15minutes, we decided that enough was enough and wanted to make our way down.

By then, it was almsot 5pm and I was starving. We hadn't had anything to eat all day (since the oily egg at 7am) and my gastric juices were working overtime. We wanted to eat at the restaurant called The Peak and called Zesa who gave us Lili's number.

Lili however, directed us to a SALAH place which thankfully housed a beautiful stone cafe which was frequented by the CEO of Indo. We decided to end our torment (at around 7pm) there. Imagine, we had gone without food and water for 12 hours! MY GOD. That was a horrid experience. I literally sat in the car until my nerves were knotted and on my knee cap, there appeared this vein in the shape of a round bubble. It now feels like a bruise but it's much more painful than that... I hobble instead of walk now...

The stone cafe is a beautiful restaurant overlooking the whole of bandung. It plays live music and ALan and I (and Mr Driver) enjoyed a romantic dinner. I ate like there was no tomorrow - tom yum soup, beef steak and rum and raisin milk shake and when I finally got to the hotel (at around 9pm) and finally had the runs...the effect of G n G - gastrics and gorging. ;p

Brave though weak, ALan and I booked ourselves for a pampering good time for SGD26/hour. We did a foot bath, massage and facial in the spa downstairs. I fell asleep halfway through...

It was midnight by the time we returned to our hotel room.

28th December 2008 (Sunday)

To beat the jam, Alan and I left the hotel early for the airport (ignoring offers by the chauffeur to bring us to the malls). We got there at around 1130am in anticipation to board the plane departing for KL at 310pm! After checking in and waiting somemore, Air Asia announced (without apology at that) that the flight to KL was going to be delayed and would take off at around 5pm. *big sigh* We continued to wait somemore -thank goodness I had bought a book at the airport to keep me company.

By the time we arrived at the LCCT at KL, it was almost 8pm. We thankfully boarded a limo cab and directed the driver for Sri Tiara. The memory of what would occur immediately afterwards will never cease in the future to bring a shudder to my spine..

The taxi driver, a kindly looking Malay in his early 30s, perhaps, starting driving like a F1 contestant with no tomorrow. He sped and overtook every moving vehicle in sight. I held on to Alan's hand for support, inwardly asking myself whether I had survived the Jakarta jams only to die at the hands of this reckless rodent.

All of a sudden, the driver overtook precariously another taxi within an inch and was horned at angrily by the other driver. Our RR(reckless rodent) promptly cursed loudly in Malay and wound down his window to show a universal greeting (twice). The other taxi driver's blood boiled and he tailgated our cab and horned loudly and flashed his lights. Our RR did not hesitate and rolled down his window AGAIN and this time, in his right hand, he welded a crowbar which he angrily flashed at the fellow daredevil. I can only assume the passengers in the other cab were feeling about as enthusiastic as both Alan and myself.

Thankfully, the other RR gave way in the end and after more uncomprehensible cursing, our taxi driver deposited us at the lobby of Sri Tiara where we got down, wobbly knees and all and made our way upstairs thanking God for delivering us from the hands of a devil.

It was Home at Last!


trish said...

paiseh.. forgot to warn you abt the touts :P where did u guys eat eventually? i had dinner at this place (was it the Valley or sthg?) and the view was darn beautiful.

Sharon said...

hahaha It really was called Stone Cafe! Live band and pretty views (but it was too dark to see lah). hahaha. The food was damn good siah. *slurps* But I'm not ever going back to bandung again :P