Friday, December 28, 2012

Last Holiday Fling for 2012

This was an afterthought after our Langkawi trip. Other Half thought it would be a good idea to do a beach thingy with the kids since they were so keen to play with the sand. And they had pestered us a few times to stop at the beach in Langkawi but because we were short of time we couldn't.

I sounded it out to Friend and she being the ever enthusiastic agreed quite fast. A plan was hatched up almost immediately because time was short as hotels are usually booked end of the year. We managed to book ourselves into Rainbow Paradise Beach Resort. We chose the place because of its accessibility to the beach... easy for the kids.
Three days and two nights.... The kids excitedly plunged into the pool upon check-in. The water was very cold but that didn't deter us. Everyone was having fun before long. Son decided to lounge on the deck chair.... with his iPad and phone. He usually takes a longer time to soak in the moment and fun.
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We even took the opportunity to do an early celebration for Friend's birthday... sort of a surprise one. This was on the first night itself. The two men had to join us late as they had to work. The cake came with them!
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The children had made the cards at my place before we went to Penang for the holidays... An afternoon of creative juices.... Lol!
Weather forecast had predicted thunderstorms for the duration of our stay but only one evening was spoiled by heavy rains. But it wasn't too bad as everyone had spent more than half a day in the pool and on the beach. There were Rummikub sessions too.... as well as Monopoly Deal for the children.
The two boys tried paragliding the next day, their firsts. SY being younger and less experienced has some slight problems landing himself on the beach. I think the experience was exhilarating for both of them, one soon to be adult and the other, a budding teen. Other Half (and later Son) got to follow the whole excitement on the motorboat which pulled the paraglider.
On the second morning, Other Half took our gal on the jet ski....
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Son took SY on the other jet ski....
Time on the beach for the kids... to build sandcastles, or just to sit at the edge of the waters, letting the waves push them as they come in, sometimes gently and sometimes quite strongly. The fathers were game to join in the fun... I think it's a great time for everyone. Sitting at the edge of the water must have been a favourite for the girls cos they kept wanting to remain there... I guess it's kinda nice, to sit there... bobbing up and down to the waves as they roll in.... soothing.
We even had our own mini barbecue session... of sausages, bacon, mushroom and salads from the bag.... But both of us underestimated the kids ability to wolf down the food....

One of the highlights for me was the early morning walk I shared with Friend. It was nice to just sit on the rock by the beach and talk while listening to the waves being pushed onto the beach. It's been quite a while since I did that with a friend. Over the years, I've been caught up by so many things that I forget the simple joys that time with a friend can bring. We talked so much.... my boy finds it amazing that we can talk so much.... morning, afternoon, night... Lol!

One of the things that many women forget is that to have friends in our lives is important too. Women need emotional support from each other. Family and work (for those of us with a career) take up most of our time that we have no time to build our own network of support among our lady friends.

For me, it was a nice time to spend with my friend and our families. We have been colleagues for the last 8 years in a friendship stretching more than 10 years, one that got started through volleyball. Next year I move on to another school... Our friendship will continue but am sad cos there are just too many things that I will miss... how not to, with the one person that I've spoken most to in the last couple of years!

The hols was fun for everyone, I think. Plenty of time in the sun (and some time with the rains). And there weren't any untoward incident despite the 21.12.12 (end of the year thingy). These are what memories are made for... of bonds built, the fun shared, the things that we do together... They color our lives.... make it more vibrant, give it more meaning.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Langkawi... Highlands on an Island

December is here! And time flies when we are having fun. It's been a continuous time of so many activities since the hols began and this trip, I think qualifies as one of the highlights!
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This was hatched within 24-hours. Friend and I actually made plans to take the kids to Langkawi as one of our excursions on one of the days. Then on Friday morning as I was talking to Other Half about it, he quipped that he wouldn't mind going with 2 ladies and 5 kids in tow. A call and the trip was on... might I also add with super excited kids waiting for the day in great anticipation. Lol! Kids have a great appetite for play....
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And so, the following day... 5 kids and 3 adults (actually 4 kids and 1 soon-to-be-adult) went. Friend's Other Half sent his brood to my place. We took the 7.15 a.m. ferry, which meant getting ready by 5.30 a.m. The boat was packed despite it being the first of the day. The kids were so excited that they hardly slept throughout the one and a half hour ferry ride. Once we got there, we grabbed some food at KFC... By the way, KFC seems to be the most visible fast food restaurant in Langkawi.
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Other Half soon got the rented car which we booked before we left Kuala Kedah. Our first destination was the Cable Car ride at Oriental Village. I wanted to make sure that we got there before the weather turned. Weather forecast the day before had predicted thunderstorms. I think all of us were pleasantly surprised by what greeted us when we got to the village. The place was nice and there was a hive of activity going on.
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Everywhere was abuzz with things going on - horse rides, people riding on Sedge-ways, etc. The first thing we did was to get the tickets for the cable car. The kids wandered around. It wasn't very hot but was humid. Everyone of us sweated through and through.
While waiting to board the cable cars, the 2 girls tried out the flying fox. The two guys declined the offer to try hurl themselves off the tower. Lol!
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Then after walking around a while, it was time to board the cable cars. Waiting to board the cable car was quite uncomfortable because of the humid weather. The crowd was big and we had to wait more than half an hour for our ride in the line which snaked throughout the floor. The company running the cable car could do a better job by making the waiting area air-conditioned. Malaysians could get 1Malaysia prices for tickets, meaning they were cheaper than for the foreigners. As we were waiting we heard announcements being made that for a minimal sum, one could get priority boarding. I don't know what kind of minimal sum they were referring to but I think RM15 (1Malaysia price) and RM60-65 (priority boarding price) does not qualify for minimal!
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The cable ride was an experienced well worth it though. It was a steep climb with breathtakingly beautiful view of the jungle and coastline. The chilly wind cooled us all somewhat too.
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We got off the cable car at the first observation point and explored the area. From the observation decks, the views were awesome. The smaller kids were quite impatient getting from one deck to another but there was ample space for them to run around.
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This is a really nice place for photo taking. Unfortunately though the Skybridge was out of bounds! It's been closed for many months. Such a pity.

We weren't ambitious as the Langkawi trip was just a one day trip and didn't try to squeeze in too many places to visit. Over the years, Other Half and I have discovered that it's often more fun to just keep trips simple. That way, everyone is less tired.

Our final destination was the Underwater World. They had 1Malaysia ticket prices there too. By the way, we noticed too while there were 1Malaysia prices offered for entrance tickets, places like the Oriental Village hardly had a Malaysian flavour. I didn't see any Chinese kopitiams or Indian roti canai stalls. Such a pity that our rich diverse culture is not represented.
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The Underwater World is really nice. The exhibits were really impressive. They're as good if not better than the Sentosa Underwater World in Singapore that we went a couple of years ago.
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We were fortunate enough to be able to watch the seal show. The audience oohed and aahhed throughout the show. The kids were mesmerised. I was impressed too.
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But before going into the Underwater World we went to have tea here... It's as English as it can get cos it's run by an English lady. The place was cosy. You can have tea and watch the surroundings.
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Had scones with jam and strawberry jam. The menu claims it's homemade. Everyone liked the scones.
SY took a photo with a python.... I steered clear. Have no affinity for the slithery creatures. The Underwater World was totally worth it!
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We took the last boat back to the mainland. The weather forecast the day before had predicted thunderstorms throughout the day. But the weather held. It was even sunny most part of the day until we were done with the Underwater World. Then it started to drizzle as Other Half drove us back to the Jetty. It eventually poured after we got onto the ferry. God was good!

The trip was totally enjoyable. The children had fun. The young man too, cos he enjoyed his photo shoot. The adults had a great time too! We are planning another such trip. Lol! Turns out the adults too have a great appetite for play as well.

Memories are made of these... Some day I hope when the kids are all grown up, they'll think back of such times with fondness.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Taxidermy

We have a taxidermist in the family... an uncle who has been in this trade for decades. Recently we visited him and was told that his collection of stuffed animals were going to go soon. These are all works of art.. One has to have some know how of anatomy, sculpture, painting and even tanning. One has to remove all the internal stuff and 'do up' the animal.

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Uncle is one of very few people in this field. He says it's a dying trade. There are now many laws which prohibit the hunting of many animals in order to protect them from extinction. Moreover, it is also a messy job which involves digging up the innards.

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His collection of stuffed animals or some might label as 'trophies' dates back many decades. Over the years, many people and institutions like the zoo would send animals for him to stuff and preserve. All of these come with proper legal documents too.

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When we first came up north, this is one place which we would visit regularly and many of these stuffed animals were quite familiar to us. Our boy used to be afraid of some of them, especially this one huge crocodile head which would sit at the bottom of the stairs.

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This would be the last time we'd be seeing these animals. Since Aunty passed away, Uncle has been away quite often at his children's place.

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This leopard has been around for 40 years! It has been a familiar figure which grace the hall. And it's going to a new home too.

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These are also works of art... the preservation of form after death. I know it sounds quite morbid but it's not as scary as mummification of humans.

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These will all be soon displayed at the Natural History Museum in Putrajaya. I think they will make the bulk of the stuffed animals on display there!

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A lifetime of collection here.....