Saturday, December 25, 2010

Our Christmas miracle :)

We had our very own Christmas miracle this year. 9 months ago, Sean lost his favourite friend Mary aka Bryson in the waters of Disneysea. I blogged about it here. We were all pretty upset about this.

I only blogged about the loss of Mary/Bryson last month, more than half a year after it was lost. You know, sometimes I get so lazy about blogging, and really wanna just call it a day, but things like this makes me sooooo glad I have this blog. This is what happened.

About 2 weeks ago, I received a comment on this blog from a reader (who had never commented before) saying that she had seen Mary at a maid agency in Tampines as she was walking by. The toy was just there in a play corner for kids to play with (it looks really new so we don't think many kids went there). It wasn't for sale. When I emailed her asking for more information, the kind soul actually returned to the agency and asked for the tortoise! She sent me a short email saying, "Mary is with me now." My heart just went OMG OMG OMG. She then sent me a picture of Mary, and she looked perfect. I am soooo thankful, THANK YOU GRACE for this Christmas miracle :)

I guess I should explain why this feels so incredible and unreal. This toy tortoise isn't store-bought. It was an airline giveaway by Malaysia Airlines. A stewardess gave this to then 7-month old Brian, in 1998, on our flight from KL to Singapore (when we were going on to Rome). I doubt the toy is still in production so I really thought there was no hope of ever finding the same toy anywhere. After all, it's been more than 12 years! I seriously have no explanation for this except to say prayers do come true!

A week or so later, Mary was in my hands (our kind friends who were visiting from Singapore helped collect Mary). Just now, I made sure Sean was still awake and at midnight on Christmas Day (about an hour ago), I sneaked out the front door, placed Bryson/Mary outside our door and rang the doorbell.



Before this, we had told Sean that if he prayed really hard, Bryson might swim his way from Tokyo to Bangkok. This story evolved to become, Oh, maybe Bryson met Santa Claus and hopped onto his sleigh, and if you're really good, Bryson might come back on Christmas Day!...

Anyway, Sean is so happy, it really is a miracle to him.


I managed to capture his joy at seeing Bryson/Mary, don't mind the messy house and Eddie's mangling of Merry Christmas into a Happy Birthday tune :)

Merry Christmas everyone, may all your days be joyous and may we always count our blessings and enjoy our miracles, no matter big or small!

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Bangkok Eats: Taling Pling

Yesterday was Ada's last day in Bangkok. Her MIL and BIL had returned to Singapore the day before. For their 'last' meal, I wanted it to be something really good. On Monday, they had gone to Greyhound, one of my favourite restaurants here, and loved it, so we were tempted to go there again. Another option was to have Peking duck again.

Then I remembered a restaurant that some of my friends here have recommended, Taling Pling. I have been to Taling Pling but not at the original branch on Soi Pan, which is the nearest one to our place. The other outlets aren't really good but since reviews for this one were good, I decided that we should do lunch there. NO REGRETS. The food was wonderful. Somewhat pricier than the other places, but still value-for-money. Nice ambience and superb food.

Best Pad Thai I've had in Thailand so far.


I'm not a fan of green curry so I wasn't that keen on this dish anyway. The pork was quite tough so maybe get chicken or beef instead.


Tomyam Goong, 210 baht, just enough for 3 bowls :P You couldn't squeeze another spoonful if you wanted to (we so wanted to!)


Morning glory again :)


Some fried seafood dish, which was soooo delicious.


Pandan chicken for the kids, excellent too.


And for dessert we had mango sticky rice. At 200 baht, it was pricey but so fragrant and delectable.


Taling Pling is now my current craving :)

Bangkok Eats: Je Ngor

On Sunday, Ada and gang headed out to the Chao Phraya and Wat Po on their own. They proceeded to Chinatown's Nam Sing restaurant for a sumptuous sharksfin lunch (I've never been there myself). We didn't join them as Brian had guitar lessons. Instead, we had a very late lunch at Paragon's Crystal Jade (yes, from Singapore), at around 3pm, and I was stuffed.

For dinner, Eddie stayed home with the boys, while I took a walk with our guests to a restaurant nearby called Je Ngor Kitchen. We usually go to another branch on Narathiwat Road, but this will do. As everyone was still full, we did not order too much. Most important is that Auntie (Ada's MIL) enjoyed her meal :)

Morning Glory 100 baht


Deep-fried minced seafood springball 100 baht (5 pieces)


Fish maw soup, there's a 400 baht bowl but we ordered the 600 baht one. There was plenty to go around.


Oyster omelette, not nice :P


Some seafood pancake. They didn't cook it so well today, but usually, it's quite yummm.


When we have our weekend meals, we usually order fish here, it's 350 baht for the fish, check the menu, so it's not that much more expensive than Lek Seafood. The fish is pretty good too.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Bangkok Eats: Lek Seafood

A dear old friend Ada is visiting from Singapore. With her are her husband, her two cuties Audrey (7) and Anthony (4), her mother-in-law and brother-in-law. Prior to her visit, we had been emailing and I listed 3 suggestions for restaurants, all relatively near to where we are staying in Sathorn; Lek Seafood (Cheap and good but totally no ambience), Banana Leaf (Cheap and quite good and cafe- like), Secret Garden (More pricey, good food, nice ambience and great cakes).

Well, yesterday we all went to Lek Seafood. So altogether, there were 6 adults and 4 kids (including a sleeping one). This is what we ordered and at the end of the post, you'll see how much dinner cost.

For drinks, 2 coconut juice, coke and sprite for the kids, 3 chrysanthemum juice, a Singha beer.





Large tomyam goong. Not fantastic but can do lah. This was 150 baht I think. Go google how much that is in Singapore dollars.


2 plates of morning glory. Real yummy but a little spicy. Each plate is 70baht.


2 plates of fishballs. Each plate 50 baht.


Omelette.


Stir fried squids with salted eggs


Stir-fried chicken with cashew nuts


2 plates of brandy-marinated fried pork ribs. 100 baht per plate.


1kg of bbq river prawns. YUM!! 400 baht.


BBQ/Baked seabass. I love this. Try to order this right upfront and get them to start bbq-ing before ordering the other dishes cos this dish always arrives really late, sometimes after everything else has been eaten. 320 baht.


For dishes without price, those are ordered by Eddie, not something I would order. So I can't really remember. The ones I remember are those I order each time I come here. I've come here quite a number of times and have had crabs (not great and quite pricey) and cockles and fresh oysters.

In total the bill came to 2000 baht. That's slightly less than S$90. Cheap or not? :)

Lek Seafood
156 Soi Phiphat, Narathiwat Ratchanakharin Road, Silom, Bangkok
Below the Chong Nonsi Skytrain Platform
Contact ☎ (02) 636-6460, 636-6054

Better bloggers have written about this place :) See below:
http://wenlynn-chin.blogspot.com/2010/08/lek-seafood-silom-bangkok.html
http://southernoise-gluttony.blogspot.com/2008/07/lek-seafood-bangkok.html
http://eiling.blogspot.com/2009/04/lek-seafood-bangkok-bangkok-trip-part.html
http://yilinglim.blogspot.com/2009/05/lek-seafood-silom-bangkok.html
http://the-f-word-blog.blogspot.com/2009/04/lek-seafood-bangkok-thailand.html
http://mynottoobigtoy.blogspot.com/2008/12/lek-seafood.html
http://zilingl.blogspot.com/2009/04/lek-seafood-chong-nonsi.html

Friday, November 26, 2010

Communism and Capitalism

Backpost 7 Nov 2010

A conversation I had with Sean while Brian was away on a school trip. Do correct me if what I said isn't true, I never did Political Science :P

Sean comes to the room and asks, "Why don't people share?"
Me: Huh? People do share.
Sean: No, I mean, why don't people share money and food and all that.
Me: Ohhhh...

Then I tried to explain as best as I could about Communism (Communal sharing/Community) and gave him a simple example:
"In communism, the government takes your money and distributes it to everyone. So whether you work hard or not, you get the same amount."
Sean: Okay.
Me: So let's say Korkor works very very hard, and what he produces/earns is enough to buy himself a big beautiful house, a fancy car, and lots of goodies for his family. And let's say you decide, hmmm, I think I'll take it easy and not work. But the government takes korkor's money and distributes it equally, so both of you get a small house, a bicycle and basic food for the kids, no Yakult or chocolates or oranges. Now, after a while, do you think korkor will continue to work hard or not?
Sean: um, no.
Me: So you see, it won't work cos everyone will get lazy and no one will do anything and the country will not prosper.

Then I asked him, so since Communism doesn't work, think about it and tell me what would be a better way of running a country.

He thought for a while and said, "I think the government should give the poor people just enough to survive properly and the people who work hard get the rest of the money so the people who work hard get more than the people who don't work hard."

Me: And yes, that is what Capitalism is about! This is what happens in the US, that's why it's so prosperous. They have a welfare system where if you are disabled, or you can't find work; you have to prove that you've been looking for work, or if you are really poor, the government will give you some money to get by, but not so much that you can have all the luxury items.

Sean: Oh, then what's Singapore?

Me: Oh, in Singapore, you have to work very hard, no one will take care of you. If you're poor, you can earn money by collecting coke cans and cardboard boxes to sell. (I know I made it sound extreme but I was trying to make a point)

Sean: Is that why I have to do my Math?

Me: Yes, that's why you have to work harder than your friends in school. Daddy doesn't have money to leave behind for you to start your own business or anything. So you have to depend on yourself.

Sean: ...

Me: Anyway, isn't it good to earn your own money? You'll appreciate it more.

Sean: But what about later, when the rest of your family get to live in luxury and you still have to work.

Me: What do you mean?

Sean: Like many years later, when you have a wife and family, they get to live in what you earn in your earlier days and you still have to work.

Me: er...don't you want to provide for your family?

Sean: Yes, but I mean if you work so hard, and you leave a lot of money for your children, then they won't have to work hard.

Me: mmm...I think you should just keep the money for yourself then.

After some time, he comes over and asks, "Why doesn't Singapore have Capitalism and help the poor?"

Me: Oh, actually Singapore is all about Capitalism. And Singapore does help the poor, but only the very poor.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Thinking Stick

The Thinking Stick is an edu-tech blog by Jeff Utecht, the HS Technology and Learning Coordinator at the boys' school. I came across his very popular blog even before my first visit to ISB.

It was towards the end of a fantastic first meeting (when we were visiting schools) with the ISB MS School Counselor (who left such a great impression on us) that I happened to mention to her that I had read the blog of the school's 'IT-guy', this blog called The Thinking Stick, her eyes opened wide and she said that's her husband! Which made her The Thinking Chick! She's a lot more shy than her husband so I'm not gonna link to her blog :)

I sound like such a stalker here and probably scared The Thinking Chick into not blogging anymore haha but this couple are just amazing people and I think the school is very lucky to have them. They are into their 2nd year at ISB, having come from Shanghai American School, and from Jeff's twitter, I now know they're staying on in Bangkok for the next two years, yayyy! And the thing is, I don't know that many teachers/personnel in this school, but the few whom I've had contact with, are truly amazing. I'll talk about that another time. But I have been very, very impressed with the passion shown by the educators here.

Today, Jeff sent me an email with just a link to his latest blogpost and a smiley at the end. He hadn't needed to cos just minutes earlier, I had seen this link appear on my wall from the Jeff Utecht Facebook page, yes, I am a fan :P In his post, he reflected on Dan Pink's book Drive and concluded that the key to motivating students to produce good work is by giving them a meaningful purpose bigger than a grade.

He goes on to cite the Operation Smile video on Brian's student blog as an example of this. Brian doesn't get many comments on his blog, so if anyone visits, do say hello, it'll make his day :) And don't expect too much from the blog, it's not a personal blog, more of a place to submit some of his homework. But he's thrilled to be getting visitors from all over, all thanks to The Thinking Stick :) I'm hoping this will make him more aware about the digital footprint he's leaving around and put in more effort in every piece of homework he uploads :P

What Sean believes

As part of International Week, and reinforcing the notion of Free to Be, Free to Believe, Sean and his classmates were asked to think about what they believed in. It could be anything, factual or otherwise, whatever you believe. This is what I found on Sean's little blog.

This I Believe

By Sean Leong

I believe time is a force.
I believe in God.
I believe there is no limit for anything.
I believe universes are not comprehensible to us and they never will be.
I believe everyone should be free to believe what’s in their hearts.
I believe we should be nice to God because he created us.
I believe diligence is more important than intelligence.
I believe we can help the environment and humanity.
I believe that there are ups and downs in life.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Brian's Operation Smile Experience



A couple of weeks ago, Brian went on a 4-day Operation Smile mission, in Mae Sot, an 8-hour bus ride away from Bangkok. The 10 middle-schoolers who went were asked to submit a final project documenting their experience and what they learnt. This video is Brian's submission.

The 10 kids travelled on a Saturday and arrived back in Bangkok on Tuesday, missing 2 days of school, for which they had to make up homework. Brian hadn't known that he would be selected for Op Smile (kids have to apply and submit a write-up on why they should be chosen) so he had earlier also signed up for an Eco-trip which started the Friday following his return from Mae Sot. He only got back home on Sunday night so the ensuing week was a hectic scramble to complete all the homework he had missed.

When I found out he was going on Operation Smile, I emailed the Middle School counselor Daneah, thanking her for selecting him and her reply was, "I’m very glad Brian is coming on the trip! Last year it was such a memorable experience for all of the kids-I’m sure this year will be the same. I’m very particular about which kids are selected because the makeup of the group has such an impact on the experience for all the kids. I think Brian is the perfect person to come. :o)"

A few days after the Op Smile team returned, I was beyond beaming with pride when I received this email from Daneah (hope she doesn't mind me posting this).

Hi Lilian,

I wanted to take a minute to say thanks for letting me have Brian for the four day trip-he was definitely an essential part of our group.

I am always amazed at Brian's ability to fit in where ever and with anyone! He manages to always look comfortable and like he's enjoying himself. Brian was spectacular at playing with the kids - from blowing bubbles incessantly to stickering up his face (the whole place was going nuts with taking photos of Brian with his little baby all stickered up too! See photo). Brian kept such a positive attitude and an amazing level of energy throughout the entire trip. He was not only wonderful with the kids waiting for surgeries, but he was pretty amazing with the students on the trip as well. Brian is like this perfect blend of maturity, but also still wanting to play with the other students. He was incredibly kind and patient with the 6th grade girls and got along brilliantly with the 7th grade boys. And yet I could also rely on him to be responsible and act appropriately - I wish I could clone him!

I think one of my favorite moments was watching Brian observe the surgeries. I was being especially vigilant as the last thing I wanted was for one of our kids to pass out or vomit in the OR! I kept checking in with Brian and he kept saying, "I'm fine." The other two boys continually had to take breaks, sit down, look away, etc. And when the surgeon motioned for the boys to come and stand elbow to elbow with him as he was operating on the little boy on the table, Brian was the one who stepped forward and continued to stand there almost in awe of what he was watching happen. I'm not sure if practicing medicine is something in Brian¹s future-but it was amazing to observe his fascination with what was happening.

My other favorite Brian moment was when we took all the kids up to the waterfall after a long hard day of working. The kids of course decided that they needed to walk to the top of the waterfall and then climb down the waterfall-thus getting themselves all wet. So much for the wading only idea! Brian was carefully navigating his way down the falls and happened to be in the back with two small 6th grade girls. It made me feel so good to look up and see him reaching back to offer help to one of the girls, and then a few seconds later, accepting her help offered to him! Upon reaching the bottom, Brian somehow found himself surrounded by all of the kids and good naturedly received a full dousing from them. They then all took turns being in the middle. Again the "we're just wading in the water guys" fell on deaf ears. Ah well, they had such a good time what¹s a few wet bodies in a van with no towels for 40 minutes?!

Thank you for sharing Brian with us, he was a very important part of our trip!

Kind regards,
Daneah


****************************

I didn't expect this, and I was very touched that she would take the time to let me know this about my son. Touched that she would even notice. I mean, I don't get to see this side of Brian. And he doesn't tell me much either, except that he had such a great time and that the kids were really cute.

There are some pretty amazing people working in this school. I am constantly astounded by the heart displayed in the actions and words of the people of ISB. Brian picked his school well, and is savouring every second of his time here. Truly, what more can a parent ask for in a school? :)

Tokyo 2010: Last day and a half

*3rd week of March 2010

Our Disney-free day was finally here. The plan was to get to Harajuku area and gorge on as much cheap sushi as we could at this Sushi Kaiten place that Monica had recommended and which we had gone to on our last trip to Tokyo. We also wanted to eat the Kyushu Janggara Ramen that we loved, also in Harajuku, just 200 m away from the sushi kaiten place. What a dilemma...the plan was to eat sushi for lunch then go somewhere else and return for ramen dinner.

Sigh...no such happy dilemma. The Sushi Kaiten place was no more. No more!!! Replaced by a ghastly GAP store! I was soooo mad. Couldn't believe my eyes. We kept walking and looking and the entire building was no longer there. Renovated to house another over-commercialised clothes shop...I want my Sushi Kaiten!

Oh well, we headed for our Ramen.


This time we took the counter seats, and for some reason, Sean decides this time to hate the smell of Kyushu Ramen...grrrr.


The last time we were here, the fussy eater ate up, so I dunno why he suddenly says it stinks now. I don't know what this picture on the counter is saying but that's pretty much how Sean looked when the food came :P


With nowhere else to go, we headed for Shibuya. It was a drizzly day so not much fun to jalan-jalan. We did cross the famous Shibuya junction though, and had coffee at the Starbucks across the junction, said to be the busiest Starbucks in the world.





We then walked aimlessly looking at gorgeous Japanese food displays and getting a little lost too finding our way back to Shibuya Station. Bought the boys ice-cream.


And these cakes are just so fluffy, light and delicious.


Oh, Monica recommended that we try these crab-filled croquettes (?), isn't that a game? None of us like it though.


Beautiful...just beautiful.




Took the train back home, can't remember what we had for dinner and watched fireworks from our bedroom.

The next day, we still had more than half a day before heading for the airport. To make up for the Sushi Kaiten disappointment, we went to Tsukiji Tama Sushi again :) This time, I also had a chirashi set which came with delectable chawanmushi, in addition to lots of sushis. It was just as great the 2nd time round.









Friday, November 19, 2010

Tokyo 2010: Disneyland at night

Was glad we returned to Disneyland for the night parade. I don't know if it's the same in other Disneys, but this parade was really pretty. There were so many people though and it was drizzling the entire time. The boys enjoyed the show though and we went for more rides, including a small coaster, before calling it a day.













Thursday, November 18, 2010

Tokyo 2010: Tsukiji & Katsu Gen

3rd week of March 2010

Day 3 was Disneyland Day. Nothing much to write about, just lots of crowd again. I've been to Tokyo Disneyland 3 times, the first when Brian was 4 months in my belly, and all 3 times, the crowd was just unbearable. The highlight of the day was our dinner. Again, we had returned to our hotel to nap and then woke up to get to Disneyland for the night parade.

At the mall at the main station, we hunted for restaurants to eat in. Now when Eddie's with us, finding a place where all of us could happily eat in is a nightmare. He doesn't take sushi or sashimi while Brian and I love that, and he's also always thinking about what Sean needs to eat. And Sean is an amazingly picky eater, we'd end up in McD if it were up to Sean.

And that's why this trip was so great, gastronomically. Everything was decided by me :) So I saw this delicious-looking display outside a sushi restaurant called Tsukiji Tama Sushi. Of course, Sean also had to have dinner and he'd have nothing there. He had seen a katsu restaurant and insisted on going there. So we made a deal with him, that if he'd let the two of us eat first, we'll take him to the katsu place later. Everyone was happy. See? Comprising works :P



I think the sign says 180Y per sushi? I really don't remember now, but the sushis were delicious and well worth the price. I saw on google there are other Tsukiji Tama Sushis in the city which offer all you can eat deals but this outlet doesn't. Brian gobbled up most of the salmon...


...while I relished this. What's this called again? I just love this. It costs a lot elsewhere but in this restaurant it's the same price as the other sushis. The temakis are 180Y too, if I remember correctly.


Mmmm...scallops.


We ordered more after we gobbled up the first order. Dinner was soooo goooood.


And then it was Sean's turn. The restaurant he was eyeing serves ONLY katsu. All kinds of katsu. Wow I didn't know entire families would come to a restaurant and only eat breaded deep-fried meat. I have never ordered a katsu for myself all my life, never liked it.


The restaurant was a really nice one though, and the quality of the katsu was really good, and there was a wonderful sesame aroma when the food came.


Sean tucked in and polished off his meal, including the big pile of shredded lettuce. He just loves his katsu. It was the most expensive katsu we've ever paid for, but a deal's a deal :P