Sunday, November 21, 2010

15 Nov 2010: Day 11 - London to Singapore

Our holiday wraps up with the most delightful breakfast this morning with good spread, great variety, friendly service, and most of all, not too salty food.

After breakfast, we spend the morning shopping at PriMark located at Marble Arch station. PriMark is a great place to shop. Everything you name it, they have it! Prices start from GBP 1 and everything one can find there is a good bargain. I am very happy to have managed the purchase of early Christmas pressies for colleagues, friends and relatives here. 

Later on, I buy 2 more Longchamp bags, a red one for my mum and a purple one for myself, from Selfridge, a large shopping departmental store about equivalent to our shopping mall, Takashimaya.

We have a quick bite at McDonalds before rushing back to PriMark again to buy "peppa pigs" pyjamas for our girls.


14 Nov 2010: Day 10 - London

We are told to assembly early in the morning by 7:15am at the hotel lobby for our transfer to the train station. But due to misunderstanding by the coach company, we wait and wait until 8:30am before our coach finally come to pick us up.

We board the Euro Star Express train to London at 10am Paris time. On board the train, hubby and I spend the last of our EUR 5.10 on the purchase of a hot latte (for me) that costs EUR 3  and a coca cola (for hubby) that costs EUR 2.10. Neither deliberately plan nor through careful calculations, we spend our EUR notes and coins right down to the very last cent. That is awesome.

2 hours on board the bullet train and hey presto, we arrive in UK, London.

As we alight the train and step afoot into London, suddenly everything fall into place. And finally all seem normal, feel good and look familiar. No longer are we staring into signs that know us but not the other way round, no longer are we looking at people who hold their noses high up in the air, and certainly, the atmosphere is one of a relaxing and comfortable kind.

Upon our arrival, we embark on a city tour of London, which includes the Buckingham Palace, the Big Ben, London Tower Bridge, St Paul's Cathedral, the Tower of London and Trafalgar square, and not forgetting the China Town where hubby and I have our dinner at one of the chinese restaurants highly recommended by one of the tour members.

Our last romantic holiday night in Europe is spent in Hotel Novotel London Excel. The design and layout is very similar to Hotel Novotel Paris. It feels as if we are back in Paris again.



13 Nov 2010: Day 9 - France (Paris)


This morning, we go for the optional tour of visiting the Lourve Museum.

Dan Brown's book "The Da Vinci Code" comes to my mind the moment I step into the Lourve Museum. With each step I take, I wonder how he must have felt when he visits the museum and subsequently coming up with such an imaginative and thrilling storyline.


After the trip to the Lourve Museum, we go shopping at Lafayette from 2pm to 8pm. I buy two more LV bags: a N41108 Cabas Rivington Damier Ebene and a M95565 Montorgueil PM. Sadly, at the time of our visit, there is a quota on the number of LV bags each tourist can buy, and each passport is entitled to only one LV bag purchase. So, I find myself blessed and very lucky indeed when one of the tour couples willingly offer to lend me their passport so that I can buy 1 more bag of my choice.

Just before lunching at McDonalds Lafayette at Level 4, I buy 2 longchamp bags: a black shoulder strap bag and a brown tote bag. It is relatively easy deciding on the black shoulder strap bag as it is available in one size and colour only. I know that is the right bag for me at one glance. But it is a torture deciding which colour to get for the tote bag because the shop has black, brown and greyish green, all very nice colours. I think I spend like 30 minutes in the shop, plainly taking turns holding up the different coloured tote bags and posing in front of the full length mirror, back and forth, back and forth.

Later in the afternoon, I buy my last bag in Lafayette, a Lancel bag. I know this bag is meant for me the moment I set my eyes upon it; the design, the colour, everything about it, is just so me. A latest August 2010 design, I feel as if this bag is calling out to me, recognising me as the rightful owner. So there goes another shopping charge of eur 790 to my card.

After the day's shopping, hubby and I go for a good dinner at the Szechuan restaurant at Lafayette level 6. We share a Tim Sum meal and some nice chinese food. By then, I am very tired from all the standing, walking and browsing of bags. Tired but extremely pleased and happy from all my purchases.


12 Nov 2010: Day 8 - France (Paris)

This morning, we take a cruise down river Seine, passing landmarks like the Louvre museum and Notre Dame.

We sign up the optional tour of visiting the splendid heritage of the Royal Palace of Versailles which is rich in legend and history of the French Revolution.

Come nightfall, due to time constraints, we did not join the tour to see the night view from the highest level of Eiffel Tower. But even then, I can feel the romance of Paris just by standing there next to hubby, holding hands looking up into the lightened-up Eiffel Tower, with the cold Autumn wind blowing upon our faces.


11 Nov 2010: Day 7 - France (Luzern/Beaune/Paris)


This morning, we bid farewell to Switzerland, cross over to the French border and spend what seems like all day on the coach to Paris via Beaune, the most famous winelands of France.

Highlight of the day is our visit to the Notre Dame de Paris and be mesmerised by the magnificent view of the Eiffel Tower.

Finally, there is no need to keep moving hotels. Hotel Novotel Paris Est is where we will be staying for the next 3 nights. What a relief!


10 Nov 2010: Day 6 - Switzerland (Bern/Luzern/City Tour)

We depart on a scenic jouney from Bern to Engelberg early in the morning. The original plan is to take cable car ride up to Mt. Titlis for a panoramic view at 10,000 feet above sea level. Unfortunately, that place is closed for renovation works, so we end up taking a train ride up to Mt Pilatus.

I am famished by the time we reach the top of the mountain. Hubby and I decide to take light meal at the only restaurant there before proceeding to climb the mountain and take pictures. The capuccino is good but the food, as usual, is too salty for our tastebuds.

After visiting Mt Pilatus, we continue our journey to Luzern, one of Europe's most picturesque city. The highlight of Luzern sightseeing is the Lion monument, carved from limstone cliff to commemorate the bravery of the Swiss Guards during the French Revolution.

Finally, we are at leisure to shop for fine swiss products such as chocolates, music box, swiss knives and watches, or to stroll through the streets of fine 15th and 16th century houses.

We spend the night in Hotel Ameron Flora. 


9 November 2010: Day 5 - Switzerland (Geneva/City Tour/Bern)

Early morning we bid farewell to Italy as we drive through the Savoy Alps where it is surrounded by exceptional vineyards and proceed to the graceful city of Geneva.

We visit the capital city of Switzerland - Bern, where located is the world cultural heritage city by the United Nations. Bern is a charming town with arcaded shops, carved fountains and towers. We start our tour at the Bear Pit and then walk through the beautifully preserved old town. I buy a fridge magnet at one of the souvenir shops. It is the last piece with the cuckoo clock design which I like very much.

The Geneva city tour includes the Flower Clock. We drive past the United Nations and the Red Cross Headquarters before having our free shopping time.

I buy my first two Louis Vuitton bags at LV Switzerland - a Toile Damier Ebene Neverfull PM and a Damier Ebene canvas Pochette N51985. The saleslady who attends to me provides excellent customer service.

We spend the night in Movenpick Hotel and Casino Geneva. The hotel name simply reminds me of Movenpick ice cream. Yummy..


Saturday, November 20, 2010

8 November 2010: Day 4 - Italy (Venice/City Tour/Milan)


Today is not a good day... rainy, wet and cold.

We take a ferry ride to Venice, a fabulous city of canals, gondolas and beautiful palaces on an archipelago of 177 islands and characterised by its canals.

I am sad that our Gondola Ride is cancelled due to the rain. It is wet and cold, and extremely uncomfortable. We have to walk on heightened planks and even then, the water level reaches up to knee cap level at some places. With many tourists but minimal walking spaces on the planks, progress is slow, and movements restrictive. We are warned and advised to be extremely careful of our belongings as pickpockets are rampant. It is indeed very tiring and stressful.

Coming to Venice reminded me of my high school days when I take up English Literature as one of my examinable subjects - The Merchant of Venice. I love English Literature then, love this story and literally memorize all the quotations by Antonio, Bassanio and Portio.

Though wet and cold, I enjoy the ancient buildings of Venice and take many pictures, one of which, I have already set as my iphone lock screen picture.

We visit St Mark Square which is bordered by the Doges Palace, St Mark's Cathedral, the Bell Tower and the governmental buildings. We stop at one of the fine glass blowing factories where richly coloured Venetian glass is made for the world. But the real reason for visiting this glass blowing factory is not for us to purchase their products, but rather for us to have access to washrooms as there are no public restrooms available in Venice. In order not to embarass ourselves, we are told to pretend to look interested and listen to the sales talk first before slowly, discreetly, taking turns to enter the washrooms. I find it so amusing, that coming from Eddie, our tour guide.

Next, we continue to travel north towards the fashion capital of the world. Night has fallen by the time we reach Milan. The Milan city tour, a very short one, includes the Gothic Cathedral and La Scala Opera House.

By the time we have our own free time, it is already late, 8:45pm. Shops prepare to close for the day at 9pm. I enter a LV shop and am told that the pochette I want is sold out. Afterwhich, the salespeople politedly "chase" those non-buyers out of the shop to prepare for closing.

Hotel for the night is Atahotel Fieramilano.


7 Nov 2010: Day 3 - Italy (Prato/Pisa/Venice)


This morning, we head towards Pisa to visit the 'Square of Miracles' to appreciate the famous trio: The leaning Tower of Pisa, the Baptistery and the Duomo.

It is drizzling lightly when we alight our tour coach. Upon alighting the tour coach, we are swarmed by those trying to make a living selling umbrellas. We are told that each retractable umbrella costs Euro 5 when it is raining and Euro 3 when it is sunny. Thinking back, I regret not having purchased one for keepsake. 


Lunch is Italian spaghetti which is nice and tasty until Eddie adds chilli flakes to it. It is so spicy that I cannot stomach it. What a waste!

Afterwards, we drive pass the region of Chianti, where famous Italian wines are produced and then across the Apennine mountain range to one of the most romantic cities in Italy - Venice.

We spend the night in Holiday Inn Venice.



6 Nov 2010: Day 2 - Italy (Rome/Vatican City/Colosseum/Fountain De Trevi)

We stay in Hotel Cardinal St Peters the night before. The hotel breakfast is not too bad though surprisingly, their hot chocolate and cappuccino taste fantastic. It is also extra hot, the way I like it to be.

Our tour starts off in early morning with viewing of the St. Peter's cathedral in the Vatican City, the administrative and spiritual capital of Roman Catholicism. We see the famous 'Pieta' by Michelangelo and works of art by many other Italian artists.

Never in my life would I have imagined that one day I would be standing right in the middle of Vatican City and staring at this infamous cathedral. I chance upon Dan Brown's book "Angels and Demons" in 2003 while book browsing in Library@Orchard during lunch time. Back then Dan Brown is a nobody author, yet somehow, "Angels and Demons" catches my attention. I borrow the book and finish reading it in 2 days' time. From that day onwards, visiting Vatican City become one of my dreams.

Standing in Vatican City, the world's smallest country, I tell myself it would be a totally different feeling if I am to ever read Angels and Demons again. Because everything is now real, not just something made out of nothing, out of imagination from reading a book.

Next is our visit to Colosseum, one of the most magnificent monuments of ancient Roma. Built in 71AD, it once seats 50,000 spectators and is the chief circus of the Roman Empire where gladiatorial battles and other cruel glories are held.

Unfortunately, our tour package did not come with allowing us the time to enter the Colosseum. This, is one of my greatest regret. I love Rome, love ancient Greek history and methodolgy. I certainly would not mind bearing the extra cost for entering the Colosseum and spending the day soaked up in this ancient building of art work. But alas, time runs tight on a tour group. I hope to be back here again some day.

Our last stop for the day is the Fountain de Trevi. We are told that by throwing a coin into the fountain, that person will be back to visit again; by throwing two coins, that person will be together with whoever person he/she is with forever; by throwing three coins, that person will split up with whoever person he/she is with now. Just for the thrill of it, I toss in a coin.

Our hotel for the night is Art Hotel Miro. After dinner, our tour guide, Eddie brings us to Carrefour. As the shops close early, we are only left with 30 minutes shop time after having spent 20 minutes walking in the frosty streets from our hotel to Carrefour. I buy a pair of boots (Eur 25) as I realise the hard way, that I am not well geared in terms of footwear with my only pair of Malindi crocs. I found out later on, that this is money well spent because my feet are spared the dampness and wetness from the rainy days ahead.



5 Nov 2010: Day 1 - Singapore to Rome

This is my first holiday alone with hubby since I'm preggy with our little Jewel girl in Aug 2006. I consider this vacation as my 3rd honeymoon, after Japan in 2002 and Tasmania in 2004.

Our flight is an early one @ 9:40am Singapore time.

Whilst in the cab on our way to the airport, I tell hubby that my feelings on going for a long trip this time is very different. I am still happy and forward looking but not as excited, and certainly not feeling as carefree as I used to. I feel like an incomplete jigsaw puzzle with that one missing piece. I think being a mummy makes a whole lot of difference and it kind of breaks my heart to leave my 2 little precious girls behind while I go for holiday.

After having suffered more than 15 hours of flying, we finally touch down in Rome, Italy at 6:45pm local time which is actually 12:45pm Singapore time. Relatively speaking, we have gained 7 hours of extra time due to time difference: flight from Singapore to Dubai... transit of 3 hours and then from Dubai to Rome, Italy. After years of hearing praises about Emirates, I finally get to experience this airlines. I would say it is indeed value for money, but other than that, there is nothing spectacular. Yes, they do provide individual inflight entertainment, but I would have enjoyed the flight better if they have had higher standards of in-flight cleanliness.


12 Days Romantic Europe

This is a late post. 

Because (1) not all places I have travelled to in the past 12 days provide free wi-fi, (2) try typing on iphone 4's mini touchscreen to post blog and you will understand. 

Better late than never. So here I am, trying to recall to the best of my memories and write down whatever gained (or lost?) from the trip. One thing for sure, sentiments will not be exactly the same as I write my entry now. Some things gone can never be retrieved. Still, I will try my best to capture everything because our memories will fail us some day if not imprinted.

My upcoming entries will be categorised by the days and places I visited.


Saturday, October 9, 2010

21 Again

My attending of a cousin's 21st birthday party this evening brings me for a walk down lane memory.

It seems like yesterday when I have my 21st year old birthday party. In a wink of an eye, its the next generation's party that I am invited to, along with my own little family. Looking at my cousin who turns 21 tonight, life is full of hope, full of optimism, full of promises of the beginning of many good things to come.

Looking at the many young adults at the party, I cannot help but feel old. Perhaps not mentally, but definitely physically. Time and tide wait for no man. Though it is important and good to feel young at heart, no one can deny the passage of time. Age does and will catch up. The worst nightmare is to have a active and 'youthful' mind trapped in an old aged body. One cannot help but feel helpless and dependent on others when that happened.

Every one of us hopes to leave this world gracefully. But how many of us actually have this luxury of choice ultimately? I shudder each time I think deep enough into the reality of life and death. Of course, I hope when it is my turn to go, I can have that inner peace to embrace it gracefully and let go.



Monday, August 30, 2010

Thank You my Friend

I shopped at Suntec City yesterday morning and bought a chiffon dress, and a short black skirt with layers.

It feels great to go shopping knowing that you have the purchasing power and the means to buy what you like. It makes shopping totally enjoyable.

For this, I thank you my dear friend. Thank you for believing in me, for giving me a chance to prove myself, for giving me the opportunity to have this earning power, for making it happen to me.

Though we do not know each other that very well, you are like a big brother for helping me through and through. For that, I am grateful and thankful.

50% by chance, 25% luck, 20% hard work, 4% networking, 1% 贵人. Small and insignificant as it deems, do not belittle the power of this 1% because without it, there will be no 100%.



Monday, August 23, 2010

One and Only Apac

Today is my induction. I started work at 8:30am, working the Apac shift, my one and only Apac and most likely, the first and last.

Funny how precious some things get to be when it is no longer a daily event, no longer a everyday happening. Today's Apac shift is very very precious to me, because it is the only time I get to knock off in the evening. So, off I go at 7pm. Home! Such bliss..

At 8pm, hubby and I set off for dinner at my mum's place, and of course, to fetch our 2 little girls home.

Little coco girl has taken more steps on her own today. I love watching her take small bravo steps, then stand very still, clap her hands and smile. This is a big milestone for my little coco girl.

I am so looking forward to the day when coco can walk and run around on her own, totally independent. By then, direct lift access or not, will not matter anymore.


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

First Day of Work

Today is the first day whereby I will don corporate wear again after 3 years of disappearance from the corporate world.

I will have to work doubly hard to prove that I am still as capable as I used to be 3 years ago. I will face each new challenge with an open mind and tackle any oncoming obstacle with determination and perseverance. I know I can do it, as I have done it before, and I will do it again.

I look forward to a fresh start, new work place, different environment and meeting young people.


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Right Place, Right Time, Right Moment

I always believe there is a reason for everything.

People, things, events, they all exist and happen for a reason, for a purpose.

Originally I am supposed to start work on a Monday (yesterday). But due to some unforeseen circumstances, it is pushed back to Wednesday (tomorrow). 2 days and I have managed to do much packing and cleaning in the house. In fact, it is a blessing in disguise that my start date is delayed as both Jewel and Coral fall victims to the flu virus upon our return from Melaka and Genting. In addition, my mum gets to rest for 2 days before starting the tiresome job of looking after two young children.

Turn the clock back 6 years. When I look upon that period of time, everything falls into place. Whatever has happened then is a reason for whatever is today. If i have successfully referred my ex-colleague to my company then, I will not be starting work at where I will be reporting for work tomorrow.

Such is the power of being at the right place, at the right time, at the right moment. Things will naturally fall into place to fulfill their reasons of being.


Monday, August 16, 2010

Back to Work

Come Wednesday, I will ditch my apron for the calculator.

3 years of being a homemaker is not a very long time considering the number of years I will continue to work till the day I retire, likely another 20 to 30 years more. But then again, 3 years is not a short time either, at least not in the eyes of the corporate world. It is a harsh reality.

A mix of feelings on re-joining the work force. Happy and sad, excited and scared. Yet I am definitely looking forward to this major change in my life.


Sunday, August 1, 2010

Invaluable Lesson

I learn an invaluable lesson this morning when I visit my chinese physician.

I have always been skeptical when it comes to believing others, believing their supposedly good intentions, believing that there exist people who derive pleasure purely out of helping others without any ulterior motives, be it monetary gains or in kind.

Clouds of doubts have been hovering in the air for the past 1, 2 months. It is amazing how relieving it can be when these misgivings and uncertainties are finally cleared.

One does not command respect. It is earned. The same goes for confidence. It is invited. Respect and confidence, not forced, and certainly not demanded. Today, my chinese physician has indeed earned both my respect and confidence.

Each experience has its own story to tell. I am willing to share my special episode of experience with friends, with people, who care enough for themselves to believe in me.



Saturday, July 31, 2010

Friday, July 23, 2010

Gently as She Goes

Another beautiful song by Robin Wright Penn. Lips, ripe as the berries in June Red the rose, red the rose Skin, pale as the light of the moon Gently as she goes... Eyes, blue as the sea and the sky Water flows, water flows Heart, burning like fire in the night Gently as she goes... La, la la la la la la La la la, la la la La, la la la la la la Gently as she goes....

A Hero comes Home

Beowulf. A beautiful story with sad ending. I fall in love with this one. *** Just wait though wide he may roam Always, a hero comes home... He goes where no one has gone But always, a hero comes home... He knows of places unknown But always, a hero comes home... He goes where no one has gone But always, a hero comes home...

Thursday, July 22, 2010

China Roses

I am pretty sure you will remember what I have said before. This is one of my favourite songs, from album "Paint the Sky with Stars", Track #7: China Roses. Coincidentally, 7 is my favourite number and rose is my favourite flower. Do you remember the Holland rose? It is bigger than the usual rose with deep crimson red petals.  When it is my time, I want it to be decked in cheerful colours, in red and pink, not white. Who says it must be all serious, sad and sombre? *** Everyone has their own ideas of Heaven. What creates the beauty of the world is the love we have for it, connected to memories, wishes, desires. For each of us it is a different treasure we embrace - a changing sky, the crimson flower of the Keys of Heaven, a love token, the endless delight of fairy-tales, the ever-shifting pictures of our world that we find in the words of poets. For each one of us a different love becomes our own woo of dreams. ~Roma Ryan

Friday, July 9, 2010

Leisure

I never fully understand the meaning of this poem during my secondary school days when my Literature teacher shares it with us. Now it speaks volume.


Leisure (by W. H. Davies)

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare?

No time to stand beneath the boughs,
And stare as long as sheep and cows.

No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.

No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.

No time to turn at Beauty's glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.

No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began?

A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Life's Journey

Just one week ago, I receive news of the passing of a senior who used to stay in the same hostel as myself during my early schooling days. News has it bad that he has been fighting a battle with leukamia, one in which he obviously lose to, and is forced to leave for the rainbow land, leaving behind his wife and a one year old son. A quick calculation tells me that he is at most 37 years of age, still so young. Even though I do not know him very well, just a hi-bye friend, I am greatly saddened by this piece of tragic report because he is someone real and I do know him.

Another piece of sad news. I chat with a long lost hostel friend the night before and mention to him in passing the departure of this common friend. He tells me that he understands because early this year he has lost someone very dear to him. "Who?" I ask him. "My wife," he replies. OMG.. I am at a loss for words. He told me it was a sudden death, no one in the family unexpect it at all. Cause of death is massive stroke to brain. And the doctors could not provide a good enough reason for the whys as his wife has always been in the pink of health. My friend remembers with clarity the events leading to the wife's collapse on that fateful day; they had dinner as usual, afterwhich his wife complained of a really bad headache. He sends her to the hospital A&E...unfortunately, one way trip in which his beloved 34 year old wife never return from. I am terribly affected by his sharing. I read his blog, all the entries he dedicates to his wife. I feel his loss, so fresh; feel his pain, so raw; feel his sufferings, so excruciatingly agonizing. So sad so terribly sad.

Life. We all behave as if we will live indefinitely, but in reality, we are walking towards death with each passing day, from the moment we are born. The only difference between those who are diagnosed with cancer versus those who are healthy is that these people have a known number tagged to their remaining lifespan; as for the rest of us, it is just an unknown number.

The demise of my friend's wife is yet another gentle reminder for us, to treasure and to cherish what we have at present. Our loved ones...