Thursday, July 30, 2009

Yay! He's Getting More Mischievious

Y'know that little pirate I talked about yesterday? Well, he's really been getting up to some mischief lately.

He's been trying to raid my drawers and cupboards for anything that might become a new toy. He just sieves through everything, looking for something or other of interest. One day, he got into my secret hiding place for all the Thomas activity books. He sure thought he stumbled upon treasure that day! (Don't worry, there is nothing dangerous that he can get into. Its just a pain having to put everything back.)

Another day, while I was busy blogging here, he was being extremely co-operative. He said he would "work on his scrap book". All the supplies and stuff were on the floor behind me and I could hear him humming away. When I was done, I turned around to find that instead of glueing his cutouts into his scrapbook, they were all stuck fast to the floor!

Then today, while Iwan, our driver, was in the house playing with Aaron a little while I found that all the pegs had been pulled apart. I thought they were sturdy little things but he somehow managed to pry them all into two.

Iwan just let out a big laugh at it. He seemed to pat Aaron on the back a little, sort of in a congratulatory way. Then he says to me "He's just going to get more and more naughty. Its great! Much better than if he just sat there being quiet."

He said it with so much enthusiasm and pride that initially, I looked at him and thought to myself "Sheesh. Only a guy would say this. Someone who doesn't have to spend the day with the children!". I know that its good for children to be curious about the world around them and of course, that was what Iwan was getting at anyway. He just put it in a way that I didn't expect.

Anyway, the attitudes of people here towards children have always made a very strong impression on me. I always marvel at how almost everybody you meet is a child friendly person. Everyone seems to have a way with kids. And, all of them appear to be incredibly tolerant of all sorts of behavior. I frequently hear them saying "Oh, he's just a child" or "Kids are kids" no matter what the child is doing. They just seem so understanding of all the development that children go through. (By the way, I doubt there is such a thing as controlled crying of any babies here. If they have trouble sleeping and cry, they're just immediately picked up and soothed.)

So, while Aaron gets more mischievous by the day, I'm trying to take a more light hearted approach to it and laugh at most (not all) of his antics. Its less stressful for everyone and he does see the reasoning most of the time. I don't want to be one of those mothers that throws a fit over every little thing. I'm still not Indonesian though so if its anything defiant or unreasonable, there will still be consequences. Ha! Ha!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

He Thinks He's A Pirate!

Over the past week, Aaron has developed this new habit of running out whenever he hears other little kids outside. Sometimes, they are down the road and don't see him. He doesn't see it as a problem, he just stands there and knocks the padlock against the gate to get their attention.

The first time I asked him what he was doing, he said he was trying to warn the kids not to fall into the drains. It puzzled me but I left it at that. They were actually playing in the drains. So he kept yelling out in Indonesian "Awas! Awas!". Eventually, one of the kids came over to chat with him.

So each day, he hears kids, runs out, and bangs on the gate to get their attention.

A couple of days ago, there were two girls outside. He tries the same trick and eventually they come over. They know he speaks English so they said "Hello baby".

His answer completely take me by surprise. He says "Hello there me hearties!". My little almost three year old.....*LOL*

He then starts talking some sort of gibberish to them and they just giggle. Later on, he tries to put on some pirate accent and ask them what their names are only he doesn't understand their answers. I think he's getting this from watching Captain Feathersword on The Wiggles.

Perhaps I should start giving him pointers now on how to talk to girls. Otherwise, he'll start thinking that all this pirate talk must be the way to go since these two were highly entertained by him.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Jaws vs Alien

My body is making me think of two particular movies at the moment: Jaws and Alien. There is something in there, but I can't quite feel it yet. Sometimes I think there is a nudge, like Jaws brushing innocently against a leg or a boat. And then, the thought of having something growing in me reminds me of the bursting-through-the-chest scene from Alien. I should really change that image in my head to perhaps being a Trill except my symbiont is a fresh being with no memories or experiences.

Sometimes its like a squirming movement in my belly. I think I feel it but I can't be sure. And, I've forgotten what those early fetal movements feel like. The ones I remember are the solid kicks and elbows when I least expected it. Or the uncomfortable shuffle for a better position similar to what Richard does after being squashed in economy airline seats.

Surely its just a matter of weeks now before I can prompt some movements. This is the part I've been looking forward to. Its amusing as well as reassuring. As long as the baby is moving, everything should be fine. I never really found out if it was ok to be doing this but I've got my torch ready again. I imagine it making some sort of sun on the inside. That always got Aaron jumping about.

Even though I'm being reminded of these two movies, I haven't and will not be watching any scary movies. Under normal circumstances, I already find it so difficult to watch any movies with things that may suddenly jump out or, the opposite, movies with too much suspense in it. I have to mute the TV if the suspense builds too much! Imagine all the stress hormones I'd be releasing to the baby! So, I'm avoiding them all and sticking to humour, drama and trash.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Learning To Write Chinese Characters

Richard went to a Chinese primary and secondary school where he learnt to read, write and speak Mandarin. I am extremely envious of this because my reading, writing and speaking is probably at the Grade 1 standard. Even my parents regret it a little that they didn't send us to Chinese schools.

So, we're trying to have Richard speak only in Mandarin at home. It will help me as well as allow Aaron to grow up hearing the language whenever Richard is around. Recently, we've seen a slight surge in Aaron's speaking with Richard. At least he no longer answers in English whenever Richard says something in Mandarin.

Richard spends around 3 to 4 hours with Aaron each day and a lot of that time is spent playing or out on walks. This has left very little time for any sort of writing or even introduction to writing Chinese characters.

I think Aaron is pretty good with the pencil now and can do all his English alphabets and numbers decently. I've started trying to teach him how to write some simple Chinese characters but this is so hard!

The problem isn't so much recognizing the characters. At his age, I think everything still looks like a picture. But, learning to write them is a whole different story.

Each character has a number of strokes, the strokes have to be written in a certain order, and each stroke needs to start at a particular point. Take the character for hand for example.

It looks simple enough. Yet, you have to remember to do the three "horizontal" strokes first before the "vertical" one. And, the top most "horizontal" one needs to go from right to left, whereas, the other two go from left to right. Oh, you also can't life your pencil when moving from the "vertical" stroke to that slight up tick.

Thankfully, there are quite a few simple characters I can go through with him before I reach something like "dog" which is not terribly complicated but still hard for a 3 year old:

I know that in the Chinese schools, children are made to write a page or more of each character. I have one of those exercise books here and there are 195 squares to a page! Its not the most imaginative way to interest a child in Chinese but I guess those that went to Chinese schools had no choice and knew no better.

Bilbo has a post today on the dying art of handwriting. Yesterday, I read an article on how the number of internet users in China is more than the entire population of the US. I wonder if writing of Chinese characters will one day also become a dying art. Its not unthinkable since keyboards can be used to type out characters. All you would need to do is remember what the radicals look like and where they are on the keyboard (and maybe make a selection from proposed characters). So, you'd still need to be able to read and recognize characters but maybe one day, people won't remember which strokes come first or which direction they go in. I think there is an even simpler way too where they do it by typing the pinyin which is basically Romanized Chinese. So, I think its unlikely, but not completely unthinkable that people may eventually forget how to write the characters. Or at least forget how to write them correctly.

I get really frustrated trying to teach Aaron how to write but I think its something thats worth persevering with. I'm not giving up yet but I've told Richard that he's the Primary Chinese Tutor in the house!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

I Promise To Travel

One of my single friends mentioned recently that she thinks she may be too selfish to have any children. She likes her lifestyle, her home and all its furnishings and has an addiction to travel. Yes, kids are costly and time consuming. And some fleeting moments, even though she has a work life that I wouldn't want, I do envy her Friday nights of hanging out with friends till the early hours of the morning.

So maybe her rewards for all the hard work she puts in are the nights out, trips abroad, meals at fancy restaurants and of course, professional status.

But, what about SAHMs? Like me, for example. Supposedly, the reward is that we watch these little miracles take their first steps, say their first words, go potty, etc etc etc. (I guess working people will say that I get to slack around all day long.)

I sincerely hope this isn't all there is. I mean, I once had that lifestyle. Y'know, the one that involved traveling? Its the traveling that I'm most "worried" about. I've got another one on the way! Anywhere I go, I'd like to go as a family but soon, its going to be a family of F.O.U.R. Hard to imagine...the money, the extra organisation involved, the extra tantrums perhaps, but surely there will be extra fun.

Since Aaron was born, we've "travelled" a lot but we haven't really been on any major trips to places we've never been to (except Bali, which was easy). Firstly, half our trips were back to Ipoh. I felt I had to do that because my grandparents are all around the 90 year mark and its important for Aaron to get to know them now. The other half of my trips were to Brisbane and that was always when Richard couldn't get away from work and I needed a break from Palembang.

Do I sound like I'm complaining? Well, I'm not. I know I'm lucky to get to change location as often as I do. But, I'm making a promise, here and now, to travel to those destinations on my "Must Visit" list. I've got to work out the money, and the time, and balance it with time (and money) spent going back to Ipoh.

I think my first target is Kyoto, Japan. That one is going to cost me extra because its the place I've been wanting to take my mother to. I'm planning!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Photostory Friday - Determination & Team Work

I really wish I knew how to take a better photo of this. It was fascinating to watch. Seriously! Even Aaron was interested in them.

We've got the ant situation enough under control so they don't come to the kitchen or onto the dining table. BUT, for food dropped anywhere else in the house, they're the super cleaners.

This little army of ants worked on two good sized crumbs for over 12 hours. As you can see, the hole they were trying to take them down was way too small. They just kept maneuvering in and out, backwards and forwards, left and right, over and over again. I wonder what they were saying to each other the whole time??

I noticed them around 4pm the other day. A couple of hours later, I noticed that they were still at it. Thats when I took the photos. As we watched TV that night, they were still hard at work.

I saw them drop the crumbs numerous times but they just went back down to the floor, picked it up and started all over again. I checked on them before going to bed and they were still working at it.

The next morning, they were all gone! Crumbs too! I'm sure they didn't figure out an alternate route. I think they nibbled as they worked and finally, it was small enough to take down that hole. Talk about determination and team work!

Here's a link to some interesting ant facts. I've cut and paste a few of them here:

If a man could run as fast for his size as an ant can, he could run as fast as a racehorse.

Ants can lift 20 times their own body weight.

An ant brain has about 250 000 brain cells. A human brain has 10,000 million so a colony of 40,000 ants has collectively the same size brain as a human.

Some worker ants are given the job of taking the rubbish from the nest and putting it outside in a special rubbish dump.

The Slave-Maker Ant raids the nests of other ants and steals their pupae. When these new ants hatch,they work as slaves within the colony.

Some ants sleep seven hours a day.

Some ants care for and "farm" other insects.

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Thursday Thirteen - Things I Learned

Its been awhile since I did a Thursday Thirteen so, why not? Anyway, here are the 13 things that I learned with Aaron. At least they won't surprise me in this second round.

1) It is not a waste of money to buy maternity clothes. At least you'll be comfortable and don't need to look too frumpy. I made a few of my tops but had no clue with the pants and ended up buying at about 7 months.

2) Don't worry about the fat you put on. Its required, and breastfeeding should help take care of it. I hope it works again this time.

3) You don't forget all about labor pains once its over. Memories. VERY VIVID. Not looking forward to next January.

4) Breastfeeding does not come naturally. Many painful lessons taken by both parties. I have also heard that just because we eventually worked it out the first time doesn't mean that breastfeeding baby #2 will be easier.

5) A breastfed baby's poop is NOT sweet smelling.

6) You don't need to worry if your breastfed baby does not do a No. 2 for 10 days. It will come when its ready, YOU just need to be ready for it.

7) There is no point trying to schedule breastfed feeds. Instead, adopt open 24 hrs, on demand, free drinks mentality.

8) The easiest way to put a baby to sleep is to feed it to sleep. Forget about all that sleep training and controlled crying. I was really hung up on this one and felt like a total failure when I couldn't get Aaron to sleep. Then I just gave in and life was restful.

9) Buying a baby all white things may look angelic before the baby actually arrives but it gets really boring. This time round, I'm going to find out the sex and do my shopping here in Indonesia where baby clothes are quite affordable.

10) Cloth nappies are great for the environment. BUT, when you're short of sleep, specifically, long stretches of sleep, the disposable kind may be the answer. After the first month, we did this during nights.

11) Nail scissors are much easier to use than nail clippers.

12) Don't be shocked to find your 3 month old balding and dropping hair all over his little mattress.

13) Finally, a mother not only needs time to rest but time to get online! It keeps her sane :)

I promised myself that I wouldn't let this blog become a pregnancy blog. I do try to keep things balanced here (baby, life in palembang, life in general etc) but I've been dying to announce this for weeks and now that I have, there are all these queued posts in me. Don't worry, I'll space them out. Different topic coming up tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Snowball of Slackness

I chat with my brother almost everyday and each day, the conversation starts out exactly the same way.

"Halo. What are you doing?"
"Nothing. You?"

It doesn't matter who starts the conversation, the first three lines almost always look like this. Then today, it went quite differently. Amongst other things, he said:

"'re supposed to be busy and stuff..."

" can sit down for a few minutes when you're giving birth, otherwise GET BACK TO WORK..."

"'re considered two people right? so you should work doubly hard!"

" also eat for two, so there should be more workload out of you. No point feeding if output is the same..."

Of course, he was just having some fun. He's a great uncle and I'm sure he's excited about another little one to play with. We used to fight like crazy growing up but now, we chat all the time. Sometimes with nothing much to say, other times with more serious stuff, and then there are times like this with the fun stuff.

Anyway, I have news for him. Today, I have had the slackest of slack days. Somehow, after blogging about this pregnancy yesterday I felt that I could just slack off. Of course, I was already starting to before that but today has been one big bludge of a day. I know there really isn't any entitlement to slacking just because one is pregnant but circumstances were so accommodating today.

With the water situation, we couldn't do any laundry. So, no hanging the clothes out or bringing them back in to be folded either.

We ended up going swimming at Novotel yesterday evening just so we could have showers there. And that led to dinner out as well. So, all the food I cooked for dinner yesterday was kept for lunch today. Another chore, not needed to be done.

Thats the end of the unavoidable slackness. From then on, I did it all by myself.

The plants didn't get watered because it looked cloudy.

No toys were picked up during the day. It happened to be in one corner and didn't look all that messy.

We ate biscuits on the floor and the crumbs went everywhere. I still haven't got around to cleaning that up. Maybe the ants will help me.

I gave Aaron a shower, washed his hair and used the shampoo suds to soap him.

Those few simple acts of slackness seem to have made the day a lot easier. Its getting close to dinner time and there's no avoiding the work there I guess. Well, I know I'm going to steam tofu, so at least that one is an easy dish.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

License to Eat and Sleep - NOT!

We came back from Kuala Lumpur on Sunday evening but it has taken me all this time to "recover". Things just aren't as they used to be....

Supposedly, I now have a license to eat as much as I like. But, thats just not happening. There is this new threshold that must be strictly adhered to otherwise, stuff just gets ejected. I'm sure its at a point less that what I can normally eat. So, I'm yo-yo-ing between starving (from eating too little) and stuffed (from exceeding that limit. Either way, I'm uncomfortable.

I'm told to get as much rest as possible too. Sleep more, take things easy, relax. Well, thats not happening much either with this second pregnancy because the result of the first pregnancy is running around all day long.

Our quick trip back to Kuala Lumpur was partly to visit the doctor and take a peek at the little being thats in me. Actually, its not so little anymore. I'm 16 weeks and supposedly, its 3 or 4 inches long. It already looks cute!

This pregnancy is progressing very differently to when I had Aaron. Back then, I didn't have any morning/all day sickness PLUS I had all the time in the world to sleep, sit around doing nothing or just doing things that I felt like doing. Oh, the luxury of it!

Still, everything is good. I know life is going to change again but thats good. I've started telling Aaron about it but of course, its a little abstract to him. What I'm most looking forward to is seeing him interact with the baby. Hopefully, it won't all be acts of insane jealousy!

For today, we have to go see about what we'll do with the fact that the water tank is all muddy because there is supposedly a burst pipe somewhere. The last time this happened was in July 2007. You can see a photos of it here. It looks pretty much the same.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

6 Hours Of Darkness

We had another black out last night. It started at the same time, dinner time, but lasted much longer. It came back after a couple of hours the last time so last night, we sat around waiting for it. I gave up around 9.30pm and went to bed. I think Richard waited a while longer because he was hoping to do the dishes before going to bed but he gave up too. In our house, when there is no power, there is also no water because the pump can't work to get water into the house.

A couple of years ago, somebody told me that there are no power interruptions before an election because the government doesn't want to frustrate the people. TRUE. They also said that you can expect frequent interruptions after the election. TRUE. (Although, I don't know if its just a co-incidence.) That must be when they balance out all the extra power they might have generated in the previous weeks or catch up on all the maintenance works. The national elections were last Wednesday and since then, the rotating blackouts around Palembang look to have started.

Anyway, we're off in a couple of hours and won't be back until Sunday evening. Hopefully, we won't be returning to any blackouts! We're making a short trip to Kuala Lumpur. Tell you about it when I get back. Have a good weekend everyone.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Time For Different Tactics

I think I've mentioned before that I found this incredibly effective way of encouraging Aaron to put away his own toys. Anything that he leaves behind, I put away for him, on top of the fridge and he doesn't get it back until tomorrow.

So far, it has worked great. But, like everything else in these toddler lives, I've got to find a new way of persuading.

Several weeks ago, when I went to put something on top of the fridge, he started saying "Hakuna Matata. It means no worries. I'll just play with it tomorrow".

I knew it was starting to lose its effectiveness. I tried to milk it for a few more weeks worth of toy cleanup (and other good behavior) by taking a favorite toy instead of the toys that were not picked up.

Finally, this week, there are two train sets, including the rails, on top of the fridge. And, nobody pestering me to bring them down. He even tried offering me things to put up there just so he didn't need to pick them up!

Some days I think he's on the cusp of willingly and happily picking up his toys, he does do that fairly often, but other days......

Its not only picking up toys, I was using that particular strategy for all sorts of misbehavior (tantrums, running around during meals, etc). I need something new.

I remember being chased around with a rattan cane when I was a kid. Those whacks from the thin (and frayed) cane stung like crazy but they seemed to work. All my mother needed to do was look at the cane and we'd behave. I'm not going to say "never" but I don't think I'll be using that with Aaron. We never retaliated but I think Aaron will probably prove to me that "violence breeds violence". He's hasn't acted that way yet but sometimes, I hear him say that he's going to snatch something from somebody else or smack them or something else similar.

Overall, he's still a lovable little boy - helpful, funny, curious and concerned. I know everyone needs to be naughty sometimes in order to grow up. Reasoning and preparation or expectation setting seem to work if I lay enough "groundwork". I'm just cracking my head over what to try next for those out-of-hand times.

Any ideas? What do you do? What did your parents do to you?

Monday, July 13, 2009

How many hours are there in your day?

Supposedly, we all have 24 hrs in each of our days. Well, I have news for you. I think I've already gone through 24 hrs even though the sun hasn't quite set and I woke up at sunrise today. And you all know, I live in Palembang and not some place with those endless days. Today has been SO. INCREDIBLY. SLOW.

Several weeks ago, one of my friends (a new mom) said something along the lines of "The days are so slow!". Oh, how I can identify with that. And I'm no longer a new mom. This strange stretching out of the day is probably the aspect of motherhood that I least expected.

Before Aaron was born, people kept asking me to go out, enjoy myself, go out for dinner with Richard, and other things like that. They said that once the baby came, there will be no time for any of that. Now, wouldn't you get the impression that the little bundle of joy was going to keep you so occupied (as in busy doing one thing or other) that you didn't have time to do anything else?

In a way, that was true. I was and still am kept occupied the whole day long. I try my best to keep each day productive and have our activities lined up, but every so often, there is a day like today. It start extra early, and since I didn't plan properly, I ran out of activities early. This kind of day usually coincides with a day that Aaron doesn't feel like independent play. And also, it happened to be a day we didn't have access to the car. All I felt like doing is sleeping/surfing the internet/reading but all he wanted was to play play play. So, the "compromise" is sitting on the floor, trying to play and watching the minutes slowly creep by.

So you see, its true that there is no time to do anything because I was kept busy the whole day long. But really, I have done absolutely nothing today. Busy for nothing, doing nothing.


You wouldn't believe it! I got to that last "nothing" and the power went out. It wasn't a power trip either, but a neighborhood wide blackout. That was two hours and a half hours ago of extra slow time. Funny thing is that I managed to put Aaron to sleep about an hour ago and now, after sitting in darkness, doing nothing, I'm fully recharged and no longer feeling lethargic. I'm ready for tomorrow.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Hair Rebonding in Palembang

Hair styles, treatment and trends are a huge part of any girl's life. Well, most girls. My mother is one of those practical ones and didn't do much in terms of hair and make up while I was growing up so I didn't pick up any of those habits. I don't exactly like my straight hair but in a way, boring, dead straight hair is easy to manage.

What I always wanted was curls. That would have been so much more interesting. Just a little bit of a wave in my hair would have made me happy. When I was in Grade 3, my mother took me to get my hair permed. I got teased for it at school but I secretly loved it. Unfortunately, I never got it done again. And somehow, when I was old enough to choose what to do with my hair, I've always avoided perming it. I don't know what it is. I'd love to have some nice big curls now but I just feel that its not me. Well, it wouldn't be me at all would it? All the curls would be fake. Thats the ridiculous sort of thinking that keeps my hair straight.

Anyway, at least I'm not so out of place here. One of the hair trends here is hair straightening, or as its called in South East Asia, hair rebonding. But, this doesn't make my long straight hair fashionable because the aim with the hair rebonding is to have super flat and straight as a needle hair. Rich or poor, it seems that everybody is getting this done to their hair. Even those with straight hair is getting it made straighter.

A friend of mine who works at a "hair salon" told me that there is two hours each day allocated to cutting hair and the rest of the day is just for hair rebonding. Supposedly, this is a very famous "hair salon" for rebonding and people from a couple of hours away will come here to get their hair done.

Here is what the place looks like. Its seems messy and old fashioned but its raking in a lot of money for the owner. Actually, all the traditional hair salons look like this. The ones in malls appear to be like hair salons in Malaysia but most operate the same way as these traditional ones.

The place was so noisy and there was so much going on. This is the inside of the shop and you can see a lady sitting on a stool right in the middle. The place was L-shaped and to the right of this photo were another 4 customers being worked on. There were at least five other girls waiting for their turn outside. And just take a look at that girl in the pink shirt, she's having some instant noodles while her hair is being worked on! I'd love to just sit there for a morning and watch all this but I don't think I'm brave enough to actually have anything done to my hair.

Well, thats all for today's peek into life in Palembang :)

Friday, July 10, 2009

Disgusting Situations

Palembang is really a place that generates a lot of mixed emotions in me. On the one hand, I find it very affordable to live here. Not only are everyday grocery items cheap, my weekly foot reflexology only costs USD 6. If you're not too fussy, clothing and shoes are also very affordable. Naturally, I get really happy when I find bargains while out shopping or having my foot massaged.

Undoubtedly, there is a huge gap between the rich and poor in Palembang and this is clearly visible just driving around the city. A very common conversation in our household is about how much money the majority of the population here earns and how they still survive. Not only do they survive, I often find them to be very jovial, sincere and open. These people often have such heavy financial burdens with households that include their parents and children to support. I've mentioned before that I initially felt some sort of pity for these people but have since grown to realize that it was too insulting to the people to feel that way. They are a proud people, work hard and survive. I've grown to admire them instead.

Every so often, I come across a situation that I now start to term as "disgusting".

Today, I went with a friend to look at a house he was thinking of renting. It is on the outskirts of some housing area and therefore, next to swamp lands. All I can think about was the snakes and mosquitoes that would be visiting. Here are a few photos of the house itself. (No, nothing disgusting about these photos.)

The house is going to be rented out "as is" and the landlord will not be chipping in to to make the place any more livable.

Alright, here is the "disgusting" situation that I mentioned. They're all variations of how some people spend money in comparison to the annual rental for the above house. By the way, the rent will undoubtedly burden my friend heavily because he needs to come up with the entire year's rent within the next couple of weeks. Rental here is paid a year in advance.

The yearly rent for our house would be able to pay for 12 years of rent for that house above.

Also, Richard told me that when his boss came, he stayed at the penthouse of Novotel for one night. That one night would have been able to pay 3.2 years of rent for that house. Imagine night!

Richard's boss' wife did some shopping while here. She bought some beautiful batik and that cost about 1.6 years of rent.

I know that there are plenty of people in the world far richer than the majority of the world's population and they too have a right to spend their hard earned money in whatever way they choose. But, sometimes, the difference between how the money is spent is just so way off that my limited vocabulary just keeps spitting out "disgusting".

Thursday, July 9, 2009

I haven't forgotten about Bird Flu

A couple of years ago, there was no such thing as H1N1 or Swine Flu. Instead, Bird Flu was all "the rage". In fact, at the time that we moved to Palembang, Indonesia had the highest number of cases of Bird Flu (H5N1) and did not seem to have the situation under control.

I was so paranoid at that time that we did not eat any chicken (AT ALL) in Palembang. I realize that you can't get it from cooked chicken but what about the raw chicken that needs to be prepared. And even if I went to a restaurant to have it, the people in there would have handled the raw chicken, and all the other food.

With around 95,000 cases of Swine Flu about these days, the Bird Flu, with a total of 436 cases since 2003, seems to be forgotten. What shouldn't be forgotten is that the total number of deaths from Bird Flu is 262 or a 60% fatality rate. So you've got one that spreads so easily, and another that is so deadly....I hope they don't meet up somewhere!

I have always shopped for fish at one particular market that is farther away from my usual one because the chicken section wasn't anywhere near the fish. Unfortunately, during my visit yesterday, I noticed that the perimeter of the fish section was now mostly filled with chicken vendors. My paranoia has returned!

The guy on the bike rang his bell to tell me to move aside. I got the shock of my life when I turned around and saw what he had.

Maybe its time I looked at shopping elsewhere....

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

YAY! Big Cleanup Completed!

I've been putting off doing a big cleanup of all our stuff here in Palembang for quite awhile. This house is very spacious but it has very little storage space so, I really need to either get rid of some things or send them back to Ipoh with my mother when she leaves. I finally started on it on Monday. Things got dusty, I got grouchy and tired, and that in turn probably set off a few of Aaron's whining episodes (which makes me all the more grouchy). Hence, the two day blogging break.

I've trimmed down to the bare essentials now. Especially in the clothes department. When we first moved here to Palembang, I really didn't know what to expect. I didn't know much of Indonesia at all and had the impression that it was a conservative place. After all, it is the nation with the largest Muslim population in the world.

The bulk of the clothes that I initially brought here were shirts with sleeves, long pants and calf length skirts. Everything that I disliked wearing when I was in Malaysia. Don't ask me why I even own them.

Needless to say, it was hotter than hot when we arrived here. The temperature has reversed since then but in February of 2007, Palembang was a hotter place than Ipoh. We arrived on a Saturday and on the Sunday, we went to Mass and I wore a proper shirt and longish skirt.....and nearly fainted from the heat. After a few days in Palembang, I was back to my shorts and sleeveless t-shirts. Its actually quite acceptable to dress this way and I've noticed that more and more people are wearing shorts over the past two years. The Muslim girls are of course more conservative but while they don't show much skin, many of them dress in extremely tight fitting clothes - skinny jeans and snug t-shirts.

Actually, the Muslim women here seem to be much more practical with their clothes. When they are at home, or in their own neighborhood, I've often seen them in sleeveless dresses. I don't think this happens very often at all in Malaysia. (Remember the dress code at the state library?)

So, if you're planning to visit Palembang, you don't need to get all covered up. But don't go to the extreme of spaghetti straps or hot pants (no, I haven't tried that), you'll get too many unwanted stares. The staring here seems to cause extra discomfort...maybe because they stare openly and for longer periods of time and there is often some leering involved.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

How long do you take to get ready?

I pride myself on being pretty efficient in getting ready, not just in the morning but any time of the day. I distinctly remember one time where I went from nursing Aaron to being dressed for an evening out in about 10 minutes. I thought I looked decent.

This guy has a few tricks to make anybody super efficient in the morning. Guys, the way he puts on his pants and tie are particularly impressive.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Telephone Porridge Anyone?

It must be because my mom is staying with us but here is another Cantonese saying, "To make telephone porridge". The porridge here is rice porridge. It usually takes several hours of slow cooking to make the perfect bowl. So, making telephone porridge means to have those long loooooooong telephone conversations.

I used to be an expert at telephone porridge and of course refined the art during my teenage years. I have a distinct memory of being in the 9th Grade, arriving home from school at about 3.45pm and then jumping on the the phone with my best friend (who I would have said goodbye to less than an hour earlier) from about 4pm onwards until my mom got home at 5pm. We had a brown, dial phone that was attached to the kitchen. UGLY. THING.

By the time I was in university, I would be on the phone for 2, 3, even 4 hours! I can't believe it thinking back now. But, in those days, before email and online chats, I couldn't last a day without a phone call to somebody. I don't know how my mother put up with it because I don't really remember getting in all that much trouble for it.

This all died down once I started work. I found something new - online chatting. I don't go to any chat rooms or chat with strangers. Its just the medium I use now to keep in touch with all my family and friends. So, these days, I make IM porridges and they can take as long as a day to complete. I know that I prefer it to using the phone because you can do so many other things at the same time (blog, surf the internet, watch TV, have dinner etc). But, that means you're not always giving the other person your full attention.

Just as Bilbo often writes about the lost art of letter writing, I now find that I have lost the art of chatting on the phone. I just don't like doing it anymore. And, even if the other person is a close friend that I haven't been in touch with for awhile, I find that I get uncomfortable being on the phone after the initial 15 mins of small talk. And if its the cell phone that I'm on, I get off even quicker because my ear always gets so hot.

No matter how many emoticons they come up with, IM-ing is cold and sentiments often lost. I believe that it is a warm gesture to sometimes give a person a call to speak with them. And these days, we can go a step further and use video in our calls too. I'm going to make an effort here. First, I need to try to look decent for cameras that always give me a big bald forehead! So, don't anybody call me yet :)

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Baby-less Holidays

In the past 2 days, I've had 2 friends tell me that they are going on holidays without their babies. My immediate thought was "WOW! That would be fantastic."

However, upon giving it further thought, I don't think I would do it. Not right now. After all, my mother is constantly asking me if she could take Aaron back to Australia for a holiday and, I always refuse. Its not that I don't have moments where I don't wish that the little guy was somewhere else. I do. And I usually regret the thought seconds after thinking it.

My mother's reasons are that Aaron is too attached to me and that he needs to learn some independence. The longest that he and I have been apart is 6 hours when I went for a day of sight seeing in the north of Cairns with my brother. I was still back in time to put him to bed that night.

Of course, I do think that a baby-less holiday would be thoroughly relaxing and we could probably go on some holiday that we couldn't take Aaron on. For example, the diving holiday to Sipadan that Richard and I had planned for 4 years ago but never happened. *let me spend a few seconds in dream land here.....sigh*

So, why don't I just accept my mother's offer? Partly, its because I know he can be such a handful and I don't want my mother to get all worn out because of him. The other part is just because I can't. I don't feel comfortable doing it.

I can just hear some people saying "Oh don't be one of those moms that can't let go". Honestly though, I am one of those moms at the moment. Perhaps this is my own fault but I don't think I've prepared him adequately to be away from me long enough for me to go on a holiday. I am doing a lot more of it now as he starts to find his own independence even without me prompting him. More experienced parents tell me that one day, he'll be begging me not to go places with him anyway. I'm not really in a rush for that day.

For now, I wish my two friends a fantastically romantic time away. Maybe I'll ask my mother to watch Aaron for a couple of hours this weekend while Richard and I go get a massage.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Perumnas Market Seems To Have Exploded

Its been about two months since my last visit to the Perumnas Market. The place seems to have exploded with extra stalls everywhere. I think the vegetable sellers are more or less the same people but there are all these new food, toys and jewelery stores. Yes, jewelery in the market!

You can see one of the stalls here, in between two fruit stalls.

Unfortunately, I don't have a photo for comparison but here is what the main street of the market now looks like.

Walking through the various stalls took me a lot longer this morning because there were so many new toy stalls and of course, Aaron had to stop and look at each one.

We came across this extremely cute little girl. She's about 14 months old and was very contentedly helping her mother put various items into bags to be weighed. The beanie you see on her is an extremely common sight. It doesn't matter that the weather is around 30 degrees Celsius daily, all babies and toddlers will have one of those on their heads.

Palembang (not just the market) is really changing and growing so rapidly. In the two years that we've been here, I think it has grown more than Ipoh has in the past ten years! I should make a point to take even more photos of the place.