May 30, 2009

School party

Hubby picked up Yiu Yiu’s lion costume on Thursday evening, and didn’t need much coaxing to put it on and posed for some shots.

Admiring her lion costume before putting it on

This is the tame version

And hear me ROAR!!!

The kindy was already a hive of activity when we arrived at 8.20am, and Yiu Yiu wasted no time in joining her classmates. Many of the children were dressed in costumes, and there were bags and containers containing snacks on each class table. The school allowed parents to hang around beyond 8.30am, the usual starting time of school, and many parents took the opportunity to continue clicking away. I left at about 8.50am and left Yiu Yiu to enjoy her first school party.

Yiu Yiu with Faythe, Vyktore and their cousin

Tables were arranged around the open classroom, with students from one class sitting together on one table

With her classmates

And here’s what I prepared as Yiu Yiu’s contribution to the potluck.

Kamaboko stuffed with Japanese cucumber and carrot

May 28, 2009

Of chopsticks and doughnut

Last Sunday, we went out for brunch at a restaurant in SS2. The restaurant keeps a container of chopsticks on each table. Since it was easily accessible, Yiu Yiu insisted on eating her kuay teow with a pair of chopsticks. I’m not sure if she has used chopsticks at the babysitter’s before but as far as we are concerned, she’s never used chopsticks at home. We tried to persuade her to use the fork and spoon instead, as we were sure she would make a mess of herself, plus it would take forever for her to finish her meal. The stubborn mule that she is, she of course didn’t listen.

Surprisingly, she handled the chopsticks really well. She obviously didn’t use it the right way, as in picking up the noodles between the two sticks, but rather, she used them to scoop the noodles (with the noodles resting on top of the sticks) before putting them in her mouth. Occasionally, she’d use the chopsticks to sweep the noodles into her mouth directly from the bowl, similar to how rice is eaten with chopsticks. But I’m really surprised at how well she handled the chopsticks, and the best part was, NO MESS. :-) Looks like I underestimated my little girl.

We went to Ikea after that as we wanted to browse for furniture for her room. We have been psyching her about moving to her own room, with the promise of decorating it with princessy stuff. When we left, we passed by the Dunkin’ Donuts kiosk and she asked for doughnuts. I tried to stall by telling her we’ll buy one at the Big Apple Donuts at NZX on our way home. I knew she was sleepy and most likely would fall asleep in the car, and true enough, she did. However, the moment hubby turned off the car engine in the porch, she woke up, and guess what was her first question? So we had no choice but to go pick up a chocolate doughnut for her. See how she enjoyed the yummy chocolatey treat.

May 26, 2009

Bento post #67 – #71

These are Yiu Yiu’s bentos for last week:

Monday – still had some shat kek ma (萨骑马, sticky egg biscuit) from last week so just packed her off with whatever’s remaining, fried some meat balls for protein, and rose apple for vitamins.

Tuesday – saw this sometime back in Hijackqueen’s blog. Have meant to try this for some time, and since we don’t have an oven, I fried the roti canai and cheese sausage separately before wrapping the sausage with the roti canai. The end result doesn’t look as nice, but it tasted really yummy. At the side are some grapes.

Wednesday & Thursday – babysitter bought some of these kaya-filled sponge cake from the wet market, which Yiu Yiu loves. She walloped two small ones the same night she brought them back home, leaving two larger ones – one in the shape of pokemon, the other doraemon, for school over the next two days. On Wednesday, I complemented the sponge cake with home-made chicken nugget and some grapes, while Thursday, she got some home-made fish fingers and rose apples.

Friday – brought back some leftover nyonya kuih from the office function the day before, so I just steamed some kuih lapis for her the in the morning. Added some grapes, and one tiny Hershey’s Kisses for treat.

May 25, 2009

Revision week, exam week and school party

Two weeks ago, Yiu Yiu came back with this:

Notification to parents on the kindy’s revision week, examination week, parents-teachers day, school party, mid-term holidays and second semester fees payment.

No kidding - revision week and examination week for 4-year olds! When I visited Juara Cerdik while scouting for a kindy for Yiu Yiu last year, I was already informed that the children will have homework plus examination, which I thought was not quite necessary for 4-year olds. But we went ahead and enrolled her since it was one of the best among the few I visited. Along with the note came this examination format, and a note to parents to do revision with their child.

Okay…since this is my first ever encounter with my daughter's exam, I decided to be an obedient mummy and went through the workbooks and created these worksheets, with the intention of taking her through them over the weekend prior to the examination.

Then last Friday, Yiu Yiu came back with these revision sheets from school – guessed this was what they had been doing during the revision week.

Haiya, if I had known earlier, I wouldn’t have wasted time creating my own worksheets – should have just waited for these and recycled them, and save me the trouble and time. Anyway, I compared the worksheets I created, and voila, it matches the school’s revision sheets almost 90%. If only I had been this good in spotting exam questions in my school days! :-)

The theme for the school party on Friday is Noah’s Ark, and the children are asked to dress as animals. When I asked Yiu Yiu what animal she wanted to be, she said lion or tiger. Her reason? So she can bite her friends! Haiyo! Now only I know I’m raising such a violent kid! Anyway, we went to scout for a costume and coincidentally, the shop we went to has both lion and tiger costumes. She tried on the lion costume and fell in love with it. We tried to coax her to go as something gentler – like a cow, an elephant, a giraffe, etc but she was adamant that she goes as a lion. So the queen of the jungle it is.

She also has to bring a plate of healthy snacks for sharing, and I’ve already got an idea of what to prepare. Too bad parents are not invited to the party - sounds like fun to me.

May 24, 2009

Trip to Yogyakarta – Day 4 (Prambanan and surrounding temples)

We set out to Prambanan, about 17 km east of Yogyakarta, to visit the largest Hindu temple complex in Indonesia. Built in the 10th century, the temple is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is characterised by its collection of sharp, jagged pyramids instead of the vast horizontal bulk of Borobudur. Entry fee to Prambanan is Rp1,000,000 for foreigners, more than 10x compared to what locals pay. Quite a rip-off, if you ask me.

The main attractions are six temples of the central court, richly decorated with carved reliefs. The three main temples, known as the Trisakti ("three sacred places"), are Candi Shiva, rising to a height of 47 meters and dedicated to Shiva the Destroyer, Candi Brahma and Candi Vishnu. Each main temple has an accompanying smaller temples dedicated to the vehicles of the gods, namely Nandini for Shiva, Angsa for Brahma, and Garuda for Vishnu. Only the statue of Nandini, Shiva's bull, has survived. However, in the wake of the May 2006 Java earthquake, some parts of Prambanan sustained significant damage and are cordoned off for restoration and stabilization. We were only allowed entry into two of the six temples.

Top: Piles of stones still lie around the temple complex awaiting reconstruction but according to the guide, it's nearly impossible to reconstruct the temple complex fully as they have to piece each stone one by one, and there's no marking on the stones. Bottom: The "male" and "female" mechanism that holds the stones together.

Reconstruction work in progress

Candi Sewu complex, the second largest Buddhist temple in Indonesia after Borobudur, is one kilometer north of Prambanan. It consists of 240 shrines arrayed around a central temple. The sheer size of the recently renovated and intricately decorated central temple is impressive, but the statue niches are all empty. The fact that this temple was built near Prambanan Temple which is Hindu Temple indicated that the Hindus and Buddhist lived in harmony.

The ticket to Prambanan includes a visit to the Kraton Ratu Boko, 3 km south of Prambanan. Only some building foundations remain in this ruined palace located on a hilltop 200 meters above the Prambanan plain.

We had initially wanted to visit Solo, about two hours drive away from Prambanan but by the time we were done with Kraton Ratu Boko, it was almost 2pm so we decided to ditch the idea to visit several other surrounding temples. About 1km away from Prambanan is the Plaosan temple complex, with the North and South Plaosan temples. Both temples appear similar when seen from the distant so the Plaosan temple is also known as the twin temples.

We then left Prambanan area and headed back onto the main Yogyakarta – Solo road and stopped for lunch at a restaurant that caught our fancy. After refuelling our tummy, we went in search of the Kedulan temple. I’m not sure if the driver took us to the wrong place, but all we saw was a pond with some submerged temple stones and a nearby shed with more temples stones. Our last stop was the Sambisari temple, situated 6.5 meters below the surrounding land. After being buried under the earth for hundreds of years, the first slab of the stone was discovered in 1966. It took 21 years to excavate and construct hundreds of "puzzle" pieces of the stones before Sambisari temple is finally fully restored.

May 23, 2009

Trip to Yogyakarta – Day 3 (Mt Merapi and Malioboro)

After taking a short rest, we checked out at about 11am. Our driver picked us up and we proceeded to visit two other temples in the vicinity of Borobudur. Pawon Temple, 1.5km eastward from Borobudur Temple, is a tiny Buddhist temple. Architecturally it is a blend of old Javanese Hindu and Indian art.

Mendut Temple, 3km eastwards from Borobudur, is another Buddhist temple that is comparatively bigger than Pawon. There are three big statues inside the temple - Sakyamuni sitting in cross legged pose; Awalokitesvara holding a red lotus in her palm and Maitreya, a savior of human beings in the future. Mendut Temple is frequently used to celebrate Wesak day with pilgrims from Indonesia and all parts of the world congregate.

The gigantic banyan tree at Mendut

Borobudur, Pawon and Mendut and is aligned in one straight line, with Pawon being exactly in the centre. Although there is no documented proof, according to a native folk tale, there once was a paved brick road that ran from Borobudur to Mendut, with walls on both sides. The three temples have similar architecture and ornamentation derived from the same time period, suggesting that a ritual relationship between the three temples must have existed, although the exact ritual process is yet unknown.

We then proceeded to Kaliurang, a scenic hill resort with views of Mt Merapi. We had a late lunch at one of the local stalls, and visited the local market which sold many local produce and snacks.

Top: The local food stores, and the few young men who went around serenading diners. Bottom: Glimpses of the local market

We reached Yogyakarta in the early evening and spent some time exploring Malioboro, a well-known shopping promenade and very popular among Indonesians as well as tourists. Spanning 2km in length, it is home to hundreds of shops and street-stalls which offers various kinds of handicrafts such as batik, rattan ornament, leather puppet, bamboo handicrafts (key holder, ornament lamp, etc) as well as blangkon (Javanese/Jogjanese traditional cap), silverwares and general goods.

Beringharjo, literally means slanted land, is the largest traditional marketplace in Yogyakarta. The vendors sell many kinds of goods, ranging from basic household items (vegetables, fruits, meats) to many kinds of handicrafts, batik, Javanese herbs and spices, as well as antique goods.

While at Malioboro, we decided to hop onto one of the many traditional horse-pulled carts, known as andong, or dokar. It took us on a ride along Malioboro, passing Fort Vredeburg and to the surrounding area such as the Chinese area and Pathuk Street, and back to where we started. The ride was about 40 minutes and cost us Rp50,000 (~RM16). Not a bad deal, and it was quite a fun experience.

May 22, 2009

Trip to Yogyakarta – Day 3 (Borobudur)

We woke up early to join the Borodubur Sunrise Tour at 4.30am. The Borobudur temple complex is accessible from the Manohara Hotel where we stayed the night and a guide from the hotel led us there. The sunrise tour, which costs Rp150,000 each for guests staying in Manohara Hotel, will allow us 1.5 hours of uninterrupted access to the temple complex before the gate opens at 6am for the public.

Borobudur at dawn

The reddish yellow light of the sun emerges

Borobudur after the sunrise

The sun rose slightly late that day and by the time it was bright enough to explore the temple, throngs of people, especially local school children on field trips. The guide our group hired, Fatah, was excellent. He speaks fluent English, and has extensive knowledge of the history of Borobudur, as well as the stories and teachings behind many carvings and reliefs.

(Extracted from Wikitravel)
An ancient Buddhist stupa and temple complex, Borobudur was built over a period of some 75 years in the 8th and 9th centuries by the kingdom of Sailendra. Reputed to be the largest Buddhist monument in the world, it was constructed out of an estimated 1,600,000 blocks of volcanic stone, dredged from the river and assembled solely by human labor. The nine-terraced temple is a representation of the transition towards nirvana and is famed for its 1,500 intricately carved reliefs, covering a total length of five kilometers end-to-end.

The first archaeological study of the site was initiated in 1814 by Sir Stamford Raffles, founder of Singapore. He did not set foot to look for it himself, but commissioned a Dutch engineer, H.C.Cornellius. First restored in 1907, the monument suffered from neglect and war and was rebuilt once again in the 1970s under the guidance of UNESCO, who designated Borobudur as a World Heritage Site. The massive restoration process involved the removal and refurbishing of over one million blocks, rebuilding the foundation and adding drainage systems.

A group photo at the base of Borobudur

My attempt at making a panoramic photo of Borobudur

Borobudur was constructed as a ten-terraces building. The first six terraces are in square form, three upper terraces are in circular form, and on top of them is the grand central stupa. The base of Borobudur (consisting of the first two square terraces), called Kamadhatu symbolizes human being that are still bound by lust and greed. A section of the platform has been excavated at the southeast corner, showcasing some of the hidden reliefs underneath.

The upper four square terraces are called Rupadhatu symbolizing human beings that have set themselves free from lust and greed, but are not yet able to transcend the material world.

Top left: McD had its beginning here? Bottom left: Borobudur is constructed with blocks of stones held together by "male" and "female" mechanisms like this. Right: This demon face structure actually acts as irrigation system

The many carvings of Rupadhatu

Buddha statues without, and with head. Many of the Buddha statues have missing heads

The next three circular terraces where Buddha effigies are confined in bell-shaped domes with lattices (stupas) are called Arupadhatu, where the liberated human spirits have left earthly consideration behind.

One of the stupas is considered to be sacred and if one can stretch forth your hand to touch the Buddha, one’s wishes will come true. Males are supposed to touch the right ring finger of the Buddha in a meditative position, while females are supposed to touch the base of the Buddha’s right heel.

The females' turn to try their luck

The top terrace, Arupa, which houses the central stupa, symbolizes nirvana. Each terrace symbolizes the stage of human life. In line with of Buddha Mahayana, ascending the monument symbolizes the progression from the world of ilussion to enlightenment.

We left Borobudur at about 8.30am and went back to the hotel for breakfast, and by then we were ravenous.

View of Borobudur from Manohara Hotel

Views around Manohara Hotel