10 Choses peu connues a mon sujet

February 23, 2009

Cliquer ici pour l’article dans le site principal SVP

Hooi Ping Chee 9-Dec-06-(avec-flash)
Alliance Française Singapour, 2006

Maintenant j’essai d’écrire un article de blog en français. Je sais que je parle et écris mal français, mais j’essaie de l’écrire quand même avec difficulté. C’est pourquoi j’écris seulement sur les sujets simples.  De plus, il n’y a pas beaucoup de personnes qui comprennent cette langue. Peut-être il y a seulement trois ou quatre personnes qui parlent très bien français (Ma Tante Wati! Mes amis Natasha, Coy, Hany et Clodi !). Donc je peux écrire quelque chose de plus privé et personnel ici, parce que personne ne comprendra. Grâce à M. Djoko, mon professeur de français à CCF qui corrige cet article.

Bien que personne ne m’invite à écrire les dix choses peu connues à mon sujet, j’ai décidé de les écrire.

  1. Je suis une rêveuse. Je rêve des idées, des questions sur la vie, comme il y a des dialogues dans ma tête.
  2. Je suis une solitaire. Je suis une personne très solitaire. J’aime avoir du temps pour moi-même, et puis je rêve.
  3. Je suis très timide. Je ne peux pas me présenter bien en public. Mais j’aime bien écouter quand les autres se présentent.
  4. Je n’ai pas autant de confiance en moi qu’ il paraît. J’ai peur que je ne sois pas assez intéressante. J’ai peur d’être mal jugée par les autres.
  5. Il est possible que je sois à la limite de l’adulte TDAH. J’ai pris ce test d’adulte TDAH en ligne, et mon score était de 62,  tandis que le seuil de TDAH est de 70
  6. Autrefois, je crée de la bande dessinée. Quand j’étais dans l’école primaire, j’ai crée « Le Superchat » et les autres bandes dessinées sur la vie ultérieure imaginée de mes amis
  7. Je n’ai jamais aimé les enfants jusqu’à ce que mes enfants soient nées. Aujourd‘hui, je ne peux pas être complètement gentille aux enfants autrement que les miens
  8. J’ai essayé d’être religieuse depuis que je suis née, mais je n’ai pas réussi. Mes parents ont fourni un professeur de religion, ils m’ont demandé de prier, ils m’ont prévenu de la punition quand je ne l’ai fait pas. Mais ça ne marchait pas. Je crois que je suis née athée. Le Dieu m’a crée comme ça
  9. J’ai été super gâtée. Quand j’étais petite, il y avait trois bonnes, deux chauffeurs, un jardinier, et un charpentier dans ma maison. Je ne savais pas comment faire le ménage jusqu’à ce que j’aie étudié à l’étranger
  10. Je n’aime pas me maquiller. Je pense que mon apparence est plus mauvaise avec le maquillage. Allez voir le quatrième point dans cet article
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Spending 20 Pct of Income for Cigarette

February 23, 2009

For original article, click here

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Today Indi’s driver shared a story of his friend who was hospitalized since last week. The friend, who’s around 40-year old, had passed away after one week in the hospital. I wasn’t really clear on the cause of the death, but it’s something related to coughing, lung, and some clogging in the blood circulation. Indi’s driver was shocked because the friend has been quite in a healthy state, rarely falling sick. A few weeks back, he fell sick with something that wasn’t seemed very serious, some coughing. Then he visited a medicine-man, and also bought some over-the-kiosk medicine. Then his condition became worse, and hospitalization couldn’t be avoided. He should’ve been operated, but the operation plan was delayed because he didn’t have enough money.

He worked as construction worker, earning net Rp 40,000 per day (around 3.5 USD). Per months he should earn around 960,000 – 1 million rupiah (around 100 USD per month). He has two small children; the youngest one is about 4 year old. His wife works from home as a laundress and an ironing lady while taking care of the small children. Previously, they earned just enough to get by. Now I can’t imagine the burden that fell under her shoulder, paying the hospital bills and her future livelihood, now that her husband had passed away.

Curious about the cause of death, which seemed to be linked with lung and respiration, I asked, “Does he smoke?” Indi’s driver said yes. Aside to the possibility of the illness being linked to his smoking, I also began calculating. Say, on the low side, he smokes 1 pack per day for 30 days per month. The cheapest brand is about Rp 6,000 per pack. That means per month he spends Rp 180,000 which is about 20% of his monthly income. That percentage number sounds too high for me. On the high side, he could smoke more than 1 pack, which means that the cigarette expenses could shoot up to 40-50 % of his income.

If only he had put aside a fraction of his cigarette expenses to pay for a very basic health insurance and life insurance, his wife might not need to worry so much when unexpected death happens. From what I read somewhere, AskesKin can be secured with a payment of around Rp 5,000-10,000 per month, giving very basic health insurance coverage. I don’t have the data, but I’m sure there should be some sort of life insurance policy that should be affordable for construction worker salary bracket. Maybe Rp 40,000 per month (Rp 480,000 per year) for 15-year basic term life insurance policy, probably can get him Rp 10 million coverage, enough until his kids are grown to be more independent… I dunno. But anyway, this brings a total Rp 50,000 per month for basic coverage, only a fraction of his cigarette budget. And if he quits smoking altogether, he could put the extra Rp 130,000 per month in savings.

I was trying to communicate these numbers with the driver, but he doesn’t seem to get it. He doesn’t understand that there is an opportunity cost of smoking and that saving/insurance could be important.

Is there a financial planning education for the poor and for the laborers (maids, drivers, construction workers)? Perhaps Ligwina Hananto would like to do this as a Corporate Social Responsibility exercise?

Kei First Flight

March 20, 2008

For original article, click here

Gosh, such a bad mommy I am, I haven’t written anything on Kei ever since he was born! True enough, parents dedicate a lot of resources to keep the memory of the first kid, but the resources are dwindling for the second kid and beyond. As I am the fourth kid, I really understand this, because I couldn’t find any pictures or mementos related to my infancy and childhood. Sorry I digress. But with the hectic schedule of taking care two kids, I just realized that Kei didn’t have as many mementos as Noe had. C’mon, I gotta be fair to both of my kids. So, now I write something about Kei’s progress during the past four months.

So far, the only thing that I have written is how breastfeeding Kei has been smooth sailing. Now I will try to add more news.

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At five days old, Kei has given his grandmothers the pissed-off finger. Bad bad!

At one month Kei began to have a meaningful eye contact and follow objects through his eye movements. But i haven’t got his voluntary smile yet.

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Also at one month he was able to lift his neck when he’s put belly down.

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I got his first smile at around five-six week.

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At around seven weeks Kei was circumcised (i’m sure we’re gonna face a lot of lambasting from other agnostics / atheists, but we decided to do this anyway..).

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After his wound healed, at around eight-nine week, we began with cloth diapering. This is the right age because his bowel movement had become more regular and his pee was getting less frequent. I got fresh new stash from bumwear and bumgenius websites. Kei has been loving his cloth diapers and he looked really cute in them.

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At three months, end January, Kei was able to clasp both his hand together at the centre of his body. He also began to be able to grasp things.

A few days later, he was able to lean himself sideways 45 degree. Striving to defy gravity. We began to be more carefree with Kei’s neck, which has become stronger. At three and a half months, Kei began to grab things that are lying around him.

At four months, Kei began to play with his saliva, making BRRR sounds. Indonesians believe that this is the time when mother begins to shed hair. True enough, a few days later, I began to shed my hair. This will last for many months, NOT liking it at all.

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At four and a half months, early March, Kei began to roll more steeply, but not quite rolling over yet. One week later, Kei totally rolls over, and he really loved rolling over and back.

He also began to be able to pull himself to sitting position, and surprisingly, to STANDING position, when I hold his hands. It’s not that we pull him into sitting / standing position, Kei insisted that he pull himself to that positions, albeit wobbly.

And just like his brother, Kei also flew in an airplane for the first time at four months from Singapore to Jakarta and back. Timely enough to be shown to relatives in Jakarta. Initially, I was supposed to fly to Jakarta with Kei and Noe on tow. I’m not a super mom, unlike Jeng Hany who’s able to take care two toddlers at the same time, so I begged to Indi to split the baby caring job, because I didn’t know how Kei would react on the airplane. Finally Indi babysat Noe while Kei and me went to Jakarta for family event. Luckily Kei behaved really well in the airplane, no crying no fussiness, despite a very uncomfortable Lion Air (but cheap) flight. I became more confident that next time I should be able to get two kids on tow by myself. Amen.

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Breastfeeding on the flight help soothes painful ears during descent

Overall Kei shared similar milestones as his brother. One thing different, Kei has fell sick with common cold TWICE, while Noe only fell sick after he was one year old. Well, with two kids, germs coming from the older brother’s school got into Kei’s immune system. And consequently, mummy also fell sick more often when one kids fell sick and hence began a circle of disease jumping from one person to another. When one kid fell sick, the disease could stay in the house for more than week thereafter, because other member of the family would get the disease. Luckily with breastfeeding the kids get well quickly. Hopefully Kei would be stronger and more resilient when he begins playgroup in a few years.

Hasil Survey Biaya Hidup

March 20, 2008

Artikel asli ada di sini

Survey asal-asalan kemaren sudah mengundang sekitar 40 responden. Tanpa metode macem-macem, angka yang kita terima kita rata-ratakan per kategori. Hasilnya adalah sebagai berikut.

Total rata-rata dari seluruh kategori adalah: Rp 13,156,920. Dengan catatan angka ini tidak termasuk: Cicilan rumah, uang sekolah, senang-senang, kegiatan lainnya, dan asuransi. Murni untuk biaya hidup sebulan untuk keluarga dengan dua anak. Seberapa benar angka ini, kita juga ga tau. Beberapa orang yang tidak menjawab dengan detail memberi kisaran 10-15 juta perkeluarga per bulan. Wah, mahal juga ya, untuk kami, ini artinya sepantar dengan biaya hidup di Singapura, dengan kualitas hidup berkali-kali di bawah Singapura. Kami harus siap siap mengencangkan ikat pinggang.

Berikut angkanya secara detil:

A. Biaya hidup pokok

  1. Berapa rata2 belanja makanan dan kebutuhan pokok sebulan dengan asumsi belanja di pasar becek dan supermarket? Rp 2,303,061
  2. Berapa rata2 tagihan listrik per bulan? Rp 620,690
  3. Berapa rata2 tagihan air bersih per bulan? Rp 320,588
  4. Berapa rata2 tagihan air minum per bulan? Rp 133,125
  5. Berapa rata2 biaya gas masak per bulan? Rp 103,750
  6. Berapa rata2 tagihan telepon per bulan (Bukan seluler)? Rp 300,000
  7. Berapa rata2 tagihan internet broadband 24 jam per bulan? Rp 502,679
  8. Berapa rata2 tagihan telepon seluler dengan penggunaan fasilitas 3.5G per bulan (ada internetnya juga)? Rp 550,000
  9. Kalau memutuskan untuk rantangan makanan (2 sayur 1 daging), berapa rata2nya per bulan? Rp 868,750

B. Biaya transportAsumsi: Mobil kijang atau avanza dengan kegiatan mengantar ke kantor, belanja, dsb, plus tiap akhir pekan pergi ke luar kota mencari udara segar dan kegiatan outdoor. Mohon kalau bisa ada dua jawaban: 1. Apabila tinggal di pinggir kota (bintaro, cibubur, tangerang atau depok) dan 2. Apabila tinggal di tengah kota (menteng, rasuna, manggarai, etc)

  1. Berapa rata2 penggunaan BBM untuk 1 mobil per bulan? Rp 907,143
  2. Berapa rata2 biaya perawatan / maintenance 1 mobil per bulan? Rp 581,212 (kebayakan responden menjawabnya gak jelas, jadi kami asumsi angka yang diberikan adalah bulanan)
  3. Berapa rata2 biaya tol 1 mobil per bulan? Rp 445,000
  4. Berapa rata2 biaya parkir 1 mobil per bulan? Rp 458,571
  5. Jika memakai busway setiap hari (plus ojek, bajaj), berapa rata2 biayanya per bulan? Rp 800,000
  6. Jika memakai taxi setiap hari (plus ojek, bajaj), berapa rata2 biayanya per bulan? Rp 2,725,000

C. Biaya optional

  1. Berapa rata2 mempekerjakan pembantu yang tidak tinggal di rumah (Bekerja 8-10 jam per hari setiap hari kerja)? Rp 440,476
  2. Berapa rata2 mempekerjakan supir yang tidak tinggal di rumah (Bekerja 8-10 jam per hari setiap hari kerja)? Rp 1,096,875

Silakan dikomentari…

Tagged with 123 meme

March 20, 2008

For full entry, click here

Sorry Mr. Ong, for responding so-very-late to your 123 meme, Indrani have been occupied with things, sick kids, and flying back and forth Singapore-Jakarta. With easter holiday in the horizon, we just found the time to write again.

Indi hasn’t been reading books lately, too busy with work, so that leaves me responding to the meme. The meme rules are:

  • look up page 123 in the book that is nearest to you at this very minute
  • look for the fifth sentence
  • then post the three sentences that follow that fifth sentence on page 123.

Here goes:

“The increasing pull of children was weighed against women’s solid sense of identification with their careers and the heavy investment they had made in them. Women took pride in their professional accomplishment and tremendous pleasure from their work. Wendy Friedman voiced the difficulty many women felt in making the decision and reflected on the variety of losses it entailed”

The book titled “Opting Out: Why women really quit careers and head home” by Pamela Stone (2007).

Why that book? In recent years I have been trying to find the answer for the notion of why people who chose to go down the path of child-rearing tend to be perceived as isolated, particularly, isolated from the business and working world. We have been trying to break that notion, trying to balance child-rearing / work and involving our kids into things that we do everyday. I know some of my friends also tries to break away from the conventional norm of child-rearing / work separation, such as Ari Thalia Aina family. We know it is not easy. We concluded that the isolation emerges from the fact that most people take the child-rearing / work separation for granted, but also, because the modern working world run with rules that excludes child rearing. In this sense, people like Ari Thalia or me are economic externalities ( Why the Most Important Job in the World is Still the Least Valued).

The women in the book were high achievers from ivy league universities, high flyer in their career, feminists, believers of equal parenting. Yet they decided to forgo their career to become a full time housewives. Why?

The book outlines that there is mainly two driving forces. First, is the rise of “intensive parenting“. In the past, parents are more concerned about whether or not their babies survive into later childhood. With advances in medical and nutritional technology (in line with Maslow’s hierarchy), the focus of parenting shifts into providing quality care and education, this means parents are the best caregiver and as much as possible should spend time with children. On the other hand, the pressure to excel within the corporate structure has forces people to bank 50-80 hours work per week. To add to the problem, for women, the prime age to climb the corporate ladder coincides with the prime age for child rearing.

However, the book shows that it is not so much the first factor, that is the child-rearing factor, that pulls the mothers to quit from the job, but instead, it is the corporate world that is unwilling to accept compromises from parents with young children. The companies would freak out with the mothers proposal to work part time (at least for a few years), to work from home, to take emergency leave, and inability to work over time. For the corporations, it is all-or-nothing scenario, there is no in-between. Facing a win-lose option, mothers gave up.

On a side note, my mom-in-law struck me with one sentence that makes me think twice about going back to work full time again. She said, “Kids grow up really fast. In a blink, my sons became teenagers and then they’ve gone out of the house. You only have FIFTEEN (or at the most, seventeen) years to spend with your kids before they live on their own”. Fifteen years, that is, only one fifth of my whole life. And I don’t want to miss that. Sure enough, last week Noe had just turned 3 years old. How time flies.

But then again, people said, you need double income in order to survive in this harsh world.

I wish the world become a more friendly place to people who choose the path of predominantly child rearing. Like this
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Noe (6 months) sleeps during a seminar on development economics

I’m not gonna tag anybody else.. if you feel like continuing this meme, go ahead and link back to this entry..

What Is Your Earliest Memory?

March 1, 2008

For original entry, click here

I am trying to remember what is the earliest event in my life that I remember. Sure enough, I don’t really remember myself being a baby in a diaper. But there are some remnants of memory in my brain that, I’m sure, happened before I was five years old. Some events even happened before I was three year old because I could remember them, even graphically, mainly because of a significant time marker in those events. Those events are as follows:

I remember my maternal grandfather passed away. This happened when I was about 2-3 year old and my sister was just a few months old. This might be the earliest memory that I could remember graphically in my brain. I remember approaching my grandpa’s body in the living room of his house and my aunt told me that grandpa was just sleeping and that he was going to some faraway place to be “repaired”. From then on, I believed that my grandpa will return to our family after the reparation is complete. A few years later, when I was in kindergarten or primary school, my grandpa’s younger brother came to my house for a visit. He really looked like my own grandpa, so I told him, “Hey, you’re back! Grandpa has been repaired!“. Of course everybody laughed at me, but I swear I was being damn serious about my statement at that time. From then on, my grandpa’s brother always addressed himself as the “repaired grandpa”.

I remember my old house in Bandung, in Jalan Wastukencana no. 4. Our family moved out of this house when I was about three or four year old, and if I could remember something from my old house, that must be before I was four. I could remember three events there:

  • I remember standing up on family dining table during dinner, and my older brothers and sisters was about to scold me when my dad told them not to, because I didn’t understand what I was doing. I also remember trying out chili sauce for the first time in my life and cried because of it.
  • I remember playing with an Ambonese lady, Tante Inne, who rented a room in that old house. I remember watching TVRI with her, and the song Potong Bebek Angsa was playing on TV with static slideshow of ducks illustration. Then my mom popped into the TV room to pick me up for dinner.
  • I remember taking a stroll around the city hall. My old house was just across Bandung city hall. After the stroll, we went to a house of an Indonesian chinese old couple, who happened to sell candy and sweets. The grandfather gave me free candy and I beamed.

I also remember moving out from my old house to a new house in Jalan Riau. I remember playing on the stack of kapuk mattresses that are waiting to be put into the individual room with my sister. We rolled the mattress to make a pipe-like tunnel and ran into it.

Those are the five significant events from before I was four year old, that are still etched into my memory vividly.

What is your earliest memory?

Tracking My Time

March 1, 2008

For original entry, click here

I’ve been tracking my time for the past few months. I’m able to do this perhaps because I’m just a housewife with plenty of spare time(Yeah right, the truth is, being a mom is a 24hr job!). Let me share with you about it.

In the beginning…

In the past I have been thinking about how to track my time, mainly to find clock in hours I spent doing different projects. However, no tools have struck me to be particularly useful. Some tools are too confined within one PC (i.e. time tracker in Google Desktop Sidebar), and some tools are too disconnected that they can’t be synchronized with the PC (i.e. some pocket pc tracker program, or even manual notebook with pen). Or, I had to pay hefty price to buy time tracker software. In short, I needed a time tracker that can be accessed anytime anywhere and can aggregate the data into a report.

Using Twitter and Google Spreadsheet

Come Twitter and Google to the rescue. During the past months I have been using twitter to track my time together with Google Spreadsheet. Why twitter? Because I am able to access it from many different platforms, namely PC/Laptop, pocket PC / cellphone web browsers (with twitter mobile version), instant messenger, and SMS. I found that the cheapest way to input data offline is via pocket PC web browser connecting through GPRS/HSDPA/wifi into twitter mobile webpage. The webpage is only 3Kb long which means one pageview equals to 1 cent SGD. Of course the cheapest way is to input data through stationary PC, which is free.

Then I use Google Spreadsheet to aggregate the data into report. The problem with twitter is that I had to manually input the time tracking data into a Google spreadsheet in order to summarize it into a more sensible report. This is because I can’t find any way for Google spreadsheet to import data from twitter. Although it only take me 30 minutes per week to input the data manually, I dreaded to do that because it’s so boring.

Using Google Spreadsheet with Form Input

Anyway I just realized (too late) that Google Docs has launched new features on the spreadsheet since early February 2008. Now the spreadsheet can directly receive data via an online form webpage. This is cool because then I do not need to manually input twitter data into the spreadsheet. Moreover, the online form webpage is very simple, enabling me to open the form webpage in my pda quickly despite only using GPRS connection. The webpage is only 1.8Kb long, which means one pageview equals to 0.5 cents SGD, and I didn’t have to spend time doing additional data entry. Basically, this enables me to create time tracking report on the fly.

Creating Time Tracker: Step-by-Step

First I created a new spreadsheet, with the first sheet to keep time-tracking data. I rename this first sheet as “time detail“. Make sure that you have plenty of rows, say, 1000 rows, if you use the spreadsheet to track 24 hours of your life in great details. If you only use it to track only a few tasks, you might not need 1000 rows.But ensure you have enough rows, because that’s what is written in the Google help instruction.


The form editing view


The form webpage view in browser

Then I created the online form according to the instructions. I made three input points, namely “Task“, “Tag“, and “Achievements/Notes“, which will be depicted as three different columns in the spreadsheet. The “Task” column is to record the task name. “Tag” column is to assign three letter category into the corresponding task, and you can put as many category as you want. I have many categories, ranging from breastfeeding time to travel time, blogwalking, and categories dedicated for each separate projects. “Achievements/Notes” is to put down any additional notes on the task.


The grey rows are the ones input through the form, while the white ones are input directly on the spreadsheet

By using the form entry, Google also automatically creates new column within the sheet for timestamp, which marks the exact time when the particular entry is added into the spreadsheet from the webpage form.This timestamp marks the beginning of a particular task.

Then, in the column next to the ones used for form data entry, I added one column to calculate the duration of a particular task, using the formula =MOD(A4-A3,1) for row no.3, repeating this formula according to the next row numbers.

On top of the duration column I added a “total hours” data using a simple =SUM(E3:E1000)*24 formula, which will be used in the summary report later on.

Second, go to the second sheet and rename it as “summary“. Then assign the columns to aggregate data according to the “Tag” by listing all the “Tag” that you have made.I made two columns for this, “Tag details” and the “Tag” itself.


The data, summarized according to the “Tag” or categories

Aggregating data is done by simply adding all the durations in the first sheet, depending on the assigned “Tag“. This is done in the column next to the “Tag“, using the formula =SUMIF(‘time detail’!C3:C1000,”Tag”,’time detail’!E3:E1000)*24 (This formula will give the numbers of hours in decimal form, meaning the numbers behind the decimal point is the fraction of an hour. For example, 1.5 means one hour and a half, which is 1 hour and 30 minutes).

To make the number more sensible, I added two more columns “Percent” and “Daily Average“. “Percent” shows how many percent of my time used for a specific task, and to make that number more tangible to me, “Daily Average” shows how many hours and minutes I spend each day for a specific task.

In summary, Google Spreadsheet with form webpage input enabled me to track my time both on and off my PC, even on the road (using my cellphone web browser), while generating summary report on the fly. Using flexible “Tag“, this spreadsheet can be adapted both for extensive time tracking use or to only track a few projects.

Do you want me to create a Google Spreadsheet template to be shared publicly? Or do you have any advice to make the process easier? Let me know by writing your comments below.

Following Bourdain Eating Shark

January 29, 2008

For full article, click here

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I just got a chance to watch the recording of Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations Singapore Episode last week. As usual, Bourdain visits nondescript, hidden, non-touristy places which are frequented by the locals with the sole goal to enjoy good food. For the Singapore episode, I’m glad to know that I too had known and love some of the places he visited, such as Maxwell Food Centre and Golden Mile Baharudeen Soup Tulang. I think the local fixer (was it Seetoh from Makansutra?) did a great job because he was able to paint realistic image of the daily lives and peculiarities of Singaporeans (except for the segment in Aurum restaurant).

One segment of the show was seafood, which I love! For this one, Bourdain visited a place that we didn’t know had existed: Tian Jin Hai Seafood. In the show, Bourdain and Seetoh ordered Chili Crab and Steamed Shark Head. Both seemed so much mouth-watering that I wanted to eat the TV. It was decided: I needed to try Tian Jin Hai seafood before going back to Indonesia.

Thanks to Google, I managed to found Tian Jin Hai new location ever since they moved out from Jackson Centre Kopitiam. I called Kevin Yeo, the proprietor listed in Makansutra forum, and he was very friendly in answering my questions regarding the food in the restaurant. He told me that since mid-January 2008, they have moved to Punggol Marina Country Club, a place soooo secluded that no public transfer available. One can take taxi, or hop onto the hourly shuttle bus from Punggol MRT station.

After confirming the address and made reservation to Kevin, Indi booked a car from the carsharing to go there. Joining us in the mission was the avocadolite family, having mandated to try the steamed shark by Cia, a faithful Bourdain follower.

The road to Punggol Club after leaving Punggol Central area was unique, as the road was lined with thick blanket of tropical trees. It took us about 15 minutes to drive from Punggol Central area. Tian Jin Hai restaurant is located by the marina overlooking Punggol Island. Unlike many other seaside restaurant, this one doesn’t face heavy traffic of freight ships and motorboat. It is quite pristine and the sea breeze is fresh.

Kevin had prepared a table for six persons at the terrace of the restaurant, with easy access into the Marina. It was not too sunny, so it wasn’t hot outside. When he asked for our order, we simply replied, “Just give us whatever Anthony Bourdain had!”. He continued to share stories on the many times Bourdain had visited them, to the details of what he had ordered. Bourdain even followed the chef to Jurong Fish Market to see firsthand where the restaurant got the fresh supply. We decided to order medium sized shark head, steamed. This dish is what Bourdain had ordered and Chef Jeremy Leung had spoken highly of during the World Gourmet Summit. We also ordered pregnant crab bee hoon – crab cooked with rice vermicelli, a dish that has inspired Chef Justin Quek. Too bad the bar, which is not managed by Tian Jin Hai, has not opened yet, so we couldn’t order Tiger Beer.

While waiting for our orders to come, we walked along the marina to see boats (our obsession!). Indi came across an old Catamaran and spoke to the owner, Paul. Meanwhile, Thalia posed for photos with daughter Aina.

A short while later, the pregnant crab bee hoon arrived. The first taste of the bee hoon has been quite orgasmic for Thalia, and soon I confirmed it. It seemed to be quite a simple dish. The seasonings and garnish were simple, complementing the natural flavor of the crab itself and the broth. I got the taste of the roe, and it was heavenly.

Noe couldn’t seem to get enough of the beehoon and crab meat. I had to keep taking out the crab meat for Noe.

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Then came the steamed shark head. Actually it was not the full head but the upper jaw area, not including the eyes. Again, it looked simple. With minimal garnishing, the real taste of the chewy shark cartilage and fat were brought out out with a hint of soy-sesame oil-garlic-ginger taste.

Thalia couldn’t get enough of it and even gobbled up the hidden parts under the bone. I was curious to know if the shark eyes were included in this dish. I love to eat fish eyes, and I bet shark eyes would taste good in this dish.

We girls tried to make sure that the restaurant staff needed not to wash the dishes

Overall we are really satisfied. The food is good, the service is excellent, the atmosphere of the place is great. We would definitely come back to this place. Next time, we’ll try the male chili crab, just like Bourdain had.

Tian Jin Hai Seafood (Note: the website still uses the old Jackson Centre Kopitiam address)
New Address:
Marina Country Club
No. 600 Punggol 17th Avenue
Singapore 829734
Tel/Fax: 6385-7831

Here’s the coordinate of the place to put into your GPS: 1.4158262136390132, 103.89919638633728

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Traveling with Toddler

January 14, 2008

For full article, click here

Many people considered that our last one-month trip to Mexico and Cuba has been a hard-core one. Meaning that people think that it is such an impossible journey, that many people would think many many times before actually committing into it. But I suppose traveling is so much our passion that we’re willing to take risks and plan such trip. If money is not an issue, we’d like to travel all over the world!

And why are we bringing our little one? Many (Indonesian) parents would think that toddler wouldn’t be strong enough to endure such travel. But we want to experience the world as a family, and we’re confident that we would be sensible enough to travel with considerations of our toddler’s needs and wants. We hope that Noe would be bitten by the same travel bugs that bite us.

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Indi+Noe against Carribean sunset in Havana, Cuba

So, some people have asked us, how do you manage to do such a major travel with a toddler. Our answer would be one word: planning.

Well, planning our trip is a separate article altogether. We’ve also been sharing our travel plan spreadsheet with several people, and they agree that it is so detailed that it looks like a “persiapan perang” battle plan, as you can see in our previous entry.


The Basics for Traveling with Toddler

The first and foremost requirement to travel with toddler is simple, you have to know your toddler very very well, knowing his ability and limitations, so that you could incorporate your toddler’s habits and life-cycle into the travel plan. How? Spend time with your child as much as possible, build trust between you and your child, and finally, test your child’s limit by allowing him to be independent and learn from his own mistake.

Secondly, plan your trip in great detail including incorporating the toddler lifestyle into it. This includes timetable, detailed itinerary, and logistics. Having planned our trip in great details, we know that there are some limitations imposed by bringing our toddler. For example, we won’t be able to go out to the night scenes. If we truly want to go to night scene, one of us would need to stay with the toddler to babysit as a compromise, for example, Indi would go to a dance club in Cuba while I watch over Noe. Also, we know that we have to constantly allocate time to buy snacks and tidbits for Noe. We would also simulate travel time by calculating distances in Google earth, so that we could allocate traveling time by car and allow rest stops so that Noe doesn’t get bored in the car. In terms of logistics, we need to know what would be available or not in the destination. For example, we knew that antibiotics is difficult to get in Cuba, so we had to take our supply of children antibiotics, just in case.

Thirdly, take precautions to reduce risks. Travel insurance is a must, and we spend time comparing different schemes in order to get the cheapest but best option. Also, we talk about our plan to our pediatrician. She would then suggest us to take necessary vaccinations and prepare prescription medicine as our first aid kits. She would also brief us on first-aid basics and how to use the medicine. Lastly, we had planned to take first-aid course but didn’t do it. We were lucky that we didn’t have to do any first-aid measures during our trip.

Fourthly, during the trip itself, be flexible with the plan, constantly watching your toddler. During our trip to Cuba, we had to cancel our plan to go to the provinces because Noe had Roseola Infantum viral fever.

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Traveling with toddler means traveling light, because you need to be prepared to carry the toddler anytime


Some Tips for Traveling with Toddler

The following are travel tips that had greatly helped to ease our trip:

  • Travel light and don’t overpack. You need to be able to carry stuff AND chase/carry your toddler when needed.
  • Ziplock bags, the sturdy type (freezer type), are useful for many things! Mainly they’re used to organize items in the backpack. Quart size to bring leftover food and on-the-road snacks, to pack medicine and toiletries. Gallon size is used to compress clothings for easy packing (Tip: Sit on the filled ziplock and zip them! This makes it into a pseudo-vacuum bag. Use this cheap option rather than getting the expensive special vacuum plastic bags). But don’t throw them away hastily. Reuse them as much as possible, and recycle when disposing them.
  • Breastfeeding! For me this makes traveling with toddler really easy. No bottle feeding kit to lug around. It also helped Noe to recover from his viral infection faster.
  • Wash your clothes during trip. This is how we get by with only bringing a few clothes.
  • Make it into a habit to sleep with lights off at night. This has been our habit before our kids were born. And this has helped the kid’s transition with the timezone better. There has been very little jetlag despite traveling halfway around the globe.
  • Make the most of the surroundings to entertain the toddler without toys. We’re also glad that Noe doesn’t need much toys. We can amuse him (and he can amuse himself) with things that are available on the spot. For example, Noe would have real fun looking at airplane pictures in the seat pocket. Anyways, the airline would most likely be giving toddler toy kit also. So, we didn’t bring too much toys. I think we only brought one Elmo doll, that’s it.

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Breastfeeding really make things become more convenient

The following are things we should’ve done or should’ve bring

  • Toilet training (we truly are a failure in this aspect, even up to now. HELP!). This causes us to have to bring disposable diapers, and to buy disposable diapers in the destination. And we make the earth a dirtier place because of it 😦 Unhappy.
  • Dog tag pendant necklace or anklet for Noe. Just in case if he goes missing (knock on wood), this would help. Even better, if we could put signal-emitting implants on Noe’s body that can be tracked using GPS. Just in case, you know. Thank God we’ve managed our trip without having to put these things.

The following are godsend items that had really helped:

  • Lightweight sturdy umbrella stroller. Lightweight is very important.
  • Baby Bjorn baby-toddler carrier (for toddler under 12 kg) or a sling. Carrying my toddler using this had freed our hands to do other things.
  • Ziplock bags, the sturdy type (freezer type). As mentioned above.
  • Waterless hand cleaner solution like Purell
  • Baby wet wipes. I know, this is not eco-friendly. But convenient nevertheless. Probably during the next trip we would change this with small lightweight microfiber towels.
  • Pacsafe Waist Bag. Safe secure and provide additional space in the packing system.
  • Pacsafe bag protector and steel wire security lock. Although people think that this is not useful, the pacsafe protector has provided us with the peace of mind. For example, we protected our bags by putting pacsafe on it and tying it onto solid column, while we spend time chasing Noe around the waiting room in Manila airport..

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This is typical carry-on-bag situation on the airplane. The big backpacks are checked in. BTW Noe never had his own seat because he’s under 2 year and we want the air tickets to be cheap. Another reason to travel light.


What To Bring for the Toddler: Our List

What did we bring for our toddler for one month? We try to travel as light as possible. Sometimes we were tempted to bring more stuff than we need, but we kept reminding ourselves that we need to travel light. And if we actually need more stuff, we could try to buy the thing once we arrive in our destination. However, this is rarely the case. So far, what we have brought for the trip has been enough (note that we need to allocate time to wash clothes every other night).

The list is actually quite simple

Noe’s Clothes

  • 6 trousers
  • 2 pajama pants
  • 3 socks
  • 2 shoes / sandal
  • 6 shirts / tshirts
  • 1 jacket
  • 1 long sleeve shirt
  • 1 hat

Noe’s Toiletries

  • 1 Kiddy toothbrush
  • 1 Kiddy toothpaste
  • 1 Kiddy bath liquid, also for his hair, the no-tear type
  • 1 Waterless hand cleaner
  • 1 Baby powder
  • Baby wipes, buy one pack containing 80 pieces every 10 days (should think of a more eco friendly strategy)
  • Disposable diapers, medium size, buy every 10 days (should’ve toilet trained him and use cloth diaper instead)

First aid kit for Noe

  • Paracetamol
  • Oralit
  • Ibuprofen
  • Malaria pills
  • Children’s amoxillin (antibiotics)
  • Cough medicine
  • Insect repellent
  • Zambuk for itch and insect bites
  • Vicks vaporub
  • 3 Syringe to give medicine when needed

Others

  • Sippy bottle for Noe’s water
  • Spoon, fork, knife, just in case
  • 10 piece gallon ziplock
  • 30 piece quart ziplock
  • Ikea clip to secure food bags or plastic bags
  • Flash light
  • Book with static stickers, sticker book
  • Small toys for Noe (as little as necessary): Elmo doll, a few metal toycar
  • Our PDA phones with Sesame Street videos for Noe and also our laptop with some videos in the harddisk (rarely need to use these though, but just in case)
  • Pacsafe waist bag and pacsafe bag protector

You can imagine that the above consists mostly of small items and all can fit into tiny backpack. We could do better by eliminating the disposables (diapers and baby wipes). Maybe next time.

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YOU can do it too!

Travel Planning

January 14, 2008

For full article, click here

Indi and I shared one common thing: We love to travel, to see and experience the world (*if money is not an issue). And with travel, we also share one common trait: we plan for it in detail.

Why do we plan? Easy answer: because that’s our style. Some people likes to travel unplanned, arriving at the airport not knowing where to stay or where to go. But not us.

A more difficult answer would be: Because we want to minimize uncertainties and maximise our enjoyment. As much as possible we do not want to be bothered too much with logistical issue. Moreover, we lug our toddlers along with us, hence the need for proper planning. Here, we’d like to share with you our style of travel planning.

We did this for most of our trips, particularly the ones outside South-East Asia.


A. Planning For The Trip

The first step that we do is of course, to decide on the destination. For the Cuba trip, for example, we were in a bookshop in Kuala Lumpur with our friend Fay, and there we came across with a guidebook for Cuba. Indi flicked the book and saw the beautiful photos of the Carribean blue seas, and we instantly knew what we were thinking. I instantly respond to Indi, “Let’s do it before Fidel dies!”. This was, six months before the actual trip began.

The second step is to roughly determine the dates and the duration of the trip of the destination. This happened immediately when we arrive home from that Kuala Lumpur decision. The dates were determined roughly based on the annual leave that we have. We built a basic spreadsheet with the number of days, and determined the dates which we need to travel by air (because this means the day is dedicated for major packing and unpacking). It looks like this, roughly.

Then we began our research… to the library! And to Google! We are very grateful of Singapore’s great National Library system and Singapore’s speedy internet access. We got ourselves the newest version of the guidebook and dissect it.

  1. First thing to research: Airfares and its schedule. This involves calling and emailing travel agents all over the world for quotation, and sometimes, when no penalty is involved, by doing reservation. Tim Ferriss actually recommends using last minute deals to save cost, but since we travel in a big group, we’re not so sure about this. Anyway, for our Mex-Cuba trip, we managed to get a pretty good deal by involving three different agents: The singapore agent to issue Singapore-LA tickets, Alaskan Airlines website for LA-Mexico ticket, and Mexican Airlines office for Mexico City-Cancun-Havana-Mexico City route. We’re glad that the schedules of the different flights fitted nicely, with about 8 hours gap between flights, allowing time for delays and rest.
  2. Second thing to research: Visa: Its validity, cost, and application time. This involves calling the embassies. For US and Mexican Visas, there wasn’t a real problem. It’s a bit tricky because Cuban embassy is not available in Singapore. The closest one is actually in KL, but they don’t serve Singapore residents. We had to do it in Jakarta, and with some persuasion, we managed to get them issued in one day.
  3. Third thing to research: Travel insurance. We chose AXA as it is the most economical.

To compile the research data, we use spreadsheet again, that roughly looks like this. We marked the best deals in distinct red color. Our rough schedule became more solid now that we have clearer data on arrival and departure by air.


B. Planning For The Details Of The Trip

For the details of the trip, we began to use the guidebook to research the accommodation options. We wanted a cheap, clean, and safe accommodation. If there is an option to stay with the locals and experience local culture, that would be even better. We also explored the option of hospitality club.

The second thing of this stage is to identify what we want to visit in our destinations. We also used the guidebooks, and we try our best to check the vehicle and distance required to travel between the objects that we want to visit. If necessary, we even use google earth and roughly measure the distance.

The approximate travel time is plotted down into a detailed itinerary spreadsheet, which uses hourly grid. This doesn’t mean that we plan our activities to the hour detail level. This hourly spreadsheet only helps us to put down the land-travel time, so we roughly know how much free time we have, and when we should be prepare to leave for our next destination by land. Later, we print this hourly spreadsheet, and on the road, we fill out the gap with the activities that we plan to do on the day.

Once we have this spreadsheet, we were also able to jot down daily budget and then approximate the final budget for the trip.

After this second level of planning, we began our bookings for the air tickets, hotel, and land transport.


C. Planning For The Execution of The Trip

Finally, we again reviewed and adjusted the spreadsheets that we have done based on the finalised bookings that we had. We had clearer pictures of the day-to-day travel time vs free time.

Then, we began to build logistics spreadsheet. This involves the list of things we bring and where (which bag) we keep them. Why is this list necessary? Firstly, so that we could travel as lightly as possible and as comfortable and safe as possible. Secondly, so that we know where to put things again, when we need to pack to move to the next destination, and also, so that we know where to locate our stuff without having to unpack the whole bag. During the trip, we need the discipline to store things at the correct bag.

This is how we build the logistics spreadsheet:

  1. The available storage:
    • Two large backpacks
    • Two daypacks
    • Two waist bags
    • Two hidden money belts
    • and Things to be worn
  2. The classification of things we bring:
    • Lower outer garments
    • Upper outer garments
    • Undergarments
    • Accessories
    • Sanitary/bathing items
    • First aid kit (VERY IMPORTANT)
    • Electronic items
    • Documents
    • Other items
    • We also have list of possible souvenirs to bring home.

Then we build a contact list that includes personal contacts in our destination, as well as emergency contacts (police, ambulance, and embassy).

Lastly, we build a spreadsheet for the money that we bring: how much in travellers checks, how much in credit card pre-payment, how much in cash (EUR or USD), and how much we expect to withdraw from ATM. Well, we don’t always do this list. But because we travel to Cuba, where money situation is a bit tricky, we need it.


D. Necessary Actions For The Execution of The Trip

Aside to the planning above, this is the list of necessary actions for the trip in chronological order:

  • Apply for ISIC card or discount cards
  • Buy air tickets
  • Buy travel insurance
  • Learn the local language using Pimsleur methods
  • Book accommodation
  • Book car rental
  • Book bus tickets
  • Consult our doctor and pediatrician for necessary vaccinations and preparation of first aid kits (she gave us prescription medication for standby and briefed us on how to use it. She also gave us letter outlining our medical conditions)
  • Buy items in the logistics list, including the backpacks
  • Pre-pay our credit card
  • Pre-pay our bills (utilities, cellphone, home phone)
  • Put the coordinates of the destinations into our GPS
  • Back up and sync our computers (leave the desktop at home, of course)
  • Put necessary documents as protected pdf into a thumbdrive, including money-related documents such as credit card info
  • Print the abovementioned planning spreadsheets
  • Print copies of travel documents, one each to be put into the bags
  • Print one copy of personal documents necessary for travel, such as medical conditions, insurance documents, etc.
  • Pack up according to the logistics spreadsheet
  • Ready to go!

There you go. Many people said our trip planning and preparation looks like battle plan. Is it true?

During the trip itself, we largely follow the plan. However we were quite flexible with itinerary. For example, we needed to cancel our plan to the smaller towns in Cuba because Noe was sick with viral infection. But that’s OK, we’re glad that our planning and preparation has resulted in a pleasant and memorable trip overall!

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