2017 Week 25 Update

I survived week two at work and so far, it’s been a good ride here. My reporting manager is very sweet but I suspect will turn to be a hard taskmaster. There are others too in the office, whom I am learning about as we go along. 

Since I didn’t have good flats to wear to work, I decided to get some new ones. I didn’t want to buy cheap ones which hurt and break soon so decided to splurge on some good leather ones. I brought lambskin leather shoes at this brand called Pretty Fit, which seemed to be a decent price and since the Great Singapore Sale is going on, I got the second pair at 20% off. This is probably the priciest pair of flats I have ever owned!

S took the children to see the Transformers movie while I shopped and they loved it. This ends their school holidays. 

We’re still in our extended weekend, but for those whose week has started, have a wonderful week!

Secondary 2 Week 25 Update 

School holidays are ending in another day and both children are ready for school. They both say they are quite bored being at home and so school is now welcome!

Preparations for school are in full swing with BB having his haircut yesterday. His natural style is something that I’ve seen guys take time to get right – it’s something that K-pop stars (the guys) have and which young people here try to replicate. 

This space will probably become a little more exciting when school starts on Tuesday as the children start getting ready for the year end exams. Term 3 will be roughly two months and term four less than that, so this half of the year will be considerably shorter than the first half!

To all my Muslim readers, Eid Mubarak and to people in my part of the world Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri. 

In My Hands Today…

Indian Takeaway: One Man’s Attempt to Cook His Way Home – Hardeep Singh Kohli

3328395Hardeep Singh Kohli loves many things in life – but none more than food. He loves to eat it, he loves to cook it. So when he decided to travel around India, searching for his roots, what seemed the obvious thing to take with him? Will Hardeep find the India he is searching for through his recipe book? And will he find himself along the way?

Chillin in Batam Part 2

Part 1

 

The South entrance of Nagoya Hill Mall

We dumped our stuff in the hotel room and decided to explore the Nagoya Hill Mall and also grab some lunch since it was almost noon in Batam, which meant it was 1 pm in Singapore and our stomachs were growling with hunger. After asking the hotel reception the best way to the mall, we reached there and entered by what we later learnt was the south entrance. This entrance is right at the small alleyway which houses a number of spas and massage parlours. It was also here that there was an A&W restaurant, but both BB & GG were not interested in the root beer which was no longer available in Singapore. They said they’ve had it before and that it tasted like toothpaste!!

 

 

Food Street on the first floor

We entered the mall and walked to the first floor which was like a food street with many food stalls and restaurants. After walking the length of the food street, we realised we could not eat anywhere as none had vegetarian options and we ended up at Pizza Hut which was our last choice place to eat. There was not much option at Pizza Hut also, so we ended with some pizza, garlic bread, waffles etc which didn’t really fill our stomach.

 

After lunch, we walked around the mall and brought some manga toys for GG, then some fidget spinners for both BB & GG and then while walking, saw a shop selling some fake bags. The children brought some backpacks and I got a fake Longchamp bag. The quality was quite good and for the price (around SGD 10) quite worth it. After that we went to see the theatre, there was just The Mummy and Pirates of the Caribbean running so opted not to see at the moment. Then decided to explore the mall more and went into their anchor department store, Matahari. Since it was the month of Ramadhan, the store was running a lot of promotions and tee shirts were on a buy one get one offer.

Another anchor tenant was a hypermarket called Hypermart where we went next to stock up on water and some snacks and drinks and also check out what was available. After that we were quite knackered, so decided to stop for some coffee for the adults and bubble tea for the children. After this was time to spend money on massages, one of the big reasons to come to Batam. While having coffee, I looked around and saw a spa called Thai Odyssey.

 

A cute elephant at Thai Odyssey Spa

I remember reading some good reviews about Thai Odyssey, which is an upscale spa in Malaysia so decided to do our first massage there. We all wanted a foot massage, so went for the 60 minutes one which cost Rp 180,000 each. They started with washing our legs and then giving us slippers to wear. After that, we were asked to put our bags (except handbags) into a locker, the keys to which was handed to me. Then we were asked to change our bottoms to their own which would help them massage. Then we went to the massage room and they served us some ginger tea after which the actual massage started. We were also offered some eye shades if we wanted to relax. The massage was great but at Batam prices, slightly expensive. We walked back to the hotel to relax a bit before venturing out for dinner.

 

 

The handles in the cupboards at the ‘pantry’ area of our room, which I was very taken up by

Back at the hotel, S rested and slept awhile and the children and I chilled and watched some videos. Sometime slightly before 6 pm, we left to try and find an Indian restaurant I had found was close to the mall. The restaurant is called Taj Indian Delight and I thought we could reach it from the other side of the mall. You exit from the side of J.CO and get out of the mall completely. Walk to Nagoya Hill hotel and at the main road there, turn left. Walk for around 5 minutes and at the traffic light, cross the road. At this point, you see the road turns right. Just follow the road and at this turning, you see the restaurant. We had a nice Indian meal there. All of us took the Bombay Meal which included one chapati, a huge bowl of rice, a small cup of aloo jeera, a soup bowl full of Dal fry, a soup bowl full of chana masala and a papad. They also gave us a small cup of mango ginger pickle. The portions were quite generous and the meal came to approximately SGD 6 per person, inclusive of a drink each.

 

The next day, all of us woke up early despite being on a holiday and so went for an early breakfast which was a big disappointment to us. We know that usually in hotel buffet breakfasts, we can probably eat around 30% of the food available, but here, we could eat less than 10% given that there was hardly any options which were vegetarian friendly.

We reached the mall around 10 am and started looking for a spa which seemed wallet friendly. We chanced upon Eksa Spa and Wellness which also had good reviews on Trip Advisor and so when we went in and checked, we found the rates for a massage seemed reasonable and so S and I did the deep tissue massage for one hour. The price stated was Rp 170,000 per person which became Rp 187,000 per person when they added the taxes. During the massage, we had to disrobe except for underwear and they give women a sarong to wear while guys get a pair of pants. The massage area is actually a screened-off area and we got the ‘couple room’. The massage started with some dry massage and then the therapist started using some oil to do really deep and hard massage. It was quite good and after the massage, we were given some delicious ginger tea.

Post massage we went into the mall and looked for a nail place for BB and me to do a pedicure. Found one near the movie theatre. The cost for a classic pedicure was Rp 98,000 per person and while we were doing it, the boys went to find out the next show timing and then play some arcade games nearby. After the pedicure, we went to look for them and it was time for lunch which we did at the same Indian place we had dinner. After lunch, we decided to go and see The Mummy. We had two Rp 30,000 vouchers from Matahari from the previous day so this meant two tickets were free and we only paid Rp 60,000 for four movie tickets (SGD 1.50 per person). We were tired by the time the movie ended, but I didn’t want to go back to the hotel because knowing myself, I wouldn’t come back if I did that. So I decided to go for a facial and before that we finished all our shopping. GG decided to wait for me while BB and S went back to the hotel to keep back the things.

I did the facial at Eksa again. It was some whitening and hydrating facial for dry skin. The therapist started with cleansing my face and then a scrub was applied. After that, she applied some toner and then used some vacuum thingy to suck the pores and blackheads. I have like a gazillion pores and blackheads and this was not painful at all. She then next extracted the blackheads using the blackhead extractor and I can say she was quite skilled as I hardly felt any pain at all. I am usually in tears at this point in a facial and there are times I want to ask the therapist to just give up and that I will live with the blackheads. But she did it in such a way it didn’t pain at all, even at the most which is the worst area. Next she toned it and started massaging my face which was quite wonderful. After the massage was some sort of a metal which she said was a high frequency machine. After this she put in a mask and waited for it to dry. While drying, she also massaged my neck and shoulders. After the mask dried, she peeled it off and then applied serum and moisturiser. Then a drink of ginger tea and I was done.

After dinner at the Indian restaurant again and a leisurely walk back to the hotel, we asked our hotel reception to see if we could change our ferry tickets to an earlier one. This was because our helper was sick in Singapore and I wanted to go earlier to see if she needed to see a doctor. I had taken her to the doctor before our trip, but during my daily calls to her, she still sounded sick, hence the decision to go earlier. We were told we would have to pay Rp 30,000 per person since they had already issued the boarding pass to us when we booked online. Initially we were not sure, but the next day, we decided to go ahead with paying the fee and leaving earlier.

On our last day in Batam, we went back to the mall after a slightly late breakfast and brought some o their famous layer cakes and honeycomb cakes to take back home. Then came back to the hotel and after making sure we had left nothing, checked out and took a hotel taxi to the ferry terminal. The process to change the boarding passes at the ferry terminal was quite simple and since we still had an hour to boarding, we decided to check out the mall next to the terminal to catch a bite to eat before boarding. The ferry going back home was a single decker one and we sat in the back. Our bags were kept in the luggage rack at the entrance of the ferry and I was a bit worried about them since it was not locked and Singapore has very strict drug laws and so made some check the luggage periodically. So that ended our two day holiday in Batam. I am quite tempted to make day trips there, especially to do some spa treatments as they are cheap compared to Singapore as well as shop in the hypermarkets where some household goods and toiletries are a real steal if compared to stores here.

In My Hands Today…

Pomegranate Soup – Marsha Mehran

513617Beneath the holy mountain Croagh Patrick, in damp and lovely County Mayo, sits the small, sheltered village of Ballinacroagh. To the exotic Aminpour sisters, Ireland looks like a much-needed safe haven. It has been seven years since Marjan Aminpour fled Iran with her younger sisters, Bahar and Layla, and she hopes that in Ballinacroagh, a land of “crazed sheep and dizzying roads,” they might finally find a home.

From the kitchen of an old pastry shop on Main Mall, the sisters set about creating a Persian oasis. Soon sensuous wafts of cardamom, cinnamon, and saffron float through the streets–an exotic aroma that announces the opening of the Babylon Café, and a shock to a town that generally subsists on boiled cabbage and Guinness served at the local tavern. And it is an affront to the senses of Ballinacroagh’s uncrowned king, Thomas McGuire. After trying to buy the old pastry shop for years and failing, Thomas is enraged to find it occupied–and by foreigners, no less.

But the mysterious, spicy fragrances work their magic on the townsfolk, and soon, business is booming. Marjan is thrilled with the demand for her red lentil soup, abgusht stew, and rosewater baklava–and with the transformation in her sisters. Young Layla finds first love, and even tense, haunted Bahar seems to be less nervous.

And in the stand-up-comedian-turned-priest Father Fergal Mahoney, the gentle, lonely widow Estelle Delmonico, and the headstrong hairdresser Fiona Athey, the sisters find a merry band of supporters against the close-minded opposition of less welcoming villagers stuck in their ways. But the idyll is soon broken when the past rushes back to threaten the Amnipours once more, and the lives they left behind in revolution-era Iran bleed into the present.