Saturday, September 27, 2014

Mom is homesick

Assalamualaikum wbt..

Here it is again, that horrible feeling. I am homesick. 

Today marked a week of my stay here in JB. Alone. I know its just only a week. But you would probably feel me if you are far away from your own daughter. 

I miss my family so bad that it hurts sometimes. You would think Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp are tools to make things easier but it actually makes it even harder for me as I keep seeing photos of my daughter and here I am, more than 400km away, missing absolutely everything. 

Our family has always been very close, especially me, my daughter and my mom. I see my mom everyday when I get back from work. We have spent so much time together that it was very strange when I moved to JB. I cried in my prayers everytime. 

Just hoping I can be much stronger with my journey ahead. I just found out that my husband had a fever for three days already. Demam Rindu. Ahh, I feel sick too. Homesick.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Family Trip to Medan, Sumatera Indonesia

Assalamualaikum wbt..

This is our second family trip for this year since our last trip to Colmare Tropicale in Bukit Tinggi somewhere in June before the Ramadhan month. And this trip marked me and husband's 5th vacation for this year. Here are the 1st, 2nd , 3rd and 4th. I think this would be our last trip of the year since I'm going to JB very soon to do my PhD.

So we settled on a 4D3N tour to Sumatera Indonesia to cover Lake Toba, Parapat, Berastagi and Medan. It's just a 55 minutes flight west off KL via Malaysia Airlines. It's not a very long journey but it sure a long one if you are travelling with an active toddler. Mommy alert here! See my previous post.

We score a great package during the Matta Fair and everything were arranged by the tour agency. We met our tour guide and supir at Kuala Namu Airport, Pak Edi Rangkuti & Pak Ramli (which both are Muslims) and proceed our four hours journey to Lake Toba. As we made our way to Niagara Parapat Hotel, we were greeted by the magnificent view of the lake. I've been told that the Lake Toba is the largest volcanic lake in the world. The weather here is a bit chilly as we are 900m above the sea level. I barely can see fog everywhere around the hotel. It feels like we are in New Zealand!
Our stay at Niagara Hotel, Parapat.

The next day we took a boat (more like a ferry!) to Samosir Island. It was a cool boat ride and Lake Toba looks at its best when the water is calm. The journey took us about 45 minutes.
Samosir Island is actually larger than Singapore and there are mainly Batak people living in this island.

Pak Edy brought us to an ancient tomb of the Batak King. Batak was known in the ancient time of eating human and they have no religion. Only then when Indonesia has implement their '5 Pancasila' which one of it are belief in the one and only God, the Batak ethnic is then being converted to a 'Malim' believers. Majority of Batak people nowadays are Christians and some of them are Muslim. The best thing about Pak Edy is that, he explained every single details of the Batak ethnicity to us from A to Z. We (my husband and I) being the boring kinda people, loves history so much. So we pay attention to every details of the story and enjoy our visit to Samosir. 
This photo was taken by Aulia'!  (It's actually done by the timer on a Tripod, but she was standing right behind the camera as if she has taken the photo. We gave her an applause and praise her for the good job -she was excited though. Funny!) 

Some of you may be wondering about the roof design behind us and mistakenly assumed its a Minang-like design. But actually its not. Batak people houses are design based on so many aspects and one of them is the appreciation of buffalo! They believed that buffalo has a great characteristic and contributions to their society such as strong and it also ease their ancestors job by plowing the field. That is why sometimes we can see buffalo head are located on top of their houses roof. 
We then headed back to the mainland to get our lunch at Rumah Makan Islam Murni Parapat before continue our journey to Sipisopiso.. 

I can't remember how long it took us to reach Sipisopiso but it was for sure an interesting view along the road. Lake Toba was also in view for a very long stretch of the road, confirming its enormity. 
We broke our journey to have 'Bandrek' tea at Simarjarunjung. This place is much chilly than our Cameron Highland. You can see how much we love the weather here! 

Exuberant mommy here. 
*This photo was also taken by Aulia'*

We were finally at Sipisopiso. This is a viewpoint of Sipisopiso Waterfall and the last viewpoint of Lake Toba. It was so breathtaking, Masya Allah!
My beloved parents posed like a newly wed huh! 

Our stay that night was at Grand Mutiara Hotel in Berastagi. This is the best hotel amongst the three hotel we stayed in Medan I can say. The accommodation was the best and my mom loved the garden very much.
Our Day-3 trip continues to Berastagi fruit and vegetables market. Locally grown passion fruit, known as Marquisa, is one of the famous fruit we can get here sell by Karo people in this market.
Hubby bought Pisang Kaki fruit for us :)
You get to see loads of type of plant too. I really wish to bring back home one. Unfortunately, it would be tedious to bring such things in. So we only bought the plant seeds so that we can plant them when we are home. 
Guess what?? we get to ride on horse too! Aulia' was so giddy to ride alone on the horse but my parents insisted that I accompanied her on the horse. I was so scared when I first ride on the horse, just after a while, I was in love with it and enjoyed the joy of horse riding. We paid IDR20K for the ride around the market. 
After the horse riding, we moved on our journey to Taman Alam Lumbini in Berastagi. It is free of entrance fee so far. There is a Myanmar temple or we called it Pagoda at the center of the park. We were told that it was built by a Medan tycoon whom had made a wish at Shwedagon Pagoda in Myanmar, if his wish was granted by the God, he would build a pagoda in Indonesia. So his deepest wish must have been granted that's why we had the chance to visit a Pagoda in Indonesia. 

We just walk around the park but somewhat we didn't enter into the temple where people pray inside. 
We then made a pit-stop for lunch at Sunrise Seafood restaurant before head for Zohor prayers at Masjid Raya Al-Mashun. The Grand Mosque Al-Mashun is one of the Sultan Deli's remaining historical building and it is still used by the Muslim in Medan for daily prayers. The mosque is only 200 meter from the Maimoen Palace which was built in 1906 by Sultan Ma'moen Al-Rasyid Perkasa Alamsyah and it was first used on September 19, 1909. 
We also visited the royal tombs which mostly the Tengku's descendant from all over the Sumatera. It is located just behind the mosque. 

We continue our journey that evening to the Maimoen Palace. According to our tourist guide Pak Edy, during the Green Princess time (which known as Puteri Hijau), she has her own underground tunnel from the Palace to the Grand Mosque Al-Mashun. So whenever she hear the Azan, she will cross the underground tunnel to perform her prayers at the mosque. People knew her as Puteri Hijau because she always shining in green. Whenever she went outside of the Palace, the green light can be seen from afar and it is told that she is the most beautiful princess in the Kingdom of the Great East. Auww she's definitely the hot girl being chase by the boys right!
My dad told us that he knew the history of Puteri Hijau (It was from his history text book 50 years ago?). Puteri Hijau was once asked by King of Aceh to marry him but the proposal was refuse by her two brothers. The King was furious because over the refusal then attacked the Kingdom of Great East. Puteri Hijau was sent away by her brothers in a glass coffin to the sea. So no one knows what happen after that.
The palace has three main rooms: the master building, the right wing and the left wing. The master building is known as the Balairung where the throne is.

My little girl has been so tired with the tour and we decided to check into the hotel straight away that evening. We stayed at Serela Grand Hotel and this is our last stay for this Medan trip.
The  rooms are comfortable and they also provide free wifi inside each room unlike the other hotels we stayed in for the last two nights.

The next morning we had breakfast at the hotel and check out at 10.00 a.m. We went to the nearby shopping mall to get some souvenirs to bring back home.
I guess this is the end of our trip to Medan Sumatera, and Alhamdulillah we have savely arrived in Kuala Lumpur International Airport  within 1 hour including at the luggage claim.

In Sya Allah, we will visit more of ASEAN region countries in future but only God knows when. I am off to study very soon and please pray for my success. Thank you:)

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Travelling via airplane with a toddler

Assalamualaikum wbt..

A 45 minutes airplane ride to Medan.

And it was the part of the trip I was most worried about. It's not because Aulia' hasn't flown on a plane before...because she has. Few times. It was just that we haven't traveled with an eager walker, who is busy busy busy ALL the time, before!

But Alhamdulillah we made it. And that was after a projectile vomit ride down to the airport. Oh yes! Here are the tips and tricks that helped along the way.

Travel Early

Traveling early in the day, with a toddler, really is best. Our flight wasn't even that early, it was at 8.30 am, but Aulia' was dragging by her nap time and thankfully, with a little coaxing by hubby, she was sleeping the last 15 minutes of the flight. It was pure heaven!

Check your stroller at the gate.

Our red stroller is not an umbrella stroller, but it's so comfortable for Aulia' at the airport and it folds up really easily at the gate. The best part about having a quality stroller on vacation is that you can exercise and walk with ease once you get to your destination. We took our stroller to the mall every time and it was great for extra storage and provided a smooth ride for Aulia' too. 

Bring a Blanket.

 Maybe two. And an extra change of clothes is always a good idea. Aulia' is not a blanket lover but she dragged her blanket all over the airport but despite how gross that sounds, it was only thing that really comforted her on the plane.

Provide lots and lots of snacks.

And it's even better if they are brand new snacks that your toddler has never tried before. I stocked up at Hock Chun and it kept Aulia' busy for tons and tons of minutes trying new snacks. She also loved the airplane snacks. Oh and watered down juice. And a banana is always a good idea too. 

Board Books are your friend. 

This is the part where we talk about distraction. Really, that's the name of the game. Distraction! Because the plane is so loud, picture books are a lifesaver. Aulia' LOVES the FROZEN story book..Genius. Pick books that are bright and colorful. I promise you will thank me.

So are toys.

Also, buy a couple new toys. Aulia' had her birthday presents recently and she loved her Pony, Elsa and Sophia the First. We brought along her Pony and the helicopter to keep her entertain along the flight hours.

Download some new apps..and bring them out once you're more than halfway through your trip.

The key really is to hold off as long as possible. Wait until she tuckers out a bit and has the attention span to focus. I find that in the beginning of the plane ride, they're so overwhelmed with all of the people, sights, and sounds that an app is virtually worthless. But once you've hit the halfway mark, bust those apps out! Aulia' loves Peekaboo Fridge, Bubbles, Peek-a-Zoo Moo, Sago Mini Ocean, and Play Phone. Like the board books, bright and colorful are the name of the game. Don't depend on apps with sound because you really can't hear them at all.

Be prepared to be a jungle gym.

And last but not least, really prepare yourself to be a human playground. Aulia' climbed all over us and was busy pushing buttons, opening and closing the window shades, waving at everyone and jumping. This probably sounds like a no-brainer, but hubby and I surrender ourselves to Aulia' and knowing that was the made the trip 1000 times easier. I remember in the beginning of traveling with little one, we would each bring our own magazines and expect to get a little nap in. Wrong. That's not going to happen and as long as that's your expectation, it actually makes the whole experience much more bearable.

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