a Mother in Search of the Unbearable Lightness of Being

Leave a comment

Staycation @ Kempinski Jakarta

Oska and I made an impromptu decision to book a one night stay at Kempinski Jakarta last weekend, with his Agoda points. Coincidentally, Olive turned 19 months that Saturday so it ended up as a mini celebratory weekend for her. It was our 2nd staycation at Kempinski and needless to say (but I’m still saying anyway), we love it there!

Here are the top 5 reasons why:
1. We live in the suburbs east of Jakarta so staying right in the heart of Jakarta in itself was a nice change. Truth is, every time we get to staycate in the city center, there’s only one word that pops up in my mind, “Civilisation!”. Oska would roll his eyes or frown reading this because yes, I exaggerate. But you know, the city girl needs her bustling city living every once in a while at least.
2. Grand Indonesia and Plaza Indonesia malls are right next to Kempinski. That means lunch at Tim Ho Wan , dinner at Tim Ho Wan again or an alternative Chinese restaurant, and desserts from Llao Llao and Union Deli. The Chinese girl needs her Chinese food fix too because that’s what we lack where we live.

Service & Engagement
3. Service at Kempinski was nothing short of excellent.
4. First time we were at Kempinski, I posted a photo of Olive on instagram enjoying her stay. Next thing we know, the lovely people at Kempinski sent her some toys and souvenir. This time for our 2nd stay, we got a room upgrade. Because of that we never made it to the swimming pool as the bathtub was enjoyable enough.

5. I love Kempinski’s focus on the little people they call “little VIPs”. Apparently, we could have just called the concierge if we needed bottle sterilisers/warmer, baby cot, kids bathrobe and slippers, bubble bath, bath toys, changing mat, stroller, car seat, carrier, babysitting services etc. Damn! I really should have called the concierge for the bath toys at least seeing that we spent so much time in the bathtub. Also, there is a little VIP indoor playground at Signatures restaurant where we had our breakfast at. That means us parents get to spend more time savoring our food while the children play.

Now, photos.


Hahaha! Can’t believe I’m back again, with Chuck Chuck.

Grand Deluxe Room we got upgraded to.


Olive’s reaction when she saw the bathtub.

Taking care of Chuck Chuck before taking a nap.


Nap time is always fuss free on hotel beds.

Heading out for dinner.


Early Learning Centre, the must-visit toy shop. Olive spotted ELC from a distance away, flung our hands away and dashed into the store.


Puffy-eyed Olive heading to Signatures Restaurant for brunch.

Signatures Restaurant.

Croissant in one hand, and a spoonful of omelette on the other.

Our little big eater goofing around and clapping hands to food, oh glorious food!

Free play time!


Kempinski Little VIP Playground

Spending most of our weekend in the bathtub. IMG_8553


Cartoons and water play. Getting Olive out of the tub was as difficult as trying to catch a greased little pig. She kept slithering out of my hands. 

Olive having snacks on the bed, on the chair, everywhere.

Olive hiding behind curtains. What’s the fascination with peekaboo anyway? 19 months on and she’s still loving it. Well, whatever rocks your socks, baby girl!


Couldn’t resist taking extra photos of this girl in this handmade romper by @elisevaughn. If you are instacrazy and love handmade clothing, you would understand. 

That’s not all the photos I wish to spam but I really should stop. Till our next staycation then!

Leave a comment

Olive’s Finger Painted Masterpiece

Take a piece of paper, draw some branches, get your little one to dip their fingers in some paint, and paint away!

And there you have it! Our masterpiece, the ‘Hanami’.IMG_7863


Proud of her work.

If you look at the artwork closely, you would notice 2 styles of painting. The neat and structured, almost boring thumb-printing by me, and the uninhibited generous strokes by Olive which brought this cherry blossom tree painting to life.

As astoundingly beautiful as cherry blossoms are, their peak of bloom lasts only about a week. Life is fleeting. Life’s too short for us to be confined by a perceived set of rules, norms, and structures. Through this activity, I was reminded by Olive not to be neat and structured. But to be messy and bold. To think out of the box like I used to.

I remembered the time when my favorite high school teacher did an activity with the class. She started by asking the class to draw a box, followed by some other objects. At the end of the exercise, when everyone revealed their drawings, only one other classmate and I, out of thirty over students, drew fancy boxes that weren’t in the shape of a square. When our teacher asked who drew their boxes as squares, I was beaming inside knowing that I did not fall into the “trap” of what she had intended to prove i.e. most of us not being able to think out of the box. Who says a box has to be a square?

Life’s also too short for us too contemplate and hesitate over things we want to do but are scared of doing. It is too short for us to worry over problems that aren’t really problems, especially first world problems. Here’s hoping that Olive and I will learn to seize and enjoy every fleeting moment, and make them count. And I hope I will be able to inspire her to live a lot, laugh a lot, and to love a whole lot more!


Leave a comment

Back in Bali with a Baby

3 months after Olive’s first trip to Bali, we found ourselves back in the tropical paradise again. This time with Olive’s paternal side of the family.

Olive’s Bali trip at 9 months small

Travel period: 20 July to 23 July 2015 (3 nights)

Weather: Year-round summer with temperatures averaging at 30°c.

Stay: We booked a 3-bedroom villa at Villa Kubu Boutique Villa Hotel and Spa for a travel party of 5 adults and a baby. There are 17 villas in this estate ranging from private one-bedroom villas for couples to 2- and 3-bedroom villas for bigger groups. This villa passed the baby test with its cleanliness and contemporary Balinese design.  It is conveniently located in the Seminyak district, minutes away from the beach and steps away from restaurants, bars, and boutiques. The service from the guest relations officer, Ms Ika, was excellent from the time we made a booking. They were very comprehensive in what they had to offer knowing that we had a baby in tow. Possibly a standard protocol for bigger establishments as compared to privately owned villas, this was the list of things that could be pre-arranged:

  • Meal upon arrival;
  • Champagne on ice;
  • Baby items (baby cot, high chair, pool fence etc.);
  • Massage at Spa Venus;
  • Special items in the maxi bar;
  • Restaurant reservations;
  • Tour programs, car or motorbike rental;
  • Fast track immigration services;
  • Nanny services

Ms Ika also took caution in asking if any of us had food allergies or special dietary preferences so as to inform their manager and chef in advance, for the preparation of our breakfasts. We were so laid-back to the extent that we even had to be reminded to provide our arrival and departure details in order to arrange for the complimentary airport transfer. I would definitely recommend Villa Kubu for families with elderly and kids.

Eat: Some useful Bali food guide links:
Bali’s best restaurants 2015 by The Bali Bible
Bali food guide – 35 restaurants, eateries & bars you have to visit by Ladyironchef
Again for Olive, I brought myself, the milk cow, and food pouches for her pureed meals.

Moving around: We hired a driver or cabbed to get to places not within walking distance of our villa and also walked around Seminyak for food. There are many boutiques to shop at in Seminyak but mostly targeted at tourists, thus overpriced. Child seats are not required by law but if you are concerned with road safety, it is best to book transport and a baby seat in advance. Lesson learnt from our last trip was to ditch the stroller and babywear instead since Bali is not stroller-friendly.

Staying connected: Prepaid sim cards can be purchased at the airport. Most, if not all the restaurants we went to had Wi-Fi access.

Others: If your accommodation does not provide the necessary baby equipment, check out Bali Baby Equipment hire where you can rent anything and everything you might need for the baby at very reasonable prices.

20.07.15 Mon Day 1: Flew in to Bali and checked into Villa Kubu.


Olive waiting to board her 8th flight out.


Not too excited about the plane ride?


Olive testing out the sofa @ Villa Kubu.


Private pool.

21.07.15 Tues Day 2: Breakfast and swimming in the villa before lunch at Sardine, followed by Potato Head Beach Club and the beach.


We actually brought the foldable Stokke bathtub with us for Olive’s baths. No harm, with sufficient luggage space.


Getting dressed to head out!


Lunch at Sardine.


Daddy & daughter bonding under a tree.




Mesmerised by the rice paddies.


Olive giving Daddy her best smile.

Olive has a knack for making friends (or acquaintances) wherever she goes, strikingly reminding me of me. Looking back at all my travels, I cannot think of a destination I had been to where I hadn’t engage in hearty conversations with flight passengers, B&B owners, local guides, and random strangers. Then again, even when I am back in my home country, I find it interesting to just chat up with people. I hope she will stay the way she is, and never be too shy to interact with people from all walks of life, maybe even learn a thing or two from them or simply just enjoy a tête-à-tête.

We wanted to have dinner at Potato Head Beach Club but there was no chance, without a booking in advance. Just look at the crowd!


Potato Head Beach Club

So we enjoyed the beach a little, and went back to the villa for dinner instead.IMG_7519


Olive, trying to kiss-attack another baby girl.

21.07.15 Wed Day 3: Drove all the way down to Uluwatu, on the south-western tip of Bali. Had lunch at Finn’s Beach Club and went to Tanah Lot for sunset and to visit 2 of the 7 coastal sea temples.


Olive at Finn’s Beach Club.


Inclinator down to the beach.


Olive’s first ride on the inclinator.


Beach please.


Pura Tanah Lot, a pilgrimage temple and popular cultural icon in Bali.


Pura Batu Bolong, another temple within walking distance of Pura Tanah.


Groupshot featuring the corn on the cob.

22.07.15 Thu Day 4: Relaxed in the villa before we bade Bali bye bye!


No guesses who enjoyed the most this trip!

Till next time!

Leave a comment

Bali for Babies

Olive’s Bali trip at 6 months small

Travel period: 25 April to 28 April 2015 (3 nights)

Weather: Year-round summer with temperatures averaging at 30°c.

Stay: Villa Mojo, in the heart of Seminyak district, with 4 bedrooms and 4 bathrooms for a travel party of 8 adults and 1 baby. Unfortunately, Olive did not take a liking to this villa. She wailed the minute we got into the room nearest to the pool and did not stop until we got out and switched to another room. Coincidentally, a driver who came to pick some of us for our rafting adventure made a comment that went “No good vibes. This villa.” the minute he stepped foot inside. Eerie much? We did not have a good experience with the service staff in the villa too so I honestly wouldn’t recommend this villa to anyone else.

Eat: So many restaurants to dine at, but so little time. Some useful Bali food guide links:
Bali’s best restaurants 2015 by The Bali Bible
Bali food guide – 35 restaurants, eateries & bars you have to visit by Ladyironchef
For Olive, I brought myself, the milk cow, and food pouches for her pureed meals.

Moving around: We hired a driver or cabbed to get to places not within walking distance of our villa and also walked around Seminyak for boutique shops hopping and food. Child seats are not required by law but it is best to book transport and a baby seat in advance. Bali is not stroller-friendly so it was a bad idea to lug the Stokke xplory along this trip. It was after this trip that I swore by using a baby carrier for all of our subsequent travels.

Staying connected: Prepaid sim cards can be purchased at the airport. Most, if not all the restaurants we went to had Wi-Fi access.

Others: Check out Bali Baby Equipment hire where you can rent all the baby equipment you need at very reasonable prices.

25.04.15 Sat Day 1: Flew in to Bali and checked into Villa Mojo.


Olive lazing around before the flight.


Villa Mojo


Little bed tester.

26.04.15 Sun Day 2: Exploring Seminyak.


All smiles going from one boutique shop to another. Also wearing the baby too low.



Getting a whiff of beer for the first time at Naughty Nuri’s, now called Hog Wild.

Dinner and dance and Potato Head Beach club.

27.04.15 Mon Day 3: Taking a half day off from the baby for some white water rafting adventure. Perks of traveling with the family, especially with the ever doting grandparents.


Coffee tasting.


View from the coffee plantation.


Oh life.


Grandma giving Olive a bath in the basin. Coming back to this happy face made my heart feel so warm and full, also less guilty for leaving her for half a day.

28.04.15 Tues Day 4: Relaxing in the villa before our flight back to Singapore.




Never knew that putting on sunscreen can be so much fun.


Pretty babes. One with long luscious hair, one without.


And we’re out!

Leave a comment

Chipmunks Playland @ Kota Kasablanka

Over the long weekend with 2 days of public holidays on the 5th and 6th of May, Oska and I brought Olive out every day to explore more of Jakarta.

We wanted to check out Ancol Dreamland but we got too intimidated by the maddening crowd. Parking was a problem and when we drove past the beach, we saw that every inch of it was covered by people. Oska drove off without any hesitation and we ended up indoors at Kota Kasablanca mall for Chipmunks Playland, a New Zealand-based indoor playground, instead.

Entrance & Pricing
Chipmunks Playland is recommended for kids from ages 0 to 12 years old. The play area is one of the biggest, if not the biggest we have been to in Jakarta so far, well furnished with a wide array of playground equipment.IMG_6467

Ticket pricing as such:IMG_6470

Stroller parking and shoe shelves right when you enter. As with most indoor playgrounds, socks are required. I have already built the habit of packing a couple pairs of socks into the diaper bag for both Olive and I because more often than not, they come in handy. But if forgotten, socks can be purchased at the ticketing counter for Rp15,000 or less. Alternatively, just buy a nice and comfy pair from the shops in the mall, one that you will wear again.IMG_6472

Toddler Area
There is a toddler area catered for children under 5, featuring make-believe playhouses, an inflatable boat ride, a mini carousel, a merry-go-round, a ball pit, and climbing and sliding obstacles. Olive, 18 months small, spent most of her time in this area.


Olive on the merry-go-round, where she sneakily did her big business at.

Obstacle Course
There is an obstacle course across the main hall meant for bigger kids.

Ball Blasters & Climbing Tunnel
More climbing tunnels meant for bigger kids surrounding a ball blasting arena.

Wave Slides
3 wave slides with a slower orange track.

Bouncy Castle and Inflatable Slides
2 inflatable playground equipment, one for smaller kids and the other giant inflatable slide for bigger children.

The trampolines, cleverly positioned by the entrance, to draw passersby’s attention to the playland.

Kids Activity Corner
Ain’t nobody got time for that! Seriously, between climbing, jumping, sliding and clay modeling or coloring, most kids would choose the former.

Games Room
Ain’t nobody got time for this either! IMG_6539

Center Stage
For events and performances.

Party Rooms
Party rooms for rent.IMG_6534

Charlie’s Café and Dining/Rest Area
Always convenient to have hot food and beverages sold within the play area. There are also toilets and a nursing room within this play space.IMG_6540IMG_6508

Olive giving high fives to show how much she enjoyed the place. She played so much that she concussed within seconds of lying down on the stroller. Nap time with no fuss.  Now imagine me punching my fist in the air saying “YES!” IMG_6521

Chipmunks Playland and Café
Kota Kasablanka, Lantai 2, Unit 206, Jl. Casablanca Raya, Kav. 88, Daerah Khusus Ibukota Jakarta
Phone:(021) 29465012
Opening hours: 10am-10pm daily


Cinemaxx Junior – Cinema for Kids

Cinema for kids? Say what??? Yes! There’s a cinema specially designed for kids here in Indonesia.

Cinemaxx, a Lippo Group cinema chain, launched Indonesia’s first cinema for children on 14 March 2016 in Maxxbox Lippo Village shopping mall. Cinemaxx Junior is an innovative cinema-and-indoor-playground-in-one entertainment space that allows children to catch a movie, and at the same time have the freedom to move around, socialise and play all while the movie is screening.

Cinemaxx @ Maxxbox Lippo Village
Boasts 3 types of cinemas, Cinemaxx Gold, Cinemaxx Ultra X D, Cinemaxx Junior and an arcade, Maxx Games. Oska and I frequent the Cinemaxx Gold in another location closer to home because it really is such a luxury to catch a movie on lavish recliner seats, complete with pillows and blankets, and food and drinks served right to our seats. Best part is, a gold class movie ticket here in Indonesia costs Rp60,000 to Rp90,000 i.e. not more than 10sgd whereas an equivalent gold class movie ticket back in Singapore would set us back by 29sgd to 39sgd weekdays- or weekends-depending. And yes, the gold class experience here is also cheaper than the regular movie tickets back in Singapore! At this price, I can watch even the trashiest of movies whenever I feel like it.


Cinemaxx at Maxxbox Lippo Village mall.

Not exactly sure what Ultra X D has to offer but we will try out soon enough.IMG_5972

Cinemaxx Junior
The showtimes for movies at Cinemaxx Junior are set an hour earlier so that the children can enter to play at the indoor playground prior to watching a movie. For example, if you book the ticket for the 4pm showtime, that will be the stipulated time for entry into the play zone, but the movie will only start screening at 5pm. Great way to control the crowd and yet allow sufficient time for kids to enjoy the indoor playground.

Cinemaxx Junior – Indoor Playground
A 2-storey play space right next to the movie theatre.IMG_5979

Featuring a flying fox, climbing “trees” and a trampoline.


Mini hammocks, chalk-board/magnetic wall, and more climbing features on the 2nd floor.IMG_6220IMG_6222

Kids toilet and the cleanest, most welcoming nursing room I have come across in Indonesia so far.


Wouldn’t mind a poop situation with a changing room like that. Thank God!IMG_6212

Cinemaxx Junior – Movie Theatre
Tube slides and ball pits right when you enter the movie theatre. You can slide down into the movie theatre in style. IMG_6095IMG_6102

Separate ball pit for toddlers. Very well thought out, especially with all the big kids going bonkers at the tube slides and crashing into the main ball pit.IMG_6103

Olive enjoying the ball pit, as always.

Movie-goers can choose from a variety of seat types – sofa beds, cinema seats, loungers, and beanbags, currently priced at Rp100,000 per seat and Rp200,000 for a sofa bed that seats 2 adults.

Seat Layout

Screenshot from Cinemaxx website.

I would recommend the bean bag seats for novelty and sofa beds for extra comfort.  IMG_6157IMG_6160 IMG_6201

Olive’s first movie experience at 18 months small! Cinemaxx Junior is recommended for children between the ages of 3 to 10 years but if your toddler is ready, go ahead and let them enjoy the experience. Most children would be on the move anyway and nobody would bat an eye because that is precisely why parents bring their kids there. To drain their kids’ energy that is, while they enjoy the movie or fall asleep. I spotted many fathers getting their shut eye in the theatre.

The littlest movie-goer and her first taste of popcorn.


Lazy bums chilling on the bean bags.

Olive was more engrossed in the commercials and trailers than the actual movie. The only movie available that afternoon was “Ratchet & Clank”, not quite suitable for Olive so we left midway and headed for the playground instead.

Here’s a video of Olive watching the “Finding Dory” movie trailer, with a snack in her hand, crossing legs all. She actually understood what was going on and was shaking her head when one of the characters said, “Are you crazy? It’s too dangerous!”

There was even a souvenir given to kids upon leaving the movie theatre. Which kid doesn’t like a little surprise gift? Even the big kid in me was pleasantly surprised.IMG_7674

Maxx Games
We also brought Olive to the arcade where they had some games for smaller kids.

Olive’s first arcade game with Oska.IMG_5986

And 2nd arcade game with me. Clearly, she preferred cars to horses.IMG_6001

Can’t wait to bring Olive to Cinemaxx Junior again! For a better, more educational movie next. Hopefully they will open another theatre for kids in a more centralised and accessible location soon.

MaxxBox Lippo Kawaraci Address:
Jl. Boulevard Jend. Sudirman No. 1110, Lippo Village 1200, Kec. Kelapa Dua, Banten, Indonesia
Phone: +62 21 29171888



Every Day is Mother’s Day


So we all know how kids learn by imitating the people around them. Increasingly so, whenever I look at Olive, I find a mini me or a mini Oska staring right back at me. She copies our every move, every facial expression, and the way we speak, so quickly that even our bad habits we don’t want her to learn gets picked up by her readily. Having to model our best behaviors all the time when we are around Olive is no mean feat. And I have to admit that sometimes my subconscious gets the better of me or I simply slip up because my brain just does not have the capacity to be on its toes for all of Olive’s waking hours.

Mimicry is such a powerful tool that helps our children develop a vast array of abilities and skills. I make use of “mimicry” a lot whenever I want to get Olive to learn something new or do something she might be apprehensive about. I hug, pet, and touch all kinds of animals and insects, sing and dance myself silly, take on all sorts of rides and obstacle courses at play spaces or amusement parks, jump, roll, climb, and engage in different sports and activities, run into crashing waves and huge falling water buckets, etc. etc. etc. First name Mama, middle name Maniac. Yup, that’s me.

So this Mother’s Day, 8th May 2016, Olive and I went swimming. She recently developed a dislike for water running down her face so I tried to convince her that it was OK by putting my head under a water fountain. Immediately, she cried out “No! Mama! No!” and wiped the water off my face with her tiny little hand, afraid that the water might sting my eyes like it did hers. I cleared the lump in my throat and said to her, ” It’s OK baby. Thank you for being so sweet. Mama loves you.”

With Olive around, and with her little acts of kindness and sweetness, every day is more special than a set date we call Mother’s Day.