Protected: Don’t be that person

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3 Nights in HK over CNY

I was in Hong Kong for 3 nights over the CNY holidays. It was intended to be a short getaway from Singapore….

….BUT I ENDED UP WISHING I HAD STAYED PUT IN SINGAPORE.

I did NOT enjoy Hong Kong, and I don’t think I’ll be returning, ever. At first we thought HK would be a ghost town during CNY — much like Singapore — but a bit of research revealed that most shops/attractions would still be open, which cemented our travel plans.

However, what it didn’t tell us was how much MORE crowded it was going to be in already crowded HK during this period. We discovered there were hordes and hordes of mainland Chinese tourists who apparently love to vacation there over the CNY holidays.

I can’t tell you how many times I was pushed, bumped into, stepped on and elbowed. The extent of it became one of the major reasons why I didn’t enjoy HK. How could I, when I spent half the time pissed! Let’s not even talk about saying sorry — not one of them had the decency to at least offer me an apologetic look.

We went to Disneyland on our second day, and boy, if you think Singaporeans are kiasu, these people are a million times more kiasu. Queues for attractions were, needless to say, atrocious everywhere in HK at the time, but the kiasu-ism was especially ugly to see in a “happy” place like Disneyland. Once they reached the head of the queue and the gates were opened, they were SPRINTING to secure a seat like vicious predators going after their prey. Get a grip — it’s just a bloody teacup ride!

Also, the concept of personal space is non-existent in their culture, so queuing in front of a mainland Chinese means having them breathe down the back of your neck — which is gross and really annoying. Aside from having to experience uncivilised behaviour, almost everything else went wrong for me this trip as well:

    • Didn’t get to take the tram up to The Peak because of the ridiculous queue. Paid the equivalent of SGD 60 for a cab ride up that lasted less than 10 minutes. The fare was split 5-ways but it still doesn’t change the fact that it was expensive for a single cab ride.
    • Didn’t get to take the cable car to the Big Buddha, again because of the queue.
    • Didn’t get to eat a single halal dim sum or anything that comes under the umbrella of Hong Kong cuisine because oddly, all the non-halal restaurants were open, and all the halal authentic HK restaurants were closed. The irony! I was told the hotel we were staying at, Panda Hotel, has a halal cafe — but in reality all they had was a measly one halal line at the buffet — serving nasi lemak. Yes, I went all the way to HK to have NASI LEMAK. And Turkish food. And Indian food. All other cuisines BUT HK cuisine. This was probably also one of the most upsetting things because I was really looking forward to having authentic HK dim sum.
    • I was on the fence about going to Disneyland because I’m not really into these things, but I ended up going, for a lack of a better thing to do. Instead of showing me a good time, Disney decided they’d ruin possibly my one and only time in Disneyland and in HK by scheduling the Sleeping Beauty Castle for maintenance. The fireworks display above the castle at the end of the night was supposed to be somewhat a highlight, but this was how it looked like that night:
      Hong Kong Disneyland, Sleeping Beauty Castle, fireworks

      Fireworks + Castle = Epic. Fireworks + Box = WTH?

      What it could’ve looked like:

    • I wasn’t looking to buy branded goods either, which are supposedly cheaper in HK because they don’t charge VAT — so shopping was not that exciting.
    • Perhaps the most painful thing to swallow was that all this disappointment carried a hefty price tag of about $1,350 — flights and hotel were more expensive because of the CNY holiday. As if that’s not bad enough, I returned with an inflamed ankle from all the walking. My feet were throbbing like it grew a heart of its own. Seriously, I don’t think my SIL is human — when everyone else felt like dying she was still all bright-eyed and cheery and like, “OK where should we go next?”

I went with my sisters- and niece-in-law, and I’d say the only positive thing that came out of it was their company and the bonding. That’s seriously the ONLY thing that is preventing me from hitting my head on the wall.

This was also my first brush with retribution for not listening to my husband. Faz had voiced out that perhaps it wasn’t a good time to go on holiday because we have the house renovation to finance, but I was stubborn. It didn’t take much, but he relented, choosing to see the good that the trip will do me — how it’ll be a good break for me, and that I’ll get to bond with the women in his family. As usual he was his considerate self, and I — well, I was just being selfish. And I got served.

You could say it was a case of bad timing — and I agree — but I still don’t think I’d return. Even without the crowd, there’s really not much that would be of interest to me in HK. It’s just like another Singapore, only more Chinese.

Well, at least that’s another country struck off the map.

No other pics because buat sakit hati.


Woes and Winnings

I have been sooo busy you cannot imagine. Well, ok maybe those of you who have gone through the home renovation process can.

To cut to the chase, Faz and I finalised the design for our house just last week and renovation works have commenced! The hacking work is now complete!

When Faz texted me pictures of the end product, my heart swelled with joy and pride. I mean, I know it’s just walls and I’m aware of how I sound like I’m exaggerating but I am really just emotional like that.

Perhaps a little background story to put things into perspective: We got our keys in October 2014 but we’re only starting the renovation now four months later because we had initially made a mistake choosing the wrong interior designer. How did we come to choose this ID? Let’s just say we listened to our brain and not our heart.

We found that this ID did not have our interests at heart a single bit. Looking back, I should’ve seen the very first red flag. He came to our very first meeting with preconceived ideas of his own, and he hadn’t even asked us about what we had in mind — this meeting was to do just that! At first it did seem like he was proactive and all but it didn’t take long before I knew he was just interested in using his ideas for his portfolio.

What a mistake it was to set our second appointment with him the very day we collected our keys, at the new flat. What began as a day to rejoice became a day utterly ruined because this guy was just pushing his ideas. Any suggestion we had were quickly dismissed as not the best way to do things. They were “not unique”, “not the best way to utilise the space”. He knew damn well we had reservations about his proposal, but get this — he went ahead to ask us if he could go ahead to prepare the quotation! This was only our SECOND meeting. The rate at which he wanted us to sign on the dotted line was ridiculous.

I just knew right then that I could never work with an ID like that because I am simply a person who does not appreciate being told what to do and how to do it. And especially when it’s MY bloody house. Faz said he had never seen a face of someone who had just gotten a new house so black.

See, the thing is we had paid a deposit (probably worth a nice dining table) upfront. Of course we had to have some consideration for that hard-earned money. Friends we related our experience to said we should just be stern with him and tell him what we want because ultimately it’s our house and we’re the ones paying him. Yes, true, but are we not paying him for his ideas? If he’s not even interested in getting to know what we want, how is he to offer us usable ideas in line with our vision?

We ultimately ditched him because we decided that we shouldn’t put our house at stake just for the sake of the deposit. Their terms and conditions stated that it was non-refundable, but we figured we’d just try to write in and get it back, since the fault’s on their part. I vaguely told them what happened (because it was hard to articulate everything on e-mail), left my contact number and told them they could call me if they needed more details. Without so much as a call to find out from us what really happened, in their reply they said that after speaking to the said ID, they decided that they simply “did not agree with me” and refused to refund me. The bloody ID had lied to them, saying that we had ASKED him to draw up the quotation!

I WENT BESERK. I shot them a super lacerative email in which I questioned their integrity. Apparently that got the director’s attention, and a meeting was set up for us to meet him. Long story cut short, we agreed to a 50% refund. I could’ve pushed for more but Faz didn’t want to push our luck. In fact he’s just so non-confrontational in nature that he had just wanted to give in to them and move on without getting our refund back. Crazy! If you don’t want your money back, let me take it!

So a few lessons to be learnt here:

  1. Sometimes it’s not all that bad to follow your heart. In fact, the times I followed my heart paid off tremendously.
  2. Ask, and ye shall receive.
  3. Never, ever, mess with me.

In a twist of events though, the director actually turned out to be likeable. Not in the sense that made us want to go be friends with him, but he succeeded in watering us down. He succeeded in making us feel that we were important to him, even when he knew were walking away. It’s just too bad that his principle of client importance didn’t extend to his ID, as well as the customer “care” officer I was in e-mail correspondence with. He succeeded in making us walk away with an untarnished view of the company — we instead blamed the individual we engaged. And I suppose it really is true that it all boils down to the individual, because Faz in fact has a friend who had engaged the same company but a different ID, and he has only good things to say. Anyway, something to learn from the director about business and customer relations!

So then I turned to this fabulous ID I’ve been following for a while now, and it was like a breath of fresh air because — FINALLY, SOMEONE WHO SPEAKS MY LANGUAGE! But even with a great ID, home renovations are no joke — especially for analytical and detail-oriented people me, because we tend to treat every home reno decision like a life decision!

After about a month of going back and forth with the design, we’re finally down to the action! It’s kinda a downer that the reno’s only just started but already put on hold owing to the Chinese New Year festivities. But it’s ok. Happy workers, happy home owners!

If all goes well, we should be able to move in end Apr or early May.

SO, SO EXCITED!!


Protected: The whole world is attending my wedding!

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Finding the perfect dress.

A huge part of my stress and anxiety, besides venue, was our outfits.

We went for our outfit selection two weeks ago, and no one could’ve expected (except me — but I’ll explain later) that I’d leave the boutique feeling…

…INCREDIBLY UPSET!

FM’s dresses, as gorgeous as they were, just weren’t ME.

Now I kind of expected this since I’d stalked their facebook page enough to know that their house style wasn’t quite what I had in mind. For instance, I’d always wanted to wear the classic songket, but I knew their style was more lacy. I had also established very early into my research that I’d have to tailor-make my evening dress because I knew I was going to have a hard time finding more covered-up options in their collection. What I had in mind for this was more red carpet glam than fairytale princessy. In all fairness I already had specific visions of what I wanted, so it made the selection all the more difficult. And my vision was this: a non-white, non-lace and non-poofy sheath dress (hand me the best shapewear please — I’ll need it) that covers my shoulders and upper arms. Non-lace because I don’t want to have to wear an opaque bodysuit underneath the lace just to cover-up because that would just look awful, unless you’re going to be wearing a hijab with it.

I knew there were going to be limitations. Yet I still took the plunge because I adore FM’s make-up. I just had to pray that somehow something will magically appear for me.

But unfortunately, as far as our first visit proved, no magic was conjured. I reserved the outfits I tried on, but believe me, I was not at all happy with my picks.

I had two options: settle, or tailor-make an extra outfit (this was going to be either the nikah dress or the songket — I can’t afford both), on top of the evening dress that I already knew from the beginning I had to tailor-make.

By now I think it’s pretty darn obvious how much I hate the idea of settling, but I did seriously consider going down that path because I didn’t want to spend any more money. Faz was already giving me grief, saying I was “spiralling out of control“.

It annoys me to no end when I excitedly tell him an idea and he immediately kills it, responding with “How much?”. I was merely telling him we ought to just make an appointment with Fatimah herself to discuss the dresses, but he was already starting to give me grief about the costs. What are you talking about? We don’t even know how much it’s going to cost, and that’s precisely what the appointment is for. I think I’m fairly reasonable — if it’s beyond what we’d be willing to pay, I’d decline. But what if it’s actually affordable and we missed the opportunity just because we thought it was more expensive and didn’t bother to find out?

Well, I wasn’t going to let that happen to me, so we made that darned appointment.

I obviously know cost is important, but couldn’t he have been a little more empathetic, try to see it from my perspective first, then get to the cost part later? I mean, it’s the saddest thing when everything else is in place except the dress on your own body — and you’re the bride!

So I took half-day leave yesterday, and we went down to the boutique for the second time. The difference this time was that I left the boutique ALL SMILES, WAY OVER THE MOON.

Alhamdulillah God granted me my (paltry — yes, I realise) wishes because Kak Fatimah brought out a couple of new dresses we hadn’t seen during our first visit, and I fell in love with them instantly!

So there — I’ve got my nikah and songket outfits settled, and as per status quo, I’ll only be tailoring my evening dress. No extra money spent!

As we were leaving the boutique, Faz remarked that this “trial” was a blessing in disguise so that we could come again and be met by these gorgeous new dresses. I can’t agree more, but also the moral of this story is to:

LISTEN TO YOUR WIFE!

I’m using this phrase a lot these days in place of “I told you so“. It’s become sort of a joke now, because he recently realised after almost ten years — would you believe it — that I actually give useful advice! Geez.

Anyway, after that we made a long-awaited trip down to Iris Tailor to make his medium grey three-piece suit. He kept putting it off at one time because he wanted to “tunggu second or third week bulan puasa ah, mana tahu dah slim sikit“. Err, not sure that was actually the case yesterday when they took his measurements, but we’re very excited to see how his suit’ll turn out because we’ve seen a lot of good reviews about this Iris Tailor!

Since this huge chunk of my worries are solved now, I’m feeling sooo much better, and ready to take on other tasks!

Alhamdulillah, alhamdulillah, alhamdulillah. Ya Allah, please let things pan out even better.


Feeling like a fat sack of bad potatoes.

The double digit countdown has begun, much to my horror.

It’s quite sad to think that I’m not looking forward to my own wedding! I mean I’m looking forward to life after marriage, but thinking about how much there is left to do makes me want to delay it.

I never really could understand how some married couples can remark they wish they’d gone for a simpler ceremony. I always thought to myself, but it’s your wedding! Now I understand why.

It’s really tough juggling work and wedding preparations. It truly, really is. I’ve had so many things thrown on my plate at work that I come home so mentally drained almost every other day. And to have issues crop up in the preparations one after another is way more than I can handle — and I’m feeling and seeing the side effects.

I feel sluggish and unhealthy, my monthly cycle is screwed up, my skin looks horrible — and I’m still not at my desired weight! At the rate this is going, I’ll be the poorest excuse for a bride anyone’s ever seen.


Of hardship and relief.

This haze is crazy isn’t it! The latest PSI reading as at 12 noon today was 401!

I was silently thanking God that our wedding is in October (I can only assume the haze would’ve cleared up by then — I can’t imagine having to live through this for another day, let alone four months), but just as soon as I felt relief, I felt really bad also for couples whose weddings are scheduled this weekend, and in the coming weeks.

I wonder if they’re going to postpone their weddings? Unless they’re holding them indoors, I imagine it can get quite bad. Will guests turn up?

Whatever it is, I really hope the haze clears soon so no one will have to postpone anything!

Just the other day, as we were going over venue issues, Faz shared with me two lines from the Quran in Surah Al-Insyirah:

For indeed, with hardship [will be] ease.

Indeed, with hardship [will be] ease.

– Quran 94:5-6

Allah has assured us relief with every difficulty not only once, but twice! So for anyone who’s going through rough times with the haze, wedding preparations, or just anything at all, let’s remember this.

What could be more comforting than assurance from our Creator?


Go big or go bust.

I’m almost at my wit’s end here. 

A while ago, Farhana from Kahwin Khronicles posted that my wedding venue, the Grassroots Club, will be undergoing renovations this year. I had zero knowledge of this and was shocked to learn of it. I quickly called our Grassroots Club liaison and he assured me that the renovation of the function rooms that we booked will be completed by mid August, and if for any reason the completion is delayed, they will move us to their multi-purpose hall, which by then would have turned into a ballroom.

I hated the uncertainty. I hated the fact that we wouldn’t know how our venue was going to look like. Renovating the place doesn’t necessarily mean I’m going to like it better. Who knows what colours or patterns they’re going to choose?

And then to make things worse than they already were, yesterday I received a call from Nurin (a friend of mine who had booked the same exact venue) followed by Faz, telling me that they had been dropped THE bomb. The function rooms will not be available for rent anymore because they are going to lease it to some tenant, and that they would have to reallocate us to the multi-purpose hall, which will NOT be renovated into a ballroom till next year!

I just flipped. There are bloody reasons why I chose their function rooms over the MPH in the first place, and now you’re giving me the very place I didn’t want!

I can accept the clause in the terms of agreement that states that they reserve the right to reallocate us in the event that our venue becomes unavailable for whatever reason.

But what I cannot accept is: WHY COULDN’T THEY HAVE INFORMED US EARLIER?!

I had to find out from someone else! According to Farhana, they had started to turn down bookings late last year. Why couldn’t they have informed us about the possibility of renovations then? We could have the option to look for another venue if we wanted! We’re only five months away, and for Nurin, only four — where the F can we find other venues at such short notice?

@#%*!?&%^ man, seriously.

I am dead set on not having my wedding at their unrenovated MPH. I don’t settle, so if we don’t find another venue that we like in the next few weeks, Faz and I have decided to downsize our wedding. We will just nikah, throw a simple lunch or dinner for 400 immediately after, either at the mosque or at home, and be done with the whole thing in 4 hours max.

No sanding, no elaborate decor, no multiple outfits, no photobooth, no kompang. I can’t deny it’ll suck a little because I’ve invested so much time researching, getting ideas, acquiring quotations and writing on this blog, only to have them turn to dust. But we’ll be off to Sri Lanka for our honeymoon after that, and have loads of unspent moolah in our banks. Sounds way better than having to settle, if you ask me.

So my dear BTBs, keep your eyes peeled on this space because I might be selling away some of the packages that I’ve signed up for at a discount!


Tableware woes.

After what seemed like forever, we finally have catering and tableware out of the way!

Who knew looking for tableware to rent would be such a pain?

I don’t think it should’ve been that difficult to find, but because we had invested time, energy, and most of all HOPE in a vendor that was first recommended to us but later proved to be a pain in the arse, the whole quest started off on bad footing. It was my good friend’s cousin who used this particular vendor for her wedding (she had hired CJS too, which was a plus point) and she had no problems working with him, so I was thankful thinking we were spared the arduous search.

Boy, was I wrong.

This time, it was Faz who was tasked with the liaison. I suppose alarm bells should’ve started ringing the first few calls he made, because the guy — we’ll call him Mr I from hereon — obviously hadn’t registered our enquiry at all. Even on the third call he was still getting our event date wrong.

But we persevered with Mr I because at the time we hadn’t bothered to look for other options. I mean, he was a recommendation after all. Recommendations are supposed to be good, no?

It took us something like three months to make an appointment with him to view his inventory, as well as discuss prices. Although we were anxious to meet him, we were quite forgiving of this fact because he had told us upfront that he would be very busy.

Our appointment with Mr I was at 9pm on a fateful Wednesday, at his warehouse in Sungei Kadut. As we were driving to the place, we realised his office was literally in the bowels of the Sungei Kadut industrial area.

Let me tell you something: SUNGEI KADUT AT 9PM IS NOT FUNNY OK.

The place was really dark and deserted, save for a couple of foreign construction workers walking on the roadside. Simply put, it just wasn’t welcoming lah. I was half-expecting to see zombies emerge, which I imagine would’ve forced us out of the car, and into the industrial junkyards where we would look for weapons we could use to puncture their brains.

(Ok, ok I admit I’ve been watching too much of The Walking Dead. I’ve been suffering from withdrawal symptoms since December last year because the next Season 3 episode will only air this February! )

So when we finally found the place, which by the way looks like this…

Scary, right??!!! It was close to pitch darkness, if not for the car’s headlights.

…we gave Mr I a call. Guess what, he wasn’t even in and told us quite unapologetically that he wouldn’t be able to make it!

He did mildly amuse us though when he told us we could go into his warehouse to look around — on our own! If I’d known, I would’ve come with a huge ass lorry and take off with all his tableware!

I don’t know why Faz bothered sounding civil despite Mr I’s blatant lack of courtesy. He was in fact so pissed that he just wanted to leave. I was pissed too but was by the same token desperate, so I urged him to just go in and take a look. After all, we were already there.

So we parked the car, first made sure the dogs lying around didn’t flinch at our presence (good doggies!), and entered the first open door we saw. Apparently we entered the wrong room, because it was a roomful of foreign nationals sawing wood. We went round mentioning Mr I’s name but no one seemed to comprehend what in God’s vast universe we were saying. Eventually we came across a Bangladeshi who could speak Malay, and he led us to the correct room next door.

Mr I’s inventory proved that he was at least legit. He did have everything we needed under one roof: tableware, portable sinks (a Grassroots Club requirement for washing), kendarat and dishwashers. But seeing as to how unreliable Mr I was, we knew we had no choice but to look for other alternatives if we didn’t want to be let down — especially on The Day!

God, what an awful experience.

Our search proved that looking for tableware to rent wasn’t as easy as we thought. Some caterers outsource their tableware themselves. Some are not willing to supply tableware to a club because of the club “restrictions” (we didn’t see what restrictions there were, but we didn’t bother asking them to elaborate). Others just didn’t sound interested — I assume it’s because we’re basically a small fry to them.

Then I chanced upon Sham Enterprise, our saviour, online. I don’t remember which combination of search terms I googled — I must’ve tried 101 combinations, I think!

Got a same-day email response from them, which was good. Upon enquiry, they had everything we needed, which was fantastic. On the morning of our appointment, we received an SMS confirmation of our meeting again, which was superb! So we met them, got a quotation, went back and did our own calculation, and concluded that the packaged deal they were offering, which included tableware, portable sinks, dishwashers and kendarat, was value for money.

Both Faz and I felt that we could trust them although we had no reviews to base them on. They were nice people, who shared with us that they’ve been more than 10 years in the wedding business, but mostly work with wedding planners — which is why you don’t see them at wedding expos. They seemed genuine enough and were not pushy, which allowed us to be at ease.

It didn’t take much convincing, really. We went back another day to take them up on their offer, which then allowed us to make our deposit with CJS Catering.

Lucky thing we called CJS when we did — they were about to hike their prices, and omit one food item from their wedding package! We’re really looking forward to the complimentary food tasting for 10 pax, which we’ll probably schedule somewhere in March, during his birthday week. Coincidentally he shares the same birthday as my brother. It’ll be like a mini celebration!

The issue of tableware was giving us a lot of grief, but we can finally move on to other things with peace of mind now, Alhamdulillah.