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:
- Sometimes it’s not all that bad to follow your heart. In fact, the times I followed my heart paid off tremendously.
- Ask, and ye shall receive.
- 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!!
Two weeks ago, I officially moved out of my parents’ place in Woodlands and into my in-laws’ in Pasir Ris to make way for my now married brother and his wife — Alhamdulillah they were safely solemnised last Saturday!
I didn’t take leave from work to pack, so I had to do it gradually in the weeks leading up to the move. At the same time my brother was also moving in his stuff bit by bit, slowly transforming my room of 16 years into his. I had already started to feel a bit sad and sentimental then, but nothing could prepare me for the actual move. Seeing the movers take away my stuff from the house, I felt helpless. I didn’t want to move, but it was something that simply had to be done — a rite of passage, if you will.
All too soon, the movers were done packing my stuff into the vehicle and it was time to say goodbye (God, I’m getting teary-eyed recounting this!). I sat on the sofa, asked my mother to sit down beside me, and rested my head on her shoulder like I always do when we watch TV. I hadn’t even spoken a complete sentence when the floodgates burst. I took her hand in mine and in between sobs, thanked her for everything. I asked for forgiveness and asked her to make halal everything that I’ve ever taken from her and from the house. After hugging her long and hard, I sat down and did the same with my dad, followed by my sister and brother. I went to find my cats Meow and Ashley to stroke and hug them, and cried even harder upon seeing their cute faces. Oh, how I was going to miss each and every one of them!
My sister told me not to cry, that Singapore is small and that I can visit any time, and I know this to be true but the point was that I was no longer a member of the household — my 28-year membership was over. The point was that I would no longer see or be around my immediate family everyday, and that was probably the thing that made me the saddest. The point was that the move was overwhelmingly symbolic of the events to come in my life — a big looming monster of both challenge and opportunity, for which I had to close this door in order to open a new one. The point was it was all scary as much as it was exciting.
For the next few days I felt displaced and empty, like a huge chunk was missing from my life. I cried on the way back to my in-laws’. I cried myself to sleep. I cried the next morning. I cried again at night. It felt like my time with my family was a person who had died and I was mourning her death. It was literally one of the saddest days of my life.
Thankfully my in-laws and husband have been nothing short of accommodating, and have been so kind, making sure I’m settled in well. Also, I had my brother’s wedding to take my mind off things, so fortunately the sadness didn’t last all that long. I don’t have a room at my parents’ place anymore, but I’ll still try to sleep over whenever I can so that I don’t give myself a chance to miss them and fall into another bout of melancholy.
Anyway, on to happy stuff! Some pics of my brother’s wedding at An-Nahdhah mosque in Bishan:
Their entire wedding, from the Nikah to the reception was held at An-Nahdhah, and it was simple and fuss-free. The combined wedding of about 900 guests — which the mosque was able to accommodate comfortably — was split into two areas: the area outside the musollah on Level 1, and a room on Level 3. A venue to consider if you’re looking for a mosque wedding!
Zul and Huda, I wish you all the best as you embark on your journey as husband and wife. I’ve only been married for a year, so I don’t think I’m in a position to dish out marriage advice, but hey, we can learn together!
May your marriage and love last till Jannah, insyaAllah.
OMG OMG OMG OMG.
HDB has finally furnished us with a date for key collection! And that special date is the 7th of October!
I know it’s possible to request an earlier key collection, but honestly we’re far from ready to receive our keys. I don’t know why but we’ve been really taking our time (or procrastinating, rather) with the planning. I think much of it has to do with the fact that I’m still, after almost a year, recovering from the exhaustion of planning our wedding (which is almost a year ago now!). Also, knowing that planning for a house is probably going to be 100 times more exhausting just puts me off.
Have you seen that Doctor Doors commercial in between episodes of Renovaid on Channel 5? The one with this lady waking up in the middle of the night screaming like a mad woman? And it turns out that she’s having nightmares — about renovation? I thought that was frickin’ hilarious. I laughed my guts out the first time I saw it. But it got me thinking, hey, that could be me! And then I shuddered.
But now that key collection is just around the corner, I don’t think we can put it off any longer. Faz and I already have a general idea of how I’d like our house to look, but it’s time to get into the specifics like what kind materials we want and everything.
Faz, as usual, has agreed to leave the interior design ideas to me — on the condition that he gets to be in charge of the home entertainment system. I don’t see what’s the big deal about having a home entertainment system. Never having one never killed me, and to be honest I actually even think it’s a waste of money, but I’d better be picking my battles wisely. I have a premonition of myself liking a nice, expensive piece of furniture I can’t get out of my head — which of course Faz will happen to think is an absolute waste of money….
My interior design preferences have evolved over the years — from ‘industrial loft’ to now, ‘rustic scandinavian’.
I still do like the industrial loft concept, but I think the novelty will wear off and over time I’ll wish I had a warmer concept to my home. I’ll probably still retain some industrial elements, but I’ll keep them to a minimum.
I’ve never been a fan of ‘modern executive’ interiors with its sleek, shiny surfaces because it reminds me too much of an office and all the stresses of work. I want my home to be an escape — a laidback place to relax and unwind, which is why we’ve decided to do away with one bedroom to make for a bigger living room. The space will be mostly white, typical of Scandinavian interiors, but rustic with lots of wooden surfaces and earthy tones, and contrasted with thoughtfully curated pops of colour.
It may take a while before our house is fully furnished though because I think I’m going to be very picky about the pieces of furniture we buy. Every single piece has to count!
Seeing as to how we have yet to meet our ID to discuss our plans, I foresee that our house will only be ready for move-in by end December or early January. But the sad thing is that I’ll actually have to move out of my parents’ house earlier — as early as October! My brother’s getting married in November, and he and his future wife will be moving into my room. My sister, who is a sad case because she’s currently roomless and lives in a makeshift “room” in our study, will take over my brother’s former room. With all the rooms occupied, it looks like I’ll have to stay over at my in-laws’ for about a month or so while waiting for our house to be ready.
October is just next month, so I’ll have to start packing real soon! SOBS!
Can’t believe my time at my parents’ is going to be up…FOREVER. Moving out is truly going to be bittersweet. I’m absolutely elated to be starting this new chapter of my life with my soulmate, but I’m going to be miss everyone sorely. How do you go from years and years of living with the same faces — to suddenly living on your own?
After Lunuganga, we headed for Galle Fort, which was about an hour away. But first, we had to have lunch because we were FAMISHED.
For some reason we got really excited at the prospect of having pizza when we saw a Pizza Hut outlet. I don’t remember if it was because we were hungry and Pizza Hut was the first restaurant we saw, or if it was because we were subconsciously craving simple food, after having had gourmet meals for the past week.
We were tickled when we saw they had a localised item on the menu called “Birizza” — which is essentially a fusion of biryani and pizza. It sounded quite interesting, so we ordered one to try.
And so with our tanks refuelled, we explored Galle Fort. Here’s a bit of its history:
Sri Lanka is an island that has changed hands several times in history. They were once ruled by the Portuguese, then the Dutch, and then the British, before achieving independence in 1948. Everyone wanted a piece of the tear-shaped island because of its strategic location for trade. It had the business of Persians, Arabs, Greeks, Romans, Malays, Indians and Chinese in its seaports back in the day.
Galle Fort was originally built by the Portuguese 426 years ago, and the Dutch and British subsequently added their own fortifications. These centuries-old fortifications later stood the test of nature, when the devastating 2004 tsunami hit Sri Lanka. There was little damage within the fort walls, but tragically the tsunami claimed many lives outside of those walls and in other coastal perimeters.
Today, within the well-preserved Dutch architecture of Galle Fort, you’ll find residences, a functioning High Court and Magistrate Court, religious sites like a mosque, Buddhist temple and churches, cool cafes, hip boutiques, jewellery shops, book stores, hotels and other businesses. Galle Fort very much reminded me of our Haji Lane/Arab Street in Singapore.
We had our last breakfast in Temple Tree Resort & Spa before heading for our last stop in Sri Lanka — Colombo.
All in all a good-ish stay in Temple Tree. Service definitely has room for improvement, but nothing to kick up a fuss about. We really enjoyed our room — the decor, and the view and sounds of the Indian Ocean were spectacular.
The hotel only has 9 rooms — coupled with the fact that some of the rooms were undergoing maintenance, we literally felt like were the only guests there. Once we did see another Caucasian lady, but that was it. I suppose the lack of people around could make the hotel seem a little lifeless, but we personally had no problems with it because we were a honeymooning couple — we needed exclusivity and privacy!
In Colombo we spent our last night at a business-cum-leisure hotel called Renuka Hotel.
We didn’t see the need to get a fancy hotel in Colombo because the main agenda here was to shop for souvenirs and get a taste of the Colombo city while we were at it. Pressed for time, after settling ourselves in we had lunch and went straight to it — we didn’t even stop to take pictures of the city (which I kinda regret now).
The next morning we had a couple of hours before our flight back to Singapore in the afternoon, so after having the hotel’s South Indian breakfast, we snuck in yet another trip to Odel, and then to Paradise Road:
Sri Lanka sounded great from research, and it definitely lived up to my expectations! In fact, I’m thinking of taking a trip back next year to do all the things we didn’t get to do while we were on our honeymoon.
On our next trip, we will:
- Conquer Adam’s Peak. Adam’s Peak is a 2,243-metre tall mountain, which is a shared religious site for Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims and Christians alike. There is a footprint at the peak, which is believed by the Buddhists to be Buddha’s footprint, by the Hindus to be Lord Shiva’s, and by the Muslims and Christians to be Adam’s when he was exiled from Eden. Adam’s Peak has been on my bucket list ever since I saw the most magnificent sunrise from the peak on the Sri Lanka episode of “Departures”.
- Go dolphin- and whale-watching in Mirissa. Boats will take you out to sea from the Mirissa Harbour. If you’re lucky, you’ll get to see out in the wild a school of dolphins upclose or witness a grand display of whale tail flips!
- Go on a safari in one of Sri Lanka’s many national parks.
- Visit the ancient cityof Sigiriya in Dambulla, another UNESCO world heritage site which contains a 180m-tall rock fortress, and a palace complex. You get another panoramic view of the surroundings from the top.
- Visit the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage to get upclose and personal with elephants.
Oh what an adventure it’ll be! But before that, we’ll be going for a second honeymoon to Turkey this May! Mega excited!
Up to this day I wonder what difference it would’ve made if we had made Ceylon Tea Trails in Hatton our last stop because the views, the service, the food — everything — was pretty darned hard to top.
The reason we decided to go there at the beginning of our trip was because:
- After a hectic week leading up to the wedding, we needed a damn good retreat
- After reading the reviews, I didn’t think we could’ve waited for it to be at the end of the trip
- We didn’t want to lug souvenirs we’d be buying from Colombo all over Sri Lanka if we went to Colombo first
Whatever it is, our trip still turned out amazing so it’s all good!
In the second leg of our honeymoon we travelled to Induruwa, a quieter coastal area just a few minutes south of Bentota, its more popular and bustling neighbour. The initial plan was to stay in Bentota, but I didn’t find any hotels there on Tripadvisor that I fancied. But Induruwa turned out to be a pretty good decision because it felt more private.
For two nights we stayed in the Temple Tree Resort & Spa, a beachfront hotel that offered uninterrupted views of the Indian Ocean and had a humongous tub in every room which would take ages to fill — but was definitely worth the wait. More than enough space to splash around!
The first night we were there we did a rejuvenating ayurvedic body massage to prep us for the next two days of sightseeing. By the time it ended we were famished and Pali, our driver, recommended us a good seafood place called Amal Villas. It was amusing to see they had “Singapore Chilli Crab” on the menu, and for fun we ordered it just to see if it would taste the same. It tasted NOTHING like our Singapore chilli crab! It was more like a sweet and sour dish — but still fortunately quite tasty.
We ended up eating quite a bit because we’d invited Pali to have dinner with us, but he was too shy and only ate a bit before leaving us to ourselves. But it was nice to get to chat with him for a while and find out more about Sri Lanka through a local’s eyes.
Our second day in Induruwa saw us visiting Lunuganga, the country home of the late Geoffrey Bawa, a renowned Sri Lankan architect.
As he (Bawa) went on to become Sri Lanka’s and one of Asia’s most prolific and influential architects, the garden at the Lunuganga estate remained his first muse and experimental laboratory for new ideas. He continued to change and experiment with its spaces and structures throughout his life until his final illness in 1998. Left to the Lunuganga Trust on his demise in 2003, the gardens are now open to the public and the buildings on the estate are run as a country house hotel.
In my search for accommodation during the honeymoon, I remember stumbling across a hotel called The Villa Bentota and being wowed because it had such a distinct and unique style. I later discovered it was designed by an architect named Geoffrey Bawa, who had designed a whole repertoire of hotels both in Sri Lanka and internationally. In Sri Lanka, these hotels were the Heritance Kandalama in Dambulla, the Jetwing Lighthouse in Galle, and the Tintagel and Number 11 Colombo Residence in Colombo, just to name a few.
After having designed so many hotels, Lunuganga was interesting to see because Bawa built it for himself, so in a sense it was a true reflection of his personal tastes. He spent his lifetime experimenting with the space — I don’t know about you but I was very curious to see how a place that took 40 years to build up looked like.
Getting there saw us getting lost, stopping several times to ask the locals for directions. We later learnt that every single detail about the 23-hectare Lunuganga was deliberate. It was inaccessible because Bawa had intended it — he treasured his privacy very much.
We finally arrived at this huge iron gate with nothing but an old bronze bell as form of communication which seemed to lead into a forest, no buildings in sight. Did we arrive at the right place? Surely this couldn’t be the main entrance? We rang the bell and waited. Five minutes passed. I thought maybe the place was closed and had begun to feel a little disappointed, but lo and behold suddenly a young man came running from the inside to let us in. Trip not wasted afterall!
Going into the premises we realised why it took the man five minutes — it was a bit of a walk in but I didn’t mind. I was already enjoying Lunuganga and its many visual stimulants: giant trees hundreds of years old, flora of different species — and when we finally got to the houses, they were old and rustic on the outside but bursting with character on the inside.
We weren’t allowed inside these houses, which now serve as hotel rooms, but they had windows for us to peer through. In terms of accommodation, Lunuganga is probably not the place for you if you cannot live without all the mod cons. There are no swimming pools, no TVs, and probably no wi-fi. What you do get, but which is priceless these days, is a sense of immense serenity and still-standing time.
As a layperson I’d say Lunuganga is an amalgamation of traditional and modern, eclectically peppered with all of Bawa’s favourite things, making a style that is uniquely his.
Lunuganga was beautiful and I enjoyed it tremendously. I wasn’t sure at first if Faz would appreciate this sort of attraction — I still probably enjoyed it more than him — but thank god he turned out to be quite an easygoing travelling companion!
Coming up in my next post — our visit to Galle Fort, a 426-year-old historical monument and UNESCO world heritage site that was originally built by the Portugese but was subsequently taken over by the Dutch and then the British, and then to Colombo for a taste of Sri Lankan city life!
After we came back from our honeymoon I think I was probably more excited to write about our amazing time in Sri Lanka than our wedding. Of course I enjoyed our wedding tremendously but to wind down after the pains of wedding planning and to be travelling for the first time as husband and wife was even better!
Being the more detailed and analytical half, I had automatically (and quite delightfully) put myself in charge of the research and itinerary. Each time I sat down and researched the things to see and do in Sri Lanka, I would come out of it more and more excited because there were just so many!
But we only had a week, so we had to choose. After much deliberation, we decided on the Southwest region of Sri Lanka. These were the places we ended up going in our trip:
Our first stop was Ceylon Tea Trails. Tea is an integral part of Sri Lanka’s economy (they’re one of the world’s largest exporters of tea) so seeing the tea plantations was a definite must for us. There were many other hotels amidst the plantations, but based on research, Ceylon Tea Trails in Hatton seemed to offer the best experience, and was thus intended to be the highlight of our trip.
We arrived at Bandaranayake Airport, Colombo at 1:40 am Sri Lanka time, 10 long hours away from our noon check-in at Ceylon Tea Trails. At the airport we were lucky to have chanced upon a tour agency from which we secured a driver and transport for our entire trip — something we’d left to chance because we didn’t have time to look for one before leaving for Sri Lanka. We told them we wanted to experience Sri Lanka’s famed scenic train rides, so they suggested taking the train from Kandy to Hatton, and that our driver, Pali, would meet us there.
Had we not chanced upon them, we would’ve taken a longer and less scenic route….and probably would’ve gotten lost along the way!
So off we went to Kandy Railway station. We arrived at 5 am, but our train was scheduled to arrive only at 9 am. With time to kill, we went about exploring sleepy Kandy city. We walked along the Kandy Lake, saw the famed Sri Dalada Maligawa Temple (also known as Temple of the Tooth), and experienced Kandy in its bustling Monday morning peak hour rush.
Wanting a more “authentic” Sri Lankan train experience, we bought 2nd class tickets. I imagine 3rd class would’ve been more interesting, but we felt we weren’t “seasoned” enough. Onboard the train, it was a real challenge to stay awake because we hadn’t slept for more than 24 hours since we woke up at noon on departure day!
Somewhere in the middle of our 2.5-hour journey, I got paranoid thinking we might’ve have taken the wrong train, or missed our stop. Prior to boarding, we had tried to check how many stops away Hatton was, but nobody seemed sure of what we were asking, or perhaps how to answer. I think in Sri Lanka generally most people can speak English, but the level of proficiency probably differs with the area. In Colombo I found they were very proficient, but not so in Kandy. It actually looked like we were the only foreigners in Kandy up until the arrival of the train — that’s when we finally saw other foreigners boarding.
We tried our luck again on the train, zeroing in on a young Sri Lankan chap sitting opposite us who looked like he might know English. A quick check with him put my worries at ease — we were on the right track!
Ceylon Tea Trails, Hatton
It took us 14 long hours in total (including our 4-hour flight from Singapore to Colombo) to get to Ceylon Tea Trails but once we did, all manners of lethargy vanished — all because of this AMAZING sight:
Having been on the road for so long, we took the first day to rest and just stayed within the bungalow premises, marvelling at the scenery. We learnt that no keys were issued for our room unless requested — this was to make guests feel like they were at home. We were a bit apprehensive about the concept but went along with it, and was later after our stay grateful to find that nothing went missing.
Probably the first to die in cold weather, I was afraid it was going to be cold up in the mountains but it was in fact a cool and relaxing low to mid 20’s deg C during the day, which was just perfect. At night temperatures dropped further — no fans or air-conditioning needed — but nothing thick comfy blankets and lots of cuddles couldn’t solve!
Because Singapore is about 3 hours ahead of Sri Lanka, we found ourselves waking up ridiculously early in Sri Lanka — as early as 5am, which meant we had more time to do stuff and was probably the reason time seemed to go by slower.
On the morning of Day 2 we arranged to go for the Tea Experience, which is a tour of one of the tea factories in the area. The tour takes you on the journey from tea leaf to tea cup — basically showing you how tea is grown, plucked, processed, packed, auctioned and sold. It’s really quite amazing how much work goes into a simple cup of tea! It was somewhat a reminder of how we shouldn’t take even the seemingly simple things in life for granted.
We were glad we went for the Tea Experience early in our stay because through it we had a newfound appreciation for tea, and were able to better appreciate the tea served to us every mealtime — swirling the tea in our mouths a little longer before swallowing — adding to our entire Tea Trails experience.
Because at Ceylon Tea Trails you can have your meals pretty much wherever you want, we chose to have our lunch this time at Castlereagh bungalow, another Tea Trails bungalow located across the reservoir from Summerville. We had the option to get there either via tuk-tuk or boat, and without a heartbeat we chose the latter! We’d been marvelling at the view of the reservoir and the mountains beyond it ever since we got here, so deciding to take a boat across was a no-brainer, really.
One of the activities guests can do at Ceylon Tea Trails is to explore the other bungalows. They’re all preserved colonial bungalows, but each and every one of them has a different interior and character. Guests sometimes plan their stay such that they get to stay in each one of the four bungalows. You could also take a hike/bike up into the tea trails but it rained after lunch and into the evening, so we could do none of those. Instead we ended up taking an extremely satisfying nap in the cool weather, awaking only to have our evening tea and scones by the reservoir.
It again rained in the afternoon, and I was starting to feel a little anxious because this was the last day we could go trekking into the tea trails before leaving for Induruwa the next day. Fortunately the rain stopped, and we left almost immediately. Pradeep, the butler, equipped us with some salt to fend off leeches and we were on our way. We only had about two hours before dark, so we had no choice but to go for the shortest trail.
Typically the trail would’ve taken an hour to complete, but because we were stopping every now and then to take pictures, we took almost double the time. The trail back to the bungalow was quite steep — I wonder how we would’ve made it back down if we had chosen to go by bicycle. It was already getting dark and had started to drizzle again, so we had to be extra careful. When we finally made it back to the bungalow, we were so impressed to see Pradeep waiting out on the driveway to receive us with umbrellas! Such sincere service!
I dreaded to take off my shoes because I’d felt something like ant bites and somehow knew I’d find leeches in there. Yet I couldn’t wait to get them off! I was just so grossed out I just froze, and couldn’t bear to look! True enough, Pradeep found THREE leeches stuck to my foot! He had to pepper the bloodsucking leeches with salt before plucking them off of me. Where was Faz in all of this? Laughing at me and videoing my high-pitched squeals, apparently. Pfft.
Three days of bliss had gone by, and the time had come for us to move on to the next leg of our honeymoon in Induruwa. We were sad, but didn’t exactly mind leaving because we were already blessed with an amazing time here at Ceylon Tea Trails.
We didn’t get to check out the other bungalows (except for Castlereagh) because of the weather, but in all honesty we were actually quite contented to have stayed put in Summerville. In our itinerary we had planned trips outside of Ceylon Tea Trails to nearby Kandy, as well as the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage but this place was so beautiful, service top-notch — the butlers were attentive without ever being intrusive, every meal a titillation for the palate that we literally couldn’t bear to tear ourselves away.
I haven’t spoken about the food, have I? Every single gourmet morsel that went into our mouths while we were here was delicious. We had enquired about halal food prior to booking, and while they said it could be arranged, we still chose to stick to seafood just in case. At Ceylon Tea Trails we were served breakfast (you could have it Sri Lankan or English), a 3-course lunch, afternoon tea and cakes, and a 4-course dinner. Our chef would discuss every single meal with us beforehand. He would suggest the menus, but we were free to change it up however we liked. We absolutely loved everything we ate here.
Apparently Sri Lankans are big on bread — there are bakeries everywhere in Sri Lanka! We had freshly baked bread to accompany all our meals, which we found great pleasure in. Who doesn’t love freshly baked bread?
Some Singapore-style food pics to make you salivate:
Check-out, as was the check-in, was a breeze — there was nothing we had to fill in or sign, no bills we had to pay because we had paid for our stay in full beforehand, and there were no hidden costs. When we left, all the butlers saw us off, which was a very nice gesture but made leaving a little harder.
Ceylon Tea Trails was the PERFECT place to spend our honeymoon. We couldn’t have been happier.
The drive back down to ground level took us almost 2.5 hours! We were circling down on narrow, bumpy roads which made Faz feel a little sick, but once we were on the ground he was okay.
Coming up in my next post, Part 2 of our Amazing Sri Lankan Honeymoon!
2014 is going to be a really exciting year for Faz and I!
Apart from forging closer knit relationships with each other and our families, we’re going to be planning for our first home, which is the next big project for us. We’re expecting to receive our keys somewhere in Q3 2014, but whether we’ll get them earlier is really anyone’s guess.
I know I should have already moved on to “house” mode, but I’m still stuck in “wedding” mode. I feel like I need to be done with all wedding-related matters like publishing all wedding- and honeymoon-related entries and getting our wedding photos printed before I can open a new chapter, y’know what I mean?
Some of the other things I’m looking forward to in 2014:
- Whipping myself (and Faz) back into good shape! The rate at which we’ve ballooned these two months post-wedding is ALARMING, and it’s got to STOP. Time to participate in some races!
- Spending our first Ramadhan and Eid as husband and wife.
- A wedding in the family.
- Parenting classes. I’ve no desire for kids at the moment, but I think we should be prepared for when it happens. And besides, it’ll give us something interesting to do instead of our usual movie and dinner dates.
- Travelling. I don’t know how much travelling we can do with the house coming along but I’m hoping for at least ONE destination — not too much to ask, is it?
- I really let myself loose these two months, but it’s now time to save like there’s no tomorrow.
- Starting a daily gratitude blog to record the things I feel happy or grateful for as they come so that I can look back in life and remember only the good things. Case in point: I can only remember two things in 2013 — our wedding and the stress of wedding planning.
- Work on my spirituality.
May this year be even better than the last for you, me and everybody! <3
Faz and I have been married for two months now, can you believe it? It feels like our wedding was just like, last weekend or something. At the rate time is passing us by, we’ll be old and wrinkly in the blink of an eye!
Back when I was still a singleton, something annoying I’d admittedly ask my newly-wed friends despite knowing they probably get asked this a million times is: “How does it feel to be married?”
Now that I’m married, I finally get to answer my own question and I’m going to start off by saying IT FEELS GREAT!
I hope it’s not just the honeymoon period talking, but there’s just so much love!
And the love is just different. The moment our nikah was pronounced sah, I could already feel that it was different. It felt so much bigger and pure, now that we were bound Islamically. And that love gives you a kind of joy you’ve never experienced.
We’re still getting used to the new status, or rather, to being labelled “husband and wife”, though. Just the other day when we were buying food, a friendly makcik next to us in the queue asked if we were “suami isteri” and guess what….for a moment we were dumbfounded! It was only after two seconds that I managed to grasp her question and tell her, albeit shyly, that we were indeed “suami isteri”!
I’m quite amused though — prior to marriage, no one ever thought we were a married couple. Was the makcik just being random? Did she have some sort of sixth sense? Or was she just observant enough to notice the fading henna on my fingernails? (Beli makan pun sempat tengok kuku orang, eh makcik…..)
Our living arrangement has worked perfectly so far — it’s allowed us to explore and understand each other’s deeper idiosyncrasies and family culture, as well as transition into our new roles as husband and wife at our own comfortable pace. Nothing feels forced, and I think perhaps that’s one of the main reasons why we’re enjoying it so much.
At first it was pretty troublesome, having to lug big bags of clothes and toiletries to each others’ places, but we now have the necessities and extra clothing in place to survive a spontaneous sleepover (there is no schedule because Faz works shifts and has a new roster every two weeks). Once I went to work in new clothes from head to toe — which I of course didn’t mind the slightest bit — just because of this spontaneous decision!
I know it sounds cliché, but one of the things I really enjoy since entering marriage is waking up to find him next to me. Anyone who knows me knows I’m really not the mushy type — and in fact as someone who values her personal space, at first I was even worried that I’d find it stifling to share my bed with another person! But I’ve come to discover that it is the most comforting feeling to be unconscious the entire night and then in the morning opening your eyes to find that the person you love is still there, right by your side. And it gives you sort of a zest to start off your day — something I definitely didn’t get waking up alone.
I also love that we’re delving deeper into each other, discovering things we wouldn’t have otherwise known about each other if we hadn’t gotten married. I look forward even to the less desirable discoveries (like bad habits, which I shamefully have more of as it turns out, by the way) because all these discoveries, whether positive or negative, will help us manage each others’ expectations prior to moving in together.
Speaking of bad habits, the pressure of having “someone new” in the house has managed to eliminate some of them — permanently, I hope! Although I say nothing feels forced, there’s still a natural pressure that will make you think twice before committing the crime. It’s the same pressure you get when inviting someone over for the first time — you want to make a good impression and give them an experience.
Usually the governing thought for me would be “Do you want him to regret marrying you?” and then if I feel it’s not worth him leaving me, I’ll try not to do it. LOL. But really, I’m just trying to make a conscious effort to keep him happy.
And I think realising this may be making me a better daughter as well. How, you ask?
Well, my conscience starts questioning me why I haven’t made the same efforts to please my parents, whom I also love dearly. I’ve strived to become a better daughter many times in my life, but nothing has given me the quite the same perspective on this as my new experience as a wife has, and I hope it’s more effective as well! It’s probably still not apparent to them yet, but I do find myself trying to please them more (by doing little things like helping out more around the house or by simply keeping bad habits in check).
And I hope to keep this up because I realise I’ll have increasingly lesser opportunities to please them after I leave the nest.
Aaaaand here are the videos!
The Orchidville Reception
So much love! <3
Just how overdue is this post?
Been very, very occupied with work, mainly and correspondence with Fadzil of Rolling Frames for our wedding video, as well as Fadly for our photos — which I’m happy to say are all now in our hands! I couldn’t be happier with they way they turned out and the fact that I didn’t have to wait like a year or something, unlike some of the horror stories I hear about other vendors.
So hooray, I get to use some of the photos here in my post! And I’ll post the videos in my next entry!
Continuing from where I left off, now that the serious and most important part of the wedding was over (phew!), true to my Mak Andam’s words, the next day’s reception was all about having fun.
That afternoon, while I was getting dolled up, my siblings and friends who were helping run some last minute errands at Orchidville texted me pictures of the decor which shot me straight up to cloud nine:
I knew from first sight that this hall in Orchidville would be the venue. I saw its permanent installation of rustic branches and traditional lamps set within birdnest-like fixtures and I was sold. TWC softened the look by draping soft chiffon in dusty pink from the branches.
I was a little alarmed though when I saw the dais (it wasn’t this green hedge backdrop that we fell in love with and requested), but upon explanation I had to agree with the last minute switch to a subtle white glitter tulle. The green hedge we wanted would’ve simply looked too crude in its soft surroundings. Well, sometimes plans change due to unforeseen circumstances, and I totally understand that. In fact, I came to LOVE our new dais. It was simple because it needed to be, but definitely classy! Kudos again to TWC for knowing design and applying it instead of blindly following requests.
Remember I had mentioned that one of my biggest worries was the weather? Despite my constant conversation with Him throughout my journey to Orchidville, the skies darkened and drizzled. I had begun to feel upset because I felt my prayers were in vain but I kept up my conversation with Him and although He didn’t give me sunshine, He did make me feel better about it.
By the time I reached Orchidville, it was pouring but any feeling of dissatisfaction completely vanished when I saw just how many people were present to celebrate us despite the rain. It was truly a heartwarming moment. In fact, the weather actually lended somewhat of a cosy feel to our wedding — but that’s probably because everyone was huddled together. I can’t speak for my poor guests who had a hard time making their way to Orchidville in the rain, though….
This was the pastel blue peplum songket I so fell in love with! Very Scha Alyahya. I have to thank Fatimah Mohsin for letting me be the first bride to wear this. My nikah outfit was brand new as well! I was ready to plunge into depression because I didn’t connect with any of the other dresses, but man, these two brand new pieces were screaming my name when she took them out to show me.
It’s entirely true what they say about not having the time to eat at all, because guests just keep coming up to you to take photos! We got to taste a bit of the food, and CJS truly didn’t disappoint. I wish we had instructed our family to put aside a bit of everything for us to eat later at home, because everyone was RAVING about the food — how it was a nice change from the usual malay wedding fare, and more importantly how good it tasted! In fact, I did make a mental note to ask my sister to put aside food for us, but the days leading up to the wedding got so busy that it completely slipped my mind. Anyway more on CJS later in my vendor review post!
At about 6.30pm, we retreated back to the changing room to change into our eveningwear.
And at about 7pm, we waltzed back in to the hall to The Piano Guys’ epic Titanium piano and cello cover.
We were welcomed in by our close friends standing on either sides of the aisle — something that wasn’t initially in the programme. We found out later that Fadly was the one who thoughtfully orchestrated it. I did think to do something like this for our entrance but I didn’t want to ASK that we be welcomed, y’know what I mean? So to have another person plan it was great!
That’s also the made-to-measure dress that I had done with Fatimah Mohsin. I found a pic of a dress I loved and asked her to replicate it, with some tweaks. I love it so because 1) it wasn’t a white wedding gown and 2) it was glamorous without being over-the-top. I had the option to top-up a couple of hundreds to keep the dress but I quickly decided against it because, really, when else am I ever going to wear it? But then just two weeks after the wedding I see Farisha Ishak wearing it during her Sinaran Hati performance on Suria and it pained me a little, well, because I’d put my heart and soul into looking for the right dress, and paid for the bulk of it — only for it to be worn by other people, at no extra cost. My heart says the dress should be mine, but the brain knows I’ll never wear it again and tells me we have no space for it in our new home. It hurts a little, but I know it was the right decision.
Anyway, moving on before things get depressing here…
By evening the rain had let up, and it was really just a relaxed and cool evening for everyone. We came in, fed each other delicious macarons from our pretty macaron tower, gave our speeches (which I really regret not preparing, especially taking into consideration how petrifying taking centre stage is to me — my speech could’ve meant so much more if I had actually been prepared!), and took more photos.
After a while we just got tired of sitting, so we proceeded to our photobooth to get a couple of shots, and ventured out of the hall for a mini shoot, allowing Fadly to conjure his magic:
Orchidville had put up their orchids for sale outside the wedding hall — a win-win situation because they wanted sales and we didn’t want guests hogging tables. It was the perfect idea to get people out of their seats, and true enough once the rain stopped, they got up and checked out the orchids. I saw guests leaving with orchids in their hands, looking quite happy. And why would they not be? Orchidville’s orchids are CHEAP! Even Kak Najihah of TWC who deals with a lot of flowers said so!
As the day came to a close, I remember feeling two things: thankful and contented. After a decade together, I was just so thankful that Allah had allowed us to continue being together and loving each other but only better — this time as husband and wife. And I see now in retrospect that every time Allah met us with a roadblock, it was to lead us to even greater things. Classic examples would be our venue and outfit selection woes.
I also remember my heart swelling with content. The day had gone exceptionally well despite the weather, it was almost unreal.
Wedding reception DIY projects
Ahh, my DIY projects. They were my babies, and I’m so proud of them!
Canvas tote wedding favours
The totes arrived only a week and a half before the wedding, which was pretty last minute but that’s because I took such a long time deciding on and designing the artwork. They didn’t arrive all bundled up and tagged like this, so there was no time to waste! I enlisted the help of my entire family, cousins and friends — whoever was available — and we’d form a production line. I think it took about five days to complete everything, inclusive of prep time for the printing and cutting of the thank you cards and jute twine. We did everything ourselves!
But the end product was worth all the trouble. Many guests complimented our totes and you wouldn’t believe how ridiculously happy I get when I see them in use!
Kids’ flower candy favours
I can’t say they were exclusively kids’ favours because even the adults were asking for them too! The idea was to create a flower bed of these bangle candy flowers (yes, it’s marketed as ‘bangle candies’ — though I think only the wrist of a baby would be small enough to go through).
A super inexpensive idea if you don’t mind the trouble of putting it together. We had to cut and sand the edges of the ice cream sticks to make them more child-friendly, gluegun it to the back of the bangle candy and tie ribbons around the stick to act as leaves.
Super cute, how it turned out!
My brother did an awesome job with this. He’s quite the handyman — the go-to person in the house to assemble any Ikea furniture we buy. But it was just unfortunate though because whilst the signage looked big at home, once placed at the roadside, it was drowned out by the surroundings. The heavy rain must’ve also affected its visibility. Nevertheless, I hope it did at least help those who saw it get to Orchidville.
And that’s it! I loved my wedding so much that I just wasn’t able to do anything much after the honeymoon except go over the photos in our wedding instagram hashtag over and over…and over again.