MasterChef Indonesia Season 3

Hello guys, hope this post will not be boring since I'm pretty excited about writing it. As the title suggests, this is about MasterChef Indonesia season 3 which ended last Saturday. So this is a bit late, but I only find the time to write it now. I actually didn't watch MasterChef Indonesia as it started airing this year because of 2 reasons, my internet connection is not that reliable that it makes watching live streaming such a painful experience to endure and the fact that Chef Juna is no longer one of the judges. The draw to watch it just wasn't that big, I have to say. In the end, I did start watching it because I found out that the official MasterChef Indonesia YouTube channel kindly posted each episode online after it aired (I think it's immediately after or perhaps during, I'm not sure) and I was really really bored. Let me pause here awhile to again thank the kind people in RCTI or Fremantle (Indonesia?) or whoever who had the power to decide that this could happen. Thank you for the kind generosity! I am talking about around 1.5 hours of content goodness sans advertisement being posted promptly twice a week. It was awesome. I'm wondering if this is the first of any Indonesian tv programme being put in all its glory in YouTube for everyone to see. It could be or perhaps X-Factor Indonesia was the first one.

So anyway, I only started watching when they were more than halfway into the season. I kinda marathoned it everyday that in the end I kinda managed to catch up. I watched the finale last Sunday when it was aired the evening before. I really really like MasterChef Indonesia that I did feel a bit of a regret that I didn't start watching it as it aired. "Why does it matter?", someone asked me. It matters for me because I think it doesn't allow me to participate in real time with what was happening in each episode. Watching it late meaning whatever comment I have doesn't matter anymore since it's already in the past and reading people's comment about the episode is also not as fun anymore. Lesson learnt, next year I'm gonna start watching as it airs. Anyway here are some of my take on this season.

First of all, there are always that comments from people that MasterChef Indonesia's quality is so low compared to the American or Australian ones. Hmmm ... I think in MasterChef, there's an advantage that the haves have that the have nots do not have. The haves have more opportunity in their lives to try different food or they have more access to know more about how to cook certain things or how food can be presented that there's no denial they have an advantage in challenges. Similarly, people in Indonesia can be considered the have nots as compared to the people in America or Australia, so in terms of how to cook or present the food, we are just in a lower level. This is even more so if you see that among the contestants in MasterChef Indonesia, there are just really people who are not exposed to different type of ingredients, so of course things will be harder for them and as a result they may not do as well. I've come to accept this and I don't mind it at all. Despite of perhaps the lower quality, I think what's really good about MasterChef Indonesia is actually the Indonesian-ness of it all. Yes, there are criticism that in this season not many Indonesian meals were featured, but overall in term of the contestants and how everything went, it's just full of Indonesian flavors and I enjoyed it so very much. Overtime, I do hope that the quality of the cooking and the skill of the people will improve, but I think that is also tied with how Indonesia as a country can develop. I am currently watching MasterChef Indonesia season 1 (they also posted previous seasons in YouTube!) and I am only in the early episodes, however already I can see that there's an obvious improvement between the contestants' skills. So I guess as this show goes on, the quality will continue to improve.

Talking about season 1, I am still quite early in the season but man based on what I watched so far, I'm surprised that they were granted another season. Season 1 was unnecessarily dramatic. One of the finalists for season 3 made a comment about how someone cried so dramatically in his season. It was worse in season 1 when I think just in episode 2, there was already some dramatic crying happening. The editing in season 1 was more typical of stupid Indonesian tv shows; dramatic music, focusing in slow motion the expression of people, and then showing it over and over again - it's just plain awful. So even in this case, season 2 and season 3 had made good improvement. There are still some stupid editing going on, but overall things seem more meaningful this time around. I felt even with the judges, there was already some improvement. I felt even Chef Juna was unnecessarily more dramatic in season 1. I think he was more himself and more relaxed in season 2. I do have to say though that watching him in season 1, it reminds me how deadly his smile can be :P With that, let me comment about his replacement, Chef Arnold. Earlier in the episodes, I thought he wasn't really himself, like he's putting up a show or something like that, just like Chef Juna in season 1, but as the episodes go, I think Chef Arnold was more into himself and things felt more natural. So overall, though losing Chef Juna was bad, it turned out it wasn't a big lost. The judges were still an entertaining front. I felt Chef Degan was more comfortable this time around and like last year he just exuded this fatherly presence that you just have much respect for him and at the same time he can also appear as fun :) and then there's Chef Marinka who strangely made me think that she's so beautiful :P who again can bite despite her cuteness :P I begin to think that if any of them are the ones leaving, the lost would be more profound. I could be wrong since it's perhaps the same sentiment people felt when Chef Juna left, but it turned out Chef Arnold did just fine. Chef Arnold itself sometime appeared very strict, but sometime I felt his childish self came through (he's so young, under 25!) :D

On the other side of the judges, of course there are the contestants. I have to say they were pretty colorful and seemed like a bunch of fun people. The age range this time around seemed to be really young. I think only less than 5 are over 30. They're so young, they are the fist-bumping generation rather than doing high five :P I have to say that I shed tears at almost every elimination, even in the final! They just got into you! The villain this time around was Mimi. Yes there's an actual villain who people did not like. It's funny how this season's contestants can seem to be so harmonious with each other, but come confessional time they can really bitch about other people :P Obviously in MasterChef you don't really get to see much about how the contestant interact with each other on a personal level, so you may not be able to get why certain people don't like other people, but I have to say I can get why Mimi was not well liked. I can sense it from the way she spoke during her confessionals. It reminded me of an Indonesian girl I once knew. I believe at that time we just had to tolerate her because that's just the way she speaks. The more I think of it, I was reminded of this other Indonesian boy who admitted to me how he didn't like her because of the way she was and he had difficulty seeing how she could be liked by people, he felt there must be some fake-ness in it :P Perhaps he's right, but also a language affects how you can come across. I think that girl comes across alright in English compared to in Indonesian :P Anyway, in the case of Mimi, it's telling when a guest star who interacted with her for an hour or so can say things like maybe she's a nice person, but I think the way she speaks can be rather too hard to take. Another villain it seemed was Brian who made it to the final. It seemed not many people like him, but I couldn't figure out why and I am so curious to know why people didn't like him much. After all he appeared as this nice devoted dad who's doing all this for his family. Anyway, I read some comments that if Chef Juna had been around, the contestants would have behaved more seriously. That could be true, but again I don't mind it much. It's alright for me that the contestants were more playful this time around :P I love how these people regardless of their different religions and ethnicity seem to just go along and be friends and all hugs (yes even the muslims) and supports (except to Mimi and Brian). It's heartwarming, because you really should just be friends with people from different background than yours.

One of the dramatic moment this season came during the spike elimination, which I hated. Here members of the losing group challenge had to vote out the weakest link. It was dramatic because Tante Angella who I thought was the nicest contestant was so troubled about it that she was crying (obviously) and would rather take herself out of the competition rather than vote. She's such a little mouse. She always appeared timid and scared when she had to face the judges. At this spike elimination, it was surprising that the kind Chef Degan was the one taking hold of the situation and appeared darn strict throughout. It's like seeing your favorite teacher got angry, it was so uncomfortable and it mesmerized me that even the other 2 judges ended up quiet throughout the whole thing. I'm glad the spike elimination was fairer this time around than last season. The person voted could choose 2 other people to join him in pressure test.

Another thing that came back this season is the black team. I totally have a mix feeling about this. It's basically a group of previously eliminated people who were given the chance to go back into the competition. There were some improvements compared to last season. For one, they didn't have the gothic make-up and they didn't act all fierce and bitchy, so that's a huge huge relief. It's easier to take them more seriously this time around. Last season, the members of the black team were chosen by the judges. This time around, the 15 previously eliminated people competed among themselves for a spot. Perhaps that is fairer but again perhaps it's a matter of luck. I have a mix feeling about the black team, because at one point I felt it's a bit unfair to the contestants being eliminated after the introduction of the black team, they don't get second chances. Yes you could argue, if you're that good, you don't have to worry about this because you should never be eliminated. However sometime I think luck plays a lot of factor in pressure tests, sometime your egg just came out overcook or your one chance of doing flambé didn't give you flames, so that is just sad bad luck. Then with the black team, the competition felt a bit like a ding dong that didn't progress much. It feels like a stunt to extend the whole competition longer. On the other side though, I do get sad when some people are eliminated, so it's good to see them back.

Like season 2, there is also the family challenge, in which the contestants directed one of their loved one during the cooking. I think it's not relevant to their cooking ability, but I have to say that it was very entertaining. I guess the surprise here was when Nino, perhaps the most good looking contestant, turned out to be married. He's a weird guy for me, I think he is very handsome if you're looking at him from the side, but from the front view, he's not that handsome :P I have to say that sometime the challenges were there just for entertainment purpose, like the doomsday dinner and the tag team challenge. I hated the tag team challenge. A team of 2 takes turn cooking every 5 minutes or so. I thought it was pointless. Then there are things which were meant to shock the contestants, for example having to catch a chicken and then watch it being slaughtered (they blurred it for the viewers at home) or opening a mystery box and finding a cute rabbit (no they don't have to watch the rabbit get killed). One very shocking thing was when the judges opened a big mystery box and there was a dead cow's head inside it. I was thinking this wouldn't happen in America, PETA would be protesting as fast as the box was lifted :D In a way, there's certain craziness that can happen only in Indonesia :D

Another thing that seem to make it every season is the outrageous ingredients, the likes of cow's tongue, brain, and cheek. Aarrgghh!!! They seem to make it every season! Brain even appeared twice because one guest star, Anggun, chose that! Speaking about guest stars, there were really some interesting ones, like Anggun, cast and crew of The Raid, the chef that did molecular gastronomy, and Chef Kenny Chan and Chef Wan from Malaysia. I have to say though that I think they underused the presence of Anggun and especially the cast and crew of The Raid (such a waste!). They did show off Chef Wan really well. You can really feel his wonderful energizer bunny character :D For the first time, I thought Chef Wan speaks really really fast :D Overall I think they did the whole Malaysian leg really really well. I didn't know of Chef Kenny Chan before. He seemed to be really interesting in his peranakan nyonya get-up :P A bit of trivia, in season 2, one of the chefs during the Hongkong leg was also called Kenny Chan :D

The last episode before the final did manage to deliver another surprise. One of the finalist is William, this Chinese Indonesian boy who appeared like he must have come from a privileged life. Surprise, surprise, he's not rich. Looking at his very modest house, one can even say that he's from the lower end of middle class. I find that to be really surprising. Looks can really be deceiving. His family is kinda your typical Chinese Indonesian and listening about how strained relationship was with his dad because he quit school to pursue culinary and his dad's request that he doesn't get any more tattoo are really so typical Indonesian Chinese or perhaps Indonesian in general :P It's strange but I find it interesting also that he is also your typical Buddhist Indonesian Chinese (there's a small altar in his house). You see, most Indonesian chinese who are famous in Indonesia are Christians, that I can't really even name one who's still holding traditional beliefs like my family.

Anyway, I have to say the final was tough and challenging. There were 3 rounds and 2 of them were actually duplication challenges. So I think that's a bit disappointing. If there's any other criticism was that there's no Indonesian dish or requirement for the final challenges. I thought it's a shame. Indonesian dishes do seem to be really difficult. Many of these young contestants would readily admit that they're doing more western dishes because it's easier and having to cook Indonesian dishes could be so daunting for them. Still the 3 rounds were so hard that the time given was quite a lot, culminating in the 5-hour challenge to complete a macaroon tower with a cake at its base. I have to say it's hard since I've never made it, but I still cannot help feeling a tiny bit disappointed that the end results from the 2 contestants looked like shit :( Even though William beat Brian with a huge gap and the winner was kinda predictable even before the final began, I have to say it was still quite an intense final. I also have to say how I love that the judges looked so dashing during the announcement :)

Some other things to comment in random order now. A lot of english being spoken despite of this being in Indonesia. I guess it's a true reflection of how people speak in Indonesia these days, especially the youngsters. The curse F word was beeped, but I found it a shame that "pig" (the english word) was also beeped. I thought that decision is unintelligent. I've become more critical when english was used. I hate wrong pronunciation by the narrator or wrong spelling and spelling is still a big issue here :( Then while the editing is getting better, there were still mistakes with how things were shown, some things often appeared not in sequential manner.

I love how my french knowledge made me able to understand each time Chef Degan criticized the contestants about their mise en place.

The pantry seemed better this season compared to last season but seeing season 1's pantry, I think season 1 might be better. I think they had bigger space then.

MasterChef Indonesia is really a long process. One of the contestant commented it took 4-5 months to do this whole thing. It's aired twice a week, Saturday and Sunday, each episode is around 1.5 hours without advertisements. Someone commented to me how she wished American MasterChef also have this much content. The format for each episode is often like this, challenge 1 in which the winner automatically get a pass to the next round and he / she gets to choose the main ingredient for challenge 2 for the rest of the contestants. The 3 bottom people in challenge 2 go to pressure test in which one will go home. I wish the advantages could be different instead of always the same, for example how about the extra time they gave in the previous seasons? Or having the luxury to consult the judges. By the way, I like how the judges were more like mentors to these people.

I watched MasterChef in YouTube in my own time, however I have to say that the airing time in Indonesia is rather bad. It started at 04:30 pm and people like my mom can't really watch it in its entirety and it causes her to not really follow it. It's a shame! The timing clashes with the time mom has to do laundry and make dinner. So if only they start it around 06:30 after the maghrib prayer and finish before 9, I'm sure it will be something that the whole family can really enjoy together. It is rather weird the way tv programme are shown in Indonesia. For example X-Factor Indonesia and Indonesian Idol start late that they often finish after midnight. This makes me wonder how difficult it is for kids or people who have to work or go to school (there's school in a Saturday in Indonesia). How can they watch these things? Isn't it like losing a substantial chunk of viewership? Very very strange.

There are still cheesy things, for example the final 4 elimination where the one eliminated must ran while waving goodbye at the judges and the other contestant who were in a boat *roll eyes* I'm not sure if cheesy things can ever disappear from Indonesian tv, but I do hope hope they will try to minimize them. You know it's much better when the dramatic part wasn't scripted, for example the final 3 reaction when they all dropped to the ground, praying, crying, lying down, when they found out that they would only find out the result of their challenge the next day. It was funnier that way and more appreciated.

I wonder if William really fulfills his promise and gets Lius (the hearing impaired contestants and perhaps Mr. Congeniality) the hearing aid.

So anyway this is my long winded writing. Season 3 had been awesome!!! I'm really really looking forward to next year! On other news, apparently there's Top Chef Indonesia in another tv station. I wonder if the people there would be as nice to put the episodes in YouTube.

:) eKa @ 9:29:00 PM • 0 comments

When The Parents Came

So the parents came and gone last weekend. How time flies by fast. These last few nights I've been thinking that it was just exactly last week that my parents were here and here I am, alone again :( Felt pretty sad. It's sad being an orphan, an orphan with no family, though I can count myself lucky that it's not my actual situation. It's just the way my life is in Singapore. Anyway, it's not just the parents who came. The eve before they supposed to arrive, I got a text from mom saying that my cousins and uncle are coming too. It was a last minute thing on their part. Apparently they'll be taking the same flight in but they're leaving a day earlier. I was pretty stoked about it. That kinda changed things a bit, because I was wondering if we were going to hang out and such. As their trip progressed, I thought there's a reason why my planning for my parents' trip didn't feel like it's taking a more solid form; it's all because they were to be changed with the presence of my cousins and uncle. So here you go, some of the things we did / highlights.

Went to pick them all up at the airport. It was agreed that they would all come to my room first and see what it's like. So we all piled into the van and I squeezed them all into my room. Suddenly that room became rather small with 6 adults in it. They didn't stay long and I don't know if they had seen enough to have any comments about it. The good thing about this rushed visit was my mom didn't have time to inspect everything and so no criticism was to be had *score!* Then we split ways, my cousins and uncle went to their hotel and I took mom and dad to the hotel I booked for them, Hotel Rendezvous, which I quite like. We could get to the room earlier than check in time. The room was very cold when we entered and I think throughout the whole stay, my parents felt it was too cold for their liking. The beds were very high and I think I would love sleeping there.

Then we went to Marina Bay Sands to regroup again with the cousins. Had lunch at the food court, darn I hate this place. I think it's totally overpriced and I wonder if there aren't just enough seats for a food court that size. It's always a struggle to get a seat, arrrgh!!! After lunch, the cousin decided we should go to Gardens by the Bay first. It was so weird. I thought mom would love this place and would like to stay pretty long, but we kinda moved through things pretty fast. So that was a disappointment for me. The display in the flower dome was in relation to Singapore National Day and Hari Raya, so a lot of red and white (even in the decorative ketupat), but I don't think it was very spectacular.

Didn't take many pictures there. It's interesting that I have been there many times, but there are still things that I didn't realize was there, like this cute lion.

There were also many decorations like this, which made me us feel so Betawi. Betawi is the native inhabitants of Jakarta. Those being red and white kinda make them perfect to celebrate Indonesia too, since Indonesian flag is red and white. By the day, today is our independence day. So let me say it here, Happy Independence Day Indonesia! I love you :)

After that, we made our way back to Marina Bay Sands. Spotted Vanness Wu on the way. Pretty funny, I was staring at him because I thought he was who he was, but I wasn't that sure because he's skinnier than I thought he would be, maybe tv really makes you look fatter. My other impression of him is that he's so white! My God! Anyway my cousin was walking behind me and after he passed, my cousin exclaimed loudly that it's him. I was surprised that my cousin didn't stop him for a picture. There were some pretty girls with him. A quick google just now, showed that he's indeed in town last week. Apparently he applied for marriage application last week on Singapore National Day to the Singaporean girlfriend who must be one of the girls I saw. Well, all the best for him :)

The family then proceeded to the Marina Bay Sands Casino and goodness me, the queue was pretty long in the 2 entrances that we saw. There were a lot of blue collar workers from South Asia there and I thought it's a shame that they're there. They do not earn a lot and I heard many stories about how they had to raise a lot of money to get employment outside their countries and there they were trying their luck with their very little earning. It's a shame because I think the odds of them winning is much smaller than them losing. So anyway, the family queued up and I just waited there :( There's no way I would pay the S$100 levy that I have to pay. Settled with my parents that if they're ready to go, they would text me. I proceeded to explore the sides of Marina Bay Sands which were rather quiet and didn't have many people.

My parents in the end came out after around 1 hour plus in the casino. They didn't play, they just saw my uncle play. From their description, it seemed the place is very big and pretty awful with many people smoking and no seats. As I was waiting at the exit, looking in, I was terribly curious about what it's like inside there and felt how bad it was that I could not just go in. Felt like I was some underage kid having to wait outside. Anyway, asked the parents what they would want to do next, if they would want to go to the ArtScience Museum to see the mummy exhibition. My dad asked if they could see actual mummy. I said yes. So we went in. First part was a short 3D movie in english about how the scientists managed to find out information about the mummy without unwrapping him. Both parents don't speak english so I wondered if it was boring for them. Dad could read chinese, but sadly no chinese subtitle :( I don't think the exhibition was extremely interesting, maybe I was just tired. Oh, one thing to note, the cashier got me 3 tickets under the Singaporean / Permanent Resident price which was cheaper even though I only showed my one ID card. Anyway, there's no actual mummy to be seen, just the casket that houses the mummy which I did wonder if it's the real thing or a replicate. If it's the real thing, I wonder if the actual mummy is really inside it. So I kinda feel disappointed for dad. I wonder if he was disappointed. That also made me think about how fortunate I was to be able to see an actual mummy in the Vatican museum. We did learn many things there, like how they prepared the body to be mummified and how they stored the different organs to different animal themed urns.

After that, I asked the parents if they want to see the water and light show at 8, which I haven't seen before. They said, okay. So we waited outside for quite some time. I took some pictures while waiting.

I didn't know where it was going to be exactly. In the end, I found out we were seated at the side. It was rather windy which perhaps made me rather sick the next day. Side seating is not the best seat, but I still think it was pretty interesting. The water fountain part wasn't that amazing, the lighting was not bad, and there's bubbles! That was cute.

After that, mum said let's go eat at the food court. I should have said no. The search for seats was horrendous, arrrghh!!! I was kinda losing my temper then. Finally, we managed to get seats after I asked this nice Singaporean family (I think they're Singaporean) who seemed to be finishing dinner, if my parents could seat at the 2 empty seats while I get them food. The uncle nicely said of course. There have been many things said and written about not so nice Singaporeans, so I feel like I need to write about the nice ones :) So anyway, while queuing for noodle for mom, a girl came up to me to say hi. I was rather shocked. She asked me if I remembered her and when she finished her question, luckily I had an answer :D It's Grace, my primary school friend. I felt good that I remembered her and I felt astonished (I always do) that people can recognize me. I think simply because I'm pretty bad at recognizing old friends and for some reason I think I look different, that I think people wouldn't be able to recognize me. It's really nice that she said hi. We only made small talk, so that's kinda a shame, but I did say goodbye to her when I was going to leave.

Since it was already late, it was agreed that I would just tell my parents where to stop and they would walk themselves to the hotel. I forget how we reached this consensus. I know I wanted to ask them, but I think I felt bad about not getting them safely back to the hotel on their first day, so I couldn't remember if I asked. I remembered mom asked me if it's far and floated the idea that they find their way back by themselves since it's pitiful if I have to get off the bus, take them back to the hotel, and wait for my bus again. Seriously I cannot find the correct word in English to say "kasihan" so I used that direct translated word of "pity" though I think that made my sentence rather bad. Anyways, we got on the same bus, I gave them the direction of where they should walk when they stopped and the landmark they could see and then they were off on their own. That decision haunted me the next morning. The next morning, I went to their hotel. I hold one of the card key so I could get in. I was shocked that they're not in the room and the room seemed new and untouched. I was in a state of panic, thinking they didn't make it last night, that something bad had happened. I texted them and called them, but there was no reply. I was thinking if I should text my brother and how he would think I was so bad to let them on their own the night before. Then I went all CSI on the room to see if I could find any sign they were there. I finally saw the tickets for Gardens by the Bay and then I felt better because they did make it back. After some time, they came back. Aah! What a relief! I was laughing while telling them how they scared me and mom said to give them some credit; the hotel was very near from the bus stop last night and of course they could make it alright. It's just, you know, I didn't know if they did, if in between crossing 2 streets something bad had happened. They just walked a bit that morning to look around and housekeeping already came in early to clean up their room, hence the pristine room I walked in. My uncle commented later in the day, of course your parents were already up and about. They usually start their day at 5, so 9 is already pretty late. Yes, point taken.

That day, we started our days with the cousins in Chinatown. The cousins were running late, so mom and dad went to that museum in Chinatown first while I waited for the cousin. Dad said our chinese surnames are not in the list of the family surnames in Singapore. Surprise, surprise! I guess our great grandparents just made it all the way to Indonesia. We had lunch first at this annoying restaurants which was darn slow that I don't want to talk much about it. Then we went to the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple. I just realized there's a museum here, but since we were already running late, we didn't visit it. Then we're off to Sentosa. Oh my GOD!!! The queue from vivo city to Sentosa was awful. There were lines. I felt like we're queuing to watch a concert. I was feeling so bad that day. I had sneezy runny nose that didn't stop and earlier my tummy was rather upset. The stomach problem was solved by the med that mom had. I bought the med for the runny nose, but that didn't help. Since my stomach was quite empty then, I decided to eat the water chestnuts that we bought, which according to them is called berangan in Indonesian, something new that I learned that day. My cousins started following me too :P Anyway, we made it to Sentosa. The plan was to go to the S.E.A Aquarium first. Again the queue was crazy. I volunteered to queue for the tickets which already had a long queue. Dad did suspect that we should queue for the entrance as well, but I told them maybe it's not bad and that they should go walk around first while I waited. I finally got the tickets and got the group to start queuing for the entrance and it turned out the queue was crazier! It was very long and there's the queue to enter the building and then there's the queue in the building to enter the aquarium. It was horrible being sick there :( We decided to take turns waiting. Some of us would go somewhere else where they could just sit down. I wondered if my uncle really did manage to sleep when I saw him closed his eyes. I stayed in the queue the most because I felt so guilty that we're in this horrible state. Stupid stupid way to spend precious vacation time. Looking back though, going to Sentosa that day was perhaps a bad idea, but being there I did really want my parents to see the aquarium. Perhaps going earlier could have helped a lot, sigh. Overall, I think we spent around 4 hours in the queue and just over 1 hour inside the aquarium.

I did see a glimpse of the dolphins, not much because there were so many people in front of the window. For some reason, I thought the dolphins would be sharing the big aquarium, apparently they don't. When we have finished, it was straight to dinner and too late for everything else. We didn't have time to see Song of the Sea. Dad didn't see much of Sentosa, so that was sad :( Dinner was steamboat which I quite like. I think we were famished that we just dropped everything into the pot and finished dinner in just around half an hour. Then mom and the cousins went to candylicious. Another queue to pay, by that time it was already quite late. Then we went down to the casino. Mom and dad decided that they didn't want to go in, so we parted ways with the cousins and went back to the hotel. This time around I stopped at the same stop as my parents and walked a bit with them until I had to cross the street to go to my bus stop while they just had to walk straight. Long day and I was feeling sicker.

Medicated myself a lot that night and I woke up feeling much better. No more runny nose. Didn't have plan to spend the day with the cousins that day since they would only spend the day shopping and do a last visit to the casino. Took mom and dad to the River Safari and Zoo. It seemed dad was pretty interested to see the panda. They didn't get the chance to see them when they were in Hongkong. I wasn't sure if there would be a long queue. As we got off the bus, the staff asked us to go to the Night Safari section to buy our tickets which was a good choice. There weren't many people there and we got our tickets pretty fast. The kind staff at the counter asked me if I was aware that a substantial portion of the River Safari is not ready yet and I told her I do. Asked if I had to book a time slot to view the panda as I've been told by people, apparently perhaps the hype has gone down a bit that we don't have to do this anymore. Not taking any chances, I decided to go to River Safari first. I kinda like River Safari. I do think that it's perhaps smaller than the zoo and since it costs more, it perhaps does not worth as much as the zoo. However, since it's smaller you don't have to walk a lot and you basically just follow 1 path to see all the exhibitions unlike the zoo which has a lot of different turns. Not to say the zoo is bad, in fact, the zoo is cool that way, however from my last few visits, its vastness and the heat and me being older, made it so tiring for me to see everything and in fact, I may have not seen everything in my last few visits and stupid me always forgot that the ticket includes 1 tram ride, aarrrghh!!! So anyway, back to River Safari. I think it's pretty cool. There was a queue to see the panda, but it wasn't bad and I like its enclosure a lot because it's very very cool (literally). I like to point out to people that this whole panda enclosure costs so much more than our houses, well unless you come from a rich family. For us middle income people, it's strange and ironic that their house is so much more expensive than ours :P which does bring the question of what happen to it when it's time for the panda to go back to China?

Anyway this is the super cute red panda, which looks like a red raccoon, no? I was quite surprised that their enclosure is so open that you kinda can jump into their place and there's this feeling that they're so near, you can just touch them.

I was surprised to see that the 2 pandas are actually separated, meaning they don't share a space. This is Kai Kai, the male one, on his way to his bamboo bed where he was about to lie down lazily, such a good life.

This is Jia Jia, the female one, who was munching away when we're there.

After the river safari, we went to the zoo. Didn't go through everything. We went through some that I thought would be interesting. We stayed awhile at the white tiger enclosure because its feeding time was coming soon. I learned that there are no more white tigers in the wild! How sad is that. It was interesting that when one of the tiger walked around in the pool, the fish would swim behind it. The zookeeper actually fed the fish first before the tigers. I think they fed the tigers chicken. One of them stayed in the water during feeding and the other was on the ground. There was the ooh and aah when the tiger managed to catch the thrown chicken with its mouth.

Lastly, we finally made it to the polar bear enclosure. It's been a long time since I saw it. I actually thought it is moved to the River Safari. Well you kinda can see a bit of it from the River Safari, but to see more of it you have to go to the zoo. Perhaps it's a commercial decision to make sure visitors still visit the zoo. It is perhaps the most unique thing that many other zoos in the world do not have. Surprisingly its enclosure was not as cold as the panda's. When I was there, the bear was lazing lying around in the hot sun. I guess this bear has adapted to life in the tropics, the only life it knows. It did go down for a swim, but I can't help thinking since it has adapted to life in the tropics, it wouldn't be able to survive in the cold arctic. I also wondered if it's lonely :(

We ended that day not so late. The parents decided to not see the cousins again before they left that evening. So we headed back to the hotel where I hung out and chatted with them. I love that we were just able to chat like we would do in our living room when I'm home. Of course the topic of me being single was being brought up. Felt kinda good when my dad said I could live wherever I want, but I have to get married. The "wherever I want" is the comforting part if you cannot guess. I chose a japanese tv and we talked about my trip and then about how I saw Dewi Soekarno every evening on tv when I was there. Mom asked me how she looks now. According to mom she was so gorgeous back in the days. She was surprised that I know her. To which, I can only sigh, and said I have knowledge in my brain. The extent of which, I told them sometime it's hard to talk to people about stuff since they don't know the things I know. I don't know if it made her understand me more, but she did make a comment that yes I do have to find someone who can match me. We talked about family, about other stuff, and as I left them that night, I felt really really sad that they're leaving the next day. Again, I cannot reiterate this enough, sometime it is very very hard, living without a family. Though I have to say too that there are many moments in this trip that they annoyed me so much as I know that I must have annoyed them too, that I was being very rude to them :(

The next day was their last day. I arrived early at their hotel. It was a cloudy morning with a drizzle. Decided to proceed with the plan to the Botanical Garden to see the National Orchid Garden. I think it was an enjoyable visit for them. We were amused that since dad is now considered a senior, he only had to pay 1 dollar for the ticket. Mom was saying, so I'd be eligible next year. Saw some of the orchids which were named after the famous people, though there weren't as many as when I first and last visited them years ago. This is the orchid for Prince William and his wife, Catherine. I thought it's very beautiful.

It was next to the little yellow orchids for Ibu Tien Soeharto who was the wife of our President Soeharto. She got it in 1974. Very interesting, I wasn't even born yet at that time. Mom loved seeing the orchids and she commented how my uncle and my late uncle would have enjoyed this so much. I commented that the clouds and drizzle did make it a cooler visit. Then it was off to Orchard for lunch and some shopping. We still had time, so dad asked why don't we go to the National Museum I'd been mentioning about. So off we went. I chose the Princely Treasures from the House of Liechtenstein exhibition. It's heartwarming seeing dad getting out the glasses to read the Chinese descriptions. They're pretty amused that these old pieces could be in such a good shape. There were some interesting paintings, like this one of the blind leading the blind.

After which, we spent a bit of time in the exhibition of the old cinemas in Singapore. They enjoyed watching the short clip of the chinese movies, while I found the short clip of the malay movies to be very amusing. I think there was P. Ramlee singing in the clip that I watched and I like the song very much.

After that, mom decided to call it the day and head to the airport. She would rather be in the airport early. Decided to take the bus, because the bus stop is just outside the hotel and they only had 1 luggage. The bus was full in the beginning, but halfway in the trip we did manage to sit. It was pretty fast taking the bus, less than 1 hour. Nothing interesting to report here, they checked in and I watched them until they cleared immigration, all the while secretly wiping the forming tears, hoping noone would notice and trying to keep myself together, to not just cry. I felt really sad :'( When they're out of the view, I went to queue for the taxi and it was a long crazy queue and so the visit was over and Sunday was ending and normal life commenced again on Monday.

:) eKa @ 5:02:00 PM • 0 comments

August is Here!

Hello guys, how are you doing? Went to watch Pain & Gain today, which perhaps would be aptly called Gain & Pain instead. I've heard about this movie for sometime, I even glanced through the original articles upon which this movie was based on. The movie was based on a true story though of course for the purpose of Hollywood, it's more comical in the movie than what actually happened. Overall, I find it hard to say I like a movie which was based on such disturbing events with very flawed characters. There are many comical moments and I found myself disturbed that I found things to be funny on things which logically aren't funny at all. One thing that I like and made me smirk sometime was that the shirts that The Rock's character wore. His character was trying to be a good Christian and so he's often on the scenes wearing t-shirts with words like, Team Jesus, etc while he's plotting crime with the rest. I found the juxtaposition of it to be ironically funny. To be fair, his character was pretty tortured throughout the whole thing and it's a sad thing that he was involved deep. I do have to say that I like the guys, I've always liked The Rock (Dwayne Johnson) and Anthony Mackie, and Mark Wahlberg is a good actor and I think they all did well in this movie, especially Mark Wahlberg. I also like the way the different characters narrated the movie, I thought it's a nice touch.

So before you know it, there are only a few days left in Ramadhan 2013, how crazy that is. I felt a bit of a panic when I realized it's less than a week that my parents are here. Only a few days left. I was still torn about getting mom to Legoland. A part of me wants to make it happen, but another part thinks it's not wise to go to Legoland on this combo of public holidays weekend. Sometime I feel I've decided, but sometime I'm not sure, and this also means that the plan for what to do when they're here are not all that fixed. I guess that's where the panic comes from. I'm not sure if they have the stamina to walk around in the heat, but if I plan a not-so full day, I'm afraid they'll be disappointed as well. Then there's also the part of me which wonders what they will say, how long into the trip before mom makes "suggestion for improvement". I'm guessing less than 2 hours because first stop would be my room. That really kinda makes me nervous. Anyways, I know it'll be too soon before it's over and I'm gonna miss being with them and the Indonesian-ness of it all.

I've been missing Indonesia more these days because I finally started watching MasterChef Indonesia season 3. I didn't watch it when it started because Chef Juna isn't one of the judges anymore and also my internet connection is not that good enough anymore to do live streaming :( It's a big mistake because it's as good as last year's!!! This year, the nice people in RCTI and whoever owns the rights for it in Indonesia decided to post full episodes straight away in youtube after the episode is aired. That's awesome quality of around 3-hour a week of content goodness!!! Seriously, I bow and salute the people who made this decision and allow it to happen, they're very generous and to be able to get these contents legally, freely, and easily really make MasterChef Indonesia even more lovable. I contemplated writing about them now, but since I haven't caught up with the current episode, I think maybe I should just do a season review when it's done. I do regret that I didn't start watching it when it started. When I started watching around 1-2 weeks ago, they're already more than halfway into the season. Right now I'm still in the top 10, while I think they're already in the top 5 now. I regret not being able to participate with reactions as it happens but since this is so good, I've also reached the state where I feel sad about rushing through it because that means it's gonna be over soon. So anyways, yeah, I miss Indonesia. With Ramadhan, I always miss kolak which I haven't eaten for many many years :'( and then ketupat too :'( Oh well ... maybe it'll be soon that I'll go back for good. Have a good weekend people :)

:) eKa @ 7:45:00 PM • 0 comments