Thursday, April 30, 2009 ;
10:15 AM
18 Apr

My dad's birthday and my parents' wedding anniversary.

So Dh did the kind thing and brought the 2 boys with him to meet a friend of his who also deals in violins. They took the subway and bus.

I took a cab with my parents (my dad can't walk much and it's their day right?) to the pifa market opposite the Beijing Zoo. This place is a whole sale market, and they do carry some good quality clothes from known labels, but at low prices.

However, my parents were not used to this kind of market. My dad felt faint and breathless after a while, because it was very crowded inside, with throngs and throngs of people, plus there was no ventilation, and there were few seats. Finally, my dad got a seat, and so I walked around with my mom.

My mom managed to buy some stuff.

Then we took a cab to this mall called XiHuan GuangChang. It's owned and operated by CapitaLand, so the Singaporean friends we were meeting up for lunch with suggested we go there.

Dh and the boys were running late, so my parents and I browsed the area first. It's so funny. The moment my dad stepped in, he said "Oh, this is so much better."

He's not even Singaporean. But somehow we are all used to bigger more open spaces with good air ventilation, good spacing of shops and stores, neat displays of wares...

And then they spotted familiar stuff... Haha. My dad saw Breadtalk, Toastbox... They started browsing themselves, so I went to check out this Levis sale in the atrium. I found a pair of jeans I liked and there was a huge discount on it. I tried it out and it fit, so I bought it!! My first purchase here, and I was feeling very happy, haha.

These are some adverts along the mall ceilings that are not usually seen in Spore though.

We finally met with Dh's ex-colleagues from the Ministry of Education back in Spore and settled at Kang Shifu Beef Noodle restaurant. The noodles are so yummy!

Later on Dh and the boys arrived. We did a lot of catching up indeed. Although I didn't really know SM and C well before this, yet, it was so easy to strike up a conversation and keep going because there is just so much in common, what we are going through now, and we also discovered we knew a lot of mutual friends. Well, that is not new, Singapore is so small...

SM is here to study at the Teacher's College. He is doing his masters. C is here on spouse leave. They've been exploring Beijing on bicycle, so romantic. C rides pillion, and since they have bought a GPS, C places the GPS in the hood of SM's sweater, and they ride their bike all over Beijing that way. Wow!

SM and C insisted on giving us that treat...

My parents kindly brought the tired kids back to Ascott first so Dh can further catch up with SM and C. We proceeded to ToastBox for some familiar coffee, and for me, the milk tea! SM bought kaya toast... Ahhh, what a fragrant smell, I had almost forgotten that smell.

Back at Ascott, everyone had a rest, then we set off for dinner. My dad had the honour of choosing the restaurant for his special dinner. His foot was really acting up, so he decided to eat within the hotel. There were so many restaurants so we were spoilt for choice. This Chinese restaurant looked inviting and the staff were very enthusiastically welcoming us in, so my dad decided on that.

This is the Ascott garden, where the kids played for a while before dinner.

Oh yes, I forgot to take a pic, but my neighbour, H, baked a lovely chiffon cake for my parents when they arrived. What a nice present for them too.

Back to this restaurant, the way to order is really unique. They wanted us to each order a main course. Then all other side dishes will be free.

Ok, the main courses though, are the likes of shark's fin, Buddha Jump over the Wall, Bird's Nest, ginseng... The average price for one main course is 350rmb (S$70). Hmmm, ok... we were already seated, so we ordered. We had 4 adults.

(Oh by the way, when ds1 heard there was shark's fin, he at once told us not to order shark's fin cos shark is his favourite animal and shark's fin harvesting waste sharks!!! It was quite funny to hear him say that. I am very sure he learnt this from school. I had not covered this topic with them before.)

They gave us a lot of side dishes indeed, and appetizers, cold dishes... But a lot of them were really special or native, and we could only try some and could not appreciate a lot of them. It was a good experience though, learning the names and taste of everything.

Here's a view of some of the dishes.

And the complimentary fruit platter...

This was one of the special dishes where they cooked an egg using heated stones. There was a lot of commentary from my parents. They were teaching my kids what the lady was doing, until I told them everything was being recorded, hee.

After dinner, which cost a hefty S$400, we staggered to keep ourselves upright. It was fulfilling and we needed some exercise, so we decided to tour the 3rd floor, which had all the facilities. The kids went wild at the playroom.

I took a short clip for those who might be interested in staying here. My sis, for example, says she wants to try Ascott now, when she comes for a short hol. It'll be great fun for my niece, and convenient for toddlers who need a lot of special food preparation, since the kitchen is so well-equipped.

My dad loved the reading room cos it was well-stocked with newspapers like The Straits Times, the International Herald Tribune etc. They had magazines too.

Dh rushed to check the gym out. He even pulled me in to try a new machine. It was good for the waist and abdomen. Ok, I got the hint!!

The pool was inviting too, so we thought we'd check it out on another day.

Back at the apartment, I called in a masseur for my dad cos his feet were hurting really bad. He was afraid his gout would return too. So SM and C gave us this contact. They usually do massages for SIA girls as well as stewardesses from other airlines.

What happens is, these girls fly in and check into the designated hotels, then they'd go eat and shop. After they slump onto their beds back in the room, they'll call these ladies to come and massage them. Wow, how nice.

Anyway, this very friendly and chatty lady came over at 12midnight (because the cab she took lost the way). She did the massage till 1am. I stayed up to accompany my dad and chat with the lady. Plus it was my dad's birthday present so I need to pay for it. (My mom didn't want a massage).

She has 2 sons like me. She got fined for the 2nd one. And both her sons are the same age as mine! She even showed me their pics in her cell phone.

She is from Sichuan. And no she was not affected by the earthquake (she volunteered the info herself, so it must be that everyone asked her this Q). Her hubby, in laws and kids are back in Sichuan and she didn't say, but I guess they depended on her income.

She says she sees her kids only once a year, Chinese New Year. I felt so much for her then, because I know I'll miss my kids to death if I had to away for a whole year. But she is so cheerful and happy, and she doesn't say she misses them. She doesn't dwell on it at all.

She did a good job. My dad said he felt much better, and I gave her a tip and she left. I still don't know how much she can make, because she charges only 50rmb per hour (S$10), yet she has to travel here by cab (at least 20rmb fare), and give a percentage to her agent (the person I called when I wanted a massage).

When I went to bed, I kept thinking we all need to count our blessings. I am always humbled by these people who work very very hard, yet never complain, are always smiling and happy to get whatever they can get. If, for less effort, we get so much more, it is very easy to be pampered and become complacent and lazy... A good reminder for me, I need to set a good example for my kids as well.

rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow

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-{dear-hubby}- dh
-{dear-son}-ds1 T
-{dear-son}-ds2 J
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