Wednesday, April 20, 2011

From one island to another and another

The standard Hong Island tour in Krabi brings you to four stops: Hong Island; a lagoon near Hong Island (or Hong lagoon); Pakbia Island; and Lading Island. While Hong Island has a nice, calm, and clean bay with plenty of shade to settle down for a spot of lunch, the Pakbia beach was filled with rocks and corals. Not great for little bare feet to walk on and certainly not great for sand play as there is very little shade.

However, we spent about half an hour on Pakbia Island feeding fishes and exploring the island. Kai found a long branch which he was playing pretend fishing with when I decided to walk round a tree stump in the water.

Lo and behold, I spied crabs with shells the color of the tree bark coupled with bright green spots mimicking the mould growing on the tree stump. You would have missed them -- yes "them", the stump was crawling with life -- if you didn't look too carefully. So Kai and I spent a good few minutes trying to spot crabs, both big and small, and sneaking up to them for a close look without scaring them away. But they were all too quick for us.

Our last stop, Lading Island was a huge disappointment and not even worth a visit as the small stretch of beach was filled with tourists, vendors, and boats. Kai absolutely refused to get out of our boat; this beach connoisseur knows when a beach is not worth his effort.

The motion of the boat combined with all the excitement in the morning put Kit quickly and easily down for his nap. Lucky for us. We didn't have to deal with a cranky, over-stimulated toddler on this trip!

Kai was a happy camper again after we left Lading Island for Sheraton. We'll never forget this adventure on our long tail boat! (Oh by the way, the boat on the left is our replacement boat which picked us up at Hong Island.)

I mentioned earlier that we thought the beaches on other islands in Krabi would be better than the beach outside Sheroton and that it wasn't so. That impression was based purely on this first island hopping tour -- the Hong Island tour. Only Hong Island got our thumbs up. But, but, but... I changed my mind after our second island hopping tour on Day #4 of our Krabi holiday.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Hong Island and an Amazing Race moment

It might not a big deal for some mothers/parents, but I wasn't sure how we'd fare bringing an 18mo toddler on a half-day island hopping tour in Krabi. I was worried about whether Kit would eat the packed lunch provided by the tour vendor as he is a very fussy eater and whether he'd have a meltdown if he's too excited to take a nap during the trip. But he was such a trooper, and so was Kai. Once again, Kai was doing so many new things on this trip; we could literally see him grow up before our eyes.

It was Kai's first boat ride^ out in the open sea in a wooden long boat, and he was looking forward to "a nice beach", which his parents promised, at Hong Island

As we neared our destination, our boat stopped suddenly and wouldn't start again. Terence and I looked at each other quietly. What are we going to do? Stuck in the open sea with two young boys?!?! How long are we going to be out here for? The Thai boat driver spoke so little English that he couldn't tell us what he was going to do or what was going to happen. His actions didn't inspire confidence either. He was texting (!) and calling a few people and when we asked him questions, all we got were weak smiles and "OKs".

It was like one of those Amazing Race moments you see on TV. The contestants are in a tight race to the pit stop and their boat just STOPS half way through the journey. Kaput. Adios amigo. Sayonara. There's nothing you can do. Just sit, wait, grip your wooden seat tight, and pray that the replacement boat comes quickly.

Ahh.... but the difference between the Amazing Race contestants and us is that we have a cellphone that, THANK GOD, had reception out in the open sea. Terence called the tour operator, who spoke with the boat driver. We were then told by the operator that a replacement boat would arrive in 20 minutes time. But the boat driver was more competent than he looked as he contacted another boat driver, who swung by and towed us to the island.

Terence and I silently breathed a sigh of relief. I was never so glad to see land.

The small incident was quickly forgotten as we all took in the beautiful sight. Here's Kai taking a dip in the clear water of the bay at Hong Island.

And this is the view that he was looking at.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Beach vacation

Hello Krabi.

Kai is very happy to set foot on your lovely shores.

The beach that is in front of our hotel, Sheraton Krabi, is very different from the wonderful stretch of beach that we are used to at Karon beach, Phuket. Karon beach has fine white sand, clear azure waters, and you can look out into the blue horizon as your walk without worrying whether you are going to sink your foot on a craggy coral. (You can compare the shot of the Krabi beach^ with our Phuket photographs taken during our stay in Movenpick Hotels & Resorts and Hilton Phuket Arcardia Resort & Spa.)

The beach here, however, is littered with dead corals, rocks, and shells which makes walking on the beach a rather unpleasant experience if you are not too careful. But it is a problem that can be easily solved by wearing Crocs (or in my case, a pair of diving booties). Both boys enjoyed it nonetheless. After all, their needs are pretty simply. Kai just wants to muck around in the sand with his toys and have a dip in the ocean once in a while. Kit just wants to splash in the water and feel the waves crash in his face. The water is here is very much calmer than the huge, crashing waves at Phuket, so I guess it's great for our young boys.

And because this is a beach holiday after all (and now that Kit is older), we decided to bring them out on an island hopping tour on Day #2. I thought the beaches may be better on other islands, but it wasn't so. We still had fun though! :-)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Starting playschool

I had mixed feelings about Kit's first day in school. That's right. Kit is now 18mo, making him eligible for childcare. I wonder if it's too early to send him to half-day playschool since I am around to look after him though I spend half a day working from home most days. But he is such an active and inquisitive boy that I'm pretty sure he'd enjoy school. I am not afraid of him catching bugs from other children in school and falling sick; he gets enough of that from his elder brother. But maybe he's just too young to be in school?

Call me a snob; I don't care. But when I heard my helper speak to him in her broken English again, I knew I wanted to minimize any exposure to bad habits. So bad English was the straw that broke the camel's back, and convinced me he will have a more productive and educational time in playschool.

One week has passed since Kit started playschool, and he still cries when he reaches the school gate. But he stops whimpering the minute I hand him to his teacher/s, who both speak excellent English. Looking at the photographs and videos that his teachers have taken of him in school, Kit seems to be enjoying himself. He earned himself the nickname of "The Worm" today for being a boy who squirms in his seat after few minutes and who attempts to squirm out of your arms when he wants out.

Ah yes. It's nice to be relieved of my back-breaking duties and let the teachers take over my lovable 18mo for a little while.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Osteria Italia

We just discovered a delightful Italian joint near our place tonight -- Osteria Italia. The food was unpretentious, which is what you'd expect in an osteria. The service was personable and prompt and the prices very reasonable. (An osteria is an Italian-style eating establishment where the emphasis is on maintaining a steady clientele than on haute cuisine.)

Thumbs up to its squid ink spaghetti (S$21).

And two thumbs up for its beef lasagna (S$21).

I haven't felt so relaxed for such a long time. Maybe because the two boys are growing up (or maybe it's the bottle of Prosecco, sparkling Italian white wine, that we ordered). Kai is so much fun to be with and Kit is now doing toddler things at 18mo. I put Kit to bed before we left for dinner, which gave us time to bond with Kai. Lovely....

Where:
Osteria Italia
201 Telok Kurau Road
+65 6346 3970
Opening hours: 11.20am - 2.30pm (Weekdays); 6pm - 10.30pm (Weekends)

Poor red bird


Alas. After two days of abuse by my 4.5yo, red bird is the worse for wear. Paint has chipped off his crown and beak; his beak and tail feathers broke and had to be glued back.

Kai refused to let me paint him. He probably thinks red bird has more character looking the way he does now.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Angry Birds (Tan-style): The making of

The Angry Birds craze has taken over our household lately. Kai has played Angry Birds, Angry Birds Seasons, and he is now playing Angry Birds Rio. He also wants Angry Birds, in clay.

The body and the beak were the easiest to mould, obviously; the crown and the tail feathers were harder.

Then I popped them into the toaster oven together with a bird and a boulder that he made.

After baking them for about 25 minutes, I drew their faces.

And painted them.

And voila!

I don't expect the birds to last very long. They are made with clay after all. True enough, Kai dropped the red bird shortly after I handed him the bird. Red bird fractured his tail feathers (i.e. the tail feathers broke away from the body). He cried and we had to send the bird to the ER doctor -- Terence -- immediately. Terence glued it back, and it is now recuperating in the hospital -- Kai's bookshelf.

I'll keep you posted of its progress.
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