On January 31st we all went to Malaysia for 3 1/2 weeks to celebrate Chinese New Year with my family. We left for SFO around 9pm as our flight was a midnight flight. This time we only checked in a big luggage (inside there was a smaller one), one carry on(with summer clothes for changing upon arriving, sandals, electronic toys, diapers etc.) and a backpack (with snacks/crackers/sandwiches/oranges, plush toys and some room for water bottles later bought inside the airport). Alexander was a good boy the whole time. He insisted on pulling the carry one, and when we were at security check point, he followed officer’s instruction to take off his shoes too.
Since the evening was full of excitement for the boys, they didn’t finally fall asleep until 2-3am after playing some interactive games in the airplane. This is why we like to fly with Singapore Airline– not only they have the shortest layover time (only 1 hour in Hong Kong), bigger seats, individual screens with audio/video on demand, but also interactive games for kids and adults– all these make the 17-18 hour flight a lot easier on all of us. Alexander and Ethan pretty much slept all the way to Hong Kong. When the plane arrived at Hong Kong airport, we decided to stay in the the aircraft while the crews cleaned the cabin.
From Hong Kong to Singapore was another 3 1/2 hours of flight and the boys were pretty much awake and playing the whole time. It was a relief when we finally arrived at Singapore airport after such a long flight. We changed our outfits at the airport right away. The immigration and custom check is no problem at all. After meeting my dad and Justin (my brother) we all went for food court for local foods (not as good as Muar’s but something to start with). After our tummies were full we straight headed to Muar as it’s another 2 1/2 hour drive and we tried to get home by dinner time. Of course we passed Singapore and Malaysia immigration and custom check again as we across the border– no problem on both sides.
My mom, my sister Alice, sister-in-law Selina and my nephew Cyruss welcomed us at home. While the adults unloaded the luggage the boys played with each other right away. Ethan has changed a bit and grown up since last visit when he was only 6 months old! Alexander and Ethan had been awake for quite a while so we decided to head for dinner quickly so we could come back and rest. I remember my last experience with Alexander was that he fell asleep on the way to Muar and thus his biological clock was messed up even more and woke up at 3am the next day! To prevent that from happening again we tried to keep the boys awake, luckily this time there was Cyruss to play with them.
We woke up passed 5am the next morning, which was considered much better than the previous visit. Needless to say everyone else was still sleeping so we decided to play a little bit in our room. Breakfast is exciting (well at least for me!) as I no longer faced the same old bread/ toast/waffle/pancake kind of stuff. We pretty much had breakfast outside everyday– Chinese style, Malay style etc. Breakfast is a matter of choice– Hainanese chicken rice, wonton noodles, laksa(curry broth) noodle soup, bah-kut-teh(herbal pork rib soup) with rice, nasi lemak (coconut rice with sambal chili sauce), curry puffs, roti canai (Indian tossed bread), mee rebus (Malay style curry noodles), lontong (Malay rice cube soup) etc. Almost all the food are sold as breakfast, lunch, dinner and also late night supper as different hawkers sell the same food at different times of the day. I kept reminding myself to take pictures of different kind of food before enjoying it but always forgot until I finished the last bite of it! 🙂
For Chinese the New Year’s Eve reunion dinner is one of the most important meals in a year as children live and work far away will always return to parents’ home for gathering (and married daughters will gather with the in-laws unless there’s special circumstances). Needless to say the dinner is a feast on quantity and quality. In the past we always had the dinner at home but this year we decided to make life easy by eating at a restaurant. Well, the food would have been better in normal days but because of the peak season mass production it turned out not as good as expected. Also the kids and adults were taking turn getting sick so we didn’t quite enjoy the goodie stuff as we would. After dinner I then got busy preparing red packets and started passing them out to the kids. Since the four of us were still having jet lag we didn’t stay up late for the New Year’s praying that last till 1-2am.
Chinese New Year lasts for 15 days but usually companies and schools only observe the first 3 days as holidays. Same thing goes with the New Year feasts in the first 3 days too, except for the very first meal (breakfast is the case usually) on the first day of New Year– only vegetarian food. Almost all Chinese run business and shops were closed several days for the holidays so it’s almost impossible to get something to eat outside unless you went for Malay food. After breakfast we all headed to the temple for praying except for Richard– he got to housesit (Not that he minded at all as he got some quiet reading time!).
The next day we all went to Tiara Beach Resort. It’s located in Port Dickson, Seremban and about 2 1/2 hours drive from Muar. It’s not by the beach but has a man made beach along several pool sides and water activities for kids and adults. We stayed there for 3 days. Too bad many of us got sick otherwise we would have enjoyed the stay even more. Alexander had so much fun with the water slides. I was a little sick but couldn’t resist the temptation at last and had some splashing fun too! Overall it’s a nice resort which is family oriented and I think we might go there again next time.
At the end of second week and into the third week while we were there, Richard started having ear infection and it got worse that we had to go to see ENT specialist in Melaka (a town in Melaka state, which is about 45 minute drive from Muar). Because of that I have to cancel my visit to Grandma Lui at Segamat that day, and had Alice and Belinda took the boys visited her instead (along with Justin’s family). Too bad I missed Grandma Lui but I should be with Richard especially when he’s in pain, and since we’re flying back in several days I wanted him to recover before the flight.
Since our flight is SFO-Singapore-SFO bound, so we had to drive to Singapore to catch our flight home. Again, we had to go through custom and immigration check twice (one at the Malaysia-Singapore border and the other one at the Singapore airport)– no problem at all. While we stopped over at Hong Kong, we had to get off the plane (unlike the flight to Singapore that we could choose to stay in the aircraft) and went through another round of security check. We were among the last ones to get off the plane and I saw the airline crews started performing security (using some mirrors) check in the aircraft. At the airport while we waited in line to board the plane I bought 2 bottles of water– from our previous returning flight experience, I know that bottled water is not allowed to bring into the aircraft even though it is bought at the airport, the officials will tell you to discard all bottled water right before you enter the plane (again, for security reason). So we quickly drunk up the 2 bottles and save the empty bottles for later use– if you’re on a long hour flight, it will be so much easier to ask the flight attendant to fill up your water bottle rather than having them deliver a cup of water at a time. Luckily the flight from Hong Kong to SFO wasn’t full and Richard and Alexander moved to window 3-seat section while Ethan and I stayed in the middle 4-seat section. The boys (especially Ethan) didn’t behave at first but fell asleep later when settled. Thus giving Richard and myself some time to sleep too. Alexander and Ethan didn’t wake up until about 1 hour before landing.
When we arrived at SFO it was 6-7pm. After we g
ot home and settled in, we went to bed around 10-11pm. Ethan insisted on sleeping with us (because we were all sharing the same room while in Malaysia). The boys slept until around 4-5am and decided to wake us up (they said they were hungry/thirsty). Once their tummies were full they were so energetic, but then drained around lunch time. So you can imagine how we spent the first day after coming back. The second night it was even worse. The boys went to bed around 8pm but then woke up after 12am. Alexander and Ethan just found all kinds of excuses and took turn coming to our room through the night– 12ish, 1ish, 2ish, 3ish, 4ish… Richard and I were both very very tired and we got short tempered with the boys. Finally we gave up hope of returning to sleep and started the day EARLY– We were at Union City’s IHOP eating pancakes at 7am! Let me tell you the jet lag plus 2 kids– HORRIBLE!! It took us about 1 week to slowly adjust to normal and back on track (including changing the boys’ habits they formed while in Malaysia).
Overall, it was a nice vacation. I got to get away from the cold rainy weather and to see my parents, brother and sisters again. To me it wasn’t some sort of vacation that you do lots of activities, it’s more like gathering and enjoying each other’s company and playing some mah-jong of course!). Since I didn’t feel well (being in 1st trimester of pregnancy) before the trip I didn’t plan any short trips other than Tiara Beach Resort. It was very nice to have someone at home taking care of the boys when Richard and I could have a little break to ourselves. As for Richard, he had his e-book reader so it wasn’t too bad. For Alexander, he got to watch lots of TV and played PSP with his cousin Cyruss; although he wasn’t very good at eating food. Ethan on the other hand just kept eating all kinds of stuff (Justin said that every time when he saw Ethan, he was always eating something!). Next time when we go to Malaysia, there will be more kids to the group as my little sister is laboring in April, and we’ll have another (the last one!) Chennault added to the family in August!
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