Thursday, March 31, 2011

Paris s'éveille

Have been extremely occupied in the office today. Hence, no opportunity to update blog with stories of Paree. I don't want to lose my update momentum, however.'s a song for you :))

Paris s'éveille - think it means "Paris wake up"

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

110 Rue Monge - Latin Quarter

Location, location, location!! That’s most important when you are looking for a place to stay while in Paris. You wouldn’t want to be spending too much time traveling to places of attraction; hence, a place too out of the city, although cheaper, should make you reconsider.

I must have sent so many emails to inquire about my accommodation in Paris. It was quite frustrating at a point actually when most of the places that I asked were already taken up. Those available ones were way, way out in the 18th or 20th Arrondissement, which I’d consider too far for us. Didn’t quite fancy the idea of staying in a Paris suburb – so it was a no go.

Then one day an email respond came from an agent in Paris and they verified that they have an apartment available at the Latin Quarter during those dates that I wanted. Now why Latin Quarter?

You'll see this the moment you emerge from the metro station

The Latin Quarter is an area in the 5th and parts of the 6th Arrondissement of Paris. (There are 20 arrondissements all together in Paris.) Situated on the left bank of the River Seine, it has a lot to offer to tourist and locals; some even within walking distance. The whole area is alive with cacophony of sounds sights and a menagerie of people and personalities; very thriving at any time.

Dalam erti kata lain – very the happening lah kan….

Rue Monge - street outside the apartment

After a few exchanges of emails, I finally confirmed the apartment at 110, *Rue Monge in Paris’ Latin Quarter. Once the confirmation was done, I was to pay a deposit to secure the unit. Balance was to be paid in cash when I check in later. There was also a contract that was sent to me (written in both French and English). I signed it and sent it back to the agent. The Parisians are very strict with security deposits. Before leaving for Paris, I paid another 500Euros as security deposit and upon checkout, if everything is in order the deposit will be returned.

Okay…got that settled before we left.

The moment we landed at Orly, I sent a text message to the owner of the apartment, just as instructed in the email from the agent. A few seconds later, there was a notification saying that my text message didn’t get through as the person on the other line was not available or contactable. Urgghhhh….???

Okay, let’s try calling pulak. Same thing – number not available. Okay, what now?? Let’s try sending an email to the agent lah. Email went through but there was no reply.

Okay…tak pe lah tawakkal je lah and follow the directions given and go to the apartment as initially planned.

Metro stop just behind us

When we got out from the Metro station, I decided to give it one more try at calling the owner. A guy came on to the line and informed me that there was already someone waiting for us in the apartment. Alhamdulillah….syukur. Thank God it wasn’t a scam or anything. Tak berani nak fikir what would have happened if was the otherwise. Sujud syukur sekejap lepas solat malam tu.

The lift takes you up to the 5th floor. See how tiny it is. Only two people can go in at one time. With luggage?? Just one - person and bag.....

The apartment located only two blocks from the Censier Daubenton metro station was on the 5th floor. It was very tiny - only 30m2; nonetheless it had all the facilities. TV, kitchen, bathroom, master bedroom, and sofa beds for the two girls. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to snap pictures of the place (coz excited nak bergambar di luar and not di dalam).

Inez, this Alegerian – Tunisian mixed young lady greeted us when we walked into the unit. Her sharp features, very pretty complexion and her dark curly long hair couldn’t get my eyes off her. Cantik nya lah budak ni….(eat your heart out RWC....cheh dalam pada nak bayar rental tu sempat teringat ke RCW….urggghhh…nitemare!!)

Starbucks around the corner

Street view of rue Monge

I paid her the balance of the payment and chit chatted with her for a while. In that few exchanges she told me that she’s a muslim, the apartment belongs to her dad, she’s still studying, and her family have stayed in Paris for more than 20 years. Then she explained a little bit about the street where we were staying – there are plenty of restaurants but they are not halal, STARBUCKS just down the corner, very close to tourist spots and very easy excess to places on the bus or Metro. Inez spoke enough English to get the message across and I had no trouble understanding her.

After she left, we unpacked. Girls were excited with this new living arrangement. Next thing was to start dinner and get cleaned up.

Enjoying her hot Milo by the heater (the gray panel behind her)

Dinner was ayam masak merah (from Chef Wan’s canned food) and rice., serunding from home and instant noodles for the hungry ghosts (err girls…)

As the bathroom was really, really, really small, we had to carefully negotiate ourselves in it. Each one took turns taking bath, feeling so happy coz dah kenyang and dapat mandi hot shower.

Like always, Mommy would be the last at everything lah kan. So bila nak shower…..oooppsss sesuatu telah berlaku!!!


No more hot waterrrrrrrrr!!!! All the stored hot water in the little storage tank had been used up for the cooking and washing. Ohhhh…..tak kan nak shower with the fear factor icy cold water??? OMG…OMG….OMG…of coz lah tidak akan!! (Sedangkan kat Msia tengah hari buta pun guna hot shower, ini lah pulak in the freezing cold Paree???)

So that night, Mommy skipped the shower. Took ablution and solat and went straight to bed…..(nasib lah if got bau kan…) But we were so exhausted, my sleeping partner didn’t (dare) complain.

And that was it our first day - long flight, metro rides and apartment hunting. What a day!!!

*rue is French for road/street

Ride the Paris Metro

At approximately 4.00pm local time we landed safely at Orly – a relatively smaller airport, compared to Charles de Gaulle. It is located about 13km south of Paris and the fastest mode of transport to our apartment in the Paris’ 5th Arrondissement was by bus and the Metro.

The AAX crew waiting for their luggage

So were the rest of the passengers

There was a bit of a wait for our luggage. Nissa came to me and reported what she overheard from AA crew. Apparently there was an oversize luggage stuck somewhere on the conveyor belt causing the system to jam up. Haaa…tu dia!! Siapa lah yang punya angkara??

While I waited, I caught a glimpse of a couple who was already in argument about how they were going to the city. The wife said to take the bus whilst the hubby preferred the Metro – just like a scene one would encounter in the reality tv show the Amazing Race. I reminded myself to be extra careful over potential arguments like these. Penat lah kan if awal-awal lagi dah caught in such exhausting exchanges. Buat spoilt mood je nanti…..

Our choice the Orly Bus to Denfert-Rochereau

Anyway, we were pretty set about our travel arrangements. From my research on the Paris public transport network, the best way to get to our apartment was to ride on the airport bus to a metro exchange station first; and from then on the Metro itself.

Both Abe and I went to inquire about the bus tickets. Ohhh…suspence juga. What if the person at the counter spoke no English? How? Anyway, I decided to just give it a try with the only one liner of French I knew.

Pardon, parlez vous Anglais? (Excuse me, do you speak English?)

“Yes,” answered the big guy behind the counter.


The black guy explained to us where to wait for the bus and told us that tickets could be purchased at the ticket counter next to the stop.

I smiled and said merci beaucoup to him. We then gathered the girls and started walking, luggage et all to the bus stop.

Big bikes parked along the airport exit road - the BMWs, Hondas, Ducatis

Trying to figure out what's gonna happen next after the bus ride

Rush home crawl on Paris highway

You'll see a lot of wall murals in Paris. Every available wall space is creatively scribbled

It was almost 5.00pm local time when we hit the highway on the bus and it was Paris rush hour too. Cars started to line the highway. Boleh tahan panjang juga lah queue nya, though not as bad as the end day traffic crawl like in KL.

Outside the Denfert-Rochereau station

Denfert-Rochereau metro platform

The bus dropped us at our Metro stop Denfert-Rochereau. It was time to hit the Metro from then on. Ahaaaa…that was when the challenge started - making our ticket purchase in French!! Truth be told, I didn’t bother pun making myself heard in French. Spoke in English asking for four tickets to the Censier Daubenton stop. Again luck was with us, the man at the ticket counter responded in English. He gave us our tickets and handed our change and directed us to entrance to the Metro line.

Metro wait is not long - on the average there's a metro in every 3 minutes.

We have to change lines at Palace d’ Itallie, however and then hop onto Line 7 to go to Censier Daubenton. The switching lines was trivia; we could manage that no problem. But the REAL challenge was having to lug our luggage up and down the steps at the Metro stations!!! Dahlah luggage berat, kena angkat turun naik tangga!!!!

I read about this in a Tripadvisor forum. But I didn’t expect such high flight of stairs. Ada yang kena naik sampai dua tiga lapis tangga!!!! Ohhh…I could hear my knees making cracking sounds from the luggage lifting exertion. Even Nissa had to carry a bag. Nasib baik the one she had was not as heavy as the rest.

Sortie - way out

But the Parisians were helpful. When this one guy helped me with mine, this aunty went merci, merci thanking him. Then when we arrived at our Metro exit (Sortie in French) we had another tough time bull dozing our luggage out at the turnstile. Orangnya dah out, luggage masih stuck, and that somewhat held the people flow at the exit. Nasib baik again, our struggles were spotted by the Metro authorities. They opened the larger exits for us.

Fuhhh…what a break!!! Thank God.

First sights of Parisian architechture

We emerged on the streets at the Censier Daubenton stop after being underground on the Metro. So now…where to? Turn left or turn right to our apartment? By then we were so, so exhausted. We have been on our feet for almost 24 hours and fatigue has started to wear us down.

Opppssss.....I forgot one thing - Paris was freezing cold that day when we arrived!!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Five Hours to Paree

Rant # 1

There’s hardly any announcements via the cabin PA system on our whereabouts. I overheard the stewardess saying to a passenger that there's another four hours till we reach Orly.

Yes, that is how basic AA can go. Not a tweet about anything. Even the pilot's voice is not heard. Err...he did say a few words just after takeoff from LCCT. But that was like 8 hours ago! Urghhh...guess these cabin crew have adopted the "minimization approach" now that they hail from a low budget carrier. Drives you mad crazy, don’t they?

Just a bit of a wait till we get to see this Lady

And these sweets too.....

Are we heading for the right airport? (Of course we are lah kan, flight system now runs on auto - key in coordinates and in no time - 14 hours for us today, we'll arrive at our destination). How long more is the journey? For heaven's sake Mr Pilot or Ms Senior Stewardess could you please let us know whose air space are we flying above now!!! No news can at times be not good news! (Ignore me please…the hours in this confined space has obviously gotten to me and the iPad has become my poking pad.)

Rant # 2

Again this could be the result of my not so worldly travel insight. Unlike the other flights I have taken, the cabin crew would usually distribute the immigrations embarkation cards - you know those you need to fill out your travel details and pass them to the Immigrations check point at the airport later.

Well not in this flight. None distributed since we took off. So I asked one of these tight-fitted-slit-in-the-front cabin ladies. Her reply was, "oh you didn't get it ah just now?" and she gave me that puzzled look. I said NO. So she asked one of her colleagues to go get those cards for us. Told her I needed four and then she said to the colleague, "Get 5 just in case". I thanked her and she disappeared.

Not long after that the guy came back. He said this to me, "No need card. All done oral." Ayohhh...son, aunty here ah got problem when you put your message across like that one lah.... Aunty's imagination can go a wee bit too imaginative! You mean VERBAL, izzit?? Pergghhh...jiwa kacau Aunty when you like to abuse this "oral" thingy....err word, I mean.

Choice of words was one thing. Back to the immigration disembarkation card, now which is which? No card or yes card? Me no like surprises when me land later. And in French, a language me hardly speak??


Gotta just keep calm...

p/s Mr TF.....can we put some immediate attention on improving the communication skills of your ladies in red and guys in black? I can turn deaf ears on a two hour flight to Jakarta. But on a 14 hour flight??? Spoil Aunty's mood to be lomantik in Paree lorr!!

17th March 2011 at 11.30am Paris time
Sent from my iPad

Three Hours and Counting

It was a morning flight out of LCCT. Like usual, I would always have difficulties sleeping before my trips. The same happened to this one too. By the time I completed packing, it was almost 4am and airport pickup was at 6.30.

Fearing that I may not wake up later if I dozed off, I spent of my awake hours, rearranging the handbag section of my closet!! Quietly, I took each one out and reorganized the entire area. Perhaps I was nervous, or maybe I was too excited...I don't know.

Checking in at LCCT went smooth as I had done a web check in for everyone. We did the luggage drop off and went straight in the boarding gates.

Went through the airport security checks followed by a quick bite at one of the cafes in LCCT boarding area and not long after that came our boarding call.

I hit slumber even before take off and next thing I knew food was on its way down the aircraft aisle.

It was a longgggg flight - 14 hours from LCCT to Paris Orly. We left slightly after 9am on Thursday 17/3/2011.

These were my earlier accounts written onboard AAX flight D72014 LCCT - Orly.

Three Hours and Counting

This is our third hour onboard this flight to Paris. We still have a long way to go - like another 11 more in this just-about-my-size airplane seat.

Can't recall when I last took a long haul flight. Perhaps it was that trip to San Francisco couple of years back.

The question is now, other than sleep, how else could we entertain ourselves?

Nissa is now doing word search. Farah has drowned her system with music from the iPad. Abe is flicking through the pages of the itinerary I had drawn up. Fifteen pages long - complete with metro stop guides and street directions courtesy from Mr Google map.

These last two days I intensified my research on this trip - burning the midnight oil trying to understand the complexity of Paris metro and treading Tripadvisor hints on the dos and don'ts about this city. The result from this research we will know once we get on the ground.

I am just a bit disappointed, however as I didn't get to prepare much on the tech bit. Had wanted to transfer some movies from my external hard disk to the iPad. Unfortunately, I didn't get to. Else I'd be grinning watching Hantu Kak Limah 35,000 feet above sea level. That would be just great entertainment, wouldn't it? Cer citer cer citer...

The cabin lights are now dimmed. We have just had lunch and looks like it's snooze time coming right up. But how long can one doze off?

I remember my very first ride on an airplane. It was when I flew to the US to further my studies. The forever like journey was 14 hours long - from KL to London and then another 12 or so from London to Chicago. I was bored and I was restless. And I was so much missing a dear person in KL. During that flight I did nothing else but descriptively penned my journey. Not a single little info was left out. I wanted that dear person to share my experience during that important milestone in my life.

Looking back now, ohh how ancient ago that was. And how so naive I was too. Now seated in row 22 next to Nissa, what happened then never did have much significance.

This is my life now...and I am so blessed.

17th March 2011 at 1.00pm
Sent from my iPad

Sunday, March 27, 2011

We Are Home

Home sweet home!! Yes, we are back in good ole Shah Alam after our slightly more than a week break in Paris and London. Encountered minor hick ups here and there but nonetheless, it was a wonderful trip.

Jardin du Luxembourg - located on the 22.5hecters public park in the 6th arrondissement in Paris - a palace built by Marie de Medicis, widow of King Henry IV.

A beautiful statue located on the square opposite Les Invalides with The Eiffel Tower in the background.

The Panthéon - very close to our apartment in the Latin Quarter.

We loved both the cities. Nissa loved London more than Paris for reasons she'd rather keep to herself (but deep down I know she likes Paris too...if she knew French!).

Our apartment in Paris 110, Rue Monge - the one with dark brown doors

Statue of Winston Churchill on the grounds the Grand Palais (Great Palace) which is now a museum.

Took lots of pictures, will upload them later - hopefully time permits me to blog about the trip. Must now go organize my notes from the iPad. Looks like it will be a bit of a wait till that happens. But here are some pictures first of the two lovely cities :)

Busy London streets

In the background the National Art Gallery in London. It overlooks the Trafalgar's Square.

Houses of Parliament or Westminster Palace and the Big Ben - view from River Thames.

Am all set for work tomorrow. I am not expecting a grand welcome home reception, but I do wish for a calm couple of hours to settle down before I battle any (possible??) storms brewing during the time I was away.

Ahhhh...the London Tower Bridge

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Paris, je t'aime

It was her favourite TV series on Disney Playhouse. Watching that little redhead Madeline getting in and out of trouble got her all in chuckles and eyes glued to the screen. That was Nissa when she was three and since then she has never stopped talking that one day she’ll visit Paris.

Nissa's travel wish list. Did HK a few years back. Tokyo may have to wait slightly longer.

For as long as I could remember, if there was one place Nissa wanted to go visit, it has consistently been Paris. Documentaries on Travel channel about Paris’ monuments, museums, parks and gardens, squares, bridges created so much curiosity in her.

When I was choosing destinations for our family holiday this year, she was adamant about Paris. And many thanks to Uncle TF for the promotional fare tickets, both Nissa and Mommy managed to secure 4 tickets to Paris (rate was pretty da*n good, if compared to the other carriers).

We are all packed and set to go. I’ve got my itinerary ready to attempt the city. I’m very sure there will be lots of “moments of truth” during our upcoming stay.

Wish us luck and till next time au revoir.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Time Out

It's almost time for me to log off from the computer and do my thumb-print sign off at the exit door. I’ve had a lot going on these last few months. And there will be more coming up in the next few months.

Work had me on the go so much; always in a hurry with practically no time to laze around and relax. I am so, so dead tired (and mind you this is only March!!).

This old girl needs a break.

It’s time to go smell the roses and allow myself to be awe-struck at the splendour of the sun as it rises, and appreciate its magnificence as it sets, InshaAllah.

But there’s a pinch of sadness in me that I don’t know how to explain. It feels like there is something hurting but I can’t figure out what it is.

So…I’m going away for a couple of days – taking time off to spend some quality time with the family.

Life is precious…we only have this moment…the next is not a guarantee.

Sent via Kay's Berry

Friday, March 11, 2011

Ivory Turns Ten

She flaunts a striking exhibition of unlikeness from her other siblings. If both her abang and kakak are mocha ice blended; Nissa, I'd say is Yeoh's soya milk. I recall that morning of March 11, 2001 when Doc Harris put her in my arms moments after she was born. My thoughts were, " color scheme".

That shouldn't be the first thoughts crossing a mom's mind I know. But after a whole hour of huffin' and puffin' in the labour room, seeing this a bundle of joy whose complexion is closest to my (side of the family...he he) color scheme, I was extra elated. Of course, the tiny fingers, toes and eyes that squint opened whenever she got hungry or wet got us gu-gu ga-ga later on.

Ebony & Ivory

Today that 3.98kg baby girl turns TEN. This morning on the way to school, she said this to me, "I'm 10 Mom, no surprises on my birthday please." My baby is growing up so, so fast! I miss that little bouncy girl in dragging diapers that used to stir her from slumber.

In some distorted part of myself I wanted her to be crying; longing to spend lazy mornings with me, clinging onto my pants as I head out for work.

Hu fast time flies.

So Nissa...

Today you are 10
What more can we say,
You're becoming more special
Each and every day.
Blow out your candles
One by one
Enjoy your birthday
Have lots of fun.

Be proud of who you are and strive to be the best. Follow your dreams, put forth your efforts to achieve your goals and let God do the rest.

Sent via Kay's Berry

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Scent of a Man

Whenever we pass each other, I'd breathe deep. So masculine, extremely powerful and yet refreshing. Ahhhhhh.......he smells just great. There were times I felt like turning the opposite direction and follow closely from the back, just so that I could get a whiff of him again.

Of course, I never had the guts to do that. A smile that was the most I offered him.

And who is this person? Who am I stalking?

No, I'm not stalking anyone. HE is a guy I'd cross path with during my morning walk. And HE always smells great!! Just when others on the walk track look like they have just rolled off their beds, this 60 sumthin', good built Uncle is all coordinated from head to toe. There is something about him. My wild guess is that he must have served a branch of the Armed Forces. Perhaps he was a Navy men, I don't know. But from his looks one could guess that he was trained to act in accordance with rules.

Every time we pass, his scent haunts me. That exceptional blends of herbs, tobacco, spices and lavender transport me back to the 80s - to my UW days. I kept guessing but what is it?? What is that scent? I know it but I can't make out what it really is.

I have rulled out Brut, Old Spice, Aramis, Polo, Giorgio - just to name a few. Mind boggling, this really is but seriously...what is that scent??

I know I know it......but what is it??!! Maybe it'll be easier if I asked him tomorrow at walk.....

Friday, March 4, 2011

February in March

It would make a good movie title this "February in March". Gosh...this hiatus is a long one; Sembang is so, so neglected. I have been extremely occupied with work, work and more work. It sounds so cliche, I know, but that's how my life has been these last few weeks.

To tell you the truth, I am exasperated. On the work front, as projects are merrily coming in, I just don't want to be accountable for anymore deliverables and I want to throw away my project manager hat. I just want to sit and do nothing for a change......

But boleh ke?? Perhaps I could, but I know for sure I'll be bored to death just not doing anything. So, never complain lah kan.....

Anyway, I have digressed. Guess that's what happens to you when you haven't been writing long - you tend to pour your heart, never mind if it makes no sense to anyone else.

Okay...back to the title. was such a short month. The 28 days went flying unnoticed. Many good things happened to me in February but I can't recollect all for this blog. Pathetic kan.....

There were two birthdays that fell in February, one was Faris' and the other was mine. Both days came and went in a blink. There was a brief celebration - nothing either one of us would shout about. Went out for makan and cake pun baked sendiri. Creative? it doing things different from the previous years.

There were no pictures. Semua orang pun dah malas nak gi snap, snap away. Go eat, catch up on things, dah kenyang, back home and rest. Sounds really ordinary kan?

And yes, just before my birthday it was Valentine's day yang none of us felt like celebrating. Ada yang kata, V-day has got to do with Christianity and ada yang refute. Had I written this piece in February itself, I would have said more. But now, almost a month later...??? Biar je lah senyap ...biar je lah berlalu.....

And it was in February that I started my morning walk routine - more serious this time around. Doing between 3.0 to 3.5 kms per day, gave me the extra push to get myself going. Must continue doing this and must not let work get in the way.

In February, a few of us at work kicked start our Wednesday aerobics class. Haaaa.....THIS was a killer!! But we all knew this was the kind of "kick" we needed and sweat it out we did! (tapi tak gak hu)

So these were some significant milestones in February. That's two months down and another 10 to go in the year. At the rate we are going, December will be just round the corner and 2011 will draw its curtains.

Jadi...itu lah cerita nya with February. Rather mundane, don't you thing so?

Now the big question which I know many are asking - how old this year?
Okay lah yang ni tak perlu nak berahsia.....anak lelaki is 22 and mak budak lelaki tu 47 dah ni!!

Hahh...the cat is out dah!!

Prezzies pulak??

Got myself this toy to replace the cranky ole STORM.

Sent by Kay's Berry