Maureen

Lifestyle and travel blogger, founder of Single Moms Indonesia on a quest of finding joy in everyday life and living life to the fullest with kindness, compassion, grace and a bit of sass.

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Commercial Audition

Lil’ A had his first ever commercial audition for children’s formula yesterday. It all started when he was spotted by a Talent Agent while we were browsing at one of the local malls here last Saturday. She said they are looking for a little boy/girl age 1-3 years old to star in the formula’s commercial. At first I was a bit skeptical since the girl failed to provide us with a name card, claiming she’s out of them. She asked for my cell phone number and said she will get in touch with the schedule.

Both Mr. X and I thinks it is pretty funny that Lil’ A was spotted while we were at this ‘regular’ mall. A dear friend once said that most talent agents usually do their scouting at the big exclusive malls here.

Since we were pretty busy with moving into our new place, I didn’t even think about it. Come Sunday, the girl texted me and said they are having an audition on Sunday and Monday from 11:00 AM to 04:00 PM. She told us it will be for a TV commercial and printed ads, also mentioned was the agency’s fees of 25% from the contract values. After a brief discussion with Mr. X we both agreed to just give it a try, see how it goes.

Mr. X starts work again yesterday, I managed to drag my aunt to come a long for the audition. It took place in a regular house turned into an office somewhere in South Jakarta. We got there around 11:30 AM while there was another boy inside the audition ‘room’. Yeah, my aunt took a peek! LOL! The girl that we met was actually there, taping.  As we took a seat out in the porch we got to talked with another mom and her daughter who’s also a first timer. Soon Lil’ A was called in.

Audition | Scoops of Joy

One side of the wall in that room is covered with a gray carpet from top to bottom. There were two big lights across it, pretty much a similar setting for a photo shoot. Three people were there, one is that girl, and another guy in red shirt and glasses, third person is the photographer. A guy, one of the agency’s staff quickly asked for Lil’ A’s name and data (although I had written it all at the reception desk). He wrote it all down in a piece of laminated white paper and tried to have Lil’ A hold it in front of the video camera but that plan failed. At first Lil’ A hold it backwards and giggled when we told him he got it backwards LOL. So the guy who wrote it hold it for the camera.

Then they let Lil’ A just be himself, the guy with the glasses were playing ‘make-the-kiddos-laugh’ part LOL. He showed a red stuffed rabbit and Lil’ A was quickly amused, laughing but then he covered his face (something he’s been doing when he’s shy). The smart guy quickly changed his plans and say “Peek-a-boo!” and that got Lil’ A’s attention again. They played that while the tape rolling and photographer took pictures. It was pretty quick and easy. Lil’ A seemed to enjoy it and had fun being goofy with that guy.

We were then told that they shall get in touch if there’s any news. Lil’ A asked for his orange juice once we’re outside and I gave it to him with tons of praise for doing so well on his first commercial audition. Honestly, I was worried, nervous even that he might have a tantrum or got wrapped in his shyness in front of all those new people, like he’s been doing lately (so glad we’re over that phase where he screamed when he met strangers that talk to him!).

While waiting for him to finish his juice, we got to talked with another staff from the agency. She’s so smitten with Lil’ A, it was cute watching her trying to engaged as much as she can with him while he completely focused on drinking and just occasionally smiled shyly at her. My Aunt asked a lot of questions to her and she basically told us that they would submit all the videos and photographs of the children to their client who will then make the final decision. They basically are looking for a kid with a strong character. My aunt and I quickly looked at one another and laugh. Oh, he is a character, Lil’ Mister A!

We took the offer, we came to the audition without any expectations and we also left happily without any. It’s all fun experience for our little man. Whether he make it or not…it’s fine as I promised myself that I won’t turn into one of those crazy mothers who desperately wanted their kids to be famous.

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Maureen

Lifestyle and travel blogger, founder of Single Moms Indonesia on a quest of finding joy in everyday life and living life to the fullest with kindness, compassion, grace and a bit of sass.

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Old Batavia City Tour

Actually we did this tour on June 2nd, 2009 but I haven’t post about it.

Since we have a toddler, we decided it would be best to do this tour on our own, meaning we rent a car and have the driver took us places. Simple and there were no rushing. For a less than $50 we got to rent a car for a whole day (yep, 24 hours!).

First stop was the Jakarta History Museum (better known by the locals as Fatahillah Museum). Located in the old part of Jakarta this building was originally built for the governor’s office during the Dutch colonial era in 1707-1711. There’s a small entrance fee to go inside the Museum building (cost about Rp. 2,000/$0.2 per person).

This place is also famous for pre-wedding photo shots spot among the future bride-groom to be. When you’re in that area, don’t forget to stop by for some refreshing cool drinks (or food) at the awesome Batavia Café.

From there we went to the old port, known as Sunda Kelapa Port. It’s one of the oldest port in Indonesia and was once the most important port in the country. While taking pictures there, a guy approached Mr. X and offered to give us a guide to some more historical places in Jakarta. The guy’s English is excellent and he holds a tour guide permit issued by the government although the card looks really old and faded when he showed it us. At first I hesitate but then I realized some of the places he mentions are the ones that I never even heard of and for Rp. 700,000 ($70) he took us to these amazingly hidden places.

The first stop he took us was the Maritime Museum. This place is so small and tucked behind the city traffic, one could easily miss it. We climbed up the old wooden stairs to the old watchtower and the views are really nice. Although, it disappoint me to hear our guide explained that in a few years, the old ‘kampung’ (village) located behind the museum will be gone and turned into fancy apartments and God knows what else. Our guide really is very knowledgeable in his field as he explained a lot about the history of every place.

From there we took a little walk to another building, again, tucked away behind the small fishing village. This building is still part of the Maritime Museum. We saw the largest traditional boat ever built being restored.

Then we crossed the streets to another old building that was once used as storage facility for the VOC (Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie or the Dutch East India Company). Some Indonesian conglomerate bought that place, restore it and use part of the area as a restaurant. It is really beautiful and kudos for her to preserve one of the heritage of this country.

The last place he took us was really interesting. Unfortunately, Lil’ A fell asleep after a long day of walking and sight seeing that Mr. X stayed in the car parked nearby a mall. Our guide took me across the busy street, into the alleys and I had no idea where I was. We ended up in one of the oldest Chinese temple in the city. It is so hidden; doubt I can find it again alone. He wanted to show me the largest burning candle in the world, or so he claimed, I have to admit I never seen a candle that big before. Too bad, we got there a bit too late after 6:00 PM and they already blew the candles out. Those really big giants candles are lit every morning from 6:00 AM to 6:00 PM. I bet they’ll make a fantastic picture!

All in all, we are glad we hired our guide, he turned out to be one heck of a guide with so much valuable information stored in him. Too bad I lost his phone number!

This tour was so worth it despite the sweats from humidity and heat as a change from mall to mall activities. Why don’t you give it a try?

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Maureen

Lifestyle and travel blogger, founder of Single Moms Indonesia on a quest of finding joy in everyday life and living life to the fullest with kindness, compassion, grace and a bit of sass.

Find me on: Web | Twitter | Facebook

Reality Shows…My 2 Cents

Being a stay at home mom means I spend a lot of times at home and although I barely have time to sit down and watch the tube I can’t help but noticing the ongoing trend of local television shows in Indonesia. At first glance, I was kinda impressed that there’s a reality show that looks real enough and shows people how poverty are a huge part of our society and it’s a real problem. Instead of stupid local soap operas with actors & actresses who can barely hold a line, with overdone mask as make ups and unrealistic story lines, watching these kinds of reality show felt somewhat of a fresh air.

However, as usual other channels quickly jumped into the bandwagon of sad-tearjerker-poverty-stricken-reality shows and I can’t help but wonders what’s going on. Are these stations just trying to capitalize on it and just trying to get their dough or they really do want to bring reality closer to their viewer? Is their goal really to bring social awareness? Is exposing these people with their hard lives really help them out? Are the people who watch it take these shows as mental detoxification? Does it bring gratitude for our own lives?

At first I thought these kinds of shows are good especially for the younger generations to shows them how life isn’t just evolved between their newest BlackBerry phones or their branded obsessed little minds. There are people who could barely eat let alone splurge on the latest gadget trends out there in our own backyard! Yet when all stations starts to air pretty much the same concept shows, I got a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. Maybe I’m just being cynical to the underlying motives of these stations. To me, giving these poor people 1 million or more rupiah will only helps them so far while the stations are picking revenues over revenues in million brackets from commercials and high ratings. Won’t it be better if they also provide these poor and usually low educated people with skills that they can use to support their families in the long run? Not just some tearjerker half an hour to an hour show that soon will be forgotten?

Well, that’s my two cents of the whole so-called TV trend.

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Maureen

Lifestyle and travel blogger, founder of Single Moms Indonesia on a quest of finding joy in everyday life and living life to the fullest with kindness, compassion, grace and a bit of sass.

Find me on: Web | Twitter | Facebook

Huadu Night Market

A couple of nights ago we went to check the Night Market, somewhere in Huadu district, not far from where we live.

Night Market

The first part that we passed were the clothing market, rows after rows of clothing at super cheap price. Lil A managed to walk (read: pull on Daddy’s hand like he’s a sleigh dog!) for a little bit until we decided its getting way too crowded from him to be walking.

We crossed the street to find more street stalls that sells clothes, mostly underwear, shoes, bags even down to knockoffs suitcases. We then turned right to see a more traditional part of the market.

Fruit stalls offer many of delicious looking mandarin oranges to big fresh looking apples.

 

 

Then there were the Muslim Chinese seller (you can tell from their Muslim hats and clothes) what’s interesting is they doesn’t really look very Chinese to my opinion, their complexion are slightly darker than most Chinese  and they mostly sells peanuts, walnuts, all kinds of nuts really. But there was a tiny stall that sells some kind of ‘satay’ (BBQ beef cut very thinly on a skewer) with traditional bread. JR bought some and they were delicious.

Night Market Snacks

Night Market

It’s really interesting to see so many different colors of the market. They have just about everything you want. From knockoffs wrist watches, all kinds of pickles you could possibly imagine, snacks, foods, down to fresh vegetables to a hair salon. What amused me was when I saw two tables selling cigarettes. No not the package kind but more like a ‘refill’ kinds. That’s interesting!

Cigarette seller

Lil’ A who didn’t take his nap started throwing a fit because he wanted to ride the bus and was screaming his head off “Naik bus! Naik bus” (naik= Indonesian for ride). Enough said he drew some crowds of people around him. They are all started talking in Chinese and smiling at him. From what JR could understand he said those people say “He’s so mad!” LOL!

We didn’t really stay too long at the market but it was a fun experience. Oh and I just realized that in this part of town, McDonald’s is not spell with the original English name but it’s all in Chinese and so does Pizza Hut but the signs are the same.

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Maureen

Lifestyle and travel blogger, founder of Single Moms Indonesia on a quest of finding joy in everyday life and living life to the fullest with kindness, compassion, grace and a bit of sass.

Find me on: Web | Twitter | Facebook

Sunny Day At The Park

Well, well, well, after I blogged about how cold it has been here today’s warm sunny clear sky turned out to be a very nice break. Temperature now is 24 C (around 75 F).

After I went to get some groceries at the RT. Mart (a supermarket), I thought hey why not take this little man to the park. There’s a park that I haven’t been to a few blocks down from the apartment called Ma An Shan Park.

Ma An Shan Park

So at around 2:00 PM off we went down to that park. It’s not too close but it didn’t feel that far either. I guess after awhile, walking had returned to be a daily regular thing and it didn’t bother me as much as when I first got here. (Pssst…I began to feel my jeans are a bit loose already! Hooray for walking!). The park is nice and clean with lots of trees and plants. Sure is happy to see the No Smoking sign there.

Lil’ A immediately got super excited when he spotted the big fountain inside the park. “Waterfall! Waterfall!” he screamed in excitement.

fountain

We strolled to check the fish pond. Boy, those kois are HUGE! Too bad the water was murky that I can’t take a really good picture to show them off.

View from the other side

The park’s layout made it a bit difficult to push a stroller up the stairs. It took a bit of acrobatic action from my part to hold excited Lil’ A’s hand while carrying the stroller with the other hand to go up those stairs. The park looked quite small when you first got there but once you went up the stairs you’ll realize how big that place is.

Spotted more bride & grooms-to-be having their pre-wedding pictures taken right there at the park. I think it must’ve been the ‘wedding season’ as I saw a lot of these outdoor pre-wedding photo sessions around. Those love birds looks so cute!

Bride to be

While I was trying to sneak a picture of the happy couple, a little girl about 5/6 years old came over to Lil’ A with his mother and grandmother. The mother told her to say hello and she politely say “Hello”. She hold his hand and the mother took pictures (well, she’s not the only one!), that’s just too cute. Lil’ A was a bit confused at first but participate none the less.

Boy and his new friend

After a couple of more ‘smaller’ stairs we got to what looks like a playground for both kids and adults. There’s a small slide and a bunch of weird exercise equipments that I never even seen before. Seems like the Chinese love to exercise and that’s just what some people were doing there along with some little children.

Fun at the park

 

parkJR told me that there’s a small shop there by the playground that sell fish food so after I let Lil’ A played around we went to the shop and get some. Lil’A was super happy because there were a lot of young kids there playing although I think they’re older than him. Sometimes I feel bad for him because he haven’t got much chance to really socialize with kids his own age. The kids inside our compound are either babies or way older than he is.

Let's Play!

By time I got to persuaded Lil’ A to go back to feed the fish, a women that works there were in the middle of feeding those giant koi fishes. Oh well, maybe tomorrow we’ll get lucky. My camera’s battery ran out there, bummer!

Have a great week everyone!

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Maureen

Lifestyle and travel blogger, founder of Single Moms Indonesia on a quest of finding joy in everyday life and living life to the fullest with kindness, compassion, grace and a bit of sass.

Find me on: Web | Twitter | Facebook

Christmas Day Adventure in Guangzhou, China

View from across Pearl River

For Christmas in China, we decided to hit the town and met up with Steve, one of the FedEx rep here who worked with my ex husband, JR.

Since we lived in the suburb (well almost a suburb) we took a bus, mind you I haven’t ride a bus in such a long time it felt like a flashback, only this time I was in China instead of Jakarta. The bus was clean and cost  12 RMB (about $1.75) per person. Lil’ A was free of charge. We got off by the Metro (subway) station of Sanyuanli. JR saw something and said he’ll be right back so Lil’ A and I waited in front a bank. He came back with what he called a Chinese version of Egg McMuffin which was super delicious!

Guangzhou Metro Station

We went into the Metro station underground, it was really nice, modern and clean but I decided not to take pictures inside. Taking the Metro is surely one of the convenience way to get around town because the signs and announcements are in English. Hopped on the Metro then got off somewhere I forgot the name but it was in downtown area of Guangzhou.

We walked down to Pearl River to meet Steve who’s been wandering around with his big Nikon camera. He suggested that we headed to see the Sacred Heart Cathedral but we decided to get a new stroller for Lil’ A since we didn’t bring his stroller and that was a huge mistake! Luckily this is China, so a stroller comes super cheap. We got ours for only 200 RMB ($30).

I was fascinated by the Sacred Heart Cathedral, it is not only beautiful but it’s also looks so majestic especially with its history. We went inside, well actually Steve and I did to take pictures while JR kept Lil’ A outside since he started to get tired and about ready to take his nap.

Sacred Heart Cathedral

Sacred Heart Cathedral

Sacred Heart Cathedral

When we were done at the Cathedral, Steve suggested we stroll down to Shamian Island then have lunch there. Well, it’s not really an island as the location is divided by a canal where the British used to settle a long time ago.

We walked through markets, different sections of the markets are very interesting. From the toys area to the packing sellers who sells plastics for packaging down to stationery. We even passed a part of the market that was super crowded, almost as crowded as the famous Beijing Lu but this street is a lot smaller. One can really feel claustrophobic in there.

Traditional Market

We then got to Shanmulan Lu, Steve who has been living on and off in China for 9 years have wide extensive knowledge of the histories here besides being super fluent in Chinese, told me that the famous SARS break out was started in that very street.

Shanmulan Lu used to be the street where people sell wild, exotic even extinct animals. Not only that these people live there in the houses surrounding the street but they also kept their wild stocks alongside their own pets thus the virus transferred from wild animals (supposedly a bat) into a pet then into human.

The street now only have a few animals sellers but they mostly sell turtles, scorpions and traditional Chinese medicine (herbs). They even had a traditional Chinese medicine school built in the area. Seeing those scorpions crawling in bowls and buckets after buckets made my skin crawl. But hey, this is China and it is considered normal to eat them although I’m not very interested in trying.

Scorpion for snack?

Turtle for sale

Shanmulan Lu

Steve said by the time we get to Shamian island the atmosphere will be different. More tranquil, and he was right. There wasn’t as many people there and you can really see the influence of British architectures there. The lushes green parks provides shades and fresh feelings from the hustling and bustling of downtown Guangzhou.

Green Park

We had lunch at an outdoor restaurant that serves Christmas feasts but we were more interested in trying their Asian meals. It was a nice place. That area is very close to the American Consulate and we saw some parents out and about with their newly adopted children.

After a late lunch, we went down to Pearl River again and just stroll around taking pictures. Steve suggested that we take a ride in one of the cruise boats that goes along the Pearl River but we passed that idea because somebody or I should say some boy was getting bored and it wouldn’t be a very nice experience to ride that boat with a screaming toddler.

Along the Pearl River

Steve invited us to his apartment across the Pearl River. We took a crossing boat to get there then walk some more. I told Mr. X that I never walked that much in my whole life before. I should’ve lost about 2-3 pounds at the end of the day with the walking that we were doing.

At his apartment,  showed us the view from his 29th floor’s balcony. It was kinda scary to be standing up that high and looking down but since it was getting dark I didn’t feel too scared. We talked a lot about photography and he gave me pointers, even let me used his tripod to take a better picture from his balcony.

View From 29th Floor

From there Mr. X wanted us to go have dinner at Pandan (Indonesian Restaurant). Too bad we got lost because that place isn’t very well known or easy to spot so we called it a night and headed home instead. My feet were throbbing and poor Lil’ A threw up in the cab, probably from a bottle of orange juice we gave him without diluting it first. He’s fine now so nothing to worry about.

So, that’s the long story of our first Christmas in China. I sure do miss the familiar feelings of Christmas with our families in both corners of the world but I am thankful for this opportunity to experience living here.

Hope you had a blessed Christmas!

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Maureen

Lifestyle and travel blogger, founder of Single Moms Indonesia on a quest of finding joy in everyday life and living life to the fullest with kindness, compassion, grace and a bit of sass.

Find me on: Web | Twitter | Facebook

Guangzhou China The First 48 Hours

China 003

We arrived in Guangzhou, China on Thursday afternoon after 2 hours delayed in Jakarta. The views from above were amazing with rows after rows of apartments buildings and more high rises buildings.

I was pretty tired after we got back to the apartment not merely from the flight but from all the running around and lack of sleep since a few days before our trip here. JR asked us to go to a mall nearby where there’s also a supermarket to get some stuff early in the evening.

Don’t worry the mall close late here,” he assured me.

So off we walked down to the mall and although it is not too far its also not that close either. He then explained to me that he had learn to walk slow here. Walk slow? Yeah,  one could literately sweat so much with a paced walk from the high humidity. He also pointed out to the others who really does walks a bit slower and looks as if they’re just strolling for some fresh air.

At the supermarket, I was surprised to see how we must hand our purse (even diaper bag!) to this lady at a small counter before you enter the place. The girl will put your purse inside what looks like a large red shopping bag which they will be sealed by the zipper. It looks like those security tags you see hanging from clothes on a large department store that will buzz an alarm if you try to take it out of the store.

To prevent thieves” JR explained. So I just took one sippy cup out and had the lady bagged my bag.

The supermarket is crowded and big, similar to ones in Jakarta. But, with my dark skin, a white husband, and a toddler, we really do stand out like a sore thumb.

People stare at us. It is nothing new for me because people in Indonesia does this too, the only difference here is people obviously will stare at you. At least Indonesians will ‘pretend’ that they’re not staring. These people will drive by and still stare at you (well, on this case pushing their shopping carts) and stare at you until they’re too far to look.

One thing that I learn from the supermarket expedition is the Chinese people will bumped you or even hit you with their carts without a care, just like one lady did to me while I was walking while carrying Lil’ A. Her shopping cart successfully hit the back of my feet pretty hard and as I turned around to see her, she acts as if nothing’s wrong without one trace of ‘I’m sorry’ on her face.

It took JR to explain to his one pissed off ex-wife that the Chinese don’t flag out their apology like the western does because they are afraid to ‘lose face’.  Another shocker was people will obviously stare and scan the contents of your shopping cart. I personally think that is kinda rude but then again, this is China!

Another TCM (This is China Moment) happened when I keep spotting guys (both young and elderly Chinese) walking around inside the mall and supermarket with their bellies hanging – shirts up high to their chest. I know it was really hot (plus the aircon inside the mall is not very accommodating). Let’s just say that I need to get used to this un-pretty sights from now on.

Haven’t seen anyone spitting like I’ve been ‘warned’.

In general, the people are so friendly and smile at you a lot. Although, I feel like a total alien here only equipped with two Chinese words of “Ni hao” and “Xie xie” while the people down to the security guards at our apartments seems to love to chat and will chatter in Cantonese (that’s the language most people in Guangzhou mostly uses) in a lightning speed. I had tried to find a Cantonese dictionary in Jakarta to no avail and only got a picture dictionary of Mandarin. Luckily, JR already picked a few words after being here for two months now.

The apartment complex is actually a nice one. Plenty of trees, nice landscapes, clean, equipped with lots of security guards and it’s a gated community. But there’s just one thing that I have to get used to…seeing my neighbors’ laundry hanging at their balconies. A dryer is often times beyond reach to these people who are like Indonesians are more accustomed to sun dry their laundry. Thanks God, I had successfully persuaded JR to get us a dryer.

China Apartment

Its been a rainy season here and one cannot predict the weather as it might rain suddenly, thus the high humidity level. After a brief worrisome period about pollution in Guangzhou, I’m relieved to know that we’re not living in the downtown area where pollution is at its highest. We live in Huadu district, approximately 20-30 minutes away from the city. Here, although still very hot, I can still see some blue skies especially after it rains. Maybe the rain does well by clearing up the air from any unseen existing pollution.

The food here is A.M.A.Z.I.N.G!

On my first night here after a trip to the supermarket, JR offered to buy dinner while I rest. An offer I’d be glad to take since I was too tired to even think of fixin’ dinner. He then came back with this yummylicious noodles (forgot what they’re called in Chinese but Indonesians will spot them as ‘kwetiaw‘ and some dumplings. That was the best ‘kwetiaw’ I ever had (and I normally doesn’t really like them) and the dumplings were so out of this world!

For our second night here JR took us to a restaurant across the street.

The place looks nice and clean with pictures on their menu with some English translations. Didn’t know what to order, I let JR picked one for me as he’s been there quite regularly. He ordered fried rice for himself and some chicken for me also fried noodles for Lil’ A.

The portions of meals served here are HUGE!

My meal came and it looks delicious and my stomach roar from the mere smell of it. It was rice with chicken on a hot ceramic bowl served a sunny side up egg on top, stir-fried baby bok choy on the side and another veggy I’m not familiar with. It was really good!

A Chinese Meal

But you have to be careful with the chicken bones! What I thought to be boneless chicken turned out still have bones and marrows on them. Ouchy! You suppose to nibble them in your mouth then spit the bones or any leftover marrows back to the bowl but it’s not an easy practice, I should say. I do know how to use chopsticks before but my skills need to be improved.

Ok, that’s my long story of our first 48 hours in China.

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Maureen

Lifestyle and travel blogger, founder of Single Moms Indonesia on a quest of finding joy in everyday life and living life to the fullest with kindness, compassion, grace and a bit of sass.

Find me on: Web | Twitter | Facebook