Monday, March 23, 2009

March 20th - Groove & Grind at JBH

Never did I imagine that I would step my foot at a famous five-star hotel in Dubai. If not for the annual dinner organized by the company hubby is attached to, it would still remain an imagination. My family and I were actually there at Jumeirah Beach Hotel to attend the dinner.

That was our first time at this wave-shaped hotel, so we were like total strangers looking for the place the dinner was held and a prayer room. In no time, the hotel staff approached us and showed us the way. Since it was near Maghrib, we headed for the prayer room first. We felt so welcome although we knew it that this was 'not our place'. With the extravagant hospitality shown by the hotel staff, it is no wonder that Jumeirah Beach Hotel has been voted ‘Best Resort Hotel in the World’ by readers of Business Traveller Magazine, UK, 2001-2008.

Themed 'Groove & Grind' in the 50s and 60s, hubby, the kids and I were trying our best to fit ourselves into the theme. We did not dress to the teeth, we just made do with what we already had. Hubby and Apit were in checked shirts with the sleeves rolled up whereas Along and Ain were in dresses with leggings and hair bands. Me, with ala-ala Saloma style but of course with my head scarf on.

Although we came a bit late, that was not a reason for us not to have fun. With Elvis' songs filling the air together with 70s and 80s nostalgic songs, the night was so lively. We had a blast (but we did not dance though, we just watched). The food was a variety ranging from Japanese to Indian to Arabic food and yummiliciously good of course. What made it so special is that the place we had dinner is overlooking another famous five-star luxury hotel - Burj Al Arab. It looks so near from that open grassy beach of Jumeirah Beach Hotel.

Burj Al Arab is one of the most photographed structures in the world. Your stay in Dubai is considered not complete if you yourself haven't been photographed with Burj Al Arab as the background he he...Let's feast our eyes on this stunningly beautiful Burj Al Arab. Very interestingly, at night its colours change every few minutes as it is illuminated by choreographed lighting representing water and fire.

If Sydney is famous for its Opera House and Paris with the Eiffel Tower, Burj Al Arab is an iconic or symbolic structure for Dubai. Designed to resemble a billowing sail, Burj Al Arab stands on an artificial island 280 metres (919 ft) out from Jumeirah beach, and is connected to the mainland by a private curving bridge. It's the world's tallest hotel which characterizes itself as the world's only "7-star" property.

Although we didn't bring back any SONY Bravia LCD or a SONY home theatre set for the lucky draw prize, we were happy as we were full and really had fun.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Of the soft palate and the hard palate and the tip of the tongue etc. etc...

I thought I wouldn 't have to hear these linguistic terms of Phonetics and Phonology anymore...on how to articulate these letters and those letters and all. I thought when I had to deliberately practice moving the right and left jaw up and down to produce a certain sound etc. etc. in my Oracy class long, long time ago during my matriculation years, that was the end of it. No more after this. When we had to carefully practise touching the tip of the tongue to the soft palate and hard palate or putting the tip of the tongue between the plates of the top two incisors etc. etc. in Dr IH's class during uni years long time ago, I thought that was more than enough (pllleeaeseeee). The fact that he's indeed a very good and knowledgeable lecturer did little to help to reduce the migraine that I often had after his every lecture he he...especially the part when we had to give the linguistic description of how certain letters were articulated. Luckily, in the inroduction class of that thing with Mr J Fitzpatrick, I'd never had any magraine not only because I adored him so much but because the things studied were still less technical.

After so many years, never did I imagine I would have to study these linguistic terms again. But the fact is I am now learning it. Of course not the same subject but the same linguistic terms which I came across in the book Part 1 have already given me some kind of phobia (he he...). However, since I am now learning it for a good reason, a very, very good purpose, I am sure that The Almighty will be helping me all the way through the process as long as I have the sincere will to continue learning. Not only for my life at present but also for the life after this. It's not merely a linguistic class, it's more than that....

Having missed the first sessions of book Part 1, I have no choice but to do extra work on my part. I guess I have to stop mumbling now as I need, I repeat, I need to study book Part 1 as well as Part 2 for tomorrow's class (hmm like good hi hi...). So that, I don't have to unnecessarily get the jitters when I have to sit beside the teacher and read. (Now I know exactly how my students felt having to sit near me and read or present their part for the oral test). If that sweet soft-spoken teacher reads what I'm writing (which I don't think so...???), she must be smiling knowing how I feel he he...

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Fri (Feb 6th) - Hang Loose and Kick Back at Island Escapade `09

Everyone seemed to be full of anticipation of the Island Escapade `09 - a family day from Malaysians for Malaysians in the UAE. As early as 7.00 am, Malaysians were seen waiting patiently at the jetty for a boatride to take us all to the neighbouring Palm Island, UAQ. Those who didn't stay overnight at Palma Beach Resort were among the early birds. The guest of honour, our ambassador Dato' Yahya and Consulate General Syed Hasrin, were among those riding the early boat.

While we who were putting up there at the resort taking our own sweet time snapping pictures...

Along, Ain and Apit couldn't wait for the boatride.

Even if it is a 10-15-minute boatride, safety jackets are a must...

Our hotel room seen from the boat. It's like a double-storey townhouse in which the first and second floors are occupied by two different families. What's special here is that each room is allocated an exclusive parking space right in front of the door.

Among the activities...

Reminiscing some 28-29 years ago, I took part in the traditional game galah panjang. It was so exciting although we's not the prize but the fun that matters.

The kids may have never heard of galah panjang, but they were not bad at all. By just listening to the instructions given, they coud understand the game. Along enjoyed playing galah panjang for the first time in her life. Her team got second place.

Knee injury forgotten, hubby took part in champion ball (it's like netball for men). His team also got second place.

Queuing up for food ration for lunch.

It was like our school years when we were all divided into four houses - white, yellow, red and blue - colours of Jalur Gemilang for sure. Penat bermain, rehat kejap sambil tolong Kak L and hubby touched up our house flag - Yellow The Champ.

Sukan, sukan juga, kewajipan sebagai seorang Muslim tetap tidak dilupakan. It was Friday so, the men had their Friday prayer at the beach...a sight that we would never be able to see in Malaysia.

I also took part in medley relay together with 5 other members...the event that saw me accidentally flying like a superman in the sand...(I wonder if anyone's lens managed to capture me in that rare action he he...)...which had caused my team, that almost won, lost in the game.

Sorry friends but I'm proud that it's the sportsmanship of the teamwork that matters most.

Hubby in tug-of-war is nothing new. His team was the champ, the strongest of them all...yeay!!

But, me in the sight that my students would kill to see ha ha ha...!!

Small kids looked so cute in this tug-of-war. Judging from their faces, they were enjoying it including Along.

Prize giving ceremony...except for tug-of-war, Along got 1st prize for dodge ball and medley relay, and 2nd for galah panjang.

Hubby was the champ for tug-of-war

...and 2nd place for champion ball.

Since events for kids below 7 years old were cancelled due to a certain reason, each and every kids from the age of 7 and below got a prize each. Good news for Apit and Ain. Apit was seen queuing up for the prize. So cute he he...

Tired...but satisfied and happy. Ready to go home...anticipating body and muscle aching in one or two more days...hi hi

p/s- Sekalung ucapan tahniah buat semua AJK my-UAE pro terutama kepada Island Escapade Project Director dan semua orang2 kuat my-UAE pro atas kejayaan projek ini. Very well organised!

Thurs (Feb 5th) - One Night at Um Al Quwain

After fetching Ain from school and, Along and me from Safa Park, hubby drove us to Uptown Mirdiff. We were to join another two families to go to Palma Beach Resort at Um Al Quwain. At 4.45 pm, we drove in convoy as hubby wasn't sure of the route.

Um Al Quwain is one of the the seven emirates of the UAE. This is the fourth emirate in the UAE that we've travelled to after Dubai, Ajman and Sharjah. There are three more emirates that we are yet to explore - Abu Dhabi (the federal capital), Fujairah and Ras Al Khaimah.
When we reached Palma Beach Resort at around 6.20 pm, it was almost Maghrib.
We'd booked a single room that overloked the sea instead of the resort's swimming pool.

(This particular pic is taken from Channels World of Hotel UAE)

This room which is neatly decorated with an Arabian style is spacious for a family of 2 adults and 3 small children like ours.

That night, about 200 hundred Malaysians, big and small, gathered at this three-bedroom villa rented by several Malaysian families for a BBQ. At least we had some time to kill before gearing up for a big and adventurous event the next morning organised my-UAE Pro - from Malaysians for Malaysians.

I was so tired after joining Along's school activities at Safa Park during the day that I went back to our hotel room early to catch some z's. Furthermore, we had to get up early to catch up on a more exciting thing awaited the next morning.

We woke up early that morning and looked out of our room balcony...what a stunning view! Hubby grabbed his camera and in no time captured this beautiful scenery.

No, we're not in Egypt. Palma Beach Resort, UAQ is a resort hotel with a distinct ancient Egyptian theme. Along, Ain and Apit were so scared to even go near these Pharaoh's big black and golden statues.

We took a few photos that morning right after breakfast and before getting on a boat that would take us to the neighbouring Palm Island.

We'll surely come here again...not only for the peace and tranquility of the place but also because we felt that it was such a waste to spend such a short time at this beautiful resort.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Let's Learn & Play at Safa Park

Last Thursday (5th March), Along had a class trip to Safa Park. It wasn't merely an outing or a picnic at the park but it was a fun-filled activity held for all four Grade 4 classes from the south and west campuses of Raffles IS. Four buses took them to the park which was not very far from their school.

Once inside the park, the students and teachers assembled at one of the fields for a briefing before dispersing to their own respective groups that had been assigned to them the day before. There were four very interesting activities carried out by the teachers, and assisted as well as supervised by a few parent volunteers (including myself).

Activity 1: Drawing Burj Dubai - the soon-to-be world's tallest building - conducted by Ms Tiffany

Activity 2: A Walk In The Park conducted by Ms Lee

In this activity, the students were to list down living things and non-living things which they found along the way from the grassy lawn up to the top of the hill. The things that they jotted down would be used for the follow-up written activity. It was such a breathtaking panoramic view from the top of the hill which was landscaped with a man-made cave and waterfall. The breeze was so cool and refreshing in this spring afternoon.

The students, together with teachers and parent volunteers, took a break for meal at 11.00 am.

Activity 3: Petunias Counting conducted by Mr ...... (can't remember his name)

These are Maths and Science activities. In an interesting way, the teacher showed the students a metre stick and told them to make a pace forward that measured a metre. By referring to the petunias square nearby, they were asked to show which one was the width and length. Then, they were instructed to pace from one end to the other end along the width of the petunias square. Once again, they had to pace along the petunias square but this time, they had to count how many rows of white, violet, cream and red petunias altogether. This was followed by pacing along the length of the square and counting how many petunia trees in each row. The students were to jot down the number of rows of petunias and petunias in each row. The addition and multiplication had to be done in order to find out how many petunias altogether in the square.
After that, they were given a microscope each and asked to examine parts of a petunia under the microscope i.e. stigma etc.

Activity 4: Playing Rounders by Mr Tony

This was the activity that Along enjoyed very much. She's liked playing rounders very much ever since she started learning to play it just a few weeks ago. The moment I saw her hitting the ball I knew it she's after her father who played softball in his college years and was the captain of the team. Along got the chance to become the batter twice and managed to make a home run after both hittings. Pics 2 & 4 saw her running wholeheartedly after hitting the ball.

It's a free activity now...

Along (standing at the far left) with Ms Lee and classmates.

With other parent volunteers: (from left) Ms Connie and Ms Kattea (Australian) and Ms Abeer (Egyptian)

It was really fun although a bit tiring. I didn't do much actually, just supervising the students and giving them moral supports. Tiring probably because I had to follow them wherever they went around the big park.

At least I've learned some useful refreshing ideas that I could bring back to carry out with my own students back home.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Feb 26th - At The International Fringe Festival, Dubai Festival City

We went to the Fringe Festival to watch Along performing Little Red Riding Hood with her classmates. Hubby took a half day off just to give her a moral support and also spend the evening at Dubai Festival City since this was our first time coming here. Raffles IS (south campus) was scheduled to perform at 4.30 pm. However, we didn't manage to reach in time. When we reached here at around 5.00 pm, Along and classmates had just finished performing. It was an open stage at the Timeout Kids' Zone, Marina Terrace 2. Upon arrival, this was what left...

However, Along was happy to see us coming although we missed the performance.

Her friendly and sweet homeroom teacher, Ms Lee was there welcoming us while supervising the other Raffles girls.

Pic 1 - The maroon pants children (Raffles IS students) were seen all over the festival area; Pic 2 -Puppet show by Universal American School students; Pic 3 - A song and guitar performance by Al Khaleej National School; Pic 4 - A live band by Deira International School students.

There were also workshops on creative writing and exhibitions on Literature held on the next and following days (27th & 28th Feb), however we couldn't manage to attend all.

While Along was having a late lunch with her classmate cum an Egyptian best friend, Lina, we walked around the mall to savour the stunning view at the Canal Walk area overlooking Festival Marina on the eastern bank of Dubai Creek.

* Dubai Festival City, if fully completed, is expected to be the largest mall in Dubai and the newest shopping venue. It is at present Middle East's largest mixed-use development programme which comprises 550 shops, a 12 screen cinema complex and 90 international restaurants, bistros and cafes including 40 al fresco dining venues along Canal Walk. It is not just a mall but it harmoniously blends hotels, homes, offices, schools and a golf course. Among the famous most visited spots here are IKEA, HyperPanda supermarket (first Panda hypermarket outside of Saudi Arabia), Plug-ins ElectroniX and Ace Hardware (the largest outside North America).