Tan's Chinese New Year 2016 + Montigo at Batam Trip!

Friday, February 19, 2016

This year's Chinese New Year is back to the usual two-day celebration, which makes things really in a rush, no? Ever since we started self-employment this year, it is supposed to mean that we can take more days off (since we're like supposed to be our own boss wtf), but the truth is, the both of us has been working every single day....

That being said, it is really quite different to be working for ourselves cuz when you work for others, it doesn't matter how many hours you put in, you get the same damn pay every single month. When you work for yourselves, you know that the harder you work translates to more earnings, so somehow, working hard isn't that dreadful and it kinda spurs you on?

Anyway, after some considerations, Nian and I decided to take an extended break for CNY this year and go for a short holiday during this festive period. More on that later!


Following the tradition from last year, our family went all matchy-matchy again this year with a slightly different twist, as you can see. Last year, I got a tailor to custom-made our family attire for us, but it turned out to be disappointing because it was ill-fitting, the cloth was unfortunately thin, so it was quite transparent for me and quite expensive as well.

Nian's sleeves were far too short for him last year  and mine had buttons that were too far apart wtf. We had to do many last minute saving to the attire so that we could properly wear out and you can say that I trashed it immediately as soon as CNY was over... and I made a mental note to never order from the said tailor again - no matter how nice their instagram pictures are!

This year, I did a little bit more homework and went to a brick-and-motar shop so that I can see the quality of the clothes, fit them and because they are mass produced and not customised, they are way cheaper than what I paid for last year! As you can see, I am quite happy with my purchase. The only downside is that the kids may probably outgrow them very quickly so I'd better milk what's worth and get them to wear a couple more times before they finally retire.

This year, the kiddos also had matching wears for their reunion dinner! I love, love, loveeeee the gold letterings on them. They are hot-stamped, so I honestly don't think it will last very long but it is pretty while it lasts! Thank you Auntie Maggie for these beautiful tees <3

This year's CNY is a bit more challenging because we had to accommodate to two children and their nap times. Honestly, if that is not the hardest thing, I don't know what is. We had to plan our itinerary and decide whether we should head home for their nap times, or sacrifice it so that we maximise our visiting hours to cover more places.

It wasn't so bad last year because Alexis was only about 6 months' old, so she could sleep on the go. I could be babywearing her and she can sleep through anytime, anywhere, so I only had to worry about Dylan. But when she got older, nap times became a nightmare because the kids had varying nap times - Alexis sleeping at 10AM to 12PM while Dylan will sleep from 12PM to 2PM. Sometimes, Alexis will go for a second nap at 4PM so I couldn't really take a break because at any one time, one monster will be awake.

Thankfully, as Alexis grows, her body clock tuned gradually to a one-nap arrangement and it slowly coincided with Dylan's. That being said, she can no longer be babyworn to sleep because she would be too interested in everything that is happening around her! Nap times are only possible in their bedrooms, dimmed lights, zero noise at the moment.

So because of nap times, I had an argument with Nian LOL seriously. Things we argue about these days. 

Personally, I don't care much about visiting. Granted that it is the time where family members gather, I have the "superstar syndrome" (or so they call) where I will visit whenever I like. I don't like making arrangements like "let's meet at 2pm at XXX's house!" because everyone knows how elastic the timing gets during visiting. Sometimes we are early, sometimes we get delayed.

I would rather own-time-own-target and cover the houses in our own pace. As long as the owners are home, I don't care who else is there/not there. If we bump into them, great! If we don't, then too bad, next time.

With that in mind, weighing between catching up with relatives and ensuring that my kids get their nap times so that they don't get cranky and then drive me crazy later, you can see what is my choice.

Anyway! Like any old-time couples would do, we worked out the differences and we reached a consensus. Day One was a success because we managed to get the kids to sleep at my mother-in-law's place while we caught up with everyone else - which is a bonus! We didn't need to travel back home and out again, which is really troublesome since we don't have a car and usually it can be quite difficult to get a cab on the first day of CNY.

Outfit of the day for Day 2
We weren't so lucky on Day 2. Alexis managed to take her nap in the cab while we were on our way to Nian's auntie's place, but for Dylan, we had the intention to try to put him to bed when we reached there.

When we were planning our house visiting schedule, I KNEW that Auntie's place would be a terrible place for children to nap because they have an open house every year and that meant that there would be loadssssss of people all in the house at one go. The TV would be blasting at maximum, there would be people walking in and out of the bedrooms, people would be gambling, laughing and talking loudly... It is really a lot of fun but there is simply no way for a child to fall asleep there.

But Nian insisted that Dylan would be able to sleep in Auntie's bedroom because it will be away from all the din. Yah right. Like as if sound doesn't travel. And people kept coming into the room!!! I had to politely tell them that I am trying to make my kid sleep but in the end, I got snubbed with, "Aiyah, it is like that one lah, how can you avoid people from coming into the room? We need to take our things what."

Oh yeah why don't you bring your bag out so that you don't have to keep coming in? #bitchmodeON

But how can I say that when that's not even my house wtf lol. I was just really desperate to make my son sleep because if he doesn't, I get a hard time after that in the evening. Apparently being at Auntie's place from 12pm to 5pm is more important than letting Dylan take his nap. GRR.

To be honest, I still feel bitter about it. I know! It has been like so many weeks! How can I be so petty! But I am. I am still so annoyed because Nian didn't heed my suggestion to bring the kids back home to nap. I mean, what's the difference with being at the party for 2 hours and being there for 5? I really don't get it. 

Anyway, when we finally left at 5PM, the kids promptly knocked out in the cab. I hate it when they fall asleep in the cab because they are so heavy to carry, plus they barely get enough time for a shut-eye. How long does a trip take anyway? A maximum of 30 minutes. And this was probably lesser. 

And given that we manage to shift them from the cab to the house without waking them up, falling asleep at 5PM probably meant that they would wake up at weird timings like 8PM and OMG THAT IS THEIR BEDTIME!!!!

I'm sorry, I know some mothers are really okay with their kids' nap times and bedtimes but I'm one mom who is very particular about it and it drives me absolutely crazy that we deliberately screw the timing up just because it is a festive period. As you can see, I'm still riling up over it. *breathes out heavily*

Need to take a chill pill pronto before I go into anger overdrive.

Thankfully, the day didn't turn out so bad. The kids didn't have enough nap, and Alexis really did wake up at only 9PM wtf. But she fell back asleep rather quickly when we got home. Dylan also didn't kick up a huge fuss like he usually would when he doesn't get enough sleep, so I guess we got lucky.

I was also relieved that by the third day our lives are gonna return to normal because I am so not a "gathering" kinda person? I would prefer visiting my friends and family members where nobody else is there so that we can have quality conversation and catch up, instead of sitting around betting $2 worth of Blackjack mindlessly for a couple of hours.

Montigo at Batam

Our 3-storey villa!

Since most people are already back at work on Day 3, we planned on a short getaway to the nearby Batam for 3D2N at the super popular Montigo resort!

I was really excited to go there because it was so highly raved? Like when I read reviews, it looked like there were so many things to do and play, and it does look like it is a child-friendly place to be in too.

But here's my honest opinion: If you have kids who are between 1 year old to probably 5 years old, Montigo is not a place for you. I'd elaborate further. Read on!

Sitting at the beautiful Nongsapura, I love how convenient Montigo is from the ferry terminal. A 45-minute ferry ride and another additional 5 minutes shuttle bus, we arrived Batam way faster than going into Malaysia!

(All timings are converted to Singapore time so that I don't get confused halfway through lol)

That being said, if you're planning to check into Montigo, I personally feel that there is no point going early into Batam because their check-in timing is at 4PM. We arrived at about 11AM, so we had a grand 5 hours to spend before we can finally rest in the villa!

It would be a great idea if you fill this time to head into Nagoya, but they now charge guests for the use of their shuttle service into town. I think it's about SGD$6/head, thereabouts? I don't remember because they get filled up so quickly anyway, they would recommend you to take their taxi, which costs SGD$50 both ways for up to 6 person.

If you are going with your friends then it works out to slightly less than $10 per pax, which doesn't make much difference between taking the shuttle or the cab. But for us, the difference was huge. Not that there are much to shop at Nagoya anyway, but the food street was pretty good.

Because the Reception told us that they would try to give us our villa as soon as possible, we decided to stay put in Montigo, so that we can check in soonest possible. That, however, didn't happen. And we checked in at 4PM regardless lol.

It wasn't a terrible thing since the kids were hungry so we wouldn't take a 45-minute drive into Nagoya with them having an empty stomach, so we settled for lunch at their restaurant.

Nian's Seafood and Chips, costs about SGD$10, consists of calamari, prawns and dory.

My mother-in-law's Nasi Goreng, which came up to about SGD$8.50

My club sandwich that came up to about SGD$12, served with pumpkin soup and chips

Deep fried ice-cream that came up to about SGD$4
Their food is not too shabby, I enjoyed my club sandwich and the deep fried ice-cream the most! The catch about dining at Montigo is that you must never be in a hurry... because everything is really pretty slow lol.

The food took about 20 to 30 minutes to come and sometimes, the baby chairs that we requested for never came. However, their service is really good! Everyone's all smiley and polite, and it was really nice to see happy people working.

Olo's Kids Club
The villa was still not ready even after our leisure 2-hour lunch, so we went around exploring what Montigo has to offer. I read about Olo's Kids Club online and I was pretty excited to go check it out for the kids!

The Olo's Kids Club is a one-stop entertainment hub for children. The two-storey bamboo hut consisted of reading rooms, where there are nice English books displayed along the aisles, for children to sit in and spend some quiet time reading.

There are also XBOX corners, where you can pit yourself against your dad on FIFA, like what Dylan did.

There is also a second floor where there are toys for the younger kids, like Alexis, to meddle around with! Also on the second floor is a bar that I never got around to indulge because we were too busy babysitting lol.

This is probably the most child-friendly place you can find in Montigo.

After spending another 2 hours at Olo's, it was finally 4PM so we took the buggy back to the Reception and got sent to our villa!

The terrains are quite steep at some places so if walking is difficult for you, you can always request for the buggy to come pick you up and send you to wherever you like. 

When we got off our buggy, these set of steep steps greeted us:
Very steep steps leading to the villa
 I was like... "Oh no. How is Dylan and Alexis gonna climb up and down steps like these for the next 3 days?????"

Not only that, we had a huge luggage (what's new right? You travel with kids and half the bag is filled with diapers LOL) that we had to bring into the villa!

Thankfully, the very helpful staff helped us with our luggages while we handled one kiddo each to make sure that none of us fall from the uneven and steep steps.

When I got into the villa, I realised even more things:

One side of the wall is actually open to outside! You see all these wooden structures? Well, they are just the way they are. Behind these structures are just blinds and when you pull them up, anything and everything comes in - rainwater, creepy crawlies, insects, lizards... you are basically open to the elements outside.

With that, you should expect that the villa would have ants and quite a bit of mosquitoes will come in at night.

Security wise, I would say that these wooden structures don't really provide much security?  I think I could karate-chop a couple of these wooden beams at one go and I would be able to enter the villa without much problem. This was also why all of us slept with our bedroom doors locked, and my over-reacting mind was conceiving all sorts of attack plans, should a robber were to come in. Seriously.

Empty gaps at the side of the stairs
This wouldn't be much of an issue if you have kids who are much older, but with Dylan and Alexis in tow, I was terrified that they will fall through the gap at the side of the stairs! What kind of design is this anyway? Wouldn't it be more straight-forward to just flush the damn stairs to the wall?

After I got over the initial shock and fully assessed the safety level of the villa, we finally settled down and brought the kids for their first dip in our attached infinity pool. The pool is great for adults and older children, but is too deep for younger kids below 7. So if you're a parent, here's another thing to freak out over: that your child may wonder to the pool without supervision.

We kept the doors closed and locked whenever we are not outside and throughout the entire holiday, we made sure that the kids don't wander out of our sight so that they don't tumble down the stairs / fall in between stairs gaps / fall into the pool / get bitten by bugs.

On a positive note though, the pool water is clean and warm. It also had a great view so I enjoyed a dip or two despite having to constantly ensuring the safety of our kids. 

Plus they really have very beautiful toilet!!!!!

Then when the kids slept, the three of us did absolutely nothing but playing with poker cards LOL. It was very nice! We used to spend a lot of time with my mother-in-law when we were still staying with her, but when we moved out, we only get to see her once a week, and sometimes even lesser.

I was very happy that she could come along with us in this trip, simply to catch up and also to take the chance to bring her around.

Back to the same restaurant for our buffet breakfast the next day. Buffet breakfasts are usually the same damn thing over and over, but I kinda like some of their spreads.. like their baked goods for example. Their madeleines were SO GOOD! They also had freshly made chocolate pancakes that I really like as well.

And they had live bars that made freshly cooked eggs, roti cennai, chicken ball soup () etc. It was a great spread! You gotta look out for those annoying houseflies though. There were so many of them everywhere and I am not even exaggerating LOL.

Took a stroll after a hearty breakfast and took some nice photos with the family!

As you can see I really love putting my hands up and sideways wtf.

All in all, it was somewhat a great holiday. I wouldn't say that it is "relaxing" per se, since you all now know how jittery I get over kids' nap times and my constant fear of them falling over and into things, but it was nice not needing to worry about work for a couple of days and spent them solely on fussing over the kids and talking about nothing important.

So, it's back to work right now as I type! Well, there's always a next holiday and a next destination. Till then!!

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  1. do i spot a baby bump??? congrats Jac!

  2. Montigo Resort is very picturesque and looks good on camera. And it ends there. I was disappointed with the quality of the finishing. There seems to be lots of short cuts or cheaper option used in the development of the resort. Having said that, my kids had a blast at the kids club!

    1. Yes! The kids club was DA BOMB! My kids had a great time there too, but that's about all. :(

  3. The bathroom is really beautiful! Have been hoping to go to Montigo Resort - It looks so lovely and relaxing!

    1. You should! Since your kiddos are much older, you don't have to worry about those little things I freak out over.. LOL!

  4. The room and pool looks nice.. but check in time at 4pm is too late! ItS a little waste of time and it seems more than half a day is gone. Unless there are shopping or activities to occupy the time else it is a pity.


    1. Yah loh.. even the nearest Nagoya is about an hour away and expensive to travel there! They should really look into having a earlier check-in timing. :(

  5. I think Montigo is Wonderful for young kids actually! A wonderland for them more than the adults. I feel the villas are just a 5 star chalet in its quality and design. But the picture we took in the resort all turned out very beautiful.

    The swimming pool, private pool and kids club are awesome! And I think you're just Suay you got that villa la. The one I stayed was very safe, no steep steps like yours too.

    1. Are all the stairs the same? Ours had a gap and it really worries the hell out of me LOL. But yes, all the pictures turn out to be so pretty even though I was using only a phone camera!

  6. Have heard a lot about Montigo too :)
    A pity it did not work out for younger kids.
    The shuttle service and taxis are not cheap, all SGD !

    cheers, Andy

  7. there was a time when i used to be hung up about my kids' naps. your comments brought back memories! honestly when my son stopped napping i was so happy even if it meant less me time. no more wasting time in the room trying to make him sleep when he just didn't want to. kids, they grow up! :) i think my kids would like the kids club at montigo! but not the flies...

    life is in the small things

  8. I always enjoyed reading your posts Jac, you keep it real and very insightful for parents. We've been wanting to visit Montigo since its opening but now I know what to look out for (in terms of safety and security, and those pesky flies!). Yup I agree married couples can quibble over the slightest things! Glad you had a relaxing break nonetheless (and you look good in those Montigo pics la).

  9. The resort looks so fab with kids club, bath tub, nice pool and all. But the safety issues you highlight make it sound so scary. Okok, KIV for when my kids are older!

  10. Hehe, I was eyeing your IG feed while you were in Montigo Resort. Honestly, I was enticed and our extended family wanted to book a villa for a get together. But the travel by ferry part just deter us. Not fans of smoking passengers and my mum isn't good with choppy rides. LOL!


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