Monthly Archives: May 2014

Travel itinerary and Accommodation

The trip planning commenced as far back as nearly six months ago because it was a trip meant for 10.

It would be 3 families of adults and young children. Young children referred to Z, X and two other babies who were even younger than X.

Some of us redeemed air miles and some took an alternative airline. We arrived over staggered periods due to varying requirements.

The plan was to spend first 3 days outside of Seoul and the next 7 days in Seoul.

Thanks to tripadvisor, we landed on pretty good residence options. We spent the first night at Mount Seorak and opted for a b&b called Casa Seorak. It was ranked #1 on trip advisor. I could see why! It was quaint, pretty, well-kept, spacious and clean. The best part? It was the nice and hot breakfast served to the room.

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The owner was a very nice guy. He was friendly and cheery and had the cutest dogs. I really loved the family room that we got because it was so spacious.

The second night was at Suwon and I picked Orsay Hotel. It was a business hotel, passable and was very clean. I thought it could do better with a proper toilet door and a better designed headboard instead of one that offered a ledge for X to climb. It offered free flow bread and hot beverages at the lobby though.

The last hotel was one which we would spend 7 nights at. It was The Grand Hotel Myeongdong and this hotel ranked amongst the top 3 on tripadvisor. The hotel was along the shopping streets, clean and the rooms were as pictured. We booked the family twin room. Whilst it wasn’t a five star hotel, the room was well-designed. Even the shower’s water pressure was just nice.

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With compliments from the hotel

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I liked this even better than The Plaza which was 5*, way swankier and spacious (and of course more expensive). It just felt like this 4* gem was more comfortable and good enough than a 5* do.

We were also lucky to have a very responsible guide who spoke reasonably well English. In fact, he was more anxious about getting us to as many sights as possible while we took things slow.

His name was Denny and his email contact was denny4yu@naver.com should you like to arrange for a personal tour of Korea. I found his contact off a forum and compared the prices with a few other agencies. I found his rate to be competitive and he was very accommodating with our requirements.

Backdated – flying off for holidays

It was with a stunned revelation that the trip to Korea in May 2014 would mark Z’s 10th overseas holiday.

I took the chance to collate some of the photos he took with the trunki since buying it in UK at 18 months’ old.

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The Holiday Ransom

A mother of Z’s classmate commented that the children at their preschool were generally well-travelled.  This had created a very strong leverage for the parents. I could not deny this.  I used this to our advantage all the time.

The children loved to discuss about holidays in school.  They would get very psyched up when one of them was travelling or if one of them freshly returned to share their tales of foreign adventures.

We had a trip coming up.

Given that this was a scheduled post, we would have long returned from the trip by the time this was published.

Z was so excited about the trip.  However, Z being Z, always had his trying days.  With the holiday, I was able to hold him ransom.  I had a huge bargaining chip in my favour and I used it as often as I could. Ready advantage rocked…

Whenever he ate extremely slow, whenever he refused to cooperate with us, whenever he refused to get out of bed (and more), I would go, “It would seem like you did not wish to go Korea because you had chosen to do XXX, YYY..”  Then he would step and play by our rules.

Trust me, it was awesome to see a whinny tantrum go from full force to zero in split second.  I saved myself many wrinkles too.

Chef Yamashita

If you are a fan of Cake Glacé and Flor, you would know this chef.

He has opened this bakery!
https://www.chefyamashita.com

My friend alerted me last week and it was so near my office that I could not resist not checking it out.

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It tasted awesome and was very reasonably priced. 10% off whole cakes from now till end June too! 😉

The day that X was bitten in school

It happened a month ago.

On the day he was bitten, I brushed the information aside.  I was not going to be a ‘monster parent’ and overreact.  Or so, I thought.

I saw the bite mark.  It was deep enough to break the skin.  I heard that he was bitten by the same child who had bitten other infant-mates previously.  I told Mr H, “Of all children she had to bite, she really should not have bitten X because I would want this issue to be addressed formally, given the precedence.”

As most of my friends knew, I wrote generally well.  However, some of my friends would know better, I wrote letters of complaints very well.  I put together a quick note and emailed to the school with attached evidence the very same night.  I worked fast, I moved fast and it was the same at home.

Frankly speaking, I knew the school had put in efforts to prevent such incidents from happening.  However, preventive measures could only work to a certain extent.  Biting incidents were pretty common in school too, this I understood because toddlers wanted to explore too.  So what could I not accept?  The idea of having a serial biter did not sit very well with me.

I also heard from other affected parents that the parents of the said biter had never apologised personally to them too.  I was really, really surprised.  Later on, I found out that they had been doubtful of such claims too.  That really made me decide to write to the school.

The root of the problem was not because the school failed to put good measures in place.  I told the school director that the problem was with the child’s parents. How could I fault a 17-month old for biting?  Or how could I stress the school too?  What I could not tolerate was the lack of good parenting.  How could anyone take freedom of growing up so liberally and not step in to teach that biting was inherently a wrong act?

Thankfully, the school had worked on this with the biter’s parents on how they could educate the child.

This was an illustration of how poor parenting could lead to social issues and impact other people.  My poor X might have to grow up with a tiny scar on his forearm and it would always remind me on how a person’s poor decision would inconvenience another person.

I hoped X would be the last victim in the biter’s book.

‘Monster Parents’

I went away with my curiousity piqued after reading this commentary.  To a fair extent, I would agree on reinstating corporal punishment but to ensure that the teachers did not abuse the system, there had to be transparency on how corporal punishment had to be used as a last resort.

From there, I picked up this term ‘Monster Parents’.  This was coined by the Japanese media in March 2010.  Well, at that time, I was only a new mom to a 3-month old, I doubted I would have paid much attention then.

I believed most parents were overprotective parents which created a lot of stress for competent educators.  Every child was special in their parents’ eyes.  However, in the eyes of the teachers, every child had to be treated fairly.  Every parent liked to think that there was something so special with their child that they ought to be treated with care, like a VIP.  This would create a gap between reality and expectation.

For parents who went away feeling that their children were the VIP in schools, either the child was truly exceptional or the school was really good with customer experience, ensuring positive customer experience at every touch point.  If it was the latter, I would truly wonder how the teachers could muster the time to do so.  They had to be really good at marketing to do so, and as I mentioned a few entries ago, to understand if something was being marketed, one would had to read between the lines.

Frankly, as a parent of 2 myself, I would urge all parents to stop putting your children on a pedestals, to stop giving in to unreasonable demands and to manage their expectations what being a normal person would be like.  Otherwise, you might end up with very unrealistic princely or princess-like beings on your hands.  Once you had moulded such expectations from their tender years to maturity, how would you expect to pull them back to earth?

Yes, we should encourage them to dream but it should not be at the expense of bringing up little tyrants.  In doing so, we would become monster parents.  If we were to let loose an uncontrolled young individual on the streets without proper values or the lack of EQ to coexist with other beings, I would think we had failed in parenting.

In the years before I became a mom myself, I always shuddered at the thought and sight of ill-behaved kids running amok.  Today, I still carried the same opinion and perhaps what would impress most people, including Z’s teachers, was how we trained Z to be respectful, to be polite and to be well-behaved when the situation called for it.  It was not a fluke or by virtue of Z’s character to be well-behaved.  Parenting was a continuous journey and we had to evolve our talk constantly as he grew older too. For record’s sake, he was not always on perfect behavior too but good enough for us to accept, and for others to commend.

Being a great parent was not about being able to buy all the fishes in the world for your child, but to be able to teach them how to fish and fish it well, regardless of where they might be.

X says

A week shy of 16 months’ old, X had been able to say bird, ball, mama, mummy, papa, bao bao (hug), bao (full), tiah tiah (a really off-tangent attempt to articulate kor kor), mum mum (food), loud shrieks to indicate excitement, loud screams to get attention and grunts to show his displeasure.

The boys were able to play very well together. Z took the initiative to play in X’s room and we could hear constant laughters from both boys.

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Somehow, X had removed his pants midway. When I carried X out of the cot, I laid him on the floor to wear the pants. He was about to wriggle away when I told him that Z would be putting on the pants for him. X actually stayed motionless for Z to help him.

It was really cute and comical.