Monday, September 12, 2016

{Family Trip} Club Med Cherating, absolutely in love!


Big guy and I last went to Club Med Cherating and Club Med Bintan many years back as a couple (like 10 years ago?!), and finally we came back again; but this time, as a family of 4. The kiddos and us absolutely loved it here, so much so that we lingered on after we have checked out just to immerse in the lively beat of this Mediterranean village. 






So, what have we done in our short 3D2N trip at the Cherating Club Med? Let me give a quick summary.. 

For the teenages & adults:
• Archery - aim for that bull's eye!
• Trapeze - feel the thrill in the mid air! 
• Outdoor rock climbing - scary but exciting at the same time
• Kayaking - let's battle the wave!
• Sailing - on a catamaran by trained instructor
• Aqua gym / water polo at the main pool
• Aqua yoga at the zen pool (I missed that >.<)
• or just simply relax at the beautiful Cherating beach 

We started the morning with rock climbing. Pierre and Dodo were really helpful and encouraging. I would not be able to complete both routes without their guidance. (Honestly, I nearly gave up half way up but they pushed me to go forward.)

Yeah, completed my first outdoor climbing challenge! 

Didi, me, Pierre and Big guy.

We then headed towards the other side of the beach for some water sports. Thank God it's a cloudy day so it's not too hot.

My first ever experience with kayaking. I was scared of the wave but so glad we did it! 

Next, sailing on the catamaran with a GO. If you are professionally trained you may opt to sail solo too. (definitely not us, hehe). 


Archery... Did it 2 days in a row. GOs at the archery range, Fabrise and another Scotish guy (sorry but forgotten his name) were mingling and joking with us instead of just giving boring instruction. 



I did not managed to capture any photo of myself at the trapeze as big guy decided to take a dip at the pool instead of joining me. I did few rounds under the guidance of the circus team, would have continued with the next level challenge if not because of the sudden rain. :-(

It was fun and thrilling at the same time, but if you are already at the resort, you really ought to give it a try. I did it during our last trip, and glad I am still agile enough to do the same stunt again! :P


What about Activities for the kids? This is one question I get asked a lot, in fact as a 4 trident club med, Cherating village have lots to offer the little ones.

Depending on the age of your little ones, you can check them into Baby Club (4mo-2yo, additional charges applies), Petite Club (2-3yo), Mini Club (4-11yo), Passworld club (12-17yo). 

Since E and C are of similar age range, we signed them up with the Mini Club and they were taken care of by some well-trained GOs from 8:30am to 4:45pm. If you would like to, between 6:45-8pm you can leave the kiddos for the special performance, then continue from 8pm-12pm for pajama party if you feel like hanging out at the bar at night. It's truly a family friendly club. But frankly, by 9pm the kids probably zonked out already, like ours! :D

Club Med Cherating have a full range of activities for the little ones, among those that the duo participated in the span of 2 days include:
• bouncing ball / balancing sports
• archery - for 6yo onwards
• trapeze - for 4yo onwards 
• Aqua game - swimsuit is a must
• Treasure hunt 
• dance / water park / circus play
• football games
• petite chef - the kiddos missed this as we arrived late on first day due to heavy traffic.

Just see them in action..

Both of them absolutely loved the "flying" experience with trapeze.. 


Balancing is among other sports available (under supervision of the GO) 

Their favorite GO - Chick (or popularly known as Chicken) from Senegal. All the kids just love him!

E's favorite - archery. He was so excited to have finally hit a shot in the blue zone.

Some other activities that we've missed due to clash of schedule:
• tree top challenge
• Pilates, sunrise / sunset yoga
• power walk / jungle walk


What make us LOOOOVE our stay at Club Med so much?

• while the resort offers nice ambience and beautiful view, the GOs, the super friendly Gentle Officers who are trained to manage all activities and take care of the guests with a smile, are the true gems that make a whole lot of difference. We were lucky to have the very passionate GO team which really elevated the experience in the village. From the Circus crews (James, Susan, Kevin, Tammy), to the Mini Club crews (Chick, Tylah, Ai, Owen), the Sports crews (Pierre, Dodo, Fabries) and others who would just walk around and check on all guests as and when they walked pass (such as the cheerful Kiwi, Sparkles who welcomed us upon arrival at the village), including the Chief Village, Clayton. They truly made us feel like VIPs.

Generous free flow of food & drink. There are 3 restaurants and 2 bars that operate from breakfast, lunch, late lunch, tea time to dinner; you would never feel hungry nor thirsty. Drinks at the bars are mostly free of charge unless you want some premium liquor, otherwise you can really just eat & drink till you drop, which we did! :-))

• Parents get to enjoy to the fullest as kids are managed by trained crews. Seriously I don't know how they manage all the super hype kids, but (almost) everyone were cheering and laughing most of the time. They were really careful and professional with the kiddos, there were few GOs assigned to each group and they kept close eyes on them, did headcount at every check point and gave encouragement to all of them during the activities. Provide kids friendly food (they asked for allergic background during registration) and ensure they are properly dressed (yes, including changing for them) for various activities. 

Our duo came back feeling like champions, kept telling us about their fantastic experience.

• Despite the village is rather dated (it was the first Asia Club Med built back in 1976!), it is very well maintained and absolutely love the greenish landscape and how they respect the nature - the train that commute every half-hourly between main village to the Pantai Beach (where the Rambulan restaurant and water sport activities are hosted) are operatored on bio-diesel energy, and they do not offer jets ski nor motorboat activities at the beach - pollution is really keep to the minimum, that probably explains why the beach & water is so clean and clear.

Magnificent view of cherating beach on a windy afternoon.

Zen pool at Pantai Beach, it's reserved for 18yo and above only and where the young gals hang out ;) we were informed that if you are lucky, you may see one or more sea turtles that comes to the shore at night.

The main pool where most activities take place.

The rooms are nested among the greens.

The train that was always busy ferrying guests.

• the food... Club Med offered a wide variety of Japanese, Korean, local, Cantonese, Indian, Italian and American cuisine; on top of that there's a wide selection of salad, dessert and bread selection ("only" 5 flavor of ice creams thou, without my favorite green tea flavor :). I'm quite a light eater compared to other guests who really have plateful of bacons / steaks / pasta / pizzas... but there is certainly something that fits everyone. 

I was about to dig into my kimchi ramen & octopus salad.. but let's take a picture first. Lol. 

We practically drank wine, beer and cocktail everyday without any additional charge. Yup, including my favorite margarita.. ;-)

Chilling out at the main bar.. For non-alcohol drinker, fret not, they do serve fruit punch and juices, or just help yourself to a glass of ice water.

Despite the eateries were always packed with people, we hardly noticed any rubbish or flies around. They cleaned up real quick and were always attentive to request. Really got to love the passion & dedication..
  
2 nights in a row we were entertained by the talented GOs at night. Seriously it's not easy to be a GO at all, it's definitely more than just drinking and dining with the GM (gentle members, which refers to the guests). Plus, one has to be pretty good looking (or most of them we met are :)





So, conclusion?
All in all, we really enjoyed ourselves to the max at the village. Despite some friends still feel that it's an expensive / luxury vacation, for the fact that it is all-inclusive (except spa, premium liquor) and we get to try out on full range of activities under supervision of the trained crews (not to forget full day daycare for the kiddos!), so we both think it's totally worth it.  

Just some quick tips, if you do plan to visit the club..

• Bring along your sunblock, mosquito repellent, sunglasses and hat. It can be really hot during the day time. As seen in the pic below, my essential emergency kit for the family.

• Bring 2 sets of swim suits as you probably wear it daily. You can dry it in the room's balcony or ask for laundry service.

• bring a small waterproof backpack with you, just bring along a pair of slipper & swimsuit while you wear your sports attire, this way you don't have to keep going back to the room (quite a walking distance depending on which resort you stay in)

• if you are traveling with young babies, they do have a baby room next to the main restaurant / reception area (double entrance), the room is equipped with a milk warmer and fridge if I'm not mistaken. You may call to confirm before your trip. However, worth to note the the restaurant serves plain porridge, plain yogurt / muesli and fresh fruits daily, so it's quite easy to settle the toddler's meal if you ask me.

• you can ask for excursion trip at the counter (comes with a fee). The turtle conservatory Centre is located right next to Club Med's entrance, you can request to release a turtle at the Pantai Beach (for a fee, of course, and if the season is right), or request for arrangement of other activities if you like (such as firefly watching trip, river cruising, lake Chini visit etc)

• last but not least, do take note that the village only opens for 9 months (or so) in a year as it's usually closed for monsoon season, so do check out their website and plan your trip wisely.

That's all folks, thanks for stopping by and reading till the end of this long-winded write up..

Feel free to post a question or 2, I will try my best to reply (while I think about which village should we visit next) ! ;-)


Cheers,
PH




Copyrights © Pui Hua and Fun With Little Ones, 2012 - present. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of any materials/photos within this website without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Pui Hua and Fun With Little Ones with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Are Your Little Ones Wearing the Right Footwear?


Flat feet, pronated feet.. 扁平足,内弯腿You probably have heard of these terms, or not, but think they have nothing related to you or your little ones? Just don't be too sure, these conditions quite common yet many of us may have omitted.

Recently I noticed something unusual in E's and C's posture. When E stands on both feet, the arch of his feet is not quite visible while for C, her feet tend to collapse inward when she stands (instead of firm on the ground)

So we took the duo for foot diagnostic.. Initially at a temporary setup by MyOrtho at Desa Park City (coincidentally they had a promotional booth there) and subsequently to Foot Solutions located at the Curve.
 
Foot Solution is equipped with a machine that can detect the contour of the feet during resting (relaxed without pressure) or standing position. Hence allowing accurate assessment of the feet's condition - whether is low arch (flat feet), medium arch (normal feet) or perhaps, over arch (discover this is also an abnormal condition during my own reading).

This picture better explains better:
Photo Source: www.feetgenius.com

E getting his feet diagnosed on the machine.


The foot contour was reflected on the screen while the staff explained what each of the color means..


The diagnostic confirmed that E indeed has flat feet condition, but the good news is that it can be corrected with the right shoe insoles with arch support. We decided to get him a pair of insoles which he can wear daily to correct his posture and improve the arch overtime. 

Choosing a right size insoles - this can be added into existing pair of shoes to create better arch support.

Various choices available.

We are advised to let E wear the insoles for 1 hour on the first day, and slowly increase by 1 hour each day until he finally gets used to it. It does feel quite uncomfortable wearing it at first so need sometime to get used to. 
 
As for myself, which I too have a condition of pronated feet, I decided to get a pair of proper running shoes with arch support since I have plans to participate in more marathon runs. There are few recommended brands that design shoes for people with flat feet conditions - Brooks, New Balance and Sketcher (there are a lot of other brands available but these are commonly available in KL). I got myself a pair of Brooks Transcend after visiting the store and tested out all the arch support sport shoes. ;-)

My handsome aids..

Is it really necessary to treat flat feet condition?
From what I've read, it is not a must to treat it since it is non threatening. However there are some problems associated to flat feet or over-pronated feet:

• experience pain in feet, ankles, knees, lower legs, hips. 
• shoes wear out faster due to the inappropriate distribution of pressure and prone to injuries.
• gets tired faster

You may read on more yourself (links provided below), or seek consultation from orthopedics. I'm just purely sharing from the point of a consumer :)

One of the advise shared with us, on how we could prevent false flat feet for toddlers is to avoid wearing slippers for long hours. They are light by design, but do not provide adequate support for the arch. 

So for your young kids, let them wear proper shoes - sports shoes, walking shoes... those with proper support. 

That's all peeps, I'm just glad that we detected it earlier in my duo and their conditions can definitely be corrected. As for myself, since I'm determined to continue my running routine, getting a right pair of sports shoes will certainly help!

Keep calm and run on!

Xoxo,
PH


Useful link:
Flat feet explained
http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/flatfeet/Pages/Introduction.aspx

Selecting the right foot wear
http://www.runnersworld.com/shoe-guide/runners-world-2016-spring-shoe-guide/slide/3

Exercise for flatfoot / fallen arched

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

{Gardening Journal} All about... Planting Tomatoes!


Finally, my very first post of my gardening journal - sharing my experience on planting tomatoes in tropical weather. I used to think its impossible for the plant to survive low land as I've only seen it being planted in Cameron Highlands, but decided to give it a try when I came across some seeds from the nursery.

I'm glad I did as it was really satisfying to watch the plant bear fruits and transformed from pale green to bright red. It's such a pretty sight! 

However, the biggest reward from homegrown tomatoes (apart from the harvest) is that my elder, who used to dislike tomatoes, wanted to try out the tomatoes and decided he actually likes them. So now cherry tomato is one of his favorite snacks in the lunchbox. *success!*



First round harvest, weighing a total of 75gm.

Second round harvest, this time the yield was a total of 175gm!



Disclaimer..
Please take note that I am not a seasoned gardener, in fact you may call me amatuer as I only started planting about 9 months back & only have time to care for my garden in the weekends. I've been learning through numerous trial and failure, info exchange from the Malaysian Gardeners groups and new gardening friends that I've met along the journey. I hope this post would be useful for whoever new to planting tomatoes like me.. but please do share your suggestion if there are any better methods. 🙂 


Growing Tomatoes Must-Know
 
Germinating  
• Typically tomatoes should take about 90 days from seedling to harvest, but it took about 3.5 months for mine to grow up to the height of 4ft tall before they started flowering, and subsequently grew to about 5ft tall. 

• I grew my plant from seeds (you could germinate using the store bought tomatoes too) and they took about 3-4 days to germinate and  another 6-8 weeks for the seedling to grow to a stable size of about 1ft tall. Until that, best to keep the seedling in a sheltered area.


Planting Condition
• Avoid overcrowding the plants, you should need a deep pot (mine is about 8" deep) and keep the plants about 2m apart from each other. In my case, I had 2 seedlings in the same round pot and one is obviously overshadowed by the stronger one. It does bear fruits but much lesser. So ideally, I would suggest limit to 1 plant per pot.

• Tomatoes love sun and I notice my plants reached optimum growth when placed them under full sun with daily water (sprout upward really fast). Get ready trellis to provide the support for the stem and branches before they break.

• I used 6-in-1 organic soil with added perlite and risk husk to improve the drainage. No other special "ingredeints" except periodic fertilizer. 

Fertilizing 
• I fertilize my tomatoes weekly with non-chemical fertilizer and organic kitchen waste - rotating between organic fertilizer, crushed egg shells, fish amino acids (FAA- a type of homemade fish emulsions which I bought from a local gardener), Epsom salt and banana peels. Read on more to find out why I fed kitchen waste to my plant and what are the benefits. :)

• I noticed some leaves turn yellow during fruiting, it's probably due to the nutritions are channeled to produce fruits hence there won't be enough to supply to the whole plant. I just trim off the brown leaves once a week and add them to the top of the soil as mulching.
 
Pollination
• I pollinated my plant by hand using cotton bud to exchange the pollen, and slightly shake the plant as suggested by other fellow gardeners. I left it to pollinate naturally at first without any luck (despite my garden is frequently patron by bees and butterflies), hence I decided to intervene and the success rate was 100%!

Note: I hand pollinated my pumpkin and eggplant too.


Fruiting & Harvesting 
• Once the flower is pollinated, the babies stay green on vine for about 3 weeks, I continued to fertilize weekly and they started turning red - which takes another 1 week time to be completely red.

• I was advised to cover the tomatoes with plastic bags to prevent fruit flies, but the tomatoes were alright despite I left them in the open.

• How to know its time to harvest? The fruit is all red (unless yours is non-red variety) and has a shiny outer layer. Cut with a scissors instead of plucking to preserve the freshness. We did the wrong way as my kiddos could not wait for me to fetch the scissors...




Important Tips 
Tips you ought to know if you are seriously considering to grow tomatoes... 

• With our unpredictable tropical weather, I would suggest avoid placing the plant in the open as excessive rain water could cause the tomatoes to crack open. I kept my plant in pot, indoor but under full sun. I find that this is an ideal condition for tomatoes to grow. This keeps it away from the snails too.

Companion planting with marigold helps to deter pest like white flies and mealy bugs. However it does not works for pests like spider mites and leaf miner, so would still have to check the plant frequently and combat with sprays - I don't use any commercial pesticides as that defeat the purpose of homegrown. Instead I made my own spray and a special herbal pesticide purchased from a friend. Read on more about the homemade spray..
 
Banana peels are good source of potassium. Just cut them into small chunks and burry next to the plant. Indeed I feed that frequently to all my edibles and roses too. Absolutely free and reduce wastage too.

Eggshells is a rich source of calcium, which is essential for the growth of a healthy tomato plant. You may grind the dried egg shells into powdery form for better absorption, but the lazy me just crushed the shells with the edge of a bottle and buried them directly into the soil. 

Epsom salt is a good source of magnesium and can be easily obtained from pharmacy (ask for medicine grade) for about RM5.90 - RM8.90 a pack. From my research, Magnesium is important to promote healthy growth of the tomato plant and it also improves sweetness of the fruits, so I make it a practice to sprinkle some Epsom salt to my tomatoes and chills periodically.

Note: Epson Salt is NOT normal kitchen salt, don't offer the wrong salt! ;-) 


• Homemade Chili Spray 
This is the homemade spray I have been making to protect my plants, my garden was once under heavy infestation of white flies and mealy bugs, but I finally managed to battle them off. 

This is what you need for homemade spray:
- 4 clove crushed garlic
- 4 dried chilies (cut) 
- 2 puff dish washing liquid 
- mix with 350ml water 
- Filter and add into spray bottle

Spray directly onto the leaves (top & reverse of leaf) in the morning or evening but avoid using under hot sun. I used the spray for 3 consecutive days when pests are spotted, it works really well for me. However, avoid using it on fragile plants with tiny leaf as it's quite a spicy spray.

Warning: REMEMBER not to touch your eyes after mixing the spray, it burns!


The Harvest and the Progress 
First harvest was the sweetest, these baby tomatoes weigh a total of 75g, almost equivalent to the weight of an M size egg each! (The double blue pea flowers are one of my favorite plants that gives me frequent harvest, but that shall be sharing for another day)


Tomatoes on vine. My love 💕

A week before the harvest.

3 weeks before harvesting.


The full tree - about 4-5ft tall and supported by few trellis. It would be ideal to provide support on the top instead.


The flowers, which i hand pollinated using cotton bud to transfer the pollen from one flower to anther. 


The seedling at 3 weeks old. 


That's it folks, hope you find this useful. I welcome any tips as it is really fun to watch the plant grow and stay fruitful. 

Happy gardening!


Xoxo
PH



Copyrights © Pui Hua and Fun With Little Ones, 2012 - present. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of any materials/photos within this website without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Pui Hua and Fun With Little Ones with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.