Saturday, July 13, 2019

2019 Home-coming Trip

After a crappy, soul-sucking first half of the year at work, I was glad to finally take some time off to travel home. This year, I planned for two home trips, one in June and another in September. Since I'll only be in Malaysia for a week for the September trip, I decided to book a separate trip in June to spend more time with the family and celebrate grandma's 90th birthday.

When I booked my flights for both trips back in January, I obviously had no idea that dad would have a 2nd stroke in April. I thought about changing my trip to travel back earlier but after discussing with the family, we decided to keep my original travel dates. Fortunately I didn't plan any other side trips for this home trip, and was able to spend the entire 2.5 weeks at home to help and spend time with the family. I'm also thankful to my bosses and co-workers for respecting my time-off and filled in for me while I was away.

Here are some a lot of photos from this home trip:

2 check-in bags...mostly filled with stuffs for families and friends.

June 18 (Tues): 36-hours journey home...Huntsville - Chicago - Taipei - KL - Penang

Quick stop at the United Club lounge (Gate F8) in ORD airport.

Traveled with Eva Air for the ORD-TPE-KL legs and was surprised that both flights were 100% full. =.= Watched quite a few movies during the 15-hour flight.

Arrived Taipei Taoyuan airport at 4am for a 5-hour transit.

TPE airport is actually a great airport for long transits, especially for those who doesn't have lounge access. Free (and clean) shower rooms that operate 24 hours, first come first serve. They have a limit of 15 min but since I was there early and there weren't anybody else waiting, I was able to take my own sweet time for a refreshing hot shower. Each shower rooms have shampoo and body gel, and hair dryer. I was well-prepared and brought my own toiletries, towel, and flip flops in my carry on. =P

Nice lounging area (and sofas for people to sleep on).

I was bummed that I didn't get on a Hello Kitty flight (misread the schedule and booked the flight one day earlier) but turned out to be a blessing in disguise because Eva Air's flight attendants went on a 17-day strike starting 4pm on June 20 (my TPE-KL flight landed 2.15pm on June 20), which resulted in a number of flights being cancelled. 

Flew on Airasia for the last leg from KL to Penang. Bought 20kg baggage and the actual weight came in at 19.9kg, giving myself a pat on the back for my packing skill...haha!! 

It was difficult to organize all the photos I took for the next 2.5 weeks chronologically so here's a summary of what I was up to:

Spent time with the kiddos

First task after getting home was to assemble these rockers I brought back for the twins, looks like they were satisfied with it...haha! Another main reason for this trip was to meet these cute lil' munchkins for the first time since they were born on January 30. 

Took photos of the kiddos...

...too many photos.

Guess who bought these outfits for them? =P

Portrait photos of 'hong soh' girl with the grandparents

More photos of the kiddos and family.

Finally some photos of me and the kiddos =P

Chauffeured the kiddos around to 'gai gai'.

Spent time with the parents

Ate out with the parents and drove dad to physiotherapy, acupuncture, and massage.

Uncertified physiotherapist for dad

Spent time with grandma and grandaunt

Brought grandma and grandaunt all around the island for food.

June 27 (Thurs): Staycation with grandma and grandaunt at DoubleTree Penang 

Thanks to the hotel for the hospitality and suite upgrade!

Hilton Diamond benefit...complimentary snacks and drinks at the evening cocktail hour.

Another Hilton Diamond benefit...complimentary buffet breakfast. Lots of variety!

Made grandma and grandaunt take photos with the DoubleTree cookie mascot...haha! =P

Bro brought the parents and his daughter to play at the kiddo pool area but looks like lil' Li Anne didn't like it...whoops!

Glad to have the have the family over at the hotel before checking out.

Not a bad deal for 10,000 Hilton points. =)

Celebrated grandma's 90th birthday

One of the main reasons to travel home in June was to celebrate grandma's 90th birthday (in advance).

Happy Birthday Ah Ma!!

The family is growing!

Kiddos and their great-grandma.

Sumptuous feast

Caught up with friends and relatives

Hangout with ex-colleagues. Thanks XinYi for cooking and having us over at your crib!

3rd aunt came by the house to visit dad. Met up with high school junior and his husband at Penang airport before they hopped on their flight to go back to UK.

Eat, eat, eat!

Fixed my cravings for Penang food =)

July 6 (Sat): Time to say goodbye. See ya again in 2 months!

40 hours journey home...PEN - KUL - TPE - SFO - ORD - HSV

I've had sh*t luck with work this year, but surprisingly my luck in other aspects have been better. I was lucky to not be affected by the Eva Air strike. Of all the TPE-SFO flights during the strike, my flight was the only one that was not cancelled.

The strike impacted the flight meals slightly (no options given) but it's not bad at all.

Last but not least, a breakdown of the total flight cost for this trip:

Monday, May 27, 2019

Spring 2019 - Life's Throwing Lemons 2.0

It has been almost 6 months since we returned from Fiji & New Zealand and I'm glad to finally have time to complete all the trip reports and edit all the videos, clearing out my blog backlogs...very productive Memorial Day Weekend. =)

As mentioned in my Winter 2018 update, this work busy season has been one of the sh*ttiest one I've had, and just as I thought things were starting to slow down in April, we were thrown with more crap to deal with through May, which resulted in more long hours, working through weekends, and a whole lot of stress. When it rains, it pours, it floods..ugh!! Unfortunately, this work crap is not over yet, more 'fun' to come. 

Oh well, work never ends so let me take a break and spend time in my happy place (blogs). Here's a quick recap of my all-work-no-play life over the last 2.5 months.

Apr 21 (Sun): Easter weekend with the family. Thanks BIL & SIL for hosting!

Home-ownership 'fun' maintenance. Replaced our toilets, replaced the dryer vent, bought a blower to clean the gutters, and mulched.

Spent a good number of nights in hotels.

Drove several Toyota and Jeep.

Had countless meals in front of the laptop...working.

Ate-out much lesser than eating in.

My attempt to work-out consistently didn't quite work out. =P

However, one thing I managed to stay consistent through was Sunday meal-prepping. =)

Mar 10 & 17 (Sun): Roasted chickn, stir-fry veggies, stir-fry pork, chicken herbal soup, chicken noddle soup.

Mar 24 & 31 (Sun): Meatball, stir-fry veggies, pasta, mushroom egg roll, stir-fry pork, chicken noddle soup.

Apr 7 & 14 (Sun): Stir-fry potatoes, stir-fry veggies, tomyum mussel noodle soup, egg sandwich, bakuteh soup with chicken and shiitake mushroom, mushroom egg roll, beef & potato stew.

Apr 21 & 28 (Sun): Sausage, fried rice with spam and green beans, pasta, roast chicken, egg sandwich.

May 5 & 12 (Sun): Chicken herbal soup, stir-fry veggies, stir-fry pork, pasta, sausage, scrambled egg.

Beautiful spring days.

April was a tough month for the family as well. Received a message from bros on a Sunday evening that dad was admitted to the hospital because of stroke...his 2nd stroke after the last one in 2010. Another hemorrhage on the other side of the brain and he ended up being in the High-Dependency Unit (HDU) for a week. The stroke was in the thalamus, and impacted his movement, balance, speech, cognitive, and memory. =( The last stroke impacted his mobility on the left side, and while he has recovered enough to be able to walk and relied a lot on his right side, this stroke impacted his right side...a double whammy for sure. I thought about traveling back to help but since I've already booked my home trip for June, bros agreed that it made sense to wait till then, and to hire a helper to help mom at the meantime. 

The road to recovery is going to be tougher than the last one but we've gotta stay optimistic, be patient, and motivate dad to help him on his path to recovery.

These lil' munchkins are gonna be his cheerleaders.

Before (left) and after (right) the stroke.

Quote to share: "Life is not about how hard you can hit. Life is about how much you can get hit and keep moving forward!"