Saturday, May 26, 2007

How Do You Treat Your Maid - Part 2

Not long, a second maid came through the recommendation of my landlord. I cannot remember her name but I always remembered her smile. She's always wearing a smile from day one we met her. I know she's only 17 year of age but they always tell you at least 2 years more. I was told she lived far away (at the mountain area) - about 2 days travel to come to our town. She's the only child and taken care by her grandmonther. Had not worked before and sure enough she doesn't know how to cook/clean. Perhaps I cannot say she doesn't know how to clean - she doesn't use a mop before or floor detergent. Back in kampong, they sweep floors, maybe mop only on occassion. We must not assummed that those maids from "kampong" knows how to operate modern household appliances. An eye-opener to me initially having talk to her to understand her background. Her grandmother does very thing for her. So how can I expect to know how to do simple things. But then it didn't bother me because I was interested in giving her training to do things "my way" and not be "manipulated" again as in the first maid's case. Of course, I had to be strong with my words at times because she behaves like a little girl. Actually she's more at home, do what she's like when she had done her work. I don't mind but still need to draw a line somewhere. Once, my husband and I went out in the car but forgot something so we drove back. We heard loud music from our house. She had tuned on the hi-fi and enjoying the music. I've to tell her she can listen to the stereo but had to keep the music down so as not to irritate neighbours. We gave her alot of freedom at home and would take her out when we do not cook (usually on weekends) but she always prefer to stay home. She can talk to maids next door but I always remain her not to talk too long as their "ibu" may not like it. Do you know that even in Indonesia, maids at almost every household, the employer also practise what some Singaporean employer does. Cannot go out, cannot talk to other maids... I think the problem here is that Singapore employers are afraid their maids will learn "bad things" from other maids as well as comparing salary, off-days.... Sure we are worried but they do need some socialization besides the employers family. If she is treated well I don't see problems. Also very important, like this 2nd maid of mine, she's a true kampong girl and is not afraid of anything, you've to have patience to train her and speak to her openly. I always tell her that if she has any problem in understanding what I said, always asked again and clarify. There should not be problem when things are understood. Well, back to track, I left for Singapore again after her arrivial about 3 weeks later. One morning, my husband called me from Indonesia and again the story started with "her grandmother is sick, she needs to go home for a while." This story was often repeated (I was told by the locals), it's a way of wanting to be released from a few days of work to go "home." My husband and I knew that she will not return after she left. I went back to Indonesia the next few days and the maid was told she can only go home when I returned. I arrived home around late morning and she was ready waiting for me. She packed all her belongings (not much) and asked if she could take that new pair of shoes which I bought for her. I told her she should leave it, not having the trouble to bring back again (it's actually a sign to her that she should leave without taking anything from me since she is not coming back again). I gave her our home phone to contact us when her grandmother is well enough for her to return to work (in my heart, I was hopping she would come back as we got along quite well and I didn't want to start training a new maid again). Well she left, and no news for 3 weeks until one fine day, she called to tell me that she is not coming back. At least she had the courtesy to inform us.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Hokkaido's Must Try.

Eiffel Tower of Sapporo

Ice-cream with different snow man expression.

Must try Hokkaido crab!

Salmon BBQ over vegetables.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Away in Japan and Korea

Sorry I was away for holiday in Hokkaido, Japan and Seoul and didn't update the sites for a while. Today, I feel like writing so here it goes.

I was in Hokkaido for about 6 days and 1 day in Seoul. I wasn't really keen initially to visit Japan but since I did not travel overseas last year so I decided to join my regular group for this trip. It was raining and cold in HKDO and we saw small hail about the size of a read bean. When it landed on the ground, it evaporates quickly. This time of the year, it should be spring time but because of the world weather change, it was reported that it's for the first time in 18 years, it still "snow" in HKDO, according to our tour guide. HKDO is quiet and I like the peaceful and serenity. It's clean and you hardly see rubbish bins around (there's reason for it - terrorism) People are really polite. Me and my friends were in a departmental store waiting for another group of friends who went upstairs looking for man's clothings so we sat on a bench next to a lift. As there isn't enough seat, a male staff bought a chair for us. This is how courteous and helpful Japanese are. Never come across such service in any country at all. I fall in love with Japan now and next destination would be to Tokyo. HKDO does not have many historial sites so this trip is just eating and shopping for makan (tit-bits). We thought we could see the sakura but again weather changes, the flower will be in bloom a week after we left. I returned from the trip on 2nd May. Saw some lavendar in the greenhouse. If you want to see it covering hills and hills away, visit is around July. Just like the tulip in Holland, you will like the view and smell. Things are expensive in HKDO, a simple meal would cost you abt 1,000 yen and that is approximately S$12.90 We bought small portion of makan from stall and tried it and mostly it's seafood. Chocolate seems to the favourites amongst the Japanese as wherever you go, you see chocolates boutiques. I found Royce at abt half the price compared to Singapore so I bought quite a fair bit. Me and my husband loves chocolates and that's all I bought for this Japan trip. Tit-bits are also price around 1,000yen, no particular souvenir to buy except lavendar products (skin/body care). Not even keychains because is usually the japanese cartoon characters. Japan trip cost me extra 2 kg of body weight. Now have to watch my diet. Seafood is abundant and must try their crabs. It's eaten cold and it's good. I tried the raw scallop and it's no difference from cooked. The small melon, cost S$7 but it sweet eventhough the meat is not really red in color. It's worth to buy and try the local food so you know how good japanese food are.