Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Psych of Parenting 1: Influence of Parenting on Child Development

This is something that I've always wanted to do but have not because, well, it reminds me of work and I don't want my hobby to feel like work! However, I've been getting a lot of requests to write more about psychology so here we are.

In order to make it more fun for me and easier to understand for you, I'm going to do it with infographics! =)

The first post in this series looks at the effects that parenting have on child development. Much as we hate to admit it, much of our kids' lives are not in our control. The thing we can try to at least have some amount of control is our parenting. We can attempt to be better parents for our kids (noticed I said "better" and not "perfect").

Depending on the age of the child, the influence of parenting will vary. For example, pre-school children tend to be more affected by parenting practices as compared to school-going children, who will be largely influenced by peers and other factors.
To put it simply:
1) Talk to them, all the time
2) Be the person you want them to be
3) Tell them stories about their heritage

Of course, this does not discount the fact that a large part of the influence could also be due to genetics but I'm not going to go there because there has always been a big debate about that and no one has an answer. I'd rather focus on what can be changed because unfortunately, we can't really change our genes.

Which is why I've decided to put together this series and with the help of my fellow psychologists (thanks guys!), we're going to bring you various insights to your questions such as "How do I know that my son has autism?", "How do I help my teenager cope with stress?" and more!

If you have questions that you would like to get answers to, please do leave them in the comments and I will try to get answers to them for you (no promises though because we are not omniscient! *laughs*).

This series will be coming to you at least once a month so stay tuned! =)

This post is part of my Infographic Series on the Psychology of Parenting.
Follow me as I attempt to make psychological research more understandable =)

Friday, February 20, 2015

Phuket Day 2: Elephant Riding & Bamboo Rafting Day Tour

We booked the Khao Lak Adventure Day Tour package for all of us so that we could enjoy some interesting activities that we had never done before. It costs us 1200 baht per adult but we managed to negotiate for 1 child free because we had 4 adults.

Breakfast at Alfresco Hotel only started at 7am so it was a mad rush to eat our meal before the bus arrived at 7.30am. To make matters worse, just before we left, we were told by the hotel reception that we had to quickly pack up our things because the hotel staff had to switch our rooms while we were gone (they were running on full capacity and therefore needed the rooms for other guests). Now why can't they say so earlier?!?!? *grrr*

We had to rush to our rooms and pack frantically while the driver waited very impatiently! This was not a good start at all!! After we had boarded the minibus, it continued to pick up more passengers from various hotels. Took us quite a while before we were finally heading to our first destination.

I thought I could finally relax but it was not to be because the road was extremely bumpy and the driver drove like a racecar driver as we were way behind schedule. Added to the extreme heat of the sun beating down on us and the lack of air conditioning in the minibus (not sure if the driver was trying to save money or what?!?), my girl got carsick for the first time and VOMITTED all over the seat and my brother-in-law! The hubby and mum-in-law weren't feeling too good either so it was up to me and my brother-in-law to clean up. Obviously the smell was so bad that the minibus had to stop at the side of the road for people on the bus to get off for "fresh air" and for the driver to spray air freshener. And just like that, we became that irritating family that was hindrance to everyone else in the tour group *sigh*.

We changed my girl into her swim suit (just in case she puked again, it was easier to clean up) and switched places such that she was seated in the front row (less bumpy). We also got plastic bags ready and she seemed fine after puking a few more times into the plastic bag *sigh*.

Daddy going to the side of the road to puke but couldn't;
Girl still looking very queasy after the long and winding journey

As we were too busy feeling unwell and cleaning up respectively, we didn't really care for the pineapple plantation that we were brought to for our first stop. They all looked like the kind of plantations we see in Malaysia all the time; nothing special.

Pineapple plantation
Fresh pineapples

Our next stop was the famous Monkey Cave, which we had visited with our friends previously in 2009 after we just got married. Now we are here with our kids! Feels like we went full circle. Brought back a lot of great memories with our friends! =)

Monkey Cave

Its name came from the many monkeys that inhabit the hill surrounding the cave. Although we had seen a lot of them when we were here the last time, this time we only saw one monkey hiding up in the trees. So much so that all the bananas that the tourists bought were useless because there were no monkeys to feed them to. I thought that was extremely strange. Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining; I'm not a fan of monkeys, not at all.

Baby Boy took a nap on the minibus so he was in a good mood
Thai temple

We proceeded to the next destination, a Mini Zoo. I thought it was ironic that my girl was so fascinated by the animals that she saw even though she has been to so many bigger and better zoos before. Perhaps precisely because it was on a smaller scale that she was able to appreciate the animals a lot more.

"Look ma, so many birds!"
Peacock showing off all of his glory
Big fat crocodile
Black gibbons (one lost an arm)
Black bears

We proceeded to the waterfalls next, which was about 30 minutes away but felt like 10 minutes because the driver was driving so fast!

At a small bridge
Halfway up to the waterfalls
There were many, many steps.
May not be suitable for elderly (don't forget to hold on to them)
It was time for Baby Boy's feed so we thought we would quickly feed him while my girl and her daddy tread in the water

The waterfalls were really tiny. It was still a great way to introduce my girl to the great outdoors though (she likes it as much as me, i.e. don't like it! *laughs*).

Next up, elephant riding! My mum-in-law was the most excited as she had never ridden an elephant before! Come to think of it, neither has the rest except for the hubby and I (our first time was during our first trip to Phuket in 2009).

Elephants waiting for their riders
We got to pat this cute little elephant before our ride =)
(Baby Boy slept most of the ride except at the end!)
Helping my girl to get on the elephant
Carrying my sleeping boy, balancing on the seat of the elephant and taking photos at the same time. Multi-tasking at its best! =)

The guide helped us to take a lot of photos and then asked for 200 baht as a tip. We decided to give it to him as he had saved us from buying the hardcopies (which were more expensive).

Walking through the jungle
Our elephant was much smaller than all the others =(

The journey was pretty exciting, with a lot of ups and downs literally! When the elephant was trekking down the hill, we had a hard time keeping our butts in our seats! But it was fun! I really love riding on an elephant. They truly are gentle giants =)

We actually didn't need to buy the hardcopy photos since we already had the soft copies but my mum-in-law liked the hardcopies and bought both at 250 baht each (comes with a cute frame).

Even though the hubby and I have ever fed an elephant before, the in-laws and my girl had not and wanted to give it a try. It cost us 100 baht per bag of bananas to feed the elephants, which we bought. We all had a blast!

She was really scared to feed the elephants at first but after she had done it the first time, she was all excited to do it again and again!
One of the baby elephants even did a small performance for us

On hindsight, I think we spent too much money on tips and photos at the elephant place. Nevertheless, we all got really nice photos and lovely memories of the experience. Definitely will be back again when Baby Boy is 3 or 4 years old :D

We were supposed to go for bamboo rafting before lunch but as we were already late and very hungry, they brought us for lunch first. I've had a lot of tour food and man, this was really good!

Clockwise from left: Guess where the rice is? Under the bowl! Haha;
Not very spicy but super tasty Tom Yum soup;
Fresh and sweet pineapples for dessert (yum!)
Clockwise from top left: Not-spicy-at-all chicken curry (I think meant for tourists' taste);
Fried egg omelette; Sweet and sour chicken;
Super crunchy and springy spring rolls

At first we didn't want to eat too much for fear of vomitting it all out on the trip back but we ended up finishing all the food because it was so good!

We went for Bamboo Rafting after lunch, something the hubby and I had never done before (we had previously done white water rafting). Baby Boy could join us on the ride as well since it was a pretty smooth route and the river was shallow.

Phototaking while waiting for our turn
Boarding our bamboo raft
Our guide pushing a stick in the water to move our raft
(reminds me of our experience with punting in London)
Carrying an umbrella and shielding her 2 precious from the beating hot sun

Just as he didn't enjoy punting in London, Baby Boy did not enjoy the ride on the bamboo raft. I was quite surprised because it was not bumpy at all. My girl, on the other hand, loved it!

The brother-in-law bought a souvenir photo of him and his brother

Our final stop was the Sea Turtle Conservation Center to learn about sea turtles and see them up close!

Sea Turtle Conservation Center
A green turtle, just 3-4 months old! So small and cute!

Not only did we get a chance to see baby sea turtles, we also got to hold one! Very cool!

The hubby was unusually excited to be able to carry a sea turtle
(my girl was very hesitant and refused to even pat its shell)
The brother-in-law and me
The biggest turtle in the conservation center, about 10 years old

Finally, we have finished our tour and were on our way back to our hotels. We were excited to go back to our hotel and have a good rest. Unfortunately, on the way back my girl PUKED AGAIN (you'd think we would have learnt our lesson)! This time, the driver was so mad that he shouted at us and insisted that we pay 500 baht to have the seats cleaned. I was ok to pay because it was only right but I really hated his attitude! He had a super black face from the beginning of the tour, which made me change my mind about giving him a tip. I ignored his outburst, calmly handed the tour guide the money and walked off without even looking back.

When we finally got the rooms that we had originally booked, I thought to myself, "maybe once we got our suites, we can finally stop experiencing so many road bumps!" We were tired, sweaty and smelly and were looking forward to a relaxing bath in the bathtub of our suites.

Alfresco Suite with king-sized bed
Amenities corner
Large size bathroom with bathtub
Heart-shaped swans to welcome us

After our long relaxing baths, we were lazing around the room, thinking that we could finally rest. Of course, that was not the case. I think we were too tired to keep up with a very active baby (my kids tend to be more energetic at night) because next thing we knew, the baby had fallen off the bed and cut his lip on the corner of one of the white side tables!!! (I later found many sharp corners in the room, which was NOT SAFE FOR BABIES at all!).

Photo of the baby on the bed before he cut his lip on the white side table (seen in the top right corner)

As his lip started to bleed a lot, I used a towel (which we ended up having to pay 200 baht for *pfff*) to wipe away the blood and gave him his pacifier to stop him from crying (he was freaking out as well). We were worried that the wound might get infected or that he might need stitches so we rushed him to see a doctor just in case. The nearest doctor was at Patong Hospital, thankfully just 15 minutes away. The doctor checked and said he didn't need stitches, by the grace of God! Thank you Jesus! *whew*

We paid the bill, which cost us only 600 baht (cheaper than the 200 baht/trip taxi to and fro from the hospital in my opinion), collected some antibiotics and panadol and headed back.

To say it was a day of adventure for us is an understatement. I'm just glad that our road bumps were still considered minor hiccups and all of us are well.

We ended the day eating takeout from the seafood restaurant from the day before and hoped that the "curse of the Alfresco Phuket Hotel" will end once we transferred to our next hotel tomorrow *cross fingers*.

Continue to >> Phuket Day 3: U Zenmaya Phuket Resort 
<< Back to Phuket Day 1: Alfresco Phuket Hotel, Patong

P.S: Download our Phuket Itinerary 2015 Printable (PDF to be added when this series has been completed) or visit MADPSYCHMUM TRAVELS for the rest of my posts on Phuket, Thailand and other travel itineraries! =)

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Phuket Day 1: Alfresco Phuket Hotel, Patong

This year we thought it would be fun to celebrate Chinese New Year in a foreign country since there was a long weekend. As our departure was on the first day of Chinese New Year, we knew it would not be easy to flag 2 cabs (and we were right) so we had considered taking the MRT. However after calculating the time needed, we realised we might run the risk of being late and missing our flight!

After much consideration, we decided to book a 7-seater taxi for $70/trip to the airport (2 cabs would have cost us about $50 anyway). It was the best money we ever spent as we could enjoy a leisurely journey to the airport and arrived with more than enough time to spare.

At Changi Airport, the best airport in the world in my opinion (and I have been to a lot of airports)
Japanese Mickey & Minnie in transit
Had plenty of time to pose and take pictures
Group selfie with the hubby's selfie stick

We chose to fly by Silkair because our family are fans of Singapore Airlines. It cost us approximately $340 due to peak Public Holiday period.

Kids playing together just before the flight
Selfies on the plane!

The flight duration was approximately 1 hour 50 minutes, barely enough time for the cabin crew to serve the food and collect them back. We arrived punctually at Phuket International Airport (HKT) at 9.30am, Phuket time (Phuket is 1 hour behind Singapore).

After crossing customs, which was unexpectedly fast, we looked out for our driver who was supposed to pick us up. However, no matter how we looked we couldn't find him. At last we went to the Phuket International Airport Information counter and borrowed their phone to call the hotel, who said that he had already arrived and was waiting for us. I told them to tell him to look for me at the Information counter inside the airport (it's too hard to locate him outside because of the crowd of people).

Told the driver to meet me at this Phuket International Airport Information counter

Finally, after waiting for more than an hour, I spotted our driver holding a card with the hubby's name on it! We headed to the 14-seater minivan, which we had booked from the hotel at 1500 baht.

In our very comfortable airport transfer

We arrived at our first accommodation for the trip, Alfresco Phuket Hotel, after travelling for about 45 minutes. We wanted to splurge on an expensive hotel for the last 3 days of our trip and therefore decided to settle with a cheaper hotel for the first 2 days. Turned out to be a big mistake as we would soon find out.

Alfresco Phuket Hotel
(Address: 162/48-50, 162/58-59 Phung Muang Sai Kor Rd., Phuket, Thailand)
Free shuttle bus from the hotel to Jungceylon & Patong Beach at the above timings
(Do try to take the free shuttle as much as possible as a tuk tuk or cab usually costs 200 baht per trip,
which is too expensive in my opinion)

We had booked the Alfresco Suite (the best room in the hotel) at $69 per room per night but were so disappointed to find out that we were given the ordinary deluxe room! And they didn't even tell us until we went to the room!

Deluxe room

When we went to complain at the reception, they explained that the air conditioning in our suite is spoilt or something. They told us that we had to stay in the smaller room temporarily for one night while they fixed it. I asked for a refund but they were only able to give us a hamper of fruits as compensation! I refused to accept that and insisted that we get compensated with something more useful. I suggested massages and after much deliberation, they finally agreed to pay for foot massages for 4 adults (which we later changed to 2 foot, 1 oil and 1 child because my mum-in-law didn't want to get massages).

Even though we were compensated with massages, it was still a terrible start to our trip. This hotel was immediately blacklisted in my books! =(

By the time we were done with all the hoo-ha, we were famished! We took a long 15-minute walk to Jungceylon, the biggest shopping mall in the area.

Lunch at Black Canyon Coffee cafe

As usual, we stocked up on groceries at the supermarket before heading back to our hotel for our complimentary massages (the massage place is located just across the road).

Hubby, brother-in-law and girl got foot massages while I got an oil massage
(I'm behind the drawn curtains in the background)
It was my girl's first massage and she enjoyed it so much that she fell asleep!

They all said the foot massages were good but I personally found the oil massage to be too soft. After that, we went for a swim in the hotel's pool, which is the hotel's only redeeming quality in my opinion (most of the budget hotels in the area do not have a pool).

Located on the roof of the hotel
(the pool is not wheelchair friendly as the lift stops at the 5th floor and we had to walk up the stairs to the roof)
Decent size pool with poolside lounge chairs
Nice view of the hills in the background
Mum-in-law and my girl
Baby Boy enjoying his swim

My family really enjoys swimming in the pool so it's a must for all of our accommodations to have pools! *laughs*

We were hungry again (as usual) after swimming so we walked down the road to The Walk Patong (similar to a Pasar Malam in Singapore) for dinner.

The Walk Patong
Tents selling food and other products

We got stopped by a Thai boy who spoke Chinese and was so convincing about his food that we decided to give it a try.

Since the sellers could speak Chinese, we managed to bargain quite a bit on the seafood;
Although live lobsters were only 800 baht per lobster, we decided to get the frozen ones because it was cheaper
Clockwise from top left: Fried glass noodles with prawns;
Pineapple rice in a pineapple; BBQ squid; 
Steamed fish with soya sauce
BBQ lobsters! Very tasty! =)

The food was surprisingly good! My favourite was the lobsters! =)

Family photo

We ended the night fixing up a 3D plane puzzle that we got from Silkair. Really fun! =)

My girl was very excited to fix it up!
Almost done..
We love it =)

We were hoping for a better day tomorrow but unfortunately, it was not to be as we would soon find out... *sigh*

In any case, this might be a bit late but..

 Happy Chinese New Year! 

Continue to >> Phuket Day 2: Elephant Riding & Bamboo Rafting Day Tour

P.S: Download our Phuket Itinerary 2015 Printable (PDF to be added when this series has been completed) or visit MADPSYCHMUM TRAVELS for the rest of my posts on Phuket, Thailand and other travel itineraries! =)
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