Sunday, August 31, 2014

Parkcity Everly Hotel Bintulu

This had been a hectic week at work for me that I barely saw my kids :( My 3 and a half years old girl was not so happy about my busy schedule until I promised her 3 days ago that we could stay at a hotel specifically a hotel with a bathtub and a pool, for quality family time together.

So today after settling the house chores, I brought them to Parkcity Everly Hotel as promised. I booked the hotel through Agoda coz they offered the lowest rate compared to (RM300.10 nett per night).

We stayed at 7th floor, a non-smoking room / floor. The pictures on the Internet did not quite do justice to the actual hotel room. In fact it wasn't so bad. 

Along the hotel corridor

What I like about the hotel room is it is clean and well kept, although the design could need a facelift. The carpet certainly makes the whole room looks tired and shabby and I hate the bed runner because it looks out of place! I also think the armchair needs to be changed to more modern look.

Otherwise, the warm color of the wood panel, wardrobe  and study desk gives the room a cozy feeling.

Other than that, the rest of the amenities are standard.

The beds were quite comfortable if you asked me.


Of course the best part about the hotel is the room comes with a bathtub, something I find odd about the ultra modern New World Suites Hotel because they don't have one. 

The toiletries' packaging also needs to be revamped because they are just too old-style, if you know what I mean.

Like other hotels, tea & coffee are complimentary.

We also tried their breakfast the next day. Their buffet is also pretty standard! Nasi lemak, roti canai, porridge, the egg station, cereal, dimsum - to name a few of the selections that morning. But still, it's better than New World Suites in terms of variety.

As promised, I brought the girls to swim and the swimming pool. I had to search around for the pool towel counter and when I found it, I was annoyed to see the sign 'Run out of dry towel'. There wasn't that many swimmers that morning and already they ran out of clean towels! Hmmph.

My verdict - the hotel hardly impressed me, which is too bad because there is so much potential and with such spacious area and strategic location near the seaside. If the hotel management didn't do anything to make it outstanding, someday it might end up being as a shabby and outdated hotel that no one wants to stay in. 

Rating: 6/10

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Semenggoh Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre

Previous years I always longed to visit many places in Kuching whenever we were in town but since we didn't have our own car, I wasn't able to do so.

But now that we have our own car here, it is payback time. There's so many things to do and see in Kuching, and one of it is to visit the orang utans in their almost natural environment, Semenggoh Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre.

This nature reserve centre has been a rehabilitation centre for orang utans especially the orphaned young, those confiscated from illegal poachers or injured due to deforestation activities with the aim to reintroduce them back to the wild.

I'm extremely impressed especially after visiting the gallery and reading about the systematic and massive efforts to help the orang utans. Do you know that the orang utans even have birth certificates just like a human infant? The only difference is their birth cert didn't have details of the father! LOL!

(Unfortunately we didn't manage to meet Delima, or Nora or any other famous orang utan figure today, since none turned up at the feeding platform)

Another interesting discovery is they have several stages of 'education system' starting from nursery school, to primary school, to secondary school before they are released to the wild. 

Our main goal of visiting this centre was to have some experience of being up close and personal with the orang utans during the feeding time (which was at 3pm in the afternoon).

Entrance fee is RM5 for Malaysian adult (free admission for children below 12). When we reached the waiting area around 15mins before the feeding time, there were already a crowd of foreign tourists waiting patiently at the designated shed. 

We decided to kill the time by visiting the crocodile enclosure area nearby. Khayla was terrified at first but soon got over her fear when she saw the reptiles were hardly moving - in fact we thought they were mummified because there wasn't any sign of movement. Even their open eyes were unblinking!

Before the feeding time, a guide gave a short briefing about the orang utan habits and some precautions like keeping our voices down, not bringing any food, and keeping safe distance from the orang utans.

(Visitors dilligently listened to the guide's explanation)

That was when I changed my mind about getting in close proximity with the orang utans - what if one of the maternal ones grabbed Khadeeja from my arms and ran up the durian tree with my baby? Then she grows up like Jane the Tarzan girl (for one, she already behaves like one of the baby orang utans, always climbing here and there, grabbing things and have no table manner whatsoever!). Ok, my imagination tended to run wild.

Still we joined the throng of visitors climbing up the jungle trail to the main feeding platform, me holding Khayla by the hand and encouraging her to walk steadily up the hilly path. Khadeeja was safely in hubby's arms. If ever one orang utans took a fancy on my baby, she would have to go through my hubby, LOL!

Luckily (or unluckily) no orang utan turned up and my worry dissipated. Throughout the time, we heard the rangers giving loud, long cries calling for the orang utans, signaling to them it was feeding time. It is fruits season, explained the guide, so the orang utans are able to feed themselves instead of relying on hand outs. It is a good sign for the wildlife centre because it means the orang utans are self-reliant, but not a good news to the eager and expectant visitors who came all the way from Europe or US to meet them!

However we did manage to sight an orang utan high above a durian tree at another location (deeper in the forest, and the climb was much steeper, it was incredible that I managed to climb there carrying Khadeeja in my arms).

After that we decided to go back because it looked like it was about to rain. 

For those who love the nature, do drop by this place. The nature is well-preserved, so if you can't sight the orang utans, you can also go for walks at the various nature trails and at arboretum within this centre. 

Just Google Semenggoh Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre for more details. My advice, if you really hope to snap that photo of you arms in arms with orang utan, come during the non-fruits season. Or go to Matang Wildlife Centre (but I'm not sure if you can feed them there because they are placed in enclosure).

Happy orang utan sighting!

Damai Beach Resort

Selamat Hari Raya everyone! I'm sure everyone has had a blast during the past few days, and so did we :)

This year we decided to go for a family vacation on the third day of Syawal. Our destination - Kuching's Damai Beach Resort.

Located in Santubong which is 45mins away from Kuching town, the resort is famed for its serene beach view and fantastic natural environment surrounding the resort.

We chose to go to this resort because our girls love playing in the water, and with the beach and swimming pool literally next to each other, the girls are sure to have a lovely time splashing in the water to their hearts' content!

The resort has separate pools for the adults and kids. The kids' swimming pool  comes complete with a water slide and waterfall. Love!

I purposely booked the superior room which is the closest to the swimming pool. There is a big cage full of cats (local, not high breed though) behind our hotel building and frankly, the cats look bored with nothing much to do.

When we reached the resort, I was expecting a well-established international standard resort because a lot of Western tourists happen to stay here. I was slightly disappointed to find the resort to be just average in terms of service and facilities.

First of all, at the reception counter, instead of immediately greeting guest, the staff continued to do whatever he was doing and ignored me. So did the staff next to him. Where else, when I checked in at Westin in KL a couple of months back, the staff did not only greet me with cheerful but respectful tone, she also greeted my girls asking them their journey and practically wowing me with their wonderful hospitality.

After waiting for 2mins, finally the receptionist turned to me and proceeded to check us in. 

Our room was on the second floor and nearest to the staircase. The room is spacious (for a RM300++ rate, I would expect no less), but tired looking. Walking into the room made me feel like I've been transported to 2 decades ago. The amenities like the bed sheet, pillows, sofa, hair dryer and other fittings seem unchanged since the 90's. The only thing that looks new is the flat TV. 

The resort didn't even provide tooth brushes, but luckily we brought ours. On the other side, I quite like the peppermint smell of the complimentary shower gel and shampoo.

Much to our annoyance, the housekeeping team forgot to place towels in the room which we only discovered after coming back from the swimming pool. The telephone in the room was not working (the receptionist explained that due to earlier thunder, they switched off the telephone line), so hubby had to go to the counter to request for towels. We had to wait for half an hour (and another trip to the counter) before the towels arrive, and my girls were already so cold. Hmmph.

Still, we are thankful for the cool room and having escape the scorching heat from the hot weather outside. The weather was quite good when we reached the hotel, slightly cloudy and breezy.

Immediately we all changed to our swimming attire and hubby brought the kids swimming while I chill on a deck chair with a Sidney Sheldon novel. I even dozed off after a while because the sea breeze felt and smelt deliciously cool. Ah, lovely vacation!

At night, we opted for buffet dinner at the resort's Satang Cafe (RM45++ per adult, kids below 12 eat for free). Sadly, the buffet was hardly appetizing and lacked choices. There was white rice, spaghetti carbonara with lumpy sauce, ayam masak merah, fish curry, mixed veggies in butter sauce, grilled lamb in blackpepper sauce, bun and butter, salad with few choices of dressing, and tomyam soup. Dessert was two types of layer cakes and some fruits. 

So I contented myself taking photo of the cafe interior.  

(Please ignore my kids in the forefront, they love sitting on the floor for no reason whatsoever)

Fortunately the next day's breakfast (comes together in the room package) was better. Although there was no egg station (you only get fried egg to go with the usual baked beans, chicken frankfurt and whatnots), they offer nasi lemak, rice porridge with local Chinese condiments, an assortment of cereals, sliced cheese, an assortment of bread, croissant and buns to go with various jams and butter, waffle, roti canai, fried noodle and chicken curry.

To my amusement, the resort put a notice that any unfinished food weighing more than 100g will be charged additional RM10.

So peeps, don't waste your food here!

Overall, I think the resort management seriously need to buck up and upgrade the hotel services and facilities. Would I come here again? Maybe. 

Rating: 7/10

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Thinking Aloud

I'm halfway of my research project. By halfway, I mean I have to revise my research questions, research objectives, research hypothesis, research framework, cut down my questionnaire items, get at least 300 respondents (I've obtained around 220, 80 more to go), analyse my data, and then re-write Chapter 4 & 5.

Seriously, just thinking about it gives me breakouts. My face is literally full of pimples from the stress of writing a thesis. How I loathe this whole journey!

Anyway, no point in moaning about it because it still needs to be done anyway. I just need to reduce the damage and trim my research work here and there. Before I'm consumed by sheer panic and overwhelmed from all this chaos (moving, going back to work NEXT WEEK!, and finishing my report), let's analyze all the things I have to do:

Chapter 1
Re-write my research questions and research objectives. 
Previously I want to find out which concept influences people to be loyal to cloth diaper, perceived value (CV) or environmental concern (EC)? Now I realize that that Holbrook typology has included altruistic value which is indirectly linked to EC anyway, so why do I have to study EC? If people decide to be loyal to the product because it offers the feel-good value due to protecting the environment, it's just redundant to inspect whether they are environmentally concerned or not (obviously people who rate altruistic value as low has low EC).

So now, with EC out of the proposed framework, I'll just focus on the CV. Which value has the strongest effect on loyalty? Do I need to have attitude as mediating factor, or try to establish that CV has a direct effect on loyalty? I have to go back to my literature review.

Chapter 2
1. Identify 5 journal articles for each variable 
- articles that define each CV and loyalty intentions. Because I need to justify my questionnaire item. Why I use Zeithaml, Parasuraman et al item to measure loyalty intentions.

2. Identify 5 journal articles that establish the relationship between CV and loyalty. 
Previous studies always examine satisfaction as antecedent of loyalty, but luckily I managed to find one article (or is it two?) that states attitude are a better predictor than satisfaction.

3. Study on CD = identify which values are stated as the 'stay factor' and justify why I pick those values in my study (because this has been identified by users of cloth diaper in academic study). 
Possibly, I can exclude Social Value if the outcome does not state this value as being significant. Plus, the initial analysis that I run showed that this value is not significantly related to loyalty intention in my study. So one variable out, less work to do.

Chapter 3
1. Revise my research framework.
Eliminate EC / Social Value from framework. Do I need to include attitude? On the plus, it's easier to justify because I'm just adapting TPB framework, and it includes attitude. On the negative side, more analysis needs to be done.

2. Reduce my questionnaire item.
In my naivety, I've included 59 items in my questionnaire - times by 5, that means I have to have at least 345 reusable data! I really did not think about the consequences and the worst it could do to my data is people start to get impatient and simply tick the answer without really reading it through! The only good thing about this is I have overdone, which means I have more than data than I need. Since I'm targeting only 250 respondents to analyze, I have to cut down to maximum 50 items.

3. Revise my hypotheses.
This pretty much depends on my research framework.

Well, that's some of the things I have to re-do, before I can move on to Chapter 4 & 5. I have to think whether to use SEM or non-parametric test for data analysis, and if SEM is much easier, I have to tweak my data slightly to make it more or less normal (currently it's skewed to the right).

Deep breath.

I can do this. Dear God please help me.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Another chapter is closing.

I have exactly 2weeks before we leave KL for good.

I did not love KL initially. When I was asked to be based in KL from JB, it was a sad day for me. My first day in the city, it felt so strange, so alien. I was disoriented and homesick because I had called JB my home.

It was only because I knew deep in my heart it was time to go that I reluctantly agreed to the move.

Like now. I know without a doubt that it is time to move on.

Throughout my almost 9 years' stay in KL, I came to love the city. Many of my significant life events took place in this city.

We started our family here. Bought our first house and first car. I got pregnant and lost my first child. I gave birth to 2 lovely girls. So many memories had been made here.

Even friendships. I will miss my friends above all. My uni friends. Geng KAMIE friends. Jen. My colleagues.

No one said moving is easy, but it's particularly hard for me because I will leave the life that I have come to love behind. Starting afresh from scratch, not knowing what the future holds.

What will I do if I discovered that I don't like it there? What if hubby can't find a job there? What if I can't cope with work environment anymore and want out?

So many terrifying decisions. Yet life can't stay on pause forever. Sooner or later I have to move too. Only I hope that this move will bring better future for us.

Pray grant my prayers oh Allah. Amin.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Recognizing when it's time to start looking at contingency plan

This is a heart-pouring post.

I'm on the brink of failure. It's frustrating, heart-wrenching, and utterly devastating.

I had hoped to work on the topic that I'm passionate about. Combining two of the things that I love - motherhood and the environment. I thought (in all my naiveness) that this topic would be interesting, and since nobody ever did this before I would surely contribute to the knowledge building.

That's me. 80% idealist, only 20% realist. Between me & my sister, she's the practical and sensible one while I mostly tread in the shadow of fantasy and only crash hard to reality when things didn't go as hoped. 

It's been more than 8 weeks since I started data collection but the response has been lukewarm (closer to icy cold). Friends shared that on average they only spent 3-4 weeks to collect their data from more than 300 respondents but in 8 weeks, I only managed to collect 121 feedback, and probably even less once I've eliminated the outliers.

Either CD-using moms are too busy to go online (because those CDs don't clean themselves!) or most of them are occasional users, not devoted users. So they are not compelled to participate.

Whatever is the reason, the reality is I can't afford to wait for the 100 more people to participate. I'll be back to work by next month, and I have only 6 weeks+ to complete my thesis. I'm passionate, but time is not on my side. I am probably required to abandon this project for my MBA.

That is why I'm broken-hearted.

I will survive this. A successful person don't succumb to dead-ends, rather they find ways to make it to success.

And my best friend Kak Za once gave me a damn good advice.

Agak-agak menyusahkan, tinggalkan je la...

I think it's time to heed that advice.

Wipe my tears and move on.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The first time she told me about her day

Khayla & Khadeeja went to a daycare today because I had some work to do. It's a new daycare and I like the cheerful & bright look, as well as its hygiene. Plus, they have plenty of toys which the girls immediately reached for when I dropped them off.

When we fetched them in the evening, both girls were excited to see us especially Khadeeja who was fretful and kept crying when she was left alone (I got a lot of updates on her from the daycare but they seemed to be able to handle her anxiety). So I'm impressed that they didn't panicked and called me up to take her just because Khadeeja couldn't stop crying, unlike a daycare in Setapak where we sent them when we both had classes one Saturday. In the end I had to bring her to class as well.

Oh did I mention that they are okay with handling cloth diaper? :) I had no complain from the staff except a few questions on how to handle the diaper when Khadeeja poo in it (which I replied just roll the diaper up, poo & all, and toss it in the diaper bag).

Oh yeah. Where was I? Back to the title. Khayla was initially upset having to wake up and shower earlier than normal but other than that, she adjusted very well. The staff told me that she played, ate her meal and took her nap like any good girl. 

Tonight when we were settling down for bedtime, she spoke up:

Khayla: Khayla sudah go to school today.
Me:  did you like school?
Khayla: uhuh *nodded head*
Me: How many friends you met today?
Khayla: *began counting* ten friends, mak!
Me: wow, that's a lot of friends!
Khayla: orange. Khayla drink orange also. Many orange.
Me: I see. Did you eat rice?
Khayla: Yes. And play toys. Many many toys.
Me: that's good. Do you like the teachers?
Khayla: uhuh *nodded head*

This is actually the first time she ever narrated her day to me. She just turned 3 last month and could already recalled her day. My firstborn is fast becoming a big girl already!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Why I Choose Modern Cloth Diaper as my Thesis Subject

Been a while since I last wrote about anything other than my darling, precious babies. LOL! I'm also nearing the end of my MBA studies, and fervently hoping that I could graduate by next semester! Initially the plan is to graduate by this semester, but turned out there's too much work for my thesis that I did not anticipate so I have no choice but to revise the plan and do my thesis in two semesters instead.

Since discovering the world of cloth diapering (or CD-ing, among the cloth diapers supporters), I've been hooked to CD that even my thesis is about modern CD. For a product that is time-consuming, high maintenance and not as straightforward as disposable diaper (termed DD by the same supporters), still many people choose to use CD and shun the disposable one.

Khayla wearing CD

It gets me wonder and reflect upon my own decision. For me, I chose CD because I like to think that I am concern of the environment (for the sake of my children), it is value-for-money (think of the long-term savings when we don't have to buy diapers every month), and to certain extent, the diva side of me is attracted to the various cute designs available on the market (although I only bought one such diaper and the rest are plain but brightly coloured design).

In other words, CD appeals to various dimensions of consumer value which gives people favourable impression (attitude) towards it and because of that, combined with the fact that people love sharing about everything on the Internet nowadays, they get the words around and try to get other people to love this product as well.

Maybe some moms love CD because they can make more friends who are also using CD, so that they can swap reviews about different brands - known as social value.

Maybe another mom who loves the fact that it is economical and to certain extent, performs as good as DD and wants to share this knowledge with other people - efficient and excellence value.

Or the fashion-conscious one likes the various patterns and colours available on the market and buy more and spread the news about where to find the cutest design - aesthetics value.

Or maybe only those who loves the environment are the ones likely to say good things about this product - altruistic value.

Or… maybe some just can't say why they like it, they just do. When they use cloth diapers, it gets them excited, happy, and gives them so much positive emotion that they just want to tell other people about it - play value.

I also notice that of all the various green products available on the market, CD is the only one that garners support groups. You don't see a Facebook page dedicated to say, energy-efficient fridge. Or woven bags. Or recycled products.

But cloth diapers? Google 'cloth diapers' and you will find plenty of support / fan groups all over the world. The discussions can range from which brand is of the best quality, which inserts could hold more urine, which type is the best for newborn, where to buy the cheapest CDs, how to wash CDs correctly, and so on and so forth. All the hype just over cloth diapers.

Then I looked up studies on modern cloth diapers but there are only a handful found (in fact I only found one study in the UK), and none in my own country. Some of my lecturers have never even heard of modern cloth diapers.

So I want to do justice to this wonderful invention. This product that have the potential to save our Mother Earth, and gives us so much joy at the same time. No doubt, it will be a challenging task getting people to participate in the study (filling up forms can remind us of the good ol' exam days, no?), but I'm going to try nonetheless. If I can increase awareness on this product at the academic level, it would be a wonderful step towards making this product recognised at higher learning institution level.

Please click this link to go to my online survey.

If you fulfil the criteria, maybe you can also help me out. I'll be extremely grateful.

Please help my mom graduate! ~ Khadeeja