With its location in the heart of Kuala Lumpur and within close proximity of a renowned shopping mall (only a stone's throw away from Pavillion KL), makes Pullman Kuala Lumpur City Centre Hotel and Residences (Pullman KLCC) a much sought-after accommodation amongst tourists and out-of-town travellers.

Previously known as Prince Hotel & Residence, the hotel was taken over by the AccorHotels and rebranded as Pullman KLCC. It offers 445 rooms and 157 serviced apartments to cater to the needs of travellers from business to family. Pullman KLCC recently completed revamping its facilities to offer a new two-bedroom family suite and other family facilities including children's area.

Yet much is still needed to be done to bring the recently acquired property up to par with Pullman brand standards. The room that I walked into, despite being clean, was rather dated. I couldn't help feeling slightly let down by the sight of its worn carpet and jaded furniture.

Yet what they are still lacking in terms of revamped facilities, they made up with great services and top of the rack hospitality one could find in any five-star hotel. Not to mention, their mouthwatering breakfast and lunch spread could tempt even the most fastidious diner.

Since it's been quite some time since I last travel on business, I forgot to ask the front desk personnel to change the billing address to my company's, much to my distress a few days later upon submitting my claims. A few phone calls after that, the account receivable department helpfully re-issued my tax invoice as per request which was what I call a true hospitality of the AccorHotels.

Do try out this hotel when you are in KL to experience the shopping scene just across the street. 

Verdict: 8/10

Pullman KLCC had not done much to rejuvenate their newly acquired property

The room design has yet to adopt the expansive and open concept that you could find in newer hotels

The luxurious bathroom has lost its grandeur to time and in crying need to be upgraded

The sink area

There's a bathtub in the room, which overlooks the toilet (something you wouldn't find in newer interior design)

The Pullman toiletries

A look inside their wardrobe

Coffee and tea making facilities
Visiting Kota Kinabalu, one should not have to worry about where to stay as there are plenty of current and new establishments offering decent accommodation at decent price.

If you are a traveler on a transit or having early morning flight, you would probably want to look for a hotel that is near to the KKIA Airport such as C'haya Hotel. 

The room layout

We booked a Standard room at this hotel during our trip to KK a couple of months back as we need a place to rest for the night before our long journey back to Sarawak the next day. The 230sqft room is appointed with a queen bed, flat screen tv, a working desk, a small built in cupboard and a window seat which my girls loved very much.

Flat screen TV hung on the wall to optimize space

Although the room is quite cramped for a family, for a single traveler it is a cozy space to wind down and relax.

The bathroom is modern and stylish, with a standing rain shower blocked by glass panel.

Bathroom is done in black and white (but mostly black)

The toilet is equipped with hand bidet

The shower area

Basic toiletries (toothbrush and toothpaste are not provided)

Standard room is available at RM157++ and bookings can be done via booking.com and other travel sites. Do check out their rooftop pool which offers amazing view of the Tanjung Aru area.

Verdict: 7/10
Fancy staying at a 5-star hotel which is adjacent to a shopping mall without breaking the bank? Then hop over to Le Meridien Putrajaya for an enjoyable stay-cation. The hotel which is part of the Starwood Hotels & Resorts chain opened its doors this year, offering 353 modern rooms to cater to various groups of guests.

I was delighted to find myself with the opportunity to experience this brand new hotel recently when I had to attend a meeting in KL. The warm hospitality of the staff greeted me first thing as the concierge opened the cab door for me. Checking in was hassle-free and I was pleased to be given my preferred room which is near the elevator.

Stepping into the hotel room, you couldn't help but notice the ultra-clean air inside. The room is spacious without being too bare, and the lighting is cozy without being too dim. I fell in love with the room instantly.

Welcome to Le Meridien Putrajaya

The very cozy king size bed with premium bed sheet covers to send you off to a good dream

Ergonomic chair at the working desk guarantees that you could work for hours comfortably

The room is tastefully decorated with contemporary furniture and vibrant colors that exude elegance and modern haute. I couldn't help but wish I had this kind of bedroom sanctuary to retreat to every day after work. A 50-inch plasma TV adorned the wall opposite the king-size bed for those who loves to lie in while surfing the satellite channels. WiFi is available throughout the hotel without additional charge.
The modern bathroom done in shades of black, chrome and red

While the toiletries are not exactly designer brand, this doesn't deter me from enjoying a luxurious bath and catching up on some reading, all the while surrounded by the fresh scent of the shower gel. My only peeve with the bathtub is it takes forever to fill it up only to find myself in half-empty bathtub a short while later as the drain stopper doesn't stop the water from seeping through.

Love the spacious bathtub with ample room on its sides and end to keep your book / tablet / phone for those who prefers to read while enjoying a luxurious soak

Complimentary beverages available for the late-nights coffee while working / early morning tea after waking up from a relaxing slumber

After my meeting ended, I had some time to explore the IOI Shopping Mall which is connected to the hotel and are just within steps. I found it extremely convenient as the shopping mall offers plenty of dining options for guests who want to have something other than hotel food.

IOI Shopping Mall is just walking distance away

Walking past these aesthetic decor to the hotel lobby from the shopping mall

It is not that the hotel food is not good, in fact I found the breakfast spread decent and worth the money. I had my usual stay-cation menu - American breakfast (omelette, with grilled beef streaks, sausages, grilled tomato and baked beans) and also got to savour the local delicacies (nasi lemak, Chinese porridge, roti pratha, as well as breakfast pastries).

The exterior of Latest Recipe restaurant

The interior of the restaurant

Glimmering new hotel lobby

Being a new hotel, I could understand that there are bound to be some hitches here and there. My bathroom mat for example was not replenished the next day. However, other than that small flaw, the rest of the stay was perfect and enjoyable.

Le Meridien Putrajaya is currently offering opening rate from RM360 (RM300 for corporate rate) for their signature room which comes with signature breakfast at Latest Recipe which lasts until 30 November this year. My only regret was not being able to bring my kids to enjoy this hotel while their promotional rate still run.

Verdict: 9/10
Salam & hello.

Kali ni aku nak blogging pasal experience aku beli rumah second hand. Mana tau in the future kalau ada rezeki beli rumah lagi Insya Allah, boleh la rujuk kat posting ni.

Alhamdulillah, lepas dua tahun pindah ke Bintulu, kiteorang dah berjaya membeli rumah kedua kiteorang kali ni di Bintulu. Kalau nak tau, Bintulu ni antara tempat termahal di Malaysia dan property di sini memang harganya tak masuk dek akal. Harga property kat sini lebih kurang je dengan harga property di KL, padahal development tak seberapa. Tapi kalau bandingkan menyewa dan beli rumah sendiri, baiklah beli je sebab lebih terjamin tak perlu risau harga sewa naik atau kena cari rumah lain kalau tuan rumah nak balik rumah tu. Lagi satu, bagi aku bila beli rumah sendiri, boleh kurangkan beban bayar sewa mahal sebab bila beli rumah sendiri, bayaran bulanan kat bank murah sikit (sikit pun beberapa ratus jugak lah) dari sewa sekarang.

Kali kedua ni, rumah yang kiteorang beli ialah rumah second hand, so experience dia memang totally different daripada masa beli rumah pertama. Rumah pertama dulu, beli dari developer sebab rumah baru. Proses dia lebih senang sebab tak perlu nak negotiate harga rumah, tak perlu cari valuer dan yang selebihnya developer uruskan untuk buat S&P agreement. Kiteorang cuma perlu sign dan bayar lawyer. Masa tu masih mentah lagi, tu pun jalan-jalan kat Jusco, tengok ada property booth terus bayar deposit RM100 tak tengok rumah, tak study background developer dan tak survey location rumah pun, LOL. Bila nak ambik loan pun tak fikir panjang dan tak buat survey sangat. Just ambik je loan dari bank yang ada kat showhouse masa tu. Kelakar pulak bila difikirkan.

Beli secondhand house ni memang perlu invest time dan effort lebih sikit. Dari nak secure deal rumah tu, sampai la nak buat S&P agreement semua kiteorang kena involve. Nasib baik En Hubby masih lagi kerja part-time so kebanyakan urusan dia tolong settle kan dan follow up dengan owner / lawyer / bank.

Tips membeli rumah - location, location, location.

#1 Location - Area hartanah (area marketability)
Memandangkan aku dibesarkan di Bintulu, aku dah decide nak cari rumah di area mana. Kawasan perumahan yang aku sewa sekarang memang kawasan yang strategik (dekat dengan sekolah, bandar, tempat riadah & tempat kerja) dan established. Kalau aku decide nak jual rumah tu kemudian pun tak akan ada masalah nak cari buyer. 

#2 Location - Neighbourhood
Ni penting jugak bagi aku. Kena pilih rumah di kawasan kejiranan yang bagus dan pelbagai kaum. Bonus kalau dapat jiran-jiran yang saling ambil berat. Macam area yang aku aim ni, memang jiran-jiran siap ada Whatsapp group untuk alert each other kalau ada apa-apa aktiviti yang mencurigakan di kawasan rumah. Satu lagi, kalau jiran-jiran yang multi-ethnic dan racial ni, kalau kita balik kampung beraya, takde la kosong area rumah kita sebab tak semua akan balik bercuti.

#3 Location - Dekat dengan family
Yang ketiga ni sebenarnya ialah accessibility (i.e. boleh dihubungi oleh pengangkutan awam). Tapi dalam kes aku, kat Bintulu ni tak de makna nya... Kalau ya pun, ada transport company yang cover area ni. Tapi since aku tak pakai transport company pegi ke tempat kerja, so aku tambah sendiri lokasi dekat dengan family. Sebab nya kalau ada emergency apa2, senang nak mintak tolong. 

Tips yang lain-lain tu lebih kepada citarasa masing-masing. Ada yang nak rumah dua tingkat, rumah yang dah renovate atau rumah yang affordable. Aku pun before survey rumah dah set range harga rumah yang aku nak beli. Ikut kemampuan, jangan ikut nafsu. Tapi kalau rumah murah tapi condition teruk pun aku tak nak jugak sebab aku dah lalui zaman renovate rumah first dulu - memang pening kak oi!

Tapi satu je la masalah nya bila dengan kawasan yang dah established, nak cari rumah yang baru develop tu memang tak de lah. So kenalah cari rumah second hand. Berbulan-bulan jugak la aku bukak Mudah.my, atau sembang-sembang kalau ada yang nak jual rumah di area yang aku nak tu. Last-last, ada sorang owner ni nak pindah KL dan jual rumah dia. Cun-cun rumah yang dia nak jual tu di kawasan idaman, apa lagi kena la bertindak pantas!

Langkah seterusnya:

1. Negotiate - Sebelum negotiate, kena survey berapa value rumah di area tu. Dua reference yang aku pakai which is iklan kat Mudah.my dan lagi senang, pegi approach bank tanya value property di situ. Normally kalau rumah tu takde buat extension, value rumah tu maintain walaupun owner tu dah baikpulih rumah tu. Lepas tu, wajib pegi tengok condition rumah. Kalau banyak yang kena repair, boleh negotiate untuk turunkan harga yang owner mintak. Selain daripada tu, kena tengok jugak tanah tu leasehold ke freehold. Di Sarawak, kebanyakan rumah ialah leasehold. So tengok jugak tempoh leasehold tu. Makin kurang tempoh leasehold, makin kurang loan yang kita akan dapat. Contohnya, dalam kes kiteorang leasehold tinggal 35 tahun, so bank tolak 15 tahun i.e. 35-15 = 20 tahun je la tempoh pinjaman. Kat situ pun boleh nego jugak. Tapi kalau tak de ruang untuk negotiate sangat sebab owner dah ada 4-5 orang potential buyer jugak, so korang boleh jugak taktik lain contohnya offer untuk survey lawyer bagi pihak owner (ringankan kerja owner), dan try dapatkan bank approval lebih cepat dari orang lain. So owner pun akan rasa senang nak berurusan kalau jual kat kita. Hehe.

2. Survey pinjaman bank yang paling menepati kehendak - Ramai yang anggap part ni senang tapi sebenarnya leceh jugak. Part senang ialah bila compare rate loan kat iproperty.com.my. Tapi selain dari rate pinjaman, kena jugak ambik kira faktor-faktor lain contohnya kriteria pinjaman, terms pinjaman, service bank (cepat ke lambat nak proses pinjaman), etc. 

Tak faham? Ok, aku kasi contoh. Ada bank yang tak nak bagi pinjaman kat pekerja O&G. So macam aku tentu2 lah tak memenuhi kriteria ni. Kedua, ada yang bagi 100% loan, ada yang bagi up to 90% je. Ada bank yang offer untuk cover legal fees atau kasi diskaun, ada yang tak. Ada yang proses cepat (dalam seminggu dah bagi quotation dan cepat je keluar offer letter) tapi ada jugak yang kena follow up sokmo baru keluarkan offer letter. So macam aku yang nak cepat2 secure deal rumah tu, tentulah time is of essence. Bank yang service cepat (tak payah nak call banyak-banyak kali mintak progress), normally lebih mudah nak berurusan dengan dieorang. Dan satu lagi, sebab aku malas nak pindah gaji ke akaun bank baru (sebab selalunya bank akan buat syarat gaji kena masuk ke bank yang bagi pinjaman tu untuk jaminan dieorang), so aku ambik loan dari bank yang biasa aku berurusan untuk hal gaji.

3. Survey property valuer - yang ni untuk bank decide jumlah pinjaman yang akan diluluskan. Kalau valuer bagi value rendah, so sikitla loan yang akan dapat. Tapi macam kiteorang nak value tinggi sebab owner jual rumah tu lebih tinggi dari market rate (sebab kawasan tu yang strategik dan memang hot area). Lebih tinggi value, so makin sikit difference dari harga dengan value property yang kiteorang kena top up. Kalau kat Bintulu ni, cuma ada satu je valuer yang semua orang pakai i.e. CH Williams. Bukan tak boleh pakai valuer dari luar Bintulu, tapi normally dieorang tak tau faktor local atau cas harga lebih tinggi.

4. Survey lawyer - so bank dah setuju nak offer loan. Next step, kena buat S&P agreement (antara buyer dengan owner) dan loan agreement (buyer dengan bank). Yang ni pun leceh jugak, tapi tak seleceh nak pilih bank. Nak bagi urusan pinjaman senang, better ambik lawyer panel bank sebab dieorang dah biasa dengan format dokumen bank dan prosedur bank. Just mintak bank bagi list of panel lawyer. Lebih senang kalau owner dan buyer pakai lawyer yang sama sebab tak payah tunggu lawyer buyer nak hantar dokumen ke lawyer owner, vice versa. Tapi kat Semenanjung rasanya tak boleh owner dan buyer pakai lawyer yang sama supaya lawyer takde conflict of interest. Sebab tu part paling pening masa beli rumah kiteorang dulu ialah terpaksa turun naik lawyer office developer dan bank bila nak sign dokumen2 ni. Lepas tu kena pressure bank untuk release payment cepat-cepat sebab lawyer developer dah push2 nak charge late penalty bagai. 

5. Dapatkan dokumen-dokumen untuk buat S&P agreement - dokumen yang diperlukan ialah land title / geran rumah yang membuktikan rumah tu memang atas nama owner sekarang, rekod cukai pintu dan cukai tanah, dan pelan rumah asal. Pelan rumah ni normally valuer ada simpan copy. Yang lain-lain tu, kena dapatkan daripada owner.

6. So lepas dah settle S&P agreement dan dah sign loan agreement, next step sebelum bank release payment dan lawyer tukar title rumah tu ke atas nama kita, ialah tukar nama untuk syarikat utiliti. Yang ni, owner dan buyer sama-sama pegi syarikat bekalan air dan eletrik untuk tukar nama dari owner lama ke owner baru. Make sure bawak S&P agreement cover letter untuk salinan syarikat utiliti ni. Dan kena make sure tau berapa deposit yang dieorang akan mintak sebab dieorang akan refund owner lama deposit dia bayar dulu dan mintak deposit dari owner baru. Macam kat Sarawak ni, syarikat bekalan air (LAKU) mintak deposit RM60 je. SESCO  pulak mintak deposit RM200. Alang-alang dah kat SESO, kiteorang nak tukar meter jugak sebab dah meter sekarang dah pakai 10 tahun. So kena topup RM190 (kalau tak silap). Kena ingat jugak bawak setem duti RM10 ke SESCO.

7. Mintak kunci rumah dan tukar baru - Bila dah settle urusan-urusan di atas, secara rasminya rumah tu dah berpindah milik. Last step ni ialah mintak kunci-kunci rumah dari owner lama. Selain daripada tu, remind owner untuk tukar alamat surat-menyurat dia sebab kalau tak memang banyak kali la kena mintak dia datang collect surat-surat kat rumah kita. Hehe. Bila dah dapat kunci rumah, better kalau kita tukar kunci rumah sebab bukan tak percaya kat owner lama, tapi in case dieorang dah buang kunci tu dan dapat pulak kat orang yang tak bertanggungjawab. Haa... Naya. So better buat kunci baru.

So tu ler pengalaman aku beli rumah kedua dan secondhand. Oh, buat pengetahuan korang jugak, kalau nak beli second house (tak kira baru ke lama), korang dah tak boleh lagi pakai duit EPF untuk settle kan deposit atau difference harga rumah kalau korang dah pakai masa beli rumah pertama, MELAINKAN korang dah jual rumah yang pertama. So dalam kes kiteorang yang dah pakai EPF masa beli rumah first dan belum lagi jual rumah tu, so kiteorang tak layak la nak keluarkan duit EPF untuk support bayar downpayment rumah. Tapi Alhamdulillah boleh cover guna savings aku selama beberapa tahun ni. So before sign agreement apa2, kena la make sure dari mana nak dapatkan duit untuk bayar difference yang loan tak cover.
As an avid stay-cationer, I have my bucket list of hotels and resorts to stay in Malaysia. One of them is the Nexus Resort & Spa Karambunai, Kota Kinabalu Sabah.

Located just 30 minutes away from Kota Kinabalu city, the resort boasts stunning view of the South China Sea, sprawling beach and garden, golf course and 3 outdoor pools.

Our stay-cation this time was sponsored by my dear sister who booked us a family room. We reached the hotel at night and for a renowned resort, surprisingly the road leading to the resort was extremely dark with no lighting at all. Even when we reached the resort compound, it was quite difficult to determine the entrance to the hotel lobby due to the dim lighting and lack of road signs.

Checking in was a breeze and the valet even offered to park our car for us as the parking ground is quite far from the hotel lobby. Our room was located at fourth floor and it was probably 100m away from the lift, so it feels like! It was a huge relief to finally reached our room.

The family room is pleasantly spacious - basically family room are two rooms with a connecting door. The master room is fitted with a king-sized bed while the other room is appointed with two single beds. 

The master bedroom
The other room

In summary, these are the plus points of the resort:

1. All rooms are facing the sea - imagine falling asleep and waking up to the soothing sound of the waves crashing on the beach... We loved watching the sun rise and set from our balconies, and watching the blue, blue ocean from the comfort of our room. Bliss!

2. Spacious room - The room size is just right for our family. I love the ample space and the massive bathroom complete with vanity table, sink area, separate toilet (with hand bidet), bathtub and shower areas. 

3. The location - the resort is located by the beach and what a magnificent beach they have! White sands and blue ocean. It only takes five minutes to reach the beach and the sprawling beach ensured that everyone gets their space without ending up feeling crowded. I had the most relaxing time reading a book while enjoying the sea breeze by the sea. 

4. Entertainment - plenty of activities are offered at the resort for guests, from in-door games to cultural performance. For some fees, guests can also enjoy beach sports (beach volleyball, kayak, banana boat etc.) and horse-riding by the beach, while other amenities such as swimming pool and golf course is free for guests to enjoy. Other activities on the menu includes nature visits (guests have to sign up for the package) to see the wondrous of nature in Sabah. The resort does not leave out young guests when it comes to entertainment and even provided kids' activities at their Nexus Kids Club. The club offer packages of which at RM40++, parents can let their kids to explore a range of specially tailored activities (such as finger painting, fish feeding and other crafts making activities) while the adults get to enjoy their kind of activities.

5. Spa - My sister convinced me to try out the Borneo Spa and it was something that I did not regret. While not exactly the best massage I had experienced so far, it was quite decent and left me feeling relaxed and rejuvenated. The ambience in the spa is also impressive and promotes a sense of serenity with soothing water sounds to calm frayed nerves.

However, I also noted some areas for improvement at the resort:
1. Breakfast at Penyu Restaurant - For a five-star resort, the buffet spread is something that falls short of my expectation. The egg station is limited in choice of ingredients and runs out fast, and not much variety of menu spread offered. We had to call the restaurant staff several times to have our coffee and tea served because they never seem to come to our table!

2. Despite having numerous activities on the ground, the promotion is very poor that maybe some guests are not aware of the various entertainment available.

3. In this Internet age, being connected is extremely important. Thus, it's really disappointing to find out that WiFi is not available in the room.

4. The room decor and furniture are quite dated (when I sit on the bed, I can feel the mattress spring poking through the thinning mattress) while the table lamp didn't work. It's time for East Malaysia resort operators to step up their game and refurbish the hotel rooms because this seems to be the general complaints when it comes to major hotels and resorts over here.

5. Inadequate umbrella and deck chairs at the beach for the beach-goers.

'Living area' in the master room

LCD TV are available in both rooms

Bathtub in the master bathroom

Master bathroom

Shower area in the master bathroom

Hotel toiletries

Mini fridge and tea-making facilities are also available in the room

Amenities in the cupboard
Overall, it is a rather overpriced resort considering the obsolete amenities and the poor food quality served. I think staying here once is enough since there isn't much exciting factor for a repeat visit.

Verdict: 7/10
Salam kawan2. Lama betul rasanya tak menjengah blog ni. Makin lama, makin ketandusan idea nak menulis ditambah dgn life yang busy sokmo.

Actually kali ni aku nak cerita pasal education. Aku memang big fan of education. Bagi aku, biar berhabis duit untuk upgrade knowledge or skill sebab mungkin satu hari nanti pengetahuan tu akan digunapakai.

Cita2 aku suatu hari nanti aku nak sambung ke tahap PhD, tapi memandangkan kesibukan kerja sekarang, Insya Allah aku akan pursue bila aku dah pencen kelak. Tu life goal aku la.

Tapi cerita ni bukan pasal education aku, tapi berkisar education anak2. Masa kat KL, aku sanggup la berhabis duit menghantar Khayla ke taska Cina/English. Aku bercita2 anak2 aku boleh menguasai bahasa asing, so seawal umur 2.5 tahun aku dah dedahkan dia dengan environment macam tu. Memang tak boleh lupa Khayla balik dari sekolah menyanyi lagu Cina, kadang2 dia tersasul sebut perkataan Cina! 

Tup2 pindah ke Bintulu. Jadi single parent most of the time, so aku terpaksa lupakan hasrat aku nak hantar dieorg ke sekolah Cina/English medium disebabkan tak banyak option yang ada kat area aku duduk sekarang. Kalau ada pun, dah penuh atau terlalu jauh.

Tapi sejak Suami Terchenta resign dan balik ke sini, aku terfikir balik nak hantar  ke tadika Cina. Tadika sekarang memang ok, cuma kalau nak register ke SJK (C) nanti, syaratnya kena hantar ke tadika Cina dulu.

En Suami pulak ada pandangan berbeza. Dia nak maintain je tadika sekarang sebab convenient. Dekat pun dekat, lepas tadika ada perkhidmatan pusat asuhan jugak. So dia agak berat menerima idea aku ni.

Tapi bagi aku, biarlah susah dulu, nanti pasti ada kebaikannya. Lagipun tak besar mana pun Bintulu ni. Paling lama pun 20 minit nak hantar ke tadika Cina tu. Cuma kakak je tak sempat nak enrol ke tadika tu, and semestinya tak layak register ke sekolah rendah Cina.

Lagi satu, aku nak expose anak2 dengan aktiviti tambahan supaya dieorang ada extra skills. Dua tahun lepas aku dah try hantar ke kelas arts. Tapi anak2 aku tak menunjukkan minat sangat. Lagi pun aktiviti kelas tu tak memberangsangkan langsung - setakat latihan mewarna je. Last2 tak jadi enrol.

Kali ni, aku try pulak enrol kelas piano. Hari ni first day Khayla belajar piano - so far dia nampak seronok belajar. Adik Khadeeja pulak try sekali tapi bila tanya dia nak ke belajar, cepat2 dia geleng kepala. Mungkin adik prefer aktiviti lasak macam belajar taekwando atau aikido. Lagi pun dia kecik sangat nak faham instruction cikgu muzik tu.

Dari sudut agama, aku carikan jugak cikgu mengaji untuk dieorang. Last2 jumpa seorang ustazah yang nak datang rumah mengaji. Harap2 nak la budak dua org tu belajar mengaji di rumah lebih2 lagi si adik yang manja tu. Kalau dia dah kata tak nak, memang tak boleh paksa. Kalau paksa jugak, mengamuk la jawabnya!

Ada jugak faedah bila dah pindah ke Bintulu. Boleh lebih fokus untuk mendidik anak2. Kalau kat KL, mungkin susah nak cari kelas mengaji, belajar piano atau taekwando yang dekat dengan rumah. Tapi pada masa yang sama, kalau di KL mesti banyak lagi aktiviti yang dieorg boleh join (baking, arts, nature etc.) asalkan rajin mencari je.

Sekarang pun aku dah kurangkan waktu bermain iPad. Caranya aku tak charge iPad langsung so dieorg tak boleh nak main game atau tengok YouTube. Sejak tu dieorg dah kurang bergaduh dan lebih kerap spend time main toys sama-sama. Yang paling aku suka ialah bila dieorang buat dialog ikut imaginasi sendiri. Aku sanggup temankan dieorg pegi taman permainan, main bubbles kat Pantai Tg. Batu atau even main kat indoor playground yang berbayar tu asalkan dieorg tak menghadap iPad. Biar dieorg menikmati masa kanak2 dengan bermain. Barulah balanced.

Tahun ni, Ramadhan jatuh sehari lepas birthday aku yang ke-34. 3 hari pertama, aku tak dapat nak berpuasa dengan umat Islam yang lain, adatlah jadi perempuan ni. 

2 tahun kebelakangan ni, aku berpuasa sendiri lagi ditemani anak2 (yang tak berpuasa semestinya) so tak de lah aku beriya-iya nak memasak bagai. To be honest, sejak aku pindah sini, jarang bebenor dapur berasap melainkan bila En Suami Terchenta balik. So skill masakan aku tu dah berkurangan dengan sadisnya. Sampai masak kek instant pun boleh hangus, kau! Punya la teruk. Huhu.

Aku masak stok banyak-banyak lepas tu aku simpan dalam freezer untuk berbuka puasa (kalau tak berbuka puasa di rumah mak). Nikmatnya memang confirm kurang bila berbuka sorang-sorang, tapi aku take it positively. Hopefully boleh la aku kurus sikit bulan puasa ni kan!

Untuk sahur pulak, aku just buat shake (protein shake + oat) dengan jus epal hijau. Ada beberapa sebab aku tak makan nasi masa sahur. Pertama, aku takut nak turun ke dapur kat tingkat bawah pagi-pagi buta. Takut terserempak dgn cik Ti, Cik Li, atau Encik P (nauzubillah!). Bila husband jauh ni, aku memang akan kunci, double-lock pintu bilik tidur malam-malam. Tak berani nak turun sorang-sorang!

Kedua, aku risau sebab baru bulan lepas aku kena kencing kotor. Doktor cakap mungkin tak cukup minum air atau mungkin aku ada batu karang. So kena minum air banyak-banyak dan amalkan minum jus epal hijau. Bulan puasa ni, memang time nak amalkan minum air banyak dan jus epal hijau tu, terhad. Bila berbuka puasa, aku tak suka minum air banyak-banyak sebab lepas tu nak terawih asyik nak terkencing je bila bawak berdiri, duduk beberapa rakaat tu. So aku akan minum banyak-banyak masa sahur.

Ketiga, time sahur aku memang tak makan berat. Cukup minum shake, minum jus. Lepas tu aku akan sambung tidur sampai la dekat-dekat nak habis waktu Subuh (buruk bebenor perangai kan?)! Sebab biasanya anak-anak aku tidur lewat, so aku pun tidur lewat (mana boleh tidur kalau asyik kena hempap je dengan si adik!).

So cenggitu lah puasa aku sejak 2 tahun lepas. Mungkin ada yang tanya apasal aku tak berbuka puasa kat rumah mak je. Hmm. Tahun lepas mak aku suka berbuka puasa di masjid sebab dia salah seorang AJK yang sediakan lauk berbuka puasa. Tahun ni pulak, ikut mood la. Kadang-kadang prefer buka puasa kat rumah sendiri sebab lepas tu tak de la penat nak angkut budak-budak balik ke rumah.

Apa pun, aku bersyukur sebab tahun ni masih lagi diberi kesempatan untuk menjalani ibadah puasa, diberi rezeki untuk bersahur dan berbuka puasa, dan diberi kekuatan untuk mengharungi Ramadhan seorang diri tanpa suami di sisi 24 jam sehari. Sedang menghitung hari Suami Terchenta akan balik ke sini untuk mencuba nasib di bumi sendiri. Dalam keadaan ekonomi sekarang, harap-harap rezeki kami sentiasa diluaskan. Doa aku pada bulan Ramadhan ni ialah supaya Allah tunjukkan kepada kami jalan yang terbaik untuk kami dan Allah permudahkan kami untuk pilih jalan tersebut (baik di Sarawak mahupun di KL).

Sebab truthfully, aku dah penat sebenarnya. Penat berjauhan dengan soulmate. Cewah.

Salam Ramadhan semua!
We all know that Apple launched iPad Pro last year to compete with Microsoft Surface tablet that could do pretty much all personal computer functions (spreadsheet, emails, presentation slides etc.) sans the bulkiness of a traditional laptop. Yup, personal computer is now up against tablet PC as the latter is now designed to replace desktop / laptop to suit current mobile lifestyle.

Even before iPad Pro was launched, I have been bringing my iPad around to attend discussions and meetings in the office. Microsoft integration with iOS has brought so much convenience in my life because it allows me to remote my desktop from my iPad, sync my notes on MS OneNote and still get the work done.

So you can see that I am a heavy user of iPad simply because it's much more mobile than a laptop. The only difference from a laptop is, iPad doesn't come with a keyboard. The on-screen keyboard is not really favourable because it takes up the already small screen space on the iPad mini.

So to maximise my productivity when I use my iPad mini to take down meeting notes or amend spreadsheets, I invested in iPad casing that comes together with a keyboard. There's not much options of keyboard cases for iPad mini to choose from compared to the other iPad models, but I managed to get these models and tried them out.

1. Ultrathin Keyboard Folio for iPad Mini (Logitech)

Ultrathin Keyboard Folio for iPad Mini from Logitech

Logitech needs no introduction since is a household name for computer peripherals including tablet computer. I can see why. True to its name, the keyboard folio is ultra thin and weighs slightly above 10oz. 

Retailing at slightly more than RM300, the keyboard folio comes in limited colour - black, grey or turquoise/white (however, I noted that the newer version comes in black, purple and grey). Like all other keyboards, it connects with the iPad via Bluetooth. It's easy to pair the keyboard with my iPad and once connected, it stays connected until the keyboard juice runs out. It also has an auto-wake / auto-sleep function to preserve the battery's life. Opening the case will wake the iPad mini and the keyboard is ready to be used instantaneously.

The case outer layer has a velvety feel to it and at a glance, it's easy to mistaken it for a boring ol' paper notebook cover (if not for its vivid turquoise colour). When you flip it open, the keyboard has only one viewing angle while typing. You can however flip the keyboard to the back if you want to transform the iPad back to its tablet form. Just switch off the keyboard and you are ready to go.

Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Folio for iPad mini

In terms of function, it is effortless to type on the keyboard and doesn't require me to exert strong pressure to type. It also includes iOS short-cut keys for copy, paste, undo, volume adjustment and more, which are very convenient and time-saving. Furthermore, the layout closely resembles the QWERTY keyboard and doesn't feel cramped at all despite its small size.

The keyboard layout

After recharging the keyboard for the first time, the battery can lasts up to 3 months. The keyboard will inform you when it needs recharging by yellow blinking light on the right, above. Since the keyboard sync with the iPad using bluetooth adapter, I expected that the iPad will drain its battery faster, but thankfully, the keyboard's bluetooth hardly affected the iPad battery usage. 

The battery can last for months after recharged

Over the one year of using the keyboard, I found Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Folio user-friendly, and thought that I will get to use the keyboard for many years to come. Sadly, my daughter dropped the keyboard case and this happened:

The low-profile clip that keep the corners of the iPad firmly fastened to the frame broke when my daughter dropped my iPad

The problem with this keyboard is finally revealed - the low-profile clips turned out to be not sturdy and once dropped, the clip can break and render the folio case useless! After it broke, I could no longer fasten my iPad mini to the case. Some of the keys are also not functioning and renders the keyboard useless... *heartbroken*

I had no choice but to search for a more durable keyboard case for my iPad mini since I depends heavily on the keyboard.

So the search brought me to:

2. ZAGG Cover with Blacklit Keyboard for iPad Mini

Since now my criteria is a hardy keyboard case, I opted for the clamshell keyboard model which look sturdier than Logitech Ultrathin Folio Keyboard case. Price-wise, it is slightly more expensive than the former (retailing at RM399), but it is one of the thinnest keyboards available which is what I have in mind.

At one glance, the keyboard layout seems quite packed - the keys are arranged in 6 rows unlike Logitech's 5 rows. However, after a while, I got used to the layout and only got annoyed with the small numeric '1' key (due to its irregular size compared to the rest of the numeric keys) since I always hit number '2' thinking it is number '1'.

Here's what I like about ZAGG keyboard:

1. The clamshell design makes it look and feel like using a good ol' laptop sans the mouse. Other people often get impressed when they look at it and some even thought I had a mini laptop!

It turns my iPad mini into a mini laptop

2. The leather-textured cover feels sturdy and offers maximum protection to the iPad. As the case entire frame holds the iPad in, the will take a horrendous drop to break the entire case! No more worries about broken clip.

iPad slips inside the frame and the entire case hold the iPad in its place

The case outer layer is sturdy and the leather-like texture offers good grip

3. I can use the keyboard even in low-light environment, thanks to its backlit function. I can select different backlit colour which I find comfortable for my eyesight - from neon blue, neon pink, neon green, red and yellow.

How the keyboard looks like

4. The battery is also long-lasting just like Logitech's keyboard. Once fully-charged, the keyboard can lasts for 3 months before it needs to be re-charged. I can check the battery status by holding down 'CMD' + 'ALT' (with the battery sign) keys. Green light means the battery is still full.

The power switch is on the lower side

Just like the Logitech keyboard, ZAGG keyboard also includes short-cut keys which are very helpful.

Now, the down side which I find is major annoyance and wish ZAGG will look into it (in descending order):

1. The keyboard constantly loses connection with the iPad if it goes to sleep for more than 5 minutes. Even when I hit the any keys repeatedly just as the manual suggested, the keyboard won't automatically connect. Eventually, I will have to go to Setting and 'disconnect' the keyboard, and then re-connect the Bluetooth before I can use the keyboard again.

It's really tiresome to keep connecting the keyboard to the iPad every time the iPad goes to sleep

2. Since using the keyboard, I find my iPad battery drains faster. I mean, A LOT faster. Imagine, after recharging the iPad battery, I will find that the battery will be down up to 50% 2 hours later. Even when I don't use the keyboard but leave both Bluetooth connections of the iPad and the keyboard 'ON'.

3. The viewing angle is just at 135 degrees just like a laptop. If I want to scribble on the iPad screen or show some data to another person, I have to take it off the case. In other words, I can't fold the keyboard backwards to use my iPad as a tablet.

Nevertheless, I hope this keyboard will last a lot longer than the Logitech Ultrathin Folio Keyboard case. There are pros and cons to both keyboards but I find that I prefer the Logitech keyboard better unless ZAGG is able to rectify the major problems with the Bluetooth connection issue.

If anyone else has experience with other models / brands of keyboard case for iPad mini, do share your experience in the 'Comments' column.
Happy Mother's Day to all Mothers and (ahem) Fathers who are playing the role of a mother for whatever reasons!

Being a mother is... indescribable. There are days when your heart just want to burst because it can't contain all the love in the world you feel towards your children. But there are also days when you cry on your own, thinking - what have I got myself into?

Seriously, motherhood is complicated. At least for me. From not wanting to breed, to needing to breed desperately to actually breeding (sorry if it sounds crude to you guys). That is how I describe my motherhood journey.

The lights of my life

Here are snippets of my thoughts on motherhood from the first year of marriage till I become a mom.

2006, December 15 - we got married.

Truth be told, I wasn't into my marriage wholeheartedly because I believed at 24 years old, I was too young to be carrying the responsibilities as a wife. What more to be a mother? So I told people - lay it off. I'm still trying to learn my rope and get my head wrapped around the idea of being married, so don't talk about kids yet!!

Those days when there were only two of us, we spent our weekends going on picnic dates

2007 (early of the year) - Still not ready for baby...

Along the way, I'm sure we will bring this marriage to the next level - having our own children. I like babies. I adore them that I want to pick up every babies that I met. I'm sure having my own one day would be a terrific experience. But I want to have one when I feel I am ready and matured enough to handle that tantamount experience.
For the moment, please don't check on my fertility rate and let us enjoy being lazy couple who like to wake up late and go off to wherever we want. Port Dickson as a start.


2007 (end of the year) - toying with the idea...

Akhir-akhir ini, kami selalu berbincang soal yang serius. Soal anak.Atau sebenarnya. Aku selalu berbincang soal yang serius. Nama bakal anak. Malam semalam, lepas membaca bedtime story book (katalog IKEA!), kami berbual-bual sebelum berguling2 mendodoikan mata. Topik yang sama dibincangkan.

The idea is planted. Yet the heart is not too sure. After all, we were barely one year into our marriage. By this stage, I was mulling over the thought lightly.

2008 (middle of the year) - ok, let's do it!

A few weeks ago, Suami Terchenta & I decided that we should definitely start a project together, and that is called the 'Baby #1 Project'. We have different opinions to the objective of the project though - Suami Terchenta couldn't wait to pass on his gene and I couldn't stand to go back home for Raya without 'the good news' as everyone in our families refer to it.

I guess after 1 and a half year of being together, we finally decided that our relationship is stable enough to bring a child into the love equation. Only... it wasn't as easy as we thought it was! Maybe I shouldn't be arrogant in the first place, telling other people that making babies can be put off until we want to. The truth is - although we want a baby now, it's not just up to us to decide his/her arrival. So we sought professional help and went on fertility treatment for our first attempt. 

We decided to bring a baby into our life journey

2008 (pregnant with first baby) - Yeay, pregnant at last!

This year, I still cook. Only most of the time, they are instant, pop-in-the-kuali and voila! Instant nasi goreng for breaking of fast. I have never been so thankful to instant food industry. Maggi, you're a marriage life saver! Of course, I still have to chop up veggies or poultry or anything to flavor the instant nasi goreng, but I can do that while sitting down and watching my favourite sinetron, 'Soleha'. The nasi goreng frying is then done by my Mr Yummylicious Hubby. Me? You can't expect me to slave over the kuali with a back-ache from carrying this grapefruit-sized baby!

Despite the fragile condition of my planned pregnancy, I was super excited of the prospect of having my own kid. Surprising, isn't it? I truly soaked up in the experience, asam craving and all. Maklumlah, first pregnancy. Memang mengada-ngada sikit.

2008 (12 weeks later) - ... but we lost the baby.

Tomorrow marks 2 weeks after I came back from the hospital without the baby. I am doing better now. I stopped having urges to stuff something in my mouth because I felt empty inside. I stopped crying on my pillow at night. And I stopped dreaming about babies every night - I only dream of babies occasionally. I am coming to terms with our loss.

Even years later, I still remember the pain of losing my firstborn. It was like a dream crushed, like having a gaping hole in my heart and I carried the pain for months to come until the day I held Khayla in my arms. 

Thinking of you, my little angel.

2009 - still no baby. I became obsessed with the idea of being pregnant.

Still, life moves on. Still. Something is bugging me at the back of my mind.
Still the little one is not coming. He who was to be the ultimate birthday gift to Suami Terchenta this month, or so I thought 9 months ago.
Be at peace, my son.

2010 (early of the year) - ... to the point I got depressed when people asked how come we are still not pregnant?

Kalau anak tu buat dalam oven Panasonic kami, dah lama kami buat ok. Tapi zuriat itu datangnya dari Allah maka haruslah bersabar dan berdoa dgn kami supaya dapat anak kembar (erk. Apakah??)

So we decided to keep our minds occupied so we don't have to think about baby anymore and get all depressed. We signed up for MBA together. Then I contracted chicken pox for the first time ever in my life, lost my weight and boom! I was expecting without knowing it!

Days before I was down with chicken pox after visiting a hotspring resort

2010 (end of year) - and then we found ourselves with the rainbow baby.

Thirdly, ini ialah official announcement. Tahun ini juga, kami sangat produktif. Dalam keterujaan nak sambung study, tup-tup dapat tau. Akhirnya, En Suami akan bergelar seorang ayah. At first, rasa nak baling test kit dalam mangkuk toilet dan flush. Bukan sebab tak suka, tapi sebab tak percaya. Tapi, percubaan kali kedua dengan test kit yang lebih mahal akhirnya meng 'convince' kan kami untuk berjumpa doktor dan 'confirm'. Syukur alhamdulillah, rezeki itu datang jugak. Tak payah buat treatment. Tak payah gi jumpa specialist. Ini dinamakan kuasa Tuhan.

This time around, the pregnancy was kept a secret and the whole time, it felt like riding a roller-coaster with specific instructions not to make a sound throughout the ride! One moment our joy of carrying a viable pregnancy escalated high enough to reach the sky, but suddenly I found myself bleeding and our emotions plunged down at horrifying speed and we constantly found ourselves bracing for impact of hearing the news that the baby didn't make it. Phew. Pregnancy is a roller-coaster ride of emotions, I kid you not.

Just as the caption says - 2010 marks a turn towards the better.

2010 (3 days before our girl Khayla arrived) - saying goodbye to couplehood, bracing myself for motherhood.

I know this may sound weird considering that we are over the moon about this pregnancy, but I know I shall miss the world of two-some.
No more before sleep cuddles.
No more on the spur of the moment dates.
No more fancy-schmancy trips.
I know that there is no way we will trade this chance with all that.

The morning before we gave up couplehood and embraced parenthood

2010, December 15 - A mom at last!

Terima kasih ya Allah, sebab mengurniakan anak secantik dan sebaik dia :)

She is our rainbow baby.
The subsequent journey is filled with joy (going on outing with my baby to watching her sleep), guilt  (of scolding them to leaving them for the sake of finishing up my studies) and weariness of being a mother to the point where I went into hiding from my children.

Yet, I know I can't bear to lose them for they have stolen my heart from the day they were conceived. They became my rock, my world and my everything, despite everything that I had to go through for them (c-sec, diabetes and getting induced among others).

Without them, I would never know the depth of my love, nor would I know true strength as only a mother knows. 

Happy Mother's Day, Carneyz. It's been a wonderful journey into motherhood so far :)