Kuching Trip in 2019

Kuching, Sarawak is an annual destination for my family. This year we decided to use our yearly Waran tickets for Hari Raya Haji. Since it coincides with the school holidays, there was naturally a price hike for all hotel rooms and transport. Hence, I booked a Homestay which I found on Instagram : homestaymuslimkuching

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My rented home has 3 air-conditioned rooms, 2 bathrooms and basic amenities in the kitchen like a stove, some pans, plates,utensils, cups, a kettle, blender and there was even a washing machine. The home has a rate of  RM250/night. Since I will be there for at least 5 days 4 nights, we were eligible for a discount of just being charged RM210/night. I paid a 50% deposit online to the owner, to lock the date and completed the payment with cash upon arrival at the homestay. We also had to pay a RM150 security deposit when checking in which is later returned upon checking out.

The homestay is located in Matang Jaya, where the residents are predominantly Bumiputra of which there is a balance between muslims and non muslims in the area. Matang Jaya is situated across the other side of the bridge away from the city. Nevertheless there are plenty of activities and places to go. The shopping malls may be less grand as compared to the ones in the city but it is easier to find Halal food/ restaurants within this vicinity including places heading towards Petra Jaya/ Semariang.

Homestays are generally cheaper if we are traveling in a large group. Of course, it may not be as luxurious and comfortable compared to our usual state of living at home. We missed a few things from home such as;

  1. The microwave – we had to reheat our food using pots and pans on the stove
  2. Comforters – each room was provided with a very thin blanket. I suppose it is a technique so that we increase the temperature while we sleep. In a way less energy is used to cool the room to ‘extreme’ temperatures. Hence conserve electricity and reduces the bill.
  3. Coway water filter machine – given the easy access to clean water at home, boiling hot water can be a chore. Ha ha. Thankfully, there is a NINSO nearby for us to buy drinking water in abundance. The 1.5 litre bottles were sold at only RM2.30 for 3 bottles.
  4. Night lights/ bedside lamps – I was so glad that I brought my doTERRA LUMO diffuser. It doubles up as my lamp throughout the night as I set it to 10 hours of usage. If I did not bring it, I’d have to resort to a totally dark room or sleep with the doors open. 20190810_141932-019203051808957857482.jpeg
  5. The many available wall sockets – Each room has only 1 wall socket. Therefore, it is advisable to bring your own extensions.
  6. The assorted shower gels/shampoo & toothpaste -the homestay provided one basic solution for shampoo and body foam which is totally acceptable. I miss having the many choices like we do at home. Hence, it is wise to bring pre-packed toiletries too.

ACTIVITIES

Our flight was damn early at 0750AM. The kids did not bath and we performed our Subuh prayers at KLIA. Check in at KLIA was easy as there are plenty of self check in machines available. Once we’ve printed the luggage tags , we baggage dropped our things at the respective counters.

In-flight menu was OK although we personally prefer Air Asia’s nasi lemak. Even the kids pancakes taste funny.

We touched down at Kuching International Airport (KIA) 10 mins earlier than scheduled and had to wait for our rented car to come which took hours. So we had lunch at SUGAR BUN, in the airport which was freaking expensive. Our rented car is an Axia at RM90/day.

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This time around for raya haji, we would be visiting our relatives. We do not have the luxury to do other tourist-ish stuff like we normally do. So Santubong Damai Beach and museum visits were not part of the schedule. Some of the little things we manage to do include;

COFFEE AT BELALAK ADDICTED

This roadside stall was once famous for its Turkish like brewed coffee. Nowadays however, perhaps because its time consuming, they have removed that extra unique element and replaced it with other coffee varieties on top of selling fried food/critters for tea. I ordered Kopi Let which is a mixture of coffee with cocoa. It is very sweet though but the coffee taste still come out strong. Price : RM4.90

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RECITING YASSIN AND TAHLIL FOR THE DEceased

This was a get together on my moms side. We sedekah our recitations to those we love and hope Allah will ease their sufferings, if any, in alam barzakh. Then we had food. Lost of food. My sister and I brought chocolate cake all the way from Selangor for the occasion.

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FOOD HUNTING

There is no doubt that the queen of Laksa Sarawak is still Moms Laksa. The broth is super delicious and the closest restaurant to replicate its taste is here in Melaka, Kolok Vs Laksa restaurant located along the SPA Highway.

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A bowl of delicious mi kolok is harder to find because everyone’s recommendations differs greatly as to how they decide that mi kolok is nyaman. The last time I had a delicious mi kolok was at Kets Kitchen in Matang Jaya. Now rebranded as POpular Food Court. Till now, it was so difficult to get hold of the pakcik who makes the mi kolok.

Sotong Kangkung from LOCK ANN is a must. It has now relocated just opposite Matang Mall.

We went to a new place this year. MAMI CENDOL. It sells cendol, shaved ice with toppings, rojak buah, sotong kangkung and mi belacan. We thought it was a bit odd though to tapau self service but we went along with the system. The taste was alright.

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We had our seafood fix as usual at TOPSPOT. It is open at night and we usually patron stall no 25. I recommend ordering their butter prawn. Damn delicious!

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If you yearn for seafood during the day, then TELAGA AIR is the place for you. It is equally cheap. They serve the dishes buffet style but they are still freshly cooked. Telaga Air is situated about 35 – 40 minutes from Matang Jaya.

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BUYING SOUVENIRS

I bring back kuih lapis and butter cake back to Melaka every year without fail. It is sad though that nowadays kuih lapis has become so commercialized that its lost its unique value during Hari Raya. I  also get my Sarawak orientated kain pasang from main bazaar or India Street for my working baju kurung. I plan to enrich my wardrobe with baju kurung that has a Sarawakian or Terengganu motive to it. Ha ha.

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A SPECIAL VISIT TO MASJID AL GHAZALI

This masjid is located just 6 minutes from our homestay. Al Ghazali is special because it was built with the compensation money the relatives received with regards to this whole family who died in the MH17 crash. InsyaAllah as long as people keep the masjid alive, it will be a continuous supply of good deeds for the dead.

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I hope to spend longer time in Kuching next year. Our family will be going through transitions in our everyday routine next month as we ponder and wait for where Mr Husband will be deployed for his specialist gazzettement.

I hope it is in a state where the weekends are the same as in Melaka.

A one night stay at Dorsett Putrajaya

I love staycations. Especially when we landed on a bargain for a hotel room or an experience. Last weekend, it was my moms 60th birthday. After the feast I decided to check into DORSETT PUTRAJAYA hotel overnight based on its location near Masjid Besi and the Food Truck Area in Putrajaya.

Hotel parking was adequate. FREE of course. Reception was friendly. Room was spacious. Breakfast was a delight. I love how they give you mug options for your coffee. Cause mom’s ain’t gonna have enough of caffeine in those eeenny meeeenyyy white cuppas. Ee’s breakfast rate was RM25.

I booked a Deluxe Room with balcony for a night through Agoda.com and it was RM210.00 including service tax and fee. My room comes with a nice view, free WIFI, complimentary breakfast for 2, coffee. tea and 2 bottles of drinking water. There is an in room iron with board, hairdryer, bath robes with slippers and alhamdulilah a prayer mat. It’s those little touches that make your stay wonderful.

The bathroom had no bath tub but it was fine. The toiletries were cute. I had to try the shampoo and conditioner. It smelt like Lemongrass.

The hotel has an infinity swimming pool and gym on the top floor. The pool is open from 7AM to 7PM whilst the gym is open for 24 hours. The hotel was initially conjoined with a shopping mall but we noticed that only the main supermarket and a few eateries are open. I am not quite sure what happened to the rest of the business premises. The mall looked haunted. Such a waste of space and facilities. I really hope that Waterfront Hotel in Kuching would not suffer from a similar fate.

The scene outside at the balcony in the night was really really beautiful. I could stare at the mosque all night. We had dinner at the food truck area. The options were alright and they had a sitting area too for you to eat your meals. It’s like an open air foodcourt cuma yg berjualnya guna truck. We had western food – spaghetti aglio olio and carbonara with iced milk tea.

 

I would book a room here again if I had any business going on in Putrajaya. The location is calm. There is not much traffic for a weekend staycation. You could even get involved in healthy activities like walking or cycling.

Upon completion of my stay here, I received an automated email saying that I am now a member of Dorsett Loyalty Rewards programme. This entitles me to exclusive member benefits etc. Will explore on that later.

Bayou Lagoon Park Resort, Melaka

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We booked a Studio during our stay at this resort. It has 2 single beds which we pushed closed together and towards the wall to accommodate the 4 of us. Mr Husband paid RM293.50 for a 3D2N stay including breakfast , tax and 2 adult entrance ticket to the waterpark for FREE. We still have to pay RM20 tourism fee upon checking in. 

3D2N = RM 293.50

The hotel was understandably packed as it was the long holidays. Our breakfast on the 1st morning had to be held at the convention centre because of the huge number of people. It was only the second day did we get to sit in the coffee house.

Breakfast selection was acceptable for the price you’re paying. You have the rice/noodle option, toasts with jam/ butter, porridge, fruits, basic cereals and coffee/tea. It was OK. 

Checking in was a breeze. This resort uses a ticketing system to serve their customers. Service was fast. Our room was located on the 8th floor in the Amari Villa. Despite the large volume of people staying in the resort, there was no difficulty (for us) to get into a lift. Bayou Lagoon has an in house convenience store just in front of the elevators which was convenient when you’re desperate. Otherwise, replenish your supplies elsewhere. 

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Our room has a strong WIFI connection, a mini fridge and complementary beverages. To us, having a fridge is a blessing. We are not allowed to bring the room towels to the water park, so either bring your own from home or rent one in the park itself. 

Our tickets came with the price of the room. Otherwise, the fees are as below;

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As you can see, there are other attractions available but because of time constraints ( we still have a few houses to visit for Eid), we just went into the water park. 

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Bayou Lagoon is a relatively small water park compared to the bigger ones out there. Families with young kids would enjoy this place. Teenagers and young adults? Maybe, depending on what thrill you’re looking for. What I loved about the place is that they don’t scrutinize your swimwear. Meaning, it is ok to wear a clean T-shirt and pants. One need not wear a burkini for instance. Janji pakai baju. 

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This place does not have lifeguards. So swim and play at own risk. There is an eatery inside. You can reload your tag with RM50 at the entrance and once you’re in the park, transactions are scanned through your bracelet. I am not sure if you could collect any balance from the counter once you’ve exit the park. That perhaps, is a question other visitors can answer. 

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Ee enjoyed going down the water slides. He is a lot more braver the last time we brought him to play in a park. Ninie on the hand, occupied and entertained herself by scooping water into her little bowl. Occasionally, I would give her duck float a little push around the ankle pool. In case, you’re wondering, she is not butt-nàkéd. She is wearing a diaper. But we don’t let her take a dip into the pool for hygiene purposes. 

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If I could improve my trip experience any better, I would consider the following;

  • buy own bottled mineral water in advance. their convenience store is expensive. A bottle of 2L drinking water costs a freaking RM6.
  • bring a few extra blankets cause my kids, being self-centred (lol..egoistic lil brats HA HA) like to keep the blankets to themselves. They ain’t wanna share. And while you’re at it, bring personal towels that you can use inside the water park too.
  • diffuse the room with EOs of your choice. the room does smell a bit musty when we first arrived. It got better but the experience could be enriched with my doTERRA oils preferably the Wild Orange/ Peppermint. 

The WaterFront Hotel, Kuching

 

For our annual trip balik kampung last year, we decided to try a different hotel than our usual Lime Tree. Hence decided to give The Waterfront Hotel a try. We did not regret our choice.

Ninie being cheeky and refusing to sleep during the flight from KL – KCH.. 

 

I made a booking for two rooms. One for my Minci family and the other for my parents.

The trip was in December. I booked for myself, a Deluxe King room for 5 nights. After tax and a discount of 5% the total price amounted up to RM 1071.40. My son Ee was charged an extra RM15/day for breakfast at the hotel. But it was worth it. The breakfast spread was awesommmmeee.

We rented a car in Kuching which we drove from the airport to the hotel. The hotels parking area is shared with Plaza Merdeka. It’s a wonderful shopping mall attached to the hotel. It took a while to check in because of the high volume of visitors during school holidays. So we passed time taking pictures and kind of explored the mall.

Here are a few points I especially loved about this hotel;

LOCATION

Situated in the heart of the city, it is walking distance to most of the main attractions in the city. We could shop at the nearby Carpenter Street & India Street. Famous for its spices, textiles and local delicacies. If you’re willing to walk a bit further, you would reach the Main Bazaar where most of the souvenirs are sold. A little further, you could reach Top Spot. Tapi jenuhlah nak menapak.

Having Plaza Merdeka as a neighbour which houses most of our favourite fast food joints makes handling cravings for a McD cheeseburger, Gloria latte and Sugarbuns chicken easier with picky eaters. They even have MPH!

SPACIOUS CLEAN ROOMS

What more can I say. Our life is complete when there is a mini fridge to store those Kuching only food we buy at the store.

Housekeeping were on time and very accommodating. I particularly loved the toiletries they used especially the lemon grass like shower gel. It felt fresh.

And did I tell you they have the cutest, cosy swimming pool ever?

BREAKFAST BUFFET

We could actually sit there till 10am. I was too hungry to take pictures of the area. Suffice to say, the selections were delicious and we really enjoyed the Sarawak specials eventhough its just Nasi Aruk for that day. The Sarawak Laksa was the best. I think it is a special on a Sunday. Or was it on a Monday. I’m not quite sure cause they change these special menu daily.

But even so, you still have the star dish daily. That is the NASI LEMAK. LIkeee woowwww.. I had it everyday. And the bread pudding!

You can have your breakfast outside at the terrace too if you wish.

In general, the hospitality offered by the staff was like 10 stars. We couldn’t feel happier.  It is those little things that count you know, like the free shuttle to the nearest masjid for Friday prayers! I look forward for our annual trip this year. Perhaps, if the price is similarly great – we get to experience this first class hospitality all over again. InsyaAllah.. 

Review : Grand Blue Wave Hotel, Shah Alam (2018)

Posh, Modern, Islamic hotel

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I booked a room in this hotel because I had a conference there. Furthermore it was walking distance to the mall, several restaurants and the famous Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah blue mosque.

My pre-conference forum was at the mosque and I was in awe of not only its majestic structure but also how imarah it was – bustling with activities in the early hours of the morning. And I am not talking about just acts of worship like performing the Dhuha or attending a tajwid class at the mosque – there was in fact a CPR workshop taking place there, alongside other beneficial classes including my forum.

The mosque felt so welcoming to all as it celebrates knowledge  of all kinds that mankind could learn and benefit from. And it should be – if only we all see it that way!

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I arrived Shah Alam by bus at 10 pm. My initial plan was to hail a cab to bring me to the hotel but I couldn’t find any. Plus the area was very dark. So, I frantically downloaded the Grab App on Google Playstore, booked a ride, muttered millions of alhamdulilah because my driver was a lady and I arrived at the hotel safely. And boy, were the reception so friendly despite the sudden top-up transactions I had to do that night – mainly the SST and Ee’s breakfast buffet. Yes, we have to pay for him now.

The room has the standard amenities I prefer : mini fridge, a kettle, free WIFI, a bath tub, sejadah, complimentary daily English newspaper, many sockets to charge your phone and stuff. I am puzzled that they do not have an in room iron though. Tak cukup mahal lagi kahhhh ini bilik.. maybe it is a safety issue.

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The breakfast buffet spread was wonderful. Loved the nasi lemak rendang and pastries. I had to stay alone and have breakfast alone for the 1st two days as Ee still had school and my husband his work. They came later on the Friday evening to lepak2 at the hotel. I honestly missed them a lot. I don’t think I have ever said that enough.

I did not get the opportunity to visit the hotel’s spa. At the 4th floor. Or the pool. But I did get to soak in the bath tub during the nights when my kids were not there yet. I was also glad that the hotel had this mini poster of suggestions of places to go around Shah Alam. I thought that was a good touch. The malls are within walking distance. Otherwise, you could always hop on the FREE BUS or use GRAB.

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This hotel also has a certified halal japanese restaurant. I did not get to try that as well since the conference itself fed me well. Maybe next time.

I spent RM550 for the conference and the forum.

My room in the hotel was a Deluxe Room. As usual, booking platform is Agoda.Com. It was a 5D4N stay amounting to a total of RM1,146.20 minus tax. YUP. One of my biggest spends this year. For knowledge. InsyaAllah – may Allah be pleased with my efforts.