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.

Hotel Tenera, Bangi

I drove straight to Hotel TENERA after my morning CSR activity at Rumah Seri Mesra Ampang. It took me about an hour with all the horrendous traffic using Google Map. I was surviving on a 39% Samsung battery life because I forgot to charge at the centre. I forgot I did an FB Live which consumed much of my battery. I need a power bank.

Traffic was bad. Honestly, I don’t know how y’ll Kay-Ell peeps live this life everyday.

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“Shariah compliant, prestigious and elegant 4 star hotel with an average rating of 8.5/10”

Meaning no alcohol or pubs on site. Hence, most guests were muslims. But don’t get them wrong, non muslims are still very welcome to stay. And do relax, it’s not that they play the Quran recitation in the lobby 24 hours a day! You can even wear shorts and sleeveless T-shirts if that is comfortable attire to you. They don’t force a hijab on you. Perhaps not strutting in a bikini though. I booked the hotel through my favourite app – AGODA.Com. Gosh, Agoda should make me their affiliate or collaborator or something. Hahaha.

Hotel TENERA has 2 separate buildings to accommodate the hotel rooms and their apartments. I chose to stay in the apartments cause the price is a bargain.

 

Mine is a Studio King Apartment which comes with Free Wifi and Breakfast for 2 that I shared with my mom. I paid RM228 per night including tax and service fee. What was not included was the RM10 tourism fee which international tourists pay at the site.

The hotel was easily located with Google Map. Check in was at the hotel main lobby and I was brought to the apartment with a buggy. It was an 8 second ride. LOL.

My room was on the 14th floor. It was just after 3 PM when I arrived, so I took the time to run the water for my soak in the bath tub. I made myself coffee, put on my doTERRA diffuser and relaxed at the living space watching the remaining Shah Rukhs Khans hindi movie  – Paheli.  The story is about hantu raya. LOL.

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There’s a prayer mat, hairdryer, iron with board and mini fridge as well in my room. After my rest, I went to my parents place to have dinner and also picked my mum up to come stay with me at the hotel. I think she needs time away from home. Hahaha. Plus, she loves breakfast at the hotel.

Public Amenities

There are plenty of parking spaces at both parts of the hotel. In the apartment area, there is a swimming pool and mini gymnasiums for patrons to work out.

At the hotel building, there is a separate pool for ladies! But my mom and I did not have time to explore much cause we both slept in the morning after Subuh prayers. Yeh, two very exhausted moms of different ages. Hahaha.

There is a designated Smoking Area too outside.

Breakfast & Restaurant

I am not quite sure what to advice. If you come too early, you’ve got to beat the huge crowd. Especially on a weekend. So we had ours a bit late. We both went up for breakfast at 900am but risked having some of the local favourites on the finishing end with no signs of being replenished. Such as the half boiled eggs. There was a wait for roti canai and pastries. Even the normal sliced breads are not topped up. The main dishes were alright but I was dying for the good ol Nasi Lemak which was substituted with fried rice instead. Hampa. 

Perhaps the good part of it is that we get to eat bowls and bowls of cereal. If only they would consider having overseas cereal options.. the ones not available in your regular supermarkets like those premium ones sold at Jaya grocers for a change. Barulah cornflake hotel. giteww. 

There is however a stand alone restaurant within the same compound of the hotel if you are still hungry. A small cafe is also available at the lobby just beside the little Siti Khadijah store . To those in the dark, Siti Khadijah is famous for its prayer garments. It is usually given as gifts especially for umrah/hajj. 

Even then, there is a huge mall beside the hotel. I am not sure of its name but you do need to drive a bit unless you need to fulfill your 10,000 steps exercise for the day. There, you could find most fast food joints and regular shops for window shopping. Mum and I decided to just stay in the hotel room until it was time to check out.

I checked out by 11AM because I did not want to be caught up in traffic back to Melaka. Overall, it was a satisfying pleasant and relaxing stay. I would definitely bring my kids here next time.

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. 

A daytrip to Universal Studios Singapore from Johor Bahru

We are a family of 4. I have a child in primary school and a toddler just over 14 months during the trip. We went for this short excursion during the Melaka public holiday long weekend in April.

We initially drove from Melaka and then stayed at the Hotel Sentral in JB where our bus was scheduled to pick us up the next day.

I wrote about the hotel here.

And these are the ticket prices I mentioned before in the similar blog post.

uss price

I packed my bag light but with enough supplies to keep the kids happy. Some of the things in my tote include;

  • Small thermos for hot water to prepare Ninie’s milk
  • Few empty bottles for us to drink and istinjak. There are loads of water coolers all over the place. InsyaAllah, dehydration would be the less of your worries
  • But mind you, the sun can be really hot. So bring along a mini fan or hat to cover your face
  • Apply sunscreen religiously
  • Lots of wipes.
  • Snacks for babies. Although they did not perform a bag check on us at the entrance, we thought we’d be safe and not smuggle in too much outside food. Furthermore, there are halal certified eateries inside the theme park.
  • Comfortable footwear
  • Bubble play toy. Bought those mini ones at Eco Store. 4 for RM2.10. It was a bargain.

On the day itself, we had breakfast at 7am in the hotel restaurant. I also made sure our son relieved himself as many times as he can before we got on the bus. We departed by 0815 am at our stop. To be honest, the trip from JB to USS itself is less than an hour BUT what kept us waiting were the pit stops at both Immigration offices. Malaysians getting out of Malaysia is easy, its getting into Singapore that begs a longer queue. Thankfully, our bus for that day was not full. So the wait took less than 30 mins at each stop. We were able to arrive at USS by 10am ish.

There were numerous tips online on how you wish to make use of the time there. But with kids, everything can be unpredictable. There is no order. You just venture in and pray for the best. Most of the rides have height requirements for children and Ee is at an age where it is possible to get on almost all of them.

Can babies enjoy USS?

 

Absolutely, even though they lack the memory of it. Ninie was able to enjoy the Shrek 4D cinema. In fact, we entered the premise twice. More for the cool, air conditioned surroundings. Even then, Ninie had fun experiencing the jerky movements of the chair and ‘special effects’ which complemented the short movie.

She could have also enjoyed the merry-go-round but she was fast asleep then. So only Ee and I went on the ride.

In the New York section, there is a mini behind the scene ( BTS ) cinema that Ninie could enter too. This place basically shows how , for example , a natural disaster is emulated and designed for a movie. I thought the scene presented to us LIVE was so realistic. Storm, fire, ship.. everything!

Lunchtime at Oasis Spice Cafe

This is one of the food premises certified as halal in USS. It is located just in front of The Mummy ride. Although the interior is Egypt looking – it serves briyani and the briyani reminds me of the one I had when I was a student in Manchester, UK. It was that delicious. I could actually cry because I really miss this briyani recipe.  Unlike the ones we have in Malaysia. Price kena tutup mata though.

This particular site is fantastic as it listed other Halal eateries you can try too in USS.

Here is my attempt using the Remove Unwanted Content of Photo app. Yes, the name is that long. As you could see, there are a few irregularities in the picture above.

This above photo is taken during my long queue for The Revenge of The Mummy ride in the Ancient Egypt section. The waiting line was long but the wait was fun nonetheless because the design of the area was awesome. I really did feel like I was in a lost tomb and that The Mummy could attack this mummy anytime. The ride did made me feel a tad nauseous especially after my briyani.

Prayer Room

Its a small building located between Ancient Egypt and the SciFi City. Just behind the locker area. There is a partitian for men and women. Of course visitors must be considerate of each other as each space could accommodate about 3-4 people only at one time. They provide prayer garments, mats and ablution facilities there. Telekung dia warna warni and it is a very clean space.

Scheduled Shows

We managed to enjoy the Sesame Street Anniversary Show. Unfortunately my kids do not recognize these characters since local animations have a stronger fan base in Malaysia. We have Boboiboy, Upin Ipin and Didi & Friends to name a few. If you’re not Malaysian, you should consider checking em out. Especially the 1st Boboiboy movie and the recent Upin Ipin Siamang movie.

At the Hollywood area, there was a wonderful singing stage show. They sang from melodies coming out from the jukebox. I was in awe to see those very Hollywood sort of old school cafes you see in the movies with the neon lights and big high up in the sky signboards. Those diners la where people get pancakes and coffee. Or a quick lunch.

We departed from USS at about 1730H ( I think). It has been a while. We had dinner from the food trucks near the hotel. The trip left us feeling elated and rejuvenated in a way. I have never had so much fun in a theme park. Would really want to go again. Time for another piggy bank.

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