Thursday, March 29, 2007

A mind-blowing experience: L'Oreal sale at Parkroyal KL

No one can stop a girl from a good bargain. Whether you're in Asia or Europe or USA, most girls will go for good bargains ... and I am one of them! So even as a "newbie" around KL, I chanced upon the news of L'Oreal Grand Sale at Parkroyal. I knew I just have to be there. Usually there's a good deal waiting to be brought home. And I was right.

Of course, being able to attend some of those L'Oreal sale in Manila, I thought it might be same old, same old. To my surprise upon arriving at the hotel ballroom at 10:30am, there was a mob of people crazily shopping! When I say a lot, I mean A LOT. Literally body-to-body type of "a lot". You will get your share of pushing, shoving and stepping on toes (my toes in particular since I wore my sandal slippers thinking it will be a leisurely shopping experience). I think I should have worn combat boots.

Anyway, after going through hell, I managed to get a few items which I feel was a good deal. After a good lunch with my girlfriend at Dome in Bukit Bintang, I headed home and did my research. Apperently, some of the items were super good deals, while others were just simply good deal. What's the difference?

As we age, we need to take care of the area around the eyes. Don't make a mistake in using your usual night or day cream to cover that eye area. You always need a special blend for that sensitive area, so go out and invest on a good product. Exactly what I did...

Lancome Blanc Expert NeuroWhite (anti dark circles eye treatment)

RM 197 online price vs current sale price of RM 80.00
Now this is what I call a good deal! I saved RM117 on this purchase!

Lancome Renergie Yeux Anti-Wrinkle Eye Cream
RM201 online price vs. RM 80.00
That means RM121- savings for me!

Lancome Abslue - Absolute Relplenishing Creme SPF15

RM 328 online price vs RM 200.00 sale price
RM128- savings once again!

Those are just some of the good deals that I came home with today. I was quite satisfied with the "savings" I have made by putting off my purchase for my usual beauty supplies. As you can see from the photo, I literally bought my year's supply of day & night creams, juicy tube lip gloss, as well as a set of his & hers Polo Blue Eau de Toilette Spray for me and hubby.

Today (March 29) is the 1st day of the sale. It ends tomorrow. So if you are around KL and happen to chance upon this blog: go out, get your share of a great sale and a mind-blowing experience which only happens once in a blue moon. My next round of sale combat will be a while, since I have my year's supply already at hand. A battle worth fighting, in my opinion.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Pedicure and Flower Clips kind of day

The weather in Malaysia has been crazy this week, one minute it's bright and sunny, the next thing you know it's raining. Well, changes in weather can sometimes affect you -- and it caused me coughing the past few days. Since I wasn't feeling so well (and was couging at my last yoga class), I decided to take the day off from yoga and do something else.

Drove to The Curve (at Mutiara Damansara). It's one of my favorite malls. Mostly because it's near my house... but also because parking is cheap (RM1 per entry). Even if you park all day, it's still RM1.00 only. Anyway, I went there for one reason -- to finally get a pedicure. I usually had my nails done at CANS (California Nails) in Manila, which is definitely one of the best places to get manicure/pedicure. Since I am now in my new home Malaysia, it's time to start searching for the right shop which I can go to regularly.

I went to Gorgeous Nails at the top floor of the Curve (right in front of Yamaha). I tried their pedicure spa which cost me RM73.00 (quite pricey compared to Manila). The service was okay and the French pedicure was well done... so I didn't mind. What made my day is meeting a new Malaysian friend. She was drying her manicure while I was drying my pedicure. So we chatted. And had coffee. Discussed about Europe, about love and life. She even introduced me to her other friend. Now I have some new girl-friends in Malaysia!

Afterwards, we walked around the bargain stalls at the Curve, which are only there on weekends. I bought some pretty flower hairclips (which seems to be a fad now). The flowers look almost real and clips on easily. They actually made different clip designs -- small, medium, big, clamps, etc. You can steal this Penelope Cruz look for just RM20.00 !!! They were selling all types of flowers and a range of colors to choose from.

Got myself a 2-sided white flower clamp which can hold up all of my long hair. Plus another small flower clip which had a different style clamp to do half-up do (purple orchid). Paid total of RM30.00 for the 2 clips. It's a bargain actually. Especially if you compare to specialty shops that sell flower clips for 5-10 times more than the price I paid (imported ones). They are quite soft and authentic-looking. I'd say if someone was wearing it, I would even be fooled from afar that it's the real thing!

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Cost of Living in KL

After 4 months living in Malaysia, I was able to finally tally our expenses and come up with some kind of "average" cost of living. I quickly shared the total to my hubby, who very much appreciated and thought: it's definitely one of the advantages of moving from Singapore to Malaysia!

Don't get me wrong, we love Singapore. We super love the place. Efficiency, cleanliness and shopping malls everywhere! Plus the number of work opportunity is H-U-G-E as long as you have good work experience. I would say expats who are coming from Europe or USA will easily fit and adjust into the lifestyle of Singapore, if they did move to Asia because of professional reasons. But of course, with efficiency comes the price tag -- based on my experience, the cost of some things are DOUBLE (compared to Malaysia), if not more!

Malaysia is a great place after all. I had my hesitations at first, only because I didn't know the country as well as I did Singapore. Given the time frame to learn and live the life in KL, I realized the advantages (and disadvantages) ... plus of course finding out our own interpretation of cost of living in Malaysia.

Now back to cost of living...

Most often than not, people who work in KL actually don't live in KL. The "town" next to KL is called Petaling Jaya (PJ), and that is where we live. Just to give you a picture, it takes 30-60 minutes drive to the heart of Kuala Lumpur twin towers from my house (depending on the traffic). There are many, many residential areas to choose from outside KL, and some of the popular ones for expats are:

- Mont Kiara (which is quite populated with condominiums and high rise)
- Bangsar (the hangout of expats -- bars, restaurants, and lots of different residential units to choose from whether condo or bungalows)
- TTDI (probably 30-60 mins drive to KL, lots of residential units to choose from)
- Damansara Perdana (for those who prefer to have peace & quiet, with green surrounding backdrop against a serene community)
- Damansara Heights (those with big budget and prefer to live in a big house with 4-7 rooms and a garden

Those are just some of the many places which expat can adapt well into their new environment. The space will be limited to how much you are willing to pay, but like I mentioned, it is definitely cheaper than in Singapore.

As a personal example, we lived in Caribbean at Keppel Bay in Singapore. It is one of the nicest property in town, and set right next to the newest shopping mall called Vivo City. The location is also prime because it is beside the famous Sentosa, which is a must-visit when you go to Singapore. Sentosa is a small island connected to the city, which houses different entertainment elements like views, beach, rides & more. The rent we paid for year 2004 to 2006 was at Singapore Dollars $2,200 / month. That's pricey already as you can get a nice 2-bedroom condo (bigger than our 90-sq ft) at just Sing$1,400 - $1,800. That is based on our own research and survey from our friends from Singapore. By the time we left Singapore last Dec 2006, they rented out the condo we stayed in for Sing$3,500! Imagine that! When we paid Sing$2,200 we occupied the condo as brand new! Oh well, I guess that's the price you pay if you want a prime location plus the rising great economy of Singapore.

Moving to Malaysia, I had the chance to visit quite many places (which I mentioned above). Prices can range from Malaysian Ringgit (RM) 2,500-7,000 depending where you stay and how big the area is.

For a newly-wed couple like us, no kids, the 90-sq ft we used to have in Singapore was quite ok. But I didn't realize what luxury we can actually get when we got to Malaysia! Now we are renting a brand new condo at the size of 1,832 sq ft at the price of Sing$1,200! So for almost half the price, we have a much bigger place. That's definitely one of the plus!

Going back to cost of living, I'll give a simple breakdown of our own rough estimate so that expats out there who are planning to move to Malaysia will know what's in store for them.

RM 3,500 Average condo rental of nice 2-3 bedroom brand new units
RM 1,300 Installment payment per month of our Honda City car, we paid 50% downpayment
RM 150 Electricity per month, aircon usage every night for 1 room
RM 77 Broadband monthly expense
RM 200 Our own estimate of gas expense for our car
RM 1,000 Groceries for the month, believe me that is more than enough for 2 person
RM 50 Cable TV (without taking the HBO / Cinemax since DVD's are cheap here!)
RM 30 Our home phone line via TMnet
RM 320 Maid expenses coming to clean our house once a week

Roughly to live a comfortable and good life in KL, you must be ready to spend at least RM6,000 for your living expenses. That does NOT include yet your restaurant bills, parking expenses and lifestyle (massage/pedicure/etc) expenses.

I hope this gave a better picture for people who plan to come to Malaysia. Me and my hubby happily calls it our new home.

Thursday, March 22, 2007


Technorati Profile

What's Keeping Me Busy in KL

Malaysia is such a big country, which is a bonus for us moving to KL. In my own definition, it is a combination of Manila and Singapore. As a housewife (until I find a job!), I have been trying to keep myself busy (or else I will miss my family and Manila life).

I enrolled myself in YogaZone, which is one of the "most happening" places in KL. To my surprise, I really enjoyed my yoga lessons and I'm wondering if I can keep up the pace once I start working.

On the topic of working, it's quite challenging to find a GREAT JOB here in Malaysia. Not because it is not available. But because I am on a dependant pass, meaning I can live here but I cannot work here. Once I find a company to work for, they will be processing my work permit. Which means I give up my dependant pass and have a new work permit on my passport. It's difficult ... but not impossible. Hopefully in the months to come I will be able to find the perfect job.

Meanwhile, I am already driving on the "right" side. Yes, it is quite different from Manila and France, where people drive on the left side. So with my new-found driving skills, I went on mall adventures. My favorites are 1 Utama and the Curve. I live in Damansara area, and actually very close to Ikea. This is a nice place to live with quiet surroundings & fresh air. But of course, it's at least 30-minutes drive to KL center.

Just last weekend, me and hubby drove to Cameron Highlands. It's a cool place up the mountains, where you will find lots of goodies to buy (like flowers, strawberries, honey, corn, etc). They have interesting restaurants (serving scones + tea, steamboat a.k.a shabu-shabu). I was able to buy pure honey, which has a lot of health benefit. Kinda hard to find good quality honey if you just go to supermarkets you will get so-so quality ones. The tea plantation was one of the highlights of the trip. The view was awesome at the Boh Tea Plantation (check out pic)! And we got an insider look at how tea is made. Definitely a must-go when in Malaysia. You will need at least 2 days (1 overnight) to fully enjoy Cameron.

Last Chinese New Year (CNY), we drove up to Malacca. It was a shorter drive, like 2-2.5 hours only. One thing i learned is NEVER to go back there again during CNY because everything was closed! People were off to their holidays, so it's literally like a "dead" town. Such a shame, it would have been a memorable visit. We stayed at the Equatorial Hotel. Nicely located and probably the most expensive in that area (but sad to say a bit run-down for the price!).

Food is a big thing here in Malaysia. I must say there's wide variety. You will never run out of options. They have quite a selection -- great French food (i have yet to try that La Bouchon which is highly recommended), a very happening Spanish Restaurant called La Bodega (the food is great but a bit pricey, yummy pancakes at Paddington House of Pancakes, affordable tasty chicken at Nando's, rice meals & cakes at Secret Recipe, and so much more!

So far, it's a great place to stay and I am happy to call it home. Until next time...

Yoga for Beginners - Like Me!!!

When I was about to enroll in yoga, I logged on to the web to find out what's in store for beginners like me. I even went to Times Bookstore to read up on yoga books, which was aplenty!

I'd like to share my own experience and hopefully encourage yoga beginners out there. Nothing to worry about and everyone who's anyone can join yoga. Whatever age or sex, we're all fit for it.

There are different types of yoga, and what's mind boggling for beginners is "which one is for me?" As I read thru the different types, I got confused (and even intimidated!) I wasn't sure which one is which, plus the terms they used added to the confusion.

Luckily after discussing with some fellow beginners (in the locker room) and some tips from the sales person who signed me up for YogaZone, I finally tried out a few of the yoga types and quite enjoyed it!

The very first class I joined was called HATHA 1. It's recommended for beginners and intermediate practioners. I took the explanation from the yogazone site for your better appreciation...

"Hatha 1
Hatha Yoga favours correct alignment, this enables one to practise safely and to obtain the full benefits of the postures. Typically, each asana is held a period long enough to ensure it is understood thoughly; also allowing for gradual lengthening and strengthening of muscles and connective tissue involved. Ha means "sun" and tha means "moon," hence commonly translated as the yoga that brings union "of the pairs of opposites." It is the basis for all other styles of physical yoga, it prepares the body and mind for the more sublte practises of pranayama and meditation. On a physical level It aims to increase practitioners’ core strength, coordination, balance, flexibility, flow, concentration and endurance and help them heal old injuries as well as prevent new ones.

About 50 basic postures and breathing techniques introduced gradually in a step-by-step manner."

As for my own explanation of Hatha 1 : it consist of different poses (some quite challenging!) yet not too difficult for a beginner.They also teach you how to concentrate on your breathing while staying in a pose. The end part is quite relaxing as you lie down the mat and close your eyes. I almost fell asleep!!!

The other class I joined is called Element. This is suggested for beginners, though I actually found it more difficult than Hatha 1. The poses are more challenging and there were many points where it worked the upper arms (good for the muscles!). I actually struggled a bit on certain poses where we held our weight thru our feet and both arms on the mat. But maybe it's because I don't have a strong upper arm muscle. Anyway, it was still a good experience because it will tone your muscle to create a great look when you wear your sleeveless tops!

Ideal for first timers to yoga. An introduction to the fundamentals of asana practise, the basic postures combined with correct alignment and breathing technique. Class is conducted at a more relaxed pace where students are encouraged to ask questions. "

I wanted to take it a step further so I tried joining the "Yin" class which is meant for Intermediate yoga practitioners. No regrets definitely. Most of the poses were difficult and you hold on to the poses longer. That means less variety of poses to do, but you need to hold on to those poses longer. It's challenging in a sense that your legs sore after a long pause in that position, but you won't find yourself off-balance or feeling silly. Especially if you have an encouraging teacher, you will find that for beginners like you and me, Yin is quite okay.

Yin Yoga
Suitable for all practitioners. Yin Yoga complements practice of other yoga classes. While a strong physical body is important, ultimately, it is not muscular strength but flexibility of our joints that gives us the sense of ease and lightness in the body. Yin postures explore the body’s subtle energies, help lengthen the body’s deep connective tissues (tendon and ligament), especially at the pelvic and lower spine, as well as correct any anatomical misalignment, ensuring joint integrity. "

Overall, yoga is a fun escape from my usual gym routine. Life is short -- so go out and try something new for a change!
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