Saturday, December 31, 2011

iPass for expatriates: Finally we got our ID's!

Just wanted to update all of you that apart from getting our passports stamped with the Residents Pass, we recently received our ID cards which is called iPass. Unlike my old WORK PERMIT expat car which was gold color, this one is in PINK! Yes, pink! They issued ID cards for me, hubby and daughter. I spoke to one of the officer there and it seems they are doing some changes in the card issuance and the Resident Pass might be integrated into the Putrajaya Immigration soon (not sure under which group yet -- if it will be with the Work Permit issuance group or something else). Anyway, I was told that we are a lucky batch because they are not issuing the IDs according to first-come-first-serve... instead, it really depends which batch the Immigration decides to work on.  The ID card is important to my husband because he has been traveling in and out of Malaysia due to his work... and if he has the card it will mean easier travel (no need to fill up anything).

I thank the heavens for finally getting new cards. I heard from many expats with work permits that they were not able to get ID cards for 2 years now.... anyway let's hope 2012 will mean they start releasing more ID cards to foreigners like us!

Cameron Highlands: Cool climate and perfect for a family getaway!

We have been living in Malaysia for 5 years now and have visited a lot of places. As Christmas approached, we had to decide where to go for a fun holiday, keeping in mind we had to bring our 2-year old daughter, her visiting grandma and our maid. This year, we wanted to keep it simple and did not want to fly anywhere so our options were limited to where our car can bring us.

I am a “beach” person hence almost all our holidays were spent at places with sun, sea and sand. This time, hubby suggested that we go back to revisit Cameron Highlands. Honestly, I wasn’t too excited at first. My last 3 trips to Cameron Highlands were just “okay”, nothing really stood out that would compel me to go back again. I could recall only two highlights: spa session at Cameron Highlands Resort (which was super pricey) and the visit to the breathtaking Sungai Palas Boh Tea Plantation.

Hubby reminded me that in all those times we went up to Cameron, we were still “single without children”. Perhaps the visit this time will be interesting since we have our 2-year old daughter. Hmm, that got me thinking… and finally I agreed and started my search for the perfect place to stay.

My first choice was Cameron Highlands Resort as they offer a very attractive Local Residents Package. For expats living in Malaysia, this is really a superb offer, which includes 3 days, 2 nights stay plus all the meals. Unfortunately they were already fully booked! After hours of reading TripAdvisor and other blogs, I finally decided on Strawberry Park Resort, which I have never visited. The feedback from people who visited recently seemed to be promising, due to the renovation and upgrades that the hotel underwent not too long ago.

On Christmas day, we drove off to Cameron Highlands. It was a pleasant drive on our way there. Take note that you should opt for the new road called Simpang Pulai, as this is much safer. We took that road going to Cameron and coming back to KL.

The Strawberry Park Resort did not disappoint us. We took the Fresno 2-bedroom Suite, which was newly renovated (2-months old). It had a flat-screen TV, comfortable bed, wooden flooring and the best part was we had a superb view! I was happy with the decision we made in terms of accommodation. The package also included breakfast and dinner, which was a good deal!

Keeping in mind that we were with our daughter and her grandma, we decided to take it easy in terms of itinerary. We spent one whole afternoon at the Smokehouse hotel. We had our lunch there then spent some time enjoying the cool air amidst the beautiful flowers and greens. My daughter enjoyed running around their garden and even met a new Malay-Indian girlfriend as they played together. My mom and I sat at the garden playing Scrabble on the iPad. Time flew by quickly and we spent our afternoon with tea and scones at the same place. Definitely recommended to families who want to relax and enjoy good food and ambience. The place and the cool weather transports you to another place, making one forget that you are still in Malaysia!

Another thing we did differently was the visit to the tea plantation. My past trips always included the Sungai Palas Boh Tea Plantation and its picturesque views. However this time due to the peak season, hubby thinks it will be hell driving into that place because of the narrow roads. Instead, we visited the 2 Bharat Tea Plantations, which had easier access and equally nice views. We enjoyed some tea and scones there. And the highlight of that visit was the walk amidst the tea plantations… it was superb! Caution though, make sure you are wearing comfortable shoes. Hubby even carried our daughter on his shoulders as the trekked far and away into the wonderful green view.

The 3 days, 2 nights stay proved to be relaxing and perfect for those who are looking for a short getaway without having to take the plane. Your visit to Cameron Highlands will leave you feeling like you are not in Malaysia, thanks to the cool climate and beautiful views!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Cameron Highlands Big Red Strawberry Farm

As part of the stress-free holiday (we didn't want to fly out to another country), we opted for some cool air at Cameron Highlands. This is our 3rd time here since our arrival 5 years ago. This is the first time we came here with our 2-yr old daughter.

After long hours of research online, we opted for the Big Red Strawberry Farm. It had enough parking space, toilets and the highlight was they had some kids rides which were okay (rm .50 or rm1 per ride). They also had a cafeteria which served strawberry delights like juice, pancakes, floats, or plain strawberries with cream. We plan to also do some strawberry picking later which cost rm25/basket and one can pick as much strawberries as long as you fill it in the basket.

The food was reasonably priced and we indulged in some strawberry shakes. We were lucky to have sunny weather and coupled with the cool climate it really makes you forget you are in Malaysia!

It was packed with people because of the Xmas holiday season. We stayed at the Strawberry Park Resort which was a short drive away from this place.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Ice Cream and Car tow away at Mont Kiara

Yesterday, December 23, 2011 I walked to Baskin and Robbins at Jalan Kiara to order an ice cream cake for Xmas eve dinner. As I walked I noticed the DBKL towing cars on the side road near Baskin and Robins / Odyssey bus. They have been actively towing cars since 2-3 months ago. The good result of that is less congestion at Jalan Kiara since less people park on the streets. I just pity the owner whose car got towed because I was in their shoes awhile back, walking to your car and not finding it!!! What horror!

Lesson learned .. Always park at the right place else suffer the same fate :)

Wonder who owned that Myvi I saw yesterday... poor guy.

Speaking about Baskin and Robbins, their ICE CREAM CAKE is wonderful. It makes a beautiful gift. Not only that, it was the super star most well-loved thing at my daughter's birthday last month.... everyone loved it. On the average , if you buy an ice cream cake that will cover 8-12 person, it will cost you around RM100. I guarantee that the children (and adults) will love it. I always order the cake with a base flavor of Chocolate Chip. The photo below was from my daughter's birthday celebration last Nov 2011. The Ice Cream cake had different ice cream cones on top (which was 6 different flavors). The children were all eager to get the cones after blowing the cake! That ice cream cake cost about RM125++ if I remember correctly. I think I will always buy an ice cream cake for my daughter's birthday -- to continue an old tradition. Back in the Philippines when I was young, my parents always ordered an Ice Cream Cake (from Magnolia) to celebrate my birthday....  happy memories!

Friday, December 02, 2011

Coffee and Pancakes @ Antipodean: A Must Try at Bangsar!

It has been more than a month since I have been attending my French lessons at Alliance Francaise (satellite office in Bangsar). Since my classes start at 9am, hubby and myself always take some time (alone, without baby) to have our breakfast. There was a new coffee place opened months ago and I have seen so many good reviews about it... and I have been a loyal customer since the day I first visited.

The place is called ANTIPODEAN. It is a cafe opened by an expatriate. I saw some articles on the Expat magazine, and decided to search and see what the review are. Well, here is my own subjective review based on the several visits we have made.

The coffee is really good -- the taste is authentic, rich and well prepared. They design it well and I can see they take pride in the coffee they serve. I believe the owner sources it from Indonesia and they even sell the beans at their shop. Hubby and myself have been ordering their FLAT WHITE -- which taste really good. The plus side, they serve water (one gets thirsty if you drink too much coffee, and it is always good to have water afterwards to keep hydrated). They offer the water in a nice bottle, which also means you as a customer don't feel too "bothering" and keep asking for water. You can drink as much as you want.

The highlight for me is their BANANA PANCAKES with Butterscotch sauce. I could not help myself but to order that every single time we go to Antipodean. Their butterscotch sauce goes so well with the pancake... most often the sauce they serve is not enough... I would always request for 2 sauces (and they were kind enough to oblige).

Hubby was more adventurous and tried several breakfast dishes. They serve pork sausages & bacon (which is a highlight for expats and Malaysian Chinese who love their porky stuff). Hubby tried the croissant with scrambled eggs, at one point he also tried their big breakfast. To me it was all "okay" and tasty -- simply because I was all too satisfied with my pancakes too even bother with other stuff.

I always said I would go back to try their lunch menu but never had the chance yet.

Some highlights and lowlights....

1. They have a small place for children to play. I love that they thought about the kids!!! One time I brought my daughter there and she played for a while at that children's area. However, the place is small and there was a spotlight (which caused the small area to be too warm)

2. The toilet - it is nicely designed and clean. However, twice I experienced that the "flushing" mechanism was not working or the toilet was clogged. Hope they fix that because that was such a let-down for me especially after a good experience with their meals.

3. Service - their waitresses are friendly. However there were few new ones and I guess they were under training... so hopefully the newbies have settled down well already by now.

4. Parking - if you are having breakfast at 8 am - 9 am .. you are lucky because you can park right outside the cafe. That also means no need to pay the parking fees yet (or watch out for the police, though they don't wake up that early I guess on Saturdays????)

I noticed also that since they opened (Antipodean is located beside La Bodega).... the La Bodega seems to be emptier than what I remembered. My last breakfast at La Bodega was ages ago and the remembrance I had was that it was SOOOOO PRICEY and I mean pricey. For my husband and myself on a regular breakfast (before i had my baby) it cost us RM100 for 2 people. And true enough, it is still pricey today... The other day hubby and baby waited for me while I had my French class. Hubby moved to La Bodega because he wanted some space and move to a different place after his coffee in Antipodean (which i think cost less than RM10 for a coffee). He ordered only ONE ORANGE JUICE for my daughter. They didn't order anything else. The bill came -- it was RM17++ for one juice. Hmmm, that really made me realize how expensive they are. Or perhaps I feel the pinch simply because I am not working anymore (now I am a full time mother unlike months ago when I was still at Corporate!)

Anyway, I hope you guys enjoy your Antipodean experience when you try it out.

20, Jalan Telawi 2
59100, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Tel: +60322820411
Operation Hours

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Christmas is in the Air at Pavilion Mall

The nice thing about living in Kuala Lumpur is that when Christmas comes, all the shopping malls are well dolled-up for the occasion. Pavillion mall at Bukit Bintang is always one of the best decors so I decided to take December 1 as a kick-off to Xmas and literally shopped all day there. I was happy with the decors plus a pleasant surprise ... They had a carousel right in the middle! For rm5 they let Alexandra ride and she was astounded, her very first carousel ride. By today, December 1, many stores have began their sales which meant I went overboard on the shopping... And that is okay because I really stopped myself from any shopping activity as I waited for the Malaysia Year End Sale (Y.E.S.)

Parents who want some nice Xmas pictures of their kids would definitely love the decorations at Pavillion. They even had a lollipop lady walking around giving sweets :)

It was a nice way to kick off December!


Sent from my Windows Phone

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Starbucks finally launched loyalty card

After spending a long time out of Corporate life, I forgot all about Starbucks. Mostly because on my coffee craving days I go to Coffee Bean at Mont Kiara. Love their coffee and their loyalty card. Today, after bringing my daughter to Kids E World, I dropped by Starbucks to sample the Xmas blend (Toffee Nut Latte / Cranberry White Choco Mocha). I saw that they introduced their loyalty card and give it for free for rm20 top-up. Well, it is off to a good start with nice designs and after 15 coffee, I can have my Starbucks planner 2012! Been collecting those for years now, since I was in Manila.

Happy coffee time!

Sent from my Windows Phone

A Place for Enjoying Music

I'm writing this post as we drive home tonight. We enjoyed once again the beautiful acoustics and friendly place called No Black Tie. For music lovers or people looking for an evening of Live Music, you should check out their site for different music schedules. When I was pregnant last 2009, I desperately wanted to hear good, live Bossa Nova and was able to get it at No Black Tie. It was so beautiful that it brought me close to tears and goose bumps! Their small place has good acoustic and interior was made especially for good music.

Looking for a night out with hubby? This could be a place for you. They also serve Japanese food.

One time, me and hubby had dinner at nearby Neroteca (seriously porky place with good ham and cheese). Afterwards unwind with good music by walking to No Black Tie.

No Black Tie


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Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Car Towed Away at Plaza Damas Hartamas Shopping Center

I learned a valuable lesson today (and a costly one at that). Never, ever shortcut your way into finding a proper carpark. I have been going to Plaza Damas or what they call Hartamas Shopping Center for almost 4 years now. I have always parked inside their parking facility... and today, for some reason, when I saw the empty spot outside (right on the street where MANY other cars were parking), I slotted right in. It was perfect, a big space for my simple car. I happily went into Plaza Damas to have a facial at around 430pm. When I got out at 6pm, my face paled when I could not find the car there anymore!

My first thought.... CARNAP! My car is gone, someone stole it!
The kind guard across the street saw my astonished and panic face and signaled to me "tow truck". I went to speak to the car jockeys (those who are doing the valet car service in front of Coffee Bean Hartamas Shopping Center) and they were less helpful. They were not too sympathetic about my predicament and just informed me roughly that I should get ready to fork out RM350 to get my car back.

Despite my "unlucky" day (they towed away only 1 car that afternoon, and it was mine), I still thank the lucky stars that they sent good people my way.

First, after the unsympathetic jockeys -- came a security guard of Hartamas who was more thoughtful. He informed me that these DBKL guys come to tow very often and that he is sure my car is at Jin Jang because he spoke to the guys whenever they tow away cars. He also helped to hail a taxi so that I can be on my way (with my useless car keys). I was really shocked and I tried to compose myself. I saw that my phone is almost low battery (sigh my Windows 7 Phone gets low batt easily) and almost panicked. I also had some groceries with me like goat cheese... plus it was raining hard! What a day.

Second, I got another lucky break when the taxi cab driver spoke to me. He was sympathetic plus he was so sure where my car is because he has brought 2 other foreigner passengers to that place before. Because I trusted my guts (and that the guy seems genuinely sincere), I asked him to drop me at home (to leave the groceries). I grabbed some cash and left with the cab driver and drove to this Jin Jang place in Kepong at 730pm in this rainy evening. The cab driver turned out to be an honest and friendly Indian Christian. He also drove back to Mont Kiara with me (because I didn't bring my GPS and did not know how to get back home from that compound place). He is truly a nice driver and if ever I need any cab driver to bring me around I shall surely call him again. His name is DANIEL and his handphone number is 016-3424947.

I had to pay RM 155 in total to get my car out tonight and I drove home in peace. I regret fully not parking at the proper parking space and it is an expensive lesson learned. But it also proved that there are good people in this world.

While I was in my stressful moment, hubby googled some information about the tow place and what is needed. I copied and extracted the pertinent information which you may find useful. Please see below. I really hope YOU WILL NOT EXPERIENCE getting your car towed away. But should this happen, I hope you meet good people who will help you. I understand from the people in DBKL / cab driver guy explained that most of the cars in KL that get towed goes to this Kepong (Jin Jang) compound.

How to get your car out from the DBKL Towed Vehicle Depot?
If your car was towed to the DBKL Towed Vehicle Depot in Kepong, the process to get it out is simple but you need some documents before going there.
1. Your original IC card or passport or driving licence.
2. 1 photostated (xeroxed) copy of your IC card or passport or driving licence.
3. 1 photostated (xeroxed) copy of your car grant or newest car insurance cover note or insurance policy.
When you get to the DBKL Towed Vehicle Depot in Kepong, walk in the main gate, look out for your car, then walk left into the freight container type office. Pass you documents from above to the DBKL officer. He will confirm your documents, ask you to pay the DBKL summons (might be RM100 or RM150 depending on the offense), towing charges (RM50) and storage charges (RM5 for first day and RM30 daily onwards). Get the receipt and pass to the guard at the main gate guardhouse and drive off. Simple as that and pray that there won’t be a lot of people waiting outside the office.
DBKL Towed Vehicle Depot in Kepong. Depoh Simpanan Kenderaan Unit Trafik & Tunda DBKL. Jalan Jinjang Kepong, Kuala Lumpur. 52000 Kuala Lumpur.
Tel. 03-6257 3671 , 03-62572900
Fax. 03-6257 3648

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Publika : a place for expats with kids?

After visiting Solaris Dutamas twice few months ago, I swore to myself that I will only go back once it is fully ready or if I hear good reviews about it. Parking was hell and chaos, no signage and one will get lost trying to find a restaurant.
Today's visit was a surprise as the place is almost all done up, with proper parking and signages. I walked around and didn't really like the Eat Food Village at Publika (not as high end as it should be, I think that was the initial plan). We opted to have lunch at Edo Ichi Japanese restaurant. Food was okay, a bit on the salty side. Service was good though. Total bill for 3 adults was at RM134.20 (3 lunch sets, plus salmon sashimi ala carte). I think if I will have my next Japanese craving, I would rather go back to my all-time favorite Mizu at Bangsar Village 1.

We walked around after a heavy lunch and pleasantly found that Gymboree is open and free to kids who want to play. No fees, just walk in and play ...valid until Nov 4 2011. As we walked towards the Park area, we saw the good location of Marmalade which has a good outdoor view. Seeing that they have a kids play area, we took Alexandra with us and had coffee there. Another pleasant surprise was that marmalade was giving free cupcakes for dine-in customers ( I guess this is because the place is new and they are trying to get more customers). For expats will children, I will highly suggest bringing them here for a good meal or coffee chat while kids are busy.

Overall, for all expats and locals with kids,I would highly recommend a trip to Publika for some good food, running around, and kid-friendly place. Once everything is fully open I think this place will be superb! So glad we live just nearby!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Village Grocer vs Jusco and Mercato

In view of recent changes (full time mom), I started taking note of prices at the groceries. It has been a while since I got this detailed, and I was shocked at some of the prices of goods!

Most people associate Jusco with low price, just as I did. I discovered thatbin fact The Village Grocer (1 Mont Kiara) is somehow cheaper than Jusco. The bonus of going Village Grocer: free parking if you purchase RM 100 and above, less crowd and really wide aisles. Jusco can be a killer place on weekends and you will NOT want to be there with a baby stroller (pram).

The Drypers diaper (XL size) is RM 38 at Village Grocer while it was at RM 42++ at Jusco and Mercato! That is huge if you have to use tons of diapers!

Today I found out a huge shocker after visiting Mercato (Plaza Damas Hartamas Shopping centre). The gold label organic all-purpose flour was RM 17.99 while I bought it at Village grocer for RM 29.90!!! the difference is too much so I gave Village grocer a call to report this. They said they will call me back and investigate this matter. Let's see if they really call back.

Apart from the imported organic flour, the rest of the stuff like butter, Kraft shredded cheddar cheese, cheese (Danish baby cheese stick), and diapers were much cheaper at Village Grocer.

Overall, I had the perception that Village grocer is premium (due to it's outlet at Bangsar Village) but it turned out okay. I just hope they do something about that darn flour. They do carry quite a good selection of imported stuff that we like and need.

Anyway, I am sure in the end if one will average out the savings from different grocery stores maybe it will just balance out?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Big bad wolf book sale: my experience

Today I got into something I was not totally ready of. After leaving my leisurely Bangsar lunch, I decided to check out that Big Bad Wolf sale which my friend mentioned. Armed with my GPS, myself, maid and baby headed towards Serdang. In my 5 years in Malaysia I have never been to that far off area and the drive was full of unfamiliar sights, buildings and hiway. The surprise was not the distance of the place, but the fact that I had to park my car and take their shuttle in the glaring afternoon hot sun of malaysia...especially as baby was sleeping in the car! Wow, I had no choice but get down and ride the shuttle (which was good service and clean). As I sat there clutching my shocked baby I thought to myself "this better be worth it!"

After an hour and a half walking, we did end up with a handful (ok more than handful) of books which were really at prices beyond imagination. It was especially timely for me as I had to buy 30 children's books to give away during my daughter's birthday next month.

Will I go back? No way. It was far and hot. Will I go back without the baby? Well I don't think I'm desperate to buy books at the moment (now that I bought some today). Do I recommend this to other people? Definitely "yes!" especially if you won't be bringing your babies with you.

best of luck and hope you get a good deal!

The Big Bad Wolf Sale which is very far from Mont kiara and Bangsar!

Malaysia Agro Exposition Park Serdang

Tingkat 1, Block B, Bangunan MTBIC, Ibu Pejabat MARDI,, Universiti Putra Malaysia, 43400 Serdang, Selangor, Malaysia

BANGSAR VILLAGE still great for mommies and babies

Now my daughter is almost two, we still find Bangsar Village an ideal stop especially if you don't have a maid. This is the second time I went on an adventure while the maid had to be sent to the dentist. The drive to Bangsar is easy, and it will be even smoother if you have the Bangsar Village card which allows access to parking without having to pay for a ticket nor pay at the machine when you exit.

As I brave the little adventure, we spent an hour at KidzSports where she ran around (exhausting energy) and worked up an appetite. Right acrossthe play place is Fit for 2, a kid friendly place which you would want to check out especially new moms. The food is good. There is a play corner for babies. Free diapers if your baby is still small (6months). Lots if toys to keep them busy while you check tour Facebook or order food. Right now as I am typing this entry, she is sitting in the high chair watching My Little Pony (on ipad2- another tool a mom must have).

As I take small brave steps toward going out with Alex without the maid, this is the safest bet. Plus the other wing (Bangsar Village 1) has a Toys r Us shop where you can splurge or do window shopping with baby to keep them busy.

For pregnant women, do check out the classes at Fit for 2 because this will really make you feel fit and better while pregnant. I really enjoyed my classes back then.


Sent from my Windows Phone

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Losing Weight After Pregnancy (better late than never!)

When I was pregnant with little Alex, I tried my very best to maintain an exercise regimen so that I would not 'accumulate' too much fat. I swam regularly, attended pregnancy yoga classes (at Fit For 2 in Bangsar) and I still hit the gym (albeit in an extra slow pace). I knew I had to keep active especially as I had Haagen Dazs craving every now and then... and for some weird reason when I hit the 7-8 months pregancy, there was sudden rush of craving for chocolates.

Post pregnancy ... I told myself I must lose weight and get back to my old clothes (which I have highly invested in!). I kept trying and trying my old Armani jeans (which I love to bits) and it depressed me to see that it took a lot of effort just to pull it up... it was near impossible to close the button on top bec of the excess tummy fat. Sigh... body changes after pregnancy!

I am happy to report that now I am almost back to my old self. I say almost because I noticed that I fit snuggly into once-upon-a-time slightly loose pants. I think despite the exercise I have done, I cannot really go back to my old self because the pregnancy sort of stretched you in so many ways.

Whenever I see my little girl and the happiness she brings... all this fat business is not important. Though I must admit, it is irritating to know you have grown bigger!

Some experience and advise that I could share to other mothers out there are stated below. What I share is mostly based on what I have done, tried and tested.

- Husband was very supportive, he bought me a whole Nike outfit set to get me motivated and started! That was very sweet of him. It really helped to push me to go for walks and hitting the gym.
- Lady Gaga -- her music really accompanied me in those moments at the treadmill -- she is awesome and gives me that burst of energy I need to push myself further!
- Apple iPod -- no workout is complete without music. It really brings me further in terms of minutes and pushing myself to do more (faster, better, longer). I find it hard to imagine when I see those people exercising without iPods... they must have really good motivation to keep up. I need my iPod!
- good pair of rubber shoes.... recently I bought a good pair at Nike (at the Curve) because the old one was worn-out. The new pinky pair I bought motivated me to bring it out more often on walks and runs.
- Again, I stress highly on the outfit. Don't go to the gym with very loose clothes or oversized t-shirts. Stick to fashionable cuts by Nike or Addidas. Seeing yourself in those good gym clothes can help motivate you further! It helps me a lot
- Swimming -- no sweating, plus you get to enjoy the sun! I love it... the only downside is when it rains in KL, the pool is too cold for me! Else, I usually have a good swim then after my 10 or 15 laps, I ask the maid to prep my baby so she can join me in the pool for some good fun
- Walking in the park : like I mentioned earlier, bringing her to TTDI is a sweaty work out in itself! Also, try running around with her in places like KidzSports or the new Kids E World at the Gardens Mall (i did that yesterday, superb place!)
- DISCIPLINE : i am guilty. Sometimes I lose my way. Sometimes I give in. I try to push myself to at least do 1-2 activities in a week. Ideally one should do minimum 3x per week. This September, I hit the gym almost EVERY SINGLE DAY... and I could clearly see the results. 30 mins on the treadmill plus another 15  minutes doing yoga poses, kicks and stretches.
- Diet: I am Asian, and I need to eat my rice and noodles. No diet on my side. I just try to hold back some of the urges (like ice cream, Gong Cha Bubble tea, and yummy cakes). It is HARD. I love my food. But when I remind myself I am not a spring chicken (young) anymore, I tend to think twice.

Overall, don't allow yourself to let the week pass by without at least 1-2 sweaty activity. The longer you allow yourself to not exercise, the harder it gets.

Lastly, if you can find a buddy or a friend who will meet up with you and do the exercise together -- that helps a lot, too!

Monday, August 01, 2011

Where to Bring Your Baby, Kids, Toddlers in Kuala Lumpur

I wrote this post way back, and decided to update it this 2013. My daughter is now 3 years old. And as time flies, we discover new places where you can bring our little one for some entertainment.

My daughter is turning 2 years old in a few months time. Lately, I found myself looking for activities and places that we could enjoy... Apart from the usual boring "jalan-jalan" around the shopping mall.

Some suggestions that I would like to share to other mommies out there:

1. KL bird park - this is a superb place as they have extensive beautiful birds. Some roam freely and you can observe them up-close. Easy access as this is in the heart of KL. For expats, I suggest bring your work permits or I-card or whatever proof you have that u r residing in Malaysia. Usually these places give you a discount on entrance fees.

KL Bird Park - will surely provide hours of entertainment
as you see our fine-feathered friends

2. Zoo Negara- as of July 2011, we went for a visit. I had mixed reviews from friends. Some said don't bother. Others said not bad. We went to see for ourselves and true enough, it is not bad! For a quick fix on seeing giraffes, elephants and lions, this place is worth visiting. I'm sure the kids will enjoy!

Short drive within the city - for your toddlers to see huge animals

3. Science Center- this is located near our place (mont kiara) and we wonder why we never went there for so many years... And the answer is because we didn't have a baby back then! For those with kids or toddlers, a visit to this science center will be fun (and cheap). Don't expect it to be like the Singapore science center though. Just go with low expectations and you will enjoy. They made a toddler area where they can run around. And our recent visit few weeks ago, there was the dinosaur exhibition which was interesting. Some of the science stuff were poorly maintained, while others were still okay and provided some entertainment to my little girl. Overall, not bad for a short visit to fill the weekend with something different.

Science Center Near Mont Kiara

Science Center Website in English HERE

4. TTDI park bukit kiara- this is a nice park where you can run around and see monkeys, turtles and fishes. Easy access. Great to visit on afternoons around 5-6pm where all the kids are out with their families. Make sure you bring mosquito repellant. It is a good place for them to run around freely. There is also a small playground with slides.

My earlier review of TTDI Park HERE

5. Acquaria KLCC- nice aquarium for children to see different fishes. Nicely located near Suria klcc mall which means you can have a nice lunch or meal after the fish visit. Plus go walk at the huge KLCC park!

6. Petrosains

Located at the top floor of Suria KLCC, this place will surely provide hours of entertainment for your little one. An indoor Science discovery centre, you can be assured they will be entertained at least minimum for 1.5 hours. The discovery starts with a dark ride (small contraption where 4-5 people can ride) as you enter the museum. They will discover lots of stuff about science as well as Oil rigs. If you have a little boy, I am sure he will enjoy learning about the oil industry and the stuff behind it. They also have a toddler area where they can roam around and play with rubber lego blocks (while parents sit and relax for a bit).

I made a more comprehensive review of Petrosains Discovery Centre here.

7. Farm in the City

This 2013, we went on a field trip with my daughter's school to Farm in the City. It is a fairly new place and well-maintained. I would recommend this place if your toddlers wants to touch or pet some of the animals -- especially if they like rabbits! Short drive within the city and good facilities. They have ample wash areas for you and your kids to clean your hands after petting. Also, it is not too smelly! They maintain the place well. Good for a morning visit so that it is not too hot.

Farm in the City - a worthwhile visit for toddlers where they can pet and touch the animals

I made a more comprehensive review on this place, you can check it out HERE.

Still discovering other places where I can bring my little girl. If you have suggestions please do let me know!

Resident Pass approved and released!

The Malaysian Government is definitely doing the right thing in retaining foreign talents. We are one of those who got the recently launched Resident Pass. After a week of preparation, 21- days processing, another 2 weeks for approval and release of pass, we finally have it!!! Our passports were stamped with the new RP pass. One of the surprise was the expiry dates were different for me, hubby and daughter.... Of course we just then realized that the initial pass they released (which is supposed to be a 5-yr pass) will have to follow the expiry dates of passport. So because hubby and daughter have earlier expiries, their passes are shorter than mine. I hope it won't be too problematic in transferring the RP to new passports... But that is a problem I will address 4 years from now.

Meanwhile, we are happy that we received it finally. We love Malaysia and we are happy we can stay for a long time.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Resident Pass Update: after approval what's next?

We were ecstatic when we saw online that our RP application was approved. I waited 2 days to see if they will contact me, but I didn't hear from them... so I decided to drop them an email. They promptly replied to the email congratulating me on the application approval. And they stated the additional requirements needed which I have to prepare (together with the payment submission). It took me another 1 week to put all requirements together. Fortunately, I was very inquisitive about the requirements because I did not want to waste my time (and drive all the way to Cyberjaya which is 1-hour away from Mont Kiara) with incomplete documents!

In the email, they stated the balance payment that is due to Talent Corp as well as another fee which is due to the Immigration of Malaysia.

Sharing with you the total costs so that you have an idea:

1. When we applied online, we had to send an initial RM600 to Talent Corp -- this is just to cover processing fees. One will need to prepare a BANK DRAFT for the payment and they do not accept anything else. The RM600 covered for myself, my husband and for my daughter.

2. After the email approval, I had to go to the bank and prepare 4 BANK DRAFTS:
a. TALENT CORP - had to pay RM4,900 in total for the balance due to them which covers me, husband and daughter
b. IMMIGRATION - we had to pay different fees because this depends on your nationality. Because my passport is CHINA, the fees were higher than my hubby's and daughter's (French). Plus all the payments need to be separate --- meaning 1 check per person. So total of 3 bank drafts payable to Immigration. Mine was RM650. Hubby and Daughter was RM 564.50 each.

All I can advise is to make sure you clear our all the requirements to avoid delay (and even a disappointing trip to Cyberjaya!) It almost happened to me, as the email only asked for "passport picture with blue background" and it stated they needed only MY picture. We were doubtful of that, so we sent an email to clarify. True enough, we needed Picture with BLUE BACKGROUND for all of us. That meant 2 trips to Bangsar Shopping Centre for us ... all because they were not too clear about the additional requirements.

Another thing to note: If your spouse is working and have an existing work permit, you will also need a company letter from your spouse's company -- the NO OBJECTION LETTER needs to be submitted together with the payment. They wanted the original copies of the no objection letter -- so make sure this is also prepared!

The drive to Cyberjaya was smooth. The GPS took me straight to the eXpats office. It was a pleasant surprise to see they have allocated special parking for eXpats clients who are there to submit documents. Unfortunately no one told me that so i parked so far away. Well, next time I will park at the special parking.

I went to submit our passports, No Objection Letters, passport pictures with blue background, our wedding certificate which was certified true copy by the Singapore embassy, plus another document which they sent (it was in Bahasa Malaysia)... they wanted my local contact to sign on that form.

The submission was easy. The place was nice, with aircon and newspaper and even coffee machine, internet, and TV. It was not a long wait.

After she checked all the documents, they handed me the receipt for the Talent Corp payment. Plus 3 signed documents which were ready -- these are to be used in case of any emergency -- as we dont have our passports with us. It states that we have RP approval and our passports are under processing.

It has been 3 working days since my submission. Let's see how long it will take for them to call me and allow me to collect our passports with our Resident Pass!

By the way -- the visa they will stamp is for 5 years only. That is the max that the gov't is giving. It will be 5-yrs visa with additional 5 years after the expiry ... so it will be total of 10 years... but that means after 5 years we need to go back for stamping again (and probably some fees). Just so you know what to expect!

For Resident Pass inquiries: 

Friday, July 01, 2011

Resident Pass Approved!!!

I just wanted to share the good news with you... As of today, July 1, my application for the RP has been approved. I submitted all documents online first week of June. Then there was an auto reply from them sent to my email which asked me to pay the fees for processing. If you process for 1 person, that is RM 200. Which means if you process for yourself, your spouse plus one child, it will cost rm600 in total.

I sent a follow up email asking the status around mid-June. I got a prompt reply saying they received the payment and still reviewing my submission. They also mentioned that my case is being reviewed and I should know results by July 1.

The morning of July 1, hubby checked online to see what is the status. It still said "application in progress". When he checked in the afternoon, it said "application approved". Wow... Happy to hear that! Now we are awaiting the next steps... Probably they will send email to ask us to pay the remaining fees for the 10-yr visa processing? Will keep you posted once I get some news next week.

Meanwhile... All the best to you, if you are planning to get the RP! It has been a pleasant experience for me.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Residence Pass Update

Today I completed all my documents which i submitted online through the TalentCorp Malaysia website. One needs to prepare and scan all the needed documents to complete the online submission... luckily the website is pretty sophisticated and you can in fact partially finish the application and SAVE your work. That means you can log in anytime to fill up your forms and attach needed documents. It took me around a week to complete all the needed paperwork. Today I finally clicked "SUBMIT". After you do that, there will be an auto reply to your email which includes a PDF attachement with a summary of the submitted applications (in my case it included my name, my husband  and my daughter).

The next step after that is to go get a bank draft which should be issued to Talent Corporation Malaysia Berhad. I thought it would take time, but i was pleasantly surprised by the good service of HSBC and within 10 minutes I got the bank draft that I needed.

I also had to call Talent Corp hotline Telephone +603-83153195 to ask if the amount I need to pay immediately should cover for all 3 applications or just for myself. Thankfully there was a prompt answer on the phone and the lady who answered was helpful.

The answer to my question: If you will apply for 3 people, that means you need to pay an initial fee of RM200 per person. So to apply the RP (Residence Pass) for myself, hubby and baby I needed to make a bank draft of RM600 in total.

I still need to get that bank draft sent to the TalentCorp office ... then they will start processing it. Let us keep our fingers crossed and see how this goes.

Talent Corporation contact details:

<> <>
eXpats Service Centre,
Suite 2.1, Level 2, East Wing,
3539 FSBM Plaza,
Jalan Teknokrat 7,
63000 Cyberjaya, Selangor,
Operating Hours:
8.30am - 4.30pm Mon - Fri
Tel:  +6 03 8315 3195
Fax: +6 03 8315 3008

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Malaysia Resident Pass - New Solution for Expats to stay in Malaysia

To all fellow expats and other people who may be interested to stay in Malaysia for the long-term, we finally have a new pass or visa ... which was recently launched. A friend of mine told me about it and today (June 1, 2011) I am planning to put together all the requirements so that we (me and my family) can get a 10-years visa to live & work in MALAYSIA!

It is a wonderful product called RESIDENTS PASS, which the Malaysian Government launched. They want to retain and keep foreign talents which will help Malaysia grow its economy. More details can be found at their website or you can even contact them at Telephone Number +603-83153195 or email their helpdesk at

I myself am going thru the process right now so I cannot share the full experience yet. I just wanted to share this exciting news to qualifying expats who want to stay for a long time.

Incidentally, they came to interview me when they were launching the article on the Resident Pass (article will be featured at the June 2011 Expat Magazine). I am sharing a copy below... not sure if it will be very clear since i turned the PDF file into JPEG.

Lastly, bear in mind that there are certain requirements and qualifications needed to get the visa. I suggest you read the website closely and then start emailing/asking questions via their contact details.

Best of luck to you! I will post my experience and results in due time.

Expat Magazine Article June 2011 - Resident Pass

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

A Place for Kids

For parents looking for a fun place to go whatever the weather, you can always check out Bangsar.

Bangsar Village 2 has a place called KizSports where children (and even toddlers) can exhaust their energy. They charge RM10- per child. What is even better is that my favorite restaurant (when I was pregnant & doing pregnancy yoga) Fit For 2 is right in front. So you would see many mothers with children having lunch at that place. I suggest weekdays visit because weekends can be too packed, and your child might get trampled by the big kids.

Another place is Bangsar Shopping Centre (BSC) where you will find Jungle Gym. They don't charge for children below 2yrs old.

Personally I prefer KizSports bec it is more toddler friendly. They also have some hired help who help to look around & watch the kids.

Mommies and daddies can then have a relaxing afternoon once the kids are too tired and knocked out (asleep) in their strollers after a few hours of running around.

A nice way to spend the late morning til around after lunch. Ahhhh the mommy life is so different (and rewarding). Living in KL makes parenthood easy and fun.

Sent from my Windows Phone 7

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Mont Kiara living

mont kiara

The beauty of living in Mont Kiara area is the accessibility to stuff that you need. Apart from having some International Schools nearby, there are also commercial places like the newly opened 1 Mont Kiara (opened 2011), as well as the old Plaza Mont Kiara. Both places offer restaurants, travel agencies, groceries and cafes. Convenient for people living nearby, you can walk to these places and enjoy a stress-free day. No parking worries, ample parking spaces also available. Recently, I was very happy about the opening of HSBC in Plaza Mont Kiara.

Indeed, a nice neighborhood for expats.

Sent from my Windows Phone 7

Buying Food at the Market

Oftentimes I would buy our supply of food at the favorite supermarkets. They pack everything nicely and neatly, which also means they charge us accordingly.

A friend long ago informed me of TTDI market and everytime I visited that wet market, it has always been a pleasant experience. The prices are always so reasonable. The place kept clean. Access to fresh PORK at the basement floor. Beautiful fresh veggies.

Highly recommended to all mothers who want to buy fresh food at reasonable price. They have a parking lot at basement with very cheap parking rate (I usually paid no more than 50 cents).

I bought 20pcs of chicken wings today and I asked them to cut it in half. The 20 big pieces costs rm23. Planning a little party get together with some friends for tomorrow that's why I bought so much!

You can also access superb fruits. Fresh flowers. Nice, different types of fishes and shrimp.

And to top it off, everything is always packed nice and neat for you. They really do give good service... So for expats who used to be afraid of "wet market", this place may surprise you!

Jalan Wan Kadir 2, TTDI
Usually when you mention TTDI market people are familiar with it.

Sent from my Windows Phone 7

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Latest News... On Living in KL

Hi Friends... I am guilty of not posting anything for a while now. It has been a colorful journey so far, and yes, we still love living here in Kuala Lumpur.

In the past months, I have been receiving a number of inquiries about living in Kuala Lumpur -- from people outside Malaysia who have plans to move here. I am so happy to hear that they find my posts useful... and so I feel I must update everyone with some entries which you may find helpful.

Let  me just bullet it out so that it is short, concise and you can browse easily:
  •  Finding a place to stay: I seriously recommend you meet at least 2-3 agents so you can get more choices as they tend to narrow down to those they
    are familiar with – which means you will get less choices (and if they don’t know how to nego in your behalf then you are stuck)
  •  Areas to live: for newcomers who are not yet decided on where to stay ... the immediate recommendations would be Mont Kiara and Bangsar areas. Although lately I hear a lot of expats moving also to the Desa Park City area. Choosing the right place really depends on a few factors: like the place of work for daddy/hubby, priorities on mobility (can walk around or has free shuttle), having a nice community or neighborhood, etc. For couples with at least 1 baby and new to KL, I would highly recommend Mont Kiara. Though please dont get me wrong, there are plenty of other places to stay apart from what I mentioned. I know of families who are quite happy living in KLCC area, as well as other areas like TTDI and Tropicana. Lots of options. You need to do your homework.

  •  CARS: the perception is that it is very expensive here. Well, yeah , when I compare it to buying a car in Manila, the price is higher bec of the import taxes. But they have made some cars quite affordable bec they started making cars that are partially assembled in Malaysia... so for example Honda City and some models of Suzuki Swift and other brands have affordable prices here in KL ... If you opt for fully imported of course the price will be higher. All I know is I find that the interest rate of cars (if you borrow money from the bank) it is quite low and affordable... the interest is around the range of 3-4% from what I know (and close to what we are paying the bank currently). In fact, for some of the newcomers, they may be surprised to see that there are TONS and TONS of Benz / BMWs around .... well, that is a different story bec it seems Malaysia has access to some of the "recons" from other countries like Japan. In short, they import used cars (that are still super nice but used), they jazz it up and resell it to people. Hence, you will see lots of Muranos, Harriers, etc...
  •  GAS / PETROL: Malaysia gov't subsidizing some cost which means the petrol or gas prices here are LOW... and I say low / cheap when I compare it to MANILA and when hubby compares it to France...
  • FOOD PRICES: Malaysia and Malaysians love their food! Food prices are so cheap.... most of the locals DONT cook regularly and instead they "take-away" food from food stalls/restaurants. I find that the grocery and market prices are reasonable, and some of the stuff are cheaper than in Manila. Of course you will occasionally find some imported items more pricey that in your country (due to import taxes of Malaysia)... but at least it is made available! I love groceries here .. they are open until 10PM!!! In Manila Unimart shuts down by 8-830pm. When  I got here I was amazed with the opening hours of groceries... My fave groceries are MERCATO (in Plaza Damas  Hartamas Shopping Centre), Village Grocer (in Bangsar or in Mont Kiara). You can find easy access to COLD STORAGE in a lot of areas. Bottomline, you have access to a lot of stuff -- local or imported. Oh, and once there was someone who contacted me asking about ORGANIC food here in KL... PLENTY of organic stuff! In groceries or even specialized ORGANIC stores... no shortage on that front.
  •  MAID: well, if you want a live-in maid it is possible and just be ready to pay for the permit. the gov't will grant a working  permit for the maid and for you to get this you might fork out some money in the range of RM 2,500 to Rm5,000 depending on the agent, fees, etc... Basically a maid needs to have a permit to stay legally in Malaysia. They have all sorts of maids available -- Filipinos, Cambodians, Indonesians... Most of the expats prefer Filipinos bec they are more loving, give better service as well as speak better English. Though I have encountered some good Cambodians/Indons as well. Salary of Filipinos will be higher than the latter... and be ready to pay the range of RM1,000 to RM1,600 for a Filipino maid.
  •  HOSPITALS / PEDIA/ MEDICAL: I find Malaysia a superb place for access to medical stuff: be it my safe and wonderful delivery of baby (at GLENEAGLES HOSPITAL in AMPANG), to access to pedia (GLOBAL DOCTORS in Mont Kiara). They even have a 5-star hotel looking hospital called PRINCE COURT where many people have good experiences. I also visited the Sunway group which was pricey but great service. So no worries on that front.

Those are typical questions from expats or people who have plan to come over. I will post more in the coming days. Hope this helps.
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