Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Bread Town Field Trip for Toddlers

My daughter's school organized a trip to Bread Town in Shah Alam and both mommy and daughter enjoyed the short visit. The factory size was impressive and you get to see the machineries and the whole processing of how they start from dough all the way to the final product.

There was a short film showing as we'll in cartoons form to entertain the kids before going into the actual factory.

It was a short educational trip for the kids. Couldn't take pics of the factory itself because photography is not allowed.

Of course, we went home with tons if bread!

Here is the link for bread town :

Some of the free bread we got

Children posing in front of the giant loaf of bread at the entrance 

They got to touch some dough. That way they know what the  texture is like.

Goofing around the giant bread

After the visit, the kids sat down to chomp some of the free bread

Monday, May 27, 2013

Sunday Breakfast and Lunch: Red Beanbag at Publika and Serai at Paradigm Mall

French toast at Red Bean Bag - worth trying!
Sunday, maid went out on day off so we decided to just head out for the day.

First time to visit Red Beanbag for breakfast, as last few rounds were mostly for lunch meals (which we found portions too small). 

Breakfast time was busy and packed with people, though thankfully not as popular as Antipodean in Bangsar.

We enjoyed all the food we ordered, like the French toast and Croque Monsieur. Coffee was good and my hot chocolate too. Found their hot choco better than Antipodean.

After a hearty breakfast we went to Paradigm mall for the first time. Was curious to see their maternity collection at H&M so we went there straight. The mall was packed with locals doing their weekend shopping (and malling).

A friend told me about her good experience at Serai restaurant so we checked it out at 2pm for late lunch. It was a good choice, as the salmon pasta was big portions and we shared it. While we ordered mushroom chicken creamy pasta for little Alex. The ambience and food menu reminded me of Delicious long ago, when the food was good, and when the service wasn't bad. Now Delicious has gone down the drain in my books. Last Saturday we checked out Ben's at bangsar village 2 and it was packed with people. I must say the place is not bad... KLCC was a bad 1st experience for us when we checked out Ben's for the first time.

Highlights of the food trip:

- French toast at Red Beanbag
- appetizer platter at Serai
- roasted chicken with 2 side salad at Ben's (forgot to take a pic, was too hungry)

Coffee and orange juice at Red Beanbag

Croque Madame - hubby liked it

Latte at Red Beanbag

Bill for 2 adults and 1 child

Appetizer sampler at Serai (Paradigm Mall)

Salmon Pasta at Serai - big portion, enough to share!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Renewing The Maid's Work Permit under my Residents Pass

For the past years, renewing my work permit at Putrajaya was a breeze, even when I was applying for a maid's work permit. They had a room which was especially catering for expats and professionals, where you can get a comfortable seat while waiting. Imagine my shock when I went to Putrajaya last April 2013 to find that things have changed.

They had a bright new reception which welcomes you as you go up the 2nd floor, which wasn't there before. I asked where I could go renew my maid permit which is under my name (which is under a Residents Pass RP). The girl pointed me to a door which had no sign whatsoever near the elevator... I wasn't sure if I understood her correctly as it didn't seem to have any room after the elevator, so I asked again and she repeated what she said. True enough after you open the unmarked door, it reveals a brightly-lit new office which had a small waiting area with seats. A huge sign behind its counter states "Inspectorate Unit"and there was no visible process of queueing so I decided to just stand behind the guys who were talking to the officers. After a few minutes wait, I stated my case. They had to call someone else who was in charge of the RP and when she looked at my case, she finally informed me that I didn't have to line up in that room, and instead need to go to the 1st floor to apply the maid permit there. I asked which window, and she wasn't sure which one... great. I had to go find out myself. I went to the 1st floor to ask someone else only to discover I was in the wrong area, seems to be the area for locals to pay for some stuff which I don't understand because it was all in Malay.

To sum it up, one had to go to the 1st floor, after you get up from the escalator area you need to turn left. I went to the Information Counter, which had a short queue, and he gave me a ticket and we waited shortly for our turn. After speaking to the officer there, I then discovered that I had to apply for FOMEMA once again for my maid, despite that it is a renewal.

And guess my surprise when I found out from FOMEMA office that in order for me to get a form from them to allow my maid to go for a check up, I had to go get a bank draft in order to settle the payment as they do not allow cash transactions!

I went to my bank in Mont Kiara (this is after the long drive from Putrajaya), got a bank draft, then drove to FOMEMA office in Publika. Finally got the papers and my maid went for a check up at Global Doctors which is nearby. Thank God I didn't have to wait too long at the FOMEMA office... there were many counters to serve people.

I was quite pooped and tired after all that driving, and to top it off I am 4.5 months pregnant at that time. All this inefficiency could have been avoided if I could have spoken to someone in Putrajaya. However, I tried calling for more than a week and realized no one was answering or it was the wrong department. I was astonished because it was not like this before. After speaking to the officer at Putrajaya, now I discovered why. It seems that Putrajaya has re-shuffled the place and planning to "improve" their services. Hence, the offices were renovated, phone lines were probably not moved yet or simply some of them are still confused?

I hope they can get their act together soon so people don't have to go through what I have been through. It was super efficient in the past. I hope they get back in shape like before.

Overall, for the maid work permit, I paid around RM 500+++ then another RM 190 for the FOMEMA test.

I read in the Expat magazine that they were improving their Expatriate services in Putrajaya. I hope they get their act together soon, and I look forward to a smooth transaction perhaps next year when I need to renew again. Some articles that were written about the "improvements" and useful links:

1. Borneo Post
2. Malaysia Immigration
3. The Malaysian Insider
4. The Star

To people out there who plan to renew their maid's work permit I suggest you do it a month before expiry so that you have ample time to do what is necessary. I am glad I did, else I wouldn't have had enough time before the deadline. The FOMEMA result took almost 10 working days to come out.

The new office that handles the expat queries

The nearest Fomema address - at Publika Solaris Dutamas

Short line at the Fomema office - not too bad

Putrajaya counter where we had to make the submission

Cameron Highlands Resort under the Resident Package: Is it Worth It?

Cameron Highlands Resort
King bed - it was comfortable
This May, Mother's Day, we decided to spend it with cool weather so we gave Cameron Highlands another visit. After 6 years living in KL, we have been to the highlands a few times... but this time we decided to try the YTL hotel called Cameron Highlands Resort. The hotel looked impressive from the outside and I wonder if it will live up to the expectations because we have had good experiences with YTL's Pangkor Laut (that is why we went back there a few times).

Below is an excerpt of what I wrote for my TripAdvisor review of our May 2013 trip:

Under the resident package, the hotel price is reasonable with all meals included. We have frequented Ytl's resorts for the past 6 years and this one was a letdown.

Went Friday-Sunday, discovered there was a large group checking in hence their deluxe rooms all out, so we got a free upgrade to a 2-bedroom. I thought it was perfect as we went with 3-year old daughter. Turned out to be a so-so stay.


- room was spacious. 2-bedroom is perfect for families, with two tv's
- cool weather was nice, made us forget we are in Malaysia
- resident package full board is considered affordable 
- one of the more reputable hotels in Cameron
- very near the Healthy Strawberry Park, which was great for a short drive and strawberry picking for me and my daughter while daddy went on a Jim Thomson nature walk
- strawberries that were served throughout our stay were all huge and nice
- mineral water aplenty which was important for pregnant mommy like me
- nice view of the golf from our balcony
- some notable staff, not all of them were competent, in fact it was so-so (which is disappointing for such a hotel this standard)... The staff at the massage were considerate. Extra note on the waitress Pija or Piga who was very friendly, served with the heart during our meals. And kudos to the evening shift of the reception area last May 11 evening who went out of their way to resolve my mosquito issues
- resident package also had a special spa pricing which was rm200 max for 50-minutes massage with tea bath which was superb
- in-room fruits were nice, daughter loved it for snack time. Plus the green apples at the reception 
- common areas were beautifully maintained
- super nice staff Pija (or Piga) gave some fish food pellets for my daughter to feed the koi fishes, very sweet of her


- despite the spacious room, we detest the place bec my poor little daughter had about 10 mosquito bites in the first night. We requested a mosquito plug but they said they were all out. Turned out they didn't have any in the hotel. Because of this my daughter suffered and cried so hard (which rarely happens) on the 2nd night bec of all the itchiness of the bite. She had 5 mosquito bites on the face alone!! So please beware if you go with a toddler. After raising this with the reception, they barely did anything except to give me mosquito coil and match, which is all that they had. This is so oppositely different from the service we had at Pangkor Laut. Despite Pangkor being amongst the forest in an island, they were able to set the turn down service superbly well with mosquito repellents, plug, etc -- and this was consistent with our 4 times stay there.
- some of the staff are noticeably so-so in terms of execution. They speak kind words but in terms of going the extra mile, only few staff were notable. The evening shift reception on Saturday night saw the ultra mosquito bites on my daughter's face and decided to finally go out and purchase some electric mosquito plugs. They came to our room at 930pm to install it, bless their souls for finally doing something. I complained about the mosquito thing on Saturday morning breakfast-- to the reception team and even to the manager -- but all that was given was the coil. We hated the smell but still lighted it that evening thinking that there was no other recourse.
- toilet in the room was small..especially for a 2-bedroom. We were quite cramped in the toilet, when u try to let my daughter pee no one else can fit into the bathroom! Maybe it was better if they made the toilets a bit bigger.

- you could see moulds and stains which I guess is normal ?!? In such high altitude places. Some stain on the white bed sheets. Black spots in toilet joints.

- chubby Chinese reception guy confused me with his explanation about the food rules of resident package. He was trying to be helpful but confused the hell out of me with his rm 300 per meal cap explanation which was not stated in our original t&c package. 

- coffee was mediocre. Expected more from a place like this. Pangkor Laut gave options like latte or cappuccino as part of the resident package

Conclusion: for families (with kids) living in KL who want 3-days-2 nights vacation with YTL, Pangkor Laut is a better option. We also went to Tanjung Jara years ago. We still prefer Pangkor.

Will we go back to Cameron Highlands Resort? At this point, I'd say not in the next few years. Hard to forget that evening my daughter kept crying and scratching... While daddy had fever (coincidentally) and couldn't sleep well bec of all the road noise which can be loud when you are trying to sleep. But for sure it is one of the better places to stay in Cameron highlands if you really want to go there.

The bedroom which had a second bedroom for kids

Fresh fruits given in-room

The second bedroom which had 2 single beds and their own TV

Friday, May 17, 2013

5 months pregnant and enjoying my exercise at Fit For 2

 I'm on my second trimester and I'm glad everything is going well. Just like when I had little Alexandra last time in 2009, this place called Fit For 2 still offers pregnancy yoga and Pilates classes. I'm glad they are still around! 

For pregnant women, it's good to continue exercising and being active. This is my one or twice a week activity.

Loved bringing daughter here too when she was less than a year old. Cafe serves 
decent food.

Fit for 2
Bangsar Village 1

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