Monday, September 17, 2018

What Happy Looks Like Vol. 10



1. Adding a new Archie Comics graphic novel to my ever growing collection



Thanks Manila International Book Fair! I got this on a 20% discount.


2. Unexpectedly meeting my old mentor 

Carol is one of my two superiors from a previous job. I worked closely with her for four years. She taught me so much about how to be a good accounts person. I loved working with her because she's such a cool boss. Beautiful and fabulous to boot too!



3. Being able to workout on a rainy weekend



It's an awesome feeling to be able to sweat it out at the gym and fight off my laziness especially on a weekend because let's face it! Lazy weekends are love! But I want to stay fit and healthy too so it's great to have a balance - workout in the morning and spend the rest of the day relaxing.







Sunday, September 16, 2018

Travel Diary: The Places to See in Malaysia Day 1

What's there to see in Malaysia? Honestly, the only one I know is the famous tourist attraction, the Petronas Twin Towers - the one that's indicative that you're in Kuala Lumpur. But the trip I planned for my mom was five days so of course I had to figure out what else could we see and do while in the country.

To find out, I naturally relied on Google for research. I visited blogs and travel sites for ideas on  tourist-y activities we could do that my mom, her friends and two early thirty-something ladies (that's me and my friend, Mai) would possibly enjoy doing while in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. But I also made use of a nifty service called Klook to get a couple more ideas. 

I didn't book any join in tour activities for the first day even though we were going to arrive in Kuala Lumpur by lunch time. I didn't want to risk missing out in case there's a delay in our flight and I certainly didn't want to stress myself out worrying that we had to meet a target time. The idea for the first day was to relax and go at our own pace. 

Tugu Negara (National Monument)

What this is is a sculpture that's built to commemorate Malaysia's fallen heroes - those who fought for the country's freedom against Japanese occupation during World War 2. The 48, 562 sq meter space is composed of five components which include: the Monument, the Pavillion, the surrounding gardens, the fountain and the war memorial. 


The first thing you'll see when you arrive in the place is the Cenotaph which actually remembers not only the heroes of both World War 1 and 2 but also the Malayan Emergency. This was erected by the British and it's original location was near the old Kuala Lumpur Railway station but it was moved here in 1964 since they were building a flyover downtown according to what I read. 


This is the Central Pavillion which is a sight to see because of its beautiful golden dome color. 




That's my Mom with her friends getting in the way of my shot! LOL! It was so hot and humid in the afternoon! Can you see my Mom's friend taking the photo? That's not her with a long grey hair! That's her jacket which she placed on her head for cover against the unforgiving heat of the sun!



That's Mai showing the surrounding view around Tugu Negara. The place is near the Lake Gardens which is another tourist attraction. We didn't go there anymore because it's more of a nature attraction - greenery and lush vegetation. I bet it would have been a relaxing view to see but I had my mother and her friends to consider and I was pretty sure it wasn't something they would have enjoyed seeing so much. The whole time we were in Kuala Lumpur, the attraction they kept asking me about was Petronas Twin Towers - specifically if and when we were going to see it. Our first day in Kuala Lumpur is a Monday so Petronas Twin Towers are close.  

Sultan Abdul Samad Building and Merdeka Square 

Another historical building we went to visit was Sultan Abdul Samad. It's a late nineteenth century building that housed the British colonial administration in its early years. 



While you can't go inside the building, you can explore its surroundings which is seriously nice for photos! I mean just look at those golden yellow facades. 





    

I read that this building also lights up at night - an even more beautiful sight to see but we couldn't wait for that since we were at the area early afternoon. We crossed right over to Merderka Square after exploring the area. 

The week that we went to Malaysia was the week they were gearing up to celebrate Hari Merderka (Independence Day) which was going to be on Friday, August 31 and Merdeka Square at the time was a busy place to be at. We were told by one of the Grab drivers we rode in that the place was were the celebrations were going to be held. We were still able to take some photos around the area though - walk around and have a photo of you taken with Sultan Abdul Samad building at the background.






And finally to wrap up our first day in the city, we visited the Kuala Lumpur Tower. I booked our tickets via Klook so we could skip the lines in this tourist attraction place. To go up to the lobby of the tower, you can take the free shuttle service they offer which is what we did because our Grab driver only dropped us off at the gate. 

The Kuala Lumpur Tower is a communications tower and it is considered to be the 7th tallest free standing tower in the world. Go up to the Observation Deck and the Sky Deck for a panoramic view of Kuala Lumpur city. Usually, the popular attraction people go to for that breathtaking view from above is the Petronas Twin Towers but from what I read, most tourists prefer to go to Kuala Lumpur Tower to enjoy that view.


Yes besh, mahangin sa labas! Luckily, I had a cute hair tie to hold my hair in place. 



Wait for night fall to enjoy this view even more and by night fall I mean, around 7:30 or 8 o'clock! The later, the better (though last call for KL Tower visitors is at 9!) because at 6:30 in the evening, which is around the time this photo was taken, the city still looks like it's only early afternoon! Europe feels! Not that I would know for sure because I've not been there but I heard that's how it looks like in that part of the world at that hour. 

   

Kuala Lumpur at night. Yes, that's a view of the Petronas Twin Towers right there all lighted up! I love the city even more at night! 



I actually thought we were going to miss this view. I thought we wouldn't be able to stick around long enough to see the city when all the lights in the buildings are on but we were in line to get in the Sky Box and it was a long wait! So long that my feet had numbed from standing so long! And it's cold by evening at the top so bring a light sweater or cardigan with you to keep you warm. 

Should you get in the Sky Box? Yes! Yes! Yes! Unless of course you've got fear of heights. Like a true blue acrophobia because while the surrounding view is amazing especially at night, the view down below is scary. 



This is a photo of the floor of Sky Box. Yup, it's an all glass view of the city from above and below. When we saw it, we got nervous to go in the box. But we did it anyway! Para sa picture my mom said! LOL! 


My mom's all smile in this photo. Doesn't look like she's scared at all, does she? Well just don't look down and you'll be fine!   



I found the Sky Box to be a nerve wracking experience but I wanted an IG worthy photo so in I went! LOL! I'm lucky to have had at least one photo worth sharing online! We actually took photos in a hurry because 1) we were scared! and 2) we didn't want to held the line up too long since there was  still a long line of tourists waiting for their turn to get in the box. If you do get in the Sky Box, I urge you not to think too much of the fact that you're 300 meters above ground and on the ledge too so you can get more awesome photos.  

There are two Sky Boxes. But this was the one with the longer line because it was the one with the view of Petronas Twin Towers on the background. If you don't care for that anyway, then you can get your photo taken at the other one since that also offers an amazing view of the city scape from above.   
Of course these are just the attractions we saw during our first day. There are lots more to show and tell you but you'll have to wait for my next blog post(s) for that! Meanwhile, you can also head on over to my Instagram page and follow me there so you can see a few more photos of my visit to Malaysia!   







     

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Books I'm Looking Forward to Reading

The advent of September for me means two awesome things: favorite series coming back on air after a season break and big book sales particularly the annual Manila International Book Fair and National Bookstore's Book Binge Bazaar.

Confession: Every time I'm in the mall, I almost drop by National Bookstore or Fully Booked to check out books and comics that I want to read and when I have the money to spare, I buy. Well this week both Manila International Book Fair and National Bookstore's Book Binge Bazaar are happening! Ubusan na ng pera! LOL! Kidding.



But if I am definitely going to check it out and maybe buy a book or two. Here are the books on my never ending list:

1. The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto

I've had this book on my list for the longest time! I said I'd wait for a paperback copy but up to this time, I haven't gotten around to buying it. Mitch Albom just has a way of writing about spirituality and life that would make you want to reflect about the way you live your life.



 2. All Your Perfects and Without Merit

Because I am a big fan of Colleen Hoover! Ever since I read Ugly Love. So yeah, I grew up reading romance novels and I describe myself as a hopeless romantic so love stories always draw me in. BUT Colleen - the way she writes, it's not any ordinary love story. It tugs your heart. It will make you cry whether over joy or sadness.




3. Archie Comics Graphic Novels

Because I love reading Archie Comics and in fact collect these comic books.





4. The Happiness Project

I actually briefly read Gretchen Rubin's Happiness Project a few years ago. Borrowed the book from a friend but I didn't get to finish it as I got busy and the book was left collecting dust on my desk so I returned it. But I still want to read it.




5. The Trilogy books: To All the Boys I've Loved Before; P.S. I Still Love You and Always and Forever Lara Jean

I usually don't read books once I've seen the film version but I want to make the exemption for Jenny Han's books. It seems like a really cute young adult novel and I want to know what happens to Lara Jean and Peter Kavinsky further.

 





















Actually these are just top of mind books I want to read. Whenever I go to the bookstore, I usually find some more books I end up adding to my reading list. But anyhow, if I end up having some extra cash to spare when I go to MIBF, these will be some of the book titles I'd like to add to cart.

Are you going to MIBF? Or have you gone to MIBF yet since today is the first day of the annual book sale? What new books are on your reading list? 

Monday, September 10, 2018

What Happy Looks Like Vol. 9


Reviving this old blog series of mine where I share the awesome things that happened to me in the week. In case you're new to my blog or have forgotten about this blog post series of mine, I started this series to remind me of the good things that happen in my life big and small. It was inspired by Gretchen Rubin's The Happiness Project.


1. Donating old clothes and getting a discount voucher in exchange

If you've ever shopped at H&M, then you may have noticed that big billboard sign they have on their counter walls that encourages their customers to donate old clothes to the store. Whatever the state of your old clothing is - worn out, with a hole in it or maybe the color has faded - you can donate it at the store. Just show the cashier your bag of clothing donation and they'll give you a 15% discount voucher in exchange.

My friend, Jordan and I finally did that and got me this:



How awesome is this? I was not only able to declutter some of the stuff in my room such as my old clothes but I also got a discount voucher that I can use for my next H&M shopping!


2. Bonding over coffee

I love, love, love drinking coffee! So when Jordan invited me to chill over coffee, I jumped at the chance.



3. Made my first Carousell sale

Because I am doing some decluttering in my room, I also decided I'd sell some things I no longer use or want online. I signed up for Carousell account and posted some items there for sale. I made my first sale today when someone bought my old Nike rubber shoes. Yay! Additional money for HK trip!

4. This taho in the mall



When I was a kid, my mom used to buy taho for me almost everyday when Manong magtataho comes around our street in the morning. Somehow over the years, the sight of manong magtataho has become a rare thing so finding taho in the mall is awesome! Brings back memories of childhood taho days.

5. The shared dessert 

Speaking of nostalgia, when some of my friends and I were walking at the mall, we spotted a Mini Donuts vendor. Mini Donuts also used to be a favorite donut stall of most 90's kids. As years go by, some businesses close shop and I thought Mini Donuts was one of those that bit the dust. So imagine our thrill when we spotted this at the mall!


Rej shared his donuts with me.😊 These cinnamon flavored mini donuts are delicious!

   

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Travel Diary: Experiencing Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia the Second Time Around

They say you always remember your first. Well, I remember my first time travel out of the country. It was just before my 27th birthday when the only thing I had planned was to gather some of my dear friends from high school for my birthday dinner.

The account I was handling then at work had a promo where three lucky winners would get the chance to go to Kuala Lumpur to watch Justin Bieber and a few other performers in a concert at Sunway Lagoon. I got sent to chaperone the winners who were all first time travelers as well. It wasn't the best first time experience to be honest and because it was an only a 1 day trip, I didn't really see Kuala Lumpur though I did see the Petronas Twin Towers from afar and was forced to have my photo taken with it on the background. Forced talaga eh noh? But it's true. It was a very very far view of Petronas Twin Towers. Though that travel taught me a lot. 

Anyway, so fast forward to 2018 and there I was again in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I wanted to take my mom to places she's never been to before while she still can. I never got to do that with my Dad because he got sick and passed away just before we could plan our first international travel. 

I picked Malaysia so I could finally see the country and it was also an affordable place to visit. How affordable? One (1) ringgit is thirteen (13) Philippine pesos.     



My mom brought along two of her friends to this trip while I brought along Mai, one of my closest friends since high school.



Our only group photo was from inside the Skybox at KL Tower. A photographer in the tower took this photo and it cost us about 100 ringgit I think. Here we are being asked to pose in such a tourist-y way. Raise your hand. Do the peace sign. Raise your leg. Corny, I know! LOL! Oh well. For the senior citizens nalang pagbigyan.

You can of course you can opt not to get your photo taken by them. We were in such a hurry not to cause so much delay in the line that I didn't ask them to take a group photo from my phone anymore.


This trip was a very interesting one right from Day 1 to say the least.


My NAIA scare 

A couple of years back, the Ninoy Aquino International Airport became infamous for the so-called laglag bala gang. Foreigners and Filipinos alike were gripped with fear and worry that they would be stopped by the airport authorities because a bullet is supposedly found in their luggage as a means of extortion. The issue had died down until recently a Filipina took to social media to rant about her experience with the bullet planting scheme.

Here's what happened to us when we got to the airport:

We went through the initial X-ray screening of our stuff. I got through it without a hitch but my mom and her friends were stopped by the authorities and asked to have their bags go through screening again. It was early morning and I was honestly still sleepy, only half functioning until I heard the word "bala" (bullet) being uttered as the reason why we were being stopped.

I had to wonder if we had become the victims of the unfortunate bullet planting scheme. But really how? The bags were close. It was a short screening process. There were so many people lined up after us. I remember being called to check the X-ray machine screen myself and saw the suspected bullet - a small black thing in the handbag of my mom's friend. So the handbag in question was opened - my mom's other friend opened it - poured out all the contents out while I, my mom and the authorities stood by as witnesses.

So was it a bullet? Yes. As it turns out, my mother's friend keeps a bullet as an anting-anting - an amulet in the belief that it will help with safe travels. We were allowed to board the flight after the incident was documented. But it did give me quite the scare.

What it's like to travel with not one, but three senior citizens

My mom brought along two of her friends with her to this trip. The same set of friends she was with when we went to Hongkong. I don't have a lot of memories from that HK trip with them because I was with two of my friends as well and we had our separate plans as a group. Malaysia's a different story though since we're all together for five days.

Let me make it clear that I love my mom despite her being all up in my grill from time to time but especially on a Sunday morning. But it sure is a crazy way to test someone's patience when it's three  older women with you. How crazy you ask?

Aside from the NAIA scare, there's the search for two missing companions in Kuala Lumpur Airport. My mother was supposed to be with them but they seemed to have disappeared without telling anyone where they were going. I walked around the huge airport wondering how the hell I was going to find them when I had no means of reaching them (they didn't have their roaming service on) while worrying about the service that will take us to our hotel from the airport which was only going to wait for us for an hour and we've been in the airport for 30 minutes already.

There's me sending my mother and her friends on a panic mode at the hotel when I thought for a minute that I might have accidentally picked up another luggage bag because the lock on it was different from what I remembered. As it turned out, it's still my bag - scratches and all. Only the green padlock is now a gold one because the green was only a cover design which might have fallen off sometime during luggage loading or unloading.

"Anu nangyari?"
"Bakit di mo tinitingnan kasi?"
"Oo nga. Nakita ko green yung padlock mo!" 
"Paano na yan? Mali ang dala mo!"

These were just some of what they said to me when I wondered out loud if I might have switched luggage bags with someone else. That was my mistake really. Imagine three loud panic voices coming at you one all together as you try to figure out what might have happened.

Actually there's so many of these moments during our five day trip. I just gave you a glimpse of how it was like with them. Don't get me wrong. They also have their good moments. For instance, I need not worry about running out of funds because they had the spending power. Sometimes during travels with friends, spending cash could be a problem. Plus my mom's friends convinced her to get me a wonderful and quite expensive souvenir when we visited Royal Selangor. But also really they are sweet old ladies who kept on thanking me for the wonderful activities I had prepared for us and made my mom happier because she had them as well for company. 

Weather in Malaysia

When I got back to Manila, one of the immediate things my friends asked me was "How's the weather in Malaysia?" I guess they wanted to know since here in our country, it's almost always raining nowadays because the latter part of the year is rainy season. Well let me tell you about the weather in Malaysia! It's hot! Super hot! It reminds of the time I went to Bali, Indonesia. Both times, I got sun burnt just walking around. Well the weather is hot and humid in Malaysia all year round. There would be times it would rain (it rained hard on our 3rd night) but it doesn't last long. Locals and Filipinos who work there told us that rain usually lasts only for 15 minutes to an hour and then it's back to hot and humid again. This is because the country is near the equator.

So if you guys are travelling to Malaysia, don't forget to apply your sun screen! I brought mine but forgot to apply that day. I also brought along my umbrella but since I kept taking photos and videos here and there I let Mai use it more.

My travel buddies

In this day and age of technological advancement, of course I took advantage for our trip. First and foremost, I rented Flytpack, a rental pocket Wi-Fi router. I rented this first when I went to Singapore with my friends and found it super useful then. I found very useful still when I went to Malaysia. Not only because it helps me stay connected online but also for checking directions online and more travel info even when I'm out of the hotel. The connection is strong and the rental price is affordable!



Because I was travelling with three senior citizens, I didn't want to spend all the time in Kuala Lumpur asking them to go up and down a train station while I try and figure out directions of where to go once we alight the train. I decided we'd take Grab instead since I also read that the best way to get to some of the places we wanted was to take a cab.

There were five of us so hailing Grab seemed to be a good cheaper ride alternative than the train. Our fares ranged only from 12 ringgit to 17 ringgit at the most (so that's Php155 to 220) around Kuala Lumpur area. Unlike in the Philippines, booking Grab is so easy! Yes even a six seater one. I know it's not Grab Philippines' fault though. It's our government and their backward thinking! Yes I fully support their call to End the Wait.

Klook-ing our way around Malaysia 

I am not a fan of join in tours. I've expressed my disappointments with past experiences here in the Philippines. But I wanted to give Klook a try for a number of reasons:

1) Less hassle on my end to figure out how to get to places.
2) I wanted the Shopback credits
3) It was Klook that gave me ideas on what to do around Malaysia aside from going to the famous Petronas Twin Towers.
4) It seemed like the prices especially the tours were affordable enough

So yeah, I tried it for myself. Believe me when I say it was a great decision. It was so organized! When I paid for the activities, I immediately got the receipt and vouchers for the activities. I would get an email advisory from their partner agency on the details of our service for the days when I had availed of one (for airport transfers and the tours). The services that would pick us up or drop us off at our hotel were prompt and friendly. The tour guides are very knowledgeable. And the places we went to are amazing of course. More photos of the places on my next post!

Not a fan of tours yourself? Well there are some activities you can still avail from Klook. I availed airport to hotel and vice versa transfers via Klook and bought our tickets to KL Tower and Petronas Twin Towers from them. Use Klook for the latter especially so that you'll skip the lines going to the tower and you'll be able to secure the time slot you want on the date you want. Tickets for Petronas Towers seem to sell out fast. I saw another foreigner, a white guy, who came there and wanted to get a slot for the day but he had to pick a later date because there were no more tickets available for the day.

Souvenir and Pasalubong Shopping

Of course in a travel you're always after pasalubong and souvenirs. For this, you can go to Central Market - they carry a lot of items from food (buy Old White Town Coffee - it's really good!) to tourist landmark miniatures like the Petronas Twin Towers to magnets, key chains and tote bags. I think Central Market in Kuala Lumpur is like Bugis in Singapore.

You can also go to Beryl's Chocolates to hoard chocolates to bring home as Malaysia doesn't seem to have one stand out delicacy. I guess it stems from the fact that they are a multi-racial country. 

Overall Experience

Five days in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. That's how long my vacation was. I think I was able to maximize my stay there seeing the city and even some outskirts of the city like Malacca and Batu Caves.

I would say KL reminds me so much of Manila because a number of times during our trip, we would find ourselves comparing a certain place to an area in the Metro - only it's a cleaner version. And again, also hotter and more humid than Manila is.

Still it was nice to finally see Malaysia! I did so many tourist-y things while there which is great for a first time visit. Would I go back? I would like to because there are still so many things to see not in Kuala Lumpur per se but the other parts like Penang. Besides once is never enough! 

Watch out for my next post. I'll be sharing more of the places we went to while in Malaysia.   

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Confessions Part 18: Refreshed, Ready and Raring to Go



I'm back from my trip and blogging again! How was it? Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia is nice country to visit. It's almost like Manila except cleaner. You'll even meet a lot of Filipinos there - either tourists as well or working there. Not surprising since it's a very accessible country from the Philippines and an affordable one to visit to! I did have a nice time there. Although nothing beats being back home.  

This trip was really for my mom more than anything. I promised myself that this year I would plan a new travel for us because she really wants to go places while she's still strong enough to do so. Anyhow, I'll tell you guys more about it on a separate post but if you are going to Kuala Lumpur, consider Bukit Bintang area where we stayed at. Specifically, we stayed in Ceria Hotel (pronounced cheer-ya) which is a nice, affordable and comfortable hotel with an Instagram-able lobby to boot! Use Booking.com so you can have the option to book now and pay at the hotel. Use my referral link so you can have 10% cash back when you book. On top of which, don't forget to book through Shopback as well for additional cash rebate! 

Here are a couple of photos of the charming hotel lobby:








Usually when I'm travelling, when I get back I usually get that I need a vacation from my vacation feeling because while it's fun to go places and explore, it also can get tiring trying to figure out your way around and also packing up. This time though, I'm back from my vacation feeling refreshed, ready and raring to go back to work and back to blogging! I feel like my writer's block has cleared up and I have found a direction as to where I want to take my blog. So raring to write, write, write and share away. So expect me to update this blog more often from here on. Hopefully you guys will keep hanging around to read and engage with me! 

Most importantly, I feel refreshed to do more with my life because to be honest, the past few months I was just drifting. Though I let myself do so as I healed my heart. But now that I have recovered and moved on, it's about time I take control of my life again. Do the things I want to do. Make new goals. Achieve those goals. Make new friends. Travel. Learn something new. The list is never ending!      

Current List

Currently watching: This is Us

I know! Another TV series I've gotten on late in the game. In my defense really, there's just so many of them I want to watch! But I have read so many rave things about This is Us for so long. Now that I finally have a copy of this series, I finally started watching. It is such a tear jerker! 

Currently saving up for: Hongkong trip

Yep, I still have another travel coming up later this year and I'm excited about this. So, so excited! I gotta save up for this more than Kuala Lumpur because 1) I don't have my mom with me (LOL!) and 2) Hongkong is a more expensive city to go to than Kuala Lumpur. 

Currently reading: Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella

I'm down to my last book challenge for 2018 GoodReads Challenge where I pledged to read 12 books for this year. Sophie Kinsella's a good pick. I don't think you can go wrong with this author if you want a light and amusing read.