Saturday, December 31, 2016

Time Revolution - Missha Treatment Essence

"Unexpected intrusions of beauty. This is what life is..." ~ Saul Bellow

Hello readers.

Its just a few hours to 2017.

2016 has been a roller coaster. Those reading this, we survived, we made it. More is yet to come. 

I have been looking for a cheaper option to that of SKII and I am currently trying out this essence touted as the absolute cheaper dupe of it.

I'll do this for a couple of months and keep you guys updated okay?

Much love from Airiel and I.

Peace and love to everyone.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

(i) Salon De Chocolate (ii) Xin Chao Restaurant - Part 2; (iii) Coffee Stain, Publika

"Abligurition: an actual, if very obscure, English word, which means the spending of too much money on food..." ~ John Green

Hi readers, some updates on some eateries I frequent in Publika.

Because good things must always be shared.

1. Salon De Chocolat

This place is chock full of people on weekends and they have recently seemed to have renovated to have more room by buying the lot next door.

There are more items on the menu, and just look at what FSD and I had. This is just divine. A must visit if you are a chocolate lover.

2. Xin Chao Restaurant

I have blogged about this place before, click on food on the tags cloud. And this place is just my fave to have lunch and I love love their pho.

NIN decided to order something different the other and needless to say, it was simply divine.

Basically you put a bit of the vegetables and the deep fried shrimp thingy onto the rice paper, roll it up and dip it in the sauce. I am going to try this next although its hard to order anything else but the pho when I come here because its so good. Service is top notch here as well. When the staff saw NIN having trouble because she didnt know how to prepare the food, the chef personally came out to assist her. Swoon!

3. Coffee Stain

Last but not least, who can resist 3rd artsy fartsy coffee after lunch?

Haha, alright readers. Head on over to Publika aka Solaris Dutamas and enjoy the food!

Much love from Airiel and I

Peace and love to everyone.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Top 5 booking websites I use to book hotels

"Since the Industrial Revolution, we've treated our world like it was a hotel room and
we were rock stars" ~ Blake Crouch

Hello readers.

Some of you readers have asked me where do I book my rooms for my travels.

This post hopefully answers that question for you guys. Just to inform you that for most of my travels to other continents, depending on  the safety issues involved I would take a tour. 

But for familiar south east asian destinations, I book my rooms on these websites and it starts from the bottom to the top:-

5. AirBnb

I have honestly only used this service once before. But that's because of my preference for hotels I think. I would rather have the 'inclusive of breakfast' and 'free wifi' things thrown in when I book for a place. But you would be surprised at how much these extras cost and thats why most rooms in AirBnb is cheaper than the hotels. Plus some owners now offer free wifi.  AirBnb does not currently partner with Shopback or Milkadeal cashback and that makes it less popular for me. If you want to know what I mean by cashback go to my earlier post on getting more value for the money you spend here. On the plus side, some really awesome but hidden getaways can be found only on AirBnb like the Twinkle Villa and this awesome Private Resort and we are only scratching the surface of Selangor here. It's therefore worth to surf and to give it a try. The very real and honest reviews from the users also help immensely in making your choice.

Expedia partners with Shopback and Milkadeal although you would have to check the rates on which sites offers you the most cashback. At the moment Shopback is offering 9% of the value of your booking while Milkadeal 6%. I used this site for my bookings in Melaka earlier this year. The plus side for expedia is you can opt to book flights as well so it kind of doubles as an all useful travel agent hahaha. If you click on the last minute deals icon on the site it tells you the lowest deal flights to certain destinations that you can book last minute and more flights plus hotels package at some really good prices. I have one quip about this site though, and that would be its annoying habit to change its prices to a slightly higher rate when you are ready to book after perusing for a while and would  like to  make payment. I would rather they stick to the prices they quote initially but it depends on your luck!

3. Agoda

It partners with both Shopback and Milkadeal usually at the same rate so thats a definite plus. It also has depending on the day some of the best value hotel rooms I have ever come across. The catch? Most of the greatest deals like really cheap ones must be paid up front in full and is non refundable so you must make sure that your travel plans are confirmed because cancelling is a no go. Certain deals also come with complimentary enrich miles points so you are getting a cashback + enrich miles which can both be redeemed later. Thats just super awesome! On top of that agoda has its own credit system which can be redeemed to offset against any later bookings, although you must reach certain amounts of credits before it can be used.

This website is currently moving fast up my favourites list. What I love about it? When you book 10 nights you get one night free equivalent to the average amount per night you have spent on the 10. So lets say you have a free night equivalent to RM250? book a hotel room at RM300 and pay only RM50 being the difference.  This site also partners with shopback and milkadeal so its cashback + free nights! 

I am a veteran on booking. I use this for almost all my hotel bookings as most hotels agree to not charge up front and I can opt to make payment only upon check in at the hotel. Most of the time I do not have to pay extra to get that, unlike Agoda where cancellation up to a certain date or paying only upon check in will result in you paying higher rates. It partners with both milkadeal and shopback, although it does not currently offer anything else as a bonus compared to the other websites above. That being said, as my family travel plans can change drastically I usually opt for this website for family bookings (we tend to book an average of 5 rooms per trip, phewwww). 

Tip : When you want to do bookings, open all these websites at once and compare the prices before deciding. Good luck and happy travels!

Much love from Airiel and I. 

Peace and love to everyone.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Mid Life Changes

"But just then, for that fraction of time, it seems as though all things are possible. You can look across the limitations of your own life, and see that they are really nothing. In that moment when time stops, it is as though you know you could undertake any venture, complete it and come  back to yourself, to find the world unchanged, and everything just as you left it a moment before. And it's as though knowing that everything is possible, suddenly nothing is necessary..." ~ Diana Gabaldon

And the quote above is precisely how I have felt this past year.

How the world has not changed and how much I have.

From my twenties and having just turned 33 and have taken a love for travelling, I have internally differed in how I look at the world, how I decide what's valuable.

I mean, I used to be crazy about designer leather bags and would buy them in droves. And then I saw a video clip about how the animals were treated in obtaining the skin and I just couldn't bear looking at these bags anymore. I would just opt for the nylon or fabric ones now. And I see the packaged ones I  keep in my closet, rows upon rows of them...just staring at me.

I used to wait for the newest phones to come out and book them and line up to buy them, no matter the price. And last weekend when my iphone went kaput I winced in pain when I realised I would have to spend 2k to replace it, because I do not want to  be bound by a contract. I just find spending that much money on a phone so wasteful and I do not want to do it anymore. So when this one breaks down, no more of these types of phones.

I look at the clothes I have in my closet, and I just feel like apart from my favourites, I need to sell the rest and put money in Aracare, or I need to find people to give these away to. 

I would rather spend on books and my travels, and on Airiel's education, and on helping others.

I see people treat me or my family like crap or bitch about us constantly or take advantage of us and apart from not needing to respond, because I do not respond to people beneath me, I sometimes actually feel sorry for them for being so miserable. I would just cut them off because I do not have the energy to let them be in my life. It's just too tiring.

Being angry is tiring, being vengeful is tiring, being bitter is tiring. And I am tired of being tired. 

I just feel like I have so many things, and these things are suffocating me and caving in on me, and becoming a liability, a burden. Its just so heavy.

I can't explain it. I just feel like there is so much suffering in the world and yet people around us, society, have become so selfish, with little or no empathy and obsessed with THINGS and how people see them. And I am so ashamed to admit that at one point in my life, I was like them too.

It's crazy how I wake up one day and realise how messed up the world is and I need to do something about it, no matter how little of a difference I can make. 

One life at a time. One step at a time.

I need to start. I need to help. I need to grow. I need to not simply exist.

Lets do this.

Fernweh 2016 - Krabi

"To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries..." ~ Aldous Huxley

Hello readers.

I have just been back from another one of my travels.

Reviews soon.

I was here in 2011, and am back here again in 2016. 

Full circle. It was time to make new memories. And it was great.

I have not blogged about Morocco even but let me do it bit by bit.

Tons and loads of things.


Soon, I promise.

Much love from Airiel and I

Peace and love to everyone.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Lets get Lost 2016 - Morocco

"To wander is to be alive" - Roman Payne

Hello readers.

It's been a while. I am wandering again. Taking pieces of my angel son and palestine daughter with me as I go.

Breathtaking, isn't it?

I will blog about it more when I return.

Much love from Airiel and I.

Peace and love to everyone.

Monday, October 3, 2016

There is no definition of 'Better' for me...

"At the temple there is a poem called "Loss" carved into  the stone.  It has three words, but the poet has scratched them out. You cannot read loss, only feel it.." ~ Arthur Golden

This request has been sitting in my inbox for the longest time. 

I read it, reread it, thought about helping her answer the question, decided against it, left it hoping i'd forget, came across it again...the process repeats every so often.

Her daughter passed away in her sleep of SIDS 7 years ago. She says 7 years to the day and she is having trouble to deal. She has sleepless nights, she has nightmares. I am fine with reading this. And then after telling me what she has gone through, she asks me a question which makes me shift in my seat everytime I read it. She asks me 'have you gotten better? how do you deal with it? I see you have not written about your feelings for a while...', Everytime I read this email, I wanted to delete it but the last sentence always stops me. She says 'please help me sis...I don't know what to do. It's affecting my marriage, its affecting my capabilities as a mother...please help...' 

I shift in my seat because I honestly do not know how to answer her. I don't. For the longest time I did not want to answer, because the truth is painful, but I owe it to Akif to help other mothers who have suffered the loss of their kids. That was my promise to myself when he died. So i will try my best.

The short answer is 'I don't know'. The long answer would be 'it depends on the day'. 

How do I go back to the way I was before Akif died? That is basically what her email was asking me, whether she can ever get better and go back to the way she was.

I honestly can't speak for anybody else, but for me, there was never any going back to who I was before he died. I will never go back to the way I was before that point. It was simply impossible.

When he died, a part of me died with him, and that is permanent. What part of me that I lost was permanent, irreversible. And so I changed. When he died, I changed.  

But that did not mean I never got better. Not being able to go back to the way I was did not equate to not getting better, it just meant that I had to learn to make the best of what is left of me now and moving forward.

Because moving forward is inevitable, because not moving forward would mean that I would have to stay still and die. And I simply could not do that. I had one more son which was alive, which needed me. And he was stubborn in his demand for whatever that I had left. He would look me in the eye and tell me how much he loved me and demanded that I say it back to him 10 times louder. He would wake me up with kisses and drag me out of bed when I simply had no strength to go through a particular day. He was relentless, constant, unwavering. In other words, he kept me alive. And for the longest time, I had the weirdest logical thought process, I must stay alive and be the best person I can be, because that is the only way I might get a shot at seeing Akif after all that is said and done on the other side.

But that is my drive to pick up the pieces of whoever I was left and to stick it back together and hobble along. I don't know whats yours. But whatever it is, keep on holding on to it. Don't expect to be exactly who you were before she died of SIDS. Don't use that person as a benchmark or definition of getting 'better'. It is NOT and it never will be. The person who you were before is gone, so say goodbye to her and make your peace with the fact that you have changed along with what has happened to you.

People say, the songs say about how nothing can break them, and equates being broken to weakness. For the longest time, I believed it too. But these tears, our tears, our despair and overcoming it is not a sign of weakness, it is simply a process we have to go through to become mended. 

If you have sleepless nights, well I have them too. If you have nightmares, I am not afraid to say that I have them too. It does not mean I am not better, it just means that I miss what I have lost, sometimes unbearably so. We have those days, and we are not any lesser or weaker for having them. 

I have those days and nights, and I get through them. And I have them again. The process repeats itself. 

In between those days though, I see and memorize the laughter of those still living, I look at sunsets with interest, I look at the waves and seas with longing, I notice how the clouds can have funny shapes when Airiel points it out to me. I smile when and laugh when my friends and family makes silly jokes, I read incessantly. I drink too much coffee. I travel and see the miracles that make me feel so small. I am content. 

I honestly do not know what 'better' is and when I will get there. But this is okay. What I have right now is okay. And that is the truth. I do not know of a word to describe what stage I am at and that is okay too.

I hope this helps you.

May your daughter and both my angel children be blessed.

Akif, this one's for you.

Much love from Airiel and I.

Peace and love to everyone.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Weekie 2016 - Quayside Hotel

"See that day as I remember it. A day in June, River Severn rolling to the sea, diamonded with sunlight, gulls gliding over the quays on a mild breeze that lifted the Red Dragon standard over Camelot. A quiet enough day for the end of my world..." ~ Parke Godwin

In the name of Allah the Beneficent, the most Merciful

Hello readers.

Another update on my weekie in Melaka.

I stayed at another hotel after checking out of the Shore. Decided to stay closer to the old town area so I can walk and experience all the sights on foot.

I decided on the Quayshore hotel. I was told by the friendly staff that quayside hotel was previously a warehouse, and the owners decided to stick with the theme when they remodeled it into a hotel.

The tables were converted from those huge wheelie things where they wrapped cables and ropes and stuff. God knows what they are called.

Look at the awesome staircase 

The hotel consists of 2 floors and is completely open 

 Love this lamp and the room was pretty cozy.

 The bathroom was sufficient

Remainder of the pics of the room 

Look at those chandeliers and couches. Its such a quirky and cozy place. I absolutely loved the interior design.

The hotel is located opposite the balai polis and a short 2 minute walk from the places where you find the trishaws. So its centrally located. Parking is on a first come first serve basis so it depends pretty much on luck. There is plenty of parking after the peak hours so you may have to park at the melaka cruise place behind the hotel and customs museum and change it later after traffic has died down.

I have to say though, the mattress and the pillows here was one of the most uncomfortable ones I have ever come across in any hotel I have stayed at so far, and I have stayed at a lot of hotels. So after a long day of walking, it was quite disappointing to lie down on such hard pillows and substandard mattresses.

All in all, if you want to stay at a hotel near to all the historical locations, it doesnt get any better  than this (but the pillows and mattress can be so much better please!). So give it a try.

Much love from Airiel and I.

Peace and love to everyone.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Weekie 2016 - The Shore Residences, Melaka

"For a long time now my heart has had its shutters closed, its steps deserted, formerly a tumultuous hotel, but now empty and echoing like a great empty tomb..." ~ Gustave Flaubert 

In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Most Merciful.

Hello readers,

I have updated more in this month than any other months this year I think! Haha. Since there is time, I might as well.

This time, I am updating you guys on the first hotel I stayed in Melaka, the Shore Hotel and Residences.

The check in was smooth, although the tiny corner they called a lobby wasn't very comfy for me. The rooms here though, I loved! Pics below

Was so in love with that table lamp 

 The wall where they put the TV had funky decor and it also had a DVD player. 

There was readingish daybed for people to lounge on. I did my colouring here hahaha. It was placed facing the balcony so if you open the curtains you had a nice sea view.

These curtains actually conceal the floor to ceiling windows. 

 The mini kitchenette and wardrobe. It had a nice electric stove to have some light cooking done.

Me, the vainpot haha. 

 Love love the huge, spacious bathroom with full on marble. And check out that bathtub! Perfect to for a warm soak after a day of sightseeing and playing tourist.

I was given the 35th floor room, and the views were simply spectacular, check that out. Forget Menara Taming Sari, this was way higher and with a better view haha.

Whilst I loved the room, I was not a fan of the lifts. They were so SLOW!. And the parking was not great because the hotel has to share it with the mall and the Swiss Inn hotel next door.

That said, it was still a great experience staying in this awesome room. Any of you guys planning to stay in Melaka, please give this place a try.

Much love from Airiel and I.

Peace and love to everyone.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Etude House Collagen Toner and Sleeping Pack

'Beauty is terror. Whatever we call beautiful, we quiver before it..." ~ Donna Tartt

In the name of Allah, the Almighty, the Beneficent.

Hello readers.

A product sharing update this time around. Because good things MUST be shared.

I am looking for (i) a better toner than currently offered by SKII; and (ii) a replacement which is at par or better than the SKII essence. Both products should be at a better price point.

Okay so I have been using the Etude Collagen Toner for about a month now.

I was looking for a something that is more suitable for dry skin, like mine and I found this one on Hermo and Althea. It is more goeey in texture than that of a normal toner, and I find that my skin does not flake by the end of an 8 - 10 hour workday in an air-conditioned office. You have no idea how awesome that feels! So this is a go for me. A dry skin must. This will be my designated toner from now on. And this toner goes for max RM50, so it is just wayyyy cheaper. I am saying bye bye to the SKII toner. 

I was also looking for a sleeping pack to apply before I sleep so my skin does not flake when I wake up in the morning. Olay has been great to me when it comes to night creams but I am looking for one equally moisturizing but with a better price point and being happy with Etude house, decided to buy the Moistfull sleeping pack as well.

I got this for RM46 during a sale after reading through all the glowing reviews about it. Been using it for about 2 weeks now and I am loving it. I travel to hotels often and sleep with the air-conditioning on, and despite that, the skin feels moist to the touch when I wake up every morning after applying this before I go to sleep at night! And at 46 bucks it is cheaper than even Olay. So I have decided to add this to my night regime.

Both these products I got from either hermo or Althea (link as per above).

I am still hunting for SKII essence dupe and will update you guys on that.

Much love from Airiel and I.

Peace and love to everyone.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Fernweh 2016 - Pulau Besar, Melaka

"You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. Fools stand on their island of opportunities and look toward another land. There is no other land; there is no other life but this..." ~ Henry David Thoreau

In the name of Allah, the Beneficient, the Almighty.

Hello readers,

I hope all of my muslim readers and friends have had a blessed Eid ul Adha. Selamat Hari Raya Haji. This year, just like every other year, Airiel went off for the holidays with his dad.

I have learned that to help with the time passing by in his absence, plan for solo short vaccay trips so you don't feel it so much!

Anyways, on a semi work trip, I managed to take a couple of excursions in Malacca. Playing tourist in my own country is awesome! Malacca, a UNESCO World Heritage site is steeped in history and places to visit.

I will break my visit up and spots I went into a couple of posts. First up is my trip to Pulau Besar.

Pulau Besar is located about 25 minutes boat ride off a jetty located in the merlimau area. Just waze or google map Jeti Tanjung Batu. 

There is a one time entry fee of RM5.00 for cars to the Jetty. 

 Park and then buy your ticket to Pulau Besar. Its only RM15.00 to and from the island. The time the ferry sets off can be seen in the pics above. I timed my beach hunting trip from 12.00 a.m and coming back at 3.30 p.m.

Whilst waiting for the ferry to take off (ferry is the last red one on the side), just chill and enjoy the view.

Once the ferry is ready to depart, a loud honking sound can be heard and off I go on the ferry. 

Stylo lah this bird chilling ... 

It's a 25 min boat ride where you can just put earphones on and listen to some music... 

 And voila, you are at Pulau Besar!!

 One with the welcome sign is a must.

 I saw a Museum which was unfortunately closed at the time I went.

I was told that this was a bird house? I have never seen one and was so fascinated.

 There is a food court area fronting the beach about 5 mins walk from the jetty where you can have lunch, get this map and rent a motorcycle for RM15 for an hour. I rented a scooter and with this trusty map in hand, went on my exploration.

My primary goal was to hunt for beaches, as you can tell by now I am obsessed with beaches and the sea, but there are a lot of tombs and graves around the island of rather prominent islamic figures that are responsible for the spread of the faith in Malaysia and south east asia region. Pics are as above, so I visited those too. There are also some wells, and the famed nenek kebayan well, tomb, batu belah (yes, THE batu belah batu bertangkup), the tomb of the tujuh beradik. What I found fascinating was the presence of an entire hotel complex, frozen in time and abandoned in all its majestic splendor. I didn't take any photos of those, it was just way too eerie. There was also an abandoned golf course, at the opposite side of the island where it is absolutely deserted, but the roads around it was still accessible which is where I went with my trusty scooter. There were some parts like the Nenek Kebayan well, a cave and a few locations which no matter how much I searched I could not find for some weird reason after a while which I gave up.

I was later told that this place is frequented by those who believe in the supernatural and mysticism, given the tombs and graves that are present here and the myths surrounding them, which explains why so many people were camped out in front of some of the tombs, and why I saw a bearded guy carrying a sword covered in yellow cloth errrkksss.

My advice? Ignore the mystics, and just enjoy the natural beauty of the island. The deserted side of the island has beautiful, sparkling, clear waters where you can just lounge for hours on end, with a book and earphones blasting with music. Just look at the pics above. So so beautiful.

After about 3 and a half hours, it was time to return the scooter and head back. It was fun Pulau Besar! Thank you for having me! Teheee.

Until the next update readers. 

Much love from Airiel and I. 

Peace and love to everyone.