I read, do you?

Read (verb) /  Look at and comprehend the meaning of (written or printed matter) by interpreting the characters or symbols of which it is composed –Oxford Dictionary

Seek (beneficial) knowledge,because seeking it for the sake of Allah is a worship. And knowing it makes you more God-fearing; and searching for it is jihad,teaching it to those who do not know is charity,reviewing and learning it more is like tasbeeh.Through knowledge Allaah will be known and worshiped.”

-Ibn Taymiyyah

Reading is just like any other activities that need interest or passion which normally was trained during our childhood time. Not everyone share this interest and some think it is only for the nerdy. Hmmph! I guess it is true that the first few years of your life (toddlers – kids) is when parents can help to develop their child’s interest as at this stage the kids are keen to learn and explore new things (and also they remember)

I cannot recall exactly when did I started having interest in reading story books by myself but I do remember starting it with the Peter and Jane series by Ladybird Books publisher which not only is a story book but also a medium to learn on vocabulary and spelling too whilst reading to all the series. Then it was the Disney books to Enid Blyton to Roald Dahl to Jacqueline Wilson etc. I must say I  started young and when we moved to the UK I had no choice but to speak in English (Scottish English to be exact, haha) which I forever will thank my parents for the Peter and Jane series and the friends and teachers back then. (Like I said at such young age, we easily copied and learned from our surroundings easily)

Fast forward to primary and high school days, my dad was my number one encourager (cum banker) since he will bring his daughters to the bookstore (back then it was only MPH) almost every weekend to buy at least one book. How I started to fall in love with the Harry Potter books was also because of him. He bought me the first three series of Harry Potter books way before the idea of making it into a movie. Thank you Ayah! From a little girl to now, reading is no longer an alien to me. Not sure whether it is a hobby or just a habit but up until today, I will read a book (either a fiction or non-fiction) every time before I sleep.

Even tough some of you may not share the same excitement when reading this (haha sorry) but when I was young I had some trouble reading while being in the car or plane or any vehicles that moves. The motion sickness really bothered me last time and I complained that to Ayah since I will get bored especially on long hour journey. Well, that stubborn 8/9 year old girl forced herself slowly (there was this one time I had to smell the orange peel to distract the dizziness, no kidding) and probably after few months, tada, such an expert. I can even read while standing inside the cramped train now. Phew. Well the main reason why I wanted to read inside the car/plane/train so I could know  what’s next of the story (faster) and yes of course to pass the time. Imagine a long haul flight and from one movie to another, to the countless juices and water, why not grab a book and read. It helps too you know.

How interesting that by reading books you can somehow be in the story too? How books can make you travel. I get that a lot especially the non-fiction ones. There are times that I prefer light reading and there are times I will add flavour to more serious (knowledgable) or religious books. Say, the Quran itself I myself prefer reading it with the translations, just to understand it better.

Knowing something and understanding it were not the same thing” -Mitch Albom.

True enough.

A book is a magical thing that lets you travel to far-away places without ever leaving your chair – Katrina Mayer

No matter what kind of materials (books, articles, magazines – fiction or non-fiction) you read, there will always be new things you shall discover, just like travelling. Maybe that is why both are my favourite things to do.

How I survived UK, alone? (Part 2)

Being a Muslim and wearing scarf  is not a problem over there, so not to worry. In fact, when I was strolling around the park alone, walking around Oxford Street and Croydon Town by myself the locals smiled and even helped me with my shopping bags and gave me direction when I thought I was lost. None of the Islamophobia issue happened to me. There was this one time in Victoria London Station where few boys prayed at the pavement while waiting for the train without any disturbance. My friends had such experience and I am not saying there are non, but most of them are nice people. Even here, we hardly come across such how to say hmm considerate people. Taking the zebra crossing for example, the most common problem here in our country. In Malaysia, the pedestrians had to stop not the drivers. geeez!

After London, it was time to visit Manchester (again) Probably the only reason why I keep on coming back to Manchester is because of Afroze and her family. Back in 2010, my girls and I went for a trip to the UK and stayed at her place and 6 years later I am back again. I was not as keen as now when I stayed in the UK to go to Manchester but having a friend living therechanged that thought. It was late night when I arrived Salford and Manchester is not like London. Not at all. It is a smaller city and kinda scary I must say especially at night in certain areas. The Mancunians know whereabout.

( There was this one night near Piccadilly station, I was being approached by this stranger asking for money. He claimed that he is a Muslim (why he approached me in the first place) and the money was to buy a bus ticket going back to Liverpool. I was alone at that time waiting for Afroze’s husband to fetch me and there were only few people around the area. You would be surprised of my reaction, but I just listened to his stories but then rejected and said “I don’t have enough for me either” (inside I was praying hard he had no knife or a gun and for me to be safe) and he walked away right after. I was worried to be honest but I put on my confident look)

I left foggy Croydon just to be welcomed by a sunny Salford. Indeed it was warmer in Manchester. Which is odd actually.It was still a single digit celsius down south but suddenly the temperature rose to 18 degrees. Boy it was really warm and such a drastic weather change because few days before it was snowing in Manchester. The day we went to Salford Quay and Heaton Park was probably the warmest day in Manchester. Afroze said the city welcomed me happily.

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Sunset view in Salford
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King St, Manchester

When in Manchester there are few pit stops that you must go. Most Malaysian students who studied and still studying will definitely go to Al-Jazeera (you can see ‘free drinks for Malaysian’ notice inside the restaurant) The best ‘nasi arab’ and kebabs by far. I kid you not, they serve the best of those two and you will want more. Jazeera is located in Rusholme, a bit dodgy area but you find lots of students especially Malaysians living in this area because of the easy access for Halal food.

Opposite Jazeera, is Moonlight. If you are a dessert fan, you will enjoy going to Moonlight. Their Ferrero ice cream and Faluda are my favourite. In Manchester, almost everything is cheaper than London especially their food. So you do not need to worry if you splurge too much here because mainly the further you are from London the more you save on money (England I mean, Scotland is another story) There are many places to eat in the UK, here are the must have.must try:

London:

Tinsletown, Burger & Lobster, Stax Diner, Yolkin, Melur (I prefer here than Tok Din), The Hummingbird Bakery, Lola’s cupcakes (Harrods and Bicester Village), Drayton, Elgin and Wandle Park’s homecook. There was this pizza but could not recall the name.

Manchester:

Al-Jazeera, Red Chilli, Moonlight and Afroze & Asrul’s homecook

Shopping time! 

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Cheshire Oaks Designer Outlet

Yay like finally. If you are looking for high-end boutique brands by all means please visit the Bicester Village (honestly, since most of them are European brands it is better to shop in Milan France Italy for cheaper price) if not, please take a bus or a train and spend a day or two in Manchester and go to Cheshire Oak Designer Outlet. and again everything is way cheaper and here most of the high-street brands can be found. Oh yes, they have Celine too here. You need at least a whole day here. The place is huge and open. Similar to the JPO here but bigger. I scored my Flyknit 4.0 for only £22. Kaching!  You know it is hard being a girl and  an accountant at the same time. The struggle is real. I used the iPhone Notes to write my daily expenses including the 10 donuts for £6, short bus ride and Uber fares. Yes DAILY expenses for a month, people. haaha!

The other weakness was Paperchase. I still prefer the traditional way of giving away cards on birthdays, writing on notebooks and collect notebooks like nobody’s business and Paperchase understands me. This place, has tons of beautiful printed and handstiched journals to choose from but it comes with a price. So, when in Cheshire Oak make sure to visit their shop because the outlet price will make you want to have all but nah I just bought 5 tho. Hee.

Of course I had my shopping list just for the sake of keeping track of  where my money went and it helped. Phew. Have you heard of Accessorize before? They opened few outlets in Malaysia but did not survive long and it is not that cheap in the UK either. I remembered contemplating on whether to buy this backpack in Westfield. Ask Aliaa, she knows. £30 is considered pricey for just a fancy bag. Reluctantly put the bag and walked away was not the best feeling and kept mentioning about it to Aliaa (and even saw someone wearing the same colour backpack) during the train ride home to Croydon. Fret not, that was the best decision because I bought mine at the outlet for 10 freaking pounds only. Again, scored! How can you not love Manchester?!

Spend for things / place that you will appreciate for the rest of your life

I am referring to the football stadiums tour or matches and Harry Potter Warner Bros Studio tour. The ticket will be expensive but the experience will be priceless. I have not had the opportunity to watch any matches yet but it is in my bucketlist to experience it at least once. Trust me I really want to watch the World Cup match live at the stadium someday. Germany 4lyfe! Coming back to this, the Harry Potter tour cost me £47 (complete studio tour package – adult) but it was worth it for someone who grew up reading all the HP series books. I shall write on this experience in a separate special post. But really, if you have the passion for something why not spend some to gain such memorable experience. You will not regret it and it is worth every single penny!

Back in London Town

(Tips: Buy your entrance tickets online. If with family or pax of four, you can save more. Cheaper and some only provide online ticketing services – stadium tours and Harry Potter studio tour especially-)

As much as you are familiar with a place, you just want to know more about it. So I took the Big Bus London Tour for a change and see the town from the bus upperdeck view. Why I said familiar because UK was once home to me. My dad was transferred there but we lived in Aberdeen, Scotland. Unfortunately, I did get the chance to ‘balik kampung’ during this visit. Time constraint, hee another reason to come back. Anyhow, the bus tour was nice. You can simply hop on hop off the bus and walk to wherever stops you want. The breezy sunny weather was just nice for a tour. For the London Hop On Hop Off 24hours Tour, the ticket will be £27, online price.

The almost a month time spent in the UK was indeed something I will treasure for the rest of my life. Only when you travel alone you encounter things that you never imagined before. Different beautiful memories to be captured when travelling with family or friends but when you are all alone, that is when you know who you are. How you handle unforseen events, the happy and the creepy ones. When travelling by yourself, is when you will appreciate the time the money and the people around you more. I never experienced UK like this before compared to the last time my family and I stayed there for a few years.

“Always take home as many stories as you do photos” Alhamdulillah, I did and looking forward to many more adventures.

Dear Skin..

Dear skin, why can’t you just be flawless and normal? 

My everyday thought but with the current skin condition I must say I am lucky. Maybe it is in the genes of RMAs or MJJs or maybe I was born lucky to have clear skin. I do get a lot of questions on how does my skin is clear, no acne and whatnot but it is not all that. I am not giving excuses but really I have super sensitive skin. Surprise!

My first attempt on applying all the chemical products onto my baby skin (some say that too) was in highschool. I was born with eczema whereby if I am sweaty or under the sun, rashes will just appear on my forehead and hands. ‘Puteri Lilin’ as the Malays call it. So behind this current skin condition was a baby who cannot be too exposed under the sun.

When our family lived in the UK for a few years, it was then my parents discovered that my eczema stopped. The four season country helped to improved my skin naturally. Hmm, so more reason to migrate to UK,no? Hehe. Frankly speaking up until today, I easily get burn and rashes but not as bad as last time whenever I am outdoor. Now you know how sensitive my skin is.

The only product (for 15 consecutive years) that I used was Johnson&Johnson products, be it their body lotion and the facial cleanser set, Clean & Clear. Laugh all you want but true indeed, Johnson&Johnson is my skin best friend until today. Haha true story. I tried changing to Olay, Dove etc but none suits my skin. It will either make my skin dry or again, rashes and lobster coloured face.

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Clean & Clear essential set
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SPF 30 moisturiser 
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My current new best friend

I do notice that my skin will react immidiately with products that contain fragrance, arbutin (the whitening agent) and too many chemicals. So after 15 years of using Johnson&Johnson I managed to discover Sebamed cleanser for teenagers which I still am using. I bet none of my friends use any teenage products now but how my skin wants so that is what I will be using. This Sebamed Clear Face is a foam cleanser and it is light to my skin which is so nice.

After changing to Sebamed, I found out that my skin need more moisturiser than just Clean&Clear SPF 30. I did a lot or review and search for the best skin products that will go with my skin. Even though I had to invest a bit but for the sake of healthy clear skin I am now using Hada Labo, the Japanese brand. Their products are free of fragrance, less chemical, free from arbutin and best of all it is water based. It keeps my skin hydrated all day.

Thank goodness a friend when to Japan recently and bought the set for me as it is really cheap over there.

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Hada Labo hydrating lotion (toner) 

While everyone in my family can enjoy all the Korean masks and facial cosmetic, I had to forget about it. Most of the Korean masks have fragrance and there was this one time I tried, for about 10seconds (yes people not even a minute) I felt that ichiness and straight away throw the mask and my face went all reddish. Sigh so no more face mask accept the birdnest by Bio Essence (just the mask not their skin care products)

Spicy chicken drummets are my weakness so if eat too many of this and fast food my skin will show sign of protesting by appearing dots of zits but I just cleanse it back by drinking lots of water.
Besides these skin care routine, I do take supplements too. Not the complicated ones but just:

– raw honey (twice a day)

– Vitamin C (preferably Redoxon)

– Fish Oil capsules

– tons of water (warm water)

– Coffee scrub (twice a month)
So after reading this, do you still want my skin? Hee hee

*Pictures – Source: Google

How I survived UK, alone? (Part 1)

 

Pre-trip

(Tips: Thoroughly survey your flight ticket. MATTA Fair is not always the best option. Bought mine, RM2599 MAS return)

There are many articles online on “When is the best time to buy the cheapest flight?” even though it is handy but not 100% reliable. Different airlines, different offers. So I noticed, most of the airlines will make their own offer at least a month before each MATTA Fair which surprisingly is way cheaper than on the day itself. You just need to browse through their website regularly. It was between Emirates, Qatar and MAS since their range are between RM2499-RM2799 but since I was travelling alone I rather go for the direct flight tho MAS was not the cheapest at that time.

Being someone who has claustrophobia, a huge leg room is a huge deal for me. Either that or an aisle seat. So yes, you guess that right. I actually Google the seating plan of the A380 MAS when choosing my seat (of course this is only an option) Upper deck seat 33A has the most positive review and indeed it was. Spacious legroom, checked!

Since it was almost a month trip to the UK, I asked my friend who works there to buy me a phonecard prior to my arrival. (Yes, but if you have no one in the UK you can simply buy it at the airport) It was easier that way since I can just use immediately once I arrived there.

Trip Day, March 1 10:10

(Tips: You do know that you can bring empty tumbler on board and asked the crew to refill)

Sick, I just had to be to sick on the day and had to survive a 14 hours flight. Anyhow, thanks to my uncle, he escorted me straight to the gate. Flight was fine. Sat next to a Chinese lady who apparently works in London and she shared her stories. Probably slept total of 4 hours only throughout the journey.

16:10  March 1 – Heathrow Airport

(Tips: Look and talk confidently with the immigration officer)

Phew thank goodness the officer did not ask a lot. Either I just got lucky or the lady officer was just in a good mood. If you are worried because you are a Muslim and wearing hijab, just be confident and answer them properly.

During the trip

(Tips: Citymapper app. is a life saviour. Install this and buy your Oyster Card, you need this if you are in London)

It was not my first time coming to the UK but why I went to this trip, ahaa nope not going to tell but too lucky to have few friends still living in the UK.

Let me tell you more about Citymapper app. It is super convenient and free! The apps does not included all the cities in the world but most of it and the number of city is adding up. You know how in London there are trams, tubes, buses, trains and Uber so using this app not only letting you know the time, cost but also which coach you should sit in inside the tube or train. Awesome!

The timing is accurate, the app shows the time of the transportation arrival so you can plan your journey ahead. Cool ey? I rely on Citymapper all the time whenever in town or in London and Manchester.

Here is how it looks like:

Eg. Harrods – Tinsletown

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Set your Start and End location

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Choose one from the suggested ie: by train / buses 

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Choices of tubes and rain safe too

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Let say choose option 1, so this is how your journey will be

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Detailed info are provided to reach your destination
 

and done! Easy right?! Thanks to Alif and Cik Ton who suggested me this app. Done will all the must do and must have.

It is always easier (and cost saving obviously) when you have friends living abroad, so the accommodation is free. For the first week was in East Croydon. Where is Croydon? A small town in the South East of London in Zone 5 and where two of my friends (and now a total of 8 new friends) who lived and still living there.

View of sunset from Elgin Rd house
When actually I was literally all alone? My second night in Croydon, since all Elgin girls when to Iceland (preplanned before I came) and mind you the house is huge and the housing area is so quiet and the house is kinda old but being refurbished so you can imagined me all alone for 3 days in winter. Haha! The best thing about Elgin house was the tram station is only 2 mins away. So easy access to the Croydon Town.

Sandilands Tram Station

March 4, 18:30 | Croydon Town
Croydon Town is rather a small town but with high street shops and cafes. You can find Next, Debenhams, M&S, H&M and hmm well most of it. As long as Primark is there, I’m all good! And it was in front of Primark when I first met Alif’s wife, Aliaa. We went to meet the guys for dinner after the office hour. It is easy to make new friends there, as Malaysian there is always that pleasure meeting someone from home when you have been living abroad for so long. Aliaa Alif and their housemates, let’s refer them as Wandle Park (because they live there hehe)

Portobello Market and Westfield

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Weekend crowd in Portobello Market
We took a 40mins train ride from East Croydon Station – Victoria Station – Notting Hill Gate Station and then walked two minutes to get to the Portobello Rd. Why I will always come back to this place is because of the rows of pastel coloured and their all white coloured with such character houses in the area and for the market too of course. You can never get bored looking at it. It was all gloomy when we arrived and it got a lot more colder that Saturday morning. So when it is cold outside, the tummy is screaming inside.

Portobello Market is known the world over for its vast supply of antiques and collectibles for sale. There are more than 1000 dealers selling from I Love London hoodies to antique watches and cameras. Everything can be seen and bought here. The street market is also their major attraction. Fruits and veggies, flowers and also street food! There are also vegetarian and halal food so it is not a problem. We had the falafel, so good! Also, when in Portobello Market, please drop by at their famous Hummingbird Bakery for their famous cupcakes especially Red Velvet cupcakes. Yumms!

Since it was too cold, so we decided to have brunch at ‘Makan Cafe’, a Malaysian owned restaurant located just under the bridge towards the end of the market. Guess what our famous ‘cekodok pisang’ being called in the UK? Banana Button! Cute ey?

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Makan at Portobello Market. Source: Google
Done at Portobello and Notting Hill, we headed to Little Venice. If you happen to see my Instagram, I posted a picture of Little Venice and shared the moment of our (Wandle Park and myself) reaction towards the place. After visiting both Venice and Amsterdam, Little Venice has its own charm tho. Just the weather that spoilt a bit. It was nice strolling around Portobello – Little Venice – Westfield with the Wandle Park even though everyone’s nose were all red like Rudolf. It was nice seeing the kids playing at the playground with their bubble jackets on. UK and most of the western countries has lots of parks, playgrounds even in the big city.Shame on you Malaysia, we have lots of shopping malls already. Learn something from them, sigh.

Little Venice – tranquil canal area, home to waterside cafes and pubs

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The huge Westfield White City, London
We arrived at Westfield just in time for lunch. See how blue the sky is in the picture, do not be fooled by it especially by the most confused weather city in the world. Trust me it was a single digit degree at that time. In Westfield, I met with Drayton girls and I think it was Tesco house too. (Wandle Park, if you happen to read this, correct me if I am wrong) Cik Ton told me I have met almost of her colleagues in Westfield itself and it was that day Drayton invited me for a two days sleepover. Remember earlier that I was all alone at Elgin? Alif got scolded by Drayton for leaving me all alone instead of Cik Ton. Haha.

Drayton House

Back from Westfield, everyone bought sushi from Yo Sushi (Halal sushi, not to worry) at the London Victoria Station because nobody wants to cook after a long day in London. I went back to Elgin, packed my bag and off to Drayton. This one habit whenever I am in the UK is having cereal every morning. Every single morning and at any point of time. Thank you Drayton girl for buying milk for me, really appreciate that. You have to try their fresh milk and you will be spoilt by their choices of milk. Fresh, Semi-skimmed, Low-fat, Hazelnut, Almond and the list goes on. You name it. My favourite would cereal would be Crunchy Nut (Corn Pops, Coco Pops and Fruit Loops too) which cost only less than £2 for the jumbo/big box and here in Cold Storage, the small box is RM23. Pfft.

So when in UK, please try all of these snacks. “Too good to be true” does not apply to these three.

Back to Drayton house, they are just the nicest people on earth and how they use ‘Kamu’ in addressing a person is, cute! You see I am a complete stranger and Cik Ton was not around but still they offered me to stay and even cooked for me. We had a get together at Drayton and invited Wandle Park for a pot-luck. We made chicken soup and rice. Wandle Park brought rosted chicken, yummayh and desserts too. It was nice to have that small gathering since I am still not familiar with the Flemmings family. Oh did I mention Drayton house is soooo cold?, especially the kitchen. You just want to wrap yourself under the duvet. Nonetheless, it was such a good time with them. Thank you Drayton! Missed you girls.

It is 02:32 now  but this post has been delayed for the past three days. So I guess there will be Part 2 and 3 on UK trip itself. Goodnight! Xx

 

So long 2016

“It’s raining, it’s pouring” and it is also the end of 2016. Since it is the new year’s eve many of you surely have plans for 2017 countdown later tonight. It was once a tradition that my dad will take me to see the fireworks when I was little. Today, it will be just a relaxing day after a long day yesterday (will elaborate more later) and going for a swim later this evening – to those who follows me on Twitter and Instagram, knows what actually happened haa such an impromptu plan.

My 2016 is full of colourful memories. I was given the opportunity to travel to few countries alone and with company. The feeling of travelling alone to the UK earlier this year will be one of the most exciting moments I have ever had. Even though this is not my first time visiting but it is different when travelling alone than with your family. How I survived UK? I shall share it in another post, soon.

Then it was the Euro trip which is rather more exciting since there were few countries I visited was my first time. Visiting Amsterdam and Venice were the two places I treasured the most. Being someone who loves to travel, this year would be the year for me (please not be the only year, hee) and I am forever thankful for it.

Fast forward to the mid year onwards, it went all bumpy and hiccups along the way. Definitely it was not something to be proud of yet it helped me to improve myself and still am. Ramadan this year was one of the best Ramadan in my life. I felt it, that sweetness of the holy month (almost) throughout the month, Alhamdulillah. The indescribable feeling only I understand.

This year too, a significant lesson learned and so a rather huge deal decision, yet was made too. Even though it was a tough and emotional one but I really am relief about it. As I cannot pleased everyone in my life, I had to put myself first and had to be selfish on this one because I do too, matter. And this one thing was the right thing to do.

To witness my baby girl Mia Safya turned One too was a huge deal this year. She is the sweetheart to all of us (all of Pijot and Mimi’s friends) Mama Ain will pray that He will protect you and keep you safe and warm all the time. Make you a happy cheerful girl throughout your life, Amiin.

So what happened yesterday, was the reason I needed that swimming therapy today. I shall not disclosed anything due to the sensitivity of certain things but anyhow, all I can say is I never experienced such session with such statements from such high level of people whom most of Malaysian looked up to for the name. After it ended I went out speechless.

Things I learned in 2016:

You know how people only show what they want you to see/know about them (we all do that) and letting out TMI on social media, yes I see that, a lot. Like a lot. Their choice, but I agree to disagree at some point. I chose not to share my personal things too much nor to be too expressive on Twitter or Instagram because I shall keep ’em close to myself. “The less we reveal, the more people can wonder” and this too made me realised that only the genuine ones (friends esp) will know what is going on with your life without even to tell. Yes indeed as we grow older, it is not the amount of people you have that matters, it is the ones that been having your back and never left matters most.

To be selfish only when necessary. There is a fine line between being selfish and mean. Know the differents as you might hurt others if wrongly applied into your daily life.

People may hurt you when you least expect it. Be it anyone, strangers, friends, accuantainces, even relatives. I am not referring to anyone particular but my point is even they have hurt you (intentionally or not), just be it; but never let yourself suffer from it. Take it as a challenge to improve yourself and not to ever repeat the same mistakes again. It is not your fault for having good impression towards them, that is just life. You are not everyone’s cup of tea, but that is ok.

Not everyone appreciate time which is sad actually. Punctuality, why is it so difficult? I shall not explain more on this because it is one’s attitude. At least have some respect and courtesy to apologise when you are late. If cannot be punctual, be early.

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I may not have fulfilled my personal goals this year but it is progressing and I do have a feeling that next year will be a better year for me, InsyaAllah. It has been a tiring and a roller-coaster ride year and yet there are things that made me smile too, so that is good enough ey?

To sum up everything in 2016, I would say it is such an eye-opener year. A year full of exciting experience, happy and sad tears. A year that surprised me with brutal facts. A year that I will remember that everything that happened, shall pass. Be it good or bad.

The life in this world is only a deceiving of enjoyment [57:20]

Lastly, thank you to each and everyone who were involved in my 2016 journey. You made my year an incridible one, for sure!

For last year’s words belong to last year’s language and next year’s words awaits another voice

So let’s make new stories, experience new things, and let’s pray for a better year ahead, InsyaAllah. Let’s welcome 2017 with a smile!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Venice, You Surprised Me!

April 21, 2016 | 08:30 – Firenze Santa Maria Novella

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Firenze Santa Maria Novella (Florence Train Station)

(Tips: Booked all online transportation tickets before your journey starts – in KL. Cost saving, less hassle)

It was an early morning to start our day. Took the second train via Train Italia from Florence – Venice. The journey was 2hour 5mins, but  the country side view throughout the journey was beautiful. The weather was sunny tho it was early Spring but Italy was too warm. You can just wear your t-shirt, skirts or shorts tho, unlike Amsterdam it was all four seasons in a day. No kidding!

10:35 – Arrived at Venezia Santa Lucia (Venice)

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Stazione di Venezia Santa Lucia
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View of Santa Maria della Salute from the water taxi ride

To be honest, it was never in my list to visit this sinking city, ever. I really want to visit eastern Europe or for Italy, it would be Cinque Terre. Now I am  praying hard to visit those places, someday. Anyhow, when arrived at the station (to the main entrance) I was speechless seeing the view of the water taxis, gondolas, ancient buildings, everything even the station was floating, insanely beautiful! The bright weather helped a lot too. So then we waited for our water bus taxi at the Santa Lucia Railway Station to the Grand Canal Station. The journey was about 30 minutes ride (stopped at every stations in between) But then, another way is to book a private water taxi which cost around €120, so you have a choice there.

11:15 – Grand Canal Station

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Canal Grande
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Piazza San Marco

(Tips: Check the weather forecast, if it is sunny make sure to have your shades, cap and sunblock with you)

The journey was pretty cool, this city is 100% relying on water transportation because there are no roads connecting one to place to another, amazing huh? Italy never fails me with their secret pathways and alleys. They have their own charm that will put you in awed. You can see stretch of small stalls selling paintings, souvenirs and high-end boutiques along the way to get to the Piazza San Marco. The St. Marks’s Sq (English meaning) is an incredibly huge open space where the church and clock tower situated. If you ever watched The Italian Job, you might be familiar with the place (and even Venice itself). The scene where John was calling his daughter. And yes there were pigeons everywhere. So I let myself lost in Venice, simply walked to every beautiful corners, taking pictures along the alleys somehow when you let yourself lost, you found pretty amazing things.

13:40 – Gondola Ride

(Tips: If planning to buy a number/ internet data, make sure go to the authorised telco and asked them to do it for you and wait until it is actually working, the internet data)

There are few gondola stations all around Venice, the one we went was in front of the Hard Rock Cafe. €80/gondola of 6 pax for a 40 mins ride. The rate varies during the dusk and night. Marco was our gondola guy and like most of the Italians, he too have limited English vocab. Hence, we let him serenade some Italian song to us instead.

Although the weather at that point of time was scorching hot, the view was just romantic. Countless of small bridges we passed by and passing by the tourists and locals, they waved at us that was some experience. Nope did not kiss underneath the bridge, no husband yet. haa!

14:40 Explore Venice

There is another movie that reminded me of Venice, The Tourist. In that movie you can see how beautiful Venice is under the bright sun, and that was how I witnessed Venice myself. Cafes and restaurants are everywhere, you just need to decide which one has the best view of the city. You will be spoilt by the assorted flavours of their famous pizzas and pastas. Yummayh!

Fancy some leather notebooks? Italy has lots of that to offer. I bought mine (A5 size) for only €7 and in Venice itself there are shops selling fancy stationary (slightly expensive) which till today I regret for not buying the wax seal sets.

I have a soft spot for coloured buildings (all because of Notting Hill and Portobello Rd) and in Venice, most of the old buildings are either brick coloured or multi colours. It is nice to stroll around the city looking at the buildings, the pretty gift shops and look how the locals live in such a beauty city. Since it was only a day trip to Venice, we did not get the chance to visit Burano. The place where rainbow coloured buildings similar to the ones in Portobello but with vibrant colours.

Gelato! A must in Italy and yes I had one in every city I visited. No need fancy cafes cos they will charge you double. Try any gelato stalls you see and the taste never fails you. Like I said, even though it was Spring time but it was warm in Italy (Florence and Venice esp) I did got sunburn during the 4 days stay.

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Of souvenir shop and high-end boutiques along the alley
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Leather notebooks and wax seal set

17:30 Back to Florence 

The best part of  the journey back to Florence was I got the coach C by myself (separated from the others due to some technical booking error) for at least an hour. So of course being a tourist I recorded some videos from most of the angles of the coach. Well the right and left view are different tho so why not ey?

Pictures does not do justice of how beautiful Venice is but here are some. There was this article I read saying that Venice will sink in 5 years time (well it is sinking) but I am glad to be given the opportunity to visit – and yes I also regret for not buying the HRC Venice loose sweater.

Arrivederci!

Little Miss Y

“I’ve known you like forever” would be one of the common things we say to each other.  It has been almost a decade of friendship, even more we are like sisters. Back in uni days people said we are like twins.

My very first impression towards her – “Cantiknya rambut dia. Pretty eyes and aww a shy girl.” Ahaa then we became roommates, I scratched that shy girl part. Haha. She was the first person who convinced me that ‘nasi telur berlada’ tasted really good and made me eat it and to my surprised I love it ever since (but only the one in Klang, other eggs, no!) Bravo girl!

This one is for sure for keep. I would not trade her for anything. One knows if one is genuine and she is indeed has a gold heart. Fast forward to today, even though we no longer see each other everyday but thanks to technology for keeping us close. So, whenever we meet both of us somehow are locked to one another’s updates and my oh my we do not even bother to check on our phones. Yes, she is that one friend who can make me do that which is nice, really. The only time is when asking the waiter/waitress to snap a picture of us.

Nothing can ever go wrong whenever with her, oh may be my tummy – either too much laughter or too full of yummy food. I shall keep you in my prayers, always. Thank you for always being there through the ups and downs without a single sigh, hee.

Forever sayang you, Yaza!

“Words are easy, like the wind; Faithful friends are hard to find.”
― William Shakespeare