Archive | September, 2012

What is your quick getaway from KL?

21 Sep

I have to say that being in visual communication has so far been pretty interesting. People that I meet, places that I go and new things that I learn make me grow each day. Challenging part is always brainstorming for new and innovative ideas. I always feel that I don’t read enough. Like any other mothers, I’d be torn if I spend too much time away from home for work and if I’m spending time with the kids, I’ll be worried of datelines and proposals for our clients. Oh well, recently Ipin & I just decided to take a quick getaway outside Kuala Lumpur.

view from our room in Swiss-garden Resorts & Spa Kuantan

Day 1, after we packed our bags and settled a few urgent work, we were on our way to Kuantan, Pahang. Since the East Cost Highway was built, our journey only takes 3 hours from Kuala Lumpur. It was nice too of our helper to pack us home-made nasi lemak to be eaten on the way as lunch. That was a good start to our getaway. Since it was a weekday, the traffic was smooth and we were greeted by slight drizzle in Kuantan. Swiss-Garden Resort & Spa Kuantanhas always been the preferred choice to stay in Kuantan since my working days. Even though it is about 20 minutes away from the city, the beach and facilities will keep a KLite like me occupied. I like the fact that after  about 10 years of operation, Swiss-Garden Resort & Spa Kuantan decided to refurbish its hotel and maintain their facilities compared to the other resorts on that Balok Beach. I have to highlight this as resorts in Malaysia can get quite poor when it comes to maintaining their resorts. One important tip before you book any hotels in Malaysia is not looking at their Photo Gallery but please read their reviews first!

Inside our room. The only time we have time to take some photos and our hands were not occupied.

So, if you are a spa junkie like me, do try out its Samsara Spa after your long tiring & stressful day. The setup, smell and service will take your breath away. Hit the gym in the morning before cooling off at the swimming pool. I love the adrenaline rush. Those were the activities I used to do when I was on a business trip. Since I came back to Swiss-Garden with my kids, I brought them around the resort after check-in. It got them all excited and could not wait for the next day as it was dinner time already. We had our seafood lunch at Paksu Seafood Restaurant which was about 10 minutes away from the resort. A crab dish is a must and sometimes when I get too carried away with Ipin, we’ll order 2 or 3 crab dishes alone. Yums…

Take nothing and leave nothing except for your footprints behind…

Day 2, rise and shine Kuantan 🙂 What a perfect day with clear sky and sun shining to have breakfast by the beach! We built sandcastles and I’m so happy that our kids love the sea as much as we do. Once a while I feel that I can’t wait for them to grow up and play some water sports. Ipin has introduced Aufa to wave surfing as young as 2 years old but I have to wait for them to be at least 8 years old to introduce them to sailing. I’m glad now that they have sailing classes in Putrajaya Lake, which is closer to where we live but I’m pretty sure it won’t be as exciting as the one in Lumut. Honestly, I’ve already enquired for our 6D5N Family Package sailing lessons in Phuket after our working trip to Marinas in Langkawi, last year. Have you experienced sailing before? Reality check, I shall enjoy every moment of my children’s childhood together and paint them with happy yet educational memories. Ayfaa who has just turned one year old did not want to leave the swimming pool until we carried her out. Next destination was the Hai Peng Kopitiam in Kemaman, Terengganu. Even though Kemaman is in another state, it took us about 30 minutes only to get there from our resort. Try the kuih, roti bakar and most importantly their kopi, you’d be addicted to it in no time. Similar to what Ipin & I would do during our surfing trips, once our tummy is full it is time to chill by the beach. Our favourite surfing spot would be Teluk Kalong, which is about 15 minutes drive north from Kemaman town.

Aufa flying the kite

The moment we hit the sand, it was kite flying session. Such a simple activity and yet manage to get the kids all excited. I tried Kite Surfing before but it was sooo strenuous for me. We brought our 8-year-old-sure-fly-kite we bought from a kite shop in One Utama. Trust me, this one will fly for sure with even soft wind. Nope, you don’t have to run around to get it to fly. Telok Kalong has clean beach and they have public toilet facility. It is a peaceful place and highly recommended if you are looking for a spot to picnic. If you are looking for a place to picnic in Kuala Lumpur, read my post here.The whole moment we were in Telok Kalong was simply breathtaking.

enjoying the so-called Musang King durian

Next it was Durian feast time. We noticed the stalls by the road sides on the way to our resort. I’m glad Aufa shares the same passion for Durian as me. Our finance minister likes it too so it is a bonus. At the first stall, we had to have the Durian then and there. It was like endorphin to us. I like the fact that the Dusun Durian or durian orchard is just behind the stall. Then we hopped on to another durian stall down the road and this time we decided to have it by the beach. To the beach we go! This time was Pantai Balok, Kuantan. It was not as clean as Telok Kalong Beach but they too have the public toilet facility there. There was also a horse stable and we watched the kids riding the horses by the beach. We love the cargo area of our pick-up truck. It was like a mobile tent and we all sat in it by the beach while enjoying our second batch of durian. Sorry no photos as each and everyone of us was in durian trance. 6pm – It was time to go back to our resort and I was already looking forward to my Wii Video Game session. At first Ipin and I were just teaching Aufa on how to bowl, play tennis, golf & boxing. Before Aufa got the hang of Wii, I was already in my kiasu mode to conquer the video game and set to defeat Ipin in boxing especially. At the end of the session, I was all sweaty and body aching all over.

Sara Thai Kitchen Restaurant, Kuantan, Pahang

Time for dinner next. Luckily our Sara Thai Kitchen restaurant was only 10 minutes drive north from the resort as I was already starving. Besides serving tasty Thai cooking, Sara Thai Kitchen has beautiful deco and clean too. The service is fast and the area is calm. This is compared to any typical by the roadside restaurant you find around here.

Aufa with bubble bath

Day 3 – Good morning Kuantan! After some short splish-splash time in the bathtub, we quickly pack our stuff to have our brunch at the Kemaman Kopitiam in Kuantan town. It was as good as a kopitiam can get. Nasi lemak, kuih-muih and kopi filled up the table. Next, there was no time to waste as it was Elephant SanctuaryDay! I’ve been wanting to go to this place for more than 10 years already. Along the way from Kuantan to Kuala Gandah in Temerloh district, we were just going thru the characteristics of an elephant with the kids and what they should be looking forward there. I made Aufa recall his previous encounters with elephant at Zoo Negara and Singapore Zoo while Ayfaa had her Barney Elephant song on repeat throughout the way.

Elephant Show at the Elephant Sanctuary, Kuala Gandah, Pahang

The National Elephant Conservation Centre as it is also known as is a place where you can get up close & personal with the elephants there. You can see that their caretakers are really passionate about elephants. As the elephant rides and bathing activities are limited to 120 persons only a day, it is strongly recommended that you call them to make booking in advance. We were prepared with our swimming attire but did not know about the booking part. By the time we reached there at about 2pm, all tickets (sticker form) for elephant ride and bathing the elephant activity have been given away. However, the bathing elephant activity was cancelled due to strong current in the river from the rain earlier.

Getting that tiny closer to elephant but not too personal after feeding them with papaya

We were not too disappointed either as there were some kind souls who passed their elephant ride sticker to Aufa & Me. Aufa still talks about Abot, the elephant he had a ride on until today. Before we took a ride, there was an elephant show, introducing the residents and their background to us, the visitors. We even had the chance to feed the elephant after the show. Surprisingly enough, Ayfaa managed to stay calm when we approached the elephants to feed and pat them. Again, the place is also nice to have a simple picnic. Do come prepared with your hats, sunblock and for some, insect repellant. The show and activities start from 2.30pm onwards but do come earlier to watch some videos on elephant conservation or maybe pay a visit to an Orang Asli village nearby. Since this National Elephant Conservation Centre does not impose any entrance fee, they rely a lot on visitor’s donation. After we made our contribution,  we were on our way back to Kuala Lumpur.

Bye-bye elephants. Till we meet again!

There you go, an idea for a quick getaway from Kuala Lumpur. Next in our wish list is….a farm 🙂

Little Miss Ayfaa’s 1st Birthday Party

6 Sep

Puteri Ayfaa Eizdihar is One!

Ayfaa with Mr Happy Balloon greeting birthday party guests

Ipin and I reminded ourselves that we are not going to organize any birthday parties for our juniors this year since we went to Disneyland recently. Plus with our business running, time is a luxury. So I had about less than 2 weeks to organize and send out invites when we decided that our little princess Ayfaa deserves to have her 1st birthday party.

Party food with Mr Men and Little Miss food-picks

It took me a couple of days to come out with a theme and as I was cleaning up the children’s toys and books, I thought that Mr Men and Little Miss theme will be pretty cute and educational for our little guests. After I googled for party decoration ideas, I quickly give Jiju’s Creativity a call for my customized party needs. Within less than a week, they agreed to supply rainbow-cake-in-a-jar, Mr Men and Little Miss Stickers for the guests, door gift boxes and food-picks. They turned out Fantabulous!

Dirt Cake by Constant Craving

Since we invited limited friends and family members, I thought that it’d be nice for me to personally cook for my special guests. I had about 10kg of New Zealand shoulder lamb ordered and delivered 2 days before party day. We marinated it and started BBQ it 24 hours before guests arrived and got our guests ‘high’ on lamb when they tasted my secret recipe. It was hilarious! Then we cooked Nasi Beryani, Ayam Beryani and Ayam Merah. I also prepared the family-secret-Australian-Apple-Acar. Thanks to our local Martha Stewart aka Kak Wa for teaching me . Love you loads! Have you heard that the yummilicious Murtabak Raja is now in KL? Yup, we bought several Murtabak daging and ayam from their shop in Wangsa Maju. Murtabak Raja originated from Kelantan. It is about an inch thick and dense with fillings. I’ve also made my favorite Apple Crumble in a cup. Not forgetting my famous blueberry muffin, all for munching over chitchats. What is good food without good drinks to complement? Guests were served with Robert Harris’ french pressed coffee, M&S Lemon, Ginger & Ginseng Tea AND M&S Raspberry & Vanilla Tea. The combination was simply divine.

Birthday Giant Ice-cream sundae

Thanks Selina for the carrot cake and Kuna of Constant Craving for her dirt cake. The kids got high on the marshmallow and love your eeky worm jellies.  Constant Craving offers the best Red Velvet cake/cupcake in the world and her Cheese Brownies is to die for, I kid you not! For the birthday cake, I made a giant Ice-cream sundae instead for the kids to go crazy. The idea was adopted from the Makan Dulang concept where the food is served on a big tray and a few people will share eating the food together. It was also a chance for the kids to not only taste the ice-cream but feel and play with it. Well, this is a party isn’t it? The giant ice-cream sundae was made from the famous Jiju’s-Cake-To-Share Chocolate brownie at the bottom, Neopolitan ice-cream (because some kids like choc flavor, vanilla flavor & strawberry flavor), a heap of swirling cream and of course, rainbow sprinkles!

Getting ready for water fun

The kids collecting their ammunition – water balloons!

That was not the only time for the guests to have a wild time. We got the car pool where Ayfaa was born into, inflated and filled with water. We had a smaller one inflated and filled with water too for the infants to play safely without getting crushed by the bigger kids. Of course we did not forget water balloon war! Thanks Ipin for preparing the water bombs.

And the water fun begins

What happened after they ran out of water balloons….

Different Mr Men books were sticked to the wall as wallpaper for photo booth session. Every family got to bring home a copy of Instant Picture from my Fuji Instax.

Chinese Take-out box door gifts with Mr Men and Little Miss Stickers

I love Polaroids when I was younger and still get excited over it until today. The happy look on our guest’s faces proved that instant photos still have that affect on everybody. Before they leave, each kid gets to peel 1 Mr Men book from the wall ranging from Mr Tickle, Mr Bump, Mr Strong to Mr Clumpsy to take home with them along with other sweet munchies we’ve packed for them in Chinese Take-out boxes. The talk about Mr Men characters started from the moment they joined the party where each guest was given a different Mr Men sticker to place on their clothes, until they leave the party with Mr Men books.

Mr Men books as photo booth background and door gift

Birthday Instant Photo Booth as momento

Thank you very much newly weds, Ezu & Nabil for taking the pictures. We missed the Ariffins family photo again but its OK. We really hoped that everyone had fun and learned something from Mr Men and Little Miss theme party. Ayfaa and Aufa are very lucky and grateful to have lovely family and friends in their lives.

Ezu and Nabil – our photographers for Ayfaa’s 1st Birthday Party