#REPAIRINGUS @ BRISBANE and GOLD COAST

My husband and I almost didn’t make it. Yup. You read this right. This is going to be a long and difficult post to write but here goes.

We have been married for almost 8 years when the 7-year itch or what I call 7-year dip happened in 2018.  2018 was not an easy year. It started with his retrenchment in early 2018, followed by my exhaustingly fast-growing business that took a lot out of me, so much so, I decided to let go of dealing with ALL of the operational work for my own company and taking a job I love in a law firm owned by 2 dear friends: IRB LAW LLP.

I saw symptoms of my marriage breaking down as early as March 2018 but something in me tells me it is ok for it to breakdown – I like being on my own. A thought I later found to be the most selfish thought ever.

After my husband’s retrenchment, he made some decisions on his own that did not please me BUT I never voiced it out and these little decisions continued till June/July 2018 and I used that as an excuse to stay away – emotionally and physically. I will be brutally honest. While sexually we didn’t drift apart, my emotions towards him thinned by the day. I was angry that he didn’t notice what I was upset about. I was angry I was taken for granted.

Then after August 2018, due to the fact that his new job is nothing compared to his old one, he became a small man, full of inferiorities. I loathed that new man I have to live with. He was NEVER like this. He was full of life, supportive and positive. This new man I saw daily then was small, negative and had nasty things to say about me and my business. AND, he was caught being chummy via text with someone – nothing sexual but still.

With all these happening, I had issues, that, in a nutshell put me into being a middleman for many people in many situations. I was always put in a position to be somebody’s mouthpiece, somebody’s partner, somebody’s wife, sister, MOTHER even and the list goes on. I lost me. Haryani Othman became non-existent. I was always just there to be somebody’s something. I longed to be me for me.

In September 2018, an old friend popped up with indecent intentions and I caved in (extend of which I won’t state, just for the fun of letting you imagine hahaha). This really wrong connection lasted for 6 months and I was happy. Before you judge me, let me tell you why I caved in to this hot young chap who was almost 10 years younger than me.

  1. He didn’t make me a middleman for anything
  2. He cares
  3. When I am around him I am ME just ME. I don’t have to do anything for him or BE anything for him
  4. He was my escape and I developed feelings for this boy (not much but there are feelings)

How did this impact my marriage? I was resentful towards my husband 60% of the time and by January 2019, after being back from 2 solo trips, I told my husband I want OUT. I hate that he makes me choose between my work/biz or him. I hate that he feels small for no reason. I hate that he is not supportive anymore. He was shocked. Look. This man LOVES me to bits but he was not aware of the changes that happened within him that affected me. I had the registration form for divorce filled up and he was shocked. And he said ONE sentence that changed by mind.

“You had these resentments and issues for a year but I only knew all these NOW and you want me to let you go? That is unfair”.

He was right.

I took a day to think through and listened to his explanation. As we talked, we realized we became a changed couple along the way:-

  1. We stopped speaking over breakfasts/dinner;
  2. We stopped taking trips for more than 2 years – which were always the highlight of our years;
  3. I stopped addressing the things I am unhappy about;
  4. He forgot how to be positive and be a man;
  5. He stopped speaking to me about his fears for 2 years;

In a nutshell, we stopped connecting and communicating.  In order to get the connection back, my husband bought us a trip to Australia for 9 days. It sounds superficial but it worked. Of course mending of the relationship started way 2 months before this trip. The trust had to be re-build.  We had to REPAIR US.

Anyway, we had 3 rules for #repairingUS (the travel project):-

  1. No planned itinerary
  2. Away from work
  3. Speak up

We chose Brisbane for the slow pace and Gold Coast for the beach.

#repairingUS in Brisbane

We chose to stay in Meriton Suites in Herschel Street as we wanted something away from the main shopping/bustling area but near enough to walk there. It was perfect. Our 23rd floor suite faced such serene view. Oh by the way this is the TALLEST hotel in Brisbane. The bus station is 2 mins away, and you can cross over to Southbank from a connecting bridge beside this hotel – ITS PERFECT! It is so quiet and the staff are friendly. Arghh! I could return in a heartbeart.

Here are some pics of our hotel and video can be found here: https://www.instagram.com/p/Bv0Q-eBnl43/

For 4 days, We had NO plans whatsoever – which was rule no. 1. All we did was get up, have breakfast, walk wherever we feel like walking to and talk talk talk. One of the nights we spent 2.5 hrs in a tub just talking about our pains and fears. But hey, since I am at the Brisbane thing, please DO NOT miss doing these when you go Brisbane:-

  1. Queen Street Mall:

https://www.visitbrisbane.com.au/the-city/news/comprehensive-guide-to-shopping-queen-street-mall?sc_lang=en-au

ONE WORD – SHOP!!! That’s all you need to do here. Target, Myer Centre, Quaint Little Shops! ALL YOU CAN FIND! And for plus sizers – ooooohhh SO MANY OPTIONS!!

Also, the place is very nostalgic and the architecture of the buildings around here are sooo INSTAGRAMMABLE!

  1. South Bank

https://www.visitbrisbane.com.au/south-bank/news/the-ultimate-guide-to-visiting-south-bank?sc_lang=en-au

It is a nice nice serene peaceful inner city side of Brisbane. Walk across the bridge from Brisbane City and keep walking towards the ferris wheel. Have coffee in one of the cafés or restaurant. Just allow time to pass you by.

  1. Farmer’s Markets PARTICULARLY Jan Powers Farmer’s Market at Brisbane PowerHouse

http://www.janpowersfarmersmarkets.com.au/powerhouse-farmers-markets/

I quote their site: “This busy Brisbane Farmers Market is a great place to spend a Saturday morning, browsing through the fresh produce and eating the delicious food produce lined along the bustling walkway selling a range of fresh products.” And again.. SO INSTAGRAMMABLE!!

  1. EAT STREET MARKET @ Northshore

https://www.eatstreetmarkets.com/

Its like going to my very own KBLIVEFEST But bigger and on a permanent ground!

SUPER COOL! SUPER fun! GOTTA GO!

  1. Suburbs

There are far too many suburbs around or near to Brisbane. Take a train ride or uber and pop by any one – just for the experience. Feel like one of them. As the saying goes – When in Rome… Stop being a tourist for a day and live it down. It is worth it. Plus, the stuff in the suburbs are CHEAPER!! *Coughs-KMART!*

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Here are some more pics of my trip and links to the places you MUST visit are all in the list above. More pics on my Instagram @haryani othman with #aunhanitravelfest #repairingus or on my Facebook: Mak Besar Sg or Haryani Othman.

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#repairingUS in Gold Coast

After Brisbane we took a ride to Gold Coast and stayed in Rhapsody Resort. Again, we wanted something quiet, not really in the heart of everything loud BUT near enough to walk to.

We stayed at level 39 Suite and oh my GOD – check out the view and our balcony is to die for but please don’t. hahahah Here are some pics of our hotel. Video can be found here: https://www.instagram.com/p/Bv5fyFhF-GW/

In Gold Coast, one impt tip – you have to buy their GO CARD – at $10 per day you get unlimited tram and bus ride to EVERYWHERE in Gold Coast area. SO WORTH IT GUYS.

So what I feel are a MUST in Gold Coast:-

  1. Surfer’s Paradise of course!!

The shopping, the culture, the crazy people, the fun lovers, the crazy cat café, the hard rock café and I can go on and on. OH OH! GO TO THE NIGHT BEACH MARKET!!

  1. Dip into Pacific Ocean

ITS COLD but hey how can you NOT? I did just that for about 1-2 hours and ooooooh.. I wanna sooo get back there!

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  1. Chinatown

Why not right? So cool and movie like.

  1. FISHERMAN’s WHARF!

Because?? SEE THESE PICS! And oh the fresh seafood!

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5. If you have kids or a kid yourself – MovieWorld, Dreamworld, Seaworld, Koala Sanctuary

Google these places. Buy tics online for better rates!

6. Skypoint

https://www.skypoint.com.au/

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Australia’s only BEACH SIDE Observation Deck and tallest point in Gold Coast – WORTH IT! AND if you are a daredevil you should so get on to do the climb ABOVE the deck!

More pics on my Instagram @haryani othman with #aunhanitravelfest #repairingus or on my Facebook: Mak Besar Sg or Haryani Othman.

As a couple, with our without kids, it is almost essential to take a break and go somewhere. It does not have to be far or EXPENSIVE – just where you two can escape from the routines and stresses – even for a day or two. Trust me. Your brain and your heart will feel completely different.

Whats next for us?

What is next for #repairingUS? The fact is we are not healed completely yet. Of course not. Its not some romantic love story from Hollywood. Pfft. I still long to be independent and free as it feels easier. Do I still love him? Yes. How much? Lesser than before, but more than last year. We are halfway to being healed but anything can happen. I told him I want to keep some parts of me free and independent to be true to myself. He wants me to be happy. I want him to support me unconditionally but I am not sure if that is possible fully – we have yet to see. I want him to have a life and not just cling on me. Oh just so you know, me and that boy I mentioned? Nothing already since Feb 2019. Chill. Hahahaha Will there be another person after this for me or my husband? We cannot guarantee but if there is, we know it’s a sign of this not working out.

A marriage takes work. We are working on ours. Wish us well. J Right now, as we find ourselves, we hope God guides us to the right path that will make both of us happy. For now, more travels await ME – SOLO ONES! INCLUDING a 45-day trip across AMERICA!!

SO STAY TUNED!! YAHOO!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Owning a fast growing business: What they could have told you

I co-own a business. Yes we all know which. While it is rapidly growing, so are my blood pressure and anxiety level. Thank God, white hairs have not shown up. Yet.

When I first decided to get into the business, most people around me cheered. Of course some are sceptical but they didn’t really express the reason why I should not in proper terms. It has been almost 2 years since I started on this crazy journey and during the journey, I wished someone… ANYONE had told me the hard painful facts/truths about being a business owner.

So, for the sake of other new, upcoming, or soon to be business owners, OR if you are PLANNING on starting up, read on before you make any decision:-

  1. Nothing is easy. NOTHING.

NOT even when it comes to choosing a phone number for your business. NOTHING is easy. Every single decision you make will impact not just you but your partners, stakeholders, employees and the future. Chances are nothing is ‘PERFECT’. So never decide on anything fast and without research. Please take your time, think through each and every decision BEFORE embarking on them.

  1. I always find myself doubting myself and the FUTURE

Every day I ask myself – what did I do? Is this right? Should it be done differently? Most times I doubt myself which is sucky for someone with major high confidence. This journey really taught me I am not so great.

  1. Things NEVER seem to go as planned

And if something go as planned, means you are just lucky. It that something well done is not temporary, stick to that formula. At least you are doing something right.

  1. I am anxious and overwhelmed 23 out of 24 hours

I swear even in my sleep I am anxious – will something go wrong? Are the orders sent? Contractors are ok or not? Where are my partners? They ok? My employees? They ok? CRAZY MUCH. There are days my family and friends asked if I am present where I was – the honest answer is NO. Always overthinking.

  1. LONELY as fuck

You can have 10 partners 100s of employees but most times you feel so so so alone. Putting aside the support you have, which I am thankful for, due to points 1 to 3, the journey is crazy lonely. So can you endure the lonely journey? If yes, GO FOR IT!

  1. Family support is KEY

This is not up for debate. YOUR FAMILY is your everything. If they are skeptical and not supportive, the loneliness will reach a new high. I am always working. My husband has to sacrifice so much time with me. So much so that if I have long meets, he will stay with me – God Bless Him. My mum, dad and sisters are always checking on me – u ok? things ok? You need my help? My mum will sometimes cook for me cos she knows I need to work non stop. Without the support, prepare to fall.

  1. Money is also KEY

Building up this fast developing biz, my partners and me pulled together our savings. We are not from rich backgrounds or have parents who has millions. THESE ARE HARD EARNED MONEY! One tip – if you want to do that, be prepared to not see it again at least in the next 5 years. Some people wont even see it again. EVER. So my advise is. USE Money u don’t ‘need’. NOT your emergency savings.

  1. Everyone seems to have ‘GOOD’ Advice

Be warned. Most of these people do not even own a biz. They don’t know nuts. Take these advices with a SPOON of salt.

  1. Partnerships can KILL

Sometimes, in order to move faster and better, you get into external partnerships. NOT ALL partnerships are going to yield good results. I have been cheated, played, betrayed, called names JUST because these weaklings I called sub contractors or partners has ZERO strengths and no faith in the future. Some partnerships are good – stick to it. Some started well but…. Just be prepared. CHOOSE WISELY.

  1. A good TEAM is rare

I am thankful no matter how much we debate, my current team of partners and employees operate like a family. HONESTY is key. Cohesiveness cannot be bought with money. If you cannot trust ANYONE in your team, don’t have them in the team.

  1. You need a MENTOR

Really! And NOT JUST SOME BULLSHIT COACH that took a course to be a coach BUT NEVER had any successful business. You gotta choose a mentor who has been there done that , failed and failed but perservered and SUCCEEDED!

  1. HIGHS and LOWS can drive you mad

The highs of happiness and achievements paired with the lows of problems = siow cha bo syndrome. Be careful.

  1. You cannot PLEASE everyone

AND don’t even try to. Be selfish. Please only those who matters – for the right reason and reasonably.

  1. Sometimes it is crucial to KILL

Word. Kill relationships. Kill friendships. Let go. Cos people can be toxic.

  1. SEEK GOD. Always. ALL WAYS

Before any decision – pray. At every point – pray. 5 times a day for Muslims – pray. Dhuha, Tahajjud and Istikharah for Muslims – pray. DO NOT do anything illegal in the eyes of LAW and GOD. KEEP CLEAN and HE will guide you.

Despite this being hard, I would not have done anything differently. This journey is a hikmah, a blessing from GOD. The biz is thriving, PRAISE TO HIM. Not easy and wont be easier but progressing. I’ve had my fair shares of highs and lows. If you are in any business, you would understand. SHARE this article – may it seek to help a business person in need of some guidance.

Thank you to all my partners for staying in this with / without me me and thank you to my employees who are still pressing on 🙂

Take a look :-

http://www.kbx.sg

https://www.facebook.com/kblivefest/?ref=bookmarks

 

 

PENANG OH PENANG – WHICH HOTEL AM I TO STAY IN?

Penang is like 2nd home to me. Since as young as i can remember, maybe at 5 – 6 years old, as a family we will travel by train from Singapore to Butterworth, Penang to visit and stay for weeks. My dad is from there, hence the yearly trip.

Of course as we get older and busier, those yearly trips dissipated. So last Raya, (almost) the whole family went back to Penang for a wedding and a fast reunion. OH! How nostalgic. But here is one issue, long ago, we all could fit into a kampung home but now, with everyone scattered around at different kampungs, topped with my family’s need to shop and be pampered, we had to decide on where we will be staying.

While my parents decide to stay within Juru, my husband and I crave for adventure in Penang Island itself. The choice of hotel? CANNOT DECIDE! TOO MANY! Its like every 5 mins a new hotel spring up!

I have tried many many hotels in Penang. Like i said, this is 2nd home to me and even without my family, i travel here often. I have been to:-

  1. A haunted hotel – yes can die i swear!
  2. A dirty hotel – i left after 2 hours.
  3. Noisy as ‘F’ (literally) hotel – i shouted at my neighbour
  4. A hypocritical 5 star hotel – i asked for a refund (this was basically a budget motel pretending to be 5 star)

This list can go on but finally, in 2017, i found the ONE HOTEL (5 star) that fits the bill and satisfy me to the core.

Ladies, Gentlemen and those in between, introducing… the new G HOTEL KELAWAI. Do not mix this gem with the sister hotel Hotel G Penang. Kelawai is newer, located slightly behind Hotel G Penang @ Persiaran Maktab.

I reached G Hotel Kelawai in the evening and when my taxi pulled over at the lobby i fell in love with the serenity. Amidst the hustle and bustle of Penang Town, this hotel ‘shouts’ peace and quiet, ironically. Which was something i badly needed, considering the crazy hours i put in for my business @ KassimbabaSg.

 

G Hotel Kelawai Lobby

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What caught my eye was also these 2 old-school bikes parked at the lobby. Oh! I can ride around town! (which of course i failed to do cos my bones were too lazy).

The checking in was seamless, nice, friendly and while waiting we had some refreshing drinks served. The hotel’s service is very personalized. Before travelling, i called to ask about having telekung/prayer garb. Although i decided to bring my own, when i entered my room, i saw 2 prayer mats nicely folded on my bed. 10 points!!! OH AND YOU KNOW WHAT?? THEIR MINI BAR IS FREEEEEEE!!!! Yes really! Everything in the fridge are FOC! That’s right! Chocs and Sodas… hello!

I shall not say much more… just look at my room.. LOOK!

G Hotel Kelawai Executive RoomPremier Suite - bathroomIMG20170706235147IMG20170706194845

The pride of the hotel has to be the rooftop Gravity Bar – with a very rewarding view and an infinity pool. Though not a big pool, once you get soaked in there, with the view and the cool air, it almost feels like you are transported in another realm (not in a scary way of course). I fell asleep on the pool deck for 1hr 45 mins and woke up to sunset. Awww…

Rooftop Infinity Pool - 2G Hotel Kelawai Gravity Rooftop Bar

For the shopping freak in us (my husband and i), this hotel is purrfect! Our hotel is located at a prominent location just right next to two upscale shopping malls – Gurney Plaza and Gurney Paragon. You can sprint between the two malls without breaking a sweat, there are lots more of F&B outlets! How’s that? And at night, we stroll for like 12 mins to the renowned Gurney Hawker. Quite a romantic stroll at that!

For the hipster yuppies, just walk around the area – there are many tourist attractions and UNESCO hub around. I didnt do that this time cos well… i literally witnessed Penang grow so its not really my thing to see some spots disappear.

I am returning soon, i hope and to no other than this exact Hotel. I didnt get enough!

Pics: Courtesy of Khairul Famy Kassim and G Hotel Kelawai.

CHANGE: DON’T BITCH OR CURSE ME JUST CAUSE I AM UNLIKE YOU

It has been months since i last wrote here. Last was 30th Jan 2017.  The only reason for this hiatus was a change in emotions, plans and my thirst for something else. Not new or fresh but just something else.

I was introduced to a very smart man in Dec 2016. His vision, his past journeys and his current pursuits struck me as – this man is a reflection of what i thought i was/wanted to be. Do not get me wrong. I consider myself a successful being. But i cannot deny my ‘success’ so to speak is getting boring and too convenient for me and for many.  Since the realization, whenever i hear a compliment, all i said in my heart was ‘neeeh’ nothing to be proud of. I have been creating and writing for 11 years, outdoing myself each time i embark on a new project, challenging my brain, heart and soul each time i say ‘next’. I got burn out. I got bored and I got bored of MYSELF.

I took on a new challenge – a challenge scary to me and my loved ones. A challenge to dip my feet into a different territory. 2 territories to be exact. I quit writing and creating. No wait. I paused. And i jumped train. I thank my friends who brought me to this current train. Some of them are still in this train with me while others wave as my train move along.

A big change. A scary change but a change that has been quenching my thirst for new lease of life.

No longer a writer and creator for now.

Some loves routine and stagnant livelihood while others like me, are just thirsty for more. Thirsty for the unknown.

Don’t bitch and curse me just because i am not like you. Pray for me as i pray for you.

I will share more as i get the time. Exciting posts coming up – more travel stories and stories of the train journey i am in.

PERTH-ING IT UP

I finally step foot in Australia, after a 21 years hiatus. Yes the last time i went Australia was in 1996 with my siblings. We went to Gold Coast. Great times.

Since it is my FIRST time and I am bringing the senior citizens with me, it was NOT an easy trip to plan. I needed to ensure my parents are comfy and places we go are relaxing for them, not too ‘kecoh’. My dad is 81 yrs old (All Praises to Allah) and my mum 63 (All Praises to Allah).

Anyway, Perth has a lot and i mean A LOT of hotels and b&b and even AIRBNB and there are a lot of areas you can choose to stay in. For a first timer – this is TOO MUCH OF A HEADACHE! I want a place central enuf, but NOT smack in town, have a nice view, cool and not yuppy infested too (no pun intended). I also want a good reach of Muslim food, if possible.

Tips when choosing hotels:

  1. The busy shopping areas are within HAY STREET and MURRAY STREET – very busy and happening. If you are a shopper, this is the place to be. Easy to get halal food but can be noisy.
  2. NOT so busy but nostalgic and has a healthy number of shopping area, though FAR from Perth City Centre: VICTORIA PARK. Very cool hipster kind of neighbourhood, also easy to get halal for but hotel wise, not as happening. You can choose to stay in airbnb or b&b.
  3. Quiet nice upscale area, HILL STREET, Opposite Swan River (NICE VIEW). Very relaxing area within the CBD (oh and the CBD is NOT busy. Please… CCK is busier man). Easy access to everywhere in town, as there are free buses to city centres and major shopping areas.

I stayed in Option No. 3 in Pan Pacific Perth, overlooking SWAN RIVER. Very NICE! ANd whats amazing is the hotel management is so nice to allow us early check in (6am) to rest after our flight. Good service is priceless.

PAN PAC – we will be back!

Tips when shopping:-

  1. Fremantle is a little expensive. OH! Fremantle is a MUST visit by the way!! Ok back to Freemantle. Its a little ex but u can really find good bohemian stuff and souvenirs. SHED E at the pier is where u can get the cheapest finds in Fremantle.
  2. Thats us at Fremantle – I went a little off key at the MARKET heheheh

  3. Target Target Target!! DONT MISS THIS!! There are loads of TARGET stores everywhere. PLEASE GO CRAZY!
  4. SALVATOS – the salvation army store. U can find unused skirts for 3bucks! I swear! 15370151_10154309301308720_8965589509636846514_o
  5. WaterTown Premium Brand Shopping: see here: http://www.watertownbrandoutlet.com.au/ – Located very conveniently in Perth’s city centre, this is where you can find top brands. It is like the mini premium outlet shopping in US. REALLY MINI! You can finish up in 2 hours or less. For someone who has been to Premium Outlet stores in US, this is rather a let down. I am OK with the things here – i bought some good finds but nothing to go crazy about. The OAKLEY stuff are dirt cheap though!
  6. Small vintage stores about HAY ST and MURRAY ST. – There are lots so do check them out
  7. Victoria Park: Also some good finds if you bother to walk about
  8. K MART – My husband brought me to KMART in some far neighbourhood area. We took UBER. IF i am not wrong it is in WEST INALOO. Far but worth a visit. CHEAP STUFF!!

Tips for sightseeing:

  1. Kings PARK. COME ON! u gotta!!
  2. Fremantle – take the ferry!
  3. Train rides please
  4. Victoria Park
  5. Walk along Swan River
  6. CDB Area and its churches and nice govt houses
  7. Zoo and the Wild Life Reserve
  8. MORE from VIATOR.com

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Halal food? APLENTY! Here is a list given to me by Pan Pac.

 

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ENJOY!!

 

 

 

NOT A GAMBLER, NOT A DRINKER SO, WHY VEGAS AGAIN? HALAL FOOD IN VEGAS?

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Isn’t this majestic?

So there you go. Yes i get questioned about coming to Las Vegas time and again. People do not get it – I don’t drink, I don’t gamble and i clearly do not have girls-related vices (hehehe) so why do i keep coming back?

Take away the ‘sin-city’ aspect of Vegas, there are so many wonderful things about Vegas. ONE favourite itinerary of mine- THE GRAND CANYON. Nothing short of grand. This is my 2nd visit to the grand canyon and no amount of pictures and videos even come close to what the eye captured when i was there.

The thing about trips like this you have to CHOOSE THE BEST and THE MOST RELIABLE one cos i swear to you if you google grand canyon trips you get a zillion hits. BUT not everyone is reliable. A bad trip/agency will really BREAK your heart, your experience, your pocket.

Wherever i travel, i swear by VIATOR.com. And for famous trips please trust me, you will do better with a more personalized or private packages. WHY?  1. Lesser waiting time 2. Private guide 3. More picture taking time 4. Pte packages comes with more perks!

For my grand canyon trip, Elly and i took the package below:  Click on the link for the highlights:- Read more about Grand Canyon South Rim Deluxe Tour from Las Vegas – Las Vegas | Viator at: https://www.viator.com/tours/Las-Vegas/Grand-Canyon-South-Rim-Tour-from-Las-Vegas/d684-3951SRV?pub=vcps

What i love about this package:-

  1. I dont have to wait for so many people – only 12 in my group.
  2. I dont have to change buses – the same van from start to end
  3. I dont have to Q UP for my breakfast and lunch. While the usual package requires one to like queue up to get tickets and snacks or coffee, we dont have to. These are brought to us and I DONT HAVE TO PAY FOR MY FOOD!!
  4. MORE stop time to take pics and explore the canyon.
  5. AMAZING friendly driver and guide
  6. They are sensitive to our Muslim meal requirements. They do not have Muslim meals (yet) so we were given really nice Vegan meals.

Here are some pics to enjoy!

See the Q ? We dont have to Q cos… we go STRAIGHT to the DIamond Lounge and their staff got us whatever we wanted. We ordered coffee, muffin, croissant, chocolates… heheheh

They packed our items in a lunch box and we are ready to go!

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We stopped at 3 different areas to enjoy different views of the canyon. It gets better at every stop!

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AND… after our IMAX movie, before the first Canyon Stop, out Vegan lunch were all set up for us. NO Q~!

REALLY GUYS! YOU CANNOT GO WRONG WITH VIATOR!

ok SO! i have to run now. More info about Vegas coming up soon, including – how to eat halal in Vegas! STAY TUNED!

SANTA MONICA – WHERE DID YOU STAY? HALAL FOOD? GOOD? SAFE? GOT ROBBED OR NOT?

I get loads of questions each time i post my travel pics. Friends on social media noticed that I went to Santa Monica 2 years in a row. And asked many questions. I will answer them here.

WHERE DID I STAY? AND DID YOU STAY THERE TWICE? WHY?

Look. I CANNOT CANNOT stress this anymore – IF you are in SANTA MONICA, the only place to stay in should be SHORE HOTEL! Yes you guys are right, this is my 2nd time here, staying in the same OCEAN VIEW room. And why you may ask?

Firstly -SERVICE, COMFORT, LOVE, HOSPITALITY: The moment you step into this eco-friendly 4-star hotel, i swear to you, the smell, the view, the people, the cleanliness, it just MELT ALL your stresses away. MELT. Look – i love to Hotel Hop so if i return to the same hotel twice, it says a lot. I was served by a few regular staff like Tony, Britanny and they are such darlings. Even when the room service has closed, seeing how i am shivering in cold (the weather at night can go down to like 17deg with strong wind), they made the bar send me a fresh pot of hot choc. Altogether now…AWWWWW. Their concierge will help us in whatever we need without any complains and all smiles – WHAAAAT? (HINT – SQ)

The room is just heavenly – out of all 4 hotels i hopped on the last trip, the best baths and sleep came to us in SHORE HOTEL. Look at the room…

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No wonder they are given so many awards including:-

 

  • Winner, 2015 HSMAI Los Angeles Best Green Hotel
  • Certificate of Excellence 2015 WINNER
  • Winner, 2014 TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence
  •  Winner, 2014 TripAdvisor Green Leaders – Platinum Award

 

Secondly, CONVENIENCE AND LOCATION. I mean come on… Donch ya wanna wake up to THESE VIEWS EVERYDAY?

20160908_08304620160909_12124020160909_11532620160908_181916 PLUS, Santa Monica Pier and Beach is literally a 3mins walk away. Halal food is all around and… SHOPPING! The famous 3rd street promenade is 2 mins walk away from the side entrance. The METRO RAPID is a 5 mins walk away. OH COME ON! You cannot beat that!

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This is the crossing leading to the pier and back to hotel. Our hotel is the next building on the left (not shot here)

YOU CANNOT GO WRONG with SHORE HOTEL!

So next question: ANY HALAL FOOD?

SO MANY! When in doubt, ask YELP or ZABIHAH. We often eat at the SEA SIDE GRILL, just a minute away from SHORE HOTEL and the FOOD COURT at the Santa Monica Place (there is a halal food stall there too)

RELAX – you wont go hungry heheheh

There is also BUBBA GUMP on the pier – you can just ask them for vegan meal or purely seafood, no alcohol meals.

NEXT: SAFE? DID YOU GET ANY RASCIST ATTACK? DID YOU GET ROBBED? 

I know we are all badly marred by the visuals we see on TV but while i have to agree some places ARE dangerous, Santa Monica has been a real darling to me – both times – ALHAMDULLILAH! People are nice and warm, helpful and cool.

It is generally safe here in Santa Monica. There is quite an increasing number of homeless there but they don’t seem to be violent and never once were we disturbed. Having said that, we always stay clear of funny alleys, dark corners and we stay in the safe zone always. Patrol police are active too. Being courteous to homeless who tries to ask you for a dollar or two helps.

During crowded times at the Pier, it will be good to ensure your bag is in front of you. Also, don’t be too daring in the wee hours in the night – dont go to the beach then. Safety is key.

SO.. NO i did not get robbed or attacked. THANK YOU GOD!

LASTLY: IS IT A GOOD PLACE TO VISIT?

Guys – i went twice and may be going again – what do you think? Shopping is good – there are countless brands in the 3rd street promenade and some with amazing offers. Look out for offers and sales. There are TJ Max and CrossRoad discount stores too. The wind, the cool weather – the place is … inspiring. ENJOY!

TAKING A BREAK FROM SQ

I have been Singapore Airlines’s fan for years. REALLY I AM! I SWORE TO ONLY TAKE SQ! One of the main reason is that their service is just TIP TOP. Wait, WAS tip top. I took SQ to USA 3 years in a row – 2014, to San Francisco, 2015 to LA and again to LA this year in August (and i returned 11th September).

In 2014, i had a great flight to and from San Frisco – meals are great, service was warm, a couple of crews spoke to me on board as i was stretching at the back. Great. In 2015, there was a boo-boo with regards to my meals but they are able to do service recovery and such. Still, my husband and i were happy with the service, though we had some ‘cant be bothered look’ from 1 crew but nah… we let it go.

THIS YEAR… my oh my… 3rd time NOT a charm for me and my friend who travelled on SQ12 to LA and SQ11 back. On the flight to LA, generally we had an okay service but there were a couple of times i encountered ‘roll-eye’ moments from a couple of crews on the main cabin where we were seated. These ‘roll-eye’ moments came at really ridiculous uncalled for moments like when we asked for warm water or when i asked to mix my juice (like hello, how hard is that?) But we let it go as the other crews were nice to us and one lady crew even chatted with us a bit before we alighted.

BUT on SQ11 back home, nothing was pleasant about the service. NOTHING! We encountered the following:-

  • ‘I HAVE TOO MUCH ATTITUDE TO SERVE YOU’ (happened from LA to NARITA)

I ordered Muslim Meal and as you know, if you have special orders, your order will come first. I was seated in the front, the seat with non disrupted leg room. A cabin crew (lady) came by carrying 2 trays of food:-

Crew: You ordered Muslim meal?

Me: Yeah! Thanks! (and i struggled to take out my table from the side – you know, being in the front seat, your table is ‘hidden’)

Crew: (sighed and stared at me as she shove the tray a little forward, gesturing to me to TAKE THE TRAY, even though i could not get my table out).

Me: (I took the tray with one hand and struggled with the other hand to open my table)

I did not expect her to help me with the table as she was carrying 2 trays BUT what is the harm in just waiting 40seconds for me to open my table? And whats with the upset face? NOT NICE! I didnt get her name.

  • ‘THE TEACUP FEUD’ (From NARITA TO SIN)

I finished my meal fast and sent my tray to the service galley, thanking the crew for it. No one in the galley said thank you or welcome for my gesture. Ok. Fine…

I moved to sit beside my friend who was conquering a whole row at the back. Then the crews (2 ladies) came by with service and asked if we wanted tea and both of us said we wanted tea. Now, remember, i didnt have my tray?

Crew: Tea or Coffee?

Me: Tea please for me.

Crew: Where is your teacup?

Me: Oh i sent my tray back just now.

Crew: (looking unhappy and taking a fresh teacup from her service thingy) Next time if you want tea, just hang on to your teacup.

Me: huh?

Crew: ya next time dont return it.

WHAT THE ?????  It is not as if i was rude or she had to like create a fresh new cup… the cups were all there! I did ONE nice gesture by returning my tray and this is what i got?

I didnt get her name!

  • MY GREEN TEA IS BETTER THAN YOUR WARM WATER’

During another service round, a lady crew (I GOT HER NAME! )

Crew: Tea or Coffee?

My Friend: Can i get warm water please?

Crew: How about green tea? i have it here now.

My Friend: errr … i guess…

Crew: (pour green tea and look at me) You?

Me: I want normal tea

Crew: Then you have to wait (leaves)

About 10 mins later, i was still waiting for my tea so i waved to her

Me: Hi… i am sorry, i am still waiting for my tea

Crew: Ya its coming. Wait.

(NO SORRY, NO THANK YOU, NO PLEASE – NICE SERVICE!)

The tea came much later.

  • ‘UPRIGHT NOW! AND I MEAN NOW!’

This last incident didnt happen to me but i saw it and my jaw dropped. There was one couple with a baby were seated in the front seat on my left. While preparing for landing (we were about 15-20 mins to landing), the couple were struggling to help their sleeping baby put on the seat belt. The same crew (the one with the tea) came up to them and said – please put your seat back up for landing. The man was busy and did not hear her. She rolled her eyes and straighten the seat for him, startling him. She leaves. WHAT??

I am still very disappointed as i reflect back to the incidents. The crew (the one with the tea) never smiled, never said thank you and there are many moments i caught her rolling her eyes. What an attitude!

Look, i have many friends who are nice cabin crews on SQ and i have seen and encountered many good ones too. Eg: From LA to NARITA, a male crew named JOHN was just delightful – he was nice, warm, caring and sooo sweet! I am not saying ALL ON BOARD were bad but i am saying the service standard has dropped. I mean come on! I got better service from JETSTAR AND TIGERAIR! REALLY!!

I refuse to believe the reason why i got such horrid service was because i was on coach – that is just rude-we are paying passengers too. We on coach are not asking to be treated like God but it costs NOTHING to be nice and warm. I for one, is a very warm person – i smile a lot, i say thanks and please… so what is the issue here?

Based on the experience on my recent flight, I have to say… SQ, i am taking a break from you. I’ve heard from my other friends that other airlines have better service and more smiles. I don’t know when i will see you again… but farewell for now ya?

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(image from https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/236x/2f/e2/53/2fe253a3dcd8cd10d34c4810b0b5b2b0.jpg)

WEIGHT LOSS PLATEAU BROKEN!!! MERDEKAAAAAAA!

AND so after almost 1.5 years from my Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy surgery, i realized i had come to a HORRIBLY LONG Weight Loss Plateau. I thought my weighing scale had low batt – i changed and it is still the same. I almost performed an exorcism on the blardy scale for not wanting to move a single digit.

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I went around asking for advice, researching and I was told this is normal. I was given lots of tips . I tried and tested a few of these tips and finally these are what worked.

Reduce calorie intake : I KNOW RIGHT! I mean hello, i am already eating like KATE MOSS! How little can it get? But then! i was wrong! it was not about the amount but more about the quality of food i have been eating. Thanks to Holidays and Hari Raya and such, i realized hey – i am not eating right so… BACK TO GOOD HIGH PROTEIN, LOW SUGAR, LOW FAT diet!!

Step in UP! : With my health being stable, i went back to Ritual Gym – the BEST and MOST EFFICIENT GYM EVER!! My work out for the past few months before this has been too ‘comfortable’ and not challenging. I need to ‘shock’ my body back to burning these fats!! Don’t get me wrong – i am NOT Paid by Ritual Gym to say this. NO! This is really the gym you gotta try to know what it can do for you. 30 mins – that is ALL you need

BURN FATS! BURN! : I also read the plateau is caused by low metabolic rate and the body not burning enough fats – some internet reads said i should try fat burning supplements but i am damn skeptical lah! I don’t wanna be dependent on pills or drugs – God Forbid. But i was asked to try this Fat Burner by MaliaMelia Singapore – they say there are no drugs in them and mainly made up of bitter orange extract – HSA & AVA approved and has worked on many people. It is said to burn fats and increase metabolic rate. I thought hey ok… maybe i should try that to just kickstart some weight loss to break the weight loss plateau. So ya i got one set and tried. After 8 days, i went down by 2.4kg! OK ONE MORE TIME – I AM NOT A SELLER OR AGENT OF THIS BRAND and this is not MLM. I am merely a consumer.

BUT – since it worked and a few of my friends asked how i broke my plateau, I have managed to … GET A DISCOUNT! for Myself and my friends who wants to try. Visit their website at maliamelliasg.com  to buy the XXS Fat Burner and enter discount code hanidiva05 at check out to get 5% discount. Ok but please – consult them and/or your doctor ok? What i know is pregnant mums and those with heart problems cannot take fat burners so PLEASE do go and do your homework and check with your doctor. Jangan pandai pandai. This is working for me so i am just telling you. GOOD LUCK!! If you need to know more, drop them an email ok?

I WENT ‘HISPTER’ IN MELAKA

I have always wanted to go Malacca. Since my Uni days, I remember pestering my friends to come with me to Malacca to busk in the heritage. Yeah i was hipster even before hipster was cool ok! I went in 2005 but didn’t do much ‘Heritaging’. It was mostly food and spa then.

11 years on, my husband insisted on bringing me to Malacca but with a twist – let’s stay in a Boutique hotel. SAY WHUUUUUUT. Look, i may look like i am cool like that but i NEVER. i repeat NEVER would wanna try boutique hotels. I did once in 2004 and my oh my – let’s save that (haunting) experience for another post. I am used to proper hotels – with large lobbies, buffet breakfast, high rise floors and the works. Yeah yeah i am a spoilt brat when it comes to hotel stays. But while researching on hotels in Malacca, i chanced upon my niece’s pictures – she was in Malacca months back and she stayed in a very nice, what i thought was a luxury 4/5-star hotel. I was shocked to find out it is NOT a 4/5 star luxury hotel but it was like a 4-star-ish boutique hotel 5 mins walk from Jonker Street.

SOLD!

I checked out the rates and woah! CHEAP! Considering the usual price i am willing to pay for a good hotel, this is considered something lighter on my wallet. BOOK! GO!

I was nervous as i don’t know what to expect. But i am pleasantly surprised.  1825 GALLERY HOTEL.  For this simple 4 storey quaint hotel ,I am giving this gem a luxury resort stamp for the following reasons:-

SERVICE

Even before i stepped into 1825 Gallery Hotel, their service impressed me. I called a week earlier to tell the Manager that i will be staying only one night but on my 2nd day, i will be staying till 9pm. He readily made arrangements to help with my transport to the bus terminal, to let me stay a little longer and charging me a discounted rate on my 2nd day. SCORE lah sey!

Even with very few staff around, they always try to come and help us with our shopping bags. Altogether now.. AWWWW…

Then, the manager came to say hi and gave us free boat ride tickets. PLUS! they allowed me to try act as receptionist (which i failed badly)

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ROOM

SO SO SO BIG! SO SO SO Comfy… they are a heritage hotel so it screams NOSTALGIC! and HISPTER! sooo HIPSTER!

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Look at the WARDROBE! I wanna sooo buy it but well, we could not fit this into our bags:-

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Our balcony faces the river and has a very nice sunset view. Check these out:-

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The bathroom is ‘BIGGER THAN THE BLUE BANANA!’ (get it? get it?) – really huge!

LOCATION LOCATION LOCATION

The location ROCKS AH SEY!! If you want to save on traffic time and transport money AND wanna go super Hispter – COME TO this HOTEL! 3-5 mins walk to Jonker street and on the way to Jonker Street are many many many vintage/hispter/heritage cafes, shops, restaurants and it is about 15 mins walk to Hard Rock Cafe. (depends on yr speed of walking – i took 25mins hehehe).

I got some steal around the area too like… Baju OPAH for RM15!!! and CLOGS too! A tip – Walk out the back door and across the river for those cool finds!

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PRICE

For such huge room which great location, i expected to pay more. I didnt! Check them out!  1825 Gallery Hotel,

HAVE FUN!