Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Hair dyeing at Toni & Guy!

It's really been a while since I have written anything (the pity one post last month). One reason was because I had been cooping in my house "preparing" for my final examination, resulting in me not going anywhere, doing anything or eating any nice food (being extreme for once). I thought, since this is the last paper for professional level, I'd go all out and play to my heart content later. 

Anyway, the final this time wasn't bright at all. The chance of passing isn't high. Arggghhh, let's just stop being so negative!! It's just another exam if I fail anyway~ 

Right after my finals, I had my hair highlighted at Toni & Guy in Bangsar. It was my first hair dye in a salon and I thought of remembering it this way.

My sister and I went for dyeing together. It was done by the apprentices in the salon. As they are still hair stylist-in-learning, the process was unexpectedly long. The consultation alone took about an hour and it included assessing our hair conditions and suitability of hair colour. 

After an hour, the dyeing started. It started with the instructor demonstrating colouring a few layers of our hair and then proceeded by the students. 

After finished dyeing our hair, our hair was subjected to this artificial heat. 

Then, our hair was shampooed and styled and was graded by the instructor. The result?? TADA!!

Mine was highlighted with 2 brown and a red while my sis was highlighted with 2 red and a copper.

My sister and I were satisfied with the result. Mine isn't really obvious but under the sun it is brilliant. I totally love it. Thank you very much Toni & Guy!!!

Thursday, 2 March 2017

7 little things that I missed about Korea


It's been exactly a year since I came back from Korea. Not once have I forgotten about the beautiful, fun and cold days in Korea. Looking back, I realised that I have not written a summarised version of my journey. So, here's a list of the things that I missed so so much about Korea (It came out to have a few comparison of (something) between Korea and Malaysia).

1. The fresh, cold and clear weather
I remembered when I left for Korea, the air in Malaysia wasn't at its best, especially around my area where people still practice open burning (I supposed illegally). So, it made a huge difference when I first arrived in Korea.

As I stepped out of the train on the first day I arrived in Korea, I remembered the fresh cold air. It feels like it's been a while since I breathe in fresh air. The air when I went for a short trail hike in Ansan Jarak-gil, was especially fresh.  πŸ˜ŒπŸ˜‹

Every time I leave the guesthouse, the first thing I would do was to look up the sky and I would be granted the amazing scenery of clear blue sky. It left me in awe of how clear a sky can be that if there were a speck of cloud, it would be considered a rare scene. With such a beautiful sky and cold weather, I didn't mind walking from a neighborhood to another. If I were in Malaysia, I would have dreaded doing that.

Here's a proof of the clear blue sky
Clear sky in a sunset version.

Sunset in Edae
Of course, there were occasions that the sky wasn't in this clear blue state. So, don't come complain to me if you do not witness it. πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

2. The exchange rate
When I went to Korea, the exchange rate was 1000 won = RM 3.72 and RM 3.68 (I changed twice) 1 USD = RM 4.395 (just in case they don't accept MYR). The rate was bad during that time but when I went to Korea, the rate got better.  It seems that the rate got even worse now.

We would always keep tab on the exchange rate and would change whenever we needed it. During that period, the rate fluctuates greatly, especially for USD. It changes from 1 USD = 1202 won to 1230 won. The place we changed would always be in Myeongdong near the China Embassy, especially the one in underground due to the better exchange rate and the only shop (that I see)  that accept MYR.

I clearly remembered that whenever I purchased something my mind would always be doing some calculations. This was why I didn't really spend much for the first few weeks as I was not used to the "high price". For example, the street food in Myeongdong on average cost about 3000 won. This would mean in MYR, it was about RM 11. I was utterly shocked by the price. It was totally not worth it for the amount I could get.

3000 won each
About 9000 won = RM 33 for the choc bingsu and about 11000 won RM 41 for the strawberry one
How could I not think twice even if I have to eat? But there are still things that are cheap like the set below:

4000 won = RM 15 for all 3
However, that is in term of forex. But now that I think back, the average living expenses in Korea isn't that expensive if I were to earn their money. I could say it is even cheaper than in Malaysia.

I asked the local about the average part time wages in Korea. It's about 6000 to 7000 won per hour. Malaysia average part time is about RM 6 to RM 7. So on ratio 1000 won : RM 1. So, if I worked for 5 hours, it would be 30000 won : RM 30. If I were to eat a cake for example. It costs on average 4000 to 5000 won but in Malaysia they sell a cake for an average of RM 12. I would have spent a third of my salary for one dessert! For commuting in a train,  it costs 1350 won for 13km,  but in Malaysia,  it costs RM 3.10 for the same distance using lrt. Both offering the same service with 5 minutes waiting per train at the cashless price! (NOTE: it isn't the best comparison, don't use it anywhere).

3. The subway
It is the main transportation that I used. For the whole stay, I spent about 150000 won, about 1/10 of my total expenses (excluding accomodation and plane ticket).

One reason was because the subway stations are strategically located in the city. There is not much transfer needed as the places we had to go are all in walking distance. Even if we had to transfer (subway-subway of another line / subway-bus), they are mostly free within 30 minutes or 1 hour during peak hour. They do have a little charge depend on the distance. The ride is also smooth and comfortable.

Second, is because it is fairly cheap, especially for a little longer distance. They charge a base rate for a distance of 10km and then extra 100 won for every 5km,  or if exceed 50km, 100 won for every 8km.

To pay, they have this amazingly useful card - T-money which has a similar function to TouchnGo, but even better. T-money can be used on subway, bus, taxi and even in convenience store and can be reloaded in every station and also convenience store, without extra charge. I was wondering why Malaysia does not build card reload devices in every station as it is really a hassle to find a place to reload, and there's extra service charge for it too. It makes the "no GST charged" on public transport pretty useless unless you pay by cash (but there's 20% off using cashless).

4. The convenience store
The convenience store is an all time favourite place for people who lack money, like me. They have basically all the things that you need and the food is especially amazing.

The food is cheap, tasty and has a wide variety of choices. Our ultimate staple in the convenience store is triangle kimbap, which comes in all kind of ingredients such as tuna, cheese, fried chicken and more. It varies from one brand of convenience store to another. Some brands are more generous with the ingredients and cheap, but it is within the range of 800 ~ 1100 won. I especially love this tuna mayo triangle kimbap as they are very generous with the tuna! 😍😍

During Valentines month, the convenience store is definitely a place for chocolate lovers.  They have promotions on most of the chocolates. For example, KitKat Chunky which usually sell 1000 won for one bar, is sold for 1000 won for 2! For the Loacker milk chocolate wafer, they sell 2 for 3500 won. So, during that month, I spend a lot on chocolates as they are even cheaper than in Malaysia!!

Too bad they are not imported to Malaysia
Oh, and the imported chocolates from Japan are really cheap. I bought this Kinoko chocolate for only 1000 won, but in Malaysia, I got it for RM 10.50! That's about RM 6 difference in price!!!

If you are craving for sweet things, they sell a wide variety of pudding and amazingly delicious yoghurt.

I heard these pudding are famous
Also, not to forget the variety of drink they sold, including the all-so-famous banana milk drink and the series.

I definitely recommend those who travel to Korea to take your time to visit the convenience stores. Probably not during the day when you are busy following your schedule, but when you are craving for food and some alcoholic drinks! 😏

5. The meat
When you come to Korea,  it's all about the meat craves! The all-so-famous chimaek, samgyeopsal, hanwoo, etc.

I couldn't recount how much meat I ate in Korea. So much, that when "meat" was mentioned, "AGAIN?!" would be our reaction. However, two of my friends are meat lovers that for them Korea is a heaven!

The chicken in Korea, even though, are fried, they are so tender, juicy and well-seasoned with different sauces and spices. It applies to almost the chicken that I have tried. I can understand why they love to eat them so much. Besides that, chicken meats are sold everywhere that there are so many restaurants specialised in selling chicken meat. Even to the point of fried chicken delivery!

Not to forget the famous BBQ restaurant that can be found almost everywhere. The BBQ in Korea is a little different from Malaysia. In Malaysia, the meat is usually dried and tough after BBQ-ed, but not in Korea. The meat remains tender and juicy. They are a little crispy on the outside and tender on the inside (depend on the meat that you order). It's really delicious!!

6. The people
The people I have met in Korea are pretty interesting. Let's not talk about those that I met in the guesthouse but others like the people in general.

I'm pretty surprised as where ever I went, most of the workers are fluent in speaking Chinese, especially the ones in tourist area. Well, they are most probably employed to boost sale from the China Chinese. But, I didn't expect an uncle who sell socks in an alleyway knew as well. It took me aback but at the same time, it made my life much easier, but at the same time I kind of want to speak Korean too. I was later told by my Korean friends and a worker in the guesthouse that quite a lot of them are from China as the way they pronounce Korean is different from local. So, I guess that's the reason why those aunties and uncles knew how to speak Chinese.

Besides that, the Koreans I met are really kind and friendly. Take one of the promoters from the Lotte Mart as an example. Most supermarket has loyalty card for customers and they could get discounts from the item sold in them. As I was only staying in Korea for a short period, there was no point in applying one. So, I told the promoter about it and as she could really see my strong intention to purchase her item, she immediately gave me a few free gifts for the purchase. I was so touched.

Also, there was a few interesting uncles that I met during my short trail to Ansan Jarak-gil, a place where there are a lot of elderly going there for exercise. As I was going alone, I had no one to take pictures for me. So, I asked an uncle who was also alone and was taking pictures to help me take a few pictures. Usually, a normal person would just go with their way after helping, but this uncle call me back a little while later and said, "you go there" and make a gesture to me. I immediately understood that he wanted to help me with a few more pictures. So kind~

A good picture, right? <3
When I finally reached on the top, another uncle, I supposed, he spotted me selfie-ing here and there, offered a help and immediately showed me to a few areas for pictures, like "go there", "maybe you should sit there" kind of gestures. It was kind of awkward and funny, but I felt warm at heart. Not a totally bad idea going alone.

It started to snow at the same time
Not that I really mind about it, but it is just too obvious to not take notice about it. Korea has a weird, can I say, culture of not apologising when bumping into people. I thought it was only me, but when I observed others, none of them apologise. I also asked my Korean friend and they said it was normal. However, there was once I met a nasty uncle that was an exception. That was when my friend from Hong Kong accidentally stepped into him. He kept scolding and said a lot of things that I couldn't understand, I only understand "pain" and "Are you from China" from what he said. My friend immediately apologised, but in English, pretending to not understand what he said. She later told me that, if I were to bump those people in the future, speak in English and never speak a word of Chinese as they are the "racist" one. Hope I didn't offend anyone here, just speaking what I have experienced.

The Koreans, to us, are a feast to our eye. I'm pretty sure most people know of the Korea compulsory military service. In Malaysia, it is rare to see people from the army. But in Korea, they are everywhere, wearing the macho army uniform. My friends were so excited seeing them. Besides that, Koreans, in general, are well-dressed with makeups and are known for their beauty. We were so "full" seeing pretty girls and guys.

7. The cosmetics
Korea is famous for its cosmetic products. I am very well aware of that. However, what I did not know is that the cosmetic stores are in almost every place. The subway, in a traditional market, and in every neighbourhood. Tourist and college areas, especially are saturated with the cosmetic stores. MyeongDong alone has rows of cosmetic stores. There are even the same brand opening just next to a few stores. Are they competing with themselves?

I, who had almost no knowledge of make up and was only starting to learn about basic skincare, had almost no interest in it. However, my friends are the pro. Thanks to them, I learnt a little while accompanying them and started to develop interest in it. I even bought a few basic cosmetic essential products like BB cushion. Due to my lack of knowledge and my cheapskate-ness, I thought that the products were expensive and I hesitated to buy. Only products that I think are worth for the price and are affordable to me, did I purchase it.

When I came back from Korea, it became a habit for me to check on the cosmetic stores and I was so surprised that there's a huge difference in price. Only did I realise that what I had bought was such a bargain, despite the exchange rate. I always talked of how cheap they are.

These are the list that I can think of and these are usually the things that I always talked about with the people around me. I had such a great fun staying in Korea that I was even reluctant to come back. Now that I am back from Korea, not once have I not missed about the little things that I experienced in Korea. I really hope to go back there once more. 

Friday, 17 February 2017

Designer's hand-crafted leather goods. Exclusive. Limited.

Lovely Fridays, peeps!!

Today, I'm going to introduce to you some lovely handcrafted leather-made products made by my sister!! She even started a small little business for it - Sweatt's and this is her simple yet elegant logo.

Sweatt's Logo
My sister always has a knack for making things. She is a person of art. For this leather-making, in particular, it all started with her love for her boyfriend that made her passion grew. He is a to-be chef. In order to support his career and dream, she made him a one-in-a-kind stylish steampunk knife roll to protect his beloved knife equipment. 

Below is another project - a knife sheath that she made for her friend on his request. 

Then, she began a new project of making a small little bag, the size that our mum love, with her remaining leather to thank her for all the sacrifice that she made. 

On receiving this amazing gift, all 3 receivers were so happy and excited that they bring it around, showing off their one-in-a-kind product to their friends and family. 

Seeing how delighted the "customers" are, my sister decided to expand her interest and spread her love to a bigger community - a community who loves and appreciates her unique design. And, that's how Sweatt's is born.

 "It is created to embrace designer’s thought and self-statement." 

All the products, from purchasing materials to designing, cutting, sewing and drawing, were all done by my sister. Being born in a family of tailor, she has an added advantage of receiving valuable advice from them. The materials too are hand-picked by her. Therefore, the quality of products is assured

Her goods are designed a month ahead and only a product is produced every month. They will not be reproduced even if requested to ensure the exclusiveness of the product. It is therefore limited and her product is sold on a first come, first serve basis. If the demand increases in future, she decides to hold an auction for it. 

Starting from her April product, she will share her design on Facebook and let you vote for your favourite. Then, she will produce the most votes product. Therefore, be sure to check up regularly on her Facebook page!

Being an amateur in leather-making, a slight mistake is unavoidable. However, she would never sell a faulty product. Below is her first product, which she is reluctant to sell due to a tiny mistake.

Accessorised Pink Clutch
Photo taken by me
Being a perfectionist and a stubborn person in nature, she hopes to deliver the best product to her supporter. And worry not, through her experience, she will definitely improve her skills and create an exclusive leather goods just for you

"Sweatt’s hopes to expand the possibility in leather crafting as she accumulates her experience."

And now, she is working on her February product. Here's a little insider information. It is a man's clutch! But, if you decide to go for a cool look, go for it! Be creative and stylish with Sweatt's!

Photo taken by me
Are you interested???

If you are interested, you can support my sister by buying her product or providing funds for her to purchase the material through:

Also, make sure to follow her progress through her Instagram: @s.sweatts. 

What are you waiting for? Be active and involve in the process of the making now!

Have a wonderful Friday!!

(Unless otherwise stated, photos are taken and edited by Sweatt's!)

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Lotte chocolate!


When I was visiting my relatives yesterday, one of my relatives who went to Japan brought back this chocolate from Lotte. 

At first I thought it was just a normal Lotte milk chocolate bar. However, as I unpacked it,  I noticed the difference in texture as I broke the first row. It doesn't have the usual firm breaking, but a more soft breaking as though it's been exposed to heat for a while. 

Throwing the piece of chocolate in my mouth, the texture is unusually light and airy, which later turns back to its usual - smooth and milky texture. The taste remains the same as the normal milk chocolate bar.  So, it's like eating a chocolate cake. Not the usual chocolate cake,  but a 100% chocolate cake. 

Look at the air sac that is responsible for this texture:

I totally recommend it for those who don't really like chocolate as it doesn't feel heavy. For those who like chocolate, like me, may find a little frustrating as you may need to eat a few rows to equate the usual one row of chocolate. This explains why this is the fastest chocolate bar that I have ever finished. 

Sunday, 29 January 2017

Penang - Kuala Sepetang

The final part of my trip!!!


For breakfast, we went to Super Tanker Food Court. It was introduced by my senior when I went to internship in Penang during my WBL. So, I decided to bring my family here as the food here are quite delicious. 

In Super Tanker, there's also a pancake store that my mum wanted to try - Aki's Pancake. This pancake store sells a variety of pancake. There are also some choices of combination that you can never imagine in it. However, it only opens from 6pm. So, in the end, my mum could not try it. There are also a lot of stores that open in the evening. So, that's the best time to go. 

However, there are still some food you can try if you passed by Super Tanker. 

Prawn noodle
I have tried a lot of prawn noodle in Penang but this is the best. 

White Curry Mee and Char Kuey Teow
The Char Kuey Teow here is also the best so far.

After a heavy breakfast (there were still some other things that we ordered), we proceeded to the Snake Temple. I have heard rumours that snakes were everywhere in the temple last time, but I also heard they were caged. So, I came here to find the truth (though they might have previously happened before, it's just that I do not know). 

First, the snakes are not everywhere. In fact, I was finding the snakes until I saw someone observing something. The snake could be found on places where there is something to hang. For example:

And trees. They are uncaged as they are said to be the most tame snake. They will not attack you if don't disturb them. In case you were hoping for a huge snake, here you go:

There's a few of these. They are for "entertaining" visitors
In case you are wondering where the snakes came from. You could find the answer if you explore deeper into the temple. There is a snake breeding area. Right here:

On your right
Can you find the snakes?

I also bought these strawmat wishing bracelet for myself and for souvenirs. Different colours represent different wishes you want it to come true. According to the lady, if the string broke, then your wish is realised.

Later, we went for another food in Pretty Good Cafe. This time for the green nasi lemak that I have been missing so much. 

But, I may have been just missing the wrong thing. It might have been the sweet sambal that I have been missing, but I'll let you be the judge. I have tried their green nasi lemak and the usual nasi lemak during WBL. The usual nasi lemak wasn't that tasty with the sambal but the green nasi lemak with the sambal was. During my recent trip, the green nasi lemak with the sambal that I ate wasn't that tasty either. So, what's tasty? I, myself, am confused.

After this confusing lunch, we officially left Penang for Sepetang. Overall, Penang has good and cheap food compared to KL and Subang Jaya, which I really am appreciate and will definitely come back for more food and trips.

Kuala Sepetang

Kuala Sepetang is famous for its Charcoal Factory and mangrove trees. We, first, arrived at the Charcoal Factory, where everything here is covered with black charcoal and charcoal fragrance. 

All is charcoal factory
Accoding to the people here, this place is originally belonged to the Japanese, especially during that 3 years of invasion. During that time, they taught us the technology of creating charcoal, thus now being able to produce the best charcoal in Asia. The charcoal here is so good that about 60% of them are exported to Japan. 

The charcoal kiln
Charcoal is burnt using mangrove trees aged 30 years and above. And they are arranged in vertical in the 7m height and 6.5m width kiln, like below:

There are about 1500 pieces of logs which is equivalent to about 50 tonnes, of which 80% constitutes of sea water. It takes about 2 days to arrange the logs as they are all hand-carried by this man.

The burning of charcoal is separated to 3 stages. The first stage of burning takes 10 days at 85 degree C. At this stage, the opening of the kiln is the biggest.

The first stage
For the second stage, the opening is closed further which increased the temperature to about 230 degree C for about 2 weeks. 

Second stage
At stage 3, it is the cooling period and the opening is closed completely for about a week. 

Third stage
When the process is done, the opening is broken open and a beautiful charcoal is formed. The original 50 tonnes logs are now reduced to 10 tonnes charcoal (evapouration of sea water).

The shinning inner
What happens to the byproduct aka vapour? They are collected into the blue box as follow. Nothing is wasted.

The vapour is sold for use as an insect repellent and to cure skin diseases. Charcoal and the vapour are sold there too. 

Before I leave for another places, one last picture of this place.

Right in front of this factory, there is an uncle with his van, selling Chinese New Year's biscuits, Tau Sar Pneah and other biscuits. They are all homemade by him. There are some products that are quite delicious that I think is worth the buy.

His products
Next, we went for a walk near the town, which is famous for its seafood. We dropped by in this restaurant with a signature eagle.

The reason I choose this restaurant is, first, because of the eagle and second, the restaurant is on the upper floor. I can get a perfect view of this area. There are a few eagles and seagulls flying here and there.

The jetty view
We weren't hungry but we did order some food just for tasting. The food were nothing of surprise. 

Next, we went on to the Matang Mangrove Eco-educational Centre. Matang Mangrove Forest has a vast mangrove resources with abundant of wildlife. It is said to be the best managed mangrove forest in the world. To enter, you need to pay for a parking fee (if you drove a car) and entrance fee. What can you do here?

Basically, you walk along the boardwalk and enjoy the beautiful scenery of the mangrove trees. If you are lucky, you will be able to see woodpecker and monkey (those are what I saw). 

Look at the amazing tree roots. It represents their will to live, a skill develop to survive in a harsh environment.

The picture below is the oldest and largest mangrove tree (65 years old) in this place. However, it was chopped off due to severe damaged caused by lightning struck in 2012. It is of Rhizophora apiculata species. 

Matang Mangrove Eco-educational Centre also provides chalets, dorms and camping areas for you to enjoy the wonder of the nature. 

I recommend that you go here before you go to the charcoal factory as if you have any questions, you can direct them to the people in the factory. There seems to be no guide in this educational centre. 

We also went for a river cruise. They provide this cruise almost every place I went in Kuala Sepetang. This river cruise includes eagle sighting, dolphin and firefly sighting and sunset (if you go at the right time). It costs RM 70 per boat (it seems that the pricing could be different) and if you have more than 7 people, it's RM 10 per person. 

Our boat
Bridge that connects the 2 islands
Apparently the boats are labelled A, B, C, S,... It is labelled to identify what boat catches what products.

We were able to see some of the lovely beings.
I wonder if you are able to see them
Island fully made of sea shells
Eagle sightings
More eagles
The ride took about 45 minutes to an hour. It didn't feel long. With regards to the dolphin, first, you have to come at the right time and second, it depends on your luck. Looks like we were out of luck that day.

With the river cruise and a stop at Ipoh for chicken rice, our short trip ended. Although it was short, we were able to go to as many places as we could. I, especially, like the last day as I was able to learn a lot and able to see lots of birds. I love birds. I love how they could fly, but I'm wondering about the freedom of the birds in Kuala Sepetang. 

I totally recommend these places that I have been to as they are cheap and affordable, especially if you are a student (Malaysian) as you could take advantage of the student price ticket.