Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Guilty Pleasures? Not anymore.

Guilty pleasures are said to be things that you like to do but it leaves you with a guilty feeling. Below are a list of general guilty pleasures in no particular order.

So lets start:

1) Chocolate: It contains antioxidants that may help to protect the body from cardiovascular disease.

2) Shopping: Research shows that levels of dopamine (neutrotransmitter) will increase when shopping. This will boost the immune system and keep your body agile. Happy Shopping, folks!.

3) Day Off: If you are the first to arrive at work and last to leave and never take a day off, chances are - you wont live long! If you have taken days off work, simply for no reason or just to stay back in bed, good for you. It seems taking days off just to relax and unwind helps to decrease work stress, helps with productivity and provides healthy live balance.

4) Sleep: It helps your brain to reorganize and restructure, strenghtens emotional components, reduces daytime fatigue and increases stamina, reduces level of stress and helps to control level of blood pressure.

5) Sex : Relieves stress, boost immunity & reduces calories. Need I say more ? *wink, wink*

6) Wine: Red wine contains antioxidants and is good for your heart. It reduces chances of blood clotting in the arteries.

7) Coffee: Lately researchers have discovered that, coffee drinkers compared to non drinkers are:
    a - less likely to have Type 2 Diabetes, Parkinson's Disease and Dimentia
    b- have fewer cases of stroke, heart rhythm problems and cancer

Now, I can enjoy my cuppa, guilt free :)

8) Long showers / hot baths:
   a - Hot water kills bacteria more than cold water does
   b-  Warm water loosens up stiff joints. Hot water helps with blood circulation, reduces swelling and eases body pain.
   c - Long hot baths are good for the brain. It helps to relax the mind after a tough day at work.
It may seem like luxury, but it is actually good for the body, mind and soul.

9) Bubblegummers
While it is irritating to watch people chew gum when they are talking to you, many dentists have advised that it is good to chew gum. It seems Chewing Gums contain xylitol which reduces bacteria and prevents cavities.

10) Facebook
Some people find it a waste of time, but with our busy schedules these days, taking some time to log on to facebook keeps us connected with so many of our friends & relatives. It keeps our relationships healthy and we are always updated on our close ones in between our busy schedules. Well, not sure what the researches have to say about this.... hahaha.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Cooling Camerons

We have been to Cameron Highlands many times and will keep going there till it becomes as hot as KL. Its already not as cold as before and its getting hotter. As long as you wish to escape the KL heat during the weekends, Cameron is the best place to be. Besides cold weather, what else is there in Camerons, you ask?

Before that, how to get there :

Pic -

From Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, there are three main ways to reach the Cameron Highlands that starts from the North-South Highway. The most popular route is to exit at Tapah town, then follow a narrow trunk road that cuts through a lush mountain range for about 40km (an hour's duration; drive is slow as road is windy) up to Ringlet, the first town of Camerons. From Johor Bahru, it's a 500km (five to six hours) journey while those starting from Kuala Lumpur only travel 140km (one-and-a-half hours) to reach Tapah. Simpang Pulai is the second most popular entryway, but this is used most by travellers coming from northern destinations such as Ipoh and Penang. Some travellers prefer using this route from Kuala Lumpur and Singapore despite the extra distance, as it has purportedly greater visibility and less windy roads.

Using the Simpang Pulai route adds an extra 30km to the North-South Highway journey, then the actual road itself leads up for 50km to Kampung Raja, the northernmost town of Cameron Highlands. Finally, a recent highway has been built that starts from Sungai Koyan village to Ringlet town, about 40 minutes away from either Raub and Kuala Lipis towns (both can be accessed via the Karak Highway with an hour's drive). This is the most secluded route, with few cars travelling on it as not many know of its existence. The journey is about 250km from Kuala Lumpur through Raub using this remote highway that passes by the Pos Betau Orang Asli settlements.


What can you do there?

1) Lata Iskandar Waterfall

Before you reach Ringlet, you will pass by Lata Iskandar Waterfall. You can stop to feel the breeze, dip in the cool stream, take some pictures before continuing your journey. There are also many shops here that sells products made of rattan.

2) Towns : Ringlet, Tanah Rata, Brinchang, Tringkap
First town in Camerons. Its a small town, nothing much here. Putting up here will mean you need to travel to places of interest.
Tanah Rata
Tanah Rata is a big township with lots of amenities. Places of Interest are also nearby. You can choose to stay in either Tanah Rata or Brichang. 
Brinchang is the highest township among other towns. Its easy to find a place to stay here and near to places of interest.
For those coming from north they will pass by this town before coming to Brinchang. Its a small agricultural town. Not many places to stay and far from amenities.

3) Bharat Tea

Bharat Tea Plantation has some cafes which serves splendid tea and pastries. It is located just before Tanah Rata town. You can drop by to have good tea and take beautiful pictures here.

4) Strawberry Farms
There are few strawberry farms around , you can see the sign boards by the road side. Many people like to go in just to experience picking strawberries. You also get fresh strawberry jam here along with other pastry and tea, of course.

5) Nurseries
There are many nurseries in Tanah Rata & Brinchang (Rose Valley, Cactus Valley, Cactus Point, etc). You can buy plants for much cheaper price than KL.

Even if you are not interested in bringing plants back home, just a stroll around the nursery in the cool breeze  is just fantastic.

6) Butterfly farms & Bee Farms
There are also butterfly and bee farms in Brinchang. The butterfly farms houses many butterflies of all sizes and shapes. Some really huge ones, too. 
In the bee farm, you get to see how honey is produced from these farms. You get to taste fresh honey too.

7) Time Tunnel Gallery

A visit to this Time Tunnel Gallery will bring back memories of the things we would have seen or used few years ago that is difficult to find these days. Entrance Fee is about RM 5 for adult and RM 3 for kids. Infants : FREE.

8) Gunung Brinchang

Pic -
The highest peak in Peninsular Malaysia is at Gunung Brinchang at 6,666 m. It seems any normal vehicle can reach the peak, but the roads were bad and at one point, 2 km before the peak, cars had to be parked at the side and people were hiking up by foot. This was because landslide has damaged the road there. 

So for those interested in catching the view up there, you can take the tours that are offered at Tanah Rata & Brinchang tour offices. It is about RM50 per adult and they will take you right up to the peak by 4x4. I think it should be well worth it since it is not easy to go up by normal vehicles.

9) Night Market
A MUST VISIT. There is a night market in Brinchang which is open daily from 6pm to about 9pm. Here you get to taste variety of food. We just enjoy going to this market and eating a whole load of things. These are few things that you should try:

Sweet Corn
Pic - Google Images
You can eat this raw - no joke. Its sweet and can be boiled or grilled, too. 

Chocolate Strawberries
Pic - Google Images
Simply Yummy!

Honey Comb
Pic - Google Images

They sell small pieces of these honey combs for you to taste. Just bite the comb and once you have sucked all the honey out, you can throw the balance. That's why in Malay, they say "Habis madu, sepah dibuang"

Variety of grilled & fried food
There so many to choose from - Grilled chicked, fish, prawns, crab, right up to fried vegetables. You should try all of them. I am hungry already...sigh!

Pic - Google Images

 Dried Fruits

pic - Google Images
I am not a fan of "jeruk" (dried fruits), but the ones here are worth a try. They are really tasty.

You can get a lot of souvenirs from the night market. Dont forget to get them for your family and friends.

10) Other Activities
There are also other activities like Mountain Climbing, Jungle Trekking, & Rafflesia searching. There are also other places to visit like waterfalls, hot springs, Chinese & Indian Temples. If you like photography, you can really take beautiful pictures in Cameron Highlands.

In my opinion, even if you dont go out to enjoy any of the above, just spending the whole day eating, drinking tea and sleeping in your cozy hotel room is still enjoyable due to the weather. Although not very cold, its still much better than the scorching heat in KL.

Blouse Design - Quadro Cross Back

Another Saree Blouse Design from me:

It is just the same like any other cross back, except it has four strings instead of one.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Pak Pon Pattaya (Relaxing Pattaya)

Before I begin about Pattaya, let me introduce EgyptAir. It was our first flight with EgyptAir which recently resumed their services in Aug 2011. I was sceptical when I booked but it turned out to be fantastic. Egyptair has all the frills like any other 5 Star Alliances airlines. Delicious food was served on time. The deserts were nice. Even Aarsyan had his own tiny meal which he enjoyed. The rest of the journey was accompanied by their In Flight Entertainment.

In Pattaya, we collected the car that we booked. We did not know what car we will be given and expected something small but we were given an Avanza. At first I dreaded it as I thought it would be difficult to park, but it turned to be good as we dont have to fold and unfold the stroller everytime. We just chuck it as it is into the van and pull it out whenever needed, without any hassle.

We stayed at a hotel in Soi 5, which is very near to Pattaya Beach Road. Just 3 minutes walk to the beach. Nothing much to say about Pattaya Beach as we all know its just a normal beach but it has all the beach activities like jetski, paragliding, banana boat ride etc.

OK, Besides NIGHTLIFE, lets look at what else can be done in Pattaya...

Sanctuary of Truth
Our first visit was to the Sanctuary of Truth, it was nearby and we had GPS to guide us there. The tickets were priced at 500 BHT/adult, free for Aarsyan. The building is really beautiful, and it is quite huge.

The best part is there are still works going on in this building. I think they will keep working on it until there is no more wood to be carved here.

 If you are the type who enjoys looking at sculptures and taking pictures of intrinsic work, then you must visit this place. Everyone was given a helmet for protection just in case anything falls on your head.

Outside of the building, visitors were treated to some traditional dances.

Koh Lan (Coral Island)

A lot of private boat owners actually sell packages to Koh Lan, where they charge about 450 BHT/head and include buffet in their package. The best is to get your tickets at Bali Hai Pier near Jomtien Beach. Here the tickets only cost about 150 - 300 BHT. No food included but there are many restaurants where you can have your meals at in Koh Lan.

I would say Koh Lan is just another beach like Pattaya Beach, because in my mind when I hear "Island", I expect to see blue sea and white sand (like Phuket / Krabi), but this is not the case. The water is clear and the waves were good but no blue sea and white sand :(. Anyway, we still enjoyed ourselves in this island. There's nothing else beyond this beach other than roads connecting to other beaches around the island. There are small restaurants / shops in the island.

Wat Phra Yai

It is a Buddhist temple which has a big Buddha statue. It looks like it has many steps , but actually very few and going up and and coming down doesnt even take 10 minutes. They have a breathtaking view up here.

Underwater World Pattaya

I would NEVER recommend this place as the ticket is overpriced for a such a small place. It took us only 20 minutes to walk in and out of that place! The tickets were 500 BHT/adult. Luckily it was free for Aarsyan. After I saw the whole center,  thought to myself,  for that price, we can see better things in Malaysia.  Seriously, they need to expand their aquarium if they want to charge that price.

Ripley's Believe It Or Not Activities
This place is inside the Royal Golden Plaza - Shopping Complex.
I always find this place interesting. There are many rooms to choose from : Ripley's Museum,Infinity Maze, Wax Museum, 4D Adventure & Haunted House. As Aarsyan was with us, we chose Ripleys' Museum, Infinity Maze & Wax Museum.

Some Pictures at Ripley's Museum:

No Pictures at Infinity Maze cause it's TOTAL Darkness and you have to find your way out. It was nice but the journey was short.

Some pictures at Wax Museum:

Pattaya Floating Market

Just the same with any other floating market in Thai. They have many traders selling food in their boats at a minimum cost. Nice place to taste the variety of dishes in Thailand.

Million Years Stone Park & Croco Farm

For those who love botany, should visit this place. The landscaping is beautiful at the Stone Park. The Croco Farm had many animals other than crocs.

I wouldn't say its a good place to shop, because for Thai standard, things in Pattaya are expensive. We can get the same things for the same price in Malaysia. The prices have shot up because of western tourists; same with Phuket. Hat Yai is probably the best place to shop in Thailand. Even food in Pattaya is high for Thai standards. Of course for westerners its still dirt cheap. For Malaysians, its just the same price we pay here. Massages were superb at very reasonable prices and they even come to the room. same goes with foot reflexology.

In a nutshell, it was a very relaxing holiday and we enjoyed it with Aarsyan. :)


Sunday, August 21, 2011

Blouse Design - Spider Web

Just another blouse design from me : Spider Web

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Journey of a Pilgrim - By Nethianathan Krishna Kutty

This post is about my experiences while I traveled to some beautiful temples in South India.

Balaji Temple, Tirupathy - Andra Pradesh

Reached Tirupathy last night from Chennai. Took some rest and got up early for my first temple visit. At 7.15 am, from Alipiri, I started my journey to receive Lord Balaji's Darshan.

 It took about few hours to reach first stop. The journey was through a forest but the stairs were well built and well covered. There were many things on the way up, mainly deity statues. Every 500 metres, there are many shops and  food stalls and open space to rest. At these stall you can get tea/soda and bread. At some points, people arranged bricks (pic below) maybe to depict Lord Vengkat, not very sure about this.

At this point, there is a place where everyone is given a biometric token.This is to keep track on the number of people going up.
On the way up, there are also people carrying gas cylinders, and raw materials for cooking. They maybe the suppliers for the stalls.

 Here, there are a lot more shops and bigger ones too. They sell food items like thosai and idli. From that point there were no more steps but more like road with steps many metres apart.

Mid journey, there is a big Anjenaya statue. After praying, had some tea and bread and continued. All throughout the journey there were toilet facilities. At this point, we were able to see the main temple which looked like its situated in another mountain across the mountain that we were on. The journey is still a long way to go.

At the last Dome before reaching the main temple, there were many people climbing the stairs on their knees. I rested here for a while and continued the journey till the 3550th step. From here, we can walk to the temple. Took the token, and saw people selling items to be put in the 'undiyal'. The things were miniature items to resemble your wish, for example a house, a cradle and also body parts (for health reason).
To be in the fast lane, it costs about 300 Rs and that too took about 2 hours before I could see Lord Balaji. As you get nearer, the rush became worse and security was tight. I got about 1 minute to get Lord Balaji's Darshan and it was well worth it. He stands tall at 1.5 metres and grand; covered in gold. The vibration was strong and I was satisfied with the Dharshan.
Getting to the 'undiyal' was another task. Somehow managed to reach there and delivered my items into the 'undiyal'. Just before coming out, there is a room where all the money received by the temple is counted. It is said that in a day, the temple receives about 22.5 Million Rs and 10 kg of gold.
As you exit the temple, you'll be given prasadam (ponggal). Laddu is distributed in another complex about 200 meters from the main temple. The laddu's are distributed to the complex from the 'kitchen' through a conveyor system. You show your receipt and collect your laddu.

Alamelu Temple & Kalahasthi Temple, Andra Pradesh

Early morning, the next day, we went to the Alamelu Temple, who is said to be Lord Vengkat's wife. Here also, laddu's were given.
Then we left to some 40 kms away from Tirupathi to Kalahasti Temple. This is a Fire Lingam Temple where he stands straight and tall.

Tiruthani Murugan Temple, Thiruthani, Tamil Nadu

I had a 'special' blessings in this temple. First, after praying, the first pandit gave me a garland, then the same thing happened at the second place and at the third place the pandit did a special prayers for me and handed the prasad to me. Glad to get this special blessing from Lord Murugan.

Egambaram Temple & Kanchi Kamakshi Temple, Kanchipuram , Tamil Nadu

Egambaram temple is a Sivan Temple. Under the Sivalingam, is the 'Mann Sivan'; Sivan which was created by  earth by Goddess Parvathi, 3500 years back.

After visiting Kanchi Kamakshi, the driver took us to shop for Kanchipuram sarees. Manage to shop some good sarees here.

Later that day, we decided to drive to Rameswaram which is about 560 km from Kanchipuram. We left Kanchipuram at 10pm.

Ramanathapuram Temple, Rameshwaran , Tamil Nadu

The 560km journey took us about 10 hours. We reached at 8am next morning.

Rameswaram is an island by itself - more of a fishing village. Most of the area is barren but the area near the temple is crowded.

At the temple, I was told to bring extra clothes to change. Then I was brought to an open area, to change my clothes. I just wore a 'dhoti' that I bought at the temple. First, I took a dip at the beach , then I did some prayers at the beach side.

 After that, I went into the temple to pray.  Then a guide took me around to 21 wells and I bath in all the wells as well as tasting the water.

Water from each well tasted differently.There was also a 22nd well, where we dont get to bath in the water. The water is just splashed at everyone. After that, I changed back to dry clothes, had the darshan and left the temple.

Madurai Meenakshi Temple, Madurai, Tamil Nadu

It is said that this temple is huge that you can get lost inside. Yes, it is huge but I do not agree with getting lost part. There are 5 Main Domes, one for each North, East, West and 2 at the South and 9 smaller Dome. The two in the south are for Siva and Parvathy.
We had ample time to pray here and it was satisfying. Goddess Meenakshi is beautiful, adorned with shiny earrings and nose ring.
Around 8pm, we decided to leave to Velor. Very tiring journey,  as I took over the wheels after I noticed the driver dozing off. Driving in India was an experience indeed! I slowly learnt when and where to use the horn. We reached to a small town and decided to put up there as everyone was tired.

Velor Golden Temple, Velor, Tamil Nadu
Pic - Google Image

In the morning, when we reached Velor town, we noticed that the town was quite posh. There were boutiques - Adidas, Nike and other branded shops.After breakfast,  Thiagu took over the wheels as driver was still sleepy. &#%@???

Pic - Google Image

We went to the Velor Golden Temple. A very well organised temple. No pushing, no crowd, peaceful. The main deity is Goddess Laksmi Narayani.
You get to pray as your heart wishes as your not scurried away by 'temple wardens'. The temple is clean, all around the temple you see quotes by famous sages. The wonderful landscape adds beauty to this temple.
Every afternoon, Anathanam is served at this temple, again hassle free. First course of rice and dhal , second course of rice and rasam and third course of rice and buttermilk. Food here is delicious but as Malaysians you are full after the first course. So if you want to really experience this ananthanam, dont stuff yourself before coming here.

Arunachaleswara Temple, Tiruvanamalai, Tamil Nadu

This is a Sivan Temple. As we were leaving the temple, a lot of devotees were coming in carrying 'kavadi'. Streams and streams of people like "Thaipusam".
 That was the end of my journey. Glad to complete my South Indian Pilgrimage as planned.

There was another half a day to spend the next day, before leaving to KL. Managed to move around Chennai, experience watching movie at Sathyam Theater, take a look at 'hot' Marina Beach.

If Aarsyan can post in this blog, so can I.
- Nethianathan Krishna Kutty -