Monday, 3 May 2021

Monthly Goals Review: April

April. What a month. Definitely felt a lot better compared to March - I managed to break my routine quite a bit, and went on my very first hike of the year @ Sg Pisang! I celebrated my 26th birthday (wait, what? I've past quarter-life???), I also had a good week-long break end of April (which explains this late post) and managed to squeeze in an overnight trip to Kuala Kubu Baru. Feeling much more refreshed after a much-needed break & holiday :) 

At the start of April, I started to go out a little more and meeting friends (a small group of 1-3 friends at most because well, we are still in the midst of a pandemic!) at the start of April, which really felt great - I really miss the social interaction and connecting with friends :). However, as the cases are on the rise again, I decided to limit my social interaction once again, which is definitely a bummer, but much needed action. We are still in the midst of a pandemic, and we should not let our guards down yet! 


Financial Goals 

1) Save at least 40% of my income every month 

I was thiiiiiis close to not achieving my goal. Spent quite a bit for my trip but I've had some amount saved up in my sinking fund so phew! 

Like the month of March, as I have started going out more, a bulk of my expenses was spent on dining out. 



2) Establish a side income stream
Finally T_T 
(note: I have yet to break even hahah - figure in the box is just my revenue)

A very kind friend (Hi Nad if you're reading this) offered to buy some of my cookies, and I'm ever grateful for that opportunity. I plan to open my cookies order soon, and hopefully, I can break even....:D? 

And yes, I'm very excited to announce that I will be launching my home baking business soon :) You've seen me sharing a lot about my baked goods, and you may be able to have a taste of them soon! I'm excited and nervous at the same time. Hoping to be able to share more updates on this in May! 


Personal Growth / Learnings

1) Listen to at least one podcast every day

Will be sharing my takeaways in my Good Reads/Videos/Podcasts post so stay tuned :D 


2) Read at least one paragraph of non-fiction/fiction every day

I really love Totto Chan. It was such a heartwarming read - the story is an autobiography of the author, who was expelled from her primary school because of her "difficult" behavioural. Read my review for Totto Chan on Goodreads here


3) Participate in at least one online events and/or online courses every month
For the month of April, I've completed the Managing Emotions in Times of Uncertainty & Stress course by Yale University 

This course is designed for school staffs, but I find the content of the course helpful and relevant for each and every one of us - especially now that we're in times of uncertainty. This is one course I really enjoyed - the videos & reading materials are all bite-sized (2-6 minutes!). I'm trying to practice some of the strategies I've learnt in the course. Definitely, changing one's habit and shifting one's mindset is not easy but I'm trying :) 

Shared my reflection in this article on my LinkedIn profile. I'd like to shout-out to myself for mustering up the courage to share it on LinkedIn - I struggle in sharing things (I know - the irony is I share quite a bit of my reflection here on my blog, which is public) online. 


4) Cook/Bake at least one dish per week

Week 1: Hot cross buns!
Also sharing a photo of my sourdough pizza because this has been my most successful attempt on making a decently round pizza! 
Week 2: New & improved hot cross buns (included sultanas and baked them apart on a large baking sheet rather than cramming them all in a pyrex), and a toss all them leftover ingredients in a pan meal :p 
Also mass baked cookies for my friend who ordered them! 
Week 3: Guinness Beef Stew! Attaching a photo of my sourdough baked on that week too because it was one of my most beautiful loaf so far! I feel that I am really getting the hang of sourdough baking now - and am able to gauge the proofing time better :) 

This month, I'd like to end this post differently. I was really looking forward to my long break & short getaway & my birthday celebration, which all took place end of April and I realise it really pushed me forward to go through my day. I definitely feel a little empty, now that what I've been looking forward to for so long has since..been experienced, savoured, and come to an end.

I know I sound a little dramatic here, but I believe it is because that was my first trip in a long time I can't help but feel so...blue. I catch myself dwelling over my trip a littleeeee bit too much and thus, would like to dedicate a section here to write about things I look forward to this month, because having things to look forward to is really such a pleasant feeling, and it helps me focus on the present too :) 


Things I am looking forward to this month

1. Getting my vaccine

Yes, I've successfully booked a slot of the AstraZeneca vaccine! 
Honestly a bit nervous about the potential side effects, and also the pain during the vaccine huhu, but feeling kinda excited at the same time!

2. Hari Raya break!

Yay for more holidays :P Oh and, we'll have another public holiday for Wesak Day! 

3. Kick-starting my home bakery business

Planning to get myself a food handling license & register for my business. Will be sharing my progress here :D 

4. Developing new cookie flavours!

R&D for cookies is expensive. But this time around I'm excited as it'll be part of my business plan :D I have a few flabours I'd like to test out, and hopefully it'll pay off :) 


With the cases on the rise, it seems like a lockdown might be looming huhu. Hoping for a sane May and stay safe everyone! 

Thursday, 22 April 2021

Damai Studio & Cafe, Jalan Damai KL - a Yoga Studio x Cafe x Event Space

Note: writing about my experience at the cafe, not the yoga studio!
Damai Studio & Cafe is nestled in a bungalow lot, along the residential area of Jalan Damai (hence the name!), which is just a stone throw away from the Jalan Tun Razak. You may be more familiar with RGB Cafe - which is located on the same row. 

I was stopped by a guard while navigating to Damai Studio & Cafe, as there was seemingly something (a party/gathering (?)) going on at the end of Jalan Damai which required drivers to make a three-point turn out of the road as it was blocked. The guard asked where I was headed and he told me that there are no cafse at the end of the road - only a "joget joget" studio and the only cafe on Jalan Damai is RGB. I became a little unsure myself but insisted that there is a cafe, and yes, let me assure you. there is a cafe within the "joget joget" studio.


Despite its close proximity to the busy Jalan Tun Razak, the surrounding of Damai Studio & Cafe was quaint & serene. Upon stepping into the compound, you can definitely feel as though you've been transported elsewhere, away from the hustle & bustle of the city, with the lush of different edibles & ornamental plants, trees & creepers surrounding you. 

However, do note that there is no canopy/shade for the outdoor seatings, hence it might not be too ideal to be sitting out in the sun in the afternoon.


First thing first - please take off your shoes when entering the indoor seating area. Yours truly did not realise this rule and walked in with her shoes. 

Their indoor seating area is bright and spacious, thanks to the clean white walls, high ceiling & ceiling-to-floor windows. The interior too is donned with plants and some bold splash of colours & prints here and there.

Most of the patrons here seemed to be those students of their yoga classes or regulars - everyone seemed to know each other and I felt like an outsider :p 

Food & Beverage

Food & Beverage at Damai Cafe is meat-free. Gluten-free & vegan food is also available. You may refer to Damai Cafe's full menu on their website
Americano RM8
I got this cup of Joe for only RM5, which was apparently a promo they had in the whole month of March. Didn't manage to try out their food though, simply because, well, I'm sort of a carnivore. 

If you're looking for a quiet cafe to unwind, this might be a place that you'd want to check out :) Or perhaps if you're looking to attend yoga classes around KL area, Damai Studio offers different yoga classes from Tuesdays-Sundays. According to the website, each class is priced at RM55/one class pass, and you may refer to their Instagram page for the schedule. 

This is definitely a place I wouldn't mind coming again to sip on some coffee while reading a book, or to catch up on some work, or simply to catch up with a friend if I'm nearby. 


Damai Studio & Cafe 
23, Jalan Damai, 55000 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Instagram: @damaimy
Website: https://damaistudiocafe.com/ 

Business hours:
8:30am - 6:00pm Tuesdays - Sundays
Closed on Mondays 

Wednesday, 14 April 2021

Pages Book Cafe, Ara Damansara

Bookshops. I love them. I love the smell of books. They have this nice....earthy smell (not the best adjective - but how do one describe the smell of books?). Especially second-hand bookstores! I love the surprise element of not knowing what sort of treasure you can find in a second-hand bookstore. 

Cafe. I love them. I love the aroma of freshly grounded coffee. I love the calm music usually played in a cafe.

And when you combine both of them together - that's my happy space.

And I'm so glad to have found this happy space - Pages Book Cafe. 
I found Pages Book Cafe by chance when I was casually playing around on Google Maps (do people actually do this or just me? To randomly check out what's there in a particular area for fun). The reviews were stellar - a 4.7 star! and it is located not too far from where I stay so I decided to pay them a visit. 
Pages Book Cafe is located at Taipan Damansara - a commercial area in Ara Damansara, just right opposite of Lotus (Formerly known as TESCO, if this name is much more familiar to you). 

Special must-mention: Parking there was a breeze, even on a weekday - there were many street parking available. So that's a A+++ bonus, especially when living in the Klang Valley, parking is scarce and/or expensive. 
Once you step into Pages, Book Cafe you'll be greeted warmly by the staffs, followed by the whiff of books-ish smell & the aroma of coffee (mmmmhmmm) and the sights of books, books. and more books! 

There are books of different genres - children books, fictions, classics, cook books, travel books, arts & craft, non-Fiction....etc. etc. There seems to be a mixture of second-hand books and brand new books, and the prices are as low as RM5! I had fun browsing through the shelves! Always interesting to see what you can find :D You may stalk their Instagram account (@pagesbookcafe) or Shopee online shop to see what books are available! 

A cosy corner at the back of the cafe.

Food & Drinks

I only had drinks during my visit there, but Pages Book Cafe do serve some pre-packed/Grab & GO food such as Nasi Lemak, pasta and pie which is heated up upon ordering. They also have some desserts such as butter cake and banana cake! 

Prices are very affordable. I like :D 
Chamomile Bloom RM9


Americano RM6

(Yes I know - RM6?) 
Besides affordable pricing, a quiet & calm ambience, lots of parking spaces around, the service was great - the reviews I've read on Google Maps were true to its words - the staffs offered me drinking water, and offered to refill my tea even before I thought of asking them. 

Certainly a place I don't mind coming again to either have some me-time, to do some work, or to catch up with a friend :) 

Pages Book Cafe
F-G-43, Taipan Damansara 2, 
Jalan PJU 1a/3, Ara Damansara,
47301 Petaling Jaya, Selangor

Contact Number: 03-7832 6118
Instagram: @pagesbookcafe
Delivery of F&Bavailable via Foodpanda

Business Hours:
9:30am - 8:00pm, Mondays to Saturdays
Closed on Sundays

Monday, 12 April 2021

Hiking Sg Pisang via Highway Route

My very first hike for the year 2021. Glad to finally break my 4 months hiking hiatus with this short & refreshing hike @ Sg Pisang. 
The view of Sg Pisang falls - beautiful, innit?

Sg Pisang is located at the fringe of Selangor, just a short half an hour drive from KL, which makes it a popular hiking spot/day trip destination for folks living in the Klang Valley. Further, the trail leading into the waterfall is relatively easy (flat terrain 85% of the time), which makes it very beginner friendly. I was debating whether to call this a "hike" or a "trek" but decided to stick with "hike" since there are certain parts where it feels like a "hike". I did the entire hike with my flip-flops, simply because I didn't want to deal with wet shoe. The hike is doable but you might get a few scratches here and there on your feet.

Due to its close proximity to KL, and (possibly) with the travel restriction and lockdown, Sg Pisang seems to have been surging in popularity - it gets crazily crowded during the weekends and/or public holidays.  Try to get there early in the morning or later in the evening to beat the crowd. 

The signature photo at Sg Pisang - this tunnel :D You might've seen a photo of this on your social media

My friends and I decided to start hiking at 3pm on a Sunday evening and the crowd seems manageable. However, bear in mind that hiking in the evening = less daylight time at the waterfall. Plus, if you're not familiar with the route, there might be not many people around you who could ask for direction (this was the case for us!) so this might not be the best choice. 

And hence, I'm putting together this blog post which I hope will help other first-timer who would like to hike Sg Pisang :) 


Getting to the Trailhead & Parking

Be careful as the Sg Pisang location marked on maps is the entrance via Karak highway. There is NO PROPER PARKING SPOT at that location. I repeat, NO PROPER PARKING SPOT. I really don't recommend parking your car next to Karak Highway. 

Refer to the pin below for the actual trailhead. 


 

Try searching for "Trailhead Sungai Pisang" or "JUNGLE LODGE ALANG SEDAYU" for the actual trailhead. There are some (albeit limited) parking spaces there. A friend of mine went to the location next to Karak highway and had to make a one-hour detour to get to the actual trailhead so please do check if you've got the actual trailhead location before you depart to Sg Pisang! 

The road leading into Sg Pisang - you may park your car here and walk in, as the roads get narrower as you drive closer to the trailhead.
Take the road on the left 

The road leading into the trailhead - see what I mean about narrow! It is supposed to be a two-way road but because of the limited parking space, many visitors had to park their car at the side of the road, making the already narrow road narrower, 
Once you see the read banner, you'll notice a little hut on the left side of the road. There will be locals there who would collect an entrance fee of RM1 per person

I was told by a friend who visited Sg Pisang on a weekend before us that they were asked to pay parking fees of RM10. Some reviewers and bloggers on Google claimed to have paid RM5. However, during my visit, no one collected the parking fees from us so I guess it depends on your luck. 

Part 1 of the Hike

The first 10-15 minutes of our hike. Will be covering the hike from the trailhead to the tunnel in Part 1.

The hike begins after you pay RM1 and check-in via MySejahtera at the booth (yes, please scan to check-in). Continue walking along the tarred road until you see a gate blocking your path. 

The gate is the entrance to the water plant. You'll see a little trail on the left for you to walk down to the river 




There are designated platform for day-trippers to set up their picnic spread/tent on the river. There are many families with young children having a picnic around this part of the river. The water is shallow & calm enough for even young children to swim in.
You may walk along the river, or the little path on the right side of the river...
till you see this water plant - that's your sign to cross the river! At this point, I decided to ditch my shoes and go barefooted/with my slippers - the water level was slightly below my knee and I didn't want to deal with wet shoes (I use a Gore-Tex hiking shoes - it is fully water proof but once water enter my shoes, it is hard to get it out). 
You'll see a trail at the yellow signboard, if you're ever unsure - do stop and ask any hikers around.

The path from there is relatively clear & exposed, just follow the trail and you'll reach another river after a short 100m trek.

The current at this part of the river is a lot stronger. Karak highway is just above you so from time to time you can see vehicles zooming past.
Just walk along the sides of the river until you see an opening on your left - there are a few openings so pick one that is the easiest to climb up. 


You'll be walking next to Karak Highway...

And reaching this iconic tunnel shortly! It takes just about 10~20 minutes from the trailhead to reach this point.
 
The water level was always below our knees - however I believe that this depends on the weather during that particular week

Part 2 of the Hike

Will be covering the route from the other end of the tunnel to the waterfalls via Karak Highway for this part. This part takes about 20-40 minutes. 
Once you exit from the tunnel. you will be greeted with a tranquil green oasis. 

I have to say - the view was breathtaking - it felt as though we got transported to another realm - a fairy tale land. 

From there, you have the option to either take the:
1. River route
2. Highway route 

The river route is definitely more scenic and tranquil. HOWEVER, the route may be confusing, especially for first-timers, as there were no clear signage or markers along this route. We were advised by a group of hikers to just keep going straight along the river, keeping right as much as possible and to not turn left into the jungle route. We went in for about 30m into the river route and reached a fork. We couldn't collectively agree on which way to take, and there weren't any other hikers around for us to ask for directions as it was late evening (didn't want to get lost & stranded there! A blogger actually recount their experience being lost taking the river route), and we decided to make a U-Turn and take this highway route instead. We were told that it will take around 45 minutes to reach the waterfall using the river route. 

The highway route on the other hand is much more straightforward and shorter. To get to the highway route, you'll need to go up a set of stairs which you can find on your right side once you emerge from the tunnels

The stairs were steep - it really reminded me of The Great Wall of China lol :p 

You're not done yet! You still need to climb up a few steps...
And tadaaaa Karak Highway! 
You'll need to walk forward till you reach the 28.7km marker...(If I remember correctly, you'll be starting from the 28.3km marker). This part of the route is uncovered and hence it might be scorching hot! 
You'll see a little opening at the 28.7km mark
Follow the path for about 15 minutes. The path is relatively clear and straightforward. 


As you good deeper in, you'll slowly hear the roaring of the waterfall. And soon enough, you'll see the waterfall :D 

From here, you may choose to descend to the base of the waterfall, or take the path ahead to go to the top of the waterfall. I highly recommend checking the top of the waterfall - there are less people and (I think) it is cleaner up there :D 

The top of the waterfall - we could see fishes swimming there! 
There's a mini fall up there for you to enjoy too!

Last Words...

Would I visit Sg Pisang again? Yes! Would love to try out the river trail :) Will probably hike with a pair of covered crocs next time - the trail is doable in flip flops, however, as mentioned above, I've gotten a few scratches and cuts here and there so a pair of covered crocs (you know the type that covers your toes) would be perfect. 



Sungai Pisang
Difficulty: Easy, the trail was flat 80% of the time 
Duration of hike: 1.5~3 hours return trip

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