Saturday, September 19, 2015

Traveling Dreams

It's not easy to convince people of my dreams of traveling.

Not many people understand that in order to grow sometimes you need to travel to the outside world.

God has created this world to be explored and not to just be there.

I always have a hard time explaining my dreams or my priority in traveling to certain people. Yes for me it is a priority in my life.

Some would say it is a waste of money, some would say it's a waste of time and many other negative connotations comes into mind when traveling is mentioned.

They may have their reasons and I have mine.

I am dedicated to traveling. I may travel occasionally, only when time and situations permit but I do try my hardest to make it happen.

First I choose a place I really want to visit for that year. Usually I plan a year ahead. I would invite any friends who are interested and together we will survey and monitor the prices of ticket flights.

Once we found the right price, immediately we will book/purchase the tickets.

And from there we work to make the trip a dream come true.

I must say I work really hard to achieve my targeted budget for certain trips and I work all year long to make it happen.

So when people blame me for spending all my hard earned money for traveling I do get a little upset at times.

But you can never satisfy anyone. Not everybody understands your need to see the world.

Not everybody understands that you want to hike the mountains in Nepal instead of buying that new LV handbag.

Not everybody gets your idea of spending money on an airflight ticket to Europe and not a brand new car.

Not everybody appreciates that you would rather spend money paying for your trip than wasting money on costly social activities like throwing a birthday party at expensive restaurants for your family or friends.

And not everybody will understand that seeing those snow capped mountains is more worth to invest for than a double storey house which will have you being in debt for the next 35 years of your life.

So let people say what they want to say. They have their idea of living and so do I. And mine is definitely traveling the world as much as I can.
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Tuesday, September 15, 2015

How to Save Up For A Trip

It's more or less than 15 days from today, before I fly to one of the most expensive trip I have ever taken in my life.

I have always spend around RM500 to a maximum RM3K for any trips overseas that I make. But so far, this New Zealand trip has been the most expensive. Our budget was initially lower than expected but due to the unstable currency our budget has increased. But alhamdulillah, I have managed to have enough budget.

Anyhow, in this post I will share on tips on how to save up for your dream vacation or ways to cut down your expenses in order to make that dream vacation come true.

1) Save Up Small to Big

Depending on your dream trip and the time that you have, you may start to save up small amount of money from coins to RM1, to RM5 or RM20 per day, per week or per month.

For me if my trip was a less expensive one, RM5 would suffice but since New Zealand costs me more than any of my other trips, I began to save up all the RM5 and RM20 that I have or obtained later in any transactions.

Well, although it surely wasn't enough for my NZ trip, I did manage to use that savings for another air ticket to Australia in December, Insha Allah and also used it to sponsor my expenses in Beijing last April.

The important thing is you must be consistent and disciplined.

2) Cut Down on Buying Expensive Unnecessary Items

Sometimes after working your full time job, all you want to do is reward yourself by buying that expensive handbag or shoes. I used to feel the same. But ever since I started traveling and find it more rewarding, I'd realized that those expensive handbags can only grant you temporary happiness and not a lifelong memory to treasure.

Imagine one Coach bag could cover your all in all trip to Bali. What a difference!

3) Eat More At Home that Outside Restaurants

Ever since the implementation of GST in Malaysia, I have decided to eat less outside and cook more at home. Although in all honesty I'm not much of a cook, I do buy weekly groceries and prepare my food at home rather than having all lunches and dinners outside.

And boy did I save a lot. Because eating at a mamak can cost you RM15 per meal, what more restaurants like Delicious and all these new happening hipster coffee cafes, it definitely can easily cost you RM50 per meal.

Yes, we all want to meet up with friends, have a good chat. Why don't we meet up in a less expensive place maybe? A picnic at the park with some homemade sandwiches? Definitely a less costly setup with the same satisfaction.

4) Do Social Activities That Costs Less Money

It's the time of the month, when you are super stressed out with work and all you want to do is relax and catch the latest movie with your friends.

Watching a movie in cinema is no longer cheap nowdays. A movie ticket may cost you around RM9-RM15 per movie not including the popcorn set that you must have while watching the movie.

So instead why not opt for renting a movie or downloading it from the internet free of charge and watch it together with your friends at home?

Maybe you and friends can even volunteer at a shelter, orphanage if you just want to spend some quality time with your friends. Not only you get to bond with your friend, the experience of volunteering for community work is so much more rewarding and most importantly it is free. What a bonus!

5) Sell Old But Good Items On Websites

One of the easiest way of saving up or making easy money is by selling pre-loved items on online websites such as E-Bay, Carousell or even on instagram.

By selling those pre-loved items that you no longer need will help you in increasing your funds much, much faster.

6) Donations/Charity

As a Muslim I believe that by giving to those in need, will earn you more than you give. Because the Al-Mighty loves to those who gives, and hence He will reward you double or triple from the amount that you initially gave away. So always believe in the powers of giving.

Like the saying goes "What you give, you get back"

7) Prayers

After all the money that you have saved up, all the expenses that you have cut and yet you still find yourself not having enough? To Muslims especially, do increase in Dhuha prayers.

Please don't do it as a last resort but make it as a daily routine. If you practice, in time Insha Allah you will see the benefits and blessings by performing this additional prayer to your daily obligatory prayers.

8) Work Hard

Some of us earn our money by being employed and some run their own businesses. For me, I run my own business and knowing that I had 3 major trips this year made me work extra hard this year, maybe a little too hard.

But alhamdulillah with those earnings I managed to save up enough to finance my trips. Hopefully in the future, I can save up for my trip in a less strenuous way.

So if you do have any extra comments to add on how to save up and finance your trips do share it here at the comment section below.

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Monday, September 7, 2015

Jakarta 2010

It was my first overseas trip as a working adult. I was super excited to finally be able to go somewhere outside of Malaysia with my friends.

I remembered how worried my parents were about me flying off for a holiday but they were supportive too. My late dad even gave me some pocket money to spend in Jakarta while my mom gave a long list of things to buy for her.

And so off we went for my first independent holiday adventure. We were quite confident as we had a friend who has been going to Jakarta on a regular basis.

Upon arriving we immediately took a cab and headed for our hotel. We did not prebook so we went from one hotel to another looking for available rooms. Finally we ended up in the hotel in one of the smaller roads, Jalan Jaksa.

We paid the hotel and were looking forward for our first shopping trip. Jakarta as the capital city of Indonesia is also known as a shopping haven.

Most stuffs in Indonesia are cheaper compared to Malaysia due to the lower currency of rupiah to Ringgit Malaysia.

We headed to Mangga Dua (one of the most popular shopping centre for tourists) and was ready for some serious spending.

We took the public bus in order to save some cash. The bus being a public bus was packed and crammed. Our friend reminded all of us to be mindful of our handbags and money and we did as the crime of pick pockets were quite rampant.

One of the most adventurous part of the trip was when our friend made us jump from the moving bus to the street. Boy, we nearly got killed. Phew!

As we were heading to do some shopping I fished in my bag in order to see the list of things I was supposed to buy for my mom and suddenly I realized that my purse was missing.

Getting all panicky I continued to search but could not find it. To make a long story short, I lost all my Indonesian money in the one purse where I stacked all my rupiah. It was almost 2k plus of Malaysian Ringgit.

It was an invaluable lesson. After that fateful incident I have never ever stacked or placed all my money in one purse ever again.

I tried to be positive although initially I was feeling a little upset and almost wanted to fly back to Malaysia. After all one of the main reasons I went to Jakarta was to do some bargain shopping and what kind of shopping was I able to do without any cash.

My friends were really supportive and persuaded me to stay. I finally decided to borrow some cash from my then employer in Malaysia. And the next day Alhamdulillah they managed to send me some money.

And so we headed to another famous shopping centre called Tanah Abang. Tanah Abang is one the most popular textile centres in South East Asia. It has 6 to 7 floors of shops selling cloths, clothes, praying cover for ladies, scarves.. you name it.

They also sell other clothing items, accesories, bags and many other stuff. I assure you that it will take you many hours just to have a look around.

After finally spending a few hours at Tanah Abang,  we then visited the National Monument in Jakarta called The Monas. The monument commemorates and symbolizes the sacrifices of the soldiers in gaining the independence from the Dutch occupation.

In the evening we went to a Mall called EX. It was situated next to The Hard Rock Cafe. The mall mostly sells high end products. Most visitors were dressed to the nines with Louis Vuitton handbags and Louboutin heels.

The  most obvious disparity of Jakarta is the people and their level of living standards. In certain parts of Jakarta you can witness the poor society, so poor that they have to beg from stalls to stalls for money using small children. Some even sings or dances just to earn a few coins. This real living situation in Jakarta eased my pain of losing all my cash on the first day.

While in another part of Jakarta, the rich roams the malls in their expensive clothes and cars.

We spend another few days in Jakarta doing some more shopping such as their marvelous brownie and cakes. If you do visit Jakarta make sure to buy those moist steamed brownies. Those are really different from the fudgy brownies that we have here in KL.

Another popular food in Indonesia must be their 'kek lapis' or layered cakes. It is an Indonesian traditional cake made from spices. It's also very delicious. Indonesia is also famous for their avacado drink called 'Alpukat'. It's avacado mixed with chocolate and a must try.

The Famous Alpukat or Avacado Juice with Choc
Simple tips while in Jakarta :
  1. Always be mindful of your money. Stack them in different pockets, purses etc.
  2. Be careful when riding public transports (there is where I probably got picked pocket).
  3. If you do have extra budget just take a taxi. But if you are on a tight budget, public transports are really cheap. It cost only 80 cents back then. But be prepared for the crowd, smell and pick pockets again.
  4. Do not donate to the beggars. Yes you feel sympathy for them but once you start giving them money, there will probably be a few more waiting and it will never end. In no time at all, you will run out of money.
  5. If you lose your money or passport do head to the Embassy and report about it. Lucky for me my passport was not stolen together with my cash.
  6. Always put your national ID in a different wallet or purse. I did that so I was grateful I still had my Malaysian identity card.
  7. Always, always bargain for the items that you buy at the shopping centres like Mangga Dua and Tanah Abang. These shop owners are so used to bargaining that it will be weird if you do not bargain. You could save a few Ringgits if you bargain.
  8. Try to learn a few Indonesian dialects or words. Being a Malaysian it is fairly easy to communicate since we speak in an almost similar language, but if you are from a European country you may want to learn a few simple phrases to get you by.
  9. Try Indonesian food like their 'Nasi Ambeng' or 'Nasi Ayam Penyet' or 'Gado-Gado' a kind of salad with peanut sauce. Be mindful of their level of spiciness. If you are not that tolerant to spicy food avoid their chillies based paste or the like.
  10. Nasi Ambeng
    Nasi Ayam Penyet
    10. Have extra space for shopping in your luggage as Jakarta, besides being a bustling city is a great place to shop and shop.
  11. Original music cds are half the price compared to the ones sold in Malaysia. So if you do listen to CDs do check out the prices in Jakarta.
Well that's all for now. If anyone has any further tips to share, do leave it at the comment sections.

All comments are most welcomed!
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