Sunday, 31 March 2013

Sebuah perkahwinan

Masya' Allah, rupanya sudah lebih 10 tahun berkenalan di alam maya, atas satu medium Islamik. Dan alhamdulillah, kakak-kakak ini bertemu jodoh jua. Tahniah kakak-kakak yang teguh pendirian ini.

Bersama Fateh. Yang lain semua mengikut tok ayah ke PD bermandi manda di pantai dan kolam renang sempena cuti sekolah. Cadangnya, kami bertiga ingin balik Melaka, tetapi ada hal lain di saat-saat akhir.

Bubur kanji sebagai santapan pemanis, sudah lama tidak ketemu.

Moga perkahwinan kalian diberkati dan kalian bertemu dengan pasangan kalian di syurga. Insya' Allah...

Monday, 25 March 2013

Shopping at Ho Chi Minh

A trip to Ho Chi Minh City was planned last year with my mom and my sister from 15 to 18 March. Then my 2 office mates tagged along.

We didn't even plan to visit historical sites. I thought that maybe we have some times to visit the Chu Chi Tunnel on Sunday, but one of my office mates arrived a day later due to her passport had less than 6 months validity.

Thus, we need to focus on shopping. Ho Chi Minh is a shopping haven. Malaysian Ringgit (MYR) is accepted here, alongside US Dollar (USD) and Vietnam Dong (VND).

The best coffee is in Ho Chi Minh. I am not a coffee lover, I do not like to drink coffee much. Just once in a blue moon. But the kopi ais here is to die for. They even sell the famous Kopi Luwak / weasel coffee (which I doubt is not halal). We just drink other types.

The night market beside Ben Thanh. You can scout for halal foods. Notice how many Malaysian are there? There are lots of shops offering baju kurung, kurung moden, jubah, telekung and tudung. Even the sellers can speak Malays. According to my mom and my sister, when they visited Ho Chi Minh previously, there are not many shops selling Malaysian things.

Inside Ben Thanh market, the famous daytime market. The coconut drinks is a must try. It costs us USD 1, but it can be shared between 2-3 people.

The fruits. Aini and my mom saw Mat Sallehs eating durians. The fruits here are fresh but quite expensive, especially durian. My office mate love fruits, hence she had been buying the fresh fruits on daily basis.

Handicraft items inside the market.

Acres and acres of laces (also inside Ben Thanh).

My mom and my office mate being guided by the tourist police.

Since my mom is the master of price haggling, we had the best price in town. I learned from the best when it comes to haggling, and this trait is passed on to my sister and myself. We even asked for three quotations, in MYR, USD and VND to get the cheapest one.

Here, we stop at a shop because my office mate need to buy lots of kains for her whole family. I think, if my two office mates come alone, they might pay the steep price when buying things.

Inside Saigon Tax Centre. A tourist wrote that the price is cheap here, but my mom think otherwise. I do think that people who shopped here are really not good in getting the cheap price to buy souvenirs.

The flowers here are fresh and beautiful. This one basket just costed around RM 18. This was found outside Ben Thanh at night. The flower seller was waiting beside the road for people to buy his flowers. 4 stalks of roses cost around USD 1. The seller could not speak English, thus he showed us the amount of money we need to pay when we asked for the price.

Went to Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica. Sightseeing on the last day after 3 days of non stop shopping. Hahaha.

The gardens. Nice eh?

Around Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica.

Last picture on the way back to the hotel and off to the airport. The flower bouquets.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

The kids being creative again

A house in a house!

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Student allowance (and bringing your family)

Based on the allowance provided by MARA at GBP 650 per month for Manchester, it is only good to cover for single student. In fact, if you are single, then GBP 650 is quite enough.

But, if you have to bring your family, then it will not be enough. The cost to rent a house is around GBP 400 - GBP 600 per month. The cost of groceries, is around GBP 50 per month (which is quite cheap). Petrol and gas are quite expensive. Even electricity and heater bills shoot up during winter around GBP 50. Telephone bills are expensive, with prepaid rates are much higher from post paid rates at GBP 30/ month. We even had to pay for our TV or computer yearly license. We bought a second hand van, to ferry the kids to and fro from the school. Computer and gadgets are really expensive, thus it is better to bring your own printer and laptop from Malaysia.

In fact, for the first few months, I converted everything from GBP to MYR just to check whether it is expensive or not.

If you ask my experience, I had MARA scholarship for myself plus company allowance to cover for my family. Even with that, we were scraping and saving. My husband became a full time house husband since the childcare expenses is very expensive. We even had a plan B, because we have decided, if I was not successful to secure the company's allowance for family, I will be going there alone.

A friend asked me how we can go on short breaks with the allowance provided. Well, first, if you notice my earlier entries (6 to 9 months living in UK), we were travelling inside UK. We just went for a holiday in Ireland, just because we got a very cheap ticket flights for the 6 of us. Even during studying and holiday breaks, my husband or I did the cooking.

In fact, for the kids to go to school, we prepared a packed lunch for them, since they do not bring any money to school. Furthermore, the issue of whether the foods served are halal or not comes to mind. I even prepared my own meal when I went for my classes. It was even quite rare to find me eating out during classes since we need to save every allowance that we had.

We scout for cheap toys at car boot sales.

Thus, for students who need to bring their family, their spouse need to work. Seriously.

About the classes, for the essential subjects, P1: Governance, Risk and Ethics; P2: Corporate Reporting and P3: Business Analysis, there are only 7 tutorial classes and 3 revision classes starting from 9.30 a.m. to 4.30 p.m.

As for the option modules, P4: Advanced Financial Management, P5: Advanced Performance Management, P6: Advanced Taxation and P7: Advanced Audit and Assurance, there are 5 tutorial classes and 5 revision classes. Option modules are much harder to pass.

The classes are not daily, but the syllabus will be jam packed. Imagine studying like a year's lesson crammed into a 3-month semester. It is much easier to plan for your study, you can check the class schedule here: Kaplan Financial Manchester Spring/Summer 2013 timetable for full time student.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

So little time

So many things to do after a much needed holiday break at Ho Chi Minh. The workload has been non stop.

I received an inquiry on living costs for family based on MARA allowance. Would definitely try to answer that later.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Art time!

There is one condition before we started this session just now. All three of you - Amni, Fawwaz & Fahri need to read the Quran or Iqra'.

Anyway, I am proud of the progress of my 2 kids. The Quran drilling during their December school holidays were fruitful. Amni is already on Juz 12, and Fawwaz is waiting for a few more Iqra' 6 pages before entering the Quran.

So of course, they settled the reading first before we started to lay out the mats and old newspapers. And the art supplies.
 
Haha, this one. Look at how he lazed around doing his paintings. I even made a hole on a plastic bag to ensure that he did not paint on his shirt.

Amni colouring a butterfly, and Fahri was doing ABCs.

Concentrating hard...

He drew a cat, it looks like a monster, hehehehe....


A wonderful 45 minutes session. I think I have to buy a board to paste the paintings.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Inspiring talks at TED.com

I think I was first introduced to this site when I read it at Mynie's blog.

It was an interesting site, where you can watch thousands of inspirational videos. Imagine my surprise when I found out that HyppTV (bundled with UniFi) offers direct access to TED.com talks last Monday. Wow, I am so impressed.

Now I can watch it at my living room.

I have watched a man fight against a giant sanitary pads producer in India, who started to produce a low cost sanitary pads machine. He is a school drop out, and he found out that only 2% of Indian women used proper sanitary pads. His name is Arunachalam Muruganantham. He is able to disrupt a big industry

Or when this one MIT student shows how an engineering chip concept can be reengineered on paper, using pen or pencil. Awesome!

Frank Warren, the founder of PostSecret.com, also give talks, and ending his talk with a voice mail from a reader's deceased grandmother. Just because she saved the voice mail, in case her grandmother died, and she cannot hear her grandmother's voice again.

Or when this one lady, Hannah Brencher, started to write letters to strangers - no questions asked. Letter is like a lost art nowadays, since people communicate with e-mails, messages and telephone

One of the funniest talks that I have ever encountered was by Chip Kidd, a book cover designer. Yes, you read it right, he designs book covers.

I have never thought that designing book cover is such an interesting job. He showed some of the novels that he designed, and said that the design of a book cover started with the first question: What do the stories look like?

And then I was riveted with him showing the book covers he designs. It was inspiring to see a man who take good care to know the content of the book, and to satisfy not only the writer, publisher but also the end customers. That is us.

I always choose a book by a book cover, apart from riveting reviews. It was kind of intriguing to see a well designed book cover.

And this one was designed by Chip Kidd.


There is a whole story in designing this book.

From ted.com:

This one was a puzzle. And so Kidd deconstructed the story and placed it around the cover. The clandestine lovers are there on the spine; the sultan peeks out on one side of the cover; there they are getting found out. “Now we have to open [the book] to find out what will happen next. Try experiencing that on a Kindle!” he adds, to great applause.

And that makes me feel bad when I read on my Nook.

He is not against technology, but simply put, in his words:

They bring ease, convenience, portability — but something is lost without books. “Tradition, sensual experience, the comfort of ‘thinginess,’ a little bit of humanity.” And, he adds, “I am all for the iPad. But trust me, smelling it will get you nowhere.”

So head on to TED.com for more awesome videos.