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Mini Escapism : Langkawi Island + Family Trip

We went on a short trip to Langkawi.
My sister bought me a flight ticket for my birthday in January, and so I bought another flight ticket for Af (for his birthday one week ago). Af also wanted to bring his mom and little cousin (because they never travelled on a plane), and we kinda invited Af's other siblings too. So by March, the trip expanded to 7 peoples ( Af + Me, Af's mom, Af's little cousin, Af's sister + husband + baby).


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Mini honeymoon turned into a mini family trip ! 
Af already went on several family trips with my family but we never went anywhere with Af's family, so I thought why-not :D 

I was in charged of the accommodation and the secretary of the family trip (so I take note all our spending except for the shopping). Af was in charged of the transportation and activities. 

Island Hopping
Note : We shared all $$ for us 4 people ( the working adults ) and here are all the $$ notes I collected from the trip.
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Accommodation :

For a budgeted family trip, we can't stay in hotels because we probably need at least 3 rooms.
So there were several options :
  • Apartments
  • Home-stays
  • Expended families' houses
I used Agoda and searched for a nice apartment and I found Hotel Condo Asia 2, in Kuah, Langkawi. The apartment got 3 bedrooms, big living room, kitchen and 2 toilets with 1 queen sized bed and 3 bunkbeds (6 single beds). So it is really suitable for big families. It felt exactly like staying in hotels (with towels + toiletries provided, free instant coffees + nuts, fridge, washing machine, internet, full air-cond apartment and swimming pool). 

The place was really nice, I'm so glad ! It was nerve-wracking to plan for a nice stay when you know it's your in-laws first family trip with us :F 
The cost : RM 500 for (3 days 2 nights) 
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Transportation :

We rented a new Alza, suitable for 5 adults + 2 kids :
  • Car rental costs (3 days) : RM 270 (RM 90 per day) 
  • The gas : RM 70

  • Flight Ticket : RM 160 +-
  • + 20 kg : RM 40
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We had a decent big dinners twice and usual makan berlauk for our lunches. 

Foods :
  • Dinner (1st) : RM 134 (Open dinner - seafood in Pantai Cenang)
  • Lunch (2nd) : RM 38 (Random food stall from Pantai Cenang)
  • Dinner (2nd) : Free (Open dinner - Seafood in Kuah, Langkawi) - treat by *Pakcik Sab
  • Breakfast (3rd) : RM 48 (Mamak in Kuah)
  • Lunch (3rd) : RM 38 (Food stall in Pantai Cenang)
  • Dinner (3rd) : Free - treat by *Pakcik Sab
  • Lunch (4th) : RM 46 (At the airport before our flights)
Total : RM 304
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Most of our activities consists of shopping. If only the two of us in this trip, we would probably hunt for as many sunsets and sunrise at the beach (Af's fav) and a lot of nature walks to their waterfalls (my fav), and shopping would be our least favorite thing to do. But family trip is different, we had to reduce the amount of nature walking and focus more on the shopping. 




Activities :
  • Island hopping : Total = RM 180 (RM 30 per person)
  • Dayang bunting tix : RM 16 (in total for 5 adults + 2 kids)
  • Makam Mahsuri tix : Total = RM 48 (RM 12 - adult , RM 6 - kids) 
  • Tanjung Rhu : Free 
  • Shopping in HIG mall + Pantai Cenang

I'm actually not quite fond of beaches (because it is super hot and surrounded by huge amount of water). I have this weird fear of water - so the boat ride was scary, especially when it randomly stopped in the middle of the sea, far from the island. Plus, my eyes can't process that much sun light, I'll usually have a bad headache afterwards. 

But, Pulau Dayang Bunting was definitely my favorite spot.
The beautiful greenish lake in the middle of the island was really magical :

First island by boat

Dayang Bunting Island

Dayang Bunting Lake

Tanjung Rhu

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My first time to Langkawi Island was in 2006, the second time was 12 years later. We are going to come to Langkawi again for our real exploration in the future :) Perhaps another 12 years, when we are 43 ! :F


Books : 31 Books in 2018 - Achieved ! (Current : 39th Book)


I already reached my goal of 31 books this year, last month in March ! 
Last year I failed to read 30 books as planned, so this time I had to change my technique to cater my busy lifestyle and I started early (+ I didn't slow down like I usually do every year). 

What did I do ?
I started subscribing to Scribd ($8.99 per month) and used it to listen to as many audio books as I want. I download at least 2 offline books (for outing activities - which rarely happen nowadays) and I listen to audio books online most of the time when I'm at home. On my laptop while I'm working and on my iPhone when I'm cleaning the house or cooking. That's it - I stop buying books and I just rent all the audio books. By the time I'm writing this, I just finished book 33.


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Book List 2018 (bold text are the ones that I like) :
  1. You & a Bike & a Road by Elianor Davis
  2. Anthem by Ayn Rand
  3. Porcelain and Pink by F Scott Fitzgerald
  4. The Sense if an Ending by Julian Barnes
  5. The Book of Tea by Okakura Kakuzo
  6. The Little Book of Contentment by Leo Babauta
  7. What Language is That by Uwem Akpan
  8. The Ghost by Robert Harris
  9. The Noticer by Andy Andrews
  10. The Light Princess by George Mac Donald
  11. Mr. Penumbra's 24-hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
  12. Cici's Journal by Joris Chamblain
  13. Mathilda by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
  14. Seriously...I'm Kidding by Ellen deGeneres
  15. Call Me by Your Name by Andre Aciman
  16. After You by Jojo Moyes
  17. The Midnight Palace by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
  18. The Magic String of Frankie Presto by Mitch Albom
  19. Sounds Like Me by Sara Bareilles
  20. Rework by Jason Freid
  21. Yes, My Accent is Real by Kunal Nayyar
  22. An Unquiet Mind by Kay R. Jamison
  23. $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeum
  24. Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick
  25. The Year of Less by Cait Flanders
  26. Lagom by Niki Brantmark
  27. The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking
  28. Ishmael by Daniel Quinn
  29. The Misfit's Manifesto by Lidia Yuknavitch
  30. Launch Your Dream by Dale Partridge
  31. The Pleasure of My Company by Steve Martin
  32. Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
  33. Where Am I Now by Mara Wilson
  34. The Wisdom of Sundays by Oprah Winfrey
  35. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson
  36. Unfiltered by Lily Collins
  37. The Achievement Habit by Bernard Roth
  38. #girlboss by Sophia Amoruso
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I noticed that it is easier for me to listen to self-help books and biographies (instead of fiction), so I'm using this chance to listen to as many books as I can before I bore myself out and stop consuming books for awhile. 

Books for freelancer / creative souls / aspiring entrepreneur :


  • Launch Your Dream by Dale Partridge
  • The Misfit's Manifesto by Lidia Yuknavitch
  • Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
  • Sounds Like Me by Sara Bareilles
  • Rework by Jason Freid
  • Yes, My Accent is Real by Kunal Nayyar
  • $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeum
  • The Achievement Habit by Bernard Roth
  • #girlboss by Sophia Amoruso

    • Books for minimalist / searching for a way to a simpler life :


    • The Year of Less by Cait Flanders
    • Lagom by Niki Brantmark
    • The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking
    • The Little Book of Contentment by Leo Babauta

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        How's your book reading challenge so far ?
        First quarter of 2018 almost ended guys 😁

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        Note : I think I've decided to upgrade my next book goal to 100 books, inspired by another app developer I followed on Goodreads - he's on book 32 at this moment. 

        Work Related : March Workshops


        After my last post on all the firsts , I managed to conduct another 3 workshops in March : 2 in Stickerrific and another 1 in MyPaperProjects. March was a month of sharing and I'm glad I actively participated almost every week. 
        Participants : I usually take maximum of 8 people (usually there are requests to add more, but I think 8 is a good number). More than 10 is a bit too much.
        Duration : I think 2.5 hours is just nice. 4 hours - too long, 3 hours still a bit draggy. I did an 8 hours workshop once - with kids (it was craaaaazy).
        Module : I think I improved my module at least 3 times by now, every time I see a task that can be improved in each workshop. It's a try-and-error process (to find a balance spot where it is not too hard, not too easy). 
        Every workshop is a bit different :
        • Doodling & Rubber Stamp Carving : The one with MoodySeagull felt like a failure, because the class was long (4 hours) and I had the last 2 hours - most people looked like they are already bored/tired. I felt demotivated. We had 10 participants. I kept rewinding the session thinking what I've been doing wrong and how I can improve the module. I didn't give up. 



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        • Doodling & Zine Making : In my second workshop at Stickerrific that month, we only had 5 people because 3 more people cancelled last minute. So it was a really small workshop and we had an improved module since the last time. I was quite sick during the class (I had a really bad cough + sore throat, the one that make people uncomfortable). I had to wear mask and Szeetoo even made a hot green tea to calm the bad cough. It was a challenging class, I had to stop often to clear my voice.  


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        • Doodle Your Day : In my third workshop in March at MyPaperProject event last weekend, we had 7 people (1 person cancelled last minute). The class started early at 11 am - when I mistakenly thought the class starts at 2 pm ! But I managed to get ready on time. Interesting stuff : Marina M. joined the workshop ! I'm glad it was a fun class 😁
        Note : Our face were highlighted + filtered in these pictures (the room was a bit dark) - this explains the look of youth and flawlessness in my face (in real life, my face is covered with pimple scars and it is several tones darker)
        😂

        Every workshop I've given taught me a lesson or two especially in improving my social skill. I can be forever awkward if I let myself be myself, but I think learning how to mingle and converse with people are still important (and very useful). I'm not shy, guys - I just find it hard to be around people. 

        Plus, I'm not that good in conversing using full English (because I rarely speak in English) - so can you imagine me trying to explain something in class ? It must be hard to watch. But oh-well. We do what we have to do. I won't say no just because I don't feel confident teaching in English. All the workshops I did this year were in full English - berterabur wei 😂

        Next workshop :

        Work Related : Wander - Second travel book + Video

        The book, I should have written about my self-published book like 2 weeks ago when I opened for the pre-order (it ended last night). But I was busy and pre-occupied with other small projects and workshops and restocking stuffs  :F I didn't even updated my Patreon page as many times as I should this month. 

        But I had my coffee and chocolate treats and I supposed I should write something about it now.

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        This is a project that took a year to finish. 
        Book projects take so much time and energy especially when I'm the one that have to decide on the tone and the style and the cover and the quality of the work. No one gave me any direction - yes, I received suggestions and opinions but in the end I decided on everything. So it is a 'syok-sendiri' project. 

        I didn't want it to be a travelogue, I didn't want it to be a guide, I didn't want it to be a comic. But I wanted it to be just like a personal travel diary - almost exactly like something that anyone can do when they travel because I did just that. That was my daily input when I was travelling in those 14-days Japan trip. I wanted to show people that it is possible to do such thing (even if you are not a comic artist, or a writer - you can definitely compile something and make your own book).

        Wander (buy the book here) 🚀 :


        In this book :
        • Daily activities
        • Places I visited in Osaka, Kyoto & Nara
        • Halal restaurants in Osaka
        • Things I saw and found interesting
        • On foods
        • Stamps & ticket/passes I collected


        More about this book :
        • Size : A5
        • Pages : 60 coloured pages
        • Printed on 360 gsm matt-laminated cover + 128 gsm art paper for the content
        • Language : English
        • Self-published, printed in Malaysia
        • 100 copies first-print
        • Signed and numbered
        Editing was done by my English teacher, Miss Chin.
        Note : If you found any spelling/grammatical mistakes please inform me via email : azreen_31@hotmail.com so I can edit and print the improved version in the next printing. After all, this is a self-published book, I didn't have the budget to hire professional copy-writer 😅



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        This book means so much to me, because I did what I wanted to do. I know I travel a lot and every time I travelled, I feel like I should have produce/make something out of it. Useful stuffs. So that my travels will mean something, will somehow benefit others. I'm glad I compiled this in a book form.


        The making :



        Audio Books : The Chosen One - Scribd

        It has been almost 3 months of a LOT of audio books. Honestly this is quite new for me, I've been reading physical books actively since I was 9. Although I listened to podcasts and online talks all the time, I never thought listening to audiobooks would be this accessible nowadays. Several years ago when I first started searching, it was still hard (because of the licensing and expensive prices). 

        I also been having mixed feelings about whether I should convert to digital books or stay with physical books (for almost 4 years now) - but this year, I've decided to convert to digital. Except for comics and graphic books, because I really love to re-read and go through those picture books over and over again. 
        So the search for audio book platform started early in January, I've tried a lot of websites and apps that could offer free trials (because we need to know the pro & cons before subscribing to something - personal preferences is important). Other than online reviews, I did try their free trials happily (and so I listened to a lot of free books before deciding on one).  ♥

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        Here are the lists of audio books platform that I've tried :

        Librivox 
        - Free - you can use it anytime
        - Old books, mostly before 1932
        Desktop + app
        - I've listened to :
        • Anthem by Ayn Rand
        • Porcelain & Pink by F.S.Fitzgerald
        • The Book of Tea by Kakuzo Okakura
        • The Light Princess by George Mac Donald
        • Mathilda by Mary w. Shelley
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        Audible
        - One free trial = 1 credit
        - An Amazon company
        - You'll buy the audio book (so you can listen to it over and over again, if you want)
        - Great selection of latest books
        - $14.95/month = 1 credit
        Desktop + app
        - I've listened to :
        • The Sense of Ending by Julian Barnes
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        Perpustakaan Negara (Overdrive)
        - Free
        - Very limited selection
        - You can borrow books, but you need to wait for your turn
        - You will get a week to finish it up
        Desktop + app (Libby)
        - I've listened to :
        • The Ghost by Robert Harris
        • The Noticer by Andy Andrews
        • What Language is That by Uwem Akpan
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        - One free trial = 1 credit
        - $14.95 per month
        - You'll buy the audio book
        - Desktop + app
        - I've listened to :
        • Call Me by Your Name by Andre Aciman
        Note : I forgot to manually cancel the subscription after the trial, by the end of the month, money has been deducted from my Paypal account and I received another 1 credit =.= So now I've cancelled the subscription and I'm currently listening to : The Year of Less by Cait Flanders using the credit.

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        Otto Radio (app)
        - One Free trial
        - Selection of podcasts & audio books
        - I've listened to :
        • Mr. Penumbra's 24-hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
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        Scribd ★★★★
        - One month free trial
        - Latest selection
        - 1.4M ebooks + 100k audio book selection
        - Online/offline feature
        - $8.99/month, unlimited rents
        - I've listened to :
        • Call Me by Your Name by Andre Aciman  
        • After You by Jojo Moyes
        • The Midnight Palace by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
        • The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto by Mitch Albom
        • Sounds Like Me by Sara Bareilles
        • Rework by Jason Fried
        • Yes, My Accent is Real by Kunal Nayyar
        • An Unquiet Mind by Kay Redfield Jamison
        • $100 Startups by Chris Guillebeau
        • Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick
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        Feelings and thoughts :
        So I used more than 5 companies/apps - the free ones and the paid version ones. I've decided to choose Scribd. Here are my reasons :
        • One month free trial = 10 audio books
        • Renting instead of buying - honestly, I just need to listen to the book only one time. If I really like it, I will probably buy a physical one so that I can hold it and put it next to my bed and pretend I have the time to read it.
        • Subscription = $8.99 = RM 35 per month for unlimited access to e-books and audio books. I don't really need to own books (in this age) when I can still enjoy it by borrowing it from the library (think about the dying polar bear). Plus, RM 35 is the price of one book in Malaysia when I can read unlimited amount of books in Scribd.
        • Latest collection - they currently have more than 1.4M e-books and 100k audio books. I can't complain to that. 
        There are cons for free apps available in the market, for example : Librivox only offers old books and Overdrive offers what Perpustakaan Negara have in their library (very-very limited collection - I've listened to all that I wanted to try). Not to say that I'm not recommending these apps - if you just want to try to listen to free audiobooks, you can definitely try those. 

        Plus all the paid apps/websites that offers free trials. Audible and Audiobooks.com are very expensive (around $14.99 for 1 credit = 1 book), but you'll buy the books and will have your own library to store your digital books. But I don't think you would want to buy expensive e-books/audiobooks when they are just digital files.

        So that's why Scribd is the best option there is, at least for now

        Note : There are still a lot of other options around, I'm sure. But I've tried several for now and I think I'm okay with paying $8.99 per month to Scribd to borrow from their book collection plus, I'm thanking them for their free one-month trial when I listened to those 10 books for free. I am so happy so I've been recommending the app on my social media and now in my blog (See, if you make one user happy, you'll probably get so many more new users by all the great recommendations and reviews by that happy customer) :D