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A Family Getaway at Rimba Resort

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Sea breeze? Tick!
Relaxed vibe? Tick!
Good service? Tick!
Great food? Tick!
Kids activities? Tick… My kind of holiday!

With only 21 chalets set on a natural private bay, Rimba Resort is that perfect escape where you really feel cut off from reality (always a good thing in our ever increasingly hectic life!). With a relaxed family friendly vibe, kids can run freely around the resort, never being far away with lots of friendly staff on hand to help keep an eye.

Rooms and Food at Rimba Resort

Beautifully rustic Kenyan style chalets sit a mere few steps from the beach. Think Glamping by the beach! Beach huts that are open to the elements give you a real back to nature feel,  however there are shutters for the doors and windows so privacy isn’t an issue. In keeping with the eco-friendly philosophy they aren’t equipped with air-con and only a couple of the chalets have hot water but in Malaysia the water is never “cold” by my standards: that coupled with the lower humidity and sea breeze blowing in the windows meant we didn’t miss our air-con either. Although basic, the accommodation is more than adequate and with the gorgeous surroundings I’d be very surprised if you spent that much time in it.

At the resort all meals are included in the package. There is a lovely selection of Western and Asian options at both breakfast and lunch; with dinner being either a set meal (all four courses of it for the grown-ups!) or a BBQ buffet. Dinner for the children can be served along with the adults at 8pm or the earlier time of 6pm.

I must say it is the service here that really makes it for me. You are greeted in the water on arrival by the resort crew who carry your bags from the boat to your chalet and from then onward nothing is too much trouble. For example, when the staff noticed our little one hadn’t eaten much of their dinner, a cheese sandwich and fruit soon appeared in dinner’s replacement. They were also happy to cater for any food preferences/allergies.

My inner eco-warrior also can’t help but love the measures Rimba Resort has taken to be environmentally responsible. No disposable water bottles (my pet peeve) are sold on site, favouring filtered water served by the glass or in reusable water bottles instead. The resort is also has its very own turtle hatchery and if you’re lucky, you may just be there for a nest hatch – enquire about their kids conservation club that is available too, it was highly educational with fun games!

While the kids head off to conservation club you can either grab a drink in the bar, enjoy a good book in a hammock or head to the resort spa for a pampering session. For family fun have a game of volley ball, head out on a kayak, grab a paddle board or swim out for some great snorkeling. Snorkel trips to the most beautiful remote islands, night snorkeling as well as a full range Padi courses are available. Having been more than once, I can say wholeheartedly that I wouldn’t hesitate to trust my children with their great instructors.

Rimba Resort is fairly easily accessed from KL, being only a 4.5 hour drive to the jetty at Tanjung Leman. Located on the island of Pulau Sibu it is a short 20/30 minute boat trip away from the mainland. Being slightly closer and far less mainstream than some of the better known islands of the area, are key elements as to why Rimba is my resort of choice.

All travel options, transfers and info will be discussed and can be planned for you. It really is as simple as an email via their website with suggested dates and their staff will guide you through the rest.

With all the rustic charm and family fun of a camping trip, food and beverage standards of a hotel, service with that added personal touch and the chilled island vibe of a paradise get away, this ticks all the boxes for our family.

Despite being a bit more expensive than some neighbouring resorts it is also that bit more special than most we’ve visited, so I never grudge a penny and keep going back! For us it is always the perfect chance to escape the city and leave the technology behind. You can read more on their homepage and check the Tripadvisor reviews here.

Also do have a look at other getaways from KL.

 

Relaxing Getaway in the Jungle at De Serenity, Seremban

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If you are looking for a quick getaway from KL suitable for a group of friends, a short drive out of KL (just under an hour depending where you drive from) will bring you to De Serenity Villas near Seremban. Here you will find relaxing jungle views and a refreshing pool overlooking the garden, fruit trees and the forest.

The main villa with four bedrooms is very spacious, clean and well equipped (crockery, cutlery and kitchen utensil, sheets, towels etc.) – have a look at the website for more details. Coffee snobs should pack their own, 3in1 and tea can be found in the kitchen.

There are also two other smaller villas across the pool. If you are a a bigger group, you can rent the whole resort and have the place for yourself. Malani, the friendly owner, will help you before you book your stay but also when you get there.

Breakfast supplies are provided with a possibility of a local breakfast delivered in the morning, otherwise it is self-catering. There is a BBQ ready for you to use in the evening.

We went as two families with three children under the age of 10. Ours was a quick getaway from the city of just one night but we would have actually loved to spend two! We brought supplies to make salads and a something to throw on the grill for our dinner. We spent the day swimming in the pool, relaxing by its side and catching up. There’s a good balance between shady and sunny areas as the sun moves, making spending time outside pleasant. There isn’t much else to do but if you are interested, jungle trekking and small excursions can be arranged.

We made sure the kids brought some toys and books with them so they could entertain themselves. There is also a TV in the lounge. The spacious area on the balcony, with direct view of the jungle and a cooling breeze was a perfect spot for the kids to play their games.

The name of the place – De Serenity – was fully appreciated when the children were in bed and we were sitting at the big dining table, on that wooden terrace, talking and sipping wine, without fighting any mosquitoes, enjoying the soothing noises of the jungle.

If you are looking for a simple villa in the middle of nature big enough to accommodate a bunch of families in a private setting, De Serenity is a good option. There are other, bigger resorts on the same stretch of road along the forest reserve, in case you need more facilities or are not happy self-catering.

This is not a sponsored post – we stayed as paying guests, all opinions are our own, and honest as always.

Pusat Sains Negara – Science Center Open Again

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I must have spent weeks of my life in the Science Centre – Pusat Sains Negara – when my kids were little. It was cheap and cool, and there were enough buttons to press and space to run around to tire even the most energetic toddler. Then the place was closed for renovation for years. After the reopening we have tried to visit on a few weekends but the crowds – judging by the cars parked far along the main road – have deterred us. We finally made it during the school holiday, and had the place to ourselves.

We have followed Pusat Sains Negara’s Facebook page fill with disappointed comments after reopening, so had an inkling of what to expect. Right from the entrance it was all very familiar, the same fish in the touch pool and the walk-through aquarium (is that a word?) greeted us.

The entrance fees are still very reasonable: RM6 for adults, RM3 for kids and under sevens go free. The special exhibitions are charged separately, and with a Mykad you save a whopping RM3.

The space rocket slide, ball shooting play structure and a fenced-off toddler play area are still there in the central area under the big dome.

There are three separate areas downstairs with exhibitions, the stations pretty much the same as before, but with a few new signboards and decoration. The kids were pleased to find their old favourites here!

This crane seems to be the favourite of most kids, with a queue quickly forming next to it.

Upstairs there are loads more permanent collection items, and the special exhibition, which at the moment is Survive the Bunker. It is meant to be about phobia, but to us it seemed more like a haunted house with dark corridors and zombies. Half of the kids backtracked at the sound of screaming coming from inside, and the other half ran through the rooms with their eyes closed. They did, however, want to go back for more so I guess are not suffering from these particular phobias. It is recommended for ages 7 and up. I for one take no pleasure in things horror, but imagine tweens would enjoy the detached arm moving on the floor and such.

The older boys enjoyed the flying simulation – naturally anything on a screen excites them – and the robot wars run by the staff.

The canteen at the back of the center still serves a simple buffet of Malaysian lunch, but we didn’t stop to try it.

The outside part looks also the same as before. The funky stairs lead to the bottom of the hill with a paddling pool/playground and some exercise equipment. The kids can get suitably wet in trying to cross the obstacle course over water – always fun. The water is a bit murky so wouldn’t probably recommend swimming here for the littlest ones.

On the way back we popped in the butterfly house, but most residents seemed to have fluttered away during the renovations. The subterranean adventure remains closed, as it has been as long as we remember.

During our visit to Pusat Sains Negara most – if not all – things worked but we found the explanations sometimes a bit difficult to follow. The kids had a blast but those who have been looking for a shiny, modern science park to be unveiled will be disappointed. Our kids are looking forward to the next visit, and for the price it is still a nice outing.

For opening hours and more info, click here.

How to Prep for the First Day of School?

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Many little ones are about to start a long journey of schooling in the coming days. Here are some tips on how to get ready and make the most of it:

Arrange a tour
If possible, arrange a tour of the school with your little one to introduce the place. Meet the teachers, talk about the environment, where they will go potty, where they will have snack, some of the activities that they will do, friends that they will meet. Make it as positive as possible but don’t fake it. Be genuinely excited for them, they will know when you are trying to hard sell it!

Talk them through what to expect
Will they have to wear a uniform? When will mama pick them up? Will daddy do drop offs? Will you pack them a snack or is lunch served? Be as honest and transparent as possible, the more you talk about it, the more your child will settle faster as they know what to expect. Imagine walking into an entirely new situation blindly – children too need the assurance and prep.

Don’t shy away from the hard
So often, we want to protect them from all the hard things and so we try an avoid the hard conversations. What happens if you miss mama at school? What happens if you don’t understand the teacher? What happens if you don’t know where to go? Instead of avoiding the topic, empower them. Talk them through situations that might come up and help them learn what can be done and that they are capable of finding solutions. It will also amaze you to watch them become, the beautiful and different ways that they will problem solve and how much this will build their confidence and self-esteem.

Prep together
One of the best things you can do to prepare them for school is to let them take control and ownership! Shop for backpacks and water bottles together, label their things together, or even shop for snacks together to bring to school. For my daughter, because she wasn’t really talking yet (and definitely would not talk to a stranger teacher!) it gave her immense comfort to know that if she needed anything, mama had sent it to school with her already. It was as little as knowing that if she was cold, she could get a jacket from the teacher because we had packed one in the bag that stayed at school.

Let them have a say
If they can bring a comfort toy/picture to school, ask them what they would like to bring and where to keep it. What color backpack would they like? Which shoes would they like to wear? I made up a uniform for my daughter for school (I’ll write another article on why!!) and it was so much fun getting to shop for it together. She picked her pinafore because it was soft, pink, and with lots of pockets. This also meant that every morning, there is no battle to get dressed because it was her choice. If there is a formal uniform, perhaps you have some amount of choice in style- involve them as much as you can and where there is allowance to. What this means is that while she can’t bring junk to school for a snack, she can choose if she would like to bring an orange or strawberries for a snack in the fairy or robot container.

Drop-offs matter
If it is possible, let someone else drop her off that she might not be as attached to but still comfortable with. For us, it was daddy and it also worked really well with our schedule. Also, try to not carry them in but let them walk in. It sounds silly but it’s much easier to separate from the nice warm comforting hug from being carried to bye bye see you later.

Another biggie, don’t do a long goodbye even if they cry. The longer you drag it out, the harder it will be. Be empathetic, be kind, be loving, acknowledge that they are so sad but also be confident and instill confidence that they will be okay if you leave because you trust the teachers to care for them.

Give them wins
Celebrate the little things and as much as possible set them up for a win. For example, for many little ones, school is a huge adjustment as they learn to settle into a new routine and also offers much more stimulation than they are used to. A lot of times, this might also involve them coming dangerously close to a complete meltdown as school gets off so close to their nap/lunch/crazy time. If your child is finding it particularly difficult to cope, then don’t be afraid to adjust to see what would work for your child and family. Remember, everyone is different.

For example, school gets out at 1 but they are starting to fall apart at 12 and your child is inconsolable by the time you pick her up. See if you can pick up earlier so that your child is leaving on a win, not a complete meltdown. If they leave happy, they are much likelier to come back happy the next day!

For our daughter, it was adjusting the amount of days she went to school. Five days was overwhelming and exhausting for her, so we cut it down to three days and she absolutely thrived! As her “stamina” built, we worked her up to more days, always stopping to check in with her and working together to have a conversation with her, the teachers, as well as see what would work for our family.

Give it time
Be patient. They might melt down the first few days or maybe only on the third day. You will feel like a part of your heart is broken forever as they scream for you and you walk away, you will also check your watch every few minutes to see if it is pick up time or obsessively check the ringer on your phone just in case they need you to come. Give it time, mama. I’ve been there. Knew so much of this in theory but oh my heart, have I also so very been there. These days, I’m like, what?! It’s pick up time already?!?!! I swear she just left for school!

Trust the teachers
This is the biggest and the hardest one. Trust that the teachers will care for your little one. Trust that they will comfort them and look out for them. Trust that they will feed them and hear them. Trust that someday, all you will hear is how amazing their teacher is and all the fun things they got to do at school. You picked this school lovingly and it really does start with you. If you trust the teachers, they will know. Similarly, if you are hesitant, uncertain, afraid, nervous, freaked out, that’s okay too, but also remember that you are their anchor and their “person”, and if you’re scared, how are you asking them not to be scared? Your confidence momentum matters.

If you go in thinking there’s no way she’s going to make it to the end of the day, then they too will think, there’s no way they are going to make it to the end of the day. But if you trust them, if you trust the teachers to learn to be their “person”, and if you trust your child’s amazing ability to adapt and grow, you will nurture the gift of establishing healthy boundaries and the start of building a tribe and community for your little one.

*All photos but the first one courtesy of Garden International School’s Early Years Centre.

Racheal, aka Kacaumama, is a child & family development specialist by trade but her favorite part is being a mama to the most curious, fiercely independent, joyful little two-year-old foodie – who she hones most of parenting techniques and workshops with. Follow their adventures on FB (Racheal Kwacz Workshops) and instagram (@rachealkwacz)!

Indoor Playgrounds in KL for Kids and Toddlers

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There is no lack of indoor playgrounds and soft play gyms in KL – they are a welcome respite from the heat, rain and the haze. This list of best indoor playgrounds is vetted by Sarah, who is behind the fantastic Kuala Lumpur for Kids Facebook page – thanks a lot for writing a guest post for Happy Go KL!

Since arriving in Malaysia, I (well, when I say “I”, I mean my twins with me as their accompanying adult!) have tried and tested indoor playgrounds all over KL. These are the top 10 Kuala Lumpur indoor playgrounds and soft play areas by Kuala Lumpur Kids:

 1. Jungle Gym, Atria Shopping Gallery

The newest Jungle Gym only opened in 2015 and really is the one to beat. This indoor playground has a massive space suitable for all ages. The impressive main play structure has the usual tunnels, slides, and bridges, but they also have a cinema, football court, sand play stations, arts and crafts area and a section dedicated to the youngest of tots. The whole place is bright and colourful and will literally keep your children occupied for hours!

indoor playground jungle gym

2. The Kingdom, Sunway Putra Mall

This is another relatively new indoor playground – it has been open since last year but I have only just discovered it! It is still beautifully new and well maintained. The play area here looks like a big castle and is set within the British-style streets of The Parenthood themed shopping arcade. We really like the set-up here: the selection of slides is the most impressive in KL and there is a trampoline, a flying fox, the usual ball pool, and a unique climbing wall, which was a big hit with my two! Not only that, they have set aside a separate area for toddlers with a little library corner and ride-ons. Those looking for a break from running around can have a rest at the PS4 Game Zone.

the-kingdom-at-sunway-putra indoor playground

3. Star Light Kidz at Avenue K

This space-themed playground is perfect for little astronauts: dimmed lighting and fluorescent colours makes this  an original addition to the soft play scene in KL. It is a place to discover everything ‘galactic’, from the very popular shoot out court (with sound effects!) to rockets and a nice play structure with all the usual playground elements. They also have a good separate section for toddlers with big blocks, a ball pool, shapes to stack, and ride-on toys.

star-light-kidz

4. Jungle Gym & Roller Sports World, Bangsar Shopping Centre

The original Jungle Gym is still a great place for all ages. The large play structure has all the usual tunnels, bridges, and colourful obstacles to maneuver around plus a trampoline, human conveyor belt (as I like to call it) and miniature roundabouts. As a bonus, they also have a roller skating arena just outside in the mall that offers rental and lessons.

jungle-gym-bangsar

5. The Adventure Maze, The Explorer Gym 1MK

An indoor playground are all made of natural materials – not the bright colours we are accustomed to but instead it is wood and ropes that make up the majority of this interesting play maze. Best suited for children over 3 years old, there are ropes to tackle, hideaways in the wooden structure and even a flying fox. It is one of the smaller play areas but the rates are also the most reasonable in KL. We have always found the staff here to be some of the most interactive play friends for the little ones! Note that you need proper closed footwear to play here, so bring your sports shoes as well as your socks.

adventure-maze-at-the-explorer-gym-1MK

6. Kid’s E World Indoor Playground, The Gardens Mall

When you walk in you will see a mass of inflatable equipment to jump and bounce on, but get past all the giant blow up animals and you‘ll discover another play area behind. It’s got lovely slides, a ball pit, and a fun maze area on the upper level. There’s a basketball court, large foam building bricks to use and a rather fun game of being a human hamster in a giant wheel, which my two little gymnasts thoroughly enjoyed!

kids' eworld IPC

7. KizSports and Gym, Great Eastern Mall

KizSports indoor playgrounds in several locations (including Bangsar Village II and Subang) but this particular one is well located for us on Jalan Ampang. It’s a good one for younger ones with an array of climbing equipment and slides and multiple ball pools. They also offer a number of classes, such as gymnastics, dance, arts and craft and martial arts. If you sign up for after school classes you get free access to the soft play area before and after your class.

kiz-sports-great-eastern-mall

8. Space Joe, Mont Kiara

A small, new neighbourghood joint in Mont Kiara, Space Joe has slides, climbing frames and a mini flying fox.


Photo: Space Joe

9. J Kids Playground, Publika

A fairly small centre in the ever-popular Publika. I feel it is more suitable for under 5’s but will certainly keep little ones occupied. Their main climbing structure has slides, swings and a big ball pool, but possibly the most popular area here is the cassia seed sand pit. Add to that a separate area for building with big foam blocks and a fun balloon enclosure, and the youngest family members should be happy here.

Jkids-publika

9. Dreamworld Playlands

This new indoor playground at the The Starling Mall, with a blue decor and wintery theme. There is no ball pool or sand play area, but the area is large with good range of slides, bridges, tubes and climbing frames. There is a wide seating area for the parents with a good view of the little climbers. There is another branch at the iOi City Mall and
 Photo: Dreamland

The kids need to wear socks to play at all of the indoor playgrounds. They can be normally bought at the counter if you forget.

Click here for a comprehensive list of indoor playgrounds in Kl and other fun things to do with kids in KL this post. Do sign up for our email list and follow us on Facebook to be the first to hear about new activities in town!

The original post was updated in January 2018 by Happy Go KL. All photos without credits: Kuala Lumpur Kids by Sarah.

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How to Choose a Preschool – 80 Questions to Ask

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When it came time to research and interview for a preschool for Ella Grace, even though I had a degree in Child & Family Development and have taught, worked, and trained teachers in preschools, I was completely overwhelmed and had no clue where to start or what to ask as a mama!

Thankfully, a friend shared this ridiculously comprehensive and amazing checklist of questions. It helped tremendously in framing my thoughts and understanding the kind of preschool I was looking for – and I hope it will help you too.

If I only had to share three things about the best way to choose a preschool – or a school – for your child, they would be:

  1. Use this list only as a guideline. You won’t have to ask all these questions but it will help you to decide the kind of school that you want for your child based on the answers you are hoping to hear from the teachers.
  2. Definitely visit the school and observe, observe, observe! Listen to what the teachers are saying to the children and each other in the background, how does the admin treat the staff and other parents walking in the door, do the educational materials look played with, does the center look clean, is there soap in the dispensers, do the children look well cared for and excited to be there? Observe how a teacher handles a disagreement, is that how you would normally handle it? The truth is, you can ask a billion questions and get all the “right” answers but ultimately, the proof is in the pudding. So ask, visit, listen, observe, observe, observe!
  3. Most importantly, listen to your mama gut. Remember that only you know your child best, what they will respond to, the kind of school they will thrive in and the type of learning and nurturing that would work best for your family. Yes, this may be the top-rated school or an unknown teeny tiny new start up school with no record, but what does your gut tell you? Do you feel good in here? Does their approach align with your parenting method? What is your goal for school? Do you see it happening here? Keep an open mind when touring other schools, whether they are your favorite or not really being considered, it might surprise you what you may find or learn you like.
In the end, the preschool we went with wasn’t the fanciest nor was it even the philosophy and approach I was looking for. But as soon as I talked to the teachers and went to the school, I knew that this was Ella’s school. It just felt right and on her first day of school, when she didn’t want to leave because she felt so at home, I knew it felt right to her too.

80 Questions to Help You Choose a Preschool

APPROACH

What approach or philosophy does your school use? (academic or play-based, Montessori, Reggio Emilia, Waldorf or a mix etc.?)
Where did you learn about this approach?
Why do you think this approach is good?
Where were you trained?
How long have you been implementing this approach?
What are you doing to make sure that this approach is implemented fully and correctly in your school?

TEACHERS

How many children do you have currently in your school?
How many classrooms do you have?
What is the maximum ratio of teacher to student in each classroom/age group?
Does this include assistants and helpers?
What are your guidelines/qualifications for choosing your assistants and helpers?
What kind and how often does the staff receive professional development training?

POLICIES

What happens when a teacher is on leave?
What happens when a teacher is on emergency leave?
Are all your staff First Aid trained and certified?
How often are your fire drills?
What happens when child is hurt?
What happens when the child needs to go to the hospital? Who goes with them? Who stays?
What is your policy on immunisations?
What is your policy on sick children (diarrhea, fever, runny nose, etc)?
What happens when a child gets sick at school?
What do you do when there is an outbreak of a contagious disease like HFMD?
How often are the rooms cleaned and sanitized?
How often are the toys cleaned and sanitized?
How often is the outdoor equipment cleaned and sanitised?
What kind of sanitiser do you use?
How often do the children wash their hands?
Do you have a routine that incorporates sun protection and mosquito repellent before going outside?
How often is the school fogged for mosquitoes?

SECURITY

What is your policy if someone else other than the child’s parents is picking up that day?
What happens if there was no prior approval, the child recognizes them but but the parents cannot be contacted?
Do you have CCTV in the school?
Where are the cameras located?
Do we have access to it?
Is it password protected?
How often do you have tours of the school and when are these usually scheduled?
What is your policy on visitors?
What is your policy on pictures of the children and school?
On school trips, what is your adult to child ratio?

ENVIRONMENT

How big are your classrooms?
How often do the children go outside?
How often do the children have sensory play?
What kind of play centers do you have in the classroom?
Do you switch them out or are they permanent?
How do you teach numbers and alphabets?
Do you have a pool?
Is it chlorine or salt-water based?
What kind of certification does the swim coach have?
What kind of teaching techniques does he/she use? (ISR, water confidence through play, skills and techniques etc.)
How do you keep the pool safe when the children are in and out of the water?

LEARNING

How do you keep track of the child’s progress?
What is the communication flow between teacher and parent?
How do you keep the children engaged? If the child is uninterested or doesn’t want to join the activity, what would you do?
How do you handle misbehavior?
How do you deal with bullies?
What do you do with children that are prone to biting/hitting?
How do you settle a new child?

FOOD & ALLERGIES

What do you feed the children for breakfast/lunch/snack?
How often do you rotate your menu?
Is the cook trained in choking hazards for small children?
What is your policy on bringing high allergy food (nuts/dairy/egg)?
How does your team (teachers/assistants/helpers/cooks/cleaners) keep track medical condition/allergies?
How do you celebrate birthdays at the school?
What kind of treats do the parents bring in?
What happens if a child doesn’t want to eat what is served?

DIAPER CARE & POTTY TRAINING

Who does diaper changes?
How do you keep track of allergies, diaper cream, lotions?
How do you sanitize between changes?
How often are the children changed?
Do you wash or use wipes?
How do you approach potty training?
Does the adult wipe for the children?
Do you wash the children?
Do you have an open-door policy for bathrooms?

FEES

How much are your registration fees?
Does it include materials and uniforms?
Is it one-time only or is it every year?
How often do you raise fees?
How many terms do you have in a year?
When are your school holidays?
What is your replacement policy?
**All photos but the cutie on a pink beanbag courtesy of Garden International School’s Early Years Centre.
**Special thanks to Jazz Lih Beutel and Clare Wong for their kindness and wisdom in helping mama compile this list!
Racheal, aka Kacaumama, is a child & family development specialist by trade but her favorite part is being a mama to the most curious, fiercely independent, joyful little two-year-old foodie – who she hones most of parenting techniques and workshops with. Follow their adventures on FB (Racheal Kwacz Workshops) and instagram (@rachealkwacz)!

Dining With Kids in KL – New Year’s Dinner, Brunch and Lunch

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Christmas is over, but that doesn’t mean that the festive season has ended.  Here’s how to say goodbye to 2017, and hello to 2018 with food and the family, here in KL.

The Westin

Winter Neverland at the Livingroom offers kids the chance to see pixie dust and fairy sparkles while feasting on a buffet which includes a chocolate fountain.

  • New Year’s Eve Hi-Tea Buffet: 12.30pm – 3.00pm | RM125nett per person (food only)
    New Year’s Eve Dinner Buffet: 6.30pm – 10.30pm | RM170nett per person (food only) Menu
    New Year’s Day Hi-Tea Buffet: 12.30pm – 3.00pm | RM140nett per person (food only) Menu

Oriental Sanctuary at Five Sen5es offers Dim Sum and classical Malaysian Chinese cuisine.

  • New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day Dim Sum Brunch: 12.00pm – 2.30pm | RM138nett per person (food only)
    New Year’s Eve Malaysia Chinese Classic Set Dinner: 6.00pm – 10.00pm | RM170nett per person (food only) Menu

Spellbinding Lagoon at Splash’s New Year’s Eve Brazilian Churrascaria Buffet  – promising perfectly grilled meat and seafood: 6.30pm – 10.30pm | RM138nett per person (food only) Menu

Shangri-La

Party poppers, whistles and confetti for all at the Shangri-La for these New Year celebrations.

Lemon Garden New Year’s Eve Lunch Buffet: 12 noon – 3 pm RM189 nett (adult) RM99 nett (child)
Lemon Garden Deluxe Dinner Buffet: 6:30 pm – 10:30 pm RM288 nett (adult) RM144 nett (child)
Zipangu New Year’s Eve Dinner Buffet: 6.30 pm – 10.30 pm RM280 nett (adult) RM140 nett (child)

Lemon Garden New Year’s Day Lunch Buffet with Turkey and Roasted Beef Carving: 12 noon – 3 pm RM198 nett (adult) RM99 nett (child)
Lemon Garden New Year’s Day Seafood Dinner Buffet with Turkey and Roasted Beef Carving6.30 pm – 10.30 pm RM218 nett (adult) RM109 nett (child)

For reservations or more information, call (03) 2074 3560 or email restaurantreservations.slkl@shangri-la.com

Le Méridien Kuala Lumpur

New Year’s Eve Buffet Dinner*: RM 208 nett (adult) | RM 104 nett (child)
*Includes complimentary entry to the Countdown Party at Pool Bar & Grill@8

New Year’s Day Brunch: RM 128 nett (adult) | RM 64 nett (child)
New Year’s Day Buffet Dinner: RM 168 nett (adult) | RM 84 nett (child)

Intercontinental

Usher in 2018 with an array of delectable New Year’s Eve special dinner buffet offerings accompanied by live performance and countdown party.

New Year’s Eve Buffet Dinner: RM 248 nett per adult | RM 124 nett per child (5 to 11 years). From 6.00 PM to 10.30 PM.

 

New Year’s Day Buffet Lunch: RM 108 nett per adult | RM 54 nett per child (5 to 11 years). From 12.30 PM to 3.00 PM

 

The St. Regis Kuala Lumpur

New Year’s Eve Fireworks Countdown In Front Of Hotel.

The Brasserie, Level 2: 6-course Dinner with complimentary access to After Party at Astor Foyer.  From 7:00PM – 11:00PM | MYR488.00 nett per person | MYR688.00 nett per person with wine pairing | MYR98.00 nett per child for 4-course children dinner (12 years & below)

Sunway Putra

Choose from the Coffee House or Gen Japanese Restaurant for a New Year’s Eve buffet dinner with the kids.

Coffee House, Level 9 | Gen Japanese Restaurant, Level 10: New Year’s Eve Buffet Dinner: RM138nett/per adult | RM69nett/per child.  New Year’s Eve Buffet Dinner (Coffee House). New Year’s Eve Buffet Dinner (Gen Japanese Restaurant)

For reservations by calling us at +603 4040 9888 or email  spkl.dine@sunwayhotels.com

Grand Hyatt

JP teres New Year’s Eve International Buffet Dinner: 7:00 PM till late. Adult, MYR 198 nett | Child, MYR 90 nett. Price includes unlimited chilled juices and carbonated drinks.

For enquiries or reservations, please contact the hotel at +60 3 2182 1234 or email to one of the following:JP teres at jpteres.kuagh@hyatt.com.

The Ritz-Carlton

The Ritz-Carlton have a kids play area and activities available.  What a way to begin the new year.

New Year’s Day Roast at The Library: A gourmet buffet featuring seafood, antipasti, roast prime rib and decadent desserts paired with free flowing bubbly. The Ritz-Carlton have a play area with activities for the little ones available throughout brunch. From 12pm to 3pm, MYR 198 per person.

Hilton

The Lounge: New Year’s Day High-Tea featuring a carving station. 2.30pm – 5.30pm, 1 January 2018 | RM 128nett/person

Call +603 2264 2596 or login to life.hiltonkl.com for more information.

Winter in Japan – Skiing on Hokkaido

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With the Northern hemisphere ski season upon us and winter holidays underway, now is a good time – if you haven’t already done so – to book a last minute family ski holiday, or get the family ready for Chinese New Year in Japan.

Last season our family headed to Furano on Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost main island. The snow looked good, the season sounded awesome, and there were flights still available. So with a last-minute decision we threw caution into the wind and booked a skiing trip for Chinese New Year, still winter in Japan. While most of the mid-range accommodation was already booked we did manage to find self-contained, well positioned accommodation at the higher end of the market, that didn’t completely break the bank account. There is a vast array of accommodation to meet everyone’s needs in Furano – if you want the burden of choice, start looking now.

Why Furano?

Furano really appealed to us as it isn’t a big resort. We weren’t looking for shopping and nightlife, and our après-ski days now take the shape of a hot chocolate and early to bed. We wanted good snow, good food, fresh air and a family friendly laid back resort – the Furano ski resort ticked all of those boxes. While there are many family friendly options among the Japanese ski fields, this smaller resort appealed to us, and with the added bonus of a cheap Air Asia X overnight flight from KL to Sapporo, the deal was sealed.

Where we stayed – Chalet Fuyuri

We booked a two bedroom self–catering apartment. I know what you are thinking, with all the wonderful food that Japan has to offer, why cook? Full days skiing is fun, but exhausting work. Our children work best if they can come home, relax and play in the snow while dinner is on the go. And I enjoy my food far too much to have tired, cranky children out at a restaurant every night. The upside of cooking in Japan is that it was super easy to find fresh produce from the supermarket which didn’t need a lot of preparation. Miso soup was always only ever a boiled kettle away, and the bakery in Furano was well stocked with delicious baked goods to fill the gaps in between.

The accommodation is over two levels with kitchenette, living room and a small balcony upstairs, and two bedrooms, bathroom and two toilets downstairs. Plus, this accommodation had the added bonus of a washer-dryer – with an array of smelly socks,  sweaty gloves and face masks, this was a life saver.

Ok, so we have covered the domestics.  What was completely awesome about this was it was a short walk to the lift (10 min max, with boots on carrying skis – it’s a good way to warm up the muscles), and a beautiful ski off the slopes at the end of the day.

There were great restaurants and bars close by, so when we were all up for an evening out, it only required a short stroll.

And, if you are this way inclined, there is a cosy pub just across from the lifts heading home which serves everything from a cold beer and edamame to hot chocolate.  As an added bonus, this place also does hot coffee in the morning with the best brownies ‘ever’ according to my kids. But get there early, brownies go fast. If you are wondering the name of such an establishment, don’t worry, so am I. I have no photo’s or napkins with the name on, only very good memories – if we can stumble over it you should be able to as well as it was the only one heading back to our digs.

The only small downside to our accommodation was that it was a bit of a hike to the town centre where the supermarket is, but there is a bus that runs regularly. We walked it a couple of times – with kids in tow – and it took about 30 minutes – but apart from the trips to the supermarket and bakery we found enough to do, see, eat and drink on the side of our hill.

Skiing Furano

There are two zones to the Furano Ski Area: the Kitanomine zone and the Furano Zone. As our accommodation was in the Kitanomine zone, we hired our gear and started each day of our skiing from there. However, we made use of the whole mountain and both zones. Kitanomine zone has more beginner runs, so if you are a beginner there are some nice gentle slopes to test your prowess.

Whether this is your first time skiing, or you are a more seasoned skier Furano has something for you. However, only about 20% of the mountain is advanced terrain, but for those looking for real adventure there is back country off-piste skiing and seriously large amounts of powder. Furano is ideal for beginner/intermediate skiers. Our kids get a few days every year so while not beginners, the immediate slopes were ideal with the occasional black run to get a squeal or two. And, if you feel the challenge isn’t enough there is plenty of ungroomed powder to sink your skis into.

The on-piste skiing runs are wide, and in February, covered in soft powder.  Sometimes we felt like we were the only ones on the slopes. The intermediate runs are long and connect well all over the mountain, with easy accessibility to lifts and gentle runs among the birch trees. We felt like we had completely fallen off the grid. But if the feeling of isolation leaves you feeling like a scared rabbit don’t worry, there is always a hot chocolate, cold beer, or piping hot bowl of noodles not too far away. But beware in February it is cold, we had -14 °C one day, but the temperature usually hovered around a barmy -7°C.

Ski Rental

Because we were so last minute with our bookings, and to be honest this is our usual laisse-faire approach to all things holidaying, we hadn’t booked gear in advance, or even researched rental options. So, while we travel with our own goggles, gloves and ski clothes we always hire skis, poles, boots and helmets. On the afternoon of our arrival we ventured over to Sportpia Furano, at the bottom of the Kitanomine Gondala, to be fitted out with gear. The service was efficient, and as we speak no Japanese, we were lucky to find fluent English speaking staff. There was a full range of gear available, as you would expect from all major ski fields. We were able to do a 5-day rental making it easy for us to ski back to our chalet each afternoon/evening, and then be ready to hit the slopes early the following day.

Top Tip for clothing:  It is cold, freezing cold – do make sure that your have good quality clothing, gloves and goggles which are designed for those temperatures. If you don’t have the gear, then hire. You cannot get away without cheap copies, if you want to buy your own look for the reputable brands. For me, here in Malaysia, I would consider The North Face, Columbia and have a look at Sports Direct, they generally support good brands. There may be others, but this is what comes to mind.

Essential clothing:

  • Gloves – inner and outer
  • Googles
  • Face masks
  • Thermal underwear
  • Woolen, or polar fleece inners
  • Ski outerwear
  • Ski socks
  • Snow boots

Ski Schools

Alas, in-so-far as ski schools, our relaxed approach did impede our quest for ski instruction for the kids. This wasn’t really an issue for us as the kids ski well enough, but for beginners, or for those going for the express purpose of instruction – book in advance. Because we were all happy to spend our days skiing without instruction we didn’t research other ski schools even though there are two available on the mountain. The ski school at Sportpia Furano, however did offer us a wait list option in case something became available – it never did.

Ski Schools on the mountain:

Furano International Snowsports School

Sportpia Furano

 Night Skiing

Furano offers night skiing for those that didn’t get enough during the day. The lifts are only open on the lower slopes but they are well lit and worth a few very cold but fun runs to finish your day.

 

Lifts

Apparently, Furano has the fastest cable car in Japan, but it also offers chair lifts, including high speed quads and a gondola.  Queues were always short and waiting times, if there were any, were minimal.

And, Something for Free

Lift passes are free for kids 12 years old and under.

Getting to Furano and away

There are buses that leave from New Chitose Airport and Sapporo that take you right to Furano. There were two the day that we arrived, one leaving directly after our plane landed, and another three hours later. Because we booked late we missed out on seats on the first bus, and as my husband had to be in Furano in time for a conference call we couldn’t take the second. So we took a car. We organised a taxi to meet us at the airport which suited our needs. However, the buses are super efficient, as is the train system which we used for our return journey for our one and only night in Sapporo.

The train is super efficient, super easy to navigate and linked well with the metro for us to get to our hotel. The first part of the journey leaving Furano is what is referred to as the ‘limited express’, my Mum would call it a rail-car. It is the local train which ambles along stopping at every station. We then changed, effortlessly, to the express to Sapporo. We didn’t reserve a seat, only to find there was standing room only in the non-reservation seating area, and there was not much room for standing, either. It was an early morning commuter train so it was packed to the gunnels. The train conductor very ‘efficiently’ issued us with new tickets for the reserved seating only section, and we rode to Sapporo in roomy comfort.  Whatever you decide on transportation you’ll have made the right decision. The Japanese have public transport nailed.

Buses from New Chitose Airport – Furano

Train from Furano – Sapporo

Eating Out

So my Northern hemisphere husband’s comment when I mooted Japan as a ski destination was, ‘I can’t imagine eating sushi and sashimi while on a skiing holiday’. Food features hugely in our household.  And while there is plenty of fresh sushi, sashimi and all manner of varieties of fresh seafood to be found, Hokkaido also supports a large agricultural industry so there was no shortage of choices when it came to food – one of our most favourite was the ramen noodles, which is synonymous with Hokkaido. And, for the adults, an amazing selection of boutique beers. So all things being equal, it is no wonder that the breads, baked goods, beers and ramen noodles are so fabulous in this large wheat growing region.

Restaurant Downhill

Found on the Furano Zone at the top of the Furano Ropeway cable car this on the mountain restaurant was our go to most days. The ramen noodles were fantastic, and  there is a great selection of hearty hot fare to keep you going for the day. The quirk for us was that we had to buy a ticket from a machine to be able to place our order at the counter. It is all very efficient once you know what you are doing.

Yama no Doxon

A stones throw from our chalet was this traditional building which housed an amazing microbrewery and restaurant. There is an option for long tables with floor seating or conventional western style chairs and tables. The kitchen is just off from the entrance and the seating is up a flight of stairs, but what fascinated my girls was the tube system in which the waiters sent our orders to the kitchen.

Yama no Doxon is famous for its homemade array of sausages, beer, and its’ piping hot curry and egg dishes. As edamame was a staple, the girls would munch away on edamame with a cold drink until the main courses arrived. This place is always busy, so get in early.

We also hit the Furano Delice Cafe for incredibly sweet and creamy cakes freshly made from locally produced Furano milk; and the Furano Bakery for exceptionally beautiful breads and pastries.

There are also plenty of delivery options if you can’t bring yourself to step back out into the cold.

And there’s no guilt – with the amount of walking and skiing we were doing each day breakfast, lunch and dinner were extremely important. Even if we were lying around all day – in Japan – due to the freshness of the food and their clever culinary skills, breakfast, lunch and dinner would always be important.

Things we didn’t do but wished we had:

There are hot springs or onsen throughout the Furano area, if you can – check them out. There is an onsen on the mountain at the New Furano Prince hotel – we didn’t go even though it was handy because it sounded more like a crowded hot bath than a natural spring – but I may be wrong.  We usually take a day or even an afternoon off skiing to explore a little, but on this occasion we couldn’t pull ourselves away from the fantastic powdery snow. Next time!

We spent one night in Sapporo on our return journey, and half of the time was spent traipsing the streets looking for a flute and a saxophone – a whole other story. I think the city is worth a longer visit than that, if you have the time stay a while in Sapporo.

Niseko

We have friends who return to experience winter in Japan in Niseko, also on Hokkaido, each year and this is what Audrey told me when I asked about Niseko :

Accommodation:

“We always return to Hirafu Village situated near the Family Ace lift.  It is an ideal location close to restaurants, supermarkets, pharmacy and bars, and is only a 3 minute walk to the lift.

And, we always use self catering chalets and prefer chalets over apartments,  so the kids can play outside in the snow and be easily supervised. But now both are teenagers, apartments would be an option for the coming year.”

Skiing:

The full four valleys have a good variety for all level of skiers.  But if you are based in Hirafu, and are only a beginner it would be difficult to across to Niseko village, and beyond to Annupuri. However, there is an option to catch the local bus for free using your lift pass to get across to the other areas. Hanazono would be easy to get to from Hirafu for beginners.

Top 3 Restaurants:

  • Abu-cha 2
  • Senchou 2
  • Tozaniken
The first 2 places need reservations, but the last doesn’t accept reservations as it’s tiny.
Did you know there is a place to learn skiing in KL? Check out our review of the first indoor ski centre in Malaysia!

Top 10 Gift Ideas for Toddlers

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Toddlers are the best when it comes to presents: they are easily pleased, often get lots of play out of the wrapping and empty cardboard boxes and are truly excited by littlest things. Here are our picks of the season:
1. Chubby Fingers Play – Ooodoodle Crayons
We love this new design and they are perfect for teeny tiny fingers to grab and color! My toddler’s favorite part is that you can also color the box it comes in so it’s a treat all in itself. Mama loves that they are non-toxic, beeswax and locally made by a mama herself.
Order online from their Facebook page or catch them at one of the many Christmas markets!
2. Djeco – My Vanity Case
This is for older toddlers that have stopped mouthing pieces as there are a few tiny pieces in here like hair clips but this is a beautiful wooden play set for the little girl that likes dressing up or pretending to put on make up like mommy! My daughter has allergies so this is great in-between where she can still explore but not have to worry that it will hurt her skin. So adorable and comes in a sweet carry case.
Available at Janie&Joe BV or Carousel. Remember the Happy Go KL discount code at Janie&Joe: mention Happy Go KL to receive a 20% discount on any purchase until December 24, 2017.
3. Melissa + Doug – Wooden Puzzles 
I highly recommend these: they have a large variety of themes depending on your little one’s interest, some even have sounds, come in a travel case, or have lock and keys. As a mama, I love that they are so well made and well thought out they last through hours and hours of play and can be passed on for years while still remaining relevant!
Available at Janie + Joe, Mothercare or Ben’s Independent Grocers. Remember the Happy Go KL discount code at Janie&Joe: mention Happy Go KL to receive a 20% discount on any purchase until December 24, 2017. 
4. Hape – Gourmet Kitchen/Market Stand/Tool Bench 
This is a love gift. There are smaller sets and accessories that you can also get to accompany it but if you’re looking for one big awesome gift (we only do one big gift at Christmas for our little one and she got this last year), I highly recommend the kitchen set! It comes complete with the cutest little salt and pepper shaker, pots, pans, lids, spatula and is the perfect starter kit. My daughter got this when she was almost one and it is still one of her most loved toys. She also loves the additional cash machine that you can get to compliment it – and they also have a market stand, or tool bench! Or if you are not into pink, there is always the Ikea Duktig kitchen.

Available at Robinson’s The Gardens or Carousel Publika

5. RadioFlyer – 4-in-1 Stroll ‘N Trike
An iconic staple of every childhood, we love this one from RadioFlyer as it grows with them from 9m-5years old. It is sturdy, comes with seat belt straps, a little place to put a water bottle or bubbles, and the steering bar is really easy to maneuver around corners. We also love that it comes with a shade – my daughter asks at least once a day to go on it!
Available at Carousel Publika or GBS Showroom
6. Petit Collage – Magnetic Dress Up Box
This is geared towards older toddlers but it is magical! My daughter spends hours quietly playing this and such a lifesaver when we are somewhere like church where I need her to stay still and busy for a while. Well made and beautifully designed. Comes in a variety of themes and she loves that it comes in it’s own box!
Available at Kinokuniya KLCC or Times Pavilion
7. Smiggle – Mini Scented Gel Pen Pack
Blow your little one’s mind with the ultimate art set with everything they love – real pens so they feel like a “big kid”, neon, sparkles, glitter, a cap to take on and off a billion times, scented to amuse them endlessly and folds up into a cute little carrying case! Hours of fun at the table if you have a little craft lover!
Available at all Smiggle stores 
8. Bilibo + Oogi + Moluk + Plui

Also in BV and recently opened in 1u, Jareburbs is a store that carries a huge variety of Bilibo, Oogi, Plui and Moluk. They are open-ended toys made of rubber or plastic, brightly colored and encourage so much creativity and play. You can use them in the tub, plane, train, restaurant, playroom, stroller, etc! We love it because you can just get one, a set, or build your collection over time and it is entertaining for a variety of ages too.

(I don’t recommend the little buttons for toddlers that are still mouthing but the bigger pieces are super fun!)

9. Set of local books from Oyez! Books
We recently purchased this box of local Malay books from Oyez! geared towards toddlers and it’s been such a fun activity for my daughter and helper to read together. I also highly recommend any of the other Oyez! titles like We Love Trees, Atuk’s Amazing Sarong, My Mother’s Kitchen, etc. as they are all beautifully illustrated, local and relevant, and very culturally appropriate and identifiable to a little one growing up in Malaysia. More about local kids’ books.
Available at Silverfish BV or at the Oyez! bookstore 
10. Teething jewelry from Cuddles & Chews
For the little girl that desperately wants to wear jewelry but is still a little too young, this is the perfect solution! It’s colorful, customizable, really adorable and appealing to little ones but gives mama peace of mind: the beads are food-grade safe, non-toxic, bpa-free, chemical-free made from silicone so it’s nice and soft. Most importantly, it has safety clasps that keeps them from choking if they accidentally get caught on something. Mama’s and Ella Grace’s favorite part is that it comes in matching mama and teeny tiny sets so it tickles her endlessly when we wear it together! Perfect for a mother-daughter duo!
Ps. Consider also matching bow clips and necklaces from Sereni & Shentel if you have a little girl that loves dressing up too!
Available online through their FB page 
 

Now Showing: Cinema in KL for the Whole Family

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Here’s what’s happening at the movies for the last half of December.

Wonder

Drama (P13)

Auggie Pullman is born with a facial deformity, and is confronted with a community who struggles to accept his difference when he begins mainstream school.

Cast: Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson, Jacob Tremblay

 

 

 Deep

(English) Adventure / Animation / Comedy (U)
While earth has been abandoned, in the depth of the ocean a colony of sea creatures still survive, but when an accident destroys their home the hero Dumbo, the octopus, and his friends Evo, the angler fish, and Alice, a neurotic deep-sea shrimp set off in search of a new home to save the colony

 

Cast: Justin Felbinger, Stephen Hughes, Lindsey Alena, Elisabeth Gray

 

Ferdinand

Family (P13)

Ferdinand is a bull who likes to stop and smell the flowers, but things go awry for Ferdinand when he is mistakenly chosen for the bullfights of Madrid.

Cast: John Cena, Kate McKinnon, Gina Rodriguez, Daveed Diggs, Gabriel Iglesias

 

 

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Action / Adventure / Fantasy (P13)

In the follow on from Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Rey begins her Jedi instruction under the hand of Luke Skywalker, and falls into unlocking the secret past of the Force.

Cast: Mark Hamill, Daisy Ridley, Oscar Isaac, John Boyega, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver

 

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle

Adventure / Family / Fantasy (P13)

Four teenagers are sucked into the video game, Jumanji, where they become the avatars of the weird and wonderful characters they have taken on.  Can they reconcile their differences and make it out of the game?

Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Jack Black, Karen Gillan, Nick Jonas, Alex Wolff, Rhys Darby, Bobby Cannavale, Robin Williams

 

The Greatest Showman

Drama / Musical (P13)

A musical based on the true story of P.T Barnum’s three-ring circus and his obsession with Swedish Nightingale, Jenny Lind.

Cast: Hugh Jackman, Zac Efron, Rebecca Ferguson, Michelle Williams

Save

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Family-friendly Christmas Buffets in KL 2017

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Almost all restaurants are doing special Christmas buffets so you will be spoiled for choice. The big hotels put up huge spreads, but tend to get very busy, making it difficult especially for restless toddlers because you won’t be able to keep an eye on them from where you are sitting. The tantalising displays of sweets may be too much for the kids, who will eat themselves silly. Having said that, they tend to be beautifully set up and great opportunity to enjoy the full spread and save you cooking at home! Many hotels offer early bird discounts, and many require advance payment.

Here are some of the more child-friendly Christmas buffets in KL – in no particular order:

The Westin

The Westin promises a children’s playground with supervised games and fun activities on Christmas Day allowing adults to indulge, stress-free. Children 4 years and below dine for free. Children aged 5 to 12 years old receive 50% off.

Winter Neverland at The Living Room: Celebrate this festive occasion with pixie dust and fairy sparkles at The Living Room. Relish in an extensive buffet showcasing jolly goodies while the kids get excited with chocolate fountain and other sweet delights.

Christmas Eve Hi-Tea Buffet: 12.30pm – 3.00pm | RM125nett per person (food only)
Christmas Eve Dinner Buffet: 6.30pm – 10.30pm | RM170nett per person (food only)
Christmas Day Hi-Tea Buffet:12.30pm – 3.00pm | RM140nett per person (food only)

Whimsical Hood at Prego
Christmas Eve Bubbalicious Brunch: 11.30am – 2.30pm | RM175nett per person (food only)

 

Grand Hyatt

JP teres Christmas Eve International Buffet Dinner: 7-11pm | RM 198 nett, Child, RM99 nett
Includes: Unlimited chilled juices and carbonated drinks (Kids’ corner available)

THIRTY8 Christmas Day Buffet Lunch: 2.30- 3.30pm | RM 410 nett, Child, RM 205 nett
Includes: Unlimited chilled juices and carbonated drinks (Kids’ corner available)

JP teres Christmas Day International Buffet Lunch: 12-3 pm | RM 198 nett, Child, RM 99 nett
Includes: Unlimited chilled juices and carbonated drinks. Read more here.

Mandarin Oriental

Many claim this is the ultimate luxury buffet in town. Santa will visit on 24th and 25th, and there is a dedicated children’s buffet at the Christmas Day Mega Brunch. Read more here.

Christmas Brunch until 24th Dec, 12-3PM. Rm188
Christmas Eve & Day Dinner Buffet, 6PM. Rm 258
Christmas Day Mega Brunch, 12.30-3.30 PM. Rm Rm 438, inclusive of soft drinks and juices.

Hilton KL

Celebrate the sounds of the holiday season at Hilton Kuala Lumpur with caroling performance at the hotel lobby, selected outlets and Santa gift giving:
24 December 2017 7.30pm -8.30pm
25 December 2017 7.30pm -8.30pm
25 December 2017 1.00pm -2.00pm

Vasco’s

Christmas Eve Buffet Dinner: 6.30pm – 10.30pm, RM198nett
Christmas Day Buffet Lunch: 12.30pm – 2.30pm, RM228nett
Christmas Day Buffet Dinner: 6.30pm – 10.30pm, RM198nett

Intercontinental

Christmas Eve Buffet Dinner: 6-10 pm | RM 198 nett per adult,  RM 99 nett per child (5 to 11 years)
Christmas Day Buffet Lunch: 12.30-3 pm | RM 268 nett per adult, RM 134 nett per child (5 to 11 years)
Christmas Day Buffet Dinner: 6-10 pm | RM 168 nett per adult, RM 84 nett per child (5 to 11 years)
Read more here.

 

Shangri-La’s Lemon Garden

Christmas Eve Lunch Buffet: 12-3 pm | RM189 nett (adult), RM94 nett (child)
Christmas Eve Dinner Buffet: 6:30-10:30 pm | RM288 nett (adult), RM144 nett (child)
Christmas Day Lunch Buffet with Turkey Carving: 12-3 pm | RM270 nett (adult), RM135 nett (child)
Christmas Day Dinner Buffet with Turkey Carving: 6:30-10:30 pm | RM260 nett (adult), RM130 nett (child). Click here for more.

Christmas at Shook

Christmas Eve Seafood Brunch Buffet: 12-3 pm | RM 218 nett per person
Christmas Eve Golden Starry Night Dinner Buffet: 7.00-10.30pm | MYR 228 nett per person
Christmas Day Surf & Turf Lunch Buffet: 12-3 pm | RM 208 nett per person
Click here for more.

Rockin’ Christmas at nook @Aloft

1 – 30 December 2017: 6:30-10:30pm | RM 118 nett. Read more here.

Christmas Eve at Rendez-Vous

A night of festivities, family, and food as Rendez-Vous celebrates Christmas Eve in Bangsar! A 6-course set menu. 6-10pm | Adult: rm195++, Child: rm95++

Jarrod & Rawlins

Christmas Eve dinner: 7-10pm
Christmas Day lunch: 12-3pm at Bangkung and Damansara outlets.

Drift Dining and Bar

Christmas Day lunch: 12-4pm | RM150++ food only/RM 350++ Freeflow Wine, Beer, Sparkling, Rose + Food. 12 and under RM 68++, 6 and under eat free. Santa will drop by and there will be a jumpy castle for the kids. More and the menu here.

Great Gifts for Kids at Christmas

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The trees are being decorated as we speak, now we just need something to put under them. We have once again put together a list of some ideas we think the kids would quite like to see wrapped up.

1. Suspend by Melissa & Doug RM 89.90

What happens when Mikado meets Jenga? Well, maybe not quite, but that’s what Melissa & Doug’s Suspend looks like to me. Its a game of patience, dexterity and suspense where, instead of stacking blocks, you suspend rubber-tipped wire pieces from a table top stand – it can easily lend itself to looking a bit like a KL skyline full of scaffolding. Suspend is a holiday game which is easy to play, requires mindfulness and won’t come down with a crashing bang.

So, hop on down to Janie and Joe’s at Bangsar Village 1 and mention Happy Go KL to receive a 20% discount on these wonderful games, or in fact any purchase at Janie and Joe’s. This offer is valid until December 24, 2017.  In-store Discount Code: HAPPY GO KL.

 

2. Brainbox Inventions RM 79.90

Board games in our house come in the form of, ‘the long winded’, ‘the too many arguments over the rules’ and ‘the quick, lets have a round’. Needless to say the last kind of board game is our favourite.  If you are a family like ours then check out the latest from The Green Board Company’s Brainbox series. Brainbox board games promise to be fun for the whole family, fast-paced, tough on the memory and the concentration, but easy to play with fun facts about our world. A Brainbox range will have something for everyone. And for your older kids of 11+, why not pick up the Cambridge Brainbox Secondary 2 Kit. It lets your child build anything from an AM radio (‘what’s that?’, you hear them asking) to a sensor which switches on the lights. In-store Discount Code: HAPPY GO KL.

Follow our Facebook page  for a Janie and Joe Brainbox giveaway, coming just in time for Christmas!

4. Cute kaftans for girls, rompers for babies and baju melayu for boys

Kooshboo means fragrance in Hindi and the inspiration for this beautifully designed line of children’s clothing – reminiscence of childhood trips to India by Malaysian designers and sisters Natasha and Natalia Navin (mompreneurs by the way – read the story here). The clothes are produced here in Malaysian using natural breathable fabrics in a mix of what Kooshboo refer to as boho-chic – using the vibrant colours of India and tailored to meet the needs of an active child.

Kooshboo are offering RM10 off your purchase, both online and in store. For an online order simply type in the discount code, or if you prefer to shop in store then all you have to do on payment is mention Happy Go KL. This offer is valid until December 31, 2017. Discount Code: HAPPYGOKL

3. Atom & the Dot Surprise box, starting at RM60/month or RM100/single box

There is nothing better that getting a package in the post, and that is just what happens with an Atom and the Dot Surprise Box or Mini Bag. A package filled with hands-on art and science activities which can arrive on a monthly basis when you sign up for one of their subscriptions. Not only does your child enjoy receiving the package addressed specifically to them.  But the added joy of discovering what’s inside with each package providing 3-4 activities, instruction manual and occasional little bonus extra.  What’s not to love about this gift! Purchase as a one off or sign up for  a 3 or 12 month subscription.  Designed for children aged 5 to 8 years old.

Surprise Box giveaway for our Facebook readers, again, in time for Christmas.  Keep an eye on our Facebook page!

5. Traveler’s Notebook, RM175

This is a beautiful gift for your older kid. This simple, but well crafted journal is made from cow hide in Chiang Mai, Thailand with notepaper refills made in Japan. This is a gift for life, as the notebook is designed to add notepaper refills expanding the journal as your child expands their horizons. A must for all those budding novelist, travel writers, or kids who like to doodle and collect tokens as they go.

Stickeriffic are offering RM10 off with a minimum purchase of RM99.  This offer is valid until December 31, 2017. Discount Code: HAPPYGO10

6. World Map Doodle Table Cloth, RM175

How great is this? A machine washable tablecloth map of the world for kids to colour in. No need ‘ever’ for technology at the table, but sometimes a little distraction is just enough to get the broccoli down (ohhh, did I say that), or to keep the kids entertained during a long family get together. Educational, interactive and fun – lets face it, who doesn’t like to colour in? Once it’s coloured, just throw it in a warm wash and hey-presto you can start all over again.

7. Monopoly Truly Asia – Malaysian Edition, RM115.90

It’s here, the Malaysian Edition of that property trading game we all know and love.  So, quick, click on our Lazada link below and get your copy now.  I’m not sure if I’m buying one for the kids, or if I’m really buying it for me. Ships from Malaysia!

8. Our Generation Dolls and Posable Morgan Horse, RM 299 each

According to my little girl ‘every girl needs a doll with a horse’, so when I asked her what her top pick would be she chose  the Our Generation Lily Anna DeLuxe Riding Doll accompanied with the Our Generation Posable Morgan Horse. The 18″ doll comes with a book and accessories while the horse has movable parts. Of course my older little girl is doing a lot of eye rolling, but hey, different ages and different stages  These items are sold separately at York House in Bangsar Shopping centre.

9. Tutus & Whimsical Wings, starting at RM65

Looking for a tutu? Well, look no further – these are beautifully designed by mums who know that plastic is not always nice for our little ones to wear. And, they are made right here in Malaysia from tulle with 100% cotton lining, French seams and an elasticated waistband. Ready to wear for any occasion: ballet or a tea party or as mine would, just playing in the sandpit.

If you are looking for a matching set of “Whimsical Wings” to go with that tutu, then do check out Forever and Ava’s beautiful wings made of ombre fabric with elasticated shoulder and wrist straps. Suitable for ages 2-5.

Forever and Ava are offering 10% discount on all items available on their website. Discount Code: Happy10

 

 

Great Gifts for Dads at Christmas

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Now that my children have cottoned on to the idea that it is just as good to give as it is to receive – or a cynical mind could think they have learned the love of shopping – my two sweep towards me around Christmas time and say: “What are we going to get Dad?”

Arrghhhh, now it’s not one gift I have to think of for the love of my life, aka Dad, but three! I thought I may not be alone in the pursuit of all things gift wrapped and under the tree at Christmas. So here, just in time for Christmas, and from the wonders of Malaysia a list of gift ideas for Dad, Falalalalalalalalah!

1.&2. Kool t-shirts and Lepak Game from Apom

Malaysian designed products that offer you just the right of amount of Malaysian good humour. 100% cotton t-shirts bearing sayings and slogans that we can all smile and nod at.

But if the t-shirt is not the thing for Dad, check out the Lepak Game. Lepak refers to relaxing, hanging out and chatting.  Just the sort of thing to while away evenings with a bit of Malaysian humour.

The Apom store are offering Happy Go KL readers 15% DISCOUNT on their T-Shirt range.  This code is valid until December 16.  So don’t wait to long in deciding which T-Shirt best suits Dad. Discount code: happygokl15

3. Bottomless sparkling water at home

Cool refreshing sparkling water – just the ticket on a hot day in Malaysia and a good choice for Dad for Christmas. Easy to use, portable and a winner for the whole family.

This Christmas, Soda Xpress are offering 15 % OFF every purchase of Sphera-T starter kit, exclusive for Happy Go KL readers only. This offer is only valid for purchases made at www.sodaxpress.com.my .

But, just in case you miss the Christmas rush, and still want to be ready for New Year’s celebrations Soda Xpress have kindly extended their discount period until January 2, 2018. Discount codeHAPPYGOKL.

4. The Hammam & Gommage Spa treatment for men

Hamman Spa stems from the origins of the Greek-Roman bathhouse. Nothing unmanly about that, so why not treat Dad this Christmas to the relaxation of this Moroccan style of spa and one of their packages for men. A place where he can clear his mind, relax his body and revive his spirit.

5. Batik with a purpose

Check out Batik Boutique’s latest holiday collection including ties for dads, and while you are making selection for dad you might find something festive for mum’s wardrobe too. Batik Boutique is a social enterprise training women in the art of sewing ethical fashion and gift items, using batik textiles produced of natural fibers and sourced from artisan families in rural Malaysia.

Batik Boutique are offering  20% discount in store and online for the entire month of December. What a great excuse to pop in to their new store opening December 13 on the ground floor at the same location in Desa Sri Hartamas. This offer is not valid with any other promotion running for the holidays. Discount code: HappyGoKL

6. Indoor ski session

If you are heading off for a winter holiday why not get Dad a session at First Traxx, Kuala Lumpur’s first indoor ski zone. Great for beginners through to advanced skiers – readying those muscle and honing performance before Dad hits the slopes.

7. A bottle of something special

The connoisseurs at Wine Talk recommend Chateau du Seuil for Dad – a beautiful rose wine from the famous region of Provence, France. This Grenache based wine has a nice blush colour and is bursting with flavours – absolutely  perfect for a warm-weathered Christmas for Dad and the family.

Get RM30 off with minimum spend of RM150 store-wide: Discount code HAPPYGOKL.
Valid for one transaction only. Not valid with any other vouchers or discounts. Not exchangeable for cash.

8. Natural travel packs

Products of Indochine Natural are made from the “very best natural and organic ingredients available globally” right here in Malaysia on the island of Penang. There are artisan-crafted natural products for the whole family to enjoy but perhaps for Dad you can look at the Indochine Natural Travel Solutions, or something from the array of masculine soaps, body washes or shampoos.

9. Pakaian tradisional – traditional wear

If you are looking for something traditionally Malaysian why not click onto Lazada and check out the array of men’s Malaysian shirts with a range of modern design through to the more traditional.

 

 

 

 

Christmas in Malaysia

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How to get ready for Christmas in KL? When I first moved to the tropics I found it incredible difficult to get into the Christmas mood. Every year it has gotten easier and I now happily embrace the dark tropical nights, light candles and wash my gingerbread down with ice tea. Kuala Lumpur is not a bad place to be around Christmas – as you can see from the list below. These tips may help you get in the Christmas mood:

Christmas trees & decoration in KL

There will be real Christmas trees in Malaysia again this year! Last year’s ban on imported trees left many disappointed – this news should put a smile on their faces! They can be found at least from Floristika and FarEastFlora, and we spotted some at Ben’s at Publika the other day. You may also find something that can pass as a Christmas tree in one of the nurseries in Sungai Buloh. Ikea does not stock fresh trees this year but has a nice plastic one and lots of decoration to go with it. Chinatown or SSF are always safe bets for a plastic one and decoration, as are Robinsons, Parkson and Metrojaya where you typically find the very glamorous kind of trees and decoration. Chinatown is also filled to the brim with decoration.

 

Christmas food

You can find pretty much any ingredient for whipping up Christmas treats from all parts of the word. Turkeys and ham can be pre-ordered and bought from major grocery stores, frozen or readily cooked – at least Jason’s, Jaya Grocer, Blue Cow and Ben’s normally stock them. Mulled wine or gluhwein is not readily available but the spices, red wine and Rybena are!

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Ikea has ready-made ginger bread house kits and frozen dough – kids love making the cookies and Christmas is not complete without the smell!

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If you are not in the mood for sweating in the kitchen you can either outsource the cooking or eat out altogether. A few years ago year we tried a vegetarian Christmas meal. All posh hotels offer Christmas dinners and lunches and many have entertainment for kids. Many hotel buffets fill up early, some even require pre-payment.

Timeout has a comprehensive list on take-away turkeys that can be found here. Their Christmas guide is also useful.

Shopping mall events & Santa photos

As always in KL, the action happens in the malls. Malls remain buzzing throughout the holidays, as do cinemas and other entertainments outlets. A classic photo op with Santa is usually at Harvey Norman – check individual stores for times. The Pavilion also has a photo opp with Santa and sets the record with Christmas decoration – this year they also have some nice games for kids. For wintery activities, head out to one of the indoor skating rinks in KL or I-city for some fake snow. The tallest Christmas tree in Malaysia is apparently found at Suria KLCC:


Photo: Suria KLCC.

Charities in KL

It is also the season of giving: there are many charities that welcome donations throughout the year, but particularly towards the end of the year. We have put together a list of charities in KL that need your help.

Christmas events for kids in KL

There is so much going on in KL from concerts to kids’ Christmassy workshops, check a complete list of Christmas events here.

If you have some great tip s on a KL Christmas please share them in the comments or on Facebook for others to enjoy, too!

vietnamese-angel

 

Lazada Malaysia

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Dinosaurs Alive – KL exhibition

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Dinosaurs Alive is still open for some weeks in KLCC – plan a trip downtown if you want to see these beasts before they move on!

We were looking for something to do with kids and grandparents in bad weather, so we headed over to KLCC. My two girls are huge dinosaur fans hence they were more than happy to go and check Dinosaurs Alive out. The exhibition promises 40 life-size, animatronic dinosaurs that spring to life in a prehistoric Jurassic forest – and that’s what you’ll get. The Dinosaurs are really well made and roar and move as you pass by. You can get really close to them, which is fab! Sounds are loud and may be scary for some kids, though! My youngest is three and she was absolutely fine, but I can see how it may not be fun for those that are more sensitive to scary stuff.

There are activities set up all around the exhibition tent. Some are free (bouncy castles, a screen playing a dinosaur movie, building your own dinosaur model from wooden pieces) and for some you need to pay a small fee. The favourite activity of my girls was to dress up in white coats and goggles and, equipped with a small hammer, proceeded to knock carefully on a “fossil” egg to find a baby dinosaur inside (see the video in the end of the post).

The exhibition is located at the Malaysian Tourist Center on Jalan Ampang,  which is a 10 minute walk from the Petronas Towers. It’s not an activity that will take you long, so you might want to combine it with a water play at the KLCC park or a brunch. MaTiC also hosts a free 1 hour show with Malaysian traditional dances at the Amphitheatre Hall on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday & Saturday at 3.00pm.

Here is a short video of the dinosaurs in action:

First Traxx Indoor Ski and Snowboard centre

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Indoor skiing makes me think funny fake snow and blasting music so I was not in a rush to go and try out Malaysia’s first indoor ski centre, First Traxx in PJ. A looming trip to colder climes and my children who are Nordic only on paper in serious danger of having to take ski lessons with toddlers prompted me to give it a go – and they had a blast!

First Traxx has no fake snow, but a conveyor belt type of slope made of tiny brushes, that is a bit like a threadmill on a slope. There is a bar to hold on, useful in the beginning to get your balance and practice the right position of the skis.

The lessons need to be booked ahead and they last 30 minutes. A lesson is typically done in slots of ten minutes, alternating with another group – ten minutes on, ten off. We were a bit dubious of this but the skiing is actually quite tiring and the breaks were a welcome respite. Husband pointed out that on a real slope a lot of time is spent on getting back to the top of the slope. Especially with young learners getting to the lift area, getting on to the lift and staying on it until the top can be tiring and stressful.

The instructor we had was friendly and professional, and the ratio of three students per instructor made sure they all had enough attention, hand-holding and gentle guiding to avoid crashes. After their first lesson ever the kids had enough balance to to keep on going and knew the basics of stopping – a good start! We were told that the surface translates well to real snow, and if anything it is less forgiving that a real-life slope. This means that if you crack it here, you’ll be grand on snow.

The pricing seems quite high, at RM159 per session and a family session adds up quickly. But as the hubby pointed out, it should be not seen as an alternative for a cheap and cheerful weekend activity but really compared to a private sports lesson. Considering the small groups and equipment involved, it is probably not more than a ski lesson in a resort. Just doing it before heading there leaves you more time to enjoy the slopes and be more confident, we reckon.

Here is a short video of our first trial – not quite ready to conquer the slopes of Niseko yet =)

Mompreneur Series: Alexandra from KL Is Mine

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Alexandra, a mum of one, came to Malaysia as a trailing spouse and made the jump into starting something completely new – publishing information to others new in KL, first online at Lepetitjournal.com later on at the beautiful city guides – “The Guide” in English and “Le Guide” in French – and the pretty lifestyle website KL Is Mine. Her story is similar to ours at Happy Go KL, and we had fun discussing her journey to mompreneurship!

Can you give us a brief description of your business and when it started?

My job is to share stories with my readers and send a little inspiration their way! I landed in Malaysia 6 years ago, put down my suitcase and settled down. Quite an experience! Even though I fully appreciated how lucky I was to be an expat, depression hit me. I was only asked what my husband’s job was, as if I my own skills had ceased to matter.

It all started with a blog, a way to put this adventure into words. Soon I was receiving more and more questions from readers, and I developed the site into the very first French platform dedicated to Malaysia. Lepetitjournal.com, a media dedicated to French speakers around the world opened a franchise in Kuala Lumpur around that time, and I took it over 8 months later. I have been doing it now for 3,5 years.

I then published the first print guide for my community. A selection of addresses, hidden gems, practical tips, stories on Kuala Lumpur and Malaysia, with a new edition each year. Almost 20 people contributed, sharing their knowledge, their expertise and passion for this country. I left the franchise to develop a guide for the English-speaking community. My latest project is KL Is Mine, a more intimate online platform featuring short texts on food and touristic and cultural happenings.

How do you balance your time between the other aspects of your life and being an entrepreneur?

I juggle. Guilt is much higher in my vocabulary list than perfection. Being an entrepreneur means the line between work and home often fades away, last minute texts needing to be done in the evenings, at the weekend, even during our holidays. What saves me? Writing down everything in my agenda. I stick to organising this way, no matter what. It takes constant refining to keep the right balance for my daughter.

What challenges did you face getting your business started?

I started on my own. Each time I wanted to start a project, I was told it would be “impossible”. I learnt that the barrier people saw did not necessarily apply to me and kept going. I face a different challenge now, by trying to find my place in a well-structured media world. I have to prove myself, come up with new ideas, jump from one project to another – all of this, constantly.

What tips do you have for other hobbyists or creatives who are thinking about setting up their own business?

Don’t wait for things to be perfect to jump in. You will improve as you go along. Along the way, I met amazing people who helped and guided me. I understood that keeping the project to myself, to want to wait before talking about it is not necessarily the best option. Sharing it means getting valuable feedback, benefiting    from others’ experience and may even bring new opportunities your way. In Malaysia, networking is incredibly powerful.

KL Is Mine is also on Facebook. The Guide is available at the moment in over 90 points of distribution across the city, you can pick up your copy for example at:

  • In Ampang: Carpet in, Bike with Elena, Equine KL, Gleneagles
  • In Bangsar: Coffee & Covet, CzipLee, Yeast, W1, Dr Ink, 52 Barbers, Rendez-Vous, The Hive
  • In Bukit Bintang: French Feast, Pisco Bar, Bottega Mediterranea, No Black Tie, Palillos Spanish Yakitori bar, Spanish
    Economic and Commercial Office, Vallette Gallery
  • In Damansara Heights: Aliyya Island Restaurant & Bar, La Croisserie, Kita Kita, Matchali
  • In KLCC: Alliance Française de Kuala Lumpur, Ra-Ft Cafe, Belgian Trade Commission
  • In Mont Kiara and Sri Hartamas: Children’s house, Fred Salon, Little Tropical, Sublim’Parents, Aloha Cycle Club, Marta’s Kitchen & Bar, Rubberduck
  • Embassies of Argentina, Belgium, Canada and France
  • Association Francophone de Malaisie, Association of British Women in Malaysia and LFKL

Arts Events for the Whole Family, November 2017

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KLPAC – Pirates

Pirates, singing and two heart-warming stories of friendship and dreaming big – what’s not to look forward to.  This performance is brought to us through the hard work of The Kuala Lumpur & Subang Jaya Children’s Choir and Others.

Date & Time | 18th November @ 8pm, 19th November @ 3pm

Venue | Pentas 1, The Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre

Tickets RM 60 Adult, RM 40 Children 12 years old and below

 

YMCA KL SuperfunKids Arts & Craft

SuperfunKids is hosting Arts & Craft For Kids every second Sunday afternoon of the Month @YMCAKL. This is for children, aged between 4 and 12 years old, to participate in creative and educational challenges.  This is a free event however the YMCA do ask for a donation of RM 50.00 per month, per child, or RM 12.50 per session, per child.  The money goes towards purchasing materials for the next class – if you would like donate above the suggested donation price, to aid the continuation of this Childhood / Family Development Programme, it would be greatly appreciated.

Date & Time | Sun, November 19, 2017 – Sundays Fortnightly | 2:00pm – 3:30pm

Venue | The YMCA of Kuala Lumpur, 95, Jalan Padang Belia, Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur, Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur 50470

Admission | Free, but a donation of RM 50.00 per month, per child, or RM 12.50 per session, per child would be greatly appreciated

Once Upon A Wizard of Oz a KL Players Pantomime

The KL Players are promising a “hilarious, fast paced musical adventure” for the whole the family – so let’s join Dorothy and the gang, and hop on down the yellow brick road to the KL Players.

Date & Time | 23rd November @ 7:30pm, 24th November @ 7:30pm, 25th November @ 1:00pm and 6:00pm
26th November @ 2:00pm

Venue | British International School (BSKL), 1 Changkat Bukit Utama Bandar Utama, Petaling Jaya, 47800

Tickets | Priced between RM 41 – RM 102.50, and can be purchased at eventbrite.com

 

IAMM’s Saturday and Sunday Children’s Workshop

Storytelling and theme based art and handicrafts for children 12 years and below. This is an informal session which helps the children to explore their creativity.  Please ensure that children 6 years and younger have an accompanying adult.

Date & Time | Saturday and Sunday in November from 3pm – 4pm

Venue | Children’s Library, Level G, Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia,
Jalan Lembah Perdana,
50480 Kuala Lumpur

Admission | Free

 

 

 

Seafood Delivery to Your Home by My Fishman

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If you’ve felt despair in front of the fish counter looking at the sad, grey fish with cloudy eyes, you will find this new local company interesting! We bumped into My Fishman -a seafood subscription and delivery service- online looking for a hassle-free solution to feed surprise dinner guests. We ordered a steamboat set and soon realised that the founder, Audrey, is a fount of knowledge on anything related to fish in Malaysia. She hails from a family of fisher folk in Kuala Selangor, and for her, the business seems to be about much more than just selling food.


Photo: My Fishman

While studying abroad Audrey was exposed to different food cultures and local seafood. She also learned a lot about what other countries have done to protect their marine environment. She returned to work in Kuala Lumpur, and eventually realised that many things had changed back in her hometown over the years. Due to the high demand of certain fish types, the populations had diminished. As a consequence Malaysia now imports in-demand seafood from the neighboring countries during peak times, while the local, less popular fishes are exported.

This all seemed counter-productive – it takes longer for the fish to reach the consumer and issues with freezing technology can compromise quality. Audrey came up with the idea of providing fresh seafood delivery service to customers in Klang Valley while supporting the local fishing community – and started My Fishman. The name of the company is a testimony to Audrey’s roots: everyone used to call her father, a fishmonger, mai yu rou – a man who sells fish in Cantonese.


Photo: My Fishman

While it may seem obvious that we should eat what is near us, most consumers are used to certain types of seafood, often the big, premium fishes. Overfishing is a sad reality in this region, and many popular big fishes are hard to come by. WWF has published a sustainable seafood guide, but according to Audrey many of the fishes on the list can’t be found in Malaysian waters anymore.

This is one of the reasons My Fishman has set out on a mission to introduce consumers to different types of seafood that they would not otherwise choose. There are many species that are not commonly known and available only during certain times of the year.

Most parents know fish should be part of the family diet, but many of us freak out at the fish counter! Some may be used to eating fish from other parts of the world, and many go for the easy option and buy the convenient imported salmon fillets. We hope you find Audrey’s recommendation on choosing the fish and the right cooking method useful:

While you can order specific seafood types from My Fishman, they also offer the Freshbox: a mix of your preferred seafood with a selection of other seasonal seafood fresh off the boat. It is like a mystery seafood box! For example, Tongue fish and Pomfret are now in season. I have no idea what they look or taste like but quite like the idea of being encouraged to try something new that we wouldn’t otherwise know of.

Seafood is perhaps the most delicate commodity to handle and it has a very short window of delivery without affecting its quality. Audrey tells us some items are frozen within hours of the boat docking, whereas some are delivered fresh. Many think frozen fish are somehow inferior to fresh ones, but if done soon after catching, it is actually much better than storing fresh fish in ice for days – as I was told by my local fishmonger years ago when I craved some homemade sushi. Freezing preserves the freshness, retains nutrients and kills parasites in the fish.

My Fishman’s fish is cleaned, gutted, and individually packed. With over 50 types of fish and shellfish found in Malaysian waters, the selection and prices change according to the seasons.

Freshbox is delivered from Thursday to Saturday, depending on your area, so requires a bit of planning. The boxes can also be set up to be delivered weekly, fortnightly or monthly. Freshbox 100 is recommended for a small family (2adults + 1 kid), Freshbox 150 for up to 6 persons and Freshbox 200 serves up to 10.

I ordered the Freshbox for Kids (RM150), which consisted of two small pomfrets, two big slices of seabass, two slices of mackerel, block of large prawns, packet of fish slices and a bag on msg-free fish balls. I’m told there will soon be labels on the fish to help people like me who don’t know one fish from another.

Do check out My Fishman’s Facebook page for more information and reviews.

Giveaway

We are giving away two My Fishman Freshboxes – for a chance to try it out for yourself hop over to our Facebook page and tell us what is stopping you from eating more fish!

This video by My Fishman shows the journey of the fish:

*This is a sponsored post. The opinions are our own – we have tried the product and are happy to recommend it!

Christmas Events in KL for Kids and Families

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Kuala Lumpur is buzzing with Christmas events suitable for the whole family. Many of them happen at malls – as expected – but there are a few other options to get into that Christmas spirit. We will list all family-friendly Christmas events here, bookmark this page!

Christmas Parties for Kids

Ibu Christmas parties for kids and tiny tots are bound to be fun!

Christmas concerts in KL

Christmas events at malls in KL

Christmas at Pavilion KL

 

Holiday Activities at Bangsar Village

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Changi Airport T4 is open!

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Singapore’s Changi Airport is a familiar stop for many travelers here. It is a fantastic airport to change planes with free Wi-Fi, comfortable seats and a wide variety of food to please most palates. Traveling with kids? No problem, park yourself at one of the many play areas, walk through the butterfly or sunflower gardens, whizz down the world’s highest slide (in an airport) or even catch a movie without having to buy tickets.

Changi has now welcomed a new addition to its three terminals, the spanking new and uber high-tech T4. Back in August, an open house was held to showcase the terminal building. 200,000 tickets were made available to the public for a free but ticketed event. Here’s what the excitement was all about!


Photo: Changi Airport Group

The airport has a lovely airy feel to it, with lots of natural light. A lot of effort has been put in to transforming the mundane into magic, by adding an element of entertainment, in addition to all the dining and duty free shopping.

At the central departure screening area is a 70m long ‘Immersive Wall’ consisting of short clips with different content. Sculptures dot the airport – great photo ops for the enthusiastic Instagrammer!

What truly took my breath away was the Heritage Zone, a replica of shop lots in Peranakan style. This facade transforms into short clip called ‘Peranakan Love Story’ executed with the help of a 10mX6m LED screen.

 

The airport utilises newest travel technology referred to as ‘Fast and Seamless Technology’ (FAST). Completely automated end to end (for most airlines), here’s how one would breeze through the airport:

Check-in
Collect your boarding pass, print your bag tag and self tag your check-in bag. Conventional check-in counters are still available for those who just cannot wrap their head around technology.


Photo: Changi Airport Group

Baggage Drop
Drop your check-in bag at the automated bag-drop after your identity is authenticated by the machine.

Security screening
Instead of bag checks at boarding gates, T4 has a central departure screening area immediately after baggage drop. The process has been simplified too, and with new technology your laptop and tablets can stay in the bag, cutting down on waiting time.


Photo: Changi Airport Group

Immigration
Scan your passport and fingerprint. Immigration is already automated at the existing terminals for residents as well as on departure, but T4 has an enhanced version (for security), which will uses facial recognition.

Boarding
Scan boarding pass at the boarding gate and your identity is once again authenticated by the facial recognition system.

Last but not least, you might be greeted by one of the four automated robotic floor cleaners!

Airlines leaving from T4

The airlines that will operate from T4 are the AirAsia Group, Cathay Pacific, Cebu Pacific, Korean Air, Spring Airlines and Vietnam Airlines.

School Holiday Camps in KL 2017

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The end of year  Malaysian school holidays are fast approaching for many. Many holiday camps and programmes are now open for registration. We will update this list as we spot new holiday camps, programmes and events – bookmark this page!

If you’d like to see your holiday camp listed here, email us at info@happygokl.com. Please contact the providers directly for details and registration!

November-December 2017 holiday programmes and camps in KL

Holiday English Camp by EMS

When school ends, EMS School Break Camp kicks into action to help children and teenagers stay active whilst having fun at learning English.

Dates: 27 Nov-Dec, 11 Dec-22 Dec, 2 Dec-5th Jan
Monday to Friday 9:30 am to 1:30 pm

Ages 6-8: Speaking and Grammar, Reading and handwriting, Creative writing, Story telling, Critical thinking and Interactive learning.

Ages 9-12 and 13-15: Book Club, Debate Club, English Commentating, Drama Club, Creative Writing Club, Poetry Club and Game Club

Holiday Camp Marathon by Chumbaka

Join the December Holiday Camp Marathon! Three exciting camps running from 5-21 December at two Digital Maker Hubs in Cyberjaya and Puchong. Kids learn how to use technology around them in a fun and innovative way by building projects infused with elements of Design Thinking based on given themes.

With the guidance of tech mentors from various backgrounds (education, computing, engineering, business), the kids will then showcase their hard work at the end of the camp in a mini show-and-tell, with the aim of cultivating crucial communication skills along the way!

Theatre & Acting Skills Camp

In response to parents who have seen the productions and whose children have attended in-school workshops, KL Shakespeare Players in collaboration with Masakini Theatre Company, will be offering a three-day Theatre & Acting Skills Camp. Led by Gregory Henno from France, the camp will be limited to only 24 participants.

4-6 Dec, 9:30am-3:30pm, at Studio Ramli Hassan, Bukit Tunku. For ages 10-12.

 

Full-day holiday programmes for young kids:

  • King of the Forest at Hi-5, 4th -15th Dec. Find out about the Malayan tigers and how to protect them, create jungle and camouflage art work. Develop your literacy skills through our focus book “Pak Belang the Tiger”. Enjoy the full range of facilities including the climbing wall, swimming pool, adventure playground, sand and water play along with cooking, mandarin and dancing with Hi-5 teachers. Full day: 8.30am-3pm lunch included: RM 1500. Half day and 1 week options available. To book your place email enquiries.kl@hi-5school.com or call 0320959919.
  • The Wild life by Junior Explorers 1 City, Subang Jaya, for ages 4-5.
  • School Holiday Programmes at The Parenthood in Sunway Pyramid from 28 November – December 21 for ages 3 -12.
  • Kinderia Holiday programmes at Desa Parkcity

Residential camps and adventure camps:

Music, theatre and dance:
Languages and maths:
Coding, robotics, Lego and science camps:
  • Coding and Robotics by CodeJuniors at TTDI:
    • Age 5-8: Little Juniors Coding Camp, December 6-8 / 19-21
    • Age 7-10 : Lego Robotics, December 13-15
    • Age 9-15: December 6-8 : Build games with Scratch Programming and December 19-21: Programming with Micro:bits
  • Robotics Workshop by EDU360 Academy using LEGO Mindstorms Robotics sets. For ages 7 – 15. 6 – 7 Dec, 8.30am to 5.30pm. Fee: RM 450 (Single) | RM 800 (2 Pax) at Taman Taynton View.
  • Lego® Bricks Holiday Programmes at MyBricks4Kids, Damansara Perdana:
    • NinjaGo 13-15 Dec, 9am – 12pm, ages 4-12
    • Jr Robotics Date 13-15 Dec, 1pm – 4pm, ages 6 and up
    • NexoCraft 18-20 Dec, 9am – 12pm ages 4-12
  • GoCode Kids Coding Academy, from 27 Nov, different age groups, suitable for ages 6-18.In Solaris Dutamas.
  • The Wacky Creator by Sunshine Thinkers, Tropicana. 4-8 Dec, ages 5-6.
  • A fit body makes a fit brain by Roboticist and PFC Studio, 27-30 Nov in Sri Hartamas.
  • Wizard Science Camp@school Holiday 2017 by Kiddo Science Sri Petaling 27 Nov-8 Dec for ages 5-12.
  • Minecraft End Year Camps by Crafty Minds, four intakes.
  • Web Design #101 at Joy With Music at Taman Kaya. For kids aged 9 an up. 7 Dec 9am – 3.30pm or 10 Dec 9am – 3.30pm
  • Science Bridge Academy:
    • Awesome Toys (9 – 12 years), 27 – 29 Nov, 10am – 5pm, RM450
    • Sam & Susie (5 – 8 years), 4 – 6 Dec, 9am – 2pm, RM330
    • Level 1 Geek Wannabe, 4 Dec, 9am -5pm, RM200
    • Level 2 Geek Newbie, 5 – 6 Dec, 9am – 5pm, RM500
    • Level 3 Geek Rookie, 7 – 8 Dec, 9am – 5pm, RM500
    • Arduino Bootcamp, 16 – 17 Dec, 10am – 4pm, RM450
  • Code Juniors at TTDI
    • Little Juniors Coding 6-8 Dec and 19-21 Dec, for ages 5-8.
    • Lego Robotics 13-15 Dec, for ages 7-10
    • Scratch Programming 6-8 Dec, for ages 9-15
    • Programming with Microbit 19-21 Dec, for ages 9-15

Arts, creativity and crafts:

Sports camps:

Cooking camps:

Life skills:

Other holiday camp providers:

Math and English at Eye Level Malaysia

Engineering For Kids Malaysia

Parenthood Wellness

Stitch.A.Giggle

The Little Gym Malaysia

Young Explorer’s in MK1

Pusat Kreatif Kanak-kanak Tuanku Bainun

Safarikids Camps

A Taste of the Orient – a Guide to Child Friendly Food in China

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When I told a group of my English friends that I was moving to China, they literally cried with laughter at the thought of me having to regularly rely on chopsticks when eating in public.

This revealed to me two things. First, that I had obviously not been able to sufficiently disguise my inability to eat with those slippery sticks and second, that I needed to look for a group of more supportive friends!

Despite my lack of ability with chopsticks I didn’t starve whilst living in China and this was for two reasons. You don’t need to speak Chinese to order at most restaurants, as you can just point at the pictures of what you want to order. Secondly, because some waitresses couldn’t bear to see me struggling anymore and would sidle up to me and discreetly deposit a fork on the table to put me out my misery.

Given all of this you won’t be surprised to see that my top 5 kid friendly Chinese foods do not require the use of chopsticks.

1. Sesame bread

If you need a super tasty snack to keep the whole family going my kids loved sesame bread. Look out for the vendors that sell this king of carbs from carts in the street all over China. A word of warning though, try and get it when it is fresh from the oven, as otherwise it may break your jaw!

2. Xiao Long Bao

Another firm family favourite was xiao long bao, a delicious dumpling with a fried bottom and soupy interior. Someone once introduced them to my kids as Chinese hamburgers, as they have doughy bread on the outside and a meat filling. You could even get them in lots of cute animal designs. I couldn’t resist pigging out on these.

 

3. Peking Duck

If you are in Beijing you should go on the hunt for a restaurant that serves the capital’s specialty, Peking duck. Once you’ve answered all the questions about the ethics of eating a feathered friend, the kids will enjoy rolling this crispy meat with cucumber and spring onions in thin mini pancakes. I love the hoisin sauce that it’s served with, but my little ones often prefer it without.

4. Jiaozi

Jiaozi, or dumplings as you may know them, have been around for over 1,800 years. These little parcels consist of minced meat and vegetables wrapped up in thin dough like skin, and often come boiled and then fried. Dip them in soy sauce and vinegar to make them even more moreish.

5. Jianbing

If you are looking for a bite to eat for breakfast, look no further than the street food stall selling jianbing. This Chinese equivalent of the breakfast burrito consists of a crisy fried crepe packed with crunchy wonton, coriander, tangy pickles and hoisin or chilli sauce – yum!

As you would expect from a country as vast as China, every region has its own type of food. If you head to Shanghai you are likely to find light and sweet foods. If you see that the food is from the Sichuan province, unless your children are really used to spicy foods or have flame resistant mouths do not feed this to them! It took about two days for me to regain full feeling in my mouth and for my eyes to stop watering after I sampled a delicious dish from this region.

It’s fun to let the little ones try eating with chopsticks and you can pick up the kid friendly ones that are joined at the top to make life a bit easier. However, for the sake of your sanity you may also want to carry around a plastic fork. They are not always available and you may turn grey and old watching your child pick up individual noodles or grains of rice with their chopsticks!

A further word of warning, a lot of meat dishes will come still on the bone, so if your children are not fans of this type of food you may want to try to avoid it.

Also some of the labeling of foods is not always entirely accurate, like the meat section I came across in a local supermarket that was labelled ‘Dairy’.

And finally, if you like me are not a natural with chopsticks, I feel it’s only fair to warn you that in some parts of China they are not used to seeing Westerners and so they might start to take your photos when you are struggling to snare your food. I am sure that more than one person has a photo of me with a face full of soy sauce that had splashed onto me after a dumpling had escaped back into my bowl.

8 Tips For Traveling With Little Kids

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When your children are young the idea of traveling with them for the first time can seem daunting.  The excitement of the trip can be overshadowed by the small details of how to feed/change/settle a baby or, how to keep an active toddler entertained without them getting into the cockpit and taking control of the plane. So I asked around, and remembered a few of my sanity saving tips from when I had to traverse hemispheres with babies and toddlers in tow. Hopefully some of these tips will come in handy when embarking on an overseas adventure!

1. Wear your oldest clothes

A Swiss friend of mine always sets off on her overseas journey in really old clothes. Clothes that you don’t mind if they don’t return home, and always with a spare set in a plastic bag. For her the idea of carrying that vomit stained t-shirt or those poo-laden pants to her destination was really unappealing, so her solution was pop them in the bin – then have a fresh set ready to start again. And, that wasn’t just a change for the children, it included her as well. So, make sure to pack a full set of outerwear for yourself, and the essential change for the kids.  And remember: if there is any vomiting to be done or food to be spilled, it will probably land on you as well as your child – but will hopefully miss the stranger you are sitting next to.

2. Dress your child in bright clothing

This top tip comes from something I read online when first traveling internationally with my children. Without being able to offer a reference I will borrow it and share with you as it was a fabulous piece of advice: dress your child in something bright and distinctive. Airports, train stations and ferry terminals can be busy and hectic places – with luggage, tickets and gates to think about it is easy to be distracted for a second. If your child is dressed in a bright t-shirt, jumper, coat or hat they are easy to spot in what will probably be a comparably tall crowd. It also means that some gaudy bright garment that was gifted to you may make it out of the wardrobe for this special occasion.

3. A pack back, and dear I say it – a lead

Get a small cheery backpack for your child to carry and let them fill it (not too full) with a game, colouring in, bits and bob, and a favourite toy – however make sure you are the one in charge of the extra special favourite toy they need for sleep. Pack a couple of snacks so your child gets the whole thrill of the adventure – plus it may help later when they are hungry and refuse to eat the inflight food. The pack back may be the saving grace for airport waiting areas. And, I know this may be a controversial subject, but a lead to hang on to might be just enough for your child  not to wander, but feel autonomous enough to not throw a tantrum over sitting in a buggy or holding a hand.

4. Choose a night time flight

Research has it (well, the mums I’ve asked) that if you have small kids and you are flying long-haul then booking a night flight makes things a little easier. Take some comfortable pajamas, a book, their cuddly toy or blanket, whatever it is they need to sleep, and snuggle them down for the night. A few hours sleep might be the difference between a screaming heap and an easy transit. If you are traveling a really long flight and have a stopover, you can either extend it for 24 hours, or if you don’t have that much time, maybe book six hours in an airport hotel – that way you can all get some rest before the next leg of the journey. We did this when my youngest was two but she was such a monkey when everyone was trying to sleep in one room that we made a bed for her in the bath tub with blankets and pillows. It was the best sleep she had – only if you try that, make sure your wee one can’t reach the taps to turn them on.

5. Be sneaky with seat selection

Now this is a sneaky trick that I have never thought of but apparently it’s been tried and tested with success. If you are traveling as a family of two adults and two children then book the window and aisle in two separate rows – one behind the other. If the flight isn’t full  you then have a whole row to yourselves, but if the flight is full you still have one adult and one child together and in the words of this mum “no one in their right mind would prefer a middle seat between parent and child” so will gladly swap for either a window or an aisle seat.

6. No rules on airplanes

This doesn’t mean that you can say its ok for your little person to hand out duty free or fly the plane, but it does mean that snacks, toys,  the dreaded iPad – you name it – are without limits. How you manage that is up to your family, but sometimes a bit of rule relaxation may equal inflight relaxation.

7. Bring a lightweight travel buggy

When we traveled with our small children we packed the lightest most dispensable buggy we could find. Lucky it was dispensable as we left it in a hire car, an airport and, I think, on a bus. We managed to retrieve or have it returned to us each time. We didn’t need it for all terrain so it was easy to buy an inexpensive version, but depending on your needs while traveling it can save you a lot of tears. It also bought us a few quiet moments in a café while our oldest child slept and our youngest was happy to be out of the buggy and moving about.

8. Scout your surroundings

Upon arrival check out parks and kid friendly restaurants, and see if you can plan a route which will cover your sight-seeing and places of fun, interest and food for them. If you need to be in the hotel for nap times, make sure it’s a nice one especially if going on a beach holiday with a baby. Also a room with a balcony will give you a chance to sit outside into the evening if your children go to bed early.

And, if you are traveling in the tropics as much as a home stay without all the mod cons will seem much more authentic and often much cheaper – think about the kids and the heat.  A place with a pool has always made for happy holidays with our kids. They get hot, tired and over sights quite quickly so relaxing beside the pool for an afternoon or even a day can be enough to refresh them and keep them moving.

Happy Holidays!

All these suggestions are from mums who have traveled with little ones.  They are just that, suggestions which may work well, or  may not.  Each child and family have different needs and work to different rhythms so what works for one family may not work for another.  But sometimes a new tip is all you need for an even better experience. 

Artist Profile: January Low

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Classical Indian dance is an art form unknown to many, but it is obvious even to those not in the know that it requires not only talent, but practice and concentration – luxuries new parents rarely have. January Low, classically trained Malaysian artist danced through her pregnancy – literally.

 

You started dancing at the age of five. Can you briefly tell us about your dance journey? 

My mother first took me to ballet classes at the age of 5. That’s when I developed an affinity towards dance. One day, my father who grew up watching Bharata Natyam (Indian classical dance) at a temple near his house, came home after seeing Ramli Ibrahim and his troupe perform and asked me if I was keen to join. I was 8 at the time. I remember sitting in for a rehearsal session by a group of senior dancers. I fell completely head over heels with what the dancers were doing. I joined Sutra Dance Theatre immediately and was there for 17 years.

After leaving Sutra, I went to Seoul for a 6-month residency and got married (in that order!). A year after, I had twins. I continued dancing, with performances at the  International Odissi Festival in Orissa (2014), ASWARA’s Dance Festival – Tari (2014), Tepak Tari (2015), Georgetown Festival (2015) and the Shantanand Dance Festival (2015).

Your last major performance,  ‘bloom’, broke many barriers about women and dancing. What made you decide to go ahead with the performance while pregnant?

I am a firm believer in the universe, the power of intention and that things that happen are usually meant to happen. I was scheduled to perform a solo at but as life happens, I found out that I was pregnant for our third child and pulled out of the performance.

Fellow dancer Rathimalar Govindarajoo was given the slot. The ever generous Rathi immediately called me and asked me if I would be open to performing a duet with her instead. I told her that I would have to think about it because I would already be in my 3rd trimester. So I asked my obstetrician and she told me a story about a woman who completed an entire marathon in her 3rd trimester – if the body is already used to a certain degree of activity it would be fairly safe to proceed. And proceed I did!

Bloom was one of my most memorable productions – I performed an Odissi duet while 7 months pregnant. Odissi is one of the classical Indian dances, where facial expressions, hand gestures and body movements are used to suggest emotions.

My children have always watched me dance. I tried to rehearse with Rathi during their naps but sometimes they don’t nap as long as you’d like them to – so I’d place them in their play pens and we’d continue our rehearsals. So I could say that they are very used to me dancing and performing. However, because they were and still are a little too young for performances, they didn’t watch the show.

How do you think we can encourage children to enjoy art, particularly performing arts? 

My mother used to bring me to everything. I watched musicals, ballet, theatre, dance and music recitals from a very young age. I think it is important for children not to just attend dance classes but also be exposed to the actual shows because it will cultivate their minds and develop the next generation of thinking audiences. We have so many arts related events happening in KL with no dearth of talent. Unfortunately,  we don’t have enough discerning audiences to appreciate the richness of what we have to offer. I can’t wait for my children to be old enough to start going to performances with me.

What is your advice for mothers who want to pursue a career in arts? Do you think it is possible to juggle both family and the pursuit of art and a career generally?

There are so many mothers who are pursuing a career in the arts, and those who dance before, during and post pregnancy. These women continue to be my inspiration – like Lena Ang, Aida Redza, Judimar Hernandez, Loke Soh Kim.

No doubt, it is difficult to strike a balance between family life and career but I think it is the same in any field. There are indeed a few more challenges like financial stability and opportunities when you are in the arts, but I believe that where there is will, there will always be a way. If you want something badly enough, you will focus on solutions and not the problem at hand. I am still a work in progress! It has taken a lot for me to even get this far and yet I feel like there is so many things that I need to do. But with love, perseverance, family support and the right intentions, anything is possible!

January can be reached through her website. She blogs at http://januarism.blogspot.my

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