Sunway Lagoon review

There’s a few places of interest that I haven’t visited yet in my 18 years living in the Klang Valley. One of them is none other than Sunway Lagoon near Petaling Jaya. Despite being just 15 kilometers from my place, I have not actually visited the popular theme park for several reasons. First it’s rather expensive. I didn’t have the urge to visit them then when I was younger and I as the years go by and I had a few children of my own, the ticket prices have gone up considerably as well. So it didn’t become our first choice when deciding on holiday destinations. Not until recently though. My wife through a friend of a friend of hers fixed for us a few tickets for only RM250. That’s like 50 ringgit each for my family of five. Unbelievably cheap right? Don’t ask me how they got it although I believe the tickets were bought under some corporate accounts hence the massive discount.

We arrived early that Saturday morning, just after the park gates open at 10:00 AM. There’s ample parking around the theme park either at the Sunway Pyramid mall or one of the few hotels in the surrounding area. We were looking for the Pyramid Tower Hotel parking which offers a 7 ringgit single entry rate but somehow I missed that one and parked at a different hotel instead and paid double the price. Never mind, as long as you don’t park haphazardly and get your car clamped or towed away. We got our wristbands beforehand so on the day we just waltz in casually through the entrance. Of course we need to scan our wristband first at the gate. They do check your backpacks for outside food but not so thoroughly like some people reported. Honestly if we hid some sandwiches or nasi lemak at the bottom of the bag, we should have got away with it. There’s so many attractions and rides to try, so many places to visit but only 8 hours to do all of that so understandably you can’t possible do them all. Our plan was to try as many rides and attractions as we could for the day and if we missed some of them, it’s okay. There’s always next time (or is it?).

First order of the day was to rent a locker and stuff our bags and belongings into it. There’s two types of lockers - one regular school-sized locker for RM22 and another bigger RM43 baggage locker. Remember to bring only the bare necessities along because the regular locker is not that big and you don’t really want to carry a bag all over the park. It will be a real chore when somebody has to look after it when every body is in the water. Towels and spare cloths are really all that you’ll ever need. Ideally you should stuff everything in the locker and just bring yourself to the parks. Some rides even require you to remove your glasses, wristwatch and jewelries so bear that in mind. The dress code is pretty relaxed inside Sunway Lagoon. You can get away with pretty much anything - track bottoms, t-shirts and hijabs in the water. Being a muslim majority country, Sunway Lagoon wouldn’t want to turn away the half of their customers with a strict dress code.

Sunway Lagoon is basically divided into two wet and dry parks. Technically there are 6 parks but they are divided into wet and dry parks with a several of them featuring wet and dry attractions. The totally wet parks include the water park (duh) and Nickelodeon Lost Lagoon while the dry parks are amusement, wildlife and scream parks. The extreme park and some parts of the amusement park features both wet and dry rides. We decided to try out some of the more popular rides in the water park first in the morning before the crowd swell in the afternoon and later. Some of the must try rides include the Vuvuzela, African Phyton and Congo Challenge among others. Some of these rides have height limit, usually below 110 to 120 cm so be prepared to leave your kids behind (with an adult) before you try them.

From the water park, we moved to the extreme park to try out some of the rides. Our younger children went off to the Nickelodeon Lost Lagoon since they don’t get to try much of the extreme park rides anyway. Later we had lunch at one of the restaurants available inside the park called Lighthouse Bistro. Sure enough the food price was easily double of that outside so we bought the cheapest one off the menu. After that we continue on to the surf beach to enjoy the artificial waves. They only make the waves once for half an hour just on weekends or public holidays so you’ve got to be there when they do. The frequency if I remember correctly is once every 5 minutes and it’s quite fun. Unlike a real beach, this one is pretty harmless and even the young ones get to enjoy it.

Around 5 o’ clock we left the wet park, changed and moved on the the amusement park. I know we should have gone sooner but trying to reason with your kids who were enjoying the water park too much about that. It is only later that they realised they don’t have much time to try out the other parks. Still we get to try some of the rides at the amusement park which were quite fun. They were not as numerous as Genting’s theme park but still enjoyable. We tried out a few carousels, before splitting to try the ferris wheel and roller coaster. Much to my disappointment however, it started to rain while we were waiting for our turn. And they were pretty adamant not to operate the roller coaster in the rain for fear of lightning. So we tried the only other interesting place available which is the Scream Park a.k.a the haunted house. The were not kidding when they say children below 7 are not advised to come in. Hana insisted of following us into the house at first but changed her mind after the first door. Luckily we just escort her out through the entrance nearby to her waiting mother and then continued with our walk-through. I would strongly advise against bringing your primary school or younger children along cause you could possibly scar them for life. As a man of reason and science, nothing inside the scream park could scare me much although a few of the jump-scares managed to ever so slightly startle me. Instead I feel rather sorry for the tireless workers in make-ups trying to scare the visitors out of their wits day in and day out. C’est la vie.

By the time Adam and I finished the scream park, the place was already closed. One park we didn't get to visit that day was the wildlife park because there were simply not enough time. We proceed to the exit in the drizzling rain. I know visiting the souvenir shop was not really a good idea with these kids around but I did anyway and end up buying fridge magnets and a few key chains for them. Did we had fun at Sunway Lagoon? Absolutely. The kids thoroughly enjoyed it, even me and my wife enjoyed all of the rides. Did we had enough time to try it all? Absolutely not. Some of the rides have prohibitively long queues so we decided to try out only the most interesting ones. Also, many of the rides impose a height limit so your kindergarten-going children most likely won’t able to go in. So being a model parent like we are, we had to skip some of the good rides altogether as not to disappoint our youngest one (too much). Ideally we should need around two days to fully enjoy all the parks available but then we would need to buy one ticket for each day. And they’re not exactly cheap either, just like the expensive food they sell inside. If money is no object, you should allocate two days to try out everything inside Sunway Lagoon, one day for the wet park and the next day for the dry parks.

My final advice to you is to come early so you’ll have more time to try out most of the rides and attractions. Buy your tickets in advance and online so you’ll skip the long walk-in queue. Coming on weekdays and school days should get you much cheaper tickets but that would mean your kids will have to skip school for the entire day (maybe you could try it at the end of their term and/or after exams?). Remember to look for the Pyramid Tower Hotel and park at their basement to enjoy the 7 ringgit per entry rate. Don’t forget to wear sun block for yourself and especially for your kids. If you’re visiting for the day, set a time out from the wet park and follow through it or else you’ll miss the other parks. They don’t officially allow you to bring along your action cams or smartphones during the rides but most of the time, they’ll just look away and let you use them anyway except for one that involves a vacuum tube which prohibits jewelries let alone cameras or phones. Despite my iPhone being waterproof and all, I don't have the guts to carry it along for the rides and every where around the park so I just used my trusty GoPro instead. If you have one, it's the best type of camera to bring along. Small, unobtrusive and fits nicely in your pocket. Also although the ticket says access to all parks, you still need to pay separately for the pay-per ride activities like bungy jump, G-Force X and go kart. If you haven't visited it already, Sunway Lagoon is a nice place to bring your family to for a fun day in the water and also the rides at the amusement park. Yes it is a bit expensive but for me at least, it's really worth it. For more info on ticket prices and promotion, visit the official Sunway Lagoon website.

Apple TV 3rd generation review

After getting two Android TV boxes which failed to live to my expectation, I’ve decided to try a different ecosystem altogether. Something quite plain and obvious to Apple users like me but for some reason I have not considered before in the search for my ideal streaming solution. It's none other than the Apple TV of course. Now why didn’t I get an Apple TV earlier before? Well for a few valid reasons. First of all it doesn’t support external hard drives. How am I suppose to watch all my downloaded movies then? And then for the more affordable 3rd generation Apple TVs, you cannot download more apps other than the ones pre-installed on the device which I thought rather limits the ability of this digital media player.

Despite those limitations, I decided to give it a try anyway. So I got myself a used 3rd generation Apple TV online for 2/3 of the original brand new price. It’s a pretty sweet deal too, cause the unit I got was not really used yet and still in its original packaging. I suspect the seller got it free from a lucky draw or something. Now I’ve been installing about a dozen Apple TVs at work before so I’m pretty familiar with them. As always, this version of the Apple TV comes with an Apple TV remote and power cable, that’s all. You need to get your own HDMI cable to connect to your TV set. Aside from the provided physical remote, you can also install the Apple TV remote app on your iOS device. The virtual remote app works exactly like the physical remote which is highly useful since many of us tend to misplace the tiny original Apple TV.

Setup is straightforward and simple enough. Connect Wi-Fi and/or ethernet, sign in to your Apple ID and that’s it. The only usable app I found pre-installed on this Apple TV are the YouTube and Netflix apps. The rest are pretty useless to me because they're mostly paid but relatively unpopular American-based content provider. Unlike the pricier 4th generation Apple TV, you can’t download more apps on this 3rd gen Apple TV. In spite of that, the real killer application for this older Apple TV is the AirPlay capabilities. Basically you can stream audio and video straight from a lot of apps on your iOS device to the Apple TV and subsequently your TV. Even if your multimedia app doesn’t support direct streaming to AirPlay, you can always turn on mirroring on your iPhones or iPads and mirror everything on your device’s screen to your TV screen, practically magic.

This way, I can stream videos from the YouTube or VLC app on my iPhone to the TV, mirror a movie from my favorite pirate site or stream music from my Music app. Streaming quality is pretty good and determined by the speed or your Internet connection. This AirPlay feature is also supported on most Mac computers and laptops so you can stream stuff from those devices too. The possibilities are endless. What’s more, you can also play audio and video files straight from your Mac computer from the Apple TV provided they’re in the file format supported by iTunes/Apple TV. So far that includes MP3, AIFF, WAV, MP4, AAC and Apple Lossless (.m4a) file formats. So if your video file is in say AVI or MKV format, you’ll have to convert them to MP4 first to be able to play on the Apple TV. Sometimes I do that, sometimes I just mirror the files unconverted via AirPlay. From within the Apple TV menu, you just select the Computers button and select the audio/video files you want to play. Refer to this excellent guide from How-To-Geek website.

So how does the Apple TV compare to my previous Android boxes? As an avid Apple user like me, it’s a match made in heaven. I have several Apple devices including a MacBook and they work seamlessly with the Apple TV. The AirPlay streaming technology is the main selling point for this older generation Apple TV and it’s a worthy buy even with the limited number of apps. If you have more budget, you should totally get the latest version of the Apple TV with 16/32GB space for apps download. However if you’re in a tight budget (like me), the 3rd gen Apple TV should suffice for all your streaming needs at home. Other than that, the Apple TV is pretty small so you could hide it behind your TV if you want to or just let it be unnoticed under your TV set. Plus it doesn't use much power and goes into sleep mode when not in use. You can get a second hand unit for under 300 ringgit right now on or similar sites. Now that I’ve owned one, I must say they’re miles better than all the Android boxes that I’ve tried. Why I didn’t get one much earlier escapes me.

Cameron Highlands weekend getaway

It all started when our youngest child Hana Alisha occasionally asks us whether we’ve been to Cameron Highlands or not. Our usual answer would that we had, both her sister and brother had but she hasn’t because she was not born yet at that time. Which means that we haven’t been to Cameron Highlands together as a family since 6 years ago. Sure Linda and I had been to Cameron a few times since for our hiking trips but we didn’t bring the kids along for obvious reasons. So after a while we kinda feel sorry for Hana and decided to go for an impromptu weekend getaway visit to Cameron Highlands.

For this trip I’ve decided to try AirBNB, an online marketplace and hospitality service, where you can rent short-term lodging including vacation rentals, apartment rentals, homestays, hostel beds, or hotel rooms straight from just one website. It’s kinda like and Trivago except that those two only offer mostly hotel rooms and not private properties. I’ve heard about them for a while now so I thought it’s time to give it a try. At first I looked for the usual hotel room deals first and although some were relatively cheap, the rooms are quite small and the beds are rather limited too. I found one hotel room with two single beds for RM170++ but since my children are all quite grown up now, it’s difficult to fit them all on a single bed this time. Hotels with more beds or bigger rooms will be out of our budget naturally hence why I decided to give AirBNB a try.

The one we booked cost RM227 including service fees (which will go to AirBNB). Just like hotels, AirBNB uses dynamic pricing mechanism where it would be cheaper to book rooms for weekdays compared to weekends and public holidays. The place where we stayed is a brand new apartment studio unit near Jalan Golden Hills in Brinchang. It has one master bedroom with one big queen-sized bed inside. Just like any other apartment studio, the kitchen area is adjoined with the living room. In the living room you get one sofa bed which pulls out as two singles bed. So altogether they have 3 beds for guests which suit all five of us just nice. The bathroom is clean and they also provided an induction cooker to use in the kitchen. Since my wife is not confident of using the shared pot for personal reasons, we didn’t get to use the cooker provided. Next time remind us to bring our own camping stove and butane gas can for cooking.

We happen to come during one of the coldest days of the year in Cameron Highlands that week where the temperature drops to a shivering 16° celcius. Coupled with cold wind and rain, the place got really cold during our stay especially at night. They just moved the popular Brinchang night market just across the street to our apartment that weekend so we could just go downstairs and take a really short walk to the market. Other than that, there’s nothing much to do nearby. The Internet connection in the area is basically non-existent and had they not provide (basic) Astro and a fairly new LED TV with USB ports to watch movies we’d be bored out of our wits. Despite that, it’s been a pleasant stay at our first AirBNB apartment. The room is big and spacious and although we had wished they provide towels there’s nothing much I can complain about.

Of course a visit to Cameron Highlands would not be complete if we didn’t visit some of its tourist attractions. Later that afternoon we visited the Bharat Tea plantation and cafe for a walk among the tea shrubs. It was cloudy and drizzly back then so I didn’t get to snap any spectacular sunset pictures. Still it was a fun and memorable visit.

In the evening we visited the famous night market that I mentioned earlier. It was crowded with people as usual but unlike the old location, we get better parking spots for visitors and there was no unnecessary traffic jam along the main road of Brinchang which is the main purpose of the relocation (I presume). And just like the old place, we saw the same kind of produce and merchandise - strawberries, vegetables, souvenirs and a variety of food for sale. I must say though that the entire housing area where our apartment and the night market are situated is quite windy especially during rainy days. I saw quite a few vendors and sellers struggling to hang on to their merchandise and labels when the wind blew so strongly. I’m not sure if they researched about that beforehand but the place is indeed windy it could affect the businesses somehow in the long run.

The next day we checked out early and visited one of the many strawberries farm in Brinchang. It was a small farm really with less than a dozen rows of strawberries and we couldn’t even pluck them ourselves. We had scones and strawberries, among others at the farm. The scones were good and much cheaper than what they sell at those tea plantation cafes but I can’t say the same about the home-made strawberry jam. After that we stopped by a bee farm, more like a bee shop with a tiny bee apiary by the road side. Honestly I wouldn’t even bother stopping if not for the kids.

And that concludes our short but relaxing weekend getaway to Cameron Highlands. This time around I was wise enough to take the Simpang Pulai exit instead of the regular Tapah exit from the PLUS highway. Sure this one is 30 kilometres further away but the road is much better and less winding. If you plan to book an AirBNB unit there in Cameron Highlands, make sure you don’t do it last minute. Book a week or two early and you get 30-40% cheaper accommodation. As always dress warm and don’t forget to plan your itinerary in advance because most of the tourist attractions close early in the evening. Now that we’ve brought Hana to Cameron Highlands you can’t say we never bring you anywhere again okay?

iPhone 7 review

When the iPhone 7 was launched, I already have an iPhone 6. Sure it’s not as new or speedy as the 6S but it is my first 4.7” iPhone and it’s a big improvement over my old 5S. So there was no need for a new iPhone with pretty much the same form factor and identical design save for new colors and waterproofing. Or so I thought. 3 days after the local launch of the iPhone 7, I am a proud owner of a brand new iPhone 7.

Like I said, the iPhone 7 design and form factor is quite similar to the 6 and 6S. From a glance you couldn’t tell it’s an iPhone 7 unless it’s the new black or jet black ‘glossy’ finish. If you look closer though you’re going to notice subtle differences like the new solid state home button, new slightly larger but more refined camera bump and an antenna bands that wraps around the top and bottom side of the phone instead of across like the older models and of course lack of audio jack.

From the onset, I was going to go with the (matte) black finish. It’s a refreshing change from the regular silver or space grey color and I’m loving this new color. There’s no way I’m going to choose the glossy jet black finish which should be a fingerprint magnet, no to mention scratch-prone as admitted by Apple themselves. Although the iPhone 7 is a few grams heavier than the 6, you couldn’t really tell the difference. The new static home button doesn’t take long to get used to, at least not for me. Instead of a clickable moving button they’ve put a static button which doesn’t move at all. Instead the haptic vibration motor on the left side will give you the sensation of pushing a button. Apple found out that in many countries especially in Asia and South America, iPhone users tend to use the assistive touch function instead of actually clicking the home button because of prior experience where the iPhone’s home button has the tendency to malfunction from constant clicking. While I can vouch for that myself from personal experience, the newer iPhones - from 6 onwards doesn’t really have that problem anymore, at least not as numerous as the older models. But still some people kept avoiding using the home button out of habit. That’s why Apple designed the new static home button with that contentious issue in mind. So hopefully no more faulty home buttons on the iPhone after this.

So what else is new about the iPhone 7? There’s the elephant in the room - the lack of audio jack. Like it or not Apple has made the decision to remove the audio jack altogether not because of waterproofing but because it’s an old tech. Their reasoning is that the audio jack takes up precious space inside the iPhone which they could have used for something else for example a larger taptic feedback engine. Quite understandably there was a huge uproar about this omission. While Apple call it courage, some people just call it stupid. As for me, it doesn’t really bother me that much. They did include a Lightning to 35mm headphone jack adapter in the box where you can plug in your regular headphones. I’ve also been using a Bluetooth audio receiver unit which I used together with my regular headphones. Sure it’s a little inconvenient at first to carry yet another adapter but I got used to it after a while. Plus Bluetooth audio doesn’t sound quite as good as direct connection to the phone but like it or not, the audio jack is gone for good from now on so you’ll just have to deal with it. What’s more, more and more smartphone manufacturer are following suit by removing audio jacks from their phones as well.

Another new and much welcomed new feature on the iPhone 7 is waterproofing. It is now rated IP67 which is splash, water and dust resistant which mean you should no longer worry (much) about dropping your phone in water or liquid damage in general. The camera is always, much better than its predecessor. Pictures look bright and vibrant on the Retina HD screen. You get optical image stabilization even on the smaller iPhone 7 model now which was previously only available on the iPhone 6S Plus. The iPhone 7 Plus model meanwhile comes with dual camera where you can take this awesome portrait mode photos with a neat depth of field effect just like the one taken with a decent DSLR camera. As much as I like to get that feature, I couldn’t justify spending a few hundred more on a bigger iPhone. Besides, the 4.7” iPhone fits my pocket just nice for now.

sample images taken with the iPhone 7
The new iPhone also now features stereo speakers with the one normal speaker at the bottom and another front-facing speaker new the earpiece at the top. It’s a strange combination but it works. Sound is much louder than the the previous iPhone with increased dynamic range as well.

sample images taken with the iPhone 7

What about the actual user experience you say? Suffice to say it’s the best iPhone yet (naturally). Everything feels much faster, there’s no delay or lag when opening and running apps. I love everything about iOS 10 like a much more interesting iMessage, new notification screen, 3D touch, universal clipboard and not forgetting the new keyboard clicking sound just to name a few. The battery could last up to 8 to 9 hours with heavy use. Wish they had fast charging though because 1.5 hours of charging time feels abnormally long in this day and age.

So should you buy it? If you need to ask me I’d be biased and say definitely, especially if you’re coming from an iPhone 5S or even 6 (or gasp, Androids!). If you don’t mind not having an audio jack, a better camera, better processor, waterproofing and a black iPhone, the iPhone 7 is a must buy. If you already have a 6S, there’s not much difference between the two save for you know, actually having an audio jack and waterproofing. Either way if money is no object you could never go wrong with an iPhone. I thought the iPhone 7 will be flying off the shelves during launch day but I was sorely wrong. There’s plenty of iPhone 7s left in the stores even 3 days later including the much sought after jet black finish. Perhaps the consumer was turned away by the lack of new design or they actually wanted audio jacks on their smartphones (I doubt its a real deal-breaker). Either way, 3 months later sales figures have indicated that there’s considerably less demand for the new iPhone compared to previous models.

Spread your wings and fly

After we came back from the MRSM IGCSE interview in Negri Sembilan the other day, we didn’t think much about our SBP application. Since they had already called up the first batch for interview (or so I heard), I thought Adam might not made it through. And then one morning my wife surprised me with the offer letter (actually offer e-mail) from the education ministry for a place at SM Sains Hulu Selangor, a premier boarding school north of the state. I wasted no time clicking the accept button. My wife however was contemplating waiting for the MRSM application first. As much as I like to consider that, it would be foolish of us to reject the SBP offer and then not get the MRSM application as well. It would be an unmitigated disaster.

So we did the sensible thing in the end and accepted the SBP offer. I for once am not going to gamble my child’s future by waiting for something that is far from certain. And thus begin our preparation. There’s a long list of documents to fill up and copy, supplies and clothes to buy. It is not farfetched to say that Adam’s parent are more excited and nervous about him going to boarding school than him himself. As always, we need to do a medical checkup at a clinic to certify that our son is fit to attend school there. I casually brought Adam to the Putrajaya Community Clinic one Thursday morning for the purpose only to find out all the appointment slots are fully booked for the day. The earliest vacant appointment slot is a week away next Tuesday which is right before we report to the school. I didn’t know we had to even book an appointment to do the checkup. Back in my days we would just walk down to the clinic and do the checkup the same day. I guess time has changed and there were a lot more folks bringing their kids for checkup now. After much deliberation we decided to do the checkup at a private clinic and get it over with. That left us 70 ringgit poorer but at least we got that one ticked off the list.

A few days before his departure, I gave Adam a crash course in asramalogy a.k.a how to survive in a boarding school hostel. I taught him how to wash clothes and do the laundry without a washing machine. How to put the laundry to dry on the washing line, how to iron his clothes flat on the floor without an ironing boards and a few other important survival tips. I didn’t have anybody to teach me that during my time. Dad was never around (obviously) and it didn’t occur to Mom to teach me anything beforehand. Although I survived my boarding school years fine (and in one piece) by watching others, secretly I wished somebody had taught me something. It was brutal living with a bunch of rural kids in the outskirts of Machang back in the day. Culture shock would be an understatement. That’s why had they offered us a rural school far away from home we would have rejected it outright. At least in civilized Selangor, I hopefully don’t have to worry so much about my son being whacked by his seniors. Let’s just say I had a not so pleasant experience with that regard during my boarding school days.

Come registration day, my mom came along for the journey. Needless to say she’s just as excited as us and thrilled to see her first grandchild in boarding school. We left home around 7:00 am that morning and braved the crazy KL morning traffic to Hulu Selangor. I suspect there are other less congested routes but I trust Waze more to take us there the quickest. Traffic improved slightly after Batu Caves as we took a shortcut through the villages. We arrived safely at SM Sains Hulu Selangor or Semashur as they affectionately call themselves (mine was Smach). Tucked in a secluded corner of Selangor near Ulu Yam and Kuala Kubu Bharu, Semashur is surrounded by lush greenery - rolling hills and a little limestone cliff in the backdrop. The evenings and mornings are cold and the air is fresh and clean, away from the city pollution. It’s just the right location to build a boarding school. Far enough from the city but not too far that reaching the place could have been a chore.

The registration process was smooth, jointly handled by both the teachers and the students themselves. My younger cousin Azli happens to be at the same school and he just scored straight As in his PT3 test recently. As we were finishing filling up the hostel forms, we couldn’t believe our luck when Azli was assigned as Adam’s mentor throughout the orientation week. Even better, Adam will be living in the same dorm as Azli for the next 2 months at least (since he had applied to enrol to an MRSM). So we can be rest-assured that he will be in good hands for the time being. Azli was kind enough to take us for a little tour of the school. He showed us where Adam's class will be, the dining hall, the surau along with a few tips and tricks.

We paid the school and hostel fees and bought Adam’s school supplies at the co-op shop. All in all we spent close to 900 ringgit on that day alone. I’m sure our parent did the same thing for us then and I’m certain they didn’t complain as well. I didn’t have much expectation for boarding school dormitories and that was justified when we brought Adam for the first time into his room where he will be staying for the next 5 years (hopefully). Let’s just say the conditions was only slightly better than my old dormitories back in the 90s. The beds, pillows and lockers were could have been better and some of the wall fans are not working. 20 years ago nobody would bat an eyelid but folks today have higher standards. Later during his speech, the headmaster intimated that the government has been cutting budgets left, right and centre hence why they couldn’t buy much new stuff for the students and the school in general. I’ve been hearing about these budget cuts for some time now and it couldn’t be more evident than today. What’s more dismaying is the fact that the country’s prime minister’s family is currently in a vacation, jetsetting across Australia using our hard-earned money.

But I digress. Despite the less than favourable living quarters, I totally understand where they’re coming from. Their budget is limited and their hands are tied. If money is no object I would pour donations into the school. Do I have Arab-donation money written on my forehead? I don’t think so. Education should be top priority for this country but the leaders are muddled with corruption starting from the head (you know who). Despite all that, we’ll make do. It’s not all that bad really. The rest of the facilities are quite decent, a few notches better than what I’m used to.

We had lunch at the school’s cafeteria while Adam decided to try out the lunch menu at the dining hall (which he said was not bad afterward). Shortly after that we said our goodbyes and naturally we left him with much mixed emotions. For one I am happy to know that this will be a great opportunity for Adam to learn about responsibility, socializing, leadership, survival and basically standing on his own two feet. It’s time he leaves the nest spread his wings and fly. On the other hand, being a parent we couldn’t help but worry for him. Will he fit in, make friends, find hostel living bearable or will he miss home? It’s perfectly natural to worry I guess. Adam is a tough boy and I’m sure he will be alright.