How to buy kitchen cabinet from IKEA

Building a proper kitchen is every homeowner’s dream and one company that makes beautiful, functional kitchen is IKEA. I recently designed and bought my entire kitchen cabinet from IKEA and here’s how you do it from start to finish.

First thing first, you’ve got to have a rough measurement of your kitchen area, preferably in millimeters. You need to measure the length and width of each wall, floor plan, including the size of your doors and windows, location of each socket, sink and tap. The more detailed the better although it’s not necessary to be too precise. This is to make it easier for the IKEA co-worker to do a preliminary sketch of your dream kitchen.

Next you’ll have to make an appointment with the IKEA kitchen specialist through the IKEA Family website. It is possible to walk in to the kitchen showroom and see the co-worker but it all depends on his/her schedule. If they’re free, they can help you right away but if their appointment schedule is full, you’ll have to wait in line for a free slot. So it is advisable to book an appointment beforehand to guarantee your spot. During the planning session, inform the co-worker clearly which cabinet design/series that you want, which countertop material, cabinet doors, even knobs, Every countertop/door/knob has different prices so which one you choose will determine the final price of your kitchen cabinet. Also, the co-worker shall include kitchen sink and lighting into the quotation so if you’re planning to buy the sink yourself or fix your own lighting, tell them in advance.

The entire planning session will take about an hour. The kitchen specialist will then print our your desired kitchen plan plus the quotation. If you wish to install the kitchen cabinet yourself or hire your own kitchen installer, you can ask the co-worker to print the sales invoice right away and proceed to pay at the cashier downstairs. If you wish to hire an IKEA appointed kitchen installer, you will need to go to the installer’s office usually next to the Customer Service counter. The kitchen installer will then give you a quotation based on the dimension of your countertop and the total size of your kitchen cabinet. The bigger they are, the costlier they will be. For my moderately sized kitchen cabinet for example, the quoted price was RM1,500.00 for the installation. If you’re happy with their quotation, you can then pay the kitchen installer to do a precise measurement of your kitchen area. Apart from the length and width of your kitchen, they will also measure the distance between sockets and kitchen sink and determine whether you need to modify your water inlet/outlet based on your selected kitchen design. In my case for example, I need to move my water outlet a few centimeters down to accommodate the counter top and kitchen sink placement. The kitchen installers will not do this type of modification for you so you will have to find your own contractor/handyman. I would really recommend you pay them to do this because they actually use a laser distance meter for precise measurement plus the extra recommendations that they provide is really useful. For my home in Semenyih, I had to pay them RM85 for the measurements.

That said if you’re confident of your own measurement and methods, you can skip this step and proceed to the next step below. If you hired the installer to do the measurement, they will give you a copy of their measurements which you can bring to the kitchen specialist one more time to finalize your design or do any modifications (remember to rebook an appointment). Once you’re happy with the final design and price, the co-worker will print an invoice/shopping list for you to pay. You will then proceed to pay at the checkout counter and then go on to the kitchen installer office to pay them as well. Usually the kitchen specialist will accompany you to pick up any loose bits and pieces of kitchen furniture (lighting, knobs, etcetera) all the way to the checkout counter. During my visit however, they were occupied with to many appointments that I had to pickup the things myself. The final invoice will include transportation charges already so you don't need to go to the delivery counter to pay for that separately.

After that, the kitchen installer will present the final quotation for the kitchen installation and quote you a price which will take into account the distance of your home from their office. Once everything is paid for, the installer will set a date for the kitchen installation, depending on their schedule, could be up to a month later.

Before the day of the installation, make sure your kitchen area is clear from all old furniture and fittings including taps and kitchen sink. For my kitchen, the installation took two whole days with a workforce of two people. They work from 11:00AM until 5:00PM. On the second day, the installer said I forgot to buy a little transformer for my lighting fixture which is totally not my fault. Remember when the IKEA co-worker was supposed to accompany me to pickup the little things? Well they forgot to include the transformer in the shopping list so I had to literally run to IKEA to buy that thing separately for the installer to install.

The installer will install your kitchen sink and tap, hood and hob as well as lighting fixtures, they’re all included in the price you pay. They did a generally good job with the kitchen installation with quality craftsmanship. The only thing I want to complain is that they could have done something about the lighting wires on top of the cabinet. Maybe they’re in a hurry since they had to wait for me to buy that little transformer earlier, I don’t know but that part could be better.

So that’s the entire process of my IKEA kitchen cabinet installation. So far I’m happy with the entire process and the final result. Here’s some tip for you to save a little bit on your final price. The worktop material will hugely influence the final price of your kitchen furniture with laminated wood worktop the cheapest and the more expensive solid wood/quartz/granite types. We picked the Metod laminated wood worktop of course since it’s the cheapest of them all. Apart from that, the price for the cabinet door differs with each model/design and also the different types of door knobs and lighting fixtures. You might be tempted to skip the lighting fixtures but trust me, they make your IKEA kitchen cabinet literally shine above the rest.

IKEA also provide a general guide on how to build your own kitchen here.

Baby number four

For Eid this year, my wife and I made the decision not to go back to our home town as usual. This is after our obgyn advised us not to travel long distance because Linda could be due anytime now. Despite just being on her 36th week, the baby’s size is a little bit on the large side so our initial calculations might be a bit off. So we decided to err in the side of caution and heed the doctor’s advise. Of course our children were not about to miss their Eid celebration back home so we send them to tag along their aunts and uncles. As much as I’d like for all 5 of us to be together on Syawal morning, we thought they’d be much happier in Tanah Merah with their grandparent, cousins and relatives.

So for the first time in my 39 years on earth, I didn’t go home for Eid. How does it feel? Nothing much really. To be honest as I age, I become to dread the annual exodus and massive traffic jam along the highway and byways to and from our hometowns. I’m tired of plying the same road, seeing the same sight and doing the same exact thing. I don’t mind driving for a nice vacation to a brand new faraway place, seeing new sights, doing something different. Anything other than same old Tanah Merah and Pasir Mas. My wife might disagree but that’s how I feel.

Anyway back to the main story, on the morning of the 3rd day of Eid, my wife woke me up at 1:30AM telling me her water just broke. According to the schedule, Linda is only set for c-section later next week so this kind of took us by surprise. We rushed through Jalan Reko to KPJ Kajang, our designated hospital and checked in at the emergency department. I must have broken about half a dozen traffic laws along the way. Forgive me, it was a real emergency. After our obgyn were notified, we waited in the holding room for like an hour or two until her arrival. Between that time Linda’s contraction started to become more frequent as her opening expands from 3 cm to 5 cm. Thankfully the doctor arrived just before 4:00 AM and my wife were wheeled into the Operation Theater soon afterward.

As anxious as I was, there was nothing I could do but wait for the operation to be done. The procedure took nearly two hours and I fell asleep in the waiting room. A few minutes after 6:00AM, the nurses wheeled out our newborn baby and then half an hour later my wife safe and sound. Thankfully everything went really well, both the baby and his mother were safe and I am now a proud father of a 3.92 kilogram baby boy.

We spent the next 3 days at the hospital. The baby is feeding well and his digestive system working perfectly. Some of our closest relatives came to visit including my in laws and my mother. None of our friends came though but I don’t mind since it’s the first week of Eid and they should be understandably busy. I must say sleeping on the hospital sofa was not exactly desirable but it’s better than sleeping on the floor. We upgraded from a double-bedded room to a standard single room with extra cost of course. The food at the cafeteria downstairs were decent and fairly priced. I look forward to their excellent nasi lemak breakfast and chicken curry for lunch. There’s no other eateries open within one kilometer radius so I don’t exactly have any other choice. The hospital staff and nurse were thoroughly professional and very helpful. I would recommend KPJ Kajang if you’re living in the Kajang/Semenyih vicinity (and you can afford it).

By the third day we were ready to check out. Previously all my wife’s hospital bill were taken care of by her insurance provider. Since they changed to a new panel though, they have downgraded her benefits and we were mildly shocked with the final hospital bill in excess of 2,000 ringgit (Compumed, you suck). It took a while for us to came up with that amount of money but we did in the end thanks to generous family members. The bill shock aside, we were extremely grateful everything went well for both the baby and mother. For our latest and possibly last baby, it took us quite something to come up with his name. We didn’t have much trouble coming up with the previous three, especially the girls. In fact it’s much easier to come up with good girl names because there were so many to choose from. For boys however it’s a different ball game. Most of the name we found were either too common or not unique enough. It was not until 4 days after he was born that we finally agreed on a name for baby number four. World, meet Asif Yusuf.

Eid 2019

For Eid this year, my wife and I made the decision not to go back to our home town as usual. This is after our obgyn advised us not to travel long distance because Linda could be due anytime now. Despite just being on her 36th week, the baby’s size is a little bit on the large side so our initial calculations might be a bit off. So we decided to err in the side of caution and heed the doctor’s advise. Of course our children were not about to miss their Eid celebration back home so we send them to tag along their aunts and uncles. As much as I’d like for all 5 of us to be together on Syawal morning, we thought they’d be much happier in Tanah Merah with their grandparent, cousins and relatives.

So for the first time in my 39 years on earth, I didn’t go home for Eid. How does it feel? Nothing much really. To be honest as I age, I become to dread the annual exodus and massive traffic jam along the highway and byways to and from our hometowns. I’m tired of plying the same road, seeing the same sight and doing the same exact thing. I don’t mind driving for a nice vacation to a brand new faraway place, seeing new sights, doing something different. Anything other than same old Tanah Merah and Pasir Mas. My wife might disagree but that’s how I feel.

Despite not going back to my hometown this year, I have applied for my Raya leaves well in advance and for 5 days earlier. So by Friday, 4 days before Eid I was already on leave. My wife however worked until the 2nd last day before that. So what preparations that we have for this year? Nothing much really. It’s a brand new neighbourhood and below 50% occupancy so we don’t expect much visitor or any visitors at all to be honest. I did clean up much of the house though for Eid and also the upcoming baby but that’s about it. No special menu or delicacies nor new decorations to cheer up the house.

Come Eid morning, I’ve decided to do the morning Eid prayers somewhere less common which was the Tuanku Mizan (a.k.a Masjid Besi) in downtown Putrajaya. There were quite a number of people attending that morning since I half expected many of them to be back in their hometown this festive season. Perhaps their hometown is somewhere nearby or inside the Selangor state borders. Perhaps that is their hometown now. Anyway, the Tuanku Mizan mosque is partially in renovation so that kinda spoiled the beauty or the mood that special Eid morning. Fortunately there’s ample parking space around the mosque so at least we didn’t have to walk far. I actually left my phone at home that day. It was the longest two hours of my life. Imagine sitting at the mosque doing nothing but staring at the people around you. Stuff of nightmares.

Our next plan was to visit the Prime Minister’s Raya open house at his residence in Seri Perdana. I thought if there’s a good time to visit a minister’s open house it’s this year. Who knows whether the old guy is still going to be around next year or he’s gone into retirement (or ousted) already. If Najib was still around, I won’t even consider it. Getting to Seri Perdana that day was not exactly straightforward in spite of using Waze. Many of the regular roads were closed and we had to detour a few times to get to the designated route. Naturally the parking lots were quickly filled with motorcars and we had to park haphazardly by the roadside. After that we walked a short way to Seri Perdana and surprise-surprise, people were basically queueing (more like swarming) the entrance for at least 300 meters back to get into the residence. Either people really wanted to see Tun Dr Mahathir this year or it has always been like this, I’m not sure. But that was the only entrance set up and everybody had to go through the inadequately provided 4 security scanners hence the bottleneck at the gate. There’s no way my heavily pregnant wife and I is going to stand around for long especially under the hot sun for that so it was with heavy heart that we just turn around and go somewhere else instead. If somebody from the Prime Minister’s Office is reading this, please set up more entrances into Seri Perdana, at least one more on the opposite side maybe. And if you really have to do it, provide more security scanners or at least use one of those handheld ones to make the queue less insufferable.

So where do we go next? My wife insists that we go somewhere other than back home this special day. I have always wanted to drive around KL city centre and see for myself how empty the streets are as some people have been saying all this time so we did just that. After driving along Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman and the surrounding area, I can say KL on the first day of Raya is not empty but it’s not exactly bustling either. There’s definitely less car and many of the popular shopping centres (even Sogo) is closed for the day. After KL we came up with the bright idea of visiting my uncle in Kota Damansara. By stroke of luck, my wife saw their family photos on Instagram so they’re definitely in town. Now at least there’s one relative’s house we can visit that day, not to mention enjoy glorious Raya food. Had my uncle been elsewhere that day, we would have gone to The Curve and had lunch at Warong Leko instead, if they’re open. Later that day, we visited Linda brother’s in law’s place in Seri Kembangan. They were celebrating Eid here this year.

That’s basically how we spend our first ever Eid in Selangor. It’s not that bad really, even without the kids. Sure there’s one or two moments when I miss their laughter (or wailing) around the house but that’s about it. Back when I was younger, I always look forward for this special day like most other normal kids do. As I grow older though, I become less and less thrilled at the prospect of driving 24 hours return trip just for the occasion, not to mention the associated costs. At the risk of sounding like The Grinch, I don’t mind celebrating festivities once in a while, I’m just not very fond of the routines connected to it. Someday when all of our parents are gone, I don’t think there’s any reason for me to continue the tradition of going back there for Eid at least. Semenyih will be our new hometown.

Liverpool FC 2018-2019 season review

This is our season! That’s the usual mantra that I have for Liverpool FC at the beginning of our season. It used to be a laughing matter in the Hodgson and Rodgers era but since Klopp took over and our steady development over the years, few rival fans would be laughing now.

After the revelation that are Mo Salah and Virgil van Dijk, Liverpool dipped into the transfer market again immediately after that heartbreak in Kiev. What Karius did in the Champions League final was irredeemable and despite Klopp not publicly chastising him in public, we know very well that a world-class goalkeeper is needed to avoid such embarrassment in the future. So Karius was shipped out to Beşiktaş and Alisson signed from Roma for a world record fee of £66.8 for a goalkeeper (albeit for a short while before Kepa). The rest as they say is history. The number of critical saves that Alisson made had contributed to at least a dozen points for Liverpool in the league and saved the team from getting knocked out in the group stage of the Champions League. Fabinho another new signing from Monaco is rock solid in midfield, making huge contributions to Liverpool’s defence and also becoming an important link to our offensive players. Naby Keita although taking a little bit of time to shine at Anfield, scored a few goals in the league and in the run up to the Champions League final. Add Shaqiri to the list and I must say Liverpool and Jurgen Klopp made some very shrewd signings in the summer transfer window.

Like last year, Liverpool started the season really well, winning most games in the league but quickly got knocked out from the two domestic cup competitions. Although some would argue that Klopp rotated heavily and played Liverpool B in those games since he did not regard the competitions as highly as the league and Champions League. Liverpool were on top of the table during by Christmas with 7 points ahead of their title rival Man City but then headed into a short-lived but consequential drop of form and points beginning with the narrow loss at the Etihad Stadium. Liverpool did not loose another match again for the rest of the season but they did draw another 3-4 times which ultimately proved decisive for their title-challenge. Despite our best effort, City went on a 14 match winning streak to pip Liverpool to the title by just one point. Imagine if Liverpool had drawn 6 instead of 7 matches or that goal by Sadio Mane had gone in by a few more millimetres, we would have been crowned champions instead of Man City. The 97 points that Liverpool recorded this season would have won the league in the the previous 29 seasons except last year, that was how much Liverpool improved and how close the title challenge was this year.

In the Champions League, Liverpool had a mixed bag of result in the group stage. Winning all the home matches but losing all 3 away games and barely scraping through to the last 16 by winning on the final match against Napoli. While the Liverpool front three provided the important goals to progress, Alisson and Van Dijk proved to be colossal at the back, making crucial tackles and saves to get clean sheets and keep to score down. It’s in the latter stages that Liverpool finally found their rhythm and convincingly dispatched first Portuguese champions Porto before beating Germany champions Bayern Munich 3-1 in their backyard. In the semis, Liverpool was handed a mouthwatering tie against the mighty Barcelona featuring the likes of Messi, Suarez, Coutinho amongst other world class players. The teams fate looked all but sealed in the first match at Nou Camp when Messi delivered a masterclass performance, inspiring Barça to a 3-0 win while providing a brace in the match. However, mentality monsters as Klopp would call them, Liverpool would never give up so easily and presented one of the most incredible comeback since Istanbul by trashing Barça with 4 goals without reply in front of an ecstatic Anfield crowd to secure a spot in the final for the second year running.

In Madrid 3 weeks later, Liverpool had a slight advantage over first timer Spurs having had more experience since the disappointment in Kiev plus the major signings and improvement Klopp had formulated since last year. It only took Liverpool 3 minutes to get ahead when they were awarded a penalty after Sissoko handled the ball in the penalty area. Mo Salah made no mistake from 6 yards to blast in the first goal in the final. While Spurs made some relentless attack and foray into the final third, Liverpool held on thanks to a combination of excellent defending and occasional charge into Spurs’ backline. Liverpool legend, Divock Origi sealed the victory with a sweet strike to beat Lloris in the final 10 minutes of the match. Like many others Liverpool fans, I had my fair share of criticism of Jordan Henderson. His seemingly negligible contribution to the Liverpool team and the fact that he was rotated heavily in midfield despite holding the captain’s armband. However no one can deny the immense contribution he made in the run in to the final and also his tireless running and leadership in the premier league. And I daresay no Liverpool supported could hide their delight seeing Henderson lift number 6 in Madrid that historic night.

In summary, for 2018-2019, Klopp had made major improvement areas that were identified as weak spots in the team, mostly defence and some minor tweaks in midfield. Liverpool didn’t simply splash their money in the transfer market to get the most expensive player but singled out the right player with all the required attributes to shine in Klopp’s team and method and pay sometimes large amount of money required to acquire them. Alisson, Van Dijk and Fabinho are some of the names that perfectly fit this category. Klopp’s measured but methodical approach to training and matches ensured Liverpool progress from 4th place last season to 1 points from winning the league and adding number 6 to the barren trophy cabinet. Hopefully next season we would finally end our title draught in time for our 30th anniversary from last winning it. With Klopp in charge it’s certainly possible.

How to transfer your children to a new school in Selangor

After over 7 months of sending our kids back and forth between Semenyih and Seri Kembangan, we finally found a suitable and much closer school for them right here in Bangi. I can’t tell you which school it is for privacy and security reasons but suffice to say this one is only 8 kilometers or 15 minutes drive from our home compared to 45 minutes (of rushing) for the previous one. It is a relatively obscure school and not very popular compared to a few other elite or established schools in town but any school much nearer to home will do for us for now. Plus the fact that there’s a proper nursery/transit and religious school just nearby also helps. So here’s how you go about changing schools for your kids within the state of Selangor.

First things first, you need to visit the office of your old school and bring along a few basic documents including copies of your marriage certificate, child birth certificate, their parent identity cards, any one of your utility bills* with your or your spouse’s name on it and your child’s examination result if they have sat for one. You will then hand over all those documents to the clerk and fill up the P.U (A) 275 forms, 3 copies for each children. This form will need to be signed by the headmaster of the school so bear in mind it might take a day or two for he/she to do so.

Once the headmaster signs the P.U (A) 275 form, you will have to bring that and all the relevant documents that I mentioned earlier to the district education office (PPD) where the new school is located. In my case it’s the Hulu Langat education office in Kajang. There the clerk and officers will review your application and decide whether to approve or reject them. I can only speculate here but some of the reasons for rejection is the school that you are applying to transfer is really popular and the classes are already full (pretty common for urban schools in Selangor/KL) or the new school is too far away from your current address. As for me while I do live at a Semenyih address, the new school that I’m transferring my kids to are pretty near in distance hence they have no valid reason to reject my application. But to be honest, I was worried at first thinking that they might insist that I register at S.K Semenyih or S.K Rinching Hilir which are also close by but fortunately for me that did not happen. We’d rather not send our kids to S.K Semenyih because it’s a bit further away and does not coincide with the route we’re taking to work. As for S.K Rinching Hilir, it is a quaint little school tucked in the middle of Rinching Hilir village but too bad, there’s no registered nursery or transit point to leave our children at nearby plus there’s absolutely zero school bus to ferry our kids after school.

Next after you get your approval from the PPD, go back to your old school to submit the approved forms and collect your child’s myriad school records - which include academic, co-curriculum and health records. If the old school owes you any certificates of achievement, demand those as well before you leave for good. Other than that, you will also need to carry along all the text books from your old school to the new one. You will have exactly 14 days from the date of the transfer approval to register your kids to the new school or the transfer will automatically be cancelled.

Finally when you get all your documents, forms and records ready, you head on to the new school to register your child. Ideally you should go to the new school office before your children officially start school so that the clerk and teacher can do all the necessary preparations (like deciding which class to put them in). You can pick any dates within the 14 days to send your child to the new school but we chose the first Monday after the last week at the old school so that they don’t miss any classes or lessons.

So that’s basically the steps you will have to take to switch your children’s school. Might sound like a lot of work but lucky for us, all the parties involved did their best to make the process as smooth as possible. All in all it took us only 3 days to finish everything and we had to take 2 days off from work to settle everything. As of today our children starts their first day at the new school. Sure it will take some time for them to adjust to a new surrounding, make new friends but I’m sure they will do just fine.

*if you are renting, you will need to submit a tenancy agreement with your names on it.


For this year’s company trip, we were treated with an all expense paid ticket to Movie Animation Park Studios (MAPS) in Ipoh, Perak. It’s no Pangkor resort trip but anything is better than nothing. We started very early in the morning, assembled at school by 6:30AM and left for Ipoh by 6:40AM. After a short break in Tapah, we arrived in MAPS about an hour and a half later. We were given goody bags and a bracelet to wear. You can bring in your bags/backpack but apart from a small water bottle, they will confiscate all of your food. Typical theme park capitalist bs.

First thing first, we were given a quick safety briefing. After that, it’s free and easy. We get to try almost every ride and attraction in the park. I said almost because some of them require separate coupons not included in the package that were paid for for us. On paper or brochure, there’s over a dozen attractions offered on the pack. However during our visit, some of the more appealing rides like Space X-Plorers and Hyperspin were ‘closed for maintenance’. Even the Boboiboy roller-coaster ride decided to break down while we were queuing to enter. The only memorable rides that I managed to try were Asteroid Attack, Stunt Legend Arena and the Sacred Riana Haunted House. Asteroid Attack is basically a giant swing which does 360 degrees spin which is sure to leave your heart in your mouth. Watch trained stuntmen do car and bike stunts in the custom-built Stunt Legend Arena. Sacred Riana Haunted House meanwhile is supposed to be scary and you can see the ladies screaming like a girl when they come out. As for me and much of the boys, it’s not that terrifying to be honest. I’d give it a 3 out of 5 stars. 

The rest of the rides and attractions are more suited to children below 12 so I did not try much of them. We were treated with lunch and high tea buffets throughout our stay. Overall I would recommend MAPS Ipoh only if your have school-going children. For adults like me, going there without your little ones is rather dull because the majority of the attractions are made for them. Entrance to the park is free but you’ll have to pay for each and every one of the rides/attractions which cost in average 3 coupons (up to 5 coupons per ride). One coupon is sold for 3 ringgit each and in average, your kids will want to try at least 10 rides in the park so do your maths. Food & souvenir are as always insanely expensive. 12 ringgit for a typical lunch meal not including drinks. Compared to Sunway Lagoon which is the benchmark, I would say the MAPS Ipoh is only slightly worse off in terms of attractions and facilities. I didn’t get to try all the attractions in the park because like I said, they were more for young children plus the fact that we were leaving by 4:30PM that day. If you wanna bring your family, go early in the morning before there’re too many crowd. The park closes at midnight every day.

Serene Heights review

It’s been 5 months now since we moved to our new Serene Heights home and it’s been largely a pleasant change from our previous place. Obviously, this new house is much larger than the 813 square feet apartment we had before. It has a porch where we could park our car and the bike. Even a little strip of land underneath it where we could grow plants or grass if we want to.

Did I find any defects? Sure we did but they were promptly attended to. At first we used to shoot an email every time we find one. Eventually we got hand of the subcontractor’s number and just call the Bangladeshi directly for defect repairs (thank you Zapor!). The usual ones are leaking roof, clogged pipes and drain, uneven flooring/tiles and paint jobs. Nothing too serious that they cannot fix.

For now the girls Mia and Hana are still going to SK Taman Desaminium back in Taman Puncak Jalil. Like I said before, we could not find a suitable/proper nursery and transit that meets our requirement. The one that we found in Alam Sari only cater to schools around Bangi. And the one in Semenyih are difficult to find. So at the time being we are resigned to waking up at 6:00 AM every morning (earlier if Mia had to go to hockey practice/competition).

Like I said in my initial review, many of our neighbours have not moved in yet. I dare say only about 1/3 of them did as of writing. I have met a few across the street and when they hold open houses/housewarming. Many were still renovating their houses before moving in. One thing I can say for sure is that my neighbours here are a wealthy lot. All of them have at least 2 cars each if not 3 or 4. Almost all of them have air-conditioning installed. They have done some kind of renovation to their houses, at least plaster ceiling and elaborate light fixtures. Some have auto gate installed. We naturally have none of the above. Don’t have the budget for any renovations and can’t afford to pay the expensive electricity bill once we installed air conds. My wife and I agreed that our main priority for now is a proper kitchen cabinet and perhaps a new sofa for the living room. There is absolutely no rush to fill our home with the bestest and most expensive thing. We have all the time in the world.

That said, the bedrooms upstairs get pretty hot day or night (in the afternoon especially). We get sweaty within minutes of entering the room. If I had it my way, I’d install air conds in every room. But as I said, can’t afford it now. As a result, everybody basically spend most of their time downstairs usually in the living room where it is much cooler. Even the guest bedroom is less hot than upstairs.

Presently, the neighbourhood currently looks nothing the beautiful surrounding like in the developer’s brochure. The lake waters are still brownish-orange in colour and the trees and parks are still in progress. I imagine it would take a while before they take shape.

In term of amenities, there’s not much to show within 5KM radius. Sure there’s one or two sundry shops and a couple of roadside eateries but that’s about it. No proper grocery stores or restaurants or specialty shops until 10KM away from the township. We usually do our monthly grocery shopping at Tesco Bandar Puteri near Bukit Mahkota or sometimes at Jaya Grocer in Bangi Gateway. It is not until recently that I discovered the little enclave called Sungai Tangkas next to the Bangi Komuter station which is lined up with quite a few grocery stores, restaurants and other shops and services. Nowadays if I wanna get something quick, I’d just ride my bike there to Sungai Tangkas. Although we are nestled right between Semenyih, Kajang and Bangi, we preferred to do most of our shopping in Bangi, usually Section 13 or the Bangi town centre which are undeniably more hip and happening. Semenyih or Bandar Sri Putra just don’t quite got that pull compared to he former.

Location-wise, Serene Heights is strategically located in the middle between Semenyih, Kajang and Bangi. Broga hill is just 20 minutes drive away, Kajang satay another 20 minutes, Bandar Baru Bangi - 15 minutes and also 15 minutes to Nilai. Port Dickson is an hour and a half drive away, Putrajaya - 30 minutes and KLIA another 30 minutes. In hindsight, although we are now a little bit further away from Seri Kembangan and KL, we are actually much nearer to a few other places of interest so it’s not all doom and gloom. That said, I must admit riding 45 minutes every week day to work feels quite tiring sometimes especially during bad weather days. Am I tempted to get another car? Sure but it’ll cost me a lot in the long run and I’m just about to settle the outstanding loan of my other car next year. Perhaps someday but not any time soon.

Moving to Serene Heights is a momentous landmark in our lives. It is a huge step forward for us literally in term of distance and figuratively in term of expenditure. Unless somehow either of us suddenly become a billionaire and can afford to buy another house, we’ll pretty much spend the rest of our lives in Serene Heights. I see this place has a big potential to develop further. It is maybe a sleepy hallow for now but that’s exactly how Taman Puncak Jalil was when we first moved in over a decade ago. 10 years for now, Serene Heights and the surrounding area would become a bustling suburban area with schools, malls and other modern amenities. As for now, I’ll enjoy the serenity and quietness this place has to offer.

DJI Spark review

If you’ve got yourself a DSLR, a GoPro, an iPhone and another point and shoot side camera, you’d think you’ve got the complete package and there’s nothing else photography-wise that you need right? Well, wrong because even with all that I have always dreamt of taking pictures and videos from a bird’s eye view. Hence the need for a quality drone with a good camera.

Drones in the market are a plenty, from cheap sub 100 ringgit generic brand drones to top of the line GoPro Karma and DJI Mavic and Phantom drones which could easily fetch RM10,000 or more. While I’m tempted to buy one of those cheap China-made drones, I was not willing to sacrifice photo quality for cost. Hence why I finally decided to get DJI’s entry level drone, the DJI Spark.

I got mine for about 1,300 ringgit off Shopee, the basic model without a controller or propeller guards and extra batteries. My basic package only comes with a single battery, 2 extra propellers and a charging cable, that’s about it. A remote control is highly recommended if you’ve got cash to spare because it would easily double your drone’s range. The DJI Spark is a lot smaller than I thought, about the length of my iPhone 8 Plus which comes with some pro and cons. The tiny size makes the drone ultraportable and it can easily fit any backpack with it’s propeller closed. However the tiny size also limits the battery life so you will need some extra batteries if you wanna shot long footages or photography.

As always I’ve done extensive research and review before my purchase so I’ve learned a little bit about controlling the Spark with just my smartphone. Connecting the Spark to my smartphone is a pretty straightforward process if you follow the instruction carefully. After the initial update, I would recommend you set your smartphone in airplane mode but turn on only the wi-fi to easily connect. Somehow the drone is rather finicky in connecting if you’ve got your phone’s data on or the wi-fi connected to an Internet source. Another tip I should give you is to be mindful when flying the drone indoors. Right after lift off, the drone will automatically hover up about 1 meters from the ground so make sure you have no obstacles around it or risk collision and breaking the propellers. Better yet, don’t try to fly the drone indoors unless you absolutely must. Outdoor flight is the best and safest way to control your precious drone.

The basic unit with the standard battery can give you approximately 15 minutes flight time. The maximum flight altitude that I usually get is about 42 meters up and 100 meter range. As I mentioned earlier using a separate remote controller, you can fly the drone up to 2km away. That said I would advise you keeping the drone in your sight at all times because the risk of losing your drone if it flies too far away is very real. I can recall the half dozen times I lost sight of my Spark only to scramble to get it within range again before it automatically lands god knows where when the battery runs out. While the Spark has a smart obstacle detection features, it could only hover for as long as the battery doesn’t run out. Once it does, it will simply drop dead on the spot. That said, although I’ve encountered a few near-panic experiences where I lost control of the drone, I had always be able to connect back to the drone again, usually by moving really close to the drone. As a rule of thumb, avoid flying the Spark in really crowded places to avoid losing control of the drone due to radio interference.

Learning to fly the Spark takes some practice and a considerable flight time, just like a real pilot. The more you fly your drone, the more experienced and good you will get. As I mentioned earlier, the best place to fly your drone is outdoors with a lot of empty space away from buildings and radio interference. I have once tried to fly the Spark in downtown KL but I immediately run into trouble just getting it to fly straight up. My guess is the number of tall building and radio interference (cellular and wi-fi signal) were just too high in the cities so they will directly interfere with your drone’s signals. Controlling the drone with a phone takes a little bit of a learning curve. You need to familiarize yourself with all the virtual buttons and sliders, which one will go left or right, up or down and the sliders for the camera. Reading the included manual does not help very much so I would advise you to watch one of the many Spark flying guides available on YouTube. One particular guide showed me how to switch the camera tilt button from the regular motion sensor to the virtual slider which provides better control and less shake while taking pictures which proved to be really useful.

Don’t be fooled by it’s compact size. The Spark’s camera does its job really well and the drone itself is engineered for maximum stability even in strong winds. A mechanical 2-axis gimbal ensures you don’t get any shaky footage and pictures. The f/2.6 wide-angle lens on the camera captures details on the ground in stark detail and unmatched clarity. Thanks to the 1/2.3 inch CMOS sensor, the camera can capture beautiful footage at 1080p and images at 12 MP which is comparable to those taken on an iPhone 7. The camera department is where the DJI line of drones shine over those cheap competitors. You can see some sample photos and videos that I’ve taken with the Spark above.

As the popularity of personal and commercial drones grow, so does the laws and regulations associated with flying drones in public spaces. I’m not sure where you can get the official list of no-fly zones in this countries but as common sense goes, you most definitely cannot fly your drones at any airports, government and official buildings. From what I read, KLCC and Putrajaya are also included in the no-fly zone list. I’ve been to a few tourist spots like the Boh Tea Centre in Cameron Highlands where the staff quickly asked me to bring down my drone as soon as they spotted it. I don’t know what’s the rational behind it, since it’s a really open and spacious tea plantation. What harm could a little drone flying above the tea leaves could do. But to avoid any conflicts or troubles, I just followed his orders and pilot my drone down anyway. Worst case scenario he could confiscate my drone and/or eject me from that private property. It is best that you ask for permission from the security or person in charge before flying your drones in touristy places just to avoid any untoward incidents with yourself or your aircraft.

After nearly a year of flying the Spark, I’ve taken hundreds of photos and videos over beautiful streams, parks, fields and even on top of a mountain once without any trouble. It is quite sturdy too because it had once collided with a fence while landing but to my surprise everything, including the fragile-looking blades are still intact. As an entry level drone, the DJI Spark is at good as it gets. For its price and specifications, you get a compact drone with a fairly advanced capabilities comparable to its more costly siblings. I would recommend the Spark if you’re just starting to get into aerial photography and is limited on budget. If you have more money, getting the more advanced DJI Mavic Pro is the obvious answer. As for me, I’m just happy with my Sparky for now. Bought an extra battery pack as a spare and now I can add another 15 minutes to my flight time. Of course I’m thinking of getting the extra remote controller some time in the future but at 450 ringgit a pop, it is not on top of my priorities list.