Monday, March 9, 2015

Tantrum Me

I don't want to do anything
Or talk to anyone
My appetite doesn't agree with everything
Feeling lazy and tired, tired, tired
I only want my dunlop pillow..only that specific pillow
And sprawl over the entire king size bed from end to end
Counting by seconds before falling asleep
But falling asleep only come for awhile!
Leaving me restless thinking of nothing interesting
Then it revisit, but just before dreamland is vanished!
How's like grabbing lollipop off a hopeful kid 
I was ready to be taken somewhere beautiful! Take me, take me, take me there!
Ohh the distant sound of the water fall and chirping birds...Cool breeze blowing the hair, lungs of fresh air
Perfect place to relax while sipping fresh coconut juice and enjoy the outdoor bali massage..
Soothing the aching shoulder, down the spine to toes 
Pushing the stress out, out, out from my body and soul...Pufff into thin air!
Leaving me light, so light that I can tiptoe on the water, fly in the air, bounce to the sky and laugh, laugh, laugh
I want to go there now, immediately, this instant
Opium? Seriously??

Sunday, March 16, 2014

The mind needs honesty

Last February, I signed up for a 1-month gym membership and diligently worked-out at least 3 times a week with strict diet control. There were times I had to force my self to the gym because a minimum of 10 sessions were required to make the 1-month membership worth of value. So, I pre-booked evening dancing or aerobic classes a week in advance (I am useless in using the treadmill or any machines - 10 minutes max is my personal record so far). 

In order to motivate myself, I bought a pair of pink and grey coloured Nike trainers and track bottom. Thanks to the extended New Year sales at Sports Direct. I also managed to rope in a group of friends   into playing badminton during weekends - Farah, Faten and Era. One evening after school, out of excitement, Era and myself hopped on the bus to Lily White in Piccadilly Circus to buy badminton rackets. Era got even more excited to see Lee Chong Wei printed on Yonex packaging. Most of the 'nice to hold' Yonex rackets were more expensive (>£30) than others and the cheaper ones were 'double rimmed'. There was Cartlon on offer for £5.99! What an excellent deal we thought, before realising they were for kids. After such a fuss on selecting the 'best' racket we settled for Cartlon, single rim, £9.99 after discount from £20. There were two colours available. I chose pink (to suit my new trainers and track bottom) and Era chose blue (because there was no other choice hehe).

I remembered being constantly hungry during that month but felt 'light' and healthy. Despite of the stress in finishing the 'seemed- to be-never-ending thesis', I managed to have control over my body and mind without having to bother my parent or husband with long distance phone calls in the odd hours. However, there were many days when my mind and body disagreed with each other. Those were days I breached the diet by having KFC, brownies and lasagne with extra cheese!  On the days my head felt heavy from 'thinking', I skipped the dancing classes and headed straight  home for bed. 

After much hesitant since January, I finally have the courage to step on the weighing scale. By the end of February, the scale didn't show the number that I expected it to be. I was a bit disappointed even though my jeans got a bit loose and I could fit in the few old shirts. My friends said "Jeans are more truthful than the scale", but I wanted something measurable, something that I can compare objectively. I didn't renew the gym membership for the following month as I wouldn't be able to commit in the first 2 weeks of March. My other half will be visiting during that 2 weeks and we had exciting plans (which of course, did not include visiting the gym). 

This time around, my husband, Nasrul, came with a mission to visit all Malaysian restaurants in London. I am familiar with 5 and he wanted to try at least one meal (preferably Nasi Lemak) at all of them, including the Malaysia Hall canteen. So, in total 6 venues! 
- Melur 
- Pak Awie 
- Tuk Din
- Bonda
- Rasa Sayang
- Malaysian Hall canteen

Our planned trip outside London occupied only 4 out of his 14-day stay, meaning that visits to all restaurants would have to be within the remaining 10 days. One month of strict diet made me look forward for 'real food'. I fancied Nasi Lemak, Char Kuey Tiow, Ho Fan Noodle, Kari Laksa, Roti Canai and The Tarik Kaw. I have always wanted to have these dishes but time was a imitating factor (and didn't want to ruin the diet control back then). Now that I have a loyal partner to drag me along (yes, he would actually drag me and insist I order a meal for myself with no excuses), my head started to calculate the total calorie I would have to endure. 

On our 'home meal' days, I cooked simple meal and he would give marks. For the best meal, he would give 9/10 and the less ones at least 6. Being a perfectionist I demanded a 10 for all meals! We always argued on the marks. I spontaneously listed out the hard core reasons why the marks should be higher and his rebuttal was - the mark couldn't be 10 because the remaining balance will be used to top up the next low mark. Pffttt! Nevertheless no matter what the marks were, there were seldom any left overs. We went outing with the slightest excuse to visit friends, spend hours in book stores, walk around the city and stop at coffee shops. Every outing had a sort of competition between us on who would first reached the next lamp post, touched the bonnet of a random car parked by the side way or reached the traffic light. I took these competions seriously and would sprint my heart out to be the first. I took the liberty to set random rules like 'ladies can start a few steps earlier' or 'men would have to take a few steps back' or 'men would have to carry all bags'. Having all the bias rules, there were not a time that I didn't end second place. 

Despite of 2 weeks of happy eating the weighing scale showed lower number!  I am aware that 2 weeks is so short of time to determine weight loss but still, I shut down the calorie calculator in my brain and happily ate full course and (sometimes) desserts too. Could it be the delayed effect of the 1-month gym and diet control? Or this is the result of being honest to both, my mind and body in the last 2 weeks. I was purely happy in all sense. I laughed, ate, ran, slept well, subconsciously exercising through sprinting competitions and felt happy. Every time the calorie calculator appeared in the ballooning cloud above my head, I imagined poking it with a sharp needle and 'pop' it was gone.

Perhaps, just perhaps…being a gym-and-calorie counter freak was useless. Refraining from enjoying delicious deep fried, chocolatey delicacies and attended gym classes halfway realising that  I was too exhausted to make another move were acts of dishonesty of the mind. I demanded too much from my own mind that it could have switched off its ability to consent. My body was unwillingly working with an exhausted mind. Even a burning desire is not strong enough to act with a unhappy mind. It may work vice versa because the mind is the human's most powerful tool, it can influence the body to shake off the coated laziness and focus on the core. It was the mind that wanted the chocolate cakes, not wanting to go to the gym and went to unstable emotion. I was dishonest to my own mind by denying or not acknowledging the things that would make it happy. 

There is a very thin line distinguishing the control of the mind, lust and desire  in making decisions. The majority of the XX species would agree that the lines are 10 times more difficult to be distinguished in shopping missions. At a serious note, I should focus on keeping the mind healthy which will naturally lead to spiritual and physical health. Forget the scale and the invisible calorie calculator. Control the mind - work smartly, think critically, eat deliciously and live healthily.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Trip to Switzerland from London

The three of us heard so much of Swiss land - the sophisticated Swiss watches, Swiss chocolates and the majestic scenery of the Swiss alps and mountains. We wanted to see as much as possible with lowest cost without compromising too much of comforts. This is a summary of a 5-day trip to Switzerland in early January 2014 which included Geneva (6th-8th) and Zurich (8th-11th). The cost and activities may differ when travelling in different season of the year. 

Getting ready

Ibis Hotel at Geneva, 2 nights: CHF 340
Ibis Hotel at Zurich, 3 nights: CHF 360


Return flight tickets: £78/person (Easy Jet promotion, Gatwick Airport)

Public transportation in Geneva: Free for tourists! The free travel cards were provided by the hotel upon checkin.  You must be a hotel guest to be eligible for this card. Alternatively, a 1-day Geneva City pass for trams and train is CHF 9.

Train from Geneva to Zurich: CHF 82/person 

Public transportation in Zurich:  Zurich is bigger than Geneva and more to see. A single tram trip is CHF4.20. As we planned to hop on and off the trams several times a day, the 1-day city travel pass card for CHF 8.40 was more reasonable. Other options for the travel pass is The Zurich Card (CHF 24) valid within 24-hour  for trams, boats and train to the airport, 10% discounts at selected retails including souvenir shops, free entry for museums and train to Uetliberg hill top. 

Train from Zurich to Flumserberg (return day visit): CHF 52/person

Pocket money: 

Get some Suisse Franc (CHF) before reaching the airport. We got good exchange rate at  Bayswater (£1=CHF1.46). Rates offered at other places were Leicester Square (£1=1.41), St. Pancreas Station (£1=1.31) and the Gatwick Airport (£1=1.30). Some friends recommended money changers at Edgeware Road for better offers. We brought CHF300/person mainly to enjoy local food and to purchase attraction tickets (btw, a decent meal cost at least CHF10). We also brought £100 cash and activated credit cards in case of emergencies.


Easy Jet means only ONE hand luggage, and do take note that handbag/ rug sack is already considered as 1 bag. So, pack wisely.

The trip!

1) Day 1 (6/1/14): London to Geneva

We arrived at Geneva Airport at 1030am. The official language is French. The 2 hours flight from Gatwick was smooth and the weather was good. As we flew above Switzerland,  the mountain peaks covered in snow glittered under the sunshine. It was like 'Wow MasyaAllah..Beautiful!'

Where? Owh Grand du' Pre??

From Geneva Airport to the city center (Cornavin) was an easy 10minutes train. The train tickets were free from the ticket machine at the arrival hall and valid for 80 minutes inclusive of trams and buses in the city. So, we took the opportunity within this hour for the tram from the Cornavin station to Ibis hotel. We then learned that the hotel was just 5mins walking from the station. Anyway, the bags would have made it a tough walk up the hill. Then, after a quick check-in, the rest of day was spent exploring Geneva city by foot.

We purposely didn't use the public transport because the city was small and the weather was nice. We visited the The Old City and enjoyed Swiss Chocolates and drinks at the local cafes. The city was still in the mood of new year sale season so SOLDES..SOLDES everywhere!  Here are some of the photos.

The shopping street

One of the local cafes

Hot chocolate…yummy..MUST try!
Swiss chocolates! They are happy to inform
(when asked) the ones containing alcohol

One of the lanes in the Old City
Geneva at night

It was a pleasant walk around the city. Big clocks are almost at every corner of the city. The ones in the show cases were also wow..very sophisticatedly designed and expensive! We visited a few Swatch retails, they definetely  have more trendy designs than the ones in Oxford Street but price tags after conversion seems to be cheaper in London (Ooops!).

Day 2 (7/1/14): Mountain Blanc!

View from the peak

Mount Blanc is the highest mountain in the European union and the cable car to the peak is the highest vertical ascending cable car in the world! A must see they say and now we are echoeing the same 'A MUST SEE!' The view is so breathtaking and beautiful SubhanAllah. 

Mount Blanc is located in Chamonix, a small city in France at the border of Switzerland.  The cable car station to Mount Blanc is in Aiguille de Midi, Chamonix. The easiest and  fastest way to get there is approximately 1.5 hours journey by bus/coach.  We explored all possible options for the cheapest package. These are the standard options for the day trip package from Geneva to Mount Blanc:  

a) CHF 156/person: Return bus to Chamonix (CHF88) + Cable Car (CHF68). One of the best deal but during our visit, this package was only available in the weekends.

b) CHF 176/person: Return bus with tour guide to Chamonix (CHF111) + Cable Car (CHF68).  This package was offered daily, but it was abit expensive and the reviews from Trip Advisor was not satisfying.

So we worked out cheaper options and found out 2 other affordable choices. These options were available from the arrival hall at the airport using the airport transits to Aiguille de Midi and self purchase for the cable car ticket:

a) CHF 163/person: Airport transit coach to Chamonix (CHF95) + Cable car (CHF68). The coach took us straight to Aiguille de Midi cable car station.  We took this option because they offered a more frequent and flexible trip timetable. We departed at 1130 and booked return trip at 1800.

b) CHF 123/person: Airport transit coach to Chamonix (CHF55) + Cable car (CHF68). This was the cheapest option but the offered trip timetable was less flexible.

Scenery by the road side: Switzerland-France border

At Aiguille de Midi 

View from inside the cable car

1st stop

Final stop of the cable car. There is a lift to the peak
The peak

Some useful tips:

  • Bring along your passport because you'll be crossing France border.
  • Once you reach Chamonix, the currency is in Euro as it is part of France. Self-purchase of the cable care tickets is in Euro. 
  • Have proper breakfast because you'll need the extra energy to cope with the excitement, the low temperature and higher altutitude level.  I personally felt dizzy and nauseated up there.
  • Proper warm clothings. The cable car will stop at the the peak of 15671 ft above land, temperature of -5C and windy (this may be different in other seasons).
  • Paracetamol and hot balm might be handy (just incase)
  • Bring some own food like sandwhiches, snacks and drinks. However, there's a cafe and restaurant at the peak. We had a cup of hot chocolate each and shared a bowl of vege soup which cost a total of €18.
  • Never pay cash to the coach/bus driver. All payments should only be made at the official counter for airport transit service.
Our day trip to Chamonix-Mount Blanc was a superb experience, and worth of every penny spent! We end the day with hot delicious meal at a Moroccan restaurant beside Ibis Hotel.

Day 3 (8/1/14) : Zurich!

Zurich is a 2 hour trip by train from Geneva Cornavin Station. We purchased the open train ticket and hopped on the non-stop journey straight to Zurich HB.  


In Zurich the spoken language is German. Our best recommendation is to drop by the Tourist Information Centre (inside Zurich HB train station) for maps, list of attractions and discounts offers for tourists. The officers at the centre speak good English, friendly and very helpful!

We checked in Ibis Hotel at Techno park (pronounced as Tekhno Pak in German). The rest of the day was spent touring the city, understanding the tram routes, window shopping and  brisk walking by the river until sunset. The scenery was even more beautiful towards the evening...the night lights made the city looked like a fairy-tale city.

The river in the city!
A view of the Geneva Lake from the train to Zurich.
The view when the train passed Geneva Lake was

awesome! There is a 5 hours panoramic train 

that goes along the lake and pass by 

Montreaux, the country side.

As usual, maps and maps again

Along the Od City lanes

The Old City lanes

Zurich during sun set

We covered the city using the 1-day pass (CHF 8.40) and had dinner at a kebab shop near the hotel for CHF 10. Then we did some food shopping at the local grocery store 'COOP'. We have plenty of Maggi instant noodles and 3 in 1 Milo drinks :P

Day 4 (9/1/14): Day trip to Flumserberg from Zurich

Flumserberg is a 2hr train from Zurich city. It is a mountain area outside Zurich city, famous for winter sports e.g. ski, snow boarding and skating to name a few. From Zurich HB station, we exchanged at Ziegelbrucke to Unterterzen. Unterterzen is a few stops before Flums. It has the cable car station to the mountains. There are also buses to the top available at other stops, but we did not explore this option.

From Zurich HB to Ziegelbrucke
From Ziegelbrucke to Unterterzen

A view at Walensee Resort
When we exited the Unterterzen train station, we found ourselves surrounded by beautiful mountains and a big lake. WoW!! This is also part of Resort Walensee - a ski resort that also offers facilities to rent/sell ski equipments.

Excited faces

The cost for renting the ski equipments, ski instructor, the cable car to the skiing ground and the ski pass to the skiing area would add up to approximately CHF 100+/ person. That was about the balance we had for another day at Zurich LoL! So, skiing was out of the picture. Plus we were not confident enough to ski down from 2000m 'OMG'! However,  we manage to figure out other fun stuff to do - return trip cable car to Mountain Maschgenkamm at 2020m and experienced hot coffee surrounded by the scenic white mountain tops and skiers! Then, from there we rode back to Chruz and experience the 20 mins return lift. The lift was so much fun because it was like an open air chair up the mountain, Best Giler! All that for less than CHF 60.  

Flumserberg lower ground from the cable car

Maschgenkamm Mountain, 2020m
Steadyyy..careful, don't roll over. 10sec selfie
Hot coffee and chocolate cake on the mountain top
taste like extra caffeine and endorphin
The lift!!

One leg missing...hahaha!

We came down to the lower land feeling exhausted but very satisfied. A solid 4 hours well spent indeed!! At the Zurich HB station, before heading back to the hotel, we dropped by the Tourist Centre to purchase the Zurich Card (CHF 24) -  24hr travel ticket for the next day. As previously mentioned, this travel pass once activated is valid for 24hrs and covers all public transport within Zurich City including the boat, the train to the Uetliberg Hill, the airport, free pass to museums and 10% discounts at the souvenir shops and selected eateries. 

Day 5 (10/1/14): Uetliberg Hill, Museum and Local Food

A rainy day but we still wanted to make full use of the Zurich Card and maximise the last day here. We activated our Zurich Card at approximately 10am (this can be done by stamping the card at the ticket machines available at any tram stations, and valid for 24hrs). Despite of the non-stop rain, we visited the Uetliberg Hill, the National Swiss Museum, tasted local food, hunt for affordable souvenirs and Swiss Chocolates :)

Checking for weather forecast by the hour, what else
are free, where else to visit?? 

Train to Uetliberg Hill, 824m - the highest top of
Zurich city

What the eyes captured in the 10 mins walk to
the top of the hill
A view from the tower at Uetliberg

The Swiss Alps

Switzerland National Museum
Lunch at a local cafe
Enjoying Movenpick Ice-cream.
"This is soo good, never mind the camera"
Hmmm Yummm :)

Counting to the last Franc

In conclusion, Switzerland is so worth visiting. It is a beautiful country that I wished my eyes can capture pictures. How amazing Allah created this world, how magnificent the mountains are and how beautiful are Allah's creation SubhnaAllah. A good start for a new year! I hope more trips will follow soon, InsyaAllah ;)

Day 6 (11/1/14): Back to London

Okayyy that was a fun trip! Back to the thesis, assignments, publication articles and Yawwnnnnn all the etc that matters. Thanks for reading. I hope this entry would give some ideas for your trip to Switzerland! 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Literature Review

Hi All/ Assalamualaikum,

Starting literature review can be confusing and difficult in the first year of PhD especially when our Master degree was by course work. But trust me, as you go along this PhD journey, doing literature review is one of the easiest task. 

In regards to the sharing of knowledge in DSG FB about managing references; I totally agree on the superb benefits from Endnotes, Mendeley and other softwares. I personally an Endnotes user. 

However, on top of the softwares, I use the conventional Excel and MWords to keep track of the articles I've read and summarised. But first I must mention that this tip is not entirely my idea, it was shared by my sister in law, Dr Elyna Myda (she has passed her phd from UCL early this year Alhamdulillah).

By updating these templates, I have a quick check on the number of articles I've read, the important points from each article and most important is practice to write at least 500 words/day.

Enclosed are samples of my templates.

(1) Excel Masterlist

Follow the link above and open sheet 'Masterlist' - the compilation of all the articles that have been read & summarised.
In the 2nd column 'Ref no', I labelled different types of Ref no. to indicate different topics of discussion. For example Ref No. A is about PKPD (pls see the Mwords doc enclosed for sample on article summary, below)

(2) Article summaries (ex: A-GFR PKPD)

For the summary of articles (in MWords doc), I merely spelled out what I have in mind in regards to the article, sometimes I cross reference points from other articles pertaining to similar discussion. 

(3) Sample of Literature Review report
This is not the best example but good enough to give an overview.

As I am now in the stage of finishing up my thesis, I find these short notes in Excel and Mwords very helpful.  This works for me and I hope you'll find your magic somewhere in between. Good luck in your journey and please make doa for the success of my viva early next year :)

If you are interested, there are also several entries about surviving 1st year Phd in this blog for sharing.