Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Holiday On A Shoestring

Entrance to Ma Dian Mosque, Beijing

How far does RM1,800 take you these days? The answer depends very much on your lifestyle and your spending habits.

To some, that amount is not even enough to cover the cost of a clutch bag. And I know of people who do not bat an eyelid forking out 10 crisp RM100 bills for a simple dress or a pair of heels.

To others, RM1,800 goes a long way indeed - rent and utility, food and grocery, kids and school, baby formula and disposable nappies, expenses for work (transportation, meals, attire). And we have not even factored in medication, let alone leisure.

I also know many regular families that exist on a lot less in a month, where only Dad works while Mom stays home to rule the roost. Money's tight always, but they make do with whatever's at hand and scrape through each time.

Me? I buy my clothes off-the-rack at department stores. Heck, there's nothing wrong with a RM50 blouse and a RM70 pair of kurung . And if the occasion calls for it, there's always dependable Ms Read, for the good cut and the ample sizes it affords. That's the limit of my splurge.

I am quoting RM1,800 because that was the nett cost of my five-day, four-night Beijing getaway (excluding shopping, of course). What I'm really trying to say is, one can still have loads of fun on a shoestring.

I don't plug holiday packages as a matter of course. But I'm doing it this instance because I think it is worth sharing. Also, the travel agency that we used,
Rajawali Travel & Tours Sdn Bhd, located a walking distance from our home in TTDI, has lived up to our expectations by doing a good job all around.

We were placed in centrally located, four-star
Long Ding Hua Hotel, only 10 minutes from Tiananmen Square and 30 minutes from the Beijing International Airport. The staff was courteous and the frontliners spoke decent English.

Meals were halal and delicious all the way, although one should not expect too much nor compare with home. Malaysians are spoilt by overabundance and choice that the standard spread (I'm speaking non-international chain here) would look somewhat meagre, so any comparison would be highly unfair.

Breakfast in Long Ding Hua, for example, was overtly Oriental - noodles and rices, Chinese buns (pau), omelettes and sunny side-ups (telur mata kerbau), sliced bread and butter & jam, sponge cakes and nut cookies, with a host of sauteed meats and vegetable dishes besides.

Pak Abu lamented the absence of a more Continental spread - cereals, croissants, breads and buns, meats and salads - but the girls and I were happy enough to tuck in fried rice and noodles to meet another freezing day.

Lunches and dinners were in restaurants offering Muslim cuisines. They were chosen not only for the types of dishes they offer but also for the availability of prayer space or vicinity to a mosque.

Our guide Lu Qiang and driver Jiang were gems in their own right. Both were polite, soft-spoken and punctual. Jiang's English extended to only greetings, so there wasn't much communication between us, except nods and smiles.

Lu, on the other hand, was a delight. Helpful and accomodating, we could sense from his careful English how he minded his Ps and Qs. We knew he enjoyed our interaction with him in this alien yet convenient tongue.

This Beijing 5D4N package is only RM498/pax. We were lucky to have purchased it at a time when MAS was having discounted fares; we paid RM1,300 nett/pax return for the flight tickets, so the total cost came to RM1,798 per person. And what did we get for this highly agreeable amount? Snowloads of fun, that's what!

Package of RM498/nett includes:
- Return airport transfer
- Four-night accomodation
- Full board (breakfast, lunch and dinner)
- Tours, as per itinerary
- English-speaking guide
- Entrance fees (tickets)

Package excludes:
- Air ticket
- Airport tax
- Personal expenses
- Excess baggage
- Tips for guide & driver

As I understand it, this price is valid until February 15, 2010. You may want to contact Rajawali Travel for updates on the Beijing package and whatever other packages that they may have. Their office tel: 03-77292022 /3022 /7022. For the record, some friends of Nawwar have already made bookings. We wish them a hassle-free, fun-filled holiday in Beijing....


Rajawali Travel said...

Dear Puan Puteri and family,

We are happy that you enjoyed the trip to Beijing. Thank you for the special mention of our company's detail in this prestigious blog of yours. We look forward to serve you again for your next holiday destination.

Management and staff,
Rajawali Travel & Tours Sdn. Bhd.

kay_leeda said...

Kak Puteri,

Tour packages are getting more and more competitive and attractive now. As a matter of fact, it is sometimes cheaper to go on a holiday abroad than do a local one.

Thanks for the info. Will check out Rajawali..(err...what else is new with me kan...if not jln2 cari ketenangan..heh..heh)

Kak Teh said...

You must really start tour own travelogue soon. sorry - no blogging at the moment - busy with DPM's visit and its snowing again.

take care.

Oldstock said...

Salam Kak Kama,

It was lovely reading the account of your Beijing travels. I'm hooked.

Looking forward to traveling to China soon, I hope.

NanaDJ said...

Yes I think that package is very good and value for money. I am surprise that you can get such packages (of that standard) at that price - was once CEO (yes, was given that lofty title by the parent company to soften the blow of sending me in exile) of a Travel Agency so I have some knowledge about the travel industry.
Would be nice if our Sifus (you and our feisty Mamasita)organize an all blogger trip, I can imagine how hilarious it will be.

pakmat said..., not for this pensioner,lady..RM1800.00 is just a few dollars short of my monthly pension..and the turning that I chose at that t-junction ended with 5 more children, with 3 at colleges and 2 still in secondary should see the bruises scraping thro every month has left on my body..can't afford it even if they gave me discounts by putting me up in a budget hotel like Short Ding Hua Hotel..but have to agree with 1.8k that Beijing trip is a steal...

Anonymous said...

Kak Puteri

Tq for the info.I've checked several other tours and I think at RM1.8 is really a good offer.Will check with Rajawali

Shahieda said...

My first time commenting on your blog Kak Puteri :)

I hope that when I visit KL again I'd be able to slot in a visit to China as well! NanaDj has the right idea, it would be so much fun!!

Anonymous said...

salams cik kama,

my lot would in fact use hand me downs. so RM1,800 would really go a long, long way for us. glad to note that you enjoyed your recent holiday.

jasmani, singapura

Kama said...

The folks in Rajawali Travel - tQ for making our family holiday a beautiful one.. and for reading my rambling blog..

Kay - I know you are one intrepid traveller, so this would interest you :)

Kak Teh - Caught the news on DPM's visit; dok tinjau2 to see if could spot you amongst the crowd tapi tak nampak..

Oldstock - china's a different kettle of fish altogether..that's what makes it fun to experience.

NanaDJ - Outbound packages are really getting more competitive these days.. good for the likes of us who don't hv a big budget to blow..

Pakmat - Awww.. then again Pakmat, it's only recently that I hv been able to go places, syukur alhamdulillah, now that the kids are up and working. Short Ding is better than No Ding at all, Pak Mat! hehehe..

Anon - Quite a steal kan? I was checking through some local packages (read East Malaysia).. the difference is negligible..

Shahieda - Hola sweetie! nice of you to drop by..twas really great having you with us in KL recently... daughter nawwar is still in awe of your svelte figure.. oohhh!

Jas - That was the situation with me Jss for the longest time too especially because I was raising the kids single-handedly. Stretching the ringgit became an art unto itself..hehehe.. Soon enough, life will ease up a bit for sure.. Thanks for the kind wishes, here's to you Jas, have a good one!

GUiKP said...

We have contacted Rajawali for an impending trip to Mumbai, and got an immediate repsonse. Impressive, and thanks to the persuasive Puteri.

AuntieYan @ Makcik Blogger said...

Salam Kak Puteri,

Really 'terpaku' reading your 'journey' to China...don't know when I will get the chance to do so......
ppsssttt!! kira-kira pitih, dok cukup..kira lagi, pong, dok cukup gak.... :-(

Tommy Yewfigure said...

Wah Puteri, your invaluble word of mouth advertising for Rajawali deserve a free trip to whereever u wish lah. Kesian, I'm not their CEO, & yes, I'll even throw in an all expenses paid no limit credit card too :)))


Pi Bani said...

Aiseh... my shoe got no string la. Shoestring budget oso cannot. For the moment I cuma cuti-cuti Malaysia ajelah dulu (Malaysia pun tak habis round lagi!). Or tunggu another fully sponsored conference like last year's trip to Bali... :)

Kama said...

GUiKP - Waahh.. good leh!

Yan - tunggu sebulang dua lagi, pahtu kira balik.. mesti pitih cukok doh masa tuu.. :)

Tommy - Good things should be shared.. am doing my part and am happy if it can help spread the joy.

Pi - you are one smart gal, la Pi. kami kena bayaq sendiri.. I also feel guilty, cuti2 malaysia lom cover sepenuhnya lagi..

anak si-hamid said...

You lucky, lucky girl. I applaud your ability to run on economy fuel because a lot of people have more money than sense (cents) when it comes to spending money.
It sounded like you all had a wonderful time.
I had a good chuckle reading that bit about all those 'hensem' men. I really think you should behave too!! Also the 'mata sepit' is now very fashionable. I only wished it was so when I was younger.

Shahieda said...

Hugs and kisses to Nawwar! Svelte figure?? I didn't feel so svelte by the time I boarded the plane home, hehehehe!

Thank you once again for making my stay such a memorable one! I shall be back soon!

Salt N Turmeric said...

So cheap Kak Puteri? How abt the cost of food? Are they expensive?

Kama said...

Salam Farina
I can't say for sure about eating out in Beijing because all our meals were taken care of; bfast at the hotel, lunches & dinners in Muslim restaurants. But I guess it wouldnt differ much from Malaysia kot. Btw, coffee in Starbucks Beijing was more expensive that Starbucks in KL.