Category Archives: Travelogue

Getting away from it all. Travel Adventures & Experiences.

Northam All Suites Penang

While I’ve stayed at the classy E&O Hotel and even the laidback Lone Pines at Batu Feringgi, I must admit I really enjoyed my stay recently at the Northam All Suites in Penang. The staff were friendly and checking in or out was as smooth as smooth can be. The best part of staying there was that it was pretty cheap even though it was without breakfast. Well who needs hotel breakfasts when you’re in Penang right? Just step outside and there’s a whole world of tantilising tastes waiting for you!

Besides being centrally located near Gurney Plaza and Gurney Drive, this hotel has one of the more modern look and feel to it all. Besides having internet connection to the room, it has what I love the most….a bathtub. Oh wait a minute it’s not just a normal bathtub. It’s a Jacussi! and it’s located in the “room” itself. You can be laying there in the tub and watching TV at the same time!

Apart from the relaxing jacussi, we also managed to get a room with a frontal view to the sea! Very nice indeed! I think this is one of the better Business Hotels I’ve been to coming in second just behind the Business Suite that I experienced in Hilton KL. The cost however was much cheaper here at the Northam… approx 1/4 the price! Of course each has their own advantages and you do get what you pay for.

Superstar Virgo Honeymoon Cruise (9 to 12 Dec 2007)

[thumb:1766:l]Looking for a great getaway without going far? Try the Superstar Virgo Cruise! This trip was to be our honeymoon trip but it was done with 15 of us in total. Me, my wife and 13 other family members and relatives. I would say this is one trip worth remembering! Not because our privacy was intruded but rather because we simply had so much fun on the cruise…and having our family members around added to the fun and pleasure of the trip.

We left KL early on the 9th morning at approx 6am and headed down to Singapore by chartered bus. After a couple of toilet stops and breakfast, we finally reached Harbour City in Singapore where we boarded the ship. Checking in was simple enough even though there were so many people around. Again Singapore has managed to do it right. The last time we were here with a large crowd was during last year’s visit to the Night Safari. Lots of people but yet smooth flowing traffic. Simply wonderful!

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Upon stepping onto the ship.. YES IT WAS BOTH OUR FIRST TIME on a cruise… Sad huh? But at least we can say we’ve done it now! Well upon stepping on, we got a little lost as we tried looking for our cabin. Due to the 15 persons group the rooms & etc got a little messed up but it was soon sorted out and we finally found our room…. which we later got changed to a much quieter room. The first room was driving me nuts with the low audible hum . The front-desk has no qualms about switching our rooms for us. The new room was almost dead quiet… so that was a relief. And soon after we also found a little star shaped shortbread cake with a cute face and the words sorry on it. Talk about wonderful customer service!
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On board we had multiple meals from the normal buffet at the Mediterranean restaurant on deck 12 (Oh yes did I mention the ship has 13 levels!!! That colossal!) to the dim sum breakfast, classy dinner and wonderful lunches all around the ship! We also managed to catch the Mr. Bean Children’s special show as well as the acrobats from China and the dancers from Brazil. The broadway like shows were of world class level! I was really amazed and truly enjoyed the performances. We also managed to catch a performance by the staff and crew members. Again… world class standards and truly enjoyable! We also indulged in a little gambling at the casino. We had great company on the table with a couple of Singaporean sisters. They were funny and entertaining! We all made money on the 1st day but by the 3rd day or so… we were in the negative… but that’s alright coz it was truly fun and enjoyable nonetheless.
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On the 4 days 3 nights cruise, we also managed to try a little Bingo luck with May Lee getting exciting calling for a last number but alas it never came. The cruise brought us from Singapore to Penang to Phuket and back to Singapore. At both Penang and Phuket, we got off the ship onto the island and went around on our own. Getting on and off the ship was done very orderly and I must again commend on the professionalism of the crew on board. Everything was so systematic. For example, when we got back to the Jetty in Penang it started to drizzle. The crew was at hand providing people with disposable raincoats! Talk about taking care of your passengers.
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If you’ve never been on a cruise, I truly recommend going on the Virgo Cruise! The ship is large, stable and a pleasure to be on. Its after all one of the largest ships of the fleet. For those of you who think you might get seasick, you don’t have to worry…. I brought along travel sickness pills but I never had to use them at all. The ship was stable throughout the journey so much so that you would have though you were on terra firma but it did hit some rough seas on our way back from Phuket but even so, the motion was manageable.I look forward to our next cruise. It’ll definitely have to be on a large ship like the Virgo. I’m just somehow worried about getting seasick on the smaller vessels.
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If we had more days on the trip, we would have gone to the gym as well as gone for some swimming too! I did however manage to try wall climbing on their “portable” and “configurable auto-rotating wall (somewhat like a vertical threadmill with grips for your hand and feet). Pretty tiring!!!
For more pictures, check out the Gallery Here

Hong Kong & Macau Trip 2007

Hong Kong Map

Kuala Lumpur – Macau – Hong Kong – Macau – Kuala Lumpur in 6 days! That’s the sign of what’s to come and how busy and hectic we’ll be getting!

Sunday, 26 August 2007 – At the sound of our alarm at 2:30am, we jumped out of bed and started to get ready to proceed to KL Sentral to catch our bus ride to LCCT (low cost carrier terminal), Sepang. We drove to KL Sentral from our house in Bangsar and managed to drop the car off close by the office for my dad to pick up later during the day. We managed to catch our 3:30am bus. On the bus we caught some shut eye but soon enough we found we were already reaching LCCT. Upon arrival we met up with Lim Fong and Eric who have also just arrived a few minute before us. Immediately we checked in and proceeded to grab our early breakfast at Mc Donalds. Hmm Big Breakfast… yum.

At approx. 6am we managed to board our flight to Macau. This was an introduction of what’s to come. During our flight, there was a gentleman sitting opposite us who was from China. He was cutting his nails onboard the plane and letting his nail clippings fly & drop all over the floor. If that was not disgusting enough, he proceeded to cut his toe nails by lifting up each leg in return onto the chair. I’m sitting there wondering… is what everyone say true? Are the Chinese really that unrefined? Then again, that’s probably their way of life and they might not know better…. or so I thought…

[thumb:764:l]Our flight arrived Macau International Airport at 10:30am and we quickly caught an airport bus (AP1) to the Ferry Terminal which was about 10-15 mins away. We caught the ferry run by First Ferry company as we wanted to land on Kowloon side instead of Hong Kong Island as our hotel was on Nathan Road close by the pier. Our next encounter with HK Culture is when I asked the cabbie if charging for additional luggage was normal. He responded by pointing to a notice stuck on the side of the door, got out and slammed the door after him. Hmm… that’s surprising! Well… if he wants to slam his door, I figured I could help him do the same to the passenger side as well but I decided against it. Didn’t want to aggitate anyone unnecessary… thought I think I already managed to aggitate him by the simple honest question.

Our rooms in Imperial Hotel was adequate. Again the people in the front desk and reception had terrible attitude but there were one or two of the staff who was very courteous. The rooms was small but not TOO cramp, however Lim Fong and Eric’s room was more of a squeeze but then again when you’re in HK, you should hardly be in the room. And when you’re in the room, you’ll be glad there’s a place for you to rest your tired legs so it doesn’t bother you too much anyway. The bed sheets were a little musty and the pillows, well they were well used and smelt a little funny.

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After managing to rest a little, we met up with Wilson, my long time buddy from Middlesex University days who took us around to the shopping places, Lady’s Street & etc. It was good catching up with him and we managed to have some delicious “Mango Loh” desert along with some interesting simple rice dishes like ginger beef rice & etc. The chilli oil and beef noodles are also a must try in HK together with the dim sum which I would say is more or less comparable to those found here in KL. Great to know we’re not missing much in terms of dim sum quality. Oh did I mention that the one ton noodles’ texture is a must try? Anyway Hong Kong is a food haven as everyone knows and there’s always different kind of food for different budgets. Oh yeah we found it a little costly to have HKD30 noodles but we soon got used to it after a couple of meals. On a side note, when we got back from HK and went for breakfast, we found the food in KL ridiculously cheap as compared to HK as we only paid RM10.00 for eggs, toast and drinks for two person. How do you beat that?

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While in Hong Kong, we managed to go up to The Peak where we visited Madame Toussaud as well as took some pictures from the roof of the peak building. Boy was it windy up there and the view was just amazing. Anyone who hasn’t been up there is strongly advised to take a ride up either by Bus or Tram. We took the shorter method which is by Tram which climbs up approximately a 45 degrees incline when going up and a 45 degree recline coming down. The power of the trams are just amazing especially since it’s carrying such a heavy load of people on board.

Symphony of Lights

After rushing down from The Peak, we took the ferry back over to Kowloon and rushed over to the Hong Kong Cultural Centre to see the Symphony of Lights show. It was pretty amazing and they have it every night (I think) at approximately 8pm or so. Certain days you have the announcements in English and certain days are in Cantonese or Mandarin. Unfortunately we got there on a Mandarin day but that’s fine because the music and the lights were enough to awe anyone. When looking across the causeway, you could see 18 of the tallest buildings on Hong Kong Island lighting up in perfect synchronisation with the music. The show is only for approx 15-20 mins so its not too long to be standing on our tired feet 😉

The next day, we left for Hong Kong Disneyland early in the morning. We got to take pictures with some of the Disney characters. Most of them were pleasant except for the person inside Winnie the Pooh. He was such a prick. Not going to complain much about him here but as playful as he was, he gave me the impression that he was just a flirtatious idiot behind the costume.  Anyway enough said… I guess you can’t be pleased everytime even when you’re at Disneyland. As we were getting pretty tired as the day went on due to the intense heat & later rain, we managed to watch only 1 show which was the Lilo & Stitch Interactive show. It was pretty ok except it was a little kiddy. We also managed to catch the Space Mountain Ride which was pretty good. Just as we were ready to leave, after walking along the shopping street back out towards the main entrance, it started to rain. We covered outselves with the bags that came with our merchandise and ran for the Trains that were to take us to our next destination, The Discovery Park Shopping Arcade, which was right next to the Tseun Wan MTR station. I managed to pick up two pairs of Caterpillar Shoes while I was there and they averaged only about RM250.00 per pair. What a bargain coz they cost a bomb back here in Malaysia!

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The Following day, we moved out of our Hotel after having a quick last breakfast and headed to the Ferry Terminal which were to take us back to Macau. Instead of taking the First Ferry, this time round we took the Turbojet Ferry which departed from Hong Kong Island instead of Kowloon side. The ride was slighlty shorter and definitely better as I didn’t feel sea sick like how it was when we went from Macau to HK. Upon arrival at the Immigration however, we were greeted by a long queue going into Macau. The reason why there were so many people was because the VENETIAN just opened in Macau only about 2 days back! Here we are stuck with all over tourists as well as people from Hong Kong coming over to check the new Venetian out. Anyway we managed to clear the immigration after about 30 mins and we were also lucky enough to find our shuttle bus outside the Ferry Terminal (after a brief search and panic) that took us back to our Grandview Hotel located at Taipa Island.

Grandview Hotel in Macau was such a far cry from Imperial Hotel in Hong Kong. Apart from being cheaper and coming with breakfast for two, it was also larger, cleaner and such a pleasure to be in. I guess that’s the difference between being in Macau and being in HK. Such a big difference and such a big pleasure for us to come back to something better as our holiday neared its end.

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We did some walking around Macau, compliments from May Lee reading the Map wrongly. I swear we almost covered the entire island on foot! Well it felt like it anyway but in the end, all the walking was worth it as we managed to find the restaurant (near the Kwan Yin Statue) she aimed at finding in the first place. We had our wonderful seafood platter dish. Can’t remember what its called as she did the research and ordering but I can still imagine the taste in my mouth! The service was first class and the owner looked like a friendly chap. In the restaurant, there was a table at the end with 4 women seated down, playing Mah Jhong and sipping red wine! No wonder they call Macau a Gambling Heaven.

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Next came The Venetian. This is definitely a place to visit! Apart from playing a few rounds there and enjoying their free drinks! you can walk around for some shopping as the casinos on the bottom ground floor is easily accessible and viewable from the upper shopping levels. The Venetian also has the usual Gondolas which I thought was a silly idea. I believe there are 4 different canals and they all seem pretty short. The rides are charageable and I don’t understand why people would pay just to ride in one of those for such a short distance. Now, if the canal actually went around the entire mall in one long loop! Now then that would be a different story. People who are too lazy to walk could just hop onto one of those (if they have a pass of course) and take a ride to another section of the shopping complex. If the Venetian takes up this idea of mine, please do remember to pay me a little commission for my ideas (ya right as if I will get anything).

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Anyway, that’s about it for this particular trip. I think we did loads! and the walking sure managed to kill my poor leg. Again travelling back on Air Asia was another experience, this time round having a couple cut infront of our queue and we actually thought they were from China but what do you know…. they were sadly Malaysians. Such a disgrace to our country fellowmen. I actually have a picture of them taken to be put up here but I decided against that in the end. I’ll just give them the benefit of the doubt even though the lady was just being a bitch for voicing out. Sad to say, either her partner didn’t understand what we were bickering about or he just didn’t think she right to start off with to be defending her. Anyway just needed to let off some steam after being around rude and inconsiderate people and perhaps she was just there at the wrong place and at the wrong time. Poor thing…

For more photos, please proceed to the photo gallery http://www.ourplaypen.com/gallery/thumbnails.php?album=23&page=1

Phuket, Thailand – 4 May 2007 to 7 May 2007

Our Trip to Phuket, Thailand from 4 May 2007 – 7 May 2007

Map of Phuket Island

4th May – First day of our holiday started in my Bangsar Residence. I got up earlier than planned so that I could finish my packing. Yeah somehow I seem to be leaving my packing to last minute these days. Perhaps its coz I have been too busy? Or should I say lazy? Well it’s either one or the other but whatever it is… it’s definitely time for me to get a holiday! The day started with my usual toilet routine followed by a trip out to the bank nearby my house to withdraw some spending money plus a trip to the 7-Eleven to buy a loaf of bread for my parents. Picked up a RM1 packet of Nasi Lemak from the corner of the street on my way back. Boy was the sambal hot! Had to douse it down with lots of water.

Dad dropped May Lee and I off at KL Sentral as planned. We missed the turning into the drop off area (which is at the turning just before the ramp up to KL Sentral / Hilton). The original turning which we normally take was greeted with a parking barrier this time round. I guess they started blocking that area off strictly for purely parking customers only. Passer-bys will be charged an entrance fee. Anyway we got off the car and walked the rest of the way to the busses. We were greeted by two bus companies and we chose the cheaper one to see the difference in service. A return ticket (KL Sentral – LCCT – KL Sentral) only cost us RM14.00 per person. The return ticket is open for 30 days apparently and our holiday was only for 4 days so time was obviously on our side. Speaking of time, let’s get a move on it… our holiday timeframe of 4 days is quickly dwindling away and we’re still stuck at KL Sentral.

The ride to LCCT (Low Cost Carrier Terminal) was uneventful. We had McDonalds for breakfast and did our normal toilet routine again. With a little persuasion from May Lee, I also managed to register myself as a legal voter at a make shift stall within the terminal grounds. My reason for my late registration? Well I’ve always hated politics and furthermore each time I wanted to register, I waited till elections but by then I seem to have missed the dateline and hence the vicious over and over again.

Our AirAsia flight left without delays although we had a little confusion when walking to the plane. They mistakenly opened two gates at the same time and as you can imagine, the passengers did not know where to walk to as one plane was for Phuket and the other one was bound for another destination. Anyway they closed off the other gate and normalcy resumed. As it was a short flight, we:i:s=0 did not bother to purchase any on board meal. Upon arrival at Phuket International Airport, we grabbed some leaflets, our checked in luggage and proceeded to purchase our minibus tickets to Patong for 150baht each. The ride to Patong took approximately 75 mins or so but the driver stopped along the way at a Tour Agency where they tried to sell us trips and packages. They provide easy arrangement but their price was obviously much higher as compared to what you would get if you were to walk and ask around Patong. I guess some people will go for convenience while others will go for the alternative bargaining fun. May Lee ensured that we kindly declined taking up any offers on the spot.

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We checked into our accommodation which is the Deevana Resort and Spa at Patong area. Takes about 15 mins to walk to the beach but only about 5 mins or so to walk out to the street filled with yummy delicious food stalls. Things there aren’t exactly cheap in Phuket (as compared to Bangkok or Chiang Mai / Chiang Rai) since it was a touristy place but it was affordable. After checking in, we immediately walked out for lunch since we were starved by then. Lunch was had at a nice corner restaurant about 12 mins away. We had Cold Seafood Salad which was served cold, sour and spicy. We also had rice and coconut milk tom yam. After our quick and relaxing bite, we managed to book two packages from a roadside booth which will help fill our time in Phuket. After that we decided to go back to the hotel to rest a little before proceed out again for Dinner (“la la� (a type of cockle/muscle/shell fish) in soup, Curry Crab, Mix Veggie, Coconuts, Rice) before ending the night with a nice foot massage at a massage parlour nearby. What’s Phuket or Thailand based holiday without massages right?

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Map of Phuket Phi Phi5th May – Second day – Rise and Shine… today’s the day where we’re headed for Phi Phi Island. A quick breakfast at our Hotel, and we were waiting for our ride to the Pier. We gather at the dock, doused ourselves with plenty of Sun Block and rented ourselves some flippers for 100baht which wasn’t really needed. They mentioned that the tide would be low and you might step and cut yourselves on the corals but nothing of that sort happened. Where we snorkelled, the corals were at least 3 meters below us. Anyway the boat ride was pretty fun but we were feeling a little nausea by the time we snorkelled and later arrived at one of the islands for our lunch buffet. Even though it was buffet, we didn’t managed to eat much because of the nausea feeling, heat and the fact that we had to endure more swimming, heat and a 1 hour + ride back to Phuket. After lunch we were treated to a white sandy beach along another island where we had the opportunity to rent a beach chair and rest for approximately 2 hrs. We spent the first 45 mins of so in the water feeding fishes with a loaf of bread which we bought for 40baht. It was worth it as the fishes swam right next to us when we were feeding them. It was a good experience to say the least. After that, we lounged around our beach chairs which we had to rent for another 110baht each. Hmm everything seems to cost money doesn’t it? Well its ok. Not too expensive and we’re on holiday after all. The ride back to Phuket was bearable but upon arriving at the pier we still had to take an hour’s mini van ride back to Patong.

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A quick rest back at our Hotel and we were out once again for dinner outside our Hotel! Boy the food there is simply delicious. Tonight we had “la la� again but cooked in a different style, some veggie and spicy tom yam soup. Slurp… delicious and stuffed we walked around the night stalls after dinner where May Lee managed to buy some souvenirs. Soon after, we hopped back into our previous day’s massage parlour but this time round it was for some oil massage! The staff was friendly and made us feel very relaxed which was also why we went back there. The night ended with some TV in the room with my usual junk food, crisps and coke.

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6th May – Third Day…. Boy how time flies when you’re having fun! Feeling a little lazy, we deliberated after breakfast as to whether to head out to the beach or stay in the comforts of the hotel. After much deliberation, we finally decided to catch the free shuttle service out to the beach. Our aim? To go for a ride on a Jet Ski. We managed to get a Jet Ski for 1000 baht for 40 mins which is a hell of a long time to be on a Jet Ski especially if you’re flooring the throttle from time and time and hanging on for dear life! It doesn’t help with a passenger asking to slow down all the time! Hahah. It was fun and we did have a good time on it. After that May Lee proceed to the beach for a lie down whereas I wandered off back to the sea for a little dip and swim. After about 10 mins or so, I decided enough was enough plus I didn’t want to get too sun burnt so we headed off to one of the restaurants nearby for a cooling coconut and coke! The rest of the day was spent walking around a little and resting at our hotel to cool off our already heated body.

Dinner time came soon enough and we had to get ready for our trip to Kamala for our visit to FantaSea. The ride took approximately 25 mins and it was pretty torturous perhaps because we a little nausea to start off with from all the previous days activities & etc but the sight that greeted us at the entrance was just amazing. It was enchanting to start off with and it got better as the night went along. Proceeding past the entrance, we were greeted with a little fantasy world within. There were colourful shops all over the place and it was a nice escape from the usual dullness of reality. The buffet dinner was served at a large “Palace� look alike building and there were so many tables there that it was unbelievable. Even more unbelievable was the way the whole layout was planned. Their ability to move so many people in and out of the dinner hall as well as in and out of the theatre was amazing! The queue lines were smooth flowing even for people who had to deposit their hand phones or cameras at the counters. (Yes, they don’t allow photography during the performance or anywhere within the theatre grounds). Our seating though not at the Gold Seats were on the 2nd Tier (thus we were able to see the Elephants walk past) and slightly to the left side which actually gave us a good view of the entire stage. The story line was easy enough to understand though it could have been better with a little more narration but I guess that’s their point which is to let your imagination run wild. The dances were superb, the fighting scenes were amazing and the different dances by different cultural groups show what Thailand is all about. Even the Arial aerobatics on the swings from the ceiling was awe inspiring. Various other special effects, i.e. pyrotechnics, cannons firing, rain effects, lightning, laser, people and props popping out of the ground from the stage and etc are just some of the things which make the entire show special and memorable.

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Overall the entire evening was enjoyable and I would highly recommend going for FANTASEA to anyone visiting Phuket. It’s simply a must see! The only thing that spoilt the night was having to wait for inconsiderate passengers who were more than 40mins late in coming back to the meeting point. Either they don’t understand English or they simply didn’t care to be inconveniencing others. Oh well some foreigners are just not as courteous as Asians as they did not even utter a word of sorry when they arrived.

7th May – Final Day…. It actually ended the day before. Today felt more like back to KL and back to work for me. I could feel the stress even before arriving back in KL. I guess for every great holiday, this feeling is bound to come especially when one is worried about work waiting for you back home. We took a Private Taxi instead of a minibus back to the Airport from our Resort for about 550 baht in total. Departure from Phuket was on time and by the time we got back to Bangsar, it was already 8pm. Gosh … today felt more like a travelling day rather than a holiday.

Overall, the trip was enjoyable. A very much needed break for both of us. Apart from enjoying the wonderful sights and culture Phuket has to offer, we enjoyed each other’s company in this Island Paradise. I’m glad we got to do these things together and am happy to let you all read about our little trip to the north. Till our next major trip…. to Macau, hope you all have a nice day and don’t work too hard! Everyone needs a break now and then!

Click Here to View More Pictures from Phuket

Eye On Malaysia

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Eye On Malaysia… London Eye…. are they the same ? Well… apart from being a smaller cousin (1/2 the size???) to the London Eye, the Eye of Malaysia was quite a pretty nice experience… especially since we haven’t managed to ride the London Eye before. The day started off gloomy with slight drizzles and we choose to go today (17 Feb 2007) because it was just a day before the Chinese New Year. Most people were away from KL so the roads to Taman Tasik Titiwangsa were pretty clear. As such we  managed to get there relatively early at 10:40am or so. The Eye On Malaysia starts operation daily at 10am.

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We didn’t have to wait long as there weren’t many people there but the line started to build up slightly after we got there. The loading however was pretty quick since they are able to load up to 8 persons into each of the 5 cabs simultaneoulsy. The view from the top wasn’t that great since it was gloomy and overcast. We did manage to see KLCC Twin Towers from up there though and we also got a good overall view of Lake Titiwangsa. I’m sure if it was nice, clear and sunny, we would have gotten a much better view… perhaps of even Genting Highlands. The entire ride didn’t take that long. I didn’t really time it butI did count the number of times we went round the ferris wheel. We managed to do five full rounds before the ride ended and to make things great, we only had to share the cab with another man and his chatty but pleasant daughter of 4 yrs. The cabs were also air-conditioned so that definately helps during hot sunny days! The were also speakers in the cab playing the Visit Malaysia Theme Song but that was about it… Would have been great if they blurted out some interesting facts and places of interest in Malaysia over the speakers. What a better place to promote Malaysia to visitors then when they’re stuck in the cab during the ride? Obviously they were not leveraging on this at all.

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The structure is said to be about 60 meters tall so it is much smaller than the London Eye (which is reported to be 135 meters!!!) and the overall view wasn’t that great but its pretty worth the experience. As adults we had to pay RM15.00 each. One thing we did wonder was why weren’t there any souvenier stalls nearby, plus the lack of shelter also makes rainy weather (which is always the case in Malaysia) a bit messy and hard to move around. The place needs more stalls and more fun stuff to do at the locality. There was only one EYE CAFE there and a local “chinese” clown there. For a tourist I think something would definitely be lacking. More needs to be done in order to make it an experience to talk about. For a Saturday, the place sure had a lack of tourists and majority of the people present were locals. Its a pity really because I am sure it can be made into a wonderful tourist attraction. 

AirAsia Free Tickets

airasias.pngJust recently after the new year started in 2007, we were pleasantly surprised by AirAsia with their free 1Million Ticket Offer which ran for 10 days or more.  It was hard work for us but we did manage to get quite a few free tickets for my parents and our friends and us to go Macau, albeit at different times. We also managed to get free tickets to go  to Phuket (had to pay one way but for RM30.00 for the air ticket?… what a bargain!). We also made use of this offer to get free tickets for my parents to go Hanoi! Yes we’re going for all the popular destinations as reported by the newspapers.

[image:270:r:s=0:r=x]You might have tried getting tickets and was unable to get them and you must also be wondering why. Well… we managed to most of the tickets esp to Macau on the day before the advertisements came out in the papers. Yes, we had pre-warning and notice from AirAsia themselves. The other free tickets were then booked within a day or two from the press release date but by then we already found it hard to get onto their website to finish the booking process… not to mention that it was difficult in locating free tickets by then already. On the whole, I would say it was very lucky of us to be able to get the free tickets.  I’m sure a lot of people didn’t get to get free tickets but then again, if there’s 1,000,000 free tickets…. then that means quite a few other 999K+ others did manage to get them 😉

Thanks to AirAsia, now everyone can fly. Hmm… isn’t that their tagline?

Singapore – 28 Dec 2006 to 2 Jan 2007

Our Trip to Singapore from 28 December 2006 – 2 January 2007…the story goes…

Singapore Map

The planning for this trip was made just a week or two before Christmas.

The initial plan was to follow our dear friend John down in his car and stay with him at his apartment near Great World City at Zion Road and then take a bus back to KL. We opted for Aeroline Bus which leaves Harbour Front and stops at Corus Hotel on Jalan Ampang. The reason why we choose Aeroline is because all other bus companies were full up on the return trip up till the 3rd or 4th January. As we had to come back on the 2 January, Aeroline was our only easy choice. I really didn’t want to try to call the other companies like KTM (Malaysia Railway), Nice or First Coach. It was totally difficult to get through to them… either their lines were busy, off the hook or nobody answered the calls. Out of 20 times I tried calling, perhaps I only managed to get through once.

Anyway on 25 December, my car gets rammed from the back by this idiotic Lady Driver who was on the handphone while driving. Her Estima hit a Proton Isware which then hit a van which in turn managed to hit and crumple the trunk of my car and crack my lights! And guess what? We were all stuck in a Traffic Jam…. So how in the world she managed to do that and transfer all the force to my poor car… I have no idea! And yes you read correctly…. 25 is Christmas Day! Ho Ho ho…

And to have it my spate of “bad luck� did not end there, our dear Friend John who was supposed to bring us down with him told me a day or so later that he fell off a ladder while painting his house. Poor dude… luckily it was just a “minor sprain�. Anyway we decided it was best we found another way to get down to Singapore while he rested in KL. Luckily for us, we managed to get two seats on the evening NICE Bus from the old KL Train Station. All was great and we were all set to be on our way to FINE FINE Singapore.

The bus ride from KL to Singapore was uneventful. We managed to get into Singapore slightly short of 6 hours. The ride was pretty pleasant. We managed to get lots of water from the storage area. And yeah there wasn’t any Stewardess taking care of our bus. Perhaps they went on holiday already. We did have a quick stop over at a rest area and hastily resumed our journey after some inconsiderate passengers decided to turn up 5 to 10 minutes later than the planned time. A quick Taxi ride from our stop in Singapore to John’s apartment concluded our southward journey to Singapore.

What greeted us when we arrived at John’s apartment was pure delight. The apartment was apparently only 3 years old or so. Everything was almost spanking new and it was definitely much better than staying at any hotel. You get the comfort of your own home and yet the luxury was definitely there. Nice airconds to keep you nice and cool, nice water heaters, nice pressure from the water for showers, a nice little kitchen to cook noodles and light meals, comfy couch to watch Starhub Channels…. And the list does not end there. After having stayed there for a mere 6 days, I think I have grown attached to his apartment. It will be a pity as he mentioned he might be moving out soon by mid-year… so hopefully, we can make another trip down there to enjoy one last stay before the apartment becomes no more. Our sincere thanks goes out to John for offering his lovely apartment for us to stay while in Singapore. We just hope that the next time we are down in Singapore, that he’s down there with us.

As mentioned, we were actually in Singapore for 6 days… but I can tell you this… it definitely didn’t feel like 6 days! It felt like only 3! Could it be that we lost some time due to alien abduction? Or perhaps we just had so much fun and enjoyed our stay that we didn’t realize how fast time was flying. We did however manage to do quite a few things. Firstly we met up with Kok Liang and his two friends for a round of Texas Hold’em Poker. Playing in Singapore Dollars was definitely a new thrill for me. Luckily I managed to hold my own and even got some sponsoring for the trip’s expenses 🙂

We also managed to meet some other new and old friends in Singapore over lunch and breakfast! We were treated to a scrumptious lunch at Soup Restaurant at Paragon Plaza by Helen and KC. The steamed cold chicken dish is a must! Breakfast on the other hand was spend having nice Mc Donalds’ pancakes in Lucky Plaza treated by Wee Loong. Traveling down to Orchard Road Tangs was a synch. All we had to do was walk over to the Great World City shopping center opposite the apartment and take the free shuttle down to Tangs which was just 5 mins or so away. To make things easy, the shuttle was always on time, very frequent and while waiting we could always take a nice little stroll at the Great World City outlet shops. Oh yes, we did frequent the toilet, Cold Storage and 7-eleven for food snacks and meals, Body Shop for their daily offers. We actually walked around Great World City almost each time we had to go take a bus. How convenient is that ?!? Just wonderful! I wish Malaysia had something like that. What’s with the Public Transportation System here? With Visit Malaysia Year happening this year… I do hope the Government does something to make it easy and a pleasure for people to move around.

A good example of difference in Mind Set can be seen when comparing our experience of lining up at Genting’s Cable Car ride and Singapore’s Night Safari. Both involved lots of people but somehow the lining up at the night safari was so much more pleasant. For starters, things were more organized, secondly there were ample staff to tell people where to go and how things are going. We had to line up from the road entrance to the Night Safari all the way to the Tram rides but it was bearable because were constantly moving along the line. Each time we moved along, we covered a good distance and we didn’t have to stay stationary for more than 4-5 minutes each time. We were so impressed at how they handled the situation that we wished the same could have been true for the Genting Skyway Ride. Perhaps there’s just something to learn here…

The Night Safari was a great place to visit. Not that we don’t have such animals in Malaysia… We definitely have them and perhaps even more… but Singapore just managed again to out-do themselves in this aspect. Wouldn’t it be great if we had night safaris around here with the same concept? I have been to the one in Melaka A’Famosa. It was great but its nothing compared to the experience in Singapore. Perhaps the thrill factor of riding in a cage less tram or a cage less surrounding where Tigers and Lions roam just makes it a complete and fulfilling experience. Of course the English of the staff working there is also so much better… need I say more? While traveling to the Night Safari was a bit tedious… it wasn’t that bad. A quick ride from Jurong East to Choa Chu Kang MRT Station was needed before we boarded a bus that took us all the way to the Night Safari. The return trip was done by taking a bus from the Night Safari to Ang Mo Kio MRT Station and then back to Orchard MRT. How simple is that ?!

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We also went to the Singapore Science Center before the Night Safari which was within walking distance from the Jurong East Station. We had a lovely time at the Science Center trying all the silly exhibits and also managed to catch two Omnimax Movies; Roving Mars and Deep Sea. Oh I got out of the place feeling a little dizzy. Perhaps I wasn’t used to the way the screen wraps around the globe. But it was a pretty good experience as the last Omnimax Movie I watched was while I was in Vancouver during the 1986 Expo.

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Roving MarsDeep Sea

Once we were done with the shows, it was already evening and we had to walk back towards the Jurong East Station where we stopped along the way at a Food Center and introduced Mee Pok to May Lee. Mee Pok is a type of Noodle and May Lee is my girlfriend. Pls don’t get confused haha.

Other activities in Singapore was of course walking and shopping along Orchard Road. We managed to pick up some goodies there which I will be writing about in one of my next blogging articles. For now, we can tell you we had a great time doing after Christmas sales. I also managed to get some parts for my Model Helicopter from Singapore Hobby at Fook Hai Building near the China Town MRT stop. Too bad my trip to rotor.com.sg near the Lavender MRT stop was unfruitful as they were closed for the year end break and only opened on the 3rd Jan when I would be back in Malaysia already. Oh well.. I guess I’ll get more time to save up for my TREX Chopper which I wanted to get.

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New Year’s Eve was equally wonderful. May Lee made me a nice meal at John’s place. We had pasta and it tasted wonderful… especially when you don’t have to do the cooking after walking around on aching feet the entire day. We were supposed to meet up with her friends at Sentosa Beach Party until we found out it was a Foam Party. We decided to stay back but managed to make our way to City Hall overlooking the Esplanade (The Famous Durian shaped building) by the bay. There were many people on the streets that night and we all enjoyed a great fireworks show laid out by Singapore. Getting back was easy even with crowded streets, the MRT stations once again surprised us on how efficient large number of people moved around without incident.

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We tried going to Sentosa on New Year’s day just to try the LUGE ride that they had there but we never made it across to the Island from the Harbour Front Bus Stations. There simply were too many people lining up and no matter how efficient the transportation system was, we just had enough of lining up for the couple of days. We figured we can always do it another time when there are less people around. We also did not fancy lining up again when we reached Sentosa side. We decided to only take a quick walk in the Mall at Harbour Front before heading back to Orchard for even more shopping! May Lee managed to get something nice for herself as a result. What is it? We’ll keep that a surprise and save it for the next blog article.

The trip back from Singapore was equally uneventful. We boarded out Aeroline bus from Harbour Front. It was definitely much nicer than the NICE bus we took. Both were double deckers but the Aeroline was newer, had nice shows during the trip and even had a nice meal for us, plus coffee or tea and fruits! Is that first Class Service or what !?!?! We totally enjoyed the bus ride and I definitely will not hesitate to take the bus down to Singapore again the next time I decide to go down.

Click Here to see more photos of our Trip to Singapore

Bali – Indonesia

A trip to an exotic Island… BALI (Indonesia)

Map of Bali

 

May Lee and I made a trip to BALI in December 2005. I would have to admit that that was one of my most memorable trips abroad. Perhaps its the company but the place itself was enchanting. I loved every part of our stay and I’m sure so did May Lee.

As usual we travelled by AirAsia to Depasar which is the airport in Bali. Back then, we flew straight from KLIA since all AirAsia flights were still operating from KLIA (Kuala Lumpur International Airport) instead of LCCT (Low Cost Carrier Terminal). By the way, KLIA and LCCT is just about 20 mins away. They both share the same airport and runways except their buildings are on the opposite ends of the tarmac & runways.

Anyway the flight to Denpasar from KLIA only took approximately 3hours. The flight was pretty enjoyable. We had to purchase some cup noodles while onboard since it was a pretty long flight. Upon arrival we had someone waiting for us to take us to our hotel or rather our resort. May Lee managed to choose the prefect place via the internet. She decided on PUTU BALI and it was situated in Seminyak area (which can be seen on the map). The place was lovely to say the least. We were really happy with the city resort. We felt so at home and really enjoyed our stay there. You can check out some pictures of the room in our album.

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[thumb:176:r]We tried quite a few restaurants while in Bali (well you’ve gotta eat right?) but our favourite would have to be BEBEK BALI which was just located within walking distance from our resort. The food was yummylicous and the pricing was more than reasonable which resulted in us having dinner there for two nights!

Another wonderful dining experience was experienced at SHARKYS at Jimbaran. Its a beach side restaurant and we had wonderful CHEAP seafood there with the most romantic ambience! There was a sunset, there were people singing songs to us, there was nice food, there was sand under our feet, wonderful breeze from the sea, sound of the sea crashing onto the beach, and wonderful company…

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We managed to visit many places during our visit. Even though we missed out on Tanah Lot, we did manage to get go Uluwatu. It was a sacred place with wonderful view and lots of monkeys! Breathtaking.

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[thumb:238:r]Another wondeful experience was the trip up to Kintamani. The now extinct volcano in Bali was covered with mist when we got up there. We had a nice buffet lunch and waited… and waited… and waited.. for the mist to clear. Finally the mist cleared and we managed to grab a few shots with the volcano behind us from the restaurant.

The trip back down was just as wet… it was drizzling but our driver was very nice and he gave us some wonderful laughing experience  when we brough us to see the padi fields, art centers, silver centers (Perak… not berak *grin* *sorry private joke here, pls ignore*) and shopping heaven at Ubud. We figure Ubud is also another good place to stay the next time we go Bali. Although a bit secluded, it does have it own little Bali charm which I think I can fall in love with!

Do check out our Photo Album on our Bali Trip. More pictures are located there to show you what a beautiful place Bali is. I recommend this destination to anyone who’s never been there before. No need to think twice…. just grab an air ticket and go for a wonderful get away on an enchanted island. Wonderful place and Friendly People.

Last but not least, I’d like to convey my sincere condolences to friends and families of the people who have lost their innocent lives in the tragic bombings at Bali. Terrorists should be eradicated at all costs!

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Langkawi – 6th October 2006

My Birthday Present from May Lee…

a get away to a far away island…. “Langkawi”

Langkawi Map

 

I just learnt that Langkawi is named after HE LANG “Eagles” and Kawi which is apparantly from some rock (Batu Kawi). And true enough during one of our trips out when island hoping, we saw plenty of beautiful eagles swoop down from the sky in a feeding frenzy offered by the tour guides. I believe they were feeding them Chicken Intestines and Guts. Hmmm yum yum…

DAY 1 – Our trip started in the wee hours of Friday. Yes, we took a day off so that we could hit the islands a day earlier. We arrived at KL Sentral as usual and boarded the LCCT Airbus. RM9.00 each way per person could be considered dirt cheap. We arrived at LCCT and ate at this this oriental restaurant. Nasi Lemak wasn’t that great but anything is good to fill the tummy esp during breakfast. May Lee was kind enough to check us in while I tried to gobble up the rest of the food. Oh yes.. did I mention we were rushing through our food as usual? Poor girl… gotta live with me… always slowing her down.

We finally boarded the noisy and cramped Airbus from Air Asia. Who could complain more seeing that the fares were dirt cheap and thus as a result… “Now everyone can fly”…even the less educated ones. Anyway shan’t let people like that spoil the holiday now shall we?

So we tucked away into our seats and took a quick nap and before you know it…we have arrived at Langkawi. Checking out couldn’t be easier… in fact we just walked out of the airport and into this hall full of operators offering car rental. We picked ourselves a Proton Wira Manual 1.3 for RM90.00 for the entire duration of our stay (Friday, Saturday and Sunday). Pretty cheap considering we just pumped about RM25.00 worth of petrol for all our journeys across the island.

[thumb:114:l] After picking up the car at the airport, we proceeded to drive to our Hotel – Awana Porto Malai. It is located in a pretty secluded end of Pantai Cenang which got us a little worried as we did not see any gas stations along the way. And knowing these car rental people, there is normally just enough gas in the car to let you reach the nearest gas station! I swear they siphon the fuel out to their own cars. Anyway knowing our luck, we reached the Hotel without finding any gas stations. Apparantly it was on another road not that far away from the hotel, which we only found out from the hotel staff. Phew!

[thumb:115:l] After checking into the hotel, we decided to take a drive to the east side of the island towards Kuah Town. A slow leisurely drive took us about 30 mins or so. That was inclusive of stopping by at our much needed Gas Station. We pumped in RM20.00 into the tank and we were on our way. Upon reaching Kuah, we drove around a little and then decided to stop by Eagle Square (located on the Map). We were stuck there for a while due to a sudden down pour. After about 20 mins of waiting, the rain stopped and clear skies were upon us. We took some nice shots with the Eagle Statue.

[thumb:130:l]There after we dropped by a shopping complex nearby. It was pretty deserted. Perhaps it was because it was a Friday hence everyone was working and it was also during off-peak season. Quiet as it was, we left and started to hunt around for local delicasies for lunch! We went around the restaurants around Pantai Cenang but couldn’t find anything to our fancy. Food prices were rediculous over there! We settled for cheap ol Malaysian Mamak store near the Underwater World.

After we filled out tummies with Curry, Noodles and Rice, we dropped by Underwater World to see if we could spend some time there. A quick check at the counter for the pricing gave me a shock of  my life! How could they be charging more than Under Water Aquaria in KLCC? Plus did I mention that the place was so run down compared to the Acquaria which is so much newer and larger? They must be off their rockers to want to charge so much. Surely they should maintain attraction sites better than this? It seems as though they were just waiting for paint to fall off the walls. We ended up at the DUTY FREE CENTER just about 50 meters from the Underwater World Building. Bought some snacks to bring back to the hotel and enjoyed the airconditioning. Yes it’s a Hot Day!

[thumb:133:r] Back at the hotel, we got into relaxation mode. Took a shower, switched on the TV and snoozed till dinner time! What’s for dinner? We found this nice friendly chinese restaurant not too far away from our hotel. Maybe about 5-8 mins drive away. We indulged in seafood, crabs and veggie. The food surprisingly was not expensive at all! And it sure tasted good.

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[thumb:140:l]DAY 2 – We woke up pretty late on the 2nd day because we were not feeling exactly too well. Perhaps it was because we were caught in the rain during our visit to Kuah Town the day before. The haze situation also did not help as it gave us sore eyes and throat problems. Anyway a deserved rest was in order which was why we, once again had to rush through breakfast! The food at the hotel was pretty okay. Nothing much to shout about… perhaps it was becuase of the rushing. After breakfast, we went to the Hotel’s Recreation Office and signed our lives away for an Island Hopping Excursion. The 3 hour trip saw us visiting some Pregnant Woman Island which has a nice fresh water lake a short walk from the docks.

[thumb:149:r]After spending an hour relaxing and dipping our feet, we adjourned to our next destination which was the “Eagle Feeding” feature. You wouldn’t believe the number of eagles there are in Langkawi (hence the name as mentioned above). There were just too many to count and seeing them swoop down to pick up food from the water was just an amazing site and experience.

[thumb:150:l][thumb:151:l]Our third destination was another 1 hour stop at a serene beach on one of the many islands. Again this island was inhabited by monkeys (no, not the humans… I’m referring to the real ones silly!) which seem to welcome visitors by grabbing whatever they could get their hands on. We saw monkeys eating Twisties (Junk Food) and also managed to capture a picture of a monkey drinking Pepsi! [thumb:152:r]

When the hour was up… we went back to the dock where our “speed boat” was to pick us up. Little did we know, the engine decided to give up on the owner. We had to wait for the poor guy to fix his engine. He was drifting further and further away. The other people we were with were getting a little worried as they had to catch a flight with little time to spare.

[thumb:163:r]After getting back (on time for our dear travel friends to catch their flight “we think they made it…haha”), We spent the rest of the afternoon at a Public Beach along Pantai Cenang. We also adjourned back to our hotel’s pool for a dip after that. It was hot and the sunblock nearly didn’t manage to do its job. We did get a little sun burn but that’s the whole idea of being out in the sun isn’t it ?

[thumb:155:l]During the evening we went over to Datai Bay supposedly for dinner but it was too expensive so we ended back at the same Chinese Restaurant and indulged in some really good food and an exceptional price. The entire drive was pleasant and we managed to get a few shots along the way. We checked out the hotels there and they were really secluded. I guess people who go there actually want to get away from it all. The drive took us approximately 45 mins or so. Oh… yes, we had to pump another RM5.00 into our little old trusty rental. It was a gamble though to wonder whether we would make it back with enough fuel to spare for the next day’s trip back to the Airport!

Day 3 - Our flight was in the afternoon so we could for once during this trip have a nice relaxing no rush breakfast. Somehow the food today tasted better than the other days. We could also try more food and rest and relax back up in our room before checking out. Ahhhh… this is what a holiday is all about… finally no rush…

*RIIIIIINNNNNGGGGG* ….. *HELLO?*

*This is the front desk… I’m sorry to inform you that its past check out time….*

…. gosh here we go again…. Let’s go to the airport and grab some grub there. A quick hop into the car and we were on our way back to the Airport.

Yes! My fuel calculations were correct! We made it to the airport with fuel to spare! Lets see what they are going to siphon out of the tank this time. *Evil Grin*

Our Air Asia flight left on time  on our return journey back to KL. And again before you know it… the captain is announcing that we will be arriving shortly in LCCT, Sepang.

We’re landing???… but all I see is clouds! We can’t be landing!…. *touch down*. Oh gosh we were landing…. what’s with the clouds??? Hey wait a minute… those are not clouds! Its the haze! ….. Welcome back to Hazy KL!

Click Here to see more photos of our Trip to Langkawi