Tuesday, November 30, 2010

I-City, Selangor

The City of Lights!

Date: 12 November 2010

I-City is located in Shah Alam - without traffic jam, maybe we can reach there from KL in about 45 minutes. However, we decided to have our little high school reunion on a Friday night, the day known to all KL-ians as the unofficial Stuck-In-Jam Day! Tick-tock-tick-tock... 2 hours later we arrived in Shah Alam. From afar, we could see the colourful lights decorating the night sky. Am really-really excited but hungry, especially friends who joined this gathering straight from work. So we stopped at Bun-D, the rock group, Amok's restaurant. The food was OK, a bit expensive... with a life band....

Now, with new supply of carbs, we went straight to I-City. Each car, regardless of passengers, is required to pay RM10 for entrance fee... right before the car park. The light display is from 7pm untill 12am daily. At 10pm, there were still many people there. The park is the first lightscape tourism destination in Malaysia with state-of-the-art LED technology showcase. Whether this project is energy saving, I have no idea... really would like to know though.

My first impression was, "WOW!! Look at all the colourful lights!!" It's really something! The view is so much nicer than in pictures. The entrance ticket entitles a maximum of 5 people to enter either "Winter World" or "Bird Park". I must admit that I made up these names since I have no idea what they are actually called. Winter world = light display with winter theme... Bird Park = Glowing trees surrounded by plastic birds. We chose Winter World to visit glowing santa and snowmen.

Mr Snowman 1

Mr Snowman 2

The 'Bird Park' - Where are the birds?

The LED lights were arranged to form trees, peacocks, lanterns, fireworks, just to name a few. To me, it can be both romantic and fun. This destination is suitable for couples, families and friends. However, at this point of time, there are still some renovations on the park... I believe, once completed, the place is going to be really magical!!

A feeling like 'Autumn in My Heart' - romantic~

Fireworks!! Really...?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Kapas Island, Terengganu

Kick-Off For ZOOM Malaysia!

Date: 23 May 2008

Lodging: Mak Cik Gemuk Chalet (Fat Auntie Chalet)
RM80 per night for non-air-conditioned room with ceiling fan. Condition of chalet = OK! At 7pm-8pm, we were attacked by big fat fat FAT mosquitos. Wished we brought along mosquito repellant!! It was crazy, we were scratching madly while slapping as many mosquitos as possible!

At Jetty Marang

Day 1:
Pulau Kapas is my first ever holiday desitination as a member of Malaysia's workforce... which is, after I started working. Prior to this, I didn't give much attention to Malaysia's tourist spots because:

1) I had no car to move around with.
2) I had no friends who liked to travel.
3) I had no money to pay for fuel, lodging, etc.

My addiction to travelling was triggered by my neighbour, during our long journey from KL to Kerteh. She shared her experiences on her travels to foreign countries, and how those experiences had broaden her mind. A few days later, I forced both my housemates to go somewhere, anywhere... so our maiden voyage took us to Pulau Kapas, a 1 hour drive from Kerteh to Marang Jetty. Pulau Kapas means Cotton Island in Malay. The boat ride cost us RM30 one-way for a 10 minutes trip. We did not book any package except for the Mak Cik Gemuk Chalet... being it out first holiday trip, we were very unexperienced and did not know what to prepare or to expect. However, we managed to reach Kapas safely and checked in.

My first view of Kapas

The island was nice, with a long stretch of white sandy beach, blue ocean... Our first activity was to try snorkelling for the first time. We rented the snorkelling gears plus a guide for RM20. The guide was a teenage boy, so skinny and tanned... that's how island boys look like, i guess. We went swimming and snorkelling, with the guide practically drowning from aggressive pulling by my friends who did not know how to swim. The corals were mostly dead, but on the plus side, we saw a real life Nemo!!! With no underwater camera, we'll just have to cherish the moment in our minds.

After saying goodbye to Nemo, we walked along the beach, enjoying the view and sunset. We had dinner at a small restaurant... the price is obviously more expensive than at mainland. It was a windy night. We sat by the beach, observing fisherman boats.. probably catching some squids. Before retiring for the day, we seduced our island boy guide to give us a mosquito repellant! Nice~

Around Kapas - a rocky island... it looks like a lion lazing about!

Day 2:
For RM15 each, Mak Cik Gemuk's son and his friend took us on a boat ride around Pulau Kapas. The Mak Cik Gemuk son behaved like a superstar with his big sunglasses and i'm-so-cool personality but we didn't mind... *wink2* We stopped by Pulau Gemia, a small rocky island close to Kapas, but privately owned. Here, we visited baby turtles, rescued from the sea. The resort here is high class, thus the view is a bit more stunning than Kapas.

Tiny baby turtles!

Gemisland Beach

Before 12pm, we were ready to check out. Mak Cik Gemuk reminded us to pack our bags quickly, as new visitors will arrive shortly... that didn't feel friendly... =( So off we went for another RM30 ride back to the mainland!

Interesting to note: Boat services to Pulau Kapas is on a daily basis. We bought the tickets from the jetty without pre-booking.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Me @ 26!

The Sick Birthday Girl - But Still Young and Fabulous!

22 Nov 2010 9.02 PM

This morning, I was not aware that this was my last day as a 25 year old 'young' lady. My last day as a mid-twenties girl. In less than 3 hours, I will enter the zone of the late twenties!! What have I achieved these past years? Quite plenty! I feel blessed to have achieved so many things. There were some rough patches but I believe that god tests those who He wishes and rewards those He chooses. Alhamdulillah...

23 Nov 2010 9.34 AM

So many wishes in FB, the only time of year people actually see my page (haha!)... thank you all! Got a YM from my mom: "Hi kak.... happy 27th birthday to you.... mak masih ingat waktu mak nak melahirkan kakak... 4 hari mak sakit kluar masuk kluar masuk labour room.... now dah 27 tahun berlalu" - Very touching... but I'm not 27... I'm only 26!! Mak YMed back after I protested at the miscalculation "Age is just a number" No way man!! Hahaha! Got an SMS from my dad: "My grown up girl, engineer by profession, married to an engineer... is still a child in the inside!" A response to my request for a Swatch watch as a birthday present.."Love you Bah and jam Swatch pink"  =p

23 Nov 2010 4.33 PM

Special suprise from Hasben... cought his fever + soar throat! Oh man...

24 Nov 2010 10.28 AM

In bed, got an MC for fever and soar throat. Forced myself to go to Mesra Mall last night for my birthday dinner with Hasben. Glad I went through with it, although no Harry Potter 7 as planned, ate my fave cake from Secret Recipe... Chocolate Mud Cake - you only turn 26 once in a lifetime, sick or not!

So here I am, at 26, married to a male version of me, graduated twice, the sole civil engineer for 2 plants (it's not really a good thing), bought my first car, bought my first house, and finally full-filling my childhood fantasy of travelling the world - with very little budget, my travelling involves eating packed food and walking on foot to anywhere possible. This fantasy was made possible with Air Asia, the budget airline, and my travelmates, who have the same objective as me - see the world at no cost! Hahha... if only that was possible!

TQ Air Asia - Now Everyone Can Fly... and direct translation from Juli the BFF: Sekarang, Semua Orang Pon Boleh Terbang!

If only Mr Tony Fernandez of Air Asia can read this, he'll probably give me free flights to Korea/Japan/New Zealnd/Paris!!

T-shirt from Hasben

Guess handbag from Julie Zac

Esprit handbag from Momzei

iPod Shuffle from Daddy - apparently I have to buy my own Swatch watch...

Dollhouse Clock from Baby Bro 1 - surprise!!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Taman Negara, Pahang

The Oldest Tropical Rainforest in The World!

Date: 17-18 October 2008

Lodging: Durian Chalet
One of the cheapest chalets in Taman Negara. The condition is okay, as expected for a price that low, about RM80 per night. There was only 1 queen sized bed but all 4 of us girls crammed on to the bed. There were 6 boys in our group, they got a bigger room but the condition was just as bad as us. The chalet owner was nice to us, she wasn't overly friendly, but she did clean up the chalets for us and didn't mind at all that we exceeded the rooms' capacity.

Sungai Tahan - Tahan River

We started our journey from Kerteh at 5.30am, and reached Durian Chalet at about 9am. We were welcomed by the cool air and green scenery. After checking-in, we wasted no time and headed straight to the jetty. We paid for the boat ride to cross Sungai Tahan to reach the national park.

Because it was Friday, Canopy Walkway was closed early, only opened half day due to Friday prayers. It used to be the longest suspension bridge in the world and undeniably, the main attraction of Taman Negara. We had to postpone this activity to the next day. So we decided to jungle track up Bukit Teresiek, following the pathways provided.

Mount Tahan from Teresek Hill

From the top of the hill, we were presented with the view of Mount Tahan, the highest peak in Peninsular Malaysia. That mountain would take up to 7 days to conquer, am not sure I can make it! After a massive picture taking moment, it was time for us to go back. We had booked a sampan trip at 2pm. We needed to rush so someone, who now I have forgotten whom, proposed that we use a shortcut, a pathway covered with bushes. All 10 of us followed the shortcut until at one point, our confidence level decreased rapidly. We were basically lost!! The sky was getting dark, a bad sign for unexperienced jungle trackers with no idea where we are. We had to find signs among the trees, left by the rangers to guide us forward. We could here the river flow and motor boats' engines a few times so we knew we had a chance of survival! With no network coverage, we bravely (not really) found our way out... which was a huge relief! I don't know how to eat herbs, for all I know, I could be eating poison ivy (can it be found in this part of the world?)

Lata Berkoh

Now, safe and sound, we met with our sampan driver who brought us to Lata Berkoh, a waterfall for some refreshing swimming time. The water was sooo cold, swimming time changed to sit-on-rock time. We were all so physically challenged today so once we hit the pillow, bye bye world (not forever).

Day 2
Canopy Walkway time!! To get to Canopy Walkway, we made sure to use the main pathway this time and read the signboards properly. I don't think I was mentally nor physically prepared for another shock! There was a long line at the entrance but the walkway was so much fun. It's up to 40m high from ground level and we were able to see the rainforest from a unique perspective. Just lovely~

Canopy Walkway

Our adventure in Taman Negara ended in the afternoon. I was really tired but happy to be able to visit one of Malaysia's treasures.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Me & FAIL!

A few encounters that made me smile.
This is my personal collection of

 1) Great Wall of China, Beijing, China

Speaking cellphones - a new technology for loners.

2) Hong Kong, China

Law breaker caught in action!

3) Shenzhen, China

What's wrong with this picture? If you answered in less than 2 seconds, you're a genius!

4) Bali, Indonesia

A common mistake I guess...

5) Bandung, Indonesia

Starbucks new business venture.

6) Rome, Italy

0% discount, very special indeed.

7) Hat Yai, Thailand

Used for foot massage - special ingredient, piggy (Babi is pig in Malay)

 *I have no intention whatsoever to make fun of others. Heck, my English is probably just as bad! *

Kuala Gandah, Pahang

Elephant Sanctuary at Kuala Gandah!

Date: 23 July 2010

Baby Siput

Not many Malaysians are aware on the existence of this elephant sanctuary. To get there, we used the Lebuhraya Pantai-Timut, LPT (East-Coast Highway) and exit at Lanchang. From Gombak, this journey took us about 1 hour by car. We waited at the Lanchang Toll for our Kerteh friends to arrive. Their trip from Kerteh started at 6.30 am and took about 3 hours to reach Lanchang. From the exit, there were plenty of brown signborads to direct us to Kuala Gandah.

We planned to visit Deerland Park, located right before reaching the elephant sanctuary. Unlucky us, the park is closed for visitors every Friday for maintenance. We missed the chance to play with the deers and bears, maybe some other day then...

The entry pass to Kuala Gandah Elephant Sanctuary is free of charge, however, out of the 11 people in our group, only 6 were granted yellow passes, the rest were given red passes. The advantage of having a yellow pass is that you are allowed to take a ride on the elephants and bathe with them. The red pass is only for watching the elephant show.

My suggestion: Register your name in a group of 3 to 5 for the chance to get more yellow passes.

Elephant ride!

The activities with the elephants start at 2pm with a video presentation about the sanctuary... which we missed! The elephants in this sanctuary are mostly wild elephants, injured from human traps, attacked by predators and some are orphans. This include Selendang who lost a foot from a trap and little baby Siput. The elephant show starts at 2.30pm. They performed neat tricks and the visitors were allowed to feed them fruits and peanuts. Later, visitors with yellow passess were allowed to ride the adult elephants and bathe with them in the river. I actually witnessed the elephants poo-poo-ing in the same river, so I kept myself well clear from that activity... =p By 4.30pm, we said goodbye to the elephants as they head back to their shelter for a good rest after a hard day of work.

Shower time!

Interesting to note: No bikinis allowed... might distract the elephants? =p

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Stigmatized - The Calling

Us against the world, Julie Zac

If I give up on you I give up on me
If we fight what's true, will we ever be
Even God himself and the faith I knew
Shouldn't hold me back, shouldn't keep me from you

Tease me, by holding out your hand
Then leave me, or take me as i am
And live our lives, stigmatized

I can feel the blood rushing through my veins
When i hear your voice, driving me insane
Hour after hour day after day
Every lonely night that i sit and pray

Tease me, by holding out your hand
Then leave me, or take me as i am
And live our lives, stigmatized
We live our lives on different sides,
But we keep together you and I
Just live our lives, stigmatized

We'll live our lives, We'll take the punches everyday
We'll live our lives I know we're gonna find our way

I believe in you
Even if no one understands
I believe in you, and i don't really give a damn
If we're stigmatized
We live our lives on different sides
But we keep together you and I
We live our lives on different sides

We gotta live our lives
Gotta live our lives
Were gonna live our lives
We're gonna live our lives, Gonna live our lives,

Your Guardian Angel - The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus

When I see your smile
Tears roll down my face I can't replace
And now that I'm strong I have figured out
How this world turns cold and it breaks through my soul
And I know I'll find deep inside me I can be the one

I will never let you fall (let you fall)
I'll stand up with you forever
I'll be there for you through it all (through it all)
Even if saving you sends me to heaven

It's okay. It's okay. It's okay.
Seasons are changing
And waves are crashing
And stars are falling all for us
Days grow longer and nights grow shorter
I can show you I'll be the one

I will never let you fall (let you fall)
I'll stand up with you forever
I'll be there for you through it all (through it all)
Even if saving you sends me to heaven

Cuz you're my, you're my, my, my true love, my whole heart
Please don't throw that away
Cuz I'm here for you
Please don't walk away and
Please tell me you'll stay woah, stay woah

Use me as you will
Pull my strings just for a thrill
And I know I'll be okay
Though my skies are turning gray

I will never let you fall
I'll stand up with you forever
I'll be there for you through it all
Even if saving you sends me to heaven

Hanging By A Moment - Lifehouse

Dedicated to my soulmate

Desperate for changing, starving for truth
I'm closer to where I started, I'm chasing after you

I'm falling even more in love with you
Letting go of all I've held on to
I'm standing here until you make me move
I'm hanging by a moment here with you

Forgetting all I'm lacking, completely incomplete
I'll take your invitation, you take all of me now

I'm falling even more in love with you
Letting go of all I've held on to
I'm standing here until you make me move
I'm hanging by a moment here with you
I'm living for the only thing I know
I'm running and not quite sure where to go
And I don't know what I'm diving into
Just hanging by a moment here with you

There's nothing else to lose, there's nothing else to find
There's nothing in the world that can change my mind
There is nothing else
There is nothing else
There is nothing else

Desperate for changing, starving for truth
I'm closer to where I started, I'm chasing after you

I'm falling even more in love with you
Letting go of all I've held on to
I'm standing here until you make me move
I'm hanging by a moment here with you
I'm living for the only thing I know
I'm running and not quite sure where to go
And I don't know what I'm diving into
Just hanging by a moment here with you

Just hanging by a moment
Just hanging by a moment
I'm hanging by a moment
Just hanging by a moment here with you

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Bali, Indonesia

The Island of Bali!

Date: 19-21 February 2009

Lodging: Kuta Beach Club
Near Kuta shopping area, both designer and local stores, and a walk away from Kuta Beach. Strictly 2 people per room, no compromise! My friends and I were in a group of 5. We thought we could squeeze 3 people in a room... ho ho ho... were we wrong! They menacingly warned us - I didn't want to spend my Bali Vacation in prison! There was no kettle in the room, hot water is upon request and will be sent to the room. The plus side, the hotel was traditionally decorated, very Bali-like... nice~

Day 1: Kuta Town
We reached Denpasar Airport around 8pm. After checking-in, we went for a night walk into Kuta shopping district. During this time, we met with our 'supir' (Indonesian language for driver). We never made any arrangement on transportation prior to the visit. So it was very very lucky that we met Mico. He was really friendly and helpful. We confirmed our adhoc itenary with Mico and prepared ourselves for tomorrow's adventure.

Day 2: Kintamani

Our main destination today was visiting Kintamani, the volcano. It was a long drive up north and seriously, you should leave the driving to the pros. The roads were really small, everybody was driving so close to one another (successfully without a scratch), and there were so many honkings ("Hello there~", "I'm over taking!")... We made a few stops along the way... silver shop, Pura Goa Gajah - historical temple, Pura Tirta Empul - another historical temple, Tegalalang Rice Terrace - beautiful paddy fields on hills. We reached Kintamani in the afternoon. The temperature was cooler and the view of the green, inactive volcano was so serene. However, there were many young kids here selling souveniors to tourists using the pitty tactics... we can't buy from all of them!
Pura Goa Gajah

Tegalalang Rice Terrace

On our way back, we stopped at Pasar Seni Sukawati for some shopping. By 6pm, we found a spot at Kuta Beach for a picnic and to enjoy the sunset. Personally, I feel that the beaches in Malaysia is way prettier than Kuta Beach... no doubt!

Day 3: Tanah Lot, Nusa Dua, Uluwatu
Our flight leaves at 9pm today so we checked-out early, around 8am. We planned to make the best out of our last day in Bali. Our first stop was Tanah Lot. It is a must-visit for all tourists as it is famous for the temples built on rock formations along the beaches. During our visit, the tide was high. We had a beautiful view of a temple on a rock island, surrounded by sea water. At Tanah Lot, you can find a market street lined with souvenior shops - it was the last shopping spot for us.

Tanah Lot

Not in our budget was diving... However, due to Mico's good promotional skills, we decided to go for it! "In Nusa Dua, diving for beginners at depth less than 5 meters does not require a diving license" promoted Mico so convincingly (translated to English from Indonesian)... We might not get this chance again especially that I am not planning to get a license. With my sea-sickness, this is not my choice of hobby. Every remaining Rupiah was forged out from our wallets to pay approximately RM150 for our first diving experience. I have gone snokelling in Malaysia plenty of time... although less thrilling, the view was far better than this. If I was an experienced diver, I would probably cry with dissapointment. But for a beginner, hey, at least I know how it feels to scuba dive!

The last stop is the must-must-go, Uluwatu! The view is the best in Bali. In Malaysia, I have yet to see cliffs outlining a coastline. So I was really impressed and cannot help imagining people committing suicide - scary right? The monkeys were a cheaky bunch. Be sure to take care of your sunglasses, caps - they grabbed these things from your face! Like Abu in Aladdin!

It is finally time for us to go back home.. but not without some drama. Due to our lack of planning and info, we did not know that airport taxes in Indonesia must be paid before checking-in. With no cash (thank you diving!), unactivated credit cards, we were left with one choice, and one choice only. We called Mico (who by that time had reached home and was about to take a shower) and borrowed 150k Rupiah each. I am not sure why he trusted us to pay him back when we reached Malaysia, but he lent us anyway. He is a good man. And now, everytime a friend plans a trip to Bali, Mico's number is given - we are now his unofficial, no commission Malaysian promoter!

Lesson Learnt:
1) Don't forget your passport - Our group of 6 was reduced to 5 due to a certain someone forgetting this very essential thing.
2) Plan your trip. Book a 'supir' before the vacation - Mico anyone?
3) Don't go diving when pregnant - a friend of mine tried it in Bali, didn't turn out well.
4) Put aside 150k Rupiah for airport tax - even if it means less fridge magnets.

Interesting to note:
Bakso Tikus (Rat) is sold here - don't know exactly how to respond to this!
For Muslims, confirm halal-ness of food with your supir. Majority of population in Bali are Hindus, food sold are a bit different than other parts of Indonesia.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Perth, Australia

Backpacking to Western Australia!

Date: 20-24 May 2010

Lodging: Mountway Holiday Apartment
Read the reviews about this apartment from the net, mostly were negative. However, due to its really cheap rate, my friends and I decided to test our luck. And boy, were we very lucky! The location was perfect, right in the middle of the city. Everything was a walk away... the train station, the bus stops, Woolworth, Swan Bell, Swan River Jetty (yup, we walked all the way... my knees were wobbling at the end of the day, but it was worth it!). The apartment had a small kitchen with complete cooking utensils. We bought groceries from Woolworth and cooked weird version of Malaysian curry for dinner... and the staff was very friendly, she helped us book our trip to the Pinnacles.

Would I suggest to others? YES... Definitely!

Day 1: City of Perth
Upon arrival, we were advised to use a Maxi Taxi (catchy name) from Perth International Airport to Mountway Apartment. Maxi Taxi is suitable for 5-6 people - just perfect for me and my friends! After checking in, we started our walking journey to Kings Park and Botanic Garden. Autumn is a lovely season for walking here, not too cold and not too hot. On the way there, we had a quick photo snap with the Barrack Arch. The garden was nice... we had a perfect view of Perth City and Swan River from the top of the hill.

We continued walking to Woolworth for some groceries shopping, walked by the historical London Court and did a little souvenior shopping. Went back to the appartment for a quick nap and to recharge for some more extreme walking. Evening sight-seeing included Swan Bell and Old Mill. To get to Old Mill, we took a boat ride across Swan River. The sunset view of the city was marvellous and so romantic~ Too bad the Old Mill closed at 4pm, we were only able to see the little wind mill from outside the gates.

Day 2: The Pinnacles
Western Australia has many interesting landscapes... Eg: Wave Rock. But the one that caught our interest was The Pinnacles at Nambung National Park. The trip there took us 4 hours!! We spent most of our day in the van provided by the tour company. Since none of us had an international driving license, so driving was a no no. The package we took included a stop at a Kangaroo Park. Here, kangaroos hopped freely, not one was interested with our leaves offering (very stingy tourists! Haha)...

Although the ride to the Pinnacle was very long, it was worth every minute... the view of the country side was so nice, huge modern windmills, acres of farm.... and so I dozzed off... When we finally reached Nambung National Park, we were greeted by the most special natural landscape of longitudinal rocks poking out from the ground... I have never seen anything like it in my life! God creates such magnificent things!

Day 3: Fremantle and Rottnest Island
To go to Fremantle, the train is the best way. We took an all day pass - I think it is cheaper, about AUD7 for a couple... I think so... The souveniors in Fremantle Shops near the jetty is much cheaper than the ones in Perth, mostly sold by Indonesian storekeepers. There were Halal Kebab & Fish and Chips to die for! After lunch, we decided to go to Rottnest first. The ferry ride was quite nauseating, the sea was rough that day. In Rottnest, we get to see Quokas... cute little creatures, look similar to rats, but larger and probably more cuter... and we rent bikes to explore the island. There were bus services but I think biking was sooo much cooler and refreshing. It was easier for us to have photo stops on bikes. The hilly, green landscape outlined by the Indian Ocean was breathtaking!

The last ferry ride back to the mainland was at 4pm, pass that time, we may have to find somewhere to sleep on Rottnest... probably a lot more expensive. Back in Fremantle, the temperature was 18 deg C. It was windy. We did a 360 deg walk, visiting the Maritime Museum, The Roundhouse, Fremantle Market, The Old Clock Tower, and finally, back to Fremantle Station. At 3am, we left Mountway and Perth for Malaysia.

 Interesting to note: A prayer room is available at Perth International Airport!
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