To Be Back Online Soon.

September 23rd, 2015 No comments

To Be Back Online Soon.

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A Short Singapore Trip – July 2011

August 2nd, 2011 No comments

Skyline - Marina Bay

Had a short weekend trip to Singapore. The last time I visited Singapore it was at least 5 years ago. Singapore is so much more efficient than Malaysia, everything just seems to be just works. Buses and MRTs are on the dots.  Shopping malls everywhere. “Organize” is the word that I can think of for the city state. Probably a bit too organized for me though.

Love the Night Safari (but no photos to share since I didn’t bring the camera). Geylang is interesting. Marina Bay skyline is magnificent. Little India and Chinatown are lively.

Would love to see Clarke Quay, Sentosa and Bird Park next time. Oh or maybe I will just put up a night at Marina Bay Sands just like my friend Bryan did. Maybe.

More photos at this link: http://travelgaia.com/gallery/Singapore_July2011/


 

 

Short Dive Trip to Teluk Dalam, Perhentian Besar [22nd ~ 24th July 2011]

July 31st, 2011 No comments
dsc_2207_web

Teluk Dalam, Perhentian Besar

It’s been 3 years since I last dived at Perhentian Island; fond memory of Sugar Wreck is still vivid but fading. So when there are a couple of friends interested to go for a short dive trip to Perhentian over a weekend, I am in. Eventually we amass 5 persons for the trip.

We booked a dive resort – Bayu Dive Resort – at Teluk Dalam, Perhentian Besar. The online booking system is a bliss to use; I booked 2 rooms which go by fish names in just a few minutes – Moray Eel (RM90/night) is a fan room that can fit 2-3 persons just next to the generator; Pipefish (RM160/night) is one of the many air-conditioned cottages for 2 persons. Paid 25% thru credit cards and the room booking is secured.

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Palawan 8-day trip [26 Mar ~ 2 Apr 2011] – Part 2

May 2nd, 2011 No comments

2nd day – Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park

Unlike its name suggests, this World Heritage Site (Natural category) which inscribed in year 1999, is not situated at Puerto Princesa City (PPC) but at Sabang. Sabang is a tiny seaside town on the west coast of Palawan, 2 hours drive from PPC. Due to the proximity to PPC (well, it is all relative, Palawan is a huge island), this national park is one of the 2 most popular day-trip excursions from PPC, another one being Honda Bay at the East coast nearer to the capital.

The subterranean river national park is famed for the limestone karst formation, the fauna and flora in the area, as well as the longest navigable underground river beneath a mountain.

We booked the day trip package with Raq Pensionne the day before, paying P1350/pax. Trip included 2-way van transfer to Sabang, buffet lunch, national park entrance fee, spider boat from Sabang jetty to underground river entrance, then another row boat ride for the 45-min guided underground river tour.

Instead of 7am, the van was arriving late at Raq Pensionne  at 740am. It already picked up 4 persons, and later another 5 more so it is a pretty crowded van. Our guide is Ray, a friendly shorty. Journey to Sabang was about 2 hours, and there is one souvenir/toilet stop. Some stretches of the road are undulating, but in general the road condition is fine.

Arriving the national park headquarter at 10am, it is already so crowded, partly because it is already late (some arrived at 6am to avoid crowd!), partly because it is the summer break – super peak travel season for the filipinos (from late March to early May).

We ended up waited for 2 hours here, including having a buffet lunch in the nearby beach cottage. Food is not bad actually.

Strong waves throughout the trip (here and later at El Nido).

Selling salted-fish.

After the early lunch, there is another waiting period of 30mins before our turn to take the spider boat, which takes ~30mins to reach the entrance of underground river.

The wave is so strong that one of the spider boats got overturned from the tail up, and luckily not one gets hurt seriously. Karst landscape.

Registration booth, then a short 5min walk to the entrance of the underground river.

Lo and behold, the waiting crowd is even bigger here, probably about 100~150 heads. Most in good mood

 

 

Tips:

  • Go early. Take the earliest package tour from PPC to avoid the crowd and wait. Staying overnight at Sabang might be another good option too. Ask the hotel regarding the transportation options to Sabang from PPC.

 

 

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Palawan 8-day trip [26 Mar ~ 2 Apr 2011] – Part 1

April 9th, 2011 No comments
Palawan Map

Palawan Map

This is where Palawan is – at south-western Philippines. Provincial capital is Puerto Princesa (公主港), where most of the commercial flights touch down here. Roxas, Taytay are relatively big towns, but the real germ of Palawan is definitely El Nido at the north, a small laid-back town about 5~6 hours away by van through some rough roads.

Palawan is often called the “last frontier” of Philippines, to me indeed it is but not for much too long – tourists are starting to flocking in. Go visit now before El Nido is transformed into another Boracay. This is my first time visiting Palawan (Puerto Princesa & El Nido) – but it already makes me feel real good.

1st day – What’s new? Zest Airways’ flight to Puerto Princesa delayed

 

Partas Bus Schedule - Manila to Clark v.v.

Partas Bus Schedule - Manila to Clark v.v.

Arriving Clark airport from Kuala Lumpur by Airasia (4 hours), it is another 2 hours (P350) bus ride (Partas) to Manila metropolitan/Pasay City. I kinda know the drill – this is the 3rd time I am arriving at this deserted airport in as many years. It sucks to take that long on the road, and to worry about the traffic at EDSA that might have prevented us to catch the connecting flight from Manila to Puerto Princesa.
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揾食記 - Fish Farm Thai Restaurant @ Hulu Langat, Selangor

January 12th, 2011 No comments
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燒蟹

最近去左係Hulu Langat嘅“Fish Farm Thai Restaurant”,推介下俾大家。

點樣去:

  • 至簡單梗係跟GPS啦,就揾“Fish Farm Thai Restaurant”, Malfreemaps.com 嘅map入面就有。
  • GPS Coordinate: E 101.805160, N 3.129660
  • 去過 Ampang Lookout Point 嘅朋友就更加易 - 由Ampang方向來,上Jalan Hulu Langat 山路過咗Lookout Point嘅入門口係右手邊,再駛多唔夠幾分鐘 (約莫3km),就可看到右手邊有個招牌。大路轉入去之後仲要駛5分鐘嘅凹凸不平又漆黑一片嘅爛路,就到。

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Ulu Yam Day Trip (Batu Dam, Sungai Tua Selangor State Park, Ulu Yam, Sg Sendat Waterfall) [26 Dec 2010]

January 10th, 2011 1 comment

Sungai Sendat Waterfalls all of sudden become infamous in the last few days, after a family outing turned tragic where 3 youngsters were drown there on 30th Dec 2010. Incidentally, my first (and only) visit to this waterfall was just a few days before that, on the Boxing Day (26th Dec). The memory is still fresh and vivid. I am more shocked than saddened to learn about the tragic, as it reminds me again, that there is always danger lies behind waterfalls, however serene and peaceful the place presents itself.

My trip to the Sendat Waterfalls is not pre-planned – in fact, the Sunday started with “Let’s go to some waterfalls near Ulu Yam!” and soon after we started our car journey from Kuala Lumpur. We have heard about the waterfalls near this area before, but we don’t really know the names nor the exact locations of any of them. Upon setting the often-reliable Papago to go “Ulu Yam Lama”, I found out that there is a POI nearby called “Ulu Yam Recreational Park”, and decided to go check it out.


 

 

Sekinchan – half day excursion [Christmas Eve 2010]

January 2nd, 2011 No comments

Yet another visit to Sekinchan just few days ago (24 Dec 2010), this time with Ben. Came to take some photos of the paddy field and the fishing village at dusk, as well as to try out the seafood in this area.

Most of the paddy fields have been harvested – end of December is definitely not the best timing to come for nice paddy shots. There were some controlled burning of the leftovers. I had an incident where my feet were sucked into the mud between the 2 rows of paddy, and have to clean myself up in the small river nearby.

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Daytripping Melaka – some photos [11 Sept 2010]

September 19th, 2010 5 comments

I went to Melaka for a day trip with my buddies Ben and Bill at the Saturday of Raya weekend. The day was very hot (typical Melaka) and all the tourist attractions are swamped by visitors. Jonker street is especially bad with motorists and pedestrians blocking each other. We had chicken rice ball at one of the restaurants at Jonker, and I will just say that I have much nicer chicken rice somewhere else sans the queue. The queue in front of the chicken rice ball restaurants is a view by itself.

It is a totally different type of environment at another similar World Heritage Site – Hoi An in central Vietnam. It is infested by visitors/foreigners too but I never felt like suffocating, and there are more than enough nice little eateries there and thus no sighting of “me-too-want-to-queue-for-chicken-rice” crowd under the hot sun. Melaka sure can learn a thing or 2 from Hoi An. Probably can get started by blocking all motorized vehicles from getting into Jonker Street for all day long.

Time for me to get the Hoi An photos done – it’s been more than 2 months I was back from there!! :-p

Click below for photos.

  • Melaka Sept2010
Melaka Sept2010

Some photos from a recent day trip to Melaka during the Raya break with Ben and Bill. Super hot and overly crowded. Our world heritage site needs to revamp to cater for the ever-increasing visitors.


 

 

Some recent Bali diving photos – Tulamben, Amed, Kubu

September 16th, 2010 No comments

Some more diving photos, taken at northeastern Bali area – Tulamben, Amed and Kubu.

A short write up to be followed soon, when I am back from Tioman. 🙂


 

 

Luck is not on my side – no Mola Mola and Manta Ray sighting at Nusa Penida dives!

September 12th, 2010 2 comments

I just come back from a diving trip to Bali a couple of weeks ago. I have to admit I have a blast, even if I didn’t see any Mola Mola and Manta Rays at Nusa Penida. Yeah it is right, I see none of them, which is probably harder to achieve at this time of the year (end of August) than seeing one or a few of them. Luck is just not at my side at times. It is a perfect excuse to come Nusa Penida again though!

We dived 2 days at Nusa Penida, followed by 1 day each at Tulamben, Amed and Kubu.

For Nusa Penida dives, we pre-book online with Bali Scuba at Sanur. 3 dives/day cost USD130. The price includes hotel transfer, tank & weight & guide, onbaoard soft drinks & mineral water, and a nice little lunch onboard (steam rice with beef & chicken, egg and sambal). Gear rental is not included – expect USD5/item/day. Our dive master for the 2 dive days are Knut and Henry. Knut is a tall Caucasian and likes to joke around. Henry is an over-sized fatty with over 30 years of diving experience. Both are really nice guys and helpful. Read more below. Read more…


 

 

Boracay revisit – 2nd time’s the charm!

August 1st, 2010 No comments

My first trip to this small but famous island in Philippines was in May 2009, about 10 months ago. Due to the flight delay and subsequently flight changed, I had less than 48 hours on the island in total, which means I have to leave with regrets of not able to explore much of what the island has to offer. I am pretty sure I was saying this to myself when I was leaving the island: I’ll be back (without Arnold’s accent, of course)!

True to myself, I made the trip again in late March 2010. This time around, I have 4 days on Boracay itself and another day in Manila. I wish I had 6 days on Boracay as I was having so much fun there. In retrospect, there are no Malaysian island retreats that can offer an island holidays like Boracay can – in fact, we are not even close, except in one aspect – diving. Perhentian and Tioman Island are way better in this regard IMHO. Time to plan for a Perhentian dive trip, but that’s a different story…

Back to Boracay trip.

Getting To Boracay

Not easy to go Boracay from Kuala Lumpur, and not cheap, especially for last-minute air tickets.

Intermational Leg – some options:

  1. Malaysia Airlines (MAS) have direct flights to Manila and connecting flights to Cebu (via Kota Kinabalu), but these routes are normally expensive. RM1500 up for a round trip.
  2. Cebu Pacific has one daily flight plying Kuala Lumpur/Manial route, but it flies on odd hour.

    Odd hour flight for Kuala Lumpur -> Manila route

  3. Budget airline Airasia flies to Clark Airfield (formally known as Diosdado Macapagal International Airport, DMIA), about 2 hours from Manila’s main airport Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), where most of the domestic flights are taking off.

I ended up use option #3 above, and paid RM800 round-trip 2 weeks before the departure date. Should be able to get cheaper price if book in advanced.

Domestic

DMIA is airport-of-call for a handful of Asia’s budget airlines, and thus attracted a few bus liners plying DMIA <-> Manila route. Both Parkas and Philtranco bus liners are having terminal at Pasay City along EDSA. It took 2.5 hours for me to reach Pasay from DMIA (350 Ps one-way) during mid day – EDSA’s traffic can be very bad. From Pasay terminal, NAIA is just ~15mins away by taxi. Insist on meter-taxi, < 150 Ps.

There are many domestic airlines to choose from in order to reach Boracay Island. The nearest airport is Caticlan (airport code: MPH)

The domestic flight that I booked is Air Philippines Express, which operates from Terminal 3 (same goes to Cebu Pacific, while Philippines Airline operates from T2). Security is tight even though this is domestic terminal, requires to take off shoes when going through the security gate.

Categories: Travel, Travel - Beyond Malaysia Tags:

 

 

Serendipity: Truong Tien Bridge, Hue, Vietnam

August 1st, 2010 6 comments

We kinda bump into this bridge. Hard to imagine this, but we really didn’t know about the existence of this bridge before we literally walked on it – we suck in planning our travels. It was the evening of 17th July 2010, we had the cab dropped us near a supermarket at the imperial city side of the Hue City after our dinner. Afterwards, we decided to walk back to our hotel, which is not that far away based on the simple map that we’ve got from the hotel’s uber-cheerful receptionist Tú.

Truong Tien Bridge, Hue, central Vietnam. Majestic at night when the ever-changing lights give a new lease of life to the cold metal structure.

Then we meet. Us and the Truong Tien Bridge. It is a 2-lane, 6-span metal bridge with narrow pedestrian walkway at both side, over the Huong River (a.k.a. Perfume River). It is painted colorfully by the ever-changing lights, from white to red, green, blue, yellow, all in different hue (no pun intended). The bridge is grand by its own, but with the lights giving it a different color & personality every few seconds, it is just majestic. We were busy taking photos while crossing it and before we reached the other side (< 500m I’d say), Ben’s camera battery ran flat. While he was running back to the hotel to have the battery charged for a short-while and then come back for more, I have the whole bridge for myself. (Well, not really. Like with few hundreds of the locals).

This was the only night that we overnight in Hue. If we didn’t happen to be here now, we are going to miss it like forever.

In life, some great things just come to you without you asking for it. You are so ecstatically happy that you wish the time can freeze at this moment eternally for you to to own it forever. But it is not to be. You let go reluctantly. And look forward for the next serendipity.

More photos after the fold – my futile effort trying to capture the moment as present, but then, it has been past.

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The Stuffed Crab, The Kemaman Coffee and The Curry Mee – Kemaman, Terengganu

July 30th, 2010 5 comments

Was staying in Kemaman for one night after a day trip to Tasik Chini (~80km from Kuantan), in mid June 2010. Not much accommodation choices in Kemaman, with most of them along or near Jalan Sulamani. Learnt from the locals that there are a few food joints worth checking out. This is the first time that I really explore this town, the last few times were just bypassing it and didn’t give it wink.

First off, dinner at Tong Juan Restaurant, the shop that made ‘stuffed crab’ famous in Kamaman – many shops have since opened up to sell the same thing.

  • Restaurant Name: Tong Juan Restaurant (东源酿蟹)
  • Location: K117, Jalan Sulaimani, Kemaman, Terengganu, Malaysia.
  • GPS: 4.231271, 103.428479

Tong Juan Restaurant - full house all the time!

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GSM Roaming onboard Airasia – Mobile OnAir service is already available!

July 28th, 2010 1 comment

I haven’t learned about the GSM roaming availability onboard Airasia until I overheard the conversation between a cabin crew telling a passenger so. That was during my recent flight back from Ho Chi Minh City to Kuala Lumpur on 21 July 2010 evening. Curious (and bored), I switched my Nokia 5800 out of its offline mode (i.e. flight mode), and not before long, it connects to OnAir:

GSM Roaming in Airasia flight via OnAir service. It is total coincidence that the song I was listening to at that time was "Fly me to the moon". I was flying back to KL. 🙂

Tried sent a couple of sms’es and able to deliver, and able to receive incoming sms’es too. Did not have any noticeable lag. Did not try to call out though – pretty sure it will work, and more sure that it will cost me a bomb. No idea how much the outgoing sms will cost me, but there will be no charges for the incoming sms. No related mobile roaming information is found in the seat pocket.

Googling the OnAir service brings me to their homepage FAQ: http://www.onair.aero/faqs, which is an interesting read. Airasia is listed as one of its customers using the Mobile OnAir GSM roaming technology, where there is a picocell installed onboard for mobile phones’ radio interfacing, and then signals are routed to ground servers via satellite. There is also an onboard channel selector to prevent the mobile phones from connecting to the ground mobile networks directly. The Mobile OnAir supports only GSM/GPRS but not 3G – good enough for calls and sms’es, as well as basic internet browsing.

Cabin crew reminds that the mobile phones need to be turned off during take off and landing, so other than these periods, the mobile phones can be switched on and connected – as long as your mobile service operator has roaming deal with OnAir. Mine, Maxis, does.

The problem that might arise from this is the ignorant phone users that always speak loudly when on mobile phone, think China passengers, for example. That will be really irritating.

The OnAir has another service too: Internet OnAir – that works via RJ45 connection or Wifi. I didn’t try out the Wifi connectivity (because I didn’t even think about it at all then) but this just-posted Bernama article confirms that Airasia signs up only the Mobile OnAir service from OnAir. So probably no high speed internet browsing for now onboard Airasia, but I will find out soon enough during my next trip in August!