Y Thao Garden – what USD10 can buy you in Hue City?

July 25th, 2010 2 comments

Highly recommended by 2 travel guide books (Lonely Planet & Hong Kong published 长空旅游系列 021 - 越南食玩买终极天书本2010˜˜2011 全新Update版), we dropped in Y Thao Garden for our first dinner in Hue, Vietnam. We’ve had a long day – woke up at 4am, flew from HCMC to Hue at 6am flight, and then just in time to sign up last-minute on the 8am Perfume River Cruise day tour upon checking into Binh Minh Sunrise Hotel – and now just couldn’t wait to have a good dinner and unwind.

It was July 17th 2010, a Saturday. Far away from home.

  • Restaurant Name: Y Thao Garden
  • Location: 3 Thach Han, the Citadel, Hue, Vietnam
  • GPS: 16.468009,107.567117 (click for Google Map location)

It is just a 10-minute cab ride from the hotel. The restaurant is set in a mansion surrounded by tropical garden with lush of green, which is welcoming. Walking straight in, no one was there at the reception to greet us. We walked around and took some photos of the tropical garden, and after like forever (well, 2 minutes but felt like forever) the waitress showed up and lead us to one of the 2 main dining halls, which were both without any diners at that time (~6pm).

The restaurant runs set menu, and there is only one lone set – take it or leave it – that costs USD10 (not inclusive of beverages). No À la carte whatsoever. Ordered 2 sets and a couple of local bottled Huda Beer, we set off to take more photos of the beautiful garden. More after the fold.

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Categories: Travel - Beyond Malaysia Tags: ,



Airasia Cancels Direct Flight to Manado Starting 25 Feb 2010

February 17th, 2010 No comments

Airasia.com low-keyed the cancellations of a few routes recently, with just a memo up on their website – see below the screen-shot.

Airasia – Manado Flight Cancellation

I don’t care about the other routes, but Manado direct flight from Kuala Lumpur will be dearly missed. After all, we have some great divings there last August, and fell in love at first sight – or more appropriately at first dive – with the critter-ladden Lembeh Strait. Bunaken disappoints us due to rather bad visibility, and to be fair, we might have too high of an expectation of Bunaken from the many dive magazines that hailed about it. However, both Lembeh Strait and La Rascasse house reef are great as we discovered many new species (to us). We were able to stay longer underwater too due to shallower and more relaxed divings here.

Of course, the first thing that popped into my mind after reading about the Manado flight cancellation news is none other than to create a Facebook group! But to my utter dismay, someone has managed to leapfrog me to do just that – check it out here: http://www.facebook.com/pages/AirAsia-Bring-back-KUL-Manado-Direct-Flight/320280200189. After my initial disappointment subdued a little, I thought posting some of the Manado & Lembeh underwater photos might be a good alternative for remembrance. It is ashamed that I haven’t really checked out those photos since back from the trip last August, and they are still sitting inside my Lightroom waiting to be processed. 🙂

And here you go:



尾牙@Telok Gong 荣达海鲜餐室

February 8th, 2010 2 comments

上个拜五晚同公司班损友去咗间喺巴生Telok Gong 嘅“荣达海鲜餐室”做尾牙。由识途老马TZH一马当先,五、六辆车浩浩荡荡从PJ入Kesas Highway(Klang 方向)一路直走大约30km至Telok Gong,好彩冇咩塞车,唔驶一粒钟就到咗目的地。


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January 7th, 2010 2 comments






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Sometimes, some things are just too hard to swallow…

September 14th, 2009 3 comments

… like this little seahorse to a slightly bigger frogfish.

Location: Lembeh Strait, North Sulawesi
Date/Time: 1st Sept 2009, 15:30

This orange brownish juvenile frogfish, measuring less than 5cm in length, has been eyeballing the pity little seahorse for quite some time. It probably ponders whether to go for something prettier for a quick snack – it is teatime now anyway – or just take the black seahorse for a quick chow since it is easy – the seahorse didn’t intend to move out from the frogfish’s stare at all. My dive buddy Bill and myself swam around these 2 little creatures for a while but nothing happened. They kept staring at each other, like stone statues, not moving a muscle, and only few centimeters apart.

Then, in the blink of an eye, the frogfish opens its huge mouth and had the whole of the seahorse’s head and some of its body swallowed. It is kinda bizarre to witness such a killing, though I’d prefer real horse meat over seahorse’s meat anyday.

For the next 3 minutes or so, the below pose maintained:

Frogfish tries to swallow a seahorse

Frogfish tries to swallow a seahorse

But then, probably feeling remorse to kill a seahorse, or maybe the seahorse is just too hard to swallow, the frogfish releases it out from his mouth, and slowly retreated. The seahorse is alive – for now.

erm.. the frogfish didn't really like the horse meat...

erm.. the frogfish didn't really like the horse meat...



Boracay May’2009 Trip Photos are Up!

May 25th, 2009 5 comments
Sand Castle @ Boracay Long Beach

Sand Castle @ Boracay Long Beach

Finally uploaded some photos from my recent short trip to Boracay, the Philippines:


More trip details to follow. 🙂



Redang Island Revisited [March 2009]: Getting There & Around

April 19th, 2009 1 comment
Well I have had some really bad dives that I wish I am back in the office...

Well I have had some really bad dives that I wish I am back in the office...

Taking advantage of season-opening Early Bird Promotion (see another post here), I visited Redang Island again from 28~30 March 2009. No diving this time, only signing up for the standard 3D2N snorkeling package, but nevertheless as tired if not more.

Redang Island, a beautiful tropical island retreat, is located 45km off the coast of Terengganu state, about 400km from Kuala Lumpur. It can be reached either by air (http://www.airasia.com, http://www.malaysiaairlines.com) or by road. Either way, you will en route Kuala Terengganu, the state capital of Terengganu. Besides that. Berjaya Air operates Dash 7 flights directly touching down on the island from Subang Airport, Kuala Lumpur.

Sharing some of the transportation details from my March 2009 Redang 3D2N trip:

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Pulau Redang: Redang Holiday Beach Villa (March 2009)

April 7th, 2009 6 comments

Redang Holiday Beach Villa - Seaview Semi-D Bungalow

Visited Redang again last weekend, 28~30 March 2009 to be exact. No diving this time, just 3D2N snorkeling pacakge. This write up is not really about the trip as a whole, but just about the resort we were staying during the trip – Redang Holiday Beach Villa.

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Bali Trip Planning – 7 ~12 Apr 2009

April 5th, 2009 3 comments

Bali Dive Map:

Dive The World – scuba diving travel, holidays and vacations

Vacation diving and holiday packages in dive resorts, on liveaboards, PADI courses, and scuba travel, tours and trips worldwide.

7th Apr – Arriving Denpasar airport ~7pm. Too late for Tanah Lot. Eat etc. Drive to Gilimanuk (110km, ~3hours). Stay @ Gilimanuk. The car better be prepared there!

8th Apr – Dive Secret Bay at Gilimanuk. Departs afternoon, heading to Labuhan Lalang (jetty to Manjangan). It is quite near Gilimanuk from the map, maybe 45mins or so. Stay.

9th Apr – Dive Menjangan. This should be one of the highlights of the trip. Top dive sites are:

  • the Anker Wreck (40+ meters),

  • Eel Garden

  • Pos II.

Depends on how it goes, maybe stay extra night here, or heads to Tulamben after the dives. The road is straight forward, moving across the north of Bali, maybe 2-3 hours. Stay at Tulamben.

10th Apr – Dive Tulamben + Amed. Maybe not enought time for Amed.

  • Liberty Wreack
  • Drop Off
  • Batu Kelebit

Heads back to Kuta afternoon. Stay at Kuta. If time allows, go straight to Uluwatu before dask.

11th ~ 12th Apr: standard thingy. Short trip to Ubud? Pantai Kuta, Uluwatu or Tanah Lot, souvenir.

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Putrajaya’s 1st Hot Air Balloon Fiesta [Mar2009]

March 24th, 2009 No comments
Hot Air Balloons Flying Over Putrajaya

Hot Air Balloons Flying Over Putrajaya

Never heard about this event until some hot air balloon photos showed up in the newspaper on Friday morning. Maybe there are more ‘interesting’ news in the Malaysian political front as well as on the world economic crisis that overshadowed it.

Anyway, I was there on the evening of the last day of the event (22nd March 2009). Reaching Putrajaya Percint 2 at 5:30pm, the traffic is already in really bad jam – I thought I am the only one that haven’t seen a hot air balloon, but apparently not. Took me like 15 minutes to get a parking. The preparation for flying the hot air balloons, of a total about 20 of them, was already underway.

While shooting away with my Canon 400D, I used my Nokia 5800 XpressMusic to capture some photos too – not to prove that the camera feature on it really sucked, but to try on the geotagging. It turns out to be working great, all the photos taken with the phone have registered the correct GPS location, as show here in iPhoto:

Geotagging photo (with Nokia 5800)

Geotagging photo (with Nokia 5800)

Most of the balloons are standard ones, but a few of them are in special shapes like elephant, peacock and clowns. The balloons look great in the clear blue sky. One after another the balloons ascend and fly towards the mosque’s direction, and by 7pm the crowd disappeared as fast – if not faster – as they conjugated a couple of hours ago.

And Putrajaya reverted back to its original form by 8pm – grand, expensive, quiet, deserted, and probably unnecessary. At least the hot air balloon fiesta stirs some liveliness into the city built on oil, even if it is a short-lived one.

More photos from Hot Air Balloon Fiesta in the Photo Album page, or direct link here: http://travelgaia.com/gallery/HotAirBalloonFiesta2009/

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3 Weeks into my new gadget: Nokia 5800 XpressMusic “Tube”…

March 23rd, 2009 2 comments
Nokia 5800 XpressMusic in Red

Nokia 5800 XpressMusic in Red

It’s been a while since I am thinking to replace my good old Sony Ericsson W810, which has certainly served me well for the last 2.5 years. It was a brick – literally. I have dropped it to ground unintentionally gazillion of times, and submerged it fully into a small pool of water once (also unintentionally), the phone just refused to stop working.

3 weeks ago I met out with a friend (you know who you are!). He showed me his wife’s new Nokia 5800 XpressMusic (nickname “Tube”) in black with red linings. It is a 3G touch screen phone (Nokia’s 1st?), no physical keypad, and the screen resolution is really good. I played around with it, but really just checking the menu system and figure out how to navigate it – I haven’t used a Nokia phone before! I was told there is GPS too but I wasn’t impressed by then as I haven’t tried out any previously (yea yea I know I am outdated).

Did some online research when i was back home. The phone has everything that I need, and more. Price is not really cheap but not prohibitively expensive. I went to Digital Mall @ SS14, Petaling Jaya after a few days of consideration, and purchased the phone within 15 minutes.

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Kitaro Still Going Strong – Love and Peace Planet Music Tour 2009 Live @ Genting

March 14th, 2009 2 comments

7 March 2009, 8pm at Genting Highland’s Arean of Stars, Kitaro starts his 2009 “Love and Peace Planet Music Tour 2009”. It was a drizzling night.

This is my first time listening live to Kitaro after start following his music many years ago, and it sure did not disappoint. Our seats are at Price Scale 3 (PS3), in the middle of the hall but 3rd row from the last, so it was about 25-30m to the stage. I’d prefer front seats but it was not a big issue – the music is just as sweet over here.

Kitaro Live @ Genting 2009

Kitaro Live @ Genting 2009 - my best effort using 100mm F2.8 from way back

Kitaro @ Genting2009 - Official Poster

Kitaro @ Genting2009 - Official Poster

The 2 1/2-hour show has some new musics that Kitaro said hasn’t been recorded yet, coupled with total light-out with just 2 screens showing sun, moon, nature and planetary objects. This is Kitaro’s message to us on Save The Earth. The music is good but it is a bit too long for me, it probably runs about 45mins or more.

The classic ones received the most applause from the audience, like Silk Road, Oasis, Heaven and Earth, and of course, one of my very favorites, Matsuri.

Kitaro also displays his well-verse in musical instrument through the show, where he not only creates magical tunes by finger-dancing on the keyboard, but also jams bass guitar with the guitarist, plays the big horn, flute, harmonica, 太鼓 (the big drum), and a few other that I can’t name. He is really an amazing musician!

There are total 6 of them: 2 keyboards, 1 electrical guitarist, 1 violinist, a drummer, and Kitaro, but the music that they play sounds like from an orchestra. Seats are about 90% full, indicates Kitaro’s popularity among Malaysians.

The last 2 songs, “The Light of the Spirit” and “Free Flight” ended the live performance. I particularly like the former one. What a way to end the show.

Kitaro looked aged for 56, but the performance is marvelous. The bass from the his big drum hits the bottom chord of the heart every time. Let’s hope Kitaro will continue to create great music that intrigues us as well as convey the message of Love and Peace to the world for a long long time to come!

Categories: Events, Photo Journal Tags: ,



Love Is In The Air

March 4th, 2009 3 comments


Date: Late Dec 2008

Location: Damnoen Saduak Floating Market, Bangkok

My third time visiting Bangkok’s famous floating market. Was walking alone having lost both of my travel buddies in this busy place. The hoards of wooden boats were causing a really bad traffic jam on the canal.

I was just going to capture a few more boat photos at the sidewalk while a pair of Caucasian couple strolled in front of me and slowed down. Holding hands, he turned around, whispered to her, and touched his nose to her face, like forever. Right here at the busy floating market.

Love is in the air.



Angkor Wat… At Last!

February 28th, 2009 No comments
Leading To Angkor Wat

Leading To Angkor Wat

Date: 24th Feb, 2005, 7:45am

Location: Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia

Finally! After 3 weeks’ tiring travel linking us from Kuala Lumpur to Bangkok, to Chiang Mai, to Huai Xuey, Luang Prabang, Vientiane, Pakse, Veun Kham, Phnom Penh, we reached the climax of the trip – at Angkor Wat.

This is my favorite photo of the Angkor trip. Not one of those must-have-sunrise-over-Angkor Wat photos – I have those too, but to me, the photo above has something special that I can’t describe. At least it is not one of those.

We made it, finally. Save the best for last.



First Ray of Light on Mt. Kinabalu

February 25th, 2009 1 comment
First Light on Mt. Kinabalu

First Ray of Light on St. John's Peak, Mt. Kinabalu

Date: Mid Oct 2005, 5:57am

Location: Summit of Mt. Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia

The Story: 2nd time is much easier. I was not the first ones to reach the Summit of Mt. Kinabalu that day, but at least I have enough time to capture the moment of the ray of light hits the mountain. A few climbers already sitting down, chilling out (literally). The sun gets out from the thick clouds, paints the left side of St. John’s Peak with orange color. The magic moment is short-lived, though – the sky turns bright soon and before long, the orange color is gone, replaced by blinding glare.