Friday, 27 December 2013

2 Bali , The Island of Gods( Long entry )

Merry Christmas , lovelies who stopped by this very humble blog of mine. Boxing Day had also just ended yesterday and I could say, it was mind blowing as well. I was late in writing because  after me travelling away for like two weeks, I was so caught up with chores at home, my son could not sit still where he would pushed me anywhere to play with him around the house. Obviously, I was the only friend he knows  , at least for now. I am proud to be his first best friend. And I even challenged myself during this festive season to bake cookies like kuih makmur, rolled pineapple tarts and almond London. I failed at making macaroons again. And I even swore to myself that I would not bake another macaroons. 

Bali..... Bali.....

While most Indonesians are Muslims, Balinese are mostly Hindus. They built enormous,magical , beautiful temples and this land is truly home of artists where in every big junctions, you'll have a taste of the Balinese fine arts  by their statues of goddesses.Our visit in Bali was short but, it was memorable.
I was thankful to have such an amazing guide cum driver during our holiday in Bali, Dewa Putu Suria. You can contact him here if you wish for a truly Balinese son to be your guide. I think if it is your first time in Bali and needs introduction to this island, it is important to have a knowledgeable guide as you need to really understand the culture and taboo in this land especially if you are a foreigners. And your guide plays important roles on how you 'll see a place from your beholder. It is not wrong to have your own views though.

It is true  that Bali has more laid back cultures from the rest of Indonesia's islands but, if you are to visit their temples there are rules and regulations to obey to depending on which temples you are visiting though.

I thought that Bali was all about the beautiful beach but, actually it was more to spiritual. Well , at least to me. Though I am not a Hindu, but I had to admit that I found peace in this land. Up until now, i am still waking up to the thought that I 'll be walking into another beautiful temple or another beaches to hang out or another night to drink up if it weren't for my son calling , "mommy, mommy lets play my lorry.." early in the morning. I could say life was perfect there. Not that I am saying that I have a bad life here in Sabah, because you and I know that I have a great life here with my family and friends but, added with works and so many other petty matters here. A vacation is needed.

 I fulfilled my first destination of all the places that I want to be before the end of the world or the end of mine. Truly , if I had another chance, I would definitely choose Bali as the easiest escapades.

Reached Bali, went straight to Jimbaran Beach for dinner as our flight was delayed there were only time for a glass of cold beer and a comfortable bed to sleep in. Well, eating at the Jimbaran Beach could ripped off your purse if you are not careful with what you ordered.

At the Barong Jambe Budaya , at Gianyar. Well, I am worst at understanding a silent movie so, during this show I was so busy reading the script paper provided at the entrance, while trying my best to catch the storyline on the stage to understand it. I made it , I understand that the Barong dance was about good fighting the bad. Nice costumes, everybody in the show.

  The first temple we went.
Look at my long cardigans. I did not wear that sarong to go around Bali ok. Excuse me for this outrageous outfit. In most temple, you'll be borrowed with a sarong before you go to any temple here. That's why I came up with such outfit.

These two men were my company during the vacation . Of course , Steven is the one carrying my handbag. Talk about losing the sense of style on our first day in Bali. 

Trying out Balinese musical instruments. We also have it in Malaysia called the angklung if I am not mistaken. But, Balinese one was so finely made, with all those gold finishing?  Priceless. 

 A view that you must not missed when you are in Ubud. The paddy terraces. They had already reaped the paddy at the time I was visiting that's why you only see dirt and grass in this picture. But, you do see the terraces they built ,right.
 Me, trying my hands on roasting those fresh coffee beans.

You would taste all sorts of coffee and teas samples here. My most favorite, the vanilla coffee which I bought one for home. The special cup that Steven was drinking the Luwak coffee. If you were not familiar with this coffee, it was made from coffee beans that was pooped by the foxes. I would not elaborate here but, you could check it out from search engine.

 This look like public pool is in the Pura Tirtha Empul temple. People came here not only to pray but also to wash away all the bad energy in them. I was not ready for this, we did not bring any change for clothes so we skipped the bathing parts instead we went around the temple. It was beautiful and oh, you'll get a volunteer guide here. They would help you to take your photos and would asked if you want to buy their copies from their compact cameras. Of course, you'll choose some of it and buy it because you 'll feel sorry that they had became such a nice guide inside the temple. Our official guide could not go into with us for this reason. Hmmph.  Something to do with others' pocket income lah...

 By the Taman Ayun. Claimed as the most beautiful temple in Bali.

 Us.In love this photo  the most.

At the Beratan temple. 

This landmark was printed  on the Indonesian's bank notes. Of course from other angle.Ain't it majestic.

  Some pose that got us being stared by many visitors in the park of Beratan. COuld not believe ourselves too.
And I am an avid fan of durian. The proof is in the following photo. We had lots of durian in Malaysia but, we still stopped over at a stall somewhere in Bali by the roadside to have some durian.

Steven thought that the vacation would be complete if he does not get a temporary tattoo. I tried to persuade him to get the real one but he was not getting any . But, he paid fairly high price for his tattoo which he got in Tanah Lot. Resulting me getting one for free too just above my ankle.

  Mine was like the 'free gift' of temporary tattoo. It was nice by the way last more than 3 weeks on my skin.

 At the Tanah Lot. Steven and I agreed that this is the most beautiful one in Bali. Beaches, and the views here is to die for.

On our last day in Bali, we went for some water sport in Tanjung Benoa. Just some beach fun activities where there were lots to choose from but Steven and I chose the easiest ones like Flying Fish, (claimed to be the only one you could find ), Donut boat and jetski. Nothing too challenging for me as I am not water friendly kind of people.

This was us getting ready to fly. There were instructor with you all the time so , it was safe to play any watersport around here.  

The Donut boat. Basically these Flying Fish and Donut Boat operated by a speed boat pulling these boats.

Getting down. Well each ride would only take 15 minutes. Too short?

My first time riding a jetski. Fun, man.

  At some seconds during Steven and I were hanging out at Tanah Lot, his tattoo got all messed up before it dried on his skin. I was to blame for that. Then, our guide introduce him to a tattoo artist in Tanjung Benoa to repair the old one and Steven ended up getting another temporary tattoo on his lower arm.

 Remember Julia Robert staying in Bali for Eat, Pray and Love ? She made this beach, the above photo famous with tourists from around the world, the Padang-Padang Beach. It was perfect place to kill time, lying down to the finest sands while letting  your body splashed with sea water, enjoying the sun rays. Wah, I thought I was in heaven. Everyone there were chilling, doing their own thing, being themselves , taking pictures in their bikini, and having a good time. It was a sight that I will never forget. The woman in the photo is not Julia Robert though , to be clear.
    At the Uluwatu beach. What can I say about this place. Magnificent , clearest sea water, to die for waves. We agreed that it was the most beautiful beach. Next time, I would not want to miss the Kecak Dance here which took place by sunsets. We had to skip it at that time because we need to catch a flight to Jakarta at night and we were desperate for a spa before spending the night at the Jakarta's airport and a 4 hour train ride to Bandung.

That was me checking our destination lists to hit for shopping haul in Bandung. It was a short 2 nights stay in Bandung but, I am going back for more next year with my shopping clan.

 This is probably the last entry for the year of 2013. With all the greeting of 'Merry Christmas' issue by the Islams in Malaysia, rainy seasons overrated with fake tsunami warning and end of the world news flooded my Facebook, I am really looking forward for the new year and praying that all these will passed and a new year would bring new hope, new learning, and a better life. Yes, a better life.

Sunday, 15 December 2013

0 12 Photos from Singapore and the Guy in the Aquarium

Last entry on driving to Singapore was plain with text and I have no complain why there were less people reading it. But ,  after I finish this photo entry I will upload photo of the sacred card to survive driving in Singapore, the Autopass card. At least people got the idea of how does it looked like. Nothing like the Touch N' Go card we used in Malaysia, but the functions are very much alike. 

Okay , I'll passed  the last entry's topic and lets move on some photo stories. 

 He was anxious to go for the Singapore Flyer. He really thought he was actually actually flying. Boy, I was worried all the time when it comes about him during this trip because he did not eat a thing since we reached Singapore. Thank God he did drink formulas as the substitute for the meals.

The folks are no easy to convince into doing what they do not like. But, I did convince them to buy ticket in advance and when we arrive, I once again had convinced them to go climb the Singapore Flyer. It was such an experience that they'll never forget, I swore. But, mom and cousin (ladies in blue and black) never move from their seat since they stepped into the capsule! I can't believe them. Aunt Lathimi was the sporting kind of aunty I have , was cool and I actually had loads of photos of her here and everywhere around Singapore. SOrry aunt , had not send you any of your photos yet, I need to wrap up my blog for 2013 for all the places I went this year.  Next year, the start of school , I will be slow in writing , school can be crazy at the start of a new semester.  But, I promise to send her by the way before 2013 ends.

The following are the views of the city, and of course there's the Marina Bay Sands. I can't believe I did not go in there when it was actually like few hundreds meters bridge separating the Singapore Flyer to the building. Next time, ladies !

From other angle of the city...

These are beautiful. 

The above and the next photo. My son insisted on wearing my sunglasses and his mouth couldn't stop pouting to hold on the glasses on his tiny nose. 

 My cousin was the only one he would listen during our trip but it didn't applied by the way when it comes to eating. 

They are sisters!Might be the closest ones among the six siblings they have. 

These are taken at the Flower Dome, Gardens by the Bay. It looked like it was not that huge when you see the glass buildings from outside but it was HUGE alright, so magically serene and cooling even under the hot sun. There were several gardens in the gardens which you have to buy your tickets for each gardens. We only bought tickets for two gardens but we still couldn't finished them all.

The Flower Dome.

This photo should tell you that I was excited and surprised. We had two tickets which is to the Flower Dome and the Cloud Forest. But as soon as we go into the Cloud Forest, without warning right at the entrance, there's a waterfall and would wet you off . And it was tall ! I always amazed by waterfalls or whatever about waters. Couldn't help it , you see it from the funny looking photo of me.

That one full day in Singapore was ended with river cruising near sunset and it ended until it was quite dark. Our river cruise starts from the farthest jetty which made it was all worthy, at the Clark Quay, behind the Liang Court. River cruise, I believe to be the fastest , easiest and most serene way to enjoy sightseeing Singapore town. 

Our last stop before heading back to Johor was to Underwater World in Sentosa Island. Was amazing and it was way bigger than the one at the Manila's oceanarium. 

The guy in diving suit in the following photo was caught feeding the fish and I photographed  this amazing scene I never saw live, all the big fish including the sharks, for like 5 shots. I guess the fish were acting weirder and weirder as I took their photos until the guy made his small eyes fierce,glaring at me from behind the thick glass, while making signal with his hands, I believe that he wanted me to stop taking photos with the flash on. So, I switch it off, continued as I was sure that the flash were already switched off, but of course this Nikon DSLR still producing some kind of torchlight when taking pictures in dark areas. The guy stopped again to warn me with his hand signal, I understood so I walked away, giggling like a schoolgirl. Was embarrassed at some point as people were all looking at me, while some guys looked at me as they understand that the light from some kind of torch light from the camera cannot be prevented as they looked back at the guy in the aquarium as if they wanted to explained but hopeless. Thank you guys, it was nice of you but, I already got my best shot long before the guy were mad. 

I kept on snapping because I would never know if there would ever be more interesting shots afterwards. Turned out I only had the first one , the best which is the following photo.

 I was really frustrated that we missed the Dolphin Show while it actually had 3 - 4 shows in a day. We had already planned to move to Johor by noon and the next show when we were outta there would be on 2 p.m.. So , we left for Johor. It should had been the first stop we went before going into the aquariums. But, there were very little information on what you should've see if you are visiting the Underwater World  Sentosa like the schedule on the dolphin show on the entrance. They post the schedule at a pillar before the pool. You have to walk passed an educational gardens to get to the pool.  Or at least have people on the ticketing counter to inform every visitor on the schedule. 

They have this rare pink dolphin alright , mister. I saw it jumping from the water where it was caged next to pool once , I believe  intended for the show. Hah, we knew what we were missing. 

Overall, I like to come back to Singapore , next time probably with Steven and beloved son. 

Thursday, 12 December 2013

0 Driving to Singapore: Misadventures and First Timer Guide

I see how rundown my blog is since me attending the 3 weeks Mathematic  courses in Penang between last September and October.. The aftermaths of the Course was overwhelming and I remember of dreaming of my vacation in Singapore and Bali long before they happened.Every night . I actually had to keep reminding myself that before all that vacations happened I had to finished my jobs first. And then, before school holiday started and I was on pre holiday mood where I was on my way writing about my Penang stay, I was called for a course, the Continuous Profesionalisme Development that was meant for all teachers that held the DG41 grade. 

So, when I was started to write about Singapore, then, I remembered I had this one blogpost about Penang that I forgotten and I stuff it with related photos and published it right away before this very blogpost started. 
The trip to Singapore was actually a last minute one for me as I never go anywhere before it was planned like months before the trip made. I surprised myself though by accepting my cousins invitation on this. She insisted that I check in daily basis the Air Asia ticket price either to Johor or direct to Singapore. Boy , it excites me and shivered me as this trip to Singapore ends just a day before my honeymoon trip to Indonesia with Steven. The results was exciting 2 weeks holiday. Also lots of laundry to do besides overwhelmed with the memories of all the beautiful and ugly places I went and saw.  I convinced myself that this will passed with times. Huarrh. I still  have few more weeks before the 2014 school session started. ( errrk... forgive the mumbling)

The holiday in Singapore was quite short as we ( mom, Chris, my cousin, and aunt) only had one full day in Singapore. The rest was the journey to this republic from Malaysia, all the misadventures when driving in a foreign lands. Mostly of troubles with depending 99% with electronic devices, I mean GPS in my smartphone. We had to drive round and round the city when we've missed that junction just when you only had few hundreds meter to reach your destinations, you had to go all around again for another  kilometers  before reaching the destination because of the road directions.

I learnt the hard way that for a person who is direction blind,   I should not travel without a soul who knows the place well or three powerful powerbank to supply for my smartphone. The journey can become stressful for everyone involved and fights over petty matter could happened anytime in the car. Trust me, because I've been there.But, respect to each other is topmost element we need to maintain patience whenever pressure arises when on holiday. Holiday can be fun but, finding directions with bunch of people with similar syndrome  would not help much. It is not that I want to complain about my companions here but,we always have to prepare mentally and emotionally especially when you are going anywhere into foreign lands without guides.

The bright side about it is you will have plenty to laugh about when returned home. Driving into Singapore is nothing like driving into Brunei from Sabah to Sarawak and vice versa. Because you were there to stay. Or not. So, if you're a Malaysian's car you have to make that you have all of these with you:
1. Passport, of course.

Two kinds of Autopass card. One with chip on it and the one without chip. Both had same functions.

2. Autopass card.Pay close attention to this if you plan on driving in Singapore.  If you have none, go check your road tax make sure that it is valid for at least 6 months after your departure from Singapore. Then, capture it with your smartphone , go to some Toll  office nearby the Singapore's immigration plaza,  ( do not fret, the officers by the  counter who check on your passport will tell you what to do next). Payment for the Autopass card is SGD 10.

This card will be used when you park your cars , for the VEP, and the ERP which you will see signboards telling that you are entering the ERP areas. The fee is SGD 5 for every entry regardless of how many times you go in and out the area in a day.

If the Autopass card is new, then you'll  enjoy waive from the VEP for about 10 days. After the grace period,  you'll be charged for the VEP for SGD 15 per day if you continue to drive around Singapore.

Remember to topup the Autopass card at 7 Eleven , I think that's the most convenient way since the 7 Eleven stores could be found anywhere in this republic. The balance from the Autopass could be redeemed once you settle all the payment when you 're departing from Singapore by filling in some form. You could ask the officer by the Toll if you wish so.

Thank you for not asking what 's the VEP and ERP because I would not know the full of these abbreviations. By the way, when you buying the Autopass card you can get a brochure that will answer all your questions about this Autopass card.

Sounds complicated? Well once you were there, you will not feel like it anymore. Actually I personally think that this is an efficient way to manage vehicles in this republic.

3. Embarkation card . If you do not receive any from the Malaysian's immigration or anyone particularly used with going in and out Singapore, you will get one once you arrive at the Singapore's immigration. Just fill it in and wait for your passport, you'll good to proceed.

I really hope that this will help you if you are wondering and determined to drive in Singapore. Dedicate this to a first timer. And to myself just in case I need to recall it if I were to be back again to Singapore.

FYI, traffic in Singapore was okay. For a stay of 2 nights there, I never experience bad traffic there. All was smooth until smartphones ran out of battery and powerbank charged too slow.

Til my next entry. Happy holiday and Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

0 Penang Hill, Gurney Drive and Sunset in Batu Feringghi Beach

After the long steep ride to the top of Penang Hill, walk about 20 steps ahead, you'll find a signboard says, " You've never been to Penang unless you've been to Penang Hill."

Such a statement because Penang Hill and the train ride to the top of the hill definitely a must-go place if you are about in Penang. The ticket for a two ways ride was cheap considering the technology used and the clean and comfortable train used to go up and down the hill. There is not much to see when you were up the hill but, they do have a restaurant called, Sky Terrace which I was not quite attracted enough to go pay a visit, but I heard that they got some good Penang Laksa there. You could see almost the entire Penang from top of the hill  and of course you would not missed the Penang Bridge that connected the island to Sebrang Prai. It was spectacular enough to see one bridge but, two bridges? The second bridge was on its way completed now which also connected the island the main land but the bridge was extended from Batu Maung. You could see that the second bridge was longer that old one. 

The only thing that attract me to go to Penang Hill was the train ride , the rest was quite common. However, the fact that the whole place is well-maintained is surprisingly amazed me because nowadays it is very rare to see such a long operated tourist attraction in Malaysia are still in good conditions and was recently upgraded. As I was told by Steven and few friends that used to attend Penang local universities that the trains, the gate and the counters got an upgrade. Good job Penang State Government. 

Steven told me  that the old train moves slower and noisy. Hmm the new was quite faster and less noise and the ride was smoother. 

Penang Hill could be a different experience but I was ever anxious about food hunting in Penang. There were few shops and stalls that I found had outstanding meals around the island but, my favorite  was the stalls at the Gurney Drive. There were many stalls selling all kinds of street food from Chinese's, Malays and Indian's here. There were quite crowded on Saturday nights but the energy there was intoxicating makes me wanna eat whatever others had on their tables. During Steven's two night and one day stay in Penang, we went here for supper, everytime. Having hard time choosing what to stuff into the mouth so that we could be fulled in a 'smart' way, everytime. Since both of us had large appetite and we came there like we haven't eat for 10 years, I thought that I must be fulled quicker than usual as I am a quick eater type of human. 

I am sorry for not having any food porn here. It is irony though I always think myself as a food lover but, I rarely had any food porn in my site. Hardly any, even on my Instagram. (chuckled). But, the best street food that I will always love is the Char Kuey Tiaw...I know there has been few good coffee shop that serve good char kuey tiaw aroung Kota Kinabalu too, so whenever I miss this fried noodle, I don't have to fly half around Malaysia just to get one.

 Another typical thing to do is visiting the flea market . There are amazingly longest night market I've been in Batu Feringhi Beach that opened from 7 in the evening right until past midnight I think. There were some watersport to enjoy there too  but , for some reason , I was there twice , first with colleagues but we were there more for the fun of shopping at the flea market and watching the sunset. They sell ranges of women's and men's clothing , accesories and handbag, watches, toys and can even get good bargains there. Second time with Steven was an unplanned trip. As we made up our mind to go to Feringghi before sunset, on our way, it rained heavily. We turned back to the city and even back to the hotel. But, just when we were back to the hotel, the rain stops and we decided to give it a go for Feringghi again. This time we made it but, it was hardly passed sunset so, we were practically there for the flea market alone.

We were literally waiting for the sunset and for anyone that looked kind that will take our picture together to catch the sunset. But, as the sunset came we were still tongue tied to ask for anyone's favor. So, here we were, taking our picture , I think almost perfect using the self timer itself. Man, I was the one responsible to set the self timer shoot and running on the sands are no joking matter. Was tiring even for few meters run. First shot was all good. And we decided like, why not one more shot?

Second shot with lighter sky, full bodied shot . Off we went to the flea market afterwards.


Wednesday, 9 October 2013

0 Penang's Sunday Flea Market and Old Skool Handphones.

I had to be frank that I was not all excited about going to Sunday's flea market. Steven forced me to go with him. This Sunday's flea market located at the parking lot of the City Stadium in Jalan Datu Keramat, Penang.  But, this definitely not my average any flea market. At least to me because I had no imagination beyond cheap clothes , food stalls, traditional handicraft products when it comes to flea market.

People in Peninsula Malaysia called such market as Pasar Karat and sell their items from the trunk of their vehicle usually vans and old motocars.

I guess this is ordinary view in any flea market in Asia.  Cheap and copycat branded watches are everywhere.

 And even branded football jersey... that Steven were so interested in when going to such market.

I mean , look at this. I think all of those figurines contains all the 12 Chinese zodiacs. Sorry they might not be so clear in this picture. These are made from copper. If you noticed on the ground , lower right corner of the photo, they even sell the 'stone age' 's iron!
 Interesting huh?

For snake's fan..

These are called periuk belanga  if I am not mistaken... and few copper made dishes. They can be precious for people who like to collect old stuff and put it into home's decorations. 

There were just too many things sought in this photo. I believe all of these were transported from the maroon van by the man in white.

 The only colored stuff sought in this flea market besides clothing.

Oh la la... look at what this man selling. I think he sells the most beautiful copper made stuff.

Interesting how they hang those shoes under the  canopy. 

These classic homey stuff, the kettle sold at RM20, quite cheap right for a kettle looked this errr ...fine. And the phone! I really wish that the land telephone design will go back to look like this. I feel ever victorious when pressing on those buttons to dial.

Now I know where to find spare parts for my table fan if it ever broken. The problem is , these hardly broke. The fan motors do broke more often if a fan broken.

Tell me what can you see in the above photo?

Old skool handphones for sale. Uh, even tv remotes! I can't tell you by the way if they were still functioning. These  handphones sure were nostalgic for  the human race. Reminds me of my dad's first handphone which I always felt despair of how it was so hard , almost impossible, to get connectivity to any mobile operators many years back from our home. That's unless if you lived in the town or near one. Dad's hand phone was always hanging by the window to ensure connectivity with mobile networks. It was seldom rang but, we, the children never forget to hang it there every time. I am not kidding when I say we did not know if we were expecting anyone to call. We do not have the necessity to talk to our friends like 24/7 like we do now on any given social networks we have nowadays. But we never failed to stay connected.  If you remembered these can't play mp3 songs! We had to compose some codes to play melodies in monophonic or polyphonic. If your hand phones could play polyphonic sounds, it was good enough man. That was back then.

So, going to the pasar karat  was not that bad at all. At least it bring back memories of the big and thick hand phones we used to have a decade ago. Who am I trying to kid? I saw people in the street talking to a phone that is one and a half size of their heads every now and then. Way bigger than the humble Nokia 3310.

But, how we still never missed a thing even without social networking back then leaves me in wonder. I can't recall how. Newspaper? I never read about my friends on the news nor the tv.


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