Dear Readers,

Salam & Good day to all... I hope you'll have fun reading and probably collect something useful here. I welcome all comments & commends. Please don't be anonymous. I'd like to know my visitors :)

"La Tahzan, InnaAllaha ma'ana" (Al- Quran: Surah At- Taubah- Verse 40)
Translation: "Be not sad (or afraid), surely Allah is with us."

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." ~Edmund Burke~

'It's not what the world holds for you, but what you bring to it' ~Anne of Green Gables~

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Becoming Indiana Jones :P


Just a crazy dream... but it's either Indiana Jones or the sexy lady of the series 'Relic Hunter'. Hahahahaaa...

Well, I love travelling and adventures. Not too much adventure coz I don't think I'm prepared for it. Otherwise I'll be the guy in 'Man vs Wild' :)

The places that I've visited:
Not as many as my friends, but for myself I consider that is quite a lot. I've been to:
- Malaysia: All states *wink*
- Thailand: Bangkok+Phuket
- Indonesia:Bali
- Singapore: Whole island
- Cambodia: Siem Reap+Phnom Penh
- Australia: Melbourne+Perth
- UK:London+Egham+Reading

Hmmmmm... not that many ya? Looks like I have to plan for more travels in the future. Whenever $$$ and time and health and commitments permits.

Why do I love travelling?

For me, basically because I want to see things with my very own eyes :) We see a lot of things on TV. Amazing, beautiful and almost alien landscapes, different & 'weird' cultures, great history, great civilizations &
architectures from ancient times, extreme weather, great flora & fauna, much more modern & developed countries... Whenever I see all this, I wonder... is this true? Does this really exist? Do people really do or eat those things? Are people really that different?

I want to see & experience ALL this. Because for me, travelling, no matter to where and no matter how short, is an eye opener and always an educational experience.

It's a wonderful & refreshing way to get out of my normal and daily routine.

How do I travel?
Most of the times... budget, backpacking and free & easy. The only time I follow travel agent, was when I went to Phuket with my mom & her friends. Actually, that's not bad. But not as adventurous as free & easy :P

Where else do I want to go?

The whole world! Huhuhuhuuuu...
Among my wishlist:
-> Egypt : Pyramids+Nile River+Red Sea
-> India : Taj Mahal, Agra + Jaipur
-> Peru : Machu Pichu
-> Australia: Christmas Island (Red Crab Migration)+Cocos Island
-> Iceland : Aurora light
-> Greenland : Igloo (Do they still live in igloo?)

-> France :
Eiffel Tower+Millau Bridge
-> Borobudur - Jogjakarta (soon, I hope)
-> England : Stonehedge+Castles+Lochness monster??? heheheee...
-> Bhutan
-> Nepal : The Himalayas
-> Mongolia
-> China : Great Wall+Terracotta Warriors+Forbidden City+Guilin
-> Morocco
-> Easter Island
-> Yemen : Socotra Islands
-> Italy : Leaning Tower+Colosseum
-> Austria
-> USA : Adirondack+Yelllowstone+Niagara+Alaska+Grand Canyon+Golden Gate bridge
-> Canada : Prince Edward Island (this is where Anne Shirley & Gilbert Blythe came from)
-> Arctic & Antartic
-> Venezuela : Angel Falls
-> Mexico : Chichen Itza (pyramid like in South America region)
-> Turkey : Blue Mosque

Uishhh... kalau ikut hati, memang tak duduk rumah. Berjalan jeeeee... heheheeee...

Pray that all my wishes come true ok!

So... do you want to share your travelling dream?

Monday, March 16, 2009

Raiding Cambodia...

Trip in March, 2008.

Anastasia and I felt like Angelina Jolie in 'Lara Croft: The Tomb Raider' when we stuck our heads in between the giant tree roots in Cambodia's Takeo temple... hihihihiiii...

This Cambodia trip happened due to Anastasia's frequent nagging :P 'I want to visit the Angkor Wat' she said over and over. So I said, oklah oklahhh... let's go!

The truth? I was also tempted to see the ancient ruins. Hihihiii... and as usual... we are Indiana Jones wanna be. We couldn't settle for Siem Reap only. So, we planned to land in Phnom Penh and then take a bus to Siem Reap.

This is our story...

For this trip, I got a lot of objections from my mother. She was worried sick with our plan to go to Cambodia. My sister and brother was also infected by her worries :) and I of course asked everybody to keep this plan as a secret from my dad. I don't need more objections than I already had. Why was my family, especially my mom against this plan? Mostly because we knew so little about Cambodia... a country that is recovering from war. I'm not really sure about Cambodia's history but the place called 'The Killing Field' got into my nerves.

However, Anastasia had friends who already went there and they said there is nothing to worry about. Therefore, we decided to brave through the country.

I remember what I said to my mom when she kept persuaded me not to go. I said, 'Ma, if you're so scared, might as well I just stay at home and never leave'. Fuhhhh... eksyen betul! But, all jokes aside, I believe that you need to get your mother & father or parent's blessings in this kind of decision where you will be leaving home for a while . Their prayers will keep you safe.

We prepared ourselves for any possibilities during this trip. If people are so concern, there just might be a reason, even though unvalidated. So we planned carefully and left a copy of detailed itineraries and contact number of the hotels we were staying in, the bus company and even the contact number of Malaysian embassies in Cambodia. During our visit in Cambodia we constantly text our family of where and when we're going. If anything happened, it'll be easier and faster to track our whereabouts. I just believe that there are times when we should be paranoid than sorry :)

So as planned, we booked our flight which will land in Phnom Penh, and then we'll take a bus to Siem Reap. On the day, Anastasia casually waited for me on the floor of the Low Cost Carrier Terminal... we had McD for lunch (yummy!) and off to Cambodia. Wuhuhuhuuu!!!

Phnom Penh airport was small and quiet, but quite busy. Apparently there are a lot of people going in and out of the country. In the flight, there are a lot of muslims and the way they dressed, very similar to Malaysian muslims. I remembered seeing them on TV1 once... I thought the documentary was about Malaysians, but it was not. It was about Cambodian muslims. So, I thought there's not so much difference, therefore, no worries :)

We stayed in Cara Hotel, Phnom Penh. It was a nice small hotel in the middle of the busy Phnom Penh city. The view from our room's balcony was dusty. However, the room was comfortable, with a tv and clean bathroom (which is very important). The room comes with breakfast but I 'only' had bread and yogurt and fruits and coffee and milk and orange juice because I'm not sure whether the meat and the oil they used were from a halal source. Even though I thought, 'Lucky you Anastasia', I had the healthiest breakfast while I was in Phnom Penh!

In Phnom Penh, we went to Wat Phnom, to the Russian market, the Royal Palace where we met another fellow Malaysian, to the National Museum and rested under the shady tree by the river. It was a very hot and humid day. How do we go around town? By tuk-tuk of course :)

We had interesting experiences while we were in Phnom Penh. First, we casually talked between the two of us about the receptionist at the hotel. He had a pair of beautiful eyes. We conversed in Malay because we were confident that no one understands only to later found out that the receptionist had been working in Malaysia before and can understand our language a little bit. Then he smiled knowingly at us. Oh my God! Second, riding tuk tuk can give you adrenalin rush. We were shouting and closing our eyes when the tuk- tuk driver missed a cyclist by only inches. Pheww, that was close. Third, the cash register in Cambodia is high-tech. The machine can calculate your change both in Cambodia and US Dollar. Wow! We were impressed at the machine!

Is it possible to find Malaysian restaurant in Cambodia? Sure! Looks like we Malaysians are everywhere now :) Just ask your tuk- tuk driver. They just might know where to find our local food.

Room at Cara Hotel.


Street in front of Cara Hotel.


On the way to Wat Phnom.


 A lot of people resting at this park. Even though we were sure it was not weekend or public holiday, we assured ourselves that it might be some holiday that we were unaware of.

If remember correctly, this is Wat Phnom. I apologize if I'm mistaken :( This trip was last year and my brain neurons might have been blurring a Phnom Penh link.


Some of the artwork at the wat.

The National Museum. They have a lot of Buddhist related artifact collections.

Inside the Royal Palace compound.

A view from the palace. I think this looks nice :)


A photo I took while we were resting under the shady tree. He's cute :)


The butterfly and flowers staircase that we so admired at Cara Hotel.

In Cara Hotel, we met a couple of Indonesian girls who told us that they took a double decker bus from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh. The top deck was for passengers, the below deck also for passengers... farm passengers. Chickens, ducks, goats... hahahaaaa... that sounded so interesting.

But for us, we took the Mekong Express bus to Siem Reap. This bus was for human passengers only :) The express bus there, provide another level of service than here :) The fare was USD10.00.

Mekong Express :)


Smile! You're on my camera!


Bus steward... he's a bit shy when I wanted to take his photo.


These were what we got in the bus. A bottle of mineral water, fragrance wet tissue and a box of...


breads! Again, I'm not sure the bread's halal status, so Anastasia got lucky again!

During the almost 8 hours trip, we stopped somewhere for lunch. I'm not sure what the name of the place was. There I saw a couple of interesting local snacks...
Grasshoppers and some kind of bug.

'Can I take photos?'
Nod.. nod...
Thank you!

We bought some...
... of the mangos! Gotcha!

When we arrived in Siem Reap's bus stop, there were a lot of tuk- tuk drivers there. However, our designated tuk- tuk driver already waited for us with our names on a cardboard. I didn't get his name, but he was a friendly man.

In Siem Reap, we stayed at 'Mom's Guesthouse'. This guesthouse is in the middle of the town, where you can easily get transportation and... Malaysian food was just a walking distance. Most importantly, it's safe.

Cosy and clean room, comfortable big single beds...

With cupboard, coffe table, dressing table, mirror and cable tv.


Clean bathroom...

All these at a very affordable price. Visit Mom's Guesthouse on the internet now!

D' Wau Restaurant. A halal Malaysian restaurant. Just a walking distance from Mom's Guesthouse. We had 'Nasi Goreng Daging Merah' and 'Nasi Paprik'.

Saiko Ang. A cambodian dish served at D'Wau. It's similar to our very own satay with a papaya salad.


Halal restaurant in Siem Reap.


Halal restaurant advertisement.



The next day, we're off to the ancient ruins! Wuhuhuuuu... Mom's kindly arranged for a tuk-tuk driver. Sothea was a friendly man with 2 children. He was around our age, so we clicked and we had a fun day! :p

We woke up early that day coz we wanted to see sunrise at the famous Angkor Wat. It was so dark when we got there, with no flashlight and direction we were unsure of where to go. Sothea waited at his tuk-tuk. So, last resort, we followed other people. Luckily, there were a lot of tourist there. Phewwww.... When we got inside Angkor Wat's compound there was a kind guy offered to show us the way. We felt relieved because it was not easy being a blind mice :P After he showed us to the best spot to watch sunrise, he asked 'Would you like some coffee?'. Hmmmm... luckily, I did need coffee. So, okay. A coffee with milk for me and tea for Anastasia. A dollar each. Something to warm our body and to show a bit of gratitude.

The beautiful Angkor Wat sunrise that we waited for didn't emerged. Not sure why. I don't think it was a rainy season that time. The day was hot and humid as always. Anyhow, we had fun. I was amazed at the steep stairs of Angkor Wat. I wonder how they climb those stairs back in those days. The Angkor Wat compound was spacious. I like it. During our visit, a lot of entrance was closed, due to maintenance and construction. Quite a bummer. I actually would like to try and climb those stairs.

My favourite of all was the Bayon Temple. Maybe because of its smiling faces :)

One thing I noticed, the ancient wats in Cambodia have a lot of entrances. Doors and big windows. I thought, this is good architecture. Great for ventilation and emergencies.

Waiting for the bright sunrise that never came :(

Angkor Wat in the morning.


 The steep stairs.


The smiling faces of the Bayon.


The trunks of Lara Croft.

After the temples, we went to Tonle Sap lake. On the way there, we got a complimentary 'massage' and faced a reality that reminded us to count our blessings. We took a boat, navigated by a lady. Life on the lake was... as normal. They have boat houses, school, basketball court, a shop, snooker, church, restaurant etc. The most interesting view for me was the pig sty on the lake and also children paddling in a basin. I guess life was not so easy for them. They sell everything from canned drinks and fruits. Some children stopped by our boat hoping that we gave them some money. But at that time, we were afraid to be generous because we worried that more will come :(

Free 'massage' :)


Lets count our blessings...


Floating pigs :)

Paddling happily....


'Buy my cola'

A determine young girl :)

As usual, in all our travels, we always save a day for... shopping! Of course. This is among the things that we love about travelling. I bought a lot of things. Table cloths for my mom, my grandma and my aunties. The table cloths looks like songket. I love it! I bought cambodian scarves for my friends. Then, fridge magnets, bags, wallets, tooth pick holders (it's a carved wood, very cute). Anastasia bought a beautiful wall hanging... it's an embroidery of Angkor Wat complete with the elephants & coconut trees. It was just beautiful.

There are a lot of places to shop in Siem Reap. Our favourite is the night market. It was nice to shop there because we found a few stalls with a friendly seller. It was also because shopping at night was more comfortable. If you need to exhange money, there's Western Union just across the entrance of the night market. It also has lower exchange rates as compared to the other local money changer. You can also shop at the old and new market in Siem Reap. Just be careful ok. Don't go too crazy with the shopping. Oh, by the way, Cambodian silk also very nice and not that pricey... Don't say I didn't warn you :)

Siem Reap night market.

New market..

Shopping marked our last activity in Cambodia. Actually, there are still a lot of things that we haven't seen and places that we haven't visited. Obviously, we needed more time, but 5 days were good enough. We can now say we have been to Cambodia and have seen the great Angkor Wat :)

My best buy in Cambodia? A Kipling slingbag. Even though it's an imitation (original Kipling bags are sooooo expensive!), the bag is high quality and has proved to be waterproof. I should've bought the backpack as well!

On our last day, Sothea sent us to the airport. After we said our goodbyes, we checked in, boarded the flight and came back to our beloved country... tanah tumpah darahku.

Sangat patriotik...

Inside Siem Reap's airport.

Bye bye Cambodia. Until we meet again!

Lesson I learned from this trip:
1. We will be afraid of things that we're not sure about. But, if you really want to do it, get the facts & information, be prepared. Taking risks is good. It gives you a sense of adventure. Just make sure it's a calculated one.
2. Be careful when you want to say something. You may think that people don't understand your language, but they just might. In our case, fortunately we were complimenting the guy :)

Some notes on travelling to Cambodia:
1. When travel to Cambodia, make sure you get an accurate information about tipping. If you over tip for a service and this was noticed by another, they'll be expecting the same thing. At least this was my impression :)
2. People of Cambodia, as per my experience, are nice & kind people. I didn't have the impression that Cambodia was a dangerous country But to be safe, anywhere you go, avoid suspicious, dark and dangerous looking areas. Follow your instinct :)
3. Wear something light if you're travelling during the hot & humid season. Bring a hat or umbrella and wet tissue help to cool down your burning face. Don't forget to bring some drinks.
4. The roads were dusty when I was there. You will need something to cover your eyes, nose & mouth. For us, we opted for the colorful Cambodian scarves for this purpose.

I'll post some more when I remembered them :)


Friday, March 13, 2009

Conquering Langkawi Island... by MYSELF.

Trip in March 2009.

Well... it all started with an expiring frequent flier points. The points that I collected was only enough for one person, therefore I took this chance as an excuse to be adventurous. I've always said that I wanted to be 'Indiana Jones', so this is the opportunity for me to test myself... hihihiii...

There were a lot of hiccups in the preparations of this trip. In redeeming my credit card points to top up the frequent flier points, in the booking of the accommodation and the most heartbreaking is in getting back my beloved E510 from the camera shop, after a service. I'm gonna write about this incident in my 'The Unsaid' blog. It was really a spoiler. But, I kept a positive mind and told myself that I'm not gonna let a rude customer service ruin my first attempt as a single traveller. I took it all as a challenge and my A520 will accompany me all the way.

I travelled light to Langkawi. One backpack and a slingpack. I put everything that I needed in those 2 bags. The trip was smooth. My sleepy brother drove me to the train station. From KL Sentral, I took ERL to KLIA. It only takes 28 minutes from KL Sentral to KLIA for RM35.00 one way. I've already checked in at KL Sentral station, so when I arrived at KLIA I still got time to have breakfast and some window shopping. The flight was scheduled at 11.05am, however it was delayed to 11.30am... hmmm...

This is how our sky looks like on a rainy season.

The MH flight was comfortable. I had a window seat. Langkawi Island from the sky was amazing. By the way, MH flight provide peanut, Loacker biscuits and fruit juice. I'm not sure whether they have been doing this all this time coz my last time flying in an MH domestic flight, they only provide fruit juice. Anyhow, this is an interesting development :)

Langkawi is an archipelago of 99 islands. This a sky view of a few of it.


Cenang beach from the sky. It's near the airport. There are a lot of budget hotels around here. This beach is packed with tourists, local and overseas. However, the beach is clean and water still unspoiled.

I arrived in Langkawi at about 12.30pm. In the arrival hall, there
are a lot of travel agents. So, if you haven't made any bookings for car rental or ground package, no need to worry. However, for accommodation, please book in advance, especially if you're coming during the peak season. Langkawi is a very hot spot, so accommodation could be a challenge. I didn't take a picture of the travel agent booths in the arrival hall, however I can assure you there are at least 10 for you to choose from.

The taxi from Langkawi International Airport to Grand Beach Motel took about 10 minutes and the fare was RM18.00. The ride was smooth and the driver was a quiet uncle, but quite friendly since he didn't seem disturbed by my questions :)

I booked a fan chalet for RM50.oo a night since I think I would be spending most of my time relaxing by the beach, so I don't think I need an air conditioner room. The afternoon in Langkawi was steaming hot, so if you plan to relax in your room during the afternoon and early evening, forget the fan, get the aircond. For me, I found a nice spot under a small hut and coconut trees... it was real shady and breezy and the sky so clear and blue and it was really calming. I spend my whole afternoon reading by the beach.

Me, relaxing by the Cenang Beach

Evening at Cenang Beach. It rained that evening, so no view of sunset.

However, I found that RM50.oo a night for a very, very simple fan chalet was pricey. What do you think? Luckily, it rained both nights, so I slept like a big baby... the shower and tap water pressure was also very strong that I thought I could've drowned in this much water :) My first impression of the room and toilet... errrrrkkkk...

But, this comment is only for the fan chalet. I didn't take a look at other rooms.

If you stayed at Cenang beach area, food is never a problem. There are a lot of restaurants and shops there. You won't be starving :) My first night I 'tapau' fried kuey teow with iced tea and had my dinner by the beach, under the moonlight. Second night, I bought so many
foods at Kedawang night market... you should go there. There are a lot of local cuisines to choose from.

On my second day, I rented a 'Kancil', a small car to drive a around the island. It cost me RM50.00 for a one day rental and only consumed RM15.00 petrol for the whole main island. I really mean the whole main island because I went east, west, north and south of the island. My main target was to ride on the cable car at the Mat Chinchang mountain. However, it was closed for maintenance. What a bummer! I was really frustrated. I even heard some of the visitors c*$#@%g. As far as I remembered, they didn't mentioned anything about a 2 days closing for a monthly maintenance in the website. I think this is really inconsiderate since for us who travels from far for a 2-3 days holiday in Langkawi, this would have affected our schedule. It affected mine.

A marina at Petronas Quay, on the way to the Cable Car.

Animal farm at Oriental Village.

View of the Oriental Village. There are a lot of shops here and also a food court. You will pass this area first before getting to the cable car entrance.

Entrance to the cable car. Closed for 2 days for maintenance. I'm so sad! I wish they'll put up a notice of closure for maintenance in the website. Please consider us who have to plan in early.

Burau beach.

With all my sadness, my head went crazy and I decided that I wanted to see the Datai area. So, I got in the car and started driving further up. The road there was very quiet and an uphill climb. At one point, there were jungles and no other car around. I had goosebumps and was already thinking of turning back. But, I was half way there... might as well just go.

On the way t
o Datai. It's a quiet road... but I don't feel any danger.

When I arrived at Datai, I asked the concierge there whether I can go down to see the beach. But, he told me that I'm not suppose to be there since that was a private beach and for guests only. I was disappointed again. I guess the concierge, Abang Yusuf saw my sad face that he said he can show me around. We got into a buggy and drove around Datai until the beach. I was impressed by the good customer service that he showed. So, I decided to promote The Datai Langkawi Resort. This resort is pricey, but just go and visit the website. You can see how beautiful this place is. I think I can guarantee you satisfaction. This resort is so close to nature, very private and the beach is beautiful. With a service that I received from Abang Yusuf, I can imagine how kindly they treat their guests.

Abang Yusuf, thank you very very much!

View at The Datai Langkawi Resort's beach.

After Datai, I went to Pantai Pasir Tengkorak (direct translation - Skull Sand Beach), Black Sand Beach, Tanjung Rhu, Kota Mahsuri, shopping at Kuah town and lastly... food shopping at Kedawang night market. I was so into the foods that I missed the sunset! Do you believe that?! I saw this big orangey sun setting from far, so I got into the car and sped up to Cenang beach. But, too late by the time I got there, the sun have already set. All that was left was the orangey and reddish sky.
Shopping in Langkawi... Langkawi is a duty free island *wink*. I bought a lot of chocolates (now finished) & perfumes. It's a bit cheaper than in KL, so I went a bit crazy. Hihihiii... You can find a lot of stuff at a cheaper price as well. Stuff like home appliances and luggages...

Pantai Pasir Tengkorak. The beach is so secluded, the water so clear and the area so shady. A nice place to take a dip for the shy ones :)

Here I met an English couple who spoke Malay.

'Pergi ke pantai, lalu disini?', he asked.
'Iya, lalu sini', I answered. This is one of the times when I used my standard Malay :)

Fisherman boats at Black Sand Beach. I feel that the black sand is softer than the normal beach sand.

Tanjung Rhu has always been my favourite scenery. But it was hot that day. You should come here. It's so beautiful.

Mangrove area on the way to Tanjung Rhu. I never imagine mangroves can look so beautiful. You can rent a boat at Tanjung Rhu and they'll take you for a mangrove tour and eagle feeding. Sounds interesting, yes?

A lot of 'Rhu' trees... just in case you're wondering where this place got its name from.

This is a view on the way to Tanjung Rhu. They have a watersport facilities here. I stopped here for a rest... it was beautiful and breezy. Plus, I saw there's a swing under a big shady tree.

Paddy field on my way to Kampung Ulu Melaka.

This is inside Kota Mahsuri. They built a lot of house replicas based on the Legend of Mahsuri. You can also learn a lot about this legendary beauty here. A legend that had a lot of influence on Langkawi Island.

I missed the sun setting, but this view is still as romantic.

Morning at the Cenang Beach.

Amusing view right?

The flight that took me back to KL. It was colourful inside.

Actually, there are a lot of activities that you can do in Langkawi such as Island Hopping, watersport and some other jungle activities. Just ask your travel agent and they'll be happy to help you, with some fees of course.

When I got home, my mom asked me 'How does it feel travelling alone?'.

Hmmmmm... I could do that again, if I have to. But, it's not as good a travelling with a friend or a few friends. I have had a taste of travelling alone, so I will not wonder about it ever again.

I learned a few things on this trip:
1. Get a decent accommodation even though when you think you don't need one. When you're tired from the whole day activities, it helps to come back to a nice room.
2. Always bring extra money, more than what you have budgeted. In my case, perfumes and chocolates are cheaper in Langkawi. I couldn't resist. Luckily, I brought my credit card along.
3. Always be careful and follow your instinct. If you feel something is wrong it probably is. I didn't feel anything wrong while I was in Langkawi... just telling this in general.
4. It's ok to be friendly with strangers. Not everybody is a bad person. Again, follow your instinct. I made a friend in Langkawi. Wan was a very nice person and funny. Thank you Wan for seeing me off at the airport :) Hope you enjoyed the KitKat!
5. Woman travelling alone, be extra careful and always be prepared.

I guess that's all... I'm sleepy now :) Hopefully my trip was informative to you. I try to elaborate on the Mahsuri part some other day. But you can also read about it on the internet. Just remember, Langkawi and Mahsuri is one. If you know Langkawi, you just have got to know Mahsuri. By the way, Langkawi is full of mystical places like Pregnant Maiden Island and the Seven Wells. I'm telling you, the Seven Wells is a must visit place. I've been there once. I wanted to go there again on this trip, but when I think of climbing the stairs alone, I changed my mind. Just remember to bring your bathing suit. You would be tempted to soak yourself up there :)

Okie dokie... nite nite... until my next travel story. If you need any information on Langkawi, you can find a lot of it in the internet. Or, you can also ask me. I would be happy to help.