First time taking the MRT.

Posted in Interesting Encounters on July 21, 2017 by vincentloy

The whole Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) Sungai Buloh and Kajang Line is complete with the opening of Phase 2 few days ago. Phase 1 was opened end of last year but I didn’t get to take the MRT because that is not the area I want to go. Now, the Phase 2 is opened and riders will get 50% discount on rides up to 31st August 2017. The stations in this Phase 2 are more convenient to me as my house is considered near to them and that I can now use them to go to certain areas in Kuala Lumpur without the hassle of finding parking spots or paying expensive parking charges in the city.

I have heard and read many good feedback on this new MRT. Finally, yesterday was the day for me to try on taking the MRT for the first time. I still have to drive for about 10 to 15 minutes to reach the station nearer to my house. They should have MRT or at least having LRT (Ampang Line) extended to my area (Taman Muda or Taman Bukit Teratai) that has a huge population but lacks public transportation system. We took the MRT from Taman Mutiara station to Bukit Bintang station. Due to the 50% discount, the ride only costs RM1.50. That’s cheap.

Car park at the station is insufficient. The station is unnecessarily huge with plenty of empty spaces that can be used for setting up kiosks. The train is very new, spacious, clean and brightly lit. However, I felt extremely cold in the train. The air-conditioning is still very new and that’s why it is very cold inside. My destination is at Bukit Bintang station, an underground station that looks great with vibrant red colored reflective cladding. This MRT system is no doubt a great addition to the city and it will eventually help reduce traffic congestion in the city.

More areas should be covered in future addition or extension of train lines so that more people can rely on public transport in Klang Valley. This MRT Sungai Buloh and Kajang Line is only one of the steps to make it possible. Besides that, the integration of MRT with LRT, Monorail or other lines should be made as seamless as possible and the walking distance between their stations should be kept minimal. As for our Prime Minister’s comment that someone told him that our MRT is even better than those in New York, London or Hong Kong, I think he is being too proud of himself. Those were built much earlier and it is very usual for our country’s new MRT to be better looking to them.

First time to the Premium Outlet in Genting Highlands.

Posted in Wonders and Places with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 17, 2017 by vincentloy

The Genting Highlands Premium Outlet has opened its door for a month and yesterday is the first time I paid a visit to the outlet. With only about a month staying in Malaysia before flying back to Australia, I pick last weekend as the time for me to go up to Genting for at least once. I treat it as a short getaway to catch the colder air on the resort up on the hills.

The last time I went to Genting was in the past January. That was just 6 months ago. When I went up this time, I’m lost in direction. The whole First World Plaza is now closed and is replaced with the new Sky Avenue Mall. The mall is partially open when I visit in the last January. Some areas in the mall now are still empty and unfinished. The former casino in the First World Hotel’s building has also moved to a much more grand setting in the Sky Avenue Mall. It is now re-branded as ‘Sky Casino’.

That is the place where I lost RM500 on the roulette game on last Saturday’s evening. That was after a not-so-good meal in Madam Kwan’s Restaurant. The food served there are too sweet (the chef love to pour a lot of sugar into the dishes), the quantity are small and the price are unreasonable. Me and my parents moved to the other casino in the Genting Hotel on midnight to try our luck but we lost again. Another RM300 gone from my wallet. Hmm…I will take it as a charity donation to Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay to further develop the resort. View from the hotel room below:

So, we ended up not going into the casino anymore on Sunday on fear of losing more money. We instead had an awesome lunch at Din Tai Fung Restaurant. The food is delicious, the service is excellent, the price is reasonable, and the quality of every aspects are magnificent. Everything is great. Highly recommended place to have a nice meal. After the lunch, we took the new Awana Skyway (RM8 for a person) cable car ride down to the Premium Outlet as mentioned earlier. From there, we get to see some amazing views of the surrounding (the resort, the Chin Swee Temple, Awana Resorts, Gohtong Jaya, the Premium Outlet, and the hills).

From the ride, we also noticed that the construction of the 20th Century Fox World Outdoor Theme Park is super slow. There are still a lot to be done and I think it is highly likely that the opening for the theme park will be delayed again to possibly end of 2018.  Okay…back to the premium outlet. It is the second outlet of its kind in Malaysia (first one is in Johor). It is just an outdoor mall with famous branded stores selling slightly cheaper stuff. There are a lot of people there because it is still new. I won’t go there often if I have been there once.

On our way back home, we stopped by at the Chin Swee Temple for a short visit. The last time I visited the temple was way back many years ago when I was still a teenager. There are many new stuff (new plaza with Genting founder Tan Sri Lim Goh Tong’s statue, new sculptures depicting Chinese legends or beliefs, new vegetarian restaurant and observation tower building, etc) or things to visit and discover in the temple complex now. It also manages to attract a lot of foreign tourists. I’m tired during the visit and so I didn’t climb the pagoda tower. I always climb the tower every time I visit the temple in the past. Not this time.

That’s the end of our short trip up at Genting. Very ‘costly’ (due to gambling…haha) but rewarding in other sense that I got to visit new places this time. In the past, it is always the same for every corners in this mountain resort that has been here for like 50 years. It’s good news that the resort is now evolving to stay relevant and to continuously attract more visitors.

(Copyrights reserved to all images in this post.)

No losing city in this year’s bid for 2024 Summer Olympic Games

Posted in Explosive News and Results with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 12, 2017 by vincentloy

The voting for the host city of 2024 Summer Olympic Games will take place on this coming September. Only two cities are remaining in the bid; Paris and Los Angeles. In an extraordinary International Olympic Committee Session held yesterday, the committee approved a decision to award the games to both cities, one in 2024 and another one in 2028.

So, there wouldn’t be any losing city in this year’s bid for the games. If a city receives lesser number of votes in the voting, it will still host the games, but that would be the next edition (4 years later) than originally intended. That’s certainly good news for both Paris and Los Angeles. I have to admit both cities are more than capable to host this world’s largest international multi-sport event.

Which city do you think will get the 2024 games? My personal choice would be Paris. If I’m not mistaken, Paris has submitted bid a number of times in the last few editions of the games but lost every time. I remembered the city lost to London for 2012 games by only a few votes. The last time that Paris has hosted the games was in 1924. If Paris win the right to host 2024 games, it will be coincidentally marking 100th anniversary since the last Olympics in the city. I also like the simplicity of its logo showing the number ’24’ that also designed to resemble their iconic Eiffel Tower.

Check out their bidding’s presentation clips below:

Paris 2024

Los Angeles 2024

So my choice is Paris 2024 and Los Angeles 2028. This means that those cities which intend to bid for 2028 games has to drop out their plan and bid for 2032 games instead. I think this move will make the bidding for 2032 games to be more intense and exciting as more cities are expected to join the race by then. A joint bid by Malaysia and Singapore is explored and is possible for the 2032 games’ bid. I would love to see that but I think our chance is pretty low. It will be hard to resolve on many issues when more than one country is involved in a single games. Malaysia and Singapore have not even hosted Asian Games before (although Malaysia has hosted Commonwealth Games and Singapore has hosted Youth Olympic Games). I can only elaborate further on our chance if the joint bid is confirmed, and that is long way to go.

Can’t get myself to start doing work in my home.

Posted in Miscellaneous on July 7, 2017 by vincentloy

What’s my daily life now during this mid-year break? Woke up at around 10am, go online for a while, and then go fetch my nephew from school at 12pm, have lunch, continue surfing web or watching some movies or shows in the afternoon, have dinner at around 7 or 8pm, then back to my laptop again, and then sleep at 1am. That’s the usual routine. It is alright if this break is meant to be 100% task-free. But it is not, I actually have a lot of things to do for my thesis’ research and site analysis and I’m just feeling too lazy to even start on it.

Or maybe it’s my house environment that isn’t allowing me to be productive and motivated. Haha…so many excuses around. No…this isn’t me! I’m promising to start working on my tasks by next week. I have three more weeks to go before flying back to Perth to commence my final semester of my postgraduate study. Time flies. Almost half of my mid-year break is over. Shit!!!

Recently, I have been watching this currently airing TVB drama called ‘Bet Hur’. It is a big-production series that starred some heavy casts (Patrick Tse, Nat Chan, Charmaine Sheh, etc). However, I find it quite boring and meaningless at this point. I hope it will get better soon. I have also been re-watching some past episodes of ‘The Amazing Race’ and also watching the latest Fear Factor show that only airs an episode every week.

As for movie, I have watched ‘Despicable Me 3’ recently. The first two movies in this film series are very refreshing and engaging. People love to see the cute yellow minions in these movies and it even leads to a spin-off solo movie for the minions alone later on. That spin-off movie even went on to gross over US$ 1 billion in worldwide box office. Now came ‘Despicable Me 3’, when I start to feel tired watching Gru and the minions (they are still lovely characters but this latest installment didn’t offer anything new to the story). It is still a pleasant and an enjoyable movie especially for the kids but I don’t think it will match the success of its preceding films. The interest for it surely dies down. Out of 10 points, I rate ‘Despicable Me 3’ a total of 6.8. This film franchise should just end to avoid from going further downhill.

I actually have a lot of movies that I can’t wait to watch. ‘Transformers: The Last Knight’ and ’47 Metres Down’ are released some time ago. Eventhough everybody is heavily criticizing the latest Transformers movie right now, I would still want to see it to check for myself on how bad it is. I knew it is going to be bad but I just want to watch every single film of the franchise for a sense of ‘completeness’. ’47 Metres Down’ is a shark movie. I’m up for it. ‘Spider-man: Homecoming’ is released today and I look forward to see how Marvel will perform with this second reboot and to see how Tom Holland handle this superhero role. And then, ‘War for the Planet of the Apes’ will be released somewhere next week. I need someone to accompany me to cinema everyday now. Haha…

(Images in this post are from various sources throughout the world wide web)

Wait, what?! 2017 is already halfway over?!

Posted in Miscellaneous on July 1, 2017 by vincentloy

Yes, it is. The first half of the year is gone. In this first 6 months of the year, I have completed the second last semester of my postgraduate study smoothly (I consider it smooth despite all the sleepless nights I had), had 2 great vacations (one to Vietnam and the most recent one was to Thailand), watched a lot of dramas (I have watched over 9 dramas just in the first half of the year alone, a figure that I usually achieved for a whole year in the past) and bought a new laptop (to replace the old one that is no longer functioning normally). Those are some of my most memorable events in the first half of 2017. What are yours?

This July 2017 is the time for me to chill and enjoy the break before resuming with my final semester that will begin next month. It’s not a 100% holiday for me as I have to work on additional research and I need to conduct a detailed site analysis for my design thesis project next semester during this break. I think this 1 month will be very short and quick for me. I have to get my work prepared before turning back to 100% working mode on next month onward to get my thesis to a satisfying outcome.

There is no longer any vacation planned for this remaining half of the year. That’s sad. So what about next year? The following years? Where do I plan to visit? Well, I couldn’t really decide as the one who paid for most of the trips is my dad. Hence, he hold the power to decide which place to go next for our future vacations. Furthermore, I’m the one that have spent most of his money on my study. But if I am to choose a place that I’m looking forward to visit, then I’ll pick Egypt (I want to see the Egyptian temples and the Great Pyramids). I also want to visit Dubai (see the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building the world, and the man-made islands), Spain (see the famous incomplete Sagrada Familia church), US (particularly New York City for its mega city skyline and many popular landmarks) and Japan (I have never been to Japan before eventhough I consider myself to have traveled to quite a number of countries especially in Asia in the past).

So many countries in my list. Where’s the money? Haha…I will just go on and dream first. What I can do right now is to work well on my thesis so that I can be ‘seen’ and get a good job with good salary (of course). Then only I can treat my whole family to vacations around the world.

 

5 days 4 nights trip to Bangkok & Hua Hin, Thailand for the Raya 2017 holiday

Posted in Wonders and Places with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 29, 2017 by vincentloy

I’m back. I have just returned to Malaysia last night from Thailand with my parents. Good time passed very quickly. My 5 days 4 nights vacation to Bangkok and Hua Hin in Thailand ended, and the Raya holiday as well (except for school children that gets to enjoy one-week long break and adults who took annual leave). It was a great experience and fun in this trip, especially in Bangkok, the capital of Thailand. It was also very tiring at the same time as we need to walk a lot and the extremely scorching sun made it worst. We followed guided tour (in a tour group) and the tight schedule (like approximately only an hour for every destinations, up to 6 or 7 destinations a day) really made us (especially the elders) very exhausting.

24th June 2017 (Saturday)

We took a 2-hours morning flight to Don Mueung Airport, the old airport in Bangkok. Once there, we wasted a lot of time in the airport to complete the immigration and waiting for the others in our group to get ready. Also wasted a lot of time on the road to the hotel for checking in due to the unusual traffic congestion (well, Bangkok is famous for traffic jams). Hence, we don’t have much time to walk around on our own in the afternoon. We just walked to the streets near the hotel (Eastin Makkasan Hotel, 4-stars). We had a nice dinner in Chocolate Ville (don’t be confused by the name, there isn’t any chocolate here), a huge themed restaurant built to imitate the romantic Western streets and environment with Western-styled traditional buildings, bridges, lake, gazebo, lighthouse, etc. The atmosphere is beautiful with the lighting at night.

At night, we went to the Erawan Shrine, a Hindu shrine of Lord Brahma. The place becomes famous after the bombing incident in 2015 near the shrine that killed 20 people.

25th June 2017 (Sunday)

We went to Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn) in the morning. It is a Budhhist temple with its spires as distinctive feature (and colorful porcelain of its main spire/tower). It is one of the most famous landmarks in Bangkok and it is situated on the side of Chao Phraya River. The on-going renovation works to the main tower prevented us to take nice clean pictures of the temple.

Next, we went to Maeklong Railways Market. Not long ago, I have seen a video getting viral on social sites showing a market with stalls lining up along a railway and has to retract their stalls when the train passes. That is the place. Now, I’m there to witness it in my own eyes and it was unique and amazing. A lot of tourists crowded the place not to shop at the market but to check out this quick event.

Then, we leave Bangkok and go to Hua Hin. Our first destination there is Santorini Park, a themed attraction with an open mall concept that resembles the famous Santorini Island in Greece with its white buildings and brightly one-coloured windows (mostly blue). There are retail shops, and some activities or rides inside such as Haunted House, Ferris Wheel, Water Slide, Merry-Go-Round, etc.

After that, we went to Swiss Sheep Farm. I noticed that Hua Hin likes to create tourist destinations with foreign places as their themes. The town lacks its own identity in terms of its tourist destinations. This Swiss Sheep Farm is a farm (of course) for us to have the opportunity to feed the sheep (I skipped that) and to take pictures of the many decorations in that place such as a huge old windmill, some 3D painting, several miniatures of popular characters such as Transformers and the Avengers, etc.

In the evening, we head to the Hua Hin Night Market. Stalls selling local delicacies, souvenirs, bags, accessories, clothing, food, and offering Thai massage lined up the street. Then, we depart to Novotel for a two-nights stay in Hua Hin. It is a seaside resort with of course the amazing sea view.

26th June 2017 (Monday)

Hua Hin Royal Palace is the first destination of the day. It is a royal residence that serves as a seaside retreat for the past kings of Thailand. It is quite a modest complex with elevated timber structures. The lushness of its surrounding almost overwhelms the palace. Major parts of the complex is also currently under renovation and we are barred from entering those parts. Hence, we only stayed a short while here.

Then, we went to Hua Hin Railway Station, not to take any train but to view the beautiful train station (iconic for the structures with red and cream colours’ assembly) and an old steam locomotive for a short while.

Our next destination of the day is Pleanwarn Eco Vintage Village. It is Thailand’s first eco vintage village and is built to recapture the old classic charm of Hua Hin. It is an open lawn area with two-storeys buildings of retails and restaurants around. They are constructed of recycled or used items including its wonderful entrance of a void surrounded with huge cladding of reused wood and profiled metal sheets.

We then went to Wat Huay Mongkol. It is a Buddhist temple unique for a large statue of a legendary Thai monk on top of a huge podium.

Then, we went to theHua Hin Safari and Adventure Park. This is a place not recommended for anyone. The staff there are annoying and keep pushing us to purchase their packages (tiger show, cobra show, elephant ride, photos, etc). The prices are extremely high and it is just a small ordinary safari. We went there just to see their elephant show. The show is not bad (elephants performing like painting, playing some sports, etc) but I sympathized the suffering that those elephants have to endure to entertain us.

The last destination of the day before taking a dinner on a seaside restaurant is FN Outlet. It is a modern elevated mall with a forest containing pond, bridges and Dinosaurs sculptures on the ground level.

 

27th June 2017 (Tuesday)

Today, we went back to Bangkok (the original name for the city and still called by the Thais is Krung Thep). We visited the famous Damnersaduak Floating Market. The name is self-explanatory. There is a small river crowded with boats carrying tourists and boats with people selling stuff. We took a boat ride and view the lifestyle of the traditional floating houses on our way to the Floating Market. Once there, we just walked on the side of the market where there is also a huge place crowded with stalls selling the same things again. To buy from there or from any markets in Bangkok, you have to bargain up to 70% of the original price the sellers show to you.

Then, we were back to the city region and proceed to the Art in Paradise (3D Art Museum) in Esplanade Mall. There are a lot of cool arts inside that allow visitors to interact and take pictures with to get the realistic 3D feel. Even the elders in our tour group joined in the fun including my father. That was very unusual.

Next, we went to the Honey World, a place that promotes and sells honey products to the tourists. When you are going for a trip in a guided travel group, visiting these places is a norm. We are fortunate that we only get to visit one in this trip. The honey products on sale are being promoted with all the healthy benefits they offered, but in the end, my family end up buying nothing. We usually don’t get interested.

Our last destination of the day is Asiatique Riverfront. It is a new complex by the side of the Chao Phraya River. It’s a huge open-air mall with retails, restaurants, waterfront walk and rides. It is a very happening and vibrant area. Amazing atmosphere with clean environment. Thailand is exceptional in creating this kind of tourist attractions. It’s a huge success.

28th June 2017 (Wednesday)

There is no programme offered by our tour agency today and so we have free time in the morning before our flight back to Kuala Lumpur in late afternoon. We then go to the Grand Palace. It is considered to be the No.1 attraction in Bangkok and I couldn’t believe our tour agency didn’t cover it in their itinerary. Hence, we have to visit it on our own in the remaining time before flying back. It is a huge complex of palace that serves as the main official residence of the King of Thailand.

 

The former King. King Bhumibol who reigned for about 69 years and is very beloved by all Thais had passed away last year’s October. The country then observes one year of mourning for the late king and he will be cremated in this coming October. Many roads around the palace is blocked and heavy security is observed. Until now, there are still a lot of Thais dressed in full black visiting the palace to mourn for him. Their loyalty and love to the late king is unquestionable. Some areas in the palace are also blocked off from visitors due to the same reason but that doesn’t lower my excitement of seeing the palace. It was breathtaking with its towering structures and intricate details on the columns, walls, railings, ceilings and roofs. This place is certainly a must-see in Bangkok eventhough the entrance ticket is quite costly (500 Baht for a person). You also have to dress very decently to visit the palace (also applies to all temples and other palaces in Thailand).

Then, we walked to the nearby Wat Pho. It is a Budhhist temple known for a huge reclining Buddha’s sculpture and houses the largest collection of Buddha images in Thailand. The temple is quite huge with many areas within. If not for the hot weather, I would have spend a much longer time in both the Grand Palace and in Wat Pho.

And then, our trip ends. We went back to Don Mueung Airport to catch our flight back to Kuala Lumpur. It’s almost midnight by the time we arrived home. I bought a pair of shoes, some shirts and a short and a fridge magnet. We must buy a fridge magnet every time we visit a new place. It has becomes our family tradition. We had tom yam in almost every meals during the tour. I find that the food are very heavy in taste in Thailand (either too sweet, too spicy, or too sour). Generally, the trip is awesome and I had great time during the vacation. I particularly enjoy the days in Bangkok. Hua Hin is rather boring to me eventhough that place is more relaxing and has lesser tourists. On the other hand, I felt that the newer tourist attractions in Bangkok and Hua Hin (maybe applies to whole Thailand too) are too ‘artificial’. Most of them are constructed just to imitate foreign elements. I would rather visit the real places rather than see the imitations.

Bangkok’s city skyline pictures below. The tallest on the first picture below is Baiyoke Tower which is formerly the tallest building in Bangkok. The title is now taken by the new Mahanakhon Tower shown in the second picture.

(Copyrights reserved to all images in this post. Kindly request permission if you desire to use one or more images in this post.)

 

 

 

Will be away to Thailand for trip beginning tomorrow! And Selamat Hari Raya!

Posted in Explosive News and Results with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 23, 2017 by vincentloy

Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri / Happy Eid to all Muslims across the world especially to my Malay friends in Malaysia! Have fun and enjoy in this festival after a month of dedicated fasting in the holy month of Ramadhan. Have a safe journey back home (balik kampung) and cherish the happy and festive moment with your family, relatives, friends, and neighbours. For the other Malaysians (me included) who are not celebrating, Happy Holiday!

I always envy this Hari Raya festival. It comes earlier every year because the Islamic calendar is shorter than the Gregorian calendar the whole world is using now. For our Chinese New Year festival, we are fixed to the time from January to February annually because our Chinese calendar has the similar number of days with the Gregorian calendar. Soon after, Hari Raya will get past us one round and clash with the Chinese New Year.

So for this Hari Raya holiday, I will be joining my parents for a short trip at Bangkok and Hua Hin, Thailand. We took on a 5 days 4 nights group tour which will begin tomorrow and ends on next Wednesday. I have been to Thailand twice in the past but this will be only my first time visiting its capital city, Bangkok. I’m looking forward to it. I’m hoping that I can see some great architecture over there like the traditional ones such as from its palaces and temples and the contemporary ones such as from its latest tallest building, Mahanakhon (designed by Ole Scheeren). You see, that’s the difference between a normal tourist and a people with an architecture background. You tend to search or look for different thing even when you are on a trip. I call it ‘architectural virus’ that has infected me for over a decade.

Besides than the bustling Bangkok, I am also anticipating for the visit to Hua Hin, a small beachside holiday town which is a few hours drive south from Bangkok. I think I need a time to get near to the nature and so this beachside attraction will be an ideal location. I have just returned from the airport few days ago, and tomorrow, I will be heading there again to catch the flight to Thailand. KLIA is now my frequent destination annually. If you want a tour in the airport, I think I can help on that without any problem. Haha…I have just unpacked my luggage few days ago, and now I have to pack it again for this trip. Will be back writing about this trip as soon as I’m back on next Wednesday!

(Images in this post are from various sources throughout the world wide web)