Archive for places

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.)

 

 

 

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Being a tourist in Perth first before being a long term student here.

Posted in Wonders and Places with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 28, 2016 by vincentloy

I had my first weekend in Perth a week ago mostly in my room, still adapting to the new environment while making the necessary preparation to get me settled here before my study commences. The orientation week was over of which I had quite actively participated in some of the events organized throughout the past week. For my second weekend here in Perth which is also my last weekend before my study officially begins, I took this opportunity with my housemates to explore the city before all the stress from upcoming assignments come in. It’s a waste if I’m not becoming a tourist at here first before turning into a long term student beginning tomorrow.

Yesterday, we head out to the city centre of Perth. We took public transport and it is quite convenient and the fees are very reasonable (student price is very low). In the city, we walked along a main street where all the office buildings are and also checked out some nice places and cool-looking landmarks along the way like the Bell Tower, Commonwealth of Australia’s Building and the Perth Arena. There is also a shopping street in the city centre worth a visit. Generally, the city is quite small but it still has a great looking skyline that is enhanced by the Swan River in front of the city.

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The Bell Tower with Perth’s city skyline at the background. This picture is taken at Elizabeth Quay, a new waterfront development.

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Perth Arena, a huge indoor venue used for big sporting or entertainment events.

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Commonwealth of Australia’s Building in the city centre of Perth.

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An interesting building (name unknown) in the city centre too.

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A heritage building in the city centre of Perth in front of a modern skyscraper at the back.

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A cool looking pedestrian bridge at Elizabeth Quay.

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The main shopping street in the city centre of Perth.

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The beautiful city skyline of Perth.

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This image is a continuity of a panoramic view of the city skyline of the previous image taken on a ferry ride at Swan River.

Then, we took a ferry ride out of the city centre and then took a train to IKEA. It’s a huge store (same like in Malaysia) and I bought small pillows here of which both cost less than AUD 10. In the afternoon, we then went to a shopping mall named Westfield Carousel which is actually not that far from our campus (Curtin University) and watched a movie there. I’m shocked to learn that a movie ticket price here costs AUD 21 for a person. That’s very expensive. I can watch at least four movies with that same amount back in Malaysia. This mall is quite large (but still small compared to any malls in Kuala Lumpur). However, I would have prefer this over the much smaller Waterford Plaza shopping centre besides our hostel.

Today, we went to Fremantle. This place is quite far as it took us about an hour to reach. It is a town south of Perth where there are a lot of old heritage buildings lining up streets, many tourist attractions as well as popular beaches. We went for a quick walk in the famous Fremantle Markets, an indoor place where there are many stalls selling souvenirs, clothes, bags, food, snacks, fruits, etc. We then proceed to the Kailis Fish Market (right besides the sea) where there is a restaurant there known for selling fish and chips. We were hungry and that’s the spot we were most happy for. The fish and chip was delicious.

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Fremantle Markets.

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Beautiful street in Fremantle with many well-preserved architectural heritage buildings all around.

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View of a street in Fremantle from the Fremantle Prison.

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A clock tower in Fremantle.

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A ferris wheel in a park. Nearby this is the Kailis Fish Market in Fremantle.

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The Port Beach at North Fremantle.

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At the beach facing the Indian Ocean.

After the lunch, we visited the Fremantle Prison (now a tourist destination) and took a train to North Fremantle where the famous Port Beach is. It is a long stretch of beach along the coastline facing the Indian Ocean. It feels great walking along the beach with clean white sand and crystal clear seawater. This is the last stop of our two days trip in Perth before returning back to Erica Underwood House, our on-campus accommodation. Yup…after this weekend, we are no longer tourists as we would have four semesters of stressful study coming up!

(Copyrights reserved to all the images in this post)

Chinese New Year 2016 Trip to Sydney and Melbourne, Australia.

Posted in Wonders and Places with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 15, 2016 by vincentloy

I’m back to Malaysia! In fact, I have actually returned home yesterday from my wonderful Chinese New Year vacation to Australia, but not having the energy to immediately write a blog post about it yesterday. Hence, I do it today. That was my first time visiting the country and I have covered its two largest cities; Sydney and Melbourne in a 8 days 5 nights trip with my parents under a tour group.

7th February 2016 (Sunday)

  • Arrived at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) for flight to Melbourne in the evening. In the plane for about 7 to 8 hours.
  • Reached Melbourne International Airport the next day.

8th February 2016 (Monday) – First day of Chinese New Year festival.

  • Start of the city tour around Melbourne with first stop being the St. Patrick’s Cathedral, largest church building in Australia. The main feature of the building would be its tall towers and huge colourful window panels.

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  • Next stop is Fitzroy Gardens where the Captain James Cook’s Cottage is located. Description about this historical cottage is in the image below.

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  • Walk around at Chinatown in the afternoon and also later in the evening.

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  • Visited the Shrine of Remembrance, a monument building with exhibition space beneath in memory of the soldiers perished in the past two World Wars. A walk in the exhibition space exposed visitors to the history of World War I and II, as well as contribution of the Australian soldiers in the wars and their effort for peace.

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  • Visited the National Gallery of Victoria where many art displays (sculptures, paintings, installations, antiques, etc) are exhibited in several floors of the building combining works from both East and West.

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  • Also visited the Skydeck 88, the observatory (88th floor) at Eureka Tower, the tallest building in Melbourne. Had a ride in the very fast elevator inside the tower that brought us up straight to 88th floor in a little over 30 seconds only. Enjoyed breathtaking view over the city of Melbourne including the city’s main business district, sports park and Melbourne Cricket Ground, etc.

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9th February 2016 (Tuesday)

  • A long journey in the bus to the Great Ocean Road, a road built by the former World War’s soldiers in dedication to the perished victims of the wars. The road is all along the hills facing the beautiful coastline of southern Australia.

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  • Took a helicopter ride (this 10-minutes ride costs us around RM1000) to have an aerial view of the 12 Apostles at Port Campbell National Park. Out of twelve, only eight apostles remain today. They are limestone stacks at the shore off the national park.

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  • Also visited the Loch Ard Gorge nearby, the place where a ship ran aground hitting into the land in 1878 with only two survivors left from the tragedy.

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10th February 2016 (Wednesday)

  • Wine tasting in a wineyard. It’s a bit inappropriate to get drunk in the early morning. Well, not drunk at all since we only get to taste a bit of the four types of wines presented.
  • Visit to a lavender farm. Pleasant aroma from the lavender which can be made into many different uses but I’m not that comfortable with its strong smell.
  • Had buffet lunch in an exquisite German Cuckoo Restaurant.
  • Boarded a Puffing Billy Ride, a one way ride aboard Australia’s oldest steam train to enjoy view across the Dandenong Forest in Yarra Valley. I’m sitting not in the train but on the side like what most other people did too. It’s more fun like that.

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  • Heading to Phillip Island in the afternoon to view the famous Little Penguins Parade later in the evening. At around 9pm every night, these small penguins will return to their home in the island from the sea. They are so cute. Unfortunately, no photography is allowed and so I didn’t get to take any photos of these penguins.

11th February 2016 (Thursday)

  • Took a domestic flight from Melbourne to Sydney. In the plane for about one to two hours only. Reached Sydney International Airport.
  • First stop in the city is the Sydney Fish Market, an indoor and outdoor market selling fresh seafood, fruits, vegetables, drinks, etc. Our lunch; a giant lobster served on top of a bowl of noodles and sliced abalones in XO sauce. The meal costs us around RM1000.

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  • Passed by many happening streets in Sydney and The Rocks.
  • Boarded the Harbour Cruise in the afternoon. Cruised along the beautiful harbour of Sydney and enjoyed fantastic view of the city skyline, the harbour and of course also the two most iconic attractions of the city; Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge. An image of both of these landmarks defines Australia.

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  • Visited the Botanical Garden. This is the place where Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair is located. It is a huge stone chair for Mrs. Macquarie, the wife of the former Governor of Australia. The chair was for her who likes to wait for the return of her husband to Sydney in the past after each working trips at there while enjoying the view of the harbour.

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  • Passed by St. Mary’s Cathedral, largest church building in Sydney and second largest in Australia.
  • Had buffet dinner in Star City Casino. Also had a quick walk in the casino but didn’t have the time to try my luck there.

12th February 2016 (Friday)

  • Visit to Koala Park Sanctuary. The park is home to a very adorable koala, several kangaroos, a wombat, bats, peacocks, sheep, birds, etc. Took picture with a koala but not allowed to touch it, fed several kangaroos, saw a sleeping wombat (couldn’t see its whole appearance), and watch a sheep shearing demonstration.

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  • Visit to Katombaa region and viewed the beautiful forest valley of Blue Mountain. Also saw the famous Three Sisters Rock at the Echo Point. There are several stories behind the unique-looking rock of which you can search easily online. Even Queen Elizabeth II had visited this place 62 years ago to view the rocks exactly on the same day with us (very coincident).

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  • Visited the Scenic World attraction nearby; ride on a cable car down and took a walk in the forest on a raised platform and saw an underground mine, took on an electronic train ride up to above the hill to exit the attraction. The train ride has the steepest incline railway in the world where at one point the angle is beyond 60 degree. An awesome ride for youngsters like me but a terror ride for the elders.
  • Pass by ANZ Stadium, the main stadium for the Sydney 2000 Summer Olympic Games in the Sydney Olympic Park.

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  • Back to the city and had dinner at Darling Harbour.

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  • Visit to Sydney’s Chinatown which is much more happening than the one at Melbourne.

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13th February 2016 (Saturday)

  • Visit to Market City Building where the Paddy’s Market is. Bought some souvenirs (shirts, magnets, a replica of Sydney Opera House and a wallet) in there.
  • Visit to Queen Victoria Building where many branded shops are located inside this classical-styled building. Bought some chocolates there at Haigh’s Chocolates, a very famous chocolate brand in Australia.

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  • Walk along and around George Street, a very happening street with many shops, cafes, restaurants, pubs, etc.
  • Arrived at Sydney International Airport for flight back home to Kuala Lumpur in the evening.

14th February 2016 (Sunday) – Valentine’s Day.

  • Arrived at Kuala Lumpur International Airport on midnight. Left airport in the early morning with a taxi ride back home. Trip officially ended.

The trip that costs my family nearly RM 25 000 is over and we do really have a great time over there in Australia for this long vacation. This trip marked the first time I’m taking a helicopter ride, the first time I’m seeing penguins, kangaroos, koala and wombat right in front of my eyes and the first time I’m eating a lobster. I really enjoyed this trip and it’s sad to leave Australia. Wait…I’m going back to the country this Friday (but will be on Perth then,…no more Sydney and Melbourne) to commence my postgraduate study.

(Images in this post are only a very small part of a collection of about 400 images I took during the trip. If you want to have a look at all the pictures, you can click on this link: https://www.facebook.com/VincentLoy/media_set?set=a.10153981288749337.1073741835.553754336&type=3&pnref=story. I have uploaded all the photos in my Facebook account. Copyrights reserved to all the images.)

 

 

Where are the world’s 10 largest hotels?

Posted in Wonders and Places with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 8, 2015 by vincentloy

Just a few days ago, I have blogged about the top ten world’s best airports. Today, I felt like doing another top ten list in my blog here and the first thing that came to my mind is hotel. Did you notice that the subjects are all related to vacation? First is airport which is obviously a place you need to go before boarding a flight for a vacation, and now is hotel which is the place tourist would stay and rest during a vacation. My mind is all about vacation now. Can’t wait for my next oversea trip to Australia early next year.

So now, where are the world’s top 10 largest hotels? Can you make a guess? Largest here means highest number of rooms the hotel provides. Without wasting more time, here’s below is the list of the current world’s top 10 largest hotels:

  1. First World Hotel, Genting Highlands, Malaysia – 7351 rooms.

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2. The Venetian & The Palazzo, Las Vegas, USA – 7117 rooms.

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3. MGM Grand Las Vegas, Las Vegas, USA – 6852 rooms.

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4. Disney’s All-Star Resort Complex (Music Resort + Sports Resort + Movies Resort), Orlando, USA – 5524 rooms.

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5. Izmailovo Hotel, Moscow, Russia – 5000 rooms.

6. Wynn Las Vegas + Encore Las Vegas, Las Vegas, USA – 4750 rooms.

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7. Mandalay Bay + Delano + Four Seasons, Las Vegas, USA – 4426 rooms.

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8. Luxor Las Vegas, Las Vegas, USA – 4408 rooms.

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9. Ambassador City Jomtien, Pattaya, Thailand – 4219 rooms.

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10. Excalibur Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas, USA – 4008 rooms.

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Ahh…I’m tired of typing ‘Las Vegas’ again and again. Out of the top 10 largest hotels, 6 are in Las Vegas alone. Impressive. This small city, at the southern part of U.S. State of Nevada, is one of the most iconic and visited tourist destinations in the world. Hence, having many huge hotels in this city is reasonable I guess. It would be cool if I can visit Las Vegas some day. I can have a nice and relaxing vacation, try my luck in this city full of casinos, or even go a bit further to check out the ‘Area 51′. Haha…

This top ten world’s largest hotels’ list may be surprising to Malaysians as I believe many of us didn’t expect First World Hotel to not only being placed in this ranking, but also topped the list. Yes…First World Hotel at Genting Highlands, the entertainment complex at the peak which is only about 1 hour drive from Kuala Lumpur is the current world’s largest hotel with over 7300 rooms available. When the hotel opened its door about a decade ago, it has 6118 rooms and holds the title of the largest hotel in the world at that time. However, the expansion by The Venetian and The Palazzo in Las Vegas at 2008 ended the reign. And just by early this year, First World Hotel gets back the title when its Tower 2 Annex expansion is completed. The Venetian still holds another record, for having the world’s largest casino.

Out of the ten hotels above, the only hotel I have visited and stayed is obviously the No.1, First World Hotel which is just an hour drive from my home. I will always stay in that hotel when I go for an overnight trip to Genting because the room is cheap and the huge quantity of rooms available makes you no need to worry much on its availability. However, the room is very small (to make up for a LOT of rooms, hence the title it gained).

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

 

 

CNY 2015 trip to Jogjakarta, Indonesia

Posted in Wonders and Places with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 24, 2015 by vincentloy

There goes the end of my four days three nights family trip to Jogjakarta, Indonesia. Landed safely at KLIA2 and got back home late last night with many photos, sunburn, heavier luggage, and tiring body. It has been four exhaustive days of walking and climbing a lot of steps. Nevertheless, the trip is a smooth one; we got to visit all the destinations covered in our itineraries in clear sunny weather and I enjoyed Jogjakarta, particularly from its beautiful historical temples of Borobudur and Prambanan.

First day of our trip was nothing but having half of the day spent in the airports from KLIA2 to the very much smaller Jogjakarta airport. The airport over there at Jogja is so small that once you passed through the immigration counter, the place for baggage claim is besides you and the space is as small as my bedroom. On the later part of the day, we stroll through the villages and visited some handicraft centres (ceramic and silverworks), chocolate store, an old mosque with a royal cemetery. Nothing interesting to observe on the first day. So, back to hotel (Crystal Lotus Hotel), a four-star hotel; quite nice but the room is too small.

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Now, the second day is when we truly visits Jogja with all the amazing places planned for the day. First, we went to the Malioboro street, a street with many stalls and shops selling local merchandise like batik, souvenirs, etc. But we are not interested into all that.

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Next, we went to the Mount Merapi, a still active volcanic mountain. When we were there, we can still see white gases (smoke) emitted from the tip of the mountain. To further enjoy the most from the area, we took a ride around the mountain by a jeep and observed a damaged settlement (caused by the volcanic eruption few years ago), a huge rock called Alien Rock (spewed out from the volcano), an underground protection chamber, and viewed the magnificent Mount Merapi from different angles and levels. Simply beautiful, but very dusty over there from the many jeeps and sandy roads.

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Next, is the main highlight of the tour and the main reason I came to Jogja; Borobudur. It is a huge historical Buddhist temple (monument to be exact) built over a thousand years ago. It contains several square platforms topped with three circular platforms and giant stupas with many Buddha statues. Along the walls of the platforms were carvings depicting mostly life of Siddharta Gautama Buddha. The monument is already massive and impressive when looked from the far. When you go in and look closer, there are much more to offer. Simply beautiful and astonishing!

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After spending most of the time at Borobudur, we also stopped by for a while at smaller candi (temples); Candi Pawon and Candi Mendut. We also managed to drop by at a traditional house (village home) and learn the locals’ daily lifestyle. We also tried on Salak fruit (snake-skin fruit), a very popular fruit over there at Jogja.

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On the third day of the trip, we went for a city tour in the morning. First, we visited Fort Vredeburg, a fortress built over two hundred years ago by the Dutch. Now, it is a museum that informed to visitors their history through preserved historical items, 3D visualization of historical events (many scaled-down models and human figures with different backdrops) and heritage-style buildings.

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Next, we went to Keraton, the palace where the Sultan of Jogja and his family live. It looks ordinary and nothing spectacular. A humble-looking castle with nothing much to impress visitors. Nearby, we also visited Taman Sari, which is known as water castle. The place was once a splendid park of pools and gardens for Sultan to enjoy. Now, it is nothing more than a complex of dilapidated buildings.

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The last stop for the day is the Prambanan Temple, a huge Hindu temple (or monument) which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site like Borobudur. Another impressive and visually striking monument! This is like another Angkor Wat but with no single base platform. Very beautiful and intricate stone works. Before we left, we also had a short time for a great shopping nearby there for some clothes and souvenirs.

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Time flies. As there isn’t any programmes planned on the last day (fourth day) of the trip, we went out to Jogja City Mall which is located not far from our Crystal Lotus Hotel. I purchased some clothes at a very low price if compared to KL. There was a heavy thunderstorm in the afternoon (luckily there wasn’t any rain on the past few days) and that caused massive flood in the city. Observed that before we proceed to that small airport again for flight back home to KL.

That’s it. It’s a quick trip that took only four days and costs a bit over RM 2k per pax including things I bought from the vacation. It’s a tiring trip but worthy, as I really enjoyed visiting some places over there particularly the temples.

(Copyrights reserved for all the images in this post)

4 days 3 nights trip to Bali.

Posted in Wonders and Places with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 30, 2014 by vincentloy

I have just returned home yesterday from a short four days three nights trip to Bali, Indonesia with my family. Time for relaxing and vacationing went off so quick that I certainly felt not enough. Luckily, I had two more extra days on holiday before getting back to work this Friday. In the trip, we stayed at the Harris Hotel Sunset Road. Nice comfortable room. The tour cost per person is RM2000+. As usual, I took quite a number of photographs from the trip, and will definitely share some beautiful shots here. Overall, it’s quite a nice enjoyable short trip!

26th July 2014 (Saturday)

First time going to the newly opened KLIA2, world’s largest purposely-built low-cost carrier terminal. It’s very spacious, luxurious and finally it looked like a modern airport compared to the former LCCT. But at certain point, now it looks more like a shopping mall to me as there are a lot of retail spaces inside.

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Reached Ngurah Rai International Airport (Denpasar) after three hours of AirAsia flight. First destination: Uluwatu Temple. Here, any shot of the cliff would be spectacular. Interesting part of this place is the monkeys; tourists tend to get their attention, and try to guess what’s their response? They can take off small belongings from you so quick that you didn’t notice. One of the monkeys even snatched a sunglasses, climbed up quick to a tree and tried to wear it but couldn’t since it’s big for them.

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Then, we went for a seafood dinner at Jimbaran Bay, a perfect spot to watch the beautiful sunset and also the frequent sightings of airplanes landing since the place is near to the airport. A very wonderful atmosphere as you can dine on the beach with such a picturesque setting.

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27th July 2014 (Sunday)

Today’s tours were mostly on visiting those handicraft or product centres. First was the coffee station, where we were introduced on some information regarding coffee beans and also their famous Luwak coffee. Then, visit to the batik shop, and then to a centre selling silver and gold works. Also went to a shop selling wood carving and handicraft products, and then to a premium outlet selling the famous ‘Polo by Ralph Lauren’ apparel brand. Not interested in all these but forced to spend several hours for those was quite boring. Then, watched a cultural Barong performance and we were all bored and left the place earlier.

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In the afternoon, we went to the Kintamani Batur Lake and Volcano. Along the journey past Ubud, we saw the Tegallalang Rice Terrace. We are at over thousand metres above sea level now, and so the place is cold and windy. This is the first time I’m seeing an active volcanic mountain. There is a huge caldera lake besides the mountain.

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Last tour of the day was the Tampak Siring Temple (Holy Spring Water Temple). The place is best known for the mythical water emerging out from the land of which the locals treat it as holy water. Hence, now, the place is a tourist attraction and many went there to shower with the water. Didn’t do that but at least I rinsed my face and I felt a bit refreshed.

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28th July 2014 (Monday)

Today we went for a boat ride to the Turtle Island Farm. On the boat, we fed the fishes with bread and we got to see them through the glass at the floor of the boat. Interesting colourful small little fishes. At the turtle farms, we got to take pictures with turtles (of course), eagles, bats, hornbills, snakes, etc. But that’s a very small place and the excitement ended quick. Back to the beach, and we felt jealous seeing the others playing the water sports while we couldn’t.

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Then, we went to the iconic Beratan Temple. A lake within mountains, and a temple within the lake. A beautiful and cold environment there. The temple is also featured at the back of Indonesian note of 50 000 rupiah.

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Then, we went to Taman Ayun Temple. A small temple with a lot of pagodas and surrounded by river. Took a group photo here along with all my other tour members.

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Lastly, we visited the must-see place in Bali; Tanah Lot. A temple perched on a rocky outcrop in the sea. During low tide, the temple is accessible and joined to the land. During high tide, the temple appears to sit on an island away from the land. At the time we went there, it’s low tide. We also managed to get there before the sunset. There were a lot of tourists there.

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29th July 2014 (Tuesday)

Today we went to a shop selling the famous kek lapis (layered cake) but we didn’t buy any since we find nothing special of it and Malaysia do have it too. Then, we purchased some souvenirs from the huge ‘oleh-oleh’ (souvenir) centre before going to Kuta Beach. Reached the beach and stayed there for a while under the hot sun while watching people surfing, swimming, building sand castles, sun bathing, picnicking, etc. Then, we walked to the nearby Hard Rock Cafe and to Beachwalk, a popular indoor-outdoor shopping centre that turned out to be the latest modern attraction in Bali.

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And finally, time to go to airport and board the flight back to Kuala Lumpur.

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Hate it when the flight is delayed for over an hour and so, we reached KL very late at night. The stress of walking for almost 30 minutes from the arrival gate to the baggage claim area is already burdening, and then we were told there is no more taxi service provided since many were still on Raya holiday. No taxi service for such a huge airport. Crazy…So, no choice…had to take KLIA transit to Bandar Tasik Selatan and then my sister brought us home. What an end to the trip.

(Images in this post are copyright reserved)

 

 

Malaysia’s Seven Wonders of Eco-Tourism.

Posted in Wonders and Places with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 5, 2014 by vincentloy

Today is the World Environment Day. June 5 is a day marked with similar objective to annual Earth Day celebration or Earth Hour event; to create awareness on our need to protect the planet and its environment through all means. Due to this World Environment Day, there is an interesting article from The Star Online which features Malaysia’s own Seven Wonders of Eco-Tourism (or simply the country’s seven wonders of nature) that I would like to share it here. Original source of the article: http://www.thestar.com.my/News/Nation/2014/06/05/Environment-7-wonders-of-Malaysian-ecotourism/.

Mulu Caves National Park, Sarawak.

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It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site near Miri that encompasses caves and limestone karst formations in a mountainous equatorial rainforest setting. The national park has world’s largest known natural chamber – Sarawak Chamber, found in Gua Nasib Bagus, which is 700m long, 396m wide and at least 70m high. It has been said that the chamber is so big that it could accomodate about 40 Boeing 747 planes without overlapping their wings. The nearby Deer Cave is one of the largest single cave passages in the world. Other notable caves in the region include Benarat Cavern, Cave of the Winds, and Clearwater Cave, the 8th longest cave in the world and also believed to be the largest cave in the world by volume. When evening falls, a sight to behold is the millions of bats – 12 species in all – departing the caves in great swarms, an event fondly known as the Bat Exodus.

Penang National Park, Teluk Bahang.

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Despite only measuring about 29.6 sq km and is one of the world’s smallest national parks, Penang National Park stood out for boasting one of the most unique biodiversity in Malaysia. It features five different habitat types; Hill / Lowland Dipterocarp Forest, Mangrove Forest, sandy beach, unique seasonal meromictic lake, and the open coastal sea. Famous attractions include mangrove swamp in Teluk Tukun, Monkey Beach, and the meromictic lake in Pantai Kerachut. There in the lake, one of only three in Asia, salt water and fresh water do not mix, resulting in different coloured layers that host vastly different and interesting environments.

Forest Research Institute Malaysia (FRIM), Selangor.

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Just 30 minutes away from the bustling city of Kuala Lumpur, this huge forest area at Kepong is declared a national natural heritage for its wealth of flora and fauna. It is a vast tropical rainforest that is protected and preserved by FRIM, an agency responsible in promoting sustainable management and optimal use of forest resources by generating knowledge and technology through research, development, and application in tropical forestry. It has a Canopy Walkway that offers amazing view of the forest as well of KL.

Royal Belum State Park, Perak.

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This state park is located within the Belum-Temenggor Rainforest Reserve Area. Said to be over 130 million years old, this vast virgin jungle, relatively untouched by human exploration, is even older than the great Amazon and Congo rainforests. It hosts 10 hornbill species and over 3,000 species of flowering plants – even the world’s largest flower, the Rafflesia – and serves as a natural habitat for 14 of the world’s most threatened mammals, including the Malayan Tiger, white-handed gibbon, Asiatic elephant, Malaysian sunbear, Malayan tapir and the Sumatran Rhinoceros. Within the park lies Temenggor Lake, a man-made lake used for water catchment and is Peninsular Malaysia’s second largest lake.

Taman Negara, Pahang & Kelantan & Terengganu.

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Taman Negara has a total area of 4343 sq km, and is believed to be the world’s oldest tropical rainforest as it is estimated to be over 130 million years old. The national park is home to some very rare mammals like Malayan tiger, crab-eating macaque, Sumatran rhinoceros, Malayan Gaur as well as rare bird species like Great Argus, Red Junglefowl and Malayan peacock-pheasant. There are more than 300 species of fish in the park’s many rivers, including the famed Ikan Kelah or Malaysian Mahseer (a type of game fish). Also located in the park is Gunung Tahan, the highest mountain in Peninsular Malaysia.

Cameron Highlands, Pahang.

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Cameron Highlands is one of Malaysia’s most extensive hill stations. It has the size of Singapore. Developed in the 1930s, it is one of the oldest tourist spots in the country. Apart from its tea estates, the place is also noted for its cold weather, orchards, farmlands, waterfalls, rivers, lakes, wildlife, mossy forest, golf course, hotels, museums and Orang Asli (aborigines). Grab some strawberries, tomatoes and tea, and bought some cactus plants back home before you leave.

Pulau Perhentian, Terengganu.

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Located on north west of Peninsular Malaysia, it comprises of two main islands; Perhentian Besar and Perhentian Kecil. Both islands are fringed by white sand beach, and the reefs and crystalline water are host to a wide variety of coral, sea-turtles, jellyfish, small sharks and reef-fish. The crystalline clear water and the beautiful coral reefs are enough to name this place as a tropical paradise. It is also home to Turtle Bay, a site dedicated on homing green and hawksbill sea turtles nesting population.

Out of the list above, I have visited FRIM and Cameron Highlands. These two places aren’t that unique or spectacular for me. The one that I wish to visit the most is the Mulu Caves National Park. And I find it surprising that Mount Kinabalu National Park, Redang Island, Sipadan Island (to name a few) are not mentioned in the list (pictures of these places in order below). Nevermind, I will include them as honorable mentions.

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Couldn’t believe that my country do has a lot to offer not only from its built environment (Petronas Twin Towers, Sultan Abdul Samad Building, Genting Highlands Resort, Petaling Street, etc) but also from its beauty in nature as highlighted here. Wonderful. Looking for places with fascinating natural wonders? No need to go out of the country. You can simply save your time and money and just travel within the country to explore the majestic beauty of nature here in Malaysia. Sometimes it’s good enough to be just having ‘Cuti-cuti Malaysia’.

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