Archive for temple

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.)

Interesting procession for the Nine Emperor Gods Festival last night.

Posted in Interesting Encounters with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 13, 2015 by vincentloy

Nine Emperor Gods Festival (九皇爺) is a nine-day Taoist celebration beginning on the eve of 9th lunar month of the Chinese calendar. I remembered that few years ago when I search for information regarding this festival, there isn’t much info available online. Recently, when I do a Google search again, I’m surprised that this festival even has its own Wikipedia page already. That’s good.

There is a temple not far from my house in Ampang which is famous for celebrating this festival and so there is a tradition in my family to worship and celebrate this festival for almost every year. However, the last time I have been to watch the procession to welcome the Nine Emperors was like many years ago and so I’m actually quite excited when I get to watch it back this year. That was last night which is the eve of the 9th lunar month in Chinese calendar. Me rushing to go back home yesterday after work is paid off with an opportunity to watch a grand and an interesting procession.

The procession actually started much earlier to ‘receive’ the arrival of the Gods from waterways. Hence, it began from the temple to the Ampang river. After the Gods arrived, the procession will be conducted in a much happening mood to welcome and bring the Gods back to the temple. That’s when spectators will line up the street to watch it as it is a good sign to bring luck and good things to one’s life. We were lucky to have arrived nearby there before 9pm and was able to find parking eventhough we were a bit far away. We had a nice spot to stand in the midst of thousand of people already there and by the time we were ready to wait, the procession arrived. Here are some images I took during the procession:

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Pictures still blurry despite captured by an iPhone 5. Well, the lighting is dim over there and hence picture quality won’t be good. There were also a lot of movements, hence images not focused. This time, there were quite a lot of lion dances. However, the obvious things missing is the lack of decorated vehicles as well as the famous ‘Kou Keuk Chat’ (the Seven Long-Legged Gods or something like that). And to compensate that, the procession included a number of people dressed in cute and bulky costumes resembling many Gods like ‘God of Fortune’, etc which is certainly a surprising view for me who have not seen this kind of stuff before in this annual procession. The procession lasted about 20 minutes.

A carnival-like atmosphere pervades the temple throughout the nine-day festival. Most devotees stay at the temple, eat vegetarian meals and recite continuous chanting of prayer. The street leading up to the temple is also filled with many hawker stalls, attracting also the youngsters and the scene is just like a bustling ‘pasar malam’. It is believed that there will be rain throughout the nine days of celebration. And yes…it is really raining in these days. My family and I would be going to the temple again this Sunday to pray and burn joss-sticks for the Nine Emperor Gods before the festival ends next Wednesday when the deities will be sent back to the river to mark the end of the celebration.

(Copyrights reserved to all the images in this post)

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)

This is the time of the year again for the Nine Emperor Gods Festival in Ampang

Posted in Interesting Encounters with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 6, 2013 by vincentloy

I didn’t realize that this is the time of the year again for the celebration of Nine Emperor Gods Festival until I was told by my eldest sister today. Mid-Autumn Festival for the year was over two weeks ago, and that means now is already the ninth month of Chinese lunar calendar. The first nine days of the month will be dedicated to the Nine Emperor Gods Festival annually. And so, I realized I missed the chance to observe the festival’s parade yesterday’s night.

On the eve of the festival, there would be a parade conducted to ‘welcome’ the deities of the legendary Nine Emperor Gods. It consists of multi-colored flag displays, drums with lion and dragon dances, physically-challenging performances, and series of beautifully-lit and decorated trucks, etc. It is watched annually by massive crowd lining up the road in Ampang’s new village, leading up to the Nine Emperor Gods Temple. The last time I watched the parade was like four or five years ago.

Today, right after dinner, we went to visit the temple for the festival that started today and will ends in nine days as mentioned earlier. The place is best to visit at night as it would not be that hot and that the surrounding atmosphere would be much happening at night due to presence of night market around the temple which is able to attract more people of younger demographics in recent years. All that leads to crazier traffic congestion along the narrow roads leading to the temple. That is expected.

The temple’s icon must be the main altar building full of intricate traditional Chinese design flanked with two pagoda towers. Last year’s appearance of the towers during the festival looked much appealing with the colour-changing lights. This year, it stays to its traditional plain lighting, and I wonder why. It’s full of people, and I sneaked into the main altar to pray for a short moment before leaving with my shirt covered with smell of smoke and ashes, and also eyes feeling uncomfortable by the excessive burning of joss sticks. People are pushing to enter into the main altar.

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Eventhough Nine Emperor Gods Festival is not considered a major Chinese festival, but it does receives continuous attention every year and its popular temple in Ampang is certainly prepared to welcome huge crowd of people (and I’m one of them) at this time of the year.

5 days 4 nights Cambodia trip during Raya 2013 break.

Posted in Wonders and Places with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 11, 2013 by vincentloy

I’m back home! What a great holiday I had over at Cambodia for the past five days and four nights. And now, I’m back to Kuala Lumpur, back to my home….and that’s back to reality. There is no more holiday and working resumes tomorrow. Like many people said, happy or enjoyable time flies very quickly. That’s true. This was my second time visiting Cambodia, and I can consider myself finished touring around Phnom Penh and Siem Reap completely.

7th August 2013 (Wednesday)

The flight to Siem Reap is at before 7 in the morning, and so we had to be in the LCC Terminal by 5 midnight. I woke up at 4pm, feeling great with high anticipation to the trip but also at the same time tired and sleepy. We boarded AirAsia plane, which is now tag-lined with world’s best low-cost carrier airline recognition for five consecutive years by Skytrax. We are on a group tour (by Confidence Travel) and so we don’t need to worry anything on any arrangements as all have been made for us.

The first destination would be a boat ride along the Tonle Sap muddy river that ends with a huge lake. The highlight would be the floating houses along the river, and we got to see how people lives on the water all the time in poverty and simple living. Children and several pity-looking adults came by to ask for money from us while we are in the boat, and some do massage or performed with snake, similarly to what I have seen there three years back.

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Next in the afternoon after visiting the Les Artisan De Angkor (handicraft center) for a short while, we went to climb up the Bakeng Hill. There’s a ruins of temple on the hill. We had over 20 minutes of climb to reach the top (quite tiring). We are supposed to be offered with spectacular sunset view up there, but since it’s rainy season now, we got to see massive dark clouds instead. But I can still view Angkor Wat from the hill. And before we could return, heavy downpour occurred and we were all seriously wet when we reached our bus. What an experience!

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8th August 2013 (Thursday)

The whole day’s trip focused fully on the Angkor site which is now a very important world heritage. We got to visit the Bayon Temple, a temple unique for display of many huge stones carved with faces on four sides and arranged very closely together. Next, we went to visit several other smaller sites in Angkor Thom area (former city of Khmer empire).

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Then, we visit the Ta Pronh Temple, a ruin of temple now ‘binded’ with growing jungles (huge trees) that created astonishing effects. The temple is getting more famous as it had been a setting for Angelina Jolie’s Lara Croft: Tomb Raider film.

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The final destination of the day of which we were already exhausted by early afternoon would be none other than Angkor Wat, one of the most fascinating historical sites in the world. It’s a temple complex completed with many intricate details and topped with five towers and are based on Hinduism and later Buddhism. The sudden rain in the middle of the Angkor Wat tour didn’t dampen our spirit to continue observing such impressive structure.

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At night after watching the expensive show entitled ‘Smile of Angkor’ (a show combining water, light and dance performances displaying Cambodia’s culture and history which is not worth its price) , we went out for a tuk-tuk ride (which is a must for travellers like us) to Night Market and Pub Street area. The streets there are now much more happening and ‘commercialized’ than what it appeared three years ago. Quite a huge improvement to attract more foreign visitors. I went back to the Red Piano Restaurant to try again the Lara Croft cocktail, and also Angkor (local) beer. Awesome environment.

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9th August 2013 (Friday)

Basically, nothing happened today. We had to leave Siem Reap to proceed to Phnom Penh, the country’s capital. It took us more than six hours long in the bumpy bus ride (what a bad roads there) with two quick stops in between. By the time we reached the much crowded city compared to Siem Reap in the afternoon, it’s raining again. We went to the Naga Casino, the only casino complete with luxurious hotel and entertainment complex owned by a Malaysian tycoon. I tried my luck for a short while from the 10 USD coupon given to foreign visitors like us and I won a bit in the end. Not bad.

10th August 2013 (Saturday)

Phnom Penh’s city tour started. First, we got to see the Independence Monument. Quite a huge structure but would be much better looking at night when it is illuminated with lights. After that, we dropped by at the Vietnam Friendship Monument before walking towards the Royal Palace. The royal palace tour is quite a lengthy one as we were brought to walk around at permissible areas like at the garden, near many stupas, gallery of historical photos, and the most interesting one would be the tour in the Silver Pagoda, a hall that houses many national treasures such as gold and jewelled Buddha statues.

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Next, we went to visit the Wat Phnom Hill where it is believed the history of the founding of the city started based on a legend involving a lady named Madam Penh. It’s a man-made hill, and there’s a small temple on top.

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In the afternoon, we visited the Toul Sleng Genocide Museum. It’s a school complex used as a S-21 prison during the Khmer rouge over 30 years ago. It was terrifying on learning details of the dark past of the country through visit to see how the prison, interrogation chambers, and torture tools look like in the classrooms of the school. There are a lot of pictures and painting to further illustrate how bad it was during the Khmer Rouge.

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11th August 2013 (Sunday)

I couldn’t believe we would be flying home on this day already. We spent the morning for shopping at Central Market, a huge market building comprises of stalls selling jewellery, watches, fabrics, souvenirs, shoes, etc and crowded with people selling or bargaining (we took on the latter role). Then, we went to Sorya mall, the capital’s largest mall which I think is not even close compared to KL’s smallest mall. Just to spend the remaining time before flying back to KL.

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It’s afternoon and we boarded AirAsia plane again for flight back home from Phnom Penh to KL. That’s the end of the trip.

(All images in this post are of my own property. Kindly inform, acknowledge and reference if you wish to share the images of which the action is welcomed)

A short night walk at Qao Wong Yeh Temple

Posted in Interesting Encounters with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 30, 2011 by vincentloy

I have just realized that the Nine Emperor Gods Festival (annual Chinese festival) for this year began few days earlier already and would last for 9 days. For every year, my family would be paying a visit to the Qao Wong Yeh Temple at Ampang for the worshipping. This year is not an exception, but for this time, we just went there to enjoy the lively atmosphere of the temple area including its surroundings, and so we didn’t worship for this year, as I came this time with my sister.

As expected, there was a very huge crowd from all directions to the temple, beautifully decorated with colour-changing lights which was added a year ago. Another interesting feature added is the long carving wall as the boundary of the temple replacing the former fences. The night market is a local addition to the festival where many stalls selling souvenirs, worshipping items, food, shirts, balloons were set up along the streets as well as roads nearby. Houses nearby would offer their parking area for high number of visitors turnout for the 9-days festival…and of course comes with a price! I didn’t actually went into the main altar. The picture below is the view in the altar…so crowded and smoky…looking at this, you wouldn’t want to enter already…

It’s already been a year….the time when I visited the temple last year for the festival (at night too) appears like it just happened yesterday (and it’s actually exactly a year ago based on Chinese lunar calendar). Going to the temple during the night would be a better choice with more things to see, but the traffic also worsen definitely. For the tradition of the festival, for me, to be honestly, I don’t have the belief on the existence of the Nine Emperor Gods which is based on Taoist culture. Worshipping it last time annually is just a duty done every year, and my family dropped the tradition of worshipping beginning this year. It is funny that once you put your burning joss sticks on the pot, a few second later it would be removed as the pot would be full quickly. So, there is like no point for placing joss sticks  there for worshipping.

The night market there is too crowded and hence we went to another night market near my home where there is no congestion especially when it’s already late (over 10 pm). Actually, we just spend walking at the temple and its surrounding for less than 30 minutes, and the truth is we actually spent most of the time in the car on the way to the temple as all the roads leading to the temple is very congested. Anyway, it’s still nice to see many Chinese people are still rooted to their tradition of visiting the temple and worshipping for the festival. Now, there are many youngsters seen there due to the night market, and also photographers who wanted to capture the beauty of the temple and the atmosphere of the surrounding.

What’s happened…; Nine Emperor Gods Festival

Posted in Interesting Encounters with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 18, 2010 by vincentloy

Sorry for late posting. I’m kinda busy with assignments for last weekend.

The  annual nine days festival of Nine Emperor Gods based on Taoism had just ended. It falls from 1st day till the 9th day of the 9th month of Chinese lunar calendar. Every year, as usual, I will attend the festival at Ampang’s Nan Tian Kong Temple for worshipping and celebrating the festival together with my family.

This year, is the same. However, this is the first time I’m going there by night. It’s more lively and happening at night. The street leading to the temple are lined with hawker stalls selling chow tau foo, fried stuff, fried cashew, drinks, etc. It is crowded with people, more compared to morning, and it looks more like a night market.

This is also the only year I did not attend the night parade which the gods are invited and celebrated with processions and parade of dragon and lion dances, etc. The reason is that the parade is held much earlier, that many don’t even know that, due to commemoration of the opening of the reconstructed temple. I heard that the parade for this year is more grand with addition of even fireworks!

Back to the worshipping thing, the only thing that makes me uncomfortable is the crowded situation in the temple where all the people put their burning joss sticks. The whole space is full of smoke…and yes, smoke and even heat detectors are not recommended here…lol…but I can see some beautiful Chinese architecture in there, and even on the outlook of the building with two pagodas at the side.

I have to quickly rushed in, burned the candles, placed them on the right place, burned the joss sticks which are quite a lot in numbers, placed them on wherever place dedicated for the gods, and even having some time to snap some qick photos. After that, my whole shirt is full of those ashes from the joss sticks, tears dropped from my painful eyes, redness on my hand after being in contact with hot dropping ashes. It’s complicated and mess up in there. I would not be going in if I’m not doing the worshipping thing.

Anyway, it’s an annual thing, not a monthly or daily thing…hence, still okay to it…I can see something interesting from it too…I can see different type of activities, I can see the setting of the Ampang New Village, I can see architecture of the temple, I can experience the culture of Taoism….hence, it gave quite a lot of advantages too….why not going for it?! However, it’s over now….have to wait for next year.