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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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Visit to Aquarium of Western Australia (AQWA) today to kick-start my one-week mid semester break.

Posted in Wonders and Places with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 18, 2016 by vincentloy

It’s time for mid-semester break! Can’t believe that I have gone through seven weeks of the semester already. That was surprisingly quick, and it is now half way to go before the end of my first out of four semesters required to complete my postgraduate study. In this one week of break, it’s not all about relaxing and chilling after all since I’m equipped with some heavy assignments to work on. But before stressing myself out on that, I have decided to start the holiday with a quick visit to Aquarium of Western Australia (AQWA) today at north of Perth.

I guess it costs AUD 30 for adult to enter, but for us as students (visiting the place with my housemates), we got to enjoy the concession rate (AUD 22 for student). Before the visit, I have checked on the reviews for this place and many returned with highly positive feedbacks. Furthermore, it is the largest aquarium in Australia and the 10th largest in the world. When we first saw the exterior of this tourist destination,  my high expectation faded as its exterior is not appealing and it looks very small.

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Of course, the main attraction would be the fishes and the sea creatures inside. Well, the aquarium featured several settings (that’s typical for most layout configuration for any aquariums worldwide). It has five distinct areas: The Great Southern, The Shipwreck Coast, The Perth Coast, The Far North and The Marmion Marine Park. I do see some interesting creatures on display in here but I’m not in awe, especially when I had just visited Singapore’s SEA Aquarium not long ago which presented a far better experience for me who enjoy seeing marine life. I can’t avoid myself from comparing these two, and hence AQWA lost out by a mile.

It is relatively small in AQWA (couldn’t believe it is the 10th largest), and the lighting quality is poor. Its layout is also not convenient. There are too little sharks in here (and they are very small too), and too many sting rays (bored of seeing plenty of them here). There is only one turtle (yes, one!) I managed to see and some of the creatures just love hiding and don’t want to let us view them. They put a huge but fake crocodile and then show us two real crocodiles which are just the size of my arms!…The underwater tunnel is long but there are not many interesting fishes or sharks in there. I’m not impressed. It can do much better. The coral reefs are not exceptionally beautiful while on the other hand, some glasses (tanks) are quite dirty, hampering our sights to these beautiful marine creatures. Well, AQWA still has some good points. I particularly like the Danger Zone (zone where dangerous and venomous sea creatures are exhibited) and I like the idea of bringing part of the aquarium outdoor.

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Well, we spent only about a little over an hour in there. Nothing much to see and it needs to improve and expand to attract more visitors. I definitely won’t visit again. It makes me wanting to visit Singapore’s SEA Aquarium again eventhough it’s pricier. I had fish and chips nearby there at the Hillarys Boat Harbour and enjoyed an ocean view for a couple of minutes before heading back home.

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(Copyrights reserved to all images in this blog 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.)

 

 

Spent my Merdeka Day 2014 at I-City, Shah Alam.

Posted in Wonders and Places with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 1, 2014 by vincentloy

I-City is an ICT-based urban development at Shah Alam, Selangor besides the Federal Highway. It is designed as a fully integrated intelligent city, comprising of corporate, leisure and residential components such as shopping mall, office towers, hotels, apartments, data and innovation centres. I-City is also a MSC (Multimedia Science Corridor) Malaysia Cyber-centre. But I guess I-City now is perhaps more known as a city of fun attractions a bit further away from Kuala Lumpur.

There is a huge outdoor as well as indoor areas totally dedicated to leisure activities or tourism. The popular attractions available over there are Waterworld (water theme park), City of Digital Parks (where most of the LED-illuminated trees are), FunWorld (small-scaled outdoor theme park), Snowalk (indoor snow experience), 5D Theatre, Trick Art Museum, Red Carpet Wax Museum, House of Horror, etc. There are of course some retails and food outlets nearby to complete the place as a great family leisure attraction. You need to spend at least a day there to enjoy all the attractions. But that is going to cost you a lot.

I spent more than three hours there with my sister’s family, from late afternoon till night. Luckily, we got there before the sunset, the time when most people would only come to enjoy the City of Digital Lights in the dark. So, we got parking easily, and it’s conveniently near to those attractions. And luckily, there is no rain today.

First, we visited the Red Carpet Wax Museum that is divided into six themes; World Icons, Celebrities, Sport Stars, World Book of Records, Interactive and All Stars Café. You got to see many wax figures of famous historical and political figures, celebrities, actors, singers, entrepreneurs, world-record holders, and successful sportsperson. But the figures there are not very much 100% alike to the real ones. And it is no match compared to the quality in Madame Tussauds of which I have visited it before in London. Of course…the price speaks for itself. Madame Tussauds’ entry costs almost RM200 for a person, and I-City’s Red Carpet only costs RM35. Huge difference. So you can easily tell from there. It’s still a great experience in there as you got to see more figures closely attached to Malaysia like Tunku Abdul Rahman, Michelle Yeoh, Lee Chong Wei whom joined the others like Queen Elizabeth II, Steve Jobs, Barack Obama, Nelson Mandela, Albert Einstein, Jackie Chan, David Beckham, Michael Jackson, Angelina Jolie, Johnny Depp, Daniel Craig and many more in the museum. What’s further interesting is that some of the wax figures are interactive or animated.

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After that, we had a quick dinner at OldTown before continuing as my two nephews were very eager to play some of the attractions there. But before that, it’s now night-time and all the LED light decorations are on..it’s time to check them out. Simply beautiful. I wonder how much they spent in electricity bill for the City of Digital Lights every month. But the effect is really good. We ride on the giant ferris wheel before leaving. When we left when it is almost 10pm, there were still many cars and people coming in.

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Official website of the attractions at I-City which is expanding every year now: http://i-city.my/tourism/.

(Copyrights reserved to all my 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)

 

 

7 Days 5 Nights India Trip on CNY 2012…Uniquely different and memorable!

Posted in Wonders and Places with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 29, 2012 by vincentloy

Uniquely different! This is my overall opinion to the 11th oversea trip I had, which the country we went to is India. The trip lasted in 7 days and 5 nights and I have just returned home this early morning. Feeling tired but happy over the experience gained from the trip, I am now ready to share what’s going on throughout this ‘Incredible India’ tour organized by GTT travel company. Time flies, and the trip was over. Over 600 pictures were taken, over 10 places visited, 3 cities travelled, and priceless experience gained.

22nd January 2012 (Sunday)

The flight is in the afternoon, and so it’s a usual morning, but we need to get up quite early for the rituals to be done for Chinese New Year tomorrow, and also for last preparation for the one-week long trip. I bought quite a number of shirts and jackets for the trip, so that I can choose what to wear, without much restriction. Sometimes, I agree I do wear nice clothing. Haha…back to the trip, we reached Kuala Lumpur International Airport for international flight to New Delhi, the capital of India. This is the first time we met the other tour members in the group consisting of around 40 people; a very huge group.

After a comfortable time of approximately 5 hours with in-flight entertainment provided in the plane, we finally arrived at Indira Ghandhi International Airport. It’s a very beautiful and spectacular airport, which I hardly expected from a poor country like India. It’s very cold in Delhi at night, and I was shivering. We get back to the hotel, ready for the official touring days to start tomorrow. I can’t sleep well that night, probably due to the in-adaptability to the cold environment there at the moment.

23rd January 2012 (Monday)

Early in the morning, I woke up and took the first look over part of Delhi, the capital of India from my hotel room. I can see that many are poor, and that their living condition is not really well in this densely-populated city. The environment is dusty, and the street is quite filthy. Now I can see Kuala Lumpur is way better than Delhi. The houses there are of flat roof, with no clear planning to the construction of those houses. It’s a huge city!

Happy Chinese New Year! It’s the first day of the lunar new year of dragon! According to the tour itinerary, we would be heading to several tourist destinations in Delhi like Laxminarayan Temple, India Gate and Raj Ghat (a memorial to Mahatma Gandhi). All that were cancelled as the Republic Day of India (on 26th January) is coming very soon and all the major roads in the city area are closed including those places of attractions. We can only take a view and few pictures of Lotus Temple from a far location.

What an unlucky day, and I still wonder why the authority close the roads and places so many days earlier!? Very disappointed…the day ends up with no places to visit, and after lunch, we head straight to Agra city through a 5-hours bus ride. Along the bus ride, we get to stop by and visit a gigantic temple called Jaigurudev Temple, a white-marble temple with Mughal architecture, something similar to Taj Mahal too. It’s a very nice building anyway.

We finally arrived Agra, a city with much poorer condition, but famous for the main tourist attraction; Taj Mahal. It’s already night and we went straight to the hotel we are staying for dinner too. It’s Radisson Hotel, a very beautiful hotel with excellent buffet provided for our breakfast, lunch and dinner, but we felt bored after having the similar food for two days continuously.

24th January 2012 (Tuesday)

This is the place we have to visit definitely once you are in India; Taj Mahal. It is one of the Seven Wonders of the World. The bus is not allowed to stop near there, and we have to get on electric-powered vehicle to get to the entrance to Taj Mahal, a huge mausoleum built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in dedication to his deceased wife, Mumtaz Mahal. There is a very stringent security check before entering the area bordered by walls, plazas and gardens before proceeding to the iconic white marble structure of Taj Mahal.

The place is filled with many people, and many of them are busy occupying those spaces where they can take beautiful photographs of Taj Mahal. It is very hard for us to queue up and squeeze in just to get a good spot and take photographs in a quick time before the others take over. Taj Mahal is no doubt very beautiful in photographs, but is definitely much more impressive when seen from the eyes directly. I really love the feeling of being there looking at the structure with emphasis on axis and symmetry.

I took a lot of photographs there. Since we are given not a very long time in the place, I have no time to visit the mosques and the other structures surrounding Taj Mahal. The time limits me to observe the surrounding in details, but overall I can still feel the wonder of the place. Leaving the place, we couldn’t also get any time to buy the cheap souvenirs from the many stalls lining up outside the place.

After Taj Mahal, we went to Agra Fort which is also known as Red Fort. It is a gigantic complex of structures with great defence and is famous for having a beautiful view over the nearby Taj Mahal. It takes quite a long time if you want to go through every corners in the fort, and so we only covered major areas in the fort; particularly some main corridors, the prison, castle building, halls and plazas. The structures there are very planned, massive and intriguing.

25th January 2012 (Wednesday)

In Agra, we saw a much poorer and worst condition of the streets. We even saw a huge empty ground filled with people, and try to guess what they are doing? The answer is that they are shitting! Yes…shitting, filling the ground (an open space of public toilet) with ample of human turds that I can even see some clearly from far, from inside the bus. Luckily, we are not out there at the time, if not, it must be very smelly and much more disgusting to only just seeing that.

Today we left Agra and proceed to Jaipur, another city to be a must-visit in India. Along the route, we went also to Fatehpur Sikri, an abandoned city complex up on a hill. The structures in there are not much different with those we have seen from Agra Fort but those are now in much more vibrant red colour. There is also a very vast plaza near the entrance that appears to be very welcoming to visitors with a very beautiful 360 degree view.

After a 5 hours bus ride, we finally arrived in Jaipur, the pink city. It is a well-planned city with many buildings in terracotta colour. Because there is no terracotta term in colour, hence the city is defined as pink city instead. We went to textile and carpet factory and shop to see the demonstration over the products, not buying. After that, we proceed to the nearby spice shop and painting shop, and also no buying in the end because all those products are not suitable for us. At night, we stayed at Cambay Spa and Resort, which is not really good as food served are very limited.

26th January 2012 (Thursday)

Today is a very beautiful and sunny day. The first destination is Amber Fort, a giant and impressive-looking fort with many structures up on a hill surrounded by thick walls. A long barrier wall is also spotted over the hills around the area, which is used to protect the old city in the past. It is something like Great Wall of China, but with shorter length (still quite long).

It is a very long queue for the elephant ride up to the fort which is above a hill. Luckily we came earlier, if not, much more time would be wasted. Finally, it’s our turn and it’s a very shaky ride up to the fort on a pathway full of elephants’ droppings; smelly! We arrived at a plaza surrounded by mainly yellow-coloured facades with beautiful backdrop of the hills and blue sky.

We went up and up, going through ramps, stairs, tunnels and corridors and it is no doubt that it is another huge and amazing structure to visit. The main attraction is the Hall of Glittering Mirrors where at night, one flame is enough to create a sparkling environment due to the multiple reflection from the reflective materials used to built the hall. The views from the fort to the old city of Jaipur is also quite impressive.

Then, we proceed to Jaipur’s waterfront to take a closer look to the Water Palace in the middle of a man-made lake. It is built over 200 years ago as a place of retreat for the past emperors. After a short while, we proceed to the gem stones and jewellery factory for a little demonstration and we were brought to the shop. No buying definitely.

Then, we went to Jantarmantar Astronomical Observatory for a look over the scientific knowledge, research and determination of Indian history in astronomy. Those weird-looking structures and equipments available there are for the purposes like knowing the time of a day, determining the horoscope of the month, determining the angle and height of the Sun from the Earth, and many others. I hardly understand how most of the structures work eventhough the tour guide had explained it briefly.

Then, we proceed to the City Palace complex of Jaipur which houses several museums now, including paintings, armors and weapons, royal clothings, jars, etc. No photography is allowed inside and so I can only take pictures from the outside. We are also being brought to a hall of royal gathering which is very impressive, and also to a plaza surrounded by intricate peacock-styled gates.

After the tour in the palace complex, we went to the nearby local bazaar for a quick and dangerous shopping. Why quick? Because we were given only an hour for that long street of shops. Why dangerous? Because it is very challenging to even just cross a small road, knowing that the traffic is bad and the reckless driving behaviour of the people. We only bought some magnets there after some bargaining. We also see the Wind Palace along the street, with over 900 windows for women to look out in the past.

27th January 2012 (Friday)

Today, we proceed back to Delhi through a 5-hours bus ride. It’s quite boring staying so long in the bus. As soon as we reached Delhi and had lunch in a Chinese and Japanese Restaurant, our bus passes by the roads surrounded by embassies, and also the Presidential House of India, which is the world’s largest house for the head of state. It contains over 300 rooms and is previously known as Viceroy’s House.

What’s more interesting is that we saw there are many roundabouts in New Delhi, and that those places are filled with many people loitering around, relaxing with some playing small games including poker cards under the sun. The roundabouts are turned to something like a park. Then, we reached India Gate, a gigantic War Memorial gate-like structure of over 40 metres high for the 90 000 Indian armies who lost their lives in World War I. It’s a Western-styled gate and is supposed to be the center of New Delhi, with a very visible strong axis leading to the Presidential House.

At first, the itinerary already mentioned a tour to Raj Ghat, a memorial to Mahatma Gandhi, the father of independence of India. However, the place is still closed and we can’t get in there. Disappointed again. Then, the tour guide dropped the Lotus Temple tour too because it is quite far and might delay our time back to airport for flight home. Another bad decision! I couldn’t see the interior of the magnificent temple already! And yet, we are given an hour plus to visit a shopping mall near the airport.

It is so strict for the security check in the mall. You have to be inspected including your bags even before you can enter the mall. My goodness…I even give up on entering several shops in the mall as there are ample of guards watching you as if you are a thief. So, the shopping trip ended with nothing bought. Another disappointment. The authority was so afraid that we would bomb their place.

Finally, after an early dinner near the airport, we finally went back to the Indira Gandhi International Airport for flight back to Kuala Lumpur after a tiring trip. The procedures through the immigration and check-in are so annoying and wasting much of our time. The authority is too strict on that. Some last few pictures-taking and also some quick shopping in the airport before we leaved, and board the plane. We bought some chocolates, some small souvenirs (key chains, silver plate of Taj Mahal, and also a model of Taj Mahal). Okay…we were back to Kuala Lumpur International Airport in a very early morning, and we waited so long for that baggage reclaim. We had a breakfast at McDonalds in the airport before going back home for a sleep.

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That’s the end of my trip. Yes, it’s already ended, and the conclusion is that the trip came with some disappointments (not able to shop on products we wanted, and also not able to visit some places as mentioned in itinerary, some delays from the traffic congestion) and also some surprises (surprises over good quality of hotel and food we are attended to). It is definitely a uniquely-different trip, as we saw many new and memorable perspectives from India which appears to be a fresh location as this is our first time being in this huge country with population of over a billion people. It is still an unforgettable trip for me, and the experience gained from the trip is priceless. It is fun and certainly different visiting India. Want a future trip to India next time soon? Not really also….The trip is over and I’m back blogging as usual again…

(All the pictures from this post are taken by myself, please credit if you are sharing or re-using it…for the full 400 pictures of the trip, you can go to my facebook photo album and see all that fascinating images easily)

Places I’m going to visit at India next week

Posted in Wonders and Places with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 18, 2012 by vincentloy

It’s always good to have a bit of knowledge or information regarding the places that I am going to visit throughout my India trip next week so that as soon as I reach there, I know a bit more about those places like their history or significance to the nation. I will always do a bit of research before every of my oversea trip so that  I would be ‘carried in’ further once I really stepped into those places.

It is not awesome for a trip to just enter and visit a place without you knowing the story behind the place. Yeah, the tour guide would explained briefly on the history of those tourist attractions, but not in detail which I love to explore more. Hence, internet is a very good option now for me to do a bit more research on the places I am going to visit next week in three different cities in India; Delhi, Agra and Jaipur. I would be following a big tour group for this trip, which is under Golden Travel Tourworld (GTT) company.

Delhi is the capital of the nation, and in the city itself, I would have sightseeing over India Gate or known as War Memorial (a prominent arch-like landmark commemorating the 90,000 soldiers of the Indian Army who lost their lives while fighting for their empire), Red Fort (palace served as the residence of Mughal emperors), President House, Parliament House, Government Administration Building and a visit to Laxminarayan Temple and Raj Ghat, a memorial to Mahatma Gandhi. Do you know who he is? If you have learnt history before, you must have known him. He is a very famous political figure in Indian independence movement back many decades ago. Back to New Delhi, the city is described as one of the ultimate cities of a lifetime to visit and explore based on National Geographic’s Traveler Magazine. So, I would fullfill that very soon…Since the city is a huge urban area, there are many structures from historical to modern to look at, especially the government buildings concentrated in the city alone. Ahha…I’m going to have opportunity to visit the famous Lotus Temple in the city too.

Next city to visit based on the itinerary is Agra. Agra is famous for? Can anyone answer? Of course, Agra is famous for Taj Mahal! One of the seven wonders of the world, and also being widely recognized as ‘the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world’s heritage’. Agra is a historical city, and there are three UNESCO listed heritage sites in the city; Agra Fort (a walled city with many historical structures inside), Fatehpur Sikri (first planned city of Mughals but is now a dead city) and of course the wonderful Taj Mahal (a huge white marble mausoleum built in memorial to Mughal emperor Shah Jahan’s wife, Mumtaz Mahal). And good news is I would be going to all that three places! Time to explore the priceless heritage structures of India, all in one city; Agra…and that would be a priceless experience for me.

The last city to visit is Jaipur, famously known as the pink city. It is a major business centre of the nation, and is famous for the urban planning of the city. It is remarkable among pre-modern Indian cities for the width and regularity of its streets which are laid out into six sectors separated by broad streets 111 ft (34 m) wide and the urban quarters are further divided by networks of gridded street. The places I am going to visit in the city is Amber Fort, Jag Mandir (a lake garden palace), Jai Mahal (a palace hotel), City Palace, Jantarmantar (architectural astronomical observatory),  and sightseeing of Hawa Mahal (a palace with a unique five-storey exterior akin to the honeycomb of the beehive with its 953 small windows called jharokhas that are decorated with intricate latticework). There would be an elephant ride to the fort up on a hill. Cool…

So, basically the trip is going to grant me opportunities to visit a lot of forts, a lot of palaces, a lot of temples! This trip is gonna be a trip to heritage places in India, and I’m quite interested as I do like to explore heritage structures, looking at the architecture and how culture influences it. Looking forward for the trip that is going to begin this Sunday, on the day of Chinese New Year Eve itself.