Archive for vacation

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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5 days 4 nights CNY 2017 trip to Hanoi, Vietnam

Posted in Wonders and Places with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on February 3, 2017 by vincentloy

Hi…I’m back to my blog after disappearing for almost a week. My trip to Vietnam with my family has just ended. When I returned home yesterday, it’s already February and half of the Chinese New Year festival has already passed. Time flies, especially when it is enjoyable time. Here below is my highlight of the trip to Hanoi, Vietnam from 29th January 2017 to 2nd February 2017 (5 days 4 nights) with many lovely pictures to share.

29th January 2017 (Sunday)

The flight to Hanoi was at around 9am and so we have to be at the airport by 6am (3 hours earlier). Hence, we have to wake up at 4am (still middle of the night) and has to leave home by 5am. That’s so early and the consequence of it is that we had lack of sleep for that night. The flight to Hanoi took a little over 3 hours and the best thing this time during the flight is that I’m able to catch breathtaking aerial view of KL city as well as Genting Highlands.

We realised that the time in Vietnam is one hour earlier than in Malaysia. Our first destination in Hanoi is Ba Dinh Square. It is a plaza (main square of Hanoi) that has the President Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum (he was the first president of Vietnam) and the Parliament House. Next, we walked and visited the nearby President Ho Chi Minh’s Residence with exhibition of his office, presidential cars and the One-Pillar Pagoda.

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Then, we went to take a view of the West Lake and visited Zhen Guo Temple which is by that lake too. I don’t smell any air pollution but the sky there is cloudy and foggy all day long (same for everyday of the trip too). That is not good for taking pictures.

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30th January 2017 (Monday)

Today we took a 2 hours and 30 minutes bus ride to Ninh Binh province. There, we took ‘sampan’ (traditional boat) ride at Tam Coc, which is often referred to as the ‘Halong Bay on the land’. It is as though we have entered the lost world seeing the river and the hills around you over there. One interesting thing are that the people used their legs instead of their hands to drive the ‘sampan’ and we got to pass through several dark low-lying caves while on the ‘sampan’ on the river.

 

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Then, we went to the Bich Dong Temple and Pagoda that sits on the side of a hill. After that, there’s another 2 hours bus journey to reach Halong Bay and we immediately settled at hotel once we reached there. We stayed at villas of the hotel named Royal Halong Hotel. On the evening, we visited the casino in the hotel which is very small.

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31st January 2017 (Tuesday)

Perhaps the most exciting day of the trip as we head to the main attraction of Vietnam, Halong Bay. It is one of the seven natural wonders of the world. We boarded a small cruise ship and toured around the vast region of the bay where thousands of islands with different forms rise from the sea. We then ride a thrilling speed boat to explore the bay further. We also visited Tien Cung caves where there are interesting rock formations beautifully illuminated in the caves by the bay, and climbed a hill to catch an aerial view of Halong Bay. That view is majestic from the pavilion on top of that hill and that means our tiring climb to the top is rewarding. Visit to the bay ended with a seafood lunch on the cruise itself.

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In the afternoon, we visited a Pearl and Mineral Geological Museum. It’s not a museum. It’s basically a place with many people persuading you to buy their stuff. This is one of the disadvantages of following tour group. Then, we visited a small indoor night market where the locals sell their products like woodworks, paintings, fake goodies, souvenirs and snacks but we are not interested on them. We also managed to watch a water puppet show (famous in Vietnam) in our hotel.

1st February 2017 (Wednesday)

Today we took a 4 hours bus ride back to Hanoi. Once reached Hanoi, we had a wonderful buffet lunch in a huge restaurant and it is super crowded with tourists. I could have taken a lot of plates of food but couldn’t do so because of the huge crowd queuing to get them, and the excessive tourists from China made it worst with their rude behaviour. After that, we visited the Hoan Kiem Lake with a Turtle Tower on a small island in the middle of the lake. There is also a temple besides the lake and a red bridge.

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We also took trishaw ride to explore the 36 Ancient Streets, a cluster of traditional streets in the busy capital of Vietnam. The tour guide gave us plenty of time to do shopping there but there is nothing we love to buy over there. Hence, time is like wasted. What’s more disappointing is that the rest of our tour group members decided to skip a tourist destination just to give them more time to shop at the 36 Ancient Streets. The place we skipped is the Temple of Literature (First University of Vietnam). What a waste…thanks to the ridiculously foolish tour group members.

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2nd February 2017 (Thursday)

There is no more tourist attractions for us to visit today. Just getting a bit more rest in the hotel room while enjoying the view of the city in the morning. After checking out from the hotel, we immediately went to the airport for flight back to Kuala Lumpur. Back to home at around 6pm.

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The tour group we participated here is by Golden Deluxe Travel company. The price for one person is RM2200 and that not includes additional RM150 for several additional arrangements during the trip (speed boat ride at Halong Bay and trishaw ride at 36 Ancient Streets). The tw0 hotels we stayed are very good and comfy and their breakfasts are excellent too. The food served outside is generally acceptable but we just couldn’t adapt to their tastes and styles. We do not dare to try the outside food that they served by the side of road due to poor hygiene. We only bought some snacks and a decorative magnet home. Generally, Hanoi is a great place to visit and the main attraction, Halong Bay is truly exceptional.

(Copyrights reserved to all images in this blog post. Kindly request permission if you wish to use them.)

 

16 days 15 nights trip to Taiwan for workshop and holiday.

Posted in Wonders and Places with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 4, 2016 by vincentloy

This is the longest trip I ever had in my life so far. 16 days and 15 nights in total. This trip to Taiwan from 21st August 2016 to 4th September 2016 is certainly a memorable one. The main purpose for the realization of this trip is to attend an international workshop organized by National Yunlin University of Science and Technology. The workshop is a compulsory event to attend for one of my units in this semester of study. The workshop is themed ‘Resonance’ and it also saw participation of students from Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan (of course), etc.

Two days of the trip were already spent on the flights. We took the cheapest flights possible and we had transfer back in Kuala Lumpur, giving us a chance to stay for a short while in our motherland to meet our family. A trip from Perth to KL took about 5 1/2 hours and a trip from KL to Taipei took about 4 1/2 hours. In total, it took me 10 hours to sit miserably in the aeroplanes for the flights to reach the last destination; Taipei. I felt very uncomfortable and I couldn’t sleep in plane. Same situation happened in this one too.

10 days of the whole trip was for the workshop. Our usual routine in these 10 days was waking up early, going to the campus, attending own classes, learning some new softwares, met and worked with new people, drawing stuff, and also creating prototype from various digital fabrication techniques and going back home late. The last few days of the workshop were particularly intensive. I only managed to sleep for about two hours every night back then. It was very tiring but the end result made us felt worth it. Eventhough my group’s prototype isn’t really very successful in the end, but the idea behind it was strong. We certainly had fun in this workshop which was held in Douliu, a small town about 2 1/2 hours drive from Taipei.

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The remaining days (4 days 3 nights) were then dedicated fully for vacation in Taipei, the capital of Taiwan. I have been to Taiwan but that was like 8 years ago. Hence, it feels quite good to be back in Taiwan. However, I don’t really enjoy being in Taipei. The city is too busy and crowded. The streets are packed, messy signboards are everywhere, confusing traffic in every corners, and the buildings are very dense. It was already late on the first day when we arrived in Taipei from Douliu. Hence, we spent the evening only walking around the hotel we stayed in and not going far, since we were all drained of energy from the just concluded workshop.

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On the next day, we visited Taipei 101. It’s a must visit attraction in Taiwan especially for people who like to see landmark or skyscraper like me. Taipei 101 is a 508-metres tall building which was once the world’s tallest building. It is now the most important icon for Taiwan. We went up to the observatory levels of the skyscraper and I bought my favourite replica model of the building up there too (at a very expensive price…I still find it worthy since it is my interest to collect building replicas). Great aerial view from the top of the tower and we can also view the huge damper ball up there which is an engineering marvel used to balance the tower and reduces building’s vibration during strong wind or earthquake. We had a wonderful lunch at Din Tai Fung Restaurant at the base of the tower where a shopping mall is located (only luxury brands are there). Then, we proceeded to Tamsui Old Street and visited Fisherman Wharf and Love Bridge. Later in the evening, we went to Shilin Night Market.

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The following day, we went to Jiufen, a town situated on a hill with a majestic panoramic view over surrounding hills and the sea. There are shops and old buildings on slopes, and it gave a very interesting atmosphere to visitors walking in those lanes. We also visited the nearby Jinguashi, a tourist spot focusing on the gold mining history of the town. The natural setting of that place is beautiful. In late afternoon, we went to Shifen, a town popular for the setting off of sky lanterns, which is a practice particularly suitable for couples. In the evening after a downpour, we went to Keelung to visit its Night Market and Waterfront (Maritime Plaza).

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On the last day before we went to the airport for flight back to Australia, we had our last minute shopping at Ximending, the most popular shopping district in Taipei. We actually went to this place several times. It’s always crowded with people, very happening, and has a lot to offer from shops of various brands. That is certainly the best place for shoppers. We also pay a visit to Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall, a huge complex in honour of Taiwan’s first President.

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That is it. I think I spent over RM4000 on this trip. I bought two pairs of shoes (one normal shoes, one sport shoes from Adidas), a crystal replica model of Taipei 101 with light base, two boxes of pineapple cakes (Taiwan famous snacks), a key chain, a fridge magnet, and a bag.

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A lot of expense was on food which is expected since Taiwan is popular for its night markets everywhere that sell a lot of interesting snacks, food and beverages. I had a great time in this trip at Taiwan with my friends. It’s exhausting but it’s really fun! Now, the trip is over and I have to get back to reality…time to place my focus back on my design studio since there is a very important submission on this coming Friday!

(Copyrights reserved to all images in this blog post)

Back from bringing my parents for a trip in Perth during their early Raya holiday.

Posted in Wonders and Places with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 6, 2016 by vincentloy

First of all, I would like to take this opportunity to wish ‘Selamat Hari Raya’ to all the Muslims around the world especially to my Malay friends and ex-colleagues in Malaysia. Have a wonderful celebration. For the other Malaysians not celebrating, have a happy holiday! This applied to my parents who were spending the break by travelling over to Perth to visit me and also to tour around the city. I have been here for about 5 months already and since Perth is a small city, I’m quite familiar with the places and navigation around here already. And hence, I can be a free tour guide for them.

They arrived here last Sunday and had already spent four days here. They departed to airport not long ago for their flight back to Kuala Lumpur and I have just returned home from staying in the hotel with them for the past three nights. We stayed in Seasons of Perth, a four-star hotel in CBD area. It looks only three-stars rating for me to the best. It is old with very outdated finishing, but it does have large room and the good things about this hotel are that it is cheap and it is located very near to tourist places in the CBD like the popular Hay and Murray Streets.

Once they arrived and checked into the hotel, I brought them to the Kings Park to view the State War Memorial and also to catch a glimpse of the beautiful city skyline from the park during the sunset hour. That view never gets old for me. Then, I brought them for dinner at a restaurant called Secret Garden Chinese Restaurant in Chinatown and I ate my favourite steamed cod fish (or some say tooth fish here).

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On the second day, I brought them to walk around in the city, viewing some famous places like the City of Perth Library, Perth Town Hall, London Court (unfortunately most of the alley in it is now under renovation), Hay Street and Murray Street (two popular pedestrian malls in the city). Then, I brought them to the Elizabeth Quay, a must-visit new place in Perth for the tourists for the Swan River’s view and also for all the interesting things over there like the twin-arches bridge, Spanda sculpture and the iconic Swan Bell Tower. Then, I brought them for early lunch by having dim sum at Northbridge in a restaurant that I have tried it before. The food there taste very good and my parents enjoyed it very much until we came back for the same place two days later (this morning) for lunch again. The restaurant is Fortune Five Chinese Restaurant.

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After the lunch, we took the ferry from Elizabeth Quay to South Perth that only took about 10 minutes for a ride. South Perth is just opposite the city and that is where the Perth Zoo is, the place that we will be visiting for the whole afternoon on our second day. The zoo is not huge but contains a lot of exhibits of animals. What’s disappointing are that the quantity of animals in the zoo is very little (it’s only one for each of almost all the species on exhibit) and that the paths are not continuous. With that kind of layout, it is easy to miss some exhibits.But overall, it is still a satisfying experience visiting this zoo which is so near to the city. We ended the day by having dinner at Theo and Co Pizzeria, a famous pizza restaurant at East Victoria Park.

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On the third day in the morning, we boarded train to head to Fremantle, a port city south of Perth. The train ride only took 30 minutes. Fremantle is a city full of many old and well preserved heritage buildings and streets. It also has beautiful beaches and the majestic view of the vast Indian Ocean. We walked around there and visited the Round House, the first permanent building in the city which is originally a gaol (a jail). I didn’t bring them to see Fremantle Prison because there is nothing spectacular on that prison actually and that we couldn’t spend longer time there. Then, we head to the nearby Bathers Beach and had fish and chips for our lunch at Kailis Fish Market and Restaurant at the harbourside. Before leaving Fremantle, we walked in the Esplanade Park and observed all the happenings there from the on-going Winter Festival. There are some activities especially for kids and family like the outdoor skating rink. It’s weekday and so the Fremantle Markets is closed. Too bad, my parents couldn’t visit it but it’s not a major issue.

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Then, I brought my parents to visit my Curtin University campus in Bentley. They said it’s a huge complex but for me, it’s large only because of all the parks, fields and trees. Then, I brought them to visit my on-campus accommodation and also the nearby Waterford Plaza as they wished to visit the supermarket here. For the evening, I brought them to Crown Perth, the casino resort not far from the city. This is also my first time visiting the casino. We tried our luck for a short while and we won a bit to our excitement. The hotel there looks great and very luxurious. There is also a convention centre over there. That’s it for the day.

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On the fourth (last) day of their trip, there is nothing I can do for them since they have to be at the airport by afternoon already. We just spent rest of the time walking in the CBD area again and had early lunch at Northbridge. Then, I bid farewell to my parents again as they left to the Perth International Airport for their flight back home. How I wish I can fly back with them since I have remaining three weeks of holiday before my next semester of study commences. It’s okay. I will be back to Malaysia by December!

They were here for four days but they were actually only visiting the city for two days technically since the first and the last day were spent mostly on the arriving and departing stuff that took up most of the time. They are sure to come back here again probably during next year’s any holiday season or during my graduation. If they are here longer, I can even bring them to Swan Valley (I have visited it and it’s quite nice over there especially with all three free tasting of chocolates, wines, cheese, nougats, nuts, honey, beer, cooking ingredients, fruits, etc), the Pinnacles, the Wave Rock, the Lobster Shack, and even a whale-watching tour (my dad is interested on it but it only runs from September to November…it has its own season). That’s all now reserved for their next trip here. My dad is also eager to return here for the casino since the minimum bet here is low and very much affordable. Okay…that’s it for my description of the trip of which everything went very well especially with the nice sunny weather every day during the trip. But it’s freezing cold especially when the wind blows at night in these few days. It’s the peak of winter season now in Australia and so there is nothing we can do besides than wearing more.

(Copyrights reserved to all the 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.)

 

 

Christmas Trip 2015 to Singapore!

Posted in Wonders and Places with tags , , , , , , , , on December 27, 2015 by vincentloy

Me and my family had been to Singapore several times in the past but we never truly visited this island republic. All of our previous visits to Singapore had been very brief ones. Few months back, I had an idea of organizing a trip to the island and to bring my parents together for a 4 days 3 nights vacation during the Christmas 2015 holiday. It all worked out according to plan; I recovered in time from my illness just hours before the trip started, the weather had been very good on these few days at Singapore, and all tourist destinations were visited according to my own itinerary.

It all started on the last Thursday when all Malaysians started to enjoy the 4-days long holiday from the Maulidur Rasul celebration, Christmas holiday and then the weekend break. We departed to Singapore by bus and the ride took us over seven hours including some time spent on the immigration and traffic congestion as expected. The first stop once we arrived at Singapore and checked into our hotel is the Orchard Road, famous for many shopping malls along the street. It’s Christmas Eve and we purposely went there on this timing to feel the massive crowd and the happenings over there along the Orchard Road which are beautifully-lit with Christmas decorations. I managed to buy a pair of shoes over there too.

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On Friday, we head out to the city for a walk around the city centre and along the waterfront from the iconic Merlion to the Marina Bay Sands, passing by other famous landmarks along the route like Fullerton Hotel, Esplanades, The Float, Singapore Flyer and the Helix Bridge.

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At the Marina Bay Sands, we first visited the shopping mall and had our lunch in there before stopping by in the casino for a glimpse. Then, we head out to the observation deck on the 57th floor of the Marina Bay Sands’ towers named SkyPark. The tickets are very expensive but the view at the top is breathtaking! It’s the time when I get to enjoy the panoramic view of the city skyline as well as view of almost the whole Singapore at that height.

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Before calling it the end of the day, we also visited the Gardens by the Bay nearby. We had a quick walk along some gardens in there, saw the Supertrees, and also visited the two cooled conservatories named Flower Dome and Cloud Forest. There are many plants, flowers, trees, shrubs of all kinds in the Flower Dome which is also heavily decorated with Christmas-themed objects. On the other side in the Cloud Forest, the main attractions are none other than the artificial hill inside with a waterfall and the suspended walkways around. Had a wonderful experience in there.

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Saturday is the day to visit Sentosa Island. First, we visited the Maritime Museum and the SEA Aquarium at Resorts World Sentosa. The museum explained on the maritime history on this region with some artifacts, replicas and illustrations. However, the highlight is still the SEA Aquarium where we enjoyed looking at all the beautiful fishes and other aquatic life in the tanks and also passing through some underwater tunnels. Saw sharks, jellyfish, coral reef, sea horse, lobsters, crabs, stingrays, eels, starfish, etc.

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After that, we went to try our luck in the Resorts World Sentosa’s Casino. Me and my dad played on the same table of roulette game. I didn’t have any luck on that day while my dad’s numbers always got picked and so he won a little as we only played for a short while. Then, we visited the VivoCity Mall before heading to the Chinatown. The Chinatown here in Singapore is so much better (and cleaner) than the Petaling Street (Chinatown in Malaysia). The streets are lined with stalls selling mostly souvenirs. Then, by the evening, we proceeded to Clarke Quay, the famous place for waterfront dining in Singapore.

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Sunday came. It’s the day when we have to bid farewell to Singapore. Before leaving, we visited Bugis Street for a short while. I also managed to catch a quick glimpse of The Interlace, a residential complex which is the winner of Building of the Year’s award for this year before leaving the country. Then, another boring seven-hours ride in the bus to go back to Kuala Lumpur. Overall, it’s a wonderful vacation that me and my parents had in Singapore. We enjoyed every moments from it eventhough this trip is actually costing us quite a lot due to the currency difference between their country and Malaysia.

(Copyrights reserved to all the images in this blog’s 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)