Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Weekly Travel Quote

"A journey is best measure in friends, rather than miles" -  Tim Cahill

Monday, April 25, 2011

Weekly Travel Photo

Myeongdong, South Korea

That is what Myeondong is famous for :)
As a main shopping district in Seoul, find yourself marvelling (and lost) at the endless rows of shop from middle priced to designer labels. 
If you're not into splurging, this place is also great for people watching. It's like watching K-fashion show on a runway.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Islands Hopping in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah

The day I spared for island hopping at Tunku Abdul Rahman Park was the day I most awaited. It's not a time for me to leave Kota Kinabalu yet when I haven't got myself here. Tunku Abdul Rahman Park is a marine park comprises of Pulau Gaya, Pulau Sapi, Pulau Manukan, Pulau Mamutik and Pulau Sulug. All these islands are just 10-15 minutes boat ride from Jesselton Point, the ferry terminal where u can charter a boat to the islands.  

Numerous tour operators are available at the jetty terminal offering boat transfer, snorkelling, parasailing and other activities. Ask around to get the best price but honestly they don't differ too much from each other.

What u got to do is just tell them which island u want to go. This decision is mainly affected by what activities u are up to. Here I provide u a brief description of each island to help you choosing your destination in Tunku Abdul Rahman Park. But of course u can visit all 5 of the islands if time is not your concern.

Pulau Gaya
The largest island in the park which fits a 5-star resort, stilt village occupied by illegal immigrants and hiking trail in its dense tropical forest. Swimming and snorkelling can still be done but not recommended.

Pulau Manukan
The second largest island and always a chosen island for snorkelling and diving activities for many people. It is the most developed island with many chalets, clubhouse, diving centre and other sports activities (volley ball and takraw court). You can also do sea walking activity here.

Pulau Sapi
Has the most beautiful beach and crystal clear water, ideal for just lazing by the beach. Despite its lesser marine life, people still can enjoy snorkelling.

Pulau Mamutik
The smallest island in the park. Good beautiful beach and coral reef.

Which islands I went to?
My friends and I chose 2M, Mamutik and Manukan. Activity: snorkelling.

For that, we paid RM 60 for boat transfer and island admission fee and RM 10 each for snorkelling equipments (life jacket, snorkel mask) rental. You have to carry along the equipments when u hop to another island and return it to jetty at the end of the day.

And there is also compulsory fee for jetty terminal of RM 7.20 per person.

After all that arrangment done and paid, we followed the tour guy to our boat. Yay!!! It's been a longgggg time since my last sea-related activities. We chose to snorkel in Mamutik then only Manukan.

Sayra & Berry

Oh, that's Mamutik!

Mamutik Jetty

Welcome to Mamutik Island

After you reached the island, you're on your own, freely roam the island finding the best spot to rest. The boat will be waiting for your next island at agreed time at the same jetty. 

There was a foreign company having family day/vacation when we arrived at Mamutik. So, the small island seemed a bit crowded but we managed to find a spot at shaded area near the lifeguard tower to put down our things and get ready to snorkel. I thought it was a good idea to settle near the tower so the lifeguard could help look after our belongings and rescue us in no time when we were in distress. But the idea seemed to turn to brilliant after Jim, the lifeguard offered to snorkel with us and showed around the area he knows best. 

Me in my snorkeling gear

Soon will be in diving gear :D

With corals at depth not more than 2 meters and mild current, the snorkelling was very pleasant. No struggling swimming needed here :) Visibility was very satisfying, I could see numerous species of fish but the only one I remember is the famous clown fish aka Nemo :D The rest of the species will have to wait until I have my diving license because in the course they'll teach u how to identify sea creatures. That afternoon we covered almost every corner of the section and every fish 'house' Jim knew and he even offered us to snorkel beyond the demarcation buoy. It was the best snorkeling experience so far except I didn't have any underwater-suitable camera to capture the amazing sea life down there. It was actually my 1st time snorkeling :p

That is Jim

I was too overwhelmed with what I saw down there and accidentally stepped on dead coral at the shore on my way back to the beach. The small cut hurts so much I almost cried because those tiny sand had started to stick inside it. I was just afraid of it get infected. Running water didn't help washing away the sand at all and at that time all my happy moment started to dissolve. Jim, being a lifeguard (and first aider) he was, could only offered me a waterproof antibacterial spray :( I am a qualified first aider by PBSM and St John but I never come across this waterproof antibacterial spray. At that second I was impressed with what they had in the first aid box. The qualification I have didn't come with bravery to scrap off the sand from the cut myself. So, I chose to spray the unclean cut with antibacterial and let the sand stay underneath it :( That's why I don't qualify to be a doctor.

It was an unwise decision not to clean the wound properly because when it was time to move to Manukan, it became swollen and I couldn't walk without stopping every now and then to ease the pain. It did slow me down a little bit but didn't stop me from enjoying my 2nd snorkeling in Manukan :D

Should've wear this all the time

To avoid this

And this
Or even this

We were given only 2 hours in Manukan and with this kind of school of fish welcoming us at Manukan jetty, I thought even half day wouldn't be enough :')

Manukan Island

We had our packed lunch prior our snorkeling session at the resting area near lifeguard tower. And this time, the snorkeling got better as each of us had our own lifeguard to accompany us. Kinda like private snorkeling tour :)

Compared to Mamutik, Manukan had stronger current and the corals sit much deeper down and honestly, without my lifeguard's help I would surrender swimming as it got me nowhere. I was at the same location practically for 15 minutes how hard I kicked and pushed myself through the water. Yes, i'm an amateur swimmer but try for yourself then you'll know swimming in an open water need triple effort than in swmimming pool.

So, throughout this snorkeling in Manukan, I relied on his help pulling me to spots he identified having sea creatures. I tell you, he was a great swimmer! The lifeguard profession is suitable for him :D Because of him I could see more Nemos and more other fishes. But being the most developed and most visited island, the corals I saw here were dying, at least at the part I went to. But I strongly believe Manukan has more natural beauty than what i've seen. The time was not on my side that day and had to leave the island by 5pm. The same boat brought me, Sayra and Berry back to mainland.

For those who plan to do islands hopping in KK, here are some of my tips:
  • Rent the snorkeling gear at the jetty and carry them to every island u go, including the safety jacket. It'll save you a lot.
  • Ensure you have agreed time to meet up with your boat guy and hop in the same boat as you leave the jetty. Other boats wait for other passengers.
  • Don't you always feel hungry after sea activity? Food is available in the island but you can bring your packed lunch from mainland to save more. 
  • Lifeguards are placed at every 100 meter or so, have no fear of the sea. Anyway, you have the safety jacket with you always. For snorkeling assistance, usually they tend to help all-girl group but be nice and make friends with them, they'll show around :D
  • Spend at least 3 hours at every island, enough for snorkel, walk along the beach, eat, photographing etc. I'm the type of person who take ages to look around an area, feel free to shorten it as you wish.
  • Go with friends, a lot of friends! People say the more, the merrier. It's a place you enjoy each other company and share laughter.

So, whenever you plan to go to Kota Kinabalu, include islands hopping in your itinerary. Do not miss this paradise on earth!

Say yes to islands hopping in KK!

Greeting from Belarus!

Thanks Dmitry for the lovely postcards!
I received so many postcards recently, will update them following sequence they arrived in my post box.

These are from Belarus :D

top: Monument to soldiers-internationalist; bottom: The National Library of Belarus

I'm sure you know Belarus, no? But, if today is the 1st time u heard of it, let's learn some little facts about this republic together :) 

Let's start with its location on the world map.

Belarus or officially Republic of Belarus is in Eastern Europe and is one of 47 landlocked countries. What is landlocked country u ask?
If u can notice from the map, Belarus is bordered by Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Lithuania and Latvia. The entire country is enclosed by land with no coastline. That's landlocked country.

The capital city is Minsk.

Belarus people are called Belarusians and the official languages are Belarusian and Russian. Learn from now if u plan to visit.

They eat little during breakfast and enjoy big meal during dinner. You might need to take the dinner you've been skipping for diet while in Belarus :) 

They eat potatoes, bread, pork and beef. Most of the products are organic, they check radiation constantly to avoid food contamination.  

Belarusian alphabet is based on Cyrillic script. *I need a phrase book! 

Cyrillic script

Airport - Minsk National Airport or also known as Minsk 2 Airport.

Some corrupt hotel may practice 'legal theft', an annoying way of stealing :( 
Housekeeper will hide your personal belonging in the most outrageous part of your room while cleaning. If you didn't notice your belonging gone missing, well, it will become theirs after you left. And if you report items missing or you managed to find them by yourself, u can't do anything much since your items are not actually leaving the room, it's not consider a theft. cunning as a fox!

However, don't let that stop you from visiting. Some interesting things to do are hole fishing when Minsk Sea is completely frozen and visit Khatyn Memorial.

So by now, I hope you know where Belarus is and some interesting facts about it. Well, if you have been to Belarus, do share some stories you found interesting. Meanwhile, I might need Dmitry's help to learn more about it :D

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Best Way To Travel

"And u can fly
High as a kite if u want to
Faster than light if u want to
Speeding through the universe
Thinking is the best way to travel"

But it is never the same like the real traveling...

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

When KL Freeze for 4 minutes

I have few postcards to update but I guess that shall wait.

So here, now, I just want to update u guys on last weekend's freeze flash mob at KLCC :) *I uploaded a lot of videos recently did I?

Were u guys there?
What is your favourite pose?
Do u see anyone familiar? ;')

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Central-East Java: Berikan Cintamu Juga Sayangmu :')

My host in Jogja, Lisa was a great host!
We talked and shared almost about any topic, music was no exception. For me, Peterpan and Kerispatih have good songs but she thought otherwise. But one thing we both agreed, Ungu is the best. Among their songs that I like so much are Tercipta Untukku, Demi Waktu dan Cinta Dalam Hati *jiwang mode ok :)

Remember my live update from Jogja? The late night when I spent writing quick update to u guys while the internet cafe playing a very nice Indonesian song and it rained outside? Well, I didn't know to whom the nice song belongs to. But the song was wonderful, both in the melody and its lyric. I instantly fell in love with the song I could tell it's the song if I ever heard it again somewhere some other time. And I was right, the night I left Jogja to Malang at train station, that song was on air and I recognized it. I assumed it must be one of the song in current hitlist since I heard it twice in 2 days.

Since I didn't bother to ask around the song tittle and the singer when I was in Indonesia, I suffer as my curiousity heighten as I reached Malaysia, urged me to google for the song. So, I spent some time typing 'top Indonesian songs' in my google bar in my effort to know the song. I should've asked the local if i knew Indonesia has too many top songs from singer I haven't heard of :(

But tonight, I finally found the song y'all :D
And guess what? It was Ungu's song! I like it as much as I liked their previous songs. It has haunting melody. It never leave my head for now.

Have u heard this song before? Tell me if u have the same thought this another masterpiece by Ungu keep humming in your head like me :)

Join KL Flash Mob 2011!

I always wanted to participate in a flash mob especially after seeing many on Youtube, particularly the Glee-related. Im a GLEEk, what do u expect?

What is flash mob?

"denote a group of people who assemble suddenly in a public place, perform an unusual and sometimes seemingly pointless act for a brief time, then disperse, often for the purposes of entertainment and/or satire"

Tell me how do u like to be part of this crowd?

I mean not the watching crowd. But the one looks like came from nowhere and join the dancing pool :D So, thrilling!

Well, the dancing steps and moves are quite complicated and twisty here. It'll take me long time to perfect it or I'll end up creating my own dance moves when I lost the steps. 

So, if u are around KL this Saturday and need to get loose a little and wanna play 'immature' for awhile, join the fun at KLCC.

And the best thing is no dancing involves at all! No need to be a dancing queen to join. U need to only FREEZE FOR 5 minutes :D Easy!

To give u guys some idea, here is how the freeze flash mob would look like.

Be there and see if u we could bump into each other :D

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Central-East Java: Preamble

Salam dari Malaysia (saya dah kembali ke tanahair minggu lepas),

Ok, ini adalah percubaan pertama untuk menulis dalam Bahasa Melayu walaupun english saya pun takde la bagus sangat. Entry yang terlibat mungkin entry trip ke Indonesia baru-baru ni sahaja (bergantung kepada hasil entry ni nanti). Sila abaikan sebarang kecacatan bahasa yang mungkin ada ok. Dah lama tak tulis begini *OMG begini hehe...

Pertama kali saya ke Indonesia ialah ke Medan, Sumatera. So, kali ni nak cuba ke tanah Jawa pulak. Cita-cita asal nak buat trans Java dari Jakarta sampai ke Bali dalam 2/3 minggu, tapi biasala cuti yang ada menjadi penghalang, jadi terpaksalah layankan tanah Jawa ni berperingkat-peringkat. Baik ada sikit daripada takde langsung kan. Jadi, saya belilah tiket ke Yogyakarta pergi-balik untuk duration 6 hari. Kenapa ke Jogja? Sebab di Jogja ada 2 UNESCO site yang boleh saya cover. Kan travel priority saya nak cover seberapa banyak UNESCO site. Dan dari Jogja jugak, dekat saya nak menziarah kampung nenek saya di Cilacap. Kalau setakat nak melawat Jogja, 3 hari je dah cukup rasanya. Ok, itu adalah tujuan asal. Tapi yang jadinya lain :p Oleh sebab masa buat planning trans Java tu dah ada beberapa tempat wajib yang nak pegi di Jawa Barat, Tengah dan Timur, jadi saya tiba-tiba berubah fikiran nak pegi jugak satu tempat di Jawa Timur. Selitkan asal boleh ye. Menziarahi keluarga di Cilacap tu ditukar ke keluarga di Surabaya pulak. Huh, agak padat dan ambitious jugak tau sebenarnya. Itula kelemahan saya bila buat travel itinerary, over ambitious hehe...Tapi takpe, travel itinerary saya, saya punya suka la kan :p Sebab tu la saya suka travel independently daripada travel pakai tour pakej. Neway, Leo is known for being independent ;)

Saya bertolak dari KL ke Jogja pagi2 buta dengan adik saya. Ye, adik saya :)Ok, ni 1st time ok travel bersama adik. Saya konon2 nak cuba pegi solo je tapi tiba2 masa nak beli tiket tu macam tiada keberanian nak ber-solo-an pulak, jadi sebagai kakak yang konon2 bercita2 menjadikan ni trip bonding session, ajakla adik yang hanya pernah ke Singapore itu. Flight pagi ni agakla mencabar jugak sebab kena bangun pagi buta dan pertama kali sejak ada web check-in ni, saya terlepas untuk web check-in ok. Gila tak bersedia! Saya jadi bertambah cuak bila sampai airport tengok kiosk check-in tu ramai orang beratur. Jadi untuk mengelakkan ketinggalan pesawat, saya dengan percakapan paling sopan dan berbudi bahasa minta potong barisan orang lain. Terpaksa. Tapi, bila nak check-in tak boleh pulak, screen tu arahkan pegi ke kaunter pulak. Super cuak dah disitu. Tanyalah dekat petugas yang ada di situ, dia pun suruh pegi ke kaunter. Tengok jam, ada lebih kurang 45 minit je sebelum berlepas, itu jugak bermakna check-in time sudah hampir tutup! Lantas berlari ke kaunter (nasib baik bawak backpack aje kali ni) dan sebab kaunter tu share check-in dengan penumpang ke Jakarta, saya terpaksa potong barisan jugak. Lepas dah dapat boarding pass tu, huh teramat la lega perasaan. So, Yogyakarta here I come :)

Inilah backpack yang membolehkan saya berlari pantas :) The smallest in my travel history. First attempt saya untuk travel lightly. Harus diteruskan cara begini untuk trip seterusnya.

Untuk mengelakkan menjadi kelam kabut macam saya dan terpaksa berlari dan potong barisan di airport, ni adalah guideline untuk check-in bagi penumpang Air Asia. Sila ingat ok :)

Web Check-In: 7 hari hingga 4 jam sebelum masa penerbangan
Kiosk Chek-In: 24 jam hingga 1 jam sebelum masa penerbangan
Web Check-In: 7 hari hingga 4 jam sebelum masa penerbangan
Counter Check-In: 2 jam hingga 45 minit sebelum masa penerbangan

Lepas 2 jam 30 minit dalam pesawat (mood Indo, jadi harus guna pesawat hehe...), kami tiba di Adi Sujipto International Airport, Yogyakarta. Apa yang saya suka pada airport ini ialah ia dekat dengan bandar, ketika hampir mendarat dapat tengok macam2 pemandangan di bawah sana. Oh, saya juga suka tengok awan yang macam cotton candy tu. Hati saya berawan-awan :')

Bandara (airport) di sini agak kecil kalau nak dibandingkan dengan LCCT. Dalam 100 meter dari pesawat dah ada pintu masuk (tak payah nak jalan penat2), di situ jugak la kaunter immigration dan kat tepi tu jugak la baggage claim. Sangat kecil! Barisan untuk immigration check tu punyalah panjang sebab ada 2 kaunter sahaja, saya sempat berborak lama dengan uncle dari Malaysia yang menyangka saya adalah student Malaysia yang study di Jogja. Yelah, Jogja kan terkenal sebagai pusat universiti di Indonesia. Kelihatannya saya masih muda sebab disalah anggap sebagai student :p Walaupun airport Jogja ni kecil, pemeriksaan immigration agak canggih dari Malaysia. Perlu scan ibu jari dan anak2 jari lagi. Lepas tu perlu juga senyum dan pandang iris scanner di kaunter itu ok :) Didn't I tell u its canggih?

Waktu di Indonesia lewat 1 jam dari Malaysia, jadi bila kami tiba masih agak pagi lagi. First thing yang saya lakukan lepas keluar airport ialah beli topup sim card Indonesia saya. Saya tak pasti ada jual di airport atau tidak tapi warung kecil di luar airport menjadi pilihan. Dari airport, jalan terus menghala ke landasan keretapi, selepas melepasi post office dan beberapa warung makan, akan jumpa warung kecil jual topup. Jarak cuma dalam 100 meter aje. Bezanya di Indonesia bukan panggil topup tapi 'tambah pulsa'. Mula2 agak jenuh jugak nak explain ke mbak tu apa yang saya nak hehe...Harga topup di Indonesia macam di Beijing. Peniaga bebas nak mark up berapa harga jual. Selalunya diorang akan letak beberapa ribu extra. Macam di sini, saya beli topup Rp 50,000 tapi perlu bayar Rp 52,000. Maybe kalau di airport lebih mahal kot. Oh lupa, currency exchange ketika ini ialah RM 348 = Rp 1M. Cuba la kira berapa harga tambah pulsa saya tu. Harga terendah untuk tambah pulsa ialah Rp 5,000.

Lepas discuss dengan host saya di Jogja, saya mengambil keputusan untuk terus ke destinasi (tak budget) pertama tanpa ke rumah Lisa dulu (bersama backpack saya itu) ke Prambanan Temple. Transport yang digunakan di Jogja adalah bas Trans Jogja. Tiket ke mana-mana destinasi adalah Rp 3,000 sahaja, murah kan? Dari pintu arrival, menghala ke arah kiri dan korang akan jumpa laluan ke Trans Jogja.

Sepanjang perjalanan dari pintu arrival ke laluan Trans Jogja ni, saya diekori oleh teksi driver yang sangat persistent menghendaki saya menjadi penumpangnya. Biasalah tu kan, tempat tourist. Jadi dengan persistent juga saya menolak dan terus ke bus stop Trans Jogja. Tapi bila sampai, bus stop Trans Jogja ni sangat la beda dengan bus stop di Malaysia atau di tempat lain. Ia agak elevated dari tanah, berplatform dan berbumbung dan berdinding. Ia juga tak dipanggil bus stop tetapi halt yang mempunyai maksud yang sama. Tengok gambar la senang nak faham kan? Masa itu jugak saya baru tau rupanya tempat Restu berjumpa Dinda dalam cerita Love (Cinta versi Indonesia) itu adalah di bus stop rupanya. Bezanya, diorang di Transjakarta.

Inilah Trans Jogja halt

Tiket dibeli di pintu masuk halt dan selalunya penumpang yang tak biasa (macam saya) akan tanya laluan ke destinasi. Diorang akan bagitau bas nombor berapa perlu naik dan turun di halt mana dan jika perlu tukar bas, diorang akan bagitau juga. Bagus kan? Senang juga. Setiap kali bas tiba, petugas akan announce nombor bas dan laluannya. Dan, saya telah mula menyukai Trans Jogja ni :') Kelebihan Trans Jogja ini juga, ia mempunyai laluan tersendiri (tak bercampur dengan kenderaan lain), jadi ia cepat, reliable dan murah. 

Jadi, inilah rupa satisfied passenger of Trans Jogja :)