Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Travelogue : Pulau Cotton ~ 6-8 June 08

Location :
Pulau Cotton, off Marang

Cotton at sunset

The troupe :

Faidzal @ Orang Kaya Baru. Boleh forego paid 1 nite at Kapas and stay kat KT instead ;-p

K Aini @ Iron Lady. Boleh swim pegi balik pulau-darat-pulau

Hussen @ Macho Man.

Maslina @ "Come On! Yeah! Alrite! Aha Aha" *dengan gaya paling gedik*

Junirda @ "Saya mesti belajar berenang!" "Saya mesti belajar lukis kuda!"

Liza @ Champion pictionary terulung. Boleh teka titanic! Perampas abang snorkelling Nida

Izwan @ Underwater Cameraman bertugas

Razeif @ Reporter bertugas

Milla @ Milla Bila Cinta !

Firdauz @ "Saya tak v***in* lagi!"

Hong @ Always cool and calm

Yours truly @ "Saya BERAZAM (fist in the air) utk mendapat sotong pertama pada hari ini!"

Going for snorkelling
L-R: Firdauz, Milla, Junirda,Liza,Razeif,Hong,Faidzal,K Aini (hidden),Me & Mscle

Going for squid jigging
Front L-R: Firdauz, Milla,Mscle,Razeif,me
Back L-R: Junirda, Hussen,Hong, Liza
Izwan the cameraman
Organizer :
Thanks to Izwan and Maslina for organizing the trip!
Mscle & Izwan. Hussen on the left
Day 1

We were supposed to start off at 4.15am from Taman Melati, but by 4.15 am only me and Nida have reached there (saja nak tunjuk punctuality :-p)

Then Razeif, Hong and Liza arrived

Izwan went to fetch Masl and Hussen, so he can be excused la. Anyway, he's the organizer. Tak mau la lawan tauke

The married couples were still in Bangi. So we took off first and would meet later at Marang jetty. Supposed to catch the 11.30 am boat
All were regrouped in Marang by 10.30 am, just as planned to get the 1130 boat. Pulau Kapas is very near from the jetty, it took only 15 minutes. When we arrived, our rooms were not yet ready, so we had lunch first, and had a bit of practise on Pictionary.
Pictionary practice
First snorkelling trip was at 3.30 pm, under the scorching hot sun. But tak kisahlah, it’s cool under the water. I’d say snorkelling in Kapas isn’t recommended as there aren’t much fish here as Redang or Perhentian. Plus, there are loads of jellyfish here. See here Izwan got stung by ‘em.

After snorkelling, we were hungry. So we went next door to find something to munch on. Our chalet, Kapas Island Resort couldn’t provide any as we requested on the spot, fair enough, but when requested for tea for the next day, a particular staff, henceforth called “Are you sure?” still refused. We then talked some sense into the boss who only then agreed on our request.

We coined “Are you sure?” to the lady because when Mscle requested for an additional bed (there were 4 girls to a room – we already paid for the price of 4), she asked Mscle “Are you sure?” Hence the nickname.

That night the singles went for karaoke, while the couples had ahem, something better to do :-p
Day 2

Our OKB, Faidzal and wife had a spur-of-the-moment plan. They decided to go off earlier and went to KT instead. So they didn’t join the group for the rest of the trip.

The second snorkelling trip was at 10.30 am. It wasn’t really enjoyable as there were a lot of jellyfish (more than the first day) and the current was strong. Poor Nida, she was swept away almost to the beach. The abang boat was supposed to accompany her and Liza, but somehow only brought Liza with him. I could hear her cries from my spot, poor her, but then our own Hussen went to her rescue, together with the abang boat.

Before we settled at the snorkelling spot, an earlier spot was abandoned, due to strong current. Milla accidentally slipped her snorkelling goggle off there. Thanks to her, we had to detour back to the earlier spot to retrieve the goggle. Abang boat boasted he could retrieve just about anything from the water, which was true, because he managed to find the goggle and a hair band (from another passenger)!

I said thanks to her for the detour because due to that, we had the chance to see 5 dolphins swimming and jumping as if performing synchronized swimming for our viewing pleasure ! So cool! Liza managed to get a video of the performance ;-)
The evening’s event was the highlight of our trip – mencandat sotong or squid jigging. Still no sign of Faidzal and K Aini, so we assume they must have been having a jolly time in KT.

I got really psyched up for the event – refer to caption at the start of the entry. But Milla beat me to it, only because I still haven’t got my jigging equipment when she got the first sotong of the day. (Still tak nak mengaku kalah ;-p)

Sori sotong...
Seemed that those at the aft (back) part of the boat had more luck in luring those sotong. All of them managed to get 2 each (5 of them- Firdauz, Milla, Liza, Nida and Razeif). At the front was Hussen, Mscle, Izwan, Hong and me, but only Hong and me got one each (oh yeah, I was the second person to get the sotong, soon after I got my equipment).

We were all sea sick by the end of the trip, except for Liza (still boleh makan Mamee), Hussen, Izwan and Razeif.

We then asked the chalet to fry the sotong ala goreng tepung and had barbeque dinner that night. They charged us per kg for the frying which was ridiculous. But the next day when we checked out, they didn’t charge us any.
Day 3

Back to KL. Bleurgh……
We had a detour to Paka’s Vico Kopitiam, (I forgot the name, but it has Vico ads plastered around the shop). Razeif treated us at the Kopitiam, thanks Razeif ! His house is actually in Paka, very near to the kopitiam.
From the kopitiam, we went separate ways. Razeif went back home. Izwan and co rushed back as Hussen wanted to go to office (for real?) Me, Nida & Liza took our own sweet time and made several detours, buying keropok lekor. After all, I haven’t been to Terengganu since March 2006. ‘Tis really long….until we meet again


Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Travelogue : Ho Chi Minh ~ 23-26/05/08

At long last, I finally made my way to Vietnam, thanks to K Liza! She asked me whether I wanted to go with her to Ho Chi Minh, and we’ll be staying at her friend’s house.

Well, being a thrifty (a nicer of way of saying cheapskate…well not really, I try to save as much as possible :-p) person that I am , of course I said yes upon hearing bunking over at someones place (aka free accommodation). Actually I’ve declined a few invites to join tours to Vietnam, in the hope that I would be sent there courtesy of the Company…..but that reality quite a distant, so this is definitely better than more waiting (for a wholly sponsored trip, aka free trip)!

We paid RM 518/pax for the return flight by AA.

Tip # 1 :

If you are not travelling alone (more than 1 pax), do a group booking, i.e. make ONE flight booking, but with all the members of your group. By this I mean you should get ONE booking number, with all the members of your group under the SAME booking number.

Reason : To get a collective baggage allowance.
Each person gets 15kg bag allowance, so if you have, say 2 pax in your group, you will get a collective 30 kg bag allowance.
If you book separately, you will only get 15kg baggage allowance per person. Hence, you will be charged RM 10 per 1kg excess baggage.

E.g. : Say your bag only weighs 10 kg, but your friend’s bag weighs 18 kg. Your total baggage weight is 28 kg.
If you booked separately, your friend will be charged for 3kg excess baggage, that’s RM30 flying out of his/her pocket already.
If you booked under ONE booking number, your friend will not be charged, as the collective weight allowed is 30kg, but both of your baggage now totals only 28 kg.

OK, back to the travelling.

Day 1

There’s only 1 AA flight out to Ho Chi Minh, Code : SGN (previously known as Saigon) daily, ditto for flight from SGN to KUL (LCCT), i.e.
KUL – SGN : 1740 – 1830 (SGN is 1 hour behind Malaysian time)
SGN – KUL : 1900 – 2150 (the same flight arriving Saigon, returning back to KUL)

So we arrived SGN after maghrib, it’s night already. If you are booking under a pre-arranged tour, it is quite a waste of the first day, as you only have time for dinner, then head to your hotel.

Anyway, K Liza’s friend, K Kiah picked us up at the airport, and whisked us straight to her apartment – the posh Sommerset (equivalent to The Ascott in M’sia). Oh, without us knowing, another of K Kiah’s friend – Cikgu Aishah is also arriving via the same flight, with her daughter, Riz. And what a coincidence that they are also flying back to KUL on the same flight as ours ! (It was the school holidays, so probably that explains it). Cikgu Aishah & Riz are staying at a hotel though, but they did have dinner together at the apartment, before they were sent to their hotel.

Sommerset Apartment

Day 2 @ Ben Thant Day
Ben Thant who ? No, it’s not a special person, or a special day, but a shopping market! A shopper’s haven! Imagine the Filipino Market at Kota Kinabalu, but 4 times bigger ! They sell cloths, clothes, bags, food items, souvenirs etc
Go to Azni’s blog on her Vietnam shopping tips entry

Serious shopper

Manicure & pedicure at Ben Thant
We were brought to K Kiah’s regular shops, so we received royal treatment! The sellers gave us chairs to sit, and heck, we were even given air kelapa muda for drinks ! Nice one ;-) We were introduced as K Kiah’s “sisters”. So K Kiah now has 4 sisters, and she promised to bring more later ! Sisters of regular customers get discounted prices ! Cool eh. But sometimes you wonder, just how much these people make a day for a living, doing it everyday. You sympathize for them, but at the same time, you want discounted prices. So try to buy just enough for what you want (not need, because you don’t really need to buy anything, you just want them because they are dirt cheap)

Our routine at Ben Thant is entering the market at Gate 4, and exiting at Gate 11 all the 3 days that we were there. 3 days ?!!!?? That’s right. Ben Thant everyday. I even decreed to K Liza that she is banned from entering Ben Thant after the 2nd day. But did she adhere to my decree ? Of course not, nothing would stop her from entering Ben Thant! Unless the market is closed of course ;-p

More shopping at Hon Anh & the mall. So Day 2 is filled with shopping. We even ate lunch very late that day, due to shopping. Eating can wait :-p

Day 3 – Cu Chi tunnel (pronounced Ku Chi )
I had a bit of detour today. I bought a half day trip to Cu Chi tunnel at a travel café (travel agent cum café – a popular concept here ) Sinhcafe. Link here :
Sinh Cafe

It’s a very affordable tour, costed me VND 90,000 (or RM 18), plus the entrance fee to the tunnel at another VND 90,000. So the total cost of the tour is RM 36. Not bad. The journey takes almost 2 hours from the city. It’s not very far, but due to the poor road condition and havoc traffic, it took longer than it should. The bus is new and comfy. We were also given mineral water & a snack – which to my surprise, is halal (peanuts, with halal logo, locally made). There are local Muslim Vietnamese, of the Cham origin. Find out more of it here :
Speaking of Cham people, I missed a Cham wedding ( a staff of K Kiah’s husband) while I was on the trip. K Liza attended, so I asked her to take some pictures.
Cable wires criss-crossing

I’m not so good in detailing of sites that I visit, so check this link for more insights on the Cu Chi tunnel. We were shown a video of how the Vietnamese people fought the Americans, and how they used the underground tunnel system to dodge the Americans and ambush them. The Americans were unable to trace the tunnel until satellite tracking was used. Clever Vietnamese.
Video show before going into tunnel

Tis how you hide, kids
Staircase leading to the labyrinthine tunnels

Tis how narrow the tunnel is ~crawling on all fours. Btw, that's the friendly Aussie pakcik whom I befriended ;-)

Booby traps
Tip # 2:
If you are planning to go to Ho Chi Minh, I suggest you to do excursion to Cambodia as well (2-in-1), saves money and you get to visit 2 countries ! Sinhcafe (I’m not sure other travel agents in Ho Chi Minh, but I’m sure they have) offers a few packages to Cambodia, and also Laos. Phnom Penh is about 6 hours by bus from Ho Chi Minh, and add another 6 hours from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap. Spending a week is enough (8D7N):
Day 1 : Arrive Ho Chi Minh
Day 2 : Ho Chi Minh – Phnom Penh
Day 3 : Phnom Penh – Siem Reap
Day 4 : Siem Reap (spend more time in Siem Reap as the Angkor Wat is a world heritage classified site under UNESCO, and it’s huge – perhaps you can rent a bike, or hire a tuk tuk)
Day 5 : Siem Reap – Phnom Penh (Phnom Penh must visit : Toul Sleng Genocide Museum – very disturbing though, go if you can stand seeing skulls & bones)
Day 6 : Phnom Penh – Ho Chi Minh
Day 7 : Ho Chi Minh – go to Cu Chi Tunnel (half day tour) or Mekong Delta (full day tour)
Day 8 : Shopping, then head back

Sorry, back to the travel: The Cu Chi tunnel trip ended at 2pm. We were back at Sinhcafe in Ho Chi Minh.

I texted K Liza that I’ve arrived, and guess where she said she was at ? That’s right – Ben Thant ! She asked me to meet them there at Gate 4. Since it was near to Sinhcafe, I decided to walk. I walked through the park, and it was just after the drizzle, so the weather was nice & fresh for a walk. I took pictures of myself again ;-p

The park
I stumbled upon a rickshaw driver, no I didn’t, he came to me, and told me that there’s a cheaper market than Ben Thant and he could bring me there. I declined his offer as I thought Ben Thant is already cheap enough, I didn’t really need things cheaper than cheap.

The seller who gave us air kelapa muda saw me, so I asked her if she saw my “sisters”? She said no, but she offered me a seat while I waited for K Kiah (I messaged K Liza that I was at kelapa air muda shop, she replied K Kiah will come there – ahem, because she was busy choosing cloths)

I didn’t have lunch that day, because we were out at the market all day (no halal food nearby). But fortunately, K Kiah packed some sandwiches for me that morning. I told her I wanted to buy bread, but in the end, I forgot. She was kind enough to supply me with food. Later we detoured to Cikgu Aishah’s hotel (because it was nearer than Sommerset) to have a bit of rest. And again I received kindness, this time from Cikgu Aishah. Maggi mee have never tasted better than this !

That night we went to the night market outside Ben Thant. (since Ben Thant is already closed!) Some Pocho Pocho dancing (courtesy of Riz. Btw, you can contact her to learn it!), then it’s sleeping time. Not for K Liza though, she continued chatting with her since singlehood friend K Kiah until the wee hours of the morning, and they even managed to squeeze in chocolate moist cake baking in between !

Pasar malam

Day 4 – Massage & balik kampung

I woke up in the morning wondering where K Liza was. Went to the kitchen and saw a glorious chocolate moist cake. It’s really good ! You can order from K Liza, H/P no 019 – 2105033 for RM 45 (for the standard size cake, err I think it’s 2 kg)

After all the shopping, K Kiah brought us to her massage parlour, which is a bit further from the city, but worth the trip because it offers body massage for only RM 16 for one hour !

Massage parlour

After the massage, we picked up Cikgu Aishah & Riz from the hotel and went back to Sommerset before being sent back to the airport by the ever reliable Mr Adam. Actually, he’s name is not Adam, but I called him so because I misheard K Kiah saying to him “Adau?” It sounded like Adam to me. She was actually asking him Where are you ? Oh well, at least he has a nickname now ;-)
The ladies ~ L-R: Riz, K Kiah comel, K Liza, Cikgu Aishah
Ho Chi Minh Masjid Jamia

Gerai masjid ~ had lunch there, thanks K Kiah!
Our flight back to KUL was scheduled at 1900, but there was a 20 minute delay. By the time we boarded the plane, we were all very hungry (it’s dinner time anyway). Unfortunately though, somehow, all the people from the incoming flight from KUL were probably hungrier, that by the time the food cart reached to me, (we were seated quite in the front, seat no. 10 maybe), all that is left is cup noodle and roti jala.

Tip # 3:
Always pack some food with you. (I know they don’t allow you, but there isn’t enough food unless you pre-order).

AA doesn’t allocate food according to the number of passengers. It is based on first come, first served, literally. And they do not replenish the food. Meaning if you are on the outgoing flight, like us, chances are, people from the incoming flight have walloped everything & leave us with nothing much. Or pre book your meals together with your flight booking.


Sunday, June 15, 2008

Tribute to Kaka the cat

Our dearest kitty, Kaka departed on Monday 2 June 2008

He went for an operation, but he never woke up.........
The doc was trying to find out what his ilness was, but it was only found too late......
On Thursday, 5 June 2008, the doc called back to tell Kaka was suffering from liver cancer
We never knew he suffered so much all this while. We are so sorry Kaka, that we found out too didn't eat much, you growled when we tried to lift you....if only cats could talk you would have told us it hurted, and where it hurted

Kaka went to the doctor 3 times, the first time, he wouldn't eat his favourite ikan kembung rebus & couldn't pee. So the doc inserted a catheter to help him pee. Then he was OK & happy, rolling, playing & running after his sister, Gigi, but only for awhile.

He became weak again, sitting silently in corners, lost his apetite & just staring blankly outside. Oh how much you suffered dear Kaka, only you & God's better for you to go & no longer suffer...

Kaka was buried in front the small lawn of our house, together with his brother/sister Ash (who died a day after my mom rescued the 3 of them - Kaka, Ash & Gigi).

L-R : Gigi, Kaka, Ash

Dearest Kaka, rest in peace, and we hope we have cared for you (but I know, it'll never be enough..) & know that you'll always be loved & remembered. We've put flowers on your small makam so you'll know we treasure & remember you. We miss you.....& your sis, Gigi misses you too

Kaka ~ 4 July 2006 - 2nd June 2008

Kaka sucking milk

Kaka the kitten playing at the sofa

Teenage Kaka & Gigi fighting for space on the sofa

Kaka sleeping like nobody's business
Kaka imitating Puma logo

Kaka when he was sick....poor him..

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