Sunday, November 28, 2010

ATV @ Kemensah

Sat, 27/11/10

Ah...another excellent adventure organised by PEERS! :-)

ATV (all terrain vehicle) at Kemensah (further down Zoo Negara). What's an ATV anyway? Here's a short description of it: It is a vehicle that travels on low pressure tyres, with a seat that is straddled by the operator, along with handlebars for steering control. The rider sits on and operates these vehicles like a motorcycle but the extra wheels give more stability at slower speeds.

Find more here

The ATVs that we used are automatic transmission vehicles - no clutches, hurrah! (I have not driven a manual car since taking my driving license!). There is only front, neutral and reverse gears. The gas (accelerator) is on the right handlebar, the brake at the right handlebar is for the rear wheels, the left one is for the front wheels.


This time around we were missing 2 head honchos of PEERS recreation committee Zu & Shawn due to domestic causes. Wish you were here!

We were supposed to gather at Kemensah at 4.30pm. I fetched Liza & Aida (well, another Aida, of course I didn't pick up myself :-p) from LRT Gombak and we reached the ATV right on time, together with Razeif. But we were told that we would only start at 5.30pm There was another group before us which hadn't finished yet, so we would have to wait for them to return with the ATVs

To pass the time, me and Diba (Limau's wife) made a splash at the swimming pool (yes, there is one here!) The water is from the river here.

The pool

We started our briefing at around 5.30pm when it started to rain heavily. It was intermittent really, the rain- it rained cats and dogs at one time, then receded, but it rained heavily again. There were 16 of us (4 didn't show up), so we were divided into 3 groups. Being with Liza, she wanted to be in the second group so she could see how the others were doing it first.


I picked up the bimbo-est helmet (a pinkish flowery one!) We were told there would be two 45 degree hills; we should just press on the gas and not lose momentum during the climbing. We were told not to try to balance the ATV like a motorcycle as it is designed to traverse rough terrain (hence the name ATV). We were given the chance to practice first and made a few rounds. I was quite lousy during the practice session (still nervous).

Then we were ready to go! I was the first to go in our group. I was so nervous that the guide decided to climb on my ATV and drove me down instead! (We started by going downhill). It was a slow start for me, still trying to familiarise with the machine and getting the hang of it. Both times during the 45 degree climb, I asked for assistance. At one point, I stuck out my foot to balance the ATV like a bicycle / motorcycle. Hah! The guide was right after all – he already told us not to, the ATV would balance itself. Still not confident enough.

Ready to roll!

However, after the 2nd climb, I finally got the rhythm and felt confident I would not fall off / drive the ATV off course. I manouvred the first downhill part without assistance and made it through until finish without assistance hurrah! It suddenly felt exciting, and I could go faster (but Aida#2 was faster – she was merempit-ing in the jungle – had to catch up with her!)

The team

Our halfway point was the Air Terjun Sofea Jane – according to Limau, this was where she acted a scene from the film Perempuan, Isteri & … Because it was already 7pm by then, it was dark and cold, so we didn't spend too much time there. Limau mentioned it'd be awesome if we could have a picnic of piping hot maggi by the waterfall. Ah suddenly I felt hungry at the mention of food!

Hurrah! We made it!

We reached back base at 7.30pm, washed up, solat and ready to roll for dinner! But by the time, most of the participants had already left, so there was just 7 of us remaining. We headed to Istana Bambu by the MRR2 for dinner - it was an excellent choice! Great ambience, good food and good company ;-) Loved it! We ordered quite a lot – butter prawn, fried calamari (nama glamer sotong goreng tepung), tom yam, dried chilli chicken and fried tofu. I especially love the tofu (I love tofu!). All cost about RM160 (about RM23/person). Not bad at all! Feeling full, we then head back to our nests and called it a day.

The remaining gang

Nice food & ambience

Note: All pix courtesy of Razeif. Thanks Razeif!


Saturday, November 27, 2010

Gigi's new habit

Gigi has a new habit.

She would plonk herself on the dressing table every morning and night, every day, waiting to be groomed.
She likes to look at the mirror too.

Kucing perasan! ;-)


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A shooting train

The LRT overshot the Kelana Jaya terminal just now. Panic, I pressed the red emergency button. (This is the emergency communication panel). Not a stop/emergency brake button :-p

We end up on top of a lake (I suspect nearby the now defunct Kelana Seafood), it was too dark to see.

The operator then made an announcement that we would be turning back to KJ. Drama sekejap :-p


Monday, November 22, 2010

Teaser : Batavia

All images are taken from the web


Friday, November 19, 2010

Reminiscing Jakarta Part 2

Ahh...the shopping malls. I remember dad taking us to Blok M, where there is a huge handicraft centre at the uppermost level. We spent hours there looking for souvenirs, and it was all beautiful!

Public transportation is by Bis Angkutan Kota (bus) or Blue Bird Taxi. The Blue Bird group range of vehicle rentals are all based on “Bird types” e.g. taxis for high market (Silver Bird), car rentals (Golden Bird), charter buses (Big Bird) and container trucks (Iron Bird). Cute!

Oh, there's also the bajaj (pronounced bajai) which is like a motorised trishaw.

The roads in Jakarta were always jammed (macet), you can imagine there are 9.6 million of people in the city alone! At that time, there were already elevated expressways where you can choose between the tolled or non-tolled routes to get around in Jakarta.

OK here are some photographic evidence ;-)

Ibu Sumami wears the tudung actually, please forgive me for posting this Ibu, but this is the only picture I found of her....Aha see the Khong Guan biscuit tin there, I'm not lying you know ;-)

Me and Yana. OMG I was so gede (fat) :-p
This was on the way to Puncak on 07/12/96
Good thing I wrote a note behind the pix ;-)
According to the note, Yana was in Jakarta from 30/11 - 8/12/96

Me and Nazli. At Tangkuban Prahu, Bandung on 26/12/97
It was windy

Lomba makan btwn my uncle and my brother :-p
At Restoran Rindu Alam, Puncak. This was during the first school holiday of 1996 (May or June probably)
Love love the ikan gurame and air alpokat

At Coolibah II Resthouse, Puncak 8/11/95
OMG this bungalow is sooo beautiful, with a swimming pool, and it even has a fireplace!
It was so serene, surrounded by the cool air of Puncak and the fir trees
I somehow remember the caretakers of the house were Nasir and Ella


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Kangen pada Jakarta

Longing for Jakarta...

Barrack Obama's recent visit to his childhood playground spurred me to write this. It was really sweet when he told his Indonesian audience that he was back: "Pulang kampung nih"

I've never blogged about my other 'kampung' – Jakarta. So here I'll try to collect the memories the best I can

My dad was based there between 1994-1998 so we visited him twice a year during the school hols.

We had fond memories there. House was Mampang Arkadia Apartment, Jl. Loka Indah , Warung Buncit, South Jakarta. It's still there! :D It's so spacious, with 3 bedrooms, we loved it there! Back then, we didn't have Astro yet in M'sia, so going back to kampung gave me a chance to watch satellite TV :-D

Mampang Arkadia (taken from web)

Love our helper – Ibu Sumami, she's so strong, she can lift a 20 litre mineral water bottle dispenser (over there mineral water is called aqua i.e. the most popular mineral water brand name, like we call Milo for chocolate milk here). Water supply from the tap is contaminated with E. Coli or fecal coliforms and other pathogens. Hence, the buying of bottled mineral water.

A 20l Aqua bottle

Missed her so much, such a sweet lady, how can I find her? She's probably in her 70s now. She earned extra money by cooking mee segera for the Satpam (security guards) at our apartment. She lived with us (there was an indoor extension to a tiny bedroom and a tiny bathroom through the wet kitchen)

Will scan and post her pix later

My father did his weekly grocery shopping at Golden Truly. The building was burnt during the 1998 riots, which mainly targetted ethnic Chinese Indonesians and their premises (possibly the mall was owned by an ethnic Chinese) as a consequence of the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis.

But the mall still exists – based on the website, but it's probably at a different location.

Mom learnt to cook the Rawon dish from Ibu Sumami, at first she bought the bumbu, but later on, she prepared the ingredients all by herself. Me? I just eat lah hehe..

Rawon Sapi (beef) dish

Bumbu Rawon

Ibu Sumami also loved to bake us cookies every time we came and she would fry the delicious krupuk udang :-D She would store them in a Khong Guan red biscuit tin (tin = kaleng) I did help with cooking too, but just vegetable dishes. I would bang the sudip thrice against the frying pan to signal when I was done, and Ibu Sumami would burst out laughing. I loved doing it ;-p I remember cooking/eating with kecap Cap Bango or Cap ABC. I loved those thick sweet soysauce!

Kaleng merah biskut Khong Guan

Kecap Cap Bango

I brought 2 school friends to spend the holidays there – Elyana and Nazli (but at different times though). Brought them to the Taman Bunga Nusantara in Bogor and Taman Mini Indonesia Indah (like Mini M'sia in Melaka). Nazli even followed us to Bandung.

Oh, we also went to Taman Safari in Bogor, during our very first trip to Jakarta. The next day, a visitor was attacked by a white tiger after taking a picture with it.

I'll probably write more as I remember more things. Will have to dig up the old albums.

Heart heart heart Jakarta ;-)

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Monday, November 15, 2010

J's BJ (Upcoming) Excellent Adventure

Woah! My ex-housemate J, a die-hard Bon Jovi fan is finally going to see them live! Not in M'sia. Not in SG. But in Sydney, Australia this Dec 17th!

The furthest I've ventured is just SG.

They did come down to KL (Shah Alam stadium) back in 1995. See here.

Can't wait for J's report ;-) It should be an awesome experience! :-D


Friday, November 12, 2010

The Flaming Lips (I Wish!)

Agagagag...I was stuck here in KL due to work and so missed The Flaming Lips' concert in SG last night at the spanking new Marina Bay Sands

The gig was sure as heck mind blowingly epic! There's Zorbing, a bear(!), giant laser-emitting hands, lots of balloons and confetti! Note: Background music of the video is "Do You Realize?"

A friend of mine Nut from SG got lucky to have won a pair of tix to the gig! His winning story is here (find ewoksoldier's entry)

And he got a lucky break again that the tix had to be picked up from Junk's office in PJ (but he's based in SG!) when another tix winner from M'sia offered to pick up the tix for him & met up with him & they had a blast going to the gig! I'm not kidding, here's his account:

On that night itself, some dude named Omar email-ed me about joining him and his friend for the road trip down to Singapore for the show (he must've gotten my email from the Junk website). So I replied that I'm in Singapore and asked him if he can be arsed to help a stranger and get me my tickets from Junk HQ, highlighting the fact that he can run away with them and that I can do nothing about it. In return, I'd treat him and his friend to supper after the show. He replied with a very sincere "yes"!

So this super-duper nice fella did get me my tickets at 10am SHARP thurs morning, and gave me a call right away to assure me that he's not running away with it! Such a nice fella right..

I brought my lucky friend along and we met Omar and his friend at Marina Bay Sands (it was their first time driving into Singapore and kudos to him for finding his way through this extremely confusing place) after work. I think he's the last human being of this kind (helpful, selfless, honest). I received my tickets and he said he'll take a smoke while my friend and I go look for something to eat (but we didn't in the end). Apparently there isn't a single fast-food restaurant in that bloody huge place. Not a big fan of fast-food but we needed to bite into something light just before the show, so we ended up with coke.

Then we went to the exhibition hall and there was a queue. Went to check out the merch stalls and I bought a tee. I loved it. We decided to join the queue but soon after, Omar came and called us to his BIG group of friends who came down from KL too, and they were near the front of the queue!! Then I spotted my colleague (who's a freelancer so I had no idea she was attending the show too) on the other side of the queue, where we were a minute ago and I did the right thing by passing along the good deed, so I pulled her to our huge group of cool people (apparently some of them are in a Malaysian band called Flocks, if i heard correctly... google isn't giving me any result so I must have heard wrongly then). Then it was 8pm and we were ushered into the hall and it was the beginning of a lot of surprises for me.

Moral of the story: Do good unto others. It's infectious :-D

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Sunday, November 07, 2010

Dazed and Confused

It has been a heck of a very confusing week indeed for the 5 of us.

Tue, 26/10/10: The start of the confusion

My brother texted me that there were signs of an impending eruption of Merapi. I texted Razeif asking him to check for details as I was away attending a course at the time and he replied it was true.

Back to office, I searched for more info, and even asked a colleague from Indonesia, Pak Pancha whether it was safe for us to travel. At that stage, he and his mate assured us it was safe, in fact he mentioned that it would be an awesome experience if we could experience the volcanic eruption live! That made us all geared up again :D

Then that night Merapi first erupted. Just before it erupted, there was an earthquake off Padang, which triggered a tsunami at Mentawai island.

We then followed the progress religiously everyday, suddenly taking an interest in volcanic activity, and it coincided with the G&G course I was attending!

Sunday 31/10/10 : Credit Shell Notification

Zal texted me that AA posted a notification on their FB page that those who booked flights to Yogyakarta between 31/10/10 – 6/11/10 have the option to apply for credit shell and make new bookings via their website. Thanks Zal! I kept silent first as I did not want to worry my other travel mates (yet).

Monday, 1/11/10 : Another situation

M hadn’t made his passport yet, and being from a state in Malaysia which has special immigration arrangements (go figure!) he was told it would take him a week to get his passport! This is because his application in KL would be faxed back to his state of origin and the office there would review his application, then decide to approve or not (check for records). If approved, the paperwork will be faxed back to KL. Oh, and he needs to have his surat beranak as well for the application. No kidding.

And I thought everything could be done online now?

Later, I called AA’s customer service line, and was directed to a so-called premium service line (costs RM1.95 per minute – bergurau apa?) which I was put on hold forever – had to listen to all the promos first – before I was passed to a human agent. And he sounded like a native Indian (he didn’t sound like Malaysian Indian). I suspected I was being directed to a call centre in India (many companies do this to save cost). I was told by the agent that, no, there’s no credit shell, only airport tax is covered, and we have to pay additional costs for the rest. I told him about the situation in Yogyakarta, which he was unaware of.

AA’s customer service is definitely lacking big time (I’m restraining myself here from using stronger words)

Was this a sign that we should forego the trip?

Still, we kept on holding to the belief that we would be able to go.

Tuesday, 2/11/10 : A glimmer of hope

M successfully collected his passport within a day. But with constant follow up with the immigration.

I called Wisma Putra to ask whether there was any travel advisory against going to Yogya. The officer answered that there was none, the government is not restricting any travels to Yogya. However, we should notify the M’sian embassy in Jakarta on our travelling dates, where we were staying and contact no, in case they need to contact us.

But then later in the afternoon, there were new updates that flights to and from Yogya were cancelled.

A notification of cancellation was posted on AA’s website, but without mentioning until when. It only mentioned until further notice.
We finally relented it was not meant to be.
Plan B was needed.

Wednesday, 3/11/10 : Plan B

Checked for other destinations on the same date, not so positive. As it was only 2 days left, the other destinations were already too expensive.
We also thought of changing dates instead, and go on a roadtrip instead this weekend.

I checked AA’s website again. Lo and behold, the cancellation notice was no longer there. Back to confused mode. And there was no SMS notification from AA neither.

Drastic measures had to be taken. We went to AA’s counter at KL Sentral to get it settled. We were told that flights are now cleared to land at Yogya. So we cannot apply for the credit shell. (It was first notified on the FB page the credit shell option is valid for flights until 6/11/10) Ours was scheduled for 5/11

If we want to change date / destination, we had to pay the normal penalty fees.

Behind us, Diana (also travelling to Yogya this weekend) overheard us. She mentioned that her group was adamant to change the date without paying the penalty as it was a safety concern. Diana asked us to change our date too, and fight for the credit shell. She said it was too dangerous to proceed. She said that she would pray that we would not be able to go.

But us being stubborn (despite family and friends persuading us not to go), decided we would go (and secretly being excited about it).

We exchanged numbers and promised to inform each other of our progress.
That night Mas watched the movie 2012 and suddenly felt worried so she texted us all her concerns.

I searched for info, and found a guideline:

1) If you have sensitivity of breathing (asthma), strongly suggest you skip or bring meds. Otherwise, carry extra face masks. The ash is very fine like smoke and can irritate your skin.

2) If you have important work schedules after the holiday, and cannot tolerate returning late, better skip.

If you do not experience any of the constraints above, then visiting yogya & capturing on photo a live active volcano will be one of life experiences you'll never forget. From borodubur you can capture images of Merapi in all its splendour..

Liza and Razeif were very very excited about the trip. Myself and Mas kept changing minds all the time. M, if he had his own way, would avoid any natural disaster prone areas altogether!

Thursday, 4/11/10 : A day before

We carried on as usual with our work today. Checked for updates, no flight cancellation notice.

Later in the afternoon, we went to change our money.

Mas picked Liza and me up tonight. We were supposed to sleep at her house and take a taxi to LCCT at 4am. We planned to arrive at 5am as our flight is scheduled at 7am. Razeif and M would be going from Razeif’s house and take the bus from KL Sentral to LCCT.

Friday, 5/11/10 : The day. Will we make it?

It was Deepavali eve. It was hard to sleep as the fireworks were too noisy.

Mas was still packing her bags when at 2am we received a text from Razeif:
Flight to Yogya on 5/11/10 is now cancelled due to volcanic eruption. Pls call (certain number with certain password) for further enquiries.

We didn’t know how to react.

In the end, we laughed it loud thinking about all the mess we got ourselves into. We thought again: the signs were all over the place telling us not to go. Even families and friends preferred us not to go (but they did not stop us).

Degil sungguh.

Mas tossed her unfinished packing aside, and went to sleep instead.
Razeif, being pro-active, called up the number instantly and was told that we would be receiving the credit shell within 48 hours and we can make a new booking, but the travelling date must be within 3 months. No full refund although cancellation is by AA.
All this happened while M was still sleeping :-p

Around 7am we received a text from Pak Pancha when only we realized the degree of severity of the situation in Yogya. There was a new eruption at midnight, which was the biggest so far, (since it first erupted on 26/10) and it had claimed another 30 lives. The radius of danger zone is now expanded to within 20 km radius of Merapi.

We were thankful that we didn’t make the trip. It was indeed the best for us.

We pray that Merapi would calm down soon and the people of Yogya could return back to their normal lives soon. Condolences to the families who lost their loved ones.

Yogyes adventures is now postponed indefinitely.