Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Travelogue 10: Victoria, Australia

At last the countdown ended on 19th May 2016. Kimi and Hafiey were sooooo look forward for the trip. And honestly they were great travelling companion. Me and my other half, 5-1/2 years old Kimi, not yet 3 years old Hafiey, 2 large baggage, 2 strollers, 1 handbag and 1 knapsack, Alhamdulillah we managed to handle it very well. 

We took midnight flight via Air Asia to save the accommodation cost and of course to make sure the kids doze off easily.
Holding his plane and the safety pamphlet throughout 8 hours flying
Arrived at Tullamarine Airport at 7am, we rented a car together with 2 car seats for the boys (booked online) and headed to the first destination.

20th May 2016


The details journey looks like
It was so frustrating that few checkpoints have to be eliminated as the sun set as early as 6pm. The road along Great Ocean Road is not that bad but wait until you start the journey from Apollo Bay until 12 Apostles. It was a challenging and narrow road. But it was all worth it for the breathtaking scenery as a reward. 

The Great Ocean Road is an Australian National Heritage listed 243 kilometres (151 mi) stretch of road along the south-eastern coast of Australia between the Victorian cities of Torquay and Allansford. Built by returned soldiers between 1919 and 1932 and dedicated to soldiers killed during World War I, the road is the world's largest war memorial, it's winding through varying terrain along the coast.

From Teddy's look out
Apollo Bay

Gibson Step and 12 Apostles' panoramic view
We were so unlucky that we reached 12 Apostles during sunset and not able to capture the scenic ocean view. We continued the journey on the Great Ocean Road on the next day.

The cabin though small, it is so convenient for a short stay. Fully equipped with kitchen utensils, microwave oven, stove, toaster and even rice cooker. There is 1 queen bed for us and the bunker bed for the boys. For RM100 nett, it's worth it. Not so surprise, we had a baked curry salmon with rice for dinner made with love..The fresh salmon was from Apollo Bay Fisheries Co Op..

Great Ocean Road Tourist Park



21st May 2016


It is so damn crucial for you to wake up very early each morning during travelling and be punctual as per your itinerary or else the journey will not be according to plan. We  included London Bridge as part of our itinerary to cover the previous day's itinerary and afterwards proceed as per planned journey.

Eliminated lunch part, we had big breakfast at the cabin of course made with love..

 London Brigde
It was freezing cold and windy that morning at the London Bridge, and yet that guy only wear a green shirt with shades..I always wonder how much fat he has in the body to keep him that warm...muahahha

Our next destination, the ARHS Newport Railway Museum which only open on Saturday every week.  The museum contains the largest existing collection of Victorian Railways steam locomotives, a wide range of other Victorian Railways rolling stock, and numerous Victorian Railways artifacts.
The place looks well maintained though it is run by the volunteers.

I was so glad that I was able to bring the boys to the museum especially Kimi as he is really into trains' stuff. For a 6 years old boy, he has a deep knowledge in technical parts of the train as well as the rail road crossing. This place is like heaven to Kimi. We spent 3 hours to accommodate the kids interests. 




After checked in at Best Western Melbourne's Princess Park Motor Inn, we strolled along the road to buy some fresh food to cook in Melbourne CBD. Coles, Kmart and Woolworth are just walking distance from the lodging, it was very easy for us to do quick shop. And we had salmon again for dinner.
Salmon Curry with white rice
Cozy  apartment fully equip with kitchen

22nd May 2016

It's a tram day! The boys really look forward to ride on the tram. They keep on watching the tram passed by from the apartment's balcony.


We rode on tram Route 19 (North Coburg)  from Brunswick Road to Stop 7, Queen Victoria Market. It was easy to use the tram and there is free tram zone as well. You just need myki card which easily available at 711 and few other stores. This link can be used for everybody's reference: http://www.yarratrams.com.au/

It was just a walk around at the Queen Victoria Market..little bit of shopping for souvenirs and can't resist to buy the fruits and mushrooms!!!



The market is super dry though it sells fisheries. A superb example to be adopted in Malaysia.

Stopped by for lunch at one of the kiosk in QVM as Kimi cannot resist the smell of their home made pizza. Luckily it's halal or else I need to explain to him why we cannot eat meat here and tonnes of questions will come out from his mouth. Super delicious latte for the parents.

Back to the hotel for prayers and after that we let the boys run freely at the park in front of the hotel.
In front of Best Western Melbourne's Princess Park Motor Inn

Next agenda , the famous colorful box at Brighton Beach. Superb scenery but cranky Hafiey refused to wear sweater and insisted to wear shirt with tram's picture on it (just bought at QVM). To cool him down, I give him the chips! Bad parenting huh..!

23rd May 2016


What a super duper cold day. Saying goodbye to Melbourne, we headed to the most awaited moment for the kids...the Puffing Billy!! I bought the ticket online and our train was the first train in the morning left at 1030am. We arrived at Belgrave around 10am to secure the parking. It's free!


It's an amazing place to visit. A perfect ten. For those who are obsess with train or in Kimi's case, obsess with anything related to train i.e. railroad crossing, signal, coupling rod, derailer, whistle just to name a few..lots of other terms that mama also cannot remember, this is the right place. If your kids so into Thomas and Friends, please visit this place in March as the head of puffing billy will become Thomas head. Hahaha..

The railway was originally one of five narrow gauge lines of the Victorian Railways opened around the beginning of the 20th century. It runs through the southern foothills of the Dandenong Ranges to Gembrook.


Made Egg Sandwich in Puffing Billy but the picture looks like ate sandwich in  Puffing Billy


We only took ride from Belgrave until Lakeside and return to Belgrave. The train stopped for 5-10 minutes at Menzies Creek and Emerald.

The train journey is a 60 minute train ride one way from Belgrave to Lakeside and is a great option for families and couples who wish to take a return trip.  It is recommended to allow a minimum of 3 hours for a return trip to this station, subject to the time table.

BBQ facilities and picnic tables make this an ideal place to relax alongside the lake. Passengers can pack a picnic or purchase lunch from the café. Playground facilities, a wading pool (summer only) and paddle boats (for hire) are available to keep the kids entertained. There is also a miniature train track with a separate fares.

It was freezing cold so we decided not to have any picnic at the park. Therefore, somewhere with a heater such as the miniature train house would be very nice for us to spend our time while waiting for the return train.

After spending 3 hours at Puffing Billy, we proceeded to the next destination which is Phillip Island. The 2 hours journey to Phillip Island was so enjoyable as both kids were sleeping, so no questions need to be entertained especially related to the train.

After checked in at Quay Motel San Remo, we headed to Phillip Island Chocolate Factory just across the bridge from the motel. Literally nobody was there, so we had the factory for us. We had loads of fun playing with the chocolate machine. The chocolate was surprisingly delicious and again surprisingly it's a Malaysian owned place. Just for notes, they also serves halal food but I cannot give any review on the deliciousness of the food as the cafe already close by the time we arrived. But the chocolate is super tasty. The ticket is inclusive of 1 piece of chocolate for everybody and you can collect more chocolate for free if you play the provided games in the chocolate factory. We were in the factory until it closed around 5pm and later headed to the lodging for dinner. It's maggi time!!



We were at Phillip Island but we did not go to the Penguin Parade..why?

  • We have super active Hafiey that might run from the seats and crowds.
  • Kimi being Kimi will ask so many questions loudly that annoy other people (remember, somebody shoosh us and ask us to leave the tour group at Old Traford
  • Penguin Parade starts at 5pm and can end as late as 8pm. It's freezing cold at Phillip Island on that day of 23rd May, and I can imagine it's even colder if you stand up in front of the Antartic Ocean.
  • You are dealing with living thing.. penguin, Kimi and Hafiey..all are uncontrollable. We will not know when is the penguin make the appearance, we will not know when will Hafiey start shouting if he bored and when Kimi will stop asking questions..


So based on the justifications above, we choosed to stay at our motel and enjoy our night by looking at the cloudless sky with tonnes of stars. It's stargazing time! Free of charge..

24th May 2016












The last day at Down Under, we spent our morning at The Nobbies. Facing the Antartic Ocean, we strolled along The Nobbies boardwalk and enjoy spectacular views along Phillip Island’s rugged south coast. Initially we plan to go to the Antartic Journey, but Mama need to go to DFO for shopping.

Last one before we headed to DFO Essendon, we went to Churchill Island Heritage Farm.  Churchill Island sits just of the Phillip Island coast and is accessed by an all vehicle bridge. It offers a range of daily farming activities and walks around the island.

Daily farming activities:

1.00pm                 wagon rides (weekends, school and public holidays only)
2.10pm                 cow milking
2.30pm                 sheep shearing
2.45pm                 whip cracking
3.05pm                 working dogs
3.20pm                 sheep shearing

The best part was, we skipped all the daily farming activities to accommodate Mama's shopping time..



Additional blue bag leaving Australia
The ticket was AUD31.25 for one family and this place will be more interesting if we can attend the farm activities.

No picture at DFO. But definitely, brought back Oroton bags for sale!

We had dinner at the airport. A Malaysian kiosk selling noodles, nasi lemak and teh tarik with a reasonable price.


Thursday, 21 January 2016

Travelogue 9: Bangkok

Bangkok has never be one of place in the my wishlist. Other than food, Bangkok is just a typical developed country's city just like Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta.

It is an abrupt decision to go to Bangkok and the flight ticket was so expensive as I bought the ticket 3 days before the travelling day. If it is not a business trip, I rarely travel via Malaysian Airlines. I don't believe in the Malaysian Hospitality tagline as the food does not reflect the tagline at all. The seat is not that comfy. And my flight to and from Bangkok is without flight entertainment (no TV!). I chose MAS over AirAsia for this trip as I need to go back with my husband who was on business trip which will depart from Suvarnabhumi Airport. AirAsia depart from Don Muang Airport which the location is quite far from each other.

Selfie during arrival at Suvarnabhumi Airport 
The accommodation is quite close to the Airport (sponsored by Hubby's company. He's attending an exhibition at BITEC). For the exhibitors, the location of the hotel is perfect but for tourists, it is very far from the city, thus you have to rent a car/hire taxi rather than travelling via Bangkok Mass Transit System (BTS).

Avana Hotel is 45 minutes from Bangkok City

It was weekdays. The city is not that hectic at night. 

Asiatique the Riverfront
I like the idea of Asiatique. It is a proper way of selling souvenir, Thailand's local product, food, Muay Thai, cabaret, Thai Puppet, mini amusement park in one roof. It is so well planned, clean, spacious and has a lot to offer. The selection of shops is interesting, with a good range of unusual brands rather than row upon row of tourist trinkets. This bazaar is busy but isn’t overrun by tourists; crowds of locals enjoy coming here too. Asiatique is definitely worth dedicating an evening to. Please find the original sang kaya (coconut ice cream) here. It's damn delicious.

Yummylicious Dinner
The next day, while waiting for Hubby to complete his work at the exhibition, I spent half day at the hotel's spa. Thailand is very famous with Thai massage and it's very cheap as compared to Malaysia even it's hotel spa.

Next destination was River Cruise along Bangkok Canal. Seriously not recommended. Not much scenery. It's just local people's house by the canal and it's not that clean.




Bangkok Canal
We spent our night on the river cruise again. This is the first time ever that I had dinner on the boat. I had a pre book arrangement for Loy Nava Dinner Cruise as it's package is affordable and they can provide halal food. 

We had so much fun looking at lots of cruise compete with each other with loud traditional music, dancing and performance to attract tourist to choose their dinner cruise.

with one of the luxury cruise
Our humble cruise but superb food

The cruise ended around 11pm. It's not a good idea to take a cab at night where the charges will be very high couple up with outskirt hotel location. So we have to take BTS. 

Saphan Thaksin station  is the only rapid transit station in Bangkok which can transfer to a river pier for the crossing-river ferry to Thonburi and the Chao Phraya Express Boat service
No opportunity to visit the famous Chatuchak Market as they only open during weekend. Our flight back was on Saturday afternoon. We also missed the floating market. But basically we experienced the local food at Asiatique.

The most important thing to highlight for this travelogue episode is I really missed my kids. It was less fun and chaotic without them which somehow I missed that moment. It's me time but I'm more happy to travel with my kids. :)


Monday, 18 January 2016

10 Places I Wish to Visit before I Die



Here comes the wish list. May Allah bless me with good health, happiness and prosperity..

1. Mecca and Madinah, Saudi Arabia

I'm waiting for the right moment to go there as I have two small kids. Now it's not the suitable age either to go there without them or bring them to perform Umrah, 

The Umrah (Arabic: عمرة‎) is a pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, performed by Muslims that can be undertaken at any time of the year, in contrast to the Hajj. In Arabic, Umrah means "to visit a populated place". In the Sharia, Umrah means to perform Tawaf round the Kaaba and Sa'i between Al-Safa and Al-Marwah, after assuming Ihram (a sacred state), either from a Miqat like Zu 'l-Hulafa, Juhfa, Qarnu 'l-Manāzil, Yalamlam, Zāt-i-'Irq, Ibrahīm Mursīa, or a place in Hill. It is sometimes called the 'minor pilgrimage' or 'lesser pilgrimage', the Hajj being the 'major' pilgrimage and which is compulsory for every able-bodied Muslim who can afford it. The Umrah is not compulsory but highly recommended.

Mecca
Madinah

2. Scotland

Been there. Browse through my experience in Scotland at http://zuldiya.blogspot.my/2015_03_01_archive.html. However due to time constraint, we did not go to the Isle of Skye

Isle of Skye

3. Iceland

Influenced by The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, I've been eyeing for this country for the past 2 years. And the recently trending clips from Dilwale, Gerua has further increase the adrenaline.


Jakusarlon Glacier Lagoon, South Iceland


Foss a Sidu


Foss a Sidu (or more accurately Foss á Siðu, which literally means "waterfall at Siðu") was a conspicuous waterfall as we drove along Southern Iceland along the Ring Road.
Gulfoss waterfall

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty


4. Verdon Gorge, South France

Gorges du Verdon
Verdon Gorge truly is Europe's 'Grand Canyon' (it is sometimes referred to as the 'Grand Canyon du Verdon') and is stunningly beautiful. The canyon has been carved by the Verdon River, leaving the turquoise river now flowing at the base of high limestone cliffs.

The most impressive part of the gorges lies between the towns of Castellane and the Lac de Sainte-Croix south of Moustiers-Sainte-Marie.

The canyon is extremely popular, both with those who choose to drive around the top - 130km drive on roads that are often slow moving, but have great dramatic views - and those who kayak, raft or walk along the river itself at the bottom of the cliffs.

Lac de Castillon
Lac de Sainte-Croix
There are several lakes along the length of the Gorges du Verdon, the most important being the Lac de Castillon (north of Castellane) and the Lac de Sainte-Croix at the western end of the gorges.

The Lac de Sainte-Croix in particular is very well organised for tourists, and has several lake beaches, although it does become rather busy during the summer.

Castellane
The town of Castellane is a very old city located upstream of the Gorges du Verdon. The city is 724 meters above sea level.

5. New Zealand

We have to visit New Zealand by 2017 as my little brother's graduation will be somewhere in 2017. He's in Christchurch. I have 1 year plus to save money for the trip. Pressure huh!

Milford Sound
Milford Sound is formed by glaciers during the Ice Age, the landscape around Milford Sound still bears evidence of its creation in the form of epic scenery: Cliffs rise from fjords crowned by mountains and waterfalls.

Te Whakarewarewa Geothermal Valley
Te Whakarewarewa (pronounced fa-ka-re-wa-re-wa) is a thermal reserve 3km south of the city centre of Rotorua. This area’s full name is Te Whakarewarewatanga o te Ope Taua a Wahiao, meaning ‘The Gathering Together of the War Party of Wahiao’, although many people just call it ‘Whaka’. Either way, the reserve is as famous for its Maori cultural significance as its steam and bubbling mud. There are more than 500 springs here, including a couple of famed geysers

Waitomo Glowworm Caves
The Waitomo Glowworm Caves, located just outside the main Waitomo township on the North Island of New Zealand, is a famous attraction because of a sizeable population of glowworms that live in the caves. Glowworms or Arachnocampa luminosa are tiny, bioluminescent creatures that produce a blue-green light and are found exclusively in New Zealand.

Moeraki Boulders

At Moeraki, 40 kilometres south of Oamaru, huge spherical boulders are scattered along the beach. Others can be seen emerging from the sandstone cliffs. Each boulder weighs several tonnes and is up to two metres high.According to Maori legend, the boulders are gourds washed ashore from the great voyaging canoe Araiteuru when it was wrecked upon landfall in New Zealand hundreds of years ago.Scientists explain the boulders as calcite concretions formed about 65 million years ago. Crystallization of calcium and carbonates around charged particles gradually formed the boulders in a pearl-like process that took as long as four million years. The soft mudstone containing the boulders was raised from the seabed around 15 million years ago; waves, wind and rain are excavating them one by one.The viewing platform, just a few minutes walk through regenerating native forest, offers an excellent view of the boulders. If you're lucky, you might also see Hector's dolphins playing in the waves.

 Fox and Franz Josef glaciers


While glaciers around the world are retreating, the Fox and Franz Josef glaciers still flow almost to sea level. The temperate climate at this low altitude means these glaciers are among the most convenient to visit in the world. Easy walks to the foot of the glaciers pass along ancient river valleys with steep sides bearing gigantic horizontal scars from when the glaciers have retreated and advanced over millennia. When you stand close to the foot of these glaciers, their sheer enormity is very humbling.

6. Turkey

Cappadocia
As if plucked from a whimsical fairytale and set down upon the stark Anatolian plains, Cappadocia is a geological oddity of honeycombed hills and towering boulders of otherworldly beauty. The fantastical topography is matched by the human history here. People have long utilised the region's soft stone, seeking shelter underground and leaving the countryside scattered with fascinating troglodyte-style architecture. The fresco-adorned rock-cut churches of Göreme Open-Air Museum and the subterranean refuges of Derinkuyu and Kaymaklı are the most famous sights, while simply bedding down in one of Cappadocia's cave hotels is an experience in 21st-century cavern dwelling.

Orthodox Monastery of Sumela
The Sumela Monastery is one of the oldest and most historic monasteries in the Christian world.   There are no exact records about when it was built or by who, but it is estimated that its history dates back some one thousand years and that the locals who constructed it did so to escape enemy attacks.  Located high up on the steep cliffs above the surrounding forest in Trabzon, Turkey, this incredible feat of architecture has changed hands many times over the course of its existence, until it was finally abandoned in 1923.

Hagia Sofya


Pamukkale



The name is a Turkish word meaning cotton castle and it is pretty obvious why it has been called that. In the blazing sun, the white travertines are a sight to behold, especially with the contrast of blue waters contained within. Pamukkale is pretty huge – 2700 metres long, 160 metres high, and 600 metres wide.

There are many levels of terraces, almost all containing pools of warm water. One can walk up the length of the travertines but in order to protect them, it can only be done so barefoot. Sharp pebbles can be an annoyance but the flowing hot springs instantly provide a soothing relief to your feet.

7. Spain


Cordoba



Cordoba is situated in the interior of Andalusia where past and modernity blend in together. This thousand-year-old city, which has the World Heritage designation, is a living legacy of the different cultures that settled here throughout its history.


Not many places in the world can say they have been the capital of Hispania Ulterior (Further Spain) under the Roman Empire, and capital of the Umayyad Caliphate. This splendour can also be seen because of the intellectualism of this city of knowledge, where figures like Seneca, Averroes or Maimonides were born.

Alhambra

The Alhambra is more than a just a palace; it is an entire walled city within the city of Granada. There are royal apartments, forts, gardens, pavilions, barracks. All this surrounded by an impressive wall. 


Seville

Situated on the banks of the Guadalquivir River, Seville has a rich Moorish heritage, and used to be a prosperous port that carried out trade with the Americas.
The streets and squares in the historic quarter of the capital of Andalusia are lively and busy. They treasure many constructions that have the World Heritage designation, and many districts are full of traditional culture, like Triana and La Macarena. 

Barcelona
With other major works in the city including La Casa Batlló and La Pedrera, this has to be one of Antoni Gaudí’s most celebrated and it is certainly one of the most emblematic of Barcelona. The area was originally meant to be a residential property development with Gaudi doing much of the planning and landscape design. Only two houses were built and the land was later sold to the city of Barcelona and turned into a park. It is home to the famous Salamander sculpture, as well as other buildings and structures designed by the architect. With stunning views of the city, this is a magical experience.

Sagrada Familia
After 133 years of construction, the finish line is in sight for the Sagrada Família in Barcelona.

The massive cathedral, one of Barcelona’s top tourist attractions, has finally entered the final stage of construction. It’s slated for completion in 2026 — 100 years after its architect, Antoni Gaudí, died in a tram accident.

While 10 years seems like a long time, 30% of the building still needs to be constructed. Six more towers will be added, including a 564-foot central tower that will make the Sagrada Familia the tallest religious building in Europe.


8. Tuscany, Italy

My trip to Verdon Gorge, France actually can be combined with visit to Florence.

7 hours drive from Florence, Italy to Verdon Gorge, France
Ponte Vecchio
Spanning the Arno River, the Ponte Vecchio is one of Florence’s oldest and most photographed bridges. Noted for its three segmented arches, the bridge was first built by the Etruscans and later rebuilt in the 14th century. The bridge’s most striking feature is the line of high-end jewelry shops flanking along each of its edges. Many visitors come here to shop and take photographs. Night time presents stunning views when the lighting from the bridge is reflected upon the water.

Val d'Orcia, Tuscany
Val d’Orcia is a picturesque region of Tuscany that is around a two-hour train ride from Florence. It includes several amazing villages, castles, hamlets, and farmhouses that visitors can get to all in one short trip. The entire area is protected as a natural park. The medieval castles are not to be missed, nor is the village of Pienza, called the “Ideal City”. Other famous villages include Radicofani and Montalcino, which has a 14th-century fortress offering stunning views of the valley and some of the region’s finest wine.

Forget Rome, I love Florence 


Florence is one of Italy’s most stunning cities, with an historic city centre – a Unesco World Heritage Site since 1982 – featuring an impressive collection of art galleries and an imposing cathedral.
Its heritage and its tax-free shopping opportunities.

9. Lombok, Indonesia

Long overshadowed by its superstar neighbour across the Lombok Strait there's a steady hum about Lombok that catches the ear of travellers looking for something different from Bali. Blessed with exquisite white-sand beaches, epic surf, a lush forested interior, and hiking trails through tobacco and rice fields, Lombok is fully loaded with equitorial allure. Gunung Rinjani, Indonesia's second-highest volcano, its summit complete with hot springs and a dazzling crater lake is also here.

And there's much more. Lombok's southern coastline is nature on a very grand scale: breathtaking turquoise bays, world-class surf breaks and massive headlands. They keep saying development on these splendid beaches is just around the corner, but until that moment comes, they are easy to explore over much-improved roads.



Gunung Ranjini
Tiu Kelep waterfall
Gili Trawangan

10. Great Ocean Road, Australia

The Great Ocean Road is an epic Aussie journey through lush rainforests, koala-filled tree canopies, sleepy seaside towns and wild isolated beaches. The road hugs the south-eastern Victorian coastline as it winds its way the 243 km. from Torquay to Warrnambool, between Melbourne and Adelaide. A good old-fashioned road trip is one of the best ways to explore the vast and diverse country of Australia.



It is said to be one of the world’s most breathtaking scenic drives. The drive can be in a day but most people prefer to take three to stop at the iconic natural landmarks and enjoy the historic villages and rugged coastal prospects. Most road-trippers head off from Melbourne, the cultural capital of Australia, which lies about 100 km. north of the starting point of the Great Ocean Road.

Torquay
The journey begins in Torquay, Victoria’s surfing mecca (home to iconic brands Rip Curl and Quicksilver). W

From Torquay, through varying terrain. a unique rock formations that pepper the coastline can be observed. At one point, you will see the Twelve Apostles, giant rock stacks carved from the coast over millions of years.

12 Apostles

Stop along the way to snap a picture, climb to the peak of volcanic craters, relax atop cliffs or go exploring for wildlife through lush rainforest in the Great Otway National Park.


Warnambool

Aside from affording views of spectacular scenery, The Great Ocean Road is known for its history. It is an Australian national heritage-listed site and one of the world’s largest war memorials. It was built by about 3,000 returned soldiers between 1919 and 1932 and was dedicated to all those killed during The First World War. The road trip wraps up in Warrnambool, known as the Shipwreck Coast, for its wild seas and unmerciful currents.