Thursday, 24 May 2018

Travelogue 14: The Land Below The Wind

February 2018, We chose Sabah!

Unfortunately I had a meeting in KK a day before. It was just day trip meeting in KK then return back to KL. Next morning went back to KLIA and flew back to KK with my family.

I purposely composed a laid back itinerary as I just want to enjoy the beach . We went to Sabah (composition of we: me, hubby, Kimi, Hafiey, Angah, Adam, my auntie-Mak Ida and my cousin -Uyi) for 4 days via Malindo.

Stopped by at KK Wet Market and Filipino Market, we bought dried stuff i.e. anchovies, amplang and fresh food i.e. prawn, fish and squid for our dinner.

We stayed at Sabah Beach Villa and Suite in Karambunai. The accommodation shares the same beach with the high rated-expensive Nexus Resort & Spa Karambunai. Our villa is an apartment styled Spa Suites, fully equipped with the kitchenette. Ensuite bathroom comes with bubble long baths and steam bath (god I love the steam bath, it's so cool) . Fantastic beach/ocean view the private balcony and it's so close to the beach that we can hear the sound of the wave and wind clearly.

Different color and taste of Durian
Next day, we started our day early in the morning, after our home made breakfast as usual, we departed to Kundasang. It is worth to highlight that the road to Kundasang from Karambunai or KK is quite winding and challenging. The first stop was Nabalu Fruit and Native Craft Centre in Pekan Nabalu. We stopped by to buy fruits and to view Mount Kinabalu.  Mount Kinabalu can be seen clearly from Pekan Nabalu.

Took few photos with the magnificent Mount Kinabalu, then we proceed to Desa Cattle Dairy Farm. Desa Cattle Dairy Farm is located at the foothills of Mount Kinabalu in Kundasang. The view was not that enticing as they hanged the red lantern on the pine trees for Chinese New Year celebration. The farm is well known as New Zealand Malaysia. Hmmm but from my opinion there's lot more to do to be at par with New Zealand or even hold the title. It was so frustrating to see the level of cleanliness at the main attraction in Sabah. We cannot help to reduce the smell of the animal as it is an animal farm but at least it should be clean.

First thing that we did as we arrived, we bought the ice cream! Freshly made from the cow's milk owned by the farm. It's delicious indeed. There were many big and beautiful granite boulders in the farm but with lantern everywhere, it kind of turn off a little bit. You tried to capture the nature beauty as natural as possible but hmmm...Next we straight away went to the calves/kids pen. They allow visitors to feed the animals with milk in the bottle or grass at your own choice(sold at the counter). You can buy grass (RM1 per bunch) or milk (RM1.50 per bottle) to feed the animals. The kids were excited except for Hafiey. Hafiey is still scared of animal after the Langkawi tragedy (group of rabbits fell on him as my post in Travelogue 8 in 2015).

Next we went to the cow barn where there were hundred of milk cows that we only can see them from a distance.

There was a view room for visitors to see milking process through a big window. Too bad that we arrived at the wrong time and of course we cannot wait as our agenda is quite tight.

Next destination, Poring Hotspring and Canopy Walk. All of us dipped our leg in the soothing sulphur bath in the Japanese-styled open air tubs. Poring Hotspring has a proper compartmentalize tubs with a tap in every compartment. My major concern, the wild dogs were everywhere and it took long time to fill in the tub as the water pressure was quite low. Getting bored, we tried the next adventure, the canopy walk. Abah, Mama, Angah, Hafiey and Adam did not join us as they prefer to wait in the van. The canopy walk is  a further walk (around 30 minutes) inside Poring Hotspring, this little Nature Reserve is the perfect place for a more relaxed jungle experience. Poring’s canopy walkway presenting the glory of a 100 million year old rainforest from a 175m length walkway suspended 40m above unspoiled flora. There are 4 suspension bridges all together and we managed to conquer Kimi's fear! Proud were so excited to see Kimi being able to cross the bridges.
Brave kimi on the suspension bridge

We had a late lunch at Restoran Syah Adilah on the way back to Karambunai. The price was damn cheap. RM150 for 7 adults and 3 kids with prawns, squids, fish, crabs on the table.

The boys at the Grainery
The next day, we visited Monsopiad Cultural Village after had fun at the beach. Nestled besides the Penampang River are the many traditional buildings that make up the Monsopiad Cultural village. Monsopiad was a fearsome warrior who lived in the village of Kuai nearly 200 years ago.

At the Village, we visited the Tangkob or Grainery where the padi is housed. Monsopiad's Main House is dedicated to the life and times of Monsopiad and his descendants. On display were ceramic jars, padi grinders, bamboo items as well as the costume of Bobohizan Inai Bianti, direct descendant of Monsopiad and very senior high priestess. Listening to the explanation from the guide was like reading Tombiruo book series by Ramlee Awang Murshid.

Other interesting exhibits include the massive monolith which invokes a dozen legends, the traditional restaurant and of course the House of Skulls, where all 42 'trophies' of Monsopiad hang from the rafters. We enjoyed the traditional dance as well!

We chose to have early dinner at Floating Fishing Village Seafood Market Restaurant. They served steamboat and ala carte seafood chinese style. We chose ala carte and it was superb. There are amazing cultural performance on the stage, from shooting blow pipes, bamboo dancing, and even there was a fire show. We enjoyed it to the max!

Our last day in Sabah, we went to Tamu Tuaran which only 20 minutes from our accommodation. The Tamu was very huge selling big fish, vegetables, food and even frogs! That's mark our last day and sayonara Sabah. Till we meet again...

Travelogue 13: Kia Ora! New Zealand, The Heaven on Earth Part 3 (Finale)

Day 6: Mt John, Mt Cook, Church of the Good Shepherd

It was a rainy day and it's freezing cold. I had to buy a thicker jacket as the temperature was at 4 degC suddenly not per weather forecast and it's summer! We had to postpone our visit to Mt Cook and visited Mt John instead. Mt John is reachable by car. It has an observatory which may not be on everyone's travel itinerary, but if you pass through Lake Tekapo in New Zealand's south island then a visit to the Mt John Observatory can be worth doing especially when you had to think of something else other than hiking on Mt Cook during rainy day. There is a cafe on top of the mountain with loads of people perhaps everybody trying to squeeze in under a roof.

After few hours, we departed to Aoraki Mt Cook, hoping that the weather will be better soon as we arrived there. It's drizzling with thick fog still, so we spent an hour at Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park visitor centre. It's free and provide essential information about Mt Cook history.

Though the weather was still gloomy, as soon as the rain stop, we quickly hit the trail. The easiest of course as we were travelling with 2 kids. Easiest track took us 45 minutes to go up. Truly, it was an easy track indeed. Both kids were able to enjoy the hike. We could see many Korean/Japanese/Chinese at the age of 60-70 enjoying the trail with us even! We were so lucky as we approached the top, the sky was clearing up and we were able to   say Hello to 2-3 peaks of the New Zealand's highest mountain. The view was amazing and up until now, it's still vivid in my mind.

As soon as we reached our van, the gloomy cloud came again brought a heavy pour in Aoraki. Thank you Allah for the opportunity, a glimpse of sunshine just to allow us to enjoy mt cook scenery.

Next Destination - the famous Church of the Good Shepherd. It's just 5 minutes drive from our vacation home. The Church of the Good Shepherd is an idyllic scene set against a backdrop of snow capped mountains and the tranquil, turquoise waters of Lake Tekapo. In spite of the crowds, there is just something about this church that still exudes serenity and peace, and I feel grateful to have been able to visit and experience this. Photographing at night against the sparkling backdrop of a clear starry sky will be superb. And Abah, Adik & Mr Hubby did it. They went out at 2pm to stargaze at the church. It was damn cold and I decided not to go out and continue my sleep. Little Hafiey proudly joined the stargaze team but after few minutes they brought back Hafiey to the vacation home as he cannot withstand the cold temperature.
Church of the Good Shepherd

Day 7: Akaroa
Black Plum Kapiti

Akaroa is a historic French and British settlement nestled in the heart of an ancient volcano. Our lunch at one of the restaurant in Akaroa was superb after went through winding road from Christchurch. Akaroa has majestic view, a combination of highland and sea. Many water activities offered here but we were there just
to enjoy the view and the food. We had a delicious Kapiti ice cream too!

Our next lodging was a two bedroom apartment at North New Brighton, Christchurch. Not so nice as our other accommodation previously. It's not that spacious and only public dryer provided.

Day 8: University of Canterbury

The whole day is Adik's day! One of the reason we came all the way from Malaysia.

Day 9: Christchurch Farmers Market

We absolutely love this charming farmer's market in Christchurch. The market had such interesting items ranging from savoury pastry to Dutch pancakes, delicious honey, olives, bakery goods, cherries, etc.! The setting is quite beautiful alongside the quaint creek--we made a picnic brunch
out of it! Make it a priority to pay a visit.

Day 10: Airforce Museum and Re:Start Mall

Last day in the South Island, we spent 2 hours at the Airforce Museum to entertain the kids. The were amaze
Anxious Boy
with the museum collection. Hafiey was speechless and dont know how to start the visit.

We had our lunch at a kebab stall at Re:Start Mall, the temporary solution which became an internationally famous icon and symbol of post-quake Christchurch innovation.Bought souvenirs here as well!

Left the island at 3pm via Emirates A380. That was the first time we were on A380 and of course the kids were so excited and still bragging bout it until today.

Travelogue 13: Kia Ora! New Zealand, The Heaven on Earth Part 2

Day 3: Invercargill and Cromwell

Bidding farewell to the beautiful Waikawa, we visited the Stirling Point in Invercargill, the southernmost point in New Zealand Mainland. Got the obligatory picture at Stirling Point. Stirling Point is famous for its signpost, depicting distances to major cities in the world and the Bluff Oyster. Some say that Bluff oysters are the finest in the world. They are grown slowly in the cold clean waters of the Foveaux Strait. In season, (March till about August) they are dredged by Bluffs oyster fleet. Since we were there in December, we only can opt for fish and chips for lunch in Invercargill.

Next,  heading to Cromwell where we stayed at a 2 storey house with a fully equipped kitchen and private launderette. We ate a loads of beef and lamb here cooked by Chef Adik and Salmon by Chef me :) 

Day 4: Queenstown

Departed to Queenstown as early as 7am after having Nasi Lemak, started the adrenaline rush with riding on Kjet. This jet boat ride was fun right from the time you leave the main town pier. The Queenstown scenery is absolutely stunning as you navigate both the Shotover and Kawarau River as well as Lake Wakatipu. It was an hour long taking in lots of stunning scenery along both rivers but still with the thrills of 360 degree spins and reaching speeds of 85 km per hour. The river is deep and clear as crystal. The aquarium attached to the jetboat preview the creatures under Lake Wakatipu were packaged together with the kjet ticket.

Bungee by Harith
Next excitement, my brother, Harith took a challenge to do bungee jumping. Bungy jumping is an essential feature on every daredevil’s bucket list, and there is no better place to take the plunge other than Queenstown, New Zealand, the home of the world’s original bungy jump. The kids were very excited cheering from the decking view while Abah's face was so scared. I remember he said "Penat aku besarkan dari kecik, tiba-tiba nak terjun" Hahahah.

Luge at Skyline Queenstown
Next in the bucket, Skyline Queenstown. It was a great fun. Went up by a fully enclosed gondola to the top of the luge track. The view takes in city of Queenstown, Lake Wakatipu and the mountains beyond. There is a nice restaurant and viewing points at the summit for those who don't want to go on the luge. The luge itself is great fun and easy (for most) to learn and use. The staff did a great job of "training" the first timers through the line and everyone that worked there was very nice. To get back to the top you have to hop on a ski type chair lift, a bit scary for the acrophobic but after a minute, you'll definitely enjoy the ride. Kimi and Hafiey did it too!

We had lunch at Bombay Palace.The food was superb and the kids like it! I think they missed their roti canai a lot. Before we called it a day, we visited Glenorchy - 45 minutes journey from Queenstown. Glenorchy’s spectacular landscapes have become a prime location for film scouts, depicting many scenes from The Lord of the Rings trilogy as well as featuring in the Narnia movies.We were there taking few photos and of course to be grateful for being able to see with our naked eyes on the abundance of beautiful creations by God in the South Island. 

Day 5: Lake Wanaka, Lake Pukaki, Lake Tekapo

Until now, when we wanted to reminisce our beautiful journey in New Zealand, we will be trap in a question which lake was that..this scene happened at which lake..Since it's 3 lakes in one day, the trick is Lake Wanaka -The Wanaka Tree, Lake Pukaki - We had Salmon Party and Lake Tekapo - We stayed there. Not to forget Lake Wakatipu - those adventures and thrilling activities in Queenstown.

Checked out from Gavan Family Apartment in Cromwell, headed to Wanaka and we visited the Wanaka Lavender Farm. With a small fee of NZD5, the experience of looking at a field of lavender and to smell it directly from the tree, I would say thank god for this opportunity. Subhanallah it's usually in your soap, essential oil or loads of it in front of your eyes. The kids run happily in the farm. Other than lavender, they features apples and pears tree, roses and few animals i.e. Alpaca, Sheep, Chickens and few others.

Lake Wanaka

Next destination, Lake Wanaka which famous with The Wanaka Tree. Framed by the South Island’s stunning Southern Alps, a lonely tree has grown up to spread its wings just off shore at the south end of Lake Wanaka. Known as the "lone tree of lake Wanaka," it is said to be one of the most photographed trees in all New Zealand. And my kids playing with the water at Lake Wanaka nearby the remarkable tree. 

Enjoying salmon sashimi at
Lake Pukaki
Next, picnic lunch by Lake Pukaki. There is a very small stall that sell super fresh salmon at the Rest Area look alike place beside the highway with a view of Lake Pukaki and Mount Cook. For those who cannot eat raw salmon like me, just put the salmon slice inside your instant noodle. That will be the best instant noodle ever. 

Our final destination for the day- The Barn at Lake Tekapo. The Barn was our vacation home for 3 days 2 night. 

Sunset at Lake Tekapo

We were so lucky as our first night in Tekapo, we were endowed by the Creator with a clear sky so that we can view thousands of star with our naked eyes.  It's stargazing night just from our vacation home. Mr Hubby laid a comforter outside the house, we lied down and watched twinkle twinkle in the sky..It's amazing to see the constellations in the clear sky. Subhanallah it's a memorable experience..

 To be continued with our story 'hiking' on the Mt Cook

Travelogue 13: Kia Ora! New Zealand, The Heaven on Earth Part 1

I'm off from office for 14 days after 1 year and a half saving money for this trip. Actually my little brother works in Christchurch and he had his commencement in December 2017. Thus other than enjoying New Zealand scenery, we went there to celebrate his graduation..

Choosing Malaysian Airline via Sydney enroute to Christchurch. We purposely choose transit in Sydney as we would like to take the opportunity to capture a memory with Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge. Other options were via Brisbane and Melbourne.

Arrived in Sydney in the afternoon, we rent an MPV and straight away hit the road. It was damn hot in Aussie, hot and dry. Worth to highlight, we parked at the Opera House with a total parking fee of AUD39 for 3 hours. The basement parking is unique per se as you will not notice how many level you already under the ground. It's like a roundabout swirling until bottom. We did some photoshoot in front of the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge. The dramatic view of the bridge, the harbour, and the  Sydney Opera House is an iconic image of Sydney, and Australia itself.

Typical lunch in the land down under, of course the famous fish and chips with cold water.

Our next flight is at 6pm. Checked in at Sydney airport and getting ready for our New Zealand Trip!!

Owh my little Hafiey bleed his nose in front of the Opera House. Perhaps it's a sign of coming back to Sydney again for Hafiey :)

Day 1: Road trip to The Catlins

Arrived at 1am in Christchurh, we picked up Adik at his house and straight away departed to our first destination, Moeraki Boulders. 4 hours foggy journey with possibly no car at all on the road was quite scary. The plan was to have picnic by the beach while enjoying sunrise at 5am. We were so unfortunate that morning at Moeraki Boulder was very gloomy, the greyish sky covered the sun. What left for us was the 56 million years old spherical natural concrete created by hardening sea sediment that have been exposed through sea erosion and a dead seal by the sea. 

We had Adik's home cooked Nasi Goreng there before hitting the road again. Next, heading to Dunedin.

Visited the Dunedin Railway Station being the second most photographed building in the southern hemisphere after Sydney Opera House. So we covered both! The station itself is built from white limestone and Aberdeen granite and from the outside it looks pristine, which belies it's 100 year history. In front of the station, just few steps away is the Dunedin Cadbury Factory. We joined the tour visit and it's worth of every single cent! The tour guide by the name of Lucas was superb, lively and jovial. The guide whisked us off to some of their special rooms for mixing and making chocolates. Get some samples along the way and even we were allowed to mix and match the chocolate i.e. milk/dark/white chocolate match with nuts, pretzels, oreo, biscuits etc. Super delicious I would tell. We learned a lot about the processes, smells of chocolate was damn good and it's everywhere in the factory. The pinnacle of the tour was the amazing chocolate vat and tower and seeing 1 tonne of chocolate fell from the silo was impressive. Some of us had chocolate splash on the shirt. We were like in the movie of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. 

Next destination, the steepest road in the world - Baldwin Street. But prior to that, our red van (forgot to tell that our van was red and we were like riding on a fire truck) had some problem with the brake pad. So we need to fix the car first as we have another 12 days in the South Island. Safety first!

Got our horse fixed, we had fun at Baldwin Street with Adik as a driver drove up and down the streets for 4 times, crazy Harith run up and down the street for 4 times as well, me and abah walked down the street while taking videos and pictures. 

Baldwin Street ranks among the world's steepest roads with a grade of 35 percent. The 0.2-mile long road in Dunedin, New Zealand rises from 0.02 miles to 0.6 miles above the sea. The street is so steep that the surface was made of concrete, as tar would melt down the street on a warm day if asphalt were used. Baldwin Street is part of Dunedin’s annual Cadbury Chocolate Carnival. During the tour at the Cadbury Chocolate Factory, the tour guide mentioned that they will release a chocolate ball named Jaffas and let it roll freely while everybody down the road will collect Jaffas. It's like a chocolate festive held every July at Baldwin Street.

The Tunnel Beach
Next, we visited the Tunnel Beach. Hubby and the kids were the guardian of our red van (they were actually sleeping and the kids were sleeping since we left the chocolate factory). Tunnel Beach is a must do in Dunedin provided that you are fit and healthy.  The walk back is extremely steep! Wouldn’t recommend taking kids as you will end up carrying on the shoulder while adult will be having difficulties to climb up as well..The view of the rock formation reminds me of Twelve Apostle at the Great Ocean Road in Australia.

Waikava Habour View
Mr hubby was done with his power nap for 2 hours, he took the steering until we arrived at our Vacation Home at The Catlins. Waikawa Harbour View until now, it is still the best vacation home we ever live in.It's located in Waikawa in the South Catlins overlooking the tranquil Waikawa harbour. The house is perfect to accomodate 10-12 people even. Fully equipped with kitchen stuff, washing machine and dryer. Ended our Day 1 viewing the Waikawa Harbour. Dinner cooked by our Chef Adik.

The view from the balcony

Day 2: McLean Falls and Curio Bay

Our day started at 5am everyday and the sunset was around 8++pm. Summer gave us ample time to cover lots of beautiful places in the South Island. After had our breakfast, we kicked off the day with trekking activity in the jungle to meet the waterfall. The Catlins is blessed with some spectacular waterfalls. The most famous of these is Pūrākaunui Falls - a magnificent waterfall surrounded by bush that cascades 20 metres over three distinct tiers. The waterfall is a short walk from a side road off the main Owaka-Invercargill highway. As the location was quite offway from our lodging, we chose McLean Falls, the 22 metre falls with a pleasant 40 minute walk into Catlins Conservation Park. Exciting moment for the kids as they never been into the jungle before. It's very cool weather, the view of the jungle was not like typical jungle that we have in Tropical Country. Perhaps due to the climate and weather. We were not so worried on poisonous animals in the jungle as New Zealand is an isolated country where there are no lethally poisonous snakes, scorpions, or spiders—or any other dangerous animals or plants—on the island.

It started to rain heavily in the afternoon so we decided to go back to our vacation home. No suitable place to visit in The Catlins with the heavy rain. The Catlins comprise of rugged coasts with wide deserted beaches, endless green hills, wild weather and lots of marine wildlife such as sea lions, penguins and dolphins. And as matter of fact, we rarely see people here. It was just us, our vacation home, few other houses and the nature. It was  tranquil, calm and serene I would say.

Next destination, meeting the wild penguin! The Curio Bay area is a protected nesting ground for yellow-eyed penguins. A very curious place indeed, Curio Bay had a fossil forest that dates back to the Jurassic period. The fossilised trees were alive around 180 million years ago, when New Zealand was part of the Gondwanaland super continent. Scientists have identified tree ferns, cycads and trees which resemble New Zealand kauri and matai. You'll need to arrive at low tide to meet the yellow -eyed penguin, the world rarest penguin. There are just 5000 of them still living. At low tide at Curio Bay in New Zealand’s deep south, yellow-eyed penguins can be seen waddling across sand and through a fossil forest, heading back to their nests after a fishing trip.
spot the penguin!

We were so lucky that we were able to spot one of them. It was at the height of Hafiey heading to its nest in between the rock. That was after 1 hour of waiting. 

At the other side of Curio Bay, few steps away is Porpoise Bay. A pod of endangered Hector's dolphins live here and we managed to spot few of them as well!

To be continued..

Friday, 18 May 2018

My Travelling 101

Travelling is an expensive hobby. I have to admit that. give me the meaning of life. My routine day is wake up as early as 5.30am in the morning, prepare breakfast, send the kids to school, go to the office, come back after 9-10 hours of working (most of the time non stop without lunch break), pick up the kids at my parents' house, arrive at my house, cook for dinner, feed the kids, monitor their homework, teach iqra' and sleep. It's a tiring daily journey and of course in addition my house is 40km from my office make the situation even worse. The traffic in Kuala Lumpur is unpredictable. Travelling to Kuala Lumpur from Shah Alam and vice versa may take 45 minutes to 1 hour++. With that depressing daily life, I need to pull the hand break.

Started working at 24 years old (quite late for Malaysian), at first my salary was only to pay the bills, loans and daily consumption. Saving is almost impossible especially after I had a child. But slowly, thru time, I learned that by hook or by crook, I need to have saving to energize my life and of course for future.

As a normal human being, I need to channel my negative energy somewhere.  So I started googling. TRAVEL TO SEE THE WORLD is the answer! Initiated saving and now it's on repeat. Work, Save and Travel..

So penciling the notes for we go:
  1. Set a wish list:  There are 7 continents and 195 countries in the world. And each country has a lot of places to cover. What is the preferred activities? Shopping, Hiking, Snorkeling, Staycation, Jungle trekking, Birding, Fishing and many others. You cannot get all things at one time unless you don't have constraint on budget and time.
  2. Set budget: After you have you target, it's easier to plan your financial. Set aside a travel fund from your salary. 
  3. Start working on itinerary: This is the fun part. Make your own itinerary so that you can work around with  your budget, focus on free entrance place if budget is still the constraint. As a starter, you can just choose a place which 1-2 hours from your house even. Google will be a great helper for you to do the itinerary. Keyword like "Things to do in Agra" or "Attraction in Osaka" or even "3 days itinerary in Beijing". Google the image of the preferred place and location, distance from each other, potential accommodation, mode of transport, cost of car rental, toll charges, parking charges, places to eat, any entrance charges etc. Every information is possible with the existence of internet. Use MS excel to tabulate all obtained information. 
  4. Be alert on airline ticket and lodging promotion: Subscribe to news from airline, download apps i.e. Skyscanner, Cheapflight, Expedia and start monitor the price for your target location. For hotel, Agoda and Airbnb is quite competitive as compared to If travelling with family (more than 3 pax) it is advisable to rent a home stay so you can save on accommodation and food (self cook will give major saving). It is advisable to do all the booking on Tuesday and Wednesday as the price will drop by at least 5%. Don't forget to clear your cache each time you visit the site!
  5. Read and read and read: Read other travellers' review on tripadvisor so that you can set your expectation, know the do's and the don't s and in fact other travellers' experience can help your judgement whether the place is worth a visit or not. It is common that the pictures in the google is lying to you just to promote the place. So just take your time to read people's opinion :)
  6. Study the map: Google Earth and Google Map can help! To build a good itinerary, you need to check the distance between each place and suitable mode of transport.
  7. Be realistic, know your constraint and capability: It's really subjective. Travelling with kids or elder people will give certain constraint. Solo traveller will have their own constraint. Constraint can be in the form of for example, you have 2 kids with you riding on a strollers. So you might not have enough people to carry the luggage especially if you are using public transport. So other option for this constraint maybe to bring more people or to rent a car so you won't be carrying the luggage to and fro train station. Know your travelling partner. Your kids maybe will not have sufficient energy to go for jungle trekking. Your mother might not fit for hiking. Your partner perhaps always have stomachache in the morning. Thus your itinerary must suit your travelling partner as well. Not to tight itinerary, just a realistic itinerary so that everybody can enjoy the vacation and return home without injury.
  8. Getting Ready: Prepare your baggage. Make sure you are aware of the weather and forecast temperature for the whole duration of your vacation so that you can pack a suitable clothes for your family. Bring some canned food, pre-cooked food or at least bite food for your 1st day just in case if emergency happen i.e. flight delay ruin your plan which make you arrive at midnight and no nearby restaurant open at midnight. If you bring kids, please make sure you have their favourite biscuit or chocolate in your handbag. They might throw tantrum due to long hours in the flight and long queue at the immigration. Make sure you read immigration rules at the particular country prior to your departure. If you wish to rent a car, read from the internet on the requirement of driving license. Some countries require International Driving License. Do check on the visa requirement or else you will not be able to board the plane!
  9. Malaysia International Driving License
  10. Bon Voyage: Enjoy your holiday to the max. Open your eyes for other countries' cultures,    respect them. Be grateful and lower your expectation. Things might not go well as what you plan but just enjoy your holiday...

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

La la la finding momentum to start the essay

I’m drafting the story about our family trip to New Zealand on my way back from Kota Kinabalu enroute to Kuala Lumpur via Air Asia A320-200. It has been a while since im flying with Air Asia. Perhaps because of they are getting more and more stringent on the luggage rules and at the same time the ticket price by other service provider that is not belongs to Low Cost Carrier also quite competitive.

From the travel 360 inflight magazine, I can see that AirAsia’s flight coverage is further improved where it focus on touristy place that is quite far fram the main airport i.e. Jeju, Da Nang, Nha Trang, Sapporo, Lombok, Luang Prabang etc.  where before this we need to travel via intercity connecting flight or make ground arrangement. I would say that is a brilliant strategy by AirAsia. The unexpected news is nealofa become one of the non executive independent director! 

Okay back to my story. Actually I am so looking forward to write about our New Zealand trip but the 14days journey was so difficult to explain, mix feeling of happy, grateful, awesome and sad. So I’m waiting for the momentum to write about it.

Let see the summary of the itinerary first. Then we shall meet in different post kay!

  • Departed from KLIA
  • Arrived at Sydney Kingsford Airport
  • Roamed around Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge
  • Departed to Christchurch, New Zealand
  • Arrived at Christchurch AIrport
  • Picnic at Moeraki Boulders
  • Roamed around Dunedin City
  • Visited Dunedin Cadbury World
  • Had fun at the steepest road in the world, Baldwin Street
  • Adventurous hike at Tunnel Beach of Dunedin
  • Checked in at Waikava Harbour View Lodge
  • Forest Walk at McLean Fall
  • Hide and seek with the penguin at Curio Bay
  • Visited the most southern point in New Zealand, Stirling Point in Bluff
  • Roamed around Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu
  • Checked in at Gavan Family Apartment, Cromwell
  • Rode on thrilling 60-minute Queenstown Jet boat ride, racing at speeds of up to 90kph on the Kawarau & Shotover Rivers, the Kjet
  • Enjoying Lake Wakatipu
  • Had fun at the Skyline Queenstown
  • Visited Glenorchy
  • Visited Cromwell Fruit Stall fresh from the orchard
  • Visited Wanaka Lavender Farm
  • Picturesque Lake Wanaka
  • Picnic at Lake Pukaki
  • Checked in at The Barn, Lake Tekapo
  • Roamed around Lake Tekapo
  • Visited Mt John Observatary
  • Hiking day at Mt Cook
  • Roamed around Akaroa
  • Checked in at Beachlife Apartment, Christchurch
  • Adik's Commencement Day at University of Canterbury
  • Visited Christchurch Farmer's Market
  • Fishing at the pier
  • Roamed around Christchurch CBD
  • Visited AIrforce Museum of New Zealand
  • Roamed around Christchurch CBD
  • Departed from Christchurch Airport-Sydney-Kuala Lumpur

 That's the long one huh!

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Travelogue 12: Bukit Gambang Resort City

Bukit Gambang Resort City is in the district of Pahang on the Eastern side of Malaysia. 2 hours drive from Kuala Lumpur, it has so much potential to boost Pahang tourism industry. There are two apartment hotels on site, Caribbean Bay Resort and Arabian Bay Resort, which offers a basic kind of apartment and given that the location of hotel is inside the theme park, the price for the accommodation is on the higher side. 

We booked one apartment at Arabian Bay Resort for one night at RM409.50 (2 rooms apartment) via It was during a peak season i.e. Christmas Holiday cum School Holiday, the resort were pack with people. Between mid-October and the end of March, especially December the climate at the eastern side of the peninsula is affected by the rainy season or monsoon season. Weather usually is very rough in these months, for this reason it is not the best time to visit these parts of Malaysia. During the monsoon period it can sometimes rain for days. But we just try our luck.

Instead of wooden chair, they should replace with couch

Day #1: 25th December 2016
The ticket price for 2 parks
Arrived around 10am, bought the ticket via and we started our fun journey with the Safari Park. To be honest, I'm quite skeptical when it comes to Malaysia hosting an animal farm, zoo or safari.  However it turns out, Bukit Gambang Safari park exceed my expectation. Claimed that they are the largest Zoo Safari Park in Malaysia (138 acres), the main attraction in the safari is the white lions that await the visitor at the main entrance of safari park.There are two park zones i.e. walking zone and Wild Savannah tram drive-through zone. The safari also offers a night park district to showcase the nocturnal animal. Given the huge areas of safari park to cover and mainly focusing on children education, it is a children friendly park and stroller friendly place. Most of the walkway are covered in case of raining. We were in the safari from 10 am until 9pm as there are so many exciting things to see.

Started with the walking zone, we passed thru various types of animal among others are Wallaby, Bear, Reptiles and Farm Animals which are place in a huge concrete block with animal enclosures around. 
From Australia with love
The bears

Walking into the Wonderful Birds and Eagle show, it was very lively and engaging show. The speaker's English is good and acceptable.

We had our lunch at Simba Hill Gourmet Restaurant. It was awesome as we were like dining with the white lion i.e. the white lion watch you eating. Given the awesome ambiance, the price of the food was not that pricey.

Dining with the lion

The next show was the Predators show. The kids enjoyed watching the tiger, lion and hyenas eating and walking around the enclosures. Camel and pony are available for ride with additional fee.

The ultimate experience in the safari that should not be missed is the Wild Savannah-Tram Drive Thru. Only accessible via the fully air conditioning tram (converted lorry with beautiful cheetah and zebra prints), we were driven through the rain forest by their park ranger and guided by their English speaking park guide to be up close with  free-roaming animals (including PREDATOR animals) in their naturalistic habitats. These areas are fenced with double electric gates. The tram stopped from time to time at various zones to let us enjoy watching these animals up close. 

Cheetah - view from the tram


Walked through the night safari zone and watched the African Yabara Fire, we ended our day with my personal favorite show in this Safari Park which was the Tarzan Adventure Shows. It was a really an excellent theatrical show with some cooperation from the bear, monkey and few other animals. 

  What should be better?
1. Sad and dying look of the enclosures i.e. lack of grass and greenies
2. Long queue at the tram station i.e. The station should be bigger to accommodate groups of people especially during peak season
3. A lot of empty cages
4. Provision of water cooler machine in the park as the walking zone is really huge and quite hot.
5. Prayer Room is too small, smelly and the 'telekung' is dirty
6. Expansion of night safari

What is good?
1. Acceptable English utilization during the show and by the park guide in the tram. 
2. Dining with white lion is a great idea
3. Almost fully covered area at the walking zone
4. Credit to the actors for Tarzan Adventure Show and African Yabara Fire. Hit the spot!

Day #2: 26th December 2016

It's water park day..the kids especially were so excited. After quick breakfast, we straight away headed to the water park. The water park open at 10 am. Though you are the hotel guest or you buy online ticket, you still need to queue at the lobby to exchange your paper ticket with wrist band. 

Queue for wrist band (pre paid online/hotel guest)
We managed to get our wrist band after two hours queuing. The lobby was so stuffy and people were cutting queue. 

Gambang Water Park is a cashless themepark. Therefore you need to top up your wrist band with cash to purchase food in the theme park, rental of tubes, towels, cabana etc. And you can claim back your cash in the wrist band if it still got balance upon check out from the theme park. More than 20 cabanas available for rental but of course it is based on first come first serve. 

The theme park is quite small but just nice for the kids to have fun with the water. Coco Beach - the wave ocean like pool is full of people with their big tubes. Penguin Island is where you will get a bucket of water fall onto you, getting splash will lots of water, watery slides and the kids love it! Family river raft rides was what mommy like the most!

What should be better?
1. Wrist band for hotel guests should be given/collected at the hotel lobby
2.  Provision of water cooooler
3. Add more food station
4. More cabana for rental

What is good?
1. E-value wrist band - no need to worry about wallet etc
2. Functioning life guard
3. River raft rides

Conclusion: Pahang state government/ Pahang Tourism/Sentoria management should boost promotion for this place as Bukit Gambang Resort City got lot of potential should they consider the improvement highlighted above.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Travelogue 11: We Repeat Krabi!

My post in 2014: and we repeat this trip after 2 years. Number of people remain the same so does the number of baggage and strollers. We chose the same villa i.e. Baan Santhiya in Ao Nang to reminisce our memories in 2013.

It was Malaysia Day and we celebrated the establishment of Malaysian federation in Thailand. Browsing through and few other sites, we got the head up that the weather will not be as good as the one we had in April 2014 and September is the wettest month which should be avoided by tourists. But we had our Plan B which was eating and 'spa'ing.

Day #1, 15 September 2016

The 'Twins" in front of the villa
Baan Santhiya

Arrival at Krabi Airport, checked in at Baan Santhiya, settling down and we had dinner at a very humble stall at Ao Nang Mosque area. Baan Santhiya provided free tuk tuk which can cover Ao Nang area and it's chargeable at THB200 per trip after 6pm. Ordered food were the usual suspect i.e. Tom Yum, Steamed Fish, Squid with Salted Egg, Thai Basil Chicken and for the dessert, we had nutella pancake. We were then went to Boss Tailor to make custom blouses, suits and pants.

Day #2, 16 September 2016

Departed from the villa at 730am, we chose to go to the Emerald Pool on Friday after reading through the net, almost everybody experience the same problem, too many people in the small pool. So we decided to arrive early in the morning on weekdays. It took around 1 hour ( normal walking pace) to reach there. 

Only us at the Emerald Pool
We were the first group to arrive and there is National Park fee charged at THB 200/head. Walking for about 2km on a wooden boardwalk and concrete walkways. As we were the early birds, our group was accompanied by 3-4 stray dogs which personally, for the fee that has been charged (Tourist pay 90% higher than local people; Thai people charge at THB 20 only), Tourism Ministry of Thailand..please do something about the dogs.. They have their rangers inside the national park but they did nothing about it. Other than the dogs, we got a first class view and experience as nobody were there in the pool for about one hour. We had the pool for ourselves. And the other lagoon which only for sighting known as blue lagoon is really blue.  The water in the pool come through porous rock layers and contain a high amount of calcium carbonate making it unsuitable for drinking. The changes in colour depend on the algae and temperature of the water. Therefore different time and temperature will give you different shades of blue.

Next stop was the Hotspring. Unfortunately we were informed that it is under maintenance. There were still people swimming in the Hotspring but the color of water was like Thai Iced Tea, so we ended up taking picture with the signage.

Lunch was superb at Pak Nam Krabi Seafood. The restaurant is located beside the river.

Menu: among others, Green Curry Beef, Tom Yum, Soft Shell Crab with Salted Egg, Steamed Fish, Tod Man Pla, Prawn with Tamarind sauce

Next activity was 'spa'ing while the 'twins', fathers and uncle shopped at Tesco. We chose Kantawan Spa which is located nearby the restaurant as it offers Onsen and Salt Sauna other than typical Thai Massage. Worth every single penny!

We ended our day at Krabi Night Market which open from 5pm onwards. Plenty of halal Thai street food available and it's delicious especially the coconut ice cream (known as sangkaya in Malaysia) and fried ice cream (milk is fried on the frozen pan and taddaa it become ice cream). It's a tourist market so it's crowded with people and quite pricey.

Day #3, 17 September 2016

It's island hoping day. We totally aware that the weather was not that good. It's raining heavily at night before until dawn. But the agent said it is safe to go for island hoping. With the hope that everything will be just fine, ended up it became the most horrible island hoping experience that we ever had. The sea was very super duper rough. Never experience that before. Even the boatmen said that day was among the worst along the year. We even thought that all of us will be dead in the sea. My kids were crying and being a mama, i also cried with them (not helpful huh!). My mom, hubby and brother in law had a sea sick and vomit in the boat. We did not enjoy the boat ride and scenary at all.

We took Phi Phi Island Package via speedboat which cost us THB1,350 per adult. It took 2 hours for the boat to reach the first attraction famously known as Bamboo Island. Too exhausted, we only let the kids play with the sand at Bamboo Island. After an hour, we need to embark on the speedboat again. Everybody was traumatized but no other option we have to proceed with the next attraction which is Monkey Bay. We insisted of not going because monkey is so common in Malaysia, but given that there were tourists from US, Israel and Europe, monkey is really an excitement for them.

Next, Phi Phi Don. It was crowded with people and boat. I would say Phi Phi Island is over rated as compared to Hong Island. There were so many speedboats we couldn’t even see the beach. In fact there was no physical space to park the boat so we had to force our way between two other boats. The smell of diesel didn’t help. Not a promising start.After a tasteless lunch buffet next to the beach with thousands of people, we got to explore the surroundings a bit and try to take in the scenery past the touristy stuff. Phi Phi Don has one of the more intense vibes supposedly based on my search from google. Maybe my experience could have been better if it wasn't a rough boat ride or maybe being an introvert person, it’s not just my kind of place. But I’m afraid what I saw didn’t exactly got me craving for more.
It's windy that a bunch of sand gets blown all over
Next, as it was a bad day for the boat ride, Maya Bay which apparently the most wonderful beach in Thailand at least, is not accessible. The speedboat brought us to Loh Samah Bay for snorkeling. And every other boats were heading to the same snorkeling spot which make the scenery less attractive. Girls stay in the boat, men including the boys went down for snorkeling surrounded by the boats. According to them, the coral at Hong Island was much better and as there were too many boats around them, the diesel smell and maybe taste were too overwhelmed. But at least the kids really enjoyed the experience of swimming with the fish.

Heading back to Ao Nang at last, the boat ride was as rough as the morning ride. Traumatized with this experience, we will put a halt for boat ride until further notice.

As planned, next agenda - self BBQ'ed dinner at Baan Santhiya with raw seafood bought from the local market.
                                                         The price of seafood at the local market in Krabi almost half than price of seafood in Kuala Lumpur. We bought the paste and spicy dip at the local market as well. 

Day #4, 18 September 2016

Last minute shopping, eating and spa'ing at Ao Nang while catching pokemon. Overall, other than the rough sea ride, we had a blast!