Friday, September 30, 2011

Europe 2011 Day 3 - Shocking Ourselves Silly

Date: 9 April 2011
Not many people around at 8:30am apart from Rubbish Collectors

Saturday 8:30am - Sacré-Cœur Basilica. The Sacred Heart of Paris. The proud monument of Paris representing devotion to the Holy Virgin. The highest point in Paris with one of the most breathtaking views in the world. SHOCK 1: Also a garbage dump of beer cans and broken bottles and all sorts of rubbish left behind from a Friday night party. There's no escaping the stench of rubbish and urine everywhere in front of the church. This is what makes Paris so unique. Behind the romantic facade of Paris is a culture filled with cigarettes, littering, rudeness and urinating in public places. Still, you can't help but fall in love with Paris.

Could have been breathtaking if not for the mist that morning

Beautiful cloudless morning on top of Montmartre

Monday, September 26, 2011

Europe 2011 Day 2 - Cycling & Eating Like The French

Date: 8 April 2011
Early morning view of the River Seine

What do French people eat? French Baguette? French Fries?! Instead, we had a mission in France, to try out
1) Duck
2) Macarons
3) Escargot
We managed to accomplish all 3 today, and they all tasted wonderful!
Fountain of St Michael, with 4 persons who refused to move the 10 minutes I was there

Unfortunately, the day started badly when I realised that I had forgotten to turn off my alarm clock, which rang at 5:45am. Only 6 hours of sleep after being awake for 23hours. First, we took the train to Cite train stop. Once again, this required an interchange at Montparnasse. Interchanges here are not to be taken lightly, had to walk over 1km and climbed hundreds of steps. After arriving, looked for toilet but nobody knew where. Even asked the friendly policewoman and she didn't know where. Wonder where she goes to pee. Ended up at a gourmet cafe called Paul, lovely macarons here for €0.80 each.
Breakfast for Two: 4-cheese bread and a hot chocolate at Paul

Thursday, September 22, 2011

3kgs in 3 days in Penang - Part 2

Date of Travel: 16-18 Sep 2011

This is a continuation of 3kgs in 3 days in Penang - Part 1

Having eaten ourselves silly the previous day, it's time to explore the historical side of Penang today. We have been to Penang countless amount of times, as my Dad is originally from Penang and we have relatives there. Most tourist attractions are so "Been-There-Done-That" to us that we end up just eating.

After a hearty hotel breakfast, we decided to try something new.

1) Khoo Kongsi
18 Cannon Square, 10200 Penang, Malaysia
Open Weekdays 9am-5pm; Sat 9am-1pm
GPS Coordinates: 5°24'51.44″N, 100°20'14.33″E

The original name for this clan is Leong San Tong Khoo Kongsi, which is now known as Khoo Kongsi for short. Based on the elaborate building architecture, The Khoos look like they might have been the richest clan in Malaysia during the 19th century. Here, you will find a book of names of ancestors that goes back all the way to the 1850s. Till today, whenever a newborn is welcomed into the Khoo family, his/her name will be entered into this very book.
Temple just outside Khoo Kongsi's main entrance

Even the rooftops look like they have many stories to tell

Entrance to the Main Hall

Where do Malaysians holiday to?

This is probably a close statistics on where Malaysians go to for D-I-Y holidays. Thankfully, I no longer need to jostle with the Internet crowd for these destinations.
Top favourites are: Guilin, Hanoi, Hong Kong, Krabi, Macau and Tawau

Then again, I heard that Tawau is quite a nice place to visit. Hmmmm any recommendations? :)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Is AirAsia really getting more expensive?

Now Everyone Can Fly. Since December 2002, AirAsia has undeniably changed the world for the majority of Malaysians. Without having to spend thousands of Ringgit for a brief holiday, it truly brought colour and touched many people's lives on so many levels. Whether you hate them or love them, they are still in-your-face and will remain as such for a long time to come.

Having followed them for almost 10 years now, I keep hearing a lot of negative comments about how prices keep increasing. Some go to the extent of dubbing them as Now Everyone Can-not Fly. I hear buzz words on Check-In Bag, Convenience Fees, Fuel Surcharge, and etc. Have we become THAT pampered such that we expect everything to be free? Go back 10 years, and think whether people complained about paying Thousands of Ringgit for their airfare. I remember going to the Malaysia Airlines' inaugural travel fair in 2004. I was absolutely elated to secure return flight tickets to Brisbane for RM1800 per person.

Let us look back in time at AirAsia's airfares. In 2005, I was absolutely delighted at the price of RM210 for return airfares to Kuching. It used to cost about RM1000 previously to get to East Malaysia. In 2011, I am even more overjoyed to pay only RM15.20.

2005: Kuala Lumpur - Kuching Return flight, RM209.97 per person. Check-in Baggage Fee non-existent

Monday, September 19, 2011

3kgs in 3 days in Penang

Date of Travel: 16-18 Sep 2011
Part 1
Continue to read Part 2: 3kgs in 3 days in Penang - Part 2

Penang = Pearl of the Orient = Food Paradise.
How can one possibly put on 3kgs in just 3 days? I can show you how. This blog does not take responsibility for any health damages as a repercussion.

Day 1: 6:30am KL to Ipoh to Penang

Enjoy the Sunrise

Views of the Titiwangsa Ranges from your car
1) 1. Ming Court Dim Sum at Ipoh.
Address: 36 Jalan Leong Sin Nam 30300 Ipoh
Tel: 05-255 7134
GPS: 4.597068,101.086137

8:45am - Arrive Ipoh. Add extra patience to get a table
Average pricing RM2.80-RM3.20 per tray

Review: Hard Rock Hotel, Penang

Date of travel: 16 Sep 2011

HuiLing: Did you hear about the rock joke? Nevermind, it's too "hard" to tell.

Whenever I mention Hard Rock Hotel, the first thing I hear is "Wahhhhh" and it is often followed by "Expensive!". Having heard this one too many times, I wanted to check it out for myself. We decided to go there on a public holiday weekend, Malaysia Day 2011, for a 3D/2N stay. Do your research to locate the best deal for Hard Rock Hotel. Rates from the official website may not always be the best. This is what we paid
RM349 nett with breakfast is a great price, message me if you want to know where from

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Paris Metro ticket

A typical ticket for the Paris Metro/Bus/Tram. Careful not to place the magnetic strip near electronic devices
Paris has one of the easiest-to-understand public transportation in Europe. They are divided into the following types:
  • Metro Subway Lines 1-15 (like LRT)
  • RER Train A,B,C,D & E (like KTM Komuter Trains)
  • Paris buses
  • Paris Trams (very limited areas)
Why is it one of the easiest-to-understand? Because a single ticket can get you to most places in Paris. This is the t+ Ticket, which is just an individual ticket. You can use a single ticket to transfer between Metro & RER lines, or Buses and Tram lines. But NOT Metro/RER and Bus/Tram lines. For that, you will need 2 tickets. Also you need to take note that this ticket is valid within Zones 1 & 2 only. For transfers to the airport, you will need a different ticket to be purchased at the counter or through the ticket vending machine.

One individual ticket costs €1.70 whereas 10 individual tickets, also known as a carnet, are €12.50. These tickets do not expire, you can pass it around to anyone, and are quite worth the money to purchase. I personally do not recommend purchasing the other Paris Visite Pass or Navigo Pass or Mobilis, because you frankly wouldn't need to use the trains that often if you are following the way I travel.

Where do you buy this "carnet"? At any RER or Metro station through the counter or at the ticket vending machine. If you are buying it from the counter, try out your French.

"un carnet, s'il vous plait." = One book please.

Hokkien version:
"Ang Kah Neh, Si Bu Peh" = Red Leg leh, *** mother father

No insults intended. :)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Europe 2011 - Day 1 Arriving Paris

Date: 7 April 2011

14 hours of flying time was surprisingly manageable especially with iPad in hand. We set timers for 1 hour, where we did an exercise route around the airplane cabin that involved extensive stretching. Our pre-booked International meal turned out to be chicken cordon bleu and chicken bonne femme. Both quite delicious, but small portions. Luckily I brought along chicken rice and hard boiled eggs to accompany the meals. Hahaha.

Chicken Cordon Bleu with additional Chicken Rice & Egg brought from home
View of Paris Orly just before landing

I won 2 tickets to Paris!

Event Date: 11 November 2010

I won 2 return air tickets to Paris, thanks to AirAsiaX! Many many people have asked me, "How did I win it?". Ever since then, I have been very embarrassed to say what my winning slogan was. In fact, I truly believe that I did not deserve to win. Based on my past failure at AirAsiaX slogans, I knew that they normally do not pick the entries with the most fanciful English. Without thinking for 2 seconds, I wrote whatever garbage that came to mind, and for the first time, I'm letting everyone read my (lousy) winning entry.
The slogan that won me 2 air tickets to Paris. It wasn't too creative, nor was there a real "him" behind it. Paiseh!
But thank you nonetheless to AirAsiaX, for allowing me to win this and opening my eyes to the joys of traveling to Europe. From the moment I realised I had won, planning for the trip had begun. For those who don't know me, I am a meticulous planner. I go back and forth over 10 times for even a simple hotel selection, until I feel that it is perfect. Even after I have booked, I can still cancel and change my mind and rebook elsewhere. It drove my travel partner absolutely crazy!
What I paid for my free ticket

Following this post, will be a series of our adventures in Europe. Stay tuned!

Mummy the Superstar

Mummy got a treat in May 2006, a makeover by Christian Dior at KLCC. You need to spend about 2.5 hours in total to get your hair done, makeup done, put on some fancy coat and frills, and wait a moment for them to photoshop all your wrinkles away. The result? Voila, this is mum at age 63! She's just as pretty either ways.



Kuching 5-7 May 2006

Money Spent:
Airfare = RM139.98 incl taxes
Hotel = RM144 x 2nights / 3 person = RM96
Food = RM50
Transport = RM10
Shopping = RM30
Total = RM326

Took off for the first time from LCCT. Parking costs RM2 for first 2 hours, and RM2/hr thereafter, up to a maximum of RM30 a day. LCCT has only 2 restaurants, McDonald's and Asian Kitchen and Coffee Bean. A Big Mac Meal will cost you RM10.80 and a nasi lemak with rendang chicken RM12.00. After entering the departure hall, there is one more cafe called Buy & Fly that serves airplane boxed food like Mee Siam and Nasi Lemak for RM7.90 each.

Kuching airport was housed in a new terminal building. It is freezing cold, and be prepared to walk 1km from where the plane stops, to the baggage claim area. A taxi to the city costs RM17.50.

We arrived at the Holiday Inn Kuching, and was delighted to be upgraded to a Deluxe room. I had booked 2 Queen Beds in a Standard Room, facing the river for RM144. Our room was beautiful!

If you see a similar sign, you'll know this hotel is exceptional

Went to eat at Topspot Food court, ordered Bidin with belachan, fried mussels and what was supposed to be oyster omelette. Only the bidin was nice. "Oyster Omelette" turned out to be one large oyster on a pizza-slice-size of deep fried flour.. no egg in sight. Not cheap eating at Topspot, RM60 spent for not-so-nice food.

The only place open at 9.30pm

Oh Jien ... sorry I prefer the Penang style

Siem Reap 17-19 Feb 2006

Money Spent:
Airfare = RM160.76 incl taxes
Hotel = US$28 x 2 nights / 2 person = US$28 x 3.8 = RM106.40
Food = US$20 x 3.8 = RM76
Guide = US$40 x 1.5days / 4 person = US$15 = RM57
Shopping = US$20 x 3.8 = RM76
Total = RM476

Arrived Siem Reap airport at 11.45am. I previously read that it was advised not to bring check-in luggage because of the long wait of clearing customs. This was untrue, how to survive with just a carry-on luggage?! The arrival process is like this. Step 1, get your visa on arrival if you require one (Malaysian and the Philippines passports do not). Step 2, all must go through the immigration, a very slow and tedious process. Each person will take 2-3 minutes. By that time, your luggage will be waiting for you.

I booked at Angkor Than City Hotel ( for US$28/night which includes a free airport pickup. On the way to the hotel, everyone drives incredibly slow at less than 60km/h. I soon realise that it was because of the bad road conditions that didn't allow them to go faster. Siem Reap is a left-hand-drive city.

Siem Reap Airport, please pay US$25 upon departure!

The Angkor Than City Hotel

Friday, September 2, 2011

Putrajaya Hot Air Balloon Festival
Date: 19 Mar 2011

7:15am, it is amazing to see that many people up and about at this hour. Carparks are almost full; if you come any later, you should bring a 4WD. That way, you can just drive up to any pavement and park anywhere you wish (ahem ahem). It is even more amazing to see the number of persons carrying DSLR cameras in one small area. All for a good reason too, it's the annual Putrajaya Hot Air Balloon Festival! 

This is the DSLR-access area. What this means is, if you aren't carrying anything that looks like a DSLR, you will not be allowed entry to this area. Balloons are slowly being filled up with air, and you get to see balloons slowly "waking up" in the morning. Since I brought my photographer friend along with the DSLR, I didn't have access to this area. Reminder to self for next year: buy the plastic DSLR-lookalike to bluff the authorities.