Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Singapore Getaway


I was in Singapore for a weekend in May 2007 (yeah this is a very very belated post!), which for me was very enjoyable. I don't think I wanna share all the details here since it was three months ago, but here were the highlights of the weekend in Singapore:

- Visited the Urban Redevelopment Authority City Gallery (yes I am a simcity freak, so I love all these city planning stuffs. And they have many built-up models of Singapore!)
- Walked along the river at night from Clarke Quay to the Merlion
- Window-shopped on Orchard Road, and purchased a Paul&Joe t-shirt and The Sound of Milano Fashion.
- Sightseeing around Esplanade, Supreme Hall and Raffles Hotel.
- Listened to live jazz performance at Jazz@SouthBridge.
- Rode the Double-Decked bus from City Hall to VivoCity.

Historic City Hall area

Small-scale models at URA Gallery

Heritage buildings in Chinatown, City Hall and Bugis Area

Orchard Road

Hmmm all these memories make me so excited for my coming Christmas Shopping Spree with my best friends in December!

Atilia's Sangkar

I recently discovered Atilia's website through TheYogaInstructor's blog. I have heard of Atilia a few months back, but haven't really tried to listen to her music. She is the daughter of Salamiah Hassan, the singer that is very very famous for singing almost all the commercials in Malaysia during the 80s and 90s! I guess everyone would know and recognize that voice huh?

Anyway, I think the songs in Atilia's debut album, Sangkar is so damn good! I especially love the single Sangkar, which is very smooth and such a good song to listen to after a hard day at work. Have yet to listen to the whole album, but from the review that I read it is highly recommended. Can't wait to look and buy it soon!

To anyone who is interested to discover her music, click here.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

High Tide In Bali

Remember a few days ago Indonesia experienced a very big tide, May 18th to be exact? I read in the newspapers and they mentioned that the high tide, coupled with the big swell destroyed a few stalls on Jimbaran Beach and even reached the road along Kuta Beach. Damn that was a really high tide, as when we were at Kuta Beach a few days prior to that, the waves were like 50meters from the road!

So I searched the internet for pictures of the waves during the high tide, and here is what I got. This amazing picture of the wave was taken at Uluwatu Beach in Bali, a world-famous surfing area in Bali, and featured at Surfline and UluwatuPhoto.

What do u think? Brave enough? Damn that was so scary!

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Bali Bagus Part II: Southern Bali - Nusa Dua, Kuta, Seminyak, Tanah Lot & Bukit Peninsula

Day Three

Nusa Dua Beach from Space

We left Ubud and headed to The Westin Resort at Nusa Dua, where we will be spending our final two nights in Bali, courtesy of Mr. Kix-kix! I am so lucky to be your friend! (Kembang tak? :P)

Nusa Dua is a planned beach-front tourist enclave built in 1980s and with the help of World Bank, and designed to minimize the impact of international tourism to the Balinese cultures and way of life. There are lots of big 5-star hotels in Nusa Dua, like Grand Hyatt, Club Med, Conrad, St Regis, Amanusa, Sheraton's The Luxury Collection, Melia, and of course The Westin Resort!

One obvious thing that we noticed in Nusa Dua was the security was really really tight. At the main gate of Nusa Dua complex, all cars have to drive through a security post that have cameras installed on the road facing the bottom of vehicles, so that they can detect if anyone carries a bomb device or something! Later we had to go through another security post at the main entrance of The Westin Resort, with cameras facing the bottom of vehicles too. And finally before we could enter the hotel lobby, we need to go through a metal detector (similar like the one in airports)! I guess they have to beef up the security to prevent another bombing from happening in Bali, which will be very very bad for the tourism industry there.

Anyway, we checked-in without having to stand or queue at the reception desk, but at the comforts of sitting on comfortable couches, and a glass of cranberry juice to quench our thirsts. Really good service eh? The frontdesk-lady later ushered us to our home for the next 3 days, the Family Studio! :) Our studio was located on the Ground Level, overlooking the swimming pools (Yes, there were more than one pools!) and the beautifully manicured gardens. The studio comprises of two rooms separate rooms with the following features:
i. Master Bedroom - Westin's trademark King-sized Heavenly Bed, a sitting area, balcony, plasma TV, DVD player, bathroom with shower and the usual hotel room stuffs
ii. Second Bedroom - 3 Westin's trademark Super-single-sized Heavenly Beds, balcony, plasma TV, Playstation2, Boardgames, bathroom with bathtub and the usual hotel room stuffs.

The TV in the rooms had more than 30 channels I think, not only with the usual channels (HBO, CNN, StarWorld, Channel V, etc.), but with separate Australian, Russian, Japanese and French channels! A really good indicator of where the majority of tourists in Bali came from!

The Westin Resort Nusa Dua

The resort's clam-loungers

Back in Malaysia, I already arranged for a Daihatsu Xenia for 2 days rental from Bali Car Rentals (BCR), to be sent to our hotel. I met up with Mr Dino, the representative from BCR at the hotel lobby, and he escorted me to the car at the parking lot. While chatting and walking towards the car, I noticed a guy signaling and waving his hands at us. He ran and approached us, but both Mr Dino and me does not know who he was. Later, we got to know that two different companies had received bookings from me! Damn I was so anxious!! How can that be?! I went to only ONE website and made only ONE booking! Mr Dino talked to that guy and upon further discussion, it was proven that I only made one booking. But the problem was, recently one of BCR employee left the company, and the ex-employee stole a few of BCR's customers! Mr Dino settled the problem and later handed me the keys for the car. Damn I was so relieved as it wasn't my fault at all! :)

Our rented Daihatsu Xenia

We got ready and head for a late lunch at KFC on the outskirts of Nusa Dua. The typical meal at KFC here is a bit different compared to Malaysia, as they does not serve mashed potatoes and coleslaw, but replaced those two with some rice! And they also serves vegetable soups (the clear ones, not the creamy ones), and begedel! Tasted some of the begedel, and very yummy indeed!

And now is one of the highlights of our Bali trip. We went to The Bvlgari Bali Resort!! It is the only Bvlgari hotel in the world, with the other one in Milan! This super-exclusive-very-chic resort is perched on a cliff, 130meters above the ocean, with an almost 90Deg vertical drop! The view is to die for, and this all-villa resort is the most expensive resort in Bali. The cheapest accommodation in Four Seasons is around USD400 per night, but in Bvlgari the cheapest is USD1000 per night!!! Damn! Anyway, we had our drinks there and hanged out at the Bar while enjoying the dramatic view that was simply breathtaking!

The Bvlgari Bali Resort, Pecatu

130 meters above the ocean

Amazing view at Bvlgari Bali

Views of Indian Ocean

Stunning Bvlgari

Later we went to Pura Luhur Uluwatu, one of the most sacred temples in Bali and very famous for its dramatic cliff top location and stunning sunsets. It is also the location for the Kecak Dance, the Balinese dance that does not use any musical instruments, but only the sound made by at least 70 people chanting "Kecak-chak-chak-chak" through out the dance. Quite an experience, especially with the stunning sunset as the backdrop of the dance!

Kecak Dance at Pura Luhur Uluwatu

After the show, we headed back to our hotel for shower and freshen up, before headed to Kuta. Kuta is the place where mass tourism started in Bali in the 1960s. The star attraction of Kuta is of course Kuta Beach, surfing central for Bali. The surfing wave here is considered average by Bali standards, but definitely big by Malaysian standards! Hahah! Once a sleepy village, Kuta now comprises of several areas namely Tuban, Kuta, Legian and Seminyak that stretches for at least 5 kilometers, filled with hotels, restaurants, boutiques, and malls.

Busy Kuta Beach from Space

We had dinner at McDonald's (yeap today is our fast food day), fronting the busy Jln Pantai Kuta along Kuta Beach. One very interesting fact about this McD is at the entrance, there is a place to put your surfboards, as oppose to umbrellas or bicycles in Malaysia. Very surfer-culture oriented!

Filled with energy, we headed to Seminyak, known for it's lively and up-market nightlife, as compared to Kuta. We went to two clubs that were located on Jln Dhyana Pura, which was very lively and fun!

After all the fun, we headed back to our hotel, so that we could be well rested for the following day. :)

Day Four

We woke up a bit late and got ready for a trip to Dreamland Beach! It is one of the most beautiful beach in Bali, located in a secluded area between the western cliffs of Bukit Peninsula. The surf here is a lot bigger compared to Kuta, and we had so much fun playing in the very shallow part of the water. The surf was as high 6 feet, and causes quite strong undertow currents which can be quite dangerous. But I have to say that the feeling of big waves rushing towards you can be very thrilling, and soothing at the same time! I can just hang out at the beach doing nothing but this! Unfortunately since we have other things to do for today's, we had to leave Dreamland. Huhu :(

Beautiful Dreamland Beach

We headed up to Kuta for some shopping. I bought a few stuffs that really made me happy, and headed for a drink at Krispy Kreme! Damn the donuts were so soft and heavenly, it simply feels like it melted in my mouth! Ahh I'm drooling now just thinking bout it... :P~~~

Kuta & its beach

Later we headed to Pura Luhur Tanah Lot, a temple located on a rock formation island, which can be reached from the shore during low tide. It is one of the most famous landmarks in Bali, and famous for its stunning sunset as well. (Yeah there are so many places in Bali that are famous for sunsets!) We reached there a few minutes before sunset, and at that time the tide was quite high. The waves were quite big and coupled with the sunset, provided me with quite a dramatic shot!

Sunset at Pura Luhur Tanah Lot

We went back to our hotel to freshen up, before headed out again to Hard Rock Cafe & Hotel in Kuta for some souvenirs. Satisfied with our purchases, we later went to Pizza Hut for dinner. The Pizza Hut here is a bit different from Malaysia, as they doesn't have Packaged Meals, but totally Ala Carte in their menu. Like my last Bali trip, I had the Mushroom Teaser, which is such a very-delicious-and-hot starter. Even though it was very hot, it was really worth it! I think everyone should not miss it whenever you are in Pizza Hut Indonesia!

For our final nightlife in Bali, we headed up to Ku De Ta, a beach front restaurant, bar and lounge in fashionable Seminyak. Ku De Ta is the place to be for nightlife in Bali, geniusly designed with an open concept in mind. The is a small pool of water in the middle of the courtyard, with many loungers facing the Indian Ocean, and Electronic-Chill music playing in the background. The twinkling stars, waves crashing and the music at Ku De Ta surprisingly binds together very very well. All of us had such a good time at Ku De Ta, and loves it so so much! :)

Friends of Ku De Ta

Beach front loungers in Ku De Ta

Ku De Ta's Courtyard

Day Five

Fun at Westin

It was our final day in Bali, so we just stayed in the hotel area and enjoyed the facilities. We went to the beach and killed our time by lying and swimming in the sea. The waves in Nusa Dua beach is not big at all and perfect for swimming, as it is protected by coral reefs hundreds of meters away offshore. We also played beach volleyball and tried the water slides at the swimming pool area! The water slides at the resort were not meant for kids only, but were also for adults! Hahah had such a wonderful time!

Westin's Farewell Shot

At 12pm, we checked out from the hotel and headed to the Ngurah Rai International Airport for our 2.25pm. The rental car was returned to Mr Dino from Bali Car Rental at the airport, and all the remaining payments were settled.

All of us were a bit sad as the vacation was almost over, and we had to go back to the working world reality! Damn if only the vacation could last forever! Anyway, we experienced a lot of things that if I wanna describe it here, this post will be too long!

But overall, we had a really fantastic time in Bali, and I think all of us will definitely come again to Bali in the future, since we all have been enchanted by the indescribable Bali magic. :)

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Bali Bagus Part I: Central Bali - Ubud

The Island of Bali

Day One

On 9th May 2007, the day finally arrived for my second Bali trip. Yippie! All of us woke up early that morning and gathered at my house. We took two cabs to the LCCT for our 10.25am flight. It was my first ever Air Asia experience , so I did not really have high expectations, after hearing about all the flight delays from others. Anyway, the plane boarding was a bit delayed by 15 minutes due to heavy rain. It is totally ok for me, as long as it is not more than 1 hour :)

The flight was smooth and took about 2hrs 45 minutes to reach the island of Bali. During the flight I sat on the right side by the window, and like last time, I was extremely excited with the landing approach on the runway! Bali's main gateway, the Ngurah Rai International Airport, is located on a strip of land that juts into the Indian Ocean. I can see views on the left side is the Tuban-Kuta-Legian-Seminyak tourist district, and on the right side is the Jimbaran & Bukit Peninsula areas. At the final minute before touching down, you could already see surfing waves right under the wings of the plane, and you kinda feel like the plane is going to land on the sea. Few seconds after that you see the ground and then touch down! Quite an experience huh?

Ngurah Rai International Airport from Space

After settled on immigrations and our luggages, we took two cabs to the cultural heart of Bali, Ubud. Ubud is a world famous small town, known for it's many art galleries selling paintings, loads and loads of shops selling crafts like wood carvings and stone carvings. It is also the place to watch Balinese dances as nightly performances are held at numerous venues, all at the same time. It is also famous for its amazing views, as the small town is surrounded by forests, ravines, rivers and rice terraces.

The 45 minutes ride, with endless amazing stoneworks and wood carvings shops along both sides of the small road (at least 30km!), took us to Ulun Ubud Resort & Spa, one of the plenty boutique hotels in Ubud town. The hotel is very charming, with 19 rooms built on a very steep ravine with a small river 20 meters down below. Our suite comprises of two rooms, with a very big balcony and a dining table, facing the most wonderful view of the ravine! Such a nice change compared to the views in Kerteh & Kuala Lumpur! It was drizzling a bit at that time, so took the photos of the hotel the day after, with better weather and lighting. :)

The driver of the hotel dropped us for dinner at Nomad Cafe, a very beautiful cafe with very good food and service. One unique thing about the cafe was the usher placed frangipani flower behind our ears, which is a similar practice like placing a Leis around your neck in Hawaii. Do take note that wearing flowers behind ears in Bali is not considered something feminine at all, but something very masculine! Hahah!

Nomad Cafe

Later we went for a Legong Performance at the Yamasari Peliatan venue. The performing troupe has a very high reputation and has been performing around the world since 1960s! Hebat giler! Luckily at that time it was still not the high tourist season, so we got the front row seats, and there was no one else except us! Talking bout performing for VIPs! :P The troupe performed in the form of a few Legong dances, a Baris dance, and the very cute Barong dance. It was really really amazing to watch the dancers utilize all parts of the body, especially the fingers and the eyes, to emphasize and tell the story.

Yamasari Peliatan Performance

After the performance we went to Jazz Cafe, an open air cafe cum bar with a live band. The cafe however does not play jazz music only, but mixes with latin songs as well. We had a really fun time, dancing with one super-holiday-mood English lady, and a few other Europeans! And yeah, we sweat like hell. :)

Night at Ulun Ubud

Day Two

Panorama view from our balcony

I was so excited to wake up as I have been looking forward for the breakfast with the view ever since our last trip to Ulun Ubud last year! The meal was really simple: sliced papaya with lime, scrambled eggs, toasts and Balinese coffee. But it was the view and the sounds of the river that make it a memorable experience, so divine!

Ulun Ubud Resort & Spa

Our first destination for the day is the Monkey Forest, a major attraction in Ubud. It is an area with a few Pura (Balinese for temple), dedicated for the dead. One thing I noticed was all the statues in this area was kinda scary and disturbing, I definitely won't come here at night! Kinda like a Tomb Raider setting, with a small river with big trees and vines all over.

Monkey Forest

Ubud's Street Scenes

We walked along Jalan Monkey Forest, which is lined with many shops, boutique hotels, budget hotels, spas, and restaurants. I bought a few stuffs and went to have a drink at Ary's Warung, while waiting for a cremation ceremony at noon. Do take note that in Bali, the name warung does not really mean a typical warung setting like in Malaysia. Some warungs in Bali can be very expensive and serves high-end food and beverages, like Ary's. :)

Drinking at Ary's Warung

Cremation ceremony is a very big social event for Balinese, as the whole villagers participated in the ceremony. It is quite rare to watch a cremation ceremony taking place, as the ceremony is only conducted on specific dates, depending on the birthday of the person that passed away. So I guessed we were lucky since we managed to observe the ceremony during our first Bali trip, and again during our second trip! :) The locals wore their traditional attires, brought tall pyramids of foods, and played really loud gongs (which was very catchy and stayed in my mind for quite some time). We waited for about 1 hour for the ceremony to start, but once it started, it lasted only for about 15 minutes. But it was really worth the wait to observe their colourful culture.

Cremation Ceremony in Ubud Central

Tired it was, so all of us went for a spa session! We had it at The Fibra Inn's Wibawa Spa. I had the Royal Javanese Lulur, which includes a full body & face massage, body scrub, yogurt applied on skin for soothing and warm bath with flowers (ginger tea and sliced fruits included) before the final shower. All that took 1 hr 45 minutes, and costs me only RM45! Damn cheap for that kinda package, in a very nice garden surroundings with an open shower & tub! Owh by the way they only supplied me with a very thin-see-through cloth to cover up during the session, so I was kinda naked most of the times. The female masseur was really experienced and she was really professional, so it was not that awkward. In Malaysia that would be a very big no no rite? :)

The spa was really rejuvenating, so we went to the Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan for sunset drinks at the lounge bar. The whole setting of the resort was really serene, as it is built on the slopes of Sayan Ridge, with the Ayung River down below, flowing right next to the lobby. The resort is one of the tops resorts in Bali, and always got listed in the Top 10 best resorts in the world category.

Sunset at Four Seasons

Four Seasons' Entrance to Lobby

Fabulous Four Seasons Resort at Sayan

Four Seasons' Jati Bar

We were really hungry by that time, so we went for dinner at Murni's Warung, a really good restaurant with delicious foods. By that time we were quite exhausted, so we went back to our hotel and played charade before calling it a day! The theme was English and Malay movies. We laughed our hearts out, as some people tried their very best to describe the movie. Remember kix-kix's "Bayi Buluh Betong!"? :P

Day Three

Like the day before, we had our breakfast at the balcony before heading off to the swimming pool! The water was quite cold as the swimming pool was spring fed. We took some photos (some of which would not be shown here!) and enjoyed the moment since there was no one else other that us.Ulun Ubud's swimming pool

We went to Ubud Market, the place to buy crafts and souvenirs at bargain prices. It was around 10am in the morning, so we got good prices as the sellers considered our purchases as a pelaris for the day. I bought a wooden box that can be locked, and 3 pieces of coasters made of seashells. Hehehe really happy with the purchases.

We visited the Ubud Palace, the home of a Ubud royalty. The palace is divided into a few areas, and some of it were open to the public. The layour of the palace is like typical Balinese houses, with individual and separate pavilions for living room, kitchen, dining room and bedrooms. All these pavilions are surrounded by nice beautiful gardens.

Ubud Palace

It was our final day in Ubud, so it was time to leave for Southern Bali, famous for its many beaches and stunning sunsets! The Westin Resort Nusa Dua, here we come!

Friday, May 18, 2007

7 Things


Hmmm kix-kix tagged me with this list.. Damn it was so difficult to list 7 things about myself! So, read on!

7 things to do before i die:
- Have my loved ones by my side
- Buy whatever luxury goods that I want
- Travel to all continents (except Arctic & Antarctic)
- Have at least 5 investment properties, all in very good locations
- Need to be happy and grateful with my life, no matter what
- Have my own travel agency
- Perform Haj

7 things I can't do:
- Stretch my legs and touch my toes (Same like kix, kiter nie cacat ke? :P )
- Touch amphibians
- Read while riding in any transportation
- Sleeping without making any sound ;)
- Sneeze less then 3 times in a row
- Say no to things, very very difficult
- Watch wrestling show, so fake!

7 things that attract me to Europe:
- The climate
- The people: really stylish, sophisticated and good looking :)
- The coast along French Riviera, Italian Riviera & Greece: Damn gorgeous!
- The architecture of the cities
- The Roman and Greek ruins
- The city of Venice: Totally one of a kind
- The luxury goods

7 things I say:
- Damn
- F*ck
- Yes
- Focus focus!
- Ye kot?
- Hmmm...
- Siot!

7 good books (Damn I don't read books! I will list something else!) :
- Details magazine
- Conde Nast Traveller
- Readers' Digest
- Wikipedia website (Love this one!)
- KLUE magazine
- Time magazine
- erk.. Those are my favorites. Why do I feel like I'm a himbo? Damn.

7 good films:
- Sister Act
- Chocolat
- Layar Lara
- The Exorcist
- My Best Friend's Wedding
- As Good As It Gets
- The Bodyguard (Movie kinda cliche, but really love the soundtrack!)

7 blogs to tag:
- Muddy
- Masri
- Rough
- Krinch
- Herlina
- cukup la kot kan? Tak tau nak tag sape lagi..

Saturday, April 28, 2007

License to Drive

The RM150 permit

I am now officially and legally ready to drive on foreign soil. With this International Driving Permit (IDP) I can drive in almost every country on earth! Hehehe kinda cool heh? For me this is kinda like a personal achievement, so i am very happy for getting it. As of now, I will be using this IDP when driving in Bali. Unfortunately the IDP is only valid for one year, so I guess I have to try my best to optimize it.

Hmmm, where will be my next international destination to drive in, after Bali? :)

Monday, April 23, 2007

Cherating Beach

The beach from the Holiday Villa gardens...

Recently I attended an away day at Holiday Villa Cherating during the weekends. I have stayed at Impiana Hotel, Best Western Suria, and Residence Inn prior to this, so it was my first time staying in Holiday Villa. As expected, the hotel was kinda crap. A bit old and desperately in need of total refurbishment!

Sunset at Cherating..

Anyway, staying there made me remember the memories that I had with my friends, during the times when I lived in Kemaman. I would hang out with my friends at the lounge chairs on the beach at Holiday Villa, have dinner right on the beach at Moon Cafe, and sometimes play squash at The Legend (my friend Han was a member of the Health Club).

Hmm the good times, when can I do those things again huh?

Panorama Shot


Shower-on-the-move, anyone?

The weather has been extremely warm lately. During the day, there's either no cloud at all, or just paper-thin layer of cloud. Even at night the warm condition doesn't really change much. Sleeping every night, wearing only my boxers doesn't really help my body to cool down. I am so wishing to have an air-cond installed, and put it on full blast.