Archive for the ‘Malaysia’ Category

 

63166_10151181962002918_1240098170_n598998_10151181961692918_1659820006_n“It’s better to be ashore wishing you were at sea, than at sea wishing you were ashore.” (The former is generally inspired by longing, the latter by panic.) – Anonymous

I grew up watching the price is right on TV. I was always fascinated with the prices they gave away on that show and how Bob Hope’s signature intonation presentation of the showcases always left the contestants grasping for air, like ‘… a brand new car!’ or ‘…a trip to Bahamas!’ it was so extravagant and fun to watch comparing it to winning ‘…a sack of rice’ in our local shows or whatever bingo social events. In my young mind, this show has made me aware of the stuff I wanted to acquire when I grow up more so, it made me aware that there’s ‘…a royal Caribbean cruise…’

A cruise is traveling in a passenger ships used for pleasure voyages, where the voyage itself and the ship’s amenities are part of the experience, as well as the different destinations along the way. For the longest time I have always wanted to go on a holiday cruise and know how it feels like being in the sea and just seeing the great blue ocean for days.  While attending a travel fair, I finally get the chance to inquire more about this type of journey and booked myself 3 days, 2 night’s trip to Malacca, Malaysia.

Malacca is 5 hours’ drive off Singapore and I haven’t been there so the thought of travelling there via the Royal Caribbean liner was an exciting idea. The thought of getting sea sick is a possibility in my head reason why I decided not to go to long journeys or take a cruise to nowhere. A cruise to nowhere is a cruise without ports of call but it doesn’t really actually go nowhere – in fact, ships on these short voyages head out to sea to a point where opening on board stores and casinos is legal, and passengers can spend their time on the ship enjoying all the activities and amenities without being distracted by port preparations and time in the dock..  The trip to Malacca, Malaysia was a test the water for me before taking the plunge on long voyages.

311194_10151177907267918_1892138284_nCome first week of November 2012 I was on board the Legend of the Seas. This was the first of the Vision Class cruise ships owned by the Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. The ship can carry 2,074 passengers. Its maiden voyage was May 16, 1995. Its facilities include a golf course, a theatre and cinema, a solarium, two pools, a spa, a fitness centre, a 2 story dining room called the Romeo & Juliet, the Windjammer Cafe, 4 themed bars, a dance centre, a shopping centre, a teen disco, a piano bar, an observation centre, a rock-climbing wall and the Viking Crown Lounge.

A piece of history, cruising begun in 1835, Arthur Anderson proposed the idea of sailing for pleasure as a passenger in an ocean going vessel. Sailing for pleasure did not really become popular until the twentieth century. The word ‘POSH’ originates from this period. In these days before air conditioning the Brits travelling on a vessel to India would favour a cabin on the shaded side of the ship, away from the glare and heat of the sun. Thus travelling from UK to India a north facing port cabin cost more than a south facing starboard one. The opposite applied on the return journey. So only the richest could book a cabin that was PORT OUT STARBOARD HOME. This became shortened to ‘posh’.

But cruising got crushed by the development of the jet engine and long haul passenger aircraft saw a dramatic reduction in passengers using these ships. The decline began in the late 1950’s and resulted in ships like the Queen Elizabeth becoming redundant. By the 1970’s the advent of the Jumbo jet really saw the end of the golden period of transatlantic cruise liners.

Back to my experience, all food and accommodation are included in the fee so you just eat want you want, buffet breakfast and lunch and fine dining or 3 course meal for dinner. The room was fine, it’s suffocating at first but I got the hang of it when I was declined for a transfer for a much bigger room with balcony because the accommodation was already full. So I watched some shows, went into the casino, hang in the pool area while eating pizza and got off at Malacca when we arrived in the morning.

There is a timeframe when you can stay out because the boat will be heading back at 5pm. There’s this small boat that took us to the dock and we just walk around until our feet took us to a mall and ate at McDonalds. We hang in the mall looking for spa and massage but since we don’t have appointments we ended up waiting and moving to other malls searching for spa saloon who accepts master and visa and money changer because we don’t have their local money until it was time for us to go back to the mother ship or otherwise we will get left behind like ET and phone home. So it was just a frustrating experience for us. We should have hopped on a cab and went to Fort A Famosa, St. John’s Fort, St. Peter’s Church, etc. we might have enjoyed the place.

46504_10151181962982918_750804650_nFacts about Ships

1. From the time of the Vikings up to today, ships have used figureheads to ward off evil sea serpents and represent the spirit of the ship. This carved wood figure, placed on the bow of the ship, had no function other than to “see the way”. In addition, it was believed that a storm could be calmed by a woman exposing her breasts. This is why ship’s figureheads are often of naked women.

2. The original unsinkable man was Frank Tower survived the sinking of the Titanic, the Lusitania, and the Empress of Ireland.

3. Long ago the least-valued member of the crew was sometimes sacrificed in the event of bad weather. This crewmember was often the poor cook.

4. Sailors have adopted beliefs that animals, birds, names, even whistling, can all be dire omens at sea. These beliefs are taken so seriously that the British Admiralty still takes enormous care in naming ships in the fleet. Reptile names are almost completely banned nowadays. The Navy, in the past, lost 4 Vipers, 4 Serpents, a Cobra, an Adder, an Alligator, and a Crocodile. They also lost 2 Snakes, 2 Dragons, and Lizards.

5. Perhaps the most curious of all beliefs at sea is that whistling is often banned. Whistling was thought to encourage high winds and was allowed only when the ship was becalmed or shrouded in mist.

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Sibu Island, Malaysia

Posted: September 19, 2012 in Malaysia
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“No man or woman is an island. To exist just for yourself is meaningless. You can achieve the most satisfaction when you feel related to some greater purpose in life, something greater than yourself.” – Denis Waitley

I missed the company outing last year in Desaru, Malaysia because my ass spent 2 weeks in Switzerland and France. For this year 2012, for our annual office outing,  less than 5 hours away from Singapore (20 minutes by ferry) lays Sibu Island Johor, Malaysia where we  indeed experienced that orange sunset, clear emerald blue sea, soothing tropical breeze and white sandy beaches.

The Sibu Archipelago lies only 30 minutes from the east coast of peninsular Malaysia. The archipelago is rich in natural beauty and Most of these islands continue to be uninhabited but some has various resorts like the one we visited –SIbu Island Resort http://www.sibuislandresort.com.my/ This 20 acres island is surrounded by powder milk sand has its own hilly terrain jungle track, mini zoo with a number of uncaged deer just roaming around the garden surrounded by pine trees. A number of amenities are also there like the tennis and volleyball court, swimming pool, game room (billiards and Ping-Pong) and the karaoke bar that is open until 1am for free.

Also, there are complimentary activities that we did try like the zip line and archery. We also went for snorkelling where they took us in a secluded island and left us there for 2 hours with just goggles, life vest, and fins. Well, the island was actually picture perfect and the sand was fine that it reminded of the beach at my mother’s hometown where she used to exile me and my siblings for 2 months during school break when were young.

You need not throw yourself far-flung just to see the fishes, they are very visible waist high but for those who did make an effort they found nemo and dory. My colleagues managed to see the corals with clown fish, blue tang, etc. while I walked along the shoreline feeling like richard-brandson and enjoying my own private island (http://www.neckerisland.virgin.com/)

The accommodation was nice as my colleague and I managed to score the layang-layang suite that has 2 bedrooms, shared bath and living room. The cottage was all wood and the style was like old Malaysian housing. The food was so-so, a good insect repellent is a must, and the spa massage was expensive and you have to queue because they only have one masseuse. While the rest of the time was ours to waste the only activities that are compulsory to attend was the buffet dinner night with 70’s hippy dippy theme and the relay games organized by the resort – which was a lot of fun.

I really enjoyed the office outing it’s the one weekend I get to connect with my colleagues outside the workplace and I like that our company has budget to include their partners and kids as well.  So here’s looking forward to the next one… Cheers!

KL2

KLCC

“According to Lao Tse, the reality of a hollow object is in the void and not in the walls that define it. He was speaking, of course, of spiritual realities. These are the realities also of the PETRONAS Towers. The power of the void is increased and made more explicit by the pedestrian bridge that … with its supporting structure creates a portal to the sky … a door to the infinite.” — César Pelli, Argentine-American main architect of KL Towers

Kuala Lumpur often abbreviated as K.L.is the capital and largest city of Malaysia. Bahasa Melayu—the national language, is one of the principal languages of KL. Other major languages spoken in the city are Mandarin, Cantonese and Tamil. English has a strong presence, especially in business and is a compulsory language taught in schools. Completed in 1998 the PETRONAS Twin Towers also known as the PETRONAS Towers or just Twin Towers, in KL were the world’s tallest twin buildings. The towers feature a sky bridge between the two towers on 41st and 42nd floors, which is the highest 2-story bridge in the world. The same floor is also known as the podium, since visitors desiring to go to higher levels have to change elevators here. The sky bridge is open to all visitors, for free passes limited to 1700 people per day must be obtained on a first-come, first-served basis. The sky bridge also acts as a safety device, so that in the event of a fire or other emergency in one tower, tenants can evacuate by crossing the sky bridge to the other tower. At the base of the towers is Suria KLCC, one of the largest shopping malls in Malaysia outside was the KLCC Park spanning 17 acres with jogging and walking paths, a fountain with incorporated light show, wading pools, and a children’s playground.

The movie Entrapment (1999) starring Sean Connery and Catherine Zeta-Jones best described this mega structure. When we are bored and in need for a change of pace or simply, just looking for a place to go that is outside Singapore we went to KL.  I have been there countless of times whenever a friend or family was staying for a visit there’s always an option to let them see anyway, KL was just 6 hours by bus or 45 minutes by plane and that’s another stamped on their passports. Also, everything was much cheaper there and they have TGI Fridays!

I had a chance to eat at a revolving restaurant where they served buffet providing diners a beautiful view of the city. You can experience this at the Kuala Lumpur Tower officially known as Menara Kuala Lumpur; referred later as KL Tower, it’s a tall tower and was built in 1995. It is used for communication purposes. The food was great but the revolving restaurant was an experience. You can barely feel the movement at first but after a few hours of eating and chatting you can feel the swirling and that’s the sign you need to get out of there otherwise you’ll puke everything you ate!

French Village @ the outskirt of KL

French Village @ the outskirt of KL

We also went to The ‘Eye on Malaysia’, a theme park where the main attraction was a 60 meter tall portable Ferris wheel at Titiwangsa Lake Gardens, The wheel allows visitors to experience a 360-degree panoramic view of Kuala Lumpur and over 20 kilometers of its surroundings including Kuala Lumpur Tower, Istana Budaya and PETRONAS Twin Towers, during a 12-minute ride. It was relocated to Malacca on November 8, 2008. Also, An hour drive outside of KL, deep into the jungle, you find the tourist resort Bukit Tingi. Built like a french village.

One weekend of 2006 we checked in to Mandarin which is beside the PETRONAS Towers. In the lobby was Michelle Yeoh with her family. I was star struck and daunted

Michelle Yeoh

Michelle Yeoh

 of her beauty. After all, she won the Miss Malaysia beauty pageant. She was also Malaysia’s representative at the 1983 Miss World pageant in London In 1983, at the age of 21. Born in Ipoh, Malaysia, she is based in Hong Kong and was chosen by People magazine as one of the 50 Most Beautiful People in the World in 1997. She is best known for her roles in the 1997 James Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies, and the multiple Academy Award-winning Chinese actions film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. She is credited as Michelle Khan in some of her earlier films. Well known for performing her own stunts in the action films that brought her to fame in the early 1990s she also starred in Memoirs of a Geisha (2005), The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (2008), and The Touch (2002).