Saturday, March 22, 2014

Hello Taiwan!

5th-11th March 2014

Mum has always wanted to visit Taiwan.
I on the other hand has always been a little hesitant visiting places where I can't read/speak the language. I figured we will have a tough time planning so we went ahead to book with one of her favourite tour agent.

Every single night, we arrived past 9pm in a new hotel in a new town and depart by 7.30am the next day. It was probably the most hectic trip of my life. Here are the list of places we have visited.

  1. Ho Ping Island Hi Park
  2. Jiu Fen
  3. Hualien
  4. Taroko National Park
  5. Kaohsiung
  6. Sun, Moon Lake
  7. Tamsui Fishermen Wharf
Taiwan is a really beautiful place. But to squeeze the whole country into 8 days on a bus just do not do justice to what it has to offer. It was also unfortunate that the most beautiful places were where we spent the least time because most of our travel groups don't want to walk but sit in the bus.

Maybe we will return again once day, but this time, we will go on our own. No tour groups, no following majority's lack of respect on timing but the freedom to enjoy beautiful spots such as Taroko National Park and Koahsiung.

Sun Moon Lake is a pretty unique place too but if it fogs up, there isn't really much to see.

Ho Ping Island Hi Park

Taroko National Park

Sun Moon Lake

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Siem Reap, Cambodia

8th-12th Jan 2014

Arrived early in Siem Reap. After a quick breakfast, we checked into Parklane Hotel. Booked out tuk-tuk and were on our way. First off - visited the Angkor Silk Farm. Really interesting to see how silk is made. Enable us to truly value silk products.

After a decent meal at Joe-to-go, we headed for the Kompong Phluk, Floating Village. It was a pretty long walk to the boat. The boat ride (for USD15 per person) was almost an hour to view the sunset at Tonle Sap Lake. We passed the floating village before we reached a swamp area where we were told to take a small canoe to view the swamp. There was a miscommunication whereby we thought the sunset is only possible with this ride. It cost us additionally USD4 per person which they were trying to charge us USD5. Nice but not fantastic. But I would have appreciated if they would have told us about it before hand. Understand the people are poor and this amount would make a difference. Should have read about it on Tripadvisor. The sunset was nice but I thought the view was also possible at most island or beach in Malaysia. The shaky boat meant I can't do a time lapse either.

Also realized that it can get really chilly on the tuk-tuk at night and morning. Our tuk-tuk driver told us the temperature will actually drop to 16 degree during year end.

On the next day, we woke up early to catch the sunrise at Angkor Wat. We weren't the only one. The place was crowded by 5.30am. Everyone seemed to think they work for national geography or something. Seriously, nothing beats our own eyes. The description made by most people is a little overrated. It was nice but personally feel it wasn't as spectacular as I have imagine.

Visited few other ruins like Bayon Temple and finally the much talked about Ta Prohm (Tomb Raider's shoot location). Interesting to see how the trees have grown over the whole place. Many seems to be leafless though.

The following day, we took a pretty long ride to see the carvings on the river bank at Kbal Spean. 50km on a tuk tuk can be a real challenge. The 1500meter hike/walk isn't too difficult. In fact it is easier than Gasing Hill. The pathway is pretty clear so there is no fear of getting lost if you don't' wander off. Food there is pricier than town.

Visited Banteay Srey on the way back. The place was a miniature compared to the others. So watch your head! Was said to be the one to have the best carvings of all the temples.

After that, we dropped by The Cambodia Landmine Museum. This was my highlight for the trip. Bill walked a group of us through the different rooms explaining about the history, war and what they are working on. It really moved my heart and I'm so inspired by Bill and Aki Ra's team. So many incidents and stories are not made known to the world. They have truly persevere and are making a great difference in the lives of the Cambodian despite all the challenges they have faced.

The long ride on the tuk tuk really took a toll on me. So when my friends decided they wanted to check out a Boeng Melea that is 75km away, I opt out. Just wanted to chill in pub street without rushing and torturing my body further.

It isn't the cheapest trip for me. Especially when they trade in USD and the value of MYR is really pathetic at the moment. But what I appreciate about the people especially drivers, are their patience. Worlds apart from Malaysian drivers. If Malaysian were to drive there, we would have killed many.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Dive Sipadan with SWV II

18th-22nd Oct 2013
Second dive trip with SWV. To date, my 7th Dive Trip.

This time, just 3 of us. Learning from last year's experience, we basically went a day earlier, left LCCT slightly later in the day and stayed in Tawau for 1 night. Was great as we get to eat so much, seafood (I think we freaked out the waiters). It was a lot less tiring since we get to rest early.

Because we were already in Tawau, we arranged to leave for Semporna earlier. Coincidentally out hotel - Heritage Hotel is just opposite SWV office. That also meant that we can get on the island earlier for our check out dive.

My only disappointment was on my flight to Tawau, I realized that my gopro casing had cracks on it. Didn't managed to get a replacement in time as it was the weekend and I'm not in KL where FedEx could delivery within the next day.

At our check out dive at Paradise 2, we saw 4 humongous green turtles! They are residents but somehow we didn't see them the year before.

The following days, we saw with School of Razor Fish, Mantis Shrimp, Purple Coby, Large Tuna, Giant Trevally, Leopard Snake, White Leaf Fish, Pygmy Seahorse, Jaw Fish, Harlequin Shrimp, Transparent Shrimp, Mandarin Fish and a Pair of Frog Fish on water surface. Some which we didn't see the year before.

Our dive masters have been great company. Thoroughly enjoyed diving with them - Felix, Andyrian, Ramil and Fauzy.

So my dive computer backlight didn't work, camera case broke before I even arrive, torch battery died just when I needed to use and plane back delayed for more than 2.5 hours. Sound as if many things didn't work for me...

But actually, everything else were just perfect. Met old and new friends. Saw almost everything we wanted to and had a great time chilling. Truly thankful for this trip. Definitely one of the most memorable trip ever.

Can't wait for my next dive trip.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Dew Crew Retreat 2013

15th-17th Sep 2013
El-Sanctuary, Malacca

We haven't done a Malacca trip for the longest time. This year, we stayed in El-Scantuary located a little bit further from town. Ok, barely 10mins from Aeon Big actually. The place run by Vincent and Ann in a homestay concept. Truly a nature experience.

We had all our meals here and food here is excellent!

Other than a very short walk around the area, we pretty much spent all our time indoors playing "cups" and kinect. So, some of us do have pretty good dancing skills!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Escape Theme Park

13th-14th Sep 2013
Team Building Session with KA Team

Had a short meeting cum team building event on this trip. Stayed at the Flamingo Hotel. For team building, we went to Penang Escape Theme Park. We were divided into a few groups and each has a number of task to complete (in different order) within the time frame.

The task that we must complete were - Atan's Leap, Monkey Business, Gecko Tower, Tubby Racer, A-Maze and Flying Lemur. After completing the team building tasks, we had the opportunity to try out the other activities. Pretty cool place. Everyone who has a fear of height should really do this!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Langkawi with Mum

24th-26th Aug 2013

The last time we took a trip to Langkawi was more than 10 years ago. Then, the cable car was not even in operation yet. Cenang Beach was quiet with very few restaurant operators. We rented a car and stayed at Tropical Resort Langkawi. A budget place and near the beach. It wasn't beach front but will do.

It was nice to just visit a few place and hang out, go for massage, have some seafood, wine and chill. I'm all for relaxing trips.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Hillsong Conference 2013

29th June-8th July 2013
Hillsong Conference 2013

I have wanted to attend Hillsong Conference for the longest time. And finally, my very first trip to Australia!

So glad we had rented cars. We stayed at the Oaks Goldsborough Apartments which is really near the Darling Harbour. Managed to check out the Opera House and Harbour Bridge from a ferry ride. Haha. Such a tourist!

The conference started the next day and it was solid days at the Allphones Arena of the Sydney Olympic Park. I really love the main sessions with the guest speakers as well as Pr Brian and Bobbie's team. The workshops are pretty general and understandably because of the wide range of delegates attending it. Without this Conference, I doubt I would have the opportunity to hear so many speakers from Texas - and those who live next to it. Conference joke.

Guest speakers include Bishop T.D Jakes of The Potter's House, Joel & Victoria Osteen of Lakewood Church, Craig Groeschel of, and Judah Smith of The City Church. Also guest worship leaders Kari Jobe, Leeland and Israel Houghton.

What I love most is to see the volunteers at work. It is so encouraging to see them serve with all their hearts. The volunteers are combination from all the different campuses. Truly amazed at the number of people involved in the conference every year. Think they mentioned that it takes about 2000 people to make it happen. Their technical team is huge too. Just watching how quickly they transition props and equipments on stage! So many more were working backstage. Salute to the team! Thanks for the inspiration.