Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Cuti Cuti Malaysia 102 - Kampung Kuantan Firefly Park

Kampung Kuantan Firefly Park is one of those tourist places nearby which I always wanted to go but never really got a chance to do so. Well, that was until Big Teddy came along and we started exploring new places together. So, one evening we decided to drive almost 70km into the wilderness to see the much talk about fireflies. 
The 1-hour drive was quite dreadful especially along the long and quiet highway. The last stretch of the drive towards the firefly park was even scarier along narrow road and without any street lights. Nevertheless, we made it to our destination in one piece around 9pm. Parking was ample and it's free of charge. The place was quite well organized as compared to other tourist places in Malaysia. We went to buy a boat ticket for RM50 per  boat (max 4 person) and were given 2 mineral water (since there's only 2 of us in the boat) before we headed to the jetty area. There wasn't too many crowd on a Saturday night and we were soon in a boat rowing away to take us to see the fireflies.  
Kampung Kuantan Firefly Park is the home to thousands of fireflies living well along Sungai Selangor (Selangor River) river banks and feeding on the Berembang trees (Mangrove trees). Our boatman was quite good in rowing the boat to the Mangrove trees along the river which we started to see the fireflies lit up like Christmas trees as the lights from mainland slowly faded away. I was delighted to see this amazing insects up close. Our boatman gave us 2 live fireflies which I thought wasn't the right thing to do. The fireflies should live free instead of being captured to be given to the tourists. Unfortunately, the one in my hand had broken wings but still blinking brightly. I hold it for a while before releasing it back to the Mangrove trees and hoped that it would somehow make it. 
The boat ride was a quick one and we were on our way back after 15-20 minutes. Overall, it was quite a serene and unique experience. I enjoyed it very much but wondered how clearly did Big Teddy see the fireflies as he forgot his glasses that night... Oppsss...

The small boat
The Mangrove trees
Christmas Tree! It was way better in real life
Slowly rowing back to the jetty
Without flash & with Flash

Friday, July 18, 2014

Cuti Cuti Malaysia 101 - Batu Caves

This year my travel theme is "Cuti Cuti Malaysia", in line with the Visit Malaysia Year 2014. Plus I have Big Teddy now as my adventure mate, so  it's easier to explore some old and new places around Malaysia. 
First few stops as a tourist in Kuala Lumpur apart from the Petronas Twin Towers, Batu Caves is quite a famous place to experience a different culture. It is a limestone hill with a Hindu shrine inside the cave at the top of hills. This site is also the home to the largest Lord Murugan statue in the world. During the annual Thaipusam festival, Batu Caves turns into a jam packed placed filled with Hindu pilgrims from all across the country. 
Our journey to Batu Caves started from downtown KLCC but it took us a long while to get there due to the traffic jam. Big Teddy had his 1st share of culture shock when we parked our car along the roadside and being extorted RM10 by some Indians on motorbike allegedly for parking fee when it's just a normal road. Well, being Malaysian I told him it's better to pay up rather than get my car scratched later. 
Unhappy thoughts aside, entrance to Batu Caves is free (except for a guided tour near the top of the hill). The 140 feet Lord Murugan statue was quite a scene as we walk towards the base of the hill. The main challenge of Batu Caves is the 272 steps to the top of hill. My stamina is always quite shitty so I took a while to get to the top. The last time I came to this place was probably back in the high school and I remember there was a lot of monkeys. However this time around there's only a handful of monkeys running around. Part of me was kinda disappointed as I was expecting more monkeys playing around. 
Once we reached the top of the hill or better known as the Temple Cave, there's nothing much to see apart from a shrine and limestone all over. The smell of birds' discharge was all over the place and wasn't pleasant so we didn't stay long up there. Malaysia is never good at maintaining a tourist site but with the Visit Malaysia Year campaign going on I was expecting better and cleaner ambiance.  
Overall, I liked the 272 steps climbing up the hill and the extremely tall Lord Murugan Statue, but other than that, Batu Caves is for tourist and those who have not been there. I wonder how many people would ever return to Batu Caves (save from the faithful pilgrims).... 

Behold... the 140 feet tall Lord Murugan Statue

This monkey is loving his snacks
Half way up the hill

 For more information, please visit wikipedia page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Batu_Caves

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Bye Bye 2013

This post has been long overdue for over a month now... I had an idea on what I wanted to write towards the end of 2013 as I looked back the year... But things took an interesting turn in the 1st month of this new year hence my outlook had somewhat changed compared to a month ago... 
Well to begin with... 2013 wasn't a great year for me overall... A few people that I cared/used to care moved on to different paths of lives and I sometimes wondered whether I'd done enough to keep these people in my life longer. The fact remains that people come and people go... Those who came left their footprints in my life and I cherish our times together... Good or bad... I wish them nothing but the best. There were few regrets but I guess those feelings will be better served as future guidance for new people to come... 
Work wise it was a challenging year with quite a few deals fell through or getting stuck... So it was sorta frustrating... This year will marked the 10th year that I'd first started working and being with the same organization. It didn't feel like a very long time honestly speaking and I definitely had some fantastic moments in my career but I can't shake the feeling of complacent out of my head. On the other hand, the uncertainty of changes does frighten me.. Should I step into the unknown? Do I really want it? I guess I should really put some serious thoughts into this soon.. Maybe... Maybe not...
Having said all that, there were happy moments. The best part of 2013 was my Japan trip in May 2013. It was really awesome that I finally got to visit the country that one point had so much influence on my teens. And Japan didn't disappoint me at all and it was one of the best trip I had ever had! Will surely visit Japan again soon. I also went to Yogyakarta for the first time with my sis and it was really fun too... Not as fun as Japan but it was a relaxing trip nonetheless. Travel always make me a happy girl and I don't think I'll get enough of it~! 
Oh I also bought a new place with my sister too and I can't wait to get the keys and start renovations and move in ASAP. My current place is showing signs of ageing after 8 years since I bought it. However, buying 2nd hand property is quite a pain in the a** as it's been 6 months and we still haven't sorted the final payment from the bank to the seller! I don't think I'd ever nagged or scolded so many people just trying to make things move a little faster for this transaction. It is now at the final stage and hopefully I could get hold of the keys in less than 2 weeks time.. Fingers crossed! New home new place new neighbourhood probably will bring new changes to my life this year which I'm certainly looking forward to~! 
As for my new year's resolutions this year which are pretty similar to the previous years... I hope to stay healthy and fit, continue to travel and explore new places, and perhaps actually to be able to build an exhilarating life with a special someone! 

Monday, December 30, 2013

Singapore 113 - Universal Studios Singapore (Part 2)

After lunch, we continued our day trip to USS by exploring the Madagascar zone next. There's only 1 ride there which was the Madagascar: A Crate Adventure and it was very childish for me. The river boat ride was filled with the famous Madagascar characters in the statue form and some digital/sound effects but it was quite a boring one for me. 
The famous baobab tree from Madagascar but not the real one
Looked fun from the outside....
Good looking but still pretty "dead" statues
Battlestar Galactica from Madagascar
Then we reached the Pantages Hollywood Theater with the Monster Rock! Live Show. The 1,500 seats indoor theater was a welcomed break from the hot weather outside. We had fun watching the different Universal Monsters, i.e. Dracula, Frankenstein, Wolfman, Mummy and many more danced and sung along with some of the famous pop songs for close to half an hour. It was kinda slow in the beginning but the choreograph picked up towards the end. I still liked the air conditioned room the most... just like the Shrek 4D Adventure...

Walking out from the Monster Rock! Live Show we realised that we had just made a full circle of the USS by reaching the entrance of themed park again. Well it was definitely smaller than I'd expected. We then went to Lights! Camera! Action! Hosted by Steven Spielberg for an awesome soundstage experience offering the audience an experience on how to transform an empty soundstage to a hurricane hitting New York city within a few minutes with its special effects.  This is definitely my favourite show in USS. 

Well in about 4 hours, we'd covered all the major rides of the themed park (except for Battlestar Galactica cause my sister didn't want to try it) without even using our express pass on a Sunday~! Probably we were lucky. So we took some time walk around to take pictures with the things we don't usually see in this part of the world...  

The yellow cab~!

One of my favourite picture~! The extremely cute Sesame Street Puppets~!
We went back to take the Transformers: The Ride again and this time we were glad we had the express pass as the queue time was close to 2 hours! But with the express pass, we were able to cut all the queue and went straight to the ride without waiting... I could feel the not so friendly stares from those who didn't have the express pass but hey I paid good Singapore Dollar for it.

Back to Sci Fi City again

The almighty Optimus Prime~!
We were becoming bored so we even tried this extremely pointless ride, the Accelerator which was did nothing but spinning around for few minutes.

The Accelerator
Look familiar? 

We decided to make good use of our express pass by going on some of the smaller rides that we passed this morning, like the Canopy Flyer in The Lost World which the line in the afternoon had stretched until an hour or two kinda waiting line. It was kinda cool and probably a mini version of the Battlestar Galactica: Cyclon with the suspended roller coaster design with our feets hanging in the sky.

The most childish ride in USS must be the Treasure Hunters with the horrendous mini jeep ride. The probs were awful and it was just nothing interesting to see...

What to see?
OMG so fake...
I liked that he's tall and he has six packs 

We also went back to Far Far Away for another round of Sherk: 4D adventure since I complained that I didn't actually feel the "spiders" moving underneath my seat earlier and this time I did felt something but it was just wind...

We gave up walking at about 4pm something, since my sister refused to try the Battlestar Gallactica so I was kinda lazy to do it on my own. In the end we found a spot in New York Zone sitting down and waited for the Hollywood Dreams Parade to start at 5pm. Hollywood Dreams Parade is a full scale parade running through five out of the seven parks across all zones, the parade consists of fourteen intricately detailed floats, special effects, over one hundred performers, custom musical score and the "Hollywood Dreams" dance song. It was quite a spectacular show with all the Universal Studios characters coming out to play...

Another of my favourite shot~!

When the Hollywood Dreams Parade ended, it was time to go home and thanks to the free shuttle bus provided by Resort World Sentosa we got a free ride back to our hotel downtown.

Overall, USS was a wonderful experience for me despite some of the underwhelming rides and smaller than expected layout. However, they managed to make up for the shortcomings with the top notch service standards and most importantly well thought processors for each and every rides, like lockers, shoes cabinets, express pass queue and extremely friendly staff that kept helping us to take our pictures. I just went to Legoland this month not too far away across the Causeway in Johor and the processors in Legoland left much to be desired compared to USS. Let's see if I could explore other Universal Studios Themed Parks around the world next...

For my part 1 adventure, please click here.
For more information about USS, please go to their offiical website: http://www.rwsentosa.com/language/en-US/Homepage/Attractions/UniversalStudiosSingapore#