Blog posts

Putra Jaya through a phone lens

When I bought my new Sony Ericsson K300i a few months ago, I thought it’d be fun to do a whole blog just using my camera phone. Of course, it won’t be as clear as my Nikon digital camera, but I thought it would be good to mix the technology, see the results, and if anything comes out wonky, call it “art”. Aside from that, this post revolves around “the making of” a V Mag article, so I have to ensure that there was no clash between the “professional” photos taken, and the ones used for this blog. And no, you’ll have to buy the magazine to find out exactly what the article is on.

Detour – Thailand 05

I had great plans for a wonderful blog on Thailand, when I discovered I was to go earlier this year. It has been ages since I visited there: I was nine the last time I was in Bangkok, and I was fifteen the last time I was in Hat Yai. I hadn’t been to anywhere else in Thailand, and this trip included Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai.The idea of the trip, however, was vastly different from the actual experience. The trip was very rushed: we zoomed from B to Chiang Rai, took a van from Chiang Rai to Chiang Mai, then took the van back to Chiang Rai again, and flew down to Bangkok again, all within the space of four days. The last few quiet days in Bangkok were spent mostly catching up with friends and relatives. So I did not really get much of an opportunity to view majestic sweeping Siamese temples, or go chugging down the river, or visit pin pong shows, unfortunately.

So a full-fledged blow-by-blow might have to wait until I get to go again on my own, with my own itinery. But here are my observations and thoughts on my recent holiday in Thailand:

The Bangkok International Airport reminds me a little of our Subang Jaya airport (now unfortunately demolished), although perhaps a little bit better maintained. I was actually surprised how orderly things are, definitely not as much of a mess when I was nine (yes, I do remember!). We passed through Customs and Immigration with no problem (part of me still has a cold-sweat kind of fear, after my ordeal at Dover, which is another story entirely). Huge signs warn visitors that insulting the Customs officer is an offence punishable by law. Interesting.

Queues and Traffic: Queues in Bangkok are generally fast-moving and courteous. The ones who mess up queues tend to be white people, who apparently have this thing called “white power” in Thailand. More on that privately, if you like.

Traffic was great as well. I recall when I was nine sitting in the taxi with my parents for close to three hours in traffic moving forward and inch every 20 minutes or so in Bangkok. I remember I was sticky, irritable and my eyes were watering from the dust. I was pleasantly surprised at the swift smooth flowing traffic on the motorway, which allowed us a speedy journey to Sukhumvit, on which our hotel was situated.

After paying the two separate tolls, we got into the kind of Bangkok traffic I recalled so fondly. However, motorists were just so courteous and considerate, especially compared to Malaysian drivers. There were no motorists forcing themselves into other lanes. There was no horning at all. When someone wanted to change lanes, they politely signalled, and the motorist in the other lane would politely wait. A friend later told me that there were even special rules for giving way: flash your headlights once to say “I’m coming and you better not get in my way” and flash twice to say “Oh, do go ahead, I’ll slow down for you”. Amazing. Malaysia might have the worst motorists in the region after all. Perhaps that’s something to put in the Malaysia Book of Records…

Detour – Kuching 04 #3

We decided to take it easy the next day. I was feeling quite washed out from the day before, especially the amount of running I did in the rain. So we just had a very very lazy breakfast, then I took my camera down to the town centre to explore.

One of the first things I saw when I came into town on the first day was a nicely done-up shoplot called the Red bookshop. I made my way down there, just to see what’s what. There was a write-up on the book store in the newspaper, and I was keen to see what kind of books they were offering there. The shop, as with all the others, was done up really nicely inside and out (pic above). The selection of books were quite good, especially for the size of the store. The prices were not any different from Kuala Lumpur’s prices, unfortunately.

After browsing inside awhile, I walked along outside. I found that the body decoration culture was a bit more sophisticated than that in KL. Many young guys (and some old ones) were sporting massive and ornate tattoos, and there were quite a number of tattoo parlours concentrated in the shopping area around Lebuh Wayang and Lebuh Temple.

I went into a grocery store along Lebuh Wayang to get a cold canned drink, and ended up speaking to the shop owner, a friendly elderly Chinese gentleman. I expressed my admiration of how beautifully the shops were refurbished, and how much character Kuching had. He said he had his grocery store open for more than 60 years. He added that most of the shops were owned by the Anglican church nearby, and he pointed me to the right direction to the cathedral.

Detour – Kuching 04 #2

The next morning, we woke up at a decent hour, and headed out for brunch. I dashed out to a little traffic junction nearby, just to take a photo of another cat monument (“Kuching” means “cat” in English). There is a cat monument right in front of the hotel, and just two streets down was the other cat monument (left and right pics below respectively). We just mooched around leisurely for the rest of the mid-morning until it was time for us to take a bus down to the Semenggok Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre.
Kuching is actually a very organised city. The Tourist Information Centre down by the Main Bazaar had wonderful little maps of the city and outskirts, with tables and bus schedules. The city has also provided a free hop-on/hop-off bus within the city to tourist destinations.

We had planned to take the bus out to Semenggok. On the way to the bus stop, we walked through Jalan Tun Abang Haji Openg, passing by the entire length of the Courthouse, passing the Little Lebanon restaurant (pic above). Right after that was the Round Tower. The reason for its construction is apparently a “mystery” (according to the tourist information pamphlet). The pamphlet suggests that perhaps it was built as a fortress, due to its design. On the other hand, I suppose it could have been constructed just to juxtapose the Square Tower. It was used as a dispensary, but now houses the a section of the Judicial Department. I managed to get a picture of the Round Tower later on in the evening (right pic).

Detour – Kuching 04 #1

Someone once said that there are only three cities in Malaysia worth visiting: Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Kuching. I had the good fortune to visit Penang this year, unfortunately before this blog began (although there was a mini write-up on it on my older blog minus photos). However, I managed to visit the third city worth visiting recently, Kuching, and I definitely was taken by its charm.

RFD and I left for the airport mid-morning, via the KLIA Express from KL Sentral. I usually come back from the airport via the train, but I’ve never taken it from town to the airport. Of course, things seem a lot more exciting on the way out, and I noticed how much development there was going on in the Salak South and Bandar Tasik Selatan, Cheras (left pic).

I have never flown Air Asia before, or any other kind of budget airline, so this was another first for me. I was told many things, and everything was true: the free seating, and the mad rush to the gate to get good seats – all true. However, what I wasn’t expecting was the boredom. I never realised how much comfort played a part in flying, and how much the serving of drinks and meals actually fill in the time. Instead, I found myself staring into the leather seat ahead, bored out of my mind, wondering why one hour and forty minutes felt like five hours.

Rainy Afternoon in Port Dickson

So I hurriedly took a few last pictures of Morib, and we gathered ourselves back into the stationwagon, and we headed down to Port Dickson, in Negri Sembilan. I have to say that the coast road is really very scenic, especially compared to the dull north-south highway. We travelled through the Guthrie plantations, and saw quite a number of planes, all probably heading towards (or from) the Kuala Lumpur International Airport, which was nearby (pics below).

Port Dickson is one of those places which reminds me of my childhood, like Fraser’s Hill and Mimaland. We used to go down quite often when we were children, and stay at Headlands, a KTM-staff getaway. It was a beautiful white colonial-style house, on a hill on a peninsula down in Port Dickson. Unfortunately, not only has the house been razed down, but the hill flattened as well. All in the name of development…

A rainy afternoon In Morib

When we went to Carey Island recently, I failed to mention that we wanted to drive down to Morib, but decided against it because of the rain. Feeling restless and adventurous, my brother decided to go down with his family to Morib, and I happily jumped on the stationwagon.

We took the same route as we did down to Carey Island, so there was much the same to see. Once we were beyond the Carey Island turnoff, I began to look around, and found that pillars and stone constructs were big business in the Kuala Langat district (left pic above). The area seemed predominantly Indian by the number of temples around, like this peach coloured one along the main road (right pic above). It seemed like the district was developing rapidly, with golf driving ranges along the way, and even karaoke joints and massage parlours (with interesting names like “Sauna Herba De Aroma”) in little shop lots.