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The Holy Land – Part 2.

The following day, we checked out of Nazareth, and headed northwards to Haifa. We went to Mt. Carmel along the way (right pic), where Elijah defeated the prophets of baal. The chapel on the hill was really beautiful. We ended up in Jaffa, where Peter had the vision of the food coming down from heaven on the roof of a house. We visited one of the many purported homes where this vision took place, and by dusk, we had reached Jerusalem and settled in our hotel.

The Holy Land -Part 1.

We went into Israel by bus via the Allenby Bridge crossing, so we passed by Mt. Nebo in Jordan, where Moses saw the promised land. There is a small chapel on the mountain (pic above), and the view was just amazing (pic below), you can see the whole of the Jordan river and the dead sea separating Jordan and Israel. Jordan is mostly desert, and the valley just beyond the Jordan is just so green and fertile, i can imagine how Moses must have felt. It was truly exhilarating! The day we were there was very clear, and we could even see Jericho in the distance.

Jetting here and there: Dubai

I have been very busy. Busy beyond belief, truth be told. This post has been ready in draft form for ages, but I haven’t had the chance to size the pictures. Anyway… My camera hasn’t been with me all the time nowadays, unfortunately, and when it has, it has faced quite a bit of adversity. It has now lost its cover somewhere in Isreal by the Sea of Galilee…

Swooshing Down The Roads of Dubai

Yep, I made my way to the Holy Land recently, via Dubai and Jordan. I had never been to the Middle East before, so I was looking forward to the experience. It was a 7 hour flight to Dubai. The airport is vast, with massive numbers of shops (apparently all of them are open 24 hours). We got out without any problems, and went on a group tour of Dubai city. We arrived at dawn, so we managed to catch the sunrise in Dubai. It was a cool morning, and Dubai is extremely impressive. Tall buildings shoot up out of nowhere, and beautiful manicured gardenspepper the city.

Detour: Fraser’s Hill 05 (Part 2)

I spend the days driving around, or walking around taking pictures. We even went to places and roads I had never been to before. That’s not to say that Fraser’s is very big, it’s actually quite small, but there were so many little corners and nooks I had never known existed before. E and I even spent a breezy sunny afternoon sunbathing on a paddle boat on Allan’s Water. Surrounded by the green tropical virgin forest, the climate was exactly how I wish the climate would be like in Kuala Lumpur. I ended up getting burn shoulders!

Fraser’s Hill hasn’t changed much in the fifteen years I’ve been away. It’s still quiet and rustic and quaint, what with the many authentic and old colonial bungalows scattered everywhere. The old coffeeshop was still the same (pic below), with its large round marble tables and wooden chairs, friendly proprietor and reasonably priced food. The Tavern had some pretty good cake, although the coffee was sadly weak.

Detour: Fraser’s Hill 05 (Part 1)

I went on a mini-holiday to Fraser’s Hill recently, and decided to couple that with a little bit of work. The end result is basically that I can’t re-produce what I am doing for that article here. However, I do have some extra pictures, so I guess this will end up more as a photo blog than anything else.

Thank God, no “House of Wax” experiences for us!
On the way up to Fraser’s Hill, which is somewhere between the two more famous hill resorts, Genting Highlands and Cameron Highlands, my friend E and I got lost. Frankly, I’m not too sure if we got lost in Selangor on the way up, or in Pahang itself, in which the hill resort lies. All I know is, we ended up in many many places which was tremendously developed, but was empty and ghost-town like (picture above). It amazed me how many new shophousing areas and residential areas lay abandoned all over the place. Even more amazing was nice new smoothly tarred roads which hardly seemed to be used, contrasted to the bumpy and busy old trunk road.

We’ll be coming round the mountain, when we come!

Well, techically a hill, not mountain. After having lived all my life in Petaling Jaya, more than three decades no less, I’ve never been up Gasing Hill. Unbelievable, even to me, considering I spent some time in the Methodist Primary School nearby. It is the only “green lung” within the whole of Petaling Jaya. Unfortunately for all but an elite few, this green lungs is slowly being eaten away by the cancer known as high-rise condominiums and similar developments. Before it disappears into nothingness, I decided to haul a friend up the slopes of the spinning top.At the foot of Gasing Hill are some of the most elegant houses in the Klang Valley. I’m not talking about those colossal mammoths teetering precariously on the slopes closer to the Federal Highway, but the nice former government houses in the deeper recesses of the foothill (pic), and close to one of the entrances to the jungle trail. Apparently, there are many entrances into the jungle trail, but this was the only one I was aware of. So, E and I parked here and walked in.

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.