applying love in our life

THE KEY BANGKOK HOTEL AT SUKHUMVIT SOI 19 BANGKOK THAILAND

You may think Bangkok, the capital city of Thailand is not as big as it sounds but it’s 1.5 times the size of Penang Island and Mainland combined. However, Bangkok is more densely populated with endless attractions compared to Penang. Thus, it’s great if you know which would be the best location to stay based on your itinerary during your vacation. There may be over thousands of city & riverside hotels, boutique hotels, guesthouses or even hostels to stay in and it can be a little daunting for first-timers in Bangkok. To me, it’s not about the things you planned to do in Bangkok but the knowledge to fully utilize the mass transits to get to your destinations. With over 50 districts in Bangkok, I’ve chosen the district of Watthana with the convenience of having both the Bangkok Mass Transit System (BTS) and the Metropolitan Rapid Transit (MRT Metro) easily available. That’s the reason I’ve checked into The Key Bangkok Hotel.

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The Key, a 3-star hotel, is not much of a lavish hotel with complete facilities, but it’s just the right one for my basic necessities. Most importantly, a hotel has to be clean. Moreover, I realized that the housekeeping team has been a bit too hard working during my 5D4N stay in the hotel by replenishing all the used shampoo bottles, drinking water, beverage sachets and towels on a daily basis (when they stressed that we should try to go green and avoid changing towels daily). Though small in size, the hotel still has a comfortable sitting area with an indoor coffee house and an al fresco area to chill out.

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As for the room, I would say it’s quite spacious for a THB2000++ room with facilities such as a small kitchen (with plates, bowls, cups, glasses and necessary utensils), microwave oven, refrigerator, electric water kettle (complimentary coffee & tea sachets and two bottles of drinking water daily), TV, DVD player, safe deposit box, dressing table, working table, dining table, build-in wardrobe, hairdryer and bath tub with hot showers. Moreover, the washroom came equipped with hair shampoo, body shampoo, spa shampoo, hand wash and hand lotion bottles.

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However, there were two major setbacks in the room. One will be the toilet bowl which is too near to the wall. Thus, it will be quite inconvenient for huge sized house guests to do their “business”. Moreover, the blinds were not overlapping properly, resulting in the feeling of insecurity to prevent peeping toms from the opposite building. On top of that, there was no dish washer in the room. Though the housekeeper will clean up those dirty dishes, it would be great if they can provide that for long term house guests. As for WIFI, it’s not as stable as my personal 3G connection (though my Happy Tourist SIM card was not as smooth as it should be outside the vicinity of the hotel).

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Overall, it’s still a nice place to stay in with minimal sound pollution and the central air-conditioning can be rather cold. Moreover, Terminal 21 is just few minutes of walk away. You can access to a convenience shop right outside the entrance with two more 7-11 shops along the Sukhumvit Soi 19. Restaurants (Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Western), street food, cafes, hair salon, gymnasium and massage & spa parlors are scattered everywhere nearby. Without taking the risk of missing my flight (12.00 noon) to get home, the staff was helpful enough to get me a taxi to Don Mueang International Airport for a mere THB400 at 8.30am.

Here are some peeps of what to expect surrounding the vicinity of The Key Bangkok Hotel.

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Name: THE KEY BANGKOK HOTEL
Address: 19-19/1-3 Sukhumvit Soi 19, Klong Toei Nuea, Watthana, Bangkok 10110, Thailand.
Contact: +662 255 5825
GPS: 13.739016, 100.559948

DIRECTIONS:

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From Don Mueang International Airport (DMK): Take A1/A2 bus to Mo Chit Station (BTS Sukhumvit Line). Take the Skytrain to BTS Asoke Station. Use the Skywalk towards Exit 1 and walk downstairs towards Terminal 21. Walk straight towards “The Westin Grande Sukhumvit Hotel”. At the road before the hotel, turn right into Sukhumvit Soi 19 and walk about 70m and you will see the “The Key” after a row of shop houses on your left. The main entrance of the hotel is via a smaller alley.

From Suvarnabhumi International Airport: Take the Airport Rail Link (ARL) to ARL Makkasan Station. Walk to the MRT Phetcheburi Station and use the Subway Train to MRT Sukhumvit Station. Walk towards Exit 3 near the entrance of Terminal 21. Walk straight towards “The Westin Grande Sukhumvit Hotel”. At the road next to the hotel, turn right into Sukhumvit Soi 19 and walk about 70m and you will see the “The Key” after a row of shop houses on your left. The main entrance of the hotel is via a smaller alley.

RATING:
Ambience: 7/10 (1-4 cheap, 5-7 average, 8-10 classy)
Cleanliness: 8/10 (1-4 limited, 5-7 average, 8-10 many choices)
Noise Pollution: 5/10 (1-4 quiet, 5-7 average, 8-10 noisy)
Pricing: 7/10 (1-4 cheap, 5-7 average, 8-10 expensive)
Service: 8/10 (1-4 bad, 5-7 average, 8-10 excellent)

 

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10 REASONS WHY I SHOULD AVOID STRESS

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A workaholic is always a workaholic as they will always give excuses that they do not have the time off as their schedules are always tight and sparing a few hours of their precious time will be super impossible. Stop being a badass and make excuses for all your shortcomings as there will always be an endless chain of work to be done. How you make time for everything and anything are within your own control. Good time management is vital for your personal lifestyle, a healthy one. No matter how short a holiday trip it may be, it’s a NECESSITY and not a LUXURY.

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Now stop being a hypocrite that you do not have time in your hands to improve your own life. Our bodies need a break away from stresses of any kind. We often ignore the importance of proper rest and relaxation until our body had become so fragile even to execute some simple chores. One health guru frequently reminded me on my failing health, “What’s the use of you resting many times in a day and yet not getting enough of proper sleep?” He was right. A body needs long and undisturbed sleep on scheduled sleeping time AT NIGHT to enable our body the adequate time to repair, recuperate and grow. In this technological era, we tend to spend most of our time poking our heads into other people’s affairs than finding ways to make our life more beneficial, physically, mentally, spiritually and morally.

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I often ask myself these questions, “Am I being an idiot and taken for rides all the time? Do any company and friends appreciate my insane working attitudes to make their lives more profitable? If so, where’s the gratitude?” Most of the time, it’s all about money and secondly it’s about given opportunities. In the end, it’s about taking things for granted and forgetting about the roots on how a person’s life became more at ease and bearable. I have come to the state that slogging so hard for others is not my main priority now. I would rather take a break away from the hustle and bustle of a mad concrete jungle and spend my time doing what I loved most at a more relaxing pace – living my life to the fullest with more happiness and less stress.

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Here are my reasons to stay idle for some time until I’m fully charged for the next phase in my life:

Restructuring the body against burnouts – Staying away from any sort of work tend to give the body the required time to repair itself and the brain to be free from any commitment it had pre-programmed to do so. A carefree lifestyle can prevent one from falling into depression, anxiety, temperamental and more. So, let’s go for a work-free vacation now.

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Regaining fitness – You might not believe it but you tend to walk more during trips even if it’s just for a few hours. The wonderful thing is that you won’t realize that you are actually burning up more fat and calories~ LOL! Due to all those little sightseeing walks or even shopping sprees, you are actually being forced to walk more than usual, pumping up your heart for better blood circulations, thus making you feeling fresher than ever.

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Breathing a different air – Instead of sitting down on the same spot for years and breathing in the same stuffy air, it’s always great to send yourself onto a new expedition, to an unexpected destination out from the normal populated areas and into the wilderness of the sea, land and air. At least the lungs have enough fresh air to repair themselves. Let’s go Kakadu~ Wait! Where is that? LOL~ 😛

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Rekindle your long lost connections – When was the last time you met up with your great grand aunt who is from another state or country? Well, that might be quite hard as it might incur more time and expenses, unless you are quite financially stable. Let’s put someone closer to you, eg. your parents, wife, family, boyfriend, girlfriend or even close friends you had not met up for awhile. When was the last time you really spend time with them to build up closer ties and strengthen the bonds? Even a simple dine out for a few hours is enough as everyone will need at least some companionship in certain time of their lives.

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Finding that new inspiration – Staying at stagnant surroundings will make you a dull person without much creativity to venture into something new. Go out there to new places to find your inspiration. A complete stress free environment filled with lots of good food, good sceneries, great air, great companions, laughter and more will indeed rejuvenate the mind and soul to think more analytically in life.

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Collaborate your brain with your senses – Sight, smell, taste, hearing and touch are often manipulated under stressful environment. We are human after all. We tend to shut our senses out just because we do not like certain sensations behaving not to our own likings. Unless you own a sensory deprivation floatation tank filled with Epsom salt for a total floatation in nothingness so that your brain can have a good rest without sensing anything, there will always be stressful moments in your brain. Instead of shutting down your senses on the surrounding negativity, it’s always great if you could expand your senses more towards positivity. The sight of a beautiful yet tranquil venue, the smell of unpolluted air with a tint of flowery freshness, the natural sweetness of the water from a clean flowing stream, the sound of nature and the touch of nature’s fauna and flora, will eventually set your mind into a state filled with tranquility, peace and happiness. Isn’t that less tedious than trying to drown the natural senses of your body?

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Don’t be a sleep deprived idiot – Do you agree with me that whenever your eyes are opened, you tend to think too much, worry too much and stress yourself endlessly? After a full daylight of putting your brain into all the tedious tasks, it’s about time to give your brain and body the necessary time out during nightfall. Without the minimum 8 hours of proper sleep, your health will be at risk. It had been found in medical researches that a patient deprived of proper sleep tends to fare worst in a blood test. Your cholesterol and blood pressure level will hike up crazily with constant dizziness and headaches. Your movements may become haywire with constant body aches. So, shut down whatever you are doing and have a proper rest now.

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Expand your boundaries for better knowledge and efficiency – There’s the saying, “A picture paints a thousand words.” We indeed need more colors in our life instead of accustoming ourselves with the hues of black in our concrete jungle. Visiting Mother Nature’s wonderful creations away from the populated city will eventually set your mind to look at scenarios differently. A clearer mind will logically boost up your creativity, productivity and analytical thinking. After all, the sky is never always blue. It changes from violet, orange, red and pitch black with occasional some rainbow colors along the horizon. Even the fishes come in different shapes, colors and sizes. With the knowledge from your little exploration in a peaceful state of mind, you tend to be more efficient in doing the best. It’s the best stimulant and it’s free.

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Less regrets in your life – It’s like a bucket list where you will plan out a list of things you will do before you die~ LOL~ The main purpose of creating your list is to maximize every moment of our existence and live our life to the fullest. At least, we have a goal towards what matters most to us. If you do not find the time to do what you love while you are alive, you might regret it at your death bed. It’s a taboo for many to think about it but this is a reality. I’m sure no one will have the last wish as “I wished I had spent more time at work and stop wasting time on vacations.”

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Inner self studies – Regardless of whether you are a female or a male, everyone tends to have their “PMS” days with unpredicted mood swings. Just because you are not in the best of your moods, would you bark on everyone who passes by? Is that how you would like others to treat you when they are in their worst moods? It’s all about “to forgive and to forget” and not like a grapevine protruding its “tales” into an already complicated environment. Sometimes, we need to sit quietly at one corner and study ourselves well with the five “W”s and one “H”. Depending on your personal self studies, questions might include the examples as follow. Why is everyone treating me this way? Who are they? Where have I gone wrong? What did I do wrong to deserve such treatments? Which action have I executed wrongly? How can I rectify myself to be a better person?

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As for me, I will always storm the 5 “W”s and 1 “H” questions in my head, especially when I don’t have any personal time for a healthier lifestyle. Why am I not having the required rest I deserved for all the hard work I had put in? Who are stopping me from going for a vacation? Where have I gone wrong that I don’t have time off? What did I do wrong to deplete myself from having some rest and relaxation? Which are the best solutions so that I can have more time for myself? How can I find ways to make the existing system become self dependent without my presence? Well, it’s a never ending process anyway and the questions will be double folds or triple folds within each question you have in your mind. Those are stresses too right?

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In fact, you can always control your own life by being in the present and temporary put on hold any future projects. Just pack your bag, clear your mind and go for your personal relaxation now. Towards the end of the day, you will find that you had become a rejuvenated person filled with more energy and brain juice to pursue on any oncoming projects. Moreover, you will become a better person with more conscience to move towards a rightful and fruitful journey in life.

I'm thirsty for a drink now. Would you be kind enough to treat me?

AN INSIGHT INTO A DATE WITH BLOGGERS IN MELAKA 2012

Criz Bon Appetite together with a few bloggers from Penang had the privileges to be invited to join other bloggers, Facebookers and student chefs from Kuala Lumpur, Malacca, Johore, Singapore and Philippines respectively on a field trip organized by the management team from “A Date with Bloggers in Melaka” to the historic centre of Malacca (Melaka), which was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List on 7 July 2008 together with George Town, the capital of Penang. The trip included visitation to Julie’s biscuits manufacturing factory (Perfect Food Manufacturing S/B), hands on cooking lessons on producing some of Malacca’s local delicacies, food reviews on local Hainanese, Portugese and Nyonya cuisine as well as visits to some of the heritage and historical sites in Malacca. I’ll just write a brief here while elaborating more on individual eateries soon at Criz Bon Appetite.

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As for those of us from Penang, we started off our journey late due to some bus engine malfunctions and departed only at 1.00am on the Saturday morning. However, luck wasn’t at our side and the replaced bus also broke down an hour later. Eventually we had to hijack a passing bus and managed to reach Kuala Lumpur by 5.15am. After having an expensive breakfast experience at Petaling Street, we left for Terminal Bersepadu Selatan (TBS) at Bandar Tasik Selatan, KL via Pudu Sentral LRT station.

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We spent around 2 hours at TBS utilizing the hi-speed broadband before leaving there by a charted bus for our visitation to Julie’s biscuits manufacturing factory (Perfect Food Manufacturing S/B) located at Alor Gajah, 20km away from the Malacca Central. We were given some briefing on the company profile by the GM, Mr. Ng Teng Chai and staff. Eventually, we were all dressed up like operation room surgeons for a tour into the production line. We had some buffet there before ending up for a group photography session. Everyone was given some biscuits to bring home.

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We then departed to our designated lodging place to check in. My team mates who consisted of the Penang bloggers and chef students from the Berjaya University College of Hospitality and Malaysian Institute of Baking were assigned to Motel Sayang Sayang, just a stone throw away from the famous Jonker Walk (Jalan Hang Jebat).

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After a short rest and freshening up, we walked to Uncle Keong Delicacies for some desserts and light meals. It was great to be served some chilled desserts on such a hot and humid day.

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Immediately after that, we adjourned to Eleven Bistro to savor our Melaka Portuguese dinner. The amount of food served here were humongous. Almost every dish came in large portions, including the Sambal Crabs. We were given a model ship each for our visit.

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After a short rest back at the guesthouse, we departed to Mahkota Parade for the welcoming ceremony, officiated by YB Datuk Wira Latiff bin Tamby Chik, Chairman of the Malacca’s Tourism, Culture and Heritage State Committee. More souvenirs were given by Julie’s and Mahkota Parade.

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The function ended slightly around 9.15pm and some of us managed to linger around the shopping complex for a speedy shopping spree. Well, Nadeje Patisserie, the milli crepe cake house was our target, having a 10% discount given earlier by the management.

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Upon leaving Mahkota Parade at around 10.00pm, our next move was to get back to our respective guesthouse and have a free and easy stroll down Jonker Walk to savor the local delicacies. The night ended with stuffed tummies.

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Surprisingly, my team mates all managed to wake up rather early after a hectic schedule the previous day. By 8.00am, we were already hitting the streets for some sightseeing adventures on our way to breakfast at Cheng Ho Café along Jalan Tokong. It was a nostalgic walk down the Malaccan heritage trail, witnessing the historical structures such as the Kampung Kling Mosque and many other unique architectural and colorful buildings with nicely drawn wall arts.

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Breakfast at Cheng Ho Café was simple with just Stir Fried Rice Vermicelli, Omellette, watermelon and hot beverages.

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The actual action began right after the breakfast as the café was within the premises of the Cheng Ho Cultural Museum. Although the entrance was RM10 (adult) and RM5 (child), we had the privileges to tour around the 3 level museum for free. It was a great experience to learn more on the history of Malacca and the Cino Malay cultural exchange which brought about the trade and commerce, agriculture, industry, fishery, culture, religion and much more in the region.

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We then had a changeover to yellow t-shirts sponsored by Julie’s and headed down to the Malacca Hainan Association for some food demonstrations and hands on practical lessons. Two of the main highlights were the making of the Hainanese Chicken Rice Balls by the women wing of the Association and Suncakes by the proprietor of Mei Zhong Yuan Confectionary S/B.

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Lunch was also provided by the skillful Hainanese ladies from the Association, Nyonya cuisine by Restoran Anak Nyonya and beverages by Jonker Gallery.

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The lunch gathering was graced by the Chief Minister of Malacca, Y.A.B. Datuk Seri Hj. Mohd Ali b. Mohd Rustam. Appreciation certificates signed by the CM were also presented to the sponsors and participants. The lunch ended slightly after 2.00pm.

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While waiting for the next review at Mei Zhong Yuan Confectionary S/B at 3.00pm, we went for a quick shopping spree along the heritage stretches, grabbing whatever items we like. After a short refreshing and repacking at the motel, we headed to Mei Zhong Yuan Confectionary S/B for the review. It was a simple one with us getting samples tasting on some of their signature confectionaries.

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We left the Jonker Walk area around 4.00pm and headed down to Kota A’Farmosa for a nice group shot. There were many interesting sights surrounding this historical site.

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We left Malacca at around 5.00pm and with the weekend traffic jams along the Seremban/Nilai highway stretch, we arrived at the TBS slightly after 7.15pm. We bid each other farewell before departing to our own destinations. The Penang bloggers left for home slightly after midnight, arriving safely back in Penang at 4.30am.

It was a fun-filled but tiring journey for us Penangites but it was a great experience to mingle with old and new found friends. If only we have more time, we could have tied in a closer bond between every participant. All are without lost as we managed to receive many sweet memories from our short visit to Malacca. Thanks to the sponsors for these lovely take home gifts and souvenirs.

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Even my cat loves the smell of the cheesy puff sandwiches given by Julie’s. Thanks for the great hospitality ladies and guys. Let’s hope we can have trips like this in the near future. Until then, let’s keep in touch always~ 🙂

JULIEJOHANN

 

I'm thirsty for a drink now. Would you be kind enough to treat me?

AN INSIGHT VIEW INTO THE WONDERS OF NATURE IN LANGKAWI

If you love the sunny weather, the powder-fine sand and swaying coconut trees along the numerous beaches, then Langkawi, an archipelago made up of 99 islands over the west coast of Malaysia, would be one of the picturesque vacation destinations worth your visit. Whether you are a shopper, an adventurer, a nature lover or even making the island as a getaway for some relaxation, Langkawi has all the exciting vacation opportunities to keep you coming back for more. Recently, a few of us, namely myself, David Lee, Hudson Lau, John Khor, Angelia Teoh, Kaye Khoo and Laici, managed to join in the Langkawi “Go Green Nature Tour” day trip program (RM350/pax) to explore further the nature side of the island.

After parking our car at the open car park next to Fort Cornwallis at a flat rate of RM7, we adjourned to the check-in entrance next to the Queen Victoria Memorial Clock Tower along Jalan Tun Syed Sheh Barakbah by 7.30am. Have I told you before that no matter where I go, I tend to be a cat magnet? Here we met with Mrs. Cat. 😛 Upon having gathered our group members, we were directed to the Swettenham Pier to collect our tickets, ferry passes and “Nature Tour” stickers. We were then led to the berthing pier to meet our tour guide, Encik Jafri (017-435 3630). The ferry embarked for Langkawi at 8.15am sharp.

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It was indeed a wonderful sight upon departure as we could see the panoramic view of the northern part of Penang, with Kompleks Tunku Abdul Razak (KOMTAR) being the most prominent landmark in Penang. We also took the opportunity to climb up the upper deck of the ferry to shoot some photos, with Laici being our model for the day. 😛 Of course, there were also some tourists who were more than willing to let us capture their memorable moments. Although we did encounter a thunderstorm halfway through the journey, it did not spoil our spirit to look forward to the adventures lying ahead of us. The journey went on very smoothly and the scenery of the aftermath of the thunderstorm was something I would not forget for a long time.

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Since our ferry was a big one, we detoured to Pulau Payar about an hour and a half later to disperse some of the tourists onboard. I can still my most memorable experience here early this year. If you are keen into water related activities, this island which is also known as the “Rainforest of the Sea” would be a paradise for snorkeling and scuba diving.

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After leaving Pulau Payar for abour an hour or so, we finally saw land with traces of buildings scattering everywhere. Finally, we were to reach Langkawi. Upon berthing Langkawi’s Jetty Point, we took shots of the surroundings with a nice view of the Eagle Square (Dataran Lang). The Jetty Point is a prime commercial complex which is also a duty free shopping center and also the sea bound entry point to Langkawi. We then boarded into a van to start off our adventure.

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After 3 hours of traveling by sea, food was the first thing we had in our minds. The first place that we went to was Charlie’s Place, located within the Royal Langkawi Yacht Club for lunch. In fact, the restaurant was just within a walking distance from the Jetty Point. As it was inclusive in our tour package, set lunch was provided. Other than the soup (we had Tomato Soup), dessert and coffee/tea, we can opt for a main course such as Nasi Goreng Kerabu, Beef/Chicken Burger, Fish & Chips, Spaghetti Napolitana or Club Sandwich. Vegetarian and kid’s meal are also available upon request. The vicinity of this place did provide many unique sights for photography. I simply love the clear blue skies, the many yachts around and the calm turquoise sea here.

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With a satisfying meal to fill up our empty stomachs, we proceeded with our new adventures. About an hour of traveling later, the van finally brought us to the Langkawi Oriental Village, a contemporary village that has Asian architectural structures with a little touch of English and French designs. It lies within the Machinchang Cambrian Geoforest Park, one of the world geopark status awarded and listed in the UNESCO Global Geoparks Network, at Burau Bay. The Langkawi Oriental Village, which also housed the GeoPark Hotel (604-959 2300), is actually a duty free shopping park and a gastronomic heaven with choices of food ranging from local, Thai to Japanese. It would take you about a 45 minutes’ drive from Jetty Point, a 25 minutes’ drive from Pantai Cenang and the Langkawi International Airport. The light cool breeze here with nice views from a nearby pond with hundreds of koi fishes swimming about and a classic red colored bridge across the pond, indeed was a magnificent site for capturing self portraits.

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With a short walk within the premises of the Langkawi Oriental Village, is the entrance to the Langkawi Cable Car. The cable car would take you through a 2.2km stretch up the hill of Mount Machinchang (700m above sea level), where you would have some breathtaking and magnificent views of the whole island. If the weather is bright and sunny, you could catch glimpses of the Langkawi International Airport, Pulau Burau, Pulau Rebak, Pulau Singa Besar, Pulau Dayang Bunting, Pulau Tuba and many more. The ride up (vice versa) would take about 15 minutes with 360° viewing stations in between and at the peak. On the way up to the middle station, I could view clearly some deers in a reserve area as well as the Seven Wells Waterfall (Air Terjun Telaga Tujuh). Ticket would be at RM30 (adult) and RM20 (child) but MyKad holders would be eligible for some discounts at RM15 per pax. There would be certain days that the service would not be available due to maintenance or bad weather, so you better call up 604-959 4225 or check out their maintenance site to avoid any disappointments.

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At the peak of Mount Machinchang (Gunung Mat Cincang) lies the longest suspension bridge in the world – the Sky Bridge, a 125m curved pedestrian cable-stayed bridge. You would need to hike down and up again through a steep stairways. It could be a breathless and painstaking experience for those who are not so physically fit. I would advise you to bring along some bottled water to quench your thirst and do rest in between to catch up some breath while admiring the flora and fauna along the way. Upon reaching my destination after a tiring walk downhill, I could see that the architecture and engineering of the structure were so amazing. Considerations were thoughtfully made to provide visitors with a psychological feeling of security with the secured cables, railings and wire meshed barricades along the sides. The views here were indeed spectacular. Along the horizon of the Andaman Sea, I could easily view southern Thailand’s Tarutao Island in the distance. The weather here was somewhat like Cameron Highland’s. The cool breeze did rejuvenate my fatigued body and mind after all. It could be real windy at times at this altitude, so do watch out for your cap, hat or skirts. You could either get your head gear “donated” to the greenery of the mountain (let’s hope it’s bio-degradable :P) or you could be the next Marilyn Monroe under the endless haunts of the paparazzi. LOL! Anyway, do take note of any warning alarm in case of any unpredictable oncoming thunderstorm and lightning.

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After the breathtaking moments up the mountain, we headed for more adventures at the Kilim Karst Geoforest Park, another of the UNESCO recognized geoparks, approximately 13km away from Kuah Town. The nature park which spreads over 100 sq km in the northeastern part of Langkawi, featured magnificently formed landscape of limestone hills with pinnacles of various shapes and sizes. This was where we started out our Kilim River Expedition to explore Mother Nature’s formation of life that has long coexisted in these ecosystems for eons, namely the caves, wetland mangroves, flora and fauna, marine lives and the symbol of Langkawi – the eagles. Kaye can be seen here all set with his “bazooka” lens, waiting to capture the memorable eagle feeding shots. The whole package would cost as low as RM200/hour to RM450 for 4 hours with a minimum of 2 passengers to a maximum of 8 passengers. For more information, please contact the Langkawi Tourist Information Centre at 604-966 7789 or 604-955 7155.

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Departing from the Kilim Jetty, our first stop was to the Bat Caves (Gua Kelawar, named after its inhabitants, the Malaysian fruit bats) located about 400m away from the jetty, lurking within some green mangrove forests. Walking through a man-made pathway, we went into a totally dark cave with prominent signs of stalactites and stalagmites forming everywhere. I could also see many columns (tiang gua) being formed here when the stalactite and stalagmite connected with each other through thousand years of nature processes. I would advise you to bring along a handy torchlight just in case you are scared of the dark but no camera flashes would be allowed in here as it may scare off the hundreds of bats clinging precariously on the ceiling. One unique stalactite formation towards the eastern opening you have to take note of would be the bended stalactite (sometimes known as the oblique stalactite). Through some quirk of nature, they somehow took a slight turn from the perpendicular and formed towards the sunlight. This is believed to be associated with the deposition of travertine deposits by photosynthetic algae that required brighter sunlight to grow.

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As we moved along the pathway, we encountered a few underground chambers and ceiling chambers formed by water erosion through millions of years. There was also the fern-like Cycas clivicola (also known as the “Living Fossil”), that has existed over 200 million years, hanging at the cliff of the limestone formation. This hardy plant had even survived longer than the dinosaurs. It was an amazing experience to sight one here! The mangrove swamp over here was real captivating with signs of abundant plants springing out of the mud just everywhere. I could not even get my eyes off those orange clawed little fiddler crabs (Uca coarctata) crawling here and there on the mud banks. Surprisingly, I did not get any glimpse of any monitor lizards here. Maybe they are more abundant at the Dayang Bunting Marble Geoforest Park, another recognized UNESCO geopark, which we did not have the time and opportunity to pay a visit. Luckily, I had seen them lazing abundantly along the white sandy beach of Pulau Dayang Bunting during one of my adventurous trips some years back. It was a rare sight then.

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We then moved on to out next destination along the Kilim River – the “Hole in the Wall” Fish Farm & Restaurant, the only floating restaurant in Langkawi. Since we were there only for a day trip, we did not get to savor the fresh seafood dishes available for lunch and dinner. Instead, we got a guided tour around the fish farm. There were many marine lives spotted here such as the giant-sized grouper, giant trevally (GT), barramundi, stingray, horse shoe crab (king crab), mangrove jack, snapper, batfish and many more. One of the main attractions of the day was the stingray feeding session. I have never seen such a close relationship between human and fish, where the stingray would let someone stroke on the head and hand fed. It was astonishing to see such actions! The other main attraction was the archerfish (ikan sumpit/spinnerfish) which is known to prey and accurately shoot down land based insects with water droplets from their specialized mouths as far as 3m away. They would also leap out of the water and grab the food with their mouths if the food were to be within reach. This was another interesting show for us.

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I wished I could have stayed a bit longer to play with the fishes but it was time for us to move on to our next destination – the Eagle Feeding site. Upon reaching, the whole site was already filled with boats with hundreds of eagles soaring up above the skies waiting for the boats to throw out some chicken skins for their feeds. Two of the dominating birds of prey included the White-bellied Fish Eagle (Haliaeetus leucogaster) and the Brahminy Kite (Haliastur indus), twice smaller sized than the former. Both have sharp eyes and can seek any prey on land or water 2km away. The latter, with contrasting white head, breast and brown wings derived Langkawi’s name. “Lang” which derived from the Malay word for eagle – helang and “kawi” literally meant batu kawi, a sort of brown marble found abundantly on the island. I have to admit that with “bazooka” lens, DSLR or compact cameras of any make, shooting the swift flying eagles was a difficult task for us. Most of us ended up with hundreds of photos just for this site and yet only a handful of shots were deem to be almost perfect. I guessed we’ll need the National Geographic team to be in next time with their expertise. 😛

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Well, it was time for us to end our nature tour and head back to Jetty Point to catch our ferry home. It was indeed a hectic trip and I wished we could have more time on the island to catch up with the rest of the interesting sites. Most of the time was spent just on traveling by sea and by road with little left for sightseeing. As a blogger, photography is something that we are all enthusiastic about and a tight schedule for any activity would not allow us to get the best out of any event. We have to forgo visiting the Eagle Square as per itinerary due to lack of time. Moreover, we were left with barely 15 minutes of shopping time to grab whatever little gifts we had in mind. I won’t blame the tour operator on this issue but would rather advise the ferry consortiums to have a more realistic departure time. Maybe, the last ferry could be extended to 6.00pm instead of the present 5.15pm? As for our tour package, we were given a snack meal and a bottled drink as dinner.

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As the journey home would take another 3 hours, we took the opportunity to fully utilize our time by shooting more photos of the sceneries out there. The sunset at the horizon overseeing the Andaman Sea was amazingly beautiful… so was our so-called model of the day~ Laici 😛 We berthed at the Swettenham Pier at 8.30pm and headed to the Tree Shade Restaurant along Weld Quay for our dinner. It was a fun-filled trip and we get to understand each other better now. 🙂

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For purchasing your ticket to Langkawi or Pulau Payar, please visit:
Langkawi Saga Travel & Tours Sdn Bhd
16 Jalan Tanjung Bungah, Georgetown, 11200 Penang, Malaysia
Tel: 604-899 8822
Fax: 604-890 6068
Email: sales@langkawicoral.com
Website: http://www.langkawicoral.com
GPS: 6.0654, 100.0433

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GETTING PAMPERED IN LAS VEGAS ON A BUDGET

VEGASVACATION

I thought visiting Las Vegas might cost me a bomb but I was wrong when I visited the state not long ago. Of course, it was during weekdays where most of the visitors were busy working elsewhere. Accommodation wise, I had no problem as the rates would always be based on supply and demand. When there’s no much of events or holidays around the corner, hotels will supply good rooms at great rates.

Strict on budgeting myself and yet yearning to explore the beautiful Las Vegas, I set out sight seeing on the city buses. It was great as the unlimited rides cost me only $5 per day. Even the monorail had a 3-day pass with unlimited rides for merely $40. I had no problem with food either as I had sandwiches and fast food all the time. It cost me barely $12 per meal. Even with the strict budget, I could still managed to pamper myself with reasonably priced visits to the shark reef, wax museum and a few shows.

It does not mean that with a budget tight around your waist you could not go for a vacation. You can still do so by planning careful your itineraries and also to check with the local Vegas vacations counters on the best date to visit. After all, everyone deserved to get the much required vacation in his life.

I'm thirsty for a drink now. Would you be kind enough to treat me?

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