applying love in our life

A WEDDING TO REMEMBER FOREVER

WEDDINGVENUE

Some time back last year, I received a registered mail addressed to my name. Upon opening up the mail, I saw a nicely designed wedding invitation card of Joe and Jenny. Finally, those two had decided to tie the knot after being engaged for two years. Time really flew very fast. At that moment, I thought it was another of those hotel receptions where buffet was served towards the end of the couple’s declaration. I was in for a surprise when I saw the venue on the card, “pack your best dress/suit and two days of luggage, you’d be driven to a private reception.” What? I have always known them as an outgoing and adventurous couple but this was something I had not expected from them. I loved surprises and this was one wedding that I would surely not miss out.

On that appointed date, I got my friend to drop me off at Joe’s house. Upon arriving, there was already a big crowd on the charted double decked bus. Sam was there, so were practically the whole university mates of ours. It was like another reunion for us. We departed from Columbia and headed for Duck Village along the southern shores of North Carolina. The sceneries throughout the journey were something I would not forget for ages. We were brought to an oceanfront palatial estate, Royal Caribbean II, a one of a kind luxurious, accommodation in an exclusive community setting. Everyone was dumbfounded by the beauty of the whole setting. There were 8 master suites with private baths, exquisite great room and regal grand dining with unprecedented ocean views on top of all the state-of-the art gadgets scattered all around the abode. There were also rooms for electronic games, billiard tables, ping pong tables and wide screen theatre setting, not forgetting a bunch of outdoor sports you can play with.

Wow! I was as if in my own dream home. I could not resist being pampered in the pool with built-in hot tub, stone fireplace while being blown away with the soothing pool side music. Being the non-traditionalists, I would not have expected that I would be so privileged to be invited to such an exclusive vacation with the wedding couple. It was one of the most comfortable and laid-back weddings I had ever attended. The wedding ceremony was simple but filled with lots of meanings for the couple as they had us, their families and friends, to be there, to appreciate the relationships we had throughout our knowing of each other, and to acknowledge their happiness as a truly wedded couple. There no denying that they had made a right choice by engaging an all inclusive wedding packages that not only would remain in their memories for a lifetime but ours as well.

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I WANT TO HAVE MY OWN DREAM HOME

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If you were to be given a chance to choose a location anywhere throughout the world to build your dream home, where would you think that would be? That’s the question I have always asked myself. With money not being an issue, I could always choose a pent house unit overseeing the whole city but that would not be what I had in mind. I have always dreamed of being somewhat closer to nature but staying in a jungle in South Africa or Amazon would surely not be my preference as I can’t go without any technological equipments. Costa Rica has tropical climate and great beaches overseeing the Caribbean Seas but most of these remote areas have no proper road access.

That left me with two options to choose from. It’s either Seychelles, an island nation, northeast of Madagascar and east of Kenya or Maldives, another island nation located in the southwest of Sri Lanka. Both have 3 shades of blue sea water all over the hundreds of coral enriched islands. This would be a real hard decision as both the nations have rich underwater kingdom. I won’t mind swimming in the crystal clear water while exploring more of the “rainforests” of these “underground safari”.

Hmm… an idea just struck my mind. I might even plan to set up two identical dream homes at both locations. Gosh! I suddenly felt that I’m so greedy but who could resist the beauty of the scenery daily? Moreover, the richness of the marine lives would be incompatible to anywhere around the world. If I ever get bored of wetting myself, I could easily view all my underwater recordings through my ever faithful Samsung HDTV.

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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

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

IT IS EVEN COZIER WITH ONE AROUND THE HOUSE

It was a totally different experience for me when I was spending time with my friends during last Christmas in the States. Coming from a tropical climate country and experiencing snow was something awesome. But I had a problem with the weather as it was freezing cold. No matter how many layers of clothes I had on, I was shivering from head to toes. Worst still when it came to sleeping time. I had 6 layers of clothes on with a thick woolen blanket over me and yet I did not get much of sleep. The chill crept up to my injured bones and not even my faithful Perskindol Swiss Therapeutic Gel could stop the pain I had to bear on all my joints. I had cried nightly, yearning to be home and warmly tucked in my bed even before my vacation ended.

I almost gave up the idea of visiting more sites when one of my friends invited me to his home. I thought it was a bad idea to intrude into the privacy of his home since he has quite a large household of members. To my surprise, I ended up spending the rest of my 2 weeks’ vacation there without any more discomfort. It was like a heaven there, not only with the great hospitality but with a great accommodation.

I had a well heated room all by myself and my bed came with an electric blanket. It was almost like sleeping in my own warm bed. The blanket has its own patented safe & warm technology features and all I need to do was to set the timer right. It even came with self automated shut down and the heat was so evenly distributed. Now I know what would be the most important thing to have during my visit to any country during winter time.

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TOUCH A LIFE DURING YOUR VACATION IN MEXICO

Having the ability to travel during this festive season can be a privilege for many of us but have you thought of making the lives of many children in your vacation destination happier during this Christmas season? No doubt you can’t bring snow to share with the children from the sunny and sandy beaches of Mexico but you can bring some extra toys or items that could make the less fortunate in Mexico happier, particularly the kids. Whether it’s Christmas or not celebrated in other states in the country, being soft hearted in the needs of other less fortunate would fulfill the sharing and caring of the Christmas spirits.

I would be checking in one of the isla mujeres hotels in Cancun, Mexico this holiday season and I hope I can put some smiles on the faces of some of the Mexican children surrounding the area such as those from Mayan Riviera, Puerto Morales, Playa del Carmen and in Talum as well. Children are the pillars and strength of our future, thus they should also have the privileges of being educated with proper educational items such as coloring books, crayons, markers and anything that would unleash their creativity in building a stronger nation.

While I am there, I surely won’t forgo the beautiful beaches along the coastline of Quintana Roo. Scuba diving would be in my itinerary to explore the wonders of the many coral reefs. Let’s hope I have the luck to encounter the much endangered sea turtle. Of course I also won’t want to miss out my favorite tamales, tortillas and gorditas. I hope I can bear the spiciness of the chipotle, the smoke-dried jalapeño chili more this time.

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

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