Thursday, January 27, 2011
Monday, July 21, 2008
Tibet, the "roof of the world" is simply full of unspeakable charm! I was very lucky to witness the most spectacular views I've ever seen, namely the solar eclipse and sandstorm. We've visited Lhasa (the capital city), Potala Palace, Tashilhunpo Monastery, Jhekong Palace, Yamdrok Yumtso Lake, Shitgatse and others.
One sunny day, we visited Yamdrok Yumtso Lake. It was a long crawling drive up the mountain. But when you got to see the view, it was all worth it. It was the most breathtakingly beautiful lake that I've ever seen.
On our way down, we experienced sandstorm and while we visited the mill where the Tibetans make their joss sticks, all of a sudden hails started falling out of nowhere! All these happened in a couple of hours. It is not uncommon that you experience 4 seasons in one day in Tibet. Weather is totally unpredictable!
As we continued our journey to Shitgatse which was about 4 hours drive from Lhasa, guess what, our bus broke down near a cliff! That was around 6pm where all the passengers were stranded. The tour guide left us to ask for help, then later the driver left us too!
Some guy from Hong Kong got agitated by the situation and said that it could have been a plot set up by them, they might get someone to rob us. We were all worried. My four brave male friends went down to the river within walking distance to buy some fish to eat for dinner. Apparently, the river is where the Tibetans have their water burial when they die. Eeeewwwwwww but my friends were too hungry that they couldn't be bothered.
We were just hungry waiting for our driver and tour guide to come back. Luckily, the sky didn't turn dark unitl 10 at night. When I looked up, the sky was filled with beautiful starts. That must have been the most starry sky that I've ever seen at night! The view was simply amazing!
Around 11pm, our rescuers finally came with another bus which was in an even worst condition that we had. It was already half full so when all of us squeezed into the bus, some of us had to stand to get to Shigatse which was another 2 hours drive from where we were stranded. When we got to our destination, it was past 1am and only then we had our dinner for the day.
I must say the day was very eventful but surely was the most memorable trip that I had and enjoyed every moment of it!
The environment is free and relaxing, food is excellent and people are friendly. However, some of the male staffs (G.O. - Gentle Officers) are super-friendly and aggressive if you know what I mean which you just have tell them straight in the face "no thank you" to get yourselves out of troubles :-) Apart from that, I had a blast!
I have been advised to visit Club Med Cherating in Kuantan. It is the best oneaccording to the CMB (Chief Member Business) manager who has worked in nine Club Meds in different countries!
Monday, July 14, 2008
Siem Reap is a safer touristic place compared to Phnom Penh. In Siem Reap, we went to the floating village and encountered a storm on the way to Tonle Sap Great Lake on our first day. We saw shacks in devastating poverty, kids running naked, child labours, beggars, shabby houses and dirty water. It was an unpleasant scene and I realised how lucky we are to have taken these things for granted. You can give some money to the kids but watch out that they'll most likely swamp you after you give it to one of them.
Angkor Wat, Phnom Bakheng, South Gate, Bayon, Ta Prom (the Jungle Temple) are the main highlights in Siem Reap. Bayon and the Jungle Temple are my favourite among all. I managed to take some pictures of Angkor Wat with sunset and rainbow which I was quite happy about. We also traveled out of Siem Reap to Phnom Kulen which took 2 hours up the deep mountain jungle to "One Thousand Lingus", Phreas Thom (Reclining Buddha) and the refreshing Theank Tnank Waterfall, also met a dying man on the road.
After Siem Reap, we flew to Phom Penh, a very "raw" place. We felt unsafe to walk on the streets at night in Phnom Penh, be sure to watch out for pick-pockets. Our friend heard 6 gunshots from the alley of our hotel at night. We wanted to go for massage and the "Tuk Tuk" driver took us to a whorehouse which he probably earned some commission out of it, so we decided to find a "clean" massage parlour on our own which we finally did after a long stroll around the town. We bought the kids some ice-cream, they were very thankful, kissed and hugged us when we left.
There are homeless people sleeping on the streets and kids carrying and selling heavy books with them. Phnom Penh is the city where the Khmer Rouge took place from 1975-79. Visiting Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and Cheong Ek Killing Field gave me creeps, disgust and discomfort, I felt sympathy for the victims and their families. The Royal Palace is a total contrast of these horrifying places that you can visit in Phnom Penh.
Huanglong Scenic and Historic Interest Area enjoy the names of the 'World Wonder' and 'Fairy Land on Earth', which is well known for its colorful lakes, snow clad mountains, valleys and virgin forest.
In my 2 weeks’ vacation, I’ve learned a lot about the Philippines. I’ve seen the best and the worst. The best includes the beautiful Boracay beach, Taal Lake, Tagaytay, shopping at Divisoria to stretch you bucks, helpful people amongst the poor who help one another, the Jeep driver gets a cigarette from the seller and driver gives him a free ride like a barter trade, Greenbelts night spots, nice beautiful shopping malls, tasty local food like Sinigang, Buco Pie and Ensaymada. The worst includes smelly squatters, kids running around without clothes, pollution, traffic jam in Manila.
Cabs are cheap and abundant in Manila, Jeeps are easily available, fare starts P40 and train is another great option to move around to beat the traffic jam during rush hours. Flights are very affordable using Cebu Pacific low cost carrier, besides the usual 30 min delay, the experience with the airline has been positive, no complaints for the low price that one pays. It has the youngest fleets of less than a year old and flies to most cities in the Philippines.
If you have a few days in Manila and love shopping, be sure to go to 168 Mall at Divisoria for great bargains, it is a local bazaar (“tiangge”) from clothes to shoes to accessories to tools to home furnishings to pearls, you name it they have it! Prices are very good, haggling is a norm here and you will surely get a good price if you know how to do it right ;-) There are also many nice shopping malls where you can get signature goods like Mall of Asia, GreenHill, Eastwood, etc but of course prices are more expensive.
There are many franchises in Manila where the food you get at one place tends to be the same as what you can get elsewhere. Popular food chains besides McD, KFC are Jollibee (serves Pinoy food), Chow King (Chinese take-aways), Greenwich (Pasta, sandwiches) and Kopi Roti (toast, coffee). Just one bite of Ensaymada got me smitten, the texture is between bread and cake with cheese, it is so soft and cheesy, yum yum!!! If you'd like some local Pinoy food, you can try their Sinigang (sour soup) and barbecue pork.
If time permits, you can travel out of Manila to Tagaytay, a nice cooling place where Taal lake is situated. Tagaytay is about 2 hours from Manila. Buco (coconut) pie is a must-try delicacy. There is a popular local restaurant, Josephine’s that overlooks the volcano, the view is amazing while you savour the great food! Batangas beach is about 2 hours drive from Tagaytay, it is a great chill-out place if you need a get-away from the city’s hustle and bustle. The sunset on the beach is just so beautiful!
It is in the south of Manila. One could either fly to Cataclan or Kalibu to get there. Kalibu is a 1.5 hour drive from Cataclan where one could take a 15-min motor boat ride to the famous Boracay beach. It has the whitest and finest sand that I’ve ever seen, the water is crystal clear. For those water sports lovers, Boracay is a paradise for them, from diving, surfing, parasailing, kayaking, and the like.
I stole some sand back in a water bottle, when I showed it to my mum, she told me “Don’t put this on the table”. So I asked, why. She said, “If not, people may mistaken it for pepper!” How true, I looked at again and I think she is not exaggerating at all, it is really as fine as pepper powder :-) For those beach lovers, this is the place to be. There are many shops and restaurants on the shores where you can walk from Station 1 to 2 to 3. If you want internet access, go to 168 Station at Station 2, price is 70 peso/hour.
Jony's restaurant at Station 1 is a must-go which serves excellent Mexican food. Challets and hotels are easily available along the beaches. Sunsets are lovely in Boracay, check out some shots!
Friday, July 11, 2008
The weather extremely chilly up to -35C. We'd experienced the coldest temparature that all of us had never felt before. It was really biting cold that you couldn't feel your fingers, ear and cheeks turning red, feet feeling numb and stiff, I ain't kidding!! If you plan to visit there, make sure you get a pair of good gloves, ear muffs and snow boots. You can also buy the snow boots there for about RMB40 (USD 5) per pair. I used to love 4 seasons' weather, but now I guess I have learned to appreciate Malaysia's climate more since I don't have to put on multiple layers of clothing before I can go out :)
We visited the St Sophie Church, Stalin Park, Ice Lantern Festivals to enjoy all the ice carvings in Harbin. Witnessing the amazing winter swimming by the old folks, we also visited the Changchun Film Studio where we filmed the sound effects of a short video clip which was great fun!