Within this blog...

Interests, Pastimes & Hobbies

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Back From Nowhere

When was the last I updated my blog? I don't even remember and don't bother to check, not now. I wanna continue typing instead of opening another window. Crapping spontaneously whatever I feel like saying. What I know is it's been long, very long and surprisingly I wasn't disturbed at all to keep it alive. Unlike the first few months which I never failed to update and get people to visit.
The past few months, yes.. the months I haven't been blogging has been rountinely filled with staying either in PJ office or 2 weeks in Thailand every month. Then, home with family idling in front of the TV and eating in and out of meal times.
Oh, yea..another thing which has been bogging me down was also the decision to buy a netbook. Which should I buy in terms of cost, quality, RAM, ROM, OS, battery life, weight and such. I've been surveying around and visiting IT retail outlets for the last 3-4 months and now that the Dec PC Fair has also gone past, I thought it's high time I really get one to play with. I'm travelling again next week and I can no longer stand being without one. Pity, yeap..I'm not provided with a notebook, it's sad I've lamented it for awhile but it's ok, now I've got mine and it's for my very own personal use and at 1.26kg it's much lighter . I now pity people who has to lug such heavy 14 to 16 inches laptop. My 1 day old Acer Aspire One can do what theirs iare capable of and it's one hell of a cutie. I'm sending in this post with it now. My very first with my One. I'm so glad, so far no complains!
It looks like I've no excuse to abandon my blog again. Just that I've got to start hunting for hotspots now. Battery life no prob, my 6 cell batt can last for 5.5 hrs.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Take A Ride With Me

"Woo hooo...wow aaw...where are we heading , crossing the street? Woo... I see trees and bushes ahead of me. We are not going into the jungle, are we?" I thought to myself. The afternoon heat was penetrating my skin. Normally, I would immediately make use of an umbrella but now I couldn't be bothered with it although I was provided with one. My hands were too busy. "How should I capture this experience?" I asked myself.

At the background, this young guy in front of me wasn't silent. I couldn't figure out what he said as he was speaking in Thai. I even suspected he spoke some Jumbo language. This guy(they call the mahout) didn't seem to be happy with how his pet was following instructions. That's why the non-stop reprimanding. We went up a slope, went down it, back across the street and into the river and up. Then, I had the experience of riding off the chair to right behind the head which luckily the hair was removed. Take notice of the hair in my video below. I gave gentle kicks to the back of its ears but he sure didn't gave in to my command.


Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Erawan Waterfalls

Another post on my trip to Kanchanaburi...

This waterfalls is popular in Kanchanaburi. Apparently, it's not the only one around here as national parks are aplenty in this western Thai province. However, this is the most visited one around as it comprises of 7 tiers.

The video above shows the 7th tier behind the trees. Can you see it?? I hope so, I've tried magnifiying it for your better viewing. I did not join the 2 of my tourmates up there as I couldn't risk myself and my camera harrowing my way across the swift slippery path. Not even for the sake of taking better video for my blog. But as you see, it's quite an impressive high tier up there.

I thought I've arrived during the best season, which was during the rainy season when the falls claim to be more beautiful. However, when I went to book the day tour, I was actually advised to change my plans as the water was red. "Huh, what exactly does that mean??? the water RED??"" Well, muddy they explained due to the earth from the mountain. After some deep deliberation, I insisted on going as that's one of my to see list besides visiting the Tiger Temple.

So, what do you think of the water?? With moderate expectations in mind, it's still not that bad to me.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Wats Aside in Thailand

Hi all, I've returned from Thailand exactly last week. Sharing with you my adventure during my supposing working trip.
Here I am in a passenger truck having just arrived at Kanchanaburi town. The express bus from Bangkok took 2.5 hrs to this western province of Thailand.

The Maenam Kwae (River Kwai) Street with the most guesthouses in town. Besides that, along this street, you'll find convenience stores, local tour centres, internet cafes, bars and vehicle rental stores.

The Maenam Kwae where floating rafhouses and restaurants flock. Besides that, water activities such as the bamboo rafting, kayaking and elephant bathing takes place here. This picture was taken when I was on the bamboo raft. Encouraged to swim but I doubt the cleanliness. Looks kinda clear here though.

The bridge over the River Kwai near town. It's no ordinary bridge as it was built during the WWII when the Japanese invaded Thailand. Many prisoners and forced labourers died building this bridge. Before I went, I thought the history aside, nothing else spectacular about it but you've got to watch the video below.

Looks dangerous right, walking on the rail and sparing planks over the river and now there's a train on it. "What if someone is still on the railway track?" A fellow local traveller whom I spoke to told me the train stops. I see.....

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Hello World

As I was thinking of ways to make more friends online, sharing interests and chatting at real time, I started to wonder if the IRC made popular back during high school days still exists. So, I searched and bam!

I'm in a mission to make friends online apart from making my blog a platform. I'm going social networking around the world. hahaha...chatting at MIRC, corresponding with fellow readers, signing up to blog networking sites, etc, etc.

Ok, I'm heading off to Bangkok again tomorrow. Can't think of what to write but of my packing list.

Tschuss and happy weekends to all!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Pathetic, I know

It was a Saturday. I'm stucked up. I'm stucked up by myself away from home. I woke up with my laptop next to me. Switched it on, surfed the net. Time passes me by..

I was here yesterday in the room, surfing from webpage to webpage as I desired. Reading up on travel blogs to NZ, taking a video peek of how it looks like driving on NZ streets, caught up with a friend at IM. Then, I thought, I'was not to spend my weekends without a plan. I've got too much in mind, too much to organize, too much to do before my next working trip to BKK. I even brought a big pile of work docs home. Well, I penned a long list of to-dos which also includes a workout in the pool and a practice on my tennis service. Well, i definitely have missed the service for I planned to do it before sunrise today.

It's fine if I'm stucked up without going out the whole day. However, it sucks to be only confining myself in the room without the availability of a working desk, without the familiar voice at home and without food being served..no..I don't fancy the regular rice&dish, should say without even the constant supply of fruits all cut nicely in the fridge.

On the other hand, it means lotsa freedom, no constant nagging, no asking to 'eat, eat, eat' as if I'm not fat enough. I have total freedom to eat what I want, when I want without having to oblige anybody.

AkiraSabine's Saturday accompaniments as follows:-

Image008 Image004 Image005
In my quest to my weight target by year end.

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A book I rented just last Monday in case my neighbour does not keep his wifi on.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Tennis, anyone?

Every morning when I rush to work. I pass you by.
Every evening, when I return from work, I look your side, you're still the same as I saw you earlier.
Day after day, you're faithfully there giving your service.
Bleak as always welcoming me to your side.
I know I shouldn't have neglected you for such a long time.
I still remember my main purpose of choosing to stay here, that's cos YOU're HERE!
You'd be the place I go to for my ups and downs.
You were the place where I promised to sweat all my frustrations out.


You're the place I where I want to improve my tennis skills.
You're the place where I want to get my bod toned.
Sorry, if you've been waiting...................
Sorry to keep you dissapointed..for instead of entering into you, I can only afford to take a glance and pass you by.
It's not that I don't appreciate your existence for me.
Like I said, you're the reason I moved in here.
I just don't ahve a partner.
How will I be a ble to play.
I don't have a partner who can play on weekend morning, who will be willing to play at 7.30am on a weekend morning?
I don't have a partner who plays tennis...who can at least return a ball like a beginner like me do.
I don't have a partner who's willing to drive over here to play, just like I'm not willing to drive far just to play.

So, please be patient as I search for a partner to play.
For now, I might practise my servis, what else can I do without a game partner?
Seriously, fellow friends, are you the one I'm looking for?
In the mean time, I can only satisfy myself with this.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

More Than Words (Acoustic Version)

Whenever I feel bored and needed to listen to something acoustic, I would go to YouTube and search for one. No doubt, anyone on YouTube can play better than me. Hell... when was the last time I even hold a guitar? (Mental flashbacks). Now. how do I finger simple E, D, G, C, A chords? (Mentally fingering...). Well, hopefully they're right. Will check my book again to confirm.

Anyhow, I found this video. Apparently, this guy's a celebrity at YouTube with millions of viewers. I intend to be his follower. Do check him out here! He's only 12!

He's one of the players who inspires me to pick up my guitar again, blow off the dusts, tune it up and play it like I used to. But hey, when will I get to his level???? I'm so envious!!!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Netbooks Craze

"It's a holiday. Any plans? Why aren't you going out? You know, very sien (bored) I see you like that. Day in day out at home." (Quoted exactly as it was said, in Malaysian English a.k.a Manglish). I've heard this lotsa times. Yeap, from my mom.

What to do? I just simply like doing my own things at my own free time. Where else to do it than at home. What else if not going online. I'm sure you guys will agree with me why most of our time is spent in front of the PC. It's not totally a waste of time for many reasons which I need not stress on much.

In fact, I'm contemplating if I should get a netbook. "Netbook, what's that? Do you mean notebook?" Nope, netbook is much smaller (8"-10" screen size) and lighter (less than 1kg to 1.2kg). It runs with Intel Atom Processor 1.6GHz, Linux or Win XP and not Vista would be preferable for quick boot-up time, RAM comes at 512MB to 1GB, storage up to 120GB depending on models, card readers, USB port and some come without a cooling fan which is a critical factor to consider. Battery cells ranges from 3 to 6 cells. Oh, by the way, it doesn't come with an optical drive. I guess that's another way of trimming the overall weight of this ultraportable PC. Basically it's targetting people who wants to stay connected whenever and wherever they are especially backpackers, who buys and bring around only mini sized toiletries, mini sized medications, 3 to 4 sets of light weight clothes, etc.

Basically, internet connection is essential for a netbook unless one stores movies in external drives. Once connected, one can do a lot from browsing, mail checking, chatting at IM, checking out videos, blogging to enjoying webradios and webTVs. As far as I know, currently we've got Lenovo S10, HP 2133, Acer Aspire One, Asus EEC PC900 and Wind Msi. However, I happened to obtain a brochure with one by Twinhead, if this is another option one wants to consider.

Finally, to go for one, Lenovo S10 would be the answer for me.
Do check it out.

You get the basic features of Lenovo? Now compare it with these here.
AAO, EECPC900, Wind MSI, HP2133 comparison

Now, you've watched both. Which would you pick if you were to get one?
I need somebody to tell me I've made the right choice!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Experiencing Thailand Through Food

Take a look of what I have here. Are you going to eat these raw? Aside from the obvious long beans and cabbage chunk, the one with long stem is some sort of herbs. When I say eat them raw? What comes to mind? To me, even if I were to take raw veggie(which I do sometimes), these would never be my choice. I would rather go for celery, baby tomatoes (which has less of the slimy part), carrots and lettuce. Long beans??? "No, they're too raw, I've never been introduced eating them like that. The simplest way at least to eat them is in omelette or stir fries." Cabbage??? "No, the raw taste and the after smell which lingers is definitely a no-no. In fact, this veggie can really make one bloated with gas." Herbs?? I never had herbs in my food until the last time I had it with a noodle dish in Vietnam. At least, that was added and soaked in the soup.

Thai salad

So, how did these end up in my hand? I will definitely not ask for these. In fact, I wonder if these are direct from the farm- market- hawker. Yes, fresh but have they been thoroughly washed for consumption? The lady hawker stuffed this in when I bought my Som Tam (Thai sweet+sour+spicy salad) during my stay in Thailand.

Now you see it...

Let me tell you how this snack tastes. It's crispy and seasoned with soy sauce and pepper. -End of Story- And no, I didn't get any stomach upset.

Yum...cricket time!

Not a perfect picture as it was taken with a mobile phone on my free hand.

Half eaten cricket


Half eaten cricket


Thai snack - fried worm

Here's my other snack which naturally is white in colour. I don't exactly know what to call it, blame it on my poor insects vocab. Above is how it looks after been fried and seasoned. Taste wise, unlike the first, this is not crispy nor crunchy..well a lil on the outer layer but when you bit through it, it's powdery and moist in the middle. Yeap, that's the innard of it. Texture's like the brain part of prawns (if you know what i mean).

Thai snack - fried bug

Can I call this a bug? A beetle? I don't know. I least favour this. It has a subtle weird taste which the seasoning can't even conceal.

About 100g of this snack costed THB20. However I only finished the cricket. Again, nope...no stomach upset. Give them a try when you visit Thailand.

Friday, September 19, 2008

5 Reasons Why A Working Holiday Appeals to Me

1. Longer stay abroad
Unlike most holiday trips, this program allows me to stay for more than 30 days in a foreign country. I will be able to take things slowly absorbing my new environment.

2. Elligibility to work
What's more I'm allowed to work to fund this holiday. That also means I am able to keep my travelling costs to a minimum. I will be earning and spending there without affect much of my savings back home.

3. Opportunity to experience a different lifestyle
I'll be able to understand the culture and way of life of the locals by being a part of the working people, also a part of the community where I stay. I will get to learn the working culture, the eating habit, the pastimes, the norms... etc.

4. Opportunity to interact with people from all over the world
Besides the locals, there will be lots of other Working Holiday Maker s(WHM) I'm going to meet & work together with. We'll be a community of holiday makers at a foreign land.

5. Self discovery
I also consider this as an opportunity to discover more about myself. How far I can go by myself. How good I mix around and interact with new people. How well i manage and organize mysel on my own during adverse situations.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Requirements of a Working Holiday Scheme

I'm not sure if any of you know about a Working Holiday. This leads to the purpose of this post. A working holiday basically is work+holiday scheme. *NONSENSE* LoL. Ok, I'm not good at providing informations but I'll let you know what I gather about it.

A working holiday is a scheme

a) catering to youths within the age of 18-30

b) unlike other holidays abroad, you are allowed to work to fund your holiday under this scheme

c) you may stay for a longer time at that particular country, exp. a max of 6 months in NZ, or 2 years in UK. This may vary according to mutual agreement of these countries with your own.

d) you must be single and have no dependants

e) you have a proof of sufficient financial support for your first week there and a flight ticket to return to your home country.

f) As I understand, to be qualified for UK's Working Holiday, the applicant will have to show proofs of their plans in UK. Basically, he/she has to assure them that their primary purpose in UK is to travel and not to work.

Links to more info on:-

Working Holiday NZ

Working Holiday UK

NEXT: Why am I attracted to WHM?

Monday, September 15, 2008

Going for a Working Holiday. Then what?

I have a dream. I dream of myself going on a working holiday. I'm not sure if it's meant for me but I would love to give it a try while I'm still qualified. For Malaysians, we only have the UK Working Holidays (2 years) and NZ Working Holidays (6 months). The memorandum with Aus is likely to materialize soon. Yay, 3 options soon.

OK, back to this. It's been in my thought since I graduated from uni mid last year. However, I've decided to work and get the feel of working life before I set off on my own. Not to say I'm ready now, but I'm not sure if I'll feel like leaving when I'm midway up the corporate ladder. This ques keeps bouncing back to me. What will I do when I return from this 2-3 years nomading abroad? Will it be a problem to join the workforce then, as a 'not so fresh anymore grad' with limited working experience?

As a beginner to blogging, I learn that one can monetize it. I can't stop wondering how this is done. How can one reach a point where they get 20,000 unique visitor to his site. I'm talking about Kenny Sia. No, he didn't tell me that. I once read about an interview with him on the local paper. It was written by NicoleKiss. Now, this girl. She's the same age as me but I've already considered her as my role model. I hope to do what's she's doing now. She's the best living proof for a Malaysian like me. Why? Because she's globetrotting while her blog generates money .Don't get me wrong, it's not that she totally abandons her blog while the money keeps coming in. She has to log in and continue writing on the go for sure. I've been following her blog for a while now and I'm still figuring out how she manages to garner and hook her readers and how exactly she earns from it.

It's a lot of research to be done, reading up on success stories, tips, trying out myself, thinking about life again, etc. Some people call this 'Mid Twenties Crisis'.

I'm curious, how do you really earn from your ads and which would you recommend most?

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Weighty Probs

I'm watching too much TV. I'm sitting too much in the office, I'm feeding on way too much chips and I'm lazying too much at the apartment here in Bangkok. I desperately need to do some workout like I did back home.

I wish to swim. I wish to play tennis. I wish to play squash. I wish to shake, shake and sweat, sweat. I wish to tone up my sagging arms. I wish to maintain a flat abs( not thinking of a 6 packs though, that's a long way to go), I wish to firm up my butt a bit, I wish to remove the eye soring fats from my thighs. Urrgg there's so much .. to be done. I wish to remove some weight gained.

But then again, I've always been quite active but I don't understand the fat thighs. In fact, I notice most female swimmer have fat accumulated at their bottom half.

Maybe Fitness Diva can advice a lil on this? Why does this happen when they use a lot of leg muscles to swim?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Annoying Worm

Not again!! How did my PC pick up Trojan again?!!! I'm tired of reformatting and reinstalling every single program. Damn... I wish I could ignore this but my PC's damn lagging now. I believe my browser's tabs mysterious disappearance is also caused by it!

Hey you Trojan, you're damn annoying!!!! Bah!.. I'm away in Bangkok right now when this is published. I'll see what I can do with you when I return! I'm mad.. sooo sososo mad!!!! I can't be doing the reformatting every time I catch a worm like this.

How i wish I could get hold of you and cut you into pieces!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Olympic Spirit 1

So, the next thing I do..I press the remote control and the living hall turns silent. I crawl into my bed, set the alarm on my hp and sleep the remaining hours away. The teeth, face and lens will have to wait till I wake up again.

This is not an exaggeration. I can tell this as it has been repeatedly happening to me. What's really getting into me? I remember having praised by a visiting dentist to school on my clean teeth. She said I've looked after them very well at such a tender young age. Where have these basic lessons gone? The basic rules on brushing our teeth at least twice a day has now turned into only once. The more important one has been neglected, the one when the teeth is done eating. ISh ish ish....I'm self disgusted.

Hate it but really have to concede with my mom when she says..."Getting dirtier and lazier the older you grow".

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Olympic Spirit???

OK, it's the 14th day...oh...2 weeks have passed since the beginning of the prestigious Olympic Games and that left 2 more days to go. I foresee myself glued to the TV like the previous few evenings I'm here in Bangkok.

I should be feeding myself piece after piece of chips right from the bag. Having enough of saltiness, I foresee myself boiling some hot water for coffee. In between the hot sips, again I continue with my chips, not moving from my sit at all until my eyelids begins to drop. I force it to open and I stay up a while to check what's showing then. Ohh wow, rhythmic gymnastics, one of my favs!

I check my hp for the time. 01:30 and that would leave less than 6 hours for bed. Aww... get lost..I really don't want to miss this! Then, I continue watching...until the next thing I know, I open my eyes.. handphone(hp) shows 04:30am this time. I haven't brushed my teeth and washed my face. The TV's still switched on. Worse, I have slept with my lenses still on.

What do I do next??? I have only 1.5 hrs left before I wake up and face the world...*to be continued*

Monday, August 18, 2008

Self Pity

What would you do knowing you have a blog and it can't be left abandoned for the 3 weeks you're away? " Won't you have an internet connection then?" I hear you asking. I do, I sure do need a desktop for work at the office in Bangkok. Ironically, my boss will sit right behind me there. It's a temporary office and thus got no proper cubicles. You understand the situation well?

I wonder how life would be. Going back every evening to the rented apartment which is 40 minutes from Central Bangkok, thus the unavailability of the skyway train. After dinner, I would most probably be sitting right in front of the tv. Having no laptop would be like having lost touch with the world(more specifically the cyber world which I depend on so much!) and people back home. yeap... I'm self pitying here, really.(No shame at all..)

I'm gonna catch up on the Olympic Games, I think. That's basically the focus of everyone around the world now. Right, right, right?

Friday, August 15, 2008

Past Weeks in Thailand

Thailand is a next door neighbour to Malaysia. However, there are still minor differences I find interesting. I bet people found me 'suaku' (outdated or lost in development) when I took my camera out and snapped these. *LoL*
Could it be due to the blogger culture slowly getting it's significance in me? Is it the same with you?

A bigger version of 'tuk tuk' ? Captured at Rangsit, which is 30 minutes away from Central Bangkok.

Lazy Sunday at JJ park (also known as Chatuchak Park). Eyy... just picnicking.. never seen before???? *LoL*

The bigger one is actually a snakeskin fruit and the smaller one, I have no idea of its name. It's small, it's sour and has got tiny seeds. However, what I had here was preserved. I came to realize Thai love their food sweet(which is far too sweet for me). I've always thought they only fancy sour and spicy food like tom yum.
'Buah salak' in Malay or snakeskin fruit. I bought and tasted the fresh fruit itself and I love it! It's juicy and naturally sweet minus the extra sugar. Just becareful with the thorns on the skin. Picture extracted from www.ica.se/vardagshjalpen.com.

Baby clams with chilli paste? "Where are the clams?" I said aloud once I opened this packet.

Sticky rice with meat floss. Not good... floss' extra sweet without even a bit of spiciness. Proud to say Malaysian's meet floss tastes much better.

Meiji Yogurt with nata de coco. Yucks...sweet ...sweet sweet...couldn't get myself to finish it. Just fished out the nata de coco and ate.

At the national art gallery....

Sale.. sale.. outside the exit of Chatuchak Market. for THB20 per kilo. "lo la yee sib baht!" CHEAP! Took a mental note to buy after my shopping. Too bad when I returned, "Mai mee laew!" said the auntie hawker with a wide grin.

"Feed me, feed me, will somebody? I haven't had my breakfast!"

"Feed me!!! I can't sleep without my supper!"

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Interests Adjusted

This blog was initiated to share my interests with people out there. Whoever drops in and finds it interesting will link to me and at the same time we can connect with common interests.

Lately, this is what I did. I haven't been swimming, playing tennis, has stopped line dancing class, and neither have I touched my badminton racquet for a long time. My guitar, it's been left dustying at the corner of my room back here at my family's home. So sad...I wonder if I still remember how to finger simple A, G, D and E chords. And if I did refresh, I hope I still remember how to strum my once practiced 'Better Man', 'I Believe I Can fly' and 'When You Say Nothing At All'.

Lately, I've been away to Bangkok and will do again for 3 weeks this coming Aug18. The apartment there was nice, it's serviced, air conditioned and I had it all to myself. The thing is I didn't feel connect to the world without a PC. That's so sad... Yeap, I'm self-pitying right now. My pastime for the last 2 weeks I was there was only the TV with which I caught the Tennis Masters Championship every night. It was a good one with unexpected results that I dozed off in front of the TV several times watching it past midnight. I would wake up and found myself still at the sofa past 3.30am and climbed to bed then. Got to wake up for office at 6.00am.

What I missed about my apartment back home in KL is the swimming pool where I do my butterfly(I aim to improve!), tennis court where I run and hit and the ball flies over the fence(sometimes!), squash court which I go down at 10.30 pm and play and sweat to my heart's content. The bleakness and emptiness of the court at this hour is eerie but full of solitude.

Thus, because all the above were unavailable when I was in Bangkok, I resolved to wandering and checking out my new environment. The Future Park Shopping Mall which is very huge served as our dinner hunting place. Just 4 days and we already had 3 meals of Japanese food. I never thought Japanese cuisine's such a hit in Thailand. They even have fastfood chain called 'Oishii Delivery' practising the same concept as 'Domino's Pizza' which we do not have in Malaysia. Food ordered are packed in nice soup containers or compartmented bento boxes to be delivered to consumers.

During the weekends, I took the local buses and BTS Skyway Train to MBK and Chatuchak from Rangsit. It's an experience by itself going there the hard way instead of a taxi. To me, travelling is not only about getting to a destination but the process itself should also be enjoyed. I asked fellow bystanders at the bus stands on the right bus to hire. Thank God they understood my limited Thai vocabs but several did speak good English as well. I also tried the public vans which apparently were more direct to the destination and it's more comfortable and fast at the same price of a bus's.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Seeing Thai a Lil Different

Looks like busy time's coming up and I don't seem to have the time to sit down and think properly of what to write. You see, I don't wish to rant and I'm sure nobody enjoys reading it as well.

But yet, I'll keep thing simple and short here. Just had my work appraisal today and it's my first. I'm not sure how I'm going to manage the work expectations for the coming months but it's gonna be one hell of a tough time having to gather and compile info of machineries down to the make-up components. I don't dare to imagine anything now, just keeping my fingers crossed.

I'm more concerned of my annual leave. Haven't thought of a solution on how to clear my 17 days leave. I'm not sure if it's possible as I'm expected to be here in Bangkok for a while to get all these compilation and plant familiarization work done. Man, Can I do it?! I do hope for the best!

All in all, I'm looking forward to these exciting months, staying and working at a foreign land. Eating Thai , speaking Thai(lousy one), watching Thai, working with Thai, travel with local Thai, groceries shopping the Thai way(Tesco Lotus and Big C),also joining the Japanese food craze here. In short, experiencing the land of Thai!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

The Lil' Things

A kind of Vietnamese fruit

A kind of Vietnamese fruit pronounced as 'Zau Za Dat' though all spellings start with a D. I suppose it's easy enough for local to judge if you're one of them. I like this sourish fruit, too bad for the guide trying to see if we'll flinch eating it. It's only suitable sucking for the juice as the flesh tends to stick to the seed.

The descending steps to the cave

This is the pagoda which made us hike the slope to visit. Just thought it's a mystical sight when I took this pic. I'm actually taking from the pagoda itself. It's some sort of a cave which reminds me of the one in Ipoh.

Another pagoda stop on the way to the peak

This is one stop before hiking to the cave pagoda. Looks like any other Chinese temple, isn't it? You bet, they believe in Buddhism, Taoism and ancestors worshipping as well. There were a Mother Kuan Yin, Guan Gong, and Zhang Fei inside just like any other Chinese temples.

You heard the music? This guy next to me just couldn't live without musics or was he trying to keep me entertained? *LoL* Apparently, Vietnamese have good exposure to Hongkie and Taiwanese singers as well. According to this guy, he sings lots of theirs songs during his Karaoke session. "Lau Tak Wa, Cheung Hok Yau, Chan Yik Sun, Chow Kit Lun" he said when asked about his fav singers.

He's the one who shared his Vietnamese song with me via bluetooth. Take a listen to it. It's been my fav too. He came with the ladies behind and that made 4 of us and the boat rower. It was so nice of the ladies as they never stopped offering me the lychees they've brought along.

See, that's one of the best thing travelling by myself. It's been great talking to them despite language barrier. However, I did enjoy using my basic 'tien Viet' + sign language + written conversation when I interacted with them. It was funny yet fun.

There're not much differences between people around the world except geographical and language differences, really!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Working is Good

Working is not bad after all! I get working lunches here and there everytime there's a meeting(which includes those I'm not involved in). On normal days, I don't go out for my lunch.

Reasons being:-

1) "It's so hot outside!" (typical weather of a tropical country)
2) "Save petrol, why need to drive all the way out just for a meal?"
3) "Well, I don't necessarily take rice/noodles for lunch. Anything handy will do"
4) "Lunch time is my best quiet time, and I just wanna do my own things"
5) "There's ice cream, yoghurt and beverages at the pantry"

However, there's at least one working lunch every week I'm feeding on. In fact, yesterday, we had a farewell dinner which summed up to nearly RM2k for 20 pax. Woww...! See, another proof that treats is a pleasure when you work! I don't know for you but I wouldn't be stepping into such places for my own personal meal. Thereafter, I went home, wasted a bit of time before finally taking my bath and went to bed. Less than 12 hours, I met my colleagues again in the office and ust had McD for working lunch.

Indeed, my routine daily have been waking up, work, home, bedtime, and work. Not much of exercising eversince the trip. I still remember the feeling of sweaty clothes on me as I wandered around in Hanoi 2 weeks ago.

At home, I just dread sparing time for workout now. Everytime after work, I just head off right away home after dinner and stay passive. To make matter worse, I've stopped my line dance class since June considering all the travellings which were taking place. I'll be in fact in Bangkok for the next 2 weeks on work assignments. Well, I can foresee food and more good food. My gosh!

On the same matter, the fruits season is also a killlng season. Durians as in the king of fruit has finally arrived at my uncles orchard. Unlike most other fruits, this should be taken in small amount if you're watching your weight. It's creamy and sweet and thus is a good energy source if you're thinking of putting weight or keeping warm. Yum, I simply can't resist it as I've always been waiting for this though it's been sold throughout the country for some time. Talk about FOC and availabilty. Some other fav fruits of mine are also the rambutans(not too sweet kind), mangoesteens, mangoes and dukong. Yum...yum....yum...yum! Yes, yes , yes!!! OH NO!!! No, no, no. no!!!!

(courtesy of www.oneblackgoat.com/fat_animals.html)

Puhleeease...Meow Meow, you're way too heavy for your owner. Sorry to say, you're not cute at all!!!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

More of Halong Bay

My young Vietnamese friends
Look how cooperative my young Vietnamese friends were. I even have a video of the girl introducing herself in my hp(3gpp format, unfortunately).

Ladies at Halong Bay

Beauties on the boat overlooking the awesome scenery. They must be wondering whether I was more interested in them than the scenery. *LoL* To justify myself, I would say both. It displays the actual scenario both on and around the boat on that day.

Mystical Halong Bay

Wow! Seriously, I'm pround of this! Selling for postcards printing, anyone?

Mystical, isn't it? We entered this secluded area and stayed for the night. Here's where we swam as well.

Neighbours at Halong Bay

It turned out that we had gotten ourselves stalkers that night. No worries, that's just our neighbours. We happily chatted away under the starry starry night at the top deck though only having met that morning.

As mentioned in my previous post, I spent my night at the top deck. Thus, I had the opportunity to capture this shot the instant dawn broke at 5.15 am.

Things I enjoyed from this tour:-

1) The awesome scenery, of course!

2) The people I came to know - Kiwis, Vietnamese, Austrians, Neatherlanders, Japanese and my New Yorker room mate.

3) The satisfaction of being able to practise my Deutsch and Nihongo at the same time.

4) The credits I got for my fluency in both was definitely a bonus! However, my reply was "Iie, ma ma desu" and "Nein, nicht gut, so la-la".

Things I would prefer it to improve:-

1) The food quality served. It was very plain dishes of stir fried veggies and plain fried fish.

2) Water was sold and not included throughout our 2D/1N stay on the boat. A can of coke for example was sold at USD 1 and a bottle of 500ml drinking water for VND 5000. To me, Malaysian standard... OK-la, but this price in Vietnam, pricey! You're confused with the currencies? That's exactly how confused I was during the trip having to interpret and justify the price in MYR as well(3 currencies involved). These Vietnamese prefer to quote in USD so as they can come out with their own exchange rate if we opted to pay in VND. I can still remember the expression on the seller's face when she calculated her earnings for that day.

3) The bad service of my tour guide and bus driver needs improvement! Having dropped others safely at the hostels, we(me and roomie) were left stranded on the street. I supposed he's not happy with our ratings on the feedback form. Fortunately, I had known my way a lil better from my streets wandering earlier.

4) The typical case with group tours where more time's wasted in unfathomable waiting instead of activities listed in the itinery.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Moments at Halong Bay

Instead of the background voices, I've replaced it with a song I received via bluetooth during my trip. In fact, I would say this is the greatest souvenir from a trip ever. It's from a Vietnamese I got to know there. It left me with an absolute Vietnamese memory and it didn't need to cost a thing. Don't you love the song too?

Halong Bay's claimed to be a UNESCO World Heritage. The main attraction is the many karsts standing out from the water surface. It's simply magnificent especially when cruising between these 2 gigantic rocks. Often, I chose to sit right at the front of the bottom deck. It was simply so relaxing absorbing the sound, wind, and sights around that one could lose her thoughts. I took the 2D/1N cruise. We had a room for overnight stay but my then met room mate (who's still travelling and currently in Ho Chi Minh City) and I chose to overnight on the top deck that night.

Came evening we were treated to a short session of kayaking and also swimming. The few of us were excited to jump off the top deck(8m above surface) into the water. Shown is a short clip on something funny told by the guide before we did it. I finally gathered my guts to jump in and join the other 2 after for like 20 mins. I went Auch! when my butt came flat with the surface of the water. Imagine one's chest came flat with it from the high free fall. That's what apparently happened to a Korean when he jumped off with arms opened wide. "He died, " said the guide.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Vietnamese On The Street

This driver picked me up upon my arrival at Noi Bai Airport. He couldn't speak English and I thought at least knew some simple words like "You pick me...here to Hanoi.... FREE?" as the hostel offered the pick-up but apparently left my query unanswered when I asked if it's included in the price. "Yes, yes " was what he said and just hurried off driving me to the hostel. Sure enough, I was asked to pay this guy USD 13 upon arrival. Felt cheated, I knew it's around this cost but I would find a cheaper alternative if I'd known it earlier. Maybe a bus(USD 30cents) or sharing a taxi with other fellow travellers. In fact, I had all the time in the world and not in a hurry to reach Hanoi.

Later the next day in town, I booked a morning return taxi to the airport for USD10 which apparently was a minibus. I was the only passenger apparently and that's so cool+a lil apprehensive.

Just watch how this fella drives. Both of us didn't speak other than several attempts of my Vietnamese which he couldn't be bothered to entertain.

Me: Xin Chao (Hello)
Driver smiled and looked away.
ME: Bang ten la yi? (What's your name?)
Driver: Heng, ya....Heng
ME: Nai di Hanoi...gaan? (Here to hanoi....near?)
Driver just noded, and looked away.

So,thereafter I remained silent absorbing the view. The rest of the time was just him speaking on the phone. I just felt like asking " What's the hurry? Why so impatient?" The constant impatient honks really got on my nerves that I felt like giving him a smack on the face.

It was my last evening in Hanoi. The people and traffic had not slowed down. Across the street was a popular activity venue for the locals. There's a monument and around it people play football, rollerblading, and what do you call that... ball taming/balancing/passing with foot. Over here where I'm standing, there were still people jogging, walking and spending their time beside the lake, locals and foreigners alike.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Hanoi From How I See It

Every morning, this was what I had in the hostel. No complaints, as it's included even though I paid cheap for hostel, not hotel. However, the first 2 nights were private single ensuite which came with A/C, tv, fridge, and my own bathroom. Cool! My last 2 nights were dorm stays which were as cool as I got to talk to some fellow travellers. The thing is just the toilet seat was not properly hinged and there're no hooks for clothes! (which eventually I realized that these 2 flaws didn't only apply here)

Opps..I was talking bout breakfast, didn't I? How did I drift away so far, from something related to food to something ....?

Typical breakfast ala Viet

OK, here's breakfast. Baguette is their regular bread here due to some French influence since the war. However, it would be nice with lil touch of salt. The one in Hanoi is relatively bland to the ones in Malaysia. In fact, it's agreed upon by some Europeans that it should be a lil salty. Each of us got one. What you see here is only half of it, it's quite big. On my last breakfast, I just remembered I hadn't taken a pic of it throughout my stay in Hanoi and so I took this before leaving for the airport on my return flight to KL. That longish watermelon is called Blacklady back home if I'm not mistaken. Breakfast was served with their coffee which is a hit among foreigners. It's black and nice as it comes with a subtle fragrance which I haven't found in Malaysia's.

Hoan Kiem Lake

This small building is smacked right in the middle of the Hoan Kiem Lake at Old Quarters thus making it the focus of every photographers. This lake was the landmark I tried to return to everytime I lost my way wandering the busy Hanoi streets.

Viet meal - Bun Cha

This was my first taste of Vietnamese food. Had this for lunch after checking into my hostel. Does it look delicious to you? It was a generous serving of noodles and and grilled porks(I'm not sure, could be beef too) in soup. I am just not used to eating meat anymore and that's a lot of it here. The thing which kept me worried most was the soup was not hot. I might have added too much of the syrup with the pickled chilli into the soup that made it sweet too. The raw veggie comprised of bean sprouts, mints leaves and some other leaves foreign to me. How to eat them? Dip in the not so hot sweet soup and put in the mouth.

Street food

Don't know if the expression on my face gave me away. *LoL* Where did I sit? Look there, that's my seat and my "Bun Cha". Yeap, I tried the street food, basically that's where majority of the locals have their meals outside. Low chairs, street side and your music are the passing-by motorbikes and motocars honkings. Travelling is experiencing new things, don't you think so? And this was the first thing I tried.

 Cathedral at Old Quarters

Then, I was talked into getting a cyclo ride. It's some kinda tricycle, just that the rider cycles behind the passenger's seat. "How much are you charging per hour?" I asked. "Up to you." That's the constant answer from this 22 year old youth(who apparently guessed I was 20, *LoL*). So, I went sightseeing Old Quarters on the cyclo , kept up with a light chat with him, tried changing roles and clarifying some Viet vocabs. I've thought we agreed with 2 USD which means I'd get some change for my VND 50,000(1USD = 16,000VND). However, he came up with antics that he had no change and I might consider the rest as tips. I wasn't really happy and in the end got VND 10k in return. That's about RM2. Lesson learnt, ask for your change before you hand over your money which I did later in my trip with motortaxi riders and even lady hawkers. Didn't feel good about it though, to me, it's kinda rude.

Street badminton game

Do you know where Vietnamese carry out their sporting activities? Don't play play, one can even play badminton on a walkway by a street. Do not stereotype this to only children as next to them, there were a group of adults playing double matches. I even saw a group of youths playing roadside football. How dangerous it is to them and road users.

Bia Hoi crowd

Bia Hoi is popular among foreigners and locals alike. The picture above shows more foreigners than locals having a good time by the busy street chatting away(I'm not sure if they are disturbed by the traffic). Locals most probably knew better places to enjoy their Bia Hoi away from this crowd. Bia Hoi here costs as low as 3,000 VND (RM0.60) which was definitely cheaper than an iced coffee I had for 10,000 VND.

Street Bia Hoi session

Being a curious traveller, I took the opportunity to taste a glass with a packet of the local fruit chips which I love so much. I'm not a drinker and thus it was really difficult to swallow, I took in sip by sip alternating with some naturally sweet banana/jackfruit/yam chips. Luckily, I managed to walked back to my hostel safely that evening, though a lil dizzy.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Trip Of The Year - Hanoi

Exactly last week, I started my annual leave. In fact, I've got the time to blog today is all because I'm still on leave. *LoL* Well, I've actually a lot to tell but I simply don't know how to put it properly without stumbling on my words here and there. So, I've decided to tell it all slow lil by lil as the memories of the past 6 days start coming back to me.

Indeed, the solo trip to Hanoi has been an enriching one. I would not say it was a relaxing one but it's one that has raised my self confidence by leaps. I can actually do a trip by myself! Yay! I've actually made it! That's the trip of the year that's I've been planning since the flight bookings in February and the uncertainties before it really came true. At some points before the trip, I even doubt my ability to do it, half due to discouragement from my parents. Can't really blame them as which parents wouldn't worry especially travelling solo to a 3rd world country with traffic as crazy as in Vietnam. On the other hand, my work training which claimed to be starting in early July did affect my plans to the extend that I only booked my stays at last minutes.
So, exactly last Fri, there you go, some food stuffs, new pair of footwear (an easy slip-in and out, fast drying and most importantly light good walking sandals), camera+charger, rechargeable batts, etc etc.

Not forgetting of course my passport, the local currencies(which are USD and Vietnam Dong), extra camera's memory, Hanoi get around map(which was later provided by the hostel I checked in), KL Sentral - LCCT Aerobus schedule, handphone+charger, travel adaptor, booking statements, my very own self customized itinery, essential Viet vocab book, etc etc...

There you go, a backpack and a sling bag ready for tomorrow's departure to Hanoi for 6D/5N. Ciao, bedtime. So, I went to bed.. could hardly get a good sleep before my alarm rang and I woked at 2.30 am. Prepped and set off to KL Sentral for the 3.30 am ride.

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