Friday, February 24, 2006

Day 4: Last Day in Phuket

Today is our last day in Phuket. We don't have much time, our flight was scheduled at 1.30pm. We woke up early and headed to the beach. We didn't even eat breakfast. I brought my day pack, thinking that we might want to eat at the beach.This was the first time we actually went to Patong Beach.

7.30am
At the beach, taking a stroll. We walked from one end to another. We took a lot of photos. Thanks to the invention of digital camera, we don't have to worry about film. The beach was kind of deserted. Except for one or two people, no one else seemed to be swimming. Everyone either jogged, or walked along the beach. We might be the only people busy taking photos.

The Thais were busy cleaning the beach and arranging the beach chairs as well as umbrellas. Some were preparing their boats, and jetskies.

The beach itself is clean. The water is crystal clear. Howerver, the sand underneath my feet wasn't as white as the sand in Long Beach. And my feet didn't sink as deep either, in the sand. It is amazing to note that even though we couldn't see any rubbish bin around the each, there wasn't much rubish.

9.30am
Returned to hotel for 'brunch' (breakfast cum lunch) and got ready to leave Patong. It seemed like we've only arrived yesterday. I wish I could stay a little bit longer.

11.00am
Narin came as promised. By now, the drive via the hilly road have become some what a routine. It took about an hour to get to the airport. We bade farewell to Narin. We checked in our luggage and went into the boarding area.

1.00pm
We boarded the plane. This time we were able to choose our seats. The plane took off as schedule (1.30pm).

3.45pm (KL time)
The plane landed at KLIA. The flight actually took approximately one hour. We took our bags and headed to Shah Alam on a taxi. Our oversea trip have ended. I left my heart in Phuket.

Trip recap
Trip objective:
1. Have a good time - done
2. Experiment with technology - done
3. Test Celcom network - done

Trip observation:
1. Bookings (hotels, excursions) via agents is cheaper than booking yourself.
2. Writing long entries on T5 is painfully slow and tedious.
3. Celcom prepaid works in Phuket, except for SMS. To make phone calls dial *120*6<'areacode'><'phonenumber'>#. GPRS also works. If it doesn't, try selecting different network - AIS GSM and DTAC worked for me. Unfortunate I hardly make any phone call or browse the Net. All in all I spent less than RM10 for communication.
4. The places that we passed by and visited were very clean despite having no dustbins in-sight.
5. The tours and excursions were very well organized. Main tour operators have agents selling the tours. Tourist were given stickers to differentiate which tour they paid for and would be ushered accordingly.

Trip conclusion:
1. Need to come back to Phuket. Next time have to customise all excursion and pre-book every thing.
2. Definately have to buy infrared keyboard for my T5.
3. Have to install dictionary so I won't have any more trouble finding the right words and spellings.
4. Need to remember your credit card PIN just in case you need extra cash. I thought I did, but when I tried, it was invalid.
5. Travel writing needs a lot of commitment, especially at the end of the day when you feel very tired, but you have to finish writing.
6. The configuration for prepaid GPRS is the same with postpaid. Just replace "celcom.net.my" with "celcom".

All in all, it was a great trip. Now I need to worry about work. Sigh.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Day 3: Adventure in Phanga
I woke up at 6.30am and then got ready for our adventure.

8.00am
The pre-arranged van came to fetch us. The driver was not Narin. Anyway, the van took us to a gas station. There we were transfered to the tour bus - James Bond Discovery. We got a lady tour guide. She introduce herself as Harmonica. Funny lady. Her real name is Mon - which means beautiful lady. She took the name Harmonica as it is easier to remember, especially for the Europhean. Plus, her voice will be the music to our ears for the day. The bus left approximately 8.30am.

9.15am
The bus crossed the highway bridge into mainland Thailand. We were heading to Phanga Province.

10.00am
The bus reached the elephant camp. It was more like an eco-tourism camp. Harmonica started with some education about the elephant. There's generally two types of elephant: African elephants, and Asian elephants. African elephants are bigger, and have bigger ears as well as longer tusks. The Asian elephant, on the other hand, are smaller and have smaller ears. Their tusks are also shorter; some female elephants have no tusk at all. Elephants can live up to a hundred years. Each 'pregnancy' can last up to two years. Generally, female elephants behave better and easier to train. Thus, for safety reason, the camp only use females in the camp, except for the baby elephant show.

The camp have a pair of male and female baby elephants, but today, the female was down with a stomachache. The male baby elephant, named Rambo, is seven years old. Rambo performed the standard circus tricks - sitting, standing on two legs, and playing harmonica, the music instrument. At the end of the show, the audience were allowed to feed Rambo. Just give him 20 Baht and he would get the the fruit basket for you.

After the 'edu-tainment' show with Rambo, we were got the chance to go on elephant rides around the orchard. This was not the bare-back kind, there was sort of saddle-cum-chair to sit on. That didn't mean it was less fun, we sat crossed leg to avoid slipping off the chair when the elephant went down hill. The hill wasn't exactly a hill, just a slope by a creek. Being on the elephant gave you a totally different perspective.

Next was, ox cart ride. The cart looked like the original cart used by the working people. Like Uncle Jeq said, we went all the way to Phuket to ride ox cart. It was a quick bumpy ride .

After that, there was the rubber processing demonstration. From rubber tapping to drying the rubber sheet. They have the old hand-cranked machine to process the sheet. We left the camp at 11.00am. Headed to jetty about 20 min away.

From jetty, took long boat to Pan Yee Island. The long boat was not the kind of boat I had imagine - shallow wooden long boat powered by small engine. It was actually a big boat able to sit 30 people comfortably. It was powered by a huge diesel engine.

Pan Yee island is inhibited by Muslim community. 200 years ago three families from what now is Indonesia, came to this island. They were fishermen. Now, there are around 250 families. We had a sumptious lunch - rice, chicken, fish and vegetables. The 'rendang' I brought remained untouched throughout the day.

1.40pm
From Pan Yee, we left in the long boat for Ta Lok Island. The boat docked at what looks like a floating platform. From the platform we got on an inflatable canoe - 2 person per canoe. We didn't have to paddle, they provide a 'guide' to do that. Most of the guides are muslims. We canoed around limestone formation that makes the island. We spent about an hour in Pa Lok. Then we left for James Bond Island - not by the canoe but by the long boat.

3.00pm
We reached the island famously known as James Bond Island. We passed this Island on day 2. According to Harmonica, this island was featured in James Bond 'Man with the Golden Gun'. The film was shot on 1974 with Roger Moore as James Bond. No one lived on the island but ten years later, the Thai government decided to turn it into tourist attraction. There were booths selling souvenir. 30 minutes later we left for Phanga jetty.

4.15pm
We reached the jetty and boarded the bus to Phuket.

5.20pm
The James Bond Discovery bus dropped us at Pearl factory for transit. According to Monica, it is a kind of government requirement that they stop and transit there. About 30 minutes later we were on our mini bus (which actally a van) heading to Patong.

6.30pm
We reached Tony Resort, our hotel. I left my day pack and went for a traditional Thai massage at "Let's Relax" nearby. It felt like checking into a hotel with receptionist receiving you - and your payment - at the counter. They also served welcoming drinks.

We were taken to our cubicle and were given clothes to change into. The clothes looked like a free-size pijama. The ambiance of the cubicle was very relaxing - dim light with soothing music in the background. The lady washed our feet in basin of water and flowers. Then I lay on my stomach thinking that the massage is similar to traditional Malay massage. I was in for a suprise.

The most obvious is that we were fully clothed. The massage consisted of systematic 'groping', streching and applying pressure on the muscles. No massage oil was used.The lady massus started 'groping' the legs from the base of the foot to the thigh. I think the 'groping' is how they diagnose what's wrong with you. They applied pressure using their hands and elbows where it hurts. They 'folded' and 'bended' your legs in ways you never know you could! These 'bending' and 'folding' effectively streched you legs. The same was done on your arms.

Then a short break before flipping over for the back massage. Then we were asked to sit. They 'folded' your arms, 'streched' and 'twisted' your body. Then leaned back for a little head massage. Again, you would be asked to sit. Don't be fooled. The minute I lifted my back from the thick mattress, the massus pushed it all the way forward - effectively 'folding' me into two!

Another short break and we continued with more head massage. The two-hour session ended with The massus applying pressure on our arms and front torso using a small pre-heated sack of oil-scented-herbs. I left feeling invigourating.

9.00pm
We went for dinner at an Arab-Indian restaurant near our hotel. The food was good.

10.00pm
After dinner, went for a walk around Patong town / bazar. Last night to soaked in the sights and sound of night life in Patong.

11.45pm
Back in hotel. Started packing all non-essential things. Tomorrow would be our last day in Phuket. Time breezed by.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Day 2: Phi Phi Island here We Come
The day began with me waking up at 5am. I knew we were suppose to get up early, but not as this early!

Uncle Jeq set his alarm for 6am - forgetting that his watch was still in Malaysian time. The time different is about 1 hours, hence, me waking up at 5am. Uncle Jeq however, woke up at 6am. Fully unaware of what had happened.

We had our breakfast - bread and rendang - and got ready for our day ahead.

7.15am
As promised Narin fetch us from the hotel. We stopped by to picked up another 4 passengers (2 couples) from Holiday Inn before heading to the jetty. The drive took approximately 50 minutes through hilly roads. At one of the traffic light, we saw a motorbike rider being fined by the police traffic. Seems to me, in Thailand only the 'driver' needs to wear crash helmet.

8.15am
We reached the jetty and were ushered to a waiting ferry. We were among the first to boarded the ferry. Thus, we got the luxury of choosing the best seats - which we did. The ferry left the jetty around 9am. The captain made announcement regarding our journey but I didn't catch much of what he said. Roughly, Phi Phi Island is 48km or 1 1/2 hour ride from the jetty. At the start of the ride, I sat on the top deck - out on the open. Then, when the sun became unbareably hot, I returned to our seat. Half way (or so) through the ride, I began to feel dizzy. It might have been due to the choppy sea. I walked about and found a lower deck. It was less 'bouncy' at the lower deck. I stayed till I felt better.

10.15am
We were transfered to a boat (smaller than the ferry) in the middle of the sea. The boat took us for Phi Phi Island tour. I didn't catch much of what the boat's captain was saying either. Phi Phi consists of six islands. Some of the islands are merely limestone formation with no supply of fresh water, thus no one live on these islands. We passed by island featured in James Bond film (can't recollect which film), as well as the island where they shot Leonardo de Caprio's film (I can't seems to remember the title). We stopped at Maya Island (I think I got the name right) for snorkeling. This would be the first time we went snorkeling together. Little Ajad aced in 'water-proficiency' after we found better-fitting life jacket. The water was deep (according to the captain 4-5 metre) but crystal clear. We could see the corals from the surface, and fishes swam very close to the surface. However, in term of snorkeling experience, the one I had in Perhentian Island Malaysia, was better. Perhaps this time, I was more concerntrating on enjoying the swim with Litte Ajad. We spent approximately an hour snorkeling.

12.00pm
We left for Long Beach where they served lunch. The boat, however, only stop near the island. We were transferred to an even-smaller boat which took us ashore. We took rice with vegetables and sea food tom yam. The tom yam was suprising mild (not spicy). Perhaps the tour operator was considering the Europheans who don't normally eat spicy food. We also ate the 'rendang' that I re-packed earlier today. After lunch, we had some time to lay back and relax.

2.30pm
We left Long Beach very much the same way we came - using the smaller boat. While sitting on the floor, I was reminded of the illegals crossing the sea for a better future. Anyway, the bigger boat took us to Ton Sai Bay where our ferry to Phuket await. This island was among the islands devasted by Tsunami. We almost 'lost' Uncle Jeq during the transfer. The ferries docked side-by-side at the very small and crowded jetty. Uncle Jeq got on the wrong ferry. Instead of getting on the other ferry to search for him - and risk myself, I decided to stand on the top deck, in the hot sun. I just hoped he would see me. Lucky for us, Uncle Jeq saw me and quickly jumped into our ferry.

4.00pm
We reached Phuket jetty where Narin was already waiting. We drove through the hilly roads. Along the way I couldn't help but notice the high utility poles. To my untrained eyes, it seemed that telephone cables share the poles with electric cables! We reached our hotel about an hour later. We relaxed for a while before getting ready for our next agenda - FantaSea.

6.45pm
The van to FantaSea came to our hotel. We picked up another group of tourist before heading to our destination. We reached FantaSea at 7.15. My first impression - a souped-up funfair. We busied ourselves by taking photographs. Then there was a dance show around 7.45pm. The other show was scheduled at 9.00pm. We killed the time by taking more photos.

8.30pm
We entered 'Palace of the Elephant'. We had to leave our camera at the counter. I don't know how to describe the show. It's a combination of musicals, cultural show, magic show, circuis, phyrotech, laser show and acrobatic performance rolled into one. The animals: elephants, buffolloes (I must be very tired to be unable to spell this), goat, chickens, and even doves; all trained for stage performance. And they make full use of space in the hall. The elephants and the performers entered stage from the doors behind us. We had to look left, righ, and even above - there were acrobats, swinging above us! Not to forget the magnificent stage props. They inter-weaved every thing into the story of Prince of Kamala and his elephant, Ayuthia. Even though everyone mimed (except the magicians), the show was superb!

We reached hotel around 11.30pm. By the way, 3 missed calls during snorkeling. I have no idea who. Try telephoning me on Thursday night.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Day 1: Departing from KLIA
It is Tuesday 21st Feb, and we were all packed and ready for our first family vacation oversea. I'm writing this entry using my T5. The first time I went for a long trip abroad, I brought my T5, but that particular T5 died on me. The good people from Palm was kind enough to send me a replacement.

Anyway, preparation for this trip began last Sunday with cooking 'rendang'. We foresee the difficulties of finding 'halal' food in Phuket. So among our clothes, we packed some food. I did, however, found a list of 'halal' restaurant in the Net (www.zabihah.com).

Beside food, there's also communication channel. You know, calling home. I've called the good people at Celcom Callcentre. According to the call-agent, no problem in making and receiving phone calls as long as you have minimum RM15. GPRS also should work. We'll find out later when we reach Phuket.

10.30am
We left Shah Alam at 10.30 am. and reached KLIA an hour later. We checked our bags in and wandered at the air port. Uncle Jeq changed RM100 into THB.

12.15pm
1st boarding call for flight AK 872. We walked leisurely towards our boarding gate G6. When we finally reach the gate, we discovered that everyone already boarded the plane. There went our chance of choosing our seats. Pity Uncle Jeq for not being able to sit at the window. The plane took off at 12.45pm. Very punctual!

12.55pm (Thai Time)
Arrived at airport. At the imigration counter, they have this cute camera - looked very much like a webcam. They took our photo as they process our passport. We were driven to Phuket town for lunch. The journey took about 50mins. Didn't get the name of the 'halal' restaurant because they only use the Thai letters.

2.40pm.
Lunched. Then we were taken to a travel operator to book for trips. Sadly the operator wasn't exactly helpful. We left for Patong at 3.10pm. We reached the hotel that we booked around 4pm. The hotel is actually at a foot of a hill and far from town. The driver - Narin - was kind enough to find us an agent who not only managed to book two rooms, but also all the trips.

5.00pm
Checked in hotel - Tony Resort. At THB 1900 / night, I have no complaint about the room. Our room is at the ground floor, facing the swimming pool.

6.30pm
Went for a stroll at Patong. Didn't go near the beach. Walked about the shops and bazars. There's a lot of massage and tattoo parlour.

8.15pm
Already back in the room. Had dinner which consisted of bread and the 'rendang'. Wanted to go out to survey for souvenirs, but decided to chill out in the room. After all, tomorrow will be a busy day. Uncle Jeq went out and hasn't return yet.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Petronas Twin Tower Bridge

A few days ago, as fate have it, my path crossed with JC’s. If it wasn’t for the heavy downpour in KL, I wouldn’t have met her. The downpour was notoriously heavy. Knowing KL the way I do, heavy downpour means massive traffic jams in all major roads. My fear was confirmed when I saw rows and rows of cars parked in the middle of the road (translation: gridlock jam).

Not wanting to be stuck in the traffic, I made a detour. I turned the wheel of my trusty Proton and headed to KLCC. I remembered about the talk being held in Galeri Petronas (http://www.galeripetronas.com.my/). Maybe I could still catch it. By the time I reached the Galeri, it was already 6.30 p.m. The show was over, they were having the question-and-answer session. As luck would have it, at the end of the talk, they served tea for the visitors. This was where I met JC and her friend Zaitun. JC invited me to come with her to go to the bridge on the following Saturday (today).

And so, there I was, on Saturday afternoon, waiting for her at the Galeri Petronas. I had some time to kill, so I watched the video presentation of the Petronas Adventure Team. They drove their 4WD from Malaysia to Mt Everest Base Camp.

Around 4 p.m. We went to the gate. We were ushered into the waiting area where visitors could participate in some of the science exhibition. For me, the coolest demonstration is the Petronas Tower Lightning Protection System. They simulation of lightning strike to Petronas Twin Tower model. While waiting for our turn, JC’s mother showed us photographs of her visit to Tibet.



At around 4.30 p.m. We went through the gate, into an auditorium. There, we were showed some video presentation of Petronas Twin Tower, and, of course, the Bridge. They let us up to the bridge batch by batch, with each batch consist of around 20 people. And each batch got to spend around 10 minutes on the bridge. It would be great if we were able to watch the sun rise or sun set from the bridge. I would love to linger for a chat with JC and her mother, but time was not on my side. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the visit.

p/s: I tried uploading some but so far no success.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Test Entry


Test Entry
Originally uploaded by ryn_msg.
Test upload photo and update blog via e-mail.
#Originally this entry was updated using e-mail facility provided by flickr. However, unlike splashblog, if photo in flickr is deleted, the photo doesn't appear in this blog.

Flickr

This is a test post from flickr, a fancy photo sharing thing.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Monday, February 06, 2006

Test entry #3

Test post image from other site http://www.splashblog.com/myshoesmyjourney/

test

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Test entry #2
this is a test entry. using mo:blog demo version in my T5
This is a test entry. Written using my T5. Submit via dsandler.org/plog