Sunday, March 26, 2006

Plush Greenery in K.L.

It was Friday evening. As most Fridays, city dwellers and office workers would be rushing out of the city for some where less hectic and chaotic. It is almost predictable - there would be extra massive traffic jams on all major roads heading out of K.L.

If you don't want to get caught in one of these jams, do one of the followings:
1. Leave K.L. before 5 p.m. Most office workers leave their office around 5 p.m. Leaving after five, would mean getting caught in the rush hour traffic jams..

2. Failing to do item (1) , if you still want to leave immediately, use public transport that runs on rails (lrts, monorails, train). Buses and taxi would most likely stuck in the jams. Bear in mind, you would be likely be boarding crowded coaches.

3. If you are claustrophobic, or are driving, you could either:

a. Park your car, and wait out the rush hour. You could go shopping, watch movie, or even have early dinner. The traffic would normally ease around 7 p.m. If there's a down pour, you could expect that the traffic would only ease at a much later hour.

b. Find and use lesser known alternative roads. Depending on your luck and skills, you could avoid all traffic jams, or you could be hopelessly loss. If it is well known alternatives, other motorists would also be using it.

I chose option (b). I found myself driving through a narrow hilly road with thick greenery on both sides of the road. There were people jogging along the cool shady road sides. Even though there was no other car, I had to drive slowly to avoid 'in-coming' joggers. The slow drive allowed me to drink all the scenery. It gave the ilusion that I've already left K.L.

I was jolted back to reality, when the greenry ended and the road brought me back to the same traffic jam that I was trying to avoid earlier!

Monday, March 20, 2006

The End for My Old Siemens

I love my Old Siemens very much. It has been with me since before I registered for GPRS till the day they introduce 3G. Since before I bought my T5. It has been to places with me. From Singapore to Thailand. From Southeast Asia to Middle East. It also has been to Tanjung Piai, Johor - Southern-most tip of mainland Asia.

It had suffered numerous drops - some as high as from second floor to the first floor - and still survived. Even with the cracked 'monochrome' screen, it still could display all the required info. The voice from the speaker sounded just as it had when I first bought it. So was the ring tones. The battery also functioned properly. Nothing deteriorated - except for the battered look it aquired from the all falls.

My Old Siemens also had undergone numerous 'technological test'. From simple reception testing in rural Malaysia to GPRS connectivity oversea. From WAP browsing on the phone to Internet browsing using laptops. And recently, connecting my T5 to internet via my Old Siemens.

My Old Siemens survived it all! Until last week, it died on me. I was hoping that it would recovered, just like it had recovered on several occasions. But no. Finally, it died on me. I was hoping that it would be a permenant companion to my T5. But no, finally it died. A dear friend gave the best quote "It had enough of every thing. The time for you to let it go, and buy new phone has come!"

Monday, March 13, 2006

Malaysian Public Transport Pt 2

Today I went for lunch picnic in KLCC park. I'll reserve that story for some other entry. Not wanting to drive and get caught in all sort of driving-related-predicament (traffic jam, parking space, etc.), I decided to take the bus. As in the previous entry, I had to walk to the nearest bus stop.

Left the building and walked to the bus stop. Stopped to buy lunch at a foodcourt along the way. The sun is still hot but today I was not drenched. Maybe because of the stop-over at the foodcourt.

I reached the bus stop approximately five minutes later. I wondered if the bus to KLCC would stop here. No one around to ask. Neither was there any bus route map at the bus stop.

The bus came. Actually three buses arrived at the same time. Squinting my myopic-eyes trying to see which bus to take, I decided to take the second bus in the queue. Asked the bus driver-cum-conductor whether the bus goes to KLCC - just in case I got the wrong bus - and how much is the bus fare. I must say his reply was not rude, it wasn't exactly friendly either. The fare is RM2 for the whole day. Great news, I could use the same ticket later. The bus itself is clean and new, with some chairs still wrapped in plastic cover.

The bus reached my destination. I had to ask the unfriendly driver where to catch the bus to return to my building. I was glad when he gave the answer - even though he was still in his unfriendly tone.

After eating my lunch and running some errants, I headed to the bus stop. From far, I saw a RapidKL bus. Great! I quicken my pace so that I won't miss the bus. Yes, I did not miss the bus. Not because I was quick, but because no one was on the bus - not even the bus driver. I turned around, and saw a bunch of men in RapidKL uniforms.

I asked them for the direction to get back to my building. Well, these men were more interested in chatting with each other than helping confused commuters like me. They directed me to a newly arrived bus. Lucky for me, I have the habit of asking bus drivers before boarding any bus. That habit saved me from taking the wrong bus to god-knows-where.

I got down, and flagged another bus. I asked the driver whether his bus would pass my building. He was more eager to get moving than to have me on his bus. He closed the door (with me in it) and drove away without exactly answering my question. His reply gave me the impression that I'm in the wrong bus. I got no choice but to sit down. As I sat, I realized that I was the only passenger on the bus!

I was glad when the bus took the familiar turns into familiar roads. I reached my building at 2.10pm.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Malaysian Public Transport Pt 1

After much hyped price increase on the gasoline, I decided to try the public transport in this city famously called K.L. It was all over the media that the increase was inevitable - the Malaysian government can't continue the increasingly expensive subsidy.

It was also said that the money saved would be channelled to deserving citizens - one of it by improving the public transport. I was skeptical. They have been trying to that since the days of dangerously-driven highspeed colour-coded minibus till the day of Intrakota. Recently they changed into RapidKL. I am curious to know how much have been achieved. Hence the decision to check it out.

Left the building. I walked in the hot tropical sun to the nearest bus stop. Definitely not a plus point if you are dressed in 'power-suit', out to impress clients. By the time I reached the first crossing, my thin dark t-shirt was drenched with sweats.While waiting for the traffic light to turn green (for the pedestrian), one RapidKL bus passed by. Then another bus (Metrobus) passed, while I was trying to cross the road. Two busses within five minutes. I was impressed. Due to the nature of most Malaysian driver who don't give way to pedestrian, I missed the second bus. Half way in the middle of the road, a RapidKL bus stopped at the bus stop. This time I was lucky. The bus waited for me. Three busses in fifteen minutes, not bad as a start.

I reached my stop - a KLmonorail station. The station is perched up a few feet above the ground. Even though the station did not look new and hi-tech, it was clean. The lady at the ticket counter was very pleasent and polite. On the platform was a bunch of school kids - some in their school uniform, some in t-shirt and jeans. I stood behind the yellow line and waited for the train.

The train arrived a few minutes later. To my horror, none of the school kids bothered to queue. Everyone just pushed into the carriage. I couldn't help but wonder what went wrong in the Malaysian education system. Didn't school children were taught the simple concept of queuing for your turn. However, all hope is not lost, when at the next station, I saw offic workers queued patiently to enter the coach.

I reached my destination.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Sunrise from the Horizon
The alarm went off at 6.20am. I did what I normally do on weekends, put it into snooze.

We wanted to watch sunrise from the observation tower. Unfortuately, we could not see the sun rise from the horizon. It could have been due to the morning fog. Or could have been the location of the beach. Not satisfy with the view from the tower, we headed to the beach. Unlike yesterday, the air was fresh.

I can't help but compare Teluk Dalam with Patong. At this hour, the Thais would be cleaning their beach and setting up their trade. At Teluk Dalam, none of that was happening. Though the water at Teluk Dalam was as clear as the water in Patong, charred twigs were washed up to the shore. Beside that, instead of finding life crab crawling on the sandy beach, I only found dead crab - or rather what left of it.

Went for breakfast in the room before heading to the swimming pool. I sat by the pool side. A few minutes later I realised that the reflection from the water is giving me a slight headache. I had to retire to my room and lie down.

I was already at the lobby. We checked out and waited for our van to Pangkor Town.

Finally, we were ready to leave the resort. We boarded the van to Pangkor Town. We drove through the familiar scenery - Teluk Nipah, Bongak and the chinese school. Much of it was still the same. Only the wooden bridge was replaced by a concrete one.

The beach on the other side of the Island definitely more beautiful and have more activity. If you are looking for peace and quiet - seclusion included - then Teluk Dalam is for you. Otherwise go to the beaches that faces the sea.

The van stopped at Pangkor Jetty approximately half an hour later. It is sad that there was no left-luggage counter at the jetty. Since I was feeling some what under the weather, I volunteered to stay at the jetty with the bags, while the rest went for shopping.

We boarded the ferry to Lumut. Half an hour later we reached Lumut. With that our trip came to an end. Again, I have to start thinking about work tomorrow.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Pangkor Island
Yesterday, on my way home from work, I received a phone call. I was invited to tag along to Pangkor. Who could say no to such invitation. So, today, 4th March, I got ready for the trip.

We left KL. We used the old trunk road. The old trunk road cut through rural areas, passed oil palm plantations, villages, and fruit orchards. Even in the big Naza, the three hours drive was a little bumpy.

We reached Lumut. The last time I came to Lumut was five years ago as an intern. A lot has changed since then. Some of the old building were replaced by newer ones. Nevertheless, I could still recognized the mamak's shop where I enjoyed my occasional 'tosay'.

We went to the jetty. The facade looked bright and new, but the jetty was the old one. At the old jetty, the old wooden ferries were no where to be seen. Perhaps they were phased out by the new steel type. The ferry to Teluk Dalam left around fifteen minutes later.

We reached the Teluk Dalam jetty where the hotel van was waiting. The small wooden jetty looked familiar. The short drive to the hotel managed to jogged my memory. I've passed this part of Pangkor Island while exploring the island on motorcycle some five years ago. We checked-in and had our 'long-over-due' lunch.

I wanted to relax on the hammock by the beach. However, the stench brought by the rising tide was unbearable. In addition to the stench, the resort looked neglected - overgrown grass and broken pavement. I can't help but compared the beach - and resort - with the one we went in Phuket.
No matter what tide it was, we didn't experience any unwelcoming stench from the sea. Could it be because the beaches that we went to, face the open sea, whereas, if my geography is right, this Teluk Dalam faces Peninsular Malaysia.

I hanged out at the cosy lobby. From there, I could hear the life band singing. Stayed there for a while before heading to my room. Since I was only tagging along, dinner was not included. That was a small matter. We brought some food with us. I ate bread with tuna.

I decided to head to bed early. My back was a bit sore from the long drive. Maybe age is catching up on me. Anyway, tomorrow I would like to watch the sun rise, so I need to wake up early.