Saturday, May 30, 2009

Una Cerveza, Por Favor

I only speak 2 languages fluently; English and Malay.

I am not even fluent in my native tongue, which is something I am not proud of at all. My only redemption is that I can understand what is being said (if it's not 'too deep and complicated'), shame I can't seem to put my tongue around the words correctly hence my pronunciation is terrible. So I will reply in either local Sabah speak, English, or Malay, depending on whom I am talking to. I need to practice, I know.

Certainly it's a good thing to know a few local words and phrases when travelling to countries where English is not widely used. My globe-trotting friend 'Ms Fabregas' just came back from her solo tour around Europe, and wrote that when she was in Madrid it was frustrating because the locals didn't speak English.

Is it better to take a phrase book with you when travelling? I am undecided on this. At this moment I also don't even own any travel guides - no LP, no Rough Guides etc. I just seem unable to bring myself to buy one, though I flip through some every time I am in a bookstore. I usually do online research and reading and jot down important information and other interesting stuff in a small notebook. Also because books add to the weight of your luggage. So maybe I'll just stick to writing down things for now.

I have not travelled to really far flung places yet where English is of little or no use at all. Wonder how that feels like; to be immersed in totally foreign surroundings and verbal communication is impossible. I imagine a situation I call the 'chicken-duck talk', which probably will sound/look hilarious to a bystander. At the same time, it should be exciting and challenging - up to the point where it becomes so frustrating and you don't know whether to laugh or to cry.

Maybe sign language will work better. 

That's where your Charades skills come in handy.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Eat. Burp. Travel.

When I have the time to sit in front of the TV (and have possession of the remote control), my favourite channels are 703, followed by 707. 

Does that mean I love food more than travel? Maybe. It's really too close to call. And I'm too much in denial to admit that. 

Anyway, we all know who these people are:

Ian Wright. Megan Mc Cormick. Justine Shapiro. Estelle Bingham. Anthony Bourdain. Samantha Brown. Andrew Zimmern. Keith Floyd. Bob Blumer. Merilees Parker. Padma Lakshmi.

Notice how many are food AND travel related? My guess is that the two go together, hand-in-hand. Chefs have become globe-trotting travellers, experiencing and learning about the cuisines of the world. I like Bourdain because he's a reckless, what-the-heck kinda guy and is up for anything. And everyone loves Ian, surely :).

One of my favourite LP scenes is when Justine was served a huge, deep fried whole rodent, in Ecuador (I think it was Ecuador. Definitely South America. My memory is failing me). And she stared at it for a while, 'knocked' on it with her fork, and said "I'm going to imagine what this tastes like".

After watching all the programmes with the weirdest food, I've decided that, if I am ever faced with bizarre choices, I draw the line at these:

* balut
* rodents of any kind
* raw meat and raw parts of any kind
* roaches of any kind
* squiggly live worms of any kind

I know, travel is about experiencing new things. Alas, I don't think I can muster enough courage to sample any of the above. This coming from me, who once (unwisely) declared, 'try everything once!'. I take those words back. Here, right now.

I'll take a cue from Justine and think that I'd be happy to just imagine what they taste like.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

You Tarzan Me Jane

Complete this sentence.

Men are from _______ , women are from _______.

In the midst of planning a simple domestic outing, I was told  : make sure you get directions.

Which I did, over the phone when I called to make a booking. The friendly voice on the other end of the line gave basic directions, and said it'd be hard to miss since there's a massive landmark just before entering their village. 

And I said to her : well thank you, I am sure we won't get lost, because we kind of have been around that area before. Anyway, in the unfortunate event that we do get lost, I am sure we can ask around.

*insert cute chuckle* (hers, not mine)

When I told my sidekick I've made the booking, I was asked : Did you ask for a map?


I said : It's not like we're going to New York, you know. This is way in the boonies. A small town, a few rows of shops. One main road. Do you think they have a map?

My point is :

The male species would rather be lost than ask for directions. They'd rather wrestle with a map that keeps flapping in their faces than admit defeat.

I, on the other hand, don't mind being lost, but I will definitely ask a lot of questions to anyone along the way.

Finally, when the mighty alpha male Tarzan concedes, they'll indirectly, nonchalantly ask us to do the asking.

I'll bet you ten bucks on that.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Better Safe Than Sorry (or, Don't Get Too Drunk or Too Angry)

Sometimes what I read about travelling to other countries make me worry. About how things can get out of control. Or how unexpected things can happen. To anyone.

Like this incident in Phuket actually happened the days I was there recently. I even passed by the Aussie Pub the next day. Charged for 'stealing a rubber souvenir bar mat'? Huh? I know people who used to 'take' the salt and pepper shakers AND tomato and chilli bottles from Shakey's Pizza* and KFC**, respectively. Heck, sometimes they were daring enough to 'borrow' some a full set of cutlery, too.

So, you know, be careful, don't get too crazy when you want to let your hair down. I think the court did not accept being trashed i.e. highly intoxicated, nor it being a practical joke, as the explanation in this case.

Oh, here's another case. This one is scary coz it's like 'a ghost from their past'.

And another one . Here, the lesson is, don't be disrespectful, insulting or rude to any officials of any authority. But can you take any action against your own government for not providing the correct information about your passport's validity in the first place? Poor guy. 

I wonder if these recent cases really has to do with the tourism downturn in Thailand as is claimed in one of the articles. 

I hope not. Coz Thailand really is a nice place for travellers.

And I hope this won't worry me too much to chicken out from travelling.

*this outlet is the one at the basement/LG of BB Plaza. I'm sorry, I guess I was an accomplice then, my role was to keep quiet.
**this one was in Sg Wang Plaza, the million dollar KFC outlet. Too busy a place for anyone to notice. I was not involved. Honest, swear to God.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Gaudi Dreams

Barcelona has always fascinated me. 

Don't feel much with the song from Freddie Mercury and Ms Caballe. Don't care much for the galacticos boys over at Camp Nou either.

These, however, are bloody brilliant. Gaudi, the tragic genius.

One day. Gives me time to polish my Spanish :)

Friday, May 22, 2009

My Ultimate Packing List - Clothing

At last, the final in my series : My Ultimate Packing List - featuring Clothing.

Standard List:
1. Cotton tees
2. Shorts
3. Cargo long pants - for the outward and return flights
4. Cargo shorts or denim skirt - depends on destination
4. Old, faithful comfy tee and shorts - for sleeping
5. Towel - medium thickness
6. Sarong - doubles up as a 'beach/floor mat', extra 'blanket', or pillow 'cover'
7. Undies
8. Socks - in case it gets too cold at night

Beach List:
1. Swimwear
2. Light loose tee

Jungle / Trekking List:
1. Leech socks
2. Extra socks

The length of the travels determines how many tees and shorts I'd be packing. I normally bring 4 tees, 2 shorts for a 3-4 day trip. I can't remember the last time I wore my jeans on trips. Too heavy, and too hot to wear in our climate.

Rolling them up into swiss roll-like shapes is the best way to maximise space. Tried and tested. And apparently least crinkly. Undies are kept in a separate cotton string bag for easy retrieval.

I'm also thinking to be on a lookout for those lightweight, super absorbent, quick-drying, travel towels next time; don't think I can find it here in KK. Ah, so my shopping is not yet complete.

I want to buy:
1. Adidas kampung - Recommended footwear for jungle trekking. Won't break the bank :)

2. Leech socks - after my pacat incident, I want to invest in something like these.

3. The abovementioned travel towel. Only if the price is reasonable.
4. Combination locks - at least 2.

5. Wide brimmed bush hat - coz it provides better coverage than a cap. And it's foldable. 

I promise myself I won't splurge. In fact, I'll be frugal - so if anyone knows where I can get a good deal, please give a shout.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Sleeping At The Airport

I tried this out recently because I was curious to find out if I can survive one.

Also because I thought it would be wasteful to pay for a hotel room when you have to check out by 4 am and leave for the airport ( I won't be able to sleep anyway due to anxiety). And you have to pay surcharge for taxi fare. And I didn't want to trouble anyone to wake up early just to send me to LCCT.

So, survive I did.

I slept for just 75 minutes, nodding off sideways with my head rested on my backpack. There was no sleep-friendly place or spot in LCCT-KLIA. Why ah? The airport authorities probably discourage it. A few Dutch girls were chatting rather noisily up till 1 am. Others had their sleeping bags and made themselves comfortable on the floor and dozed away. Waiting chairs were pulled together to form some kind of sleeping 'bed'. Some, like me, were wide awake and registered blank expressions, just looking, not seeing. 

It was bloody cold. Freezing past midnight. And the overhead lights were too bright. I pulled my hoodie over my eyes and wrapped myself tight in a spare shawl.

After numerous re-attempts to catch my forty winks I gave up and walked around every now and then. The place started to stir for the early morning flights at about 3:30 am. I got some coffee and half boiled eggs for a very early breakfast. Finished my novel. Walked the entire length of LCCT and observed travellers and workers alike. 

These are KKIA pics, by the way. Didn't take any pics at LCCT.

If you ever plan to sleep at the airport, make sure you make some preparations.

It gets bloody cold; so bundle up. Wear covered shoes, otherwise put on socks.

Stake your spot as early as you can. Other travellers planning to stay overnight will also scout for the 'best spot' a.k.a. a corner with the dimmest lighting, away from pathway traffic, not too near to the washrooms.

May be a good idea to invest in those inflatable travel pillows, eye masks/shades and ear plugs.

Have a good book. Might come handy if you suffer 'insomnia'.

Ipod, or handphone with earphones.

Some snacks or sweets, in case you're feeling peckish. Some water.

Leave your bulky bags at the Left Luggage Counter. Otherwise you need to lug them along everytime you need to go to the washroom. Just have your hand luggage. 

Oh, and before you doze off, make sure you set your alarm to wake you up in a few hours time. Try to wake up half an hour earlier so you can use the washroom to freshen up before it gets crowded.

On the other hand, if you really don't want to sleep while at the airport, have some coffee. A lot of coffee.

That should help :)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

When The Price is Right

I'm a bad haggler. In fact I don't really have any bargaining skills when it comes to shopping.

Which is why open market shopping sometimes intimidate me. I have friends who can haggle till the price is reduced to an acutely embarrassing amount; while I would've just slunk away after one, or at most, two best price offers from the vendor. The vendor senses my 'fear', and away flies my glimmer of hope of getting a better price.

Anyway, I refuse to haggle when I believe that the product or service on offer is worth its price, or if it is really something that is authentic, locally made; created and crafted with love and passion, and you know that the vendor may not make much from it. 

So, paying a little bit more than the absolute best price is alright by me, especially in countries where the currency is weaker. Without wanting to sound arrogant, I know I won't miss the two or three ringgit. Where service is genuine and fabulous, I leave a tip directly afterwards - rarely at dining outlets unless it's really outstanding, usually at massage spas :).

I guess it's also a way we can support the local community's economy, as they rely heavily on tourist dollars for their additional  - or for some, maybe their only - income. 

* * * 
Oh, and let me share my pic of yummy Thai desserts.

Street vendor at Ong Sim Phai Road, Phuket Town.
These were utterly scrumptious sweet and savoury pastry things, only 5 baht. I can eat a lot of these. What can we buy here with the same price? Why is Doraemon there?

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Road Not Taken

I was 'introduced' to this poem via my first Coelho book, Like The Flowing River. I think I've re-produced it at least twice in my other blogs some time back, and now I would like to do that again here as it is most appropriate:


Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

In the Folds of Crocker Range

Am back home now after a short weekend outing at Utan Paradise Jungle Lodge, at Kinolosodon, Kimanis.

We arrived earlier than we planned, even with a rather late start on Saturday morning. It was cool there, a welcome respite from the city heat. Met up with owner-operator, Mr Inus and chatted for while. As for our rooms, we quickly chose to accommodate ourselves in the A-frame huts instead of the bunk-beds. A nice change and my first time staying in such a setup.

At the signboard, along main road. Oh I look like a tour guide :)

The other signboard that was built by the Raleigh 2007 team.

The main building which also houses the dorms on both sides.
Bamboo flooring and walls and thatched attap roof.

Bunk beds in the dorm.

We chose to stay here instead.

The open kitchen. It's self-catering here so you need to bring your own food to cook.

The tent that's furthest away from the central area.
The toilets. Modern flushable squat ones. The showers are on the other side, don't think I took a pic of that.

The resident short-tailed macaque came by to say hello and made faces at us.


The Rules of the Rainforest.
No 12 : Respect the Rainforest.

We decided to trek to the waterfall first at 1 pm, taking Trail 1. It took about about 30 minutes, since the trail needed some clearing after recent rainstorms had uprooted trees and trunks and branches along the way.

On the small 'observation deck' facing the jungle, before starting our trek.

So vain, so here's another shot :)

Inus led the way, clearing the trail.

Posing at the boundary of Sabah Park. Still fresh and smiling at this point. The waterfall is within protected park area so we need to inform the Ranger to go in and pay the usual RM3 conservation fee. The Ranger was not free to escort us so Inus kindly made himself available.

One of the easier parts of the trail. No picture of the 'difficult' parts as I was busy huffing and puffing and catching my breath.

The waterfall.

The waterfall was rather small. According to Inus, many many years ago when he first started it was a beautiful waterfall with cool, gushing water. However, with the road construction and rock blasting that came with it, the flow to the waterfall was significantly reduced. A lot of fallen tree trunks and branches and other nature debris and sand and stones, you get the picture.

A fallen tree trunk that looks like the head of a dragon.

I drank water from a cut tree branch, first time. It was a good trickle of probably half a small cup. Cool and refreshing, the tree is called Pokok Keliwat. Jungle Survival Skills 101. Which Inus can conduct over 3D/2N.

I got bitten by a pacat. And got attacked by a quite a number. I don't like. Eeeeii.

Got tired very quickly on the return trek, hence took us a longer to walk back due to more stops. There are other trails which we thought of doing the next day, alas I wasn't feeling particularly fit (plus the pacat thing), so the idea was swiftly discarded.

My pacat bite.

After I got rid of that one, a short while later another one was latching on my toes.

Back at the lodge, we were hungry so we quickly used the kitchen provided to cook our rations. Yum yum, somehow basic foods taste so much better when you're starving. We decided to have an early dinner since we skipped lunch and were done by 5 pm-ish.

Mist moving in swiftly at about 4 pm. It lent an eerie feeling, much like Lord of the Rings :). What with the sounds of the insects, birds and other rainforest creatures.

Taken after dinner. The mist was getting thick and it was chilly. Nice!

The first tree that was adopted by an American guest way back in 2007. Now there seems to be more that 20, I stopped counting.

Resting after shower. View through the back window of the tent.

Electricity was supplied via small generator so at night only the common areas are lighted. Otherwise you are provided with a kerosene lamp. We played cards for a while, then called it a day.

One thing about being in the middle of the rainforest jungle is that it is very NOISY at night. A cacophony of jungle noises will serenade you non-stop. Light sleepers may well bring along ear plugs. Or you can sleep with your Ipod on. Thank God it rained so the symphony orchestra was subdued for a few hours otherwise I would've just tossed and turned the whole night, trying to guess whether that was a bird or an insect. And damn that giant cicada he was the noisiest of the bunch :).

Well, I found another place off-the-beaten-path to unwind and, perfect the art of doing nothing. And yes, I want to go back there again.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Say Cheeze Whizz

Hopping here and there in the blogosphere reading about travelling adventures, I must say most of the blogs feature great pictures. Which, with good captions, help to tell the story better.

I travel with my Pentax Optio, which is good enough for me, for now. And I haven't mastered all its functions, even after 2 years..hmmph.

Man, I know I suck at taking pictures. Tested and proven. I've got shaky hands, apparently. Pictures always come out blurry. Or subject not 'centered'. Something like that. Or too far. Or too small.

So that's why I did not jump on to the dSLR bandwagon like almost half the people I know. I would love to get one for myself, doesn't matter whichever brand. I do have a liking for a certain bright yellow colour though.

So you know now why I have so many pictures of my feet. 
(No, I don't have a fetish) They're the easiest to take!

I think I need to learn how to use my timer function first, as it will come in handy when on solo travels. I'm not so much into taking hundreds of pictures anyway, recently in Phuket I stopped and cut down after 2 days. It felt .. hmm, I'm not sure. It felt like a chore.

Maybe, (maybe!), one day, if (when) I'm lucky enough to travel the world over, I won't need to rely on too many Kodak moments for the memories. I will rely on my reckless grey cells and my beating heart for lasting impressions, and have the moments imprinted for as long as it can hold on.

After all, for me, being there - present in all faculties, soaking in all the vibes, seeing people, things and places, with your eyes and not behind the lens - is what makes travelling exciting.

Having said that, I hope to pick up some skills soon so I won't be such a klutz anymore.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Free and Easy

I like this Paul Theroux interview on TravelHappy. 

Have not read any of his books yet. Maybe I will try to flip through some and see whether 'we click' (or not).

"Discomfort, pain, and anxiety are probably the core of a good trip. If you have an easy time of it, you're having a vacation. If you're really suffering, then you're travelling".

Eh? I won't subject myself to abject suffering just to call it travelling, but will allow myself the little comforts and luxuries as and when I want to.

Nevertheless, I like his idea of poring over maps, and prefering overland travel. That's perfect for those with time to spare and in no rush to catch up with .. plans. Schedules. Or return departure dates. The truest definition of 'free and easy'.

Which brings to mind, a sabbatical would be awesome. With every thing taken care of so you won't need to worry while you're away. 

That's another story altogether.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Travelling In Our Own Backyard

One of my personal objectives when I started to plan for my travels some time last year was to make sure that I cover the whole of Malaysia as well, in addition to my dreams of travelling to all these exotic places abroad.

That's because I realised that I have not stepped foot on all the Malaysian states! Wh..hwat? *slaps forehead*. Oh, was I that unadventurous then when I was in KL? (actually.. more like, broke)

I wrote out the names of all the 14 states, including FT, and the 'untouched' list is as follows:

Kelantan, Terengganu, Johor, Perak, Kedah, Perlis, Negeri Sembilan.

That's 7 freaking states - half of Malaysia! Passing through does not count, minimum is a day trip. I do remember going to Pahang during A Levels, though for the life of me I cannot recall for what reasons; I remember we stayed in Fraser's Hill and even visited Teluk Cempedak.

I'd like to cover them in one sweep. Going by long distance buses and trains. The grand plan is to disembark in Johor Bahru, take the train up for as far as it goes, then take the bus, stop by interesting places, maybe jump off somewhere in Perhentian or Redang, must eat keropok lekor in KT, must eat nasi kerabu in KB, maybe to the Thai bordertown (is it Golok?), cross over to the West Coast, go north right up till Bukit Kayu Hitam, and then take the KTM train back with stopovers through Perak and Kedah and then all the way to KL/Seremban.

Or it could work in the opposite direction too. I think.

I'll skip Langkawi first coz I plan to go there on a separate trip. The same with Taman Negara, I'll need at least a 3D/2N for that, with KL as my jumping off point.

As for Sabah tanahairku, I'm happy to say I've finally covered all major towns including the east coast :). Except for Lahad Datu. Hmmm, wonder what will bring me there.

Sarawak : been to Miri, Mulu, Kuching. Maybe I can visit Sibu since there is a direct flight. I have yet to decide whether to return to Mulu once again or divert to Niah on my next trip to Miri.

To complete the top half of Borneo, the plan is to go by road to Brunei. And I also want to try reach Brunei via ferry from Labuan. Maybe go by road and return by ferry?

I plan for all this to happen latest within 2010, so there's plenty of time to plan. My 2009 is quite packed already - heh :) - and resources are stretched. I've been advised to avoid the end-of-the-year monsoon season. Am not sure whether there's any peak seasons, apart from the major public holidays - when city dwellers leave KL en masse - which must be avoided at all costs.

Further consultations needed with SMEs to fine tune details.


Monday, May 11, 2009

Flying Solo

With eight leisure trips so far since end of last year, I feel that I'm getting used to this solo-travel thingy.

I guess I've psyched myself up quite well by reading and googling up all I need to know to prepare myself for the destination, especially in terms of safety and what's a solo traveller to do. I never take for granted the possible peculiarities of any place and pretend to be a savvy, well-travelled girl. Not even local destinations in Malaysia or even Sabah

Yes, there are pros and cons.

The biggest pro is having your freedom to do anything you wish during your holiday. Bliss! No long discussions and arguments and compromises about the whats, whens, wheres, whos and hows.

One of the cons is that some hotels charge you extra for single occupancy and tour packages usually need a minimum of 2 pax, otherwise there's a surcharge. This upsets me big time. GAH

I don't mind dining alone in restaurants, in fact it can be a lot less stressful coz I get to eat whenever, whatever, wherever I want. I am comfortable having my meals (or my coffee) in solitude, thank you.

But I guess what affects me most and makes me miss the company of others during travels is when I encounter a beautiful scenery, an awesome view, or an interesting event... and there's no one to share it with.

So, what's a girl to do?

Grin and bear it, of course.



I actually start talking to myself in my head, and appreciate the opportunity to be present there, at that point in time.

Having said that, once in a while, having a travel buddy is great. For me, mostly it's because you will have someone to talk to, to have conversations with. Someone to take pictures for you (important this!), and with you. Also, someone you can split certain expenses with especially for transportation.

Thing is, not everyone makes a good travel buddy. Because we all have our own idiosyncrasies, as much as you'd like to claim to be very normal and ordinary. Yes, including me. 

Hmm, so what criteria makes a good travel buddy? 

I'll go back to my cave and dwell on that.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

My Ultimate Packing List - Footwear, Accessories and Miscellaneous

Part 3 of the series - My Ultimate Packing List, featuring Footwear, Accesories and Other Miscellaneous Items:

1. Brown FOS flip flops (as pictured above)
2. A pair of socks.
3. My Adidas Gazelle, Originals or Teva - optional, only if needed.
4. Cap - either my Puma or Meridien.
5. Shades. Cheap one coz I lost my RayBans and refuse to buy branded ones anymore.
6. Bandanna.
7. Spare bag - either my FOS or my RuMe. Or both.
8. My faux moleskine and pen.
9. My slim, pocketbook calendar.
10. A book to read - which ever that's in queue.
11. Spare plastic bags (for footwear or rubbish).
12. A few small Ziplocs.
13. A few small padlocks.
14. My 'emerald' rosary.

Instead of padlocks, I am thinking to get me some combination locks so I won't need to carry any keys. I might misplace them what with my current 'amnesiatic' spell and blonde moments. Duh.

And I always carry a rosary with me in my bag. Habit? Superstitious? Don't know. It just makes me feel better and 'covered' by the Big Guy in the Sky :).

Well, the last in this so-called series will be ....tada, the wardrobe a.k.a. clothes! Coming soon!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Travelling on a Shoestring?

They say frugal is the new chic.


I'm still trying to improve when it comes to my spending. Sometimes, I 'discipline' myself too well that at the end of the month I am so pleased with myself that I think feel I deserve a reward, and end up splurging anyway. Duh. Bad huh.

I usually set a rough budget of how much I want to spend during my travels, both in cash and credit (coz I don't want to carry too much cash).

Flight-wise, I take Air Asia, for these simple reasons : cheap seats and the frequency of flights. MAS, there are rare occasions where they are cheaper than AirAsia; diligence is needed to scout around online.

One major change in my travels is my choice of accommodation. In my previous lives, working in a hotel meant I know where to stay and the best rates that I can get being in the industry and all. And I was lucky enough to have work-related travels to places like Bangkok and Bali, allowing me to stay in the finest hotels, accorded with VIP service :). 

(I must say, the best hotel that I have stayed in is the Plaza Athenee, A Royal Meridien, Bangkok. Excellent, excellent, excellent!)

Now, with more time to travel and having to do so on my own expense, I have become more adventurous with where to stay and have researched and googled and explored on what else is there on offer for someone with a certain budget for lodgings. My so-called 'international travel' is limited now, hence my main destination is KL, which is good enough for a short getaway, and an excellent gateway if you wish to jump off to another destination.

When in KL I no longer spend much on my room; I have discovered a reasonable, centrally located place to stay in Bukit Bintang for only RM30 per night for a dorm bed! I almost get a heart attack everytime I compare that with how much I paid per room per night for my previous travels. Gah. I feel like vomiting blood.

I've also reduced using taxis where I can. I take the monorail. I walk from Pavilion to KLCC and back the same way. For secondary locations I make it a point to try out the bus service. Nothing like being on the bus to feel the vibes of the place and observing the daily lives of the locals.

Food - I am not one for luxurious dining all the time anyway so this has not changed much. My simple rule is : I eat what I feel like eating. If I want to treat myself to ribs at Tony Roma's, then I will. Chicken salad at Chilli's? Okay. Nasi Lemak Jalan Alor? Yummy and filling. Popia from Food Republic? Even better coz it's nice and light. One more rule : no fast food, please. I'd rather have a roti canai and teh-o-ping.

I've stopped buying souvenirs and gifts for people too. I limit myself to a few stuff only for the family that can be shared. Coz I've seen how such little gifts are not appreciated. What a waste of time and money. I'd rather you buy me some foodstuff I can eat :)

Well, maybe I should give it more thought, this being frugal thing.

If it's the new chic, what was the one before?

Friday, May 8, 2009

Travel Gear and Stuff

In my recent travels I have relied on my High Sierra backpack as my main travel bag. I like the fact that it's expandable so I can cram any last minute stuff inside on the return flight. Got that one real cheap in KLCC. I know I still want a proper backpack for longer durations.

So, I invested in these last week in Phuket:

Deuter Futura Pro 38. Spent almost 2 hours agonising over which one to choose coz there were so many! In the end it was a toss between a Futura 34 SL in black, or a Futura Pro 38 in cobalt. Went for the latter. Gotta rethink how I pack next time I use it as it is a toploader. And I stopped myself from buying a matching washbag coz I already have a brandless - in black and orange - squarish, roomy one from Guardian for only RM17.   

FeelFree Dry Bag 10 ltr and Ocean Pack Dry Bag 5 ltr. Finally got these for all those wet days and water-related outings. I thought yellow was a bit common, so got them in black and dark green.

Teva Hurricane Sandals - Green, Size 6. These were not on the shopping list, but since they were 50% off I couldn't say no, and besides they had my size, the last pair! I'll still use my brown FOS flipflops, which now have travelled with me everywhere I've been in the past one year.

All items were on sale in JungCeylon at unbeatable prices. Dang, come to think of it I should have bought more of other stuff that were on sale. But the thought of excess luggage and of having to deal with more than 2 bags on the flight back kept me grounded in reality. Good girl.

I guess my shopping list for travel gear and stuff stops here for now, I think I've got everything I need.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

My Pockets of Phuket - Part 2 (Patong)

I walked the whole length of the main road to find a good place to stay. I've already decided against anything that looked even a little bit sleazy. After an hour traipsing with my backpack, I stumbled upon @White Patong, a newish hotel on Soi Sansabai, literally just next to JungCeylon. I liked the clean, spacious, practical room and did not hesitate to take it on the spot as by now I was tired and needed a hot shower and a good afternoon nap. 

I stayed here for 2 nights. @White Patong on Soi Sansabai.

My nice, comfy deluxe room :)

Across the street from the hotel, was The Marley and the Indian Curry Club. Nicely themed, yet hardly any patrons? I wonder why. Many of the other shops are also like that, hardly any guests. The ones most popular are the bars, obviously. Many, many old men sitting at the bar, drinking beer, with and without a female companion.

Walking the streets of Patong Beach.

The beach, not much to say I think.

A reminder of things past.

Pickup trucks promoting Muay Thai.

Ronald - Sawadeekap !- welcoming patrons to the Golden Arches.

HRC - Opening later this year.

At JungCeylon.

A scary looking alien metalwork for sale.

Carrefour staff performing some kind of welcoming-thank you dance and song?

Seat 277 from Highbury, at the Arsenal Store. No, I didn't buy anything :(

At first I thought they were selling honey in bottles ;P

Frangipani is known as Leelavadee in Thai :)

The loud, pulsating nightlife on Bangla Road - I hardly took pictures and even this turned out blurry.

For me, Patong is just alright. I guess it's more suited to those looking to party hard and push the boundaries of merry-making to the absolute limits. Men drinking till morning, walking barefoot, shirtless, beer bottle in hand. Old Caucasian men with young local girls. Pretty girls who most likely turn out to be boys - hard to tell sometimes until you notice their adam's apples ;); the boobs look real. 

I had a good relaxing time going through JungCeylon and other shops; made some purchases, got a facial, a haircut, a massage, a pedicure. All for reasonable prices.

Left in the wee hours of Tuesday morning for the airport for my flight back. Delayed by 30 mins due to some passengers having problems and they had to offload their luggage. Duh.

I may consider going to Phuket again, not so soon though.