Archive for – malaysia

2014 Familiy Trip Day 1 – Malaysia : Penang

It has been 2 years since our last trip to Europe, in 2012. There were travel plans in between but they all ended up with wasted paid air tickets. Hong Kong trip in 2012 was cancelled after we realised that Amber was pregnant. Bangkok trip in 2013 was cancelled due to some other reasons. We have wasted money purchasing those air tickets only to be having air filled our empty seats. Nevertheless, we finally got out of our home country, and this time round, it is a family trip with my parents, sister and brother-in-law.

The last time I took my parents for a holiday was in 2011, to Taiwan. Thus, this short weekend Penang getaway really come in time, in fact over due time. I am planning to bring them for another year end trip this coming November after Amber and I are back from our Hokkaido trip (if everything goes as planned).

Anyway, we got this short trip planned out, and started the journey in our Changi Airport Terminal 2. This is Jevriel’s first holiday and also his first in an airplane.

We arrived Penang International Airport around 2.45pm, and took a 10 seater cab to Deluxcious Hotel Spa & Restaurant, a heritage hotel. There wasn’t 3 adjoining rooms, so we ended up with 2 rooms on the upper level and 1 room on the lower level. My parents and ourselves took the upper rooms, and we were presented with a swarm of mosquitoes when we entered the rooms. Both the rooms were fitted with electronic mosquitoes repellent and there were also scented bottles to fan off these blood suckers. Clearly the hotel is aware of the issue with these rooms.

We were really hungry at 3pm plus so we did our initial unpacking from luggage into the backpack, and off we go searching for food. Before leaving the hotel, we asked for a change in rooms and also booked a 7 seater cab to Gurney Hawker Centre (RM25).

Gurney Hawker is one of the popular spot that pops up when you do a Penang food search on Google. The area has stalls all lined up, serving food that are commonly found in Singapore, however with a different flavor. We quickly jumped into action and order several food from different stalls. Bits and pieces added up to a total of RM64, and only the cha kuey tiao, oh kuey, and shun kuey was nice. After a quick bite, we headed over to Gurney Plaza, which was just a street across the hawker centre.

We bought some clothes and groceries, before sitting down in Chicago for a chill out session. They were having happy hour for Hoegaarden, with 2 pints going for only RM39 (dirt cheap compared to Singapore). Wei wei and myself took a pint each. If I was out drinking with friends, it would probably be 3 ~5 pints each, but there was a need to mellow down around my family, plus I didn’t want my too much calories during the night. We sat and chatted, something really nice to do as a family.

It was around 10pm plus and we decided that it is time to rest. The bigger cabs did not want to take our whole family and insisted that we split into 2 smaller cabs at the price of RM18 for each cab. We weren’t left with much of a choice.¬†Everyone was dead beat and wanted to slum into the cozy bed. However Jevriel started to cry badly nearing to midnight, and he refused to stop no matter what we do. We guess that he was not used to the environment and was feeling insecure and cranky from the lack of sleep. Eventually my parents took over and it was not until 1am before he dozed off completely ūüôĀ

 

2014 Familiy Trip Day 2 – Malaysia : Penang

Due to the midnight rampant from Jevriel, we woke up slightly later and only left the hotel at 11am. The weather was hot with scorching sun and we were all hungry as it was almost lunch time. Walking from Jalan Transfer and to Penang Road, we came by this coffee shop where we had our breakfast/lunch. I had lor mee while my family ordered prawn mee and wanton mee. The food was decent but the coffee was sour. So bad that my dad and I left it almost untouched. After the meal, we continue walking down Penang Road and into the Chowrasta¬†Bazaar. Then we came across the so call famous Penang Chendol. There was a long queue and we identified that it was the correct one. We ordered 3 bowls and none of us find it good, in fact we think it was rather bad. I personally think that there was too much rock sugar. I guess it a different flavor compared to Singapore, and we didn’t really like it, despite the locals all praising that this is the best Chendol in the whole of Penang.

The weather has gotten really hot and Jevriel showed signs of sun burn, so we headed into a shopping mall, where we had McDonalds and spent the next few hours shopping around. It was around 3pm by the time we continue walking and the weather became much better due to the layer of clouds. Next was durian feast and we had some ÁļĘŤôĺ durians that goes for RM18 per kg. We ordered 2 durians and that costed a total of RM80, easily half price of what we would be paying back in Singapore. The durians were pretty good and our whole family enjoyed it except for Amber, Wei wei and Jevriel, whom all frown upon the smell.

Satisfied, we continue walking in the direction towards the heritage lanes. Most of the shops were close and we were thinking that Sunday was the wrong time to visit Penang, until we came upon the heritage area, where a sea of crowd appeared. Penang is known for some of its wall painting, and I think the most famous would be the one with the siblings on the bicycle. We waited in queue before we took 2 photos. Happy with the keepsake, we continue and came across a shop that was selling ice ball for RM3 each. Delighted that this was something that we used to love as kids, we just wanted to reminisce our growing up times.

There were some other interesting things around and by the time we reach the end of the stretch, it was around 4pm. We were stuck with the idea of heading back to the hotel for a wash, or to continue staying out till dinner. Eventually we decided to get to somewhere with air-conditioning and flagged 2 cabs towards the Paragon. This mall is located along the Gurney stretch, which is the place where the wealthy lives. Living up to its name, the Penang Paragon is indeed a upmarket shopping centre. We had simple dinner in the food court (hmmmmm, sort of against the whole idea of coming to Penang for their local favors) and brought Jevriel to a children arcade, where he had the most fun during this trip. It was again groceries shopping before retreating into the hotel for an early night.

We will be having an early flight tomorrow and needed to wake up at 6.30am. Spent 2 hours packing and when it was time for bed, Jevriel woke up around 11pm and started crying non stop again. It was a repeat from the previous night, and after our failed effort in pacifying him, we handed him to our parents for another night…….. I then concluded that it would definitely be a disaster if we bring Jevriel along for our October Hokkaido trip, and reassure her that we definitely had made the right choice not to bring him along. Oh yes, Jevriel will no longer go with us to Japan. Too bad, but I really believe that the holiday would not be enjoyable if we need to babysit him through the day, and trying to pacify him during the night.

The next month was simple. Wake up, check out, headed to the airport, check-in, board the plane, and back home. Yeah, home sweet home! ūüôā

 

Puala Dayang 2012 ‚Äď Night & Deep Specialty course

After having finished Boat & Navi Specialty course, I once again headed to Puala Dayang with REN Scubaworx for my Night & Deep Specialty. By the course outline, Night & Deep definitely seems to be much more exciting than Boat & Navi. During this trip, I was exposed to 2 new experience Рgoing deeper than 18meter and diving in darkness for my first time.

I met some new friends along the way, which always happens in a dive trip. Strangers come together to share the common interests and some will hit it off pretty well with one another. Most of the divers were doing their Open Water or leisure dive, and probably only 4 or 5 of us were doing Specialty. I was paired up with this dive enthusiast, Samantha, whom used to be a diving journalist.

Our 1st dive was was Deep and we dropped down to a maximum depth of 26 meters. Our 2nd dive we dropped even further till 33 meters. Dayang isn’t colourful to begin with at shallow water, and by the time we go pass 30 meters, there isn’t much to see anymore. At 30 meters, our instructors tested us with some simple questions (tick-tac-toe, basic mathematics) to ensure that we aren’t thrown off by¬†nitrogen narcosis.

Nitrogen narcosis is a syndrome experience in deep diving. It is caused by the anesthetic effect of certain gases at high pressure. The effects resemble the effects of alcohol. Such effects are not harmful unless they cause some immediate danger not to be recognized and addressed. Once stabilized, the effects generally remain the same at a given depth, only worsening if the diver ventures deeper. The most dangerous aspects of narcosis are the impairment of judgement, multi-tasking and coordination, and the loss of decision-making ability and focus.

 

We ended the 1st day with a night dive, my first time ever. A waterproof torch is essential for all night dive, and it is pretty expensive to own a good torch. Since I was only doing a one-time deep dive, I borrowed a dive torch from my colleague, Kevin Foo’s wife, whom is an avid diver.

I must say that there was so much anticipation built up towards this night dive. The thought of only able to rely on the minimal source of light with no idea of what lurks around you, really does send some shiver down the spines. Imagine being swept by a strong current and seperated from your group, only to surface and realise that you are lost in a dark open sea. Or to have some dangerous creatures from the dark biting you. These are all thoughts that put many people off from enjoying the beauty of night dive.

Some of you might be thinking should one dive in the dark when more things can be seen in the day? If you have read or seen enough documentary about the underwater world, you would know that the water is very different between these 2 period of the day. The kind of species that swims around are different. Night dive expose you to nocturnal creatures that are seldom spotted during the day. Overall, it is an entirely different experience. One that a day dive can never ever replace.

So when we dropped into the water, the first thing I felt was the coldness. The water was rather choppy and we had to huddle before everyone was ready to descend. Once down, we were put into a drift. From my instructors, they consider the current on the strong side, and we literally drifted throughout the entire 15 minutes dive. A rather short dive I must say, as my instructors felt that safety is our number 1 priority. Being experienced, such dive is within their limits but they just did not want to risk it with us, the not so experience divers. I still managed to take some night shots of nocturnal creatures. One of the key highlights was the beauty of cuttlefishes. They are simply amazing!

This will definitely not be my last night dive!

 

We began the day with deep diving. This time we aimed for the 40 meters mark. The descend was via a flat and gradual slope. By following the gradual sea bed, one would lose conscious that the depth could built up so quickly. I experienced some level of nitrogen narcosis when we went pass 35 meters, however the effect was minimal and I soon stabilized. At close to 39 meter, my instructor did a check on our nitrogen narcosis level by asking us to write our names backward. Having passed the test, Samantha and I follow our instructor back up the gradual ascend.

While deep diving can be dangerous as it also requires proper discharge of nitrogen so as not to result in decompression sickness, I must say I do enjoy the thrill of going deep.

This deep and night dive trip is by far my best dive experience to date. I look forward towards even more exciting dives. Maybe a wreck or around a school of barracudas. ūüôā