Monday, May 25, 2009

heaven anyone? Tioman!!!

what started off as little excitement turned out to be a good holiday. i feel rested, and there is a smile on my face, genuine and well deserved.

30 May 2008
Both him and i were seated in the bus. we were early to reach and so had decided to stop at macdonald's for a light snack before our trip. we paid RM20 for the cab ride. (it would cost about MR15 but we were afraid that we would not get a cab in time.) however, we were really early - almost an hour earlier and so MCD it was. after that we headed straight to the bus terminal to get our bus. just in time. the bus was punctual. he was complaining that the seats were close and that leg space was narrow. i agreed but since i had short legs, that wasnt a problem for me. he slept most of the way while i was too nervous or excited to sleep. the bus driver obviously didnt know the meaning of gentle. he sped along happily, blind to any holes, pots or animals. he was blind to cars further than 2 feet away for his stops were ALWAYS last minute...jerking me awake...i gave up sleeping until we reached kluang when he slowed down ( by 5 kmph)haha...

2.45 am - we reached mersing. since most of the passangers were still asleep, the bus driver made his round "calling" us to wake up. the two girls in front of us were still groggy and when the bus driver woke them up, the first question they asked was "Is this Mersing?" to which the bus driver replied "No, this is the bus. outside the bus is Mersing!" this only confused the girls further. i woke him and grabbed our bags and headed "out the bus" into Mersing near the jetty.

i was still sleepy and luckily there were tables and chairs available. unfortunately, mosquitoes were aplenty so after ten minutes, i decided to take a stroll. nuven had plonked his butt on a chair and folded his arms acrossed the the table as pillows, after having some buns.

my short stroll took me to the jetty. there was an uncle sitting there smoking. he greeted me and as usual we started chatting. he is 57 and has 6 daughters!!!! he was going on about his life and family. he really reminds me sakthi apupa (uncle). anyway, i learnt from him about pulau tioman and he also offered a good 3d2n package. i liked the package but was also afraid of being cheated. so off i went to search for nuven. the package was for accommodations for 2 nights, 5 meals (2 breakfast, 2 dinners and 1 lunch), ferry transfer (RM70 per person)

31 May 2008
my first impression when i entered was the room was that we were cheated. the sheets didnt look clean and one of the pillow cases were torn. i was determined however to not complain as i was the one who made the suggestion to come to this place instead of Berjaya Hotel that Nuven had booked. the rooms alone cost us almost RM800 for two nights. really too expensive i think.

well, tired since we had hardly slept the night before, i threw my pareo on the bed, cover the pillows with an extra t-shirt and lay my head down. i slept. so did nuven.
we woke up at nearly eleven, showered and took a ferry to tekek. tekek is the " town centre" of tioman island. it takes you about 20 minutes to go around on a motorbike. there's nothing much for you to do unless you go to the marine park. you get to feed the fish there. quite exciting though i must say, this is where i saw firsthand the meaning of "feeding frenzy". one fish even 'attacked' his hands. i got quite afraid actually seeing fish zooming in towards the bread and they were what 10 cm away...SCARY!!! we didnt go there on the first day. instead we went to Crest Vision- a place to get duty free items. he and i bought a bottle each and i also got a tiffen carrier. worth it lah...hehe...

we headed back to genting village and spent the evening on the beach...swimming and playing in the water before plonking our asses on big white comfortable chairs sipping our favourite beer "tiger". about chilling. i must say i felt very relaxed and for the first time in months, money and work were not a concern. i had no plans...just chilled out and enjoyed the scenery, place and FOOD.

after finishing our beer (RM 35 per jug but the jug poured 6 glasses), we headed back and showered before dinner. we had six dishes served - fried fish in garlic and soya sauce, fried squid cakes, fish balls and seaweed soup, prawn sambal, and vegetables. delicious and we had more than enough. after dinner, we took a stroll straight into the chalet and slept till the next day.

1st June

we woke up early, took our shower and went to have breakfast. it was good. we had toast, cofee, porridge and fried noodles. after the COLD shower, breakfast was good. then at about 8.30 we headed out for our snorkelling expedition. It was FUN! it was a little difficult at first as i couldnt get used to the breathing equipment, but i didnt give up. soon though, i got used to it, though the sound of me breathing under water reminded me of scary movies. :P

the first place we snorkelled was really pretty. i felt like a whale (as usual) amongst tiny pretty fishies. they swam quite accustomed to humans swimming and staring at them. the hard corals were pretty too. i wish i could go diving but my blood pressure doesnt allow me...even after snorkelling at two places, i started feeling a little dizzy. i sat out the third one and promptly fell asleep to the gentle swaying of the boat. he didnt skip it though. just swam and said that the corals were pretty much the same and that i didnt miss much. not sure if that is true. but i was happy to head back to the chalet. we actually had planned to stop at the marine park and go off to salang, another part of the island but since the last ferry was at 5, we felt that it wasnt worth it and so headed back to genting village. we got there about 4.30 and had a shower. back to the little cafe and hard beer, nuts and KEROPOK. delicious.

we had a bbq dinner that night. we had lovely seafood - fresh squid and prawns. just over the grill and they were succulent and sweet. simply delicious. we also had sausages and chicken. when they were grilling the food, one of our guides actually gathered his courage and spoke to me in english. i had noticed earlier that he constantly looked at me, but i guess it was because he was curious about a tanned person speaking english and not the local malay language.i clapped and smiled, and encouraged him to speak more in english before turning away,trying not to have a quiet conversation with him. and honestly, i was more tired after the whole day and though i enjoyed the food, i was more than happy to fall asleep. unfortunately or rather fortunately, the food rejuvenated us and so we took a stroll down to the jetty, looking at the curious shops that sold curious souvenirs. we were wondering what to get for some of our friends and family. the walk was cool. we saw a few people fishing and a boat preparing to go out for night diving. it was awesome...feeling and breathing fresh air and sea water. the sound was beautiful too. i truly felt relaxed and refreshed.

slept after that. he went out to have beers with some of the locals we made friends with on the boat - especially the guides.

2 June
early morning, woke up to another lovely breakfast. the fried noodles were exceptional. toast and tea or coffee were also available. we took a quick stroll around to get souvenirs and then headed back to pack. in the past 3 days, he and i were relaxed. not arguing or anything. it was like two good friends have a good time together...something very innocent and refreshing.

we had lunch at a local stall and the seafood was delicious though a little expensive. found something cute as ornaments for myself...little tortoises made of sea shells. the two i put in the office are called TIO and MAN - get it tioman! haha...lame...but i like it.

bus was punctual. 1.30 we left and headed back to the city of kuala lumpur.
as i write this blog it has been two or three weeks but the effects of that relaxing wonderful holiday still beckons. i reckon i will be going somewhere soon...maybe back to tioman again...but i hear that redang is good as well...who knows huh?

platinum anyone?

place : Cineleisure, Mutiara Damanara
Date : 14 June 2008
Time : 8.30 pm

The Friday before...

my students (both shen deng and benz tey) were telling about about gold class at gsc and platinum at golden screen cinema and cineleisure. now, benz's mom would purposely take the children then and promptly fall asleep. you pay RM 40 to watch a movie?!?! if you think carefully, who would want to spend RM 40 to SLEEP? too extravagant i thought. he and i never had that kind of money to waste. bonuses were used to pay off debts or car insurance and road tax. so, having almost none to little money to spare, we had always tried to catch shows on Wednesdays where movies per ticket only cost RM6! other days it was 8 (now it is between RM10 - RM14).

so, when the idea was planted in my head, i was curious to know what the hype was all about. so what about big chairs that reclines? i thought. anyway, he and i wanted to watch 'the incredible hulk' and after trying to book the movie on the Internet, i gave up. we rarely get to book movies as they offer very few seats and mostly are snapped up within hours. anyway, when i suggested we experience a more expensive movie experience, i could see his excitement. we both tried the Internet again, but to no avail.

anyway, the next day, he had come home and passed me the tickets. i was shocked. he had managed to get platinum tickets for hulk that night. we had to rush a little and decided to have a quick bite, opting for dinner or rather late supper. anyway, we shared a burger and drink from McDonald's and went up to the suites. large screen, plush carpets, beautifully framed pictures of celebrities like Elvis and Audrey Hepburn filled the walls. magazines and even computers with Internet access were provided. there were massage chairs available too but only three and they were taken. we went in after 10 minutes of admiring the outside before entering the cinema area and ordering snacks. hey if you want to experience it, experience the best you can, right? we ordered a plate that had a combination of various finger foods and juices.

three words - OH MY GOD!!!
talk about comfort. we enjoyed the chairs more than the movie itself. we actually behaved like jakuns as we didn't know how to operate the chairs. luckily, our inexperience showed and kind, helpful ushers cum waiters showed us how to adjust the chair to suit our comfort. my only concern after getting the chair to a comfortable position was staying awake...

we ate, we drank and we held hands while watching a green monster on screen.

verdict :
worth watching a three hour movie or good movies.

a good experience and i truly enjoyed pampering myself.

* we went to watch a three hour movie ( a Tamil one - desavatharam) sat at the couple seat. when i complained that i wasn't comfortable, he looked at me and we both had the same thought - platinum. haha...definitely going again...just not so soon.

next time, will take some pictures... :D

of fish spa and middle eastern food?

venue: Pavillion
date : 7 June 2008

we had sent my mom to the bus station and had initially planned to spend a lazy day at home. i had felt like shopping instead and so, after sending my mom off, he suggested we go to another shopping complex - the Pavillion.

now, i have been there though we stayed only on the floor where they served food. it was still not fully operational then and we wanted to check it out then. this time, it was just the two of us. hand in hand, we found a relatively good parking spot, and whisked our hides away to the movie.

we agreed to watch "Indiana Jones -(something something Crystal skull?!?) Harrison ford is truly getting too old for this kind of movies but i must admit that it brought back memories. anyway, after getting the tickets, we realised that we had some time to kill. he mentioned this place where fishies eat away your dry skins. now, a new experience so soon after tioman? i was game. we paid after walking around watching others... and plucked up courage, paid and then we wash our legs.

put plenty of whatever was in the bottle and rubbed our legs. rinsed off and to the fish place we went. we chose a relatively quiet spot and sat down. now, the fishies were eagerly bobbling up and down with their mouths open wide. i couldn't bring myself to put my legs in and took a while before i actually did. he did first and started laughing. i knew that it would be ticklish and indeed it was. after a while, one of the workers came to us and told us that the bigger the fish, the more ticklish it could be. we could try another spot where the fishies were smaller. got up, wiped our legs and off we went to another spot. same thing happened here except that it was less ticklish. by far, we had the most fish stuck to our legs. (a lot of dry skin i guess) and i think i won hands down ( i mean , legs down).

another group of people came and one of the girls was too squeamish to even dip the edge of her heels in. we kinda made friends and eventually did not think too much about the fish...only occasionally i would wriggle my feet to push them away. they never went far... they just swam back. a few times, i lifted my legs from the water and some of the fish never let go. it didn't hurt but it gave a funny kind of feeling.

all the soon, time was up. RM 35 for half an hour - expensive but worth the experience. i have only watched this on TV before and now i get to experience it. true, my feet and the 'darkies' around my heels were gone. once again we had smooth skin. i washed my feet, dried them with the towels provided and once again put on my socks and shoes. off we went and watched Indiana Jones - another experience altogether.

before the show, we also managed to try a Taiwanese snack, and we bought j & co. i still prefer big apple though :P i also sampled some jasmine tea in honey. very refreshing. after the show, we decided to walk around - apparently some call it shopping. i only ended buying s swimming cap. still yet to use it though.

the walk took us to this middle east restaurant. it's inside the supermarket and i love the ambience. plush sofas with lots of cushions. we chose a quiet spot - next to huge windows and it was turning twilight and so it felt romantic. i plonked myself, and dug into the platter we ordered. portions were small but it was pricey. i loved the tahini and some other paste which is made of aubergines. taste delicious with their bread. however, the lamb and prawns were just so-so. it was a different experience of course.

all in all, i had my foot free of dead cells, shopped a little, watched an old idol in action again (for the last time though i hope) and ate a little of different food stuff. it was a good day. sigh...sighing with a smile...

the cherating experience_2008

2008 saw him and i travelling a little more often than usual.
after tioman, the next holiday was spent with kok beng and olivia in cherating kuantan.

well, there is nothing much to do in kuantan. upon arrival, we ate. checked into the hotel and slept. nothing like a good sleep after a long drive and a full stomache. if you are looking for a place to have good lunch or even breakfast, head to the stall with the HOtlink Canopy near Grand Continental hotel in Kuantan town itself.we actually stopped there to have lunch as we thought that sponsored places would be good as it would attract customers and the brand can be promoted as well.

so, lunch was great. there were not many varieties for the economy rice, but the little they had was simply scrumptious. yummy...(feeling hungry now). after lunch we checked into the hotel, slept a bit and later headed out for dinner.

at first we went to the riverside to book tickets for the firefly boat trip. we were not so fortunate because the lady at the ticket booth informed us that they do not carry out such trips when there is the full moon or rain. there was a BIG ROUND moon that night. it started drizzling and so we headed to Cherating to eat.

more than an hour later, slow driving due to rain, made us arrive a little wet and a lot hungry. we ordered a number of dishes and as usual, the camera-woman always forgets to take pictures until the very last after we have started eating.

i do not know about others but the food to me... was delicious. we had prawns, lemon chicken, kangkung belacan, crabs, a yummy "sour vegetable soup), mix vege with tofu, beer, tea... (i feel that i have forgotten some dishes). it didnt come up to much ( when compared to kl prices). just slighter over RM100. definitely cheap.

we drove back slowly with the left car wiper giving problem; something we fixed the very next morning. we headed back to the hotel, just to curl up and enjoy the night.

the next morning, we headed towards teluk lumpur. we had a deliciously simple breakfast. yours truly was too busy stuffing the face to take any more pictures at this humble hut of treats and goodies. the breakfast was simple, filling and delicious... cheap too. the kuantan breakfast and nasi lemak is quite different from those you find in west malaysia. it was definitely worth trying.

after a full breakfast, we headed to the beach area. we stopped at a local handicraft shop. i wasnt really pleased with this place. the batik class was not open on a SUNDAY!!! isnt that when people want to do such activities? we browsed around the shop and olivia bought a really pretty batik-y skirt. it was reasonably priced too. the rest of us walked out emtpy handed. i felt that the things there were generally over priced and what was worse was the fact that most of the items found were made in CHINA!

after the window-shopping session, we ventured a little further. we ended up along a small road leading to the turtle sanctuary. the road also led to Club Med Cherating. anyway, we went it to this small little not-so-well-kept place. it surely looked like it needed cleaning and a fresh coat of paint. there were pictures and posters mostly. we managed to take some videos of the turtles kept at the sanctuary. there was an interesting poster that caught my eye.

one of the staff told us that we could go back a little later to watch the turtles being released...for a token sum/small donation. i was sure that it was a form of bribery but to lose the chance? half-hearted but as the others were game, we did.

after that, we headed to the beach. He had been harping about wanting to draw batik. i could see KB not too keen on the idea, but since we were, we went anyway.
it was quite fun though at first a little annoyed because the craft centre was under renovation (has been since 2005 (the last time we went there). haha.
on the way out, we saw a sign saying batik painting. but the "artist" was multi-tasking with food catering and so had no time for us. so we continued driving out, until we came the the temporary pit stop for the batik painting.

AYAM (at least that's his initials) was there to help us set up and try batik painting.. he and i chose to colour a fish while olivia and KB chose a pretty home. we started painting after AYAM showed us how to do it. very helpful and soon we were on our way painting happily. he as usual is more patient and i was more in a hurry to see how it would look when it finished. all too soon, we finished. we were to collect it after a few hours and thus, we headed to a nearby restaurant recommended by AYAM.

THe food there was delicious but more pricey though. i cant remember the name and i dont want to describe the dingy toilet behind. it looks like creatures lived there. after lunch, we headed to the beach since we had time to kill. he and i actually played in the water while KB and Olivia snoozed on the soft whitish sands. the breeze was good, the water cold and it was quite fun. i had bought some langsat and we ate some. it was a good time for an ice-cream but alas, none was found there. =(

later that evening, we met up with AYAM to collect out batik pieces. some who saw us admired them. others chided us. i mean, why pay someone to paint ?? it truly didnt make sense when you put it that way. for me, it was the experience. (it's sept now, and we still havent framed it up) soon!!!

later, we released some turtles into the sea. we got free "lessons" on turtles and we got to touch them and see them up close and personal. i almost cried when we released them into the sea. it was a profound feeling...that i prayed to G*d to watch over the turtles. we were told than only one in a hundred survived. i didnt know what i could do to help but to spread the word. i did to all my classes and i hoped that there were those touched to do something...even if not now, but one day. sow the seeds of knowledge and awareness...

after that, we headed back to kuantan. we had satay, not great but the store itself was double storey. all the walking had caused my heels to hurt and i wasnt keen on going upstairs. we sat downstairs and ate away. i think we were all a little tired and hoped for a good night's rest.

the next morning, we agreed to do our own things but actually ended up meeting up in the same place. we shopped a little and this time souvenirs were keropok for a few people.

it was a good holiday. just recently, Olivia found out that she was pregnant. yahoo =)


welcome to my world.

in this blog, you will get to see life from the perspective of a 30-something.

if you enjoy this blog, good for you.
as for me, here's to blogging.

lydia sundra