Archive for December, 2010

31
Dec
10

LOOKING BACK AT 2010, LOOKING FORWARD TO 2011

The outgoing year has given me a lot of humbling experiences. Only my family and truest friends can attest that 2010 has been a tough year for me, financial-wise. I have been under the weather but nevertheless, I am so grateful to our good Lord for providing His blessings in critical times when I needed the most. 

Huge decisions ranging from dropping a job early this year in the name of principles, to accepting new offers to continue to seek personal and professional growths and making vital sacrifices for my family and myself form part of my 2010.  Despite my on-going struggle to become stable, there were countless remarkable memories from this year to cherish.

I reckon being in two Asian countries for more than 2 weeks (and counting) as a great privilege for me. I’ve experienced varied cultures, beliefs and religions, was exposed to amazing gastronomic flavors, have been to wonderful sights that provided opportunities to learn new things and at times, to unwind and be stress-free.

Looking back, I never planned nor thought of being in these places to wintess the turn of events happen before my very eyes. Indeed, God’s love works in mysterious ways.

Experiencing Tokyo (for 2 week-all-expense-paid trip) was truly one for the books.  I swear, I’ll revisit that most expensive city with my family someday.

The stylish and luxurious street of Marunouchi was definitely unforgettable…

 

Like other tourists, I also fell in love with the street Ginza…

Tasting authentic Japanese foods which are among my favorites really heightened my appreciation of Tokyo…

 Places like Akihabara Electric Town…

Harajuku, Shinagawa, Gotanda, Shibuya, Shinjuku and Asakusa are worthy of recall…

Who would not enjoy Tokyo Disneyland…

and Tokyo Disneysea…

While the second part of the year gave me a chance to work in Penang. Thank you, God!

I was impressed with one of UNESCO’S World Heritage Cities, Georgetown…

I became part of a small community of 24 Filipino MD-lecturers amongst multicultural faculty of an international medical university, all proving our worth not to anyone else but primarily to our families…

I got to experienced an overnight sailing via Star Cruise Pisces with my friends/colleagues.

I have embraced the fact that my work site is absolutely rich in diversities…

Everything has been overwhelming.

But the sweetest thing that happened to me this year was when I had a chance to bring my family over to Penang after 5 months of homesickness and solitude… Our reunion that brought us to Penang Island, Genting Highlands Resort and the city of Kuala Lumpur that also gave Tina that 1-year renewable contract as an Operating Room Nurse in a Joint Committee Accredited Hospital in Penang Island (she’ll start working after her registration with Malaysian Nursing Council is released that we hope to happen 1 – 3 months from now) has been truly rewarding.

 

I pray for abundance, health and safety for my family, friends and myself.

I wish I can perform my job beyond my employer’s expectations and more importantly, I want to continue being an inspiration to others, particularly my former and present students.

I hope for more travels and learning opportunities to come our way.

I’ll try my very best to save, save and save and to establish my family abroad in God’s will.

I pray to become a better person and a blessing to others.

With challenges and graces from 2010, I pray that I can carry on to 2011 with so much hope, optimism and faith.

So help me, God.

Have a prosperous, healthy and happy 2011, everyone!

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this post also serves an entry to (for tina to win the prize from) jeanny’s blog contest.

Visit her blog Starting A New Life. :D

29
Dec
10

TRAIN RIDE, HOTEL AND TWIN TOWERS

From Butterworth, Penang, we hopped on to train to Hogwarts…

OK, so Rubeus Hagrid wasn’t there that midnight to meet us and we didn’t wait for the train at platform 9  3/4 but platform 2 from Butterworth to Kuala Lumpur. :D  

The train ride (RM 34 per adult or USD 11  or PhP 473 and RM 21 for kids) which we chose over buses was way cheaper compared to taking the low cost carrier (Air Asia) but of course there’s its downside. While Air Asia can take its passengers from Penang International Airport to Kuala Lumpur in less than an hour, the train we rode took us to KL not in a blink but in 9 freaking long hours! …At least we can state that we already experienced it and was worth it anyway for its price. 

The train also has beds but we should have brought the tickets earlier because it sell like hotcakes.

We didn’t expect it’ll be chilling cold inside (without exaggeration, it felt like we’re in a freezer!) and we hated its old and poorly maintained tandas or toilets (of all things, for Heaven’s sake!).

Syempre, we still flashed our smiles despite those hassles not to forget an hour delay because the train from Singapore arrived in Penang late. Sometimes, it’s good to just go with the flow and let time takes its course, like what one of our friend-colleagues (the one with maroon head cap covering his face) did at the beginning of the trip–he immediately slept with no care whether we’re clicking our cams for posterity…  haha :D

And did I tell you already that we reached KL sitting on our seats with the train moving backwards? Now that’s another unique experience we had.

 

It was already 9AM when we arrived in KL Sentral where trains, buses and taxi cabs are stationed. From there, we decided to take 2 teksi to our hotel and forget about taking the cheaper monorail. Good choice because for only RM 13 (USD 4.20 or PhP 182) we’re already at the lobby in less than 15 minutes.

  

The Legend Hotel and Appartments in KL became our home for 2D-1N. We booked for a Superior Room that can house all 6 of us (Drs. Ronnie, Alvin, Carlo and me with Tina and Gabby) with 2 single beds large enough to accomodate 2 and we requested for an extra bed.  We thought it would cut the cost of our expenses if we would do it that way; and so it did.

We’re checked in at the 19th floor…

This boy has started to entertain his fetish for nice and comfy hotels; tsk. tsk…

*gastos iyan, tatay-doc!*

And if we’re disappointed in tandas of the train that took us to KL from Penang, check out the comfort room of our room in Legend Hotel…simply divine.

The view from our window..

After we hurriedly took showers, we parted ways to explore the city. The boys went to a building filled with nothing but tech-gadgets with affordable prizes while I took Tina and Gabby to Suria-KLCC Shopping Complex at the foot of one of the most famous landmarks in Southeast Asia.

Five months of homesickness faded out in a heart beat.

Suria-KLCC Mall was dazzlingly decorated to the occasion but what strucked us the most were those iconic Twin Towers…

 

It’s my 3rd time to see experience Petronas but it never fails to impress me. 

It was my first time to spend Noche Buena with friends.

It was my first time to bring my family to KL.

It was indeed a memorable Christmas for us.

How was yours?

Enjoy the holidays, everyone! :D

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28
Dec
10

OUR DAYS IN GENTING : PART TWO

OUR DAYS IN GENTING : PART ONE

Disneyland meets Las Vegas on a smaller scale… that’s how they described Genting Highlands Resort on most online sites I’ve browsed when I was still planning to bring my family over to Malaysia.   

During one of my Small Group Discussion sessions with our students, they’ve warned me that I might be disappointed with Genting since I’ve been to those two themed places once upon a time. Despite their word, I was never skeptical with my game plan. Tina, Gabby and I have to experience the coolest place (literally and figuratively) in this side of Asia.   

I got a package tour from one of the travel agencies in Georgetown, Penang last November, then started counting the days until the big day.

Genting Highlands has a number of hotels to choose from (Genting Hotel, First World, Resort Hotel, Theme Park Hotel) with casinos, retail shops, restaurants, fast foods and kiosks;  has 2 theme parks : indoor, which is located at the second level of First World Hotel where we checked in, and outdoor theme park where ‘life-threatening’ or as my blogmate, chyng puts it -“buwis-buhay) extreme rides can be enjoyed by those daredevils.

After our hearty dinner buffet at Coffee Terrace in Genting Hotel, we went down to First World Plaza Indoor theme park.

If you’re a kid or kid at heart, this can be your paradise. If you like shopping branded items on a 50-70% off, Genting can be your nirvana. :D

Gabby had fun making snow balls and throwing them up in the air inside Snow World.  Cameras were not allowed inside  but we had 4 souvenir shots at 8R and 5R sizes taken by their official photographers, which I purchased for RM 60 (USD 20 or PhP 840); quite pricey but I considered that memories can’t be brought back and it should be taken as priceless. *i must scan those photos soon*  

Miniature of famous landmarks around the globe are found in the indoor theme park. There are NYC’s statue of Liberty and Times Square, Hollywood’s Oscars trophy, gondola ride in Venice, Big Ben in UK, Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, the Eiffel Tower in Paris and of course, Petronas Twin Towers in Malaysia.

While we reserved our second and last day in Genting to explore the outdoor theme park…

What’s a children’s paradise without that grand carousel?

There’s this Beryl’s Chocolate Factory where colorful chocolate processing simply bursts before your eyes…

 

Gabby had two days of happiness in Genting but more than that, it was Tina and I who were overjoyed having fun with him.

Happy New Year, everyone!

—————————————————–o

25
Dec
10

HARRODS CAFE : CELEBRATORY INDULGENCE IN KUALA LUMPUR

Because it’s Christmas and everyone’s busy being generous and nice, by the time you read this post, we’re probably heading to the Kuala Lumpur-LCT airport to catch a flight back to Pinas or already enjoying the comforts of being home. 

Few hours before Noche Buena, I brought my family to a special restaurant inside Suria-KLCC Shopping Complex to grab quick bites of what this London-based food place has to offer.

 

Since I cannot afford to take my family and travel to Europe yet, experiencing a taste of it with Tina and Gabby  is the second best thing for me.

 

Tucked within its gift shop, Harrods Cafe is a serene and relaxing food place (noxious on the pocket though but its excellent food and impeccable service made our dining experience all worth it –*pikit-mata sa budget*)

Everything inside was fascinating.  The English ambiance that I and Tina only experience in few movies and literatures, to the little details of its interiors, table setting and foods that were served were truly note-worthy. 

Tina gave me the freedom to order for the 3 of us to share.  Our set included…

Complimentary pieces of  bread served with (herbed) butter.

Potato and herbs soup : Although thick and creamy, our tastebuds were quite alienated to it for I think we’re all biased to pumpkin.

I reckon Fish and Chips as a classic that one can never go wrong with.  And so does Harrods’ version… Never greasy, no foul-fishy taste; served with long and chunky potato fries and freshest green salad tossed in vinaigrette.  *sarap!*

A day in Gelo and Tina’s lives isn’t complete without a dose of caffeine.  We shared a cup of cappuccino; foamy as usual, the difference lies on its taste and presentation.  

Sugar cubes or brown sugar?  Gabby smiled his widest when he tried the tongs…

Tina was delighted too with those sugar cubes! :D

I’m happy to share the table again with my family.

Nothing really beats being with your love ones.

Happy holidays, everyone! :D

——————————————————–o

PS :  I wish to bring my family to Europe one day and compare how does KL branch fares with the original.

*wishful thinking* …malay nyo lang, this year KL, next Christmas Europe na, LOL! :P

23
Dec
10

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

taken at Coffee Terrace, Genting Hotel, Genting Highlands Resort, Malaysia 18 December 2010

 

May you and your family be blessed this holiday season and beyond.

Maligayang Pasko po at Manigong Bagong Taon! :D

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21
Dec
10

OUR DAYS IN GENTING : PART ONE

Saturday, 18 Dec 2010.  Around 3PM at the First World Hotel Tourist Package Counter,

docgelo : Hello Miss.

(hands in the reservation voucher and the number he secured from the lobby)

hotel staff :  Sir, you have to wait for your number to be called.

docgelo : Can you please check me in now; my son needs to rest. 

*sumistema kasi 100 tourists pa ang nauna sa kanila (God, forgive me! hehe)*

hotel staff : (talks to her manager; after few seconds, she hands in the key).

docgelo : Thank you!

docgelo to Tina : Tara na, bilisan mo ang lakad. I have the key already! :D

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We felt relieved after we finally saw our deluxe room at First World Hotel, Genting Highlands Resort. Despite the fact that we took an executive tourist bus from Georgetown, Penang with minimal capacity and so much leg-room per seat  that provided enough comfort, the 7 hour trip (with an hour lunch break at the bus stop) was quite tiring.

I initially booked an overnight stay at Resort Hotel, but I was told by the travel agent only last Saturday morning at their office and bus pick up point that the said hotel did not confirm and they had to book us to another (First World Hotel).  Good thing, they gave me refund of RM 56 (USD 17.8 or PhP 790) from the tour package I got  from them last November.

I set no expectations but for me and my family to have fun.  I tried my best not to compare Genting Highlands Resort to some similar theme parks I’ve been to (Disneyland in Anaheim, Hong Kong and Tokyo and themed hotels in Las Vegas). 

The view from one of the hotels was breathtaking…

 

“Founded in 1965, Genting Highlands Resort or popularly known as “Genting-City of Entertainment” is situated at 6,000 feet above sea level, set amidst cool misty mountains of Pahang, Malaysia. The Chinese acronym for Genting, pronounced as Yun Ding carries the literal meaning of on top of the clouds.” (–sourced from genting rewards gallery).

The package I got included 2D-1N hotel accomodation, roundtrip bus transfers, and unlimited all-day pass to both indoor and outdoor theme parks for one day.  It was nice that we’re checked in at First World Hotel where the indoor them park was located at its 2nd level. 

After we left our luggage in our room, we immediately explored Genting.

Tina (and I) wanted to try the dinner buffet in one of the hotels so we asked for directions and headed few levels up to Coffee Terrace located at the Genting Hotel (hotels are interconnected via escalators and monorails). 

Meals were not included in the package but there are many food options available; from fast foods (KFC, McDonald’s, Burger King, MarryBrown etc), food kiosks (skewered fish balls, sushi, pastries, sandwiches, local favorites  and more) to high-end restaurants and hotel cafe.

I like the spontaneity of use of recycled plastic bottles made into Christmas decors…

Dinner buffet at Coffee Terrace is offered at 5-9PM and is charged at  RM 60+/adult (USD 19. 13 or PhP 850) and RM 39+/child (USD 12.44 or PhP 552).  Pikit-mata na lang sa gastos, na-miss ko magbuffet kasama ng pamilya ko! Ito lang bisyo namin, remember? :D

:D FOOD PORN !

Some  plates we shared…

:D DESSERT OVERLOAD!

For Tina’s and my own palate, hotel buffets in Pinas are way so much better but nonetheless, our Coffee Terrace experience wasn’t that bad at all. We’ve savored again what we love to do best. :D

What about Gabby? Did he enjoy the buffet particularly the Durian-flavored ice cream he had?  His smile said so.

Other than he liked the sweets, he’s too excited for the indoor and outdoor theme parks of course. :D

To be continued…

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20
Dec
10

LAST FRIDAY AT GEORGETOWN

Friday night was a blast, at least for my family and I. It was the eve of our trip to Genting Highlands Resort, the so-called mini-Las Vegas-mini-Disneyland of Malaysia. Excitement ruled as I brought my wife and kid for an overnight stay in a budget-friendly hotel in Georgetown, Penang Island.

“Wow, sosyal!” exclaimed Gabby soon after he tapped the card-key and opened the door of our room. Tina and I were smiling ears to ears with Gabby’s astonishment. It’s nice to see our kid happy and knows how to appreciate simple things.

There’s nothing grandiose but Tune hotels is still consistently clean, fresh and a real value-for-money.

It was already my second time to spend a night at Tune in that same branch and for only RM 88 per room (USD 27.9 or PhP 1240), one can have a restful sleep and worry nothing about catching a flight, or in our case, a bus trip to Genting the following morning.

I highly recommend Tune Hotels for those financially-conscious but won’t sacrifice quality of service and cleanliness. *do i get a discount for this, Tune?* :D

After few minutes, we walked through one of my favorite eating places in this part of Penang. We had dinner at a nearby restaurant called Santorini…

I wanted Tina and Gabby to experience what I and my colleagues/friends have been enjoying here in Penang. So I ordered my usual-Santorini meal for Tina; it’s Combo plate of various seafoods tossed in a delightful sauce with veggies.

I’m not surprised she liked it. I know her taste of course. :)

After filling our tummies, we strolled a few more steps from Santorini and found ourselves looking at aquarium tanks with fresh and salt-water fishes, dogs, cats and other domesticated animals in a 3-floor-pet shop. It was just too bad that cameras are not allowed in the store but nonetheless, Gabby was content seeing large kois in a pond and all those feathered and haired and scaled friendly creatures for free!

We left that airconditioned pet shop at its closing time at few minutes before 10PM and walked to Komtar, the tallest building and famous landmark in Georgetown. We dropped by at Prangin mall and marvelled at their holiday decors.

I honestly never expected a Muslim-predominated country will also dressed its establishments to a Christian-inspired festivity such as Christmas. We like it so much! Don’t you?

prangin mall, georgetown, pulau pinang

Their smiles = my bliss! :D

It’s truly almost Christmas even in this part of Malaysia!

Up next : Our Genting Highlands Adventures!




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