Posts Tagged ‘nikon D7000

06
Sep
13

OUR LAST MOMENTS IN NEPAL

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“Journeys are made by the people you travel with.” ~ Malaysia Airlines. Terima Kasih!

August 10, 2013. Saturday. Our fifth and last day in Nepal. My eyes were shut for almost 6 hours of restful sleep, it felt a luxury.  Then, I woke up and I saw my family – Tina & Gabby who were still asleep.  I tried to hyperextend my lower extremities and forced my senses to rise from the bed.  Like a child who wishes to see the sunrise beaming from snow-capped mountains, I gradually moved my feet off the bed  and  walked towards the window. Negative. I never had a glimpse of sunshine but all mist and blue.  

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Namaste. Good morning, from Nagarkot, Nepal!

It was only 5:10AM, no sight of stupendous Nepalese sunrise. No regrets, I told myself.  It’s monsoon season and the Himalayas were thickly covered with fluffy clouds. After I clicked a photo, I went back to bed and tucked myself under the sheets again. That was sweet! I savored that moment for it doesn’t happen on a daily basis particularly on a work week. I didn’t bother to stimulate Tina and Gabby to wake up, but rather I rejoined them in Dreamland.

About two hours after, the three of  us went down for breakfast at Cafe du Mont, the restaurant of Peaceful Cottage in Nagarkot.  After we appreciated our first sip of Nepalese coffee for the day, we decided to transfer our plates and cups to the dining area at the expansive and overwhelming balcony.  We were lured by the last-moment-experience in Nepal.
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Our last breakfast in Nepal was savored at 7000 feet above sea level. :)

It was zero-visibility by the balcony.  We didn’t see even the shadow of the mountains or the sight of lush green fields in Kathmandu Valley.  It was a very cold morning in Nagarkot. The last time I felt fresh cold air that entered my nasal cavities down to my lungs was in Tokyo during the tail end of Winter 2010 and in Auckland, New Zealand in 2005 with Tina and our 4-month-old-Gabby then.  Breathing and feeling cool and fresh mountain air together with my family was nothing but priceless!
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True to the lyrics of the song, “Some Good Things Never Last,” our brief but memorable 5-day-break in this incredibly amazing country was about to end. After breakfast and some last-minute-photos and videos, we went back to our room to freshen up again and off we went to thank and bid goodbye to the friendly staff of Peaceful Cottage & Cafe du Mont.

Although it’s not a sponsored accomodation, I’d like to thank Caron, who replied to all my queries and concern via email when I did the reservation for the said mountain resort hotel.  He also facilitated our transfer from Nagarkot to Tribhuvan International Airport with utmost efficiency.  While Laxma and the rest of the staff of the said hotel displayed modest but warm Nepalese hospitality.

The next thing I recall vividly was Tina’s resounding comment; something like, “Mabuti kasama noong driver iyong anak niyang babae, at least I feel safe.” (Good that the driver brought along his daughter, I feel safe).

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While Tina was preoccupied praying her rosary that was only interrupted by her excitement  a couple of times when she saw (holy) cows on the road, and Gabby was quietly sitting between us, I continued to capture some last scenes on the road en route to the airport.

So here are the photos I took while we were on the zigzag road from 7,000 feet up in Nagarkot down to Kathmandu Valley where the terminal is.  Enjoy!

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Abundance of pine trees, rice paddies, those handsomely sculptured rice terraces and the few Nepalese people walking uphill and downhill were all a sight to behold.
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Off the ravine and the down the mountain, we safely reached the highway to the airport.
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Few minutes after an hour trip, we thanked and said goodbye to our Nepali driver, Krishna.

That’s it.  We’re about to leave Nepal, however, we know we’re bringing not only our passports and luggage back to our present home in Penang, Malaysia but a thousand and one beautiful experiences we gained from Kathmandu, Bhaktapur, Patan and Nagarkot and the simple memories with people we met, the Nepalis who smiled and greeted us, Namaste.

No travel guide book or glossy magazine will ever get you close enough to the real learning experience.

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Checking in at Malaysia Airlines counter was a breeze.  The three of us were entitled to free 30 kg-luggage allowance but of course, we didn’t buy huge brass and wooden souvenirs to meet such limit!  And despite we have to transit at Kuala Lumpur Interantional Airport and board another MAS flight to Penang, our 27 kg-luggage plus 3kg-duffle bag were sent directly to our last destination from Kathmandu and we didn’t need to claim and drop them again at the counter.

The semi-OC-in-me rechecked and verified all our documents prior boarding. And with random flick over our passports, I saw again our Visas to Nepal stamped upon arrival.  With Gabby’s FREE Multiple-Entry-Visa valid for 30 days, and Tina’s and mine that were valid for 15 days, I can’t help but take a shot of what I consider one of the best things that a US$ 50 (for Tina & me) could buy!

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As we took turns in going for bladder breaks, my attention was drawn to a group of 15, if not around 20 Nepalese Boy Scouts who also went to queue at MAS counter. They’re going to Kuala Lumpur too, boarding the same flight with us to attend Jamboree in Malaysia.

“Gabby anak,, look at them! They’re like your age and they’ll be traveling without parents but only a couple of guides. Come, let’s talk to them and I’ll take a photo with you.”
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These kids are doing right. They’re blessed to see and experience the world at an early age!

Few minutes prior boarding time. Here we go.

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Widest smile, so infectious! How could you not be so happy?

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Nothing’s more inspiring than to see youth traveling with pride of where they came from.

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A short ride to the plane.

Because Tina was in the ladies’ queue at the Boarding Area, she went to the plane ahead of us.

We love Gabby. He’s too adorable particularly when he flashes his ever-ready-smile to my cam!
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Thank you, Malaysia Airlines! We had a safe flight!

To bid adieu to Nepal was a lot harder than I thought.

The feeling was uniquely different from previous departures I had.

Perhaps, because in five short days, we encountered not only Nepalis but ourselves.

Upon ascent of the aircraft and the last view of Kathmandu from my window, I promised to revisit. We shall return in the future. Who knows? We never expected to experience Nepal too soon but it happened. And apparently, it left us in awe!

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A deep sigh and a smile.

Happier moments followed. What else but meal time at 36,000 feet!

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No leftovers. A proof that Malaysia Airlines’ Chicken Buttered Masala and Curry were a delight even to our kiddo!

Never underestimate an inflight meal experience in Economy section. I redefined bliss perceived immediately after separation anxiety with Nepal with white wine and orange juice to wash down all those savory Malaysian goodies amidst gorgeous sunset views by my window.

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Viewing glorious Malaysian sunset before touchdown in Kuala Lumpur!

No matter how many words I write, regardless of the volume of photos I share, I cannot completely express what my family and I experienced in our journey from Malaysia to Nepal and back.

I could not thank Tina and Gabby enough for joining me in this journey.  The trip was made worthwhile because I traveled to Nepal with my family.

To be continued with a blog post containing BTS-videos taken by my wife in Nepal…

*A life journey of mine, an epiphany of travel for you, made possible by Malaysia Airlines.

This Nepal Blog Series includes :

>><<

14
May
13

SUNDOWN OVER PULAU PINANG

April 15, 2013 Monday 740pm
April 15, 2013, Monday, 7:40PM.

April 18 2013 7.50pm Thursday
April 18, 2013, Thursday, 7:50PM.

April 19 2013 friday 7 40 pm
April 19, 2013, Friday, 7:40PM.

april 22 2013 monday 7 30pm
April 22, 2013, Monday, 7:30PM.

APRIL 25 2013 THURSDAY 742PM
April 25, 2013, Thursday, 7:42PM.

APRIL 26 2013 7 40PM
April 26, 2013, Friday, 7:40PM.

april 26, 2013 friday 7 53pm
April 26, 2013, Friday, 7:53PM.

april 28 2013 sunday 742pm
April 28, 2013, Sunday, 7:42PM.

may 3 2013 741pm friday
May 3, 2013, Friday, 7:41PM.

may 4 2013 saturday 709pm
May 4, 2013, Saturday, 7:09PM.

may 7 2013 733pm tuesday
May 7, 2013, Tuesday, 7:33PM.

may 9 2013 743pm thursday
May 9, 2013, Thursday, 7:43PM.

may 10 2013 friday 748PM
May 10, 2013, Friday, 7:48PM.

may 13 2013 735pm monday
May 13, 2013, Monday, 7:35PM.

may 14 2013 730pm tuesday
May 14, 2013, Tuesday, 7:30PM.

*Viewed from our apartment’s balcony and living room. They also reflect my  current state of mind.

21
Apr
13

GOOD DAY FROM GEORGE TOWN, PENANG!

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Sunrise viewed from Chew Jetty, George Town, Penang, Malaysia. Saturday, 20 April 2013. Incidentally, I entered this photo in the HIPpix Challenge contest in Penang. If you like it and would like to support, kindly click this LINK HERE! and click the like button after the jump. Thanks!

Waking up early with my family on a  Saturday morning just to watch the sunrise at one of the waterfront-settlements in George Town, Penang and stroll around a few streets simply to capture images randomly doesn’t happen on a daily basis. I consider it a bliss! It’s an absolute breather from our almost-routinary-life in Penang (read : work-home-work or for our son, Gabby, school-home-school).

Despite the challenges and uncertainties of living abroad (and the expenses, my goodness! We just recently paid fees for renewal of my Employment Pass and my family’s Dependent Passes on top of our monthly domestic bills), I’ve been constantly reminding Gabby how blessed and lucky we are for having opportunity to live in Penang. I’ve been hearing myself reminding our 8-year-old kiddo redundantly, that tourists and travelers still take efforts in saving money, plan for trips and book flights, bus or train rides to this incredibly charming UNESCO World Heritage Site, while we’re fortunate enough to experience the best of Penang anytime we wish because we’re currently based here.

So at around 6:30AM, Tina, Gabby and I hopped on the Rapid Penang Bus from our current home in Butterworth to Penang Sentral Bus Station and took the 12-minute-ferry-ride to George Town.

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Gabby found a fun way at no cost to entertain himself while inside the ferry via Jellyfish spotting!

ferry, george town, penang, malaysia

While Gabby and Tina were busy counting jellyfishes, I took the chance of going down the first level of the ferry; my very first time in three years, actually!
ferry, george town, penang, malaysia
ferry, george town, penang, malaysia

My lovely wife, Tina bitten by the shutter bug and became hooked on instagram, captured this…

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The view of George Town from the ferry.

Then we hopped off the ferry and walked our way to Chew Jetty.

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From Rapid Penang Bus Station in Weld Quay, Chew Jetty can easily be reached via few meters of strolling towards left. It has been a year exactly when I first visited this modest place (read my blog post HERE!); inevitably, changes happened over time.

chew jetty, george town, penang, malaysia
chew jetty, george town, penang, malaysia
chew jetty, george town, penang, malaysia
chew jetty, george town, penang, malaysia

I was so excited telling Tina that I will take her photo by the mural of one of the houses at Chew Jetty.  It looked like this when I went there on my second visit last June 2012.

old mural at chew jetty

We were surprised to see this. Disappointed actually.
chew jetty, george town, penang, malaysia
Previous mural of Lithuanian Artist, Ernest Zacharevic now dilapidated.

For reason unknown to us, the mural previously frequented by local and foreign tourists is now a memory. :(

As I am following George Town, Penang (Penang State Tourism) on its facebook account, I saw a photo they posted of a newly installed mural done by a local artist at Chew Jetty. We saw it but it’s already deleted by white paint; I didn’t take photo of it anymore (I hope one of the readers could explain something about this).  

Nonetheless, we’re still thankful to see the fire ball rising from the East!

chew jetty, george town, penang, malaysia
Sunrise reminds us to be constantly grateful of our intangible blessings!

sunrise, chew jetty,

My photos don’t do it justice.

sunrise, chew jetty, george town, penang, malaysia
chew jetty, george town, penang, malaysia
Moving on, I pointed to Gabby handmade fish baskets used by the dwellers at Chew Jetty in fishing. Although I’m not not sure whether those baskets are for catching crabs, shrimps or prawns or fish.
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chew jetty, george town, penang, malaysia
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chew jetty,
Admittedly, I’m happy to see my wife enjoying her new past time : Instagramming! She’s now fond of taking photos by her ipod and at times, borrows the camera from my neck and takes her own shots. While she’s doing her thing, I did my own captures of some interesting things at Chew Jetty.
Here are a couple of beautiful cacti…

cactus
cactus

These clan houses by the descendants of Chew family must be preserved on stilts the way the were built ages ago as mandated by UNESCO.
chew jetty, george town, penang, malaysia
chew jetty, george town, penang, malaysia

From Chew Jetty, we crossed the street and went straight to Lebuh Armenian.  There, another favorite Ernest Zacharevic mural greeted us. It’s difficult to imagine for this mural to be broken down, it’s so fun to look at. Actually, there was a time that someone tried to destroy it by spilling liquid (was it milk or some paint?); thankfully, they managed to restore it. It remains to be one of the tourist-drawers in Pulau Pinang. Hopefully, the authorities can maintain it.
george town, penang, malaysia
Then Gabby started asking where to eat breakfast. He said he’s OK with Restoran Kapitan and was craving for some Cheese Naan. Since the streets and the scenes en route to Kapitan were picturesque, Tina and I spent a few minutes of taking photos.
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george town, penang, malaysia
Goofed in front of a whimsically painted doors.
george town, penang, malaysia
george town, penang, malaysia
george town, penang, malaysia
And rode the trishaw on display for that photo-op.

I find this corner of Armenian and Cannon Streets attractive. I know I shall miss this spot one day.
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george town, penang, malaysia
george town, penang, malaysia
george town, penang, malaysia

Breakfast, actually more like of our brunch was at one of our favorites, Restoran Kapitan at the junction of Pitt and Chulia Streets.

george town, penang, malaysia
Roti Keju or Cheese Roti and curried dips, FTW! :)

george town, penang, malaysia
george town, penang, malaysia
First time to try Roti Tisu from Restoran Kapitan and frankly, I liked the version from the other Indian eatery in the heart of Little India. They serve Roti Tisu with strawberry syrup and condensed milk there. Yummier, I think.

Washed down everything with Iced Blended Chocolate and Mango Lassi.

george town, penang, malaysia
Refreshingly good!

Hopped on the Rapid Penang Bus from Chulia Street to Komtar and went to Carrefour grocery for a little grocery shopping.

george town, penang, malaysia
Someone’s happy with his chocolate cereal purchase! :)

It was a Saturday morning well spent. :)

“Count your blessings. Once you realize how valuable you are and how much you  have going for you, the smiles will return, the sun will break out, the music  will play, and you will finally be able to move forward the life that God  intended for you with grace, strength, courage, and confidence.” ~Mandino, Og

16
Mar
13

MORE THAN A PLATEFUL OF CHAR KOAY TEOW

As life has been teaching me, inspiration and motivation usually spring not (only) from those famous and authoritative people but (even) from those ordinary individuals with outstanding or at least, remarkable characters. It also holds true when it comes to my perception about places. I try my best not to underestimate places that look modest and cheap as it may be rewarding than expected.

Case in point, this hawker stall in front of a common-looking-eatery in Penang called, Kafe Heng Huat located at Lorong Selamat, one of the laterals of Jalan Macalister in George Town, Penang. If you must know, every hawker stall in this part of Southeast Asia appears almost the same. Apparently, they differ in the goods they offer. It turned out that my initial sampling of my ultimate favorite Malaysian dish, Char Koay Teow from Kafe Heng Huat didn’t only sustain me and satisfied my craving for that noodle dish but taught me some essential that money certainly can’t buy.

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PASSION. Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, I personally saw untiring love for what she does that probably clearly makes every plate of CKT she prepares arguably the BEST in the entire Pulau Pinang.

Meet Soon Chuan Choo that according to the broadsheet article posted on the wall of this restaurant, has been cooking CKT for 45 years (the feature in Bangkok newspaper written in English was dated 2012). For someone who continuously does the same routine on a daily basis over those decades without boredom and fatigue, it must because of pure passion and love for it.

Penang, you’re very luck to have Aunty Soon Chuan Choo! She must be a living Heritage for cooking this Malaysian noodle dish for more than 4 decades and counting!

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Look at my lunch freshly cooked as per order. Take note of the size of those prawns! A plateful of CKT from Aunty Soon is definitely worth it at 10 ringgit!
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Because every plate is only prepared upon order, it took around 10 minutes of waiting before I savored this version of CKT recommended to me by Malaysian-blogger and friend, Emily of www.millymin.com and incidentally, by our colleague and friend who’s now back in the Philippines with his family, Doc Noel. According to his previous observations that he shared on the comment-thread of my CKT-photo on fb, he remembers this lady to be somewhat in unpleasant mood while cooking; perhaps, because she doesn’t want to be disturbed of the long queue with many orders; she remains so focused on cooking Char Koay Teow then and now. Aunty Soon may not offer anyone a smile and obviously has an attitude towards work but that’s how she delivers a perfect plate. If people go to Kafe Heng Huat for her Char Koay Teow over the past 4 decades, I think it confirms that she’s doing it right.

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The view from where I sat. Packed with hungry diners, mostly locals who know what’s best in their area.

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Waiting wasn’t an issue to me as I saw this signage when I went to my table.
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So I gave in and ordered one of Malaysian popular desserts.
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At only around 3 ringgit, I managed to go against the scorching sunny weather with Ais Kacang (pronounced as ice ka-chang) which is made of finely shaved ice, milk, sweet corn, jelly strips, nata de coco and red beans topped with a scoop of ice cream. Sedap! Sarap!  Reminds me of our very own smilar dessert in the Philippines, Halo-halo. So perfect for summer!

In my 3 years of working in Penang, I oftenly go to Gurney Drive when I crave for a tasteful Char Koay Teow.  Here’s a capture of that CKT :
Char Koay Teow, Penang

But suggestions from friends proved that there are other far better options. This Malaysian dish of fried flat noodles, mixed with chili sauce, tofu, egg, sprouts, cockles, Chinese chorizo or pork sausage and larger prawns can give that CKT from the hawker stall in Gurney Drive a tough competition on my list.

It was a pleasure eating Aunty Soon’s specialty :

penang's char koay teow from lorong selamat, george town, penang via docgelo.com

Edited : Doc Noel added on his comment on fb that Aunty Soon was noted to be strict on schedule, as he saw a nice family with kids came 5 minutes past closing time, and Aunty did not give in. I understand her being strict but a little consideration and a smile would not hurt.

Somehow, I see myself in Aunty Soon’s character. People easily judged me to have an attitude, ridiculously an anti-social but that’s how they define not my character but theirs.  Like her, I am also particular with schedules, I rarely come late on appointments as I value time and punctuality. I am strict and stick with rules particularly my own. I always try to give everything in what I do.

For as long as we’re here in Penang, I’ll surely return to Kafe Heng Huat for another serving of Aunty Soon’s Char Koay Teow. Each plate is inspiring!

>><<

*This post with all of its photos is my entry to Weekly Photo Challenge : Lunchtime

05
Jan
13

WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE : RESOLVED

kids in chiang mai

I don’t usually make New Year’s Resolution for I believe changes may be done regardless of the season. But as for my love for traveling and being a photo-enthusiast, I wish to experience and discover and explore more places that I’ve never been to.

This photo was taken on my recent travel to Chiang Mai; my very first solo backpacking-budget trip.

My Chiang Mai Blog Series soon on this site.

This is my entry to  Weekly Photo Challenge : Resolved

23
Nov
12

DINING CHINESE

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Greetings from Shanghai, China!

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Did those Chinese silk lanterns,  crimson red velvet lounge seats and chairs and gorgeous porcelain fool you? The greetings’ too ambitious, I know. But who knows? Day will come that I’ll get to bring my feet and my family to China too. Time will tell. Meanwhile, I’m sharing here my honest review of my Chinese lunch at Chynna restaurant in Hilton Hotel Kuala Lumpur. I hope they won’t ban me from dining there again after this post! *cue prayers here*  This post isn’t a rant but a constructive criticism and a challenge to improve.

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How to get there? I took a cab from Bukit Bintang to KL Sentral where Hilton Hotel is located. When I was already inside the taxi driven by a friendly Malaysian-lady-driver who thankfully, used her taxi meter on our route (fyi, it’s unspoken rule in Kuala Lumpur that taking taxi cabs isn’t always metered by those opportunitistic divers), it popped in my mind that I could have taken the monorail from Bukit Bintang directly to KL Sentral which costs much cheaper of course (around 2 ringgit only instead of the metered taxi ride of RM15). It was useless to entertain regret so I took the monorail for my return to Bukit Bintang after my lunch; however it’s a-15-minute-walk from KL Sentral to the monorail station, nonetheless worth it.

What did I sample? I’m a dim sum monster so it got to be dim sum of course!!!

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Because I was attending an exclusive food tasting tour at Feast Village, Starhill Gallery at 3PM that day, I chose to eat light. And that’s how I defined a light meal *snickers*  ~Four Season Platter, Siew Mai (or for us Filipinos, siomai!) and the biggest Chicken pao I’ve eaten! I could have ordered hot tea but I was disappointed after I learned that Chynna’s Tea Master was on his day off. If you’ve noticed my photo of their dim sum open kitchen above, the tea pot with a long nose is eye-catching, isn’t it? Since their Tea Master’s out that day, I missed out his Kung Fu moves when serving hot Chinese tea.  Thus, I washed everything down with chilled fresh Orange juice (not in photo).

AMBIANCE vs SUBSTANCE

Did Chynna impress me? As I wanted to indulge something extraordinary other than the usual fastfood and hawker meals, I opted to try this Chinese restaurant initially to experience its beautiful ambiance. I was immediately drawn onto its interiors the very moment I saw it on Hilton’s website.  And true enough, it’s more pleasing to the eyes up close! The mood inside Chynna restaurant exudes extreme elegance. The cost of the food on the menu’s another affordable luxury; highly competitive with the common restaurants outside hotels. The staff’s friendly, quick and efficient.

Everything’s at its finest even the food presentation but not its taste.

Disappointed without witnessing the Kung Fu moves of their Tea Master, I felt the same too when Chynna’s dim sums tasted stuffed with extenders! I may be wrong and Chynna may deny it but what I ordered tasted all bland! Sure, they provided two sauces to go with them but a delicious dim sum is delicious sans anything.  I know my palate so well. I know how authentic dim sum tastes like. As mentioned in my previous posts, despite I’ve never been to China yet, I think eating dim sums from hawker food stalls and five-star-hotel restaurants in all our trips to Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand (we even had dim sum buffet in Bangkok recently) and even in Manila Chinatown and in Penang and in Kuala Lumpur itself makes me no-authority but at least my gustatory sense has been familiar with quality dim sums. Admittedly, I only sampled a few dim sum from Chynna in Hilton-KL however, it really didn’t hit the mark! Perhaps, noodles, soups and fish, chicken and meat dishes from their menu are all wonderful but remain to be tasted. That’s a good reason to try Chynna again next time.

Although it means nothing to me because I’m a non-smoker, you might be interested that Chynna has private dining rooms where smoking is permitted.

CHYNNA | 5th Level Hilton Hotel Kuala Lumpur | www.hilton.com

*This is not a sponsored post.

*This Luxurious Kuala Lumpur Blog Series includes :

*GOOD NEWS : To those who read & follow my blog, I’ll appreciate if you could drop a line or two about my blogging via ths link :http://www.expatsblog.com/blogs/1157/beyond-toxicity; this is in line with the BEST EXPAT BLOG AWARDS run by ExpatsBlog.com. Maraming salamat po! :)

14
Nov
12

INTOXICATING VIEWS

How can you say no to a skyline like this?

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Resistance is futile. I am seduced once more by its beauty effortlessly.

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petronas twin towers
petronas twin towers

And I went here alone, without my family, with no one but my feet and my camera. So sue me.

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Truth is, I brewed everything for this. Call me anything you want for all I care but I had to secure a green light from my loving wife, Tina. I couldn’t be grateful enough when she agreed. I was silently jumping for joy actually!

You need to continue reading, I tell you!

When I started planning to revisit Malaysia’s capital to renew my passport at the Philippine Embassy, I thought of  visiting a few premier places that partly provide logic to the fact that Kuala Lumpur is this country’s metropolis. I could not believe everything because while doing a little online research, I received an invitation via email from a luxurious food and beverage outlet group for an exclusive food tasting tour of not one but four of their restaurants -some of them where the food places where celebrities Michael Bolton and Tiger Woods dined separately this year. That will be featured on this blog NEXT! :)

Go on, keep reading! :)

Then a fellow and recognized blogger endorsed my name to an agency in Singapore whose main office is in Scotland, for me to be one of their airline food survey participants. The task is to do an airline food review in any of the flights of airlines on their list before November 24, 2012; rate the airline food, blog and tweet about it and get paid in USD! The amount isn’t HUGE but sure worth it. Thus, I decided to fly back from Kuala Lumpur to Penang for this opportunity.

There’s more news! :)

A real-life-couple-travel bloggers invited me for a meet-up in Kuala Lumpur where they’re based for more than a year now. We met up, dined and chat the day I arrived in KL. It was fun. Will blog it soon!

I digress.

Because I only have limited budget and worse, with only 3 days and 2 nights, my choices of trendiest, the most sophisticated and stylish chill out spots have been narrowed down to a handful.

Let this LUXURIOUS KUALA LUMPUR BLOG Series begin with SKYBAR, located at the 33rd level of Traders Hotel Kuala Lumpur manned no less than Shangri La Hotels.

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skybar traders hotel kuala lumpur

I made reservation via email for one of the cabanas with the best view of the incredibly iconic,

Petronas Twin Towers

and the wonderful KLCC Park that’s filled with lush greens underneath.

klcc park
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I had to see  and use the tandas. Good thing it’s almost spotless.

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I also liked the fact that SkyBar thought of even the tiniest detail that some people tend to overlooked. Because the cabanas are enclosed with comfortable lounges where one can fully extend and relax the tired and aching legs, there are foot stools for the guest to use to step up. Signs and floating lights in immaculate white and powder blue colors on the pool were placed to serve as guides so nobody slips over. Now being drunk and trying to dive like an olympian on the pool is another issue! LOL!

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Just before I ordered for snack and drinks, I saw some swimmers. There was a little girl frolicking on the pool…

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Then, there’s grandpa…

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One of the reasons why I chose to visit SkyBar was to experience not only viewing my favorite structure in Malaysia differently this time, but to know how it feels like to go to a bar with a swimming pool at the middle. It’s bizarre but looks amazingly unique to me!

skybar
skybar

Isn’t the view intoxicating?

skybar

Try to spot the sweetest couple of the night…

skybar

Then marveled like a kid at the dancing fountains seen from the park.

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Now, here’s what I ordered from SkyBar’s menu.

skybar

Patnubay ng Magulang ay Kailangan. Google Translate that if you wish and you may read this blog’s DISCLAIMER, thank you!

skybar

I asked Lynn, who happens to be the friendliest staff of SkyBar, of their bestsellers. The young and beautiful lady deserves a raise and a promotion in my opinion for recommending the Selangor Sling and Buffalo Wings for me to sample. Of course anyone would find the menu’s prices steeper when compared to food in hawkers! Toinks!. I say, you never get these view, this service, this ambiance, this experience anywhere else.

skybar

Selangor Sling. Tanqueray 10 gin and cherry brandy liqueur shaken with pressed pineapple juice, fresh lemon juice and a touch of angostura bitters strained over ice in a sling glass topped with soda and benedictine d.o.m. garnished with lemon and maraschino cherry. RM42++.

selangor sling
selangor sling

The sunset in Malaysia comes around 7:30PM or so, hence I ordered another drink while waiting for dusk.

Take two : Patnubay ng Magulang ay Kailangan. Google Translate that if you wish and you may read this blog’s DISCLAIMER, thank you!

skybar

My last order at SkyBar was that pint of beer for 20 ringgit.  I thought it’s appropriate to drink in a bar rather than fresh milk. *wink*

Now I know why SkyBar is ranked mostly by foreigners as one of the most must-visit-chill-out-places in KL. :)

*Stay tuned to this blog series!  

SKYBAR | Level 33 Traders Hotel Kuala Lumpur, Kuala Lumpur City Center, 50088 Malaysia | www.skybar.com.my

*This is not a sponsored post.

*This Luxurious Kuala Lumpur Blog Series includes :

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11
Nov
12

WE GOT FREE BRUNCH @ CHINAHOUSE

10 November 2012. Saturday. Between Victoria and Beach Streets, George Town, Penang.

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Hats off and thank you very much to the 567 facebook buddies who voted for my photo entry at ChinaHouse Shoot and Win contest. Whether you clicked ‘like’ voluntarily or voted with force and coercion, hahaha!  it became one of the 8 finalists! Maraming Salamat po! :D Congratulations too to the 2 Chinese-Malaysian winners!

finalist, photo contest penang

Despite I didn’t win that Langkawi getaway, we devoured a FREE brunch at ChinaHouse and for that, I am so grateful!!!

chinahouse george town penang

It’s nice to indulge once in a while with your love ones and even nicer if it’s FREE!
Now, try to spot Gabby amidst that heavenly table…

chinahouse george town penang

Bingo! I felt I won the jackpot when I saw that spread again! Salivary glands and gastric acid secreting cells were all stimulated. Judgment on what to order was the biggest problem. It took us a while to decide from the menu.  So while waiting for our food and having difficulty of choosing desserts, I cannot get enough of it and snapped my camera a countless times on that table filled with cakes and pastries! Here’s a few of my captures of that mouthwatering ChinaHouse spread…

chinahouse george town penang
chinahouse george town penang
chinahouse george town penang
chinahouse george town penang
chinahouse george town penang
chinahouse george town penang

Is it not happiness? ;)

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We texted and called Tina who opted to stay in our apartment to get some extra hours of rest and do motherly and wifely duties at home (read : household chores).

I noticed it didn’t take a while for our choices to land on our table. Let the pig-out begin! :P

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Gabby ordered two plates. First was Toasted Banana Bread With Fresh Banana and Cream.

chinahouse george town penang

While I enjoyed the tasteful Homemade Beef Sausage & Scrambled Egg Muffin with Tomato Relish.

chinahouse george town penang

That tomato relish was the bomb! It complemented my breakfast plate so well that it made me forget about the importance of calorie counter. Got yah! I’m not on a dietary regimen (yet). In as much as I want to give importance to health as my license and profession dictate me to do so, indulgence ruled over those moments! I was too weak (again) to resist! Resistance is futile once more! LOL! :)

Gabby’s second plate was Yoghurt, Fresh Fruit Salad with Granola & Honey. Sugar and sweetness overload!

chinahouse george town penang

Our wonder boy didn’t finish everything he ordered; I guess like me, he was overwhelmed! No problem as it’s a part of my Daddy duties to finish the plate whenever needed *insert evil grin here*.

Before ordering desserts (yes, we still had room for sweet endings!), Gabby walked to the shelves and got some kiddie books. He initially browsed the very educational (kidding!) Pokemon!

chinahouse george town penang

then he shifted his pure and young attention to a more serious, morally uplifting hardbound, “Walter the Farting Dog”, LOL!

chinahouse george town penang

Not long after, our appetites were ready again! Gabby had few fork-dunks on Chocoholics’ Chocolate Cake; the rest of its slice was our takeaway for Tina.

chinahouse george town penang

Over and beyond those multiple cakes and pastries, I succumbed to the decision of having Tiramisu again. It’s really unforgettable the first time I had it, thus a repeat was a must!

chinahouse george town penang

ChinaHouse’s Tiramisu, now officially known as one of my kryptonites! ;)

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To wash everything down, I had Fresh Orange Juice while Gabby didn’t finish his glass of Strawberry Smoothies. Water in a cute capped tall bottle was provided free (FYI, other restaurants in Penang charge a few cents for iced water).
chinahouse george town penang

After our 112-ringgit-hearty-brunch, Gabby and I went to the first floor (yes, it’s ground floor first here in Malaysia) to see the art gallery of ChinaHouse.

chinahouse george town penang

Luckily, it’s opened as it was otherwise during my first visit. There’s an on-going-art-exhibits of various local artists of which one’s entitled, Circus, I think. Pardon me as I didn’t get the other titles of the show.

chinahouse george town penang
chinahouse george town penang
chinahouse george town penang
chinahouse george town penang

It’s almost past noon when we left ChinaHouse.

chinahouse george town penang
chinahouse george town penang

Gabby and I agreed that Tina will like ChinaHouse too. And with that, it’s a conclusion that it won’t be our last to dine-in at ChinaHouse; we shall be back one day with my loving wife.

chinahouse george town penang

Thank you so much, ChinaHouse! You’re one of our family’s best food finds in George Town, Penang! :)

*For my first blog post about ChinaHouse, click  THIS!!!

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CHINAHOUSE | 153 & 155 Beach Street & 183B Victoria Street, George Town, Penang.  http://chinahouse.com.my/

31
Aug
12

WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE : FREE SPIRIT

free spirit : butterflies

Butterflies to me are best to represent this week’s theme, FREE SPIRIT. From the day they acquire wings after being Chrysalis that oftenly mistaken by some as pupae, they freely lord the air, flying from one colorful bloom to another.

This is my entry to Weekly Photo Challenge : Free Spirit. :)

01
Jul
12

GABBY IN UPIN & IPIN, LIVE!

When I was in the Philippines some 2 years back, my descriptions of Malaysia only revolved in three phrases. Their country’s very effective Tourism tag line, “Malaysia, Truly Asia!” that’s so compelling to make you feel the urgency to fly to Kuala Lumpur in a blink. Next was the incredibly iconic, Petronas Twin Towers that never fail to mesmerize me at dusk until now; they’re magnificently stunning! And lastly, the most popular animated characters from Malaysia, Upin and Ipin. Our 7-year-old son, Gabby has been into Upin and Ipin even long before coming to Malaysia. He has been watching the show religiously on Disney Channel and made it as one of his favorites. Believe it or not, our kiddo had suggested for the two Malaysian cartoon characters be included in the parade in Hong Kong Disneyland when he was asked by one of the staff during our last visit to the theme park early this year. It’s how big Gabby’s admiration to these duo. And as for me apparently, after I became an expatriate here in Penang, my perceptions about Malaysia have been improved but I still associate the identity of the country with those few phrases, specially Upin and Ipin! :D

30 June 2012, Saturday.  Imagine our joy that night when we saw Upin and Ipin, Live at AutoCity, Juru, Penang! What’s even happier was to see Gabby performed an impromptu dance with Malaysia’s famous cartoon characters on stage with the other children (my wife, captured the stint on video at the last part of this post). Despite the weather didn’t allow us not to perspire, excitement was upon us! :)

We were lucky to be accomodated warmly by Farhan and Daniel, two of the many men behind this seemingly modest yet fun-filled carnival who gave us a VIP access that allowed us, particularly Gabby, to enjoy the rides for free! They even gave us a nod to have a special photo-op with the two mascots after the show but we had to bid goodbye for buffet dinner (blogging next!).

First and only ride we tried as dad-and-son was the bump cars. Admittedly, I had fun more than Gabby! He was a bit surprised on how speedy those cars could go on a single step. He swore he’ll never ride bump cars again but I bet his spur-of-the-moment-decision would change once years are added to his age.

   

After a few carnival rides, we trooped to the venue of the show and while Upin and Ipin were still out of sight, Tina and I were delighted to take turns in capturing the kids who pre-enlisted to join the Upin and Ipin Coloring contest.

Then the much-awaited stars of the show arrived and strolled their way to the stage…

One thing that’s definite about Malaysia : almost the entire country, if not all, love Chicken Dance! It was one of the dances that our company introduced to us during a few-day-workshop years ago; even Gabby instantly learned it when we attended the 2012 MITBCA Blog Awards where no less than the Minister of Tourism led the audience to groove to Chicken Dance! Its popularity to Malaysians perhaps, properly equate to the love for Upin and Ipin.

Now here’s a run down of how Gabby and other children savored that minute on stage dancing Chicken Dance with Upin and Ipin! No rehearsals needed! No kidding! :P

Fastforward Play : Now, please yourself for a minute or so and watch Gabby and the other children’s on-the-spot-performance of Malaysians’ favorite, CHICKEN DANCE with Upin and Ipin on stage!

The children’s happiness was infectious! :D They cheered and danced with Upin and Ipin tirelessly! What a worry-free night it was!

If you’re in Penang, Malaysia (also in time for George Town Festival 2012) or nearby states, and would like to experience “World of Fun with Upin & Ipin”, catch the shows and the carnival that runs from June 30 to August 6, 2012 at 6PM-12MN daily at AutoCity, Juru, Penang. Admission rates are only 4 ringgit for adult and 2 ringgit for kanak-kanak or children. Tokens are sold at 2 ringgit each. *Special thanks goes to “World of Fun with Upin & Ipin” particularly to Farhan and Daniel for everything! :D

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10
Jun
12

A DAY AT THE MUSEUM

9th June 2012, Saturday. If  you must know, Gabby already joined an educational trip back home when he’s still in his pre-school years, so this one’s his second but his very first in Penang. Despite the fact that I have already been to the itineraries before, Tina and I made sure that we attend to our son’s because it’s one way of spending quality time with him. It wasn’t only Gabby and his schoolmates, a few parents and teachers who enjoyed their field trip; Tina, my mom and I also had fun! Oh, yes, the entire family was there! It was an absolute breather from our routinary work-home-work-home-life during weekdays and there’s no brighter day than seeing our child happy. Moments like this are non-negotiable.

Everyday, there’s a ton of things to be grateful for. The weather’s fine and we received little acts of generosity from people who have a ready hand even without asking. We didn’t need to call a cab to transport us from our place to Gabby’s school as both his school’s Principal and his service van driver offered to pick us up. The day was too perfect to start by breakfast in one of our favorite food places, Old Town. After filling in our tummies, we took few steps towards Gabby’s school and hopped on the tourist bus.

There were two itineraries for this field trip : The Penang State Museum and Fort Cornwallis. I have been to these places before but not with Tina and Gabby. Going back to places rich in heritage, history and cultures with family and schoolmates is definitely a learning experience. And as for Gabby and the other kids, they were given a task to complete before lunch; answers to the questions on the “quiz” provided can be all found inside the museum. Hats off to Principal Jasmine for doing such! :D Going through the display in the museum became twice the fun!

 

A lot of things in this two-level museum can easily fascinate anyone. Although it’s filled with things that Malays, Chinese and Indians of Malaysia’s history used in ages, present generation including our kids can relate to them. Case in point, those luggages and trishaws for traveling, and children realized without saying that their tablets, smart phones and other gadgets would have not been brought to market if these things of the past had not been used.

TYPE ko ito, what about you?

It also houses a modest but beautiful collection of art pieces…

In the Peranakan or Straits Chinese chamber, one of the highlights is an intricately designed Wedding Bed…

And an authentic photo of a Peranakan couple taken on the day they tied the knot…

The Penang State Museum also has interactive sections that Gabby and Tina tried…While watching them play congkak or what we call back home as sungka, it made me wonder how many children nowadays still know how to play or at least, care to learn these games amidst online games and applications available now?

Photo-ops is a must in a field trip…

The group proceeded to Fort Cornwallis, in Esplanade, Penang; it’s the largest standing fort in the entire Malaysia.

If you’re Filipino or someone who has gone to Manila, this would make you feel like it’s Fort Santiago, although I would proudly state that the forts in the Philippines are far better built and preserved.

History and Wikipedia stated that Sir Francis Light initially took possession of Penang Island from Kedah and built the original fort. At present, his monument stands proud near the gates of Fort Cornwallis. The fort is one of the favorite tourist spots in George Town, it’s also used as a venue for cultural shows, and a park where most prenuptial photos here have been taken…

On a much lighter note, Fort Cornwallis became my family’s venue for kulitan (*insert english translation here*…google it if you please)…

When the clock turned into lunch time, we all had to go back to the tourist bus and head back to the mainland to wolf down one of those kiddies’ favorites, McDonald’s…

Because of work (for Tina and me) and school (for Gabby) during weekdays, we only get to spend more quality hours together as a family every weekends, so activities like this that promote family bonding, learning and fun are always welcome! It’s always a priceless treat! :D

How was your weekend, everyone?

03
Jun
12

AN EPISODE OF HYPERGLYCEMIA

No, I am not diabetic yet, neither I have pancreatic insufficiency. Don’t fret; continue reading! :) Either you’ll learn a bit from the next few phrases or you’ll find this post visually gastromically stimulating. To simply put, hyperglycemia is descibed as elevated sugar level that occurs whenever we have excess carbohydrate intake, or when the hormone, insulin secreted by the beta cells of the islets of Langerhans of the endocrine pancreas becomes inadequate to catabolize carbohydrates into glucose for it to be deposited in the cells of the liver and muscles as glycogen that may be transformed into glucose again in times of stress and as the need arises. Persistence of uncontrolled hyperglycemia leads to diabetes. Enough of the rambling, you might be having epistaxis (nosebleeding); kidding! :D This post is all about the CHOCOLATE BUFFET at Soy Restaurant in G Hotel, the most stylish luxurious hotel in Gurney Drive, Penang, Malaysia.

Let’s begin this sinful but delicious blog entry with Baskin Robbins’ Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream…

One of the strongest reasons why anyone interested from Penang should troop to this chocolate buffet is the bottomless scoops of luscious Baskin Robbins Ice Cream. That alone made this sweet dining experience heavenly; its cost so sulit (value for money). I consider it a steal and extraordinary for we don’t have Baskin Robbins experience on a daily basis.

The chocolate buffet isn’t complete without a fondue. And having both white and dark chocolate fountains provides sufficient logic when one isn’t enough…

Of course, I tried dipping some mallows and tropical fruits from the spread onto these chocolatey goodness but in between indulgence, I had savored these fibrous fruits in their purest forms; they aid well in digestion.

At one point, this Soy’s Chocolate Buffet is deliciously challenging. Resistance to be overwhelmed is a must.

Another commendable thing is their provision of free-flowing tea in different variants (I opted for Jasmine Green Tea) to make every intake nice and easy. Thank God for Lipton!

One soothing sip and you’re on your toes again towards the spread.

Yes, it’s Chocolate Buffet so everything in there are chocolates, chocolates and more chocolates!

When I was asked to fill out the comment card by the wait staff, I cannot agree but to tick “excellent” in service, ambience, cleanliness, etc. However, those glorious cakes could have been presented better on top of handsome cake stands. Other than that, Soy’s Chocolate Buffet earns my two-thumbs-up! :D

Soy’s Chocolate Buffet is such a reason to head to this G Hotel. As they claim to have the most stylish adress in Penang; I cannot agree more.

Meanwhile, here’s a proof that my family and I are such a chocoholics. Tina and Gabby whipped up another no-bake-chocolate cake at home.

Tina’s not only a lovely wife and a caring mom, she also has this love affair with her gadget that she wanted to document some of Gabby’s wonderful antics. If I am into blogging, Tina enjoys capturing special fun moments on video.  WATCH THIS chipmunkie-ala-charlie-chaplin-short-film on how the Chef Gabby made that moist cake… ENJOY! Let me know what you think. :)

Do you think our son has future in becoming a chef, a hotelier and a restaurateur? Only time will tell. :)

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Enjoy Penang’s only all you can eat chocolate buffet of various delectable offerings of scrumptious chocolate desserts. Available every Saturday,8pm-12am, priced at RM45++ per person (USD 14++ or PhP 612++) at Soy Restaurant, G Hotel, Gurney Drive, Penang, Malaysia.

*Although the blogger and his blog are open for advertisements, sponsorships, invitations and blog reviews, this isn’t a sponsored post. :)

27
Apr
12

ONE OF HIS FAVORITES

I had the soda, he enjoyed his Milo Ais until the last sip. Solb! :P

I know. When in Malaysia, you gotta eat Malaysian dishes and my palates’ craving for char koay teow, chicken satay with peanut sauce and nasi lemak as I post this. However, the matter becomes totally different when you’re dealing with an expat-kid’s cravings.

To some people it may be just plain, common and cheap Italian fast food, but to my 7-year-old son, Pizza Hut is pure happiness! It’s one of Gabby’s favorites. You know how the (expat) young ones are; they usually stick to their kiddie-tastes. Thank God a few branches exist here in Penang.

While Tina was attending to a rare weekend call of duty, Gabby and I explored Pulau Pinang and visited PENANG BUTTERFLY FARM after lunch, and headed back to Prangin Mall in George Town to give way to his long-time-request -to eat his favorite all-cheese-pizza (I had to make special request to prepare a zero-topping-pizza because my big boy is a purist when it comes to this Italian staple).

Just like being in other countries where usual fast food joints offer a twist in their menu, some of the dishes here are already varied and fares up to the Malaysian flavors (read: HOT, HOT, HOT!) Case in point –the PRAWN AGLIO OLIO that I orderd; a spaghetti pasta tossed in rich olive oil, minced garlic and special herbs and added spices, topped with sautéed savoury prawns.  Spicy defined at its truest sense; or perhaps, only by my gustatory receptors. I liked it, actually, as it’s tasteful, but I don’t think I’ll have it on a daily basis. Now, it’s another story if something has mozzarella. ;)

24
Apr
12

METAMORPHOSIS : PENANG BUTTERFLY FARM

For almost two years of living and working in Malaysia, most of our weekends are spent either enjoying the comforts of the 11th-floor-seaview appartment that we’re renting in Butterworth, our so-called-second home or exploring what Pulau Pinang has to offer. We’ve been to a few heritage sites, clan houses, public beach, various shrines of worship, shopping malls and groceries of course, have dined in local restaurants, some hotels and street hawkers, have gone to some of those must-see-tourist-spots in this island; yet, there’s actually so much more places to visit that are reserved for our Saturdays and Sundays.

Last weekend was no exception. With my 7-year-old son in tow, we celebrated another Saturday the best way we know how (read : family bonding) and finally set foot in The Tropical World’s First Live Butterfly and Insect Sanctuary Penang Butterfly Farm.

Because my wife, Tina had to attend to a weekend medical community service required at work and my mom wasn’t feeling well to leave home, last Saturday, 04/21/2012 was another day of father-and-son-bonding. Incidentally, it was a day prior to Earth Day 2012 so I thought it was so appropriate and timely for Gabby and I to visit a nature’s theme park and passed up killing time on a weekend inside the mall. We’re happy to learn some things about nature and inevitably, ourselves too.

UNEXPECTEDLY, ALMOST IN PANIC

Had I not brought Gabby to this butterfly sanctuary, I would not know that he’s not that comfortable with delicately winged creatures randomly landing on his body. It was unbelievable because Gabby was even more excited than I am to go there and he himself labeled the day as our “Adventure Day” so I was very surprised that he almost panic when butteflies flew over him. I asked him to calm down and assured him that we’re safe with the butterflies and that it cannot harm us. He told me remarkably that he’s more at ease to see reptiles (Me: “What?!!! I usually freak out with the mere sight of snakes!). A couple of hours after, he’s already at home with the butterflies. I thought he was just overwhelmed as it was his first time to experience such. Nonetheless, he learned to appreciate those colorful day-flying insects before we ended our visit.

It was almost 12 noon when Gabby and I arrived at the front office of the Penang Butterfly Farm located in Teluk Bahang, near the tail end of the famous Penang coastline-beaches, Batu Ferringhi.

FREEBIES, DISCOUNTS AND MORE BLESSINGS!  

When I was about to pay the entrance fees for me and Gabby, the male Front Office staff at the window-counter inquired if I am a tourist or a Malaysian (because of different Admission rates), I told him that I am a Filipino expat working as a Medical Lecturer since 2010 in Penang. He then asked for some IDs but I didn’t bring my company ID nor my passport with me. While I was flipping my card holder….

  • Staff : “It’s OK, I saw you have Malaysian cards (referring to my credit cards and rewards-discount cards). Here you go… (He handed me two entrance tickets, 2 souvenir-notebooks, actually they’re DIY-Butterfly-garden-notebooks with a pair of tiny envelopes each containing something you put into the soil of flowering plants for it to bloom and attract butterflies, and 2 butterfly-shaped brochures).”

He only  charged us 18 ringgit for me and 10 ringgit for Gabby instead of the usual rates (RM 27 per adult and RM 15 per kid).

  • Me : ” Wow, thank you for the discount and freebies!  Sir, can i shoot some photos inside? I’ll post photos in my blog and feature our experience here.”
  • Staff : “Sure, no problem! Great! What’s your blog’s URL?” (he got a pen and a sheet of paper and was ready to write)
  • Me :  “Go check out, docgelo.wordpress.com, Sir. Thank you!
  • Me : “And by the way, my blog is nominated in the Malaysia International Tourism Bloggers Awards. You may want to vote too, haha!  What’s your name, Sir?”
  • Staff : “Edzil. Enjoy, pare! (*insert English translation of ‘pare’ here*)
  • Me : “Alright, Thank you!”

After we stayed for 3 hours inside the butterfly sanctuary, Gabby and I headed to the food kiosks just before the exit and ordered Chicken and Cheese sandwich, a bottle of cold distilled water, 2 cups of Mango juice.

  • Edzil : “Doc, I’ve checked out your blog, you take good photos, man!”
  • Me : “Hahaha! :) Thank you for your viewing my blog! What’s your name again, Sir?”
  • Edzil : “Wait, I’ll get my business card.”

Sir Edzil happens to be Penang Butterfly Farm’s Front Office Assistant Manager.

  • Edzil : “Doc, your food is on us! Don’t bother to pay them.”
  • Me : “C’mmon?!!! Allow me to pay for this, please!”
  • Edzil : “No, it’s on the house, if he (referring to the staff at the food kiosk) asks you to pay, then you pay, but surely he won’t, haha!”
  • Me : “Wow, thank you so much!”

With few minutes of chit chat; I learned that he’s actually a Filipino but raised in Malaysia and according to him, there are a few more Pinoys working as tour guides (yes, Penang Butterfly Farm provides informative, amusing and educational tour guiding but I opted to wander around with only Gabby as I took photos). We’re very grateful for his generous gestures.

CHILDREN, COCCOON ISN’T PART OF  THE BUTTERFLY’S LIFE CYCLE.

It’s always amazing to learn beyond books and outside the four corners of a classroom. It’s even more wonderful when one practically acquires knowledge hands on.  You actually get that learning set-up in Penang Butterfly Farm. The actual Science that speaks about the life cycle of these flying insects happens right before your eyes!

So the life cycle only includes EGG (those tiny yellow ones in the next photo) –> CATERPILLAR –> PUPA (not coccoon but CHRYSTALIS / NYMPHA) –> ADULT BUTTERFLY (or IMAGO).  The caterpillar normally thrives in fruity plants like passion fruit and the like, otherwise, it dies and would not metamorphose into pupa and imago.

But as soon as these chrystalis become adult butterflies,

some of its species ONLY LIVE FOR ONE WEEK. :( 

It made me wonder, how would you spend your life meaningfully if you only have one whole week to live?

Back in the Philippines, I remember going to Orchidarium in Rizal Park in Luneta where a small Butterfly garden is tucked. They usually feed the butterflies back home with bananas, here in Penang, pineapples are their favorite lunch! :)

One of my favorite spots in Penang Butterfly Farm is this Oriental gazebo adorned with everything Chinese and an interesting concrete bridge.

Gabby talking on the phone with Tina who attended a medical community service required at work.

Would you not be fascinated if you see authentic porcelain sauce dish, cups, plates and even pitcher were embedded as decors in the bridge?

A couple of Mandarin ducks basking under the bridge

BLACK IS BEAUTIFUL

I must admit, the sun was scorchingly hot during our visit (at least we didn’t have a downpour) so the little airconditioned theater that incessantly shows short films about insects was really inviting; Gabby liked the movies we watched for few minutes.

After watching insect-inspired short films, we walked through the next hallway where Gabby enjoyed another interesting part of Penang Butterfly Farn called, Biodiversity. Here, kids get to stamp their notepads with the park’s mascot prints, play and learn with the interactive touch-screens that feature educational inputs about the environment as a whole. There’s also a part where reptiles and spiders are on display en route to exit towards the souvenir shops.

We went back to the garden where a myriad of butterflies await.

If you must know, I took up BS Biology prior to Medicine and one specimen in Botany that’s hard to forget is the Pitcher Plant. There’s a spot in Penang Butterfly Farm that’s devoted to Pitcher Plant. It’s quite unique for it can trap mosquitoes and other minute insects in its “mouth”, it has somewhat like a prey-trapping mechanism; interesting, is it not?

Then I guess I was lucky enough to be accompanied by two winged friends during our time in the garden. Lucky or stinky already *yikes!*, I do like how Gabby snapped this shot.

Spread your wings and soar! ;)

Just before we had our “free snack” courtesy of Sir Edzil at the food kiosk near the exit gates, we savored Magnum bar (which we paid for, haha!).

never fails to ease up a hot summer day

Nature tripping at Penang Butterfly Farm + Family Bonding + Magnum ice cream bar = simply perfect to end the day. It was another day for family.food & fun! ;)

 

Penang Butterfly Farm exceeded our expectations! We had a chance to commune with nature. It was where I forgot life’s hassles, worries and stress. Four hours spent there were indeed worthwhile; we had fun! :)

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Penang Butterfly Farm. No. 830 Jalan Teluk Bahang 11050 Penang, Malaysia. Tel # +604-885 1253. (It’s accessible by car, taxi cab or by Rapid Penang Bus # 101 from George Town, Penang).

18
Apr
12

BEYOND TOXICITY X OLD MANILA WALKS IN GEORGE TOWN, PENANG

What could be a perfect welcome to a revisiting tourist in George Town, Penang but a RAINBOW! Can you spot it? ;)

My family and I wolf down plates of Restoran Kapitan's Chicken Cheese Kebab + Cheese Naan served with coleslaw, tamarind sauce infused with green mango+chili chutney. The fambam loved it! We usually order Chicken Tandoori and it's only my second time to savor this kebab dish and I personally liked the tenderness of the chicken specially when perfectly dipped in the tamarind sauce+spicy chutney; flavors just burst into mouth! :P

Roti Prata Telur or Egg Prata + Manggo Lassi.

Chicken Tandoori + Cheese Naan for Ivan

Beyond Toxicity X Old Manila Walks in the heart of George Town, Penang 04/17/2012

When I learned several weeks back that Manila’s tour-guide-extraordinaire, The Main Man from Old Manila Walks, IVAN MAN DY is revisiting George Town, Penang  after he graciously informed me via facebook, Tina and I had to think where we should treat him even just over dinner.

Tina first thought of bringing Ivan to Nando’s that specializes in Portugese Peri-Peri Chicken in either Gurney Mall or Queensbay Mall however, both of these malls are located in the tail ends of the island-one in the north, the other southbound; it means travel-commuting would definitely kill our time. I considered something authentic to Penang –the hawkers of course! But we personally prefer hawkers outside Gurney Mall for a wide range of choices but then again, location doesn’t fit the schedule. Then we narrowed the list down to  3 other family favorites –Old Town Restaurant (Malaysian cuisine), Towne’s Steamboat (Chinese) and Restoran Kapitan (Indian).  I told Tina that since Old Town Restaurant is a chain present in almost all parts of Malaysia, Ivan might have already tasted it in the airport or somewhere. While we also considered getting a table after 5PM would be close to impossible at the frequently-packed Towne’s Steamboat in Jalan Macalister, thus we agreed to take Ivan to our favorite Indian food place, Restoran Kapaitan in Little India. I think it was a good choice beacause it’s only a few meters away from the hotel where Ivan stayed.

Because his arrival fell on a weekday, we could only meet him after work hours. Too bad we failed to tour him around in some of the heritage sites in this side of Malaysia. Nonetheless, we enjoyed the limited time we spent with him. The moment was like we’re only talking, walking and commuting in the streets of Binondo, Manila, hahaha! :)

Ivan Man Dy of  Old Manila Walks :

“Conceptualized, manufactured, bred and educated in the city of Manila, Ivan is the feet behind Old Manila Walks. Before he finally took to the streets, he was an active museum guide as well as a staunch heritage preservation activist.  Now, he has found his calling being seasoned urbanite, a self-designated life-long citizen and ambassador of Manila.  Since 2005, he has led the thousands of happy walking hordes down his city’s most historic quarters.  Four years on and countless calluses later, he is still loving every step of the way.”  -Sourced via OldManilaWalks.com

If you’re a Filipino-balikbayan or foreigner who would like to explore Manila in a nutshell, joining his walking tours back home is always informative, engaging, entertaining and educational. It’s history and gastronomic treats beyond books. We have joined 2 of his amazing walking tours around Manila -

*For more of his walking tours and its details, check out their website at OldManilaWalks.com

After our simple dinner at Restoran Kapitan, we hopped on the bus to accompanied Ivan to one of the malls in George Town where he treated Gabby who didn’t say no, to a delightful scoop of Baskin n Robbins chocholate chip ice cream! Thanks, Ivan! And here’s wishing you enjoyed your days in Malaysia!

15
Apr
12

CHILD’S PLAY

“Daddy, thank you for bringing me there at the playground!”  –I was the happiest man alive when Gabby uttered those words in verbatim. A simple one hour stroll to that nearby park cum playground became a memorable late Saturday afternoon for the two of us.

The father-and-son-date-at-the-park was originally set in the morning of Saturday, 04/14/2012 but despite Gabby woke up early on a weekend with a statement, “Daddy, I’m on time!” -referring to his punctuality to our morning call time of 7AM, it didn’t push through because he chose to play with his mom’s ipod leaving me to a cup of coffee while surfing the web and the cable TV channels.  And so I told him, “If we’re not going to Taman Riang  (Riang Park which is several blocks away from our appartment) this morning, if you want, we’ll go there late this afternoon when the sun is almost down.”  Then he replied casually, “OK!”  

After I spent hours post-lunch time on marking mini-test papers of my students which I brought home and other stuffs to while away time, I almost forgot my agreement with my son. At few minutes past 3PM, Gabby reminded by requesting me, “Daddy, punta tayo sa playground!” (“Daddy, let’s go to the playground!”). I told him, “Anak, mamaya, mainit pa!” (“Son, it’s still hot; we’ll go there later!”). 

If you must know, our present appartment here in Butterworth, Penang also has its own playground however, Gabby’s interested to explore Taman Riang for he sees and passes by it daily with his service-van-driver, Aunty (the usuall petname of Malaysian older women, as Ate or Manang to Filipinos) who picks him up to and brought him back from school every morning and afternoon.  Finally, I assured him, “Gabby, we’ll go to the playground around 5PM.”

As Tina chose to stay home to prepare and cook food and continue her devotion to watching “The Vampire Diaries,” Gabby and I geared up and got ready to go. Then the unexpected happened. It started to drizzle. And not for long, it rained hard. So I told my son that we can postpone again the stroll to that place.  But I felt he really wanted to go, hence we both waited for the rain to stop.

Apparently, what we saw, what we did and how he and I enjoyed the moment were all documented of course, on those photos.

Quality time for family however long or short is absolutely important. I am blessed that I have my family here with me. ;)

03
Apr
12

DAYBREAK AT PENANG HILL

Years ago, my only concept of Penang Hill was one of those restaurants that my family and our good old friends sampled at the 5th level of Shangri La Plaza Mall back home. I was completely clueless of Penang back then, more so about the entire Malaysia. I never thought I could bring myself and my family on top of the real Penang Hill one day. It wasn’t really a big deal climbing the Penang Hill via its 73 Million Ringgit newly renovated funicular train however, that Saturday morning when we went up there was one of our best in Penang! We were overwhelmed.

Penang Hill at 6:45AM, Saturday, 31 March 2012.

The longest bridge in Malaysia at 13.5km, Penang Bridge connects Pulau Pinang or Penang Island with the Seberang Perai or Penang main land; it's more stunning at 833 meters above sea level!

Can you spot Komtar, the tallest and cylindrical building in George Town, Penang? With its 232 meter-height, this 65-storey tower remains to be iconic in the island.

A little while later…

Cloudy, according to the online weather forecast that day and it was accurate. At least, it didn't rain. God was great!

still hazy and cloudy at a few minutes past 7AM.

The memories of our little family trips to Antipolo, Tagaytay and Baguio Cities in the Philippines during my wonder years resurfaced as I was  stunned at the breathtaking view 833 meters above sea level.  Penang Hill has an absolutely cooler climate than its lowlands in this tropical Malaysian State. With its 16 to 21 degree Celsius weather, it’s enough for any tourists, locals and expats to be enticed to go up once in a while.

I arrived in Penang, Malaysia some 20 months ago and have been working as a medical lecturer since then. I immediately learned that Penang Hill was closed for much needed renovation of its system and track and replacement of its 87-year-old coaches. The wait for it to be fully operational again took almost a year but Tina, Gabby and I didn’t try to experience the ride and the hill itself last April 2011. Tina felt and still believed that 30 ringgit per pax round trip fare on the train up to Penang Hill wasn’t cheap (current rates for Non-Malaysians and Malaysian tourists are noted at the end of this post). I constantly tell her, family bonding is always memorable and priceless.

“Gelo, Huwag kayong aalis ng Penang nang hindi nagpupunta sa Penang Hill, ang ganda!” (“Gelo, Don’t leave Penang unless you have gone to Penang Hill, it’s beautiful!”) …These were the words directly told to me by one of the colleagues who already resigned from our work last year and went back home to the Philippines with his entire family.  He was definitely right. Penang Hill is really something. It’s one of the must-visit sites when traveling to Penang, Malaysia.

The game plan: I initially thought of reserving an overnight accomodation in a 3-bed-family-room at Bellevue Hotel (which has a rate of RM242 nett or USD 79.45 inclusive of breakfast), the hotel located exactly in Bukit Bendera or Penang Hill boasts of its simple aviary and garden, that offers great views of breathtaking sunset and sunrise. The suggestion was vetoed by my ever loving and practical wife. I easily accepted, supported and succumbed to her decision, despite the fact that I already communicated with the hotel staff via emails, because I felt her excitement and her want to experience Penang Hill too with our family. That was enough for me. :)

The second best option I had in mind which I brought up to Tina and my mom was to go up to Penang Hill on the first trip of funicular train at exactly 6:30 in the morning, so we could reach the summit at still dusk and witness the daybreak after. I was silently jumping for joy when they both agreed to prepare, wake up and be at the ticketing area prior to the first trip!

I laid her all the possibilities and means on how we could get there at few minutes before 6:30AM. We all thought taking a pre-arranged cab from our place in Butterworth, Penang at 5:30AM and head directly to Bukit Bendera was the finest choice over taking the bus-ferry-bus-route. And we’re grateful that we’re not wrong.

Our roundtrip tickets to Penang Hill, punched with holes just before our descent at lunch time, Saturday, 31March2012.

We left our place in Butterworth before 5:30AM and arrived in Bukit Bendera when the gates were still closed. We waited for several minutes until it officially opened at around 6:15AM. Have I told you that punctuality freely flows in our bloodstream? haha! :D

After purchasing our round trip tickets for the 6:30AM first funicular trip for the day, we finally saw that blue-air conditioned Swiss made coach! She was so gorgeous!

And the fingers in two hands are more than the volume of passengers on that trip, there were only 2 passengers and 2 train staff plus the four of us. We occupied the first cabin next to the train captain to get the greatest view of the ascent, I think it’s a must if one gets a chance (The train can be filled with 80 passengers when some would ride it standing). The smooth inclined ride via the 2,220 meter track length was definitely exciting!

There’s no way but to go up! ;)

After more or less 5 minutes (there were no stops during our ride that morning), we arrived at the summit.

The passage through the white tunnel is a sign that passengers need to alight few seconds after.

It was still darkness when we arrived in Penang Hill.  We strolled and I tried to find a best spot to capture the stillness of the dawn. My mom first saw a concrete stairs guarded by an opened wooden gate; we didn’t read its signage that it’s the David Brown’s English Restaurant and Tea House at the Strawberry Hill (yes, the signage reads Strawberry Hill!).  No one was there yet, so we went in. Tina and Gabby followed.

My wife began taking photos and videos using her ipod and mobile phone. I further went up the concrete stairs until I reached the restaurant and garden proper of David Brown’s.

I didn’t expect we would experience how colorful Penang Hill is.

These are the viewing telescopes located in front of the huge signage of Bukit Bendera at the foot of David Brown’s Restaurant.

Take a closer peek at George Town for 1 ringgit (USD 0.32 or PhP 14).

The flora and foliage of Penang Hill that we found in David Brown’s English Garden and Restaurant

At this point, I wished I have a lens and skills for macro photography.

If you must know, the  five petaled brilliant red Hibiscus Rosa Sinensis or to us Filipinos, gumamela, is the National flower of Malaysia.

This is David Brown’s Restaurant and English Garden at Penang Hill. I just wished we were not tresspassing as there were no people when we went here. We didn’t touch anything but only took photos however, tons of it. :)

L = LOVE!

My beautiful mom at almost 60! ...Strike a pose, mother! hehe! :)

Gabby : “Daddy, piktyuran mo ako!” (“Daddy, take my pictures!”)

Me : “OK!”

Then the kid ran a few meters away from us then ran forward and took a jump on air.  He attempted for a “jump shot” several times and his mom and his grandmother and I we’re all giggling because Gabby’s too chubby to float higher on air. :P

levitation? haha! :)

It was almost 8:30AM and the sun was already up so we left that part of Penang Hill and went on to explore the others. We needed to take a bladder break and we’re glad to see a few steps down the David Brown’s Restaurant a simple tandas or toilet that’s well kept and clean with tissues and liquid soap.

After another stroll, we found a swing.

The swing is located at the facade of the newly opened, The Owl Museum at Penang Hill. It’s an owl-swing actually! hehe! :)

Lola Tessie and Gabby bonding!

Before we headed to to the museum, we needed to chow down first. Good thing that the newly built museum has multi-leveled eateries, drink, desserts and souvenir stations where one gets to fill his/her tummy with the best view in Penang.

fresh air, spacious clean dining areas, fantastic ambience, great tasting and affordable Malaysian foods, drinks and desserts, what more can you ask for?

To me, one has never been to Malaysia when he/she has not yet tasted the country’s National dish or staple food…

Tina and I once again, sampled NASI LEMAK for our breakfast in Penang Hill! Sarap! We liked the dilis so much that it made us crave for more (so the following day, I went to market to buy more dilis!) Good thing was, the sambal (spicy red sauce) wasn't mixed with the dish so we somehow tapered to taste. :)

One of the best tasting Fried Rice we've tasted! The smokey flavor makes it so delicious!

After our simple breakfast, we trooped down the stairs and went to the very first museum in Southeast Asia that pays tribute to and promotes awareness about that nocturnal bird, THE OWL MUSEUM in PENANG HILL. To our surprise, we were greeted by two staff at its entrace who informed us with a smile, that the fees were waived for the reason that they just opened few days back. How lucky can we get? Indeed, best things in life are free! :D

What to see in The Owl Museum? Over a thousand Owl-inspired arts and crafts as masterpieces of creative artists from different parts of the globe.

I liked this paper-cut-out-chandelier; it made me think if it’s owl-inspired too. Perhaps, patterned after the eyes of the owl? Is it? It must be.

The museum is made of a thousand and counting collection of owl in various materials-metals, wood, paper, plastic, porcelain, semi-precious stones and a lot more that came from different countries, however, Tina found out from one of the staff that they’ve yet to acquire something made from the Philippines. There are also paintings and other art works that are owl-inspired. Here are some of those that caught my eyes…

For coffee lovers like Tina and me…

I like this for obvious reasons…

 

I perceived this owl-metallic art as a knight in shining feather, hehe! :P

I saw this at the souvenir shop. I was almost tempted to buy as it winked at me, haha! but I held on to my very thin budget and it was a success! I just captured him on photo (what a better and more practical option!).

Even the tiniest of the stuffs are oh-so-charming…

Their colors are vivid and bright, the details are eye-candy!

United Colors of Benetton, Owl edition? ;)

One display window has these owls from London, England with title, “Nature’s Gift”. These figurines are made of feathers, straws, twigs, bark and seeds.

Pardon my shadow, these were “flown” from Paris, France…

 

Owls made of metallic materials and crystals are very interesting too…

Even the flower pot is owl-inspired. This museum is really “owl-some!”

Owl-kites…

Ladies would be delighted with these owl-themed accessories. I asked Tina to mimic how fashion-celebrity-bloggers whom we’ve met in our HKDL trip recently do it on their sites, hehe!

Modelo na ang asawa ko ng mga kwago! *She'll kill me for this!* :P

More Owl-accessories…

I could have bought a few if these were fridge magnets but they are rings for the girls who are edgy.

Now, children, meet The Royal Owl

 

I swear, it’s really called The Royal Owl! :) It does look regal!

There’s this corner so called The Artist’s Station where one can sit for photo-op like what Gabby did…

He's working on his materpiece to be on display soon in The Owl Museum in Penang Hill, hehe! :)

But this one’s for real : When Gabby saw a chalk and board (he even asked his grandmother to request for an extra chalk from the staff), his world stopped for several minutes as nothing else mattered but finishing his own masterpiece! :)

Et voila…

Will he become a chef, a hotelier, a restaurateur or an artist? Que sera, sera! :P

Then our seemingly like  never-ending photo-ops continued! We’re picture-addicts apparently! :D

We had fun inside The Owl Museum. Moving on, we walked our way to the other attractions in Penang Hill.

OK, now, kids, say “Taman Kanak-Kanak!”

Taman Kanak-Kanak

Taman Kanak-kanak in Bahasa Melayu (Malaysian language) simply means Children’s Playground (apparently on the photo, right? hehe!). Most communities in Penang (I don’t know in other Malaysian states) have this colorful playground even at 833 meters above sea level! Penang Hill even have its own POS or Postal Office at the hill itself. Impressive, isn’t it?

What’s even more amazing is the presence of PEACE among the diversities here. Imagine this : Masjid Bukit Bendera (Penang Hill Mosque) lies a stone throw away from the Murugan Temple (Hindu Temple); they’re almost located side-by-side and the only structure in between these two different religious shrines is this Taman Kanak-kanak. There’s no obvious tension, neither conflicts between them.

One of the Deity-altars outside the Murugan Temple in Penang Hill.

Ladies and gentlemen, this was one of the 87-year-old coaches that used to run up the hills of Bukit Bendera..

I already rode such wooden tram in San Francisco ages ago but it's not inclined as Penang's. Now with the very STEEP train track in Bukit Bendera / Penang Hill, I would think a thousand times first before hopping in if the funicular train remained the same as this in photo and wasn't renovated. Thank God for technology and innovation!

And then the time came for us to bid goodbye to Penang Hill. It was a memorable weekend morning!

Another funicular train just arrived in Penang Hill. It's the same train we rode downhill.

Tina recorded a video of our descent using her Samsung mobile…CLICK THIS!

Time when we hopped off the funicular. Bye, bye Penang Hill! Till our next visit!

I believe the best time to go up to this tourist spot is either daybreak like what we did or a few hours just before sunset. It becomes too crowded on a weekend, particularly hours past 8AM. Whether Penang Hill is a great tourist spot in this side of Malaysia or not, I know perception of beauty is so subjective but in my humble opinion, anything that’s breakthtaking is beautiful!

After that morning in Penang Hill, I think my family and I look at Penang in more different light. And I have to take back my statement mentioned earlier, it is a big deal to go to Penang Hill. It’s a must-visit place when you’re in this side of Malaysia! :D

—————————————————————

Directions to get to Penang Hill -One can take his car directly to Bukit Bendera or preferrably take a 45-minute bus ride from George Town, Penang via Rapid Penang Bus # 204 and hop off the gates of Penang Hill funicular station or take a taxi cab from any areas in George Town which will be more costly of course.  One may also take a 3-hour trek from the foot of the hill at Penang Botanical Garden or drive/ride a 4×4.

Round trip funicular fare for Non-Malaysian tourists : 30 ringgit or RM30 (USD 9.78 or PhP 421) and RM15 for children aged seven to 12. For Malaysians, the fare for a round trip ticket is RM8 per adult and RM4 per child aged between three and 12. Senior citizens and students will enjoy cheaper fares at RM4 per person.  Train Schedule : 6:30AM to 9PM daily unless notified.

The Owl Museum, Open Daily 9AM-6PM. Admission Rates : RM10 per entry, RM 5 for Senior Citizen, FREE Entry for Children below 12 years old (as mentioned, we had no entrance fees because according to the staff at its gate, they just opened few days prior to our visit). 

28
Mar
12

WELCOME TO CHEW JETTY

With my 20-month-stay in Penang, Malaysia on working visa, I still consider myself a tourist. There are more to explore in George Town, Penang than meets the eye. That is, if you’re like me whose interests go beyond malls, shopping and dining. Penang is more than a gastronomic haven in Malaysia. The island was not listed as one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites for nothing.

Out of curiosity why a certain modest place is part of the list, I strolled my way to one of the laterals of a busy thoroughfare, Weld Quay. A few meter-walk from Rapid Bus Station, I saw two other jetties; these are the Ong Jetty and the Lim Jetty. Then the third one is situated just across Armenian Road, this is the famous, Chew Jetty; so popular among backpackers, travelers and tourists, and that after online surfing, it caught my attention too.

Believe me, I have been passing this main road a countless times during weekends and public holidays but I have not noticed Chew Jetty neither I have thought that a Heritage treasure is tucked in this unassuming area.

A common sight of groups of old Penangite men spending lazy hours of the afternoon in hawker food stalls greeted me as I entered the vicinity. Then few steps more, I turned my back to capture the facade of a small Taoist temple right in front of the entrance to Chew Jetty. This effortlessly confirmed that this waterfront community has been flocked by a Chinese-Malaysian families.

Established in the Mid 19th century, this UNESCO’s World Heritage Site that is considered to be the biggest of the waterfront settlements in Penang had Ancestors’ origin from Xinglinshe Village, Tong An District, Quanzhou Prefecture, Fujian Province, China. Chew Jetty is divided into 2 parts (Part 1 and Part 2); each has length of 182 meters and 122 meters respectively. And there are a total of 75 houses within this preserved and protected Heritage Site (Note : These facts are posted at the entrance of Chew Jetty).

I enjoyed my late afternoon walk inside and snapped photos of things I perceived as fascinating. I had FUN!

Who would find ART in various lines of those century-old wooden planks but ME, MYSELF & I? haha! ;)

In case of and Emergency, this Chew clan community is ever ready!

Thou shall not underestimate this community built over the years by the Chew clan; they know how to decorate their houses on stilts.

HOMESTAY in some parts of Malaysia is common. They offer much affordable and competitive rates compared to commerical hotels. The greatest advantage, I think is you get a chance to be up close and personal with people of the town or city where you stand as a tourist. And Chew Jetty’s homes offer Homestay too! One can even get an online reservation from agoda.com or other travel-hotel websites. Another big plus when you opt for a Homestay in Chew Jetty is you’ll have an opportunity to wake up in a place where according to many, has an excellent view of Malaysian sunrise. However, you need to have no apprehensions and must have an adventurous mind when sleeping in houses on stilts. To each his own.

Nonetheless, the security is way better than you could expect. Nikilado ang mga pintuan dito, mga stainless pa ‘ata, gaya ng pagkaraniwang pinto ng mga bahay sa Penang (Doors of houses here are nickel-plated, perhaps stainless steel were used, similar to common doors of most houses in Penang).

One of the corners in Chew Jetty’s a stand out.

Not because it has Astro Cable TV, haha! No, definitely…

I found this small alley so quaint because of its colorful wooden walkway…

Proof that Chew Jetty's a topnotch tourist spot (Well, at least for me and them who also did what I enjoyed at Chew Jetty!)

Imagine, you can step on a rainbow…

and view a Sunshine with LOVE…

Here are some more little things that made me smile…

and reminded me that simple things can definitely make you happy!

But of all the features that this UNESCO’s World Heritage Site has to offer, I definitely love the boats! (Read : I have a thing for boats) It would not be a jetty without them, right? toinks! ;)

I love boats and I love planks.

Send them greeting cards, love letters, not emails and SMS. Don't you miss those days when emails and texts are not yet in existence?

Deities’ flags at the end of Chew Jetty

One of the best spots to adore the sunrise in Penang…

I saw various groups of tourists and a team who took photos of a bride-and-groom-to-be. Oh yes, Chew Jetty also serves as one of the favorite backdrops for those prenuptial pics.

Admittedly, I envy people who live in Chew Jetty. Although I and my family have been savoring glorious sunsets from our tiny porch at our 10th floor appartment, Chew families enjoy waking up with the best view of the sunrise in Penang and they get to rest and relax the way they want to.

She's living the life I want to live. Worry-free, that is!

It’s a wonderful stroll in this wooden pier without an entrance fee; it’s where I experienced a living heritage and an inspiring treasure.

26
Mar
12

MY 2ND VISIT TO PINANG PERANAKAN MANSION

I have no other word in mind to express the reason why I paid another visit but compulsion. The decision came instantly one lazy Sunday afternoon. Without concrete and serious logic, I spent an hour trip via buses and ferry from our current place in Butterworth, Penang and strolled my way from Penang Street in George Town to Church Street under the heat of scorching summer sun.

The cliche, “One is enough, two is too much” doesn’t apply to my unexplainable attraction to what I personally call, The Green Mansion.  My very first visit to Pinang Peranakan Mansion several months back was followed by a sudden impulse to go back. Perhaps, because I knew I have not seen enough and there are a lot more details yet to be appreciated. Or maybe, I was just looking for subjects where my lame photography skills would be put to practice. Either way, to say that I enjoyed my visit again was an understatement.  People may look at the experience as something like watching a great movie over and over again. However, the visit to Pinang Peranakan Mansion for me, was actually so much better!

Res ipsa loquitor -”Evidence speaks for itself.”  Those antique metal pillars in the central courtyard of the mansion were imported from Glasgow, a proof that the mansion was built on wealth.

Hey gold jewelries, we meet again…

There are more to appreciate beyond the thousands of collections of the by-gone-era. Call me a fool but I am drowned in fascination of the tiniest details this mansion has. Nothing was overlooked. Everything was done in grandeur.

Out of the massive volume of picture-worthy things inside the Pinang Peranakan Mansion, one may miss to admire these door handles in blue, orange and green crystals. If my memory serves me right, there’s also red crystal door handle in one of the rooms in the ground floor which I failed to capture. I didn’t notice them myself on my first visit! Educate me please, is this kind of door handles common in your places? Pardon my innocence, but I have not seen such, thus my amazement. I like the contrast of the colored crystals with the metal and the wood; they make a very intersting visual feast, at least for me.

Scottish iron-works, Chinese carved-wood panels, English floor tiles were put together in this century-old stately mansion that previously served as the residence and office of Kapitan Cina Chung Keng Kwee.

Wooden screens gilded in gold.

“The Peranakans, also known as Babas and Nyonyas, are a community of acculturated Chinese unique to this part of the world. They are also known as the Straits Chinese, having settled along the British Straits Settlements of Penang, Malacca and Singapore. The Peranakans adopted local Malay ways and the British colonial lifestyle. These influenced its rich culture, customs, cuisine, language and lifestyle that are still evident in Penang today.” -via PPM Visitors’ Guide.

It must be my exposure to similar Filipino furnitures that I have an eye to these ultimately beautiful fine set of mother-of-pearls flawlessly embedded in those intricately carved wooden furnitures.  It’s all in the details, I tell you.

To me, these seats look like thrones.

Allow me to digress. I grew up with both of my parents working; my mom worked more than expected of her in the office back home and my dad was a Saudi-boy for almost 2 decades. Needless to say, I and my siblings were oftenly left not with a nanny but with our late maternal grandmother. Isa akong laki sa Lola, ‘ika nga. But it was my mom who personally inculcated discipline to us. I remember my Lola as someone who’s strict at everything, almost perfectionist but lived her life with simple past times. Among them were gardening, playing sungka (or as Malaysians call it, congkak) and sewing our pillow cases and curtains all by herself. She owned a Singer sewing machine before, so my memories of her resurfaced in a blink when I saw this Green Mansion’s collections… I love you, Mama Idang!  We miss you and Lolo Ama! :(

On a lighter note, in this age of LED, LCD TV and whatnot, this for me still looks hot! haha! :) Seriously, I cannot imagine the cost of this antique in shops; it must be a fortune!

The Pinang Peranakan Mansion is gorgeous in monochrome, even stunning in colors!

If someone will ask me about the must-visit sites in George Town Penang, indubitably, the Pinang Peranakan Mansion tops my list. I HAD FUN! I wish to go back whenever I get the compulsion again. ;)

View more photos from my first visit here : Pinang Peranakan Mansion

Pinang Peranakan Mansion. 29 Church Street 10200 Penang, Malaysia. Admission at the time of this posting: Adult RM10 (USD 3.24 or PhP 140), Child : RM5 (Child below 6 years -free).  Open Daily from 9:30AM to 5PM even Public Holidays unless specified.

22
Mar
12

FIRST SUNDAY OF MARCH

It’s quite rare for my wife, Tina to go out on a Sunday particularly when the following day isn’t a public holiday. I love her dearly and completely understand that she prefers to spend the first day of the week at home to gather all energies to prepare for another work week.  And the first Sunday of March this year was not an exception. So instead of attending to an important and supposed-to-be life-changing appointment alone, I brought along my mom with me to keep me company and to provide me that much needed support.

Because we left our place in Butterworth at daybreak with nothing on our tummies yet, my mom and I were the first diners in our favorite Indian cafeteria, Kapitan at the corner of Little India and Lebuh Chulia in George Town, Penang. Egg prata, two orders of tosai with tasteful dips in varied flavors that burst in the mouth were our breakfast. We all washed it down with mango lassi (mango juice with yoghurt).

An hour after, we reached this awesome place…

No, the venue wasn’t a jungle or a park. That man-made hanging bridge, waterfalls and kois with rich foliage were all actually part of a hotel.

Before I appreciated the lobby and took those shots, the first thing I did after hopping off the cab was to go to tandas (bahasa melayu for toilet) for a bladder break. Just like any five star hotel, the toilet’s almost spotless.

Tucked on a hillock at around 150 meters above sea level, one of the branches of Hotel Equatorial in Malaysia is located few minutes away from Penang International Airport. This golf and convention resort reminded me of Shangri La Mactan Hotel back home that I and my mom got to visit ages ago. It has a vast and open-air lobby that welcomes every guests with luxurious warmth and splendor.

Punctuality runs in our blood so expectedly, we arrived earlier than scheduled. No worries because Hotel Equatorial’s ambiance was more than enough to keep us busy.

Then sunshine turned to rain but the beauty remained the same…

Whatever that day will yield, I leave it to the Almighty. With hopes and spirits high, two hours after, we went home with a smile. ;)

21
Mar
12

JOY IN SIMPLE THINGS

Don’t be deceived by the photos above, they may look as scenes taken at wee hours of the morning but  it was almost seven o’clock when I captured them in a blink, en route to the first scheduled Catholic Mass one weekend (read : Tanghali na kung sumikat ang araw sa Malaysia at gabi na ang paglubog nito). I hopped on the bus at 15 minutes before 7 in the morning with my family in tow.  After the short bus ride, we strolled our way to the church. Gabby, Tina, my mom and I heard the 30-minute Mass in English in this parish called Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Hello, Mr. Sun! :)

Gereja Katolik = Catholic Church. The NBVM Church is located at the back of this old chapel.

That old chapel (or was it the parish office now? who knew?) in front of the church compound was always kept locked, or perhaps it was still early to open it. Nonetheless, I found a visual stimulus in its rustic metal padlocks over  textured wooden doors. :)

Because it was only half hour past seven in the morning and the mall and the grocery are still closed, we decided to take our first meal of the day in one of the local food stalls across the street.  The eatery or carinderia for us Pinoys, or as Penangites call it, hawkers is situated in front of a small Buddhist temple which apparently caught my attention.

The caridenderia’s big enough to sit 100 people; well ventilated and offers a variety of drinks and tummy fillers.

No, we are definitely NOT ALOCHOLICS but we have this LOVE AFFAIR with a variety of COFFEE available in Penang. Just in case you want to check out the common beverages offered in food stalls here.... one ringgit = more or less fourteen Ph pesos.

PRICELESS morning smiles…

Children, say, KEOY TEOW SOUP

LOVE at 8 o’clock in the morning…

With warmed stomachs, we took another bus ride to one of the malls in Penang mainland.

Lunch was done in McDonald’s, in favor of Gabby’s collection of Happy Meal toys currently featuring his favorite, Spongebob. Then we decided to see a movie at around 12:30PM.  It has been a while since we last munched caramel popcorn inside a cinema.

Disregarding the fact that Taylor Kitsch's "airport hassle" issue that happened in Indonesia and NOT in the Philippines, JOHN CARTER wasn't that bad movie. We were entertained, actually! But we read via online news this Disney movie plummeted at the box office; who's to blame? *just asking*

After the movies, must buy groceries…

No-Plastic-Policy in groceries and shopping malls in Penang. Let's Reuse, Reduce, Recycle!

After the groceries, must satisfy growling tummies again! ;)  We had purple yam balls which we didn’t like (nothing’s special),  taho or what they call here, tofoo far with brown sugar syrup, 3 bowls of dried scallop congee that we topped with fried bread called yoo tiao from the restaurant called, I love Yoo. The congee bowls were made even more tasteful with a dash of soysauce and sesame oil.  A tall glass of cold soya for Gabby, and a cup of white coffee for me completed the light meal. Solb!

Merienda over a very affordable restaurant called, I LOVE YOO (not yoU! mind you!).

We could not be unhappy when there are more reasons to be grateful! ;)

18
Mar
12

LOOKING AT THE BRIGHTER SIDE

“A cloud does not know why it moves in just such a direction and in such a speed…It feels an impulsion…this is the place to go now. But the sky knows the reasons and the patterns behind the clouds, and you will know, too, when you lift yourself high enough to see beyond the horizons.” ~Richard Bach 

*The photos were taken from the tiny porch of our 10th floor appartment in Butterworth, Penang, Malaysia overlooking George Town in Penang Island. I frequently look at the sky immediately after arriving home from work and wait for dusk. There I see abundance of priceless blessings!

13
Mar
12

OUR HONG KONG DISNEYLAND TRIP 2012 : LAST DAY HIGH

19 February 2012. Sunday. It was the last day of our 3D2N grand family vacation in Hong Kong Disneyland Park and Resort. And although we’re ecstatic with everything we had experienced in the Happiest Place On Earth, we tried to struggle a bit with fact that we’re leaving Hong Kong for our work place in Penang, Malaysia before dusk. It’s always hard to leave something so special that gave you many wonderful memories. Nontheless, we still had a day to enjoy so Tina, Gabby and I started our last morning in Hong Kong with ear-to-ear smiles.

Good Morning, Disney’s Hollywood Hotel !!! :)

From our room down to the lobby, we headed directly to Chef Mickey to have our buffet breakfast!

“Chef Mickey recalls the lavish Art Deco-styled studio commissaries of Hollywood’s Golden Age. Mickey decorations and various Disney characters in sketch form are found throughout the restaurant.” (via hongkongdisneyland.com)

Here’s the nice corner reserved for my family and me…

From the ceiling, fixtures, tiled walls and the spread, there’s a piece of Mickey Mouse to delight your senses!

It was Gabby who first noticed and told me, “Daddy, look at the plate, it looks like Mickey Mouse’s pants!”

Much ado about carbo-loading : My first plate had a crusty cheese bread, a delicate egg tart, sample of fruity and fluffy pastries and a piece of Winnie the Pooh banana cake. Of course, my morning would not be complete without a dose of coffee.

Who says pizza ain’t a morning meal? Gabby was wide-eyed when he spotted an all-cheese-thin-crust-pizza on the spread; he’s a purist when it comes to pizza thus, it’s his favorite!  I asked him, “Anak, do you want some?” Of course, I received an excited positive response! I got a few slices for him, added some hash browns molded into smileys; how cute! And the basic scrambled eggs and bacon with Mickey Mouse waffles spruced up with maple syrup, while our boy favored chocolate syrup!

One of my favorites that I found so good from Chef Mickey’s various offerings was those thin slices of smoked salmon! I paired it with fresh green salad which I topped with different kinds of cheeses, some bits of cold cuts and vinaigrette and my morning instantly became perfect!

Tina and Gabby were satisfied with the breakfast too. Why, there were cereals which is a staple for my wife and son; yoghurt and fresh tropical fruits too! There were also some Chinese favorites –choices of dim sum, noodles, congee and a lot more that we wished our stomachs can accomodate. :)

After filling our tummies from Chef Mickey, we got our luggage and bags, had an early check out at 10:30AM, deposited our bags (for free!) at the Left Luggage Service of the hotel and trooped to the Disney’s Hollywood Hotel garden.

For the nth time, I owe some brilliant observations from our 7-year-old-kid. After first noticing those Chef Mickey’s plates patterned after Mickey Mouse’s pants, he commented about the aisle at the garden has film strips! And so I took a snap…

Bright and beautiful foliage at the Disney’s Hollywood Hotel garden…

The colors of the blooms – both big and small were awe-inspiring!

Pretty, isn’t it? My mother would agree (read : she loves flowers while my wife prefers food!).

It must be the great climate. It must be…

Happy moments in Disney’s Hollywood Hotel were made of these…

So happy he became buoyant on cool air!

Then, at the back of those “Hollywood Hotel” signage is somewhat discreet walkway where vintage cars are parked, excellent for photo-ops. What is Hollywood without them anyway?

Now, here are the exhibits of our “not-our-car-photos”….

Gorgeous cadillac coupled with those lovely smiles…

We’re almost ready to leave the garden when Gabby was fascinated with this movie ticket booth…

Gabby was inspired to do role-playing with his mom. Tina as the movie-goer and Gabby sells the tickets. Guess who’s their director? Definitely, not me! I played the usual camera man; Gabby himself called the shots! And all the while we thought his mind’s already fixed in becoming a chef, hotelier and restaurateur in the future. He got other talents, baby! ;)

The moment came when he thought of dancing in the middle of a turntable-designed ground near the poolside. Elvis Presley songs were on air. He was then more of an entertainer with the grooves more than just an actor-director! haha! :D  (I captured all of his moves in photos which I will probably post on a separate entry soon).

Time to bid goodbye to Disney’s Hollywood Hotel. Thank you for that warm and family-friendly accomodation! :)

As we planned to collect our luggage from Disney’s Hollywood Hotel at around 3PM before heading to Hong Kong International Airport to catch our 5:45PM HK-KUL flight via Air Asia, we rode the resort’s free shuttle bus and went to Hong Kong Disneyland Resort Public Transport Interchange (PTI). 

TRANSPORTATION IS ALSO WHIMSICAL AT HONG KONG DISNEYLAND! 

Here are some info and tips on how to go about the MTR Disneyland Resort Line

Getting to and out the park is as easy as counting 1, 2 and 3. :) From Hong Kong International Airport, one can opt to ride a bus, a car, a taxi cab or a train to reach Hong Kong Disneyland and vise-versa if you’re leaving the Happiest Place On Earth.

We’ve been to Hong Kong and Hong Kong Disneyland quite a few times already but we were always on a package tour (read : there’s a tourist bus that pick us up to and from the park) and we have not experienced riding that Mickey-Mouse-windowed train running on the MTR Disneyland Resort Line. And so we did not let the chance pass last month to enjoy such experience.

It’s always great to ask whenever you’re in doubt. So I went to the counter of the MTR Disneyland Resort Line to inquire how to go to Ting Chung via Sunny Bay. He instructed me to buy tickets from the machines located at the laterals of the station just before the turnstiles. He generously broke my bills into coins for the train ticket machines; very HKDL-friendly! :)

The ticket machines are touch screens; you need to identify and press the point of your origin before you touch the point of your final destination. Say for example, touch first Hong Kong Disneyland Resort then Tung Chung. The ticket price for adult and kids are different but the machine monitor will show the amount per person and you just need to press the total pax (e.g. 3 adults, 1 kid).  Et voila, you collect the tickets to be inserted (or swipe if it’s loadable) on the turnstiles!

Convenience meets Fantasy.

That’s my first impression on Disneyland Resort Train Station.

It made me wish that all train stations around the globe would be as neat and pretty as this.

“Travel on the railway network of MTR and interchange for the Disneyland Resort Line at Sunny Bay Station.

  • Only 23 minutes from the Hong Kong International Airport, MTR Airport station,
  • 30 minutes from MTR Kowloons tation and
  • 33 minutes from MTR Hong Kong station where Guests can pick up  Park Tickets too!
Operating Hours between Sunny Bay and Disneyland Resort Station
From Sunny Bay: from 6:15am – 12:45am the following day From Disneyland Resort Station: from 6:20am – 12:40am the following day
Frequency 4 – 10 minutes.” (-via hongkongdisneyland.com)

Just wonderful. :)

And at an instant, we fell in love with the train! Those train handles are one of the many reasons why one should visit and experience Hong Kong Disneyland! :)

Among the many train couches, we were lucky to randomly seated near that Mickey Mouse bronze statue.

There’s Tink’s and many other Disney characters immortalized in bronze enclosed in capsules.

Hong Kong Disneyland Resort line runs until Sunny Bay. From here, you wait and take other trains that will take you to your destination.

Doing the “tourist thing” at Sunny Bay Station….

Now, where did we go and what did we do after Sunny Bay would have to be posted next!

With that, I’d like to thank the people who made our Hong Kong Disneyland trip very memorable and fun-filled!  Thank you to Jaclyn, Nicole, Catherine and Purple –you guys are the BEST!

Thank you to my fellow Filipino bloggers and their families and friends who were nice companions on this trip -Gael of The Pinay Solo Backpacker, Thammie of ThammieSy.com, Leslie of Shoot First Eat Later, Laureen Uy of Break My Style, and Kyrz of KyrzUy.com.

Thank you to my fellow Filipino bloggers with their families and friends! Thank you to Gael of The Pinay Solo BackPacker and her sister, Juvy, Thank you to Thammie of ThammieSy.com who came with her entire family, Pastor Dennis of Act Like A Man and their two adorable daughters, Alyanna and Mika. Thank you to Leslie of Shoot First Eat Later who came with her friend, Ms. Elizabeth (not in photo but Thank you, Maam for giving Gabby a lego-Buzz Lightyear watch!), Thank you fashion bloggers and celebrities, Laureen Uy of Break My Style  who came with her special one, Robbie, and Kryz Uy of KryzUy.com who went with her sister, Jack.  Maraming Salamat! Don’t you wish we meet again in some similar trip like this? Better yet, let’s go to HKDL again someday! :)

Last but not certainly not the least, THANK YOU SO MUCH to HONG KONG DISNEYLAND for being the venue of our FAMILY bonding, offering more than expected delicious FOOD and providing us never-ending FUN!

In so many ways, this Hong Kong Disneyland vacation was truly an exceptional one! 

Whether it was our first time or we’ve been to the park and hotels several times over, reasons are beyond words to go back and revisit the Happiest Place on Earth!

Let this last set of my photos speak of those remarkable reasons why WE SO LOVE HONG KONG DISNEYLAND!

As Shakespeare had put it, “Parting is such a sweet sorrow.”

It was an enormous blessing that we got a chance to revisit Hong Kong Disneyland and experienced family bonding, food and fun beyond our great expectations!

Thank you so much, our dear God!

Thank you so much, Hong Kong Disneyland!

Till we meet again, Mickey Mouse! ;)

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This Blog Series Includes :

23
Feb
12

OUR HONG KONG DISNEYLAND TRIP 2012 : ARRIVAL & LUNCH


DOCGELO  X  MICKEY MOUSE

FAMILY.FOOD.FUN @ the Happiest Place on Earth!

Similar to a shot of  adrenaline, the thought of revisiting Hong Kong Disneyland increases the heart beat and quickens the pulse, at least for Tina, Gabby and me. :D It’s incredibly different and NOT physiologically tiring but a special feeling of excitement that my family and I would love to go through over and over again, despite and inspite of everything!  Hong Kong Disneyland has that positively addicting charm that effortlessly draws the young and equally attracts the young-at-hearts! It’s a Nirvana for family bonding, food indulgence and lots of fun! :D

HONG KONG DISNEYLAND : DEFINITELY,  A  STRESS ANTIDOTE

Before Tina, Gabby and I immersed ourselves in a worry-free-three-day-and-two-night-fun-filled-vacation in Hong Kong Disneyland, we had to travel a day before from our current place in Butterworth, Penang to Kuala Lumpur to catch our flight earliest in the morning. We all thought it’s wise to travel via KL if you’re coming from Malaysia because the trip from Penang would take us to Hong Kong International Airport at around half hour past 8 in the evening hence, we’ll lose a day. :( Either we go a day earlier  to Hong Kong which will be more expensive or take the alternative route of via Kuala Lumpur.  We opted the latter. However, since we didn’t reserve a flight from Penang to Malaysia’s capital city  because of  steeper cost (read: we are 3), we chose to take the 5-hour-road trip via the public tourist bus from Butterworth, Penang to Puduraya, Kuala Lumpur, then with our luggage and bags in tow, we hailed a taxi cab from Puduraya Bus Station to KL Sentral where buses that take passengers to KL-LCCT airport are parked.

We arrived in Kuala Lumpur-Low Cost Carrier Terminal at around 8 in the evening of Thursday via Aerobus after an hour trip from KL Sentral.  My family and I had to spend the night inside food and coffee shops. After our quick family dinner and some coffee for Tina and me, chocolate frap for Gabby, we found a corner inside LCCT and called it a night (Actually, it was only Gabby who slept for few hours; Tina and I rarely shut our eyes).  And few hours after midnight, we took turns in taking showers, changed into new clothes and queued to check in at 4 in the morning.

Some may find our travel very stressful but believe me, we’ve experienced more difficult instances than you could imagine.  So this Hong Kong Disneyland trip is definitely a stress antidote for me and my family. We cannot thank the good Lord enough for such opportunity! :D

We took the flight from KUL to HK at 6:45AM, Friday, February 17, 2012 and arrived at HKIA 4 hours after. Before I slept in my seat, I accomplished the Immigration Arrival forms for Tina, Gabby and myself as what I used to do on our few travels.

That long travel to Kuala Lumpur from Penang and finally to Hong Kong, those frequent air pockets and lack of sleep were absolutely NOT enough to kill our excitement and enjoy the Happiest Place on Earth!

Finally, we set foot again at one of the biggest and most impressive terminals in the world! Sweet! :D

Hong Kong Disneyland, here we come! :D

Passing through HK Immigration was a breeze, so did the luggage pick up from the conveyor belt. I wish all terminals particularly that of the Philippines would have such remarkable efficiency. Upon arrival at the HKIA lobby, we trooped immediately to the Train Information Counter. Our initial game plan was to take the MTR from the airport to our hotel but after learning that the waiting and transfer period from one train to the other will take us around an hour, we decided to take a cab.

After paying the metered taxi HKD 150, we arrived at the hotel lobby all in one piece. Yahoooo!!!

DISNEY’S  HOLLYWOOD HOTEL : FAMILY FRIENDLY!

From its exteriors that reflects similarities with Pan Pacific Auditorium, the art-deco theme reminiscent of the golden age of Hollywood echoes to the interiors of Disney’s Hollywood Hotel to every detail in the lobby and in its rooms.

And since it’s Disneyland Resorts, the head of Mickey Mouse with other Disney figures including Minnie Mouse’s of course, are a constant decor. Wonderful!!!

Tina and I have lately developed the appreciation for boutique and themed hotels. It’s nice to see how people put so much attention to details. The first sight of the lobby of Disney’s Hollywood Hotel was definitely a feast to our senses!

 

Just before those bilateral lifts take Disney’s Hollywood Hotel guests to their rooms, the Disney magic manifests with the voice of Mickey Mouse no less, welcoming everyone to their room-level, night and day. So cool! :) It makes you think that Mickey Mouse doesn’t sleep too! *kidding*

Certainly, the glass etching on the doors of the lifts also has the same Hollywood art-deco theme and to make it distinctly Disney’s, there are so many Mickey Mouse embedded on it. Can you spot some?

 

We’re checked in at the 8th level where the view’s fantastic! The blurry hazy skyline at the backdrop confirmed that we’re about to experience a misty cool Hong Kong climate despite the clock already hit 12 noon. And coming from the tropical state of Penang, that for me, was so inviting! Thankfully, we didn’t have any downpour, God is really great! :D

 

The view from our room offers a relaxing sight of Lantau island, its bay stretching to South China Sea and Disney’s Hollywood Hotel’s swimming pool. Can you feel the cool atmosphere despite the clock hit 12 noon? It’s Hong Kong, baby! ;-)

Another view from our window gives you a glimpse of how Disney’s Hollywood Hotel back lot looks like…

I wish I’ve photographed it too at night. Some other time perhaps (that’s another little reason to go back!).

Tina and I basically want few essentials in a hotel room; just nice and comfy bed and pillows to provide us a restful sleep, an insect-free-airconditioned and clean room, toilet and bath and Disney’s Hollywood Hotel doesn’t disappoint. Its theme is continuously obvious. The play of colors are vibrant and definitely puts everyone into the Disneyland euphoric mood! :D

I guess each room with a twin-deluxe beds has a black and white cartoon of Mickey and Minnie from one of their movies.

How sweet it was to sleep with worries and stress far from your cerebrum.

A little while later, Gabby felt so at home!

From Malaysia to Hong Kong, this 7-year-old-Filipino kid loves his Disney cartoons!

It may not be the most spacious toilet and bath that we had experienced but nonetheless, its cleanliness and the generous volume of towels are truly noteworthy. It’s expected that Disney Hollywood Hotel would be family-friendly and we proved it correctly. How many hotels have thought of providing kid-sized slippers? This hotel has it making Gabby simply delighted. Toothbrushes, toothpaste and some wipes and cotton buds are provided in a pack inside 3 paper cups capped with Mickey Mouse ears.  Even the toilet is richly themed! :D

And again, the little artsy details made us smile and utter, “so cute!” :D

Cast members (or those who work for Hong Kong Disneyland Park and Hotels) are amazingly creative at these towel crafts. They even refill it everyday in different colors and adorable animal and alien-designs. We brought home some pieces, actually! ;-)

Riding the theme park’s own resort shuttle buses for FREE was definitely convenience in its truest sense of the word. After checking in and quick freshening up in our room at Disney’s Hollywood Hotel, we went to the resorts’ other hotel, Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel for the much needed lunch.

The HK Disneyland Resorts Shuttle Buses take passengers for FREE from the theme park to Disneyland Hotel then to Disney Hollywood Hotel in 10 minute interval. It spells convenience particularly when you’re traveling with kids. It’s so nice when you’re worry-free of going back to the hotel and theme park or hopping to a restaurant located at either of Disney hotels.

Experiencing two hotels of Hong Kong Disneyland was so awesome! Both hotels have unique themes, one takes you back in time to Hollywood’s golden years and the other is lavishly Victorian-inspired.

HONG KONG DISNEYLAND HOTEL : ENTICINGLY ELEGANT!

We saw luxury and sophistication at every corner of Disneyland Hotel… Our little-big boy, Gabby’s so amazed! I wonder what other kids think of  Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel. Surely, most of them believe that it’s a magical mansion!

what a gorgeous pair of chandeliers!

Everything’s so fanciful!  Even the men’s toilet melted all my worries away, haha! :D

While Tina and Gabby were checking out the merchandise at the hotel’s souvenir shop, I walked towards the concierge and didn’t pass the chance of capturing the framed paintings hanging at the back of the counters.

I asked permission from the Cast Members who are at the reception prior to snapping my cam; made me smile when they gave me a nod.

Aren’t these paintings fascinating?  I remember the Mark Twain’s steamboat that we saw in Disneyland Anaheim on the next painting.

Those bursts of colors are too beautiful in my eyes!

Sincere to their work place, I noticed Cast Members of Hong Kong Disneyland Park and Resorts are all service-oriented, warm and friendly. Just when I was thinking for someone who could snap a photo of us, one male hotel staff offered to take our family pic even without asking him. That’s marvelous! :D

Look at my very own Minnie. Lovely, isn’t she? :)

The hedge maze in the garden of Disneyland Hotel fronting South China Sea really caught Gabby’s attention.

Did Gabby and I try and finish the maze? Find out on my succeeding posts! :D

Meanwhile, can you spot Mickey Mouse’s profile on this green maze?

LUNCH at CRYSTAL LOTUS RESTAURANT, HONG KONG DISNEYLAND HOTEL.

What warmed our souls and filled our stomachs after that long tiring trip from Butterworth, Penang to Puduraya and KL Sentral in Kuala Lumpur, to Kuala Lumpur-Low Cost Carrier Terminal to Hong Kong International Airport then finally to Hong Kong Disneyland apart from seeing Mickey Mouse again at the theme park was a sumptuous and divine Chinese cuisine at Crystal Lotus Restaurant.

With rich, classy and exceptional ambience, coupled with prompt and attentive service and a delightful menu, Crystal Lotus Restaurant is the best option when you feel like indulging in some Chinese favorites with Disneyland’s kiddie appeal.

Modern and sophisticated Oriental ambience of Crystal Lotus Restaurant. We’re so blessed to have experienced it.

Tina, Gabby and I met a few bunch of Filipinos who own blog sites too; Mom and Lifestyle blogger, ThammieSy, Fashion bloggers Laureen Uy and Kryz Uy of Break My Style and KryzUy.com respectively, Foodie blogger, Leslie of Shoot First Eat Later, and travel blogger Gael of The Pinay Solo Backpacker. We communed with our families and friends and with delicious gastronomic treats at this luxurious room.

Crystal Lotus Restaurant brought our taste buds to a variety of Chinese dishes that we all happily took in.

stunningly gorgeous chandeliers

Now, let your eyes feast on the set meal we savored….you might need tissues to wipe your keyboard when you drooled! *kidding!* A glass of ice cold water beside you might be helpful. :D

If it’s Chinese, there must be Jasmine Tea.

We started our delicious dimsum lunch with Roasted Suckling Pig with Cucumber and Sweetened Paste in Steamed and Piggy Mask Buns…

Crisp and flavorful. I’m in heaven! ;-)

Family bonding comes in different packages. At this moment, it came with authentic Chinese cum Disney’s culinary. :P

 Next on the menu brought to our table was Disney Dim Sum Platter. Consisting of Three Little Pigs Barbecue Pork Bun, Little Green Men Pork and Vegetable Bun, Mickey’s Glutinous Seafood Pancake which Gabby liked so much! :D

Eating Dim Sum has never been this cute! :D  It took me several minutes to take them with chopsticks and bite, haha!

I see harmony in steam basket, haha! Then I gave these 2 cute buns a peaceful death via taking them in, LOL!

Pink ears or orange ones? Doesn’t matter, both are appetizingly delicious!

Then came Braised Seafood Soup with Crab Roe. This warm soup dish won my palate! Tina liked it too.

D.E.L.I.C.I.O.U.S

The meal got more interesting when the next dish was brought in. It’s called Wok Fried Chicken and Longan with Sweet Sour Sauce.

My palate is familiar with the fusion of pineapples and chicken meat in a dish but with longan, it must be fascinating! And it is!

With Wok-Fried Shrimps and Disney Root Vegetables, Disneyland and Crystal Lotus Restaurant really know how to make vegetables and seafoods appealing to kids. The dish to me is so impressive!

You know how some children have aversion to veggies and making the ingredients of this dish cut into Mickey Mouse’s gloves and head is pure brilliance!

Who says eating veggies is never fun?

Blessings continued to pour on our table with this golden crab dish…

This one really brought out the kid in me. I was in awe with the plating of this crab dish. Indeed, a crab plated in gold, hehe!

Flip the golden shell of this crustacean plate et voila…

Baked Tasmanian Crab Meat Fried Rice in Whole Crab Shell : Eating crab has never been this edgy!

And of course, a meal isn’t complete without a sweet ending. Crystal Lotus prepared and offered us Chilled “Mickey’s” Red Bean Honey Pudding and Chilled Mickey’s Green Tea Jelly. 

Gabby like these desserts and so did Tina. As for me, I like the fusion of textures and its light flavors.

Must take a detail shot… :D

Did I mention that we EACH received a full course meal? What Gabby cannot finish, Daddy Gelo’s there to rescue. hehehe! Immediately after our very first meal at Hong Kong Disneyland, I thought I gained a few more pounds! Who wouldn’t with such hearty Dim Sum lunch set?  :D

It’s not on a daily basis that we get to eat Disney-themed Dim Sum nor a crab dish on a golden crab shell and of course, not everyone is given the chance to have such indulgence in very sophisticated food place thus, Tina, Gabby and I are grateful for this great dining experience. THANK YOU, LORD FOR ALL OF YOUR BLESSINGS! THANK YOU, HONG KONG DISNEYLAND!

Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel : Such a Magical Dreamy Place!

After our sublime Oriental lunch at Crystal Lotus, we headed directly to the Hong Kong Disneyland Park via the resort’s shuttle bus. We got our fast passes to Space Mountain, Astro Blasters and The Adventure of Winnie the Pooh rides and tickets to the theme park for 2 days!  Excitement soared the highest! :D All that and a lot more in the part 2 of this blog series! Stay tuned! :D

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*for more information about Hong Kong Disneyland Park, Crystal Lotus Restaurant, Disney’s Hollywood Hotel and Disneyland Hotel, kindly visit the theme park website at http://park.hongkongdisneyland.com

This Blog Series Includes :

20
Feb
12

BACK TO HOMEBASE

And we’re back in Penang with so many wonderful and fun experiences from Hong Kong Disneyland.

Will prepare a blog series about it;  stay tuned!  *wink*

27
Aug
11

MY FAVORITE PHOTOS TO DATE

And so the weeklong break has come. We’re up to enjoy the Hari Raya (end of Ramadan) vacation from work (for Tina and I) and school (for Gabby) beginning today, 27th August until 4th September. I will take my wife & kid on Tuesday next week to a short trip in a neighboring Asian country for the very perstaym, but since it’s too early to pack our luggage and bags, we’re just happy to spend more time together for more than a week (repeat : no work, no school, yahoo!) and do things we’d like to do. 

De-stressing at home : As Tina’s busy preparing our meals, she also finds more time to play her favorite computer games. Gabby’s doing a cartoon marathon on TV (making me miss to watch one of the series I follow, The Amazing Race but that’s OK of course) while I go online to do a little research on our itinerary next week, making last-minute reservations and bookings (akala ko ba de-stressing?) and blogging and blog hopping in between.

I’m happy that a popular Filipino website called spot.ph featured few of my blog pictures of the Japanese restaurant back home called, Zensho, with, permission, proper credit and link to my post (back in 2009),  I was inspired to browse my photo files once more.

I chose to repost my favorite photos taken after I purchased my Nikon D7000 early this year. They may be far from your standards, but I’d like to share them again to you as my favorites to date as these captures simply make me smile when I browse them in files. Comments for improvements, particularly free tips on this hobby called photography (I consider it a big word for I am a neophyte with still so much to learn –blame my laziness to read the few photography books and magazines I acquired) will be appreciated. :)

And of course, my main reason for owning a camera is to capture moments with them with their precious smiles…

I don’t know of the technical aspects of photography yet but I like these pictures not only because of the subjects but the memories that come with them.

PS: I agree with what I have read before that “owning a DSLR doesn’t make you an instant blogger more so a photographer”.  My 2-cents-worth: It’s not really the camera that matters for it’s only a tool; it takes passion, talent and the will to learn new things for you to love and improve on these hobbies. :)

20
Feb
11

BMW = BE MY WIFE!

My 2 fellows at work and now, mentor & batchmate in this wonderful hobby called photography, had absolutely no idea that while we’re shooting these 2 BMW cars we found, parked opposite the facade of Plaza Gurney yesterday afternoon; I became a little nostalgic of  what my wife and I experienced 7 years ago.

I recalled neither Tina nor I had a chance to choose our wedding car since everything we availed was part of the hotel package. 

No regrets because Lady Luck was on our side during that “big day.” 

We were told then by the banquet manager that our supposed “bridal car” broke down and was, at the last minute, replaced by the Dusit Hotel Nikko with a Lincoln stretch limousine at no extra cost!

*all photos of our wedding were taken by Ariel Javelosa (click here  to view our album).

                 

Tina asked our costurera to do a custom-made bride-and-groom gears for the 2 teddy bears we bought in the mall; the same piece of cloth from her gown was used. So the bumper of the limo did not have flowers only but those cute little ones which were also brought to the table of the cake for display.

So long for wedding stories.

What matters most is what happens after the wedding…

I’m talking about MARRIAGE.  What were you thinking? :P 

toinks!

PS : How did you find my trying-hard-captures? Nonetheless, Alfonso (my toy D7000) and I had fun clicking those shots yesterday.

15
Feb
11

T’SAI SHEN TAU : 2ND OF 3 PART-SERIES

T’sai Shen Tau  means The God of Prosperity has arrived…

The event last weekend was part of the Chinese New Year celebration and to commemorate the inclusion of Georgetown, Penang in one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Cities.

In few cities I’ve been to –there are always a Chinese community and a Chinatown and Penang is not an exception.  Being one of the three races in this part of Malaysia (with Malays and Indians), the Chinese people are not to be disregarded. Whether in business, in schools, in malls or just about anywhere and everywhere, their presence is always felt.

On my seventh month of being an expat, it was my first time to experience Chinese New Year in Penang. The celebration stretches from February 3 to 17–or fifteen long days of fun and festivities.

Versatility is one of their strong characters.  They can be so reserved…

Or appear to be on top of the world…

Their concern to protect Mother Nature and giving importance to one’s roots were so apparent in the street tableaux…

 

back to the basics…

Even ‘lending a helping hand’ was depicted on the streets…

The Recycle-Reuse-Reduce echoed in the streets of Georgetown last weekend…

What fellow medical educators, Dr. Yambao & Dr. Carlo do for this hobby called photography...

And while my 2 companions were busy clicking their D7000, I didn’t let my chance to taste this Chinese Sharksfin soup pass… For RM 3 (PhP 42) it was thick and flavorful, enough to complete my delight.

Soon after my tummy’s warmed by that tasteful soup, I continued the experience of immersing myself to bits and pieces of Chinese lifestyle in Penang back in those early years…

There were young ladies who acted as vendors…

Sugar canes as one of their commodities…

Oriental pieces never fail to fascinate me…

Even the skies were decorated for the event.

No detail was overlooked…

Chinese decors are a real feast to the eyes…

And the vivid colors of their decors and ornaments are a reflection of their people…

Would you agree that they also have a natural thing for humor?  Check out this kid’s hair piece…

And when it drizzled, this couple didn’t mind putting on egg trays to cover their heads; how amusing!

The streets were geared for the occasion from afternoon…

to sun down…

“Nothing and no one can destroy the Chinese people. They are relentless survivors.” -Pearl Buck

Gong Xi Fa Cai!

————————————–o

13
Feb
11

T’SAI SHEN TAU : 1ST OF 3 PART-SERIES

12 February 2011. Saturday.   One of my housemate-colleagues and I left our penthouse in Butterworth, Penang at around 8:30 in the morning.  We rode the Rapid Penang bus to Jetty for about 10 minutes where we met one of our senior fellow medical educators who happens to be our inspiration, mentor and our driving force to pursue this hobby called photography.:D

At the jetty, we hopped on the ferry for that 12 minute ride and reached Georgetown, Pulau Pinang. We went to the camera shop where they bought their Nikon D7000 (I got mine 7 days ago from a different store) and took our quick bites for lunch after.

Our first plan was to go to Penang Hill and spend the day for photoshoot. But just before getting in another bus, I took the initiative to inquire from the dispatcher if the renovations in the funicular in that site were already done. The answer was negative so we decided to go take another route – Penang Butterfly farm.

But soon enough after we learned that Penang Butterfly farm’s entrance fee for adults doesn’t fit our budget (read : the 3 of us have Nikon D7000 but remain considerate of our pockets), we just took photos of some flying living things outside that park (which I will post in the succeeding parts of this series) and left after few hours.

Yet I enormously enjoyed the day despite the looong joy ride and dozing off episodes inside the bus. And what saved our day was my suggestion to go to Lebuh Chulia (Chulia Street) in Georgetown (near Jetty) where a cultural celebration was about to unfold.

Fortunately, I got a free Penang tourism magazine from the rack at the entrace of Butterfly Farm, browsed and learned about T’sai Shen Tau event.

T’SAI SHEN TAU  means

The God of Prosperity has arrived.

The iN Penang tourism magazine excerpts :

“Just as “Jingle Bells filled the air during Yuletide, the sound of  drums and cymbals and the tune, T’sai Shen Tau (The God of Prosperity has arrived) takes over the Chinese community gears up for the fifteen day-long Chinese New Year celebration.

On the 12 February, the CNY & Cultural Heritage Celebration organized by the Clan Association Youth Committee is not to be missed. The event is initiated by the Penang Clan Council and the State Government to Celebrate  Georgetown’s UNESCO listing as a World Heritage City.  From 3:30PM to midnight, there will be a series of cultural events that showcase Chinese history, culture and arts. Huge crowds are expected to throng the enclave comprising Chulia Street, Armenian Street, Soo Hong Lane, Ah Qyee Street, Acheen Street, Cannon Street, Kampong Kolan and Jalan Kapitang Keling.”

Hence, we arrived in Chulia Street at past 4 in the afternoon and witnessed a  burst of diversity.  Remember, Penang is composed of 3 major races –(in no particular order)

Malays, Indians and Chinese…

Three races. 

Three colors. 

Three tongues.

One City.

One Nation.

Here are some of my captures from the streets and cultural shows that motivated me more to learn the skill and appreciate the hobby.

FYI, Most, if not all Indian women here in Penang wear their Sari proudly on a daily basis.

“The wise man belongs to all  countries, for the home of a great soul is the whole world.”  –Democritus

 

 

 

to be continued….

 ———————————————-o

09
Feb
11

WATZUP, DOC?

We’re only half way through the week but I felt I have done so much of both unimportant and essential things.  I have been quite preoccupied with several things that were good enough to slightly diminished my boredom and homesickness.   

Work has been busier lately with the incoming lectures in Anatomy-Physiology; coupled with its Laboratory or Practicals and Tutorials for PreMed; an almost endless everyday-meetings with my colleagues and bosses but I am not complaining. Despite of the paper works and powerpoint presentations that go with it, I am grateful for so many things the past weeks and could not entertain to think any negative thoughts.

There’s still that nightly Skype with Tina and Gabby, regular preparation of my baon (cooked foods + fruits) to work, ironing my work wear, washing laundry and dishes –things that an expat do on a daily basis. Nakakapagod din minsan! Talaga naman!

But who would not be excited if you know you’ll be reunited with your family in 38 days and counting?  Just last night, I took out my credit card (again!) and purchased airfare tickets via online reservations at Cebu Pacific (MLA-KUL) and Air Asia (KUL-PEN) for Tina and Gabby. 

They’ll be coming over with 20 kg of luggage each on March 19. Yeeha! They’ll be here with me in Penang for at least we (Tina and I) have contracts with our employers. (FYI, Tina nailed a 1-year renewable contract with Penang Adventist Hospital during her 2-week December break here but she still has to wait for the release of her Malaysian Nursing Council Registration before she can start exploring the Operating Room).

Remember, AMANDA ,my violin?  We’ve started playing music together for the very first time as I’ve started my weekly beginners’ class with her. Ang saya, during the one-hour session, I’ve relived my rondalia days when I was in Grade 4 playing banduria with my schoolmates.

And tomorrow, I’ll bring my other toy baby,  ALFONSO to work to try to capture some scenes and whatnot. I still have to exert efforts in reading its manual, online forum on photography and ask anyone who cares to share their expert opinion about getting started on DSLR photography to a newbie like me.

I’m in love with my camera and violin.

I have started watching a TV series of a psycho killer named DEXTER via downloaded episodes online copied directly to my external drive from my colleague-friends. They’re at Season 5 already, I just started with Season 3 Episode 1 this afternoon and to think that there are 12 episodes per season, there are more to catch up with them.

At this early, I am thinking things like transferring to a new condo for rent at the Island on or before August –this means, I and Tina have to be ready with at least RM3000 (xPhP 14) for the 2 months advance, 1 month deposit plus budget for things to buy like the basics of urban living.  And then there’s Gabby’s education here.  I’m planning with Tina’s approval, to enrol him first to piano lessons (Gabby prefers it than violin) on April then scout with them an  appropriate school for our kid. I think we can enlist him on or before January intake here; at least we have the resources by that time; I hope. *crossed fingers*

I also have other financial and family problems that are not supposed to be discussed publicly. Oops, did I just mention it?

I try not to dwell on problems that I cannot handle alone. I’d better be busy with something more fun and productive.

I still wish to spend a whole day sleeping in my bed, thinking of nothing. I am so weak to do it!

And you?

How’s life treating you lately, if  I may ask?

—————————————-o

07
Feb
11

TAKIPSILIM

And so immiediately after I arrived from work this Monday afternoon, my new toy  baby,  Alfonso (read : my very first DSLR which I only got last Saturday) and I started making fun moments at  the back of our condo where the baywalk promenade is.  I brought him and admired the glorious sunset in Butterworth and had my very first MANUAL mode shots.   

Here are they in the raw. All taken at around 7PM (dusk falls in Butterowrth at 8PM, FYI). Comments and constructive criticisms are most welcome; just be sweet OK? :D

Like any other beginner, I am a work in progress. 

Like a child who has started to learn how to walk, I know I’ll get by gradually.

It’ll take time to grasp the craft but what’s important now is that I have already taken the very first step. :P

06
Feb
11

ALFONSO

Although I felt short of our 4-day paid holiday here in Penang to celebrate Chinese New Year, simply because there are more places to explore and things to do,  I am still thankful for all the blessings – big and small.

The coming days will be more fruitful, I know. 

You remember, my violin, Amanda, right?

Beginning this Wednesday at 6:30pm to 7:30pm and every Wednesday thereafter, I and some 3 colleague-friends will learn the basics of violin in a Chinese Music School in Jalan Raja Uda, Butterworth.

Then, learning new things never stops.

Just last Saturday at Jalan Penang, Georgetown, I was accompanied by one of our friendliest senior-colleagues who’s into photography since I was 2 years old and a housemate-colleague who, like me, wants to learn and enjoy DSLR photography, to scout for a good buy of a camera. 

Meet my new toy baby, next to Amanda, third to Gabby, here’s Alfonso…  

Reading its manual and gradually going thru the basics is like learning how to read when I was 6. 

I’m extremely excited to acquire the skills, little by little.  I know it’ll be more than fun because when I showed Alfonso for the very first time to Tina and Gabby over skype, my son had his hands clapping with smiles from ear to ear. 

He cheered like, “Yehey, may camera na kami!  Wow, ang ganda!”

Those moments are the things you cannot buy; they’re absolutely priceless!

I hope with Amanda and Alfonso, my homesickness and boredom will diminish soon.

Thank God for all this bliss.  :D

————————————————–o

PS : Amanda and Alfonso are the names we (Tina and I) have in mind if and when we’ll have future kids next to Antonio Gabriel.

The 2 photos above were the first shots from Alfonso using automatic mode. I will try my best to learn how to operate him manually and all the modes he has… I wish you’ll see improvements soon.




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