Monday, December 19, 2005

From Papua and on to France....

Kinda tired after the 12 hours trip back from Papua and now that I have to pack and buy stuffs for my trip to France, I don't have the time to touch up and upload my Papua photos. Guess those would have to go up together with the photos from France once I get back. See ya!

Incredible view of clouds before landing at Papua. Found out later that these puffy clouds would be the source of heavy downpours in the late afternoons and nights.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Off for the next 2 weeks....and then more

I would be gone for the next 2 weeks to a new location...not that it would make much difference since I don't update this blog that often. But this would be different in the sense that I should get a lot of picture snapping opportunity. Below are the places that I could be at....

However, after reading about La Idler from, I come to realize that these frequent trips in planes with questionable maintenance records can be a real hazard. What happens to an avid blogger in the time when death isn't a question of when and how you think "dang! I wish I could blog about this..." or "I have so many friends I have not met let alone say goodbye to...". What happens to a blog when someone passes on? I realized that most of us blog without our family members knowing about it. Would we now like to put it in our will so that they have something to remember us by..."And to my favourite nephew, I now leave you Surprise! blog! "

Ujong Pasir....sometime in 1989

This photo was taken, if I am not mistaken, sometime in 1989. Pre-digital camera era. It was taken in Ujong Pasir, Malacca at the water front between Seaview Garden and Taman Aman.

Why am I putting this here? It's because the view is no longer there. A few years after this picture is taken, the sea around this area was reclaimed. I do not know how much is left of the area from the original site....must go back and take a reference shot in the future...or better still, anyone from this area care to shoot a pic for me? From the photos, you can also see the jetty that is situated at the Portugese settlement....don't know whether that jetty still exists too.

Luckily my mum had the foresight to frame this photo for me. Can't find the negative anymore. The orignal has richer colour.

The Regency, Plaza Hotel - Bintulu (15th - 19th November 2005)

You know the place isn't too exciting when you see this in the state's website:

...Public Library as a Hotspot!!? On page 1??

The bad thing about the trip was the previous hotel that I stayed in (Everly ParkCity which I rate as above average), was fully booked and I have to settle for the RM145 per night (incl. breakfast) room at The Regency. The worse thing was that they ran out of non-smoking rooms and this room reeks of tobacco's like there was a permanent smoker in the room. Thankfully the room is large and I could crank up the aircond to "remove" the smell. I don't know whether the smell actually got less or my nose adapted to it...

Anyway, the hotel has a very minimalist approach to it's operation. You can see from the picture the basin area is in white plastic and looks like a hospital.

And this is the view at the vent near the entrance...yup it's lighted up there and you can see the pipings all very clearly. The maintenance crew must be delighted.

The view outside the window is.....

What's on tv...astro espn sport, one movie channel and some local channels. Content is nothing to shout about but the picture quality is terrible. A bit of twisting of the cable behind the box improved the quality but still dissapointing.

Urrghh and there is also no proper chair only a stool...that is about to break one of it's leg. Ok, so it's a make-up table....

And there was no in-room broadband....which was pretty much expected at this point. Though there were suppose to have wifi connection in the smoke filled lobby, it only worked for one night that I was there the whole time. And the 1515 calls weren't cheap. I raked up close to RM100 for the duration of my stay.

To it's credit, the hotel is located smack in the middle of town compared to the other hotel, so eating out is easy and cheap. There are lots of food stalls around the hotel and also a pasar malam one street away. Walk 2 blocks away is the river and the market but I didn't have the time and it got dark quite early here (as compared to Peninsular Malaysia) so there any opportunity to explore the place.

There were also two complementary bottles of water, replenished daily. Nothing fancy, just some RO water that was sourced from Lembaga Air Kuching :)

Forgot to take my camera out most of the time so no town pictures this time around.

Taxi from airport to hotel is approx. RM30 and the ticket can be purchased from the counter.

The road from the new Bintulu airport to the city has been completed and it's a nice ride into town. Last year, parts of it were still un-tarred and quite a rocky ride.

Great place to get black/white pepper from the market or any of the sundry shops.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

San Antonio, Riverwalk 1st - 7th October 2005 (Part II)

The Riverwalk, a wonderful place to kick back and relaxs. There are various eateries and pubs and the weather was just right for my trip. You get clean side walks and since it is located one level below the street you don't get the intrusive hustle and bustle of the outside world. And to think this place was designed and built sometime around 1941....

On my last morning, I decided to get up earlier to enjoy an early morning on the Riverwalk. There was a slight drizzle and the temperature was around 15'C. The cold morning walk was invigorating. It was rather quiet with only a few people out and about. Some workers were only cleaning up their shops in preparation for a new day. Walked to the mall for some breakfast - more bacons in wraps and hot coffee ;)

Anyway, enjoy the photos...if you have to visit San Antonio in Texas, don't miss this place.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

La Mansion del Rio Hotel, San Antonio, 1st - 7th October 2005

This is a great hotel in a building that looks like it has a very long history. It has this very warm atmosphere and the service and personnels are great. Highly recommended staying here for a relaxing holiday and with the Riverwalk at the rear entrance (more about that later), it's a real treat.

There's broadband internet connection at USD10 per 24 hours (3pm till next day 3pm).

Look at the picture above, on the left....they even have a coffee maker! Paradise :)

Great toiletries too.

Shot from the corridor...the door to the rooms are from the other side.

It was raining when this photo was taken so the pool was kinda empty. Anyway the cold moved in on my last day and the temperature was around 15'C.

LA to San Antonio via Salt Lake City - 1st October 2005

After "staying" overnight at LAX, I managed to check-in at 5am and prompty headed towards the gates. However I was marked for a thorough screening with body checks and all. Little did they know I was only too keen to take my shoes off after more than 24 hours!

With that done, I headed for McD's for my breakfast and waited for my 9am Delta flight.

Good deed of the day: Notified the 2 asian women who were chatting away without realizing that she has dropped her passport.

Pictures taken on the flight towards Salt Lake City.

Below is a photo taken at the Salt Lake City airport.
Below are pictures taken on the flight from Salt Lake City to San Antonio. Look at the fantastic landscape! Right out of National Geographic. Unfortunately I was so tired I decided to get some shut eye.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

LAX - Tom Bradley Terminal, Los Angeles - 1st October 2005

After staying overnight at the airport, I got checked in at 5am had McDs for breakfast and patiently waited for the flight out with a novel in hand.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

LAX - Tom Bradley Terminal, Los Angeles - 1st October 2005

Tom Bradley Terminal

Arrived from KLIA via Taipei. Unfortunately for me, since this is my first visit since my visa was made in 2002, I was taken to another office to fill in some forms before they process my entry. Luckily for me, my connection flight was 12 hours away.

The MAS personnel was kind enough to locate me (must not be the first time, since a few stewards and pilots were also in the same office) and take my luggage tag to bring my luggage to the office.

A picture of me at the Tom Bradley arrival terminal

So after going through immigrations and then customs (was not checked), I was left with 12 hours to spend at the airport. Pushed my way all the way to Building #5 for my Delta connection but they told me that I can't check my bags in because it's too early. So I was left with my bag and it was almost 7pm so I can't probably go on a tour of LA.

I was hungry but there were no cafeteria or restaurant at the Delta terminal, so I walked all the way to Tom Bradley again to get some sandwiches. Managed to get some sleep and in between, read the novel that I brought with me....

OK, kinda tired now. Would blog more at a later time.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Petronas Twin Towers Sky Bridge

Had to bring two overseas customer sight seeing in KL and where did we go to....Petronas Twin Towers. Since we arrived around 11am, I thought it would be a good idea visit the Sky Bridge. The tickets were free so we headed to the counter (Go in through the main entry of the Philharmonic Orchestra, turn left and there would be an escalator going down on the right). Luckily for us, there are still tickets left for the 2:30pm tour.

After some shopping and lunch, we headed for the tour. You could actually go earlier so that you could watch the documentary played in the theatherette. If you arrive just on time, you don't actually have time to watch the full documentary before they herd you out for the tour.

All visitors have to go through a metal detector and have their bags scanned. Shopping bags would be tagged and kept by security. A guide then herded us into an elevator and within half a minute we were on the 41st floor (if I am not mistaken). We were allowed to wander about and take photos for 10 minutes after a short briefing by the guide.

Found it quite an interesting place to go if you are at the tower and have some free time since the tickets are free. But I found out that one of my customer was afraid of height when we tried to take his photo!

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Vistana Hotel - 27/9/05

Vistana Hotel, Penang Island

Short 2 days trip to Penang and I thought that I would give Vistana a try. Arrived around midnight and the check in was done very quickly and without fuss eventhough I was also checking-in 2 other overseas customers.

For RM130++ the rooms are big but the amenities are very basic. The only things they provide are the coffee making offers and toilet stuffs. The bed were big and comfortable and tv channels had Astro channels.

Very dissapointed that there were no broadband in the room. Probably because I had been travelling overseas for too often but then again, this is Penang, a developed island with lots of business travellers. I asked about dialup in the room and I was given a number. Didn't work cause the call kept going towards the receptionist. So I spoke to the receiptionist, and it turned out that I have to "enable" dial out for my room phone. Tried dial up again but still could not login and after a bit of fiddling, turned out that they have given me dial-in number and not would just be 1515.

Breakfast was not part of the package and is RM15 per person but it's very basic.

If you need to take a taxi, advised to grab one outside the hotel (if you know your way and the rates) cause the "taxis" or limos provided by the hotel are very expensive.

Generally, I won't come back here unless if it's for personal holidays and checking emails are not necessary. There is TMNet Hotspot in the lobby but the lobby isn't very large and at night you would see a lot of other travellers there with their notebook. I prefer the privacy of my room.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Back to the Philippines II

Back to the Philippines 21/8 to 26/8/2005

While waiting for the flight to Manila. This isn’t one of the flights I look forward to because it’s always on a small 737 that doesn’t have any personal in-flight entertainment and can be quite a bumpy in this typhoon season. The overcast sky doesn’t enhance the mood either.

Upon arrival at the Ninoy Aquino International airport, I decided to make use of Shangri-La’s transport service to get to the hotel. In my first trip, I had taken the normal taxi and that cost me about 400Peso. This time, it is going to cost me USD25 but I felt much safer. Upon informing arriving at the waiting room, I was ushered to a sofa and given a choice of mineral water or tea/coffee and my room reservation was confirmed. After awhile, the brand new Camry (if I remember correctly) pulled alongside the room and I was on my way. The picture of the Jeepney above was taken in the comfort of the limo.

For those who haven’t been to the Philippines, let me first say that it’s a very nice place to visit and the people are very friendly. However, their security situation forced the government and most private enterprise to put in place tight security checks. As an example, before being allowed to drive into the lobby area, all cars are checked for bombs by 2 guards using mirrors to inspect the bottom of the car. There are also the K-9 units you can see at the back of the car, checking the boot.

Upon unloading the luggage at the entrance of the lobby, another K-9 unit is there to sniff the luggage. Most hand carried bags would also be searched. All the checks may seem to be inconvenient but it is always done with a smile and by very courteous guards – you really cannot get angry with them for doing their jobs,

View from my room. You can see Manila is a very developed place, and this view is just a tiny slice of the metro Manila skyline.

In a repeat of my first visit, they tried asking me to upgrade to another room because they are short of non-smoking rooms. I wanted to tell them for making the same mistake twice but I held my tongue since they were courteous about it – I later found out that they were undergoing some renovations. Anyway after some calls, I got my non-smoking room but without the fruit basket. I think they just cleaned out that room. I was further disappointed they did not put the basket there during the subsequent days I was there – ok, I normally would not make a big fuss about it but I do miss the mangoes : (

The study table. Nice, big, well lit and plugs that comes with adaptors for internation visitors – cool. Of course paid broadband as well.

Absolut Vodka – Time to PARTY !!!

Ok so it’s not a 1L or even a 700ml bottle of Absolut, but little bottles of liquor that’s part of the rooms, mini-bar.

Philippines Kentucky Fried Chicken in GREAT!!

Ok, KFC here is great compared to Malaysia. If anyone from KFC Holdings is reading this, please follow the recipe of the Philippines. Let’s be honest, the best part of the chicken is in the fried skin….cause beneath it is the same white chicken meat. I normally get bored after the 2nd chicken and that’s where the side dishes come in to keep the interest in the food. But here in Philippines, the chicken comes with the gravy that is used as the topping of the mash potatoes. For take away, it comes in a small container. It’s totally unhealthy and incredibly delicious. Just pour or dip your chicken in it and munch away. And when the skin has been eaten away, just put more of the gravy on the chicken and ……. Burp! I already know what I would be taking away the next time I am in the Philippines :)

//sorry no KFC pics. Would do that the next time I am there. Too finger licking good I forgot to snap any photos.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

New Element Discover

New Element Discovered
Investigators at a major research institution have discovered the heaviest element known to science. This startling new discovery has been tentatively named Administratium (Ad).
"This new element has no protons or electrons, thus having an atomic number of zero. It does, however, have 1 neutron, 125 assistant neutrons, 75 vice-neutrons and 111 assistant vice-neutrons, giving it an atomic mass of 312."
"These 312 particles are held together by a force called morons, which are surrounded by vast quantities of lepton-like particles called peons."
"Since it has no electrons, Administratium is inert. However, it can be detected as it impedes every reaction with which it comes into contact."
"According to the discoverers, a minute amount of Administratium causes one reaction to take over four days to complete when it would normally take less than a second. Administratium has a normal half-life of approximately three years; it does not decay but instead undergoes a reorganization in which a portion of the assistant neutrons, vice-neutrons and assistant vice-neutrons exchange places."
"In fact, Administratium sample's mass will actually increase over time, since with each reorganization some of the morons inevitably become neutrons, forming new isotopes. This characteristic of moron promotion leads some scientists to speculate that Administratium is formed whenever morons reach a certain quantity in concentration. This hypothetical quantity is referred to as the 'Critical Morass.'"
Source: page 7, Volume VIII, No. 3 of John McCaughey's Energy Perspective

p/s: This is a gem that I can’t help but share it.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Taipei | Highness Hotel Linkou | 07/08/2005 - Review

The Highness Hotel (Hua Hsia) is at a great location if you need to get to the science park located nearby. It's located opposite a hospital, in an area of medium scale commercial area. There are lots of eating places, and fast food restaurants are within walking distance. Supermarkets are located at almost every block, otherwise there's always 7-11. However, it isn't very close to Taipei, so if you want to be in the middle of action, this isn't the place to be.

I arrived just the day after the Matsa typhoon and it was raining the next day - eventhough it was a Sunday, I decided not to get wet just for a walkaround.

The room, as you can see is decorated with Chinese style furniture. At night, the room is too dim for my likinig, and the light above the study table doesn't help much. The bed and pillows provided are just adequate, not really very comfortable. Sun rise is at 6am so, couple that with the uncomfortable pillows, I was really tired at the end of my trip.

However it does come with unlimited broadband connection at no extra charges. And there are over 100 tv channels to choose from. I found that the HK Cantonese movies dubbed into Mandarin in Taiwan is actually quite entertaining - it didn't loose much of the originality and the voices doesn't seemed realistic. If you have watched the dubbed movies in Malaysia or Singapore, you would understand what I meant.

Breakfast was so-so. Since they start early, by the time I go downstairs at 0830, much of the food has been depleted. However, I was there for a week, so I basically managed to sample all of them. Coffee was the worst I had come across. It's so thin, you could see the cup - something like very dark tea!

Due to the fully booked flights, I could only fly back on Sunday. Again, there was a storm brewing in the south and I was adviced not to go sightseeing on Saturday just in case I get caught in the rain there I was in the hotel watching tv and snacking away.

OK, I guess if you have to come to this area, it would be for business and on that basis, it's good enough. Otherwise, there are better hotels to unwind.


Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Taipei | Highness Hotel Linkou | 07/08/2005

Current Location: N 25'03.7 E121'21.8

Seems that all the flights between KL and Taipei was fully booked. So I had to take a flight on Saturday with a stopover at Kota Kinabalu.

This is the view at KLIA. Try to spot the EVA airliner through the haze.

The second picture is taken during the brief stopover at Kota Kinabalu airport.

This hotel is actually located in Linkou. Will blog about it later. Now is time to hit the sack.