Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Gigantic Jakarta!

Last Friday night we arrived in Jakarta for a short 2 night visit.

On Saturday morning, we visited the Mangga Dua shopping area. The taxi dropped us in fornt of ITC Mangga Dua. I didn't really get to enjoy the visit because soon after we arrived I started getting a terrible headache that lasted until late at night.

I didn't feel that I miss much because it was never my intention to shop in Jakarta. We are here to visit the place and meet another of my CICC-friends, Yudi, who works with Oracle in Jakarta.

We had lunch at a nearby food court. It was simple but filling.

Soon, we went back to our hotel, Raddin Ancol, which is situated inside the Ancol Theme Park.
My headache was so unbearable that I opted to stay in the hotel room while DH, Aina and Nubli went to visit the nearby SeaWorld.

The following morning (Sunday), we checked out at 10 am. Soon Yudi arrived with his missus, Lies, and their kids Andhika and Putri. We did a quick round of the park and stopped at a beach to buy some toys.

Then we headed for downtown Jakarta. I am not good at narrating the journey, so I will leave it to DH. Please click here and here.

We visited a few landmarks of Jakarta before we headed to the Jati Negara Market to get some souvenirs.

After lunch, we went to the Taman Mini Indonesia Indah. I was really fascinated by the size (it is really huge that you have to drive to get from one "region" to another). We only managed to visit some of the houses. Personally I think I need a good full day to be able to visit all the various houses (from various regions of Indonesia Archipelago) and the various museums that they have there!!

Yudi later took us to Carrefour Tamini (taman Mini Indonesia) to get some "layered cakes" and also to get some caps embroidered with our names.

Yudi did a lot for us that day. Finally he sent us to the airport. By then, Andhika was much more friendlier with me :-)

We took the 8.30pmk flight home. We only reached home just before 2am the following morning(i.e. yesterday morning)!!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Happy New Lunar Year!!

Though belated, I would still like to wish my Chinese friends a very prospherous New Year!!

My special thoughts go to to Hiep ang Binh in Hanoi, Liang in Beijing, Ellen in Nanjing and Sovan in Dubai. I bet it's not easy for Sovan to be so far away from from his family (in Phnom Penh).

Even though I met Liang in 2005, I've yet to see her little baby (who is by now not so little anymore).

Ellen is one person I miss a lot. We've not net since we departed in September 2004 at Narita Airport. She's also busy with her own bundle of joy.

Every new Lunar Year will remind me of my old Chinese friends. Though they may not be many but they surely mean a great deal to me. Chua Siew Hong who was my dormmate for 3 years!, Fung Seng Onn who lent me his expensive Canon AE-1 when we were in form 4 and 5, Lo Fui Meng (Miri) and the 3 boys from Penang Free who were good matriculation friends in Adelaide.

I also hope all my former Chinese teachers had a great New Year celeberation too. I can still recall those from primary school : Mrs Lee Sek Hong and Mr Lee (Math 1970). Secondary school: Mr Toh Ah Huat (Integerated Science 1975), Mr Lye Kim Yong, Mr Lee Soon Ching and Mr Lim Seong Pek.

My fellow collegues from my SMTeknik Ipoh days: Mrs Lee Chee Lian, Mrs Cheah, Mrs Su and the guys who I can't recall their names but they certainly stay in my memories as helpful friends who made my early years of teaching more tolerable and meaningful.

Ah yeah... from my SMTeknik Kuala Lumpur days: Miss Tan SH who guide me a lot in the Mathematics teaching.

My UiTM friends (see if I can remeber them..): Lai Choo, Madam Lee (who's now Dr Lee in UM), arghh..... my memory is failing..... :-(

My PRIME College days: There are so many of them. Among them are Datin Kee (who gave me her trust to work there), my mentor/boss/friend Kee E-Lene (whose HP no has since disappeared from my phone book, no thanks to my lousy Samsung HP), Melina Yong, Dr Ngoh (who's now in UM), Mrs Lee, Mis Tan, Cindy, Madam Kay, and many others. Though my stint in Prime was only 1 year, I mostly enjoyed it there. I still remember the pot lucks we had and the lunch breaks that we shared...

And last but not least, my newly found Chinese friends at SAHMs e-group who are all over the globe.

And I wonder why our leaders now want to talk about Muhibbah (integeration)?? We've been doing it for decades with no political motive what so ever.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Hiep of Hanoi

Mr Hiep is one of my acquaintances from my Tokyo (7-week) stint in 2004. He lives in Hanoi.

Last October 2006, when I went to Hanoi I managed to meet him up with his missus, together with Mr Binh & family. Read here and here for our blog on the trip.

Last Saturday DH and I went to fetch Mr Hiep (Pham Quoc Hiep) and his friend who was staying in Vistana Hotel, KL. They checked out earlier in the morning.
[Mr Hiep was here for an Open Source Training co-organised by CICC, Japan and MNCC). This was his second visit to KL. His first was last year when he attended the OSS Seminar, also organised by CICC, Japan. Due to some unavoidable circumstances, we didn't get to meet then..]
Putrajaya Mosque
Me and Hiep

Initially, we planned to take them to S Alam followed by a quick trip to Putrajaya (lunch at Souk), before we send them to KLIA for their 3.30pm departure. However, Mr Hiep, being very techie (he visited Akihabara almost daily while we were in Tokyo!), would like to be taken to an IT shopping Center.

So, by 11.30 we found ourselves browsing the many shops (many were just about to open!) in Low Yat Plaza. Both Mr Hiep and his friend, Son enjoyed the visit so much that we ended up overshooting the time limit!! I think it was worth it as both of them managed to get some bargain purchases before we rushed to the car to head for KLIA.

On the way to the airport, we managed to make a couple of brief stop-overs in Putrajaya for the mandatory photo session :-)
Unfortunately, we had to forgo the lunch that DH and I planned for them, since we were really rushing to get to the airport in time.

Palace of Justice
me, Hiep and Son (not Hiep's son!) in front of Palace of Justice

Rushing back to the car!!

Mr Hiep, if you are reading this, I hope we will meet again, and not in a so rushing manner!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Faisal, Miri, Mulu and Meor.. (part 2)

With DH (Dearest Hubby) on Canada Hill, overlooking THE Miri City!

On Sunday, we arrived at the Mulu airport (to catch our flight to Miri) much earlier than we should, so we ended up doing some people-watching. Not much really, since the airport was hardly filled with people. A flight bound for Kota Kinabalu arrived to "collect" some passengers. I said "collect" since I didn't see any passenger coming out of the arrival hall!!

DH talked to some of the policemen on duty there. Apparently these officers are actually based in Miri, and they take turn to come for duty in Mulu!! They said the same arrangement is made for the immigration and custom officers!

We arrived in Miri at about 1.30pm - as scheduled. Meor was already waiting for us. We were free for a few hours as our flight back to KL was scheduled at 7pm so we've already contacted Meor to "take care of us" during the transit time :-)

Meor is attached to Shell Miri. He was among my first batch of students when I started working in 1986 as a teacher in Ipoh. Meor is married to my (mum-in-law) MIL's neighbour's grand-child. She is simply known to us as "Kak". Kak cooked a very sumptous lunch for us.

After lunch, Meor and family (minus his two girls who had to go for their Tae-Kwan-do's lesson) took us round Miri. We also visited the site of the first oil well, up the Canada Hill.

At 5pm, we came back to Meor's house for prayer. Then we stopped by at the airport to check-in and get our boarding passes. We then went to a house near the airport to meet up another x-student of mine who used to be Meor's classmate. Earlier when Meor mentioned Ab Halim, I could not recall him. But when Meor mentioned his nickname when in school i.e. "Nan", immediately his face came into my head!! Nan is now a chopper pilot with MHS, based in Miri.

It was a very pleasant surprise to meet Nan and family. We were so engrossed in updating each other that we almost forgot to take any pix!! Nan is also into bonsai and shell-collecting. He has all sorts of bonsai around the compound - some of which had won him recognitions in bonsai competitions!
With Mahani (Mrs Nan), Nan, Meor & daughter and Aina

Nan, me and Meor

At Nan's, we had mee kari and bihun (for early dinner?). When we left his house to go to the airport (which is only 5 mins away) we were really full. We arrived at the airport just in time to board the plane - we actually walked straight into the plane- no waiting in the departure lounge! We were just short of having our names called out!!

And in the plan,e Aina and I had to cancel our plan to have Nasi Lemak - we were just too full!!

Our plane landed at LCCT 10 mins ahead of time - not bad.... 3 weeks ago when we were flying back from Kota Kinabalu, our plane was 20 minutes earlier!! now.. who said "air Asia selalu lambat" (Air asia is always late)???

Faisal, Miri, Mulu, Meor and Nan... (part 1)

Note the people on the bottom left hand side of the pix??? So tiny... And yet the whole chamber could not be captured by the lens. This is inside the Deer cave, and NOT the biggest chamber than I mention in this blog!

It's almost a week now since I flew to Miri en route to Mulu (took the morning flight last Friday morning). Time really flies when we are so busy catching up with chores. Sigh...

The trip to Mulu National Park was short and sweet. We were there by 2pm Friday, and left Mulu on Sunday on a 12.30 noon flight to Miri.

As usual, I don't think I have the time to elaborate, so you may want to read about the trip here.

I didn't think much about the flight from KL to Miri. Just the night before I was struggling to get the exam papers ready, and mailed to UNISEL. I had late nights for several nights already, so during the KL-Miri flight I tried to do some catching up on my sleep. Just minutes before the plane was ready to descend, I made my way to the loo. Since it was occupied, I had to stand in alley. That was when the Air Asia engineer (who was sitting in the last row) greeted me: "puan Cikgu ke?" (Are you a teacher?). I responded: " Dulu lah.." (used to be). Soon I found out that the chap was Ahmad Faizal, my former student from Sek men Teknik Ipoh! We managed to catch up with some news. Soon after the plane landed, we were the last to leave the plane, as I was still engrossed in the chat with him. (and the surprise did not end there)..

I'd leave the description of our stay in Mulu National Park to DH..

In short, the 3.5km walk that we made that Friday afternoon to go to the Bat Spotting site, just outside the Deer Cave was really worthwhile!! Hundreds of thousands of them flew out of the cave that they look like black smoke coming out!

On Saturday, we took a boat ride to the other 2 Mulu caves i.e. Clear Water Cave and Cave of the Wind. On the way we stopped over at a Penan Village - we visited their market, where you can get all sorts of the local handicrafts. Aina was happy to be able to purchase some rattan bangles!!

The tour of the caves was fantastic!!!

We came bakc to the park about noon. soon at 2.30pm, we assembled in front of the park's main office, to join the guided tour to Deer Cave and its neighbouring Lang's Cave. Yes, we walked the 3.5km again, to the bat spotting corner. The penetrable Deer Cave is 800 m long and Lang's Cave is 200m. Simple arithmetic will tell you that to go into the caves and out alone took us 2 km!

No picture can actually do justice to what can be discovered and seen in all the 4 caves in Mulu. However DH tried his best to capture some really nice spots and angles.

On the way out of the cave, we were caught in heavy rain!! Rain in the middle of the rain forest? yeah..sure...
When the rain subsided, we decided to walk back to the park's HQ (where our room was). Half way through the rain decided to fall again!! So, with no where to stop, we just walked on and soon we were soaking wet. But, alas, it was fresh rain (non-acidic, not like in Klang Valley!)...

The following morning we decided to take it easy (after having done over 20 km of walking in less than 48 hours earlier). WE visited the park's info centre which is very attractive as well as informative. Do you know that Mulu Caves are home to the longest cave passage and also the biggest cave chamber in the world???? No wonder it's been chosen by UNESCO to be a World Heritage Site!!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Datin Rosilah and frens

Last Saturday morning, I met up with Datin Rosilah Said (simply Silah to me) , K Huda, Yusri and Yuh at Hotel UiTM for buffet breakfast. Apart from Silah (who actually owns a house in Bkt Saga, but lives in Kuantan), the rest reside in Shah Alam.

Silah, K Huda and Yusri were classmates (Beta, Class of 1978) while Yuh was from Alpha of 1978. We had a great time together, trying to catch up with some lost times. We were there from 8.30am until the cafe closed their buffet session at 10.30 :-)
Even after Silah paid the bill, we actually stayed on for quite a while.

For a nice ambience, and value for money (abt RM10 nett per head), Hotel UiTM is indeed a good choice for such meet.

If you wonder why I (class of 1979) was there.... well... I was the 'broker' of the meet ;-)

Before I forget, on behalf of the others, I'd like to thank Silah for the treat.
Terima kasih daun keladi.