Bintulu, Miri and Bandar Seri Begawan Trip (2016).

By Palah Chingu

“I take a picture, but it’s not about who is in the picture or the background of it. It’s about the memories and meanings it holds.” 

Kayla Davis

Date : 3 November – 7 November 2016.

Destination : Kuala Lumpur -> Bintulu ->  Miri -> Brunei -> Miri – > Bintulu -> Kuala Lumpur

*(this time we brought along other chinguzzzzz to join)*

GUA NIAH, SARAWAK

A freaking long walk is a must before we finally made it to Niah Cave. I almost died twice. This is why you should exercise, people. Once you arrived there, the feeling is indescribable. Along the journey, be prepared to immerse in magnificent view of forest and river (and cricket’s sounds too)

CHINESE TEMPLE BINTULU, SARAWAK

Not really in the plan of place we want to visit, but what the hell, right? An enormous temple, i must say and it is well preserved. It is so beautiful and peaceful at the same time. Be sure to drop by if you are around.

KAMPONG AYER, BRUNEI

The first place we visited when we reached Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei. The boat took us around for about 30 – 40 minutes just to see around Kampong Ayer (Water Village if its translated in english). This is one of the main attractions if you are in Brunei. Brunei currently building the bridge to connect the people who lived there with their mainland. The school, mosque and even cafe are all built on the water. The boat ride is surely enjoyable (for me) but i’m not sure about the rest. LOL

We Nerds love history. Hence, a trip to museum is an obligation. We visited some museums, centre and mausoleum in Brunei. We also drop by to the only  chinese temple in brunei (if i’m not mistaken, forgive me if i’m wrong). The location, unfortunately is all over the place. We literally driving around and got lost too many times to find the museum . No camera is allowed at most of the places we go thus enjoy the picture of us at the entrance only.

(Side Note : No entrance fee to all of these places).

– Brunei Technology Museum

– Brunei History Centre

–  Brunei Maritime Museum

-Teng Yun Temple

– Raja Ayang Mausoleum

SULTAN OMAR ALI SAIFUDDIN MOSQUE

If you are driving around Bandar Seri Begawan, you cant miss the grand view of this mosque. During Night, the lights all around the mosque just enhance the architecture and structure of this worship place. Its just mesmerizing.

TUSAN BEACH, SARAWAK

We intend to come here and wait until the ocean glows (there are planktons presence detected that can make the ocean lights up in blue color). Unfortunately, none of us had the stamina to wait after long hours of driving and staying in car. The beach is pretty much hidden. Fatma is a hell of a driver. Driving there is quite challenging with the road condition and the absent of light, lets just say it doesnt make things easier. However, the sunset view was unforgettable.

TANJUNG BINTULU BEACH

Last stop before we went back to Kuala Lumpur is this beach. It is incomparable to  Tusan Beach but anything with amazing view is worth seeing.

 Side Notes on the trip :

Do not go to Brunei on Friday. They shut down all the business from 12.00 pm – 2.00 pm. We are so hungry that we even chase the delivery guy thinking that his restaurant might open at that time. Of course not, silly. ALL BUSINESS is OFF for 2 hours. What we do for 2 hours? We played ‘Jutaria’ game. (We didnt do the research properly, thats why we stranded  there for 2 hours without food. They put all operations on hold  for 2 hours due to Friday Prayers).

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Long hours of Driving means a lot of sleeping in the car. A LOT.

However, Fatma (The driver for this whole trip) and i (a good company, obviously, duhh) are really enjoying this long driving (well, what else can we do?)

TOO MANY PHOTOS (SORRY GUYS)

I’ll be back with more reviews on other trips that we threechinguz did. Adios!

Short Getaway to Kuala Sepetang, Perak

by Ruby Gege

All hail the weekends, people! Palah and I decided that for our second weekend getaway, we would go to Kuala Sepetang. Where the hell is that? You may ask. Trust me, I asked the same question two years ago. Hahaha.

Kuala Sepetang is a small town 16 km away from Taiping. It is not much of a town, really, but a highly-functional fishing village. It used to be quite busy as a mining area and was formerly known as Port Weld (fancy name, eh?) It is known for its great seafood, fishing village that looked pretty much the same since Merdeka days and its riverside tourism (boat ride, eagle-sighting, dolphin sighting (if you’re lucky) and some fireflies stuff, too). Since I am not a fan of nature, my purpose was mainly to enjoy the scenery and fresh air, aside from going to the Matang Museum and Mangrove Forest walk.

The drive from Kuala Lumpur to Kuala Sepetang can be quite tiring. Thus, Palah and I (joined by our master nappers, Jeep and Fatin) decided to stop by Ipoh and spent the first night at Palah’s family home. We headed to Kuala Sepetang the next day, which took us about one hour.

The first place we went was Kedai Makan Yut Sun, a superb kopitiam in Taiping. For the past 2 years, I have been having an intense love affair with this establishment. We orded the best food to have there – kaya and butter bread, chicken chop with rice, Roti Seremban and kuey tiow. The coffee there, I tell you, is one of the best coffee in Malaysia.

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Palah looking absolutely serious and Fatin choosing what to eat.

Afterwards, we headed to Matang Museum, which is situated between Taiping and Kuala Sepetang. Rich in history, it tells the history of a powerful Malay nobleman, Ngah Ibrahim, who ruled Larut (together with Matang and Selama, the districts had Taiping as their capital). During his rule, chaos reigned as the Larut Wars were happening between the clan of Hai San and Ghee Hin, two Chinese secret society based in Malaya during that time. Come the intervention of the Perak Sultanate and the British colonial government, somehow Ngah Ibrahim found himself punished for opposing the British rule. A complex history at that time, to be sure.

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Matang Museum, also known as Kota Ngah Ibrahim

The building itself is beautifuuuul! The fort surrounding the building is actually the original fort of Ngah Ibrahim’s mansion. The house is also quite intact. When we went in, the officers of the museum were quiet but cordial to us. The exhibitions in the museum are also praiseworthy. They have different sections – the different types of miners (Chinese and Malay), the Japanese rule, the replica of offices of Malay noblemen and British officers. Aside from that, the museum also offers lots of knowledge about important historical figures that our mainstream society has seem to have forgotten about.

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Jeep smiling with the vintage background. Looks like a painting, does it not? The wall, I mean, not Jeep.

The outer side of the museum, of course, is highly Instagram-ish. It is a good thing that they did not alter or renovate the paint so much that the building retains a nostalgic and historical feel.

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Where art thou, Captain Speedy? Here’s to me fantasizing myself as a Malay princess 200 years ago, and Jeep ignoring my antics.

A few hundred metres from the main building is the house of Captain Speedy, who was Ngah Ibrahim’s officer. Sadly, though, the building is not open for visitors so we could only get to take a picture outside the house.

Then, off we went to Kuala Sepetang. The first place we stopped by is the Mangrove Forest Reserve. Since I am not much of nature’s lover, I’ll just say this to you – it is quite an amazing place for you to take a nice long walk. In the forest. Literally. Surrounded by a gazillion trees. Palah went cray cray with her love for greeneries. Haha. According to Palah, the Mangrove Forest here was actually declared as the best mangrove forest reserve in the world! Not bad, Malaysia, not bad. Sometimes, the country does make me proud!

There is also a small jetty at the end of our walk. We rested by the jetty for a while. Palah embodied her role as a serious inspiring photographer, taking a picture of what-not.

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After spending some time there, we went to have lunch at the famous Mee Udang Mak Jah. The mee udang there is soooo delicious! It is spicy, soupy and has lots and lots of fresh prawns.

After lunch, we went to our hotel, the Happy 8 Retreat, which is right by the river. It is a nice place to stay, though can be quite tiring as it has no elevator and our room is on the (God forbid) 3rd FLOOR! So, lots of climbing for us fat people! The staffs are quite helpful and friendly, most of them seem to be local people. We took a nap, rested and basically enjoyed our beds and air-conditioner. However, if you guys are serious coffee or tea drinkers like me, I would suggest that you bring your own supply of beverages since they don’t supply it a lot there (like… only one packet of instant coffee for each room).

Finally, after resting and before dinner, we went on a boat ride! I can’t really remember the name of the boat service company (Palah does, so you guys can ask her) but it is situated not more than three shoplots away from our hotel. After our phone call, she came to pick us up right away and took us to the boat. Imagine, only four of us and the aunty and the boat driver and the aunty’s son. The boat ride cost us RM 80 but it is totally worth it. We get to see the fishing village in more details! The houses in each side of the village – the one by the river and the other side which is literally… houses on the river… like… floating).

Come the next day, we did not do much. We rested all morning and drove to Ipoh to visit our friend, Ika. She is teaching English at a centre there and we lepak-ed at Plan B, this high-end food chain from KL. I am so surprised to see how Ipoh has changed in some certain parts. People are trying to be more hipster (kinda like Penang) and that annoyed us a bit. Of course, the food, though, is still alright.

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Jeep and Fatin, possibly over-whelmed by the over-hipsterness of Ipoh…

Of course, we would not want to leave Ipoh without going to a museum. First, we went to the Darul Ridzuan Museum but left extremely disappointed as most sections of the museum were closed for renovation. Determined to never give up, we googled and finally found Ho Yan Hor Museum. The outer look of the museum is very pleasing – blue in colour and homey-like. We did not know what the museum exhibits but the staffs there are extremely hospitable and friendly. Ho Yan Hor is a really famous herbal tea brand in Malaysia created by a pharmacist/tabib/healer decades ago. Due to his hard work, he managed to spread the fame of the tea nation-wide.

After saying goodbye to Ika, we then returned, quite reluctantly, to Kuala Lumpur. The short trip to Perak was short indeed. But it was lovely as hell. So guys, if you are looking for a place to visit which does not require lots of planning or money to be spent, we think Kuala Sepetang is the place for you. If you have more days to spare, you can actually stop by many townships on your way there ie Kuala Kangsar and Teluk Intan as well. I’m sure they have lots of interesting things to offer there as well.

That’s all for now! Bye bye!

 

 

 

 

 

 

TAIPING – The Small Paradise, A Great Piece of Heritage

BY RUBY GEGE

I’ve been feeling quite down lately mainly because I’m having a hard time adjusting to my work life. Thus, I woke up last Thursday with a great feeling of distress and desire to escape KL for a while. I texted Palah and asked her whether or not she’ll be free this weekend. She instantly replied, “if you are thinking of coming here, just come lah!!”

So I did. I told myself – what the hell. It’s a three hour drive but I’m sure I’ll reach Taiping in two hours and half. Fuck long hours at work on a Friday. Fuck the exhaustion. Fuck everything. I am going to visit my best friend in Taiping to make myself happy. So I did. I woke up that Friday, feeling so pumped up and could not wait for the day to be over. I left office at 8 pm and drove straight to Taiping, reaching there at almost 11 pm. It was quite an easy drive and the traffic was clear. 

After spending two days here, I have to say Taiping is a lovely town with a rich heritage values with old pre-colonial buildings almost everywhere. Palah is living with Ika, another friend of mind, who is a native of Taiping. The town is a pretty much a quiet town, almost dying in a sense with ruined buildings here and there. Yet, it felt amazingly calm and peaceful to be there – a feeling I can never experience in KL. Ouh, my dislike towards that city is unfortunately increasing day by day…

Saturday morning, we had breakfast in Restoran Yut Sun, a nice kopitiam with great white coffees and breakfast menu. 

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Then, we visited the Perak Museum. Even though it is not as big as Penang Museum, the building has a very beautiful colonial infrastructure. 

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Afterwards, we visited the First Galleria, a private museum exhibiting all the ‘FIRSTS’ things in Taiping. Taiping, which means ‘Everlasting Peace’ in Mandarin, was the centre of tin mining in Malaysia. A lot of facilities were built here in Malaysia ie the railway station, the post office and others. We had a very nice and passionate tour guide, who is also a student, Rais to explain to us the history of Taiping.

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Then we had dinner at Taiping Mall and watched Annabelle. I had no idea why I agreed but it was fun, anyway.

Sunday, we had breakfast at a bakery (because all kopitiams were closed on Sunday. I was soooo sad!!) Afterwards, we went to Antong Coffee Factory, which was the first coffee mill to ever be built in Malaysia. The sisters there are very very nice and offered us free coffees. 

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BUT my favourite place to visit has to be the historical house which was located inside the factory compound. It used to be resided by the father of modern China, Dr Sun Yat Sen and his second wife, Chen Cui Fen. I honestly did not know that the factory houses a massive historical piece of Dr Sun and was literally gawking as I saw the signboard with Sun Yat Sen’s picture on it. Being a fan of Chinese history, I could not help but to turn a little crazy and over excited. The uncle who works there is super nice and allows us in to take photos!!

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Then, we went to the Lake Garden. One friend of mine suggested I visit the place, telling me that a visit to Taiping would not be complete without seeing the beautiful Lake Garden. I am so glad I listened to her advice. 

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It is 3.48 pm now and I am about to leave Taiping, feeling tremendously satisfied and happy yet a little bit melancholic.

Why? 

Perhaps because I am growing increasingly unhappy in KL. It’s too crowded, too materialistic, too money-centred. Everybody is so intense, everybody is so crazy, everybody is trying to achieve something. I did want to run away for a while. Coming to Taiping, it gave me everything my heart has been seeking for. A small town that reminds me of my happy childhood in Kuala Krai and Bentong. A small town that reminds me that life does not revolve around money, success and stability all the time. Most importantly, I get to meet my best friend!! Hahaha, because really, life without the physical presence of your best friends near you is so so so ultimately depressing. Dear Fatma, how I hope she can join us one day and the three can go visit the beautiful small towns in Malaysia!!!

Bye bye Taiping!! I have a strong feeling I’ll be meeting you again soon!! *hahaha maybe next month??*

FOR MORE PHOTOS OF MY TAIPING VISIT, GO TO THIS LINK! Hehehehe – https://www.facebook.com/ruby.jusoh/media_set?set=a.10205333369920319.1073741842.1430351623&type=

and Palah also has a lot of gorgeous Taiping photos in her Facebook as well – https://www.facebook.com/mrs.athrunzala/media_set?set=a.10204806687148244.1073741845.1270314211&type=1

P/S – I really have to get the extremely negative thoughts out of my head. They have been keeping my spirit down to the point I feel like escaping KL every single day and go live with my friends. I have to be positive positive positive!! (I am mumbling here so that I can actually try to absorb this fucking advice!) Work for just a few more months and prepare my PhD proposal at the same time… I believe I can do it!!!!!!! But maybe, just maybe, to survive, little escapades to small towns like Taiping is a necessity… Hahaha

Hong Kong : I’ll Never Forget You :)

By The Gorgeous Palah Chingu

Ruby, Fatma and I have our own version of interest and hobby. It’s usually different and not overlapping at all with each other. For instance, Ruby wanted to be a writer for a long time. Only god knows where she hides all her writing works. Fatma is aspiring to be a write. She already had an idea and just waiting for a right time to let the pen move. I myself, however, did not see myself in writing field at all. I love reading, that is no doubt about that but me as writer, there is no way in hell it could happen. First of all, my writing sucks. That’s a fact. I have no creative mind whatsoever. Second, if somebody does a proofreading on my work, he/she may advise me to retake a grammar class. I knew my grammar sometimes could raise your eye brows to the sky, but hey English is not my native language. Duh-Doy (I usually use this excuse because I don’t have any other excuse).

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Travelling is among other things that all of us love and would like to do it together one day. We did plan to go to Bangkok this year but since the Riot happened, we postponed the plan. Choosing a country where we all wanted to go also could be a problem. Ruby already declared her unbeatable love to India meaning to say that one of the countries chinguz have to visit is India. Fatma, on the other hands, wanted to explore Europe and Eastern Asia countries like South Korea and Japan. I myself wanted to go to middle-eastern countries like Afghanistan, Morocco, Turkey and Palestine. Maybe I would do a solo journey going to Palestine and Afghanistan but Turkey and Morocco, Chinguz can’t say No to me. Anyway, on 4-7 March 2014, I went to Hong Kong with a close friend of mine from USM. We both did our master degree in September 2012 at USM. We’ve been a roommate for a year and eventually graduated together on September 2013. I still remember how I wish I didn’t get a LAME roommate during my first day at USM. By my own definition on ‘LAME’ person means over-religious, busybody kind of people, a very silent person, a person who always talk about his significant other and a fucking cheapskate. It turns out my roommate Najibah did not possess any of LAME quality that I highlighted in the above sentence. We’ve been a close friend ever since we met. Going to Hong Kong is like one of the random decisions I’ve ever made. I love traveling but Hong Kong is not on my list of places I wanted to go.

Arrive at the HK Airport with style.
Arrive at the HK Airport with style.

We bought a flight ticket in January 2014 and planned everything ahead of schedule like where we wanted to go and where can we get a Halal food. Actually, it is not really ‘we’ because I did nothing. Thanks to Najibah and her friend, Izzah who prepared everything before we arrived to Hong Kong. When we landed at Hong Kong, first thing I regretted is how foolish I am for not bringing any sweater, shoes and socks there. My mother did nag me about it and ask me to pack a sweater but let just say I am a stubborn daughter.  I regretted my decision for not listening to my mother right after we landed there. It’s fucking 15 Celsius degree there. I know some of you say that’s normal but where I came from that’s not normal. That freaking cold (especially if you didn’t bring any sweater with you).

Jib and I freestyling in front of the Disneyland Entrance.
Jib and I freestyling in front of the Disneyland Entrance.
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We Met Buzz Lightyear!!
With Minnie Mouse ;)
With Minnie Mouse 😉

I make do with what I had. I wore like freaking 4 layers of clothes just to keep me warm. There are 5 places we visited at Hong Kong which are the Avenue of Stars, Disneyland Hong Kong, Ocean Park Hong Kong, The Peak Tram and Ngong Ping 360 (where you can see the Big Buddha yourself). I wish we could go to many places but let’s just be honest, 4 days is too short. We missed on visiting the Art Museum Hong Kong, Madame Tussauds Wax Museum and Ladies Market. If Any Malaysian is planning on going to Hong Kong this year, hey RM 2000 is enough for the budget. I used RM 1000 for Plane ticket and Hotel accommodation. Another RM 1000 is for your spending there (you will pay for the Disneyland, ocean park and all of that ticket to the place you wanted to go) but trust me, it is more than enough. Since Hong Kong is not really famous destination among Muslim tourists, it is a bit difficult to find a Halal food restaurant.There are some of the restaurants that offers Halal Food (google it if you wanted the list of Halal restaurant in HK) but we have to take a long journey to arrive there. Due to that, we ate at Halal Food Restaurant only for lunch and we ate Ramen Cup/Maggi Cup or white bread we brought from Malaysia for dinner.

Admiralty MTR station

Underground MTR station

We stayed at YesInn Hotel near the Fortress Hill area. It is pretty strategic area actually considering it is close to MTR station. It is very convenient to us to go to many places in Hong Kong. We bought or ‘rent’ the Octopus Card at the airport on the day we arrived there. Octopus Card is similar to Touch N Go Card that we had here in Malaysia. You have to reload it and you can use it pretty much everywhere. I know some of us would like to use cheap transportation in Hong Kong and may conceive the idea that MTR is much affordable than taxi. In Malaysia, KTM is way much cheaper than Taxi because our taxi did not use their freaking meter. In Hong Kong, MTR cost and Taxi Cost is pretty much similar. However, you better use taxi when there are 3 or 4 of you. It’s just convenient for me (maybe because I hate walking). The perks of using MTR there is they are faster, comfortable and you don’t have to wait like half an hour for the next available train to come. For me, MTR and Taxi did not differ much; the cost is pretty much the same.

Yesinn Hotel

YesInn Hotel is not a fancy 5 star Hotel. We slept there because the building is in the middle of town, accessible with bus route and MTR route. The room is not that big. We have 1 bunk bed and 1 extra sliding bed. It is comfortable enough for us because we are only using it during night. Since this is cheap hotel, there is no thermostat in the room. You can’t control the temperature in the room. The temperature outside the hotel will be similar in the hotel’s room (maybe slightly less cold but still cold). We bear the cold with a very thick blanket and socks. We have access to Hot water for morning shower but we have to wait every half an hour so that water can take time to reheat again. It may not perfect for some of you but I think it’s good enough for us (especially the price we paid for the hotel is not that much). Hong Kong Airport is just awesome. Their WIFI is so fast that you can watch youtube video there without any buffering. They had cinema in their airport. Can you imagine having a cinema at LCCT and KLIA? It would be awesome if we had it too.

Muslim Tourist might encounter the problem like finding the prayer room in certain places in HK. HK airport provides prayer room for Muslim Tourists but they didn’t do partition for men and women in that prayer room. We can’t blame them though because they don’t know. For famous places like Disneyland and Ocean Park, asking the customer service counter might be a wise decision. They will show the rest room where it can be use for prayer. All you have to do is ask. I don’t know whether we’re not lucky enough or we’re asked the wrong person there. Every single time we asked any people in HK about the direction, they seem snobbish and unfriendly. I don’t want to assume that all people in HK are like that but we face the experience of being yelled at and being dismissed right away. I would like to assume we are just bunch of bad luck tourists who asked the wrong persons. Those that worked at Disneyland and Ocean park, they are friendly and warm people (maybe it is part of their job and they get paid for doing so). Overall, going to Hong Kong is such an amazing experience. I would never forget it because I use my own money to pay for everything for the first time. It is also my first time going to the oversea without any parents’ protection, rule and restriction.  I also went there with my best friend. What more could I ask, right?

Overall, for this Hong Kong trip:

My Rating: 4/5

1) Famous Places: 4/5

2) Public Transportation: 5/5

3) Accommodation: 3.5/5

4) Food: 2/5

5) People: 2.5/5