Medan Trip (2017) AKA Palah’s Best Friends Trip

BY Palah Chingu

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31/3/2017 ( Bad Luck and Uncertainty)

One of my dreams that I managed to accomplish is to bring all my best friends in a trip together. Aside from the original ‘3 chinguz’ as stated in the wordpress consists of Ruby and Fatma, I’ve another 3 bestfriends (Min, Ika and Jib) whereby I met them during my bachelor and master degree study. The trip was impossible at first but we made it happen. We encountered so many challenges. I swear to God, I was pissed off. Our flights got cancelled a day before and Air Asia did nothing except emailing us the cancellation in the middle of the night. Besides, Min was already having a bad feeling over this trip as she missed the bus to Kuala Lumpur in the first place. She’s a bit superstitious over certain things and she’s not wrong though, we got the cancellation notification that night. Ika and I were worried that we may detain at immigration due to our student loan issue (PTPTN). There are so many cases of PTPTN borrowers failed to pay back their loan and blacklisting them from going overseas is one of the methods used by the institution to ensure the debt is paid. I just quit my job at that time and my loan was overdue for 3 months. Ika, on the other hands, just started paying it back after she got a stable job. In addition to that,  Jibah suffered diarrhea and she’s not yet recovered from it.

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1/4/2017 (From Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to Medan, Indonesia)

Air Asia did bring us to our destination but their customer service is so frustrating. The care line for call is only for certain flights and in order to get another flight, we had to contact them via a live chat. I don’t really sleep that night especially after reading that our flight got cancelled last minute. I woke up early that morning and try contacting them using the live chat right away. Internet connection has been testing my patience past few days and on that fucking morning, it began again. Jibah and I tried to contact it until one of us get through Air Asia. After one hour, we managed to reschedule the flight and the trip was back on. I was spamming the shit out of Air Asia Facebook Page for their unprofessionalism (I knew I was being petty but man that feels good though). We didn’t inform Ruby regarding the cancellation but it was funny on how ruby found out about it. It was indeed chaotic morning and fatma called her sister to rant about this shit. Her sister then posted it on facebook and since we already knew each other for more than 9 years, we do add each other certain family members. Ruby read the post and felt pity about the cancelled flight and realized it in a split second that was ours. We regroup back in Jibah’s house and get ready to go to KLIA 2. I was feeling uneasy but in my mind (if I did get detain), my plan is to stay back in KL for few days and return to Johor right away. We were satisfied with the replacement flight as all of us got hot seats so thank you Air Asia for that. We arrived at Medan Airport around 6.30.

 

There’s another setback I face right away after landed. I was so excited that we’re finally made it there safely so I took a few pictures. I forgot that immigration area is a no go area for photograph. I got called out and my passport was taken by immigration officer. The funny thing that I was so afraid I got detained in Malaysia’s immigration office but I didn’t but when in Medan, I got held up. The officer was so harsh and the treatment I got with other tourists was so different truth be told; maybe because they are Caucasians and I am Asian. As an Asian, I did recognize that we do have the symptom of idolizing white people. I don’t want to prolong this matter so I apologized few times saying I was overexcited and the rules skipped over my head. He was not satisfied with that answer if I was to be honest but he let me go with a warning. My mood was spoiled a bit due to that situation. We bought a sim card so that it’s easier to use GrabCar Service. We used GrabCar Service to our hotel right away. The night was approaching and all of us were so tired. We faced so many things on the first day and we just want to have dinner and sleep afterwards. We stayed at Hotel Kesawan for 4 nights in Medan. The hotel was okay (it was old hotel and they have all basic facilities) if you were to go out whole day and only come back just to sleep. Some people might be a little picky about where they are going to spend their night but luckily, all my best friends were not really fussy about it.

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Medan Kualanamu International Airport (Inside)
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Medan Kualanamu International Airport (outside)
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Finally arrived at Hotel Kesawan, Medan 🙂

2/4/2017 (2nd Day in Medan, Indonesia)

 Penangkaran Buaya Asam Kumbang

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Penangkaran Buaya Asam Kumbang

We found out that our actual ‘supir’ outsource the service to another ‘supir’ and we ended up being hauled to the place that we didn’t even want to go. Heed my warning, if you go to medan, make sure that you will not facing this kind of experience. Besides, if you’re using ‘supir’ or tourist guide when you are traveling to Indonesia, make sure to be firm with them regarding your list of destinations. They get a big tip by the owner if they bring tourists to their place. This park is not in our itinerary at all. We felt angry when he brought us here. All of us already discussed before doing our itinerary. We said no to any animal’s park because we can’t bear to see they are being confined in a small space and can’t even move their body. To cut short, this is horrible experience so don’t go there. The entrance fee was so expensive and the place is not very well maintained.

 Velangkani Medan

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Velangkani Church By Fatma

This is a beautiful church. If you are in medan, put it in a must visit list. The architecture of this place is heavily influence of Hinduism and Catholicism. It was so colorful. There is no mass when we arrived as it was Sunday. That’s a relief so no awkwardness to walk around and enter the church. The interior is breathtaking. Some ceilings and walls of the church are filled with bible scripture. I do want to point out that they refer God as ALLAH. It’s similar to us in Islam. Meanwhile in Malaysia, certain group of Muslim is fighting to ensure only Muslims can use ALLAH word. We never visit church in Malaysia and not we that we don’t want to but coming from a very conservative Malay Muslim society, it was too controversial. The close proximity of Islam and Christian religion shared made it hard to do so. We did visit Buddhist and Hindu temples but never had we got to visit church. We did visit this place so we guess we can cross visit the church off from our list.

Istana Maimun Sultan Deli

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Sunday is not the right day to visit this palace. It was packed and you can’t even appreciate its exterior beauty and interior design. There are traditional performance held outside Istana Maimun and you can sit there just to enjoy it (they prepared few seats for tourists). You can even try the traditional malay attire as there are few businesses cater for it is set up in the palace. If you go there during weekend, there is high probability you may see many couples poses and take pictures in the attire.

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Ayam Penyet Cendelaras Station (Lunch)

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We had delicious ‘Ayam Penyet’ here. If you’re nearby, don’t skip this restaurant.

Museum Negeri Propinsi Sumatera Utara

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If you’re museum goers and love history, we suggested spending for about an hour here. They covered many historical aspects in Indonesia. The place is big but some of the section, they didn’t turn on the AC so prepared to be drenched in sweat like we did.

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Vihara Gunung Timur

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It’s the largest Chinese Taoism temple in the middle of Medan. The temple design is made to face Babura River as Chinese believe it will bring a good luck. Our trip did need a lot of luck at that time for sure so we stopped by. Haha. This temple consists of 80 deities and considered as one of the famous historical sites in Medan. Don’t skip this temple because it has magnificent exterior design.

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Tjong A fie Mansion

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This place is so close with our hotel. This mansion belongs to a Hakka merchant name Tjong A fie. He was a very successful businessman and a very rich man in Medan long time ago. This mansion is an embodiment of his wealth, family and history. We have a tour guide while visiting the mansion and he told us the history of Tjong A fie . The mansion is spacious and filled with lots of antiques that has been preserved for tourism purpose.

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Restoran Tip Top Medan (Dinner)

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The food was okay but it’s a bit overpriced. We saw high ratings given by past customers and decided to try it. Their homemade ice cream is delicious though but this is strictly my opinion as some of my friends hated it.

3/4/2017 (Third Day in Medan, Indonesia)

Maha Vihara Maitreya / Vihara Cemara Asri Medan

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It is referred as Vihara Cemara Asri because it is located in a housing complex of Cemara Asri. This Buddhist temple has a huge hall for praying.  We spotted 3 big statues in the hall. We strolled around the complex for about an hour before we resume our journey. In a nutshell, this temple has beautiful garden, captivating paintings on the wall and spectacular statues is displayed at certain parts of the temple.

Kolam Bangau Cemara Asri

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This was not in our itinerary. We passed by the lake accidentally and decided to stop by. The lake is enormous. I’m sure this lake specifically for Egrets / Storks as I couldn’t spot any other species at all. They can fly and come back whenever they want. At the end of the lake, there’s a birdhouse for pigeon nearby the lake.

Masjid Raya Al Osmani (Old Mosque)

IMG20170403111851This is an old mosque and it was built in 1854. The structure of the mosque originally only using wood material but it has been going through several restorations. However the original architecture remains. The Combination of green and color make it look radiant from distance away and beautiful up close. We took time to gaze the beauty of an old design and wandering around the mosque. Its 20 km from Medan City but since we came from Vihara Cemara Asri, the journey was quite far. The road condition didn’t really help so this is not a smooth journey to begin with. However, you could see the Medan countryside. One trend that cannot be ignored is there are many small mosques hidden away among the houses. You can see it while staring at window while enjoying the journey.

Barkah Rumah Makan (Lunch)

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This is quite delicious lunch. All the dishes served here is a traditional Medan dishes.

Museum Perjuangan TNI

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We don’t know how to describe our experience in this museum. We wanted to explore and read it by ourselves but we got invited to the briefing room. We sat in the room for about 1 hour and listened to one uncle dissing our asses for not knowing our roots and ancestors. I can’t speak for all of us because Min did not enjoy that at all but I thought it was hilarious. We managed to do a short trip to each section in the museum. This musem is a reminder of how Indonesian army fought against imperialism and the journey to independence. There are lots of antique collections in this museum to commemorate the past.  If you are a history enthusiast, visiting this museum is a must (but you better decline the invitation to be in the briefing room).

  • Kapak Bukan Sebarang Kapak,
  • Kapak Membelah Kayu,
  • Orang Batak Menjadi Melayu.

– By Random Uncle at TNI Museum

Masjid Raya Medan Al-Mashun

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This mosque was completed in 1909 and one of the oldest mosques in Medan. If you can seen in the picture is that the mosque has an octagonal shape and has wings to the south, east, north and west. That’s what makes the building unique in architectural aspects. The influence of Morocco, Turkey and Middle Eastern style can be seen on the building itself. What a stunning Mosque!

Wajir Seafood (Dinner)

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Delicious, cheap and fast was how our dinner went that day which is pretty rare for a restaurant. Unfortunately, only Fatma, Ruby and I went to have dinner there. The rest were exhausted and decided not to join.

4/4/2017 (Fourth Day in Medan, Indonesia)

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In order to reach Lake Toba, we began the journey around 7.30 am. We arrived there approximately around 12.30 pm so it took us about 5 hours. When we are planning this trip, we contacted ‘Supir Ridu’ to book for his driving service. Only on the 4th day of our trip, we managed to meet him. He is an easygoing and kind guy which is one of the reasons people recommended him. If you choose to use his service, be aware that he loves to bring tourists around Lake Toba and Brastagi area only. We are a bit disappointed as he asked other ‘supir’ to drive us around on second and third day of the trip because we choose to explore Medan city first before heading to the Lake Toba.

Gereja Katolik St. Fransiskus Asisi Berastagi

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We can’t enter the church unfortunately. It was closed at that time. We just admired the design and architecture from the outside. It is heavily influence with Batak Karo cultures and heritages which is why it is so unique looking. Batak Karo is a name of the tribe of local people who lives around the area.

 Lake Toba

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I will let the picture speaks for itself. What a beautiful lake!

– Seafood Restaurant Nearby Lake Toba (Lunch)

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Lunch on that day was an A plus ; it has fresh seafood, great lake scenery and of course, my amazing friends.

Sipisopiso Waterfall

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One of the spectacular waterfalls I’ve ever seen in my life. In order to reach the waterfall, we have to climb down more than 600 stairs (correct me if I’m wrong) just to reach the place. The thing is climbing down was easy though you have to be extra careful on the cracked and steep stairs. The problem was at that time we are not sure whether we had stamina on climbing up back 600 stairs. Min, Fatma and I agreed that we’re going to do about 150 stairs only which is a quarter of the journey. Ika and Ruby planned that they were going to do for about 300-400 stairs while Jibah decided just to stay back. You can still see the view of Sipisopiso Waterfall from above actually but I wanted to see a close up just a little bit. It was worth it. I almost died climbing up but it was so beautiful.

Brastagi Small Town (Having a coffee break)

We only stopped by solely for a Coffee Break in Brastagi Town. We don’t have time to tour around as we’re rushing to arrive at Medan city before 8.00 pm. I don’t even have time to take picture around the town. If you’re planning to go to Medan, make sure you spend the night around Brastagi or Lake toba. That’s the only regret we had as we’re not doing extensive research while planning this trip. Most people who came here spent 2 days in Medan City and 2 days in Brastagi/Lake Toba.

Wajir Seafood (Dinner)

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We came back for a second time together with our supir. Again, the service is top notch and the food is incredible. Fourth day of our trip was fun but exhausting.

5/4/2017 (Last Day in Medan, Indonesia)

Pajak Ikan Medan

I’m having flu that morning so I didn’t join the rest to do some shopping. The price at the market is not that cheap compared to Bandung. Besides, there are always some people following you asking you to buy their things even though you already say that you don’t want it. Please be extra careful as they could be a little harsh and extra pushy.

Pt Gramedia (Book store)

A security is tightened around the mall. We had to go through scanners before entering the mall. That’s the first time for us actually. In Malaysia, we only did that at the airport. Pt Gramedia is quite big. Of course, we’re overjoyed. To be honest, We’re not that familiar with Indonesian Literature but who the hell cares. We bought few books and heading back to hotel by grab car.

Off to Medan Airport

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Our flight supposed to take off around 7.30 pm but of course (classic Air Asia) our flight got delayed. We waited for about 3 hours until the plane arrived. The journey was a nightmare. The weather is so bad. This added to a list of unfortunate events we encountered in this trip. Are we that unlucky? Should I say am I that unlucky? I mean life always find a way to fuck me up somehow so I kinda used to have one bad moment at least every day. However, my best friends didn’t really deserve this. The turbulence occurred for about 10 minutes. Certain passenger in the flight didn’t help much though as they get panicked and said prayer loudly in the situation. I don’t mind the prayer but the way they chanted it loudly rendered others felt uncomfortable. It was scary. I held min’s thigh and forgot that my grip was strong. Of course after that flight, I got mocked by min for being a scaredy cat. Well, I fear death. The trip officially over after we dine at Old Town Restaurant for some midnight snacks. We still got shook over the turbulence incident after we landed in Kuala Lumpur safely but still grateful that we made it safely.

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Side Note :

  • Credit to Jibah and Fatma (some of the photos in this review are taken from them)
  • Pocket Money for the trip is well spent (despite having miscalculation of tourists entrance fees and failed to include parking fees for every place that we visit)
  • If you are planning to come to Medan, find a hotel that includes breakfast. You are saving time as you dont have to go far to find meal in the morning.
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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