Mataking Island day trip

Azure sky, sapphire and crystal water are the adjectives one can describe the Mataking Island, an island paradise off the shore of Semporna, the mainland town on the east coast of Sabah. Sprawling with the other islands of Bohaydulong, Pandanan and Kalapuan at the Celebes Sea, it is less than 45 minutes boat ride from Semporna jetty.

This was a short vacation for me after attending my sister’s wedding in Tawau. A day trip to the island for a non-diver like me is always fun, though it was such a waste because the island is a well-known diving haven.

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Marine police were seen patrolling the coast, it seems security has been beefed up since the recent intrusion and kidnapping cases. It is hollow thinking to say that Sabah is not safe just because of the recent events.

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The boat ride to Mataking was nothing but scenic and the water ripple reminds me of what I get to see only on wallpapers. So does the rest of the photos I took at the island with my Nokia Lumia 1020.

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First 5,000 KM with Toyota Vios

Cars are tricky beasts because, the decision to own one is often not one of economics as public transportation is limited, in Kuala Lumpur at least. Earlier this year I got myself an upgrade from my 10-year old Kelisa to the new Vios. The compact car was a gift from my parents for me to maneuver my way through university days, which I then continue using in my working life.

So what do the fuel consumption of the new Vios look like? While I’ve tried searching for the fuel economy for the model, the effort has led to much disappointment. Okay, except for this guy who blog about his car services cost.

My 4-month old car has just passed the 5,000 km mark!

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The main reasons I opted for the Vios are its reliability, maintenance and resale value. Few of my friends who own a Toyota tell me that I can never go wrong with a Toyota.

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An evening stroll at KLCC Park

I work in the city but live in the suburb, mainly because I prefer the greener pasture to the urban jungle. Though I love the convenience of the city but the sky soaring property prices is a set back. The city where I work lacks public parks, there are only a few parks within the city centre, namely – KLCC park (20 hectare), Bukit Nanas forest reserve (10.5 hectare), Perdana Botanical Garden (91.6 hectare), and Titiwangsa park (46 hectare). For comparison, Sydney’s Royal Botanic Gardens has an area of 30 hectare while New York’s Central Park has an area of 341 hectare and sits smack in the middle of Manhattan!

Few days ago I had to send my newly bought jacket to Ruth’s Alteration in Suria KLCC. Most of the alteration shops I went to did not want to accept my request to shorten the jacket from the shoulder. Damn working buttons preventing alteration to be done on the sleeves. I am giving Ruth’s a try, hopefully the alteration at the shoulder will be perfect.

Then I took a walk at the park.

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The Petronas Twin Towers with its sheer amount of steel and glass facade gives it a masculinity look while the its surrounding KLCC park with lush tropical greenery is more feminine. The design complements one another.

Took this shot with my phone. The water reflection of the twin towers on the lake. It’s an illusion.

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The surrounding buildings and the sunset reflected on the lake.

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Taking an evening stroll, alone, is a great way for me to release stressful thoughts plagued over the course of the day. When I’m done strolling I just sit on a park bench watching the day goes by.

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And that’s an evening well spent.

Tour Trip to Canberra

Early summer in 2011. My parents and I planned a trip to Adelaide-Melbourne but an unforeseen circumstances had us dropped Adelaide. My lovely aunt and cousin Dilys suggested that since our stay was two weeks long, we should at least visit Australia’s largest city Sydney and her capital Canberra. Sounds brilliant!

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The tour we joined consisted mostly of Chinese nationals, a few Hongkies and four Malaysians. I have to say they were pretty shocked when they knew I speak fluent Mandarin, Cantonese and English – that very proud moment to be a multi-lingual Malaysian.

Along the way to Canberra

The journey from Melbourne to Canberra took about 8 hours, the scenery along the journey were mainly dried grass with some patches of green visible. Passed by Albury, the common boundary of Victoria and New South Wales. We reached Canberra around 5 o’clock in the evening. Since it was summer, the days were longer than nights, which means more time to explore.

Canberra is a planned city, very much like Putrajaya. It is a very visual appealing experience to see how the city was planned in such a way that from the Parliament you can see the National War Memorial at the end of ANZAC Parade, vice versa. In Putrajaya, a similar concept was drawn – Prime Minister Office overlooking Putrajaya International Convention Centre and in between lies a long boulevard.

Inner Canberra Triangle

Lake Burley Griffin is a man-made lake. The two bridges crossing the lake form the Parliamentary Triangle – connecting the Parliament with the City and Defence Headquarters. Where as Putrajaya has a man-made lake and 9 bridge crossings!

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Overnight train to Sapa

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Months ago, the idea of sleeping in a train was so foreign to me. The thought of sleeping in a moving carriage for 11 hours was worth it considering the beauty that Sapa has to offer. Sapa is located in Lao Cai (pronounced Lao Kai) province, some 350 km northwest of Hanoi. Bordering China’s Yunnan, the mountains dominates the region and is at the eastern extremity of the Himalayas. Sapa is some 1500m above sea level, there’s really no problem of having to adjust to the change of attitude as my body is able to handle the gentle ascend within that 11 hours in the train.

Most of the trains start from Hanoi station (Ga Hà Nội) in the evening from 8pm to 11pm and arrive at Lao Cai station early next morning. JF and I had initially booked our train ticket from the tourist information centre at the airport upon arrival. The cheapest ticket for a sleeping cabin is around USD40 – saved a few bucks for accommodation.

After spending a day sightseeing in the city, we decided to have our dinner at Quan An Ngon, a popular place among the locals and tourists.  The service and food was good, so as long as you speak simple English your order will be taken. We ordered a plate of spring roll (steamed and fried), morning glory and coffee.

Address: 18 Phan Boi Chau, Hoan Kiem, Ha Noi

The train station is just a walking distance from where we had dinner. It does not boast of modern design and facilities but an old yet practical station.

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