2014 hampir berlalu, 2015 bakal menjelma

My last post was in 2013 and I unable to complete it. From that to now, my family and I have been to many beautiful and interesting places. We’ve been to South Korea and certainly places in Malaysia. Hard to commit since now I’m spending most of the time on the road.

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Sebelum Pergi ke Australia

Mak, Wifey, my son and I,  so it was slightly challenging to plan because it involved senior citizen and a toddler. Long walk is not suitable for Mak while for my son, all of his needs must be fulfilled.

My great references for travel plan are Tripadvisor, Agoda and GoogleMaps. Itineraries can be easily prepared even for those who are going to the place for the first time.

Before making any booking, I’ve made online application for Electronic Travel Authority. Pretty easy, just pay AUS$20 per person and the reference numbers were immediately sent to my mailbox. No need to bring the copy of the email to enter Australia but I do keep the numbers, just in case.

Initially for Sydney, I planned to stay at Kent Street Meriton Serviced Apartment and for Melbourne at Quest on William Apartment. Wifey was OK with Quest on William but thought Meriton was too expensive so I booked for Regent Court Apartment instead.

To detail-up the itineraries, I read through interesting places and activities in Tripadvisor and chose based on Wifey and my preferences. And to put in plan, I used GoogleMaps to know the distance between all the places and the best route to get there. This took long time but it really helped especially when we already there. My travel practice is to use my phone Nokia Maps and have a printed daily route map as back-up. The Nokia Maps is accurate and never fail so far only that the battery will get weak by the end of the day.

I planned to drive in Melbourne  since I’m going to Great Ocean Road and Phillip Island. Through Thrifty Car Rental, I paid it online. Before going some of my friends said I need to translate my driving license and some said I need to get international driving license. No need translation, no need to apply international driving license – when I went to pick up the car, my driving license was accepted and the process was smooth. Car park booking also was made up front. I booked for overnight parking just at AUD6.50 per night at Wilson, which is just within walking distance from the apartment. To enter the car building, just swipe the credit card used for online transaction.

… to be continued

Makanan kegemaran Vietnam

13020143Other than the famous Pho, there is another Vietnamese food that I really like. Some people call it Bun Cha and some people call it Bun Thit Nuong. I think it’s similar with Soba but not entirely the same.

For the halal version, the grilled pork is replaced with beef. The white rice noodle is served with fish sauce. The one in the picture can be bought at Halal stall, Hai Ba Trung. The same place as my previous post.

Tahun Baru di Saigon – Kalendar Lunar

During recent Lunar New Year (Tet), our friends went back to Malaysia. The local friends traveled to their hometown to be together with family. Public holidays was longer in Vietnam office (it was four days) and many took advantage to be somewhere else except us. I was on standby, just in case of emergency that would activate the emergency coordination center.

The roads were empty, many shops were closed and it was not good time for tourist to come, especially for Malaysians who came here to buy cheap baju kurung, telekung and tudung, unless the intention is to see Lunar New Year celebration in Saigon.

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Unusual, empty road in Saigon.

We went to Nguyen Hue street and Cong Vien Tao Dan for the flower decorations. At Nguyen Hue street,  as every new year celebration, the street was opened for public, while visit to Cong Vien Tao Dan required an entrance fee of VND20K for adult which was about USD1 only.

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Decoration at Nguyen Hue Street.

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Decoration at Cong Vien Tao Dan.

Seeing so many flowers, wifey was thinking to buy Sunflowers, but the size was too big to bring it home. Nearby the flower shops, there was a motorbike selling fishes in plastic bags.  We wondered, could the fish survive the heat? It’s 31degC in Saigon! We bought a pair of goldfish for my son, leaving the rest in agony.

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Aquarium fishes for sale.

Other than that we just stayed at home.

Hong Kong, Hari Keempat – Kepulangan

We did nothing much on the last day. We walked to Museum of Art to check out the souvenir shop. There were many antique oriental souvenir but I didn’t get any. The view from the mezzanine was beautiful so we took few snaps.

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The view from Mezzanine level, Museum of Art.

Later on we went to Tsim Sha Tsui area again to get some souvenirs.

Check out was swift and taxi was readily available in front of the lobby. At the airport, We had our lunch at Popeye (with big Halal signage), which is at Departures Check-in Hall, Level 7. We continued shopping at Disneyland store and my wife bought some cosmetics. There are prayer rooms at the airport. The one we went is at Gate 42, Terminal 1.  Ablution can be performed inside the prayer room as there is cleaning basin.

We enjoyed shopping in Hong Kong. There were few incidents where we had to face rude people but in general Hong Kongers were courteous to us. When we used MRT, there will be somebody offering their seat to us – seeing me carrying my son. We also observed that most Hong Kongers were fashionable and their sense of style is to my liking.

Hong Kong, Hari Ketiga

My friends went back the next day, going directly to office to work to face their Monday blues, while I took annual leave which actually days that were carry forward from 2012. That morning we had our breakfast in the room with leftover from last dinner.

That day, we went to the Peak. Many people said visit to Hong Kong is incomplete without getting the nice view of the city from there. That was one of the reasons why my friends rushed to the Peak the day before even they just got back from Macau. We took MTR to Central Station and exited J2 and had short walk to Peak Tram Lower Terminus. While getting there we met a Malaysian family from Johor. They were friendly and enjoyed having our company. The husband is a retiree and the wife is a homemaker, with them their teenage daughter. Since Johor is just next to Singapore, they took Tigerairways from there.

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View from the tram – choose the right side for the view.

At the Lower Terminus, there was a small exhibit of the Tram depicting the history of the Tram. As we got into the Tram, all of us sat at the right side of the Tram, for the view of the city. The family went to Madame Tussauds, we went to the top of the the Peak – Sky Terrace 428. Initially the plan was to have lunch at Wan Chai Mosque Canteen but I suggested to my wife for our lunch at Bubba Gum restaurant, there was not many people, so we got good table with nice view of Victoria Harbor. We ended our visit there  by strolling around the complex before going down by Tram.  As we reached down, it was getting crowded at Lower Terminus. I was glad that we went there earlier.

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Epworth lodge with beautiful roof top garden, the tram and Lion Pavilion.

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Victoria Harbor – was cloudy that time.

We went for shopping at Tsim Sha Tsui area and had a rest at the hotel before going out again that night.

Within walking distance from Butterfly on Prat, we walked to Avenue of Star to watch the Symphony of Light and continued strolling the promenade trying to locate hand prints of our favorite Hong Kong artists. Hong Kong entertainment was famous in Malaysia in 80s and 90s but now K-Pop has overshadowed everything including Bollywood and J-Pop. K-Pop popularity among Malaysia youngsters is greater than Hollywood.  While locating the hand prints we could smell delicious grilled squid from stalls there. We wanted to try but we concerned whether the squid was marinated with non-halal ingredient.

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People were waiting for the Symphony of Light.

We ended the night with shopping again around Tsim Sha Tsui area. We didn’t go to Ladies’ Market since we heard reviews that they were selling low quality goods from China.