Tag Archives: trip

Anthony Bourdain on Traveling

22 Mar

(c/o google images)

 

“Travel can become a compulsion. It keeps us away from friends and loved ones – even when we’re back. When I’m away, I often yearn for home. When I’m home, I’m listless. I seem no longer to fit. History and literature are filled with characters who see Asia, or Venice, and can never go back to the way they were.”Anthony Bourdain

I love this quote. So true!

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Parks, Museums and Petronas! (KL Trip Day 3) Part 2 of 2

21 Feb

(*This is part 2 of 2 of KL Day 3)

So that means we walked again. Yeah we love walking under the hot KL sun. And I love sarcasm too. 🙂 We reached the Bird Park which boasts itself for being the world’s biggest walk-in aviary. We handed the ticket that we bought from the hostel. So the hostel wasn’t trying to rip us off because it’s really cheaper if you get it from them, around 10 MYR cheaper. We got inside and were greeted by the “Angry Birds in KL “ as F calls it, though they were really nice flying creatures. So we walked, walked, and walked some more, and saw birds, birds and more birds and took pictures, pictures and more pictures. 😀 F was so happy especially when the peacocks started fanning their attractive blue and green-colored train.

Angry Birds of KL (F's photo)

Mr. Peacock

Mr. Peacock's close up picture (by F)

flamingos in KL

another bird (by F)

(by F)

After our tour inside the aviary we looked for a place to eat but didn’t find any except for one, the Hornbill Restaurant that looks expensive. So we skipped that and went to the Orchid Garden just across the street. And there was nothing in there really except for orchids. (Come on Y, that’s the reason why it’s called Orchid Garden, not Orchid and More Garden! :P) What I just want to say is, it’s boring there so we didn’t take any pictures at all. LOL. We just sat in one of the benches there and rested our sore feet.

As we went out of the garden, cab drivers offered us a ride to our next destination but we opted to just walk. We traversed Jalan Perdana to reach the KL Butterfly Park. There were no people around, except for the old tourist couple that we bumped into and who were nice enough to say hello. Cars were rarely passing the road so it was quite creepy, add to that some huge and century-old trees and bushes around. I was holding the map trying to figure out which road to take as F was checking out the street names when a blue cab stopped at us. The driver, an old Indian-Malaysian man asked:

“Where are you going?”

“Butterfly Park. Is this the right way?” asked F

“Butterfly Park, yes it is. Get in. I’ll take you there. Ride for free.”  the old man told us

F looked at me and whispered what the driver just said.

“Just get in. Come on. It’s free!” the gray-haired man insisted.

For a while there, we were unsure of what to do. Should we hop in? Why is he offering us a free ride?

“Come on, come on, get in. Hurry! Free ride.” said the old guy again.

We thought okay, why not. But deep inside, I was a little scared but since I am with F who has a power of 10,000 bears as he claimed, LOL, I felt okay somehow. As soon as we were in, the driver told us, how dangerous it is to be for tourist in that part of KL.

In his Indian accent, he warned us, “You shouldn’t be walking there. There are people on motorcycles driving this area and snatching people’s bags and valuables, especially tourists.”

Wow! That was scary I thought. And that reminded me of my own traumatic experience of bag snatching way back in 2006.

“Tourists do not believe us. They think we bluff them or just offering rides to rip them off. They do not believe. It’s true. Some were even kidnapped or raped.” He continued.

F and I looked at each other and were just shocked of what we’ve just heard.  Of course there are bad guys everywhere but we didn’t know that one of the victims could have been us if the bad guys were in the area that time we were there. And my imagination was  just as fast as the bullet that I thought about, what if the criminals snatched our things or worst kidnapped us, kill us and sell our internal organs in the black market? Then I would miss my sister’s wedding. And instead of celebrating, they’ll be grieving. And F too will leave his GF and family heart broken. Yay! What are we going to do? What is F going to do? Will he fight them, kick their asses and use his 10,000-bears power? 😀 But I was more worried about him that I was worried for myself, because he looks too ‘foreigner’, looking very European/Middle Eastern so he is quite a target for that. And my Asian features can actually save me because I can pass off as a local. But then again, he got 10,000-bears power, so he’ll be safe. 😀

“Thank you so much for the ride.” I said to the cab driver

“You’re welcome. I am going to Butterfly Park too. It’s my second home.” He said.

And just as he said that, we were already in the butterfly sanctuary.  We thanked the old man once again for his help and kindness.

We went to the ticket booth and were disappointed that the ticket cost too much just for some butterfly watching so we just crossed it out from our list. We stayed in their café for a moment to rest, while I had a bottle of water because I swear I was already dying of dehydration!  I think it was already between 2 or 3 o’clock in the afternoon and we haven’t had lunch yet. We figured we’ll just go back to Masjid Jamek for our super late lunch.  And as F wasn’t a high maintenance kind, had a gulp from the bottled water I was drinking from. I kind of find it quite amusing because usually people (men or women, no exemptions) are so sensitive, overly hygienic or just plain high maintenance, but not him. We are just very comfortable with each other and like I said, no awkward moments. It didn’t feel like it was our first time to meet and spend time together. It’s like we didn’t met over the internet.

We stayed at the café for half an hour more because I was really exhausted from the long walks under the sunny weather. F entertained me by reading Turkish words from his service passport (something like a diplomat passport- that’s why he doesn’t need visa in almost all countries in the world). He then taught me how to properly pronounce the odd letters of the Turkish alphabet which was quite a challenge. It’s like tongue twister!

After a while we left the butterfly park and walked again. Like earlier, F was checking out the street signs while I look at our already torn KL map. He told me to stay on the safer side of the road and be watchful of the motorcycles and the cars passing by as he walked ahead of me to make sure we were taking the right road. A few guys in the motorcycle passed us by and I swear, they all looked at me! I was a little scared but of course I appeared calm. I would tell F, “He was looking at me. That’s creepy!” every time a motorist would pass by.

Minutes later, we were in a road that looks familiar but not quite. Again, no tourists or locals walking around but this time there were a lot of cars and busses in the area. It’s a national road. But we were quite unsure of where we were so we stopped as F took out his GPS to locate where exactly in the world we were at that very moment. And yes we are on the right road. We ended up in Merdeka Square- our first tourist stop on our first city tour. Oh that’s why it was familiar. We passed through the old St. Mary’s Church that we visited the previous day when F remembered something.

“We should have attended the wedding instead so we had free lunch.” F said laughing.

“What wedding?” I inquired.

“Remember they were preparing the church yesterday for a wedding?” He said.

“Oh yeah! But what, are we going to gate crash a wedding?” I asked.

“Yes. And if they ask us if we are from the Bride’s side, we’ll say no, we are friends of the Groom.”  F said while laughing at his silly idea.

Now I’m seeing his dark side. No more Mr. Good boy eh?  LOL. 😛

We reached McDonalds (our second official fast food in KL) in Masjid Jamek. We were both starving. I had the quarter pounder while he had a Big Mac. He complained that he doesn’t feel full whenever he eats fast food, even if it’s Big Mac. Like the usual, before I take a bite, I’ve inspected the burger first, dissecting it. F stopped and observed what I was doing and asked,

“What are you doing to your food?”

“Removing the excessive onions and the pickles. I hate pickles.”

“You do not eat pickles?”

“Nope. You like it?”

“Yes I eat pickles. Okay, put it here in my burger.”

And after that, he became the official pickles-eater during our KL tour. LOL. I would give it to him because I really don’t like its taste.

We stayed in McDonalds for an hour to rest our sore and blistered feet on the chairs, not minding the locals looking at us, (perhaps thinking that we were ill-mannered people. LOL) as we talked about our lives back in our own countries. And though we’ve been friends since early 2007 and we’ve already shared a lot of stories about each other, we’ve had a sort of a Q & A portion. But he was on the hot seat and I was the interviewer. 🙂 He told how he was as a kid, sports he used to play and even about a ‘common friend’ who sort of expressed her feelings for him. Hmm… intriguing. LOL I knew about it but I opted to keep my mouth shut.

So after reminiscing our childhood days and sharing funny stories, we got up our seats and headed to the subway station to go to KLCC. When we got off, we found ourselves inside this huge shopping mall – Suria KLCC, and clueless about where the exit is. So we just followed the crowd and we ended up in middle area and saw from the glass roof something familiar.

“That’s one of the towers!” F declared. “We’re below the towers, let’s find an exit” he continued.

Then as we went up, it started to drizzle. That time, I already accepted the fact that rain is going to be a part of our short KL trip that’s why I brought the umbrella with me. We walked a few more and saw the majestic Petronas Towers, standing so tall. It was already late in the afternoon, in fact, already around 6pm but no sunset yet, so we still saw the Towers at ‘daytime’.  And though it was drizzling, we walked towards where the fountain and the stairs are to have a better sight of the Towers. Yeah, the hell the rain, we’re in Petronas! 🙂 This time, passersby might have thought we’re two idiotic tourists taking pictures of the twin towers in the rain. 😀 But then after a while, we were joined by a few more idiots, taking photographs too in the rain. Kidding.

Petronas at daytime and the dark clouds

So what first came to my mind when I saw the Tallest Twin Towers in the world? “Entrapment!” Yes, that movie of Catherine Zeta-Jones and Sean Connery. Haha…

Tourist are actually allowed to get inside the towers and go up until the 41st floor and walk on the SkyBridge that moves in and out of the two towers because of the strong winds. But in order to get up there, you must show up early in the day and get your ticket to be part of the limited visitors in a day. Unfortunately when we were there, the Towers are closed for tourist for some renovations and won’t open until Dec 15. So we just settled for the pictures outside. And of course, F who has visited some of the famous landmarks around the globe had to do his signature pose- his crazy “jump shot” in front of the towers. I took more than a few pictures of him in different angles and pose. And the ex-model surely knows how to pose in front of the camera. (Yeah he used to model before. Shhh… it’s sort of a secret.:D )  One of my roles during the trip was F’s photographer. Since he travelled alone in Bangkok and SG and only met some friends living in a city for dinner or so, he didn’t have much pictures of himself, and that explains my role this time in KL.

After some more photos, and F helping out fellow tourists by taking their pictures (because apparently, some people have high end SLRs but do not know how to use them, Oh well, they must have really nice photos if F took it for them.), we headed back to Suria KLCC mall to wait until the towers are lit up at night.

Inside Suria, I found one of the local shops I was looking for- Vincci! Hurray! And man, it was jam-packed! Lots of ladies invaded this shoe and bag store. It was insane! I’m not too crazy about shopping but the “Sale” and “up to 50% off” signs hanging around Vincci were attractive. LOL. I told F that I will look for nice pair of shoes. So touring with a lady, F had no choice but to get inside the shop too. Poor guy! LOL. He was literally following me as I moved around the store to check out the cute pairs . It was kind of weird. But then it was nice also because I had someone to ask opinion whether the shoes look nice or not. LOL. Then I noticed there were a few men sitting in the couch, perhaps waiting for the ladies they were with too. I told F,

“You see those men, you may want to sit beside them as you wait for me. :)”

And he obliged.

Decades later, LOL 🙂 I called him and asked, “Are they pretty?” as slid my feet into the red stilettoes. He nodded and said yes. Well I just hope that he didn’t just say yes to shut me up. LOL. Then he followed me again so I said, “You may sit down.”

“Well you called me.”

“You may go back and sit again.”

He just rolled his yes and joined the gentlemen again. 🙂 After a few more minutes, I picked two pairs of two different shoes and asked the sales clerk for my shoe size as I sat beside F.

“You’re getting two?” F inquired.

“Yes” I answered.

“Really? One is not enough? Oh you women!”

“You’re getting married soon and you should get used to this. This is your practice.  Haha” I told him.

“Oh she’s not into shopping really.” he countered.

“That’s what you think!” 😛

My red shoes. 🙂

Empty Vincci store in KLCC. Well the store hasn't opened yet (picture c/o vincci)

Then I explained to him that one pair is for me and the other for my sister. So, after the long queue at the cashier, we went out of Suria to have a look of the Petronas at night. Beautiful sight. Adjacent to the towers is the Public Bank Berhad building that also glows with its golden lights.

Petronas Twin Towers at night.

Water reflection of the twin towers.

It was still raining a little though. We went back to that spot we were at, so we can take snaps of the breathtaking towers at night. Ever see the photographers who wouldn’t care what position they have; how they look like or whether it was dusty, wet, rainy or hot just to take beautiful photos? That’s how we looked like. I tossed the umbrella somewhere and just took more pictures. Then tourist started to gather again in the same spot we were, so we decided to leave.

We were supposed to go up the Menara Tower (KL Tower) to see the entire city from above, but because of the rain, we decided to just go back to our hostel. Like always, we walked again. We saw this local cafe that also sells fruit/milk shakes and smoothies. They have interesting names for their drinks. They used city names for the different fruit combinations. I checked out Manila but it’s not too appealing because I think it has carrots in it. It’s just weird. So I had Singapore instead which from what I remember was a mix of strawberry, banana and something else (not carrot). 🙂

We were teasing each other as we walk and were talking non-stop about so many things. Then we stumbled upon this store that sells fruits and F bought some banana. We also dropped by 7-11 to grab our healthy dinner again – Asian noodles again, chocolate, biscuits. We are not a diet and though traveling on budget, we still have more than enough to fill our stomachs, but perhaps due exhaustion; we just don’t have the appetite for full meals.

As soon as we reached the hostel, I took a shower because I couldn’t stand the sweat and dirt combined caused by the long walks that day. Later on, we had our dinner in my bedroom even though eating there isn’t allowed. LOL. Then F saw my Bible that I left in the bed so he scanned and read a few verses. As he was reading it aloud, I recited the verse he was reading and he finds it amusing.  After a few more exchange of stories, we called it a day.

(*KL Day 4 will be next)

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Parks, Museums and Petronas! (KL Trip Day 3) Part 1 of 2

19 Feb

(This is the 3rd installment of my trip to KL. I divided it into 2 posts because it’s pretty long as usual. 🙂 This is Part 1 of 2)

Saturday – November 19

I was up as early as 7 and started getting ready for our day tour. I went downstairs to join F for breakfast but only the guys from Indonesia were at the breakfast table.  I asked Pat, one of the hostel staff if he saw F. He said not yet but I can go and check him at the male dorm. Of course I didn’t want to invade the boys’ privacy so I asked one of the Indonesian guys who were also staying at the male dorm to open the door for me.  And there he was, still in the dreamland, far away from reality. 😀

They told me I can get inside the room so I could wake him up. I told them, it’s okay,  I’ll let him sleep for more and that I’ll just wait for him to get up. So I had my morning coffee as the Indonesian guys left for their day’s itinerary. (Oh btw, one of the Indonesian guys fell from the bunk bed on their first night at the hostel because he was sleep-walking. And it resulted to a bad sprain on his foot, ruining his KL visit. He just stayed in the hostel most of the time while his friends were out exploring the city. Poor guy.)

So after what seems to be forever :D, kidding, maybe half an hour, F walked out of the door.

“Hey! Good morning Mr.” I said.

The sleepyhead replied, “Good morning.” and walked towards the washroom.

He later joined me for breakfast, took the map and discussed the day’s plan. Like our first day, he was in-charge of what to do and see around. I liked it that way. 🙂 A little later, a couple came and joined us. The guy is from Australia while his girlfriend is from Brazil.  Nice. So we are four people from four different continents – Australia, South America, Asia and Europe. Well F is actually from Eurasia (Europe and Asia). They’ve been around KL and were leaving for Malacca that day, so they voluntarily gave a few tips on what to see around. The girl asked us if we have been to some shops because she went to one and bought a really nice handbag and she thought she’d share it to me.

I answered, “We haven’t.”

F objected, “Oh come on, we’ve been to some shops! I took you to the Pavilion yesterday. You already forgot?”

“Oh yeah, Pavilion. But you know it’s just the same big mall we have back home. What I’m looking for are some local shops to buy something Malaysian.”

The Brazilian agreed to me, “Yes. Pavilion is the same huge shopping mall you can find in most cities around the world, so you better go to the local shops instead.”

Both men just didn’t argue with us. Well, we women know better. 😛 Then we talked a little about football. I told them how I love Kaka and how I want to visit Brazil for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. 😀 Then after some more football talks and stories about our countries, we got up to prepare for our itinerary. The Aussie guy told me one last travel tip. He said we should go to the KL Tower (Menara Tower) to have a panoramic view of the city. There is a revolving restaurant up there but it is very expensive. So he suggested maybe if we like, we can just have a drink there and have dinner in some place nice and cheaper. Well he assumed that we ‘drink’. We thanked both of them for the advices and helpful suggestions.

Oh I forgot to mention that the day I arrived F mentioned to me that the hostel employ Filipino staff, along with one Thai guy (Pat), a Malaysian bloke and an Aussie woman. I met the Filipino staff, Neldie the morning of Friday (Day 2) when F introduced her to me. Then later that day, we found out that there is another Filipino staff named Myla.

Now, why did I mention them? Well it was because of the intriguing questions thrown to me and F by Myla while we were getting ready to leave.

I was standing at the reception while waiting for F and having a small talk in our local language to Myla about her work at the hostel and her life back home in Bicol, Philippines. Then she inquired:

“ Is F staying in the male dorm?”

“Yes with the Indonesian boys.” I answered

“What about you? Which room are you occupying?” She asked.

“I got the private room upstairs. Room H.” I said.

“Why don’t you guy stay in one room?” She intriguingly asked.

“Noooooo!!! We can’t.” I laughed as I answered.

“Why not? Couples here stay in one room most of the time.”

Laughing out loud, I answered, “No. We’re not even a couple. We’re just good friends traveling together.”

She didn’t believe me at first. She thought that I was just being too conservative. Too Filipina. Actually for me, I do not mind sharing a room with male friends, well as long as it’s not just the two of us. If we’re in a group, there is no problem. That’s what my friends and I do most of the time when we travel.

Well, it took a while before I convinced Myla that nothing is going on between me and F. LOL. Or so I thought. Because after some more chats about the Philippines, she asked me again,

“Is there really nothing between you and F? Not even a little spark? He’s good looking.”

I laughed hysterically and uttered a long “Noooooooooo… nothing!”

And just as I said that, F came and was intrigued with what we were talking about. He asked why I was laughing too much. I turned to him and said,

“Well, she’s asking if we really are JUST friends.”

F burst into laughter also. Then I told Myla that F actually have a GF and is about to get engaged in a week, when he gets back to Turkey. Then I let F do the talking about his blossoming love life and how we became friends. LOL.

Myla probably thought that with F’s good looks, it’s impossible for women not to have hots for him. Well not me. Though, I must admit that I find him good looking, especially now that he has grown beard and mustache, making him look like a bad ass! LOL. He looks better with it I think, as good-boy looks doesn’t appeal too much to me. But there’s just no spark. Nada! Like I always tell Idy when he used to tease me to F before,

“N.I. = Not Interested.”

(Idy gave it a different meaning though; he said maybe N.I. means “Nice Idea.” LOL.)

Anyway, so looks like Myla was already convinced that what F and I have is plain platonic relationship. Nothing more, nothing less. 🙂

Actually, that was just one of the many occurrences that we had to explain our non-romantic relationship and how a Turkish man and a Filipino woman ended up as good friends.

So this day, we decided to visit as many places as we can around the Botanical Gardens – Parks and Museums. The hostel sells tickets to Bird Park and Menara or the KL Tower. They said we can save if we buy from them instead of getting it onsite. Of course, we didn’t know if that was true or it was just their marketing ploy so we’d buy from them. We bought the tickets anyway.

We hopped to the Monorail in Bukit Bintang station and got off at KL Central. I noticed that there were tenement buildings near the Central Station that kind of resemble the ones we had back home.

We were told that the Parks and Museums are just walking distance from KL Central so we snubbed the taxis around. F took out his virtual map, trying to figure out where we are heading. A police officer in KL Central told us that we should pass through the Hilton Hotel’s parking area to get to the National Museum which is in the opposite side. So we walked and walked and walked and ended up in what seemed to be the wrong side of the world. LOL. There were no tourists, not even a local walking around the place. Only fast cars and trucks in the highway can be seen. Then a few more walks and we saw two men near the hotel’s parking entrance. They told us to walk to where the giant tree is and there we’ll go down the stairs to get to our destination.

It was so hot and humid in KL that morning. The weather was like the summer in Manila but it was better than the rainy weather we had the day before.  So we went to National Museum first. There were a lot of school kids on educational tour that packed the museum’s lobby. We went inside to see what’s in there but we were told that we have to buy a ticket first. After deciding that there maybe nothing there that might interest us since we also went to the mini museum in KL City Gallery on our Day 2, we went out and headed to our next destination.

F wants to see the National Mosque, so under the scorching hot KL sun, we walked again. We passed by the Planetarium, the Police National Museum, Islamic Center and ended up in the Islamic Arts Museum. We went inside the arts museum and looked for the washrooms to freshen up because the summer-like weather was a torture! We stayed for a while inside the air conditioned arts center. There were some Muslim kids inside, probably having a tour. Then we checked out the white inverted dome that just looks fascinating and beautiful with the gold ornaments around it.

Inverted Dome inside the Islamic Arts Museum (Not my picture. c/o google images)

Then we headed to the National Mosque which was just standing next to the museum. It was almost noon time and the mosque will be closed for their prayers in 30 minutes. F wants to pray there before it closes for tourists. I told him I will just wait for him outside, even though it was so hot but he insisted that I get in. He even took this huge purple piece of clothing with a hoodie and handed it to me.

“What am I going to do with this?” I asked.

“Wear them so you can get in.” He said.

But I swear, with what seemed like 30+ degrees outside, that is the last thing I want to wear. It was so hot and I will wear that huge purple robe? Oh no. I had to put that thing on top of what I was already wearing – short-sleeve top and jeans. And I don’t know about F, but he’s wearing long sleeve top with an inner shirt and trousers and I thought it’s too hot for the KL weather. When I asked him why he didn’t bring t-shirts instead, he said,

“Well I asked you if shirts are okay in Asia at this time, you said yes. So I bought these.”

“I thought you were pertaining to t-shirts.”

Obviously we had a miscommunication there and that just shows one of the many differences in our culture – how things are called, even gestures and facial expressions that will be part of my Day 4 story. 😀

Anyway, there were other tourists visiting the mosque and like me, they had to wear the purple robe. But at least it looked good on them because the robe or whatever they call it seemed to be custom-made for tall people like them. And I am very tall, super tall. (5 ft.) LOL So you can visualize that I can actually sweep or clean the floor as I walk. The lady at the entrance told us to leave our shoes and flip flops. Then before she let us in, she assisted me in properly tying the robe and then grabbed the, I don’t know what they call it, a scarf or something, well the thing that Muslim women use to cover their heads, then put it on my head. So another piece of clothing was added. So there I was, wearing an ultra huge robe covering my entire body, yes my toes can’t be seen, and not even the tip of my fingers, and the scarf that only showed my round-shaped face. F looked at me trying to suppress his laughter.

“Stop giving me that silly smile. You made me do this. Don’t laugh at me!” I warned him. LOL

We went up the stairs while I was dragging the long and huge robe I was wearing. I was imagining how I looked like. I probably looked like a monk or something wearing the robe minus the scarf. I saw my reflection in one of the glass doors of the mosque. I now know the reason why F was giving me that silly grin. I looked funny because of the super huge robe.  So we walked towards the mosque’ main entrance as I kept on rolling up the sleeves and lifting the robe because I can’t walk properly and  because I swear it was really really hot! I asked F if I can actually do that – roll up the sleeves or lift the robe. He said not really because I’m not supposed to show my arms, but he didn’t really mind.

Then I warned him again, “You will not take a picture of me wearing this.”

He smiled and said, “No. I will. Later I will take your picture.”

“Nooooooo!!!!!” I objected.

“Yes I will.” He said teasing me.

“No!” I firmly said.

I explained to him why I won’t let him take any photo of me wearing the scarf or the robe. It will freak my parents out. F knew that I am a practicing Christian, a Born Again Christian that is, and that I belong to a Pastor’s family. So I don’t want any evidence because if they get to know, I will have a lot of explaining to do. And I do not like that. We already had some unpleasant “talk” a week before I left for KL, because they were kind of worried that I was meeting a male friend that I met only in the internet, in a foreign country! Though somehow I knew that if ever they would find out, I will be able to explain to them that I did it because I was with F and I was just respecting their belief and practice inside their place of worship and that I am not compromising my faith. F understood where I was coming from so he promised he won’t take any evidence. Thank you.

At the entrance, there were Muslim women volunteers talking to the tourists, telling them something about the National Mosque and their religion. Two of them approached us as they said their Salaam greeting. One of the women went up to me to fix the headscarf I was wearing. She said it’s okay to expose the chin. LOL. That’s probably the one of the reasons why F was laughing at me! 🙂

They told us that only Muslim are allowed inside their worship hall and that taking pictures is prohibited but F was a law-abiding tourist so he went inside and took pictures. LOL. I stayed outside as F checked out the mosque. One of the women asked if I am from the Philippines. Wow. I wasn’t mistaken as a local for the first time. I said I am. She seemed to be updated of the international politics, so she asked me about what recently happened to the former president Arroyo because she was in the news. She was arrested whilst I was in KL. And of course, I willingly fed her with my knowledge and opinions of Philippine politics, something my father and I usually talk about at home alongside sports and movies. While we were busy talking about political leaders, F went back outside to ask where he can wash his feet, arms and face, so he can pray. So he left his camera and other stuff with me as I sat on one of the chairs. The woman did not leave me and like the other volunteers started to tell me about the Malaysia’s national mosque and Islam. I think she said something about importing tiles from Morrocco or some similar country for the construction of the mosque. She explained the meaning of the Arabic writings on the stained-glass windows just right below the umbrella-styled ceiling. She handed me a leaflet that contains FAQs about their religion. And although I am completely from a different faith, I listened to her.

Inside Malaysia's National Mosque. (picture c/o Wiki)

The umbrella-styled ceiling of the mosque (F took this photo)

It didn’t take F too long to pray, so after we explored the other parts of the mosque, we returned the robe and scarf, then left. I told him I am already starving since I only had coffee for breakfast. But there was no restaurant around so we thought to go to the Bird Park, thinking there might be some fast food there to fill our empty stomachs.

(*to be continued)

Birthdays. More Fun in the Philippines.

30 Jan

Like my birthdays in the past, I made sure I was not in front of my work desk on my birthday this year. It’s sort of a personal tradition to not work (or go to school when I was still a student) on my birthday. No way I’m working like a horse on my day! I know others treat their birthday as normal day – they go to work or school, do the usual things they do everyday and maybe have dinner at night with some friends or family and that’s it. But not me. I want that day to be different from the 364 (365 this year because of leap year.) days I have. It is when I feel special, when friends and family are super nice to me (LOL), when I feel I deserve to be pampered and well-treated.

So I thought I’d go to some place I’ve never been to this time. So I filed for a 1-week leave from work and booked a flight for my four-day holiday in Bohol Island, Philippines with my family. 🙂

I have been to another country, but I haven’t been to a lot of beautiful places in the Philippines. I’m not proud of that. I know I shouldn’t be  a like “foreigner” in my own country that is why I promise to take a trip to some island or province in the Philippines  at least once per year. So my trip to Bohol was actually the first time I am going outside of Luzon (Philippines’ largest island, where Manila, the capital is located) and my first time in Visayas region.  So I was kind of excited. Though, initially I either want to go to Cebu or to the famous Boracay instead. Well, next time.

Sadly, my 2 sisters, my bro-in-law and my niece were not able to come with us due to school, work and other commitments, so my Bohol getaway was spent with only my parents and my auntie from the US.

Day 1 – January 9

Still in Manila, I spent the day preparing for my things for our trip the next day. Went out to a coffee shop in the afternoon, while I waited for my mother to finish work.

Day 2 – January 10 

Our flight is at 9.30 but I was up at 7am. 😀 Haven’t learned yet from my last flight experience? I have. Mom kept telling me ‘get up now, you don’t want to miss another flight!’ LOL. Even best friend Idy reminded me of the same. Hahaha.. Come on! I’ve learned. And the airport is just less than 30-minute drive from home. Well I was just hoping Mr. President won’t travel that day so roads won’t be congested again. 😀

So there, we left at about 10am (yeah delayed flight) boarding AirPhil Express and arrived at past 11am at Tagbilaran Airport. It was hot in Bohol’s capital. We were greeted by a family friend’s cousin who became our driver and tour guide in Bohol and his wife. My parents met them before when they visited the island back in 2008.

Don't know if this is Bohol island but I saw this when we were about to land in Tagbilaran.

They took us to a mall for lunch where there is a local restaurant called Payag that serves yummy but inexpensive meals. I swear their barbecue chicken is the best!

After that, they took us to our first destination where we will spend a night – Panglao Island. We checked-in at Dumaluan Beach Resort, where the pristine and lovely white-sand beach is definitely an attraction. Our room was beside the pool so I mostly stayed in the veranda writing, reading or just people watching. I also talked to best friend Idy and reminded him to prepare for his song. LOL. He even talked to my auntie and he was given a new nickname that I am not telling here. Hahaha.. (But I might. :D)

Late afternoon we decided to walk around the beach. It was lovely. The water is clear, the sand is white and fine and it wasn’t crowded.  I noticed there were lots of foreign tourists in the island. Some were there to just plain swim and enjoy the sun and others to scuba dive and see the other world under the sea.

Late afternoon at Panglao beach in Bohol

We went back to the resort just in time for dinner. Their restaurant is located just beside the beach so you can actually hear the waves while enjoying the local cuisine. And that’s not all. We were even serenaded with a beautiful and live acoustic music as we eat. It was a lovely night.

We returned to our room after some more music and then decided to swim for an hour or so. I also chatted to best friend F who forgot about my birthday. 😦 I still had to remind him of it. 😦

I went back to the restaurant for my late night brewed coffee. They were still playing lovely music. The singers are just awesome. I love them! There were only a few people in the restaurant and some of them were having beers and the like, while I sip coffee. LOL. But I didn’t mind. I felt safe. I knew they won’t do anything stupid. I was chatting to Idy and kept telling him how beautiful it is in that island and how nice was the music playing in the background. I even mentioned it in this post.

I wasn't able to take a picture of the singers and musician. But this was taken at night when they were playing beautiful music

After a while, I was joined by mom who needs to check some work online (Ma, you are on vacation!). And after she saw some people having drinks, she thought it wasn’t safe for me to stay there anymore. Oh come on! Mom, what am I? A 16-year old? Well yes, I just turned 16. Sweet 16 that is. 😛

Well the restaurant closes at 12 midnight so we went back to our room quarter to 12. I stayed in the veranda while mom already went to bed. I think I was the only one up that time because the villas near ours were already quiet and lights were off.

A lil after midnight, best friend Idy called.

Day 3 – January 11 (My Birthday)

It was around 4pm in his side of the world, so he asked for the time.

“Past 12”, I said.

“So it’s already your birthday.”

“Yeah, so you may sing now.” 😀

Days before my birthday, he told me he’ll be sick on the 11th day (LOL) or he’ll be unreachable and will be back on the 12th. Trying to hide from me!

He was trying to negotiate, giving some conditions, like he will sing but I shouldn’t mention it anywhere in the net, not even here in this blog or even in my journal. Oppps…I just did. LOL Oh well I didn’t agree to any of his condition anyway. 😛

After some more excuses and negotiation, my “good looking” (ehem 😛 ) best friend sang happy birthday to me. LOL. (Thank you Idy! Btw, I will be unreachable on May 23. LOL)

After that, I also talked to a few friends who greeted me too.

“Yay! So I’m a year older again.” I thought.

It was quite scary.

After documenting everything in my journal, I went to bed.

In the morning, I was greeted by my parents and auntie as soon as I opened my eyes. We went to the restaurant for our buffet breakfast, by the beach again. We wanted to swim in the beach but it was low tide, plus it was also time for us to leave by noon time and move to another hotel in Tagbilaran.

Good morning Panglao. Low Tide

Dumaluan Beach Resort

Pool side

Pool right outside our room

It was bright and sunny in Panglao Island in Bohol

Noon time while it's too sunny and bright, I went to the beach to film the scenic place. Taken on my birthday, January 11, 2011

January 11, 2012

Kuya Pete picked us up and took us back to TagB. We were greeted by the friendly staff of El Portal, left our luggage and off to Loboc River for our late lunch in their floating resto.

Lunch at the floating restaurant in Loboc River

Cruising the Loboc River

Other boats cruising the river.

It was an hour cruise in the river while we enjoy a buffet meal and the beauty of nature.  On board  was a singer to entertain us – he was good. We also made a stop at some platform (Balsa) near the riverbanks where we were greeted by the locals and performed their traditional song and dance.

The locals performing their folk songs and dances to entertain the tourist.

Loboc River

Our tour guide Kuya Pete took us to where the cable car and the zip line is. I said, I will give zip line a try. Since it’s my birthday, I thought it would be a great time to try something different, something adventurous and daring. But after I saw how high and long the zip line is, I backed out.  LOL I was scared. Hahaha… Maybe if I have someone to do it with, I would give it a try, but unfortunately the people I was with were too old for that kind of adventure. 🙂 So I just took some photos. LOL

The Zip Line that I wanted to try but I got scared. It's too long and high. LOL

No they're not supermen. LOL. They tried the Zip Line

Going back

Mom started to feel somewhat ill, probably because she had too much seafood for lunch, so we dropped by a hospital to get her blood pressure check. Well doctor just told her to get some rest and take some pain killer and she’ll be fine.

Then one more stop – Bohol Tropics Resort, took some more pictures and left for dinner. After that, we only stayed in the hotel watching TV, while I talk to a few more friends.

Bohol Tropics

Sunset

The night was about to end and suddenly, I felt sad.

He hasn’t called yet.

I thought I already conditioned myself about it. Yet, deep down in my heart, I was expecting. Damn.

Idy said, “Look at it as a new chapter of your life…. Don’t look back at what went wrong.”

My day didn’t end well. 😦

Day 4- January 12

We had a long day. We went to a lot of tourist spots around Bohol like the historical site where a monument of Blood Compact was erected to commemorate what happened back in 1500s between Spain’s Miguel Lopez de Legazpi and Bohol’s Datu Sikatuna. We also went to a mini zoo where you can take a picture with some huge pythons, touching or even hugging it.  Yay! And even though they told me they are harmless because they were already full eating two chickens that morning, I still didn’t dare touch them. It was just so scary! LOL.

Blood Compact (google images)

The mini zoo care taker, getting cozy with the huge python. Yay! I swear I was so scared. LOL

Wooden Tarsier

Next was the hanging bridge in Sevilla. Below the bridge is the famous Loboc River. We bought some souvenirs and had some fresh coconut juice.  There were quite a few tourist in the area. There was even this German woman, who I think is in her mid-twenties, traveling alone.  How brave!

Hanging Bridge in Sevilla

Then we went to see the endangered and famous tarsier in some conservation site. We also pass through the man-made forest.

Yoda. LOL. No that's a Tarsier, the world's smallest primate.

Man-made forest

After that was the famous Ship Haus that was once featured on national television for it’s unique design.

The SHIP HAUS

Then of course, what is a trip to Bohol if we won’t get to see the chocolate hills! It was a wonderful view. Why is it called Chocolate hills when it’s green? Well the locals said they are brown during summer that’s why.

To Chocolate Hills

Chocolate Hills

Tourist in Bohol

On one hill, which is located in another town, Sagbayan, the island of Cebu can be seen from a far.

Sagbayan Peak

Cebu City (the island from afar) as seen from Sagbayan Peak

We had a long day.  So after our dinner in Payag Restaurant back in Tagbilaran City , we called it a day.

Payag Restaurant

Day 5 – January 13.  

It was raining on our last day in Bohol. At least we’re done with our tour. We spent the day buying souvenirs for friends and family back home.

Our flight going back to Manila was delayed. An agent from Air Philippines called me the day before to inform about the changes in our flight schedule. It will be delayed for an hour. We didn’t mind at all. But what supposed to be an hour delay, took another hour or so.

At the airport, I heard my dad was talking to another waiting passenger probably to ease boredom. But I kind of got irritated by what the man said. He booked a Philippine Airlines flight while we had the AirPhil Express. After learning this, he said arrogantly, “I don’t trust AirPhil Express that’s why I chose PAL.”  I was a few seats away from them but I heard what he said. I wanted to butt in and tell him, “You arrogant fool! PAL owns AirPhil. They have the same owner and same employees! And don’t be too proud, both our flights are delayed.”  (*AirPhil is a low cost carrier owned by PAL (Philippine Airlines). But I kept my cool. I told dad what I wanted to say when the guy left. My dad laughed. He said, “I know. He was so arrogant.” He just paid a few thousands  for his PAL flight that’s why he probably thought he’s way above the AirPhil passengers. Some people really have misconception about low cost carriers.

When the PAL aircraft arrived, I laughed and thought about how ignorant the guy was. It was an Airbus 320, same type of aircraft that AirPhil uses. Like I said, same owner, same service, same aircraft and same delayed flight.

A few minutes later, AirPhil’s plane arrived.  We left at around 530pm even though it was raining cats and dogs in Tagbilaran Airport. After an hour, we were in Manila.

Our holiday was over. I had fun at Bohol. I was happy I chose the island to spend my birthday. Next year, I should celebrate it again in another place, either local or international. 🙂

Thank you Bohol. I had a nice week. See you again next time.

~ ~ ~

P.S.

And since the successful launch of the recent tourism campaign in the country- “It’s more fun in the Philippines”, people have started to participate and showed their creativity and wit (sarcasm and negativity for some) with coming up with their own ways of using the tagline and promoting the culture and the country’s natural beauty , by associating almost everything to being “More Fun” when done or experienced in the Philippines. Everyone seems to be having a lot of fun using the slogan to everything they could think about, and yes even “Birthday!”

See what my co-workers gave me as a present when we had our “Birthday Month” last Friday, January 27:

"Birthdays. More Fun in the Philippines"

That’s where I got this post’s title. 🙂

And indeed, Birthdays are more fun in the Philippines! 🙂

So This is Kuala Lumpur (Day 2)

31 Dec

November 18 – Friday –

(This is the 2nd installment of my story about my recent KL trip. Another long post. For Part 1, click here.)

(The night I arrived in LCCT, I  immediately said to F, “So This is KL…” and kept on saying how similar it is to the Philippines. The highway to the airport looks a lot like our NLEX highway. He said, ‘No, Not Yet. Wait till you get to the city center.” So I kind of expected something more and hoped that I won’t get disappointed.

We agreed to get up late, like 10am, but I was up as early as 8am. I showered, unpacked my bag and prepared for our first city tour in Malaysia. Although F arrived a few days before I did (he was already there by Monday) he hasn’t been around yet since he was waiting for me. He just went out to some malls nearby and attended the 3-day tech conference, which was the very reason he was there. By 10am he knocked on my door to wake me up and invite me for breakfast downstairs that the hostel provided. Well they just serve toast, coffee and tea until 11am everyday. But coffee and tea are unlimited. You can get it any time of the day. Wish it was brewed coffee though. LOL. Oh well as long as there is coffee I’ll be happy. 🙂

So I went down to join F for our late breakfast. It was just us, the empty reception area and the huge LCD TV near the dining table. The backpackers must have left early for the day tour I thought. There was no more toast so I settled for my usual black coffee and some banana bread which taste good.

About 2 weeks before our KL trip, F told me to look up for things to do and places to visit in KL since he was about to leave Turkey for Bangkok. But being too consumed of work and other things I only managed to download a PDF about the must-see places but never really read it. LOL. F thought that was brilliant! Hahaha… So instead, he grabbed a map from the reception and planned our itinerary for the day.  I kinda liked it that F was in charge of our daily itinerary and I just follow because in my normal world, I am always in charge. It was good to have someone leading me sometimes.

So as we were discussing our first stop, a guest came and rang the doorbell. He was early for the check-in time which is the usual 2pm, so he left his backpack in the storage and grabbed a cup to make his coffee and joined us in the breakfast table. Well looks like he was already a hostel’s guest before because some of the hostel’s staff recognized him.

He asked us if it was our first time in KL. I said yes and he recommended that we go up the KL Tower and the Twin Towers. F left to prepare his things so I had some more talks with the foreign guy about what to see around KL. Then we realized we haven’t introduced ourselves yet. I asked for his name.

“I’m Ennesy.”

“Ennesy?” I inquired.

“No. Yenessey” he clarified.

“Yenessey?” I thought I just heard a “y” sound

“No. Henessey” he said

“Oh, Henessey” I said. Finally. I thought I already had some hearing problem at this age. LOL.

“Where are you from?” I asked.

“From Germany.”  Right, that explains my hearing problem; it’s the accent thing I think.

“And your name?” he asked

“I am Y”

And to my surprised he said…

“Oh  _ _ _ _ _”

Wait. He knows my real first name? Ohhhhhhhhh

I didn’t bother to ask how he knew but what is he, a psychic or something? LOL Oh well, it’s probably my accent too. LOL. But really I don’t know how he got my name right when I gave him just my nickname (shortened name). Or did he just check out my name from the guest list? LOL.

“Where are you from?”

“Philippines” I answered.

We talked some more when some guests arrived either from the outside or from their bedrooms to the breakfast area so we sort of lost the topic. F’s ready too so it was also time for us to leave. It was Friday, so F told me he needs to go to the mosque by noon to pray before we could roam around the city.

So we stepped out to the cloudy skies of Bukit Bintang – famous as a shopping haven and for its night life, and just walking distance to some of KL’s famous landmarks. Yeah, we were at very strategic location! The sun wasn’t up and I could feel the humidity.  I was ready with my sunglasses, my cap and my red flat open-toed shoes for the day’s walk. Looking really like a tourist eh? 😛 So you could imagine a 5-ft tall woman wearing flats walking with an almost 6-ft tall man. I think I looked like a kid or worst a toy or a keychain! LOL. F holding this virtual map showed me where Masjid Jamek is located, that is where we were heading for his noon prayer. He told me the route we are taking, and said “Don’t worry, worst case scenario, we’ll take a taxi.” – which by the way became his favorite line every time we would go to places we haven’t been to.

Then just about 5 minutes later, without a warning, not even a hint, the rain poured down. Right! It’s raining in KL. We stopped for a while in front of some local shop. F said it’s been raining since he arrived, for at least 30-mins to an hour everyday. Bad KL. It’s my ‘first’ day and I’ve only walked a few steps and it already rained? Bad. Bad. Bad. F was teasing that maybe I am a jinx. Because first I missed my flight, then this time, it rained. (How dare you F!) LOL… And it looked like it was not going to stop anytime soon. I have an umbrella but I left it at the hostel. Well I didn’t know it would rain. F said maybe we could run in the rain to the next shop after all it wasn’t heavy, but he was kinda worried that I don’t have something to cover my head. I showed him my black “Manila Rocks” cap to assure him that I’ll be alright. The walk or run in the rain is cool I thought, after all it’s been years since I last played in the rain. 😛 He said I can go ahead and he’ll catch up as he will just run. (Yeah and one step for him is like 2-3 steps for me! LOL)  As I walked, I started to feel the water soaking my favorite red flat shoes… Noooooooooo!!! Eeeewww!!! I hate it when my feet get soaked in the rain. Eeeeewwww!!!! We walked some more… at least for 10-15 more minutes when the rain almost let up. But I couldn’t shake off the gross feeling because of my wet shoes. I was looking around the area, checking out if there are stores that sells flip flops so I can change but there was none. Had I known, I would have worn my flip flops instead of my favorite flats. And like a kid, I kept asking F “Are we there yet?” a few times because I really want to sit down and wipe my feet. At least 10 more minutes of walking, we finally reached Masjid Jamek. The rain has completely let up too.

Masjid Jamek

F said he will just pray for about 30-40 minutes and I can just wait for him inside the mosque. I asked if I will be allowed to get in especially that I am not a Muslim and that I am wearing jeans and short sleeves shirt. He said they may have something for non-Muslims to borrow and wear while inside. He also said that tourists are allowed inside the famous Blue Mosque in Istanbul to get in and take pictures as the Muslims pray, so it may be the same there.  As we were walking towards the opened gate, a man stopped us saying in his Malay accent that “only Male is allowed inside” F then inquired why. The man who seems to not understand much in English, called an older man who sells some religious things outside the gate. F greeted him with their usual “Salaam” greeting and he responded back. The man then looked at me and started talking in Malay! LOL. I couldn’t understand a thing! LOL. I knew it. I knew I could pass off as a Malaysian.  I apologized for not being able to understand him. He then told us in English that only male is allowed at that time. He said it’s Friday and it is usually jam-packed with male devotees even occupying the streets sometimes and women are not really encouraged to be there. F inquired about the time their prayer would start. We were told it won’t start until about 1 and a half hours. He asked where F is from and talked a little about Turkey, when he suddenly asked me…

“So where are you from?”

“From the Philippines” I answered.

“Oh Pangako Sa’yo!” he said while smiling.

I was surprised. I asked, “Oh you know that?!”

“Yes, of course. I watched it.”

LOL.  “Pangako Sa’Yo” (“Promise to You”) was a one of the famous Filipino soap opera from the late 90’s or early 2000 I think. I then realized that it indeed became famous in Malaysia as it was reported in the news back then. That was nice.

F then decided he’ll just go inside to take a few snaps while I waited for him outside. For a while I kind of felt scared. Probably because it is a foreign place, and most people in the area are men but then my Southeast Asian features is my advantage that no one would think of me as a foreigner, so that kind of kept me safe sitting outside the mosque’s gate.

After that F and I decided to take a walk around since their prayer won’t start soon. Then we saw this beautiful park with fountains and beautiful flowers. We sat for a while and rested while I frantically use our map as our improvised fan, because really, it is hot in KL, way hotter than Manila! I actually felt that as soon as I arrived in LCCT. F was telling me, ‘C’mon as if you’re not used to this kind of weather.’ I explained to him how it gets a little bit cold in Manila during this season.

It was already time for their prayer, so we hurried back to Masjid Jamek. Plus the rain was about to pour again. There was Burger King (which is by the way, our official fast food sponsor in KL, alongside McDonalds. LOL) nearby the mosque, so I opted to just stay there while I wait for him. Good thing there was a TV and the ongoing South East Asian Games was on so that kept me entertained for a while. I also called my dad and my sister.  Then I felt the need to write too to chronicle my first KL city tour. So I took out my journal and started writing, while it was raining cats and dogs outside.  About 40 minutes or so, F returned soaking wet due to the rain. Yeah, why do men think they are waterproof?  Good thing I have some tissue paper in my bag. Then we had our late lunch there at BK – Whooper meal for the tall man and Whopper Jr. for the 5ft tall lady. (I won’t say short woman, no!) LOL. I wasn’t able to eat the burger actually after I finished the fries, dunno, must be because it’s already a late lunch and I lost my appetite. I called mom to ‘report’ (LOL). Well I did promise her I will call her when I get there to assure her that I am safe. (There’s a story about that. Read here. ) I let her talked to F so she’d know I am in good hands. After that, he told me to finish up my soda that I barely sipped so we can get out BK. I told him I’m not really much into soft drinks so we can leave it there instead. And because he thought I was wasting money, he took my cup and finished my drink. It was good to know that he isn’t high maintenance  like me, LOL (Idy, I am not!). There was really no awkward moment.

We walked towards the famous Merdeka Square (Dataran Merdeka) or the ‘Independence Square’, where some of their interesting and historical landmarks are located, such as Sultan Abdul Samad Building built during the British occupation in the country which now houses the Ministry of Heritage, Culture and Arts, 95-meter high flag pole, the quasi-Tudor style Royal Selangor Club building and the huge green field where cricket matches are played, the Victorian fountain, the 1893 St. Mary’s Church, the National History Museum and the Kuala Lumpur City Gallery. So we took a few pictures. 🙂

Sultan Abdul Samad Building in Merdeka Square

The Victorian Fountain

World Under One Roof - 1 Malaysia

It was also the time I first had a sight of the tallest twin towers in the world – the Petronas Towers. It can be seen from the cricket field of Merdeka along with Menara or KL Tower.

Petronas Towers and KL Tower as seen from Merdeka Square

We were greeted “Selamat Datang” (meaning Welcome) by the staff as we went inside the KL City Gallery. We learned a bit of history of KL in their mini museum and took a few pictures inside including the miniature of Dataran Merdeka. That is also where they make the lovely (and expensive) ARCH souvenirs.

KL City Gallery

Inside KL City Gallery

KL

Miniature of Masjid Jamek inside the KL City Gallery

Merdeka Square miniature

ARCH

The lovely but expensive Notebooks by the ARCH

As we headed to the exit door, the friendly staff thanked us for visiting but I went back to her to ask how to say ‘thank you’ in their language –

“Terima Kasih” she said.

We then took a few more pictures outside and headed to St. Mary’s Church. There was a wedding the next day so there were people decorating the church with beautiful flowers.

inside St. Mary's Church

Inside St. Mary's Church

After that, F and I decided to go back to the hostel, rest for a while and we’ll just go out at night. We traversed the same route we did in the morning. It was fun walking since I don’t get to do it a lot in Manila. Upon reaching our hostel in Bukit Bintang, we were greeted by a number of girls working in the massage parlor occupying the 1st floor of the hostel building. LOL. They were either sitting or standing outside of the building offering ‘massage service’ to the passersby, well MALE passersby I observed. F told me during his first few days, the girls were actually asking him to have some massage but as he consistently said NO, they stopped bugging him.

F decided to take an afternoon nap while I showered because I want rid of the gross feeling due to my shoes that was soaked in the rain. Then, alone, I went out to the nearby 7-11 store to buy some bottled water. The cashier, like the old man from the mosque talked to me in Malay too. LOL. The 2nd time in the day that I was mistaken as a local. She apologized and quickly told me in English how much I owe and then inquired where I am from.

I was acting brave as I walked to the hostel because I noticed how some local men (mostly Malaysian-Indians) were looking at me. Seriously, what’s with me and Indian men? I experienced the same thing while I was in SG last year. Some even bravely said hello and asked for my name. And it didn’t happen just once in KL.

They have a late sunset there because at 7pm it was still bright outside. By 8pm F decided that he’ll take me to the Pavilion mall which is just 2 blocks away from our Hostel. He told me there are huge Christmas trees inside and I will love it there. And indeed I loved the Christmas Wonderland theme of Pavilion mall. However, as F showed me the stores, he noticed I wasn’t that excited, he wondered why. Women loves to shop (I am an exemption. I only shop when I need to) and he thought I would beam with excitement to be in huge shopping mall. I told him, how many malls we have in Manila and how huge they are too. Plus we almost got the same stores – Prada, Gucci, Nine West, Charles and Keith and the like. What I want to see are local shops, where I can buy things I can’t get at home. Oh but there is one store that I liked – TYPO. They sell awesome journals, notebooks, cute pens, stationary and some home and office decors. There is this particular journal that I loved that says “This is my BLOG” in the cover, but unfortunately, it has damage and they got no more stock. Sadness.

Chistmas Wonderland inside the Pavilion

Christmas Wonderland in Pavilion

Outside the Pavilion Mall - (are other malls!)

But what I enjoyed more in Pavilion were the gigantic Christmas trees. I was a like a kid when we went  near them and took a few pictures. F took some shots of kids in the magical carousel as he just found the Chinese-looking kids so cute especially when they smile. Then we thought we should take picture of us together. He asked me for his tripod that he put in my bag the morning we went out, but I left it at the hostel when we left for Pavilion. So we tried taking a picture with him holding his camera but since I am so tall and he is so short (LOL), we can’t take a proper picture. LOL. It’s either he will kneel down so we are parallel or I will stand on some platform. Well good thing there was someone nice enough to take our picture together. And that picture sparked some controversies at home and in my circle of friends. It was the same picture that Idy wants to send to F’s gf to blackmail me and F. LOL. (Idy, I have an evidence where my other hand is – look at the reflections on the Christmas balls!)

After a few more pictures, we decided to go back to back to the hostel. On our way, we grabbed some snacks from 7-11 for our ‘healthy dinner’ (chips, peanuts, chocolate, Sprite and the instant Asian noodles that I made him eat. 😛 It was his first time to eat instant noodles he said. Good thing I got the vegetable flavor for him because he is somewhat a vegetarian. In fairness, I loved their instant noodles, quite different from what we have back home. We stayed in my room for our so-called dinner while we chatted to Idy. He told him that he took me to the Pavilion but complained that I didn’t enjoy the mall. Hahaha… I did enjoy the Christmas trees. But both of them were happy to know that I don’t like shopping too much. Men and shopping! F then showed me the lovely necklace and bracelet that he purchased for his gf. I especially loved the bracelet. So posh. 🙂

My hostel room

View from my Hostel window - the Monorail (Bukit Bintang station) and Lot 10, one of the malls in their shopping district

I also told F the bad dream that my mother had a few days before my KL flight, the reason she was uneasy about me going to KL and the same reason of our argument.  The dream was, I am in the room of some 3rd floor building (and coincidentally, I am staying in the 3rd floor of the hostel!) and in the next building adjacent to where I was, were two really really tall and dark men looking at me through their window.  In her dream, I was calling ‘MOM! MOM!’, as if I was so scared and asking for a rescue. Mom came to the room where I was and told me to go down, while she kept telling those two men, “You are liars! You are liars!” We actually heard mom talked that night while asleep, so my dad woke her up. Upon hearing the story, F said trying to scare me,

“Well I am a tall guy, that could be me.”

I answered, “Yeah I am so scared of you. And I can just kick you in the ass right now!”

LOL.

After some more stories, we called it a night and said our good nights.

More stories on my ‘third day.” 🙂

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Kuala Lumpur Day 1 – Almost!

14 Dec

(*Note: This is the 1st installment of my recent trip to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I will be writing about my KL experience in maybe 4-5 separate posts to document my daily itinerary during the trip. Just a warning though, the posts will be really long as I want to narrate every bits of it. So relax, get some popcorn and enjoy the ride as you tour around KL though my posts. 🙂 )

(*Addie, here’s the 1st installment. As promised I will write about my entire KL escapade! More to come. :))

Nov 17, 2011 – It is my father’s birthday but I am booked to fly from Manila to KL at 10.10am. We had an advance celebration the night before I left. I woke up at 7.30am. Everything was fine. I already web-checked-in the night before, so I didn’t have to be at the airport too early and waste my precious 3 hours waiting. Thank God for the web check-in technology!  So I left at 8.30 with mom, we took a cab and off to the airport which is less than 30 minutes away from home.  There was no traffic on that sunny Thursday morning. It was a great day. Indeed it was! I arrived on time. Perfect!  At exactly 10.10am, we left Manila. Then after almost 4 hours in the air, we finally landed in LCCT in Kuala Lumpur.  F and I agreed that we’ll meet in KL Sentral instead, so after an hour bus-ride from LCCT to the city center, there he was, my dear friend F waiting for me. Finally we met in person, yes for the first time!  Things went on as planned. Excellent!

But that’s only my wishful thinking.

It didn’t happen.

Well not exactly that way.

Here’s the real story of DAY 1:

I woke up at 7.30. Everything was fine. I web checked-in the night before, so I didn’t have to be at the airport too early and waste my precious 3 hours waiting. Thank God for the web check-in technology!  So I left at 8.30 with my older sister and auntie, because my youngest sis A who wasn’t feeling well called mom and asked her to pick her up from work to go to the Makati Med’s ER. We took a cab and off to the airport which is less than 30 minutes away from home.  I was confident we will get there on time. VERY Confident. But…

BUT…

There was TRAFFIC on that sunny Thursday morning.

Yeah, a horrendous traffic that is!

Ouch.

Cars were barely moving. At first, I still can manage to exchange conversations with my sis and auntie, but not after I glanced at my watch and saw that it’s already 9am and we’re still not halfway through the airport. I kept quiet and started to plead to the Almighty to please give us a good traffic flow or lift our cab and place it directly at the airport’s drop off area.  It was a bumper to bumper situation.

 “Damn. This isn’t happening! Not on this day!” – I thought to myself. I saw some motorcycles passed by and I wanted to get off the cab and get on a motorcycle, any motorcycle! I don’t care if it’s a stranger driving, I will  ask him to take me to the airport, now! But of course I didn’t do that.

My sis out of wanting to paint a smile on my face and change the gloomy/nervous mood inside the cab, cracked some jokes and just made fun of the terrible traffic situation we were in. I think she was trying to console her baby sister (that’s me) by trying to assure me that the flight will be delayed and I will still be able to fly. Thanks ‘Ate’!

930am…. Man, boarding time is at 940… I need a miracle! I was nervous and all, and blaming myself for being so complacent, for being so hopeful that a day will come that there will be no traffic in Manila, for  not thinking ahead, for everything!

What should only take 30 minutes to the airport took us more than an hour to get there. Yes I arrived at almost 10.20am and I MISSED MY FLIGHT.

I hated myself that morning.

After learning that I indeed missed my flight, my sister told me,

 “I think I saw your plane that took off at exactly 10.10am, while we were still in the cab.”

Ouch. She opted not to tell me while we were on our way so I wouldn’t despair. But still I was in total despair after learning I missed my flight!

Well at least I am not alone. There were many of us who missed the flight including the beautiful model/make-up artist named Kharu who was supposed to be on the same flight to KL with me for their photoshoot. Well her case was worse than mine because she was stuck in traffic for like 3 hours!

I immediately sent F a text message informing him that I missed my 10am flight. He replied saying:

“Really? I’m very sorry 😦 coming with another flight? So sorry to hear 😦 why didn’t you leave home earlier?”

I explained what happened and told him I’m getting the next available flight.

So off to the service counter, I tried my luck to negotiate with the airline crew (they’re our client btw). Although I already knew that the fare I paid for that missed flight can’t be credited to the next flight because I already web checked-in and when you do that, it will be considered flown. Still, I tried my chance to convince them that it isn’t entirely my fault. (Yeah I’d like to fool myself sometimes. LOL). But to no avail. I paid for USD 140 just for that one-way flight! Ouch!  And how much did I pay for the roundtrip flight I initially booked? USD 115. And yes, that’s already a roundtrip flight from MNL-KUL-MNL! Dang!

So I thought this trip should be worth all these hassles. Well I just thought that meeting F is worth all of these.

I even thought about booking the next available flight to SG and from there I’ll either take a bus to KL or fly again because I want to be in KL as soon as possible.

The next flight was at 9pm and it will land in KL at 12.30am. Argh! The flight time I was trying to avoid! I do not want arrive at midnight because it’s going to be my first time to be in that city and I do not know my way around yet. So I asked F to please pick me up this time. And my convincing powers worked because he said ,“Ok Y, I’ll pick you up at the airport. See you soon.”

Finally, after days of Idy trying to make him feel guilty of letting a vulnerable (of course not!) woman travel alone from the airport to the city center and telling him that you actually owe her something for helping you out before with your papers. Hahaha… (Thanks Idy! LOL. Now I owe you one! :P)

And since the flight is at 9pm, I still have plenty of time, so I decided to go back home. Kharu, the model I met decided to just stay since she lives far away from the airport to wait for the 9pm flight. She said she’ll just stay in Resorts World Manila and just watch 2-3 movies to kill time.

On our way home from the airport, I’ve learned from the cab driver the reasons of me missing my flight that morning. He said that the president left that morning too for Indonesia to attend some summit and some roads were closed due to that. Of all the days, why does he have to leave the country on that same morning?!?!?! And why didn’t he just take the chopper instead? Second was, there was trailer truck that blocked the road since 4am until 9am just right outside the airport. Third reason, the SKYWAY started to charge high toll fees resulting for motorist to take another route because they don’t want to pay too much, so all cars and public transport are taking the ‘normal routes’. Yeah so those are the reasons… like I said, not entirely my fault.

I slept for a few hours and at 6pm I left for the airport. Yeah I’ve learned already, even if we live just 30 minutes away from the airport, I can’t be complacent anymore. I didn’t check-in via their website too. No way! At 630pm we were already at the airport. See, we are that close, traffic is really the culprit.

At 9pm, we left Manila. Finally! 3 and a half hours later, I am already in KL. This is it. At last I arrived! I sent F a message telling him that we just landed and also sent a text message back home that I arrived in KL safe and sound. I passed through the immigration and I was given a tourist visa good for a month, then proceeded to take my luggage. But before that I saw the money changer and exchange the dollars I have. After that I was already walking towards the exit when I remember that I haven’t collected my luggage yet so I went back and looked for it which took a while. I headed through the exit with my mind completely consumed of something I don’t remember. As I walked towards the exit, I heard a familiar voice calling my name:

“Y! Y! Y!”

And I saw a tall and gorgeous man waving and smiling at me. It was F!  I was stunned because I actually forgot that someone was waiting for me. LOL. I already forgot that he’s going to pick me up. I don’t know but my mind was focused on something I really don’t remember at all.

I walked to where he was. I don’t remember if I said thank you first for picking me up or saying finally we’ve met. He told me I was the last person to get out and he was already asking people if they were on the same Manila flight to assure that my plane already landed. LOL. Well I wasn’t the last, there were still a few people inside.

He then instructed me to buy our bus tickets to KL Sentral because he is not allowed to get in to buy. He was going to give me some Ringgit to buy our tickets but I told him, I already have and I will pay for it since he picked me up. He just took my luggage and waited for a few minutes. When I turned around and walked towards him, I started to feel the excitement of being in KL and also meeting him for the first time.  We hugged and kissed (Idy if you are reading this post, please take note that it’s just a cheek to cheek kind of thing. Nothing to worry, I did not harass our friend. LOL.) Instantly, we clicked. It didn’t feel like it was our first meeting in person. Yup, it’s just like seeing an old friend after a long time. That’s how it feels. We didn’t have an awkward moment I think. We were already at ease and were talking non-stop on our way to KL Sentral. And he was nice enough to carry my luggage and made sure that I was sitting comfortably in the bus.  Awww… how sweet!

He then inquired how in the world I missed the flight. LOL. And he was teasing and laughing at me because he knows that I have been monitoring the airline’s website for a few weeks to make sure I get to avail of the promo, and then I will just miss it and pay more for another one.  When he asked how much I paid for the new booking, I told him to please don’t ask me because I don’t want to remember how much paid.  Haha…

After an hour or so we reached KL Sentral and took a cab going to our hostel in Bukit Bintang. Finally. The hostel was still alive at 2am and people were kind of partying. Pat, one of the hostel staff assisted me and  thanked F for helping me out. He didn’t know we are friends and thought that F was just helping some random stranger carry her luggage. LOL. F explained that we are friends, but quickly explained that he also help others, strangers or not.  Pat inquired why I arrived at 2am when I was supposed to arrive at 3pm as I stated in my booking. I told him the unfortunate thing that happened.

As F promised me and Idy that he will look after me to ensure the safety of the vulnerable woman… LOL… he took my luggage and walked me all  the way to my bedroom in the 3rd floor. He opened the door for me and  even checked the room before I get in to assure me it’s safe. Hahaha… Then he showed me the male dorm in the 2nd floor where he was staying.

We called it a day after that and agreed to get up late the next day.  🙂

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High Maintenance? Me? Of course Not.

7 Nov

A few days ago my friend F and I were looking for the place to stay in KL through the internet and discussing about it over Skype. His requirements were simple – clean hostel, male-only dorm is available, shared bathroom isn’t a problem, safe place to stay and near the city center.

My requirements? Don’t even get me started. Haha… For this trip, I decided that I, too will stay in a Hostel, same hostel where my friend is staying. But before I even came into that decision, it took me a loooooong time (Read: WEEKS) to pick between staying in a Hotel or a Hostel. I was too concerned of the place I am staying since it will be my first time to visit the country.

The hostel we picked looks nice and clean. From the reviews I’ve read from a booking site, it is one of the top-rated in Malaysia. But I didn’t settle for one website alone, I googled a lot to get as much information about the hostel. F laughed at me when I told him to check out the Hostel’s Facebook page. He said that I am very paranoid and that the reviews in the booking site should be enough. I showed him the pictures that the hostel is located in a very strategic place, being very close to the monorail station in their shopping district, that there is a pharmacy, a clinic, convenience stores, clothing store, malls across the street and even fast food nearby and that, this is very important, THERE IS A POLICE STATION just few steps away from the Hostel’s entrance.

He asked me… “So the sight of the police station outside made you agree to take the hostel?”

I said Yes! Hahaha… But I’m still not 100% convince to take it I said. He suggested though that I book a private room with its own bathroom if I am uncomfortable with the common baths and so I have privacy. As for him, he is a traveler and stayed in many hostels in Europe so sharing rooms with others and even the bath isn’t an issue. Only that this time, he requires staying in a male-only dorm not to get into trouble with his uber conservative family and fiancé.

I went on checking more pictures of the rooms and told him, I don’t want a windowless room.

He chuckled and said, “I hope you won’t be like this when we travel around KL… you have so many requirements!”

I asked, “What are you trying to say then, that I am high maintenance?”

Still laughing he answered, “Yes” but then quickly added, “But I understand why you are this concern, it will be your first time in a Hostel.”

Yeah sort of my first time, especially in a foreign country, but I’ve stayed in one when I went with mom to Baguio for a church-related conference. The difference is that I knew almost everyone staying there since we booked the entire hostel and that it is in my country, my territory.

I asked him, “Do you think I can stay in the female-only dorm-type room?”

He said, “Yes, why not.”

“You think I am that brave to sleep at night with ‘strangers’ in the room?”

He said, “Yes you are.”

“You think I can stay in a room with girls, who are most likely to be from different countries?”

He said, “Yes. You’ve already seen a naked woman right?”

I freaked out and exclaimed “WHAT?!!!!”

He said, “I’m kidding. Hahaha… Maybe they’ll just walk around the room in their underwears.”

“Oh…” was all I could utter. I was almost speechless. Man, I can only do that with my sisters or mom in the room not other people.

I told him, I might consider the female-only dorm-type room first because it is a lot cheaper as private rooms are almost the same price as the hotels, and second because, it is going to be a new experience for me and a good chance to meet new people. And I thought I should loosen up a bit. Then he went on to assure me that it will be fine, that I will be fine.

Then he said, “Okay now, let’s book. You book first.”

It took me a while to respond because I was checking out hotels nearby after our other friend, ‘best friend Idy’ suggested that I stay in a Hotel instead. I was confused. Idy has a point. I should book for a hotel instead for my safety.

I went back to F and said, “Wait. Wait. Wait”

Confused, he asked, “Why? What happened?”

I told him, I’m still not sure of the hostel and I’m considering a hotel. All he could say was, “Women!” LOL. But he is already decided to stay at the hostel and we agreed that if ever I want a hotel, it should be around the area so he can easily pick me up in the morning and take me back to the hotel at night. Idy even suggested the same thing.

Then after a few days of sorting out my options and seeking suggestions from my family and Idy, I decided to take the female-only dorm room in the Hostel. LOL. I booked and paid the 10% required deposit plus the service charge. The remaining balance should be paid in cash on my last day at the hostel.

I immediately told F, who is already roaming around Asia by the time, about the booking I made in the same hostel and my brave decision to take the dorm-type room. He replied saying “Good. See you soon then.”

But…. But… But…

LOL. Yes, there is a but…

As of this writing, things might still change… I’m still looking at the option of staying in a secured HOTEL room after my mother told me about the bad dream she had about me just the other night. Told F about it and he okayed it. 🙂

Call me paranoid or fickle-minded (I am a woman, I have the right to change my mind after 2 seconds. LOL) but I am not taking that dream for granted. It could be a warning or something. Plus, I had to please my parents so they will stop worrying.

And I am NOT high maintenance. I am just guarding myself. 🙂

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