Saturday, December 29, 2007

Taiwan Family Trip

There has been a lot of family trips this month and I'm still lovin' it.
As this is a very very long trip (19 - 25 Dec), I'll try to make it short... hehez.
My trip is part of a tour group (gourmet grp) that comprises of 30 ppl including my mom, dad, alice, james, annie and ashley. Rosemary will be in sg to see his husband's family and Grace will be in Germany to visit the bf for xmas.

The flight to taipei was a long one for we transitted in 2 different airports; bangkok and HK. We left KL at 1pm and reached taipei at 1030pm!! We had 3 meals in the plane within that few hours. ugh! Sick of plane food after that... At least, there's free flow of booze... heheh...The night ended with a light supper at some nearby stall and slept in our rooms. Weather was quite cold outside at tht time.. =))

Hotel that we stayed in the first night

Next day, we went to ChuiFen, an old fashioned way of life place where we get to shop and eat. Apparently, that place is famous for Taro and Sweet Potato Balls.
Chiu Fen

There were lots of things to see from decoratives to clothes to gigantic meat balls. Bought a couple of souvenirs from here and some sight seeing

Giant-sized meatballs

Decoratives... look what those baby pigs are watching.. keke

View at Chiu Fen

We went to Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall after that and that's where my 5 year old Nike Shoes decided to fail me. The soles came out and was torn.. boo hoo..

Found some guai lou doing exercise there

Luckily, after this place, it was a long ride to Tai Chung were we'll go to Fong Jia Night Market and I can get new shoes there! Or so I thought... Before that, we were to go to Nei One Old Street to see more shops.. Supposed to experience some Hakka old life style there and some Hakka dishes. Oh well, I managed to get a fake crocs over there for RM20. That place ain't tht bad... Can see a lot of old styled living and a bald sakura tree.

Dad sitting under 2 bald sakura trees while waiting for mom and sis to come back from toilet

There are a couple of nicely designed shops as well

Finally, we reached the Fong Jia Night Market. I guess the night markets in Taiwan is really popular. Almost every city has at least one night market.

Had our dinner here of some weird paste noodle and did some shopping.

And I bought a new Nike shoe!! The trend and fashion here is always somehow faster than Malaysia. So, a nike shoe on cheap sale (cause it's out of fashion) will be some newly released shoe in Malaysia! And I bought something even better. It just reached Taiwan the night before. It's a New Limited Edition Nike Zoom Lebron V!! The shoe was just released in December itself and I now own the shoe for a mere RM466 (after conversion).
ps: Actually, didn't really want to buy it as it's rather expensive, but my mom believed in quality and what you pay for is directly proportional to quality in terms of shoes. Old stocks will have wear and tear and the such..

Spent the night in Taichung and nothing special to sight see there.

Following morning, we went to the Earthquake Museum to commemorate the 21st September 1999 major earthquake incident. They have transformed a badly hit earthquake school into a museum.
One of the classrooms

It was like an educational field trip. How, why, what and where about earthquakes. They even have a simulation room to what have happened the night of the earthquake.
Simulation room

There were a lot of loss and casualties from this earthquake, and even I suffered a loss... This is where I dropped my digital camera and the zoom and shutter button came off... =( Hence, I wasn't able to take any pictures with that camera for the rest of the trip. Only took a couple of them with my brother's camera and I have not in possession of them. Therefore, less pictures from here onwards.

Rest of the day, we went to the Sun Moon Lake (largest lake in Taiwan), a peacock farm, a temple (Wen Wu Temple) and of course, another night market in Kao Hsiung. We travelled from Tai Chung to Kao Hsiung for tht day. Kao Hsiung is a much nicer city. Very organized and brightly lit up, unlike Tai Chung.

The next day, we went to another Buddhist Temple called the Fo Guang Shan. Did I mention that it was blardy hot over there?! We were sweating all over while exploring this temple. Then, we went to Shie Lake where they take us to see a beach. Nothing special there apart from the darker fine sand at the beach. We went on a ferry ride at that lake where I did not understand a single word the tour guide said as it was in Chinese. (everything IS in chinese over there actually)

Then, we went to Tainan where they tried to sell us Lin Zhi. Ended up back in Taichung for the night where we went to Yi Zhong Jia Night Market. Night market here wasn't very appealing as most of the things are ladies stuff.

For the fifth day, it was a journey back to Taipei from Tai Chung. We went to a Maoli Fruit Rance where we can pluck our own strawberries. Oh, and the strawberries were delicious!!! It's very sweeett... My family bought 3 boxes altogether. haha...
Then, we went to our shortest museum tour ever! The museum itself is very big (National Palace Museum) where they explained the history of Taiwan from the Paleolitic Age to the Modern Era. And the tour guide, rushed us throughout in just an hour or so!! What can we see?!?! Before we could finish reading a description, the tour leader was already out of our line of sight.

Apparently, they wanted to rush for the Changing of Guards in Martyr's Shrine. It's those stationary guards like those in the famous Buckingham Palace. They are really like statues; they don't move and they don't even blink an eye!! We witnessed how they changed the guards and it was quite impressive. I think even the guards at the Buckingham Palace is no longer existing. (probably got abused too much.. lolz)

Towards the end of the day, we went to Taipei 101, the current tallest building in the world. It's all branded and designer's stores inside.

At night, we went to Shih Lin Night Market. This is THE night market to be. The cheapest clothes by far. They can sell long sleeve t-shirts for RM19.90 and it's a buy one free one! Winter clothing are also only for RM19.90. Too bad we didn't really have time to complete the place as we were only given about an hour or so. But, we came back the day after as it was a free and easy day =) However, we went to Xi Men Ding Night Market that night itself as the night was still young after we settled down in our hotel rooms.

The final day, we were able to explore Taipei on our own. We went to the Wu Fen (lui yan kai) to shop for very cheap ladies clothes. We took the train and MRT there. However, as it was raining, it wasn't really convenient for us to be there. Then, we went to Sogo where we stopped a station earlier. Hence, we had to walk from one station to another. That walk made my parents tired but we were able to see more shops from there. It wasn't much of a sight for me. Nothing special, really...

Then, my parents, my sister and the 2 kids went back to the hotel to rest while me, my brother, 2 girls from our tour group (Angela and Wendy) and our Malaysia tour lady (Crystal) decided to venture on and explore Taipei. We headed to New York New York, a shopping mall in near Taipei 101. We watched National Treasure 2: The Book of Secrets at Vieshow Cinemas. The Cinema is veryyy huge!~ Seats were very comfortable also and it's about RM35 for a ticket! We had dinner at McDonald's where we wanted to try the Pork Burger, went to Taipei 101 again and decided to call it a day as it was quite tiring. We went back to the hotel room for a while and came back out again to Shih Lin Night Market! hehe...

Managed to explore the night market more over there. Turns out, deeper in the night market, the clothes gets cheaper and cheaper! From 199 yuan, to 188 yuan to 95 yuan!! I even bought a backpack for only 95yuan. Bought most of my souvenirs there too... And sadly to say, it was xmas eve at tht time and it wasn't much of a countdown. "Celebrated" Christmas unknowingly while shopping in one of the stalls in Shih Lin Night Market with my brother, Angela and Wendy.

It's now Christmas day and we had to wake up at 5am the next morning for the bus will be leaving at 6! Sounds so glamorous to spend Christmas in 3 different countries. In the morning, we were in Taipei. In the afternoon towards evening, we were at Bangkok and at night, we were in KL. However, we just spent Christmas like that in the aeroplane and most of the time in Bangkok airport. We had to wait for a 4 hour transit in Bangkok. Was really boring...

Oh well, so much for xmas 2007. That's the end of my trip! (A lot of gossips and human relationships throughout the trip, but decided not to write it here) Cheers!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Malacca Family Trip

Have been staying in Singapore for a week to do my Christmas Shopping and of course, to also wait for the weekend to meet up with my family straight in Malacca. And since I'll be leaving from Singapore, I wouldn't want to travel alone and found some company to teman me back instead; Elaine.

I left Singapore on Friday with Elaine and Zhi Sin to meet up with ZS's parents in JB cause will be staying the night with him. His parents treat us for dinner in some chinese restaurant and we stayed up till 4am playing monopoly and fairy godmother tycoon.

The following morning, we woke up at 8 plus for breakfast and our trip to Malacca. We didn't sleep the entire journey. Instead, we played alphabet games, situational games and story-making games where 3 of us will think of a beginning, a middle story and an ending, and we're supposed to join the phrases up to make a story. =)

Anyway, we reached Malacca at about noon where I waited for my family to pick me up from Jongker Street. After Elaine had her lunch with ZS's family, I reunited with my family at the chicken ball rice shop. Then, my sisters wanted to shop around for clothes and food.

We reached the A Famosa Resort in the evening and found myself in a bungalow with our own personal swimming pool!!! It's a honeymoon suite and our pool is walled up. =)
We played in the swimming pool not long after we're there where my 3 nieces are enjoying the time of their life there splashing around.

At night, we went for the Cowboy Town Show where it costs us RM30 per person. The show comprises if animal parades, some red indian performance and a fireworks display. It wasn't that bad but it's still damn pricey for RM30. Not only that, we still have to pay for other individual rides after we paid the RM30 to enter the place. Anyhow, I rode on the "rodeo" and played the trampoline. I slept relatively early that night cause I didn't sleep much the night before.

The next morning, we went for the in house breakfast. It was by far the worst in-house breakfast i ever had. Firstly, we HAVE to pay for the parking fee to get there. Then, the breakfast wasn't buffet style and each of us have a coupon which entitles us to one main dish, ONE drink and ONE dessert. So, if after we finished our cup of coffee, we can't refill them. Heck, even the dessert, there's only ONE miserable choice for us, which was watermelon. Luckily, the watermelon was nice. And for our main dish, we have 3 choices of porridge, nasi lemak and western. Western only had one egg, one sausage, red beans and toast bread. *sweatz* But the nasi lemak ain't too bad. Quite a big portion. Oh, and all of us have to queue up to collect our food. It's like those "beggars" lining up in a very long line for "free food". =/

After we returned, we wanted to play the paintball but it was booked till 2pm and we had to checkout by 1pm. Instead, we spent the rest of the morning in the pool outside the house. It was insanely fun. Me, my brother, Jessie and my 2 sisters played water cannonball. We even had cat fights where me and my brother would carry a person on our shoulder and see who would fall first. It was damn fun.

Unfortunately, it all had to end. We went back to Malacca town for lunch and the traffic in Malacca was terrible. Everything is moving like a snail. We did some shopping there again and left in mid afternoon. On the way back to KL, we out of the blue decided to detour to Port Dickson. Albeit a short tour, it was quite fun as the kids were playing at the beach and we get to enjoy the beauty of sunset there. Took our dinner in PD and went back to KL right after that.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

RYLA 2007

Day 1

We were to meet at Kranji MRT station at 10am. Upon reaching there, there were a lot of people standing around. Later, I realized one thing…. They are all kids! There's one bunch from River Valley High School and another from ITE. Some from NJC and the only other Rotaractor was Liz, which was the first person I talked to. She's from Raffles City and she's 25! And the photographer, who is from Raffles City as well.
Anyway, we left Sg at 1030 and reached Tanjung Sutera Resort at about 1pm. The place is quite ulu, deep within the perkampungan of Kota Tinggi. However, the place is great! Facing the South China Sea, the breeze was ever lasting and there's a pool for us to use too!
We started off with Lunch, then registration aka opening ceremony. We were separated into 10 different groups. I'm in Group 5, and we called ourselves the Blue Bananas (cause we had a blue cloth as our identity), our slogan is "We are delicious" and we used the "banana cheer" as our cheer.

Our first activity was a team building game called "communications". Each group given packets of straws and are divided into 2 sub groups. Each subgroup is to build one half of a bridge and by the end of the session, we will combine the 2 bridges together. We are not allowed to communicate among each other as to how our bridge will look like. However for every 5 minute interval, we can send one representative from each group to try to discuss what we are going to build and tried to come with a design. It wasn't easy cause while we are discussing, the other facilitators will be disturbing and making a lot of noise. So, in the end.. there were lots of different designs.. But there's a lesson learnt from all these, that while each representatives were discussing with one another.. both will be talking at the same time and nobody will be listening.

Lights out at 11pm

Day 2

The day started off with a morning exercise under the lead of our qigong master, edwin's dad! All the moves were so funny and slow… Some of us almost couldn't take it. Imagine, we were to have our knees bent and our hands straight out while positioning our fingers as if holding a ball for 20 minutes~!
It wasn't easy. Then, we had our breakfast and the itinerary of the day commences; TALKS for the entire day@!!! It's all classroom lectures from morning till night. Actually, it ain't that bad… Some are quite interesting… But I just wish that we could go out and have some activities together instead of just sitting down.

Unfortunately, halfway through the session at about 3pm, the electricity went dead. Literally dead. The entire kampung's electricity was cut off. Apparently, there was a problem with the transformer or something. So, we tried to have talks without the help of the microphone and projector. It wasn't too bad, actually. We still went to the beach to clean it up, some games, etc.

Cleaning the beach

But once the night hits in…. We had 'candlelight' dinner. Or more like, 'torchlight' dinner. We learned how to eat in the dark. And as it was pitch black, there weren't even any streetlights, all of us played in the dark. So, it was lepaking and bonding time for us. We played cards with the help of torch lights, planned our sketch for tomorrow night's talentime and laid down to see the stars! I haven't seen such nice carpet of sky anywhere before. Because the surrounding was pitched black, the shimmering of the stars was more evident; while lying down, gazing upon the moon and the stars, blown by the breeze from the sea and the sound of the waves… It was almost perfect. Too bad, I didn't spot any shooting stars. We couldn't even bathe! The showers were all pumped up by an electronic pump and there's no hot water.. So… I guess almost everyone ended their day with an unwashed body

Day 3

Electricity resumed at about 4 in the morning. The morning started off with another round of morning exercise led by a few Rotaractors who reached the previous night during the blackout. There were 4 of them from Rotaract E-club district 3310. Anyway, the programmes from last night were pushed to this morning and again, there were lots of talks again on the 3rd day. There was a movie screening of "Secret" (not the Jay Chou one). By this time, most of us were quite bonded.. For my group, we started playing those 'lame games' that I used to play for NTU's MSA FOC. It was quite funny to see them guess and be dumb-strucked by it.

I guess, the highlight for the day is "Talent Night" and our "BBQ Buffet Dinner". Our dinner was sumptuous with crabs, prawns, fishes, lambs, chicken, etc. All BBQ-ed for us. It was very filling for me… in fact because I took a lot of food, I had to become the 'dustbin' for gobbled up all the leftovers. And talent night was funny. We're supposed to make a sketch/skid on what we've learned throughout the camp. Some did a very great job and had sketches on anger management, crime prevention and a topic on love. After the sketch, we have this Mr. RYLA competition where a male from each group is to compete against each other. They were told to strip off their shirt and to pose for us so that we can decide who the winner is. The thing that they didn't know is that we're to choose the winner based on the amount of armpit hair a contestant have! It was so funny and some really posed like some macho man. Only that, he doesn't have any armpit hair… hahah

Everyone refused to sleep that night. We even played in the pool after everything ended. The night actually started at 1230 am. We had the friendship dance in the pool, played some games which includes polar bear (a variation to the Mafia game). I was hanging around and chatting with the younger generations. I spent a couple of hours talking to three 12 year olds. It was so funny. There's this girl who has a special ability. She can fart anytime she wants, at her own free will! And it became a hobby for her. The night ended for me at 4am. Now that I come to think of it, I should have stayed up till the max, i.e. 630am.

Day 4

The final day of our camp. As per request, we had Qi Gong for our morning exercise again since everyone "liked" it so much until they could re-act on it again during last night's talent night. Then, we had our breakfast followed by vocational talks. Last item was sharing of experiences and feedback from us, or in short "reflection time". We commented on the good and the bad throughout the camp. Then, it was certificate giving time, souvenirs giving, our final friendship dance and photo sessions. It wasn't easy to say goodbye since we shared so much for the past 3 days. On the bright side, we still kept in touch in msn and they started their own blog on RYLA 2007.

Blue Bananas!