kuala lumpur

MALDIVES 2014 [DAY 2]

I felt like I’ve slept for more than 12 hours when I woke up past seven in the morning the next day. We were served American breakfast – toast, eggs and hotdogs – with a side Indian twist – chapati, peas and beans in curry sauce. It was okay, enough to fill your tummy on a busy morning ahead. So we did.

photoThe sound of the waves in the nearby sea filling our ears added the flare that’s lacking in the food served. In no time, our feet we scrambling on the powdered sand towards the beautiful beach of Maafushi.

DSC_0457DSC_0454DSC_0452A few steps away from the shore, there’s a sand bank where our group took a lot of photos (profile, panorama and jump shots). There were a number of early swimmers and sunbathers. Some of us snorkel our way to greet the underwater good morning! Being a non-swimmer, I enjoyed basking in the heat of the Maldivian sun at the sand bank.DSC_0453DSC_0469DSC_0481DSC_0462DSC_0490DSC_0499DSC_0505DSC_0503

We went back to our room an hour before lunch to prepare for our little trip to a bigger sand bank farther away from Maafushi called Sexy Beach. We had a good time resting up and drying up our clothes. After lunch was served, we geared on to the nearby Maafushi Diving site to get our flippers (which I didn’t use) and life vests.

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It took us 15-20 minutes to get to the Sexy Beach. Only one word popped into my head — magical! Imagine sailing through the deep blue Indian Ocean with an unobstructed view and seeing from afar a glowing turquoise enticing every boat rider to go its direction. It is only a few meters long with waves from both sides calmly wetting the finest sand I’ve ever seen!

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I was afraid to jump off the boat to get to the Sexy Beach’s shore even though I have my life vest on. I don’t have a great control of my own body. Thank God for one local who helped me until my feet felt the sand. We stayed there for more than an hour and met up with another group of Filipinos who are also exploring the islands of Maldives. After the 45-minute dive our co-travelers did, we headed back to Maafushi just in time for the sunset.

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Another day in Maldives well spent! I love how this vacation is a great mix of adventure and relaxation. We again had our candlelight dinner. Nightlife is not much of a thing in Maldives – alcoholic drinks are not allowed in local islands while those in the resorts are pretty much expensive.

After dinner, we headed back to our room and rested to prepare for another adventure waiting the next day!

PS

Congrats to these four who went diving and saw the richness of Maldives underwater!

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MALDIVES 2014 [Day 1]

We flew to Maldives from Kuala Lumpur via Air Asia. The travel was four hours long, more or less. It was a transit flight with a stopover at Colombo, Sri Lanka. But we went straight to the beautiful republic of Maldives. No wonder why one of the passengers stood up even though we’re landing to take a peek at the beautiful atolls.

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We arrived at the airport several minutes before clock strikes one in the afternoon. There’s a three-hour time difference between Kuala Lumpur and Maldives. The heat prickled on my skin as we walk our way outside the airport. But I immediately forgot about it the moment I laid my eyes on the unbelievable facade outside the airport.

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We rode a speedboat to Male, capital of Maldives. From there, we road a ship (not sure what it’s called really) to Maafushi island. We were with the locals and some tourists too. After paying 30 MVR (or 2 USD), we sailed on to the island where we’ll be staying for four days.

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After two hours of sea travel, we got to our destination. Maafushi is a local community. Low-rise houses are stacked on streets full of white sand. There’s a school a few steps from the dock and a series of beach houses and hotels are seen meters away from the calm beach.

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We checked in at Arena Beach. Originally, we booked rooms at Arena Lodge but we got an upgrade since it’s under construction (not sure about this though as I was thinking of the room we’ll be checking in while the manager is discussing πŸ™‚ ). Anyways, the room is lovely. Would’ve preferred a beach front room but having one in the back is cool too (for drying wet clothes πŸ˜› ). The room has a contemporary vibe which I always like.

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Our first day was dedicated mainly to settling in to the island and to relaxing after long hours of travel. In total, there were thirteen of us (most of whom I only met there). We had a long table for our candlelight dinner outside the hotel. Food wasn’t superb but it was tolerable.

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I fell asleep as soon as my back hit the comfortable bed. I needed to catch up on sleep and regain energy for the days ahead.

KUALA LUMPUR – MELAKA 2014 [Day 2]

I woke up early the next day (which is around six or seven in the morning, local time) and took a picture of the sky. Waited for several minutes til sunrise before I went down to walk around and look for The Baboon House. Before leaving, I was Google-ing about what to find and do in Melaka and the mentioned art gallery/coffee shop piqued my interest.

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So I wandered around alone. Took pictures of the church, bought some souvenirs, walked the lengthy Jonker Street and the street in its two sides until I found The Baboon House.

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Shops open at ten in the morning so most were closed when I passed by. Baboon House has this exclusive vibe. They open at eleven in the morning and pictures are not allowed inside the gallery as everything in there is for sale.

After an hour or so, I met up with my sister and Neil and we had our first meal for the day — the delicious chicken rice ball and Hainanese chicken!

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My chopstick skills were challenged yet again and I hit a milestone as it was the first meal I finished without using any spoon and fork. The meal became extra special after we paired it with hot milk tea. We paid around RM 30.

Afterwards, we walked again around Melaka and took some pictures in the wind mill…

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… and the very artful wall inscription on the Heeren guest house located at the left side of the Jonker Street when you’re facing it.

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We ventured on a trip up the Dutch graveyard. You can see rich Melaka culture up there. Our attention was caught by an artist sitting outside the ruins. My sister and I fell in love with his works instantly. It was very simple, yet it tells a deep story. We loved how Francis Go, the artist, shared his personal inspiration on why such works are made.

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We went back to The Baboon House to check what’s inside it. It has a very serene environment. The tainted walls and the serious art hanging on it are totally perfect. We sat on a table with a big lamp in the middle under a spiral staircase. From what I’ve read inside, it was an abandoned building before and though they have developed the interior, no change has been done on the structure. I ordered the Malacca coffee which kicked in right after the first sip!

Having walked twice on the streets with only a few hours difference, I have noticed how different one from another (I’m talking about the two alleys on the sides of Jonker.) The one in left (as above), where Baboon House can be seen too, is more Dutch-influenced, while the one on the right has a more Chinese vibe.

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Melaka is such a great place for artists. You can tell by how creative each and every shop is. I wish I had enough time to visit museums and galleries open next to each other. I’m still not crossing you out in my bucket list so another visit is a must.

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After Malacca’s caffeine has kicked in our system, we bid adieu to the beautiful state to go back to Kuala Lumpur. I am definitely coming back to this wonderful place! I was finally able to caught up with sleep after boarding a bus in Melaka Sentral. The day wasn’t done yet as we’re visiting Doraemon in his expo! πŸ˜‰

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Before five in the afternoon, we arrived in Kuala Lumpur. We took the train going to the Viva Expo Hall so we can enter the Doraemon 100 Secret Gadgets Expo which is running from Dec 2013 to March 2014. One ticket for adult costs RM 25. I didn’t know where to start after seeing the hundred life-size Doraemons plus some action bits pasted on the wall (same as what you see in the anime).

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We took our time inside the expo and went through each and every Doraemon display. Even took pictures with life-size Nobita, Gian, Shizuka and rest of the gang!

After touring the hall, we bought Doraemon’s favorite food — Dorayasaki. Simply put, these are two pancakes with either chocolate or peanut butter filling. Still, the experience brought back a lot of fond childhood memories!

It was raining when we went out of the hall and the train station is far from it so we decided to take a cab back to KL Sentral to get our luggage and check in to Travelers Palm near Bukit Bintang before we have our dinner. It took us a while before a cab stopped in front of us. After getting our luggage at KL Sentral, we again queued for another cab to go to the inn. Here’s what amazed me – you purchase a ticket before riding the cab. That ticket would indicate the general vicinity of your destination and the charge is fixed. The driver has 30 days to claim the cash from the collected ticket. Saves us the trouble of drivers fixing fares, right?

Took a shower first before going out on a busy night in the streets! We have checked in and our stay for the night is already paid so we only need to find a place to fill our tummies. We went to the nearest mall where there’s a big H&M beside Zara (I forgot the name of the mall, sorry). And there, I’ve tasted the best Bah Kut Teh ever! Again, I was faced with the same challenge – eating using chopsticks. I was getting better and I managed to consume a cup of rice! We capped it off with two bowls of ice kachang.

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Eating in Malaysia has left me full for half a day! We walked around five to seven blocks from there to the Pavilion to the Petronas Towers! Seeing those twins at night is really breathtaking! It’s a shame that I’m blurry in my one and only picture with it at night. Maybe it’s a sign that I should really come back?

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It was almost midnight when my eyes got heavy. Neil has left for Shah Alam for his work. We were met by our travel buddies back in the hotel for our afternoon flight the next day.DSC_0394

Two days of exploring Malaysia is definitely a good start! The country promises more attractions and the days I’ve spent in it are not enough! I don’t mind going back. πŸ˜‰

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After the tiring adventure in the metro, it’s now time to relax in the beautiful islands of Maldives!!

KUALA LUMPUR – MELAKA 2014 [Day 1]

It was my first time to go outside the country and I can say it was one hell of an adventure! Main destination for my 8-day vacation are the wonderful islands of Maldives. And since there is no direct flight from Manila to Male, we passed through Malaysia’s capital. And passing through included a day tour to the vast city of Kuala Lumpur and the UNESCO heritage site, Melaka.

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After four hours of cloudy travel and almost turbulence-free flight, we landed on Kuala Lumpur around ten in the morning. We were met by my sister’s dear friend (who’s now based on Malaysia) and off we went to roam around the city. After about 30 minutes of bus ride from the airport, we arrived at KL Sentral and dropped our baggage to their lockers for rent. We paid RM 30 which secures our luggage until 12 midnight the next day. We then rode a train to go to Jalan Petaling where the famous Chinatown is located. There we had our US dollars exchanged for Malaysian ringgits. Also, we have tried the authentic curry mee. Under the scorching heat of the sun, I battled on to finishing my spicy meal. I was apprehensive at first as I’m not really a curry fan, but gave it a try anyways since this is a holiday and I don’t want to kill the buzz.

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Food servings in Malaysia are a lot heftier than those available here in Manila. The three of us had a separate bowl of curry mee and while chowing it down, my sister and I have realized that one bowl was enough for us. Curry mee has everything — from tofu, string beans, chicken meat, noodles to coconut milk. It’s surprisingly delicious. Was sweating out the whole time but it’s really good.

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After a very heavy lunch, we set off to wander around the streets of Kuala Lumpur. I got confused with the train and bus stations we were riding but after around an hour, we arrived at the Pavilion. Thank God for Neil (my sister’s friend), we didn’t get lost. Pavilion is a sophisticated mall with stalls of posh brands. We cooled down there and visited nearby shopping centers before treading down the path to the famous Petronas Towers.

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From the end of the walkway (near Aquaria and the park in front of Suria LCC Mall), you can see the twin towers. I cannot take my eyes off of it. It was only in the mid-afternoon but the intimidating structure is definitely owning the city. But I’m not saying the other skyscrapers are not amazing (because they are!) One thing I instantly loved about the city is the range of the structurally different buildings surrounding it.

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A few minutes before five in the afternoon, my feet are screaming at me! They hurt like hell from the non-stop walking. But I am still excited to see more. I didn’t mind the pain. I was so into absorbing everything I lay my eyes on. We’ve seen at least both the high-end and middle-class part of the metro so we traveled to the bus station going to Melaka. If I remember it correctly, we rode the Rapid KL (which is automatically maneuver — no physical person is driving the train while we’re at it) and then another one to reach the bus station.

We paid around RM 10 for our bus fare to Melaka. ItΒ  was a two-hour ride so it’s siesta time! We slept almost the entire travel. When I opened my eyes and checked the time, it was almost seven in the evening but the sun hasn’t set yet. How cool is that.

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We arrived at the Melaka Sentral to ride another bus going to Melaka. It was such a bummer to see the Jonker Street empty. We were expecting to be welcomed by the night market but we were told that it’s only open during the weekends. We hunted for a restaurant to have our dinner before checking in to the guest house. My sister and I have a rule — what we eat should be something usually (if not only) found in the place we’re visiting. We did try McDonald’s the next day but that’s because we were in a hurry. πŸ˜‰

As we were walking outside Dataran Pahlawan, we saw the Upin & Ipin restaurant (if you watch Disney channel, you know who they are). It was already around past ten in the evening and almost all stores are closing so we went in and order something to eat. Unsurprisingly (after the curry mee experience), the serving was very generous. I tried the BBQ Chicken paired with the highly recommended drink called Bandung which tasted like jasmine.

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We called it a night after checking in at a guest house where we’re the only Asian guests. It was packed with European backpackers and I loved how down-to-earth those people were. There’s this hippie vibe in the receiving area of the house where Japanese writings were in frames and hanging on the walls, a billiard table, a book shelf, a bicycle rack are situated. We stayed at the third floor where there’s a view of the little city.

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[Not a pro in photography. This is just me trying some editing app πŸ˜‰ ]