A Travellerspoint blog

Arrive home on a high note

While boarding our flight, we noticed a group of three wearing masks (across their face and mouth). They sat right in front of us. Soon after takeoff they removed their masks … only to put them on for arrival. I’m not sure what their concerns are … the risk of contracting something at airports?

Anyway, going through the terminal in Auckland [Auckland-travel-guide-1139106], they were picked-up by medical staff for swine flu checks … they must have looked suspicious or sick wearing those masks … perhaps like the Japanese as they wear masks when they have a cold or flu to contain their sneeze droplets.

The 2-5-2 layout of the aircraft seating worked well for us ... we were lucky to get a block of five seats to share between the both of us. It was possible for both of us to lie down at the same time, heads at either aisle and our legs pointing towards the middle. Still cattle class but time flies when you're horizontal and shut-eyed.

Our flight with Malaysia Airlines ended on a high note. The nasi lemak breakfast was good … coconut rice served on banana leaf, accompanied by chicken rendang (curry) and prawn sambal (chilli jam) topped with crunchy anchovies and peanuts. Heaven at 39,000 ft.

Posted by alexchan 17:00 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Canberra, Washington DC and Putrajaya


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large_5550_12424753288519.jpgPutrajaya is a city of bridges.
Today we visited the city of Putrajaya [Putrajaya-travel-guide-1311214], conceived as the administrative centre for the government. It is packed with many buildings housing various government departments, mostly in very stylish Islamic and modern style.

The city is reachable by rail from both KL Sentral and the airport where were putting up.

Having worked in New Zealand, it appears to be in quite a contrast to the New Zealand government where about 20 years ago, everything was being down-sized and many departments sold their buildings to take up residence in smaller leased buildings. Yes, I can see where my brothers' taxes have gone.

It is very impressive. I'd like to see Putrjaya suceed as a both a government centre and a normal city ... it will offer a great lifestyle for many because of its planned and green ambience.

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Posted by alexchan 17:00 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)

Shop till we drop


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We ate a curry breakfast at the low-cost terminal of the airport (near our hotel) before heading to the city (KL Sentral) on the bus. Shopping is great in KL ... there is good choice at reasonable prices ... and it is a legal requirement to display prices unlike in Thailand or Singapore where the opening price will differ depending on what you look like. Having said that, the displayed price is highly negotiable but at least everyone starts at the same level.

Once in the city, we started at Mid-valley Mega Mall, then taxied to 1 Utama (both are big malls). Kim went to the doctora at Mid-valley to get his blocked ear checked out ... it turned out to be an inner ear infection and was given some medication. No antibiotics required ... which is quite a change from the scenario here where doctors oversell medication to prop up their income, since there isn't yet a requirement to separate medical consultation from dispensing.

After that we went back to the Bukit Bintang and Sungai Wang which are lower-class malls packed with goodies and a blind massage centre. Finally we ate at Pavilion, a top-notch mall nearby ... gving the Starhill Gallery a miss even though it had the most stylish ollection of eateries I've walked past.

We headed back to the airport hotel after dinner. It was a 13 hour day with only three apparels being purchased.

Posted by alexchan 17:00 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)

Obituaries in the Big Smoke


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large_5550_12424750333094.jpgDo you think this newspaper has had a few Obituary pranks?
We left Semporna [Semporna-travel-guide-1098708] for KL this evening via Tawau airport. It is sad this marks the end of our adventure and the reality of work awaits.

We’ll miss Semporna somewhat but it isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. We like:

* the fact that it is small and friendly (you may need to speak Malay).
* its proximity to most dive sites (45 mins to 1 hour) and you save on having to stay at expensive resorts where you are held captive to their exorbitant meals and diving packages.
* Not being able to go hungry around here ... plenty of Malay, Indian and Chinese food around. Fresh seafood is available and we’ve been told the quality is great (naturally it is fresh). There’s also street vendors for yummy homemade snacks.

On the other hand:

* It is rather undeveloped and litter abounds. Even if you dispose your litter into a bin, it may make its way to the street or the sea.
* The water in Semporna itself is foul with sewage going into the sea ... that’s the reality of traditional (over-)water villages.

KL will be in stark contrast to Semporna. We will stay two nighs at Tune Hotel (yes, base rates from a few cents plus add-ons for air-con) at the Airport and bus to the city for shopping and eating ... even though there is plenty of good food at the airport. Actually, we booked three nights as it meant we would have a late check-out for our night flight ... it is cheap enough to do that!

The photo here is a snippet Seems quite funny doesn't it? Until someone play a joke on you.

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Posted by alexchan 17:00 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)

Post-Barracuda Depression


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large_5550_12422137836467.jpgKitten wants milk from mummy. On Mabul Island.
Kim and I didn’t want to get going today. After witnessing the best yesterday, it was hard to get motivated.

Today we were bound for Kapalai and Mabul Islands. We didn’t know much about these sites.

* We soon realised on our first dive that the cloudy skies didn’t illuminate the water well ... while it wasn’t exactly choppy, there was more sandy suspension which also reduced the visibility. The site was an artificial reef made up from construction waste ... pylons, tyres, boats ... junk is good, huh?


* The second was under a former oil-rig now converted into a divers’ hotel ... it was gloomy under the shade of the platform. It didn't look conducive as there was some litter from the nearby village on the shore. Underwater it didn't look so bad.large_5550_12422137844306.jpgMabul jetty, Seaventures diving hotel in the background.


* The third was slightly better with good sightings of turtles.

We rested between dives on Mabul Island where we noticed a stealthy grey plane patrolling the area. Good to see that the Government is doing its best to ensure our security.

When we finished for the day, Kim and I left our shorts on the diveboat by mistake. When we returned an hour after, the shorts had been stowed but my watch in the pocket had gone.

I wasn't upset even though it was a gift from a very special friend (Kim had given it to me when it was old and badly scratched ... he had gotten himself a new one). It wasn't an expensive watch but I like it as it had dual display ... digital and analogue ... good for two time zones.

Semporna is the wild west of Sabah [Sabah-travel-guide-1319168] and Malaysia! Life is simple, people are poor and things (especially eating out) is cheap ... cheaper than other parts of Malaysia.

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Posted by alexchan 17:00 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)

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