London

amsterdam

Amsterdam

Georgia

georgia

New Zealand

Australia

Sri Lanka

sri lanka

Thailand

Singapore

vietnam

Vietnam

China

Korea

korea

Hong Kong

I love traveling – I can just pick up my backpack and go anywhere and meet new people. I also like traveling in a group – sometimes it’s all about the company, not the destination. I’ve been to a lot of places (and still more to go) and some of the best trips I’ve had were when I was traveling in a group.

friends

Okay, there are pros and cons to this especially if you have completely different personalities in the group – some would want to go shopping, some would prefer to lounge at the hotel, some are keen to hit the tourist traps while the others want to experience the local culture and hidden gems.

However, this is nothing that can’t be fixed with a bit of compromise.

local

It’s fun to have like-minded people go on a trip together. The best part about traveling in a group is that you all experience the same wonderful trip together and it’ll seal the friendship even more – having shared experiences (and trials).

You’ll get to know your friends better and there’s that old saying about security in numbers – you’ll get to have a lot more fun knowing that if you fall sick or lose all your money to a pickpocket, you’ll have people helping you and backing you up.

eating

The shared experience of traveling in a group can be very bonding – all the good and the bad makes the trip so much more memorable. You learn patience. You learn tolerance. These are the things you need to have when different personalities go on a trip together. Hey, the experience can be so fun it can even develop into an annual thing. :)

In fact, I’m going to Bali again this Christmas. Heh.

london

I’ve been to Europe twice and enjoyed both my trips. I went the typical London-Amsterdam route the first time and ventured further to the Baltics to Latvia and Georgia the second time. Europe is a fascinating continent. You get to see all different kinds of cultures there – it’s not just the homogenous Anglo-Saxon that people usually think of (that’s the UK). The entirety of the European continent spans a whole melting pot of races and cultures which is unique in itself.

Speaking of which, if you want to go to Europe for a vacation with a great discount, listen up coz here’s how you can:

Travel in a group of 3, 6 or 9 people from at least 3 different ethnic or cultural backgrounds and get 30% off your European holiday flight ticket from Malaysian Airlines. This is part of the 1 Malaysia Muhibbah campaign to promote the 1 Malaysia Spirit.

travelers

You know you want to go. Rope in your friends and start planning your European holiday now! I suggest London or Amsterdam as your start off point – you can get around Europe by bus, rail or flights easily. :)

trishaw ride

Pulau Pinang. The Pearl of the Orient. Penang comes in many names and it’s only befitting to the rich heritage of the island to take a trishaw ride to Lorong Seratus Tahun to eat some Penang Curry Mee during our last day in Penang!

seratus tahun

The gastronomic adventure never stops!

seratus tahun mee

This is the famous Lorong Seratus Tahun curry mee. It comes with the classic chilli on the soup spoon haphazardly slapped on top of your dish. It’s RM 5.50 per bowl and comes with chunks of congealed blood, clams and fresh prawns. It’s awesome!

penang curry mee

I’m usually not a big fan of soup dishes, but I drank every single drop of the rich gravy in this curry mee.

curry mee

We went back to Lorong Selamat after that for char kueh tiaw. Yes, this is an eating expedition! I really wanted to try BOTH the famous Lorong Selamat CKT (the guy with the sunnies and the aunties) and I just know that I wouldn’t be able to board the plane in peace if I haven’t checked out the second stall.

aunty ckt

This is the Lorong Selamat CKT, aunty version (RM 8.50).

ckt 2

It’s oilier than the one we ate the previous day, which I much preferred. I suggest patronizing the stall manned by Mr. Wraparound Sunnies.

new world park

Next on the itinerary: New World Park Lee Brothers 4-in-1 Ice Kacang!

lee brothers

This place has been featured on Ho Chiak! (the local food show) before and it has certainly EARNED its place there. You wouldn’t expect such good stuff from a stall located in a food court. Not just a food court, but a NEW food court at that.

ice kacang

The Lee Brothers 4-in-1 Special Ice Kacang (RM 3.80) is loaded with four different fruits (mango, honey dew, banana and papaya) as well as the usual condiments found in the shaved ice dessert. It’s topped with a rainbow scoop of ice cream and here’s the best thing about it – it’s not adulterated with sugar syrup or other artificial sweeteners. The sweetness is purely derived from the fruits (and the ice cream of course). It’s great!

snake temple

Having eaten our fill, we checked out of the hotel and went to the snake temple with Valerie (who’s a nurse!). The snake temple is a temple with a twist (which the name pretty much gives away) – there’s a snake farm in there where you can take photos with the resident snakes!

snake photo

I took two (2) photos for RM 30.

snakes

The snake temple also has a mini zoo of sorts, which we paid RM 3 for the entrance fee. There are a lot of rare snakes in there…

huge python

…including this gigantic python that must weigh at least a ton! I managed to see it eat a chicken.

python eat

Spit it out!

python me

Getting up close and personal. Touchy feely kind of personal. ;)

cobra me

The highlight of the snake temple has gotta be the King Cobra show. The snake charmer was kind enough to let me get within striking distance of this rather poisonous snake.

king cobra

I managed to take a nice photo of the agitated reptile too. Hiss!

cynthia

I managed to successfully rendezvous with Cynthia on our way out. She just arrived in Penang from Perth. It took no small amount of planning, but we did it! :)

valerie

Valerie sent us to the airport after the 3D/2N trip. We did Penang with less than RM 1,000 - it’s definitely a food paradise, a veritable Eden of hawker food and all that is good!

photo album

One for the photo frame!

png

Thanks to MAS for the air tickets and spending money!

Planning a value packed weekend getaway? You know where to look. ;)

Previous posts:

Penang Day 1: The Pearl of the Orient

Penang Day 2: Saturday in Penang: Penang Hill, Fort Cornwallis, Seri Rambai Cannon and Sup Torpedo

It is interesting to note that Fort Cornwallis saw no actual combat to date. Thus, unless you unleash hell at the fort, it’ll remain relegated as the fort that never went through the tribulations of war. It’s such a sad title. Who will do the right thing? Who here is righteous enough, with fire in their bellies and steel in their balls? Who here will attack Fort Cornwallis tomorrow? – Crap from Huai Bin, 2009

day 2 start

I woke up nice and early on Saturday morning. I only managed 3 hours of fitful sleep on Friday (mostly due to people calling me at odd hours) and crawled out of bed to hit the shower before heading out for breakfast with Cheryl and Kah Wheng. We had planned to hit some of the further tourist attractions in Penang so a hearty breakfast is in order.

chicken rice

Cheryl recommended the chicken rice at (The Famous) Goh Thew Chik Hainan Chicken Rice. I was a little out of it during breakfast but I didn’t realize that anyone could tell until Cheryl told me. :x The breakfast was good, and I was having doubts I could even eat lunch coz I stuffed myself. I figured I needed to walk off all that chicken rice so we headed over to…

fort cornwallis

Fort Cornwallis!

francis light

Fort Cornwallis was built in 1786 when Sir Francis Light took over Penang from the Sultan of Kedah with Fine Print (TM) that would make most bankers today go green with envy.

cannon.jpg

The admission for Fort Cornwallis is only RM 3. I highly recommend this place – it’s a famous historical site (it’s in our history books) and there’s surprisingly a lot to see and do over here…

just camwhore.jpg

…and I don’t just mean camwhore

ride it.jpg

…with huge cannons. ;)

fright.jpg

Whoa! You gave me a fright dude.

Seri Rambai Cannon.jpg

This here cannon is the British Empire’s finest back in the days. It’s the largest cannon in the fort and a gift from the Dutch (which makes it Dutch’s finest, I guess, but I tend to think of other things when that is mentioned) to the Johor Sultanate. The British seized it under the Dangerous Drugs Act: Forfeiture of Property Act of…er, 1701, and placed it in Fort Cornwallis. It even has a name – Seri Rambai Cannon.

careful lady.jpg

BE CAREFUL LADY!!!!

load cannon.jpg

Let us deal with the fucking invaders…

cannonballs.jpg

Check out the gunpowder barrels and cannon balls in the artillery store. I loved it!

prison.jpg

There are also jail cells for the misbehaving masses…I imagine thieving folks and deserters were thrown in the brig back in the days. I remember going to this gaol in Melbourne and spending the night there. I wish we can do that in Fort Cornwallis.

kannons.jpg

It is interesting to note that Fort Cornwallis saw no actual combat to date. Thus, unless you unleash hell at the fort, it’ll remain relegated as the fort that never went through the tribulations of war.

fort cornwallis old.jpg

It’s such a sad title. Who will do the right thing? Who here is righteous enough, with fire in their bellies and steel in their balls? Who here will attack Fort Cornwallis tomorrow?

qe 2.jpg

Okay, enough crap.

qe 2 montage.jpg

We headed over to QE II after that. It’s a nice beachfront place, but that’s not saying much on an island. ;)

old building.jpg

I took random shots of historic looking structures…

Khoo Kongsi 0.jpg

…before we adjourned to Khoo Kongsi.

Khoo Kongsi 1.jpg

Khoo Kongsi (RM 5) is located in some back alley in Penang and still maintains the housing facilities for clan members. Kongsi is a benign triad of sorts, a clan if you will. This is the Khoo clanhouse.

Khoo Kongsi 2.jpg

Khoo Kongsi used to be a miniature village and most of the facilities can still be seen around the compound.

Khoo Kongsi 3.jpg

However, it is first and foremost a temple, and there are a lot of intricate sculptures and carvings at the temple.

Khoo Kongsi 4.jpg

There are surviving members of the Khoo clan up to today. The rooms hold an exhaustive list of the Genealogy of Khoo, aptly called Numbers.

Khoo Kongsi 5.jpg

I’m kidding but it really lists down every single Khoo that came in FOB from China to the ones who’re alive (and kicking) with degrees from Australia, US and England.

Khoo Kongsi 6.jpg

How times have changed…

Cheong Fatt Tze.jpg

Continuing along the same theme, the next stop also retraces our cultural roots – it’s the Cheong Fatt Tze Heritage Tour. It should be noted that no cameras are allowed inside the Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion.

Cheong Fatt Tze Heritage Tour.jpg

However, no one is going to stop you if you go around snapping photos (except for the tour guide, but don’t worry about her ;)).

Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion.jpg

The tour costs RM 15 and it’ll be quite informative for those of us who have, somewhere along the line, lost track of our Chinese culture and heritage. I count myself as one amongst this lost generation and I found the tour to be quite enlightening – especially the bits about why they had water in the middle of the courtyard.

Cheong Fatt Tze 1.jpg

The reason they have water in the middle of the courtyard is…er, I forgot. :p

Cheong Fatt Tze 3.jpg

Nevertheless, it’s a good introduction to Chinese culture. I learnt that the good Cheong Fatt Tze couldn’t ride first class on a ship to England due to racial prejudices back then. He was so pissed off that he threatened to start his own shipping fleet. He could have done so easily with his considerable financial clout but finally the British acquiesced and let him ride first class.

Cheong Fatt Tze 3.jpg

He was also known for breaking bowls before shipping them to avoid taxes against china (as in the delicate tea cups and saucers, not the country) and reassembling them back in Penang. Very interesting. I would advice giving the overpriced souvenir store conveniently located at the end of your tour a pass and go camwhore with the props outside.

Cheong Fatt Tze end.jpg

Next stop: Bukit Bendara a.k.a. Penang Hill!

penang%20asam%20laksa.jpg

…but not before refueling with the famous Penang Assam Laksa at Pasar Air Itam. It’s on the way to Penang Hill.

bukit bendera.jpg

Penang Hill is a hillside resort located in Air Itam. I wanted to go on the funicular railway that brings you to the peak of Penang Hill in 30 minutes. A funicular railway is just a fancy way of saying the railway runs on a steep incline. ;)

penang hill.jpg

Bukit Bendera (Flag Hill) refers to Penang Hill’s highest peak – Flagstaff Peak. I figured the ½ hour and 2 km ride to the top would be fun since it was a pretty warm day. Unfortunately, all tickets were sold out except for the 8:30 PM. It would be way too dark by then for any decent photography so we decided to head back to the hotel and come out again later at night.

Penang Hill Railway.jpg

I managed to get a photo of the Penang Hill Railway. This is the funicular railway (the only one in Malaysia) that propels you to the top. Propel might be the wrong word to use since it takes ages; a leisurely ride is more like it.

Penang Hill train.jpg

You can get to this vantage point by going to the restricted Exit area when you see the train coming down. I don’t think the train driver liked me being there though. ;)

hokkien mee.jpg

Anyway, we got back to the hotel, showered and rested for a while. It was raining heavily that night so a lot of options were closed. It’s a good thing we already went to Gurney Drive the previous night. Cheryl and Kah Wheng picked us up and took us to eat the Hokkien Mee in Penang, which is very different from the Hokkien Mee in KL.

penang hokkien mee.jpg

We ordered Hokkien Mee as recommended. I had mine with square fish balls and pork ribs. You can actually choose what ingredients you want to be in your noodles – eggs, roast pork etc. Penang is a Hokkien bastion and Hokkien Mee is one of its famed delicacies.

o chien.jpg

It tastes like what KL people would call Curry Mee. This is authentic Penang Hokkien Mee and to go with it, we ordered a platter of O Chien (oyster omelet). It was a good choice for soaking up all the alcohol we’ll be drinking later that night. ;)

soi 11

We headed to Soi 11 for a drinking session since it’s a Saturday and we’re due to fly back the next day. I remembered ordering several buckets of beer…

soi 11 chicks

…and sculling it. I also vaguely remember meeting some local chicks and getting their numbers. The Memory Keeper (TM) went on sick leave and I couldn’t remember much after that. Heh! I told you I shouldn’t mix, Cheryl. ;)

soi 11 us

Now…where are we? Okay, the drinking session ended at around 2 am and Cheryl and Kah Wheng sent us back to Cititel. The Memory Keeper (TM) also kicked in around that time and I remember we have to eat the famous Sup Torpedo at Sup Hameed. It’s conveniently located right outside the hotel and it’s only open from 6 pm – 3 am, though they extend (LOL!) the opening hours when there are customers.

long dong

Bull’s penis is the shiznit…

bestiality

…and for some strange reason I couldn’t sleep that night and ended up ordering room service (in Penang?!?!?). I didn’t know what I was thinking but when I woke up I found the remnants of a club sandwich. I can’t remember if I paid for it but the room was charged under my credit card, so I just let it be.

room service.jpg

Jesus, eating room service in Penang. I blame inebriation for this sin. :p

The RM 1,000 bankroll kindly furnished by MAS is still looking healthy and there’s only one more day to go!

Next up: Penang Day 3!

Penang – The Pearl of the Orient Part 1/3 (Day 1)

1k

I took a 3D/2N trip to Penang during the long Labor Day weekend courtesy of MAS (Cheers Jon!). The aim? To travel Penang, see the sights, and sample the local food for under RM 1,000. The air tickets were sponsored and I was given 1k as spending money to prove the point. I only brought the 1k and my credit card along (just in case).

cititel

I booked a hotel with my credit card a couple of days before the flight – it’s at Cititel, Penang which is smack dab in the middle of the clubbing district (and the associated trappings like pimps and people of indeterminate gender soliciting you). There are cheaper options out there, but Cititel is pretty close to just about everywhere so it’s a great location.

baggage

We were supposed to take the first flight out of KL so I woke up nice and early to get to KL Sentral. You can check in straight at KL Sentral via the City Air Terminal if you’re flying Malaysia Airlines and you purchase a KLIA Express ticket.

checkin

It saves a lot of time and hassle – just make sure you’re there two hours before your flight departs. Your luggage needs to be loaded into the ERL (which is what everyone else calls KLIA Express – I still call it KLIA Express coz I want to).

klia express

…while you catch up on sleep on the 35 minute train journey to KLIA. :)

voucher

Anyway, we arrived there just to find out that our flight has been cancelled. However, one of the good things about MAS is that they provide you with passage on the next available plane and a RM 15 meal voucher to boot. The meal voucher can be used at the food courts and other participating outlets like McDonald’s and Delifrance. I didn’t know that until now. Interesting!

food

I remember my flight being cancelled while I was studying in Melbourne due to fog. The MAS people transported us back to Melbourne CDB (from Tullamarine where the airport is – distance is about KLIA to PJ) and put us up in a nice hotel for TWO nights with dinner and transport back to the airport the next afternoon. That incident has always stuck in my mind as one of the finer points of MAS.

mas

Whoa, when I ramble, I really go on and on and on. Back to the post!

me plane

I have always wanted to go to Penang. The Pearl of the Orient is known for its unbeatable hawker food. It’s also known for drivers who constantly have one hand on the honk. I saw a motorcycle emit a loud honk for no reason at all. I was honked for just looking at incoming traffic wrong. Hmph.

penang trishaw

Anyway, the first day was spent walking around Georgetown. We checked into the hotel, dumped our bags and headed out in search for lunch. There is a city bus service operated by Rapid Penang that allows you to get around the island for free. It’s very useful for those travelling on a budget – it stops by most popular attractions and it arrives every 15 minutes or so.

penang char kueh tiaw

Unfortunately, we didn’t wait long enough and hailed a taxi before we saw the bus passing us by. The bus exists and it’s reasonably puntual so catch that if you’re on a shoe string. The first stop of the day is to the famous Lorong Selamat Char Kueh Tiaw. I ordered two plates of the Lorong Selamat CKT and was told that it’s going to be a one hour wait (!!!).

selamat char kueh tiaw

No shit, one hour wait for Char Kueh Tiaw! It’s unheard of, but then again the Lorong Selamat CKT is really famous so I figured it’ll be worth it.

ckt eggs

Thus, we placed our order, which is then queued in a complicated system involving eggs and numbers written with a felt tip pen on the previously mentioned chickens-that-will-never-see-the-light-of-the-day. I don’t know how it works but our order was done within an hour.

cheong

Anyway, we also checked out Cheong Kim Chuan a.k.a The Nutmeg Place while waiting for the CKT. You can get the famous (yes, again, this word) Penang nutmeg in various forms ranging from ointments to edible snacks in here. I bought two packets of nutmeg. It’s preserved nutmeg though; I couldn’t find the fresh ones.

nutmeg 

Why would I want fresh nutmeg? It’s a little known fact that eating enough fresh nutmeg will give you a Really Shitty (TM) but allegedly intense 24 hour trip, much like brugmansia (Angel’s Trumpets) which is Not Recommended (TM). It’s more of a delirient than a hallucinogen.

cheong nutmeg

Enough about trips of that sort! :p

sun yat sen

We also checked out Sun Yat-Sen Centre

black power

…but it was closed coz it was Labor’s Day so I only got the opportunity to take a rather inappropriate photo with the statues in front.

selamat ckt

Anyway, we went back to Lorong Selamat after walking around the various little alleys that surrounds the place – it’s quite fun if you’re into watching police question ladies of questionable morals standing suggestively outside dodgy storefronts or getting chased by dogs. Jesus, apparently chaining dogs isn’t very big in Penang either.

prawns

Back to the Lorong Selamat CKT, it was more than worth the 1 hour wait. The prawns are HUGE, juicy and succulent. Delicious – nothing short of what I’ll expect from an island.

penang selamat ckt

The seafood is hella fresh over here and the CKT is done well – it’s not too salty and has just the right amount of crispy pork skin and bean sprouts.

me ckt

The serving size is a bit on the small side though, but that’s not a huge problem since Penang is a food haven and you’re here to eat as many different dishes as you can! :)

octopus

Anyway, after that we decided to go on a walk around Georgetown…this is the “octopus bridge”, so called due to the complicated multi-pronged access to the pedestrian bridge crossing.

komtar

It’s part of our journey to the iconic Komtar building. Komtar used to be a must-go destination back when I was a kid. The tower is the highest point in Penang and thus, we decided to head up to the Observation Deck.

komtar od

Big mistake.

komtar view 3

Disappointing would not be enough to explain the Komtar fiasco.

komtar chairs

Imagine a deserted and dilapidated observation deck…

komtar view 1

…with soiled and dirty windows that you have to work (gah, on my vacation?) to get good photos of the “Penang scenic view”.

komtar pass

…that charges an staggering RM 15 for entrance (daylight robbery!) and gives you a bottle of mineral water as compensation.

komtar view 2

…now imagine a grumpy woman manning the desk.

komtar view 4

…and a café and restaurant that folded somewhere in the 1970′s due to lack of business.

komtar locals

…the only redeeming factor? Got to know some locals. :p

day 1 cendol

Anyway, after that rather unfortunate experience, we were walking back to the hotel when we saw the famous Penang Road cendol and partook in it. It’s not to be missed!

gurney

That night was spent at the famous Gurney Drive where the locals congregate and cause an amazing traffic jam (it’s almost a gridlock). It’s a good thing we walked…it took about an hour for us to actually reach the cursed place, but I reckon it’s faster than taking a cab.

gurney crowd

Gurney Drive is full of good ol’ hawker food, Penang style. It’s where the locals go to eat so you gotta know it’s good. :)

gurney drive

Some of the not-to-be-missed dishes: Duck egg char kueh tiaw, ma zhi and pork satay.

We were lucky enough to catch street fire performers in action. It was awesome! :)

day 1 end

I dare say it’s a pretty good first day in Penang. Total damage? I couldn’t calculate, but its way less than RM 200. So far, so good! :)

Stay tuned for Day 2!

mas mums

Malaysia Airlines organized an yee sang dinner for bloggers at Mum’s Place. There were 25 bloggers in attendance occupying three tables – most of them familiar faces, but I met a couple of bloggers that I haven’t seen IRL before. It was fun! It’s my first yee sang dinner of the year.

yee sang

The yee sang with salmon!

lau sang

It’s a tradition in Singapore and Malaysia to lau sang during Chinese New Year. It’s supposed to kickstart an auspicious new year by collectively mixing the ingredients with chopsticks while chanting phrases like “prosperity in the year to come” and all that. :)

yee sang final

I just like the colors of the dish and the community aspects.

prawns

Steamed rice was served and a plethora of dishes came in quick succession after that. I love the huge prawns – very juicy and succulent.

assam fish

Another highlight is the Assam Fish. It’s fabulous!

food

Other memorable dishes were the chicken curry, vegetables, delicious beef slices and the desserts. I had a banana split.

camwhore

Camwhoring time was scheduled after dinner.

bloggers

Lots of familiar faces here…

people

…and people I haven’t met before or haven’t seen in a long time.

group

Miscellaneous group photos.

mug

Eh, dun la mug me after I just got mugged.

wai fong

Miss Wai Fong who hosted the dinner. Thanks!

group photo

MAS was also very receptive to suggestions on how to improve their service – I offered an experience when I was flying KL – Melbourne on New Year’s Eve and nothing happened at 12 AM. Most of the passengers were left hanging, awake and waiting for some sort of in-flight celebration, but the New Year passed with nary a peep. They took note of that, so I hope your NYE’s flight would be filled with merriment (or at least some party favors and an announcement). ;)

schwag

MAS was kind enough to give us all some home made pineapple tarts and a gift pack containing a diary, a DVD and a nifty red USB drive that can be twisted around your wrist like a bracelet. Nice!

More coverage here:

Sultan Muzaffar
Wingz
Red Mummy
Babe in the City

Update:

eevon

Eevon just sent me the wittiest offline comment a.k.a. text message this morning alerting me to a disastrous typo. Okay, it’s DIARY, not DAIRY. Amended. :)

mas xx

I was at the boarding gate on the Sibu to Kuching flight with Phoenix when she noticed a middle aged man of dubious appearance attempting to stealthily take a photo of a pretty, young cabin attendant with his cellphone camera from a distance. She nudged me and I was struck by an irresistible urge to show the man how it’s done sixthseal.com style. I walked up to the cabin attendant and requested an audience with her adorable babyish looks and my digital camera. She happily complied and I was flirting and joking with her throughout the impromptu photo session. I strolled back to my seat and couldn’t resist giving the man a smirk. This is how we do it here at sixthseal.com, I thought silently.

…and then Phoenix pinched me on the arm for flirting with the flight attendant.

business class check in

MAS Business Class seats were the only ones
available for my trip home since Economy class tickets have all been
taken up. I decided to go for Business Class instead and expected to
pay double the fare. However, my ticket agent told me that it’s only a
surcharge of RM 30 per route. It seems that Business Class for short
haul domestic flights (30 minutes) is not as expensive as I thought.
I’ve always looked at the people seated in front with a little contempt
(what’s the point in having a premium ticket for a short haul flight?)
and now, I have become one of them. Alas!

business class martina

However, it seems that there are perks to Business Class
seating in short haul domestic flights after all. First of all, I
noticed that the ground staff damn chun. This is Martina, the
Coordinating Agent for First Class/Business Class check in. There is
also usually no line at the First Class/Business Class check in
counters.

business class boarding

You also have the luxury of not boarding until the rest of sardine
class boards coz Business Class seats are to the front and overhead
compartment carry on luggage room is assured. There is no First Class
on the Boeing 747-200 used to service the Kuching – Sibu – Kuching
route.

business class seats

There are four (4) rows of Business Class seats located at the front
of the plane. The seats are in two’s with spacious body and headroom
being afforded by the 2 x 2 seating (two seats on each extreme side of
the plane) in Business Class versus the 3 x 3 seating in Economy Class.

business class pillow

There is a pillow to rest your stiff neck on after a hard day’s work
shuffling papers around and delegating tasks or doing whatever it is
that people who fly Business Class do.

business class hot towel

Hot towels are provided before takeoff for your freshening needs and
a complimentary glass of juice (this is Mango Juice) is furnished to
sooth your parched throat after a long day yelling at subordinates for
no reason at all. The juice is served in proper glasses, which Business
Class flyers are implicitly trusted with, while the standard OJ served
as the “refreshment” after take off in Economy Class uses disposable
plastic cups, lest they take glassware away (those thieving heathens).

business class papers

Naturally, a selection of our finest English dailies are provided in
the seat in front of you, so you don’t have to rush into the plane when
you board just to get a copy or nick one from Business Class. ;)

business class cabin crew

The cabin attendants in Business Class tend to be more aesthetically pleasing than the ones doing the aisles at the back too.

business class napkins

Snacks and drinks are served with a napkin coz you’re supposed to be
more culturally refined. Economy Class passengers do not get food on
short haul flights, only the obligatory orange juice.

business class tray

Being the unrefined heathen than I am, I did not realize I was
supposed to use the napkin as a tray liner of sorts before eating my
sandwich.

business class food

The sandwiches are served on a dish and consist of an egg sandwich,
a tuna sandwich and a ham sandwich, with a quarter of a tomato on the
side.

business class juice

Business Class grants you access to a variety of free flow juices,
which you can drink as fast as possible, before the plane lands…which
is pretty quick.

…and you just have to pay RM 1 per minute for this service. ;)

retimed kill you mas

I booked a ticket to come back to Sibu for the weekend (arriving
Saturday night, leaving early tomorrow morning – Monday) just to attend
to two birthday celebrations. The flight I was due to be on was 2:50 pm
from Kuching to Sibu…and close to the departure time, the dreaded
R-word came over the PA – it has been retimed.

retimed restoran

The ground crew distributed refreshment vouchers (which entitles you
to a meal and a drink) at the airport restaurant (canteen would be a
better description). It seems that the airport restaurant has new
management and most of the major reconstruction at Kuching airport has
forced it into a little nook by the side of the second floor.

retimed fried rice

I wanted a sandwich but the sandwiches were all sold out so I
settled for some fried rice and a 100 Plus drink (it’s an isotonic
rehydration drink that’s very popular amongst drug users in Malaysia).
The flight has been retimed to 4 pm and then to 4:40 pm and I feared
that this would be a repeat of my previous business trip to KL (where
it was retimed for more than 8 hours).

retimed cool me down

The announcement came that our flight has been retimed AGAIN to 5:30
pm and then again to 5:35 pm. It’s a good thing that the drinks come
with those “Cool You Down” messages coz I was really
not amused by this tardiness that MAS seems to exhibit lately,
especially as I have a birthday dinner to go to that night.

retimed basketball machine

I had to stare at an abandoned and broken down basketball
entertainment machine that’s been left aside by the construction work
and took a healthy dose of codeine to wait it out. The flight finally
departed at 5:40 pm yesterday evening. I just arrived yesterday and was
barely in time to attend the birthday dinner and I have to depart again
tomorrow at 7:25 am.

Jesus Christ…this “retiming” shit has gotta go.

melbair.jpg
Tullamarine Airport (Melbourne)

I’m absolutely beat. I only got 4 hours of sleep on Saturday night
to make time for packing my stuff and I moved 12 (!) bags of stuff to
the common room for storage on Sunday morning. I took the Skybus to the
airport and got there 1 hour before the departure time. I quickly
checked in my bag (I only had one) and grabbed a bite to eat at Burger
King before going to the gate just as the last few stragglers were
boarding the plane. Phew.

The flight to KL was okay but my ass felt like…well, ass.
My tail bone area was really sore from sitting too much. Does anyone
else have this problem on long flights? I wonder if it’s my bad posture
(I slouch too much) or coz my ass padding is too thin. Perhaps it’s
because I can’t seem to relax my ass muscles? Perhaps the word ass is
used too much in this post too. Moving on.
Anyway, I got a window seat and there was this 50 year old guy beside
me who played Bejeweled! on the personal screen all through the flight!
Seriously, it was a 10 hour flight and he was playing it all the while.
Man, that’s so hardcore. What an OG. He only stopped for toilet breaks
and when food was served. Whoa…that’s pretty impressive.

giantice.jpg
I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream

Another thing of note is that MAS’s food budget seems to have been
increased. There are chocolates served with every meal now. This seems
to be the standard in all meal serving MAS flights because I got a
chocolate on my KL – Kuching flight too. The chocolate on the Melbourne
- KL is a Top Deck bar and the KL – Kuching one is a Kit Kat. They were
also serving big ass bars of ice cream (!) on the Melbourne – KL flight
too. Not with the meals though, it was served the way they serve
peanuts – passed around in a tray. When I say big ass, it really is
big. It was a 750 mL bar, if I’m not mistaken. Nice. Being the greedy
sort, I had two, but I nearly couldn’t finish the second one.
Apparently, there is such a thing as too much ice cream.

Oh, and I spilled 7-up on myself during the flight too. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ll have remembered me spilling orange juice on the guy next to me
[monash.edu.au] on the KL – Melbourne flight last semester. :) Now I
know how that felt. Heh. I was holding a cup filled with 7-up when I
decided that now was good idea to drift off to sleep. Next thing I
knew, I was holding an empty cup and I had a not entirely pleasant
dampness near my groin area. I tried to do some damage control by
attempting to soak up the 7-up with the wool blanket they provide, but
as you know, wool is not known for its absorbency. The cabin crew was
oblivious to my pages too, there was only 1 working this entire aisle
and he was preparing food. In a fit of improvisation, I used the pillow
they provide to soak the 7-up up. That worked nicely, but I won’t go
into the looks I got from people watching me rubbing my genital area
with a woolen blanket. I’m not sure what they were thinking, but I
didn’t think they saw me spill my drink from the looks on their faces.
My apologies to anyone who got a pillow smelling vaguely of 7-up these
couple of days. I don’t think they wash those things before reusing
them.

Anyway, I got a shock towards the end of the flight when I checked
Channel 12 (the real time flight update channel) and saw that we had
only just passed Alice Springs and still had nearly 6 hours to go! My
jaw literally dropped and my ass cried at the thought of having to
endure another 6 hours. It was a total WTF?!?!? moment. I reckon we
just had another 2 hours max to go. Luckily one of the cabin crew
caught my totally flabbergasted look and told me that the channel is
not working. Man, what a relief! Not just for my ass, for me too, I was
beat from only getting 4 hours of sleep the previous night and having
to move 12 heavy luggage’s to the common room (about 400 meters and 4
flights of stairs from my room).

kchbed.jpg
For some reason, those seats smell like ass

Anyway, I arrived at KLIA at around 8:30 pm and went to the domestic
terminal to catch my Kuching flight. The flight was delayed, but it
didn’t matter to me coz I didn’t have a connecting flight to catch
until the next morning. Anyway, I reached Kuching at 12:45 am and
wanted to get some sleep in the air conditioned boarding lounge.
Unfortunately, Kuching airport is not a 24 hour affair and the lounge
was closed for the night. I had to make do at the open air waiting
terminal instead. I pushed two long sets of chairs together and tried
to go to sleep. I couldn’t even use my bag for a pillow coz I had stuff
inside that won’t appreciate the weight of my head. Furthermore, there
are grooves bordering every chair, which dug into my back the whole
night. I finally settled into a weird ‘S’ shaped position to avoid most
of the grooves and got a fitful 2 hours of sleep.

I didn’t even need my cell phone alarm to wake me up, several
passengers took it upon themselves to do that by walking around and
talking animatedly in an unacceptable volume before it was even dawn.
Anyway, I arrived in Sibu at around 8:25 am and was out the whole day
with my girlfriend. It’s 10:40 pm now and I’m so looking forward to a
12 hour sleep later. Mmm…sleep.

flush.jpg
Water water everywhere, and not a drop to drink

Interesting fact: The flash from cameras sets off the infrared
automatic flushers in toilets. I took a photo of a urinal at KLIA, I
was intending to talk about how they have an LCD panel showing the time
in those things now. The flash set off ALL of the flushers in the
toilet. I tried it again, and sure enough, it worked like magic. FLASH
went my digicam. FLUSH went all 10 urinals. FLASH went my digicam
again. FLUSH went all 10 urinals like clockwork.

P/S – I do not have an obsession with toilets, but I do seem to find myself thinking about them a lot. :)

I have finally arrived in Sibu at 10:10 am today. I couldn’t take the
Sunday flight out coz the fog grounded all of the incoming planes, which
were routed to Sydney. After a 2 hour wait, the airport cancelled all
remaining flights and put us up at the
Rydges with dinner and breakfast
vouchers and a cabcharge coupon (lets you get on a cab for free). The
hotel is in corner Exhibition St. and Lt. Bourke Street. Right in the
middle of the city…I would have thought they will put us up at the
Hilton opposite the airport. Heh. Rydges is not a bad hotel nevertheless,
I think its a layby hotel for cabin crew coz there are heaps of them
walking around. I got a suite with a king sized bed all to myself. Not bad
at all, although I would have preferred to fly out on Sunday. Well, there
were two flights out of Melbourne on Monday, the 3 pm and the 11:50 pm.
The MAS people said they will try their best to put us on one of those two
flights. I didn’t get to go on the 3pm coz I have a connecting flight that
couldn’t be made with the 3pm, so they assigned me to the 11:50 pm one. Oh
well. I didn’t do much though, just slept through the night and woke up at
9:30 am to line up at the MAS counter and grabbed some breakfast after
that. I slept most of the afternoon as well. Heh. MAS paid for two nights
at the hotel, but I had to check out at 9 pm to catch my flight back. The
flight was overbooked so good thing I was there earlier. Anyway, I
couldn’t get the pics up coz I don’t have image editing software at my
home computer. Will pick up a warez CD of Photoshop on my way back later.
Feeling tired now…nearly had an accident just now too. Those damn brakes
need to be changed.

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