Monday, July 22, 2013

Old town to waterfront


Singapores not all shopping malls and tall buildings. There also some parts of singapore that still has that old-town feeling. One of those places is Arab street. I dont usually "adventure travel" but Karin was busy for the whole day. I grabbed my pink skateboard went off to explore around town. The first objective of the day was to attend friday prayer at a mosque near Karins campus.

After arriving "on time", I prayed. The prayer was ok, but unlike the mosque in paragon they use malay-an for the preach as the usual english. The place was save too as I didnt loose any of my stuff that I left outside with my shoes.

To get to Arab street, I have to take the mrt to bug is. I met some guys from the SGPD. I dont know why, but the cops and army dudes I see in public are usually younger guys, about my age. Guess if they expect them to chase down bad guys in the streets, they want some guys who can still stand straight and survive their own tackles. After I exit the mrt, I skated my way to Arab street and found the mosque. Every time I explore, I always have a general rule to look for landmarks in case I get lost and have to backtrack.

I came across this food festival/ market at the back of the mosque. They were selling halal food in broad daylight. That made me feel hungry. Wish I was here at night so I can have some kebabs or some sheep bollocks on a stick. The shops at Arab street are mostly in the clothing business. I can see tailors, sarongs, muslim clothing's, and get this; Indonesian Batik stores. It reminded me of Thamrin city back home, just a bit more expensive probably. I should have told that Australian lady to stop by Jakarta to buy that maxi dress so she can get 12 for the price of 1 here in Arab street.

I got tired afterwards and rested while taking a look at my iPhone. Karin hasnt texted and it was still 3. I had to do something to keep me occupied. I got my skateboard, and I always wanted to skate waterfronts. Thus I made my way to clarke quay. For whatever reason, I exited the mrt in raffles and ended up in the office complexes of singapore. every time I wanted to go to clarke quay this always happens. Why not just take the mrt to clarke quay station? I checked apple maps and clarke quay wasnt that far from where I was so I skated there rather than take the tube again. Raffles is the premiere office area of SG. I saw a lot of foreign people in the cafe's just chill in, and they definitely not here on vacay. Getting lost was half the fun I always say, but its ramadhan and its freaking hot. I cant drink and was getting very tired. The thought of Clarke quay kept me going. I eventually made it to clarke quay. The pavement there was nice and smooth, just like I'd imagine them. I only stayed there for half an hour though...

Orchard stroll #xxx


Today I woke up like the days before. After abruptly woken up at 4 in the morning for sahur, I crashed afterwards until about 11 in the morning. I finish my morning routines and watched some warped roadies on my iphone until 12 when Karin gave me a call to meet her at the bus to go to orchard. 

Orchard road is a one stop shopping place in singapore. Even with my frequent visits to singapore, I can never get tired of this place. Its like a huge venus fly trap which lures me by saying "cmon mate, come here and buy stuff". Guess there's just things you cant say no to. Anywho, today is a day for mummy because I've been here yesterday and bought stuff for me already. I went to takashimaya to buy some anne kelly for my mum, I also grabbed me some monsters university doll for a friend back home. Which reminds me, I need to see that movie when I have the chance.

After Taka I went home with Karin and chilled for a couple of hours. Mum called and it turns out we bought the wrong size dress at anne kelly. Karin whined and didnt want to exchange it. Me being the sport I am and wasnt on my period, volunteered to exchange it. It was still on the same day as purchase anyway and I havent took out the tag so it has a high chance of the shop keeper to let me change it, so long as they have the size I want. Just then, Hasya called my sist asking us to go to ramen ten at orchard for breakfast tonight. Like I said, orchards a big magnet.

We head back out to orchard at around 4:30. Karin was on her period and is low on energy. She gladly volunteers to tag us a table at ramen ten while I go back to anne kelly. The lady on the evening shift was nicer, she remembers me and says her regards to my mum back home. On my way out from tala, Karin told me that Hasya's at sephora in ion and needs help buying a fuel band at nike afterwards. I went to sephora because its still an hour until breakfast and I'd rather walk around wasting time then sitting at the restaurant getting hungry looking at the menus. Me and Hasya didnt buy the fuel band because it wasnt available yet in the sg nike store. Bummer.

It was almost breakfast so we head on to ramen ten in far east plaza to meet Karin. I had some 1 dollar sushi and some ramen. The waiters at ramen ten were spread as thin as a wet t shirt. No, if there was a "the most perverted wet t shirt contest ever" here, the waiters were spread way thinner than the t shirts at said contest. It took them forever to get drinks out, and even more longer to get our food. We cant call them because they were nowhere to be found when we needed them.

After our breakfast, Karin wanted to go home but we dragged out anyway to buy some Ice cream at old man in front of née ann city. Theres a line now because they are famous now, I used to buy from them when they were still using bikes here, now they managed to weld a motorcycle to their portable ice cream stall. We also managed to persuade Karin to let us stroll around orchard for a while. Cmon karin, its late in sg and you want to go home? The spree didn't last as it was 9 o clock and I was getting tired too. Good thing about tonight is that the landlord lent me her impy mattress to put on my squeaky bed for tonight to add padding for the hard wood...

Friday, July 19, 2013

Woodlands fiasco

July 17th 2013

Tonight I will be eating out with my Sist and her friends for breakfast in singapore. After she finishes her class, The Sister took me to woodlands with her friend Hasya following the advice of her guy-friend Ato. I dont mind taking the met on the red line, but the train slows down when its surfacing from its usual underground city routes to the "aerial" route on the edges of town. When I mean slow, I meant sloth rape slow. The train decelerates every 3 seconds to cope with the speed limit on singaporean highways. Fortunately I made it through the train ride and arrived in woodlands mrt station.

Since it was Ramadhan, there is a night market food festival outside the station filled with all sorts of halal food. That breaks good news for us, but after seeing the long lines to the kebab and takoyaki stall we gracefully hoped for the worst; not finding any food. Guess Singaporeans really loves their Kebabs. Luckily there is an Indian joint not far from the crowded kebab stand so we managed to buy some chapati and Cane cakes on takeaway. After walking around a couple of times, Ato called and told us to go find seats in the food court in the nearby mall. Personally I'm a fan of eating in street festivals like this, but since there are no tables and the proper standing positions are near a wet dumpster, I followed my Sis and her friend to take the escalator up to the food court.

Theres 2 food courts in the mall, there is the ever popular food republic. And a new one, at least for me which is called "bagus". Unlike food republic, bagus is an all halal food court making it a "malay-an" favourite. As soon as we arrived there, we found out that all the tables are occupied. Maybe coming early to tag some tables was a good idea. But since Ato sounds so assuring that we WILL get tables, we came in late and that was a horrible mistake. The guy hasn't even arrived yet, maybe he was hoping for us to find a table first so he doesent need to fuss about anything. We finally did found a table after 20 minutes of standing around. Karin ordered korean for me and herself while Hasya ate some kwetiau. My sister was really pumped up to eat that plate of bulgogi, but after the glorious Ato arrived at the table, she became more docile even loosing appetite. Maybe she was holding back so she doesent look THAT hungry. Ato should join us for dinner back home to see how she really eats. 

Anyway, after we finished our breakfast, Ato took us all on a tour of his beloved campus; republic polytechnic. The place looked promisingly interesting from the afar, students still gathered near the place. Maybe they were studying? Ato looks like a person who likes to study, maybe the whole campus feels like it too. We went inside and he showed us his crown jewel, his creme de la creme; The library. The library is where he usually spends his time after school, he stays there to study until the late of the night. Hmmph... stiffer. The halls are filled with students... surprisingly, dancing with their own respective dance clubs. Who would have thought that the rest of the students here are not total geezers, they turned out to be quite cool, especially the lovely girls of the belly dancing club ( shout out to my girl Jasmine! ).

Out back, theres this huge sports complex complete with a gym, a karate room, a soccer field, 4 basketball courts, 2 tennis courts, an olympic size swimming pool, and get this; an outbound obstacle course for the "happy campers" club of RP. With all this stuff lying around, I cant get it how Ato didnt get buff at the gym or playing futsal, he rather study at the library while attending the "future A+ of Asia" conference which usually consists of Ato, himself, and his other self ( wow thats a word ). We got tired of walking so we ditched the campus and went back to the mrt station in woodlands to take the train home. RP was amazing, the place is big, clean, looked like seattle. I should have applied there when I had the chance. What a tiring and yet eye opening night...

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Ngong Ping Mountain Adventure

On the final free day of my trip to Hong Kong, the family and I was looking for last big place to visit. I opted for the family to go to Disneyland, since we dont have that in Jakarta and I've never been there before. They refused to go there and tells me to ride there on my own, but what fun would that be if Im all alone without anyone with me riding roller coasters and thrill rides all day. My mum says that we should all visit Ngong Ping because that seems safer and more enjoyable for the whole family.

We took the mtr to Tung chung station, just one more station after Sunny bay interchange which leads to disneyland. After that we went to the cable car station to buy tickets to Ngong Ping. Heres a tip, book the tickets online first before you go there to avoid the Long lines just to get to the ticket booth since Ngong ping is a vacay hotspot for both Locals and tourist in Hong kong. My mum thought that it would be a good Idea for us to buy the tickets for the crystal cable car which has transparent floors. It was a good idea for the first 5 minutes, but after we left the first checkpoint,  we and the other 3 Korean girls on the cable car became a bit more cautious. It was drizzling a bit on our way up, but as soon as we reach Ngong ping it stopped raining but the clouds still looms overhead.

Ngong ping is a cute little village up in Lan tau island, at least it used to be, now its called Ngong ping 360, a 1.5 hectare vacation hotspot. Ngong ping isnt just famous for its wonderful view, theres a "walking with Budha" theatre which tells the story of Budha, not to mention the huge Budha statue perched on the peak of the mountain overlooking the village. Word is, theres even a monastery hidden in the mountains where shaolin monks train in the ways of peace and all out kung fu action!

After taking pictures from the village, I wanted to go up to the statue to see what its like up there. Mum and dad refused because of unknown reasons, and I didnt even bother to ask Karin to come because an exhausted Karin is not a good Karin to be with when you are on a mountain pass. But they let me go alone anyways because they know Im still bummed on not going to dysneyland. While they waited down at the village in Ebenezers for lunch, I pushed on up the mountain on foot.

Wow, just wow. Look at all those stairs. I walked up from the village, followed the signs to the statue pointing upwards, and it lead me to this bunch of staircases leading up in about 60 degrees of inclination. It felt tiring as I walked the stairs to the statue, at least the surrounding greenery is a nice change of scenery. I estimate about 250 steps of stairs... Accuracy may vary...

Now I know why my mum and dad didnt want to come, my legs feels like they are coming off as soon as I reach the top of the staircase. But hell was that worth it. I get to see the Budha statue up close and get to see the view from atop of the mountain. This place reminds me a lot of Borobudur temple back in Indonesia; but without the hyroglyphs on the walls and the lack of Indonesian spoken here. I catch my breath and snapped some pics.

After I caught my breath, I quickly went back down to catch up on Lunch with the Family.Damn, they make really good pizzas in Ebeneezers...

Monday, July 8, 2013

The heights of Victoria Peak.

When I said I was going to Hong Kong, of course Im not going to spend the whole week hanging out in Kowloon Tsim sha tsui. I also have a plan to do some "see and do" activities like sight seeing and exploration of the cities hot spots. There are a lot of options given for me when i visit the Hongkong tourism website about sights to see, but due to popular demand and recommendations by my mum, friends, and relatives, I went to Victoria Peak as my first "see and do" activity. Getting to victoria peak from Tsim sha tsui is easy. I took the mtr from Tsim sha tsui and stopped in Central. After taking the J2 exit from central station, I followed the helpful signs pointing to the peak tram terminal from the park and walked up the road. The roads in Hongkong are more tranquil and surprisingly cleaner than in Kowloon, almost like if Im walking in Singapore, except the roads are bigger and its windier.

 In order for me to get up to victoria peak, I can either walk my way up the trekking tracks, or I can buy a return tram ticket to get up the mountain. The first choice sounds nice, because I can take the scenic route up and take pictures of the tracks, but common sense dictates that I must save my energy thus forcing me to buy a tram ticket for me and my family. As soon as I hop in the tram, I am thrown back in a nostalgic trance. The tram feels "authentic", just like the ones the British colonists used to escape Hong Kong and hide in victoria peak from the mainlanders when conflicts erupt back in 1870. I read on a guide that the right side of the tram is the seat to sit in because I can get the best views on the tram, besides the left side which gets the view of a solid brick wall and mountain face.

On the bottom of the sky viewing platform up in the peak, there is a shopping center filled with novelty stores, as well as big brand stores for people to shop in. We stopped by this shop where they sell souvenirs, just in time too because we need to fill our quota for gifts to friends and relatives back home. There is also the Madaam Tusso wax museum which houses wax sculptures of famous people all over the world, I didnt went in because I freak out easily.

The view up in the peak is amazing. I can see the whole city both Hong kong and Kowloon, as well as the surrounding mountain areas of Ap Le Ciau. I cant believe that some Hong Kong residents own a house up here, and to top it off they have some really cool rides. One house had a GTR and a 911 parked in their garage. Victoria peak is on everyones list when they visit Hong kong (besides disneyland of course) and I can see why. I get the best view in the house, get to see some cool cars and hang with other foreign people up here in the viewing platform. Of course I didnt stay long because it was 1 o clock when I visited and the sun was scourging hot. Not to mention the strong winds hitting the platform making my dads umbrella funny looking.

Pong... Tsim sha tsui....

As soon as I stepped out of the hotel, Tsim sha tsui hit me with its full charms. No its not the bright neon lights, and its definitely not the random strangers on the street trying to sell me fake watches and ladies handbags. Tsim sha tsui is and has always been the favorite tourist shopping spot in Hong kong. Located in the Kowloon island, Tsim sha tsui is home to hundreds of shops (both legitimate and illegitimate) and malls to acomodate the needs of anyone who is ready to fork out some cash in Hong kong. But besides its shopping scene, Tsim sha tsui has some cool places to go sight seing in.

The first spot I hit on my first day in Hong kong is the avenue of the stars just at the south end of tsim sha tsui in Salisbury road. Avenue of the stars is a Hongkong interpretation of the hollywood walk of fame, except its filled with chineese golden screen actors and directors like Jackie chan, Andy Lau, and Joan chen to name a few. Avenue of the stars also has some quirky photo spots. I didnt spend too much time here because of the sun, I recommend going later in the evening so you can catch a sunset view of the city.

At Friday, I prayed in the kowloon mosque in Tsim sha tsui. The mosque is located at the park near nathan road. After hearing an impromptu "inner circle" preach which in fact isnt the Friday prayer preach, and in Indian... Me and my dad got some brochure about halal restaurants in tsim sha tsui. Most of the halal establishments are situated near the mosque, if ur looking for some halal food I recommend the "Al maidah" restaurant. The 2 cousins who own the place are nice and the food is very delicious and fresh.

If you keep going up Nathan road, you can find Mong kok. Mong kok is a well mnow. Place to buy sporting goods and electronics, but be warned and watch out for fakes and connes. There is also a place called the Ladies market in Mong kok. Its a whole street full of clothes, shoes, bags, and accessories for women of any age. They also sell watches and jewlery but I doubt their authenthicity. 

Back in the day my parents always stays in Tsim sha tsui, thats why they brought me and my sister to stay here on our trip to Hong kong. I guess even though there are lots shady ripoff spots, Tsim sha tsui has that mystically wonderful feeling. Its a good place to explore and just get lost. And its also a good place to shop, just make sure your Rolex isn't mispelled as "Roleks" in the back. If I was asked to come back here to Tsim sha tsui, I'd say yes.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Macau History District Stroll

Summer in Macau, the wind blows but I can still feel the rays of the sun touching my skin, almost burning them on contact. The narrow paved streets of Largo de Santa domingos filled with stores selling piglet fillet and "mystery egg tarts". I can still feel the Portugese influence on the architechture of the old buildings as I walk up the crowded street with my family to our ultimate prize; the ruins of st. Pauls.

As We climb the stairs up the ruins, I cant help but think of the tragic events that occur here on these ruins of an old church. Built in 1640 formerly known as the church of Mater dei until it was used by scholars as a college of st. Pauls. Fire then broke out in st. Pauls, 2 times until a final fire in 1835 burned st. Pauls to the ground, except its front gate and jts foundations of its pillars. Now a tourist historical destination, the majestic "front door" still stands overlooking the old buildings in Rue de Santo antonio and Senado square.

The place is quite popular with tourist from around the globe as it is pictured in almost every Macau tourism brochures. As We stood there soaking in the view from atop of st Pauls, We also soak up some of the the heat from the sun which lead to me loosing my "brain juice", which in turn making me less cheerful and energetic. So we head back down and bought some ice cream from a cheeky Turkish dude with a long stick.