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Citrawarna Malaysia 2012 – Parade of 7,000 Performers

Citrawarna Malaysia 2012’s opening ceremony on the 19 May 2012 was graced by the Tourism Minister, Ng Yen Yen, who was accompanied by hundreds of children clad in traditional costume, each holding a flag waving to the beat of the rhythm. The grand fanfare displayed a diverse offering of Malaysia’s tourist destinations & products, paraded by performers in costumes. The night heralded approximately 20,000 people, 7,000 of those were performers.

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In conjunction with Mega FAM Tour 2012, a media & travel agents’ familiarisation tour for representatives all over the world, Citrawarna Malaysia showcased one of the grandest parade of the year at Merdeka Square, the site where Malaysia’s flag was raised on Independence Day in 1957.

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Against the backdrop of the former courthouse turned Ministry of Information, the Sultan Abdul Samad Building was lit up by many colours beaming into the sky. The ground was laminated with white vinyl flooring to illuminate the dancers & their equally elaborate costumes. Despite the rain earlier, many turned up to catch the multi-coloured parade of performers ranging from uniquely decorated floats to sportsmen & chefs accompanied by fireworks in the sky. Scores of trishaws ferrying passenger from the World Heritage City of Melaka were brought to the parade.

The sound system provided surround sound throughout the stretch of the parade giving a very carnival-like atmosphere that got people to their feet with the rest of the performers.

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Wonder Device To Restore Women’s Confidence

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If the sexuality of a woman depends upon her ability to satisfy her man, would she feel inadequate if she can’t? There could be a number of reasons why a woman is subjected to such feelings & one of them is purely medical. Let me share what I’ve learnt in the launch of a very cute & sexy medical device designed to restore a woman’s ability to maintain her grip on her man.

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Puan Suhaila - physiotherapist

When the good people at BioInfinity asked me if I have heard of Kegel’s exercises & would like to know more about a revolutionary device to help women, I said yes. At the launch, Puan Suhaila, the physiotherapist from HUKM, gave a tremendous insight to what women suffer from when they begin to age, after childbirth or when their pelvic floor muscles are weakened leading to incontinence problems. Pelvic floor muscles? Well, it’s not muscles you can workout in the gym, I assure you but it’s the part of the woman’s anatomy that holds her pee inside & prevents her from leaking. That will happen if your pelvic floor muscles are weakened or injured from childbirth, surgery or if you lack targeted exercise. We will get to what targeted exercise is about later.

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Bloggers & press people

Many women prior to being Puan Suhaila’s patients, couldn’t understand how to exercise that part of the anatomy, being hidden & obscured from their vision and so her instructions had to take them through on a journey of self-discovery & practice. That’s when the workshop became hilarious with Puan Suhaila’s descriptive & suggestive gestures! Soon, the floor (not the pelvic) began to open up with questions, a few being quite bizarre. We were, after all, in a room filled with ladies only, making it perfect to ask everything under the sun and about areas where the sun don’t shine. We were shown pictures of how a woman’s uterus can fall out of place (and into the open) when the pelvic floor muscles weaken. This is definitely not sexy. I can’t imagine anyone telling their spouse, “Honey, can you go down on my uterus?” during foreplay. Some things are just not on when out.

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So when the room is full of 20 somethings & 30 somethings, unmarried & married women, it becomes a place of free expression. When we were taken to the gym to work out our pelvic floor with exercises that required us to gyrate, we made heads turn, although it’s ultimately what some women want to do in the bedroom after these exercises! After going through some hip-tossing movements & back-arching workouts, I definitely want to know if my muscles will keep my organs from falling out, not that anything is out of order but from the medical perspective, it is a very good idea for a self-assessment.

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We each took home the Vibrance Kegel Device to test & give a full review on what the device does for a woman’s esteem besides the main purpose that it was designed for. Wait for my review on how it functions after I lay my hands on this little wonder of a medical device in a week’s time! Watch this space!

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Celebrating 2012’s Earth Hour

The second celebration of Earth Hour by Friends of Kota Damansara was held at Sunway Giza again, saw performers to the likes of Joshua Lee & Tom Tan of T4C, two of Malaysia’s very own three tenors; Drum Circle, made up of a team of junior percussionists from PPR Flats; Mr John, the ventriloquist/magician, Robotic Dance & Norizan, the singer of Kota Damansara Football Club, rendering their heart & soul when the lights went off at 8:30pm on 31 March 2012.

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Drum Circle Kids

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YB Dr. Nasir

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Mr. John performing his balloon art.

Preceding the Earth Hour, a Walk held earlier in the afternoon gave participants a chance in getting acquainted with the outdoors on foot. They were treated to a vegetarian dinner later at Padang Kota before joining the rest at Sunway Giza to be entertained by the line-ups. The ADUN, YB Dr. Nasir, was present to cut the cake and made a speech on the environment of Kota Damansara before Mr. John continued his first class act in keeping the kids glued to his performance which continued long after he went off-stage judging by how the kids had surrounded him for his balloon-art.

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T4C

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Lots of people!

Earth Hour was conceptualised by WWF in 2007 in a move to get the world to reduce carbon emission by switching off lights for an hour. Today, many corporate companies, outlets and businesses are following suit to observe an hour without electricity usage as part of their contribution to conservation. Usually held on the last weekend of March, Friends of Kota Damansara collaborated with Sunway Giza, MBPJ and Caring Citizens to make the hour fun-filled and inspiring.

Footnote:- I had the privilege to emcee this event and had a great time watching the performances as much as I did hosting them!

Commuting With Foldies On Trains

We have to thank Well Tan of Folding Bike Trading for arranging with the authorities at Prasarana who manage the Light Rail Transit (LRT), Monorail (train) & RapidKL (bus) for allowing us folding bike cyclists to take our foldies onto their trains/buses during off-peak hours between 9am – 4pm & on weekends. We had a trial run at the launch back in December & I was invited to be a part of the maiden group to get onboard for our first ride to their headquarters at Sri Rampai station in Kuala Lumpur.

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Well with the authorities of Prasarana.

While the rest cycled from Well’s shop in Damansara Perdana, I was coming from the other end of town to the Kelana Jaya station & waited for everyone to arrive. As soon as they did, the press fired away!

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We were briefed that for a normal day, bags are to be used to store our foldies to prevent any injuries to other passengers if emergency brakes are applied. It was good to meet everyone with their ultra jiffy foldies. Five ladies were present including me. Well, Lai Peng, Anne & Ping were amongst some of the regular cyclists who did long distances weekly. I love my Oribike with Ezywheels allowing me to roll it when it’s folded.

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We were given a RM10 credit on our pass to access for the day. It took about 45 minutes to reach Sri Rampai station. The press conference was held to officially support the Car-Free Day & declare the trains accessible for folding bike cyclists!! Soon after, we were treated to a scrumptious buffet lunch & I headed back together with Kamarul, the Brompton biker accompanied by police officers!

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This is definitely a breakthrough in cycling for commuters in Malaysia. Bicycles had never been allowed in public transport but with the emergence of folding bikes, authorities are beginning to recognise & accept this trend & usage of bikes to open up access to us. Thank you, Prasarana & Well for negotiating for it!!! Definitely a milestone for Malaysia!

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The event was highlighted in the newspapers too!

Pedalling Alongside Thousands

I joined a women’s rally on 18 March for the first time, cycling alongside with 4000+ women from all over the country as they gathered to march, picket & chant to call on women voters to choose a clean government for free & fair elections, to end violence against women, better wages for women and a few other demands. In conjunction with International Women’s Day (8 March), the march started from Taman Jaya carpark to Padang Astaka in Petaling Jaya.

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Seeing that there were just a few of us who wanted to cycle on that day, Women on Wheels supported Wanita Suara Perubahan & we headed to have a two hour lunch at a cafe before returning to the meeting point to find hoards of people in purple! The theme for the march was to be attired in purple & the wearing of white gloves symbolises a clean government.

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Passing cars slowed down considerably to honk in support of the slogans on the placards that women AND men were jostling up & down to make their demands known. I was so inspired by fishmongers, estate & factory workers as well as the indigenous women who took the day off work just to be present to make a stand. Many of the rural folks were uneducated, some illiterate but all were united in making a stand to call for change. Accompanied by several men who were in full support of women’s demands, we marched 3 kilometres to the rally site, like a wave of purple boring through the town on a Sunday afternoon.

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There on the field, I was with my Oribike, making new friends with people on my right & left as they asked questions about my foldie & I told them we are part of WOW – Women on Wheels gathering momentum to make a difference one crank at a time.

The Selangor Heritage Trail on Wheelsâ„¢ Event on Boxing Day

This post appeared first on Detours US blog under the Ambassador Program of which I had become a part of. Detours is the maker of bike bags in the USA. You can see it here.

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Selangor Heritage Trail on Wheels was a cycling event that took approximately 100 cyclists to get to know the historical sites & places with heritage value at Kuala Kubu Bharu (KKB), Selangor, Malaysia. We went to recce the places & earmarked them to let participants experience the splendour of that destination on bicycles! An initiative effort by the state government of Selangor under the Tourism & Environment portfolio of YB Elizabeth Wong, the Head of Tourism Executive Committee, we collaborated with the Hulu Selangor Town Council (Majlis Daerah Hulu Selangor or MDHS) to bring cyclists & cycling enthusiasts together to participate in a non-competitive, non-race event to seek out the heritage trail with a map on a route led by authorities.

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Traffic Police Station.
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How it looked like in the old days. It was once a church!

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Group photo with Well Tan (in white top to the left of person in black shirt) & her darling riders.

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So many foldies!!!

Recognising the need to reduce our carbon footprint, we designated two segments of the program for that day, one being the main trail in town, the other being the adventure trail to see the historical broken dam of Ampang Pecah, the Masjid (mosque), the Chinese & Indian temples located just outside of KKB town. The dam that collapsed in 1884, was responsible for flooding the old town of Kuala Kubu, causing the death in untold numbers, one of the reasons why they moved the old town that’s now submerged, to the new site called Kuala Kubu Bharu. There are a few churches in town & a lot of interesting eateries that have been around for ages. There’s a little quaint restaurant that used to serve chilled herbal tea in brandy bottles & ordering them is equally fun!

The cook in the kitchen of Teo Kee Restaurant at Big Tree in front of the post office in KKB.

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The heritage spots.

The route promised to be exciting with a famous Butter Sponge Cake shop as one of the stops & a police station that was formerly a church. Riders went to all the spots encompassing a 25km loop with a stop at a broken dam & a hot spring. At the end of the event, I was asked to do a similar event in a different district & it looks like the heritage trail will soon go places!

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Ampang Pecah, the broken dam.

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King George Monument

The town has a cycling lane, an effort to get citizens back to riding bicycles but the route of the heritage trail covered everywhere else.

I managed to get Folding Bike Trading to be the official supporting bicycle shop to standby with technical support for the cyclists & Lafuma as the sponsor of discount vouchers for the goodie bags. Even breakfast & lunch were catered for together with a lorry load of fruits (durians, dukus & rambutans) for the cyclists to feast on!

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Cyclists in full coloured fashion!

We asked the ladies to come dressed in their most fashionable attire as riding is not just about racing but about looking good on your bike! We wanted them to come accessorised with gadgets & bags too! Then we asked the men to come in anything but racing outfit. The photo opportunity depicted them in cool attire rather than in competition vests. They redefined Sightseeing on Wheels! The launch was officiated by the President of the town council, two Members of Parliament & head of police in the district & we had a bike acrobat to perform some really cool stunts that put people half his age to shame. 70+years Ramanathan did some calisthenics & balancing act on his bike to the stunned audience before the ride.

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Flag off!

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Bike acrobat & riding around the block.

As the country was developed without the cyclist in mind, we are helping the state gazette cycling lanes to make the roads safer to ride in & create any event that will bring cyclists together in numbers. Working with local councils who are all for the idea is a great experience & nothing beats the thrill of riding in the countryside discovering new places & finding food along the way. Follow my journey as we convince others to get on the bike again!

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Yours truly having a picture taken with YB Elizabeth Wong!

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Hot spring – a soak after a cool dip at the dam….

Birds of Different Feathers Flocking Together at Kensville Golf Resort, India

The air was crisp & the streets were scattered with birds of different feathers. Big fat Rosy Starlings ruled the perimeters of the airport, Ringed Necked Parakeets squeaking as they landed on trees, some rogue Red Wattled Lapwings seen foraging on the ground occupying the keen photographers in the bus as the driver circled between the international & domestic airport to pick up the delegates of the 2nd Global Bird Watchers Conference 2012 in Gujarat, India. What a way to set the pace for birding enthusiasts when we arrived! Completing a 16 hour journey from Kuala Lumpur to Mumbai with a 7hr transit before landing in Ahmedabad.

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The most exciting part of this segment of the trip itinerary was not knowing where exactly the resort is tucked away. We couldnt have chosen a better place when we arrived at Kensville Golf Resort & saw a couple of Black Ibis grazing on the green. If this was an indication of life on the fairway, I wanted to be on the 18th hole scoring this birdie! As soon as I had registered & gotten my key card to the room, I dumped my bags & went for lunch. It was a good way to get acquainted with the others.

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Very soon, I was on the fairway with the Phillippinoes going after the Indian Roller! The water bodies situated beside the green was a welcome sight though the afternoon sun was harsh on the censor, casting shadows from the top. We inched forward to witness Green BeeEaters hunting for insects in the air as they land on the turf. There was a Pansy patch that created a colourful dotted background to this beauty. Wagtails were everywhere. I couldnt get further than the second hole on the golf course as I had already seen more than 10 species! Capturing them was a different story altogether.

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Birders must master the art of stalking & still-mimes when it comes to inching forward to where the bird is perched. The Indian Roller was rather cooperative as it fluffed & preened itself on my approach. I had to get closer for a better shot. It was perched about 4 – 5metres above on a branch of a tree, in full light. The irridiscent blue on green feathers made it such a catch on my sensor! Alain Pascua was stalking about 10 metres away from me, Rey Sta Ana was by the lotus pond & Mark Jason Villa was between the trees. Going after different species made it all the more exciting as we gestured with our eyes & gesticulated instead of using words to point to where the birds were. Body language was THE preferred mode of communication when everyone understood the universal code of birding ethics.?

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A Raptor glided by, hunting for prey as the Red Wattled Lapwing made its tu-tu-tu-tu-tu-tu-tu calls as it flew across. I wasnt sure which bird I should aim for when they came at once. My heart was pounding with excitement, waiting for the right time to capture the behaviour of mating pairs. How do I begin to describe the breathlessness that comes from the feeling of awe each time a bird does something??? Birders traverse the world to get to see these magnificent winged creatures when the action is right here on the golf course of Kensville Golf Resort. This was not the start of the official excursion yet  Im all worked up from the sheer exhilaration of Pink Panther-activity in 13 degree weather.

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My Phillippino comrades on the field were great companions as our silent concerted efforts of preying upon the birds proved that we happen to be the birds of different feathers who can flock together.

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Will post links to more pictures in my album as soon as I can.

Next post, at the wetlands of Nal Sarovar Bird Sanctuary…..

Note:- The influx of delegates checking into Kenville all at once with some demanding to get service right away just proves that class belonged to the professional English-speaking Indian receptionist instead, who was beseiged with the ire of some jetlagged delegates who had no courtesy whatsoever. What irked me was that some didnt even know about the prohibition of alcohol in the state, had the gall to throw a tantrum ridiculing a system & belittling the reason behind the ban & that tourists are required to apply for permit to consume/buy alcohol in private properties. This clearly shows their ignorance of the countrys (India) culture & customs when they are too arrogant to read up about the hosting state which is the place of origin of their beloved Mahatma Gandhi. A few began whining about the level of competence while complaining about everything offered to them instead of waiting for their turn. It would be a wonder if they get invited to the state again. One travel writer took it a step further to sabotage the event by writing to the Times of India as well as other presses to allege that he was mistreated & that he had rude hospitality. Well, I received no such mistreatment, neither had anyone been rude to me possibly because I wasnt making unreasonable demands nor did I accuse the host of putting me up in shared accommodation when the website had clearly stated that we would be sharing with another. These delegates who happen to be from first world countries, behaved worst off than third world countries with their inexcusable manners & lack of appreciation for the reason they were sent to Gujarat for. Let the expenses that the government paid to fly them over to Gujarat be a lesson to never have them back again. With the many tourism boards I have worked with, I have never threatened to go to the media with any service thats below par. It usually comes in the form of a post-trip report thats separate from the actual articles that I write about the destinations. This puts the place in a better light & gives a chance for the host to rectify any wrongs that had occured in the process. Thankfully, theres nothing to report about except the exceptional time I had experienced with the people & the birds!???

Chasing Dwarfs, Stalking Kingfishers in Sepilok

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The Rainforest Discovery Centres (RDC) brilliant natural surroundings have made Sepilok the quintessence of tropical wilderness that brought into existence, a rare form of dedication for bird photography. In the third inception of the 3-day Borneo Bird Festival held annually, birdwatchers & bird photographers from all over the world had flocked to the quiet town to catch a glimpse of lifers, a term used for a rare bird sighting for the first time.
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View from atop the Canopy Walk!

The lush vegetation growing from natures little spaces in the recesses between gigantic trees have created an undiscovered paradise beckoning to be marvelled at. Despite the high humidity, bird enthusiasts endured the sweat to stake out the popular spots to wait for the elusive Ruddy Kingfisher & the colourful  little Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher measuring only about 8cm in size.
The festival in Sandakan was held over 14 – 16 October 2011. Guided bird tours by experienced guides who can tell you what bird it is just by the sound of its call, lectures by consultants in environmental protection institutes, authorities of wetlands, authors of bird books & photography experts who congregate for one purpose was made accessible to members of the public.There were workshops by craft-makers, painters etc. while birders staked out the hotspots where the Ruddy & the Dwarfs were initially spotted.
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Sabah Tourism’s counter of shirts & paraphernalia!
Exhibitors of the fair made up of societies, bird clubs, tour organiser, organisations of wildlife conservation, photographic & fieldscope gears and the Sabah Tourism Board. It was very well organised with the concerted effort of the Borneo Bird Club, Sabah Forestry Department, Sabah Parks, North Borneo Safari Tours, bird guides, volunteers & the most substantial support from Sabah Tourism. It attracted approximately 4,000 people to the fair, notably, a veteran from Hong Kong aged 80 years who lugged around his 800mm prime lens to staked out 4 hours straight to get a shot of the Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher. His effort got him a special award for being the most dedicated senior veteran at the fair!
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Chan Pak from Hong Kong, receiving his special accolade from Cede Prudente for being the most senior birder on the field in this festival!

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North Borneo Safari showcasing their birding expeditions!

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Sandakan Photo’s booth coupling with Nikon as the main prize sponsor.

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Borneo Bird Club’s booth.

Other notable highlights was the honouring of the birding legends, my best friend Choo Tse Chien (bird photographer & guide), Lee Teck Seng (bird & nature guide) & another naturalist, Isnadil Mohd who all passed away within 48 hours of each other. The birding world was shaken with the loss of three fantastic birders who contributed much to the field & as such, a tribute was given at the welcoming dinner by Sabah Tourism to their parents who were present for the event. Chien was the reason I got into birding & I would have to live on & continue his legacy as The Wannabe.

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Tribute wall of Chien, Teck Seng & Isnadil.

Note:- Right after the Bird Festival, I headed to Sukau along Kinabatangan River & internet access here is limited. More stories & pictures will be uploaded when I have better internet connection when I get into Sandakan!

More on birding:- The Challenge of Bird Photography In The Rainforest of Borneo.


 

Category: Adventure, Birding, Event  Tags:  2 Comments

Never Miss A Shot with Pentax – My Selangor Story 2011

I was eager to swim & soak away the aches so I took the opportunity to take the Pentax Optio WS80 with me. The thing that intrigues me is the amphibious nature of this model that I got supplied with during the contest duration to shoot with. I took it down to 1.5metres in the pool & it worked perfect. I could think of the many times that I have needed a small, waterproof, rugged camera with me & I will detail them here.
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Why You Would Need A Waterproof Camera:-

If you were an underwater photographer/videographer (like me), you need a backup camera. With the usual clunk that I carry, my underwater housing, strobes, lights, arms, tray, batteries/chargers weigh a ton. I simply cannot afford to carry another nor would I be able to purchase another set. When I shoot till the batteries dead, there is almost always a whale shark, a manta ray, an eagle ray or a happy squid BECKONING ME to shoot it. Somehow, Murphy’s Law would only apply then, ‘Anything That Can Go Wrong, Will Go Wrong.’ It is absolutely wrong NOT to be able to document any NatGeo moment that I encounter. The Pentax Optio WS80 or Pentax Optio WG1 would sit perfectly inside my BC pocket.

  • When you have a pool party, you almost always get thrown into the pool. Everything else can be replaced but definitely not the pixels recorded in your memory card if you don’t have a waterproof camera.
  • When you go jungle trekking & have to cross rivers with rocky terrain, the last thing you need is to drop your camera while balancing on these ultra slippery rocks. And you are like me, you want to take the breathtaking shots as you trek……
  • You teach swimming & scuba diving like me & want something to record your student’s progress. They can’t see how they perform themselves if you don’t have a waterproof camera that can shoot videos of them with. It is great for perfecting their strokes (swimming) and correcting their finning method (diving). Maybe you can get your friend to record your performance too.
  • You love tide pools after the tide go out & want to document life in these tiny pools that hold a myriad of life. It’s impossible to submerge a bulky, housed camera & a small, handhold, amphibious camera would be great for this task. Another NatGeo opportunity that you wouldn’t want to miss.
  • You’re one of those who like taking pictures of yourself in the bath……no, I’m not that type so WIPE THAT IMAGE OF ME DOING THAT IN YOUR HEAD.
  • You just want to don on your rain jacket & play in the rain & what better way to shoot in these circumstances than to have a waterproof camera with you at all times???
  • Still not convinced? Well, I spent a hour in the pool at Holiday Inn Kuala Lumpur Glenmarie Resort to convince myself why I SHOULD BE GETTING A WATERPROOF CAMERA next & it wasn’t very hard to convince myself after looking at the videos. These videos are super clear & have already been resized.

The beautiful landscaped garden at the hotel, has a man-made waterfall cascading into a concrete pool. The garden is bordered by a walled fence beside the golf course thus, a serene & tranquil environment for guests.

The kids playing merrily in the pool made great subjects to film underwater. Here are the videos taken with it:-

The camera is perfect for travellers who want a fuss-free, waterproof model to take snapshots in situations where they wouldn’t want normal cameras to function in, such as at beaches, waterfalls, lakes, swimming pools. It serves as a good back up camera with HD movie capability in the event that your primary camera refuse to work for whatever reason.

As soon as I got out of the pool to relax on on of the deck chairs, the pool attendant walked over with a beach towel & handed it to me. I am impressed with the level of service rendered even at the recreational level where guest are expected to take it easy. Holiday Inn Kuala Lumpur Glenmarie Resort has definitely got it right with impeccable service!

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Picture taken with the Pentax WS80

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Picture taken with the Pentax WS80

 

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Picture taken with the Pentax WS80

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Picture taken with the Pentax WS80

 

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Day 5 – Pure Joy of Relaxation at Holiday Inn Kuala Lumpur Glenmarie Resort – My Selangor Story 2011

Retiring to a comfortable room when you are travelling, makes all the difference in your stay. My room had twin beds, which I share with Olyvia, a software engineer from Jakarta. The bathroom was spacious & had all the amenities you’d find in a five star resort & the soap was what I loved most. Soaps with a higher content of glycerin makes it super luxurious on your skin & did I enjoy my bath time in the bath tub! The room even had its own steam iron & ironing board, not every hotel equips the room with such & it enabled me to iron my dress in the quickest time possible without having to wait for the delivery by the housekeeping department if it was the conventional way.

The thermostat of the air conditioning can be turned down to 10?C should you wish to fully utilise the efficacy of the comforter provided but we set it at a comfortable 22?C.

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Our bedroom

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The bathroom!

As this was our final day of the tour, we made our farewells & vowed to keep in touch to journey with each other through our blogs. I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the sponsors & organiser of My Selangor Story 2011 for making this possible. My stay with each one of the resorts has opened my eyes to many possibilities within my profession to promote Selangor when I go overseas as an ambassador for ISO Standards in Diving Services for Malaysia. I thank you for making me feel important as a guest & may the contest be a platform for me to pitch my skills as a writer & producer for the assignments that I will embark on hereon!


This best sums up the 5-day journey of mine.

I would be so grateful if you could vote for this entry HERE. <—- There are links at the bottom of each post that require a click on the many hearts that you see! Thank you!

Here are our sponsors who made our 5-day tour splendid!
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Sumptuous Offer at The Mix, Holiday Inn Kuala Lumpur Glenmarie – My Selangor Story 2011

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Zynchro, the resident band.

Now we see why we need a holiday to recuperate from one & thankfully as we headed down to Holiday Inn Kuala Lumpur Glenmarie Resort,, there were no other physical challenges ahead apart from chilling out. The closing dinner was held at The Mix, our official restaurant for My Selangor Story 2011 & the chefs whipped up a storm! I particularly enjoyed the Mesclun Salad & the Apple Potatoes Salad with Toasted Nuts topped with a generous helping of balsamic & garlic sauce. I had 5 helpings before going for the main dishes which were superbly done. The presentation of the food in circular bowls served on covered heated pans ensures the food stays warm no matter how many times you go back for second helpings.

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Mesclun Salad & the Apple Potatoes Salad with Toasted Nuts

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The offering at the dinner!

The Mix has a bar downstairs & a restaurant upstairs. As you enter the premise, the kitchen is in full view of the patrons, watching the chefs cook will whet your appetite as you look through the menu for what to eat. Ladies Nite is on every Wednesday AND Saturday where we ladies are entitled to selected cocktails & spirits all night long. There is a private dining room for patrons wishing to have a space away from others & a rack of fine wine for the connoisseur.

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Chef at the grill!

The dinner marked the closing of the 5 day tour & a celebration of the coming together of so many brilliant young minds for the chance of contesting in such challenging circumstances. Sagina Manandhar, Marketing Communications Manager of Holiday Inn Kuala Lumpur Glenmarie Resort, gave the closing speech as a welcome to having us stay with them & to congratulate everyone for surviving the challenges! En. Fazly Razally, the Event & Marketing Manager of Tourism Selangor, arrived later to join us for the after dinner celebrations with the house band!

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Zynchro, the resident band that performs nightly at The Mix, entertained us with a great rendition of current hits & hot favourites. Before long, the crowd was dancing to their upbeat numbers. Dian organised a surprise birthday cake for Amelia, the organiser, as she celebrates her birthday that evening with us. She obliged to sing again at the popular request by all of us & was she good!

We said our goodbyes to the Indonesian bloggers who would be on the first flight out the next morning. It was rather sad to let them go & it would have been so good to be perpetually on holiday but with modern technology of the internet, we will never be far from each other.

Watch for my next post on the 5th day of my tour! And please vote for me HERE! <—- Every blogpost is an entry so please vote on every link that you find at the end of my entries! Thank you!

The Cube – My Companion for My Selangor Story 2011

The Cube is an amazing multimedia channel created to fulfil the need of young people today, to access content on any device while on the move. Upon landing on the main page at www.thecube.my, a library of hit songs are available or purchase & download. Considering the price that you pay for an album, RM0.99 per song is a bargain. We were each sponsored with an Xpax prepaid number with a total of RM55 credit to enable us to access unlimited data for RM6 per day. This is a new portal with a library of multimedia for download. Thank you, The Cube, for internet access wherever we go!

The Cube offers the latest top hits as ringtones that can be downloaded to replace your standard ring tones. For phones that can customise each contact’s ringtones, you would be able to identify who’s calling straight away.

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Screenshot of what’s available on their website.

Under Musicube, there are Malay & Chinese songs apart from English songs, for download. There’s even a selection of Korean songs under Others’ tab. There could be a long queue for the dentist or at the post office where you are bored off your skull. Browse the collection & listen to a new song to perk yourself up before you go nuts. Or download a game & pit yourself against the game to score your personal best.

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Screenshot of what’s available on their website.

For those who need constant action, games are ready for download under PlayCube.

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Screenshot of what’s available on their website.


Just for fun, Fun Cube offers screensavers that you can download to jazz up your screen, skins & graphics to make your phone be set apart from others. You even have comics of action, drama, humour, fantasy, romance, science fiction delivered in the form of MMS to your phone.

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And in FrenCube, with just RM1 weekly, you can have unlimited usage of Facebook & Twitter via sms. With many personalising features, expand your network or get updates from friends while you share yours.

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Screenshot of what’s available on their website.

Riding on the the Celcom network, The Cube can be accessed anywhere within the country, having the widest coverage in Malaysia. So if you are hard pressed to have a different ring in your life, check out the numerous ringtones to brighten up your day & poke your friends on Facebook whenever you feel like it!

Note: This is part of the My Selangor Story contest. Please vote for this entry HERE!

Day 2 – Wining & Dining at Golden Palm Tree, My Selangor Story 2011

As every discerning traveller needs to refuel, the Pummkin needs to be fed well to perform the activities to follow. Breakfast started with getting to know one another through food. The Malaysian way has always been about thinking & talking about the next meal while you are having your present meal. At the heart of Golden Palm Tree, lies the buffet spread that spills over from Bila Bila to Buloh Bar. I had my fill of fresh salad & cherry tomatoes topped off with 2 tubs of yoghurt with berries before having my bacon, bangers & eggs. The spread & variety were good but somehow, something was lacking but I couldn’t place a finger on it.

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Part of my diet consists of yoghurt, fruits, salad & bread……before my indulgence in bacon, bangers & egg!

Our assigned dining area for lunch & dinner was at the alfresco rotunda, Sepoi Sepoi cafe at the beachfront, serving a delectable array of Malaysian snacks, noodles & local delights. I managed to savour 3 kinds of dishes, mainly the Hainanese Steamed Chicken Rice, the Mee Goreng Mamak Style & the all-time favourite Nasi Lemak. The portion was huge & chefs were at hand to whip-up the dishes as you order them. A great stopover for anyone returning from Smiley Beach to get into the lobby, which is at the base of the ‘trunk of the palm tree.’

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Mee Goreng Mamak, Nasi Lemak & Hainanese Steamed Chicken Rice!

Celebration Dinner.

The most pleasant surprise came in the form of an invitation from Golden Palm Tree’s management to join the Malaysian Night dinner that evening, which was to be held at the grand ballroom with a capacity of 1,400 pax. A cultural performance of tribal dance entertained the diners with their Bornean Bamboo Trap & was skilfully executed by natives from Sabah & Sarawak. The dancers went on to invite guests onto the stage to teach them how to dance to the beat of the drums, averting the bamboo stick knocks. Foreign guests were so thrilled with this participation & soon the crowd was cheering them on.

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The terrace of the ballroom was decked with a row of hawker stalls. The buffet spread that lined these stalls were filled with trays of Malaysian cuisine ranging from Beef Rendang to barbecued seafood. There were a bevy of chefs standing by a wok of stir-fried shellfish that made my mouth water just by looking at the varied kinds of clams in there, a wok filled with curry chicken & a wok filled with fried chicken. There were about 20 different kinds of dishes synonymous with Malaysian cooking & there was a bar counter serving alcoholic beverages in the form of beer, red & white whine. I had one glass of white wine to go with the seafood that was generously dished out by the chef. What pleased me further was the dessert island counter decorated with trays of sugary bakes, chocolate mouse, puddings, jellies, tarts & puffs! I had to convince myself that dieting starts (again) the week after MSS 2011! Heaven! And separate counters for ice-cream & other delightful servings of sweets. I like this version of Malaysian Night but I don’t know how my waistline (or the absence of it) would be able to take it after a week.

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Terrace outside the ballroom.

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The wok of mussels.

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My plate of clams, prawns & mussels!

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The selection of goodies for after-dinner!

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Trays of jellies, puffs, mousse & tarts!

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Goblets of sago

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More tarts!

Though there were 24 bloggers in total plus another dozen from the official support crew & organiser, the ballroom was one big party of happy guests celebrating a triumphant year with the most lavish dinner buffet ever. For a luxury resort, anything less would not live up to its name. We were entertained by the spontaneity of those who were called to the stage to happily jive away. If this Malaysian Night is not a regular feature yet, then it would go very well becoming one. The management could even suggest a batik themed night to go with it & have professional photographers take pictures of them to be printed on the spot & presented to them as a souvenir. The resort could very well start selling some exquisite batik dresses & shirts to complement the gala night. After all, people who go on holiday are prepared to spend & what better way to spend on than to buy wearables? You might even want to hire make-up artists for the night to make them look like a princess for the evening! You may even spark their spouse’s interest to give their relationship a boost & have them come back for this specific event annually. If they are having the time of their lives, wouldn’t you feel good to have been a part of it? It would be a night to remember for the chefs who will delight in seeing empty trays, waiters who will get tipped & managers who will receive the compliments first. It would be a night of wine & dine for the whole resort to celebrate in, only at Golden Palm Tree……

Note: If you think my post deserves a mention, please vote for me HERE. Your hearts given will ensure that I stay in practice to pitch my skills & test my endurance in bringing you the adventure! If you want to read about what I did that warranted for so much food, the day’s activities are detailed here.

Our next destination was a challenge. See what we went up to the mountains for on the 3rd day….

Day 2 – High Tide, Low Tide & My Ride – My Selangor Story 2011

Rising to a high tide is awesome! Apart from hearing the sound of water beneath my villa, it was also indicative of how much time we could spend in the water. The ripples generated by the wind was another visual clue that I ought to be in the water as soon as I can! Got ready in record time, slathered a layer of sunblock, put on my fun visor & I was ready to rock & roll. It would be a great day to be outdoors.

Right after we breakfast, the congregation of bloggers marched to the Smiley Beach for some fun in the sun & for me to launch the windsurf. Dragging the board out to waist deep water, I only managed to sail within the confines of the buoyed perimeters as it was rather choppy & I was out of practice for over a year. Nevertheless, it was very fun to fall into the water each time the sail did not want to cooperate with me & the wind! The other bloggers took on a more physical challenge by taking the sailboat or the kayak out. Rowing in tandem, they had a field day manoevring the kayak before aggregating for a game of beach volleyball. I didn’t take as many pictures as I would have liked to simply because I spent most of my time in the water or on the board but I kid you not. It was more times in the water than on the windsurf board. Such is life!

As we weren’t the only guests, many people turned up to hire bicycles for a ride about the village & it was quite chaotic to get onto some other activity within the place. Cycling was something that we eventually got to do in the afternoon. At 2pm. I was already thinking about bringing my collapsible umbrella out, to the horror of others who then suggested I should have an umbrella holder on the bike. Hahaha! If only that was possible for my mini collapsible brolly! I may love the sun, but I don’t like the effect that it brings so I try to stay covered up whenever I’m outside.

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Photo of Watersports Centre at Smiley Beach courtesy of Golden Palm Tree.

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At Smiley Beach

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Dwi Andi & Ridha on the board posing for the camera!

So we set off on a journey around the village roads to satisfy the adventurous in us, hoping to see wildlife but the only thing that went wild was us. The cycling leader told us to stay in a single file but almost everyone defied that because it was more fun to group up & terrorise other road users! I was expecting to see cows & chickens but the route we took was purportedly ”˜the beginner’s track,’ which lasted approximately half an hour. The squeaking of the bike as I cycled was such a funny noise to hear. Given so, having withstood the salty breeze & splashes, the bikes were fairly well maintained. I chose one with a front basket for me to place my bag & other gadgets in it. I kept hollering to Nigel who was in front of me to ask him if he can hear this funny squeak but he turned around & said, “Mine’s squeaking too!” @_@

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Bloggers cycling

It would have been more fun if we had a purpose or if there’s a specific object to acquire like food! I know of a ”˜keropok’ (crackers) shop in the village that sells great tasting crackers & what a boon it would be to the economy if all 24 of us went there & bought 3 packets each to have something to boast about when we get back. I was expecting to see some cottage industries or maybe even farming methods in the remote of Bagan Lalang but I had to keep up with the group who was going too fast for the tour. I wish I had brought my umbrella then, even if I were to get lost, I would be identifiable by looking ridiculous on the road. Surely there were streams which we could explore? Perhaps get down to look for shrimps & such. I’ve made up my mind to bring MY BICYCLE & a troupe of likeminded friends with theirs to come back & look for that cow, chicken & keropok.

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Returning to the watersports centre, we were greeted with ice-lollies & ice-cream, treated by Tourism Selangor! What a refreshing appetiser! Thank you, Tourism Selangor, for the little stuff that matters. We embarked straight away on the Low Tide Tour, an activity where you walk in the tidal flats to discover life within, very much like the exercises I do with my students at tidal zones too. So Rosie, our nature guide, gave us a run down on what we could expect to see. Going barefoot, we trotted to the mud flats where the sea was but had gone out with the tide, we found ourselves walking in to the underside of the resort! Rosie taught us how to find ”˜pephahat,’ (bamboo mussel), which are buried in the mud. Any attempt to take the animal out was forbidden as we were there to observe & conserve. A myriad of snails were seen actively crawling about & the army of Soldier Crabs were invading our territory. I was delighted to stalk them! What did they look like? Well, watch the video to find out!

I would have loved to do the other nature tours such as the Mangrove Tour but time was limited & we had prepare ourselves for dinner at the ballroom! More on food in my next blogpost!

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Please vote for me HERE! <= Just give me as many hearts as you think it’s worth once you get in!

And whats special about wining & dining in this resort??? Read all about it here.

Living It Up At The Golden Palm Tree – My Selangor Story 2011

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The palm tree layout of the resort.

Upon arrival, the stunning facade of the entrance to a 1km stretch of villas straight out into the sea conferred me a grand reception. The spacious lobby was designed to accept a huge number of guests lounging around in the breezy, circular structure with a conical roof that forms as the ”˜base’ of the palm tree layout of the resort’s property. From the inside, the conical ceiling was formed by bamboo sticks creating an optical illusion to the beholder. Another part of the lobby’s ceiling hangs the chandelier giving a warm glow to the place.

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Golden Palm Tree was influenced by Polynesian & Maldivian-style villas built on ”˜stilts’ (large concrete pillars) with high, thatched roof, the interior is quite a treat with holiday makers who like space. I can safely attest to this having been to Maldives 3 times, staying in one of the most expensive resorts in the atoll.

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The warm & inviting lobby lounge!

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Bamboo ceiling.

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Chandeliered ceiling.

We were given our key card & meal card & was briefed on the mode of transport to get to our rooms. The buggies operating in 5-minute intervals were great as we soon got acquainted with every bell-hop who ferried us up & down the ”˜trunk’ of the palm tree, I began to make requests to go to ”˜London, to see the Queen,’ or to ”˜Mars’ & ”˜Venus’ to the delight of the bell-hop who entertained me by bringing me to ”˜London,’ ”˜Mars’ or ”˜Venus’ which is just down the lane to the heart of the palm tree or back to the lobby. As we were told of the itinerary for the following day, I sort of got my mind set on the watersports & cycling! I couldn’t wait to get to my room to see what these villas were like!

The villa that was assigned to me was at the 5th branch of the palm tree by the sea. With two bedrooms within the villa, I was to share a room with a blogger who had to pull out due to health reason while Zarah & Olyvia took the other bedroom with twin beds. The Canary Palm Villa not only has two rooms, it also has two bathrooms, two verandahs & a lounge, fully equipped with amenities such as a mini bar, TV, hair dryer, coffee & tea making facilities, safe deposit box & bathroom essentials. My room has a bathtub like what I have at home (but bigger & not cluttered with rubber duckies & whales) & a shower cubicle, everything designed to let me enjoy being in the bath for one whole hour. This probably also set me on a dreamy mode for the rest of my stay here as I imagined what it would be like if I was here with Prince Charming instead. I also wondered if I were here alone, would I find my Prince Charming?

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My princely villa! I had the bed all to myself!

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Photo courtesy of Golden Palm Tree.

At the heart of the palm tree is where the Bila Bila Restaurant sits & where we had our daily breakfast. Aptly named, Bila Bila means ”˜anytime’ or ”˜whenever’ in Malay, denoting the availability of all day & all night dining for the guests of Golden Palm Tree. Situated right by the Infinity Pool, Bila Bila serves international & local fare, even poolside food & snacks. Catering to the tastebuds of the East & West, Golden Palm Tree receives a majority of guests from China, Taiwan, Hong Kong & Caucasians from western countries who loved hanging out by the pool. I only want to be in it. ?

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Infinity Pool

In the two nights that I spent here, I had imagined what it would be like for couples wanting a quiet & romantic getaway. Though we didn’t get to experience the rest of the other F&B outlets, I thought the ambience throughout the resort at night was awesome but the resort management ought to do something about mood-control in the day time. If I were to spend the kind of money to lavish on a romantic getaway, the last thing I want to experience is a noisy crowd who doesn’t know how to respect the peace & tranquil of place. Perhaps the management could come out with a notice to guests on proper behaviour & decibel levels upon check-in so that they would read & sign to commit to respect the peace & privacy of other guests wishing to laze by the pool or anywhere else. I was having my moment in the pool at the edge that drops off to a ledge by the sea & was jolted by the shouts of other foreign guests while they laughed out loud posing for their snapshots. While this may be acceptable for guest of other hotels by any other standards, it wasn’t by mine & neither should it be for Golden Palm Tree if it is to be pitched as a reputable, luxurious resort. I shudder to think if this behaviour would be tolerated in the ultra romantic settings of Perahu. Preferably, a separate pool be built for those wishing to have a quieter setting, leaving the infinity pool by the Buloh Bar to those who want to freak out into some fancies in the sun.

Guest services were prompt & though my only contact with the resort staff was kept to having my luggage delivered & picked up as well as asking for directions to the Smiley Beach, I was pleased with the level of services rendered.

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Night scene at trunk of Golden Palm Tree with buggy zipping by, captured by a slow shutter speed.

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One of the palm branching out to sea!

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Evening by the infinity pool.

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Sunset just outside the verandah of my bedroom!

If you are thinking of taking your loved one for a short romantic getaway, Golden Palm Tree might just be what you need. Prepare to wine & dine in the sunset or take any of the tours provided by the resort. This resort is all about living it up & living it well.

As I prepare to write about the culinary efforts & the activities I had experienced in my following blogpost, please cast your vote for me HERE!

Read about my 2nd day’s activities here!