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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 4 – Gruelling Course at Awana Genting Highlands Golf & Country Resort

Our first activity before breakfast was to trek into the dipterocarp montane forest. Andi Kus & I preferred to take photos of life that enfolded around us & we stayed well behind the troupe as they marched pass us. Minute plants caught my attention & as giant fungi looked out of place, the jungle began to tell us a story of symbiosis. Moss that is found only at a certain height above sea level was seen here. Ferns that begin with a tight curl, unravel themselves in splendour the deeper you go into the forest. Every life form supports the ecosystem & make up the food chain. We are to take nothing but pictures, leave nothing behind but footprints. That’s not always the case with me. I left a scent & took 5 leeches back with me. Andi Kus didn’t get a single bite even though he was beside me taking the same shots! Now how is that possible??? *shudder!*

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Moss

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Moss on semi dead wood

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The leeches paled in comparison to what followed after breakfast. An obstacle course called ”˜Tears of the Sun,’ designed to test your endurance & team spirit, was part of surviving the My Selangor Story 2011 tour. Zul, our team trainer called out Ridha to lead the bloggers into a Bollywood dance as the theme song ”˜Jai Ho,’ from Slumdog Millionaire came on the superb sound system. Then everyone had to get out of a knotted circle to run to the starting line of the tremendously challenging course…..

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Hills & ditches, everyone got wet. Climbing over wooden fences, inclining & declining wooden slopes only to be dropped vertically into the ditch again. Crossing every pool of water caused everyone to depend on one another. By the time they reached their 5th ditch, each one learnt to make the best of it by…….dancing & acting! Watch the video! The superb showmanship by medical student, Shaleh had me in stitches. At the end of the obstacle course, the differences in culture, ethnicity & countries bore no more obstacles to friendship & camaraderie. In the name of cohesion, we danced to celebrate the completion of the most gruelling task, not in the course but in trusting our lives with another on the journey.

Watch the video of bloggers in action!

We got ready & clean to go for the closing lunch reception that the wonderful sponsors at Awana Genting Highlands Golf & Country Resort prepared for us. The General Manager, Ruddin Salim expressed that it was a pleasure to have us but I feel that the pleasure was ours to be invited for the journey. Najib reiterated that he never says goodbye but when will I see you again. The presence of the GM, Assistant GM & all the Fun & Adventure marshals & trainers who made us feel belonged & welcome was more than just the hospitality that came with their jobs. It came forth because of the love they have for the work that they do. I want to thank & appreciate all the physical effort of Zul & his team for working through the night to set up the course & trail for us & the group after us. His tireless work make him the best in a class of his own. Thank you for making it mean so much to us!

We savoured yet another lavish spread of buffet lunch at Rajawali Coffee House in Awana Genting Highlands Golf & Country Resort just before the bus departed for Day 4 of our journey at Holiday Inn Kuala Lumpur Glenmarie Resort for a sumptuous offer…

If you think this blogpost warrants your vote, please click on the 5 hearts HERE!

 

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Rajawali Coffee House

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Main dishes!

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Mousses & soufflé!

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Cakes!

 

Day 3 – Seafood & Gluttons in The Mountains at Awana Genting Highlands, My Selangor Story 2011

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Dinner was lavish. Seafood was brought in & the spread was more than what we could stomach for a week. The restaurant is called Pasar Ikan Bakar, translated to mean Grilled Fish Market. Decorated with low tables & Thai triangular-backed cushioned mattresses on colourful hand-woven straw mats, it was one big, cosy dining area. When we were told of a night walk, we thought we’d better stuff ourselves. It was difficult to hold back given the choicest foods in the spread! We became gluttons at sight of the seafood!

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Calamari/squid, fresh prawns & flower crabs on a bed of shaved ice!!!

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Cosy settings at Pasar Ikan Bakar

We even had the in-house band entertain us with songs throughout dinner which I thought was utterly fabulous! The singer had a wonderful voice & it filled the place with an ambience that’s indescribably good! Maybe my protruding tummy at the end of the meal & the triangular backs of these mattresses caused me to be at ease at all times. It felt so good to have someone serenading you over your meal, just like in a hotel except that I was in the middle of the jungle in Genting Highlands. Bliss! With bloggers like Andi Kus & Shaleh, I couldn’t stop laughing the whole night. Goofing around was never this fun until I met them! I don’t think there is another jungle lodge that’s as elaborately comfy & vibrant as this place!

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Andi Kus & Shaleh with muka-muka masing-masing!

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Posting the yummy seafood for you to see again!

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Salad bar!

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We even have pickled nutmeg & such!

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A fruit rojak bar!

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A sambal counter!!!

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The in-house band entertaining us!

This wasn’t all, Amelia Tan, the organiser gave a rendition of the same song in the most soulful manner, enough to melt any man’s heart. The video is on my Day 5’s posting.

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I had two helpings of this portion!

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We were served supper too!

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Spoilt silly for choices.

This is definitely the place for companies to bring their employees for team building. Where else can you get such great food to bring out the devotion in your staff? After being fed supper, we all turned in. In the stillness of the night, the symphony of frogs croaking sent me rolling onto my mattress & planning yet another escape route for the obstacle course the next day…….

Pasar Ikan Bakar is at Awana Genting Highlands Golf & Country Resort and is open every Friday, Saturday & Sunday. For bookings, call +60361013015 Ext: 53020 or 7605 between 9am – 5pm.

Note: Thank you for reading this far! This is a contest entry so please vote for me HERE! <—- Just click on the hearts! The more hearts, the better!

The next day, the gruelling challenge begins…..

Day 3 – The Soil Beneath The Clouds at Awana Genting Highlands Golf & Country Resort – My Selangor Story 2011

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At the entrance of Golden Palm Tree Resort & Spa for the farewell.

Bidding farewell to such a wondrous place in Selangor seemed a bit morose, with all the feasting & the merry-making over the last 2 nights. It was also our dreaded time to face the oncoming unknown challenges in the jungles of Genting Highlands. The General Manager, Mr. Pascal Prigent, saw us off in style & sat with us to have a group shot for the record! Thank you for having us rock your resort & terrorise your bell-hops with requests to go to London, Mars & Venus. It made my stay ever more universal. ?

Like an entourage accompanying the mission, we bade farewell to the resort management, got onto the bus & possibly slept all the way to Awana Genting Highlands (minus the zippy washroom stopover) to make up for the eventuality of any (gruelling) exercises. We were briefed of the day’s itinerary the night before & anticipate it, we did not. Added to the challenge of not knowing the itinerary prior to the tour, the mention of an obstacle course was enough to unnerve the (un)fit, (un)prepared, (un)abled & (under)trained in us. *Gulp*….I wouldn’t like the thought of my hip falling out of socket in any of the challenges & to think that in my hey days, I was training to be a part of the Eco Challenge team & rock climbing was a weekly affair….then.

We had a grand welcome with all the managers lined up to greet us like VIP! It was great! We were ushered into the lounge where the launch of My Selangor Story 2011 for Awana Genting Highlands Golf & Country Resort took place. YB Elizabeth Wong was present again to grace the event & the Senior Vice President of PR Communications Genting Malaysia Berhad, Dato’ Anthony Loke, gave us an introduction of the property that Awana Genting Longhouse is a part of. The area had been gazetted as an IBA – Important Bird Area as of last year, marking the recognition of birds that live in the area requiring protection & conservation of their habitat. This is great news for me as a birder as I come up to this area to photograph birds & protection might hopefully gain them in numbers thus, increasing our chances of spotting them. He also cited the uniqueness of the longhouse experience, one that can only be had in Sarawak. He stressed that conservation to the surroundings have produced great interest amongst photographers who then participated in a contest to have their entries made into a coffee table book! The flora & fauna will be showcased in the book that is about to be launched soon. I’ve known about the conservation efforts in Cameron Highlands & Fraser’s Hill but this is the first time I’m hearing about the efforts in Genting Highlands. If indeed, this will be of great interest to bird & nature photographers to make more frequent trips up to document the fauna & spreading the awareness of species. I will organise my group to explore & expedite the appreciation of the place once I find out what there is to be done! It was evident that Dato’ Anthony showed a deep appreciation for the environment that built his career, even more, his love for the life that it contains. He spoke without a formal written speech & was probably assisted by only points in his note. As it’s paramount for the property on its stewardship, the steward would be the one to steer the wheels in motion for the rest in his charge. It made me forget that I was dreading the drill factor in the first place & made me want to go out to meet nature right there & then!

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Dato’ Anthony Loke during his speech.

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A basket of Phalaenopsis sp Orchid was presented to YB Elizabeth Wong for gracing the occasion!

After a video demonstration from the resort of what to expect of this journey at Awana Genting Highlands Golf & Country Resort, tea & snacks were served to prep us up for the abseil challenge. Najib, the founder of Fun & Adventure company that arranges the outdoor & team building activities for Awana Genting Highlands Golf & Country Resort, briefed us about the do’s & don’t’s when entering the jungle. He introduced Mohd Zul Fahmie, as the person in charge of leading us through the challenges that followed. With an amazing portfolio as an outdoor & obstacle course trainer, what we were to experience with Zul would be forever imprinted in our minds……and bodies (ouch!). He reiterated that there are several practices that they adhere to when entering the jungle & that is, not to call on each other’s names (how do we call for help then??). We were told not to take anything that does not belong to us & to generously donate blood to those who require it……aka leeches. Yikes! I will detail all that we did in the next posting.

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The hike up to the Abseiling grounds had such a pleasant sight. Beautifully landscaped pond with fringing jungle.

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The side of the Longhouse.

Everyone put on their harness as they had to be secured to Figure of 8 with a carabiner. Hiking up the hill to the top, many had to conquer their fear of heights. Once they got the hang of coming down with the support of the rope & the belayer, many of them went back uphill to descend down the rope again!

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We were put on the greatest challenge of our lives. Don’t miss my next post.

After dinner, we proceeded to walk a few hundred metres to a trail. It was dark. We were told to form two lines according to our two groupings. And we were to sit on the ground. Zul briefed us of the activity to follow. We were to do this trail BLINDFOLDED & SOLO. I had turned my GPS on, tucked away in my cargo pants pocket & was prepared in the event that I do get lost in the jungle, at least I would know how to navigate my way back. Not that the organisers would let us get lost, but as a sense of safety & precaution built into me, I would always carry at least 2 GPS devices when I go anywhere near a jungle. (There was a time that both failed on me but that’s another story!) All our escape plans that we had secretly formed had to be abandoned upon them telling us we were to go solo & the trail would be 2 hours long. And to think that so many trusted my escape plans in the first place! Aha! I can’t tell you what we had planned lest you make us go through it once again! Hahaha!

Assisted by a rope tied on sticks that formed the route, we were blindfolded & had to place our trust into the marshals hands. The wait in complete silence except for the sound of crickets & nocturnal squeaks accompanied us as the marshal took us to the route one by one. We were getting used to the darkness. Unbeknown to us, Tian Chad was assigned to take our photos & what a hilarious moment it must have been for him to see us crawl/duck walk/bent over & groping in the dark!!! As soon as I saw the pictures below, I was rolling on the floor laughing my heart out.

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All Blind Trail pictures are courtesy of Tian Chad.

I was one of the first few who got taken to the trail. I felt my nose & ears being tickled by some feather-like substance & had to learn to use my other senses to feel my way through. Along the way, I was anticipating drops in the terrain or uneven ground when suddenly, a hand grabbed my forearm & a voice said, “Lebih baik kamu jalan di sebelah tali,” (Best if you could walk on this side of the rope) which I retorted, “Kenapa???” (Why???) and the voice said, “Nanti kamu jatuh kalau kamu berada di sebelah itu. Saya bagi you tips. I help you!” (You will fall otherwise. I’m giving you tips. I’m helping you!) And the hand released its grasp. Ohmygawd! I got helped! So straight away I climbed over the rope & continued with one outstretched hand, groping in the dark. Almost towards the end, somebody bumped into me & I realised it was Helga. And Siti was behind him. We got led to where we sat down to remove our blindfolds & found the first few bloggers sitting & sniggering away! We’ve been had! It wasn’t 2 hours but 20 minutes!

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Upon downloading the tracks from my GPS unit, this is the screenshot of the trail that we took, coloured in dark orange above.

Watch this video!

The marshals & organiser had planned for a birthday surprise for Nigel Low, who had to be tricked to do the trail last. By then, we got ready & sang him a birthday song when he removed his blindfold! Many happy returns, Nigel!

We spent the night in 4 dormitories within the longhouse. Very basic accommodation with mattresses on the floor, pillows & thick woollen blankets for everyone. I guess team building starts with sharing your space with everyone else. Bathrooms & toilets were outside of the longhouse. We had to sleep early as there would be a 6:30am wake up call next morning to accept our challenges ahead.

Note: This is a contest entry & I would appreciate your vote for me HERE! <—- Thanks again!

Up in Awana, gluttony took on a new meaning. Read about the storm the chefs cooked up here!

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The Awana Genting Longhouse – communal living with nature!

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Ascending the stairs to the Longhouse.

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Comfortable mattresses & pillows.

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Communal area outside the dormitories in the Longhouse.

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Awana Genting Longhouse dormitories.

 


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!

Day 1 – Setting The Mood for My Selangor Story 2011 Tour

The anticipation didn’t wear off on the day of the launch. It magnified the moment I managed to shut my luggage. Packing for a ”˜blind trip’ was a mixture of anxiety & angst with a dash of ingenuity generated by the fear of not being equipped for the journey. What the 5 days beheld, we weren’t told but bringing a pair of sneakers was compulsory. So I brought everything. Setting my GPS for Holiday Inn Kuala Lumpur Glenmarie Resort, I arrived at the hotel at 3:30pm.

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Map of Holiday Inn Glenmarie from my Garmin Roadtrip.

All thanks to our generous sponsors, the press conference to kick off the event was held at The Mix restaurant & bar, within the property of Holiday Inn Kuala Lumpur Glenmarie Resort. The chefs were on hand to ensure the layout of the trays of canapés would look as appetising as they were. The beautiful Marketing Communications Manager, Sagina Manandhar, greeted us with all smiles & welcome, making me feel that my holiday has just started from that point on! It’s amazing how the hospitality of one person can set the mood for the rest of one’s stay but we were not to stay there yet.

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Raw Salmon with Caviar Canapés & Turkey with Tomato & Diced Mango Canapés!

The General Manager, Mr. Anil Pathak, arrived to usher in & welcome YB Elizabeth Wong, the EXCO for Tourism, Environment & Consumer Affairs for Selangor. An introduction speech was made by Amelia Tan, the Organiser of My Selangor Story 2011 from Horizon Communications, who was the brainchild behind the event since the first inception in 2010. She called on Dian Azura, who was last year’s grand prize winner, to give her take on what My Selangor Story had been for her. Immediately after winning the title, she was offered the position of a Social Media Specialist for Tourism Selangor, a 1-year contract in which she tweets & updates the organisation’s Facebook page with her resourcefulness in bringing events come to life. Her engagement with social media had proven to be successful by the number of followers Tourism Selangor had acquired. In a span of a few short months, the number had grown to 3,177 to date, inspired a lot more people to explore & experience Selangor no matter what time of year it is! She detailed how one’s passion for travel should not be quenched & that everyone should follow their dream & attain to get somewhere, wherever that may be. She reiterated that winning last year’s contest was just the start of her adventure.

And aptly so, when YB Elizabeth Wong took to the rostrum, she echoed the same sentiments telling us how she used to blog ever so often before taking office as an EXCO. Being extremely pleased to see a great number of our neighbours from Indonesia & Singapore flown in specially for this occasion with VIP treatment by Firefly, she extended a warm welcome to them & told them to make use of the 5 days to experience as much as they could. How I wished Firefly could fly me from the Sg Besi old airport to Subang Skypark just so that I can experience the VIP service from them! It’s always a pleasure to fly a different class! Setting the event for the 2nd year running, she thanked Amelia for her team’s monumental effort in bringing people together, Tourism Selangor, our tourism board, for extending logistic support & all the sponsors who had graciously given to the event.

The Golden Palm Tree Resort & Spa located in Sepang Gold Goast, Bagan Lalang, is our official resort & spa whilst Resorts World Genting is our official resort. Holiday Inn Kuala Lumpur Glenmarie Resort is our official hotel & The Mix is our official restaurant. Pentax is our prizes sponsor apart from being the official camera for the duration of the tour as they would be supplying us each with a camera to shoot with. The official airline is of course, Firefly, who will fly everyone home when the tour is over. We wouldn’t be complete without phone & data coverage kindly sponsored by The Cube, who provided us with pre-registered SIM cards.

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The officials, organisers & sponsors of the event.

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Travel bloggers roaring to go!

Soon after the YB Elizabeth launched the event, we had to board the coach for the journey to our first resort destination to begin our tour! What did I do in a 5 star resort? Find out in my next instalment, still on Day 1 – My Selangor Story 2011…..

 

Next,  see how I lived it up at Golden Palm Tree Resort!

And please remember to vote for me HERE! <— THANK YOU!

Our sponsors:-

Organiser Official Tourism Board Official Airline

Official Hotel Official Resort & Spa Official Resort

I'm on The Cube, are you? Official RestaurantOfficial Camera

My Selangor Story 2011 – A Story Worth Telling

My travels have never been short of dramatic & in my profession, I’ve seen things & encountered things that sometimes baffle even the scientists I work with. When you work in an environment that requires 110% of your alertness, you will begin to notice the life around you. And holding two complementary professions means that I get to be at many places & write about them at the same time.

If I’m not teaching my students to dive, I am out there filming my next blockbuster……..and that’s to film the amazing coral reefs & everything that moves therein. If I’m not filming my blockbuster, I’d be stalking birds & bugs in the jungle. If I’m not in the jungle, I’d be pestering the fishermen to find me the elusive Sea Apple (sea cucumber) or documenting culture wherever my assignments take me. I’m guided by my sense of adventure, moved by my emotions for the living, inspired by the love of God & activated by the cameras & gadgets that I hold in my bag.

If I can as much as show you, the stuff that magazines ask me to write about, or scientists pay me to discover, I would show you the splendour of Selangor through my lenses & the excitement through my expressions in my blog. Will you vote me into the 30 to be a part of My Selangor Story 2011???

To vote, please go to this link & give as many hearts as your heart desires! Thank you! http://bit.ly/nVzspS

Footnote:- If the music in my blog is drowning out the video, the embedded player is on the top right column of the sidebars. Just press stop…..or play again if you like!