Tag-Archive for » malaysia «

5th May 2013

Sitting at a little hawker centre in North Bridge Road in Singapore, after alighting from the fiendish express bus that was supposed to have dropped me off at Beach Road but made me disembark in the middle of Jalan Sultan at an unearthly hour of 5am when I’m barely awake from the journey. Venturing further with my Eminent wheelie luggage & Millet backpack, I found this place with the nicest tea that I’ve tasted in a long time. People just don’t make tea the way tea is supposed to taste like in kopitiams anymore. While waiting for my dear, uppity tangkachi  to pick me up in her ‘meet-Ah Lian-clothes,’ I am sitting here, sipping my tea & trying to put my thoughts together.

I watched a foreign worker in bright reflector vest, sweeping the street just outside our state of the art bus terminal building in Bandar Tasik Selatan when I went there after a workshop to collect my boarding pass. I felt a surge of compassion towards him & I asked God to bless him & the family that he probably has to send money home to. A storm was brewing & from the place he was sweeping, there was no way he could reach the building or any shelter for that matter when the skies pour down. He’s got to get wet to keep OUR streets clean. I couldn’t help but feel sad at the state of the country where foreign workers take up the jobs that are supposed to be filled by Malaysians. I feel sorry that they have to be subjected to harsh working conditions because they have no status here as odd job workers & manual labourers. I felt angry for the way these people have been reduced to such working standards that give them no way to voice their rights. It hurts me to see that despite these unjust treatment levied on them, many of these foreigners are given citizenship by a crooked system that’s bent on milking the nation dry.

Here in Singapore, Malaysians who have flocked here to make their mark have made their mark one way or another. They have been given recognition based on merits & many have decided to embrace the permanent residency offered by the administration & are thriving beyond any of their peers back home. The competitive trait that most of them have acquired, is actually a simulation of the environment that they have to be in & it’s no wonder that they can be successful. Comparing that trait to that of Malaysians’, we fall short & far behind. We don’t even have a minimum wage policy until recently & wages do not increase proportionately with the inflation of goods, leaving many working in jobs to sustain a life they can’t afford to live in. In a few days, I would finish my assignment here & return home where I will be commissioned again for other assignments. I can go on but I’m not here to lament about what has been done or hasn’t been done. I want to put to use what I know for the good governance that I’m looking for & hope for a flood that will sweep the nation. 5 May 2013.

iPhone 5 Launching in Malaysia!

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The grapevine is finally bearing fruit. i-Aficionados would be elated to know that they would be getting their hands on the much awaited iPhone 5 with just RM200 deposit to pre-order a unit & get invited to the launch to be one of the firsts in Malaysia to own it! Running on the latest iOS 6 and A6 chip, you can experience performance and graphics up to twice as fast. With improved battery life, the wide 4” Retina display is set to fix your gaze on colours you never knew existed and with an 8MP camera in your pocket/handbag/man-bag/fuzzy-cosy, you will never miss any action in any situation again! Your own personal mobile assistant, SIRI would probably tell you to interact as much as you can with the 16GB, 32GB or 64GB of storage space for your content, so you can leave the good trusty laptop at home.

Only with Celcom, the largest mobile network coverage in Malaysia, would you get an enhanced full experience of the coveted iPhone 5. Time is of essence so head on over to BlueCube to secure yourself a unit now!

Independence Day 2012

At India’s 66th Independence Day celebrations on 15 August, I met some incredible people like Uma Pushpanathan, the talented & award winning dancer Ramli Ibrahim, artist Siva & Miles, the Australian High Commissioner & his lovely wife. Uma talked about her involvement in dignifying the charity-giving of essentials through a card that they go to the grocers with. Recipients of this aid can use the card to ”˜purchase’ items on the list for a specified time each month. I asked her if she can obtain help for some of the hardcore poor communities that Caring Communities is working with & she was all for it. How timely to be meeting the right people at the right time.

In all of the events, I always get to enjoy the delicious Indian food served & that night was particularly good because the catering had a whole roast lamb & a huge fish on the platter. This just means that I would have to cycle an additional 10km each time & take a different route home to work off the weight to allow me more for each function!

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Taken with my host, the Indian High Commissioner His Excellency Mr. Vijay Gokhale.

On the home front, I spent Merdeka Eve (30 August) cycling to Merdeka Square & back, had supper with a group of people & headed home at 3am only to wake up at 7:30am to get ready to cycle to Petaling Street for the Merdeka Festival 2012 where I bade farewell to Yook Woo Hin Restaurant with my last order for the century. They closed after lunch on 31 August, to make way for the MRT project. This was the dim sum place that my grandpa & parents brought me to as a kid & I sat there reminiscing my childhood as I waited for my lunch for more than an hour. The hive of activity came to a halt when patrons finished up & vacated the restaurant. I was all morose & upset. Upset because I couldn’t come here anymore to savour their morning dimsum & morose because it was a childhood experience.

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Truly, the last order……
Thanks to Victor Chin, the renown artist of heritage buildings, who informed me about the event, I was able to make time to be a part of this festival of saying goodbye. I took a photograph with Madam Mooi, the daughter in law of the founder of the restaurant after chatting with her. She’s 82 years old! After circumventing the place with Aziz, Yoo Yee, a China Press journalist whom we met there & Felix who cycled all the way from Wangsa Maju, I was ready to go home. After 55 years of independence, I really wonder what we will achieved by removing heritage businesses & buildings……..

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Wannabie for The Wannabe

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There are bags & there are fannies! I’m so honoured for this privilege of being the bag ambassador of our homegrown, Greenroom 136, a funky waterproof bike bag that is named after my birding reputation as the Wannabe. Patrick Lim, (not my dad but a rather younger & more dashing version) the founder, had toyed with the idea of launching a series that serves commuters like us to protect our belongings from the sudden onset of rain & hail. When he did & came up with the range, I was so proud to advocate this range for him! And liking waterfalls is one of the reasons why I would prefer to use waterproof bags to hold my belongings when I cycle any day.

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Built in a tough 1000 denier Cordura outer shell, the Wannabie is a combination of solid vinyl and 420 denier ripstop, that would take whatever sprays the sky or FRU trucks throw at you. It’s especially handy for a quick grab of power gel stowed in one of its compartments with my phone in the main. Hanging on the handlebar of my Oriptimus Prime (my foldie that acts like a Transformer!), my Wannabie can pack in an emergency tool, additional blinkers in addition to my chunky Galaxy Note. The bag looks great on my classic foldie too!

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In July, I was charmed (conned) into cycling a 54km round journey to Chenderiang Falls by friends. We headed to Kampar & then cycled from the train station to the huge waterfalls, making plenty of stops as I pedalled along. I had a push from Ronnie on my uphill leg while CK took my panniers after I got too ambitious carrying rations……like toys for the waterfalls. 😀 Dr. Ang kept me company for 10km & then we reached the falls. The entire ride was hilarious when I accepted a ”˜tow’ from a motorcyclist, hand in hand, pulling me for 2km to the chargrin of the rest of the riders who were waiting for me at a junction only to hop off their foldies to take a stance ready to snap pictures of me getting a ”˜ride!’ Brilliant! He came back to offer me a huge durian later too! Perhaps Patrick could come up with surprise packs for offerings-of-such along my rides. I never know whom or what I could pick up next time…… 😀

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I made it……I made it….!

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Soaking is the order of the day after a hot ride…..

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Chenderiang Falls as seen from the PLUS NKVE (highway)

The fannies are great. I have the Manny reserved for when I bring my bigger camera. Anything can fail you but the bag that keeps your belongings safe, shouldn’t. 54km was my breakthrough on my foldie (minus 2km of being towed) & I believe in staying fit to let me enjoy all my outdoor pursuits anytime. And my Wannabie lived up to it. Get yours now!

Wannabie
I have a fanny, Whose name is Wannabie,
She’s none the ordinary,
But a brimful of joyous life and unpredictability.
Always the eager beaver to seize the mind,
Some know her as one kind, A wildchild none the other,
Always random that’s how we love her.
I have a fanny,
It’s my Wannabie!

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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The Oriental Diving Bird of Borneo

The Oriental Darter (Anhinga melanogaster) is a magnificent bird that hunts for fish underwater! Listed as a threatened specie, this bird is also known as the Snake Bird, contributed by the way it moves its head on its elongated neck. When it dives down into the water, it can stay submerged as it hunts for fish & reemerges to toss the fish in the air before it swallows it. The most impressive sight would have to be when it takes off from being in the water. Only its head breaks the surface as it swims to gain momentum for the lift. At Kinabatangan River, this specie can be spotted on treetops when not in the water.

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While cruising on North Borneo Safari’s quiet, electric engined boat, Alex Tiongco, Marts (speakers from Phillippines) & Hamit Suban, our brilliant nature guide, pointed out a flock of them on a skeleton tree. Unable to contain ourselves, we were rocking the boat with excitement. Each time either one of us did that, none of us could get a focus on the bird with our cameras & binoculars but it didn’t matter! Shaking from excitement is part of the fun. Thankfully for my Manfrotto 055CXPro4 tripod, much of our shakes were minimised & I could still take pictures on the flat bottom boat.

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Count the Darters!

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A Darter emerging from underwater! Used with permission from Cede Prudente.

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Grooming.

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These were taken from at least 100m away.

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A fishing Darter! Used with permission from Cede Prudente.

That was our first sighting on our first cruise. Eight of them in one frame! Sighting of a lifer is something that birders get extremely excited over especially when the specie doesn’t exist in my part of the world (Peninsular Malaysia), what more seeing eight of them. Their sheer size was also noteworthy & Cede Prudente had the opportunity of capturing this diving bird fishing as well as emerging from the water & it is truly an aspirational picture for me to document it one day……if I get to stay long enough in the river stalking this Darter.

The Golden Proboscis Primates of Labuk Bay, Sabah

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The owner of the land had wanted to convert the forest into an oil palm estate but upon discovering a family of Proboscis Monkeys in the boundaries, he decided not to cut the forest down. Instead, he went on to set up the Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary to protect these primates, admitting visitors to have a closer encounter with these grunting & gleeful golden monkeys.

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The Alpha Male

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One of the females leaping onto the feeding platform.

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Don’t stare……

Feeding them twice a day at two platforms, I was able to see the harem & spotted the alpha male by the sheer size. A macaque was in the vicinity & the Proboscis monkeys were not the least perturbed by its presence. It was exhilarating to see the Silver Leaf Monkeys in the sanctuary too, roaming freely in the building & accepting humans as part of their community. One baby Silver Leaf Monkey scampered across the hall to leap onto a visitors lap, moving to perch itself on her knee. What a sight that I forgot to click the shutter. I had come for these kinds of encounters & allowing the baby monkey to grab my finger was a connection that I can’t describe. The adult monkeys would walk about the railings & plonk themselves right next to humans. One of them watched me while I shot the Proboscis when in fact, I should have grabbed my compact camera to shoot the Silver Leaf Monkey’s curiosity of my gear!

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Silver Leaf Monkeys

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Baby Silver Leaf Monkey start their lives in golden fur!

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Juvenile Proboscis Monkey

There was an ultra clingy Oriental Pied Hornbill adopted by the sanctuary since it fell out of the nest as a fledgling. This hornbill took an extreme liking to one of the girls & by that time, I couldn’t differentiate which bird was shrieking.

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The lush greenery of the sanctuary

Labuk Bay is about 30 – 45minutes drive from Sepilok, Sandakan & is a destination that you must not miss. Observe the feeding times & go earlier to set up your camera & tripod to catch them leaping into the air to traverse to the feeding platform.

Hamit Suban was our dedicated nature & bird guide who brought us to Kinabatangan River, making stops along the way to see the magnificent monkeys in Labuk Bay while giving us the history of how it all began. He is with the fantastic people at North Borneo Safari, owned & run by Cede Prudente, the NatGeo photographer whom I had hijacked by in 2007 to autograph my bird books. Four years on & I’m finally heading to Sukau, Kinabatangan River!
Let the good people at North Borneo Safari take you to Labuk Bay enroute to Sukau! I can’t wait to have my Orang Utan encounter!!!

Hours / Feeding times
Platform A : 09:30am & 02:30pm Daily
Platform B : 11:30am & 04.30pm Daily

For further information, please contact:-

North Borneo Safari Sdn Bhd
Lot 31, 1st Floor,
Block B4, Jalan BU 5/1, Bandar Utama
Mile 6, 90000 Sandakan,
Sabah, Malaysia.

E-mail:        inquiry@northborneosafari.com
Telephone: +6089 235525
Fax:         +6089 235526
http://www.northborneosafari.com

Lifestyle Change Begins With A Foldie!

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Folding Bike shop.

The recent craze for folding bikes, fondly known as foldies, has hit town & people are realising the sheer simplicity of packing it & tucking it in the car to go anywhere & ride. I was given a rundown by Andrew Sia, the Chief Reporter of The Star daily, for the kinds of foldies there are in the market. My first encounter with an ultra cool foldie, was in front of a hardware shop in Bangsar, where a Brompton bike was parked. I was gawking at it so much so that the owner came out to demonstrate how it’s folded & unfolded. The conversion of the rear rack to a little wheeled trolley won me over. This owner whose name I didn’t manage to get as I was so engrossed in his description of the usability of the bike, has been all over Europe cycling & recently got back from China. I was totally impressed! The bike had only 16inch wheels! When he told me of the price, I thought, wow, would someone actually spend RM6,000 on a foldie??? Well, I was so taken up by it, I started doing my own research & recalled that Andrew had one so I deluged him with questions & midnight calls because I was very eager to have one.

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ORi C8 Classic

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Top view of the bike when folded.

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Andrew taught me a lot on how to search for one that suited what I’d want in a bike. Aesthetics was important too. Above it all, functionality & foldability.

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I went around town searching for the perfect bike. I found that most bikes with good components start at RM1,000 & above. Most importantly, I wanted something close to a Brompton but not the price. When I found Folding Bike Trading, I was so ecstatic to see a similar designed model but much more compact than a Brompton bike. When I got to the shop, a beautiful lady by the name of Well Tan, greeted me & served me a cup of tea before she proceeded to ask me about what kind of cycling I would want to do. I told her I was thinking of touring & maybe just for daily fitness. She recommended me the ORi bike.

The ORiBikes are designed by the award winning designer Jon Whyte, a former Formula 1 engineer from the U.K. Stylish and functional, ORi folding bikes bring an unprecedented experience of performance and practicality. I especially liked the C8 Classic model where the saddle & handlebar wraps are made of leather. The way it folds matched what I saw in a Brompton bike & for the price of RM2,699 for a C8 Eco series, it’s less than half the price of a Brompton. The Instant Rebound Catch (IRC) mechanism enables ORi to fold up in seconds and easy to carry and store. The brilliant idea was inspired by the simple and intuitive operation of airplane safety belt. IRC also works as a reliable hinge locking the bike together when unfolding. Thanks to IRC, the safety and convenience are perfectly connected together. It even has an easy rolling kit to commute to & fro the LRT!

Well taught me more about foldies & how I should go about owning one. A far cry from a few shops that I had been to in town whose main business is selling & servicing roadies (road bikes/racers) or mountain bikers. Her knowledgable guidance convinced me that owning the right bike is to be done pridefully & no one should rush you into a buying decision. She answered every doubt that I might have & went on to serve me more tea. Then she explained the difference between mainstream bikes & foldies, that the purpose is totally different. A foldie is used for commuting & touring with ease of being able to bring your bike anywhere & everywhere with you. It sounded perfect for my lifestyle! And it wasn’t about competition.

The thing with conventional bike shops is, you always feel pressured into conforming to the norms of cyclists, what they should wear when cycling, what kind of accessories you must buy etc. but with a foldie, YOU ARE YOUR OWN STYLE. I will come up with some fashion bits advice for the ladies who wish to embark on this journey with me. Do let me know what your preferences are & I will detail what the change that the cycling scene needs.

With that, I took a forthnight to mull over it & after My Selangor Story 2011, I took home the ORi C8 Classic foldie! Well is giving a very special deal on the ORi bikes & if you tell her that you saw this on Pummkin’s Pitch, she would give you a 5% discount + a bike cover bag with a further RM30 off on selected helmets to help you get started!

I’ve decided to form an all-girl cycling group to get fit & have since recruited several ladies to join me in my pursuit. Will be organising more photo trips on foldies too so get into gear, guys! Do get your foldie from Well as she can explain in detail what you ought to get & what will save you money in the long run. I will detail with more pictures once I get to ride on my new foldie soon!

Meanwhile, check out her shop at:-

Folding Bike Trading
G 10, Emerald Plaza East,
Jalan PJU 8/3, Damansara Perdana,
47820 Petaling Jaya,
Selangor,
Malaysia.

Tel: +603 771 33 888
Mobile: +6016 393 2229 ( Well )
Fax: +603 771 33 222
Email: foldingbiketrading (at) gmail (dot) com

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The frontal black bag holds the bike cover inside.

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Groovy helmet to protect your main asset….

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 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….