Saturday, October 16, 2010

Hawaii - Polynesian Cultural Center

The Polynesian Cultural Center is like a mixed-cultural theme park consists of 6 different natives of Hawaii, hailing from the islands of Samoa, Aotearoa, Fiji, Hawaii, Tahiti and Tonga. Daily scheduled activities and island presentations kept us busy throughout the day.

We got there at 3pm and only managed to see 3 of them :

1 - Samoa. Here, a tanned man, rippling with muscles was the main person who joked most of the time. We saw how fire was made and put out, how they are able to climb a coconut tree with agility ....and many others. Mostly, we were told of the simplicity of their daily lifestyle.

2 - Aotearoa - They danced for us. Their music was simple and calming. To my surprise, I heard one very familiar tune and the lyrics, although it's the same as what I know, was sung with their heavy accent. Nevertheless, this song reminded me of my childhood days where we would use two bamboos and danced over it.

3 - Tonga - I guess you could say they specialise in drums (I really don't know the specific name for those big drums, looked more like a giant bongo. Three men from different countries in the audience were picked and they were to imitate the presenter.

We managed to squeeze in some time for a short movie on how the Polynesians came to Hawaii. This was shown in an Imax theatre.

After a buffet style dinner, we settled ourselves down to watch their performances, where each tribe would showcase their different culture. The entire performance was about 2.5 - 3 hours long with a 20 minute intermission break. Out seats were assigned to us according to our ticket number and we were quite far up from the stage.

By the time the show ended, I was half asleep (mainly due to jet lag), even though it was only about 10pm. The 45-minute ride back to the hotel gave us all a chance to snooze to our heart's content.

It was an exhausting but worth-while day for us. The Polynesian Cultural Center is really a must for those visiting Hawaii and wanting to know more about it's origins and culture.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Hawaii - Dole Plantation

Before we went to Hawaii, I checked the itinerary. Dole Plantation was one of the highlights. I googled this place wanting to know what was so special about it. I found this unique maze which I really looked forward to going to. I even printed it out so that when I get "lost" in the maze, I would be able to find my way out.

The first thing we did was to buy their famous pineapple ice-cream. I saw most of the adults queueing for it. I haven't tasted this flavour before and was curious. It was really creamy and refreshing, but it melted very quickly in the hot sun

We decided to go for the shorter train ride around the plantation. We were a little disappointed with it because all we saw was a huge field with lots of huge machineries and few types of trees. I have to admit, we did see a few rows of pineapple plants but that was about all. The place looked a little deserted. My suspicion was that we took the shorter ride (due to time constraint) that didn't get to go to the actual plantation site. The earth was reddish and it reminded me of my visit to Kunming, China.

The rambutan tree looked scrawny compared to the ones that we have here in Malaysia. The joyride took about 15-20 minutes. We didn't even get to see the famous pineapple maze. :(

Lunch was at a place called Fumi's Shrimp Farm. Simple environment. The food tasted great, though. Very fresh. There were 10 shrimps in each set and I couldn't finish mine!! Yummy, but I didn't want my cholesterol level to shoot up.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Hawaii - Pearl Harbor

I was pretty excited when dear hubby said that we were going to Hawaii. To me, I've always had this picture of Hawaii in mind : An exotic place where the sea has different shades of blue, coconut trees swaying lazily in the sun and people lounging about in the heat without a care in the world.

We went together with a group of 33 people. Transited at Incheon, Seoul, Korea, for 3 hours. Our very first impression of Korea was that things were pretty expensive. Hubby bought shaving blades, a bottle of water and lip balm costing RM62.

It was a total 18 hours traveling time inclusive of transit. By the time we arrived in Honolulu, Hawaii, we were feeling a little restless and tired. To add to our exhaustion, we arrived at the airport at 1am. The immigration officers were surprisingly pleasant and friendly. One of the them commented that it was "humid" out there. We, as Malaysian, do know what humidity is all about. We were welcomed with a lei each by our Hawaiian tour guide, Henry.

Earlier when we were in Incheon Airport, we were told by our tour leader that we were upgraded to stay at The Royal Hawaiian (we were supposed to stay at The Sheraton), which is a luxury hotel.

We checked in at 2.30am. We didn't feel sleepy at all because Hawaii is 18 hours behind us. Nevertheless, we forced ourselves to sleep (it was about 3.30am by the time we unpacked) in the cool comfort of the king sized bed.

First day was quite relaxed. We went to Pearl Harbour, waited for about 1.5 hours before we got onto a ferry to take us across to the site where a shrine was built in honour of those who died during the bombing.

As we gazed out in the waters, there were still signs of oil from the remains of the ship. According to our tour guide, Henry, to this day, the oil never stopped leaking into the water from the day Pearl Harbour was bombed.

After Pearl Harbour, we did a little shopping near the hotel. There was an Apple Store nearby and almost everyone went into the place specifically to get an iPad, which at that time, wasn't sold in Malaysia. I was seriously contemplating on getting one myself but somehow the features didn't meet my expectations.

We rested for a short while before heading to Hard Rock Cafe for dinner.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Merdeka Climb - Gunung Angsi via Bukit Putus

Every now and then, the siren calls and the next thing I know, I've agreed to go for a climb.

I have climbed Gunung Angsi once in 2007. It was my very first climb and I remembered suffering a lot. We went via the Ulu Bendol way and the rain lengthened our entire climb.

This time, 16 of us went via Bukit Putus.

We started our climb at 8.27am. It was steep for the first 20 minutes and I was out of breath within the first 10. Golly, I was thinking to myself that if this continues, I would not have enough strength by the end of the climb. It reminded me a little of the KFC in Gunung Ledang (although KFC felt like it was never ending)
We rested for a little while here.
The trail got easier after that.

Then it was uphill again, though not as steep as before.

Because I haven't been on this particular trail before, I wasn't sure where I was or how far before we reach peak. Aunty Chris said, "Don't worry. When we see KG coming down, you'd know that the peak isn't far away".

We continued climbing up and suddenly, we saw KG and a few others ahead. Hurrah! We have reached the summit in about 2 hours. Aunty Chris was pretty surprised because she expected to be climbing for at least another 1/2 hour or so.

Within another 10-15 minutes, the rest of the group appeared. We rested for a while, makan and minum, caught our breath before being called to sing the national anthem, "Negaraku" as it was Merdeka day for us. Someone so rajin, brought the Malaysian flag.

We even had a Merdeka cake, made by Aunty Chris (but I can't remember who susah-susah carried it up) specially for this climb. The words "Happy Merdeka" was suposed to be on it but we didn't think the icing could withstand the heat.

After filling our stomachs, we had a little song session led by Joo Tatt. There were 8 songs there but we only sang 7. Most of them were lively malay songs which required dancing and action. :-)

We spent about an hour on the summit and descended at 11.33am.

For me, going down was not much of a problem. My shoes are good, but Aunty Chris kept saying that it's slippery. Perhaps I should introduce her the Columbia shoes I wore.

During the descent, some were in front of us and some were at the back. KG, Aunty Chris, Pat Gan and I were together when KG wanted to take a different route. Because the entire climb was short, we decided that it was no harm trying another route back, thinking that it would not make much of a difference where time is concerned.

We were wrong. We had do a lot of climbing and at one point, we though we have strayed from the main mountain and moved on to another. We thought of turning back but decided that we still had time.

Suddenly, the trail was super steep .... and we were back onto the main trail. We cursed KG after that!! LOL

When we got back to the base, everyone was waiting for us. I think they were there for about 15-20 minutes and were wondering if we got lost.

There was only one small make-shift bathroom and we showered as quickly as possible. The guys didn't really shower.

We went to Ah Seng's coffeeshop for lunch before going back home.


No of climbers : 16
Started climbing : 8.27am
Summited : 10.29am
Started descending : 11.33am
Arrival at the base : 1.22pm
Water intake : 1.5 liters
Food : one piece of cake

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Floria 09

Never in my wildest imagination would I thought I would see beautifully decorated flowers in Malaysia such as these. But the impossible happened.

I was in Putrajaya early August going to Bahagian Pinjaman Perumahan for work stuff and caught sight of these colourful flowers at the open space car park.

Well, nice as it is, these were carefully placed in bags of soil for the Floria '09 fest and was said to only last a week. We were there on the second day and the flowers looked fresh despite the blazing sun.

In an indoor, fully air-conditioned huge make-shift tent, flowers were decorated in different shapes and sizes.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Rocky Road

I guess Cadbury has to come up with new flavours with fancy names ... and thus, Rocky Road doesn't refer to a certain type of road but a new flavour of Cadbury's.

This is not out in Malaysia yet, though ... so for chocolate lovers, go to Australia to get a taste of this new flavour. Come see me if you don't want to travel so far - while stocks last, of course.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

KL Bird Park

Getting everyone to agree on going to the Bird Park was not a problem. Getting everyone's schedule to match was tough.

We planned this outing from May and told En in advance that she can't spoil our plans just because school had something on or that she suddenly developed fever or flu.
Getting Brian to avail himself that day was not a problem at all. He would happily skip tuition for it... plus, he doesn't get sick too often.

Wayne, being 2+ years old, didn't have much of a schedule except for the fact that he sleeps in the afternoon.

Om was supposed to come but was stuck in Butterworth, visiting relatives.
So, on Monday (July 20th), Matthew, MinChee, Eunice, Tusi, Brian, En, Wayne and I went to the KL Bird Park in 2 cars. We weren't sure where the place was and overshot along Jalan Parlimen going into Jalan Cenderawasih and ended up at Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman. We made a u-turn there and went all the way back to Jalan Parlimen and into Jln Cenderawasih.

The Bird Park is near Bukit Aman.

We arrived at about 10.30am and easily found many parking spots available.

The ticket booth was at the entrance of the park. For foreigners, it's RM42 perperson. For Malaysians (we must produce our Mykad to get this discount), we pay RM15 perperson. A further discount of RM5 would be given if we had produced either an MJ or Jusco card but I didn't know that - even though it was stated on a piece of laminated paper right in front of me. I didn't know it was a FURTHER discount. Children below 12 is RM6 perperson. Tusi managed to qualify under the RM15 level, having explained that she is the maid. Actually, we wanted her to have a good time, to enjoy a little and be a tourist.

This bird park is the biggest free- flight walk-in aviary in the world... and I didn't know that it existed until a couple of months ago.

The children were all excited, seeing huge birds walking along the path .. or perching on a branch above them. They kept exclaiming, "Look! There's a bird there" and pointing everywhere. Wayne was happily immitating En & Brian, saying, "Look, Bird".

The koi pond was a hit with the children. Earlier, at the ticket booth, I bought 3 packets of fish food. I passed two packets to them and those fat fish got fatter that day. Wayne really loved the fish. They were all playing with the water too.

We stopped for a break after walking for 1 hour 15 minutes. En and Brian, each having RM10, paid for their drinks. We are trying to instill in them the value of money and how to budget with what they have and what they want.

We got to take pictures with birds of our choice. I asked En and Brian if they wanted a group picture or single shots.... and they chose the latter. So, for RM8 perperson, they went in one by one.

En was pretty brave. The owl actually left marks on her scrawny arms.... and she is sooo not scared of the huge birds.

Brian was pretty scared. You can see it in his face. He kept saying that the birds were heavy.

Tusi was scared at first but wanted to look nice for the camera ... and so, she smiled her best.

As for me, I guess I am a natural, huh? I figured that I should also take this opportunity to have my picture taken ... a memento.

We hurried on to catch the 12.30 Bird Show at the other end of the park. Well, I must say, the children loved the show and the many tricks the birds were able to perform.

After the show, they played at the playground nearby. I actually didn't want them to "waste" time there but Eunice was kind enough to allow them 5 minutes (which turned out to be longer than that) to go down the slide.

We took another route to go back to the main entrance and came across this beautiful cascading waterfall (which is man-made, of course).

We also saw ostriches and emus .. those big bodied, skinny legged birds.

The nursery was nearby but there was nothing much in there.... except for chicks, artwork of the colouring competition held in December 2008 and some posters about how chicks grow into chickens. It was smelly in there.

There was also a gallery (air-conditioned, much to my delight) which showed deboned birds and the skeleton of two ostriches.

We walked on. By that time, it was past 1pm. En wanted to see more birds. Brian's stomach was growling. He kept saying that his lunch time is 1pm and En retorted that it was already 1.30pm .. so it makes no difference anyway.

En managed to get us to go into "World of Parrots". Brian soon forgot his hunger pangs when he was given a chance to feed the parrots. En fed the parrots too.

There was once when a bird landed on Brian's head .. it was a good thing he had his cap on, otherwise I shudder to think what Brian would do if the bird had a nature call to answer to. Anyway, Brian was a little worried about the bird, anyway, but I explained that the bird only wanted to reach the milky drink from that point.

We finally got to Hornbill Restaurant, much to Brian's relief. I ordered a chicken pie, Brian had beef burger, En chicken burger and Tusi ... well, because she hasn't tried potato wedges before, I ordered those for her. In the end, Eunice gave her half of her beef burger, En gave her another half of her chicken burger, I gave her a bite of my chicken pie and we all shared the wedges (because she simply couldn't finish so much food).

En and Brian both wanted to spend their balance money on icecream (for dessert). I told them that it's cheaper to get it outside the restaurant.. but on the way out, we had to pass through the gift shop and both of them wanted something in there. En wanted a pair of binoculours which cost RM10 and Brian wanted a plastic cap with a mini fan powered via solar energy and shades - this would set him back by RM19.

Now, En had only RM9 (not sure why she had so much, even after paying for her drink which cost her RM3 ... someone miscalculated very badly) and Brian, RM6.

I told them that they had to choose between the things that they wanted and ice cream .... and they decided to forgo the cool dessert.

I wanted to teach them the value of money .. so I questioned En first .... "You have only RM9 and the binoculours cost you RM10. How are you going to get the extra RM1?" She asked me to lend her RM10 and said that she will pay me back when we get home (I still haven't seen the money yet).

As for Brian, he is short of RM13 and knew that he couldn't pay me back even when he got home. Well, I was thinking .... for him to sacrifice the ice cream meant that he really wanted the cap, so I asked him for his RM6 and told him that I would come up with the balance.

Both En and Brian were very happy with their "toys" ... and didn't even think about their ice cream. Aunty Eunice was kind enough to say that she will spend us all ice cream - and that includes ME!!! :) :) :)

We left just before 4pm. En kept wanting to see the 3.30pm bird show (again!!) but I didn't want to get stuck in the traffic and explained that to her. She said that she didn't mind getting stuck in the traffic. Brian echoed her thoughts. I retorted that "I" was the one who would suffer because I was driving. I don't think they could relate to that. They were probably thinking, "So what? Sit in the car and wait with us-lah".

In the car, En was so tired, she was the first one to fall asleep. Tusi dozed off too. Brian was still awake, maybe thinking back on the many birds he had seen.