Friday, March 06, 2009

No Longer A Frequent Traveler

I lost my job. A re-org, and my whole department is being closed down. I am waiting for my last day in this company.

I might get a new job soon, but I will no longer travel as much as I used to be in the past 6 years.

I'm sure I will miss this a lot.

So this blog will be updated less often, and if I do update, it will be from my personal holiday trips then.

BTW, we are going to HK Disneyland soon. Hope I can bring forward some interesting posts.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

MAS Regional Lounge

It has been quite a while I didn't travel to Singapore. Didn't know there are so many changes. There is no more shuttle flights, so we cannot just go and get whatever available!

And then at the KLIA, in the past, to use the MAS Golden Lounge, we have to go to the Satellite terminal after the train. Since Singapore (and some other destinations) terminal is G, i.e. at the main terminal (near passport control), we have to make very long trip to and fro.

This time, when I went to Singapore, I nearly missed the new MAS Regional Golden Lounge, located at the G terminals. It is one the left of the train 'station'. I almost missed it and boarded the train, coz I checked in at KL Sentral no one informed me!

This is a pretty new lounge, full with Zen concept.

Regional Lounge

Very comfortable and pleasant. Their TVs are kind of 'built' into the mirro' Their kids play area is also nice - see pic below, the little room behind the pillars. On the left with blue lights is the TV.
Regional Lounge 2

Very pleasant lounge, but a bit quiet though...

Friday, June 27, 2008

View from 56th floor

I went to Singapore for a conference in mid June, and stayed at SwissOtel The Stamford. When I arrived, it was nearly midnight, and the reception told me that King size bedroom wasn't available and would put me in 2 single bed type, located on 7th floor.

I insisted that I wanted a King size bed. Well, not that I am huge or really need a big bed, neither nor that I am demanding... It is just some personal forbia. I always try to avoid having an extra bed in the room... afraid of inviting unwanted 'guest'!

So, I told the girl I really cannot accept 2 beds in the room. She can put me in a room with a small bed, but not an extra bed. She finally talked to the manager and put me on 56th floor! See, they have, but higher floor, so wouldn't give it to me - perhaps higher price?

Whew! The room was spectacular! The moment I entered the room, what greeted me was this view! They actually provide a balcony for people to enjoy the scene. Though I was very afraid of the height, I still opened the glass door and stepped outside to take some pictures.

Night View

And here is the view during the day...
Day View

You can see the Singapore Flyer (spelling?) there! I also saw the DHL hot air balloon from my window. Wonder why would people sit in that tied-up hotair balloon, what view would they see?!

Monday, June 02, 2008

Doorless Toilet vs 5-star Toilet

I have heard so much about the toilets in China before but have never really used those. What I’ve heard was: toilets are without door not flush.

In the past, when I was in China, I tried to go to places with modern toilet facilities. So far, haven’t been exposed to this type of toilets, until my recent Lijiang Trip.

After visiting the Tiger Leaping Gorge, while we were at the First Bay of Changjiang River, we stopped at a site that is less visited. And here, we saw this type of toilet for the first time!

traditional toilet without door

They only have a drain that connects a few ‘units’ of toilets. And each unit has walls that are about waist height. All are WITHOUT door. So, users have to go in and pull down the pants and squat down – with all the processes viewable by other users. This is what we felt very uncomfortable.

Luckily, there were only the 3 of us, no other visitors/users. We told each others – “DON’T LOOK!”! LOL! As if others are interested to look at you! :p

Oh, BTW, even in modern toilets, we have seen people squat down doing BIG business, without closing the door, and they were facing OUT. Aiyoh! I guess they are just not used to having toilets with doors. LOL!

In comparison to these Traditional Toilets, we found this “5-star toilets” at the Yunnan Nationalities Village.
5 star toilet

I went to this toilet, and immediately I laughed-out-loud! They even provide TV on the wall. So, you won’t miss your favorite program, even if you have to go to the toilet. Hahahahah!

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Unpleasant Experience in Kunming

So far, there were a few cases of people trying to cheat us, meeting with unfriendly or rude people, but nothing beat this!

It happened in the Kunming airport. Look, I have been traveling a lot, otherwise I wouldn’t be running this travel blog. I’ve flew a lot, including to places like Pakistan. Nothing beat the uncivilized treatment in Kunming airport.

There wasn’t any clear direction and there wasn’t any real queue at all. You can queue on a line for half an hour and got bumped off when it is your turn. Every counter is busy, no one would monitor the queues.

This was what happened to us. We queued for nearly 30 minutes, and when there was just one couple in front of us, suddenly this guy rushed in and asked us to “excuse him”. At first I thought he wanted to ask something at the counter, but no heck! He was jumping queue.

The issue is, he wasn’t just jumping our queue, he even jumped the queue for the couple in front of us – whom the counter was serving half way! And the airline staff allowed that to happen. I mean, if you are serving this couple, why do you turn and serve this man.

The worst thing is, he doesn’t just represent a person. When he is in the ‘queue’, his luggage all arrived:

KM airport

These are his luggage, and apparently he was checking in for a group! This airport is bad because they do not provide group check-in counter. And I believe that IS the root cause to the mess.

This not only happened to our line, but to all lines. I hope the Yunnan government do something about it, or it would hinder people away…

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Accommodation in Lijiang

We stayed in a motel located within the Shuhe old town (束河古镇). This place is recommended by a friend, and I too, highly recommend. And I would ask you to stay much longer than what we did. We only spent two nights, which is certainly not enough!

Motel: 田园牧歌客栈
Address: 丽江, 束河古镇开文六社康普巷 (束河办事处旁)
Tel: 0888-5115922

We highly recommend this for its hospitality and flexibility. The owners are very nice. It is run by very young people, who actually spend the whole day with the guests. You can chat with them till late night, to understand the local cultures better. They even brought us to the square and we danced together. They make friends with their guests, which is kind of uncommon in other places.

This is the room that we stayed in: 等月亮

room at night outside

Lijiang Motel

Top left: when we open the door in the morning, this is what we see.
Top right: toilet/bath
Bottom left: our bed
Bottom right: outside view at night, it is a corner lot.

hotel corridor

This is the corridor – very quiet in the morning…

Lijiang Motel 2

Top left: outside view of the motel during the day.
Top right: a long table where people gather for meals and drinks, very cozy, like a lounge.
Bottom left: this is where we first had our dinner, a small square surrounded by the rooms.
Bottom right: our room is just behind the 2 loungers.

hotel lock

Look at this lock! They are so Chinese! I thought of buying one but forgot about it later! It looks like a combination lock with Chinese writings…

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Kunming Attraction - Yunnan Nationalities Village

There are 52 minorities in China, and out of that 51 are in Yunnan. It is almost impossible to visit all the tribes in a short stay, so the Yunnan Nationalities Village comes in handy.

It is a place that gathers the major tribes, displaying them in their most original form with performances. It is best to spend the whole day in it, coz it is very big and walking from a tribe to another takes time. Without watching the performance, it is also as good as not being there, so prepare to spend some time there. We were there after 3pm, so we missed quite many small villages and performances. :(

Here are some to share with you…

Wazu (瓦族)
Wazu is quite dark and seriously they look really like our Malay friends! Their men are one of the most macho type that we’ve seen so far, with long hair and muscular body… very attractive! :p

Here is part of their cultural performance:

Daizu (傣族)
This tribe is from Xishuangbanna (西双版纳), south of Yunnan. They are very similar to our Thailand friends. They practice the same religion and have the same believe. They also celebrate the same thing – the Water Festival.
daizu umbrellas

When we were there, it was just during the water festival, so we could see many people shooting water, and they even sell raincoats and water guns to tourists! My camera almost spoilt in this, as I wasn’t prepared when someone shot me water! LOL!

Miaozu (苗族)
There are actually two Miaozu villages here, at least from the map. The main one was out of our way, and we visited this smaller one. There are Miao girls doing some sewing in their hut, but no performance though. There was a church there, but people there was not that friendly.

Local Snacks
Along the street, you can find them selling local snacks. We bought 3 types to try:
local snacks

Top left: smelly toufu, which is actually spicy but not smelly at all!
Top right: French fries with spicy sauce – a better and more Asian alternatives to the western French fries. This is the most yummy of the three.
Bottom: pumpkin cake, a sweet snack, which is not my type.

Night Performance
After dinner, they had nigh performance at the square. There is a mix of Lisu tribe (傈僳族) famous performance of climbing knife ladders, songs from Wazu, dances from Yizu (彝族), walking on burnt coals, etc.

The night performance ended with group cultural dance, similar to the one we experienced in Shuhe told town in Lijiang.