The Week That Was

It’s been exactly one week since I last blogged. I wonder if I can really sum up the week as brief as I want.

We left for Singapore last Thursday. We left home a bit earlier to send my MIL and FIL (who came to our place just the night before) to KLIA, for their flight back to Kota Bharu. They went to Melaka to visit some relatives (actually their SIL’s siblings) who were leaving for Haj. MIL & FIL came to KL after that, and DH bought the tickets for them to fly home. Sometimes I wonder… shouldn’t it be their daughter (in Melaka) who should be buying them those tickets? Ah…Ā  We can’t be too calculative, can we? )

Anyway, back to my diary. After sending them, we went to LCCT to check in for our Singapore flight. There was a couple of hours of waiting. I engrossed myself with this book:


I borrowed it from a colleague. The book belongs to her daughter.

We transited at Changi Airport. We later took a 10.30pm (abt that ime) Jetstar flight to Darwin.

We arrived at Darwin Airport at 4.30 am. Too early and too sleepy, we joined many others who were bunked at the airport lobby.

When the sun rose, we took a cab to our accommodation, the Barramundi Lodge.

That day we only managed to have a brief walk at the Esplanade, and later a visit to Woolworths to get some food stuff.

On Saturday we took a day-tour to Kakadu National Park, another Unesco World Heritage Site.

Crocs on the road?

It was a great outing – saw some ancient aboriginal paintings, did a bit of hiking, got loads of stories and knowledge from our coach driver cum guide, Greg.

We also took a 1.5 hour cruise down the Yellow Water and South Alligator River, visiting the wetlands there. That was the first time I saw so many (almost 20, I think) of crocodiles in their natural habitat (not in captivity).

Lots of birds too, where some are native to Australia.

We came back to the lodge at 8pm, fully knackered!

The next morning, we walked to the main square (at least 3km round trip from our lodge). The Global Green Challenge 2009 would be flagged of that morning. We came to know just a couple of days prior to our departure that UNITEN was sending a team, so we looked forward to seeing them. What we found out was that apart from UNITEN, University Malaya also sent a team. Please visit DH’s entries to see more pix:

Yesterday, the Tokai University (Japan) team completed the 3000km race (Darwin -> Adelaide) and emerged the champion, while others are still struggling to finish the race.

After seeing the cars off, we went back to our room, took showers, packed our hand carried bags, and headed straight for the Airport. Our flight was delayed due to plane being grounded. We arrived in Changi just in time to check in for our KL flight. Luckily we didn’t have any check-in baggage! We also had to forgo the plan to have dinner at the airport.

When we landed at LCCT, it was past 10.40pm. We stopped at a mamak outlet near our home to buy our delayed dinner of nasi lemak!

Om Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday I was busy with trainings.

Only today I manage to find some time (and energy!) to blog!

BTW, both Aina and I finished reading the above novel before we arrived home!

Luang Prabang Stories

DH is writing extensively (and promptly too) on Luang Prabang that maybe you can just read them there, while waiting for my next blog entry.

  1. Luang Prabang Part 1
  2. Luang Prabang Part 2
  3. Luang Prabang Part 3
  4. Luang Prabang Part 4
  5. Luang Prabang Part 5

He said there’ll be one more entry on Luang Prabang, and one on Vientiane.

His entries are very academic and educational – can be very interesting and informative for some.

Pull Up Your Sleeves, Pullman Putrajaya!!

Last Monday, my company started a training session at the new Pullman Putrajaya Lakeside The buildings are impressive, and I was told that their food is great, so that was why we opted for the place. We are there from Monday to today (4 days) followed by another day next Wednesday.

It’s our first time there, and we were looking forward to having the training session there. Last Thursday (despite promising to pay only on Monday), I came to the place with the payment cheque (since our Finance department got it ready that day). I was hoping for a good service, knowing that this is a brand new (5-star?) resort/hotel and having paid in advance.

We had the first hiccup when they didn’t call me last Friday (as promised) to inform me the time for my staff to go on Sunday to do all the preps. When it was past 6pm, I had to call several times, just to get the promised info.

The second hiccup was when my colleagues called the given numbers on Sunday, just to be told that those guys were on leave! Wrong guys! My colleagues had to enquire at the reception to get access to the rooms (we are using 2 romms) and to get assurance that the networks and servers that they set-up will be secured in the locked rooms.

The third hiccup was last Monday, when the welcoming breakfast (which was promised to be ready at 8am) was only ready at 8.30am, and we were starting our session (with a VIP!) at 8.30am. As if that was not enough, the rice noodles that came was not enough! Even the sugar packets were not enough! And that day several of the participants were fasting, can you imagine that?

Last Monday the noodle was served in this warmer:


To see how big (or rather how small it is), see here the actual container, with a little bowl:


Do you seriously think this container is big enough to put noodles for 35 (YES, I MEAN THIRTY FIVE) persons? I think Pullman’s chef needs to go back to culinary school to learn basic arithmetic!

The last 2 days I was not there, but this morning I went back to Pullman to see how things are. The final hiccup (you can say the final straw) was when I was greeted by some participants who told me that they didn’t get to eat the breakfast because there was no more left. Today they served fried yellow noodles, AGAINĀ  in that little container. Can you believe that?????

I was so embarrassed, and angry too, that I immediately went to the reception to lodge my complaint. As usual, with their smiling faces, they promised me that it will not happen again.Ā  Those were the same promises that I got last Monday, from another Pullman executive (whom I’m directly dealing with). Anyway, I firmly told them that they have next Wednesday (our final day there) to deliver their promises. I’ll update here in my blog, for sure.

NEVER IN MY LIFE I’VE COME ACROSS SUCH A BIG HOTEL/RESORT THAT UNDERSERVES THEIR PATRONS! I’ll definitely think many many times before I agree to organise another event at Pullman Putrajaya Lakeside, despite their food tasting great! I remember the Monday afternoon break when ubi ketuk was one of the two itemsĀ  served, and there were exactly 35 ubi ketuk (no more, no less!) – so stingy….

Some update:

On the same day, we had better (in quantity too) food. We were served chicken pies, plus 2 other kuih.

For the afternoon tea, we were served 3 items: fruit tarts, turkey-filled croissant sandwiches and CHICKEN KEBABS!! The participants of our training programme were so surprised, and some of them told me that I should have complained much earlier.

Here’s the shot of the kebab:


While we were having our afternoon tea, the Marketing director of Pullman Putrajaya came to meet us. She told us that The Chef offered us buffet breakfast at the Cafe for our final day (21st Oct). I politely declined. I thanked her for the generous offer, but we were therre for a training, and we were not asking for extras – we just wanted what is due for us, and what were promised to us. If they say there should be 2 items for breakfast, or any of the breaks, then we really wanted them to be enough for 35 pax, as requested.

A Sea of Red


Today I managed to be on leave. I needed to be so because Cik was going to PWTC for her Wanita (Women’s Wing) UMNO General Assembly, and there was no one to take her there. Of late I have been unavailable for most times she is here, so yesterday I volunteeredĀ  toĀ  be her chauffeur for the day.

We left Shah Alam at 10.45am, and by 11.45am we were at Level 4, PWTC, munching the Raya food served there.

It was overwhelming to be in a huge crowd of so many people wearing bright red, or/and shades of red.

Here are some shots from my handphone (I regretted not taking the camera along) :







We stayed on until the VIPs arrived. They were no other than the Prime Minister with his wife and the Deputy Deputy Prime minister.

It was also the launching of the Penyayang Programme, whatever that is. Some guys/companies have generously donated 3 vehicles for the Penyayang Programme activities.

They only had the doa after the VIPs had arrived. They had 2 giant screens and I kinda enjoyed looking there, instead of straining my eyes trying to see the stage:


I stayed long enough to watch the performance by the Kelantan UMNO – a dikir barat. The show could have been better if the lyrics didn’t dwell too much on praises for the VIPs.Here’s the distant shot of the dikir barat team:


We then left the hall for. Cik went to register for the Annual General Assembly, after which I drove her and her friend to the Grand Continental Hotel.

Ah, did I mention that Nash was one of the MCs there šŸ™‚ .

Nasi Padang at Kelana Mall

Last Friday, despite being bogged up with so much work, I managed to follow some friends to Kelana Mall for a quick lunch (really! we left office at 1pm and managed to be back by 2.30pm!).

My first time at Kelan Mall:


High roof makes the place looks spacious:


So, Ali Cafe has moved here from TTDI:


We went to the Selero Negori Restaurant:


A quiet and nice setting inside the restaurant. Very loyal too:


Day 3 In Luang Prabang- Sunday 4th October 2009

Just the night before we were told that that morning there’d be a grand alms giving ceremony because that night was a full moon night.

So, soon after subuh, we went to the nearest wat, i.e. Wat Hoxiang . It was just 5.15am, and still very dark (sunrise was at about 6am), but surprisingly there were kids roaming around!! Soon the crowd just grew, and here’s a shot before sunrise:


Some of the local folks who wanted to give alms laid out the mattresses to “book” the spots. Since it’s the day after full moon, this grand ceremony attracted so many locals. They came out in full force (the whole family) and definitely very well- dressed:


Since the monks can only consume so much, most of the offerings would be given back to the people, so they came equipped with empty baskets to receive back what the monks gave them:


I pity the little boy (2nd from left) who had to wait for quite a while before he actually got some food from the monks. Not his lucky day, I guess.


The monks even had “assistants” to :


Traffic jam:


Later on, after the monks from the wat returned to their wat, another group of monks came that came from the other wat:


At the main entrance of the wat:


I just had to have a shot with me in it šŸ™‚ :


Luang Prabang, Finally!

Last Friday morning , we had a simple breakfast at the Avalon Hotel:


I noticed something interesting on the wall:


We then arrived at the Vientiane Domestic Airport, which is just next to the international terminal. Quite a busy airport, despite looking like Pengkalan Chepa Airport in the 1980s:


We flew well above the thick clouds (leftovers of Ketsana):


It was a pleasant flight with this new plane:


Forty minutes later we landed safely at Luang Prabang International Airport:


We took a cab )or rather a van) to our hotel. Apparently the cab driver took another passenger with us. He sent that guy first, so we had the chance to see the main steet of Luang Prabang:


And was excited when I noticed the only halal restaurant in Luang Prabang:


We finally arrived at our cosy little hotel:


After checking in, we went to Nazim Restaurant for our lunch. We then walked back to our hotel, stopping for my first purchase here:


Later in the evening, I went out alone briefly (hence no pic). We had dinner in our hotel room with the food that I brough with me.

That’s all for Day 1 in Luang Prang!

Vientienne or Vientiane?

Does it really matter, because when we pronounce them, they sound alike. The former I think was the way it was first spelt (probably by the French), but nowadays, it’s officially Vientiane. I somehow prefer the former over the latter. Anyway I think the local call it Viang Chan!

We left home at 5.30am today, to catch the 8.05am flight to Vientiane. Two and a half hours later we landed at Wattay International Airport, Vientiane. Got a cab at US$6 per trip to take us to our abode, The Avalon Hotel. Small hotel, but very cosy. When we arrived, the weather was overcast, with occasional drizzle.

View from our hotel window:


After a couple of hours of napping (to “pay back” the lost sleep earlier), we started our on foot exploration. We had with us a very elaborate map (apparently was produced in preparation for the coming SEA Games here later this year).

We walked towards the Mekong River, but not for long.

(Now… I’ve seen this famous river before in Phnom Penh and Chiangrai)

We finally found a Turkish eatery (on the left-hand side):


The restaurant is housed in a row of classic shop houses.

I was not so hungry (maybe due to the 5 days of fasting in Syawal which ended yesterday) so only DH and Aina ordered beef and chicken shish respectively. There was also a bowl of chips.

To our surprise, we were served with some entrees:


And here is the beef shish:


And Aina’s chicken shish (which I took a piece of the chicken):


After the meal, we continued walking along the Mekong. ThailandĀ  on the other side of the river:


Unlike Guilin, we found a couple more halal eateries. One of them is Fathima Restaurant (we’ll check it out next Monday):


Walking towards the Talat Sao Mall (the only shopping mall inn Vientiane), we came across commercial area where double parking is rampant. This one has the vehiclesĀ  triple parked:


We came across the old stupa, and a mandatory photo pose there:


After reading the map, we took the short cut to the Talat Sao Mall. We went through a heavily guarded, quiet and emaculated lane. The American embassy occupies both sides of the street! Luckily we were allowed to pass through, to reach the main road where this photo was waken:


Inside the Talat Sao Mall, I found this shop, but only bought some keychains, despite looking at the other stuff šŸ˜‰ :


I guess I was just not in the mood to purchase anything yet – or rather, I was not really sure what I wanted to buy. I’ve bought so many handbags/tote bags from my previous trips to Seam Reap, Phnom Penh, Chiangmai and Bangkok that it’s difficult for the bags on sale here to tempt me to buy them!

So, soon we walked back to our hotel. It was quite a walk. We passed by the stadium which was being upgraded for the coming SEA Games 2009! I couldn’t resist this shot at one of the gates to the stadium:


Aina and I got tired of walking and decided to take a breather at a bus stop in front of the stadium:img_3303

And laterI got another shot when I sawĀ  the billboard that has the SEA GAMES 2009 mascots, Champa and Champi:


The stadium shop is already selling Sea Games novelties. I think I’ll buy some on monday, if I come back here:


AllĀ  in all we were walking or standing (at the shops) for over 2 hours. Less than half an hour after we reached back at our hotel, there was a heavy rain! Our timing (to come back to the hotel) was indeed wise and timely!

Tomorrow the “exploration” continues in Luang Prabang….