Monday, February 23, 2009

2009 Valentine's

14 February 2009 @ WoonLee's House

This year's Valentine's Day, I celebrated with a bunch of buddies I knew from my company. We decided to eat home-cooked food as the prices outside will sure be hiked up like madness.

WoonLee was the hostess and she invited 4 other handsome males to accompany her for the night.

Eugene and HanChin scrubbing the potatoes

All of us reached rather early to help out on the preparation. Cooking isn't hard, the preparation is!

Eugene is concentrating hard not to cut his own fingers

I still remember being the spot light of my friends in last year's Valentine's. But hey, they invited me to join them for dinner and movie! =)

WoonLee teaching senior how mushrooms should be cut

This year, I didn't turn into a spot light but I became a little side kick of the big chef. I was given a bag of raw potatoes and told to make something out of them.

Me slicing the mushy-rooms

I've always wanted to make potato salad. And I did it!! So glad that it turned out fine and edible. Haha!

WoonLee focusing on frying the chickens...

...while Mike focusing not to die in the game!

After a couple of hours, the dinner is ready! Everybody helped to arrange the plates, food and drinks.

Let the feast begin!

We had mushroom soup, chicken chop, boiled broccoli, potato salad (by me), garlic bread and chilled Coke.

Later on, a bottle of Chivas popped out in front of us mysteriously and Eugene seems to be enjoying the alcohol while the rest had a few sips.

HanChin, Mike, WoonLee, Eugene and Me

Thanks WoonLee for the wonderful dinner. Really hope we can have more of this cook-and-eat sessions in the future. Cheers! Billy, out.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Pit Stop 3: Chiang Mai, Spectacular Cultural Experience

10 June 2008 @ Chiang Mai, Thailand

We reached Chiang Mai at 9.50am after about 14 hours of journey in the train.

Before we got out of the station, someone approached us on the package for trekking in the jungle. Well, our main objective in Chiang Mai is to go trekking anyway. We took the 3 days 2 nights package after comparing the prices and routes.

After deciding on the routes, we asked about accomodation. The tour agent's sister own a guesthouse! So, we stayed at Ben Guesthouse - a really nice place to stay.

The staffs are friendly, the environment is clean and the food is nice!

After checking in and cleaning up, we borrowed the bicycles from the guesthouse (for free) to go to town for lunch and stocked up for the trekking.

The bikes were rather difficult to ride but we managed to ride around town and hunt for food.

We stopped at a small local shop and ordered some noodles. The food is cheap and nice but the down side (as always) is the communication problem as we can't speak Thai.

Kao Soi [Chiang Mai Curry Noodles]

Kuey Tiao Soup

Then, we walked around the market. Nothing much interests us. Bought a few pairs of socks for trekking and rode off to the nearest Tesco, situated inside a petrol station. We bought a dozen of water and some snacks to bring for the trekking the next day.

We head back to our rooms, played cards while wait for the tour guide to come to give us briefing. Then we had our first dinner in Chiang Mai right at the guesthouse.

Masaman Gai

Tom Yam Kai

Fried Mixed Vegetables

Sweet and Sour Pork

Refreshing Fruit Shakes

As usual, we'll order rice and each of us will order a dish. The dinner was really satisfying, especially the fruit shakes - cool us off in the hot weather.

Our 3D2N trekking begin the next day. Billy, out.

Previous post: Yellowman Everywhere
Next post: Chiang Mai Trekking - Day 1

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

CNY Dinner at JooLi's

30 January 2009 @ JooLi's house, Subang Jaya

It was the 5th day of Chinese New Year and JooLi invited me and WoonLee to her house for dinner, since we're the only people in KL at that time.

In the morning, the girls visited my house before we took off to JooLi's place. I managed to find her house without getting lost! Yay!

JooLi preparing to roast the chicken wings

WoonLee putting in the broccolis

while I tried to help...

Tada! Dinner is finally served after messing around in the kitchen for a couple of hours.

This is homemade tuna, by JooLi herself!

The dinner was lovely, as it's not the usual Chinese style dinner which I was already tired of eating during the CNY period.

Oh, we had wine too. But the wine was too fruity for me, didn't like the smell and taste. Hehe...

Nugget - the hyperactive one

After dinner, we sat near the cage to play with her doggies - Shandy and Nugget. Nugget is overly hyperactive lah, he jumps around, lick around, bites around and *ahem* did some obscene stuffs in front of us. =P

JooLi, WoonLee and Me

Thanks JooLi for the yummilicious dinner. Loved it. Billy, out.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Yellowman Everywhere

9 June 2008 @ Bangkok, Thailand

On the way to the train station, we saw a strange phenomenon, for whether it's plain coincidence or Thai people just love the colour yellow, most of the Thais were wearing yellow t-shirt on that day.

Maybe the photos I showed here are not significant enough to show the amount of people wearing yellow polo tee with the royal seal on it. But I can tell you, you'll go wow-ed when you saw the whole bus of people wearing yellow!

Later we found out that these people wear yellow to honour the great king of Thailand. It's said that that their king was born on a Monday and so they think that Monday is an auspicious day. Thus showing love to their king by wearing yellow on Mondays.

Me and my friends reached the Hua Lumpong Bangkok Raiway Station quite early despite we don't have any place to go with our backpacks. So, we decided to find an empty space on the floor in the middle of the station to sit and wait for the train.

Me, LeongKee, Kuan and MinBee

All of a sudden, everybody started to stand up... The noisy talking atmosphere suddenly toned down... Not long after that, we realized that we should just follow the crowd to stand up.

Listening carefully, I think the station is broadcasting the national anthem, at 6pm sharp! No wonder lah... After googling, I found out that national anthem is played twice a day (8am & 6pm) at public places and radio/ TV stations.

After that, we bought some food for dinner and boarded the train to Chiang Mai at 7.30pm. The train took off from Bangkok station at 7.50pm.

While there's nothing much we could do in the train, we took out our entertainment - poker cards & mahjong cards.

At around 10.30pm, the crews on the train started fixing the bed for us and distributing pillows and blankets. They turned the seats into a lower bunk bed in a snap!

LeongKee's bed, I sleep above him

10 June 2008 @ somewhere in the middle of Bangkok and Chiang Mai

We woke up at 7am to wash up in the train's toilet. The toilet bowl and everything is made of metal and from the hole in the toilet bowl, you can see the railway line. So, all your "outputs" will drop directly to the raiway lines. *eww*

We played cards again while having the breakfast we bought the day before.

Breakfast - chips and biscuits

Finally, we reached Chiang Mai at 9.50am!! Wheee~

More adventurous posts to come in Chiang Mai. Billy, out.

Previous post: The Ham Sap Lunch
Next post: Pit Stop 3: Chiang Mai, Spectacular Cultural Experience

Monday, February 02, 2009

The Impossible Climb?

Few days back, I read on The Star newspaper and found this interesting article. It's about the unreasonable price hike at Mount Kinabalu.

Since 2008, the cost of climbing Mt Kinabalu has skyrocketed, and if you’re lucky, you may get a confirmed booking . . . five months down the line. What’s the deal with Malaysia’s iconic mountain?
plucked from

A normal climber of Mount Kinabalu would need a rest at the 6km mark - Laban Rata, before continuing the journey to the peak at midnight. Camping is not allowed so everyone should get a bed there to rest.

According to the newspaper, in 2007, a dorm bed in Laban Rata cost only RM30. In January 2008, it has been increased to RM188. This year (2009), the price has hiked up to RM330 per person.

With the increase of the price, the package includes a bed to sleep, a packed box, buffet lunch, dinner and breakfast. However, there has been lots of complaints that the condition of the facilities on the mountain has not been maintained properly.

Not only the price is of the concern here, but potential climbers need to book the room at least 5 months before the climb. Well, not everyone plans their trip so early as they need to see whether they're free on the date and whether they get their cheap air flights booked or not.

Now, it's getting more and more unafforadable for people to climb the mountain in the Land Beneath the Wind. It will also be out of reach for students as they're usually on a tight budget.

I guess I was lucky to have conquered the highest mountain in South East Asia 2 years back, in January 2007, before the drastic increase. But I've always wanted to have another climb to the top again sometime soon.

With the current price and the hassle that I have to go through, I think I'd prefer to go somewhere else with the amount of money, as I think it's not worth my money.

People are paying so much more for additional food which are optional back in 2007. I remembered I only had one plate of Fried Rice when I came down from the peak, and I didn't even finish the rice!

I guess climbers don't really eat a lot when they're up there. Some would prefer to bring their own little energy food pack rather than eating at the restaurant. So, I don't see the point of the operators giving more variety of food and forcing everyone up there to take the buffets.

Me and my friends at Low's Peak [top of Mount Kinabalu]

And the operators are claiming that most of the fees collected were used to upgrade the facilities, ingredients and gas for food and the cost of transporting them to the top. At the first place, why waste the money on something that people don't really need?

I wonder if many climbers in the past have suggested to the operator that they have to provide better meals for them or whatsoever. I doubt so. And I doubt that the porters are getting much increments in making their delivery to the doorstep.

Is climbing the Mount Kinabalu a trip for the rich only?
Is Tourism Malaysia trying to chase away potential climbers from other countries, or even locals?
Is the Government of Sabah / the Sutera Harbour Resort going to do anything about it despite all the complaints?
Is Mount Kinabalu worth our money and all the troubles?

Honestly, I'm quite sad to see the news and complaints from people everywhere, even in the Lonely Planet Borneo edition. Hope that someone will do something about it. Billy, out.
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