Monday, September 24, 2012

A trip to Bintan Indonesia with Friends

Ofcourse, I was with my friends; obviously :)

We went to Bintan last weekend, so yeah my trips lately outside of Singapore has been hectic.  I had no major trips outside Singapore except when I had to go to Cebu, my hometown to visit my family.

Anyway, Bintan is really near to Singapore like it's a 45 minute-ferry ride.  Early dawn of Saturday, I received miss calls from Chritian as I have asked them to call me so I can wake up early as I did not trust my alarm (or perhaps myself).  Usually weekends for me is like holy when it comes to sleeping :)) I can wake up at noon.  That's how late I start my weekends.  Yup, to be on the ferry terminal at Tanah Merah early, I decided to take a cab.  I was planning to actually take the train but I felt I'll not be able to make it so I had to cough up 20 dollars for the cab.  I arrived at the terminal on time and my friends were already there, queuing for out tickets.  I met them in their queue and gave my passport after the small talk :)  I did not take my breakfast so I found this Killiney coffee house and there I ordered teh (tea with milk) and kaya toast (slice bread with kaya; a spread made of coconut).  My friends finished their checkin and stuff and we got our tickets. We queued to going to the immigration and all the security stuff and no later that 10 minutes, we found ourselves boarding the ferry and off we went to Bintan Indonesia :)

We had a villa for ourselves at Nirwana resorts.  It's a two storey house, with two big common rooms and a  master's bedroom.  It's somehow furnished. In fact one can cook their food there which was part of our plan.  When we arrived at the resort, it was actually about lunch time in the coming hour.  Since we had our packed lunch we just looked for a nice place to have lunch :)

At around 1PM we were able to check-in at our villa.

There were so many things to do.  After we have settled ourselves, our first activity was the ATV. Unfortunately, it was not available and they that it's going to be on the next day that they'll resume operations :(  So we just decided to bathe into beach.  Hmmm there was actually a Meta Man - it's a triathlon actually and to my surprise, Sen. Pia Cayetano; senator of the upper house of the Philippines, was joining the event.  Anyway, the afternoon was the start of the swimming competition which made our stay there different.  For most of us, it was our first time watching a live triathlon.  There were jelly fishes in their beach so it was not that fun actually and their sand is a bit muddy so it did not feel good because when you splash and swim it would turn a bit murky.  Anyway, we explored their beach on the other side and the view is nice but not as good as we had in the Philippines - sorry if I am comparing....  Anyway, I told my friends that I'd go to the pool :)  I spent like an hour or two at the pool just enjoying the scenery and cheering the triathletes.  They were in the marathon competition already and they happen to pass by near the infinity pool.  To my surprise, Sen. Pia Cayetano was there and so I can't help but cheer.  At around 4PM my friends joined me at the pool.  My friends wanted to go back to the villa and prepare for dinner but then I asked them to cheer for Sen. Cayetano and at around 5PM she had the 2nd round already and when she was near the pool side we were shouting, "Go Ms. Pia" - she did smile at us but I think she find it so strange :D
Well,  it was getting dark already and we had to go back to our villa so we can prepare for dinner.  I think I made a mistake in my timing simply because I was using the Singapore time.  Indonesia is 1 hour advance :P

After everyone was ready, we were headed to The Kelong restaurant.  We waited for the hotel service for a few minutes then off we went to the restaurant.  To our surprise we saw Senator Pia again and so we did cheer and blurted, "Go Ms. Pia! Mabuhay!".   Anyway, we arrived at the restaurant a bit hungry and the good thing was, the place was not crowded.  Getting our orders was fast and the guy serving our table was friendly and it felt we were not too rushed unlike in Singapore restaurants where the service is a bit rushed :))  The food was good and the service was quite good so after our heavy dinner, we tipped the guy 10 Singapore dollars.  There was nothing to do actually so we just decided to go back to our villa and had our karaoke.  My friends brought their portable karaoke :) As usual, it' fun singing with friends =))

We decided to check the beats from outside and it was actually the Meta Man challenge finish line.  I think the organizers party.  The triathletes has been active for the last 16 hours as shown in the finish line clock.  I was so amazed at how sporty these people are.  I even saw some athletes at their late forties as you can see in their whitish hair :D  It left an impression on me to be a bit sporty as well or simply put I have to be fit :P I stopped going to the gym actually and I have not been jogging and not even doing the dance exercise in our Xbox Kinect.   It was getting dark so we decided to go back to our hotel to sleep already;)

Early morning, my friends were already cooking for breakfast.  Since there's a free breakfast for two because we had two extra beds, Christian and I took the free meal.  Mamul asked us to bring back some butter for the bread.   The breakfast served at Nirwana was quite good so I was full again. We took some butter and strawberry spreads. Then off we went back to our villa.  My friends were still eating and the German sausage I brought was really nice to look at so I had my hands on them.  They also prepared some spam so yeah I also devoured some.  After our breakfast, the first order of business was to go for an ATV ride.  Then the unexpected happened.  We were like being passed from one counter to the other just to get to their ATV and everyone was already exasperated because of the long walks.  For the last time, we demanded to the hotel staff to bring us to the correct place already. So they decided to give us a free ride going to the ATV venue.  Good thing we pushed through for the ATV for it was so fun.  The trails was really nice and a bit challenging.  Too bad, we only had few minutes left because we need to go back to Singapore early. With that, we only had 30 minutes ATV. But the whole thirty minutes was really fun.  I think I am going for an ATV adventure in Bintan in the near future.

After the ride, we went back to our villa.  We still have some few hours to prepare so some of us went to dip at the pool and some had the elephant and horse back riding activities. Me ? I went to the pool :D

One hour has passed and it was time to pack up.  It was rather fast to pack and we need to checkout from the resort at 1PM.  We waited for some few minutes to take the free bus ride going to the ferry terminal.

After some immigration stuff and some waiting, we boarded and off we went back to Singapore :)

I then realized I miss the wifi connection I had in Singapore.  Wireless internet at Nirwana is 30 Singapore dollars - quite expensive as most hotels nowadays are offering free wifi.  It was a fun experience but I think KL is more affordable and exciting if you want to have a vacation without the beach thing.  I think the beach part at Bintan is not that good as well so I think going to KL is more enjoyable.

Good night everyone and enjoy the weekdays?

Friday, September 21, 2012

Universal Studios Singapore with friends :)

Sunday morning, and MJ was calling out my name. Yeah she just finished her morning ritual while I was still slumbering in my bed with a snore ? 

My friends had to be at Vivo city around 9 to get the first tickets for USS and the metro will take us there at approximately 30 minutes.  I was a bit hungry so I ate my breakfast.  Ating was already waiting for us actually....

We arrived just on time and people were like going to the toilet and others were actually late too from the agreed time.  Some of us went hungry so we ate at Food Republic.  At around 10:15 maybe, everyone was at Food Republic and after some few minutes we started our journey to USS.  For most of us, it was our first time, so it made the whole adventure fun and exciting.

We rode the express train going to USS and when we got there, it was not that crowded.  The tickets were at 70 Singapore dollars but I used my Mastercard for our booking so we got a discount.  We even had this free admission tickets for the Maritime museum.

Our first challenge was to take the most heart-pounding ride which is the Cylon.  I have always been very scared of roller coasters and god the Cylon ride will my first and it's the toughest in USS.  I honestly felt numb and I know I had to be excited or worse scared but nada, I felt nothing....  MJ and Jason who were with me in the ride were all excited :)  Okay, the queue was not that long in fact when we arrived we just had to wait for a couple of minutes.  It is in fact a 90-second ride.  Then came our turn and yeah we were seated together hahaha and I began to feel uneasy.  I asked them that I be seated at the middle. Actually there were four seats per row.  When the clock ticked and the ride started everyone was like already laughing with no reason at all. The began an uphill climb of some few meters then a huge plunge.  All we could do was just shout.  Then came the 360 degrees flips and turns which sent our adrenaline to space then came the loudest screams as if it was our last minute on earth.  As I've said, it was 90 seconds right? Yet it felt the longest ride I had ever done.  After we finished the ride, we could have taken a second round but decided not to because there so many other attractions which we wanted to try. 

Our next ride was the Human, a less challenging roller coaster ride than that of the Cylon :D  Anyway, we enjoyed those two rides.  Marlyn, Rowena, Femilyn and Razel did not join us on that ride but our next one was a not scary one so they decided to join except for Razel - hehehehe :) 

There we found ourselves in the Mummy ride :) It is the Egyptian pyramid kind of replica and inside is the mini train ride.  It was quite interesting because it was like so dark and there were some surprises and the fire was real and you can really feel the heat blowing in our faces.  I got scared at the part where a mummy suddenly appeared on our sides with all the frightening sound.  The rest where just made excited by the twist and rapid turns of the ride.  It was quite interesting actually.  The next ride we took was the Transformers as in the movie.  Razel still could not join us but then the rest went into the Transformer ....  It was a 3D augment reality ride so it was so fascinating and interesting at the same time.  It's like you were in the middle of a battle field and you were riding in car being chased furiously by the Deceptecons; the villains in the movie.  The ride I should say was the most interesting of all and I like very much.... It's just that we wanted to try other things so we decided not to do our second round with Transformers. Anyway we were hungry so we ordered lunch and the meal was like 20Singapore dollars which is really expensive for a meal.  I think you will be wasting at least 100dollars in USS but if you shop just prepare more cash :)

After lunch, we decided to try the Jurassic/Dinosaur ride.  It was not that challenging but definitely you'll get out wet.  Your friends can even pay for a water gun and shoot you for 50 cents.  After that, we tried the castle ala Shrek themed movie house which was also in 3D.  Well you will just be watching Shrek and Fiona in a movie in a very interactive manner because you will be sprayed and the benches will shake from time to time and when spiders come out, there will be some fun surprises....  quite interesting actually but if you want more adrenaline stuff, this does not suit you then.  After that, we went to ride the dragon roller coaster designed for kids so yeah it was not that challenging.  We even invited Rowena, whose also scared of roller coaster and we were shocked when there were scary parts - Rowena's definition of roller coaster scare. All we could say was we were behind her in her shouts for moral support.

We also watched the Monster rock, where some scary characters in movies will do some play kind of thing with music so it was really like a rock musical with mixed up story telling. We had fun watching the Phantom of the Opera character well because of the way the actor played the role :)  The next attraction we had was the replica of hollywood movie set.  It was really amazing how movies are made :)  Just imagine were like a live audience in a movie in the making.  We saw some thunderstorm and fire and also some boats slamming into the pier - where we actually observed in a standing position.  I really liked this part of the tour because it felt so real :D

It was getting dark. But we continued to explore the universal studios.  Ate something from here to there and did some shopping.  We also had some cam whoring =))

We got so tired and it was for real really dark, so we decided to go to Food Republic @ vivo to have our dinner :)

Everyone seemed to have enjoyed the Universal Studios Singapore which was what that mattered on that day.  I would recommend this theme park for would be tourists together with friends and family ;)

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

A one night affair in Malaysia

MJ came to Singapore and part of our itinerary was to drop by at Kuala Lumpur :D

Yup2! We went to Malaysia via Jetstar on an early Friday morning.  It was a new scene for both of us.  I have been to Johore but KL was more of a city.  It was crowded actually :D  The queue at the immigration was really2 long with so many tourists from the middle east.  I think they love KL so much!  Anyway, we took the KL express and so were like hungry and we arrived at KL around 11 at the KL central.  We looked for a place to eat and we found KFC =)) and we had porridge and coffee.  Our plan was to first go to Batu caves before checking in at our hotel.  After that really quick meal, we went down, ask the information counter and we were able to find the counter where we can purchase our tickets.  KL's metro is quite good actually but very crowded comparable to that of Manila.  Singapore's metro is also crowded but it's so well ventilated.  Anyway, the ride to Batu caves was less than an hour and the train was spacious enough.

We reached the Batu caves excited and the entrance was free.  Batu cave is actually an Indian house of worship for what seems to be a monkey god.  Before you could reach the cave which was situated atop from a rocky mountain you need to climb the stairs of hundred steps.  This was quite an adventure and not for the weaker knees :D  When we reached the top most and entering the mouth of the cave, we were surprised that it's really huge and from the ceiling came some sprinkles of water from the mountain.  I was actually careful not to be hit in my eye or mouth as the place was really full of bats (obviously).  Did I mention the temple is place of worship for some monkey gods? Oh yeah, there were lots of real monkeys along the steps, be warned.  The place was a first time for us and there were some priests doing some rituals for the visitors.  MJ and I were curious what it was about so we tried to actually go inside the temple and the priest began to pray in a different language - I assumed it was a Hindu ritual in Tamil or maybe Hindi.  Anyway, we donated 10 ringgits and the priest gave us a milk and a candle to offer to the monkey god.  I did not get actually what was the ceremony so I just went along.  I think MJ was thinking the same thing :))

Anyway, after the ritual the priest took out some thread and then tied it to my left wrist then he was like murmuring about money and donation and saying 10 ringgit which was really funny because I did not understand what he meant.  He began pointing to the 10 ringgit and then tried to point to my wallet =)) So I took 1 ringgit and gave it to him or rather put it in his mini basket. I did some research and found out that the god was not a monkey as it is Murugan and it's from the Tamil people. A war god who defeated the demon.  So I guess the ritual the priest performed to me is some sort of a prayer to defeat the evils or maybe protection from evils.  Anyway, it was an interesting experience.  When reading about this god, there is a festival for this god and the devotees prepare themselves by eating some kind of vegetarian diet and abstaining from self indulgence so like they do some form of fasting and on the day of the feast they are into a trance state and they pierce their body with some spear or some metallic or wooden sticks.  I think I have seen this in National Geographic which seems really horrifying but to these people its like a devotion to their god and it's quite interesting.  In the Philippines which is mostly Catholic, during holy week, devotees re-enact what Christ did to save it's people buy having procession of penitence where they perform flagellation to the extent of crucifying themselves.  It's actually bloody and scary and seemed painful.  I haven't tried it and I don't want to try it....  Anyway, we descended from the temple after some photo ops and that made it scary as I can feel my knees shaking.  Did I say that there were 272 steps all in all ? Yes, it was a huge relief after we set our feet on the ground.  While taking pictures, there was this creature which suddenly grabbed my water bottle and it was scary.  It was another monkey incident of mine.  Therefore I conclude I don't like monkeys.... After the Batu caves, we went back to KL via their metro.

We arrived at KL central and we looked for the lrt to go to Bunkit Bintang which was where our hotel. We arrived at the station safe but really hungry so went inside the Berjaya mall I think and ate at their food court.  The serving was quite big and so our starving tummies were satisfied.  After that, we trekked the whole Bukit Bintang looking for our hotel. It's a two star so it's not that known.  We asked people around and they do not know what it was and they don't even know the address.  It was hot and crowded and MJs camera was dead! Yeah she accidentally lose her hold of the camera so like it fell when she was about to take a photo :(  Anyway, our last resort was to buy a map. We paid the map for like 10 ringgit and it was a huge one.  We went inside the mall and looked for a place to sit.  As we were scanning the map some lady approached us and she then asked if where we were from.  I just told her that we were kind of lost and we are from the Philippines. She was wearing this Muslim scarf around her head and she was inside the mall so we weren't scared at all.  Then she began to speak in Tagalog and so we were relieved and she helped us find our hotel :) which was so kind of her.  She was actually from Zamboanga and I think she has a stall in the mall. I was trying to connect to her by saying that she's Chavacanno, but then she's actually Tausug :) We thanked her a lot (said in Filipino) for helping us and we bade good-byes :)

We again began touring Bukit Bintang and viola our hotel was found.  We checked in and and after that, we slept =))  It was so tiring waking up in the early morn and trekking around looking for our hotel.  we set our alarm at around 6PM or something and off we went to KLCC to see the very famous Petronas tower.  We actually took the lrt and good think it was a walking distance.  The Petronas tower is a must visit I should say as it is really beautiful :)  We took lots of pictures and since it was dinner time, we decided to eat at KLCC. MJ loved the food in KL =))

After our Petronas adventure, we headed back to Bukit Bintang looking for some night life party but couldn't find a nice one.  We were supposed to meet a friend, a former colleague but he was actually admitted to the hospital so we cancelled.... Anyway, we couldn't find a nice spot so we decided to just call it a night.

The next day was our last day =)) We haven't shopped and I heard shopping in KL is also fun.  Anyway, MJ wanted to go back to Singapore by bus so we had to be at the mall earlier to book our tickets and fortunately we got an early schedule.  We decided to take a bus because we wanted to do some sight seeing but it seems that the sight seeing was not that interesting as all the way, we just see palm plantations.  What else to do was to sleep, good thing we had the lazy boy type chairs in the bus so it was really comfortable sleeping in this moving vehicle.  It was a long 6 hour journey....

We arrived in Singapore just on time to attend a birthday party in our flat and it's another feasting/celebration ;) And yeah, after the party, MJ and I went to Clarke Quay to party together with Janice :D