Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Makan escapade - Day 1 (31 December 2008)

Ah! New Year's Eve! The management of my company had declared 1/2 day off for us. As such, our work day on 31 December 2008 would be from 9 am to 1 pm.

I was very excited at work because my mother and I will be going to Muar, Malaysia after work. It is my maternal grandmother's 1st death anniversary. For those of you who recall the demise of my grandmother in 2008, if you were to follow the English calendar, her 1st death anniversary would be in early February 2009. However, as my relatives had followed the Lunar calendar, the 1st death anniversary falls on 1 January 2009.

Unfortunately, I was tied up at work and I was unable to leave the office till past 2 pm. The good news was that Da's company also declared 1/2 day off and as such, he and I were able to go home together.

I had already packed my luggage the night before. As such, when we reached home, it was a simple case of grabbing my luggage before leaving the house again to fetch my mother. My brother's girlfriend (ZT) was free as well, so the four of us went to Katong Shopping Centre for a late lunch.

After lunch, we went to my mother's home for her to pick up her luggage. As usual, our darling boy-boy made a fuss and wanted to be carried by ZT for his photograph to be taken.

Shortly after 4 pm, my mother and I started our journey to Malaysia. As I had been having a headache since the day before, my mother agreed to display her driving skills by driving my car. Of course, along the journey, when I started taking photographs using my digital camera, my headache magically went away. Ah! Now I know the cure for a headache. It is not panadol but a photography session using my digital camera! *grin*

We arrived at the Tuas Customs Checkpoint in Singapore and were happy to discover that there was no jam at the checkpoint. As it was New Year's Eve, we were apprehensive that there may be a long queue of cars waiting to exit Singapore and enter Malaysia.

As my mother was not familiar with my car, it was quite humorous as she fumbled with the foot brake, the lever to open the boot, etc at the checkpoint. I had to lean over and help her shift the automatic gear into "Park" and pull the lever to open the boot for her, while she exited the car. We could not help laughing at ourselves at the sight we must have presented.

The Malaysian Customs Checkpoint was equally smooth. Praise the Lord for such a wonderful day! The weather was also very fine!

My mother is "law-by-law" (that is, very law abiding) and faithfully kept with the speed limit when driving. We saw motorcycles and smaller cars overtaking us along the way.

After we cleared the Malaysian customs, we reached the toll house where my mother used the "Touch and Go" card to pay the toll charges.

My Aunt N had arranged to accompany us along the journey to Muar. As such, we drove to the town of Taman Perling to meet Aunt N.

While waiting for Aunt N, we decided to browse in a shop called "Mr Sotong", which sells Malaysian snacks. As we were at the shop, I felt a poke to my side. Turning my head, I saw that it was Aunt N. Yippee! Let's go!

Wait a minute... no self-respecting Singaporean and Malaysian would start on a long car journey without some caffeine. As such, we proceeded to the Queen Park coffeeshop.

My mother and Aunt N ordered a glass of black coffee each while I ordered a coffee with minimal evaporated milk and sugar (known as "kopi-si-siu-dai").

After our caffeine shot, we followed Aunt N to her home where she parked her car at her porch.

While waiting for Aunt N to pick up her luggage, my mother and I relaxed in her living room.

My wonderful Aunt N agreed to drive my car to Muar. Thank you! You're the best! Mwah! Mwah!

When we arrived in Muar, it was close to 10 pm. My Uncle J and Aunt J had already arrived from Kuala Lumpur. As we had some more relatives arriving in Muar from Ipoh and Petaling Jaya, everyone decided to await the arrival of the remaining relatives. My dear Tuayi's birthday falls on 31 December 2008 (Happy Birthday, Tuayi!) and the rest of us wanted to wait for the birthday girl to have dinner together. (Hi, cousins, I do not know if you can recall this, but Tuayi's / Tua Kor's first name starts with the letter "R". Does this ring a bell? *grin*)

Shortly after, the rest of the "outstation" relatives arrived. We proceeded to the coffeeshop near my grandmother's home and enjoyed a late dinner with plenty of bonding and catching up.

The fried carrot cake at this coffeeshop is very tasty.

We will be going to the temple on 1 January 2009 for my grandmother's 1st death anniversary prayers. As such, Tuayi decided to arrange the basket of fruits (to bring to the temple) before going to bed so that we need not rush the next day.

It was good to meet up with my relatives and to catch up.

KL trip - Day 3 (27 Dec 08)

Sigh... 27 December 2008 - our last day in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia before we return to Singapore.

Da and I woke up early, intending to do a last-minute round of whirlwind eating before we go home. As GN's family had decided to go to Genting Highlands for the day, Da and I were on our own. As such, we headed to a street alley near the hotel and ate roti canai for breakfast together with kopi tarik and teh tarik. Sedap!

After breakfast, we proceeded to Sungei Wang Plaza. However, most of the shops had not yet opened. We decided to go elsewhere instead.

In the past two days that we were in Kuala Lumpur, we did not visit Jalan Petaling, where the pasar malam (that is, night market) was. Since we were going back, we decided to visit Jalan Petaling, thinking that even if the night market stalls were not there, we could browse the individual shops over there.

Imagine our pleasant surprise when we walked to Jalan Petaling and discovered that during weekends, some of the night market stalls start their business from morning! We managed to buy their famous mata kuching drink (see photograph below). (Hi SC, the drink was very refreshing. Shiok!)

Gosh! Look at the time! As we had to check out of the hotel, we took a taxi back to the hotel (which cost us RM20).

It was with great reluctance that we packed our luggage and brought them to the front desk of the hotel to check out.

As our flight was scheduled for 9.25 pm, we decided to walk to Jalan Imbi area for lunch. There are many coffee shops located at Imbi are but their most famous coffee shop sells bak kut teh.

After lunch, as we were slowly making our way back to the hotel, we came across a shop selling assorted sweets. I bought a packet of coconut sweets for my colleagues.

It was a whirlwind afternoon as Da and I walked in and out of several shopping malls, browsing the shops and more importantly, enjoying the air-conditioning.

As the time drew near for us to make our way to the airport, we went to the food court at Pavilion shopping centre (located opposite our hotel) for a quick snack. We ordered a durian flavour egg tart, a green tea flavour egg tart and a baked char siew bun.

We had actually planned to take a taxi from the hotel to the KL Sentral train station (which would have cost us RM15) and from there, transfer to the KLIA Ekspress (train) to the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (which would have cost us RM35 each). The concierge suggested that we take a taxi from the hotel directly to the airport instead, which would cost us RM80 (inclusive of toll charges). It made sense and as such, off we went to the airport by taxi. Along the way, we could not help but admire the view of the beautiful sunset.

With a heavy heart, we arrived at the airport.

The check-in was very smooth and we looked reluctantly as our luggage was placed on the conveyor belt for transfer to the aeroplane.

Before we boarded the aeroplane, we went to the book store. I was jubilant when I finally (!) found the comic books that I have been searching for years! The book store at the airport sells almost the entire range of comic books by the Malaysian comic writer, Lat! When I was a child, my parents used to buy a Lat comic book each time a new issue was published. Due to the weight of the comics, we only bought 6 of his comic books. I will be back for more!

The flight back was delayed for a while but the take-off and landing were very smooth.

Upon our arrival at Changi International Airport, there was a long queue to clear customs. Finally, we were able to claim our luggage.

With slow steps, we made our way to the taxi queue for what seemed like a very long journey home. sigh...

Hi WC and SC, when will you be available to go to Kuala Lumpur with Da and me?

And now, the slideshow of our 3rd day in Kuala Lumpur.....

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

KL trip - Day 2 (26 Dec 08)

Da and I woke up early on Boxing Day, 26 December 2008, eager for Day 2 in Kuala Lumpur.

As DT and GN were going to the gym in the morning, ST and MT joined us for breakfast and shopping.

Da, ST, MT and I decided to have our breakfast at "The Loaf", a confectionery cum cafe located at Pavilion shopping mall.

Everyone ordered the same breakfast set! The difference was the type of bread that we each ordered. Each set came with a cup of coffee (which ST and MT changed to a cold drink), scrambled eggs, 3 sausages, 1/2 a tomato, 2 types of lettuce and a slice of bread (of your choice) - all for RM9.80.

After a heavy breakfast, we walked to the nearby Bukit Bintang area where the shopping belt was. Our first stop was at Sungei Wang Plaza. ST was looking to buy a PSP (PlayStation Portable) for a friend. We managed to find a PSP at a reasonable price. However, the shop only had 1 colour left - electric blue. ST decided against buying the PSP due to the colour.

As we continued to browse the shops in Sungei Wang Plaza, I suddenly stopped. I saw a handsome guy with the most gorgeous blue eyes! I could not resist taking a photograph of him. sigh..........

In the late morning, GN contacted us and requested that we meet her and DT at the hotel as they wanted to go to Mid Valley Megamall. As DT has Global Positioning System (GPS) in his car, we decided to drive to Mid Valley Megamall.

Goodness me! There was a long queue of cars waiting to enter the carpark at Mid Valley Megamall. DT turned the corner and let us alight at the entrance first and he would look for a carpark lot. As we entered the building, we realised that we had alighted at the entrance to The Gardens, a shopping mall next to Mid Valley Megamall. The Gardens sells high-end products.

We walked through The Gardens and made our way to Mid Valley Megamall.

While waiting for DT, we browsed at some of the shops at Mid Valley Megamall. Goodness me! This shopping mall seems to have gone upmarket since the last time I visited it.

Shortly after this, DT joined us and we adjourned to the food court called "Food Junction" for a late lunch. The prices of the food at this food court are very steep! My yong tauhu lunch (which comprised a bowl of noodles and a bowl of soup with 4 types of vegetables and 1 piece of tou fu) cost me RM11.30.

There was a wide variety of food at the food court.

In the evening, we went to Carrefour Hypermarket at Mid Valley Megamall (before going back to the hotel to get ready for dinner) as DT wanted to buy some fruits. Do you see how fresh the vegetables in the photograph below look? They were still in their pot!

Dinner was late and was held at Jalan Alor. At night, the hawker stalls would set up stall along the roadside for customers to eat.

Other than some miscellaneous side dishes that were ordered, the main bulk of the dinner comprised 8 to 10 dishes from a zi-char stall (that is, a stall that fries local dishes) that cost RM122 or thereabouts. Very reasonably priced!

I have added all the photographs of the delicious food that we had for dinner in the slideshow below. Enjoy and don't drool.... *grin*.

Monday, December 29, 2008

KL trip - Day 1 (25 December 2008)

Christmas Day! Da and I were all packed by Christmas Eve and ready to go on our trip to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

As our Jetstar flight to Kuala Lumpur was scheduled for 7.25 am on 25 December 2008 and we had to check in at least 40 minutes before departure time, we decided to go to the Changi Airport a little earlier to check in so that we would have time for a light breakfast.

We arrived at Changi Airport Terminal 1 (we had mistakenly thought that Jetstar will be departing from the Budget Terminal but were informed otherwise by the taxi driver) slightly after 6 am and checked the departure board. Our Jetstar flight 3K683 was on schedule.

The check-in at the check-in counter was a breeze.

As we had time to spare, we decided to have a light breakfast at the staff canteen. As this is a budget airline, there are no meals served on board. No, let me correct myself. Meals are served on board... but you have to pay for them.

Around 7.10 am, while we were leisurely making our way to the departure gate, we got a shock when we heard our names being announced over the public announcement system. It was the last call! We ran to the departure lounge. As we had our boarding passes scanned, we heard an airport staff say to another airport staff, "OK, can fly off now". At 7.10 am, we were the last to board when the flight was scheduled to fly off at 7.25 am? Goodness me!

Kudos to the pilot of Jetstar. The take-off and landing were both very smooth! The aeroplane took off at precisely 7.25 am and the flight took about 45 minutes.

Upon our arrival at Kuala Lumpur International Airport ("KLIA"), we took an aerotrain to the arrival terminal where the customs and baggage claim were located.

After we cleared customs and collected our almost-empty luggage (*grin*), we purchased train tickets (which cost us RM35 per person) for the KLIA Ekspres, a non-stop express train from the KLIA to KL Sentral station in the city.

The KLIA Ekspres was very clean and the seats were comfortable. The train ride from KLIA to KL Sentral station was estimated to take about 28 minutes.

At the KL Sentral station, we exited the train station and crossed the road to the KL Monorail station.

Our monorail ride from KL Sentral station to Raja Chulan station (near our hotel) cost us RM2.20 each.

The Novotel Kuala Lumpur City Centre hotel is about 5 minutes' walk from the Raja Chulan station. The hotel is located between Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre (and the adjoining shopping mall (Suria KLCC)) and the shopping belt at the Bukit Bintang area. As such, the hotel is located at a very central location.

As Da and I were checking into the hotel, we heard an excited scream. Turning our heads, we saw Da's nieces (ST and MT) running towards us for big hugs. ST is 19 years old whereas MT is 11 years old. They and their parents (Da's sister, GN and her husband, DT) have been in Malaysia since 17 December 2008. Another 2 families (friends of DT) had joined them in Kuala Lumpur on 23 December 2008. The 3 families would be staying in Kuala Lumpur till 28 December 2008 (while Da and I would be returning to Singapore on 27 December 2008). We met one of the 2 families who had joined DT and GN in Kuala Lumpur - LWS and ML together with their young children, their son (AL) and their daughter (CL). AL is 8 years old and is very knowledgeable about fish (he and I had animated discussions about fish and their characteristics of different types of fish). CL is a lovely little tyke who is ever ready to pose for a photograph!

After Da and I checked in, GN's family, LWS's family, Da and I walked to the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre.

We cut through the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre and walked through the carpark to the adjoining shopping mall, Suria KLCC where the Petronas Twin Towers are located. We were not able to go up the towers to take a look at the view as you would need to book tickets beforehand.

Suria KLCC is a shopping mall with shops selling high-end products. After browsing for a short while, Da, ST and I decided to adjourn to another shopping mall while the rest of the party continued shopping at KLCC.

At that point in time, we had 2 options:-

(a) walk to the nearest monorail (at Raja Chulan monorail station) and take the monorial to Imbi monorail station, the station nearest to Berjaya Times Square (a big shopping mall); or

(b) walk all the way to Berjaya Times Square.

As the weather was fine and the Raja Chulan monorail station was already halfway to Times Square, we decided to walk all the way to Berjaya Times Square (which was about 1.3 km away from Suria KLCC).

Berjaya Times Square is a very large shopping mall with more levels than one can cover in a day. After we browsed several shops, we decided to stop for an afternoon snack (we had not eaten our lunch yet and it was tea time already). ST requested that we eat at Sushi King and we were agreeable.

Sushi King sells sushi using a conveyor belt system. Plates of sushi are placed on a moving conveyor belt and you simply lift up the plate containing the sushi that you like. The sushi is charged according to the colour of the plate.

ST's mobile phone rang. It was GN, requesting that we go back to the hotel and freshen up for dinner. On our way back, Da, ST and I walked through Pavilion shopping centre, a 7-storey shopping mall located opposite our hotel. This shopping mall was opened in October 2007.

ST wanted to buy some salad as a pre-dinner snack. As such, we went to Mercato supermarket located at the basement of Pavilion shopping centre.

There is a wide range of salad sold by weight at Mercato. If I recall correctly, the salad is charged at RM2.99 per 100g.

We met up with GN's family and LWS's family for dinner at the food court at Pavilion shopping centre. DT pointed out to us a restaurant named "Madam Kwan's Restaurant" located near the food court. This restaurant chain sells nasi lemak... at restaurant prices. We opted to eat at the food court instead.

DT also ordered dessert for everyone to share. Da, ST, MT and I shared a mango ice kachang.

Our gluttony (*grin*) did not stop at dessert. By the time dinner was over, it was way past 10 pm, too late to go to the pasar malam (that is, night market) at Petaling Street. Instead, everyone adjourned to another cafe at Pavilion, specialising in chocolate.

If you are a chocolate lover, you will love this cafe! They sell chocolates, chocolate drinks, mocca, chocolate cupcakes, chocolate souffle, etc.

By the time we all waddled out of the chocolate cafe, we could barely keep our eyes open.

Yawn! We slowly made our way back to the hotel (which was, fortunately, located opposite Pavilion shopping centre) and called it a night.

Before I end this post, here is a recap of our 1st day in Kuala Lumpur. Enjoy the slideshow!

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