Sunday, December 19, 2010

more from KUALA LUMPUR

This is my second time to take a picture with the Petronas Twin Tower. My first one was in June 2008 and I was alone then. This time I was with couple of friends, my college classmates Dupong and Jackie, and my partner Erick.

Day 4, November 2, 2010 (Tuesday)

After having seen much of the city in a garden, Singapore, we packed up our things and headed to Kuala Lumpur City. It was All Soul’s Day in the Philippines but we thought of visiting our ancestors and relatives graves when we get home. This might have been contributory to a little back luck of the day. We hailed several taxis whose drivers refused us as we showed them the note on our destination. The note on the piece of trampled paper said Larkin. I was not able to remember where Larkin is. I thought it's a bus station within the city of Singapore. What I remember was that the first time I headed to KL from Singapore I rode a bus named CausewayLink and it transported me to a bus station in Johor Bahru where I transferred to another bus bound for KL city.

Until finally one taxi driver understood our predicament and brought us to a bus terminal beside Darkin place where Transnational buses queued. So we thought that the note's "Larkin", given to us by Erick's cousin, Lemuel, was actually Darkin. It was when we passed by Johor Bahru that I remembered Larkin as the bus station at that point in Malaysia where we can find various bus liners going to KL city. So the note was right, it only lacked more hints as to where it is and how to get there, and not by taxi.

We paid SGD32 for the direct bus trip and reached KL at 4pm. That was of course after passing Singapore immigration at Woodlands and the Malaysian immigration at JB or Johor Bahru. That's the hassle of crossing borders because you really have to get down the bus and queue at the immigration counter; plus, you have to fill up departure-entry documents.

Nevertheless, this KL trip was something special and free! I really wanted to stress the word free; courtesy of Dupong’s cousin, Ate Jerlyn. She fetched us at Bukit Jalil bus station. Good that she offered to pick us up and we said yes because that new bus terminal in KL is far from the KL city proper. Unlike my first visit, that the bus I boarded parked at Puduraya Bus Station, right in the heart of KL city, at the Pudu Street in fact. I learned that the Puduraya Station is under renovation.

Without delay, Ate Jerlyn drove us to KL tower. It excited me since I was not able to reach that tower during my first visit. Much to my surprise, she drove us through the SMART tunnel in Malaysia. I have been wishing I could see that "Stormwater Management and Road Tunnel" or SMART after I saw it featured in National Geographic Channel as one major innovative megastructure. And my wish was granted with added bonus of seeing the entire KL from the top of the Menara KL. Take note, Menara means tower.

Our next stop was at the King's Palace. Not inside though. And the giveaway did not end there, Ate Jerlyn treated us a free dinner at Crowne Plaza and offered us her home for the overnight stay. She and her Malaysian husband welcomed us in their so-called White House. Again, for free!

Day 5, November 3, 2010 (Wednesday)

This fifth day made me conscious, though it was second day at Ate Jerlyn's place, but to be freed of everything seemed more than we can ask for. Her husband bought us our breakfast since they all work early, except Ate Jerlyn, only today I believe. She became in fact our driver, tour guide, and even photographer.

She brought us to Putrajaya, the portion of KL where all national offices and museum were erected. I have read that Putrajaya is a planned city. Indeed it is! We have seen the state of the art, uniquely architectured bridges, buildings, mosques, palaces, conventions centers, et cetera in this territory.

But we can not survive the heat of the sun so we left Putrajaya at around noontime. We dropped by the Carefour Mall to grab a lunch at a hawker. Yet again, we enjoyed chicken and pork recipes cooked in some chinese ways.

Our afternoon and final stop was at Petronas Twin Towers and Suria KLCC Mall. We were not able to take the ride to the skybridge because the tower only gives free viewing in the morning. Well, except me, I already reached the skybridge the last time I visited KL. And as a closer, we traversed the Petaling Street for last minute shopping of souvenirs and drove back to Bukit Jalil bus station to go back to Singapore. To my surprise, we only paid RM39.00 each, as compared to our way in where we paid about the same amount at SGD.

Again, it took us more than 5 hours to reach Singapore. We arrived at 10pm arrival at Woodlands. After passing immigration, we waited for more than an hour for our bus; but it left us. I was sure we told the driver that we'll ride back but he and his bus was nowhere to find at the loading bay. Fortunately, we have a Singaporean resident with us and he led us to find and ride another bus. This new bus parked at a terminal which was just few blocks away from our hotel. We entered the hotel at past midnight. This misfortune hungered me and so I ate dinner alone at the nearest Mcdo around Bugis Street. I did not invite them nor bring some to-go for them.

When I got back to our room, Lemuel and another female friend, an acquaintance of Erick, were there with bottles of beer. We drunk to the limit that whole night long. After all, this was our last night in Singapore.

Friday, December 17, 2010

SINGAPORE once more

Singapore is one city I would love to visit over and over again. The only downside is that it is an expensive city, where 1SGD is equivalent to an average of 33 pesos. Nevertheless, the pricey trip did not impede our intention to step on Singapore's soil. This time I was not alone; I brought with me my partner Erick and my college classmates, Dupong and Jacquiline. Our flight booking was made in February 2010, which means that we really saved for this tour. It was in Aug 2010 that we finalize our itinerary with primary tickmark on Marina Bay Sands visit and Universal Studios theme park; in Sept 2010, we made our hotel booking at South East Asia Hotel; and in Oct 2010 we arranged our meetings with friends and relatives who reside in Singapore and Kuala Lumpur.

Day 1, October 30, 2010 (Saturday)

We took the early morning bus ride from Manila to Dau, Pampanga, then transferred to 2 rides on a Philippine jeepney, that is from Dau to SM Clark and from SM Clark to Clark Airport. We even argued with jeepney drivers who used to contract trips to airport at high price. But since we have been to Clark airport once, we convinced them that we know the way. It only cost us P14.00 from P200.00 that they charged to naive tourists.

We expect to touch the ground on time however due to air traffic in Changi Airport in Singapore, we were 1 hour delayed. As soon as I passed the Singapore Immigration, I called South East Asia Hotel to extend our check-in deadline which was supposedly at 5:30pm. One thing that surprised me upon arrival was the new terminal building; the Cebu Pacific flight from Clark arrived at the so-called Budget Terminal. My first visit was via Philippine Airlines was direct to the Changi International Airport. Thankfully, Singapore government provides free bus ride from the said terminal to the nearest MTR (train) station located at the Changi International Airport Terminal 1 and 2. We followed the directions given to us by the SEA Hotel to ride the MRT to Bugis Station.

At the Bugis MTR Station, Erick photographed the vicinity map where to find the SEA hotel. Guided by it we walked two blocks from station towards Aberdeen shop. We checked in hurriedly because we already ran out of time and we were scheduled to meet with my hometown neighbor who worked as a nurse in Singapore. Anneth Tokong, I knew her as Ann Ann Canoy, was scheduled to sponsor our dinner for the night and accompany us in touring around Orchard street (a high street in Singapore in terms of fashion and nightlife). She indeed treated us to a not-so-sumptuous dinner at the Food Republic. It was sort of a classy foodcourt; we took the thai cuisine.

Day 2, October 31, 2010 (Sunday)

I did an early morning tour around the SEA Hotel's vicinity. Actually I was awakened by the clanging of the bell; that was when I realized that a Buddhist temple is behind our room's window. My curiosity of their sunday morning rituals dragged me out. More astonishing was that a Hindu temple stood adjacent to that Buddhist temple. And so I walked more thinking that some more temples lie ahead. True enough, I noticed a Methodist Church one corner away and a Catholic Church opposite to it.

The three of us, Erick, Jackie and I, attended the Sunday Mass at St. Joseph Church, the one I sought when I looked for more temples. After which we headed to Bugis MTR to ride a train to reach the Boat Quay, the Fullerton Hotel, and the Merlion Park. We witnessed a dragon boat racing, crossed the Cavenagh bridge, and captured the statue of children racing to dive the river (it's located at the left side of the Fullerton Hotel's facade). I only saw them in the magazines, because I was not able to venture this part of the city the first time I was here.

We kept on asking Singaporean people where to find the Merlion Park, and when we finally got there I was stunned at the new scenery where Marina Bay Sands rose at my front and the Singapore Flyer at my left side. It wowed me standing at the foot of the giant merlion spitting water to the river. I minded not the crowd but the 360 degree view of the park. So I decided to climbed the Sand's Skypark to see for myself the bird's eyeview of the Singapore city.

But that can wait anyway. We still have more meetings to attend to, first was meeting with Jackie's former officemate that took place at the Suntec Convention Center and Mall. She (I am so sorry I forgot her name) sponsored our lunch served like a luglog in Naga or pancit in Tuguegarao; a big plate of cooked noodles topped with seafoods (shrimps primarily). We roamed around the convention center and threw wishes at the Fountain of Wealth. We waited for Ann Ann and her housemate, Beth, who agreed to accompany us in the afternoon tour.

And so the tour was now directed to Marina Bay Sands. Jackie's friend led the way and instructed a train ride to Orchard Road where the bus-ride to Marina Bay Sands passes. What made it ridiculous however was that the bus we rode also passed the Suntec Convention Center where we have been. Well, all of us were first timers to the Sands Hotel even those working in Singapore, otherwise we simply waited there. We laughed our way as we left the Suntec City the second time around.

Erick's meeting with his cousin Lemuel took place at the Sands Hotel. He or she, whatever you wanna call him/her 'cause he's a transvestite, accompanied us at the queue until we reached the counter where we paid the 20SGD each as entrance fee to the Skypark. Erick and I were left alone for the roofdeck viewing; Jackie opted to stay with the ladies. We savored the grandiosity of Singapore from up the skytowering Sands Hotel. We took moments to feel the air and wind up there; we even peeked at the rooftop swimming pool (which unfortunately is inaccessible to non-check in tourists). The look of the Singapore city below is so beauteous!

We reunited at the Helix Bridge; we were already seven at 7pm. The company composed of Erick, Lemuel, Ann Ann, Beth, Jackie and her friend and me. But the crowd lasted for few minutes only, Jackie and friend has to leave to meet more friends. So the five of us proceeded to dine at the foodcourt of international cuisine beside the Esplanade Mall; once again the dinner was free for Erick and I as it was sponsored by Lemuel, Ann, and Beth. And then Dupong called up announcing his arrival at the Changi Airport. The three of us were supposed to be fetching him but considering the circumstance, I was left alone to pick him up. He bore the inconvenience of waiting for me for a while.
Jackie was already at the Hotel room upon Dupong's check in. We chatted the whole night long when Erick and Lemuel arrived.

Day 3, November 1, 2010 (Monday)

It was All Saints Day and Universal Studio day for us four. Because it was a holiday for us Catholics, we dropped by the St. Andrew’s Cathedral for a church visit. We knew for sure that we can not attend the holy mass at 6pm, so we offered a rosary.

We took pictures of the cathedral before heading to the harbour front where Universal Studio rose. I initially thought of riding the train but the others wanted to try the bus. We checked the directory several times to note the bus number and the fare on our way to Vivo City. Bad luck bit us then as one of us failed to pay the fare and we were fined 20SGD for missing to pay 1.01SGD bus fare. Ugh!

When we analyzed it, I was actually the non-paying passenger. Before climbing up the bus, I turned over to Erick the fare for two without saying a word. I thought he got the message of receiving 2.10SGD. Then later, Jackie cried for help thinking she lost her EZ card. I tried to rescue Jackie's situation grabbing some coins in my hands. As we all climbed the bus, Jackie retrieved the card. So I pocketed back the coins. Erick on the other hand thought that I will pay my own fare since I held coins dropped only 1.10SGD into the box. When the inspector came in, he revealed that one among us did not pay and that we have no other option than pay the 20SGD fine.

The misfortune triggered the heated arguments between Erick and me. But the show must go on despite it. We changed money and took our lunch at the Vivo City Mall. We rode the Sentosa Monorail to Universal Studio after the meal of Hainanese chicken.

A hairspray street production welcomed us. We experienced the Accelerator ride as extras to the shooting. We assumed it was a movie or tv shoot because one young actor and another young actress occupied each a gondola and cameras all around were busy capturing the scenes. We were disappointed to know that the Galactica roller coaster is still unoperational. We then proceeded to the Shrek castle and experienced 4D theater. We tried the dragon ride roller coaster and the Revenge of the Mummy roller coaster. It was such a fun to have Dupong riding the roller coasters with us.
We ate our early dinner and proceeded to Sentosa beach station. We were supposed to watch the production The Songs of the Seas but due to bursting tension between Erick and me, we retreated back to the hotel to rest. Lemuel came to the hotel with the box of beers and so we end up drunk before dawn.

We went to Kuala Lumpur the following day. We were back to Singapore the dawn of November 4. We shopped at Bugis Street Shopping Center for souvenirs before heading back to the Airport for an afternoon flight to Clark, Philippines.