Sunday, November 27, 2011

Flying Fox at Berjaya Hills

My sister and I came to try the canopy walk after reading the advertisement below.

But we ended up trying the 900-metre flying fox instead (touted to be the longest in South East Asia). It was such an exhilarating ride! I don't consider myself an adrenaline junkie; riding roller-coasters or other extreme rides are just not my thing. But surprisingly, I enjoyed every minute of this activity. The scariest part was alighting from the platform and feel yourself dangling precariously on the cable... but once you started gliding amidst the rainforest, it was so much fun!

Half of the adventure was getting to the points of departure. First, we had to put on the necessary gears (full body harness, carabiners, pulley, etc) before climbing the stairs of this tall structure. We had to go one by one as the structure cannot hold many people at one go. When I reached the top, a strong wind blew and I could feel the building swaying. I thought to myself, "What have I gotten myself into?"

After the short canopy walk, we did a little bit of hiking to reach the tree which will be our first point of departure. The hiking trek was a bit slippery, so wearing my Crocs flats wasn't such a good idea after all. Climbing the tree was most challenging as the holds were quite far apart. I felt a huge sense of achievement when I reached the top.

The 900-metre glide took only around 40 seconds or thereabouts. When I reached the other end, the guide asked, "Seronok tak?". I was grinning from ear to ear and replied in the affirmative. I was so eager for the next glide. A short canopy walk away, we had to climb a swaying ladder to reach the second point of departure. The guide told us the ladder was BUILT to sway. An apparatus for character building exercise, I suppose.

Ascending the ladder was not as scary as it looked. It just required a lot of patience as we need to hook and unhook our two carabiners all the way to the top. The view from the platform is amazing. This time round, my sister and I were let off simultaneously as there are 2 parallel cables, spanning 400 metres. We ended up at the Adventure Park Centre, where we had started our journey.

The whole thing took 1 hour to complete and was worth every penny :)

Sadly, we didn't take any pictures as carrying the DSLR when hiking and gliding would have been too cumbersome. A compact camera would have done the trick but we didn't bring ours.

Afterwards, we ate a really good pizza at La Flamme and roamed the Colmar Tropicale Square to take some pictures.

It was a very enjoyable day trip. Since it's only 1 hour from KL, I wouldn't mind going again.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Parit Penghulu Homestay Programme

When the programme was first promoted to the students, a colleague of mine overheard someone remark; "Home stay?? Lebih baik aku stay at home" (!)

But passing up the opportunity was his/her lost as the programme turned out to be immensely enjoyable. Twenty-eight Form 3 students of SMK Taman Melawati took part in the 2D1N programme held at the Parit Penghulu Homestay (also known as Kem Modal Insan) from 2 Nov to 3 Nov 2011.

Homestay usually denotes staying at the home of a foster family, but our group opted to stay in dormitories so that we can easily assemble for the planned activities.

In chronological order, we visited a Gula Melaka factory, painted Batik, played traditional games, roamed the paddy fields, rode a pick-up truck, went on the Melaka River Cruise, participated in Explorace, and stopped by the Hang Tuah Well.

All the activities were enjoyable but my favourites had to be roaming the paddy fields and cruising down the Melaka River. I never knew that gazing at the lush fields can be so therapeutic...

The students enjoyed themselves too. I overheard one of them say; "Rugi (insert name here) tak pergi". Her friends nodded in agreement. They all seemed reluctant to leave the place.

We felt deeply indebted to our host, Pak Man and his family. They were the embodiment of warm hospitality. We were comfortable and felt welcomed throughout our stay there.

For someone who was born and bred in KL, the village-life stint was utterly refreshing and memorable :)

Pictures from the programme can be viewed here and here.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Singapore Trip

What do you make of a vacation that's beset by one misadventure after another?

On 27-10-2011, we reached LCCT at 6.45am when our flight was due for take off at 7.25am. Once Papa dropped us off, it was a mad scramble to get to the boarding area before the gate closes. We had (mobile) checked-in earlier but hadn't factored in the time it would take to clear security check. We did manage to get on the flight but it was a very close shave!

Then, it rained heavily for 2 consecutive days when we were in Singapore.

Further, Irfan was not feeling well so he cut a forlorn figure on our first day there even though we were visiting his favourite place; the zoo!

Lastly, our flight back to KL was delayed for 1 hour 45 minutes. We touched down at 12.30am and reached home, completely exhausted at 2am.

Despite all these, the trip was highly enjoyable as it was spent with family members. It's cliched but true: It's the company that matters!

Singapore Zoo

The award-winning park was our first destination. The zoo truly deserves all the accolades heaped on it as it is very well-maintained and offers a myriad of attractions. Besides the animals in well-designed enclosures, other attractions include tram & boat rides, animal shows and feeding sessions.

I was also impressed with the services offered; parents with small kids can rent strollers or wagons while wheelchairs and scooters are available for those who are not up to covering the huge park on foot.

The customer service is also top-notch. We were on the boat ride when it rained. A staff was already waiting with umbrellas at the jetty to make sure we didn't get drenched before reaching the nearest shelter.

Universal Studios Singapore (USS)

We drove to Vivo City and then took the cable car to Sentosa Island. This is not the most economical way as a single trip will cost you SGD24! But we disregarded the steep price to experience the ride because it looked oh-so-inviting from below.

I don't think it was worth it though as our very own Genting Highlands cable cars provide a more enjoyable and scenic journey.

However, I have to admit that witnessing the world's busiest port from above - with its thousands of containers and hundreds of cranes - was awe-inspiring.

When we alighted at Imbiah Station, we had to walk further to reach USS (taking the Sentosa Express Tram would have been more convenient). Along the way, we passed by a few of Sentosa Island's many other attractions. According to the island's map, Sentosa has 31 attractions in all! USS seems to be the most popular but there are many other interesting offerings such as: Skyline Luge, The Merlion, Butterfly Park, Sky Tower and Underwater World.

Wow. This island is a veritable cash cow!

Finally, we reached USS at 11.30am. My 3 favourite rides were: Shrek 4-D Adventure, Enchanted Airways and Revenge of the Mummy. I was too scared to try the Battlestar Galactica roller coasters, USS's most extreme rides.

Even though we went on a Friday, the place was brimming with people. This translated into long queues that could take up to 50 minutes! I didn't have the patience nor the stamina to wait that long so I forwent a few of the attractions. Some visitors circumvented the problem by purchasing the Universal Express Pass which enables them to have priority access to all the rides.

So do avoid the weekends and public holidays for a more enjoyable visit. Another tip would be to download the Resort World Sentosa app which will keep you updated with the waiting times of all the attractions so that you can plan your route optimally.

Day 3

We explored the city using the MRT on our last day there. We took a train from Woodlands to Marina Bay. The Marina Bay Sands looks spectacular. So do the ArtScience Museum, Singapore Flyer and The Helix Bridge.

On our way back, on the MRT, I noticed how clean and green the city is. How well-planned and systematic. It's also refreshing to see signboards and trees unsullied by illegal advertisements. Moreover, the roads are pot-hole free, a far cry from KL roads' crater-like surface.

Confronted with our neighbour's modernity, affluence and efficiency, I couldn't help but feel a tinge of jealousy. Why are we not more like them?

Coincidentally, I read this in The Star when I got back home: AirAsia X Slams Malaysia Airports.

AirAsia X's CEO Azran Osman-Rani lambasted Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad (MAHB) for the delayed construction of KLIA2 and the subsequent public funds cost overruns.

He said, had the Government allowed AirAsia/Sime Darby to build the new low-cost carrier terminal at Labu, it would have been ready by now and no public funds would have been used.

His tweeted; "We keep taking two steps forward, and get dragged two steps backward. Macam mana nak maju?"

Macam mana indeed...